Thursday, June 26, 2008

Journal to Remember

Journaling? I vaguely remember doing that as part of an English assignment in high school. (Where I was a weird blend of emo, jock and nerd.) Really, that’s the only time I’ve ever had anything remotely like a diary. Even then, I dreaded it. It wasn’t so much the writing or even detailing the day that got to me. I just ended up writing the same thing day after day since I did school, tennis practice, dinner and bed. There weren’t any details to dish or a need to unload feelings onto the lined pages. I probably put my teacher, who had to read all that, to sleep!

I do keep a food journal (since I'm working on being the Biggest Loser at my local gym), but that’s not the same thing. I doubt people would even know how to decipher my short descriptions and numbers (though it’s not as cryptic as the one shown on CSI.)

I've thought about starting to journal, since it’s a fabulous way to look back at a person’s life. One of the coolest things my stepdad found when my Nanny died was a couple of her diaries/journals. They were a treasure, especially since she was a teacher and had a fascinating outlook on life. I think that kind of history is a great thing to pass down…like a written legacy.

Plus that way I could remember what I did day to day. I swear, I’m getting more and more forgetful. (Hence all the sticky notes mentioned in my previous post.) Who knows, I might have to pull a fast one and write those forgotten daily jottings like I did in high school to catch up.

And there’s the fact that journals can be made into great books! If only I’d started journaling nine years ago, I could’ve had a great table book about the trials of a girl on her quest for a ring. Someday it will happen! The ring…not the book, since I’m not a member of government nor an affiliate or movie star.

At the moment, the closest thing I have to journaling are my blogs here at Star-Crossed. And perhaps my Romantic Tidbits at www.maseysplace.com which are inspired by events that happen just before my weekly update. (Of course the one about an heirloom engagement ring is a fantasy spurred by an ad I saw in the local paper.)

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Dear Diary...Bridget Jones I Ain't

I've been reading these excellent posts on journaling and thinking, "gosh, I'm off on such a tangent from everybody else." At the same time, I agree and sympathize with everybody's posts so far.

I'm a sporadic journaler. If a chronicler ever had to reconstruct the pieces of my life, they'd be having a jigsaw-puzzle job on their hands. And they'd be working with a lot of the backs of envelopes. If given a choice between a brand spankin' new journal with fancy ruling, a gorgeous cover, and fine-art binding or the back of an envelope in which yet another piece of junk mail arrived, well then...Capital One--you're my primary supplier of journaling material. There is some good in you, Sith Company of Evil Credit Offers.

Journaling seems like it should be limited to the written (as in with a pencil, and on paper) word...and the private (as in not for the world to see, silly internets), so when I think of journaling, I don't think of Live Journal, or blogging. Blogging, to me, is more like those family or personal newsletters that usually go out with holiday cards, only done more often. And even a private LJ or blog still has the energy of being out on the internet, and as such, part of that organism. All the truly secret stuff is off the hard lines.

Back when I was what they now call an "emo-kid" (and what used to be called either goth, sk8r, geek, freak, outcast, blip, etc), I did the typical teenager thing and wrote down all my wangsty emo-ness for the world (or my little brother) to find. A few years later, when I re-read it, I burned it because it was full of stupid. I did, however, rip out the pages where I'd been writing story. That, I kept, even though the story also reeked (reeks) of stupid. Full of the worst of the worst of cliche'd crap that even the worst ten-year-old fanfiction writer wouldn't do. I just thank the powers that be that I was an emo-idjit before the advent of the internet, where the world really could see all my dorky self-centeredness.

I later came to the conclusion that I wouldn't be using diaries or journals that chronicled the inside of my own head. Da Vinci I ain't, and there was no earthly reason to waste the paper. Now I use journals (and the backs of envelopes) to perform freewriting, where I map the unconscious part of my mind. Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" uses this method to unblock creativity. Sometimes I do these pages in longhand, other times I type 'em out because my fingers move faster than my hands.

Recently, I've been exploring the use of other things to "journal" - specifically, not-words. Pictures (as in collaging), textures, pieces of knick knacks, all seem to inspire some sort of sensory response from me that I've been attempting to map or log. It serves no purpose beyond giving me something to do with myself, but then again, neither does journaling.

--xandra
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

To Journal or not to Journal

ahh - a big debate, huh? Or maybe only a debate in my mind . I used to do a monthly journal on my website, but I gradually stopper. Why? because eventually I run out of things to say - seriously. I know it's hard to believe, because I can be such a motor mouth at times (not to mention standing on my soapbox and waxing intelligent things for everybody to gag at LOL). But seriously, I run out of things to say.

Also, I scratch for time. I work full time as a night nurse, and try to meet my deadlines when I'm not sleeping. And I do two blogs - this one and another that is more a hit and miss as I get something to say. And a monthly newsletter. And...I could go on and on, but it sounds like whining LOL.

Journaling is wonderful, if the author has interesting things to Say and readers are interested in reading about it. I know there are a couple of journals I read, but again, I only read them once every couple of months or when i think of them and have the free time - and that's it. Free time is very rare .

