News, Views and Writing that Love Scene

Another week has gone and I woke up this morning thinking, ‘wow where did the time go?’ It’s been a hectic week writing wise. On Monday I got an email on a manuscript I submitted early this year and was asked to do revisions and resubmit. So I pushed back on a WIP I was working on for submission to Harlequin at the end of August.

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I’ve written about this manuscript I was asked to do revisions on before. My publisher (Decadent Publishing) had started a series, Black Hills Wolves, and I’ve read some of the books and love one of the co-creators behind the series, Rebecca Royce’s books, so I was more than intrigued. I queried about the series and then submitted a synopsis. The novels are short reads and I’ve always wanted to see if I could write a novella. During that time there was a lot of back and forth working through plot ideas and I’ve never had that with an editor before. It was amazing how easy, open and friendly; Laura Garland was as we went through this process. I also got guidelines from Rebecca and Heather Long, who’s also the co-creator of this multi-author series.

I had my Rupunzel story to complete while I was doing this, so I figured since I had a worked out synopsis writing would be fast. And yeah it was *smile*

A Wolf’s Choice was just one of those stories that flowed, and I think it had a lot to do with the level of investment and interest I had in the characters. I’ve worked from synopses before, even though I love the ‘discovery’ as I write. And I’ve learned to go with my gut. Some stories will always require a bit of more in-depth planning than others. Instead of viewing an outline and a synopsis as stifling, I rather see it as a road map, along the way side roads will probably be taken and a couple of hours spent admiring the view, but I know where I’m heading.

That’s what A Wolf’s Choice felt like writing. I knew where I was heading, I knew who my characters were and I knew what they were going to find at the end (not just a HEA *wink*).

A Wolf’s Choice is also my first foray into writing a love scene (I talked about it on my Facebook Page:http://bit.ly/1defI54 ). I did what every author does when confronted with something they’ve never written before, I went on the internet, researched, did silly status updates where I ‘voiced’ my anxiety but still tried to do it in a non-I’m-a-dunce way.

The best advice I got from the inter-webs was write what you’re comfortable with. Use words that doesn’t make you cringe and words your characters would definitely use, that fits with their personality. And most importantly be true to the story.

So I took the pressure off and decided to chuck out the guidelines for the series (which had a distinct heat level) and just write what the characters and story demanded of me. And the scene became effortless. In fact I think I surprised myself, which really shouldn’t have been such a surprise at all.

My bookshelf consists of such a variety of genres and heat levels that I should’ve known I wouldn’t have a problem writing a love scene. I think where the pressure or even fear comes in, was with what people who knew me would think. Even at thirty-two you can’t help but still care. I’m fairly open about my faith and what I believe; it’s a lifestyle to me. Every day, all day *smile* so how do you reconcile writing a love scene (not a sex scene mind you) with the conservative world of Christianity? (Of course you also have to ask how do you reconcile werewolves, but that’s a story for another blog post *smile*).

Two of my favorite Christian authors are Francine Rivers and Frank Peretti, two writers who write a distinct spiritual message in their stories, but don’t sacrifice the story or characters for preachy writing. It astounded me to learn at first that Francine Rivers was a romance writer, and then I went, “No wait that actually makes sense, since she writes romance in her books.” There’s a love story between a man and a woman, but also between them and God. Made perfect sense. Frank Peretti on the other end, writes nail biting suspense slash horror filled blockbusters you just want to ask Hollywood to make some big feature film out of so you can be scared witless again *laughs* They are open about human sexuality. They do not draw a veil over it as if it didn’t exist. They are honest in their writing. And that’s what I love about these two authors. They don’t conform to what a Christian book is ‘supposed’ to be, but they write the story that’s in their hearts to write and stay true to the characters.

I took a page from them and went for it. In the end I was pleasantly surprised. There are really a lot of varied emotions that goes on in that love scene and it’s vital to the plot of the story. A Wolf’s Choice couldn’t have happened without it. I’m glad I didn’t shy away from writing it. It’s become one of my favorite scenes in the novella. I’m hoping to complete the revisions and hit send soon, and God willing, come back with good news *smile*

Thanks for being on the writing journey with me xoxo

#HappyWriting.

 

 

 

That Pesky Writing Slump

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A writing slump is something every author goes through, no exceptions. The same way you’ll get stuck in a plot at one point or other, a writing slump can come at the most inconvenient times.

