Sacrificing interests

I realized yesterday that I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush since April 30th. For someone who once was pretty active in this department, it surprised me. This is the last painting I did:

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I’ve been so busy writing I’ve forgotten about my art. This is the way it usually goes in my brain: Have flash of character or story, or both, and cannot stop thinking about it. The character, usually a pain in the ass, will not stop talking to me. While cooking dinner, driving on I90, and grocery shopping, this character (or sometimes more than one) continues it’s little conversation in my head. I’ve been know to write whole chapters and sequences of dialogue on my phone, random receipts and anywhere else. I talked about this in my last post.

So here’s the tally since end of May on the writing front. Completed first drafts: two, both in edits, and beginning bits and pieces of a third. WIP 1 has 102,373 words. That needs some serious editing to get down to a manageable length. Written May22-July18, 2018. I like the story (and the research for this book including into How to Disappear was seriously fun. I learned a lot should I ever decide it’s a good idea.) I just finished the second WIP that brings one character from the previous piece forward. He’s a tough cop with a serious soft spot for his kids and a certain woman who proves to be hard to pin down. She has a complicated past, one she’s just not ready to let go of quite yet. For research I read I Love A Cop. This one is sitting at 98,738 words. I like the witty back and forth (my main character, Meg, is a feisty, rather smart-assed journalist, who has a serious penchant for drunk dialing her ex-husband.) It needs a few tweaks so this word count will go up. They say anything over 100,000 words is a tough sell, but dang it, if that’s what it takes to tell the story then… I started this one August 7th and finished it three days ago.

Like I said, the characters YELL AT ME at TOP VOLUME sometimes and don’t let me accomplish anything until I tell their stories. This happens a lot. Back in 2008-9 I spent many a night after kids were in bed sitting at my desk pounding out a two-book series. I still love those characters and frequently have What Would Kara Do moments. I queried it around for awhile, had beta-readers, and it received positive feedback but has yet to be published (the typical story of a struggling writer).

I’ve already written premise and a couple of chapters of the continuing story of my journalist. I’m currently digging into background research for the second main character even though he is not currently military, his past life influences some of the choices and plays a role. I’ve started reading lots of military stories including more unusual behind the scenes ones like Grunt by Mary Roach (which I’m finding hilarious because of the authors dry humor in certainly unfunny situations). On my bookshelf at present (among others):

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I’m a bit of a freak about research. If I say they get on a plane from DC at 10:30 pm and fly to Seattle and the only option is via San Fransisco, then that’s the way my character gets to Seattle. Accuracy as much as possible brings realism to the story in my opinion. Sometimes I make myself insane trying to get details like a cop’s work shift cycle correct. But then again, I hear voices so…

I mentioned to an IG friend of mine (you can see her art at PricklyPearArtAtx) that I hadn’t painted in months, and she mentioned she hadn’t written in a year since getting wrapped up in her painting. I wonder if it’s like for other creative types as well. You fall into something you’re enjoying and all other creative pursuits go by the wayside. I’d like to find time to paint again, but I know the upcoming months are going to be crazy (school, homework, kid management, a very needy dog, life). I’m just hoping I still have time to write. I wrote day in and day out for a few years and then suddenly stopped for a few years. I’ve only really just come back into obsessively writing in recent months. I would hate to lose that again (though I’m sure my family would enjoy not seeing my laptop glued to me 24/7. I even bring it when we go camping, because: voices.)

What creative outlets do you enjoy? Do you sacrifice one for another?

 

Former fiction

I wrote this piece back in December 2009 for a website (that was then called, but no longer exists) Fiction 500. Fiction 500 was a website dedicated to the 500 word story. The maximum number of words was 500, and I worked and worked to make sure each one of them was necessary. This became a much longer novel-length (75,629 word/281 page) piece roughly titled New Year’s Eve, finished but as yet, fully edited. This is the jumping off point that started my story – 

The dark shadowed her movements as Holly walked resolutely towards the edge.  The wind, cold and wet, blew her straight black hair around her face.  Strands whipped into her eyes and she pushed them back uselessly.  The salty tears mixed with the rain as they ran down her face.  In her black silk dress and red leather boots, the cold cut her to the quick.  But her goal tonight would not be deterred.