Journaling is a great way to share how you're going in your writing and life, but it's obvious to me that some authors love to journal and others aren't so crash hot on it - aka me. Mainly because of the TIME factor again.

You know, if I was paid to stay home and write, I would journal! I'd have that little extra time - wait, you know, that still wouldn't happen - because I run out of things to say! Not that you'd know that by looking at this ramble...!

cheers
Angela

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's not how you say it, but what you say...

...when it comes to journaling, apparently. When I first saw this week’s topic I thought I’d write about blogging, which has become the modern form of journaling, but I realized that the proper definition of journaling [which I looked up] is to put ones thoughts and feelings, uncensored, on paper.

When I blog, I do record thoughts and feelings, though often not in great depth and I definitely censor myself. I edit my blog before posting it and sometimes I’ve even deleted the really controversial stuff because as authors we’re often admonished not to appear in any way unprofessional on our blogs. I have a lot of unprofessional thoughts – just like everybody else, I’m sure and I try, before putting my electronic foot in my mouth, to do some damage control.

One of the articles I found on journaling also stressed putting your thoughts on paper, rather than on bandwidth. In this age of technology that might seem silly, but I definitely see the merit in picking up a pen and a fresh sheet of paper to record your innermost thoughts. The benefits are numerous. First, there’s something less intimidating about a piece of paper [to me anyway] than a blank computer screen. I write out the first drafts of my stories because of this. I can go faster, I’m not tempted to fix every comma or dot every i. My thoughts can flow better with ink onto paper.

Second, paper is more private. Sure you can keep an off-line computerized journal that only you have access to, or keep your blog addy private, but hackers can still access your words if they try hard enough. Some public blogs have caused their authors no end of trouble when ill-conceived posts were circulated around the Internet. A handwritten journal isn’t guaranteed security of course, but you can dispose of it fairly easily if, let’s say, the CIA decides it wants to read your notes. [I have nothing against the CIA, by the way and I’m not advocating hiding your journal from them...hehehe.] But you could if you wanted to.

I found a lot of the same rules apply to journaling as they do to writing. You should write every day, even for a short time, and don’t worry about content as much as getting what you want to say on paper. The nice thing about a journal is you don’t have to fix it later or submit it to anyone and chance a rejection, but the basic concept is the same. Just write. Let your thoughts flow and see what develops.

My advice is buy yourself a nice notebook and a good pen and start writing. You never know, your journal may be a best seller one day. If the CIA doesn’t get hold of it first.


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Monday, June 23, 2008

Uh...Journaling? Um...er....

Okay, so I don't journal. I know a lot of writers do and from what I hear, they feel it helps them in their craft.

Me, I barely have time to write, let alone journal.

In fact, most of my spare time seems to be spent on email (I get lots and lots of it) One of my guilty pleasures is email from dictionary sites. You know the ones...each day they send you a new word. It's a great way to enliven your vocabulary or stretch your imagination.

Here's one I got today:

audio puppeteering

Posted: 22 Jun 2008 11:26 PM CDT

audio puppeteering n. To that end Mr. Stanton enlisted the man who created the grammar of the “Star Wars” robot R2D2, the veteran sound designer Ben Burtt. Mr. Stanton wrote a conventional script—“Hi, I’m Wall-E”—and Mr. Burtt essentially translated the dialogue into robot, something he calls “audio puppeteering.” —“Pixar Gambles on a Robot in Love ” by Katrina Onstad New York Times June 22, 2008. Categories: English, Entertainment, Movies, Jargon—More information about audio puppeteering and related words at Double-Tongued Dictionary.

Cool, huh?

But the more astute of you are reading this wondering what it has to do with this week's theme.

Not a thing. Like I said, I don't journal so I'm the last person who can give opinions or fresh takes on it. I'm actually looking forward to what the other Star-Crossed ladies or you marvelous readers have to say about it.

Do you journal? Why?

-- Lynda

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Star Light, Star Bright....Interstellar Interview with Patti O'Shea

Nationally bestselling author Patti O’Shea wanted to be a doctor, a pilot, an archaeologist, an astronomer, a figure skater, an oceanographer and a photographer. Then at fourteen she discovered writing and knew what she wanted to do when she grew up.

Of course, life called for a practical career so she chose to earn a degree in Advertising Copyrighting (and took far more credits than she needed). Promptly after graduation she began work at Northwest Airlines and has since served in Accounting, Technical Records, Tech Publications, and is currently stationed in 757 Engineering.

Along the way of her far off travels she’s experienced a lot of cool things including seeing almost all of King Ludwig’s castles in Germany. With her wanderlust sated she decided to get serious about writing. On that front she’s also been busy as shown by her seven novels which have received starred reviews in Booklist and been ranked on the Barnes & Noble, Waldenbooks and Borders bestseller lists. Patti has also garnered eight awards including the Winter Rose for Best Paranormal and Write Touch Readers Choice Award for Best Paranormal. Currently, she’s a finalist for the More Than Magic, Booksellers Best and the HOLT Medallion Award.

