A Robe & Slipper Kind of Day

This weekend I had a writing deadline which meant no time for distractions. It was just me and my laptop spending quality time together. By Sunday, I didn’t make it out of my robe and slippers all day. Instead, I concentrated on the story.

Normally my pj’s are for relaxing. But this time, I told myself not to get dressed so I didn’t find excuses to leave the house instead of writing. Reverse psychology, maybe. But it worked!

When I do relax, I don’t get much writing done. But what I do get are ideas – they filter up through my subconscious and help me create a new character or idea. They are also a great way to get me “unstuck” when I can’t move forward.

So I might not have made it out of my slippers, robe, or house much this weekend, but I did spend time in another world.

New Digs for a New Year

painter-1137328_640 (2) (2)

It’s February 1st! Hard to believe the first month of 2016 is over already. 2016 will hold new challenges, and new stories, and a new SERIES for AE Jones. And as I plow ahead I thought it was time to change my website up a bit. Give myself some new ‘digs’ so to speak. Check it out if you have a moment…don’t be shy, the doors are open.

I hope you like the look. If you don’t, please lie to me and tell me you adore it 🙂

Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing my new website banner and new cover, along with tidbits from the new series. It will be fun to have you along for the ride.

And I am working on my stories, figuring out what my characters want to tell you, the reader. Sometimes they argue with me, but I have to put my foot down and herd the cats so that the book actually has a plot and scenes, versus never-ending dialogue from my VERY opinionated characters!

So enjoy February, my friends and I’ll be talking to you again soon!

Writing with Repurpose

Did you like my play on words in the title? Hee, hee. Writers, of course, write with purpose, but we also repurpose as well. I’ll let you in on a secret. Writers can be stingy when it comes to cutting words, scenes, characters. Why you ask? Because we fall in love with these stories and sometimes it really, really hurts to let them go.

Case in point. When I first started writing Sentinel Lost, book 5 in my Mind Sweeper Series, I had an idea for a love interest for Misha. So I wrote what I think is this adorable little scene introducing the heroine. Then I tucked it away so that I could resurrect it for a later book. But half way through Sentinel Lost, another idea came to me like a V-8 smack to the head and I realized who Misha’s heroine would be – and it wasn’t the heroine from the adorable little scene I had already written.

Did I despair? No! Because I know that character will be used for a different story and a different hero! As a matter of fact, I already have her paired up with someone else in a future book. It’s so cool being a writer. I just LOVE it when you can repurpose a scene or character for another story.

And my repurposing doesn’t stop there…

This past December, I cleaned my entire house, purging out closets and drawers. On the floor of one of my closets I had stacks upon stacks of books (are you surprised?). And I always would cringe when I opened the door and peeked inside. So what did I do? I repurposed an empty dresser! Take a look. As I read the books, I place them in the bottom drawer of my dresser which is the donation drawer. Then I can pull them out and use them for giveaways and chapter raffle baskets, etc.  I just love it when a plan comes together!!!!

20160111_192901

It’s All About Atmosphere

Music, candles, food, aromas. All examples of how to establish atmosphere.

According to Cambridge Dictionaries Online, one of the definitions of atmosphere is: the character, feeling, or mood of a place or situation. 

Atmosphere is a huge part of writing. And as a writer I don’t want to TELL readers what the mood is. Instead I want to SHOW them. So many things can affect atmosphere in a story. The setting can convey mood. The characters themselves establish mood, whether through their expressions, tone, or word choice. The actions of a character set mood as well. A strength of a hand against a cheek can convey mood – a light caress versus a slap.

Writers want to convey mood in subtle ways. Drawing a picture for the reader so that they can become part of the story.

But writers are affected themselves by atmosphere. Lately I have been having trouble writing at home. I don’t know if I am starting to get cabin fever (as are most of us in the colder US states), or what my issue has been with sitting my butt in a chair and writing. After analyzing it a bit, I thought maybe a change of venue would be in order. Give myself a new atmosphere. So where can an author go to recharge their batteries? Well, a library, of course!

