Thursday, June 16, 2016

Elections and Characters

My characters are having a field day with the upcoming elections. One is telling me which candidates remind him of which former world leaders – including Stalin and Hitler -and laughed at the Muppet's meme that went around social media. Another is finding England's potential departure from the EU fascinating and making comparisons to the US Revolution. And then there's Jess.

Who's Jess? Jess is my first and most beloved character. She's wildly independent, stubborn, unfetterd and doesn't give a damn what others think. My kinda girl! She's the one who forced me (she wouldn't shut up, especially at 3:00 a.m.) to write her story. Jess also swears like a sailor and loves picking up new insulting terms. She's having a field day with all of the mud-slinging, name calling, and fear mongering this election round.

New terms are being flung around my brain like so much confetti. She keeps repeating her favorites over and over, terms like “butt trumpet” keep popping up at inappropriate times. This is distracting at best, inconvenient at worst as she makes me laugh in the middle of conference calls or while troubleshooting an issue for a client.

Her BFF isn't much help as he admonishes her for her rancid mouth and penchant for speaking in a bad British accent when using her newly discovered phrases. As soon as Paul starts in Jess ramps it up, getting more foul until he throws his hands up in disgust and walks away. This of course has me belly laughing uncontrollably while my husband threatens to dial the local psych ward.

I'm not sure if this is normal behavior for characters or not, it is certainly normal for mine.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Writers Need Each Other

by Patricia Kiyono

When I write, I guess I tend to focus on what’s happening. But things can only happen if there are characters to make them happen. And the characters don’t do things without a reason. That was the basis of our lesson from Christie Craig at our teaching sessions at the Mid-Michigan Romance Writers’ Retreat from Harsh Reality last weekend. She spoke with conviction and LOTS of humor, drawing from her own life experiences as well as giving examples from her many books.

It’s difficult to not be inspired when you’re in a beautiful relaxing setting along with 35 other authors. But the inspiration for powerful writing comes when you have someone who helps you see what is needed to make a story go from “Oh, that’s nice” to “Man, that was awesome!” Each month, we get together and share our writing news, and then after lunch and a meeting we listen to a presenter who will hopefully leave us with a little gem of an idea that will make our writing better.

But what about the time between our meetings? We set goals, and many of us reach at least some of them. The idea of local write-ins was brought up at our last meeting and will hopefully catch on. I know several writers in the Kalamazoo area get together weekly at a coffee shop. Others meet monthly at a restaurant. Some are set up as critique groups, where each person shares something they’ve written. Others are quiet times, when people gather with their laptops and simply write. It’s a lot easier to concentrate on what you’re writing when you don’t have the distractions of home and family.

We have a few people who are looking for places to hold these write-ins. Whether it’s for camaraderie, writing help, or simply to get words on the page, consider getting together with your fellow writers on a regular basis. You and your writing will be glad you did.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Inappropriate Inspiration?

There was a recent tragedy in my state, perpetrated by a reportedly “sane” man. The court is waiting for evaluation results for good measure.

Regardless of what the state determines, the suspect has an interesting story on the why of his crime. As soon as I heard his explanation, my writer brain took off with a potential story line along a paranormal/conspiracy theory/mystery twisted line. At first I felt bad, getting a story idea off of a tragedy even though I often borrow pieces of real life to incorporate into some of my stories. Then I decide, what the heck, and asked some friends what they thought.

I got an interesting mix of responses back. Some people thought it was totally inappropriate to write up a story that was inspired by such an evil act. Others told me they thought Stephen King may have already done a story along the same line, only a few thought I should go ahead and tackle the storyline, thinking I might be able to have an interesting take on it.

When I read that Stephen King may have already done something similar, it started me wondering. Where does King get his inspiration? Are they from inappropriate places, such as real life evil doing or do they just come to him like many of my other characters do? Then I really began to wonder, how many other writers may get their ideas from “inappropriate” sources of inspiration – whether it be personal tragedy, global tragedy, or local tragedies perpetrated by humans – and whether or not they feel guilty or bad for basing a story off of a real life event.

I'm still debating whether or not to write up the story line. I have notes jotted down and luckily I have more than enough WIPs in the queue that I need ot work on that I can let it sit for awhile before making a decision.

So here's my big question: is it “normal” to feel uneasy about a story idea that jumps out at you from today's headlines? How would you, as a reader, feel if you throughly enjoyed a story that you discover is based off of a real-life tragedy?

Friday, March 11, 2016

To have beta reader or not to have…             

To have beta reader or not to have a beta was a question I had asked myself many times before publishing my book. Advice on this issue was wide spread and every answer imaginable was given. But the general consensus was to have at least one.

I decided to follow in the footsteps of an author, I personally knew who didn’t use them, and published my book without at least a beta reader.  After all, if she is good author, and I want to be successful, why not do it her way.