I got the chance to meet Patti on the web here at Star-Crossed Romance's Blog. She’d volunteered to be a guest poster when ETERNAL NIGHTS came out. Of course, when I got the go ahead to start interviewing I knew I wanted to have her in my line-up. She’s genuine, funny and just plain awesome. Of course I’d heard her name, since I owned all the 2176 novels and Crimson City series from Dorchester. But my ears perked up when she gave us a teaser about her Light Warrior series with TOR. After reading the first book and diving head first into the second, I’m elated that Anna Genoese gave her the chance to do something bold! Kudos to you Patti and keep up the good Gineal work!

What cool sights or occurrences from your travels from Papua New Guinea all the way to Canada have you used in your novels?

I think a lot of what I've seen and where I've been creeps subconsciously into my books. There have only been a few of times where I dug into my travels and deliberately used them.

The first time was in THE POWER OF TWO. When Jake and Cai go to the Raft Cities, I based the poverty and condition of the homes on what I saw when I visited Samarai Island in Papua New Guinea. The island is small–I was able to stroll around it in less than twenty minutes–and there's not much opportunity available for the people there. That seemed to fit with the problem of the Raft Cities and I imagined that the ordinary citizens who lived in this fictional world would have similar issues and challenges.

The other times I tapped into my travels were when I wrote THROUGH A CRIMSON VEIL and IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR. Both stories spend at least some time in Los Angeles and I used Venice Beach and the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Crimson Veil and a more general view of LA in Midnight Hour.

I don't count anything set in the Minneapolis area because it’s where I live, but IN TWILIGHT'S SHADOW and IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR take place in my home town. Both stories are littered with places I've been or have driven by. For example, the cemetery in the opening scene of Midnight Hour is across from my day job and the gas station in Twilight's Shadow—where Maia sees the demon—is on the way home from my dentist's office.


If you had the Gineal power to open a transit to any locale you’ve visited, where would you disappear to unwind (or hide from those pesky deadlines)?

Without question, I'd head to Australia. I spent four weeks there a while back and absolutely loved it. The only problem would be deciding where in Australia to hide–Sydney, Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane, Alice Springs? Everywhere I went, I had fun and felt relaxed.

After being part of two huge continuity series—2176 and Crimson City from Dorchester—would you sign on for another one? Can you share any perks or downfalls you ran into?

I would be willing to do another continuity if I had the amount of freedom on the new series that I had on 2176 and Crimson City. I don’t think I could handle it if I had to adhere to a certain plot or characters.

Perks: Writing is usually a solitary occupation, but on the continuities, we had an e-mail loop where we discussed, shared, and commiserated. I really enjoyed that.

The downfall is actually the other side of the perks' coin. Since we were working as a team, sometimes an author couldn't do something she wanted to do because it would impact another book in a way that wouldn't work for that writer. So there were discussions and give and take and trying to decide priorities on the points in discussion.

Was your Gineal series sold as the grain of an idea or from a partial submitted to Anna Genoese at TOR?

The Light Warriors series sold on a partial for IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR and a two page overview for IN TWILGHT'S SHADOW. Twilight’s Shadow ended up bearing almost no resemblance to its synopsis.


With a few successful titles on bookstore shelves everywhere, what do you think is the X-factor that’s set you apart from other paranormal writers?

The comments I hear most often are that my characters feel very vivid and real, that the adventure is thrilling, the suspense keeps the reader turning pages to find out what happens next, and that I write very hot love scenes. The last thing is funny because no one ever commented on my love scenes until Booklist reviewed THE POWER OF TWO. I mentioned to my agent that until that review I'd always assumed my love scenes were adequate because no one said anything, good or bad. Since then I've received a lot of positive comments and that's pretty cool.


In the war between “paranormal romance” and “urban fantasy”, how would you label IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR and IN TWILIGHT’S SHADOW?

I call my books paranormal romance because no matter how much other stuff is going on, the focus is always on the hero and heroine and everything moves their relationship forward. I also wrap up the romance in one book and move on to another couple in the next. Midnight Hour features Ryne and Deke, Twilight's Shadow has Maia and Creed, and the third book in the series will be Shona and Logan.

To me, Urban Fantasy carries out the relationship over multiple books and the romance is more of a subplot than the focus of the story.


Out of all the strong heroines you’ve created which one do you think you’d call friend in real-life? And which hero do you think of fondly and wish you could revisit?

Oh, man! Tough question because they're all my best friends–both the heroes and the heroines.

If I had to choose a heroine who I might hang out with in real life, it would probably be either Ravyn from RAVYN'S FLIGHT or Mika from THROUGH A CRIMSON VEIL. Mika because she's outgoing and fun, and since I tend to be introverted, she'd be good at dragging me out to do things. Ravyn is a possibility because she's calm and balanced.

Picking the hero I'd like to revisit is easier–Deke from IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR. He's a smart aleck with a sarcastic sense of humor and I love that. Most of the guys I work with are like this and my own sense of humor tends toward sarcasm, so I'd have the most fun with him, I think.


Like any other fan, I’m excited to see Maia Fraiser, Ryne’s sister, show up in book 2 of your Gineal series! Who else can we look forward to seeing in future books?

