Writing: am I wasting my time?

July 1, 2013

I apologize if this is a repost for those of you who receive blog posts by email or view them via a blog feed reader. We did some reshuffling last week to ensure you don’t miss out an inspiring guest post but we are back to regular scheduling now.


No seriously, am I?

I spend painful tiny writing sessions at the crack of dawn adding 50 words to my story then another 50 and another 50 until maybe I hit 500-800 before it’s time for me to get to my day job, and I wonder, why on earth do I do that?

Do you ever get that feeling?

I question myself over and over, realist to the possibility that this manuscript is perhaps just practice. That no matter how I submit it down the ladder of agents, trad-publishers and small publisher, it might never be good enough to actually be read.

And that the 250 hrs I spent are just gone from my life.

I just sit there at times in front of the blank page or staring at lines of unedited work wondering, why continue to do this if there are no guarantees?

It’s really hard to find the answer to that question, isn’t it?

Because there are easier ways to spend our extra time, easier ways to earn a living, or be creative and certainly not something to do in a quest for fame. So why?

There are so so many people we meet who confess they have a book in them. Is it a way to express ourselves to the world? To put some order to our jumbled thoughts, inner voices and dreams.

Maybe I am wasting my time, I truly don’t know. But I could also waste it on mindless TV, Facebook addiction, hours of Angry Birds or snarky gossip with so-so friends.

At least I’ll have something out of it at the end, right? Even if its unfit for public reading!

And at least those voices inside my head will finally have found a home.

Happy Writing!

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox

Location:Seattle


Talk Back: Do you edit your manuscript as you go?

May 6, 2013

On my Kindle: “Super Secret Contemporary Romance” by Candi Wall and “Super Secret Pirate Romance” by Jenn Bray Weber – I’m Beta reading!!!

Talk Back – Tell us how you write!


You tell me: should I edit as I go, or will I write the whole dirty first draft, then edit?

You see since I finished my last manuscript, I have now started a brand new one. Well not so brand new since it’s the sequel to the previous one. Anyhow, as I was finishing that last manuscript, I got back into editing mode which I usually hate and towards the end, I was almost liking it.

Hence my dilemma, if I just go straight back to writing, I won’t be editing for a good 3 months. I will hate it again. And there is a nice feeling to get to THE END with a nice complete novel instead of going up and down in happiness with each draft (I’m done!!!! – but I am really done??)

But when I write the whole first draft without editing, the story grows on me and when I go back to edit the first chapter, I have a better sense of my story and characters – great way to put those unfired guns when you know there will be a gunshots at the end.

So I don’t know. I am 10,000 words into this story and I’m still going back and forth with this. I’ve tried to edit a bit, but my heart is not into it.

So what do you do? Are you consistent in your method or does it change with each project?

And by the way, if you need a little help with plotting, NYTimes bestselling author Bob Mayer was kind enough a couple of weeks ago to share his whole method on how he sets up conflict in his plots. Check it out – you’ll learn a lot!

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox

Location:Seattle


Happy Endings, Expectations, and a Hatchet Wielding Hunk

January 30, 2013

Song of the Day: Slow Burn by Atreyu

This week I finally saw the movie Snow White and the Huntsman. It was a fun, dark, entertaining twist of the classic Snow White fairy tale. And I truly appreciated Kristen Stewart not once swiping her hair behind her ear ala brooding Bella-style. Overjoyed really. BUT, and much like my rear-end, it’s a big but, I was 100% unsatisfied with how the movie ended.

chris hemsworth huntsmanOh sure, there was a happy ending—evil was vanquished and good reigned once again. Just it was not a happily-ever-after ending. As the credits rolled, I shook my head feeling I’d been cheated. It’s a fairy tale, with Chris Hemsworth, for Grimm’s sake. Where’s the damned happily-ever-after?

A good story doesn’t have to end in wedding bells and Disney-esque promises of eternal love. A good story can end in ambiguity. It can end with a tragic, yet beautiful goodbye. It can end with lines like “After all, tomorrow is another day.” It can leave you in stoic thought or just end with a certain finality. Heck, it can even end horribly. But the story should end satisfyingly.

As an aside, there was one movie with an ending so appalling, so shocking (even for me) that I was beyond unsatisfied. I was angry and even a little depressed. It was the 2007 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist. *shudders*

Back to my point.

