Monday Mayhem – I’m conflicted

One of the cornerstones of writing any type of fiction is the need for conflict. At the start of every project, writers ask themselves at least two very basic questions:

What does our hero/heroine want most?

What is standing in their way?

Obviously, we delve deeper into the opposing forces as we move forward with a book, but those are the bare-bones basics. Internal and external forces are equally important, but require a different approach. This is where I stumble over one piece of oft-repeated writing advice.

We’re often told to imagine that ultimate goal, and then throw obstacle after obstacle into the path our protagonist has to take to get there.

Warning: Unpopular Opinion Ahead

I think there are times when an author can insert too much conflict into a story. As a matter of fact, I just read a book where it was literally one thing after another, page after page. No downtime. No breather. For me or the heroine. Nothing but one supposedly funny/sad/mortifying moment stepping on the heels of the one in front of it.

After the first few hits, I stopped buying in.

I know it’s fiction, but no one’s life is that non-stop. I mean, at some point, someone has to have a bio break, right? I’m telling you I would have locked myself in a filthy gas station bathroom and never come out if I were that poor heroine.

Warning: Unpopular Opinion #2 Coming At You

The other night, Jewels was talking about the big grovel scene in books… You know the kind, the one where one character does something so unthinkable that the only way they can possibly be forgiven is if they are willing to completely prostrate themselves at the other’s feet.

Yeah, I’m not a fan.

It’s not that I don’t want or appreciate a decent grovel as much as the next girl, it’s just that I don’t think they happen all that often in real life. Therefore, the whole set-up-overblown conflict/grand gesture/grovel comes off a bit too Hollywood for me.

I’m not saying a little groveling can’t take place. But, in my experience, there’s more awkward silence after a big blow-up than grandiloquent speechifying. I’d even go so far as to say that once we get past the oh-so-dramatic adolescent stage, most conflict is resolved with less than a paragraph’s worth of words.

And forgiveness doesn’t usually come with the big prize, but rather a small gesture.

Internal conflict usually plays a big part in my novels. Sure, I add a dash of external to turn up the heat a bit, but to me the story comes from the inside out, not the outside in.

Authors are frequently told to torment their characters, but I don’t. I figure they’re better at tormenting themselves than I will ever be. I just try to capture it all and put it on the page.

How about you? Are you a fan of the grovel? Has anyone ever hit you with a grand gesture. Tell your tale, and I might be inclined to give away a signed copy of Love & Rockets in celebration of this week’s exoplanet discovery!

Oh! And there’s a newsletter hitting inboxes tomorrow. If you aren’t on my list, sign up at the top of the sidebar >>

Share

Monday Mayhem – Persistence

Been there, done that, and my T-shirt is on the way.

Here’s the one I ordered:

I think the blue will really make my eyes pop. 😉

Persistence. If there’s one thing women know, it’s persistence. I have five older brothers. They didn’t always want to let me play with them, so they used their superior size and strength to try to muscle me out.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

With five boys and little hope of ever growing grass, my father covered our backyard in asphalt, installed a regulation basketball hoop, and marked the free-throw and three-point lines with spray paint. The ‘no blood, no foul’ rule was instituted. I was never big enough to mix it up in the games, but they would let me play H-O-R-S-E with them. Of course, they could stand behind either of those spray-painted lines and knock me out of the game in five quick rounds.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

Being a small girl, I had little hope of developing the arm strength for shots from field goal range. I needed to develop another weapon.

And so, I became the queen of the backwards bucket-shot.

With a little practice I could (and still can) sink a basket from anywhere within the arc by turning my back on the basket, spot-checking my alignment with the goal, then hurling the ball up over my head from between my knees.

I did what I had to do. I persisted until I found a way I had a chance to win.

I’m planning a program on goal setting and business plans for my local RWA chapter next month. In doing so, I’ve had to take a long look at my own goals and plans and how they have morphed in the past six years.