During IN TWILIGHT'S SHADOW we learn that Creed, the hero, has a younger sister, Shona. The third story in the series is hers and she's paired with the Seattle-based troubleshooter for the Gineal people. The blurb I have up on my website is:

Glass artist Shona Blackwood is ignorant of her Gineal heritage and unaware that people who can do magic actually exist, but when she's targeted for death, troubleshooter Logan Andrews is assigned to protect her. A straightforward job quickly goes askew and what Logan doesn't know might cost both him and Shona their lives.

Right now, I have two more stories in the series that I'd like to write if things work out–Logan's brother, Kel, and Sin Duncan who readers met during IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR. There’s also this other paranormal idea that I’ve been burning to work on, I just need to find some time.

I assume you’ll be promoting IN TWILIGHT’S SHADOW, but where can your readers/fellow writers find you online?

I’m lying low right now since I have a deadline fast approaching, but I have a blog (there’s a link on my website: http://www.pattioshea.com/) where I try to post at least three times a week and I can also be found on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Links to MySpace and Facebook are on my Contacts page and my Twitter page is: http://twitter.com/Patti_OShea. Anyone who wants to friend me should feel free. I’m easy.

Got a question you want answered about Patti's novels? Ask it, and you could win a signed copy of IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR!

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Erotic Romance's Slutty Reputation

The lovely folks over at Title Magic just posted a guest blog by fabulous author Monica Burns entitled "Sex, Language, and Readers." Monica got the rare and precious opportunity to sit down with readers and discuss what they liked and didn't like about the current trends and it was quite the illuminating discussion. And the comments section of the post is even more stimulating. Spawning off that, I was inspired to keep the discussion going over here at Star-Crossed (thus saving you all from reading about my garden, which was what I intended to blog about, along with the psychotic bunnies and kamikaze squirrels. Alas, you'll have to wait for another day for the wildlife).

I think there's also another level of dialogue going on around erotic romance, and that is a more socialogical one--the dialogue of women's sexual fantasy. I've always believed (though I lack the academic chops to conclusively make a case that anyone will take seriously, but someday when the kids are in school, I am going back for that Master's, dammit! Or something), that romance as a genre is a subtextual dialogue about women's fantasies, in addition to being a genre of literature and a mode of storytelling.

There are very definite trends you can trace having to do with the "sexual revolution" back in the 70's, or the "moral majority" swing in the 80's, etc., that track the dialogue about what women find acceptable to fantasize about. Not strictly limited to sex, as the dialogue of romance covers more than just the sexuality--in the 90's you couldn't swing a dead writer without hitting a rack full of "home and hearth" style romances, whereas prior to that time, there were pounds and pounds of "glitz" romances, and after the "home'n'hearth" boom, came chick-lit (a very urban response to the "small-town" feel of the past half-decade or so).

These days I get the sense that there's been a sudden explosion (although it may have been simmering for some time) that more women are being more open--and maybe a little more unapologetic--about the inherent sexuality of romance. We find more heroines who don't have to be coerced into sex in spite of themselves (and their very real and valid feelings which may differ from societal expectations), and heroines who are open to unconventional relationships, and the acceptance (however small it is right now) of same-sex relationships in the greater dialogue of romance (M/M or "slash" romance is about exploring the language of same-sex romantic relationships in a way we can understand it and finding the universal truths that resonate in them, whether we're accurate or not).

Within that greater dialogue, things are much messier. There's more risk-taking with the boundaries (thanks largely to the quick turnaround and reduced physical production cost of e-publishing) of what is "mainstream" or "acceptable" and the emergence of some surprising micro-trends that a changing, more global, readership, and a different medium play a part in, too. This messiness, so to speak, needs to be present for this ongoing dialogue--without the free-for-all lack of moderation, this "brainstorming period" can't truly happen nearly as effectively. Granted, this is at odds with the commercial part of "commercial fiction" which erotic romance falls into, but the commercial will undoubtedly, eventually catch up to the greater body of the work. And it will be up to the small presses, the fringe or specialty publishers, to push those new boundaries and test their true limits yet again.

In the future, they may expand yet again, or they may contract, or push off in an entirely new direction that no one saw coming. Any which way you put it, though, it's an exciting time to be reading!

--Xandra

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Remiss

Good God it's been a long time since I've been in the blog driver's seat. Ever since my return from Pittsburgh and RT I've been running in 12 directions at varying speeds. I look at the calender for my blog dates, only to realize I've missed my slot by one or two days. Ergg.

I've been a very busy girl as you'll see.

So let me bring you all up to speed on what's happening on the planet of Katopolois.

Over the last few months I've sold three different manuscripts. (All novellas and all paranormals.) Two of them rather mild in heat levels and the other erotic romance. Here are some blurbs for your reading enjoyment.

A Hot Day In Heaven by Kathleen Scott TBA from Wild Rose Press/Scarlet Rose:

Bad things always seem to come in threes, or so Sonia St. Marie discovers as she is kicked out of her apartment during a blizzard, her job teaching art classes at an adult center gets cut and she catches her boyfriend in bed with her best friend. Needless to say, it’s not been the best of days. That is until Archer DeAngelo shows up in his black SUV smelling of exotic spices and evoking a head full of sensual fantasies.

