Friday, January 25, 2013

Please tell me when did I become my mother!

First, let me say "I love my mother!"  But, when did I become her?  I don't understand how it happened.  It's like one day I opened my eyes, and "whammo!" she was starring back at me from my mirror.

How or why?

Dating, or should I say courting.

While watching the news the other day, I realized that I am one of "those people."  I love every gadget I can get my hands on: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Kindle Fire.  I love all things social media: blogs, vlogs, Twitter, and (kind of) FaceBook :-)  but when it comes to dating...I am my mother.

The news story was about what's acceptable when asking a woman out on a date.  Your choices are: texting, calling, emailing, or face-to-face.

For me, there are only two choices: face-to-face and calling.  Why because the other two seem impersonal and cold.  I use email and text for promoting and selling products for companies that I work for and with.  I use them both to push information out to people.  But, usually it's from masked addresses that often don't allow responses.

But, now, they seem to be "okay" methods to ask a woman out.  So, then what happens?  Do you plan your date by text or email, too?  Why do you need the other person?  You might as well have a virtual date.  Okay, okay, maybe it's not that dramatic, I'm just saying.  How do I know that same guy didn't send the same invitation to ten other women, and was simply waiting to see who responded first.  Maybe, he would do the same thing if he looked me in my eye or called, but I don't know, I guess it makes me feel differently when I hear his voice or look into his eyes.

I remember talking with my mother, her sisters, and my grandmother about men.  Men should do this.  Men should do that.  Or, women should do this or that.  I rebelled against most of it because to me it all seemed so stereotypical.  And I refused to be the "stereotypical" southern woman.

Now, the only thing I can think about is how much  I kind of wish some of those old school things would come back.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

#GuestAuthor - Janie Franz

My guest this week is Janie Franz.  One of my fellow MuseItUP Publishing authors.

This week, Janie joins me to discuss how she uses pieces of her life in her writing.  She'll share with us how it helps her build her worlds and create the interesting lives of her characters.

Drop by Romancing the Pen this week, and join in the conversation.

Book blurb:

Music journalist/artist Shivaun Corbin, on assignment at charismatic rocker Daniel Madux’s Sugar Magnolia, discovers dark secrets and hidden passion.

#BookReview - Archangel's Kiss by @NaliniSingh

Yes, I hit my magic button when I put down Angels' Bood, and freaking immediately began reading Archangel's Kiss!

I mean, what was I supposed to do.  The freaking angel was in my dreams.  I had angelfire coming from my own fingers.  Honestly, I was forced to do it.  I won't start Archangel's Consort until...January.  Maybe :-)

Raphael is delicious and I kick Elena out as much as possible.  

Archangel's Kiss catches us up on what happened in Angels' Blood.  For people like me, this allows you to not necessarily have to read Angels' Blood to know what's going on.  

Nalini continues to introduce readers to her group of god-like angels.  Their faults:  jealousies, pettiness, and power struggles.  Like Elena, my heart breaks a little more with the knowledge of each angel's human-like behavior.  

Along with Elena, I want the angels to be better than me.  And if they can't be, then I want Raphael to kick their arses!

There are a number of sub-plots in this book.  Nalini does a great job of giving you just enough of each to tantalize.  Enough to make you want to know more.  Where's Raphael's mother?  What will Neha do next?  What is Lijuan?

So many questions.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rules for writing fiction

As written for The Guardian by Sarah Waters, novelist.

1 Read like mad. But try to do it analytically – which can be hard, because the better and more compelling a novel is, the less conscious you will be of its devices. It's worth trying to figure those devices out, however: they might come in useful in your own work. I find watching films also instructive. Nearly every modern Hollywood blockbuster is hopelessly long and baggy. Trying to visualise the much better films they would have been with a few radical cuts is a great exercise in the art of story-telling. Which leads me on to . . .

2 Cut like crazy. Less is more. I've ­often read manuscripts – including my own – where I've got to the beginning of, say, chapter two and have thought: "This is where the novel should actually start." A huge amount of information about character and backstory can be conveyed through small detail. The emotional attachment you feel to a scene or a chapter will fade as you move on to other stories. Be business-like about it. In fact . . .

