The Changing Writer

February 6, 2013

Twenty-four weeks. That’s six months, isn’t it? (Math and I don’t get along. I’m sure I said that before.) Why am I asking? Because in updating my submission tracker I noticed I’d be waiting SIX MONTHS for a response from one publisher. And that in turn got me thinking about how long it might actually take to get to a contract point should I be lucky enough to make the grade. AND THAT got me thinking about how at any given time what’s being published isn’t always representative of what a writer’s writing now. (I hope that makes sense.)

Here’s an example:

Save My Soul, my contemporary romance to be published by Crimson Romance next month, was written three years ago, during a very emotional time in my life. As such, I wanted to write a romance tinged with a bit of darkness and ambiguity, something the felt paranormal but wasn’t paranormal, something that spoke to the struggles of finding happiness despite life falling short of expectations. I’m not sure I accomplished all of those things, but questioning my own direction in life at the time I was writing, I figured at the very least there’d be authenticity in those pages. When I was finished writing, Nicole critiqued the manuscript. She gave generous feedback—as always—and left me feeling good about what I’d written. That was two years ago.

I submitted. I waited. I got rejected. I submitted again. I got rejected again, and again. I put the manuscript away. More than a year went by since I first sent the manuscript out into the world, and I decided it was time to give up. Still, something (rereading Nicole’s complimentary words, probably) had me pulling it out again. I rewrote a lot of it, using feedback from editors’ rejections, and I sent it off again.

When the manuscript sold, I was shocked. The longer I sit with that truth the more I wonder how to bridge the gap between the writer I was (when I wrote Save My Soul) and the writer I am now. (My last few manuscripts have been light, fun reads.)

Has this happened to you? Have you noticed a difference in what you’re writing now as opposed to what you were writing a few years ago? Does it worry you when it comes to building a reader fan base?

Just curious. I’m probably overthinking this like I overthink everything else. 🙂

Elley

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What To Say

September 21, 2012

I’ve been struggling with this whole blogging thing lately. Here and at my author blog. I’ve been struggling with what to post on Twitter and what to not. What I should share, what I should keep in the space of “real life”. What I should keep in the space of my head only.

I’m not sure what brings on these moments of introspection. Change or the opposite? Procrastination or productivity? Too much coffee or not enough?

The thing is, I’m in a place where I don’t know exactly what to say. What people want to hear. What I want to have them hear.

I keep a list of authors I think do social media very well, and I keep a list of actions on social media that drive me up a wall. I thought this might help. In an analytical way it kind of does, but at the base of it all, it really doesn’t. Because I’m not going to mimic what author A does or do the opposite of what author B does, because that makes me someone who’s only being someone else or the opposite of someone else. It’s not…me.

So, as I’m weighing this and that, I’m curious… what are the types of things you want to read in blogs? On Twitter? Can you think of someone who does social media really well? Or even better, what are your social media pet peeves?

Nicole

My name and/or pen name: CJ Clark

Blog/web site/twitter:  www.cjclarkwrites.blogspot.com, www.cjclark.webs.com, and on Twitter

Where I write: I write from the Arkansas Ozarks.

What I write: I write contemporary romance stories and have two books available from CreateSpace.com, Amazon.com and both are on Kindle and Nook. Wyoming Dreamer is the story of an abused woman who’s gone through a divorce and decides to follow her dream of living out West. Although she doesn’t want a man in her life, when she meets rancher Quaid Kincaid, she changes her mind. Since both have baggage, they must come to terms with their pasts and their future together. Marry Me Under the Mistletoe is a humorous romp about an overweight gal who tweaks her personal info to an online guy. When he invites her to Colorado, she has to either lose weight fast or fess up to her lies. Imagine the surprise when she discovers he’s played the same game. Can they confess and let bygones be bygones? And what about that luscious workout instructor making eyes at her man? Or that Scot that’s coming on to her? Who wins whom?