For years, Archer has been the distraction in the back of Sonia’s mind, tempting her to wonder about the decadent lifestyle he lives and the women he’s pleasured. Just looking at him makes her dream of all the things she wants to do with him and now she’s free from her philandering boyfriend, Gabriel, there’s nothing to stand in her way.

Seeing Sonia’s distress at her homeless state, Archer offers her a place to stay: his condo overlooking Central Park . Having nowhere else to go in such inclement weather, Sonia takes him up on his offer for shelter and much more. The sexual tension that always simmered between them goes into overdrive under such close proximity. The fact Archer has made it his mission to help her put her life back together has its own advantages. But then again, Archer is only doing his job.



Fallen from grace for a difference of opinion, Archer leads a group of disenfranchised guardian angels, who are currently staying mere steps ahead of the heavenly host who wants nothing more but to see them regain their rightful place at God’s right hand. A place they no longer care to occupy. The call of the flesh is much too powerful a lure for one who is now mostly corporeal.


Kingmaker's Gold by MK Mancos TBA from Wild Rose Press Faery Rose:

Gold —the name alone evokes dreams of riches beyond imagination. Whether one is a mortal woman or one of the fey men who inhabit New York in 1910, the precious metal can have great impact and far-reaching consequences. For Abigail Westmorland, a single gold coin stands between her and destitution. For Venn, a contender for the leprechaun throne, it means the difference between leading the fey or being led by his cousin, the dark fey, Lachlan.

ParaMatch.com by MK Mancos TBA from Samhain Publishing part of the Tickle My Fantasy anthology:

Lucilla Wainwright is a talentless witch from one of the craft's most legendary families. In order to survive in the Paraworld, she has opened a highly successful matchmaking business to bring a little love into the lives of Sleepy Hollow Woods' paranormal element. Her rate of perfect matches is unparalleled—that is until deposed Titan king, Jager Cronus finds fault with all the women with whom he's been paired. Too bad he's been the only man in years to make Lucilla wish for a cauldron full of love potion.

Now, if I can only get motivated to finish all the other projects I've started and are currently languishing on my hard drive!

-Kat

When technology bites

Being a science fiction author primarily, I have a soft spot in my heart for technology. Computers, space ships, androids...what would the future be without them? Of course the way things are going, we're discovering that the future is more 'now' than sometime in the nebulous, distant...er...future.

I'm all for the day I can walk into a room in my house and say 'Lights 50%' or tell the oven to preheat from across the room, but being also a fan of "Battlestar Galactica" I'm not too sure about the toaster. That I may want to remain deaf to my commands.

For the most part, I think my cell phone also falls into that category. Too much margin for error as my DH found out the other day.

During the mega thunder storm we experienced the other night DH and I were on our way to the movies. [Bad weather stalks us, but that's another story]. He dropped me off at the theater to buy tickets to Iron Man while he searched for a non-existent parking space in the mall. Now, none of this would have been possible years ago when no one had cell phones, because I would have bought the tickets and waited ten years for him to show up. As it was I bought the tickets and wandered around until my cell phone rang. It was DH telling me to return the tickets becasue he'd been all over creation and couldn't find a place to park in the driving rain. The storm was worse, so he told me he'd pick me up and we'd go rent a movie instead.

Sigh. So I returned the tickets and he picked me up and off we went. While sitting in the car at the rental store [it was raining too hard to get out] he told me how it had taken him six tries to call me from the car. Why? His cell phone didn't understand him.

He's got one of the voice activated ones, and it was in a bad mood apparently because each time he told it to 'Call Jen' he got 'Call Dad' or 'Call home' as a response.

He told me the argument went on for quite a while until he apparently said my name in just the right inflection for the phone to understand him. All this time we worried about the kids making long distance calls they're not supposed to and it turns out we should be worrying about the phone calling my FIL in Florida any time it feels like it.

I laughed at DH [aka Mr. Technology]. My phone still does what the buttons tell it to do, but I wonder how long its cooperation will last.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Do you read Ebooks?

I honestly can't remember the first time I heard about electronic books. I do remember, however, thinking that hey, this is a very cool idea! Now, this was way back in the 80's and there just weren't many ebooks around. I think there were only a handful of ebook publishers. But I was very interested in this new form.

At that time, I wrote straight SF, sometimes with romantic elements, sometimes not. And it was mostly short fiction so I joined a number of groups and watched the internet sites of outfits that actively produced ezines devoted to SF. I even managed to sell a few of my pieces :D But, in the back of my mind, I wanted to write a novel. I could 'see' the characters, see their conflict, and, gasp, I realized this was a love story! So, being an old hand at electronic stuff, I started scouting out ebook publishers.

I've always believed that before you can sell to someone, you need to know what sort of material they produce. So, with that in mind, I bought a few ebooks.