You’ve drawn up this plan for New Years. You’ve got that fabulous thing called a writing schedule and your outlines all ‘stacked’ out in a neat little row. Because you’re a professional (I have to add, there is this feeling of accomplishment that comes with being organized and having clear goals. If anything it does provide a sense of control of you writing destiny. Yep, I’m a bit of a control freak *wink*).

So what do you do when you couldn’t be arsed, as my cousin says (she’s into everything British), to write? How do you work up the energy to sit down at your laptop? What if you have a deadline? *yikes*

One thing I’ve learned in my thirty-two *grin* years of being on this earth is that for whatever reason, sometimes in life your spirit will be at odds with what needs to be done, motivation hard to find.

Because of this I’ve come up with ways to get myself out of a Writing Slump by doing the following:

  1. Recognize that I’m going through a writing slump *smile* Yeah that doesn’t just work for AA meetings. You need to face up to what you’re going through so you can deal with it appropriately.
  2. Close my laptop. And for a whole 24hours deny its existence. Okay you don’t have to be that drastic, but do leave off the forcing yourself to ‘write at least 300 words a day’ or however many you’ve set for yourself as a goal. Leave it. Walk away.
  3. Go live. Go out with friends, watch a movie, take a walk, work in your garden, check out the mall for sales, the projects you’ve kept off doing around the house‒go do those. There’s life apart from writing, yes we are artists and we love to declare, “Writing is life!” We all know that’s not true. Life is art. No life, no art. Go out, take in the world, be part of the hustle and bustle. Take a day or two.
  4. Now take a notebook with you wherever you go, because inspiration’s going to flood you from all sides. That chapter you couldn’t be arsed to finish is going to claw at you. Scenes will come to you, remember, this is a slump; your spirit was affected here not your ability to convey mental images and a tale in sentences.
  5. Go write. If you can barely contain yourself to work on your story, whether it’s editing or fleshing out a scene or writing something new, go do that.

 

I think the biggest mistake I’ve made with writing is not acknowledging that it’s something I may not want to do every single day. That I would want to close my laptop and focus on something else with the same level of intensity. As modern-day authors we constantly get bombarded with, “write the next book”, “write a blog post”, “write a status update”, etc. We spend a considerable time of our lives writing. It stands to reason that at some point that’s going to become tedious. You are going to need a break. Orientate yourself. And that’s where I think a writing slump serves its purpose, to remind us that we’re made out of more than just writing. The sum of our parts needs more to survive.

So the next time you get down on yourself for being in one, shake it off! (Yeah I just went all Taylor Swift on you *smile*) It’s your author spirit telling you it’s time to take a break.

#happywriting

 

Writing Tips & Motivations

It`s Friday the 13th *gulp* …So to keep Freddy Kruger from knocking at our door, here’s some inspiration to start your writing weekend, that is if you’re going to be stuck in front of your laptop like me *grin*

 
#disclaimer I found all this on in inter-webs so it does not belong to me.

 

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On Voice Part 2: “Your voice isn’t strong enough.”

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Recently I received feedback from an editor that said, “Your voice isn’t strong enough.” It wasn’t, ‘this needs a stronger voice’, only referring to the piece of writing. No. It meant the voice I wrote in normally for my romance novels weren’t as strong as it should be.

 
Now, if you’re a newbie like me, you first need to absorb the information and then go on a Google search to find out what exactly the editor meant, because in Part 1 of On Voice here on my blog, Lee Child explained in a lovely quote what having a ‘voice’ truly meant as an oral storyteller.

 
The publishing industry, however, has its own definition of what ‘voice’ is in the written word and when they tell you to strengthen your voice, it has everything to do with your style of writing.

 
So in a quest to distinguish my voice and make it stronger, I’ve discovered these points I have to focus on.

 
1. I need a persona when writing.1003679_631124983566225_882649124_n
Uh…yeah I know, sounds weird. But I need one. I need to have a character I can ‘step’ into when I’m writing, almost like placing on a ‘thinking hat’ but more concrete since this persona is going to be ‘put on’ whenever I sit down with my laptop and work on a story. This will allow me to develop and refine my writing objectively. By doing this I’ll also be able to, in future, drop this persona and write as a different type of character because I’ve distanced the ‘daily me’ from the ‘writing me’ and in so doing, made it easier to switch between narrative voices. Some prefer to ‘step into’ their main character and ‘live’ the story through them.

