Category: writing

Fire in Fiction and good juju

Yup. I’m heading to the Fire in Fiction workshop Saturday. It’s an all day thing with quite a drive to and from. Basically, my mind should be mush by the time I’m finished. That’s my goal albeit an odd one.

But you see, I have another goal in going to this thing. I want 10 seconds to meet Donald Maass and shake his hand again. Just enough to say, “Hi. Remember me from RWA National? The book we plotted is in your email box as we speak. It’s a pleasure meeting you again and I can’t wait to hear what you think.”

See? 10 seconds should cover it. I think I’d vomit if he actually said he remembered me from last summer.

(As a side note, I don’t think agents remember writers at all. I think they remember stories…we just supply the fingers that type them. So I guess I’m praying he remembers my premise and not necessarily me in particular…although that would be cool too.)

Anyway, I could use all the good juju I can get. Please send good thoughts, prayers, etc, etc, etc, my way. I’m gonna need ’em on Saturday.

"How do you find the time?"

I’ve been asked a lot recently how I find the time to write. One person actually asked if I sold my family. (Hi Rachael J!) Maybe it’s because this week I wrote like a madwoman. Yeah, maybe.

Yes, I have little ones at my feet. And yes, I have a house to clean. But if it’s a priority, you’ll find the time. It’s that simple.

Before writing, I used to watch atleast 3 hours of TV a day. You know, Judge Judy from 5-6 (she’s a must and still is), then my favorite reality shows in the evening on the days they air. Biggest Loser, Bachelor, Bachelorette, Amazing Race, Keeping up with the Kardashians (not all in the same day or even the same season of course). Then, I’d fill in my remaining “relaxing time” with other random shows that looked interesting at the time.

Since I started on this crazy journey of becoming a writer/author, I’ve cut out all the garbage in between. I mean, really, how many minutes are wasted on commercials for these shows? And how many times do you watch the show then see the preview for the next one and say “Oh, I’ll watch a little of what’s coming next,” then BOOM. You’re into another show for an hour.

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Not for me. Time is a beautiful thing that you can’t get back. It really shouldn’t be wasted.

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So I use it to write. And write. And write. I TiVo my favorites and only watch those. Seriously, if you cut your television time, or cut it out completely…or stopped eating out and cooked instead (much faster cuz you can write while things are cooking-I do)…or if you shopped less…or visited with friends less…you would find the time too. Think about it.

And since I’ve found all this free time, I actually have more time to spend with my family, too. The best bonus ever.

How much time do you waste that you could use for more important things?

Movin’ on along

Want an update on the writing process?

I’m still querying my second book Dark Tide Rising. To date I’ve received 38 rejections and 2 requests. I’ve been told that with 38 rejections I’m only scraping the tip of the iceberg. Ouch. That icy edge sting a little.

I started writing my third book untitled Monday. As of this afternoon (Thursday) I’ve written 10,000 words. That’s 38 pages in Times New Roman people! And they’re GOOD pages. Did I say good? I mean, I think they’re the best 38 pages I’ve ever written. And every day I wake up, hit the keyboard again, anxious to see what’s going to happen next in my story. I’m a total pantser, by the way.

At this pace I should be finished with the book by the RWA National Confence in Nashville (in July), where I can meet editors and agents to pitch the hell out of it.

I’m heading to the Fire in Fiction workshop given by renowned agent Donald Maass (of Donald Maass Literary Agency) in a few weeks. I can’t wait to meet him again. (I met him last year at RWA National at the bar in the hotel lobby and pitched my book not knowing who he was. I mean, REALLY. Can it get any better than that?) My second manuscript is sitting in his personal email box as we speak. I’m so excited I could scream. I doubt he’s going to fulfill my dream by saying “It’s perfect! I’ll represent you!” I’m not perfect, so my work won’t be either. But I’d jump over the moon for a “I think you have potential. Work on 1-2-3 things and come back to me.” That’d be pretty spectacular.

All in all, the more I write, the more I want to write. The more I learn about the writing process, the more I want to learn. And the more I think about networking and meeting people in the business, the more I light up and beg for more meetings, workshops, conferences, etc, etc, etc.

I’ll keep you posted on the writing process as I go!