I got to thinking about books. In romance, there is an unwritten rule (or maybe it is etched in a golden tablet hidden in the labyrinth sewer system beneath New York City) stating there must to be a happy ending for the heroine. The happy ending may include the happily-ever-after or it may allude to a life of happiness with her hero. Oftentimes, the heroine’s quest for love and/or happiness doesn’t end in one book, continuing on throughout a series of books instead. Yet, at the culmination of each tale, there is a gratifying conclusion to her adventure.

In Snow White and the Huntsman, there was a building trust, personal growth, and discovery of the heart. At times, it was subtle, but it was there most certainly. There was even a true love’s first kiss. Much mightier than any sword or incantation, mind you. It stands to reason there would be a happily-ever-after, or at the very least a pledge of one. For all that, the appropriate ending was glaringly neglected in the final scene. How frustratingly uncool. Boo…hiss…

If this happened in a romance novel, I doubt I would pick up another book from that author and I suspect I wouldn’t be alone. It’s the writer’s obligation to fulfill the reader’s expectations. Whether it is to leave the reader sighing from the perfect HEA, breathless with an explosive finish, or anticipating the next installment, authors must give the reader satisfaction. I believe this is true for all books, regardless of the genre, romance or otherwise.

I’m no movie critic. Nope, I’m just another yahoo with an opinion. For the most part I was entertained by the film. But as a romance writer, I’d say the movie makers missed the mark. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must pick up popcorn kernels thrown at the TV screen.

Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts? Has any movie or book left you disappointed? Let’s hear from you.


Keep It Real – by Candi Wall

November 3, 2012
“That willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
That’s right. As writers of fiction, we’ve set ourselves the task of making our readers believe a complete fabrication as the truth.
Oxymoron much?
But there it is none the less. It’s our job to make it possible for a reader to choose to ignore what they know is the truth and put their trust in us to deliver an amazing product that they won’t hate us for after. And let’s face it, when we put our faith in something that lets us down, we usually don’t give it another chance. As a matter of fact, that product, its producer and any reminder of such becomes a bit of a dirty word. We might not malign it, but we certainly aren’t going to pass it on to our friends either. Death of said product…
Suspension of disbelief is a friend to any writer. But making it work for us can be difficult. Some may think paranormal or sci-fi genres have it even tougher, but the truth is, if you’re writing fiction, you’re playing in Coleridge terms. Like it or not. It’s up to you to write the unbelievable in a way that makes it believable. Or to clarify, make it good enough that your audience is willing to mute the portion of their brain that’s all but screaming bullshit. Keeping that mute button on is OUR job.
And it’s not easy. People are smart. (Yes, I know. I didn’t mean ALL of them.) Think of how quickly you question what you read, see or hear. Sorry to say it, but the same thing happens when a reader is engrossed in a book and the author makes too quick of a jump into fantastical. Readers can be pretty forgiving and even when they suspend disbelief intentionally and willingly accept that your hero is a vampire from page one, if you decide three chapters in, to try and con them into believing he was captured by aliens who turned him into a vampire, you’re going to have some serious shaking of the suspension bridge.
So here are some thoughts as you plot, pantser, edit or stew….
  • Build your world as you go – Layers and details help a reader fully engage in your world where more things than they ever thought possible, are possible. World-building is key to suspension of disbelief whether you’re writing a small town cowboy, a pirate on the high seas, or a shape shifter who fights other creatures at the back door of human society.
  • Keep it consistent – This example from Media College is stellar! ” There are many things about the Star Trek universe which are basically impossible in the real world, but because Star Trek makes an effort to work consistently within its own universe, the stories become believable. For example, as long as you’re willing to accept that the Galaxy is mostly populated by humanoids then there is nothing within the series that will break the believability.”
  • Put truth in your writing. Readers have to be able to believe to be willing to suspend their disbelief. Readers want to be entertained, so they come willing to suspend judgement. Don’t forget the grounding factors of realism so your readers will have something to relate to.
  • Remember that each action has to have a reaction, from your character – not YOU. Author’s tend to insert their own thoughts and feelings in their writing. Readers need to learn and live this world and its incredible developments through the character’s POV. Your character is the vessel through which your readers see and experience what’s happening. Readers can only see, hear, or feel what the characters POV allows them to experience.

Suspension of disbelief is what readers offer the writer.

What we offer back is a period of time where the reader can lose themselves in another world, time, or place. A break from reality. A good book to curl up with.

Don’t give them a reason to find something else to occupy their time.

Happy writing!


