Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category
It always amazes me how attending my RWA chapter meeting recharges my creative battery.
Sure, it means a long day for me. I usually don’t get to bed until at least 2 a.m., and I’m up before 8 on meeting day. We meet from 10:30-ish to 2 p.m. and drive an hour and a half back home. Then I usually have to head into work and put in a full day there.
But I wouldn’t miss it. The chats while we’re carpooling are a great way to get new insights. And the meetings themselves always serve up something useful.
This time, we had a group critique: Several members submitted the first three pages of their WIP. Entries were read aloud, anonymously, then everyone shared their thoughts.
There wasn’t a single one that didn’t intrigue us enough to want to read more. That, of course, begs the question: Why haven’t any of us wannabes made a sale yet? But that’s probably a question best left for another post (in which I’ll rail against the publishing industry that depends so much on sheer luck. You have to be in the right place at the right time and know all the right people. Your MS could sparkle like the Hope Diamond, but if it crosses the desk when the editor’s having a bad day, too bad for you.).
Sure, a few of them had issues: Too much backstory, head-hopping. But the only way to improve is to have someone point out where you need improvement.
Our members are great at offering the right mix of encouragement and advice. I think (hope) we all left with a warm, fuzzy feeling — and some tips to take us another step closer to the ultimate goal of publication.
For my part, I realized (with feedback) the new beginning works really well. It was also pointed out I need a solid description of my hero in those opening pages.
As a side note, I had no idea Matt sounded so arrogant. But when you read it aloud, he sure does. He doesn’t remain arrogant throughout the novel, though, so I’m not sure what to do about that.
Since those first pages are in Meg’s POV, maybe we can chalk it up to her perception? He’s not really all that arrogant, she’s just in a bad mood, so she sees him as more arrogant than he really is?
I spent most of today working on a couple of scenes from Bethany and Cody’s story … 3,115 words written. I was surprised again, though: Beth’s mother sounds like a guest on “Jerry Springer.” She must be from Southern Illinois! 😉
It’s time for me to start polishing next year’s Golden Heart entries, though. My Orange Rose scores came back Friday. With those and Saturday’s feedback on the contemporary series story I want to enter, I’m ready to put the comments to good use.
Sometimes, all it takes is a little shove to get moving again. I received one today, courtesy of one of my NARWA sisters.
Jacqui Jacoby was a guest blogger over at Seekerville. The topic? Surviving the Abyss. In it, she told the story of her lost year of productivity, sacrificed to the health gods because of a still-unidentified virus.
Now, I’m no stranger to lost productivity. In fact, until about a year ago, I may well have been the queen of thinking “I need to write” and then doing absolutely nothing about it. But I’ve picked up my pace lately, and am now entering contests, submitting queries and — most importantly — writing almost every day.
At least I was going like gangbusters until recently. The last month or so, since I hit my goal of writing 100K words by NARWA’s November meeting, I’ve been slacking again. I’ve only written about 8,000 words through most of June and into July.
Part of it is because I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of weight loss, and for some reason, I can’t seem to strike the right balance between the healthy lifestyle and my writing life. When I’m focusing on one, the other falls by the wayside.
I’ve also been in limbo: I’m waiting for responses to queries and results from a contest I entered. I’ve started work on a brand new story (Bethany and Cody’s tale), but it hasn’t yet taken off. (I think it’ll help once I get them out of Chicago and onto the island, but before I can get them to the island, I have to do at least a little research — and I’ve been putting it off.)
But Jacqui’s post today gave me the nudge I needed to do some writing. I realized how important it is to take advantage of every opportunity. So while I was at lunch today, I handwrote about a page and a half — and now I’m raring to get back to the computer to start writing again.
Thanks, Jax. I needed that!
A couple of weeks ago, the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog (one of my faves) was host to a sometimes heated discussion on safe sex in romance novels.
