Category Archives: Writing in general

Writing and Romance, Part Three OR How I Got Back to Writing

So, while I will still stand by my view in my last blog (we’ll call it Part 2) and the one from earlier that shall now be referred to as Part 1, I will amend that having real romance in your life is a big freakin’ perk!

It is.  I guess it had been so long since I had any romance in my life that I forgot how yummy and wonderful it is and how it can make you feel… Silly me.

Recently, my writing was in a slump.  My imaginary friends were giving me the silent treatment.  Not a word… almost like when I was married.  I was a little overwhelmed and confused about a few things.  Then several things happened within a short time span.

First, I was reading a lot of articles about changes in the industry and started rethinking my writing goals.  Second, I read an article by Diana Gabaldon where she said (and I paraphrase) that you should write like no one will ever see it.  That makes sense because then you’re free to let your story be what it is without boxing it in from the get-go and you can be fearless with honest emotion.  Third, I had a conversation with my CP (who’s also one of my best friends) about what was going on and she always, ALWAYS, helps me find clarity in my life and in my writing.

And finally, I met a wonderful man who brings much to my life.  A man that sends me texts.  Nothing earth shattering – just that he is thinking of me.  That is romance, my friends.

When the thought of someone brings a smile to your face – that’s romance.  When you can’t wait to talk about nothing – that’s romance.  Size, shape, age, color, and gender have nothing to do with it. Connection is all that counts.  And, it is a revelation.

The culmination of these events has wrought a change in me and I am a happier, better and more productive writer due to it.

While imagination is good, and getting that feeling vicariously is better, I will now say that the real thing is best.

2012 is going to be a great year… and it is starting off write!


Filed under Creativity/ Inspiration, Life thoughts, Writing in general

I Still Need Romance

A month ago, I wrote that you didn’t need sex in your personal life to write romance and that sex and romance are not the same.  I still stand by that post.  I may not need sex to write romance, but I have found that I do need inspiration or a certain mood.  Recently, I discovered a direct correlation between my writing and my mood.  Seems obvious – right?

“French Kiss”

Not always.  I’ve been watching a lot of TV dramas and fantasy movies.  I’ve been reading a lot of books on writing itself and non-romance fiction.  Guess what?  I haven’t been able to connect to my romance writing.  I need to watch and read romance to feel inspired to write it.  Perhaps if I had real romance in my life that would do it too, but alas.  So, I’m happy to settle for fictional romance to generate that passion.

Remember the movie French Kiss with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline?  I love that movie.  There’s a scene where he is trying to search her purse while she is asleep and she is dreaming and kisses him and he kisses her back and that is the moment that changes everything for him.  I love that scene.  This is one of the scenes I can watch and find that romantic spark.  I may have mentioned this before 🙂

Tim Daly in “The Outsider”

Another scene that totally gets me there is from a movie called The Outsider based on a book of the same name by Penelope Williamson.  In the movie, it’s when Tim Daly’s character kisses Naomi Watts’ character for the first time.  Wowsa – I never tire of watching that.  He trails his fingers down the string of her bonnet … mmm.  Anyway, the scene in the movie really gets me and when I need to write that kind of passion, I can watch that scene and get that feeling nailed. 

As a sidebar – when I read the novel, which was really good, because I wanted to see how that scene was written, I was disappointed to not find it in the book (or at least not in the same capacity).  I know, I know – movies and books are different beasts and I do not judge them the same.  I was just hoping that I could see how Ms. Williamson wrote that amazing kiss.  I still have the movie to rely on.

“Rough Canvas”

There’s a book (actually lots of books) I can get that yummy ootz in the stomach from too.  Joey W Hill wrote an amazing story (it’s my favorite erotic romance) called Rough Canvas about an artist and the art dealer.  I can read almost any piece from this book and find the heat needed to write. 

The point is while I may not need a man or sex to write romance I still need romance – even if it is fictional.  It helps me focus on the emotion I need to tap into.  It sets my mood and creates my mental ambience. 

What helps you?


Filed under Creativity/ Inspiration, Writing in general

Harry Potter and Characterization

Harry Potter

 I’m so sad.  In my efforts to deny that the Harry Potter movie saga has ended I delayed watching the second half of “Deathly Hollows” for months.  I bought it the day it came out and watched it – finally – I couldn’t delay any further.  But, I was sad.

 I, along with millions, have had a relationship with these books, movies and actors for a decade.  It is truly the end of era (metaphorically).  J.K. Rowling created something special, something that changed our world forever.  Pretty freaking note-worthy, if you ask me.

And how exactly did she and Harry Potter accomplish this?  By being ‘brilliant’. 

 The story is complex and compelling to be sure, but what I think held us all captive for a decade is the characters.  They joined our families, became part of our lives.