Pitch to an agent… Wait, we’ve added editors too! by Candi Wall

October 21, 2012

I’m seriously late!

I had every intention of having this post up this morning. I planned to be up before everyone else and get this sucker up and running for my Sunday morning slot. That was before I overslept, found out I needed to help my son move into his new place, realized I’d neglected my laundry, needed to do some grocery shopping (what? nobody wants peanut butter, ham and pickles for lunch?), and ended up building models with both my boys until 9:30 at night.

That’s my life. Hope you still love me.

Anyway, I have news! First, I’m happy to announce that I signed with Samhain for another novel. This one is titled STAY and the plan is to write a series about the brothers we meet in this first novel. Stay tuned….

Second, we’ve undergone some construction…

And IT’S OFFICIAL.

We have now introduced editors to our ‘Agent Shop’ pitch days. That’s why that handy-dandy tab at the top now reads Agent/Editor Shop.

SQUEEEE!

That’s right. That means you’ll have opportunities to pitch to agents and editors. WOOT!

While I still have several invitations out with both editors and agents, the response thus far has been very positive – as you can see from the bar at the right.

I’ll keep updating the sidebar as I receive confirmations, but we have a stellar lineup thus far.

I’ve updated the rules/directions as well, (THE BIGGEST BEING PITCH DAY IS NOW ON SATURDAYS) so make sure you check out the Agent/Editor Shop tab above, spread the word and get ready.

Happy writing!

Candi


Glutton for Punishment? by Candi Wall

October 11, 2012

I was up late last night. Thinking. Biting my nails. Refreshing the six different tabs I had up on my computer. My ARC of Primitive Nights staring back at me all but screaming for my attention.

But I couldn’t focus. Why?

Because it’s the final day of voting in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest. Yep, I entered. What’s wrong with me?

Why would I put myself through the stress? I went to bed with my mind buzzing from all I had accomplished through the day, what I hadn’t accomplished, a new book idea, the laundry I needed to fold… Well, you get the picture. But when I woke up this morning, all I could think was, ‘Why do we do this to ourselves?’

Are we gluttons for punishment?

We pour our hearts and souls into every word we write. We send our work out knowing we’ll receive rejection. And it doesn’t matter if it’s self-pubbing, agent hunting, or contests. All venues have the potential for failure or rejection. We spend hours building our online presence, telling the world who we are, and all the while, we’re surrounded by the possibility of failure. And we do fail.

You’d think that would be enough to make us throw in the towel.

But not us. NO! Not writers. We’re crazy that way.

It took me two seconds of thought (and a healthy dose of caffeine) to decide why I do what I do.

Here’s my top ten:

  1. I HAVE to write. Seriously. I think my brain would swell and ooze out of my ears if I didn’t dump my ideas onto paper.
  2. There’s little that compares to typing THE END
  3. The people I meet. I met some of my dearest friends in the writing world.
  4. The support that’s out there! Our government could take a page from the writing world…
  5. Failure is just a small backward step on the road to success, and each step back taught me how to leap forward.
  6. Because if I wasn’t a writer, I couldn’t have Twitter conversations about twitching penises. (True story)
  7. I live vicariously through the success of my fellow writers. It keeps me dreaming…
  8. No matter how hard I fall, other writers are there to pick me up again.
  9. Because someday, I want a fan to say, “Your book touched me.”
  10. I’ll be gone someday. My art will forever be a part of history…

And of course, that one success can wipe away all the pain that came first…..

So tell me. Why do you put yourself through it? Why do you write?

🙂


Agent Shop and crawling back out of my hole.

October 8, 2012

Life is sinister. Even for a glass-half-full person like me.

I’ve missed SO much in the last year due to incredible things happening in my personal life. I’ve kept up as much as possible with those closest to me via scattered online catch up sessions. My best friend lives less than five minutes away, and I haven’t seen her in MONTHS!

I miss my online family, my writing family. But I’m working the kinks out and getting back in the groove. Harder than it sounds since I’ve also been finishing final edits on PRIMITIVE NIGHTS, squeee! Can’t believe it’ll be out in January.

Er, anywho… Sorry about the squirrel moment. I get sidetracked. Easily.

So for my re-return, I’ll be posting new information for the Agent Shop days coming in the next few months. ANy of the dates still to be determined will be updated in the Agent Shop sidebar as I get confirmations. (There may also be an Editor Shop coming in the near future!)