It’s become an addiction

I was called a crack-pusher today. And I was proud. I recommended some books, The BlackDagger Brotherhood Series by J.R. Ward. to a friend. And she’s now hooked the same as I am.

I stay up late, reading until my eyes blur. Tivo’d shows, once my favorites, sit in the queue until they’re automatically deleted from time spent unwatched. I’d actually rather sit curled up under a blanket with one of these books than head out with friends.

Seriously. My name is Kristin. And I’m a book addict.

My skin is paling from lack of sunlight. I feel like a hermit, snacking on food instead of eating full meals because they’d take too long to cook. Laundry is piling up and the sink is full of dishes. I’m not returning phone calls and I’m counting the minutes until I can bend back that binding as I write this.

Everything and everyone can wait. Because tonight Butch is finally going tell Marissa his true feelings. I’ve waited a long time to hear him speak those stomach-clenching words to her. The Brotherhood is heading to the streets to find some lessers and take out their aggressions. It’s going to be a showdown. One I’m not going to miss.

If you haven’t checked out the J.R. Ward Series yet, you should. Really. Maybe after we’re finished with the series we can have some sort of a rehabilitating meeting. I’m going to need it.

Can’t stop…

…writing!

I never thought I’d be able to finish a manuscript. Let alone two. I read the likes of Roberts and Austen, Marquez and DuMaurier and thought I could never do that.

But a certain story in my head wouldn’t be quiet. It kept bugging me during the midnight hour, whispering dialgue from characters I hadn’t met, showing me scenes from the hero/heroine meet to the climax, until finally I had to listen.

I finished the first manuscript Nine Days in Joliet in three months. It was…still is…nowhere near ready to be seen by anyone other than myself and a select few readers I trust. I was a fool to query it.

Then my nerves took over. Would I be able to think of another story? Was writing something I could do mediocre at best and just for fun, to stop the story from taking over my head completely? It wasn’t until RWA National in Washington D.C. that I began to realize I could take the premise I loved so much about the first book, shake it up a little, okay a lot, and make it work.

And I did. I finished my second manuscript in three months. Again. Must be my magic number. (FYI: It ended up being a COMPLETELY different book than the first. Nothing is the same other than a girl who has a vision. Period.) I’ve edited it to the point of delirium. I’ve rewritten problem scenes more times than I care to admit. And I still don’t know if it’s up to snuff for the publishing world. But I’m trying. Actually, trying is an understatement. I’m running full force into what seems like a brick wall. But I keep running anyway.

As I was rewriting the last scene a few days ago, my brain buzzed with a new premise. Something good. Everywhere I look I see things I want to incorporate into my new world. I hear things, mundane things, from people in theatres and restaurants that burrow and grow into beautiful, enchanting ideas for my characters.

I’ve finished researching for the third book. I think. I’ve scratched something on ten sheets of paper that resembles an outline or a plot diagram. I think I’m ready to write again.

Hold on tight. Here I go. This time let’s see if third times the charm.

Blood sucking market

According to Romance Writers of America paranormal is defined as “fantasy, futuristic, time travel, ghosts, supernatural beings, etc., where psychic and mental phenomena are intregral parts of the plot.”

Think it’s pretty clear? I thought so too until I submitted my query to a couple of published writers from the bay area. My manuscript deals with a girl who has visions of death.

Visions or premonitions are psychic and mental phenomena, aren’t they?

Apparently not. I’ve received some emails reading “perhaps you should market this as suspense because there’s not enough paranormal,” and “are visions the only thing that is paranormal about your book?”

I’m thinking perhaps people are so vampire-saturated that anytime something is deemed “paranormal” they automatically assume vampire, werewolf, zombie, etc, flippin’ etc. Don’t get me wrong…

Edward Cullen from Twilight is a well-written vamp. And hot to boot.

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Selene from Underworld is a total badass.

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And Jacob Black from Twilight plays the sexiest werewolf I’ve seen in a long time.

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I guess I was wanting something different, something other than what’s already filling bookstore shelves. But now I’m looking at this from a career perspective. With that comes understanding that if I want to be published in a paranormal market, I have to somewhat write to what is selling…but I thought I had. Visions, premonitions, psychic and mental phenomena, remember?