3 Treat writing as a job. Be disciplined. Lots of writers get a bit OCD-ish about this. Graham Greene famously wrote 500 words a day. Jean Plaidy managed 5,000 before lunch, then spent the afternoon answering fan mail. My minimum is 1,000 words a day – which is sometimes easy to achieve, and is sometimes, frankly, like shitting a brick, but I will make myself stay at my desk until I've got there, because I know that by doing that I am inching the book forward. Those 1,000 words might well be rubbish – they often are. But then, it is always easier to return to rubbish words at a later date and make them better.

4 Writing fiction is not "self-­expression" or "therapy". Novels are for readers, and writing them means the crafty, patient, selfless construction of effects. I think of my novels as being something like fairground rides: my job is to strap the reader into their car at the start of chapter one, then trundle and whizz them through scenes and surprises, on a carefully planned route, and at a finely engineered pace.

5 Respect your characters, even the ­minor ones. In art, as in life, everyone is the hero of their own particular story; it is worth thinking about what your minor characters' stories are, even though they may intersect only slightly with your protagonist's. At the same time . . .

6 Don't overcrowd the narrative. Characters should be individualised, but functional – like figures in a painting. Think of Hieronymus Bosch's Christ Mocked, in which a patiently suffering Jesus is closely surrounded by four threatening men. Each of the characters is unique, and yet each represents a type; and collectively they form a narrative that is all the more powerful for being so tightly and so economically constructed. On a similar theme . . .

7 Don't overwrite. Avoid the redundant phrases, the distracting adjectives, the unnecessary adverbs. Beginners, especially, seem to think that writing fiction needs a special kind of flowery prose, completely unlike any sort of language one might encounter in day-to-day life. This is a misapprehension about how the effects of fiction are produced, and can be dispelled by obeying Rule 1. To read some of the work of Colm Tóibín or Cormac McCarthy, for example, is to discover how a deliberately limited vocabulary can produce an astonishing emotional punch.

8 Pace is crucial. Fine writing isn't enough. Writing students can be great at producing a single page of well-crafted prose; what they sometimes lack is the ability to take the reader on a journey, with all the changes of terrain, speed and mood that a long journey involves. Again, I find that looking at films can help. Most novels will want to move close, linger, move back, move on, in pretty cinematic ways.

9 Don't panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends' embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce . . . Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there's prayer. St Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, has often helped me out in a crisis. If you want to spread your net more widely, you could try appealing to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, too.

10 Talent trumps all. If you're a ­really great writer, none of these rules need apply. If James Baldwin had felt the need to whip up the pace a bit, he could never have achieved the extended lyrical intensity of Giovanni's Room. Without "overwritten" prose, we would have none of the linguistic exuberance of a Dickens or an Angela Carter. If everyone was economical with their characters, there would be no Wolf Hall . . . For the rest of us, however, rules remain important. And, ­crucially, only by understanding what they're for and how they work can you begin to experiment with breaking them.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The guitar has dropped in Memphis, TN!

Yes, in Memphis, we drop a large guitar, just like New York in Times Square.  Love it!

Checklist time!

I do this every year.  Don't we all.  We take stock of the year that's ending, and we picture whatever great something we want for the one that's about to begin.

Instead of looking at what I didn't do in 2012, I want to look at my successes and how I can continue to improve on them for 2013.

  • Write, write, write - I released a short story and a novella in 2012!  I'm extremely proud of them both.  "Love All Over Me" deals with continuing to live life after losing the love of your life.  "Give Me Everything" is about the choices so many career-focused couples have to make.  Do you choose love or financial wealth?  Can you have it all?
  • Conferences - I attended two fabulous conferences in 2012, and for 2013 I have plans to attend four!
  • Networking - I've made more great friends within and outside of the writing world! Some of them have visited me at Romancing the Pen.  And some have joined me on Triberr as part of the Writing, dreaming, living tribe!  I even launched my author app!  iOS or Android 
  • Reading - I've caught up on a lot of the series that I'd heard so much about during RT 2012, and I've added a few more to my list.  Check out some of my favs here:  USA Today Happily Ever After.
  • Research - I use everything as research.  But, I'm kicking off 2013 attending a six part series which will be held at one of our libraries in Memphis because it will be a fantastic way for me to conduct research for a piece that I'm currently working on.
2013 is shaping up to look pretty darn good!

What successes did you have in 2012?  What are you looking to continue to do in 2013?