For those of you who haven’t heard of Agent Shop, there’s a handy tab at the top that will give you all the deets you need, but basically, we have a guest agent, you pitch (in two hundred words or less), if agent likes, she/he requests something. Simple. And we usually have some sort of fun comment game to guarantee one lucky pitcher the top pitch slot.

So here’s the schedule for the rest of this year and what I’ve booked so far for 2013.

Oct. 21st 2012 – TBA
Nov. 18th 2012 – Melissa Jeglinski w/ The Knight Agency
Dec. 16th 2012 – TBA
Jan. 13th 2013 – TBA (Release date for PRIMITIVE NIGHTS so watch for something special…)
Feb. 17th 2013 – Jessica Alvarez – BookEnds, LLC.
Mar. 17th 2013 – Mollie Glick w/ Foundry Media
April 21st 2013 – TBA
May 19th 2013 – Becky Vinter w/ Fine Print Literary
June 16th 2013 – TBA

Sounds good to me!

That’s it for now. I’ll be posting on Sundays from here out and running Agent Shop on the scheduled dates.

Visit soon. Oh, and if you want to make sure you get Agent Shop updates, you can follow me on TWITTER and FACEBOOK I post the updates there as I get them.

Have a great one!


“Here’s Looking At You, Kid.”

March 22, 2012

How many of you sit down at your computer to write a new book thinking that it will be a great story? Excitement powers your fingers on the keys and everything is great…until it’s not. Ideas start to sputter, finally ending in a whimpering mess and you have no clue where to go next. You wonder if you have any talent at all.

Storylines are difficult to create and even more difficult to maintain throughout the course of events unfolding on your pages. Why can’t you write a great novel? Why can’t you create a classic like Casablanca?

It had everything. Mystery, intrigue, conflict, romance, tortured souls and redemption- they are all in the movie. It’s no wonder that it took so many awards and has remained a favorite for the last 70 years. This amazing story, made into a movie, didn’t quite start out as the gem we see on our screens. In fact, it wasn’t even a complete script while they were filming!

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see Casablanca at the movie theatre. It was terrific! Not only was it great to see a brilliant film on the big screen, like it was meant to be seen, but I got to go with Will Graham and Melissa Ohnoutka (fellow writers and guests on Muse Tracks). It felt absolutely decadent to shirk our responsibilities in the middle of a work week and enter into the magical world of Morocco during World War II.

The movie was adapted from a screenplay called Everybody Comes To Rick’s. It was shot on a shoestring budget and the lead male was best known for playing tough mob guys, not romantic leads. They had the essence of a story but when filming began, no one knew where the story was going nor did they know how it would end. (Hmmm-sounds like me while I’m writing my books.) In fact, Ingrid Bergman complained quite loudly because she didn’t even know who she was really supposed to be in love with and that made her job more difficult.

The writers, Julius and Philip Epstein along with Howard Koch, wrote and re-wrote the story almost every day. The actors had no time to learn their lines prior to shooting because it literally changed with every hour. To keep themselves on tract, they would review the film shot the day before otherwise they found themselves following wrong plot turns.

Did they know they were filming a grand classic? No.

Did they know that the writing would be quoted and misquoted for the next seventy years? No.

Did they know they had a great idea that deserved hard work and a million rewrites? 

Writers don’t often sit down and create a masterpiece on the first take. I guarantee all the greats from Ernest Hemingway to Shakespeare threw away their fair share of wadded up paper and broke a quill or two out of frustration. I’ll bet some of them thought their best known works were nothing more than drivel slopped down on paper. Being a writer inherently means being plagued by doubt. Will anyone like what I’m writing? Does it make sense? Is it even a story? Trust me when I say I’ve asked every question that has run through your head and probably even a few more you haven’t thought of yet! The real question is whether you let it stop you from writing.

If something as wonderful as Casablanca was created through sheer resolve, then we should all have the determination to push through the road blocks- self created and others- to finish our own masterpieces. They may not all become classics made into film, but that doesn’t negate their worth and the satisfaction of doing something everyone wishes they could. Do you have that courage? What will you write today?

Fun Facts About Casablanca:

Nobody ever says, “Play it again, Sam.”

There were no “letters of transit” used during the war and there were never any uniformed German soldiers in Casablanca.

It is never revealed why Rick couldn’t return to America because the writers never could come up with a good reason so they left it as a mystery.

The twin brothers who wrote this are the only pair of twins to ever win an Oscar.