 Look at any one of the characters and tell me they aren’t a three dimensional believable person.  Even the really, really minor ones have depth.  No one’s all good or all bad.  Harry may be the best Seeker but he can’t dance.  Ron is completely loyal but even he got jealous and fought with Harry.  Draco doesn’t want to kill Dumbledore, doesn’t really want to be a Death-eater, he just wants to make his dad proud. 

 They have good points and they have flaws.  They have moments of weakness and moments of strength.  They have likes, dislikes, humor, friends, and histories.  They have a rich and varied life that we glimpse gradually throughout the stories. 

 I’m going to pick a side on the character vs plot debate.  Which is more important?  I say character.  Plot is important – it is, yet when I encounter a genius plot, if I don’t have at least one character I love, it makes no difference.  I won’t read/watch.  If, however, there is one or more characters I can love, then the story doesn’t have to have a great plot.  I’ll still read/watch… because I care what happens to those characters.  Rowling had both a great plot and great characters, but I think we love this universe because of the people who inhabit it.   

 As writers, strive to create great characters, but what we should strive for is to create real people, 3D people.  People others can love and root for.  People rich with diversity.  If we can all learn that skill, we will indeed be better writers for it.

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Filed under Characterization, The Craft of Writing, Writing in general

My Life Is Getting In The Way of My Life

While I find great value in the things I do that are writing related, they do take away time from my actually writing.  I am Secretary for three different writing groups, I judge for writing contests, I critique and/or edit for friends, I am assisting with our local romance writers conference, and many other things.  So, while I am investing in my career through networking and leadership positions, it does take time away from when I could be writing.  It’s a sacrifice I find worthwhile.

 On the non-writing front, I have other huge commitments that take a considerable amount of time and effort, but that I also find hugely rewarding to me personally.

 Then there is my writing which is also a top priority commitment. 

 And, somewhere in there I have to find time for family, friends, business, romantic relationships (less so at the moment, I know), and relaxing Clancy-time (I’m a movie / TV show junkie so that’s a lot of time and it’s NFL Season).  All in all, my life is getting in the way of my life.

 All of you can relate I’m sure as everyone has to balance a variety of activities.  I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to over-extend myself and get worn out.  I’m a little worn out now, in fact. 

 That worn out feeling in not particularly conducive to my creative mojo.  Regardless, I have to find ways to balance these things, squish out enough hours in the day to do all I need to do, still sleep, and be creative whether I am feeling the mojo or not. 

The hope is that at some point, I’ll figure out how to not over-book my life, so I can have one too.  I made these choices and I’ll survive them.  Heck, I’ll thrive because I think I like the pressure, but I do think I could juggle a little better or choose a few less balls to throw in the air.  I’m trying to work smarter so I don’t have to work harder, but I’m not sure I’m succeeding.  If you’re handling it all better than me, please share?


Filed under Life thoughts, Writing in general

Writing Is Like Racing

A little history.  My CP and I spent all of last year working on our respective stories.  Both paranormal romances, hers is dark, mine is light.  Both had been written, revised, edited, rewritten and so on unto death.  Early this year, we were both frustrated and fed up with our stories.  You may remember my blog post where I talked about when to give up on a story.  This was that story.  Anyway, my CP has continued to work on hers.  Changing the story to the point it’s not a rewrite anymore, it’s really a new story with recycled (sort of) characters and world-building. 

So, a few days ago we were talking and she was venting about her continued frustration.  I can completely relate.  Writing can be really frustrating at times.  After much discussion, we came to the conclusion that had we just slowed down with our initial ms and wrote with more intent we wouldn’t have had to re-write a billion times over.  Now, for the analogy.

Who remembers Days of Thunder with Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall?  Remember how Cruise kept burning through his tires because he wanted to race balls-to-the-walls (that’s really fast) all the time.  He feels this is going to get him to the finish line faster.  Duvall, his racing manager guy, says No.  He needs to take his time and drive with intent (broadly paraphrased).  So, they have a competition.  Cruise gets to race his way and then the way Duvall wants him to.  They’ll time both and measure the tires after each to see who is right.  Cruise’s way blows out his tires and his time is slowed because of it.  Duvall’s way comes in faster and with tread still left on the tires.  Duvall wins. 

 Writing is like that.  I can race through my writing trying to get the initial story out but if I then have to spend the next long length of time trying to fix it because I didn’t add in enough sensory or emotional stuff, I’m not saving time.  If I write with intent to get the emotion, the setting, the characterization, and the sensory stuff in there the first time, sure – it might take me longer for that initial draft, but it will take me less time for the finished draft.  Moral: Slower and deliberate wins the race.  That’s my new philosophy.  What say you?

