Archive for the 'Writing Life' Category
Wednesday, January 30th, 2008
Quite a few years ago when my sister was having a house built she told Mr. Munro and I she intended to get a dishwasher. “What do you need one of those for?” we asked, making definite scoffing sounds. “It’s no problem handwashing the dishes each night. It takes hardly any time at all.”
My sister said maybe that was the case but she still intended getting a dishwasher. It was bad enough cooking dinner when she arrived home from work. Adding dishes to the equation was too much. She duly got her dishwasher, and Mr. Munro and I smugly continued doing our dishes by hand.
Then we moved into a new house, one that came with a brand new dishwasher. Hubby and I looked at each other. “It would be silly not to use it,” Mr. Munro said. I agreed.
“We’ll put it on every couple of days. No point using dishes just for the sake of filling it.” Once again, I agreed.
Wind the clock forward about five years to this week:
Me – “The dishwasher’s broken. It’s the handle. Something has broken off and the dishwasher isn’t closing.”
“It’s full of dishes,” Mr. Munro said glumly. “And it’s a holiday weekend. We’ll have to do the dishes by hand.”
And so it went. The dishwasher broke on Saturday and we’ve handwashed ever since. It’s now Wednesday and the dishwasher repairman arrived to fix it this afternoon. I handed over our check and thanked him very much. I wanted to hug him but I didn’t want to seem too forward. We use the dishwasher just about every day and there’s only the two of us. It was a pain living without it.
On Christmas day, my sister and I laughed when I said how much I love the dishwasher. This week Mr. Munro and I discussed our smugness and had to laugh. It’s kind of ironic really – how the past always manages to come back and bite you in the bum!
I received a wonderful five star review for Playing to Win. Anne Boling from ReviewYourBook.com said, “Playing to Win has an edge-of –your- seat plot. I was hooked from the first chapter. This book has twists and turns that keep the reader guessing. The characters are well defined with their own voice. Shelley Munro is a talented author. Fans of romance, do not let this one escape your bookshelf.” The full review is available here.
Tuesday, January 29th, 2008
Playing to Win, the very first book I wrote is a romantic suspense. I’ve written many different genres since then, but one thing remains true. I love to add a suspense element and if I can sprinkle the odd body or two between the pages, so much the better.
Although a villain is essentially a secondary character in a romance, he or she needs just as much work during the creation process as the hero and heroine. There’s a trick or two I’ve learned to make a credible villain. I thought I’d share:
1. A villain doesn’t have to be really evil and horrid. The villain in a romance might be an old girlfriend, a brother or sister, a mother-in-law or the man living next-door. They can be a meddling friend who is trying to match make. You don’t need a high body count to make a villain. Villainy comes in many forms such as the ex-girlfriend intent on regaining the hero’s interest.
2. When you’re thinking about your villain, give him good points as well as bad ones. Make him three dimensional. If he’s a well-rounded character then he’s actually scarier because we, the reader, come to like him or we might see part of our own character in his makeup and empathize.
3. Think about having your villain mirror your hero or heroine actions. Give them a similar conflict but have them behave in a different way to solve the conflict.
4. Give your villains a good reason for behaving in the manner they are—in other words, good motivation for their actions.
5. Make use of the setting to enhance the villain i.e. cold or stormy weather or late at night. Every bit counts!
6. Take as much care when choosing your villain’s name as you do when picking a name for your hero and heroine. A good name can help make a villain.
How do you like your villains? Subtle or in-your-face? Who is your favorite villain in fiction? Are there any characteristics you like to see in a villain?
Friday, January 25th, 2008
Firstly, my ISP is currently driving me nuts working at below dial-up speed because I’ve used up all my available allowance. I’ve finally caved and signed up for the next level, but I have to wait a couple of days for it to kick in. Meantime, I’m doing minimum Internet visits and instead I have to write. So sad, but what’s a girl to do if she can’t procrastinate!
I’m participating in Christine d’Abo’s writing challenge and have almost made my target for this week with two days to go. I might even cheat and do some more planning on my Urban Fantasy and also my storyboard. Christine said I’m meant to concentrate on one project but no one will tell on me, right?
This week has been one of rejection. I’ve received two, and while I’m disappointed, I’ve already moved on, submitting one project to another pub and reading/editing/cutting the other project to make it under 15,000 words. I’m thinking I might submit this to Spice or EC. I’m going to ponder this for a bit longer. The lesson to all you unpublished/aspiring writers out there is that rejections never go away. I’ve been published since 2004 and I still get rejections. Even though they’re disappointing and some plain hurt, dammit, a rejection isn’t personal. It just means that the project didn’t work for that particular editor or agent. Run with any feedback and send that sucker out again. That is my advice for the day.