Best rejection: The first chapter of Marry Me Under the Mistletoe (formerly titled Christmas in Colorado) finaled in the 2010 Weta Nichols Award Contest of Ozark Romance Writers.

What keeps me writing: Knowing that practice makes perfect. Someday. . . someday. . . I want to be famous.

I am a writer because: It is my forte. I’ve always loved and excelled in English Composition classes. Because it allows me to be people (characters) I am not, which is a lot of fun. Because writing is soothing for me (except when on a deadline).

[We’d like to thank CJ for sharing with us. If you’re a romance writer (unpublished or published, straight romance or strong romantic elements) who is interested in being profiled, email Elley.]

Louise Rose-InnesMy name and/or pen name: Louise Rose-Innes

Blog/web site/twitter: LouiseRoseInnes.com@louiseroseinnes, and on Facebook

Where I write: I write at home, in my loft office, surrounded by personal inspirational items and photos of my son, with the radio on and sunlight streaming in from the skylight above my head.

What I write: Category Romance (contemporary): Antarctic Affair – On Amazon Kindle (US Kindle link, UK Kindle Link)

Worst rejection or how long it took before publication: Worst rejection was by Harlequin Mills and Boon (HMB) who kept me on tender hooks for a year before giving me a formal NO.  The manuscript apparently did the rounds with all the editors, and I was so hopeful, that it was a real blow when they eventually refused it.

Antarctic Affair-Louise Rose InnesBest rejection or what it was like to get “the call”: Best rejection was when HMB (again) said there were elements of the story they really loved and proceeded to give me a full page of positive feedback (on Antarctic Affair) with encouragement that I was heading in the right direction and to keep going.

What keeps me writing: The need to create fun, flirty stories with dashing heroes for women to enjoy.

I am a writer because… It comes naturally to me, and I enjoy getting lost in my own fantasy world where every story has a happily ever after. I’m a freelance web copywriter/eMarketing Guru and Chief Blogger at MarketingForRomanceWriters.com. I write Romance Novels in my spare time (the little that I have!)–but it’s a pleasure for me rather than a chore.

[We’d like to thank Louise for sharing with us. If you’re a romance writer (unpublished or published, straight romance or strong romantic elements) who is interested in being profiled, email Elley.]

Pep Talk Anyone?

February 23, 2012

So this is one of those days that I could use a pep talk. Do you have days like this? My life is changing all around me and I’m wondering can I do this? Can I write my book while everything goes crazy? Can I focus? Can I make this happen?

Over the years, I’ve always found a way to write. When I held a real job, I would finagle a way to write a company newsletter or put together the company handbook. As receptionist at an advertising agency, I managed to infiltrate the copy writer room. Kind of like George in the Seinfeld sitcom series, I just took over a desk in an office and started writing ad copy. I know it sounds insane, but I did…and they let me keep writing. Eventually, they even let me write television commercials….I did dream a little about writing screenplays for a while, screenplays from the novel I would write.

When the boys were born and I had three little ones at home, I kept writing primarily short pieces, magazine articles, newspaper columns, press releases…resumes for friends and family…lots and lots of resumes…but rarely my own. Occasionally, just because I wanted to remind myself that I really wanted to write fiction, I would write a short story here and there and tuck it in a drawer, my novel waiting. Waiting for when the three little boys were out of diapers, bottles and off to school, did I say off to school? Waiting for when I quit homeschooling and they were all in college…not that I was wishing those years away. I loved every minute that the boys were home with me…okay, there were minutes I could have done without. I mean really I raised three boys, but whatever happened I loved being a mom, however imperfect a mom I am. It was my first career choice, and writing has been a passion that I’ve put on hold.

So now, here I am boys growing up, doing their own things, building their lives, and I’m watching them in awe while I finally start to do what I’ve always known I would do when I grew up… I mean when they grew up…write.

But life has a way of throwing you a curve ball every now and then. Things can change quickly, and what do you do? The responsible thing of course, whatever that may be. So can I write? Or will my writing get put in a drawer again?

