Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's not a good writing day. Even my pen thinks so. When I write, it feels scratchy against the page, which usually means it's close to running out of ink. Today, however, it has plenty of ink...it's just not in the mood to glide across the paper.

Even my blog entry could use some work. Good Lord!

(and when I hit the "publish post" I get an error telling me the system is down...)

SIGH

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's not a good writing day. Even my pen thinks so. When I write, it feels scratchy against the page, which usually means it's close to running out of ink. Today, however, it has plenty of ink...it's just not in the mood to glide across the paper.

Even my blog entry could use some work. Good Lord!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I haven't blogged in a while because I'm writing! My current WIP is being developed for Harlequin and is tentatively titled "For The Love of His Family." I'll post a story summary at a later date. If you're interested in reading an excerpt, leave me a comment and I'll send you a tidbit.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The end of summer is usually bittersweet for me, but this year I am excited to see August come to a close. As of Friday, both the kids are back in school and now it's finally my turn to have a say as to how my day goes. This is a new premise for me, since I've never before had such a luxury.

I usually do WIP-related freewriting in the mornings, exploring potential new directions in longhand, which I then transfer into the main story file on my laptop. Most of the time, I'll pick up with new additions right there at the computer, usually writing in 30-minute blocks of time with small breaks in between. That's when I get the housework done, during those breaks; writing is my "reward" for washing the dishes or folding a load of laundry.

Last week, I focused a lot on freewriting, since I am plowing new ground with a new chapter. I write my stories from the inside out, working first on the scene(s) that have initially drawn me into the story and then shaping the beginning and, to some degree, the end around the build-up and climax I've written first. It's odd, I'm sure, but it seems to work pretty well, especially when I have get to the second draft stage and have someone who can point out major plot flaws or remind me of loose ends that need resolving.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

Posted with permission from the author...

Save a Writer, Buy a New Book!

by Susan Gable

The recent demise of yet another Harlequin line, this time the kick-butt heroine line Bombshell, got me to thinking, which, as anyone who knows me will tell you is always a dangerous thing. I heard from a number of readers who were surprised by the closing, because they had friends who just "loved that line!"

I've also heard things like this: "I can't believe they closed that line. I loved that line. I read those books every month at my library."

Before I go any farther with this discussion, I have to offer up a disclaimer. I love libraries. Especially as a child with a voracious appetite for story, I borrowed armloads of books from my local library. I love bargains, too. I shop like men hunt or play sports. It's a victory when I score a bargain. (New black cocktail dress, originally $79, marked down to only $16. SCORE!) Used books are great bargains. Swapping books, another great bargain. The new websites on-line, where you can "rent" a book, in a system similar to NetFlix, are also an interesting bargain. Good grief, even the airports these days have a program where you can buy a book, read it, then sell it back to them. What a bargain!

But did you realize that those bargains could be putting your favorite line or your favorite author out of business?

It's a difficult, touchy subject for authors to discuss. We don't want to appear anti-used books ('cause we're not -- not entirely, anyway), or make readers think we're money-grubbers, always harping on them to buy our books. We all know (believe me, we KNOW - most writers don't make anywhere close to as much money as people think we do.) how tight money can be sometimes, especially with the rising costs of gas and heating fuel, and food, and taxes, and…well, you know. Everything.

We’ve been known ourselves to sometimes borrow and trade books, or buy used. Or go to the library.

But publishing these days is a strictly-by-the-numbers business, which means if the numbers don't live up to the publisher's expectations, a writer can kiss her slot/line/future contracts good-bye.

"Where's SoAndSo's latest book? How come she hasn't published another story in that series that I love so much?" If you find yourself asking that question, it could be that your favorite, SoAndSo, got cut loose because the numbers of that last book in the series didn't do as well as the one before that. How did you get your hands on that last book? Did you buy it new, contributing to the continuation of the series, or did you bargain read it? Bargain reads don't count towards our numbers.

Writers, especially those of us at the "lower echelons" of the publishing world, need our readers more than ever. Without you, there would be no point in what we do. (Well, okay, there's a certain satisfaction in telling yourself a story, but it's the audience that makes it truly special. It's a shared dream.) But now, because of the numbers, we need your support even more.

Our careers, our lines, even our publishers, live and die by the numbers.

So please, where and when you can, save a writer. Buy a new book. We'll all thank you for it. And that way, you'll have more choices of books in the future.


*****
Susan Gable thanks her fans for buying her books. Her latest book, The Pregnancy Test, sold well, thanks to them. It was also awarded the National Readers' Choice Award for Best Long Contemporary. Visit her at www.susangable.com for excerpts, contests, and more.
__________________
Susan Gable www.susangable.com
THE PREGNANCY TEST - Harlequin Superromance July 2005
Sometimes life tests a man...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Now that my 11-year-old son is back in school, the 6-year-old and I start our days early, or early for us, anyway. The cell phone alarm -- a gentle nudging rather than the heart-stopping bleat of its bedside counterpart -- chimes at 7am. I rise and trudge to the boys' room to wake the 11-year-old, then trudge back to the shower. Most mornings, I have no place to be, so I keep the wardrobe simple: T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. The blow dryer, curling brush, and my normally stick-straight hair spend some quality time together, then the next half-hour is spent prodding the 6-year-old awake.