I’m running a new contest on my website in conjunction with the wonderful and talented Jory Strong. The details will be up on my contest page this weekend so do pop back and check it out. I really love Jory’s books and the contest is going to be a lot of fun.
Reading: I’ve started reading my RITA books, which I can’t tell you about, but I did sneak in Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian. I’ve been enjoying Ms. Adrian’s series and her take on vampires. I’ll admit I thought the first book was only okay, but I picked up the second book and loved it. I think her series is getting better with each book and will definitely snap up the fourth in the series. In this, the third book, the hero Tegan is strong and feared by others but he has a softer side that he shows to Elise, the heroine. I liked Elise, too. She’s grown strong after losing her son and finds new depths along with love. Really, if you like vampire stories this is a great read.
I also picked up a few of Ellora’s Cave Exotica line. The only ones I’ve read to date are by Red Garnier. Today I read a short Quickie by Ciana Stone called Riding Ranger. I really liked this story. While I usually prefer a happy ending this story really worked for me.
How has your week been? What are you up to for the weekend? What are you reading at the moment?
Friday, January 11th, 2008
Today our news in New Zealand is full of Sir Edmund Hillary, an ordinary man who was extraordinary. He died today from a heart attack at the age of 88. Sir Ed was brought up in Tuakau, the small town where I lived for part of my life and went to high school. In a coincidence, the story I’ve just sent off to Samhain is set in Tuakau. Sir Ed climbed Mt Everest years before I was born, but I, like many New Zealanders, really admire his achievements. He will be given a state funeral.
In writing news I finished my story targeted to Samhain for the Red-Hot Summer anthology and sent it off. Submissions closed yesterday and successful authors are notified at the beginning of February. Luckily it’s not long to wait. I’m getting very impatient in my old age.
This morning I pulled out the Middlemarch story I started in December and reread the 10,000 words I’d completed, editing as I went. I’m actually really pleased with it and will continue with it next week. During the afternoons I’ve been working on a tiger shifter story and putting my storyboard lessons into practice. While storyboarding is good in theory, I’m finding it much harder in practice. This method of plotting has, however, highlighted some conflict difficulties and I’m pondering about whether to change my contemporary idea into a fantasy. I haven’t written fantasy before but I think my initial idea lends itself better to this genre than contemporary. If I set it in the present day I think readers would need to suspend disbelief a bit too much and I’d lose them. I shall continue to ponder and fill out my storyboard. If you’re puzzled by storyboarding here’s a link.
And this week I’ve read some wonderful books. I read Lauren Dane’s Wolf Unbound, which I highly recommend. I loved it. I’ve read Lora Leigh’s Hidden Agendas. I really liked this book, much better than the previous one in the series (Dangerous Games) because the hero appeals to me more. He seems more sympathetic than the hero of Dangerous Games. I thought Lora Leigh did a great job with the character emotions. And at the moment, I’m reading Dangerous Grounds by Shelli Stevens. So far this is great, and I like both the suspense plot, with the man who is holding up coffee stores, and the two main characters.
I hope everyone has a fun weekend. Hubby is going fishing so I’ll be able to get some work done on my Middlemarch story, and hopefully fill in the dreaded storyboard a little more. What are you up to for the weekend?
Friday, November 23rd, 2007
The other day in my post about plotting Gabriele mentioned she does a lot of plotting in her head. I do a lot of plotting and mulling over character motivation in my head, too, especially when I’m walking the dog or cycling or in the shower. It made me wonder exactly what the inside of a writer’s head looks like.
I mean my head is rather full of sex and sex-related things. Given that I write erotic romance I’m fine with this. I have a host of paranormal creatures running around there, no doubt tripping over sex toys and the like. There’s cartons of condoms since responsible writers use them in their love scenes. At the moment I have wizards snarling at feline shifters, a taniwha or two plus of all things, a vampire. That’s a bit odd since I don’t like seeing or thinking about blood and vampires tend to live on the stuff. I’m avoiding him at the moment. There’s a cowboy competing at a rodeo plus a pen of bulls with sharp horns. And then there’s the threesome… Let’s hope they’re being responsible and using some of my condom supplies. They’re certainly using everything else! And then floating around in there are random thoughts about food. What on earth are we going to have for dinner? Then one of the threesome fall off the bed, all hell breaks loose and it’s back to sex. Again.
What does the inside of your head look like?
Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
There are lots of ways to write a book. When I was a brand new writer, I had an idea and I sat down and wrote. A month later I had my book and I started on the next. The more I delved into the world of writing the more I realized that people had different ways to write their books. Writers tend to fall into three camps.