So what does this mean? It means my next story better have something sucking someone’s blood in it if I want it to be recognized as proper paranormal.

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Suddenly the outlook doesn’t seem to bad. *wink

P.S. Being that I’ve mentioned my crazy dreams on this blog twice now, I thought I’d write another. Last night I dreamt I was playing chess with John Mayer…on a rickety wooden set…in the dark. He was cheating-he had two queens from the get-go for crying out loud! It didn’t matter. I won. Funny thing is, my chess set is glass, I can’t play in the dark, and I don’t care much for John Mayer. But I do kick ass at the game. Anyone care to interpret?

Revisions

Okay, so I finished my manuscript. It’s a paranormal romance bordering more on romantic suspense with a cozy mystery feel. And I love it. It’s fast-paced, action-packed and I’m connected with my characters. Mostly. As I revisited my scoresheets for the SFARWA Heart-to-Heart contest, I started wondering if my beginning was as strong as I thought it was when I wrote it. So I went back and took yet another look.

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I thought there was a saying somewhere about not looking back? Yeah, that one must not be geared for writers. Close your ears and type away anyway.

My opening scene still grabs me even after a million looks at it. I’ve gotten praise for its descriptions and the strength of the characters. Good stuff. Then comes the scene that follows. The one that’s suppose to keep the action-ball rolling toward Best Selling lists…but it falls short. My heroine is introduced in this scene so its got to be great. Better than that.

My heroine has got to fly off the page, reach the readers face and pinch their cheeks. SHE’S GOT TO LIVE AND BREATHE.

I go back. I delve into her world, her thoughts again. I put her in a “less safe” situation. I challenge her. I challenge myself.

And I think it’s better written for it. In fact I know it is. I went through with a fine tooth comb this morning, checking all angles, adding more depth, and that’s when something hit me. I didn’t need to add the two paragraphs of backstory that’d been staring me in the face on the first, tenth, millionth go-round. They came out in her thoughts, in her actions…naturally. Can you believe it? I didn’t force my heroine to wade in her insecurities and expose them to the reader upfront. By challenging her right away, the reader KNOWS her insecurities and fears without her having to reveal them outright.

(Side note: Donald Maass really knows what he’s talking about in his book “The Fire in Fiction.” If you haven’t read it, you should. YOU REALLY SHOULD. It’s changed the way I write. Just ask the people who read my first work then compared it to my second. Uh-huh. That bad. Here’s the amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Fire-Fiction-Passion-Purpose-Techniques/dp/158297506X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262457808&sr=8-1)

So anyway, after rewriting my second scene, I think I’m in love with my heroine all over again. My cheeks hurt. And she just keeps pinching away. I think I’ll let her.

This, That, and the Horrible In Between

I’m a writer. I’m not yet an author, but I’m working on it. Last month I entered the “Heart to Heart Contest” put on by the San Francisco Area Chapter of Romance Writers of America. The rules stated to enter the fifteen pages where your hero and heroine meet for the first time. Score sheets would be provided after finalists were chosen.

I thought, hey, I’ll get feedback either way, right? This is a win-win situation. If I win, I get my book in the hands of an editor or agent. If I lose, I get feedback from people in the biz to make my book better. Awesome.

I got my score sheets back tonight. The first one I opened killed my scene. She hated it. She said she didn’t understand my undertones, my heroine was unlikeable, and my motivations were shallow. Ouch. Yeah, that one hurt. But most of what she said stemmed from the fact that she didn’t read the first 20 pages of my book. She only read a small section from the middle. Okay, okay, my heroine needs to work on her likability. I’ll take the blame…I created her after all.

But the second one I opened lifted my spirits. The judge stated she’d “definitely read this WHEN it hits bookstore shelves”. She stated my conflicts were well-rooted, my characters popped off the page, and I painted a clear picture of my backdrop. Yeah, I’m patting myself on the back right about now.

But the problem is, the one horrible score sheet and the one fan-freakintastic score sheet made my average a sucky-not-winning one. My scene was not “stellar” and was not good enough to win.

The moral of the story? Take some negative, stir in some positive, and come out with some real average stew. So for the next month I’m going to be cooking up one hell of a feast to make this thing sell.

I wonder if I could get the name of Judge #2? 😉