Like his mom, he has night owl blood running thick through his veins. The 'prodding' usually consists of begging, pleading, cajoling, bribery, and outright blackmail. Many of my sentences vaccillate between "If you get up right now, we'll _____ (fill in the blank with some treasured activity)" and "If you don't get up right now, we won't _____ (fill in the blank with some treasured activity)." None of these really work consistently, so I'm not sure why I even bother anymore. Generally, VH-1 is the only thing that elicits a response. The 6-year-old, you see, is a music fiend, again, just like his mom, so that will usually do the trick.

The mom taxi departs on schedule (if all goes well), and we spend the next 20 or 30 minutes negotiating city traffic to reach the school downtown. The curbside exodus is quick, and the 6-year-old and I make our way back to the other end of town.

Until his school starts in late August, my days are spent entertaining him. He begrudgingly permits my morning workout because he knows his reward will be an hour at the pool. Which is where I am now. The community where we live hosts a diverse demographic. Usually, when we're up this early and reach the pool by 10am, he's the only kid out there and can splash to his heart's content. This morning, however, our solitude has been shattered by a family of four -- two boys, two girls -- who can best be described as holy terrors. The oldest, 5 or 6, is a solid swimmer in both ends of the pool and takes great delight in terrorizing his less-apt brother and sisters. One of the girls breaks into a whine, which quickly escalates into a wail, and then finally into hysterics. Apparently, she is convinced she has lost a limb. Her grandmother, a gruff Northerner who seems to dislike the daily drudgery of trying to keep these hellions in line, doesn't know how to calm her down, so she gets irritated with the instigator and blames the whole thing on the kid. Long moments pass, too long, and the grandma sends the howler home to her grandpa. Lucky guy.

It's interesting to watch my 6-year-old as he observes the circus-like antics of these four. He can be wild in his own right, but when it's someone else disturbing the peace, you can see the disapproval sink deep into his features. On the walk home, he'll no doubt give me a running commentary, pointing out their wrongs. He enjoys the role of judge, jury, and executioner.

He's in there now, waiting for me to finish typing this, so we can prepare for the next great adventure of the day. We might go roller skating or to the ice rink, or we might blow a few quarters on skee ball at the arcade. He's a pretty good tag-along as long as you keep him fed and watered. Well, except for trips to the library. He definitely didn't catch the bookworm gene the rest of the three of us share. He's happy to be there until he's taken the elevator. Then, he's ready to go and thinks everyone else should be, too. I keep hoping he'll grow out of it, but no luck so far.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm terrible at thinking up titles, so I hope you'll bear with me while I abandon the exercise altogether. It's so confining, to see that TITLE up there just waiting for me to fill in the blank. What if I want my mind to wander across many terrains today?

Best-selling author Jennifer Weiner (www.jenniferweiner.com) is my mentor...she just doesn't know it. On her website, she has written a wonderful essay just for writers. Part of it reads:

Read everything. Read fiction and non-fiction, read hot best sellers and the classics you never got around to in college. Read men, read women, read travel guides and Harlequins and epic poetry and cookbooks and cereal boxes, if you're desperate. Get the rhythm of good writing in your ears. Cram your head with characters and stories. Abuse your library privileges. Never stop looking at the world, and never stop reading to find out what sense other people have made of it. If people give you a hard time and tell you to get your nose out of a book, tell them you're working. Tell them it's research. Tell them to pipe down and leave you alone.

I have 74 books on loan from our county library system. Many of them are "how to" books on writing, references suggested to me by those in the know, while most of the rest are a myriad of category and single title romances that fall within my chosen sub-genre. I dive into each one, chapter by chapter; first, as a reader, wide-eyed and innocent, waiting with breathless anticipation as the author takes me on her journey, and then, as a writer, analyzing dialogue and plot construction, characterization and point-of-view. Pacing. Description. The way she knits together the words to form the fabric of the story. My efforts are slow, painstaking, even though I am blessed with the ability to read quickly.

I admit, it has been hard for me to get past the idea that reading is anything more than a guilty pleasure, but it's up there in black and white, permission from JW! If people give you a hard time and tell you to get your nose out of a book, tell them you're working. Tell them it's research. Tell them to pipe down and leave you alone. Such debauchery!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday Morning

I used to hate Sundays, because they signified the end of the weekend and a return to the uncivilized structure that was my work week: Up too early, arguments with the kids over their dawdling, dash-off to work sans breakfast, exchange of pleasantries with co-workers trying to hide the fact that they wished they were anywhere but there, a race through the day to reach the 5:00 milestone, then a final race through the evening hours to fit everything in before bedtime so I could get up and start it all over the next day. It makes me want to cry when I think of all the wasted days spent on that hamster wheel.