I was more than a little disappointed. Poor quality story telling, poor writing techniques...even the production displayed a distinct lack of professionalism. I decided I'd stick with the ezines I was familiar with (the quality just seemed so much higher) and if I wrote a novel, I'd definitely go to one of the big publishing houses.

But in the back of my head, I really wanted to see ebooks become a reality. I mean, wow! No trees cut down to make paper when they should be producing oxygen. I didn't have to get dressed to go to the local bookstore...okay, that was hardly a chore. The bookstore is and always will be my favorite hangout, lol.

Over the years, the ebook market has been growing. And in fact I was so impressed with their quality that I offered my first novel to an epublisher. And I'm seeing other epublishers who are offering some remarkable books -- not just erotica but good solid love stories that range from the erotic to the simple love stories that involve chaste kisses and closed doors :D

Now, the big publishing houses are beginning to offer some of their books as ebooks. I read an article the other day, IIRC from Publishers Weekly, how the ebook market was growing...at a faster pace than print books!

With our U.S. economy being at a standstill, if not in an active recession, this is really impressive. Most books, after all, are pure entertainment and entertainment is one of the first sacrifices we make as we struggle to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and gas in the car.

My book buying has slowed considerably over the past 12 months but I'll say right now, half of the books I've bought are electronic books. Are there still clunkers? Yes, just like there are still clunkers in print books from big houses.

But that elusive quality I wanted to see years ago has bloomed and it's growing. Do I think ebooks will dominate the market anytime soon? Probably not for a long while yet. But I see a day when we'll be carrying all of our favorite books in a hand held reader to read at any convenient time.

What do you think? Do you read ebooks? Do you think we'll see them dominate the market in our lifetime?

-- Lynda

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Plotting by the Seat of My Pants

Pantser…Plotter, hmmm?

I’ve only tried to write by the seat of my pants twice. My first book was built off a short story called DOUBLE ENTENDRE. It fizzled out midway, mostly because I got a FT job. (My first after college). My second attempt, which was pounded out during lunch hours at that FT job and after work til 1 am, was TAKE ME IN YOUR HEART. Which ended up being the book I contracted with Trisk called TIES OF VALOR. (We all know how that turned out.)

From that point on I decided I didn’t want to be in total limbo and that I didn’t want to wring my hands over what might happen. So I started to learn about the W plot. Now every time I start a book I brainstorm a few plot points, then plug in what I have. That way I know if I have enough of what I need, especially conflict! Of course all romance should not only have an action W but also a romance W.

Then came the fateful day when I went to my first RWA Chapter meeting in Raleigh, where I was introduced to Deb Dixon’s GMC concept. I left with my head about to explode. (But I had found writing friends, yeah!) I can’t say that I ever fill out Deb’s charts, because it stresses me out! However I am mindful of the pieces and how they connect. That day I also learned about the Hero’s Journey. As soon as I saw the outline, I knew that’s how I wrote. TAKE ME IN YOUR HEART came out just like Deb’s handout blueprint, which of course had me stoked!

I can’t say I’m a freak about plotting, because I still love to be surprised. I put down the main points that need to happen, then fill in the rest as I go along. And I usually do a chapter outline as a cheat sheet, but it occasionally changes (just like those dreaded synopses!)

I also used the color coding technique for characters when I did TIES OF VALOR’s massive revisions. As it turned out Awyn became yellow. I have no idea why, other than it showed up well on page preview. Zara was lime green. (I know, I know. I should’ve switched them.) I used this technique because when I wrote TIES OF VALOR, the entire book was in Zara’s POV. Back then, that was the “hot” thing. But today, writers usually have to show the male POV. So I had to try to bring those halves into tune. I did pretty well, I’d say.

Since that time, I’ve also learned about using grids with sticky notes to plot. Though it will take up a bit of room (especially posted on a wall) I think it might be worth it. I’ve also heard one writer say she used a desk calendar for her grid because it has the correct number of blocks for a single title. Lord knows I have enough stickies lying around to color everything including the appearances of pooches and kitties that make an entrance.

After this tally I guess I fall into the plotter fold. Does that make me a stick in the mud?


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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Han or Leia

"Where do you get your ideas?" is a question writers are frequently asked, and writers I've talked to, when we get together, laugh, because it's usually not the ideas that are the hard part. Because after the idea, *somebody* has to write the damn thing, and the way each writer approaches that task is as unique as a fingerprint, and as chancy as bulls-eyeing womp rats in a T-16.

Among writers, one of the big questions is not "where do you get your ideas?" but rather, once you get those ideas..."Are you a plotter or a pantser?" Now, to the non-writer, the next logical question is, "WTF is a 'pantser' and aren't you supposed to have a better command of the language than to use made-up nonsense words like 'pantser?'" To that non-writer, I say firstly, a pantser is one who pantses. To pants, then, is to navigate the act of creating a novel first and foremost by the seat of one's pants yes, you're absolutely right but we know what we mean when we say 'pantser.'

