Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sense of Urgency Required

All of my stories have had a clear time period in which to become resolved. Frances had three months at court, Mary had twelve days of Christmas, and Jane had Frances' house party and the threat of her father taking action. All of these issues created a sense of urgency and made it easy for me to pace my story when it came to chronology.

Not so for Karma. I've made Karma so blasé  about the haunting that it might take years to resolve. There's no need to hurry, so there's no set time frame. What did I do to myself? Of course, urgency creates higher stakes, so beside the fact that I've made my pacing difficult, I've stifled the conflict. Bad Erin. Bad.

Solution? Make the ghosts less amenable and Karma more frightened and less intrigued. I can do this. Karma is one of those highly intellectual people with the common sense that usually goes hand in hand with that -- very little. She's more fascinated by the research than cautious for her safety. Right know she's on a research kick that threatens to slow the pace of the story -- so let's threaten her safety, shall we?

In the space of me mulling it over in this blog the problem has been solved. I love it when that happens and it doesn't have to be forced.

Are you having any issues with your stories?

Friday, September 21, 2012


My husband requested I take down my Freedom of Speech blog post. Ironic? Nah... on my priority list, jealously guarding my constitutional right is outranked by the need to preserve the safety of my family. Voltaire can afford such sentiments -- he's dead already.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Inspired by Muse

More than once I've turned to Muse's song, "Starlight," when I need inspiration when writing about a love relationship just starting out. The song delivers that sense of yearning, wanting something out of reach – and that something is worth risking everything. This sentiment helps me understand the motivation of my characters during the passionate, romantic content of my stories. Besides the repeated "I just wanted to hold you in my arms," line (which, in its simplicity, is very seductive) the line that catches me most is:
My life, you electrify my life
Let's conspire to ignite
All the cells that would die just to feel alive.

That feeling, the emotional and physical high of being in love (or infatuation), that seems worth throwing everything away. It seems silly unless you're in the grip of it, but when it has you, nothing else is important. There's probably scientific significance to the absolute need to be with the object of your affections in regard to the survival of the species -- but even knowing that wouldn't change the effect. I'm not just talking about sex; I'm talking about the whole package. The obsession with another person that makes you want to be smothered in them, to wrap yourself around them, merge with their essence. You want to breathe their breath; their touch is the best thing in the world. The sound of their voice soothes you, no matter what they say. You feel connected, understood, desired -- and you reciprocate in tenfold. You can never quite find words strong enough to describe what you feel, yet writers keep trying. I felt the message about that need in "Starlight."


Monday, September 10, 2012

Just Do It Right

My daughter has just started dancing hard shoe in her Irish step class. The shoes are slick, the heels are high, and the edges of the heels are sharp. The first few tries had Lily falling on her behind. After much scuffling, she got the hang of staying upright, but was confusing the kick motion in soft shoe with the kick in hard shoe. The hard shoe move swings the heel past the shin/knee to the opposite side of the leg and if you get too close, you might graze your shin. Lily was not the only little girl in the class with welts marked by black shoe polish. She even broke the skin in two places.

At the end of class I asked if it would be appropriate (within regulation) to file the edge of the heel to round it out. The teacher, looking confused at my question, asked me why I wanted to do such a thing. I showed her Lily's leg. Her answer -- No, I shouldn't file down the shoe or put tape over the edges; Lily should just do it correctly and she wouldn't get injured.

It was a profound, yet totally a common sense answer.  Don't accommodate doing it wrong, just do it right. Donna Means is right up there with Yoda.

I am currently reading a great story that was starts out with a prologue. That, in itself is not a problem -- the problem is that all the same info from the prologue trickled out (in very similar wording) within the first few chapters. It came across as redundant and took me out of the story.

I rarely meet a prologue that is necessary and/or not an info dump. I toyed with one myself in my first book, using a prologue to make up for the fact that I didn't get to the story quickly. You can use all sorts of bandages to cover up a badly written book but ultimately, you should just do it right. If you put all your energy into perfecting hooks, writing to trends, snappy titles, you're not concentrating on what really needs to be done -- honing your craft.

Just do it right.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ranting and Raving

A new school year has begun and, again, immature behavior has me up in arms. If I had a dime for every time a student was upset at me because “I got him in trouble,” I’d retire. There is a disconnect in the thought process that drives me nuts. Child does something against the rules. I enforce the rules, so I’m the bad guy. Hmmmmm…. No.

Who broke the rules? Was it me? No? Then perhaps the person you should be angry with is yourself. Wait – you have excuses for your bad behavior that I have to hear. You just really wanted to do whatever you did a lot, so it’s reasonable. Seriously, grow up and take responsibility.

The funny thing here is that this lecture was inspired by an adult. My students have been great.

My six year old, full of self-pity, cries after she gets in trouble. With her cute boo-boo face and tear dripping lashes, she tells me that I hurt her feelings. I did? What did I do? I put her in time out and it made her sad. Awwww. It’s cute when a cuddly six year old doesn’t get the basic life lesson about being responsible for one’s actions; it’s a teachable moment. But what do you do when an adult behaves this way? I don’t think a sticker chart will cut it.

How does this relate to writing? Um, I don’t know. Maybe you can make the connection for me.

Rant over.

Begin rave.

In other news, I received the first post-RWA conference rejection. It was personal, not a form letter. I have to say it was really nice to know the agent read my submission and took time to comment. It was disheartening to know it didn’t inspire her to read more, but such is life. I have recently read work from some of her clients and they’re phenomenal. Not that I’m not totally awesome, but I am genre fiction. While I see my work as unique within genre guidelines, the market is a big pond and my little fish might not be evolved enough to stand out. The good news is that I’m a better writer every day. While I maintain that my current finished manuscripts are completely publishable and will lead to a steady readership, my future stuff is going to rock their world. J See, there I am being accountable for my own actions. My stuff was rejected and I didn’t blame the rejector. Man, my awesomeness amazes me sometimes.

What’s happening in your world?
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