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Filed under The Craft of Writing, Writing in general

Emotions are our Trade

I watched a movie the other day called Bigger Than the Sky.  It was about a guy finding himself through community theater.  At the beginning, he was a recently dumped, yes-man at work, uninspired, friendless, boring frump who seemed invisible to himself and others.  He auditions for a play at the local community theater despite having no experience and gets the lead as Cyrano de Bergerac.  Through the course of the movie, he meets another girl, makes some friends, quits his job and finds out he can be a leading man in the play and in his own life.

 It wasn’t a great movie but it was a really good one, and it did have John Corbett, Amy Smart, Patty Duke and Sean Astin in it.  But more importantly, it resonated with me.  It will stay with me.  I realized half way through it, I had seen it before years ago, but it had not made the same impact then.  I had not been going through the same process then either.

 When I really started writing full time a year and a half ago, I was a closed off, emotionally stunted, relationship-challenged, hopeless romantic trapped in a jaded cynic’s body.  People for decades had been telling me to tear down my walls and let people in, to be vulnerable.  I rolled my eyes and said I was perfectly happy as I was – thank you very much.  When I decided I wanted to write for a living, it didn’t take long to figure out that if my writing was ever going to be great, it needed to be emotional and vulnerable.  But, how do you write that when you aren’t living it?  Answer:  you can’t.

 So, I have spent this year tearing down walls, opening up, exploring sides of me I didn’t know existed and becoming the most authentic me I can become.  Am I still a work in progress – yes.  Do I still have a long way to go – hell yes.  But, am I already a better writer for it – most definitely.  Sometimes, I feel like a walking wound, crying all the time.  Feeling raw and exposed is not the most comfortable place to exist, yet I have thirty years of pent up emotion waiting to be expressed, so I shouldn’t be surprised that it takes time and a lot of energy.  I’m glad though.  I’m happier, calmer, and more at peace within my own skin than I have ever been. 

As writers, we can research jobs and places from the comfort of our home thanks to the internet.  We can fake it well enough the reader may never know we haven’t done that job or visited that place.  We can’t fake the emotions though.  We have to put ourselves out there in order to draw the reader in with us.  It’s worth it though, isn’t it?  If we can touch someone with our writing?  I think so.  What say you?


Filed under From this Reader's perspective, Life thoughts, Writing in general

A tumultuous July come and gone. And I… must… write….

So, I won’t bore you with my medical issues or depression that overtook July and somehow put it in a time warp because I am shocked by how fast, and yet incredibly slow, July passed. 

The writing that was making such great strides came to a shuttering halt and has not really picked up yet.  But today I have hope.  I’ve made some changes in my life, both physically and mentally so that I am in a much better place.  Can I just say exercise is hard, I’m not a fan, I’m doing it anyway, but boxing is fun.  

I can only think I am taking my story in a wrong direction or I’m in the wrong POV currently because otherwise, the writing would be happening.  So, I’m going to try changing the POV and see if that helps.  If not, I’ll have to reassess the story line.  There should be no excuse for why I cannot finish this short story.  It’s a SHORT story.  I know they can be harder to do well – but even getting a rough draft done would be a huge accomplishment at this point. 

I have noticed that I use my email and the internet as excuses to not write.  I think I should schedule time for that and only indulge in it at those times.  If I was being smart, it would not be first thing in the morning since I am most productive then.  And yet somehow, it’s the first thing I do and then hours pass and I’ve done nothing.   This is my job.  My only damn job and I would fire me if I was my boss.  So, I need to pull my head out, go to work and make ny boss proud.  I am an over-achieving competitive person by nature, so I need to use that to my benefit instead of indulging my lazy, apathetic side. 

Keep me on my toes, my friends.  Dog me if I’m not working.  Challenge me.  And I’ll challenge myself as well.  If you need the favor returned – let me know.  Thanks



Filed under Life thoughts, Writing in general

The great, the okay and the terrible

I read avidly, rabidly, voraciously – however you want to phrase it.  And though I now have gotten to the point where I will just stop reading a book because it is bad (saving much time, thank you), I am still blown away that something as bad as what I was reading managed to get published in the first place.  I learn lessons from bad writing – ya’ know, examples of what NOT to do.   But I still sit there, saying “Really?  Really, that got published?  How?”

Last year, I began a spreadsheet of all the books I read.  Curiosity… more than anything else.  I also have one for all the movies I watch, but movies are my special weakness.  Nevermind that though, back to books.  So, I have now begun noting not just the author and title but also the publishing house.  If I see a trend with a publisher, like every book I read from them is only okay at best and terrible at worst, then that is not a publisher I want to ever submit to.  It’s kind of eye-opening.  Writers – look at this… really.

Every writer has particular publishers or agents or editors that are their dream place/person to work with.  I am no different, but now I also have a list of publishers, agents, editors I want to avoid because I don’t think they are doing their job well or some of the stuff I’m reading wouldn’t be available. 