At the small wall that ran around the roof she paused.  The images in her mind assaulted her; the silver tie on the white carpet, the discarded shirt.  A single gold stiletto sat on its side hidden under the bed as if kicked off in a fit of passion.

Holly placed one hand on the small wall in front of her and placed her foot on top.  The twinkling lights of New Year’s Eve sparkled down below.  The last day of December was a turning point.  It was the time for a new beginning.  Or an ending.  She stood now, unsteady but determined, poised for fate’s hand to set her free.

The images weren’t the only things fogging her brain tonight.  The sounds sent her stomach churning in revolt and she grabbed onto the rail of the fire escape next to her.  She could hear them as clearly now as when she had been frozen outside her own bedroom door.

The other sounds, the ones she’d buried deep inside, would remain there.  If they came forward now she’d take the final step to her destiny.  She needed a few more minutes because once she did take that step there was no going back.

The faces of her children swam before her and instantly her eyes overflowed; this time with love instead of pain.  Two cherub angels, they were too little to know what their father had destroyed.  He had destroyed all their lives.

Charismatic and handsome; cunning and manipulative; intelligent and warm – they all described Conner Fairchild.  The day he had slept with Kim, likely one of hundreds of times Holly reflected, he stopped being her husband and became a man she no longer knew.

Holly let go of the railing.  “If you do this, he wins,” she thought.

Her father’s voice answered in her head.  “You’re a strong woman Holly Martin.  For your children, you have to survive.”

“How do I do this alone, dad?  He betrayed me.”

“You’re not alone.  I’m here.”   She could get down from this rooftop and go home and hug her children.  This didn’t have to be the end. Her mind decided again.

“Holly! NO!” Conner screamed running towards her.  Startled Holly turned towards him.  The heel of her boot slipped and before she could right her balance she felt herself fall over the edge.  Her mind cleared as the pavement rushed up to meet her.  She hoped her children would remember that she loved them.

More than her own life.

Raise your hand if…

Let’s start the post with a list (that will actually have zero to do with the post)
Raise your hand if…
  • You’ve had enough turkey for a lifetime
  • You drank away the day in order to escape your own/spouses/other people’s crazy family
  • You realize there isn’t crap on tv Thanksgiving night

Just a little post holiday poll.

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Photo credit: OceanRudy

I am trying to write this great story. It’s different from my usual in that there isn’t a backstory involving romance whatsoever. The story is about a man who flees him home (and 100 year old heritage) in order to be his own person. He is then forced to return to his former home because of his father’s ailing health and inability to run the family business. His motivation in returning is to earn his father’s acceptance. Still with me?

Here’s where I need your help.

When I write I have to have music. I can not for the life of me find the right music for this story. My whole game is being thrown off. Let me tell you the setting for this story. Hopefully one of you can suggest something to help me..

Sonoma County, California. A mid-size, successful family owned winery along the Russian River. This is a little story about what happens when one person wants independence and one person wants roots. It’s also about realizing what you actually want is already within your reach. You just have to reach out and take it. (I’ve been having a lot of fun doing research for this book. You know, reading wine books and doing some sampling. Okay given that it’s the holidays and Cycling Papa is in town for this week – lots of sampling. So far my favoritism leans towards a nice Turning Leaf Pinot Noir.)

Now if I just had music to go with that.

I’ve been through the usual suspects. Coldplay. Muse. Dave Matthews. Nothing is striking the right cord (that pun was actually not intended). I can’t seem to settle on something that’s perfect but maybe you know of something that would work.

So. Let me hear it. Literally.

The list thus far:

bottle

And then they went insane…

It seems that today the romance novel world is getting a shake up. Harlequin, that famous romance publisher, has decided to open a division that would be for self-publishing. Basically labeling themselves (and unfortunately the core of their authors) as a vanity/subsidy* press.

In my daughter’s words “Uh oh.”

Uh Oh indeed. It’s all the news the agent blogs are buzzing with including over at Janet Reid’s place and Kristin Nelson’s blog. RWA (Romance Writers of America – the association for romance writers) has pulled Harlequin from it’s site as being an approved publisher. Thereby Harlequin published authors are no longer elegible for a RITA, one of the romance industry’s top awards.

