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Entries in writing (77)

Monday
Jul142014

Happily Drowning in Words

 

Sculpture: Overflow by Jaime Plensa -- Photo by Roni Loren

This is a sculpture I saw at the New Orleans Museum of Art's Sculpture Garden. And it totally represents how I feel right now while I'm writing Pike's book and working on edits for THREE other books. Oh, and getting ready for RWA Nationals next week. Words, words, everywhere. 

How is your week looking?

 

Monday
Jun022014

Must Read Monday: Finally, a Writing Book for Pantsers!

 

*I put a sticky tab on any page with a point I wanted to type into my notes. Look at that rainbow, people.

I know I usually tackle fiction when doing a Must Read Monday, but I read a writing craft book this weekend that was just so fabulous that I wanted to pass it along to those of you who are writers.

As most of you know, I'm a bit addicted to reading books about the craft of writing. (Yes, I'm an unrepentant nerd.) But most of the time, those books are all about different ways to plot your book. And I like learning those techniques because I'm a pantser with plotter envy. Writing without an outline can be an anxiety-ridden process, writer's block can pop up often, and the unknown is freaking scary (especially when you're writing under a deadline.) But no matter how hard I've tried to alter my process, I can't seem to get away from my pantsing (writing by the seat of my pants) ways.

And a little part of me has always been afraid that if I was successful at plotting ahead and outlining that I would lose some of the "magic" of my writing process. Like two weeks ago, this happened when I was happily writing a story. I had a general direction in mind and then got hit with a big twist that I had never ever considered or planned. It changes what the rest of the book will look like, but I think it's the correct (and much more interesting) way to go. If I had been writing to an outline, would that had ever come to me? And if it had, would I have been willing to ditch the whole second half of the outline to go in this new direction?

That kind of "a-ha" discovery happens with every book. The big twist in Crash Into You that most people have told me they never saw coming? That was because *I* didn't know it was coming until I was 70% of the way through writing the book. The big thing that happens in Kade's backstory in Need You Tonight that explains so much about who he is now? I didn't know about it until I was halfway through the book and it hit me--wait, THAT'S what happened!

So let me tell you, it was hella refreshing to finally come across a book that doesn't just tolerate pantsing as a way for people to write but actually recommends it. AND gives tips on how to overcome some of the struggles, anxieties and pitfalls of writing without an outline. Because, Lord, I would love to be less neurotic during my writing process.

So here's the book and my review from Goodreads. Pantsers, go forth and enjoy!

Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules by Steven James

 

My Review from Goodreads:

Finally, a book for pantsers! And not just one that mentions pantsing but validates the process as a legitimate (he even ventures to say superior) process of writing. I have long been a pantser with plotter envy because it seems like every book on writing I read talks about "organic" writing as the immature/impatient process and plotting as the panacea, the "professional" way. Of course, that always makes plotting sound like this lovely method that is going to take away the constant anxiety of working in the unknown and the pitfalls that come along with that (writer's block, chasing bunny trails, rereading your previous pages constantly to get back into the mindset, etc.). But after reading this, I feel like I can take a deep breath and find a place of acceptance with my pantsing ways. Yes, my method causes me anxiety, but it's also been a successful one for me, so why am I always trying to change it?

And with this book, there are methods that may even help with the anxiety involved in "flying into the mist" when writing. There are questions to ask when you get stuck or come across a plot problem. There are guidelines on what needs to be clear in each scene and how to keep the tension up. There are pointers on how to include twists. And some of the character stuff--questions to ask about their secrets, shame, fears, etc--was brilliant.

I have five pages of notes from the book and put sticky flags on way too many pages because there was too much great stuff to hold in my head all at once. I'm kind of a junkie when it comes to book on writing and can be hard to please, but I have no qualms giving this one five stars. I know I'll be referencing it often.


*I was not asked to give this review. I bought this book on my own.

Thursday
May082014

A Writer's Block Breaker: 30 Songs For 30 Chapters 

As most of you know, I'm slightly obsessed with books on the writing craft. And a few weeks ago, I was poking around in Barnes and Noble (as you do) and picked up the book Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror: Speculative Genre Exercises from Today's Best Writers and Teachers  (Edited by Laurie Lawson) to flip through.

Now, I write romance, so you may be wondering what would make me pick up a book about speculative fiction, but I like to expand my horizons. And there are things to be learned from other genres. Plus, I love horror and may one day pen something with some scary stuff.

Anyway, this book is filled with short essays (1-2 pages) on different topics: World Building, Plotting, Creativity, etc. and at the end of each essay are writing exercises. (Hence the title Now Write!)

And I've only read a handful of them thus far, but it's turned out to be a great book already. And one of the exercises I read last night got me moving in all kinds of creative directions. This exercise was by Diego Valenzuela in an essay titled "The Constant Writer: How To Plot An Entire Story In Minutes and Never Run Out of Ideas"

I won't go into the whole essay because you should buy the book. But the exercise he suggests is so much fun and oddly effective at sparking ideas. So here it is:

Put your playlist on shuffle. Write the numbers 1-30 for your 30 chapters and then label each chapter with the song title that comes up. Then use those titles to help plot/spark ideas for your story.

