Tag Archives: writing

Are you enjoying the writing journey?

Have you met your goals? What do you do when you succeed? Or fail? What about when you disappoint yourself? Beat yourself up for not being dependable? I have a confession… rainbow_stage_spotlights_vector_background_529094-copy


 It’s October? OMG – How did I get here and how did I get side-tracked from my writing goals? One thing that interferes with getting my writing done is having more pressing issues that keep popping up, forcing me to re-prioritize.  My family’s needs always take priority over everything else, and my uncle has decided to move into assisted living. With no children of his own, I’m trying to help him find a suitable place near his friends. It’s giving me good practice for finding out what I will want when the time comes for me and my husband. But it’s time consuming and distracting.

“Hair of the Wolf” is late. I’m beating myself up over not meeting the goal for a planned  September release. The first humorous paranormal book in my As the Chair Turns series should have been released by now, but Irma showed up and blew (pun intended) that and several trees in my yard all to hell.

My house is way too large for my husband and I to maintain. We were ready to downsize and reduce the stress in our lives. Half our belongings are in boxes. We installed new flooring, new roof, and updated the kitchen and the bathrooms. There’s still more to do and, now after this hurricane season, there’s more. I also planned to put “said” home on the market last month. Real retirement is beginning to feel like an illusive dream.

Needless to say, my plans have changed. But although we had no firm plans in place for moving on, we did have a few dreams; so now, frustration is setting in.

Since I’m not wealthy enough for my writing income to take precedence over my other sources for paying the mortgage and bills … such as emergency hurricane preparedness and cleanup, I need an alternative vision. I edit part time, mentor/coach part time, work as a hairdresser part time, and then write. So writing comes last, and money that I’d like to spend for promotion and advertising is being gobbled up in daily living expenses.  I am not the only author suffering from this dilemma.

What I’ve decided to do is stop setting “firm” goals for my release dates and avoid the guilt. I have at least eight books in progress at this time, and because I value good story and character development above churning out crap, I am taking a step back.

One of the observations I’d like to make for writers is that you should set your own pace. Yes, the authors who are releasing quickly and often are having success, but don’t sell your work short. Don’t self criticize because you take more time to tell the story the way you want to. Do it your way in your own time.

The self-publishing market makes it difficult to rise above the algorithms, keywords, and massive numbers of releases daily. What I see are opportunists, sharks feeding on minnows, finding a way to make more money for themselves without a care to the quality of what they turn out or how they affect the market in general.

Are we dumbing-down literacy? Yes. And genre fiction. The Chicago Manual of Style reviews editing rules about once a year because colloquial language and needs within the US are changing with the speed of social networking. There are age-gapped and style changes taking place every day. English, in all its forms, has different rules around the world, but in addition to that, I believe, fiction in (American) English is being swamped by books published with little, no, or unprofessional editing.  The results are chilling.

Incorrect uses of tense, words, phrases in books and TV, social media, and radio infiltrates our daily experience. Which came first? Does it matter? The results are the same. Confusion and inconsistencies. Authors who discard the rules and, through advertising and promotion, convince readers it doesn’t matter.

To each her/his own. I can’t live with “incorrect” or inconsistencies in my books. And believe me they have them. But I strive to improve with each book I write, because, as in all art, fiction and novels are a personal matter of taste. Correct language, grammar, and punctuation is not. Dialogue can be true to form, narrative can not.  An author can maintain her or his voice without compromising quality editing.

Be careful when comparing your goals, needs, and successes with other peoples’. Be good to yourself. Enjoy the journey no matter where it takes you.

 

Author Tips for Writing Detail

Detail has a purpose. It should provide something to the story. It should do something to the reader. The picture I used for my page has that romantic couple in a sexy pose. But in describing it, can you as an writer describe the scene accurately to draw a reader response? It makes me think of a sandy beach (yet it’s a wooden floor, reminiscent of Dirty Dancing) perhaps because of the way the light strikes the two characters. I think heat.

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I remember the way the sun feels against my skin as it soaks in, the way it also heats me from the inside without the need for a kiss. Has he just finished kissing her or is he about to kiss her? The sensations before and after are different, and depending on expectation and circumstance, so are the emotions and response.  In describing this moment, an author will know which words to choose to evoke the exact reaction intended from the reader.

Can you imagine the moment leading up to this point? Can you begin to imagine what comes next? Everything depends on story. Characters react to story. Having a plot in mind puts the characters in the story, then knowing your characters well determines how they will react. They have options if they’re three dimensional characters, so they may surprise you, and also the reader, with their reaction. How will he touch her? Where? What does he want? What keeps him from taking what he wants? Maybe he will. maybe he won’t. Details like background noises may define the moment. Maybe an interruption sends them into hiding…everything depends on what’s in the author’s head…and where the story has been as well as where the plot is going.

Think about this when you add detail. What he’s wearing or not wearing can set a scene for what comes next. With both of them scantily clad, sexual tension can elevate quickly, especially if they are forced into close proximity. Does he hear her breathing heavily? Does she notice perspiration form on his forehead? “Showing” these details makes “telling” the reader the obvious unnecessary, but it does put the reader in the scene and  into the story.

Remember the books that frightened you? I had to take breaks while reading The Shining by Stephen King, I could “not” breathe. Normally, writers give the readers time to breathe between scary scenes. Not King.

