Friday, October 30, 2015

NaNoWriMo is coming!

So here I am, on the cusp of NaNoWriMo, trying to finish WINTER BREAK before November 1st so I can start fresh with something else on Sunday.

Why isn't WINTER BREAK finished yet, Hunter? You've had two full weeks to write one more scene. What's up?

The biggest reason is my daughter. I have two children; my son moved out over a year ago and married last May. My daughter, having graduated with a degree in theatre and loving Stage Management, hasn't been able to get anything full time and so has been living at home to save money. That's changed. She's now the full time Business Manager for two businesses - Water Gallery and Cafe and the West Main Kitchen in Waterloo, NY. The first is an art gallery, the second is a recently-renovated diner that will be opening VERY soon (menu tasting is tomorrow by invitation only and my husband and I snagged invites. Can't wait!).

The upshot of all this is that she's taken the apartment over the diner (and two doors down from the gallery) and has been moving out. We've painted her new kitchen, her new living room and her new bedroom (the bathroom was still in good shape), moved furniture - I have a garage back! (she's been collecting for quite some time) - and bought groceries. There is still a closet full of clothes to go through and a lot of childhood "stuff" to sort out, but we're almost done.

And that's what I've been doing instead of writing. It's both a fun and exciting time for her (and us) and a scary one as well. She's been on her own before, but I think this is it. Her last move out of our house, starting her own life. She's launched and I'm thrilled and saddened at the same time.

But NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. So today, I'm going to finish WINTER BREAK so I can send it out for another round of edits. Remember the no-conflict problem? Fixed!

I know, I know. Stop writing this post and get back to that story, Hunter!

Play safe!

edited to correct the name of the new restaurant and to add in the link

Sunday, October 11, 2015

No conflict? What???

What do you do when your story has no conflict?

This happened to me lately. I started the story WINTER BREAK as a Christmas Quickie for Ellora’s Cave. But I’m a pantser and the story, while set at Christmas, doesn’t contain the holiday as an integral part of the story (EC’s requirement). It also doesn’t have a lot of sex in it, which makes it more a traditional romance than an erotic one.

Finished, I sent the manuscript off to several of my Sizzling Scribes sisters for proofing/editing. I always ask them to be brutal, because I want the best story I can put out there. Many thanks to both TaraNina and Lynn LaFleur for their comments (and expertise at finding my typos!).

It was Tielle St. Clare, however, who pointed out (rightfully) that I had no real conflict in the story. It was a slice of life piece – which is fine if that’s what I meant, but she rather thought it wasn’t. You see, as a pantser, I discover the characters like to drop little clues, hints about their problems that they divulge rather early in the story. As the plot progresses, I take these clues and follow them, determining as I go which are important and which are not. In the re-write, I take out the false clues (unless I’m writing a mystery like SHOOTING STAR – those red herrings are there specifically to mislead you!).

Except in WINTER BREAK, I hadn’t done anything with the hints at something in the female protagonist’s past that might hinder a current relationship.

Now mind you, I knew what it was in my head. I knew the hero and heroine would have trouble because of it. It was all right there – the characters had told me fairly early on and then trusted me to deal with it later.

Except I hadn’t. And Tielle called me on it. This is why writers need editors!

So I’ve been rewriting the story. It’s gone from just over 10K to 14K in the past week as the conflict has come home to roost. Tara and Lynn think it needs another sex scene (grin) and it might get that as well. Haven’t decided yet. Will let the characters make their choices (although I have a sneaking suspicion what they’ll want!). If they do, it will probably end up closer to 18K by the time I’m done.

Writers need editors. Writers know the story too well to have an objective eye—we miss the obvious. Thank you to Tara, Lynn and Tielle for their editing help. I couldn’t do this without you sisters!

Play safe,


Sunday, October 04, 2015

NaNoWriMo in less than a month -- already?

Hard to believe NaNoWriMo will so soon be upon us. Seems like just yesterday we were furiously writing novels, grabbing every spare minute to write another section, another paragraph, another sentence. Anything to advance our word counts and get to the finish line: 50,000 words in a month.

NaNoWriMo is good because it forces one to take time and do what writer's do: write. As a retiree, it's all too easy to slip into lazy practices - I'll do one more load of laundry...dust the dining this book - any excuse to avoid the BIC step (Butt In Chair). An event such as NaNoWriMo reminds us, if you want to write a book? You have to sit down and write a book.

Last year I worked on THE REVOLUTION OF CLARA SIMPSON, an historical romance. I'd started the research earlier and had some of it written before November. During NaNoWriMo, however, I added 52K to the story. When I finished it a few weeks later, the story ended up around 75K total. But for the November push, it would've taken a whole lot longer for me to get that puppy finished.

What happened to that manuscript, you ask? Let me tell you...

The book sprang from a conversation I'd had with C. J. Hollenbach, one of EC's original cover models. He's a sweetheart and, at the Romanticon convention, I remarked that he'd never graced the cover of any of my books. I told him I'd write one specifically for him, a book that would cry out for him as the cover model.

At one point, he was the model for Karen Hawkins' Her Master and Commander and I loved that picture of him. Dashing, handsome, romantic...yeah. I wanted to write that C.J., so I did. The Revolution of Clara Simpson.

But it didn't turn out to be an erotic romance. Historical romance, yes. Sweet romance, yes. Erotic romance? No so much.

That meant Ellora's Cave wasn't the right place for it. I could self-pub it (and still might!), but thought this might be the book to bring in a wider audience. So I sent it off to Carina Press.

Who promptly rejected it.

I sent it to Harlequin next. But, three months later, I contacted them again (since I hadn't heard from them aside from the initial auto-response) and asked if they were still interested. I got a very nice note in reply from Dieidra McCluskey, an Editorial Assistant, stating that their response time of 12 weeks is approximate and that my manuscript was being reviewed by their Historical Romance response team.

I haven't heard from them since. I suppose I'll send another email at the six-month period to see if I can goose it along, one way or the other. It's hard, having written a book that I know is good, to wait on others for a yay or nay, especially in this time of self-publishing when I could've had it out there already (let's face it, Mystic Shade wrote, edited and published two more books and I've written a Christmas story that's currently in edits in the time Harlequin has taken to decide!).

So I'll give them a courtesy email in another week, upon the six-month anniversary of my submitting it. I would very much like them to publish it, even though it means a smaller royalty for me (compared to self-publishing) because it means a wider distribution. More eyes on the book - and that's worth the trade-off. Why? Because that book will lead new readers to say, "I liked this. What else has she written?" And my entire backlist will get a boost.

So what's up for this year's NaNoWriMo? What book will I work on? Not sure yet. I have that fantasy I keep talking about and would love to get a chunk more written. But there is also a follow-up story to Clara Simpson's and I'm thinking I might like to give that a run. I have a few weeks yet to make my decision, thank goodness!

NaNoWriMo in less than a month - already. Have any ideas about what project you're going to work on?

Play safe,