Dooley Wilson who played Sam, the piano player and Rick’s confidante, couldn’t play the piano in real life.

There really is a Rick’s Café in Casablanca today. It was opened by an American diplomat and the piano player plays As Time Goes By every night. The musician’s name is Isam. (Pronounced I Sam) Now that’s something you couldn’t make up!

 

 


Hump Day Kick Start

January 4, 2012

Song of the Day: This is Gonna Hurt by Sixx A.M.

Something tells me a few mouths just dropped open.

All right, kiddies. Tell me about this one. Who is he? He’s wet, and he’s obviously hot.  You know…because of the steam. Rivulets of water are still streaming down his body. What was he doing to get all soaked and vaporous?

What genre would you write him in? Is he a paranormal demon hunter? How about a romantic suspense homicide detective or Navy Seal? Sci-fi, thirller, time-travel?  Maybe he’s bad, bad boy. Did you notice the pretty impressive tat on his arm?

Love to hear your thoughts.


Edits, Drama, and the Murder of an Epilogue

November 9, 2011

Song of the Day: Rolling in the Deep by Adele

Edits. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

I think most of us have heard of revision hell. Conversely, we all know that someone who so rock, their editors have nothing to refine. So when my time came to be professionally edited, I had no idea what to expect.

The past few weeks I’ve been working on rounds of edits with my editor (I never get tired of saying that – my editor). Denise is fan – flipping – tabulous. And thus far, I’ve enjoyed the editing experience.

I look pretty good as a brunette.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not strolling through a field of poppies, barefoot and fancy free. I’m not one of those authors who so rock. No, I completely short circuit over doing revisions on a deadline and I’m convinced that Murphy’s Law requires that life heads into upheaval at the same time. Let’s face it, 14 days or less for revisions translates to 14 hours or less for this mom of a rambunctious toddler and ever-dramatic preteen.

I'm not being overly dramatic, am I?

Add in the momentary lapse of sanity with shameless sobbing, fist-pumping, and foot-stomping when I had to delete my entire epilogue. My epilogue that ties everything in a neat, pretty bow. My epilogue that hints to what’s to come in the next book. My epilogue that so rocked! Noooooooooo…

Other than that, I’ve been lucky, or maybe I just fake it well. My edits overall have been rather painless.

Action, adventure, romance. Check

Good grammar. Check.

No plot holes. Check.

Flowing sentence structure and pleasing cadence. Check.

Clear logistics. Check.

Drool-worthy libertine pirate with insatiable appetite. Check.

Tee Hee

My editor (giggle, snort, giggle) encouraged me to dive deeper into character motivation and helped pull the ropes tighter in my writing. Together, we spit-shined my novel squeaky clean. God love her, she found my amorous scenes hot and well written, and even asked that I add another. Gladly. Can’t have too much lovin’ to make your toes curl.

That woman’s got an eagle eye, too, picking out repetitive verbiage and phrases. Apparently, I have an affinity for certain words. They magically appear over and over in my book, this despite that I am usually very cautious about repetition. Still a few slipped past. Damn you CPs! *shakes fists*

Listen up, authors. She says she literally sees the following phrase, or variations

Even the dog is narrowing his eyes.

of, in every single manuscript that crosses her desk. She narrowed her eyes. Confession. I did this five times in the novel. Five! Everyone was narrowing their eyes. Ugh.

I’m not unique. Every author does this. We’re so wrapped up in conveying thoughts, emotions, and actions just right, we simply do not notice we’ve been repetitive. In an 80-100K book, it’s easy to overlook the same phrase or word.

Just when I thought we were finished, the copy editor sends it back. Writing historical fiction has its own challenge by way of proper words usage, terminology, and dialect. I have done extensive, exhaustive research on words, trying my best to avoid anachronistic terms. Imagine my surprise when the CE sent my novel back full of flagged words. *sigh* It’s times like these I wonder how I made it this far.

So how do we avoid these pitfalls? Get a good editor. Employ awesome critique partners. Besides that? Well, reading aloud works. Doing a ‘Find’ in Microsoft Word for any word you favor or think you’ve used more than once will help, as well. Do your research. And just be vigilant. No one is perfect. That’s why we have a team of peeps saving our asses.

Dear epilogue, you will be missed.

Now, please. A moment of silence for my dearly departed epilogue.

How about you? Do you have any favorite words that sneak into your manuscripts time and again? How about editing? How has the editing process worked for you? I’d love to hear from you.