How can I not want to write surrounded by books? The very books that pulled me into the world of imagination in the first place? So this past weekend I spent time on Saturday and Sunday at the library, writing. And you know what?

It helped.

I was able to write two scenes which amounted to 3000 words. Not too shabby. Maybe it was imagination through osmosis? Maybe it was getting out of the house and breathing new air. Maybe it was avoiding the things at home that distract me. Whatever the reason, it worked and I will be heading back there soon.

20150214_164136So here I am at my local library. What’s with the impish grin on my face, you ask? Maybe it’s satisfaction at beating the blinking cursor? Peace of mind from being surrounded by books?

Either way, it’s all about atmosphere.

 

 

Does a ‘A Best Scene’ Truly Exist?

So what do you think? Okay, maybe I blindsided you with that question and you need some context. Last night, I submitted one of my manuscripts to an editor for consideration. As part of the submission process, the editor asked me to give them ‘my best scene’ or approx the first 1000 words (4-5 pages) of my manuscript. I had a decision to make. Would I take the easy way out and send my first pages or would I really think about ‘my best scene’. I decided to make it hard on myself (don’t I always?).

So I paged through 368 pages (91,000 words) to find my best scene and it was REALLY hard to decide. Why? Well for several reasons which I will outline below 😉

It’s hard to pick just one scene. No that is not an egotistical statement, but it is a truthful one. If a writer doesn’t have multiple scenes that they like in their novel then I would argue it isn’t ready to submit for consideration.

But the bigger issue that I ran into when deciding ‘best scene’ was the following:

imagesCAH5K6J8Is a scene a best scene when taken out of context? Much like me asking you a question above with no explanation, many good scenes rely on the scenes that have come before it. A big reveal or a big showdown is made all the more powerful by the twists and turns that lead you to it. Readers would probably argue that the best scenes involve the final battle or the point when the couple reconcile at the end. Others would argue that the breakup scene (betrayal) scene that happens somewhere half-way to three-quarters of the way through the book is the best scene. But if these are read as stand alone scenes from the book, does it really pack the same wallop as reading the entire book?

I think if boils down to investment. The reader is invested in the book and the characters when these scenes occur. So the better question may be, what is the best scene that can stand on its own? Now THAT is the hardest question of all.

So what did I decide? Well, I actually really like the beginning of my book, but didn’t want to cave on that. I also really like the big battle and the breakup and confrontation of the couple. But I didn’t go with any of those. Instead, I chose a scene that has a surprise in it for the heroine. The book is funny and sarcastic and I wanted to convey this with the scene and I didn’t want to play too heavily on the hero/heroine relationship since that needed some back story to make it poignant. I asked several of my beta readers what they thought about the scene and they liked the one I chose. Of course they read the whole book, so what comes across as good to them may fall flat in a stand alone scene.

Was this the right choice? I hope so. In reality I am not sure that there is such a thing as a ‘best scene’. But it was an educational experience and maybe that is what the editor was going for. Writers should reflect on their books and the scenes that make them up. It makes me think about what my ‘best scene’ is or will be in my work in progress.

I Had a Golden Scene Day!

2013-08-05 18.23.55Okay – so you are probably wondering why I have a picture of me with my arms thrown out in glee…I call it one of my Julie Andrews’ moments. You remember in the movie The Sound of Music when she runs through the beautiful backdrop and sings ‘The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music’? Even though I am not on a hilltop and I am not singing, I am still very happy because I had a golden scene day this weekend.

What is a golden scene? Well I alluded to it in Friday’s blog, ‘The Emotions of Writing’. There are times when a scene will flow from you as if by magic. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it feeds the need to continue writing. It can be equated to a junkie’s (in this case writer’s) ‘fix’. Adrenaline pumps, giggles erupt and you type like a wild person pushing away all of the bad memories in the past when that blankety-blank cursor mocked you and you pace your living room torturing yourself instead of writing.