What do you do when life throws you curve balls? How many times have you put your fiction writing career on hold…or have you? Oh, don’t worry. (You are worried about my writing aren’t you?) I’ll keep writing, but things are changing around here once again…anyone have a pep talk for me? I could use one.

 

My name and/or pen name:Libby Mercer

Blog: http://libby-mercer.blogspot.com/

Where I write: I don’t have a desk set up at home right now, so I can usually be found on the sofa working away on my laptop while I’m stretched out. It’s a pretty sweet setup. I’m not in a huge hurry to get my desk sorted out.

What I write: Sweet contemporary romance. To be more specific, my romance has a slight chick-litty feel with some quirky characters and offbeat situations.  My debut novel is called Fashioning a Romance, and will be released on May 18 by Musa Publishing.

Worst rejection: Fortunately, I don’t have any rejection horror stories (not that I haven’t had rejections, hah!). I’ve been writing for many, many years. Started submitting manuscripts about fifteen years ago – off and on – but my writing has definitely improved over the years, so it all worked out for the best.

What it was like to get “the call”:  Technically, I got “the email” and it was nothing short of amazing. It was surreal and wonderful, and it’s still kind of hard to believe!

What keeps me writing: The stories that keep popping into my head. I can’t imagine walking around with these stories unfolding in my mind and not actually getting them out on paper (or on the screen, to be more accurate).

[We’d like to thank Libby for sharing with us. If you’re a romance writer (unpublished or published, straight romance or strong romantic elements) who is interested in being profiled, email Elley.]

My Name and/or Pen Name:  Francene Carroll

Blog/web site/twitter:  As a technophobe I have not got around to setting up a blog or website yet (shocking I know!) but hope to rectify this very soon. Stay tuned.

Where I write:  On my bed, on the couch, on a banana lounge under a tree in my backyard, in the car if the inspiration strikes. Pretty much anywhere but at my desk!

What I write: I have written a romantic suspense called Shadows of Yesterday which is published by Breathless Press.

I have a romantic comedy forthcoming from Siren-Bookstrand titled Pleasure Island. I’m currently working on a vampire novella series.

Worst rejection or how long it took before publication: I was very lucky and got a contract fairly quickly for my first book which I was very grateful for. Unfortunately instant fame and fortune did not immediately follow but I continue to live in hope.

What it was like to get “the call”:  Very, very exciting, to put it mildly. I ran screaming through the house and would have turned cartwheels if I was nimble enough!

What keeps me writing:  The sheer joy! Writing gives me such a great feeling of personal fulfilment that I couldn’t stop if I wanted to. I’m hooked.

I am a writer because…I love nothing more than to let my imagination run free!

[We’d like to thank Francene for sharing with us. If you’re a romance writer (unpublished or published, straight romance or strong romantic elements) who is interested in being profiled, email Elley.]

My Name and/or Pen Name:  Yawatta Hosby

Blog/website/twitter:  http://yawattahosby.wordpress.com

Where I write:  I take a notebook and pen everywhere I go.  I love writing in the hair salon, at the library while I’m checking out the cute librarian, in the bathroom, at family get-togethers, and in the car.  If at home, I write while watching TV or listening to music.  The more background noise–the better I concentrate.

What I write:  Contemporary Romance.  Dramas that focus on family and romantic relationships.

Worst rejection:  I haven’t started the query process yet, but I’ll get there by three to four months.  I imagine the worst kind of rejection would be the generic ones–“I enjoyed reading your manuscript, but it isn’t a right fit for my agency.”

Best rejection:  I imagine the best kind would be where the agent or editor gives certain suggestions to your manuscript and invites you to resubmit.

What keeps me writing:  My imagination.  I would be lost if I couldn’t jot down the lives of my characters.  Writing is my passion and keeps me motivated during the day–my excuse to daydream.

