Sunday, October 29, 2006

Normality at last

Yesterday was great.

Judging duties were behind me and my day fell into a work day pattern of writing, promoting and correspondence. Everything was up to date for the first time since the end of June when we left for the UK/Europe.

This morning, it took me less than ten minutes to deal with my inbox and post two excerpts on a Yahoo Group before settling down to writing. Two hours later, I having a coffee and taking a break to write this while I ponder the dilemma of my two protagonists. Both of them are hiding their despair in the physical act of love and only I know the logical surprise prepared for them in the next chapter.

There's always a fine line between preparing the way and telegraphing story elements and I'm trying to tread this one very carefully.

It's great fun.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Sigh of Relief

I've read all the stories, gone back over my notes, reread the sections I noted and studied the judging criteria before grading each entry. I put aside everything to get it done because I found it so uncomfortable to be criticizing other writer's dreams.

It's different when you teach. Criticism is constructive and the student can change the passage and learn. Published works can't be changed and I know how uncomfortable my mistakes in print make me.

Still, the job's done and I did my best, so I can go back to my writing with a relatively clear conscience, even if I'll have to think very hard before I attempt it again.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Never Volunteer!

Military service should have engraved those words on my forehead.

I put myself forward as a first run judge in an award run by a writers' group and was given a number of published books to read in two categories and some broad judging criteria.

I began the first one as soon as they arrived and my discomfort level escalated quite rapidly when I found myself struggling to continue reading the antics of some grotesque caricatures from a comic book. Technically, I could admire the smoke and mirrors expertise of the writer in maintaining the story line, but I had no connection to any of the characters. They had no reality outside the printed page. I ploughed on and completed the book, keeping notes as I went, then gave it a gut reaction mark.

I'll complete all the others and then go back and review my reactions before I submit them, but I'm terribly uncomfortable with the task. I know how much sweat and blood goes into a book and I could see the thought processes behind the writing and admire the technique, but none of the characters were real.

Wish me luck with the rest.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006


The story I'm working on began with two characters in the environment established in NEW BLOOD. There was no clear end in sight and I had little idea what would happen in the story. I just started writing and followed my characters, letting them react naturally to events. This was possible because I knew their environment and its rules.

Other characters came into being as the story progressed and each of them added to the mix until I realized my original goal was only a staging post along the way and we traveled further, this time with even less idea where it was leading. The story problems mounted and the solutions seemed distant- until last night.

I'd had an injection during the day and suffered a reaction that drove me from my bed in the early hours of the morning to sit in front of the computer for an hour or so working. Deciding I was too tired to continue, I went back to bed and found the reaction just as uncomfortable so I let my mind roam where it might to provide a distraction from my discomfort.

It did.

Suddenly all the disparate threads of the story gelled into a coherent whole and I had my ending drawn from threads I'd already established without planning. It felt great and I was thinking so hard I drifted into sleep without realizing it, the discomfort of the reaction forgotten.

I woke this morning and started writing, only to lose a thousand words when a power surge dropped the computer offline and the auto-save hadn't worked. It didn't stop me. I just went back and retyped a revised version before manually saving it and continuing.

It's a great feeling.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Common Problem

A fellow writer agonized over an online interview, certain she'd have nothing of interest to offer, and other writers offered comfort. It highlighted a common problem.

Writers, largely speaking, are ordinary people. It is both our strength and our weakness. It gives us the common insights with our readers that illuminate our writing, but makes it terribly difficult to maintain our self confidence when challenges arise, like interviews, book-signings, personal appearances, etc.

Even a stable of published works with different publishers can't dispel the feelings of being an undiscovered fraud. We revisit them occasionally, anxious for reassurance, only to find every mistake, every piece of sloppy writing, glaring at us from the page. We can only hope our readers are less critical and more forgiving before we go back the solitary hours of writing, beset with the doubts that make us try harder.

I've yet to meet a writer who is complacent about any aspect of their writing at any level except the public face we display to the world. It seems to come with the territory.



Wednesday, October 04, 2006

True Writers?

There's a message thread in the New Concepts Reader's and Authors group about romance writers not being true writers and it's excited some passions, including the dichotomies between male and female writers, literary and popular writers, etc., etc., etc.

Personally, I find it rather irrelevant. I write stories. If I write them well and they are good stories, people read them and come back for more. It's what I enjoy doing. The better I write, the more I enjoy it. It's all very simple.

To give more people the opportunity to read my stories, I have to find publishers who believe they can make money selling my stories. This sometimes means that the stories I choose to write are of a specific genre, sub-genre, etc. I still enjoy writing the stories and the only people who have the right to judge my stories are the people who read them. If they enjoy my stories, they will read more.

End of subject.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Changing Direction

I began writing category romance in 1997 and my first book, Mitchell's Run, was published in 2000 by Rocky River Romances in Australia. (In 2006, an Americanized version of Mitchell's Run was released in the US under the title Mitchell's Valley) It was followed by three other books, A Soldier's Woman, A Fair Trade and Snow Drifter. A fifth story, Beyond the Barriers completed a five book contract, but has not yet been released. Snow Drifter is scheduled for release in the US in April 2007.

In 2004, I wrote a paranormal romance targeting a Canadian E-publisher, LTD Books, having downloaded every free excerpt they allowed and aiming the story somewhere in the middle of their range. I wanted to see what E-publishing was first hand. They accepted the story and we exchanged contracts, but the company folded in 2005 before it was released.

Left with a story considered good enough to publish, I looked for another publisher and a writer friend suggested New Concepts Publishing. They seemed to fit the bill so I sent them the manuscript and they accepted it, releasing New Blood in March 2006. It has since received favorable reviews in the US, as did Mitchell's Valley.

Both books have a level of sensuality in the middle of my comfort zone, more romantic than erotic, and New Blood is the first in a series about a group called The First Family, for reasons that have nothing to do with the White House. I have written the next two with the intention of submitting them to New Concepts, but remain uncomfortable with the company they will keep there. I neither denigrate nor decry erotic literature, I'm just uncomfortable writing it and do not believe my books fit well in its company.

This means striking out again, doing my research and finding a publisher whose line suits my stories, then reformatting them to meet their submission requirements.

Wish me luck.