Posts Tagged ‘romance’

off topic: blog rants

I’m not a fan of blog commenting. Weird, right, since I (occasionally) write my own blog you’d think I’d be all about the feedback of others. Eh. Mostly I write this blog to keep myself honest and to (occasionally) entertain my friends.

If I happen to find myself in the position of commenting on someone else’s blog, I try to keep it positive even if I don’t happen to agree with the opinion. We need less haters in this world, dammit! To be totally honest most of the comments I make are in the lemming vein of  “me too! LOL!”

Erudite stuff, folks.

However, there are times (occasionally) I’ll read a post and it will get me thinking and then I feel like maybe a more verbose comment is appropriate. This morning I found myself at such a crossroad.

I was rolling through my daily blogs and landed on this one from Lani Diane Rich. It apparently struck a chord with me. And so without further ado, here is the rant I posted in response to this article by Sarah Bilston:

It never fails to stun me how much vitriol is spewed when the subject of women’s fiction is introduced – and that the angriest spewers are women themselves. 

I read and write romance novels and I stand by the genre as a legitimate and profitable wing of the publishing industry. I find it sad and ridiculous that so little respect is given to – or demanded by – the writers, readers and publishers of this juggernaut of a genre. No other single genre – including the much vaunted “legitimate literature” – rakes in as much cash as romance/women’s fiction. So what does this tell us? 

People like to be entertained. 

People like to be entertained with fun and frivolity because it gives them a chance to step out of their own lives for a time, out of their responsibilities and wondering if the next paycheck is going to cover the mortgage, car insurance, daycare, whatever. I , personally, get enough of that stress in my daily life and I don’t need it to be the focus of my entertainment. 

But maybe that’s just me. 

Am I saying that if a story doesn’t come with a happy ending it’s worthless? Of course not. Because that would be *ridiculous* and erroneous. We need all types of stories because we are all types of people – and it never hurts for us to step out of our comfort zones and check out someone else’s flavor of entertainment. That’s how we grow. That’s how I have a library built on the collected works of Shakespeare, the Brontes, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, Nora Roberts, Jennifer Crusie, Lani-Diane Rich, Anne Stuart, PJ Tracy, Dan Brown, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut – and those are just my keepers that I can rattle off the top of my head. I’ll pick up any book that sounds like it’s got the goods by way of story. Because the beauty is that I will likely learn *something* from the experience, even if that is simply this writer’s style is not my cuppa. 

As for Ms. Bilston’s “Americanization” of this particular novel, I have to say that that I’m actually more interested in this new altered version. I will be making the effort to find this and see if it lives up the hype. And if not, no harm no foul. I’m certainly no worse off for spending a few days reading a novel following one woman’s journey than I would be rereading Romeo & Juliet (the biggest, fattest anti-romance out there). 

Not all stories are created equal. Not all books released under the “literature” or the “romance” tags are worth the paper they’re printed on. In fact, the great majority of them are mediocre leaning into truly awful. Not all books released by renowned authors are of the same caliber. But if you don’t try, if you don’t open your eyes and mind to the endless possibilities available then you will miss the true gems that pop up. 

Closed minds are everyone’s loss.

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wip: navel gazing

Over at SBTB HQ, Sarah and Candy often refer to moments of personal reflection as “navel gazing” – generally with hilarious results. This morning I find myself inflicted with this condition – generally without hilarious results.

I last posted about the BS2 Workshop I attended, and while I am still very enthusiastic I find myself stalled in the project. Unfortunately, this is typical for me. When I reach a certain point in the writing process which demands more logical reasoning than “Hey! Wouldn’t it be funny if they said/did this?” I tend to stall out. Because I don’t want the project to suck ass and yet that’s what I’m terrified has already happened. So I tell myself that I am “percolating” or “brainstorming” or some other such nonsense. And eventually I never get back to the WIP. A tragic yet true story.

Why do you care? Maybe you don’t and that’s cool. But since I set this blog up to track my progress through various writing projects, the information seemed relevant.

I’d really thought that once I attended the workshop, I would be able to pull a fully finished and polished screenplay out of my butt within a week or so. Ha! Not so much. Because while the workshop helped to identify a core defect very early in the process (location! location! location!) so many more questions were raised in the solving of that one problem. So now we have to seriously look at our heroines (there are 3) and possibly change (again) who the true protagonist is. And while it’s all for the good of creating a saleable product (cuz really, that’s the ultimate goal – I have other ways to entertain myself that require much less brain power), it’s a lot of work. And I find that I have trouble getting the old motivation motoring forward most times.