The publishing industry seems to shift and change like clouds on a windy day. I have a plan in place for 2017. Who knows if it will be relevant in 2018? *shrugs*

But I have to start somewhere.

Either way, I will persist.

Oh, and here’s a snapshot of me honing my skills on my First Communion day. What can I say? I was dedicated.

 

 

Share

Monday Mayhem – Shake it up!

So…life took a couple of turns for me last week. I turned the first book in the new Play Dates (Kensington/Lyrical 2017-2018) series in to my editor, and, I turned in my two-week notice at the day job.

While I’d love to say I’ll be writing for a living, that’s not the case…yet. What it came down to was the need to make a choice for happiness. And, extreme caffeination. For that reason, I chose to try something new. I’m going to work for our local Coca-Cola distribution center.

As Fodder pointed out, the only job that might have been a better fit for me would be some sort of quality assurance for at Steak ‘n Shake. 😉 Mm. Steakburgers. *sigh* A girl can dream.

This is another big step for me, but one that I think really highlights my evolution through my 40s. I went into this decade of my life with a lot of “somedays” in the back of my head. You know the kind. They sound a lot like, “Someday, I’ll write a book.”

My adventures in publishing have given me so much more than a sense of personal accomplishment. I’ve had to learn to accept and embrace criticism and rejection. I don’t like either of those two, but I can deal with it. And because I can, I now have the courage to make choices based on my potential for happiness.

The main thing I’ve learned in this decade is that life is too short. There’s no guarantee that you’ll ever see Someday. All we have is THIS day.

So, do something risky today. It doesn’t have to be big, or life altering, or even thrilling. Just take a chance, make a leap, do something that makes this day different from all the others. If it doesn’t work out the way you hoped, try something else.

Life is a series of chances, not a one-and-done.

The only true failure in life is the failure to make an attempt.

Share

Monday Mayhem – Fresh Starts

I’m still working on finishing the draft of Easy Bake Lovin’ (Play Dates #2), but with the start of the Build a Book 365 day challenge I gave myself permission to play with one of the Silver Fox ideas I have rattling around in my head.

Meet Leonardo Sbaraglia. He doesn’t know it, but he’s currently serving as my hero inspiration. I promise, I will try to do him right. Ahem. I mean do right by him.

Finding photographs of heroes and heroines who fit the images in my head is not always easy, but I knew the minute I saw him, he was my man. More specifically, the man to model my hero, Dominic Mann on.

I’ll be sharing pictures of people who remind me of my characters as the year progresses. We have a lot of books coming in 2017-2018. I hope you’re ready to meet them all!

How about you? Do you picture famous people portraying the heroes and heroines as you read? Care to share some thoughts?

News and notes:

In case you missed it, LOVE & ROCKETS received another fabulous 5 star review! This one from Epilogue Book Blog. Check it out!

Also, GOING DEEP (Coastal Heat #1) and A WILL AND A WAY (Worth the Wait Romance) are both on sale for $0.99! Tell your friends!

Snowed in? Give LONG DISTANCE LOVE a shot. You won’t regret getting to know Jack and Ellie better!

 

 

Share

Monday Mayhem – My stories, at the core

Last week, I asked what you expect when you open one of my books. Your responses were so moving. Thank you. You let me know that I am indeed already hitting some of the key points in what I want to write.

I spent a lot of time in 2016 examining my work, and trying to identify the elements I think are essential to what I wanted to say – what’s known as a writer’s core story.

(This may freak those of you who know me out, but I’m posting a picture of fruit:)

Trying to suss out one’s core story it a little like nibbling at an apple (or so I hear). I started with reviewing some of my books and works in progress as a whole, then began to examine certain elements in small bites. When I got down to the center, I had a better handle on the parts that were so important to me that they re-appear in novel after novel.

Here’s what I think my core story is:

Heroines: Powerful, independent, unapologetically sex positive, and feminist. Their journeys mostly involve examining, adjusting, and reestablishing their expectations of life and love.