A friend read my book, and asked me to let her help me. Two things happened, one; I was like yes! Please! Because I felt like I was drowning in a sea of voice whispering my name in every direction. Especially with what to do next when you have a published book. And two, what did I do wrong?

Her answer was beta readers. And ummm… here is why, it is a good idea to have a beta reader. I am going to share with you what Sally one of my new beta readers said. “My main grouse is the writer’s assumption that we are privy to her thoughts without her having to tell us.  I have to say she is not the only one who is inclined to do this. “

I had to stop and think about this statement, there are few people in this world who, can write a story perfectly from start to finish, no grammar mistakes, no developmental errors, or have some kind of inconsistency. I am not one of those people. 

If you’re wondering if an editor would have found the same the mistake, yes and no, (just so you know the book was professional edited.). Editors do their best to catch as many mistakes as they can, but let’s be real. You try to catch the missing commas and other punctuations, sentence structure, developmental holes, POV, all at the same time. They’re going to miss things. Also keep in mind an editor reads hundreds of books in different genres and may not be a vivid reader in the genre you're writing, and may not have a basic understanding that while Vampire and Werewolves both have fangs. Only one needs blood to live. LOL.

 How do you know when you found a good beta reader, I will be honest with you my friend; Narella hooked me up good, and I mean real good. What I noticed about my ladies, Mikayla, Narella, Sally and Julie, they gave me a lot of feedback. I don’t mean feedback like, the book is really good, I like the plot, the character are interesting, or the kind of answers people give when they’re afraid of hurting your feelings.

 My beta readers weren’t afraid to point out my mistakes, tell me where I was confusing, lacking, and asked me question. And my favorite one, by my dear friend, Mikayla, and I quote “For the love of God, tell me what he looks like already.” LOL. Here is a perfect example of an author and editor (Who has probably edited hundreds of romance novels and almost every hero is tall, dark and handsome. Getting my point, it also goes along with what Sally said, thinking the reader is privy to the author’s thoughts) not catching the fact that there was no description of the hero, until chapter 3. No brainer on that one, right. This is how I knew I found the right group to beta readers for me they didn't tell me what I wanted to hear. 

 If you have a beta reader who isn’t giving you constructive criticism, you might want to think about looking for a new one. 

And finally don’t get offended by what they say. Their job is to critique your work from a reader’s perspective, and help make you a better writer.

Some rules are made to be broken, but now I am a firm believer having beta readers is one of those rules that shouldn’t be broken.

Happy Writing, Electra.  

Friday, January 15, 2016

New Release: Deadlocked by Libby Sinclair

New Release:  Deadlocked

GRRWG member Libby Sinclair celebrates the release of her first novella, Deadlocked, a sci-fi erotic romance.  

BLURB: Brielle Connors, former officer for the elite bounty hunters the Cavalier Security Corp, is on a mission. To get her job back and make her old boss and ex-boyfriend look like a fool. After weeks of research and leg work, she finally discovers the holy grail of bounties and sets out to reel it in. Only, the alien Tulan bounty hunter, Finn Strydom, beats her to it. Rushing to the payload and bickering all the way, the two find themselves stranded on an abandoned ship with no hope of rescue. A last minute confession leads to a hot close encounter as the two face death.

Deadlocked is available for $.99 until the end of January.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Ringing in the past and not the New Year in 2016.
awesome, cards, forever love, girls, love, quotes, real life
Happy New Year’s everyone!

The first of the year is usually associated with new beings, new goals, and a new wave of inspiration. I realized I am stating the obvious, but why don’t we say I’ve grown, changed, or have more experience and wisdom.

What about revisiting a past failure, or a forgotten dream, how about that unfinished novel, and try to fix it.

Towards the end of the year, I laid another heavy enormous stone on the foundation of my writing career, stop writing on my first novel and threw it to the side. My frustrations with Murphy and his stupid laws who no doubt conspired with Father Time in a lack of no time, anger at my own weaknesses in my craft, all seemed to add to the burden of carrying the heavy stone on my back.

The truth, I needed to start fresh.  I set the stone that was my novel down next to the other stones, relieving my body and mind of an emotional roller coaster. Then I climbed back down the large steps of the uncompleted pyramid which is a reflection of my writing, and started gathering the tools, clay and mortar to create a new book.

Many of you might take this as a failure, it is not. The novella I completed gave me additional tools I didn’t have before. In 2015 I found more knowledge to prefect my craft, and so instead of saying I am going to start the “New Year right” with, a new positive outlook, new goals or new novel. 

I am going back to my past novel, or failed goal and take what I’ve learned from 2015 and start sculpting by applying my recent experiences and wisdom to see if I can finish my novel in 2016. If it doesn't get completed, that’s OK too, I can do a lot of growing in a year.

My challenge to you, take what you learn in 2015 and go back to a past failure, goal, task or even a relationship and see if you can fix the problem or get a different result. You might be surprised, at the amount of growing you did throughout the year.

Ringing the past, Electra Gajdos.