 

2. Style.
I need to use stronger verbs, alter the sentence structure, use alliteration, internal rhyme, onomatopoeia and uncommon words.
For me this will happen during the self-editing process, when I go back over the first draft, or second or third…you know where I’m going with this *smile* I even read that you can make up words to make your voice distinctive as you write a certain character. The idea here is to match the setting and situation your character is in.

 

3. Authority.
Authority refers to the writer’s confidence or control of the material. The idea here is to have a strong, credible voice.
How do you attain authority? By doing your research. You must provide specific, concrete temporal and/or physical detail. To write with authority, you have to know what you’re talking about. Even in romance! Spend a good amount of time developing characters, location and plot. This gives you power and control.

 

4. What do you want the reader to feel?
The emotions you use your voice to invoke will stick with readers. When they open one of your books it will all come back to them. What do you want your readers to feel on page six of a new manuscript? What strategies can you use to draw out that feeling?

 

These are only a few points that stood out to me that I’m personally focusing on in my writing at the moment. There are definitely more on voice and how to develop it.

 
One thing to keep in mind; voice evolves over time and working on yours will create a strong authorial voice.

 
Do you have any tips of your own? Then leave a comment.

What Makes A Love Story

I wrote this article for Kelly Steele’s blog in June of Last year, I thought I’d share it on my blog too *smile.

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I recently watched the movie The Lake House for the hundredth time. It’s become one of my favourite romantic dramas. These two people who fall in love with each other through writing letters because one lived in the past in the other in the future. Talk about having problems! *smile*

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So, of course, I did some ‘cyber-stalking’ because I haven’t read anything about Keanu Reeves in a while. (Let’s just take a moment‒Keanu Reeves *deep sigh*) The man does a very good job of staying out of the entertainment news *thumbs up* And I stumbled on an interview done by Keanu and Sandra Bullock about the movie (http://bitly.com/1KgejJj ).

 

After a series of questions, the journalist asked them a question that had the writer in me sitting up. He asked, “What’s your definition of a good love story?”

 
At this point Sandra had answered all the questions first, but for some reason Keanu responded first this time and his response had me re-evaluating my current writing project.

 
He answered, “A good love story is a story of passion. It starts with that first look — I believe in love at first sight. You want that connection, and then you want some problems. You want them to have to fight to be together, maybe even have an epic battle, like they have to figure out how to break the boundaries of time. And then there’s a good kiss. I think this film qualifies.”

 
Obviously he’d stuck closely to the plot of The Lake House *grin* But there’s a level of truth here that the romance writer in me couldn’t ignore. A good love story needs passion, he’s right. But believable passion. It can be created on such a subtle and sophisticated way as letters written across time itself, where the actions and emotions of the characters drives the mutual attraction through their words and sharing. Or it can be an instant bolt of lightning that freezes the characters into ‘seeing’ the other for the first time and literally being stunned into stillness at the realization on a subconscious or conscious level, that this person’s going to become significant to them. Hence the ‘love at first sight’.

 
The connection’s established and like he said, then come ‘the problems’. The stakes. What keeps them apart? This shouldn’t be something that could be solved by a simple conversation. It should create enough relevant tension and suspense that it’s either (in my opinion) a ‘fight against outside forces to stay together’ or a ‘fight against their inner demons to stay together’ or both. And then there’s the HEA. Sounds simple right?

 

*laughs*

 
As a new author I’m still learning, I can’t say I’ve figured out all the kinks to writing and don’t think I ever will. It’s a skill I’m constantly working on. Keanu’s quote stood out to me because he explained what a good love story meant to him, and as much as views differ, there’s a universal feel to his view point. I believe there are some great tips in what he said and have applied them to my current WIP. I hope his summary of a good love story also inspires you to write your version of one.

The Power of the Sub-Plot

I wrote the novella The Wolf’s Choice at the end of last year and my main character Rebecca Ferguson (celeb lookalike Natalie Emanuel aka interpreter chick in Game of Thrones *smile*) has some issues with her parents, though more so with her father since he’s the one who’s still alive out of the two.