So coming back ’round to the Smart Bitches, I always find that when I check out their site I desperately want to go back and finish the Tucker beta (which I abandoned to tackle the screenplay). But I also want to finish the screenplay. Welcome tonavel gazing limbo land!

But on the SBTB site I found that they had a spot on NPR’s All Things Considered this past weekend. That is so highbrow! And very exciting. Their book is officially out this week and apparently going like hotcakes at my daughter’s daycare and I couldn’t be happier for them. And in clicking around the article I found the Old Skool vs.New Skool Romance Flowchart. It gave me something to smile about today. Check it out. It’s totally worth the brain twist.

And here’s to hoping I can overcome this funk-rut sometime soon and get back to my pending million dollar writing career. Gotta be positive, right?

holy frakin’ wednesday, batman!

Ok, it’s Tuesday. But that is less important than the fact that I just cracked 30,000 words on Tucker! Not only that, but I’ve cruised right past that benchmark to land at 32,214.

YEE HAW!!!

This is very heady stuff, especially since I’m targeting a line looking for roughly 55k on the word count. Which line? Not sure yet. I know, I know – shouldn’t I have this decided already? Likely. But the fact remains I haven’t and I’m just STOKED that I’ve passed the Wednesday of my writing week – it’s all downhill to Friday from here, people.

 

Now, my kitchen is a sty and my hubbin has no dinner. But who cares?? I’m at 30k words and counting…

 

Boo yah.

wip: Tucker @ 18,946

Another day, another scene. Not too shabby, all things considered.

 

I had an epiphany while struggling to start this scene. Changed several key points that had been law up to this point. But the changes are going to make the plot much tighter and gives a real reason for the hero and heroine to have a falling out instead of the classic ‘misunderstanding-that-could-be-solved-easily-if-someone-would-just-man-up-and-pull-their-head-out-of-their-ass-and-ask-the-right-question’ scenario so popular in many romance novels.

 

Now more than ever I am fighting the urge to go back and rewrite the beginning. I mean if I’m this far in and finding new good stuff, I might as well make it to the end and see where I land so I only have to go back and fix it once.

 

Ugh.

 

Keep moving forward…

wip: Tucker @ 16,488

Whew. I beat that last scene into submission. Well… not really. It was going pretty well before but I had to wait a day before I could go back in and finish it. But it’s done. Moving forward…

 

I’m not sure if this process is harder than I thought it would be or not. The “seat of the pants” or “don’t look down” method. On the one hand, I did do up a quick sketch of the beginning, middle and very murky end – about six pages – back before I started this. Heavy notes on the front section and then ending with, “they kiss & make up… they live happily ever after”. Hardly a detailed roadmap. More like, “Hey, let’s go east and see where we end up.” But so far I feel better with this project than any of the ones before and I’m making progress.

 

Except for the fact that my prose is flat as a pancake.

 

My writing partner tells me it really isn’t that bad and to keep in mind this is the underpainting. Once I get the story blocked in I will be going back and editing and layering adding the color and texture. But see, that’s the fun part and I want to do it now.

 

Must stick to the plan.

 

I figured out about 2,400 words ago that my hero was a useless wad; he was a plot device. So I finally figured out how to get him into the story in a way that makes sense and enriches it instead of having him be there merely for the heroine to go, “Hey you’re kinda cute. Let’s live HEA.” I desperately want to go back and rip off the front section and rewrite. More than I can adequately express in words. But that’s one of my usual traps. I “skim” over what I wrote before and end up editing as I’m reading. This method, my friends, does not get you very far.

 

I just checked and it appears I sent out the sketch to my writing partner on April 17th. Today is May 16th. 30 days. 16,488 words. I appear to be averaging 550 words a day. Hrm. That’s discouraging. But then again, I’m only writing a scene every couple of days. I need to really try and get a scene a day. I really want this thing done. 

wip: Tucker @ 15,209

So I snuck some writing in yesterday afternoon. Not a lot, but more is more in this case. I was on a roll but then I had to break to do some work. I mean seriously – what do these people think they’re paying me to do?? Oh, yeah. WORK.

