Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another Year

Happy 37th birthday to me.

The day has been full and fun and exhausting and hot. And tomorrow I start my fall semester with the first professional development meeting of the year. This means summer is over. Sort of.

I don't start school until the 21st. This year is going to be challenging in a variety of ways, which may be fate's way of telling me that it's time for me to be a full time writer. The good news is that I don't have to set up a classroom -- and that's because I'm not getting one. Instead of being upset, I have to think of all the money I'm saving on the bulletin boards and decor that I would normally purchase this time of year. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at tomorrow's meeting -- even it means wearing socks and turning my internal editor back on.

My daughters are both getting ready for the Hidden Valley Feis in Coronado at the end of the month. While they practice their hop-two-threes, I'm putting together a gift basket for the raffle. My theme: romance novels. I selected a few Regency from the booty I got at RWA12 this summer. I have a hat box and some delicate, era appropriate items. What I can't find is ratafia. I could substitute sherry, but it just wouldn't be the same. Any Regency reader knows that ladies sip ratafia -- unless they're being contrary or brazen and go for the brandy. Personally, I think it's going to be a great gift box (even if the books are signed to Erin -- but it's a feis, so there will be many Erins around). Any other items, besides, tea, that are a must have in a Regency themed gift basket (or hat box, in this case)? A reticule? A posy? A gilded miniature of Prinny?

I thought of doing a second gift basket with vampire romances. That would be a fun theme to run with -- but I'm not sure how it would be received.

The feis will be my official end of summer. The event is at a beach resort with rooms that outshine Bath's costume museum assembly rooms, it will almost be a mini vacation. I am obligated to volunteer some, and my kids are dancing, but other than that I intend to make use of the facilities and try to relax. I'll acknowledge that summer if finally over after Labor day (even though I'll already be a couple weeks into the school year).

The end of summer is the countdown to the new year. Christmas will be here before I know it and then it will be 2013. Will anything have changed? Will I have an agent? A book deal? Finished my paranormal? Another Golden Heart deadline will have come and gone... Man, time goes so fast. I need to stop, breathe, and just think about today - August 14th, my birthday.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pick Up the Pace

In a recent interview on ACFW Fiction Finder with Raquel Byrnes, they asked the question:

You have mentioned that quick pacing is part of your writing style. Why is that so important?
Raquel's answer:
I find that often being in the thick of things, the desperate unplanned situations, reveals our true character and loyalties. Only when we are like those characters—pushed to the breaking point—can we finally see the amazing grace and strength God offers us. I think those moments resonate with people and I love to bring them to light in my books.

I absolutely agree. Life is a series of BOOM BOOM BOOM with no time to stop and ponder, to come up with the perfect solution or wittiest response. I picture that stupid teenage gimmick where your supposed-friend shakes his/her hands back and forth in front of your face and tells you you're running through the woods, trees on the left, trees on the right, your turn and (they hit you in the face) you run into a tree. It leaves you disoriented and with an elevated heart rate.

I like to think the obstacles my protagonists encounter are realistic in the same way life can be, ridiculous and inconvenient. These are the moments, in less than the space of a breath, where true character is shown and grown. Pacing is integral in these moments. You can't draw out the scene with beautiful word paint - it is not the time for that. Staccato sentences. Minimal dialogue tags. Slap the reader in the face the essence of the moment -- whether it is life or death or just intensely emotional (or in my books, passionate). The writing style mimics the urgency of the action.

Not all readers agree. As I struggle to improve my craft, I try to take all critique into account. I weigh the commentary against the story content. While every comment is appreciated, not every one is applicable and I have to trust my instincts. Romance is not all purple prose any more -- there are real stories there that stay with the reader longer than the titillation. I have been accused of having short sentences -- but I do this to aid the pacing of the scene. I am more likely to have rich descriptions in slower moments -- but even then I keep it sparse. If it's something I would skim over in order to get to the story, I don't want it.

Usually when a reader notices the pacing in a scene it's because it was done poorly. How do you, as a writer, adjust your pacing for mood?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Time Went On as the Clock Does

I'm currently in a limbo status between my full time writer career (which I truly pursued this summer) and my full time teacher career. August 15th marks the start of my teacher year. That gives me two weeks to really indulge in my fuller than full time Mommy career. I am inspired both by my kid's enthusiasm for everything and by my sense of guilt for not being the uber-Mom I could be -- so crafts and parks and quality time, here I come! I don't know why the guilt is getting to me; they won't really notice my shortcomings until puberty and, by then, I could be perfect and it wouldn't matter anyway.

School starts on August 21st, both for me and my kids. We did some back to school shopping today and both girls are now reasonably comfortable in size 7, trousers are just a little long (which is fine). The big problem is that they recently moved into separate rooms, and the eldest girl is really stuck on a "mine" kick. Thing is, they're both the same size. Other than shoes, most clothes have been community property. The younger one doesn't really care, but the older makes up for that in spades. I don't think I've ever looked forward to the start of a new school year before.

This limbo status has left me feeling purposeless and tired. I think it's because of the agents actually WANTED to see my stuff and they've got it. Now I just have to be patient and await their responses. This, I think, has left me in a holding pattern of waiting for time to pass. It reminds me of when I was laid up with my broken foot and just laying there, healing. It's insane. I don't do patience well. The solution, of course, is to get engrossed in whatever I am doing -- but I can't seem to. The sword of Damocles is looming and eventually I will get the email that changes everything (or not).

So, what should I do? I should write. Karma has been neglected for too long and her story is just itching to get out. I just need to be in a positive enough mind frame to make that happen.
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