Tuesday, February 28, 2006

More stuff I've learned

Okay, so I've been spending a lot of time in writing classes, going back to basics. Well, not really basics, actually. I'm taking on-line classes and going to RWA meetings with speakers who are advanced way beyond the basics, multipublished authors, who are passing some of their tricks and tips on.

A recent one from a speaker at the local RWA chapter near where I live was Lori Wilde. She offered the best tip I've heard in a while. In her books, she chooses some sort of prop for the characters in her scene that will represent the emotion or theme she's trying to express. That way, it keeps her away from "telling" the story and moves her towards "showing" the story.

An example would be in the Susan Elizabeth Phillips book Ain't She Sweet, the day Sugar Beth learned that her father was never going to love her the way she wanted him to, which winds up shaping her behavior for the rest of her life. Her father has always treated her like a dumb blonde, so she believes if she works hard enough, and gets all A's on her report card, he'll love her more. On the day she gets her report card (the prop), she bicycles over to show her daddy. She's bursting with pride, clutching the report card in her hand--until she sees her daddy sitting with another little girl in his lap, giving her the love and attention Sugar Beth has always wanted. That little girl is his second family, the one he really loves. Sugar Beth realizes she'll never be smart enough to get him to love her that way, and she crumples up the report card, and in her anguish, it drops to the ground, forgotten. We, the readers, realize along with her what that moment will mean in her life, and it's all represented by that dirty, forgotten, abandoned report card--a hope, a dream, trampled in the dirt.

I thought that was powerful, and I've made use of it as much as possible in my WIP. My hero, an alien cop, wears gloves most of the time. It represents his loneliness and isolation, and the way he surpresses his emotions. When the gloves come off--literally--his emotions are explosive and very near the surface. When he pulls them back on, he's under control again. It's a very effective way for communicating the hero's emotional state to the reader without saying, "He was upset."

Good tool, huh? Try it in your writing and see if it works.


Monday, February 27, 2006

My Seduction Style

Okay, so I thought I was done for the night, but clicking over to Monica Burns site, I found she had a link to this cute quiz to take. Apparently, I'm a charmer. Hmmm.

Your Seduction Style: The Charmer

You're a master at intimate conversation and verbal enticement.

You seduce with words, by getting people to open up to you.

By establishing this deep connection quickly, people feel under your power.

And then you've got them exactly where you want them!

Well, I'm not telling if it's accurate...but "Come into my parlor," said the spider to the fly. :-)

Check out Monica's site at http://www.monicaburns.blogspot.com/. She's a fellow 2005 Golden Heart finalist who is on fire right now! Thanks, Monica, for efficiently linking my blog to yours. If I could only return the favor...

I will master technology some day, I will!


Think BIG

I've got a new motto. It's THINK BIG. I've posted it above my computer as a reminder not to play it safe anymore in my writing.

I'm getting tired of the "wonderful writing, not in love with the story" comments I keep getting from agents and editors. I haven't been able to figure out what was wrong until now. I recently took an on-line course from Susan and Harry Squires, whose shoes I am not worthy to polish, and learned more in that four weeks about writing than I have in four years.

These two published authors took their time and considerable energy to comment on eight individual lessons from forty students while trying to live their lives and write their own books. Amazing. They were very complimentary to what I produced most of the time, but they were also hard on me, too, for which I was grateful. They showed their faith in me by making me work up to the level of my ability, and accepting nothing less than the best from me.

One of my problems when writing has always been to write small stories with strong characters, but I haven't thought big enough. I haven't made the consequences big enough so that huge things hang in the balance.

So I sat down at my computer and wrote two words at the top of the page: THINK BIG.

Then I started working. For my current WIP, The Justice Seeker, about an alien cop in pursuit of a former healer gone bad who then runs afoul of a female LAPD detective hunting the same man for crimes on Earth, I decided that instead of having my hero or heroine's life affected by the outcome of my story, I'd go big.

I came up with a blurb that showcased the emotions I wanted to highlight that would make this a BIG story. Then I worked backwards to figure out how to make that true. I visualized my story as a movie being advertised in a theater trailer spot. What did I want the audience to feel? What would make them go, "Ooh, I wonder what that is about?"

Here is my new blurb/tag:"When passion is a crime and trust is the ultimate act of betrayal...What you don't know can kill you. The Justice Seeker: The fate of two worlds lies in his hands."

I know it needs work, but it's a lot better than what I started with. It gave me better ideas for my villain's character traits, my hero's, and my heroine's. It raised the stakes. And now, people will care what happens because for the problem to be big, the solution has to be bigger.

Thank you, Susan and Harry. I'm so excited about writing again, I can hardly wait to get to my computer every day.

Wish me luck. I've got a good feeling about this one.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Update on "Naughty Girl"

Folks, regarding the guidelines for the erotica e-publisher:

Yesterday, when I objected to the association of interracial romance with “naughty” (the publisher’s term) sexual practices such as BDSM, anal play, etc. in the submission guidelines for the e-publisher's new erotica line, I decided to forward the acquisitions editor an e-mail politely asking them to consider changing their guidelines to reflect the fact that interracial romance, while still considered by some as "forbidden," was not in any way on the level of "naughtiness" that its association with these alternative sexual practices might seem to imply.

I am much relieved to say the editor responded quickly by forwarding my e-mail directly to the publisher, with her apologies that this had even become an issue. The publisher stated the same, apologized, and has changed their guidelines. They stated that they understood how the association of these ideas with one another might be taken in the manner I suggested. I do believe it when they say the insult was unintentional, and I believe they really meant well. Their willingness to change and their responsiveness does them credit.

Thought you might want to know.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Oh, you naughty girl...

So, a friend recently sent out a post about a new line that her erotica e-publisher is starting. As you know, I don't write erotica, though I have read a bit of the milder stuff to see what it was like, since the genre is so, pardon the pun, "hot" right now. (I'll read pretty much anything if I get the book for free, frankly, which a lot of what I read is. Research, you understand. Research.) Anyway, I found a particular part of this publisher's submission guidelines both telling and depressing. (BTW, this is not a riff on my friend, who is a wonderful person and writer, and also in an interracial marriage).

We are looking for distinctive, well-told and well-crafted stories, which appeal to our readers' naughtier side. Accepted submissions will include, but is not limited to BDSM, multiple partners, anal play, same-sex, **interracial**, etc.

**italics are mine

Hmmm. Little did I realize my marriage to my white husband is considered naughty. Imagine my surprise to be lumped in with BDSM and anal play (which I assume is somehow different than anal sex, but I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW).

Is people of different races falling in love and having relationships still considered "naughty," risky, racy, and against the norm? I suppose it must be in some places, for example in Indiana where this publisher is based, though I imagine the color line is occasionally crossed there, too, but to me it's just the day to day world I inhabit. My DH and I are about as naughty as having tea with the pastor on Sunday afternoons.

For the type of audience this publisher caters to, surely interracial romance is not nearly along the same level of riskyness as all that other stuff. I could be wrong, of course. Maybe for some, that's as daring as it gets. I just can't help wishing that they had found another way to say this.

Sigh...and we had made such progress since Rosa Parks...


Sunday, February 05, 2006

More News on CMA

Just an update on the Creative Media Agency: it appears that agent Lisa VanAuken has not made the move with CMA to the new Folio Literary Management, but instead has decided to quit agenting and go back to school to get her Master's. We wish her luck, as well as anybody who had a manuscript in-house with her. Submission guidelines are now up on the site, by the way.