I read it and was like--sounds interesting but how could that work? So, of course, I tried it.

Here's what I got with my own playlist:

Pretty cool, yeah? Especially that near the "black moment" time in a book I have Live and Let Die, Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone, and Walk Away. And then the last chapter is a song about goodbyes. 

But these are my songs that I'm already familiar with, so I decided to try a variation. I put on Spotify's Coffee House station and did the first 30 songs of that. And look, I ended up with a road trip book! And I kind of got a story idea from it. How awesome is that?

Then I was chatting with my friend Julie Cross and she did it. And when I looked at her list, I thought--hey she has a sci-fi space novel! Daylight, Extraordinary, Come Fly With Me, Defying Gravity, Radioactive, 93 Million Miles...

 

So yeah, you've just lost the next hour of your life because I bet you can't resist. ;-)  If you do one, feel free to post it in the comments. I love seeing other people's lists.


Friday
Mar072014

Because I Don't Punk Out on Promises...the NKOTB Fan Fic

 

Okay, so you know how you make those promises that you will do something IF because you know the IF is a longshot and you don't actually think you'll have to pay up? Well, yeah, so here I am. Sometime last year I made the promise that if I ever hit the New York Times Bestseller list, I would post some of the novel that I wrote at age 14--which is really just 55,000 words of NKOTB (and Jonathan Brandis--R.I.P.) fan fic. 

Well, this week, it happened! I didn't expect it, but when the NYT list came out, the RIDING DESIRE boxed set I'm in with thriteen other fantastic authors hit #24 on the Ebook list. So first, yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It's a dream come true to be both a NYT and USA Today bestselling author now. HUGE dream. So thank you so much, readers, for buying it. *hugs*

 

Me realizing we made the NYT Bestseller list

Me realizing I promised my NKOTB fan fic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But that also means it's time for me to pay the piper on this promise. Two pages of a kissing scene are posted today on the Smutketeers blog, where you can also see a few of the other authors airing their shames, including Eden Bradley's 80s hair, RG Alexander singing with a band, and a recording of Lauren Hawekeye when she was in a girl group. :) So click over there to check it out.

But I also know that it's not fair for me to only post two pages. So I'm posting a longer scene here. In it there is probably my first attempt at a makeout scene and Jordan gets a little too handsy. Bad Jordan. But Joe comes to the rescue! >.<  Yeah, this is going to be embarrassing.

Some things to note in these pages: 

  • I was 14 and was writing about kissing and such when I had no experience at all. I wouldn't be kissed for another 2 years. Also, this is when French kissing was still very scandalous a thought to my innocent Catholic school girl mind. ;)
  • The heroine is named Love because, yes, I was into subtlety with symbolism. *cough*
  • These are scanned documents that include handwritten edits I did back then.
  • Yes, I dotted my i's with stars because I was rad like that.
  • I actually bought the Writer's Market book that year because I totally planned on querying this. I eventually chickened out--thank God, though I'm sure a few agents would've enjoyed the giggle.
  • The Jonathan in this was actually Jonathan Brandis, not Jon of NKOTB.
  • It was in proper manuscript format because I was serious about this, yo. ; )
  • No, I didn't have a boyfriend at the time. Why do you ask? o.0

 All right, enough stalling, here we go. But first, here's the character sheet of who each character really was (you can see I REALLY deviated from the names on some of them *snort*). And here are the magazine pages I found in the binder for my character inspiration. (Click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here is the lurve scene gone wrong (click to enlarge)...

Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you made it through all nine pages I'm not sure if you're a sadist who enjoys my shame or a masochist for putting yourself through it, lol.

But you know what? I'm okay with it all because I made the NYT, baby!!!

Also, if you'd like to see how far I've (hopefully) come in my writing in 20 years, NEED YOU TONIGHT is out this week! And RIDING DESIRE is only on sale for 99 cents for another day, so if you haven't gotten it, grab it now. And FIFTY FIRST TIMES is still on sale for 1.99!

So what dirty/embarrassing laundry would you air in exchange for a dream coming true? Come on, don't leave me up here all alone. Tell me what's in your attic. ;)

 


Friday
Feb072014

Keeping the Romance In Erotic Fiction

Photo via State Library of New South Wales (Flickr Commons)

Today I'm over at the Book Country blog talking about writing erotic romance and how to keep the romance in that equation. I *may* get a little soapbox-y talking about my genre. *cough*  I'd love it if you stopped by and said hi. :)

Keeping the Romance in Erotic Fiction

 

Have a great weekend!

*btw, not sure why that photo is creating some sort of slideshow. Only the first pic is supposed to be there.