Over the years, I have swung on the great pendulum--I started out writing without knowing what I was doing (and therefore couldn't be told "ZOMG, ur doin it rong!" Of course, without knowing what I was doing, I couldn't very well know how to get past where I was, either. But through the years and the stories, I've gone back and forth from pantser to plotter to pantser to plotter. I've carefully planned rebellions against the Empire, and I've flown the 'Falcon' with nothing but wookiee spit holding it together.

Where I currently sit, I see a heavy need for myself to be both pantser and plotter. I spend a lot of time noodling out into the dead ends of plots, and kicking myself later because "I coulda been done by now--twice." At the same time, I've carefully outlined a plot from soup to nuts, had scene cards and blocked ideas out and stared down at the thick folder and thought, "I don't want to write this." Or sat down to write it to find that I went in a completely different direction when all was said and done.

What I've found is that my writing process needs to have a balance--I need to just pants it when I have that first burning itch of an idea--to let all the possibilities spill out onto the page, as messy and as ugly as they may be. Once I've got that, comes the real work of taking what my brain vomited up and identifying and refining it into something that is the not-gross equivalent of something one would make out of brain-vomit.

There's a time to plot carefully, to seek out membership in the Imperial Senate, and embark on diplomatic missions to Alderaan. Then there's also a time to make the Kessel run in twelve parsecs, and zoom in out of nowhere to relieve a story of the TIE fighters dogging its X-wing. Putting the two together generates enough creative heat to melt an ice planet.

Many Bothans died to bring you this post...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

plotter or pantser

I've always considered myself a plotter. I have the basic half page outline and a list of my characters and what they look like. The outline is something I go by but not necessarily stick to. It mainly helps keep me focused.

However, just the other day, I discovered that I'm a 'sort-of pantser' as well. A lot of my action and scenes I don't plan in advance. They happen as I write. They come to me during my non-writing time as well.

I daydream a lot, and ideas come to me in the shower, in the car, even doing the dishes! So I can't truthfully say I plot to the last detail. I do fly by the seat of my pants at different times.

This was a real surprise to me. But I still need my basic outline . I just can't give that up yet! I still need to know my basic characters (I add to them as the story unfolds) and the basic plot. From there, anything can happen! (and usually does LOL)

Angela

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

They don’t call it Sisterhood of the Traveling Plots, do they?

Can you tell I’m a pantser?

I imagine it’s pretty obvious to other writers that I’m not one of those organized, type A personalities. I don’t have a loose leaf binder sectioned off with areas for each of my WIPs. I don’t keep a file full of ‘character interviews.’ I don’t have a spreadsheet of character names or multicolored time lines mapped out in Excel.

The bulletin board above my desk isn’t full of coordinated note cards that track my primary plot, secondary plot, tertiary story arc, black moment and levels of sexual tension.

Sometimes I don’t even know how my story is going to end.

I should really get a t-shirt that says, “Unapologetic Pantser” on it. Not that I’ve ever had to apologize for not being a Plotter, but sometimes I must admit, it makes me feel a bit inadequate when I compare myself to those other writers who can tell you exactly what conversation their characters will be having on page 117, or who post their word counts religiously with an ending number and say things like – "Only 6724 words to go!! I'll be done by 4 o'clock on Tuesday!"

How do they know? I envy them their organizational skills and the single-minded determination with which they approach their writing. It’s a science for them and I admire that.

I approach writing more as an art form – not to say that science is bad. It’s efficient and it has predictable results. Art is messy. Sometimes you don’t get what you started out looking for and occasionally the results are better left in a heap under the bed than displayed on the wall. But the process is usually always fun. I find knowing too much about my story before I start writing it tends to take some of the fun away.

I like that sense of adventure – in fact, I demand it. I wouldn’t want to read a book if I already knew the ending – I don’t want to write one either. I’ll admit, sometimes I have a clue where things are going, but just a clue. I never know exactly where I’ll end up, and I like it that way.

I prefer to be surprised by the conversation on page 117.


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Monday, June 09, 2008

Dashing madly into the Mist

Good morning, everyone! This week our theme is Plotter or Pantser. For those unfamiliar with the terms, a plotter is someone who studiously writes down every step of the plot she's working on while a pantser is a person who, um, writes, um, well, by the seat of her pants, hence 'pantser'. These folk are also referred to as 'flying into the mist' because while they may know their destination, they've no real idea how they're going to get there.

Okay, confession time. I'm a pantser. At least most of the time. I may know a few points between my story beginning and end but I may not. I've dabbled with doing a plot in advance. It doesn't seem to work for me because I'll inevitably change the major turning points. Or the setting. Or the characters. Or...I'll drop the whole project.

I guess I'm just one of those people who doesn't like to be confined or constricted (these terms are my opinion only in reference to me--I know some plotters who do a wonderful job and feel quite liberated using a plot). I've heard some pantsers say an already created plot bores them. Yet plotters say having a fully developed plot at hand keeps them from getting lost and spending hours or days trying to fix a looming plot hole.

I suspect there are merits to both sides.

For me, I start with a character who has a goal and a problem reaching that goal. I tend to let the plot grow out of that. Of course, I want my character to attain her goal and overcome her problem and I want it done in a rather dramatic way. So that provides me with an idea for the ending. I do this for both major characters and the villain (if there is one). Occasionally, I'll have an idea for a turning point or two but as I said earlier, I may not. I just begin to write, blindly. By the seat of my pants. Heading into the mist.