The author of the post, Kelly Fitzpatrick (who you might recognize from yesterday’s post), started the discussion by asking a few questions: “I ask myself, do I write to empower women or am I writing to entertain? Are we obligated to write responsibly? Or does the law of what happens in romanceland, stays in romanceland rule?”
There seems to be no consensus on the subject, at least among the Rubies and their readers.
Since reading that blog post — and the informative and entertaining comments that followed, I’ve been kicking this post around in my mind. It’s one of those things on my “I’ll do it when I get around to it” list.
Of course I believe in safe sex. In this day and age, when sex with the wrong person can end up killing you, is there anyone who doesn’t?
But do my characters practice safe sex? Umm … as they say in “The Wizard of Oz,” that’s a horse of a different color.
I have one set of characters (Brad and Erin) who just use a condom without any fuss or fanfare. I haven’t read through Cassie and Dustin’s story lately, but I believe they, too, just do it (condom use).
Then there’s Bree and Mike, the virgin and the pseudo-playboy. They’re both drunk when they make love for the first time, and their lack of protection doesn’t occur to either of them until weeks later. (First she realizes it, then he overhears her talking with her friends and thinks she’s pregnant.) It’s a huge part of the plot, because when he thinks she’s pregnant, he starts trying to get back in her good graces … after refusing to marry her just because she was a virgin.
When Kari and Damien, from “Blind Date Bride,” have sex for the first time, they’re already married, so no safe sex for them (even though they haven’t yet decided to stay married).
It hasn’t been an issue for Bethany and Cody either, since they’re already in a committed relationship when the story begins. I do know that Bethany has always been Ms. Safety in the past (and she does have quite the past), and Cody also believes in safe sex … but they’ve been dating for nine months and he’s thinking about marriage. Maybe I can handle the issue with a flashback to their first night together.
Meg’s already pregnant (by another guy) when she has sex with Matt, so condoms aren’t an issue for them, either.
She does question her judgment the morning after, when she wakes up alone because Matt had to leave her to go to practice. She wonders if she’s made a “monumental” mistake by sleeping with an almost-stranger. But she decides, “Nothing could be a bigger mistake than ending up pregnant and alone at her advanced age. And since she’d already done that, anything that came after had to be a step in the right direction.”
Drew and Lainy haven’t had sex yet, but they are teachers, so when the time comes, they should set a good example. (They’ve already set a bad example in other ways, though, so who knows?)
My stories are romantic comedies. And while the Rubies have some ideas about treating safe sex humorously, I don’t want to draw too much attention to the unfunny, unsexy side of my characters’ lives. Nothing ruins the mood faster than a red, flashing stoplight: “No glove, no love, buster!”
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: My characters “romance responsibly” when the plot calls for it … and when it doesn’t, they don’t. If that makes them irresponsible in the eyes of some, so be it. (I’ll just have to hope those some aren’t editors and agents who refuse to publish the story because of it.)
Isn’t that what they call it when you’re doing a lot of thinking but not much writing? 😉
I’ve been mulling the plot of Bethany & Cody’s story (tentatively titled “Trouble in Paradise” … like that hasn’t been used before! Thank goodness titles aren’t copyrighted.). I need to get them out of Chicago and onto that island paradise, but I don’t want to do it too soon — I have 90,000 words to work with here!
I’ve also been thinking about Meg & Matt. If I’m going to enter it in the GH in the “category romance” category, I still have to rework the beginning to throw them together on Page 1 (not Page 6 or wherever they meet right now.
Yes, even though I still love my current first line, it’s time to think about chucking it. The next few pages are all backstory explaining how dear Meg finds herself pregnant and alone at 32.
Why so much thinking? Mainly, I’ve been trying not to think about the copies of “Blind Date Bride” floating around out there. I know I’m in for a long wait. These things move at the speed of Heinz ketchup pouring out of the bottle — only fair considering how long it took me to finish the story in the first place.
More thoughts floating around in my brain involve a couple of blog posts I want to write. They should be fun, so stay tuned.