I have nothing against self-publishing.  I think lots of good stuff gets published that way, but I also know that the odds of it not being very good are also higher because no publisher, editor, or agent has vetted that piece of work.  So, when I get something that has been self-published I go into it with lower expectations and that thought in mind. 

If I read a book that has been published through a publisher whether they are big or small, I expect that an agent or editor or both saw merit in this work and the publisher agreed with them.   Even the stories that are okay – not great, not even good,  just okay – make me wonder.  With as much talent as is out there, why are these pieces being promoted?  I don’t get it.  In all fairness, it’s a really small number of publishers I’m seeing this from, and a really small number of books that are just so bad I can’t even finish them, but more worrying is the plethora of ‘just okay’ writing that is also out there.   ‘Just okay’ is not good enough.

I’m not an advocate for or against the big five/six publishing houses, I’d love to be an author with one of them.  I also appreciate all the smaller publishers that are opening up opportunities for authors.  I like that we can just go self publish with a vanity press or post something on Amazon and hope it takes off.  But I don’t like mediocrity or outright crap, and I’m seeing more of it than I care to admit.  

I work very hard to write the best I can and improve daily.  And, I hope that I will be published soon, but I don’t want to publish something that someone will find so awful they can’t finish it.  Is it subjective – sure.  But if you are reading/writing in a genre you know you like – and you don’t like a particular book – it’s either the story didn’t resonate or the writing  is just not good.  I don’t have to love every book I read, but I do want to at least think the writing is good even if the story didn’t grab me.   Both were novellas, both were published, both were romance, yet one was great and one was so bad I couldn’t finish it.  This makes me sad.  Go read or write my friends, the rant is over…


Filed under From this Reader's perspective, Writing in general

A Writing Retreat

So, when I first knew my local RWA chapter was having a Spring retreat for our writers, I can’t say I was super excited about attending, but felt I needed to go because I’m part of the board.  I can’t write when I’m around people, so I figured it’s not going to be a productive weekend, but once again – boy was I wrong.  Those who know me, know that me being wrong is not uncommon. 

I am rooming with four other writers, two I had never met before and two I know well.  I’m having the best time, not just with these four incredible and open women, but with the other twenty women in attendance.  We are having conversations I wouldn’t have expected, getting to know each other better, and finding kinship.  We are a diverse group from all walks of life talking writing, relationships, life, and ideas.  I feel rejuvenated, inspired, motivated. 

Writing can be a solitary activity and we need to connect once in a while, we need to re-evaluate why we write, and know that while we as writers create alone, we are also part of a bigger community that is supportive and helpful.  Romance writers are a true community that support each other, celebrates each other’s successes, and knows that success for one is success for all.  

The personal journey I am currently on is because I want to be a better writer.  Things I won’t do for myself or others, I am willing to do for my writing.  I am grateful that I felt compelled to be here, because it has been an experience I will remember.  And I’ll be back.  It’s not just networking, it’s building relationships, learning new things, and bonding with creative others whose spirits understand my spirit.

Friends, if you have a chance to go to a retreat, writer or otherwise, do yourself a favor and do it.  Embrace the experience, open yourself to some creative, emotional, ideational pot stirring that spurs you to new concepts, and inspires you continue your down your individual path.


Filed under Life thoughts, Writing in general

Emotions and Writing

I think we can all agree that emotions are key to good genre fiction (I’ll not comment on other types of writing as they are outside my purview).  In genre fiction, if we don’t have our character’s emotions shaking their fists in our faces so our hearts can pound right along with theirs, we will be bored as readers. 

What raised this topic?  I was reading a blog about permeating our writing with emotion (a very good post on it too) and the author gave links to where you could garner info about emotions in general (very helpful links – thanks).  So, being the anal-retentive-info-hoarder I am, I stuffed all the info from these four links, plus notes from the blog post into one document I could save, print, and keep handy.  As I was reading this newly created document of mine on emotions, however, I found my eyes blurring, my lids heavy and my head bobbing.  Sterile definitions of emotions are not as interesting as feeling them (hmmm…. the difference between telling vs showing?).  I had to put my computer down, grab a blanket and roll over on the couch for a nap. 

But, as I often cannot fall asleep without a good book in hand, I picked up my copy of “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder and started reading that.  Guess what?  He’s funny and interesting and my eyes perked up and I read an entire chapter.  Then I had to sit up, grab my computer and start working (I consider this work).  I have ideas buzzing through my head that need written before they disappear.  Don’t kid yourself – ideas are fleet-footed little suckers and will disappear as fast as they appeared if not wrestled onto the page without dispatch. 

One of said fleet-footed ideas… this post.  Write with passion, dear friends.  Write from a place of feeling.  Make me as the reader, take that journey with you, and I will endeavor to do the same in return.

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Filed under Writing in general