 

Celebrity lookalike for Rebecca

And I have to say I loved writing the dynamic between the two. Their struggle are the sub-plot in the story and ties in well with the romantic plot. And that’s what today’s post is about, sub-plots and why I love them *smile*

 
Growing up reading Barbara Cartland I can appreciate a good romance plot that focuses solely on the romance between the heroine and hero, but because I also read Afrikaans novels I fell in love with the strength a sub-plot provides a story. I liked how it showed that the main character formed part of a bigger world, rather than this microscopic isolated glimpse into their lives. Because who lives like that?

 
Of course every romance writer knows that you shouldn’t distract from the main characters and their story, but boy does it add a meatiness to them when you throw in a dash of family slash friends slash boss slash life issues *grin*

 
One Afrikaans novel I grew up reading showcased the heroine’s relationship with her family very strongly and those stories always made me go back to them. I loved the view I got from reliable sources (family members, friends & colleagues), as opposed to only the character.

 

Twilight DVDsThis ‘sells’ the character more to me and also makes the story less superficial. I think this was the biggest problem I had with Twilight (even though I love the series and have seen all the movies #TwiHard for life! *peace sign*), Bella tells us how mature she is. She tells us how she takes care of her mother. She tells us how helpful and responsible she is around the house. She tells us how scatterbrained her mother is. She basically tells us how she views herself…and in first person no less *smiles* And as she was telling me all of this, I didn’t believe her *shrug* She’s fallen for a hundred year old vampire who wants to drain her of her blood. Seriously, how responsible and smart can you be if you disregard a basic thing all humans had‒self-preservation.
I can say these things because I’m a fan of the series and Stephanie Meyer, I’m not dissing the book because I think it’s okay to talk down about the things teenage girls/women love, inadvertently telling them that their voices, ideas and choices doesn’t matter.

 
*takes deep breath*

 
Back to sub-plot *smile* I would’ve believed Bella more if those observations actually came from her parents or another relative. Because I didn’t see how doing house chores made you more mature than your parents, because than since age…goodness I can’t even remember, my siblings and I should’ve been considered mature. My mother would then tell you, ‘no they were not.’

 
As a romance writer we have a sense of who and what we want our characters to be, what issues we want them to deal with. I was told by someone in a romance writing group the romance plot was fairly straightforward. And they’re right. You’re writing a love story; the struggle to go from like to love is the plot. There’s no trick. Though what gives it substance is delving into the characters psyche and lives, and that’s where your sub-plot should shine.

 

This struggle will make the overall conflict of the story so much richer. I’m thinking of my current release Dance of Love (http://amzn.to/1AaLcDS) where Ashley has to fight her inner fear of failing, of not being a good a world-class ballet dancer as her father was. This heightened the tension in the book, these were human fears any person would have, not just someone in a romantic plot. This wasn’t only about a fear of getting your heart broken because you’ve been burned by past relationships (though there’s nothing wrong with that), this was something achingly universal. We’ve all felt that need to prove ourselves to our families and ourselves.

 

The story’s secondary characters created hues to her life in Rome. It showed that she could exist apart from the hero; if he’s not on the page she still had a life. It didn’t start and end with him. And yes, as a modern female living in the twenty-first century that’s a powerful message in romance to convey between the lines.

 
In a novella this is difficult to achieve because you only have so many words to write a sub-plot in and in The Wolf’s Choice I lucked out because Rebecca’s romance relied on her overcoming her issues with her father. In fact he’s the antagonist of the story. He stands in the way of her happily ever after.

 
I believe sub-plot works best when it does this, when it ties in neatly with the main struggle of the story. What do you think? And do you also enjoy sub-plots in love stories?

Author Spotlight Wk 1 – Inge Saunders

Last week I was featured on Tracee Garner’ s blog sharing my writing process as a Hybrid author 🙂

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1Hi Everyone, 

This week starts an 11 Week Blog Spotlight on the Writing Process. Each week, I’ll feature a fellow writer of varying genres to talk about HOW they write.

Join the discussion by leaving a comment and enjoy each veteran author or new, emerging voice!

First up, Multicultural, New-Adult, Romance Author –

Inge Saunders 

Since I embarked on the romance writing road in 2012 I’ve read so many different takes on authors writing process. From James Scott Bell who starts from the middle of his novel, he believes in writing from the ‘midpoint’ or ‘the point of commitment’ or as others calls it, ‘raising the stakes’. To begin there he states brings illumination over the whole writing project. Then there’s Harlequin author Tawny Weber who, though loves plotting, is not a detailed plotter. She needs three things to start a story: A premise, a good grasp on the characters…

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