I am a writer because:  I was meant to be one.  Ever since junior high school, my teachers and some family members have encouraged me to try and get published.  Now, I’m setting my doubts aside and taking their advice.

[We’d like to thank Yawatta for sharing with us. If you’re a romance writer (unpublished or published, straight romance or strong romantic elements) who is interested in being profiled, email Elley.]

My Name and/or Pen Name: Summer Vasu

Blog/web site/twitter: I’m on twitter @SummerVasu

Where I write: When I’m at home, I write at my desk, on my laptop. But nowadays, I mostly do my editing here. I used to scribble in a notebook when on bus ride on way to work. I can tell you it drew a lot of attention. It was funny the way people would crane their necks and try to make out my scribbles – some of which even I found frustratingly incomprehensible later! Once a man said to me, “Mam, I’ve seen people reading on their journeys, you’re the only person I’ve seen writing during one!” That really split my sides and made me shake my head at my own self. But when else would I find the time? Having a job and taking care of husband, two kids and in-laws at home rather narrows the leisure a bit. Though it’s touch and go when they’ll all decide to disown me for having writing more on my mind than cooking, washing and all the rest of it. Now since hubby’s got me a Blackberry, I’ve given up on scribbling and usually hide the screen with my index while I jab down short hand to keep up with the flow of thoughts.

What I write: Contemporary romance, or mostly along Modern HMB lines. Have been trying my hand on a paranormal short, hopefully I’ll finish it.

Worst rejection: Combined rejects of last two years number up to four. Except one, they were all standard Rs. My worst one was probably the third I got for a Modern, since I had high hopes for that one. But I quite see what I did wrong and am grateful for the experience. And oh yes, one even worse was losing a contest. It rankled so much, I turned a sore loser and didn’t vote for the finalists at all. That was early 2011. Hopefully, it has made me a better person and I won’t do such a thing again.

Best rejection: It was for a medical first chapter submission call from HMB. They called my writing intense and compelling. I was really encouraged by that.

What keeps me writing: The fact that I simply cannot not write. It took me many years to finally start trying, although it was always at the back of my mind in a sort of ‘will do sometime’ way. Since I have started however I find life has become more meaningful despite the rush hour feeling I have created for my every day.

I am a writer because…I love to shape stories, and scenes and conversations that keep running in my head. Two characters involved in intense emotion, that scenario makes me write and I start to lag when I write the in-between filling scenes.

***

[We’d like to thank Summer for sharing with us. If you’re a romance writer (unpublished or published, straight romance or strong romantic elements) who is interested in being profiled, email Elley.]

When Is it Okay to Quit?

January 24, 2012

For the past 5 months every writing project I’ve worked on is either a rewrite or an edit. In 2011, of the 5 novels I finished, only one was a brand new project.

My current WIP is not only a rewrite (at this point a multiple rewrite), but it’s also part of a series. A series I planned 8 years ago. These people and their story (though that’s changed somewhat) have been taking up space in my brain for eight years. You’d think I’d want to finally get it out.

But… Everything has begun to feel a little stagnant, boring, redundant. I yearn to start something new and fresh and anything I haven’t done before.

The question becomes, is that okay? I spent many years as a writer never finishing anything, so leaving anything unfinished at this point makes me nervous, but at the same time when I sit down to write right now… I’m not excited. I don’t look forward to it. Rarely do I find myself daydreaming about my characters. I stare at a screen and wonder why I thought this whole writing thing was ever a good idea.

I’ve been feeling this way for a while now. Even before I started my current project. Maybe it’s symptomatic of something larger. Maybe it’s just the place I am in my life–I’ve got a lot going on. Maybe it really is the project and I need to move on.

I’m struggling with the “right” answer here, and am constantly reminded there are no right answers except maybe in math and trivia. This is neither, and no choice is set in stone. Still, this is my conundrum. Where I’m stuck.

When it comes to writing, what are the things that trip you up? That stop you in your tracks and make you wonder which step is next? And do you move on from it? I’d love to know.

Nicole