1. Plot – where the writer thinks about his or her characters beforehand and has a framework in place before they start writing. They know the turning points, what happens in the black moment of the book and how everything is resolved. There are advantages to this method because any plot problems are caught right at the start before any time is wasted. Events can be foreshadowed because you, the writer, know what’s going to happen. A disadvantage of preplotting is that some of the spontaneity is lost and a tightly plotted book can feel like a steel cage after a while.
2. Pantser or Fly-into-the-mist – the writer might start with a vague idea or a starting scene and they sit down and start writing with no idea about what will happen next. For this type of writer, life is full of surprises, but it can also be full of pitfalls if your plot takes a sudden wrong turn or you write yourself into a corner.
3. A combination of the two – the writer might nail down her conflicts before she starts but the framework of the plot isn’t set in stone.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m in the number two camp or I was. I’ve found that now I’m published editors want to know what is happening in my story, mostly before I’ve completed the book. I’ve had to adapt the method that works for me and actively try to plot a little more. I’ll admit, I find this difficult.
Recently I took an online class through Passionate Ink on storyboarding with the wonderful Shelley Bradley. Storyboarding is where you have a large poster-sized board plus different colored post-it notes and use these to plot out your stories. The beauty of this method is that it’s very visual and therefore it’s easy to construct your book. You know roughly where the turning points are in your story and with post-it notes it’s easy to shift things around if necessary. That’s a very basic description. I’m sure Shelley is doing more classes in storyboarding and I’d recommend you check them out. I found it really interesting, and if I’m honest, a little scary to my freewheeling ways, but I have my supplies – my posterboard and a pile of post-its – and my notes. I’m all ready to plot once I’ve finished my current story.
Are you a plotter? A fly-into-the-mist writer? Or something in between? Have you tried storyboarding? How long did it take you to work out which camp you belonged in? If you have any advice or comments on plotting I’d love to hear them.
Tuesday, November 13th, 2007
I visit Murder She Wrote, a blog written by several mystery/romance writers when I remember. I wish they’d set up a RSS feed so I could receive a visual reminder of a new post because they have some interesting stuff. Natalie R. Collins’s post today is full of advice from published writers about writing and the business. I found it really useful even though I’m published. Definitely check it out if you have a minute.
I’m quietly pleased with my writing progress this week. I’ve written 2000 words each day on my next Middlemarch story plus I’m polishing another story. I just need to do a little more tweaking and give this story another read through and then it’s off to my editor.
Tomorrow will be a quiet day on the writing front because I’m heading off to the Ellerslie Flower show with my sister. This is an annual event held every November and it always rains. You can bet on it. Today we’ve had strong winds and torrential rain but luckily the forecast is for better stuff tomorrow. I’m not confident enough to leave my umbrella at home.
Monday, November 12th, 2007
I’ve been hiding in the writing cave today working on the next Middlemarch story. Some days the words come really slowly. It was one of those days. While I get back to my writing, attempting to make my day’s target, I’ll leave you with this quiz. What type of writer should you be?
You Should Be a Film Writer
You don’t just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.
You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.
Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.
And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!
Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
If anyone had told me a few years ago that being an author consisted of lots of waiting for things to happen followed by mad scrambles to do edits or meet contract and then more waiting, I would have laughed. I actually thought that once I scrambled over the fence separating aspiring writers from published the waiting would end. Silly me.
Where’s this leading you ask? I’m currently in waiting mode, barely hanging on to sanity and what’s left of my patience. Yes, there are several irons in the fire, manuscripts at various places and with various people. I have three different manuscripts out at the moment. I’m working on a new manuscript and have almost finished the first draft. I’m writing but the waiting is grinding me down. Is anyone else out there waiting? Please tell me I’m not waiting alone!
I’m guest blogger over at The Romance Studio today. Come over and say hello, post a comment and go into the draw to win a download of Unforgettable.
Wednesday, October 10th, 2007
We all know this, right? Men do things and think differently than women. I’m currently doing an online course with author Virginia Kantra. Just an aside, if you have an opportunity to hear Virginia speak at a conference or workshop grasp it with both hands. She’s an awesome speaker. Anyway, at the moment we’re talking about male behavior as it pertains to writing the male point of view.
I think it’s difficult to get this right, which is part of the reason I’m working on it with my writing. When men speak it’s straight to the point, they cuss and swear, they don’t ask many questions on the whole, don’t talk just for the sake of talking and aren’t keen on asking for directions. I find the subject fascinating.
In my opinion Nora Roberts writes great male characters, as do Virginia Kantra and Suzanne Brockman to mention a couple more.
Here are links to a couple of “male speak” articles that you might find useful reading:
Guide to Male Speak by Virginia Kantra
Male Point of View by Keri Arthur
The Male Point of View – All About Romance featuring an interview with Bob Mayer.
How are you at writing male point of view? Can you think of any other authors who write great male POV? Any comments or good advice to share?