The golden scene included my heroine who is trying to tell her best friend that they are surrounded by paranormal. Needless to say, her friend goes on a completely different tangent as she so often does and ridiculousness ensues.

For me, this golden scene was a funny one, as in laugh out loud and shake your head at the wonder of the moment. Is it bad for me to admit I laugh at my own work? I write funny, even though my subject matter overall can be quite serious. I grew up in a family who believes that humor can cure-all kinds of ills. So it makes sense that my writing is much the same way. Afterall, isn’t life about experiencing everything it has to offer? Why not face it head on with a smile on your face?

 

Day 36 – aka ‘Can you Picture my Scene Day?’

If you caught my pity-filled blog last Friday (GH day 32) you already know that I received my business cards and hate them. Okay, hate may be too strong of a word. Disappointed is a better descriptor. I am a writer after all, I should know how best to describe something right? Right?

That is the crux of today’s blog. Description. As a writer describing a scene it can be both wonderful and overwhelming at the same time. As a scene unfolds in my head I see it in glorious 3-D and boy does it make sense to me. But that doesn’t always translate to the page for the reader. This can be particularly true if you have multiple characters in a scene.  Ask yourself:

Who is where at what time? What is everyone saying? What is everyone doing?

And the complexity doesn’t stop there (oh come on!). Because once you have answers to those questions, you have to decide how much detail you place in a scene. Too little and your reader is confused. Too much and your reader is annoyed or asleep depending on the rambling you set to paper. You have to find a middle ground.  Ask yourself these questions to help determine who or what should be described:

  • Who is the main character in the scene? (ie whose head are you in). You better be describing what is happening around them and how they are affected (very important).
  • What is the most important thing that happens in the scene?
  • How are the characters changed by the scene?
  • Does the description help move the scene along to a natural conclusion?

So description isn’t as easy as you thought, huh? For me, I have a tendency to write fast-paced which means I don’t include a huge amount of description. So for those crucial scenes in my manuscripts I revisit them and try to determine if I am giving the reader enough to immerse themselves in the words. And it always helps to have someone else read your work (yes, put your ego aside). Someone who isn’t seeing the scene in their head, but is creating the scene from your words. They can then let you know if it isn’t working for them.

2013-04-30 17.09.39Don’t be afraid to – explain, picture, narrate, portray, depict, and expound on those scenes, but if you hear snoring from your critique group while you’re reading, you might need to dial back the detail, just a tidge!

GH day 32 – ‘Step Back and Reevaluate Day’

I got my business cards today and (sigh) I don’t like them. If you read my earlier blog on ordering my business cards (GH day 14) you will remember how I picked out everything with painstaking detail.

And yet, I am not happy with them!!! They looked so much better on my computer screen when I designed them. Now, they are a pale imitation of what I thought would represent me. Remember, my business card is part of my marketing strategy and I don’t think of myself as faded and blah.

So I will step back and reevaluate.

This reevaluation is part of a writer’s life. We write a scene or a chapter or an entire manuscript and then step back and look it over again. Does it work? Is this what I was trying to convey? Do my scenes and chapters make sense? Flow correctly?

The disappointment I felt when I pulled out the business card for the first time is an emotion that a writer feels as part of the creative process.  If I look at a scene that I originally thought was AMAZING only to discover it needs work, I have a twinge of disappointment, but then I buckle down and work on making that scene better. If I can’t make this better, or it doesn’t work because I have gone in a new direction, then I have to be willing to highlight and delete.

So I will be ordering new cards prior to my sojourn to RWA’s ® National Convention in Atlanta. And I will continue to review my scenes with a practiced eye.

As for my current business cards, well I just saw the fixings for s’mores in the store today….

2013-04-26 13.54.46