Remember the books that turned you on? The one that comes to mind for me wasn’t an erotic book; it was a suspense…All the Queen’s Men by Linda Howard. I was on a plane and deep into the dangerous scene of the book, when the sensual tension began to build. OMG danger and suspense and sex! I was seated in an aisle seat in business class surrounded by men. Lost in the story, I must have been holding my breath because when I finally exhaled, the man across the aisle turned around, winked, and asked, “That good huh?” I flushed to the roots of my hair. But “yes” it was that good, and I immediately bought one of those paperback book covers to hide my choice of titles in the future. (Although that cover had had nothing on it but chess pieces, I wasn’t ready to get teased over something like Fabio’s chest. It’s nothing to laugh at!) Getting lost in the details is a reader’s pleasure and the author’s job. Authors must draw the picture, set the scene, create the mood, string the reader out until they want to scream in pleasure or fear, or cry or laugh, or clap and cheer. Emotion is key. If an author can make you feel something…the job is done. Details create sensations that develop the emotions. Make certain the details you choose move the story forward. Set the stage for the scene.

Happy writing makes happy reading!

Maybe… You Weren’t Rejected

From my Editor’s “Sorting Hat”… One thing I’ve noticed is that submitting authors have come to expect rejections. They accept rejection too easily.  Even when they aren’t being rejected.

Most new authors have no idea how the publishing system works. They are writers. So now what?

I was fortunate to finally find answers to my questions, and to questions I hadn’t even thought of, with experienced authors at RWA and then at Tampa area Romance Authors, the local chapter I joined, where the wealth of information about the publishing process was invaluable. Gracious published authors like CL Wilson, Julie Leto,  Karen Rose, Virginia Henley, Betina Krahn, Terri Garey, Roxanne St. Claire, Kresley Cole, and so many others, gave their time and experience to pull up promising authors. The information and advice they shared helped everyone.

So when I encounter a new author who doesn’t really know how to format her manuscript, or write a submission letter, or know where to find advice, I recommend joining a professional group. In my case I did join a group of writers early on, but they were a mixed group. I write romance and was too embarrassed to read aloud during critique sessions. So without a critique partner I still learned plenty about writing from critiquing other people’s work. I am a reader, after all, and I know what I like and don’t like.  Did it drag? Did it grab me right from the start? Did it confuse me? Did I stop reading it? Was the dialogue bad? Were the characters interesting, flawed or boring?

So it didn’t take me long to begin looking at my own work with a discerning eye. I couldn’t seem to cut what I needed to cut. I wrote around passages that didn’t fit to keep them in because I liked the way the words sounded or the illusion they created. It slowed the pace, it didn’t move the story forward or show the reader anything about the characters.

Even when I did find a patient soul or two to critique my work (I can’t believe they are still my friends after all this…) I didn’t want to change it. So where did the manuscript go? I submitted it and got rejections. No explanation of why. But in retrospect you know why, right? All my critique partners were right. I knew it. I just didn’t know how to fix it.

There are plenty of wonderful editors and agents who look at your manuscript and want to publish it. They like you. They like your characters. They like the plot. But sometimes they don’t have the time to fix all the things your manuscript will need to make it a viable published book. If you get a rejection letter with suggestions…your manuscript may NOT have been rejected after all.  Do NOT be afraid to ask if you can revise and resubmit. If you are lucky enough to get the okay to resubmit, do NOT rush through it and send it right back. I’d get everyone’s opinion who reads your genre to take a look before you send it back. I’d let it sit for a while after I addressed the obvious concerns. Time is the best judge of your work. If you go back to your book and are absorbed in the story and surprised and pleased with the dialogue and narrative when you reread it, fantastic. I can’t tell you how often I don’t remember writing certain passages, and I wonder who did. I was in a zone, and my muse had completely taken over. It was beyond good. Beyond what I believed I was capable of writing.  And then there are the other times when I read a scene and wonder what the hell I was thinking. The sentences are a jumble of crap. I misspell words, misuse words, mix metaphors, write a scene out of point of view…ugh. You get the picture.

Self edit. Gather all the information you can about the industry, the editors, the agents and agencies you want to submit to. If you get your manuscript in front of anyone  make certain it will reflect the best you have to offer. If you get rejected, confirm whether you should revise and resubmit or whether your book is not a good fit for the publisher or editor. You want someone who loves your book as much as you do to manage it, agent, editor, or publisher. You want all hands on deck when it comes to producing your book.

I have had to chase after authors who thought I’d rejected their books and explain I want them to fix what I pointed out. It isn’t hopeless. Sometimes, there’s too much story for the length, or not enough. Sometimes the clutter is hiding the magic.  That can all be an easy fix. But sometimes it isn’t good for the publisher or the genre line. That may not be fixable. No one benefits if a reader isn’t looking at a publisher or distributor for your book because yours maybe mystery and the reader only reads paranormal. So make sure you are positioning your work well.

I’ve probably forgotten to include a million other issues but I hope you get something out of this post. I’ve been editing for The Wild Rose Press for almost ten years under the pseudonym, Frances Sevilla and independently freelance editing as Maureen F. Sevilla.

When I’m a writer, Eliza March, I am exactly like every other writer.  I have a hard time seeing my books’the flaws.

Check out my book, Maximum Impact