So far, it's worked for me.

Let's have a discussion. What are you? A plotter or pantser?

-- Lynda

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Eeney, Meaney, Miney, Mo

Since today is 6/6/08, I decided to pick page 66 from one of my books. The best I had to choose from was TAKE ME IN YOUR HEART.


Just previous to this excerpt Zara, the heroine, discovered Awyn’s brother had turned her ship and most of her belongings into specs as big as space dust. Her sword remained unscathed, though she did have to sweet talk the scientist into letting it go with a little hand-to-hand. Now she’s planning to show Awyn, the hero, just how well she’s been trained!

They stopped outside a gigantic door. Silver handles set into the heavy wooden exterior were twisted into ornate vines, echoing the carvings etched into the rich, heavy timber. He pushed open the barrier with the greatest of ease and indicated she should precede him inside. “This is my room.”

Zara eyed him warily as she entered the room. Why had he brought her here?

Awyn shut the door before moving to an oversized wooden bureau that took up a sizeable portion of wall space in the far corner. He sifted through the drawers, throwing articles left and right.

At least he didn’t have her on his mind. A pinch more relaxed, she watched him resume his hunt inside a smaller ornately-decorated chest. Its gold accents glistened in the light. “Now where did I put it?”

This could take hours! “If you tell me what you’re looking for maybe I can help.”

“Then it wouldn’t be a surprise.”

Zara sat sprawled in the big armchair by the lone window. The velvet navy cushion was full and inviting and reeked of money. She found a comfortable spot in the towering back and then glanced at the view. The clear blue sky they’d walked under hours before spread out like an endless blanket.

A week ago she’d been flying in space, minding her own business. Then fate played a crappy hand and decided to stick her in this forsaken land were everything she knew meant nothing. Except to Awyn, who saw her as special. But why?

She watched as the hulking barbarian continued to rummage through his things, a frown marring his features. He was her lifeline, the reason everyone had reacted kindly to her. If it wasn’t for him, she was convinced she would be a lab rat right now. Death was preferable to that disgrace. She shook her head, dispelling her morbid thoughts. He’d thoroughly wrecked his chambers to find…something to give to her. “Found it yet?”

“Yes!” Triumphant, he jumped from his knees to his feet, displaying an enormous amount of physical fitness, especially for a man of his stature. Not many people she knew could do that.

He handed her the most exquisite scabbard she’d ever seen. The butter-soft black leather was threaded with fine white lacings and embellished with silver flourishes along the pointed length to mirror the accompanying belt’s swirling buckle.

On her world, few people involved in security owned swords, much less used them. Instead, they let them hang on walls to rust and collect dust, preferring the advanced forms of weaponry on Kalare. Phasers and ray guns. Pish posh. They were only supped-up versions of earlier powder and bullet models. In the hands of amateurs, the consequences were more deadly and widespread. It was one of the reasons she’d been against the upgrade.

She held the honor of being the only Alpha completely trained in the old ways. The specialized instruction and her dedication to the craft had saved her neck more times than she cared to remember. Lost in her thoughts, she missed what Awyn had said. “What?”

“I want you to have it. The sword it carried has long since been melted down.”

Zara shook her head in refusal. She couldn’t accept a gift from someone she wasn’t even sure she should like.

“You don’t have one, do you?”

“No, it seems that’s one of the articles your brother got to first.” Sarcasm dripped from every word as she tried to send him on a guilt trip.

“Then you have no choice; you have to accept. It is a debt my family owes. Do you not think it would be awkward to walk around all day, holding your sword in your hand? Besides, it would not be wise to have an unsheathed sword around the Aquilarian guards.”

He had a point. Zara looked down at the sword resting across her lap. As always, it made the hair at the nape of her neck stand on end. There was something about the way its metal gleamed in the light, even though the leather had been worn down to perfectly mold her hand. They were truly one. Her weapon deserved something equally as exquisite.

She took the scabbard from his outstretched hand and slid the blade inside to gauge the fit. Perfect. She latched the new belt around her hips. “Ready for your tutorial?”

“Just one more thing.” Awyn disappeared into a smaller antechamber.

He returned within seconds and her mouth fell open on a choked gasp. Awyn held the biggest sword she’d ever seen! Its blade measured one and one half the size of hers and was as broad as her bicep to boot. What in the hell was she thinking when she offered to teach him a lesson? He possessed a weapon that could sever her in two with the flick of his wrist!

Admittedly the sword was gorgeous. The blade was embellished with intricate etchings and delicate cutouts accentuated them across the jeweled hilt. To cap it off, the pommel had been set with a glowing blue stone that radiated light.

Her gaze slowly traveled the length of his sinewed arm and across the massive expanse of his chest, to finally rest on his face. The familiar hint of a smile curved his lips once again.

“It will not be me you fight.”

____________________________________

If you’d like to read Chapter One visit the Futuristics page at http://www.maseysplace.com/!