Now, Sundays feel like December 31st to me, like I'm on the cusp of something spectacular in the week to follow, like I have control over the way those next seven days will play out. That whole "choose your attitude" thing. Will it play out like an orchestra or a mosh pit? I have room to breathe and great, big blocks of time to write and to read and to just sit and think about these characters coming to life on the page in front of me. I realize I'm damn lucky to have the opportunity to indulge in such luxury and don't wish to squander it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Back to Work

After a hectic couple of weeks dealing with the typical back-to-school issues that descend this time of year, I'm finally able to start crafting a "normal" schedule of writing. It's new to me, this ability to sit down during daylight hours and work on my stories. Before June, I'd always been forced to fit the writing in on harried lunch hours at work, between loads of laundry crammed in after "lights out" for the kids, or in the wee hours of pre-dawn when my body begged for sleep. Now, I feel like I can relax just a bit. I can set goals and, wait for it, actually accomplish them!

I've been very grateful for the constructive criticism I've received at
Absolute Write. It's making me sit down and re-think the plausibility of my initial hook, and the resulting outline revisions make more sense. I feel like I've hit upon a gold mine at AW. Now, if I could only find a critique partner!

I just received an e-mail from HQ SuperRomance author Amy Knupp (www.amyknupp.com), who wrote
Unexpected Complication and the forthcoming The Boy Next Door. She has some wonderful responses to questions I had about writing for the HQSR line vs. pursuing single title publication. I think it's always helpful when you can get the insider's perspective, and she was gracious enough to share her thoughts on the subject.

Friday, July 28, 2006

LaVyrle Spencer

"This, then, is my last book."

Such profound, sad words offered by a beloved and much-respected author. Having wrapped my head and heart around characters I'd only just met a few hours before, it was these words that drew my tears, the knowledge that these characters would be the last.

What drives a writer to retirement when she is, seemingly, in her prime? There's no doubt that twenty-one years of this solitary exercise might wear away at a person, but do the voices in your head really cease? Do you manage them, like you would your children, begging them quiet?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Haley Who?

So...here I am, jumping in feet first with this blog thing, which feels a little ridiculous since I don't really have any kind of platform or message to share, or at least nothing dynamic enough to change the world. Blogs, by definition, are egotistical; I mean, who gives a damn about the kind of music I listen to or what my daily life is like or what my gripes of the day are? Who even knows if blogging will be around two years from now? Maybe we'll all cringe and admit--only under duress, mind you--that yes, we indeed blogged. Who cares? If it forces me to write something on a regular basis, it can't be all bad, right?

I guess I should start by introducing myself -- I'm Haley, I'm in my mid-thirties, a wife, a mother, a dreamer. I'm an as-of-yet-unpublished romance writer. Don't hold it against me, okay? I mean, let's face it...even though the Romance Writers of America boasts that romance accounts for 54.9% of all popular mass-market fiction sold and generates $1.2 billion in sales annually, it's a genre that isn't taken very seriously by the mainstream or literary fiction die-hards. Sure, romance has its standouts--Danielle Steel, LaVyrle Spencer, Jayne Ann Krentz, Nora Roberts--the list goes on, but when you mention you're a romance author, people pat you on the arm and assure you that if you keep working hard, one day you'll write something that matters, something that will wind up on the NYT bestseller list. It's good practice.

You're kidding, right? Look, all I ever wanted in life was to write. There were times when my confidence waned, when I thought I wasn't good enough, when I told myself that writing just for me was enough, when I thought it wouldn't matter if anyone else ever read my stuff or not. Then, someone suggested to a bunch of us dreamer types that we sit down and write our obituaries--what we'd want to have written about us--and then spend the rest of our lives trying to live up to the descriptions we'd written. This exercise forced me to realize that I did not want to be known as someone who dabbled in writing but never made it to the big time. If you see it, you can be it or some such blathering.

Just so we're clear here...I may indeed be inspired to write The Great American Novel one day. Whatever the hell that is; I mean, one man's trash is another man's treasure, right? I wish I could pretend that I'm a fan of Tolstoy or Hemingway or Steinbeck or all those other classic authors, but I'm not, so I doubt my work will ever be compared with theirs. But, love is hard. Falling in love is one thing, but keeping that love going while coping with the challenges and obstacles life throws at you? That's HARD. Growing and changing and becoming better selves in the process through (or even despite our relationships)? HARD. Overcoming hardship, surviving loss, learning to love again? HARD. This is the stuff I enjoy exploring. I like to create imperfect characters just trying to get through life one day at a time. They're not out there trying to save the world; they're just trying to survive it, to understand it, to enjoy it. As am I.

So, yeah, I'm Aspiring Romance Author Haley Daulton. Won't you come along with me on my journey towards fulfilling my dreams?