Heroes: Confident and strong, but not the stereotypical Alpha male. They appreciate complex women and are up to the challenge.

My emphasis is almost always on character growth and reinvestment in themselves. In my books, women are not always relationship seekers and men do not necessarily flee from commitment.

Humor will always be an important part of my writing. I require moments of it in all forms of entertainment – even the most gut-wrenching dramas. To swipe a quote from Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” It’s true. If I can move a reader to one or both-or even at the same time-I consider it a win.

So how did my vision match up with your expectations?

Well, we got the humor bit down. A couple of you mentioned tears, strong heroines, and guys who are up for meeting their match, so I must be doing some things right.

This is the interesting thing about being a writer. The themes we tackle in our work grow and evolve as we do. If you’d asked me in 2011 if I considered myself a feminist, I may have hemmed and hawed a bit, shying away from the label. Now, I wear it proudly. Sex-positive? I never really thought much about how we view and judge female sexuality. The norms and constraints simply were what they were. Yeah, um, no.

But we’ll talk more about those topics in another post.

My point is, life is all about evolution. Conscious or subconscious, I’ve been seeing some shifts in my own work over the last year or two. Thanks so much for your replies last week. Your feedback is vital to me. After all, I’m telling these stories in hopes that you will connect with them.

As we type, I’m working on a few different things. I have sent the first book in the upcoming Play Dates series to the fabulous Julie Evelyn Joyce for critique. I’m inching my way toward the end of the draft on book #2 and hope to have it done by the end of the month.

Just for fun, I’m participating in a 1 page per day challenge for 2017, and for that I’m playing with something entirely different. There are a bunch of current and aspiring authors participating. It’s not too late to join in. There’s also a super secret Facebook group where we babble about what we’re doing. If you want to participate, tag me. 🙂

So now you know what I think I should be writing. This time I’ll ask a different question: How do you think I’m measuring up? Are there areas where you (as a reader) think I’m falling short? Maybe one or two where I hit it out of the park?

Share

Monday Mayhem – Hello, December!

Well, here we are! It’s December. NaNoWriMo #8 is in the bag, and the 1st draft of Play Dates #2 is 4/5+ done!

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winner_congrats

I started tracking my #31brightspots this week. I’ve been sharing them on Twitter and FB, but here are the highlights so far:

12/1/16 Walking in the door and hearing this guy squeal, “Moogie!” Day = made. #31brightspots

15317965_10154750821096703_2004983443921915573_n

12/2/16 – Fodder got me Labrador socks! Now he’s taking me and Sally to Sonic! #31brightspots

15317789_10154754064196703_161087445997104169_n

12/3/16 – “Writing” at Panera with Kim Ward McPhersonParker KincadeLacey Thacker Meislohn, and Brinda Berry. My bright spots for today! #31Brightspots

15219636_10154756128576703_6035330677874129364_n

It’s not too late to join in. Just pick a bright spot (no picture required) and share it with the world!

Now that we’re into December, I’m in full blown planning mode for 2017. I’ll probably be doing some updating around here, so if there’s something you would like to see from me, please let me know!

Happy Monday, my friends! Hope you have so many bright spots it’s hard to choose!

Share

Monday Mayhem – Thankful

It was Thanksgiving in the States this past Thursday. If you read the news (and my Twitter feed), you’d think that there was little to be thankful for in America, but I think we can all agree that the media skews things a tad, right?

Right.

Yes, there are things happening that no one likes, but there are so many more things happening that are good. Family and friends spending time together, neighbors helping neighbors, and all of the many, many blessings that we enjoy – food, shelter, clothing, Netflix, bubble baths, nacho cheese Doritos, books…

The month of November was a rough one – I won’t deny that. There’s an ever-growing cadre of us who believe all of 2016 can go and stuff it now. I even gave up putting slips of paper in my happiness jar sometime around April. It wasn’t that good things weren’t happening. It’s just that they kind of got buried under the headlines.