 

Ah well. I didn’t finish the scene. Hopefully today. After I clock some time on the day job, natch.

 

It also doesn’t help that I picked up the new Nora Roberts book yesterday so my reflex is to drop everything and read it from cover to cover in one sitting. As a working mother of two, this I cannot do anymore (though not for lack of trying).

 

My writing partner thinks it too distracting to read someone else’s work while trying to create your own, but I find that it helps me avoid ugly pitfalls like “he said” and “she said” and explore new ways to craft a sentence so everything doesn’t start to sound repetitive. Of course, you have to be wary of the ugly UGLY pitfall of starting to sound like who you’re reading – but that just spices up the process, don’t you think?

 

This time I’m pursuing this project in a totally alien fashion me – “Don’t Look Down” style. Jenny Crusie refers to her first drafts as the Don’t Look Down drafts – she just writes and collages, keeps moving forward until she hits the end. It may not be pretty on first pass, but the framework is there and she can go back and finesse until her heart’s content.

 

Generally, that’s not my bag. I like lists and charts and bullet points. Order. As you can see below, that hasn’t gotten me very far in the past. I always try to plan things down to the last detail and then I lose interest in the actual writing. So this time out I’ve decided to try the Crusie method. So far, so good.

 

Actually I’m finding this approach is not unlike oil painting: you sketch, you block in the underpainting, then you go back in with color and light and texture to bring the painting to life.

 

Hopefully (fingers crossed) I turn out to be a better writer than I was a painter.

exercise #1

In order to grasp the full extent of the road behind me I decided to go through my files and see what litter I’ve produced thus far. What I found wasn’t pretty.

 

Are you a writer or, like me, a wannbe? You should play along at home, for shits and giggles if nothing else.

 

I went through my archives and found 8 manuscripts that actually made it past the idea stage, several ideas that that were no more than a few lines, and several things I had totally forgotten about.

 

I get so excited by a new idea that I just have to get it out on paper (or screen as the case is in this day and age) that I totally abandon whatever I was working on before. Oh at the time I don’t consider it abandonment; no rather I am just “taking a break” and exploring a new option before I lose it. Well, we all know what happened when Ross and Rachel “took a break”.

 

Behold! My Walk of Shame:

·        TUCKER :: 12,756 words to date :: last updated 05/02/08 :: target 60-65k words

·        PENELOPE :: 21,956 words to date :: last updated 01/15/08 :: target 60-65k words

·        FAITH :: 836 words to date :: last updated 11/18/07 :: target ??

·        JANE :: 306 words to date :: last updated 06/14/07 :: target ??

·        GIDGET :: 3,031 words to date :: last updated 06/14/07 :: target ??

·        BETH :: 1,845 words to date :: last updated 06/14/07 :: target ??

·        CAIRINE :: 6,329 words to date :: last updated 06/14/07 :: target 20-25k words

·        GRACE :: 2,908 words to date :: last updated 06/14/07 :: target ??

 

The list is in order of youngest to oldest – as best it can be. Apparently 06/14/07 is when I pulled my archives off of my Mac PowerBook and onto my jump drive so that I could work on them more freely. You see how well that’s gone for me.

 

Also I don’t have a target word count for many of them, reason being I keep changing my mind. The target of 60-65k is for the market I’ve decided will become my bread and butter: Category Romance. Yes they tend to have truly silly covers and even trulier sillier titles but because they publish such as huge number of titles per month the publishers are more willing to take chances on new authors. Or at least, this is my most desperate hope fueled by the sage advice of those in the know I have come across as a member of the RWA.

 

Most embarrassing from the list above is CAIRINE. I actually was lucky enough to get an editor appointment at the Dallas RWA Conference in 2004 and the editor actually wanted to see it. For whatever reason (mostly because I’m a moron) I never finished it and got it to her. WTF???

 

Right now all of the titles are simply the heroine’s name. I found it easier to tag them that way after my first title for GRACE was smacked down. GRACE had the working title The Care and Feeding of Bryans. Then Dr. Laura had to muck it up with her book of a very similar title. Besides, from what I hear there is a secret machine at Harlequin that produces titles based on marketing strategy and since that is where I have set my lofty sights and I am going to worry only about FINISHNG a book and sending it.

 

So that’s it. My not so secret shame. Damn. I got to get writing.