This just screams insane in my opinion. Why would the biggest romance publisher do something so stupid? When most people hear the words ‘romance novel’ they think trashy and hence Harlequin because they are known for being the type of books you hide under your bed or in a box and never tell anyone you actually read. Hence why I have no intention of being labeled as a ‘romance writer’. But the numbers don’t lie, these books sell and sell extremely well.

But this could get very interesting. Very interesting indeed.

For more info on the reason this is a big deal go here – Jackie Kessler

*vanity/subsidy publisher – from wikipedia – a publishing house that publishes books at the authors expense, basically self-publishing.

Living the impossible dream?

Last Friday in the mail I got my somewhat anticipated RWR (Romance Writers Report published for members of the Romance Writers of America, for which I am not really a romance writer but it’s a good association to belong to).  It has articles on craft, trends, tips and success stories among other things.  I was eating lunch Saturday reading an article about the effects of the economy on the publishing world, not an entirely new idea for RWR as past issues this year have also touched on this topic.
My lunch suddenly sat in my stomach and I felt the stress creeping in.
What scares me is that while sales on the whole are only somewhat reduced or stable it’s that publishing houses already selective, are becoming even more so.  A tough dose of reality for the unpublished author.  It gets harder and harder to compete in an already competitive business, so much that my own ideals of what I want to accomplish are changing.  
I am opening myself up to working with a smaller publisher, a different genre classification and the scary world of e-publishing which has it’s own concerns and complications.
I’ve tweaked and changed my work to fit in with submissions guidelines for publishers I’d never considered before.  Ones I’m not entirely sure I love.  I’ve even grappled with removing parts of my work to fit in the much smaller word count guidelines than I’m used to.  Should I change what I ultimately want just to get a foot in the door?  For myself yes, I am willing to do quite a bit.  I’ll accept non-fiction work, freelance of nearly any type, anything to just make something stick.
Non-fiction work doesn’t help much in a novelists world as far as publication.  In fact the class I took from a NYT bestselling author said she never mentioned her numerous non-fiction works when seeking to publish her novel.  And didn’t recommend we do so either.
There’s a little figure I’ve heard that 90% of the population wants to write a book but only 1% actually do.
I’m the 1%.  Lots of people I have connected with are in that 1%.  So how do we become that percentage that makes it to the next level, the mythical world of Published?
I’m taking  classes, reading writing books, absorbing articles. I’m writing on a nearly daily basis and my list of things to do grows daily.  There’s always work that needs a bit more rubbing to gain the desired shine and polish.
I normally keep these posts off this blog and confined to my ‘professional’ writing blog but there are a lot of new people I’ve met in recent weeks here through Blogging Mama who are writers, writer mama’s, and writer dad’s.  
I know how selective and guarded writers are.  I’ve cultivated several friendships online with other writers only to have them up and disappear.  Did they feel threatened somehow?  By me, my work, my progress?  Who knows.  It’s a cutthroat business, one published authors insist is worth the struggle.  
I hope so.  If you know a writer, especially the unpublished, give them some support and encouragement.  
Because it’s cold and lonely out here on the outside of the Cool Club desperately seeking a way in…

Ahh, quiet

I’ve missed this nice quiet around here. I can plug in my iPod and listen to whatever music I want to listen to. I think I am going to take today off from chores (not a huge difference from normal, I know) and try to continue to kick this jetlag to the curb. How can I still have jetlag? It’s been a week like I posted yesterday but once again I was up till after two am. I am going to freak out pretty soon. That little Boo alarm clock came in at 6:45 am. 30 minutes before the official alarm would have gone off. Uggghhh. He’s at school and thrilled to be there though. We saw his teacher and the headmistress in the lobby and even his classmate L came straight over when she saw him to say hi. They are becoming good friends. We’ve scheduled another playdate for next week. She is the sweetest little girl.

Before we left for vacation I had started on a little project and last night it really took off. I’m writing again. I sat down last night and added another 3,000 words and only stopped because while the ideas were flowing well, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. (Hah, they stayed open as soon as I turned out the light!) So maybe I am writing another book? Who knows. I am enjoying seeing where these characters go though. Maybe I will just keep writing these things and filing them away and something will come from it. Maybe someone wants to pay me millions for them! Now wouldn’t that be nice?