But I’m going to try to go out on a high note. I have until Wednesday to squeeze in my NaNoWriMo numbers. I’m over 45k as of this writing, and should be able to make it again. If I do, I’ll post my winner-winner-chicken-dinner badge here next week.

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-5-13-23-pm

The end of NaNo means Thursday is December 1st. Yeah, I know, duh. But this is the last month in what many of us consider one of life’s crappier years, so I’m going to try to see it through as in the same way I hope to start 2017 – full of positivity.

For the month of December, I’m going to try to write one happy/positive thing down each day. Doesn’t have to be anything big or monumental, just bright spot. When I prepare this post on Sunday evenings, I’ll update you on what I’ve collected, then put it all together in the end. I may even tweet a few, just to counteract all the other stuff in my timeline.

december-2016-calendar-portrait

31 days of bright spots. Should be totally doable. I bet you can too. Who wants to play along?

P.S. In case you missed me blabbing all over the place – LOVE & ROCKETS released last week. Please read. Please review. Please tell your friends to do the same. *puppy dog eyes*

P.P.S. I can’t even with the Gilmore Girls yet. Still processing so much of it, but let me just say: Like Lorelai, I’m happy. So happy I haven’t even had a single fanfic idea. Thanks for making my life easier, ASP! *ducks and runs*

Share

Monday Mayhem – A positively Gilmorian giveaway

Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I’ll LOVE & ROCKETS ya, tomorrow! It’s only a day away!

Love and rockets_final

Can’t wait for you to get to know Darla and Jake better!

In the meantime, I am still toiling away at the NaNoWriMo goals. I’m up to date and should finish on time. I have to admit, it’s been hard this year. The day job is super busy. As you know, there’s some birthday-ing going on around here (Fodder’s is tomorrow! Tomorrow! I’ll Love & Rockets him tomorrow!), there’s Thanksgiving on Thursday, and the year’s most anticipated event on Friday.

No, I’m not talking about Black Friday.

No, not even thinking about the (so-called) Battleline Rivalry game between Arkansas and Mizzou.

I’m talking Gilmore, and you know I am talking fast.

That’s right, this Friday, my pal Lulu and I will be snuggled in on my sofa with a smorgasbord of junk food, ready to live a year in the life with our beloved friends from Stars Hollow.

I CANNOT WAIT!

To celebrate, I’ll offer a little prize. Comment on this post with your favorite line from Gilmore Girls (any episode, any season, any character) and I’ll draw one name for a signed copy of LOVE & ROCKETS.

Did I mention that Darla is a spunky single mom of a brainy teenaged daughter? No? Yeah, well, you know how it is….

Now go forth and comment! I’ll pick a winner Friday, November 25th!

Share

Monday Mayhem – It has begun

Here it is, November again. That means it’s NaNoWriMo again!

nanowrimo_calendar_wallpaper_by_moonfreak-d301g6e

This is my 8th go-round with NaNo, and each time it proves to be a formidable foe. This year, I’m working on book #2 of my new Play Date series (working title: Easy Bake Lovin’)

I’m just over 12k in and cruising right along. Check back with me in a week or so, I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune by then.

I love this challenge. It’s crazy and it’s a killer, but there’s nothing like chasing a number.

Wish me luck!

Share

Monday Mayhem – News edition

So, I’ve been sitting on this for a couple months:

14729340_10154632346696703_5402416116822863278_n
Official Announcement
14657411_10154633688236703_9009641043302643363_n
Unofficial-but-fun newspaper headline

That’s right! NaNoWriMo is about to start and I’m heading back into the cave to start work on book #2 in this series!

So if I don’t see you… Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll be back next Monday with an update!

Have a great week!

And Happy Halloween from my tiny-face pumpkin, Pumpito!

14590347_10154642550051703_5974314752527889161_n

Share