Archive for April, 2009
Thursday, April 30th, 2009 by Sasha White
No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness.
Here on GenReality we’ve talked about writers organizations, and had discussions about the pros and cons of conferences. For me personally, I’m not a big fan or organizations, or of the pressure to go to confrences as a career move. However, I am a big believer in going ot conferences to connect with others.
You see, I live in northern Alberta, Canada. There are no local writers groups in my city, and none of my friends have any interest in writing. My friends and family try to be supportive of my writing, they congratulate me on releases, and ooh and ahh over new covers if I flash them around enough. They occasionally ask how the writing is going, and they listen when I whine about something not working right for me. But they don’t really get it.
To me, this is why I go to conferences. So I can hang out with people who get it. Friends who get teary eyed when, without a word, I show them a copy of the May/June issue of Complete Woman magazine, and they see my book cover in the bottom corner. They get what a feature like that means to me. Friends who can talk about characters like their real people, and who understand when I have a panic attack at the thought of actually plotting out a story. Collegues who come up to me and congratulate me on getting an Honorable Mention by a National Leather Association.
Hanging out online is great, without the internet I’d have long ago driven myself insane trying to be a writer. But once a year I make sure to attend a big conference in the US so that I can remind myself that no matter how alone or disconnected I sometimes feel, there are others out there who are going through the same thing. Other writers who often feel that no one really understands what they’re going through. Other writers who need to get together with like minded adults, and let loose. And not just other writers , but readers too.
All writers, booksellers, editors, agents and reviewers are Readers as well. We all love stories and we all love books…it doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t like historicals, or erotics, or whatever. All that matters is that we all love books, and we’re together for that week to celebrate that. Many conferences I’ve attended have had drama of some sort or the other, but I have to say, this year RT rocked. And it was perfect timing for me, because the past year has been especially hard for me career wise. I’ve been waffling on a lot of decisions that I needed to make, and wondering if I was really meant to be a writer. Strangely enough, I didn’t talk alot of writing this past week at that conference, (I did talk some, just not a lot), yet I am now home, refreshed and renewed and ready to tackle several projects.
To me, that is the best reason to go to a conference. – to remind yourself that you’re not alone, and to get re-energized with your own personal goals. We let our creative sides come out on paper all the time, but every now and then we need to live it up, and remind ourselves that there is more to being a writer than just writing, and business. If you can’t enjoy life, how are you supposed to write about it?
With that in mind, I’d like to share with you the slideshow I made with my photos from this years Romantic Times conference. I think it sums up the vibe/energy of the event, and will hopefully show you that it’s not only okay to have fun with your career, but also necessary.
Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 by Carrie Vaughn
I have a question for folks. Some explaining first.
When I was first starting out, one of the good pieces of advice I got was to write every day. I heard it from lots of people, and it made a lot of sense. Getting in the habit of sitting down every day and writing is one of the best ways to learn to write, to learn to write lots, and to learn to finish what you write. Over the course of my years as a struggling writer, I’d write every day some years, and not write every day in others. The years when I wrote every day were always better. I didn’t necessarily produce more, but what I produced was better, and got better feedback. I kind of got superstitious about writing every day, because good things happened when I did — I sold more stories, wrote better stories, and so on. This last stretch, I’ve been writing every day since February 2004. I’m afraid if I stop all the success I’ve had the last couple of years will go away. (I also, coincidentally (?) landed my agent in February 2004, sold my first novel in August 2004, and so on.)
Now, I have a very loose definition of writing every day, which makes it much easier. I don’t have a set word count. Writing in my journal counts. (I’m sure someone looking through my journal would find at least a couple of entries that say, “Can’t write, too sick, blaurrgghh!”) When I travel I keep a trip journal rather than try to work on fiction. Brainstorming and outlining count as writing for the day. So does serious revision. But I do something that involves putting words on the page every day.
So. Writing every day. Good advice for writers just starting out. But I’ve noticed something: a lot of the pros I know don’t write every day. They take breaks between books, or breaks for other reasons, or take weekends off. At this point, I’m not sure I’d know how to take a break from writing. As I said, I’ve become rather deeply superstitious about it. Writing is a self-fulfilling ritual. If I want to keep writing, I have to keep writing. Irrational, I know, but there it is.
Now the question, especially for the working pros and nearly-pros: Do you write every day? Do you take breaks? How do you decide when to take a break? How hard is it to get back into the groove?
I love my job, but there are plenty of days I don’t feel like writing, and I have to drag every word out of my brain kicking and screaming, painfully. (I just had a couple of those days, which is what brought this up.) But if I didn’t write when I didn’t feel like writing, I’d never get anything done.
Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 by Joe Nassise
A few months ago, I ran into some difficulty while neck deep in a particular writing project. My deadline was looming and I was going nowhere fast. Day after day I would sit down at the computer and beat my head against the wall, trying but repeatedly failing to drag forth the requisite pages that needed to be written that day.
It wasn’t due to a lack of organization. I had a detailed outline in front of me. The action and emotional impact in each chapter was scripted out and I even knew from which character’s viewpoint the scene would be written. I was excited about what was to come; the scenes were well constructed and drove the story forward at a decent pace, the characters were interesting and unusual. I was perhaps better prepared to write that book than any other I had written previously.
And I had long since passed the point where I could write only when “inspired” to do so. My muse had long ago been hunted down, captured, and chained to the demands of a professional writer’s schedule – you write when you need to write, not when you “feel” like writing. Writing when inspired was for sissies. I was a professional, damn it!
But it was not to be. Day after day I struggled, producing, on a GOOD day, about one fifth of my usual output and that only after hours of painful effort. The bad days weren’t even worth talking about.
As the time passed and the lines through the days on the calendar made it increasingly obvious to me that I either needed to do something drastic or shoot myself, I made a decision.
It was time for a change.
For years I have written in the quiet confines of my office, my trusty desktop with its 20 inch monitor my only companion. Music was a big no-no; too often I would find myself typing the lyrics to the songs I was listening to rather than the words of my tale and even purely instrumental numbers were a problem as I could get lost in the notes as easily as the lyrics.
To shake things up, I purposely changed everything I could think to change. Rather than work at my desktop, I would use the laptop. Rather than sit in my comfortable leather chair, I would use one made of hardwood without a seat cushion. Rather than work in the privacy of my office, I would go to the library or the deli or the local Starbucks. immerse myself in noise and people. Rather than create in silence, I would graft headphones to my ears and submerge myself in pulse-pounding and bass-cranking music if necessary.
Imagine my surprise when it worked.
The words that I had struggled so hard to find poured effortlessly from my fingertips in the midst of that Starbucks, an iced vente mocha frappuccino at my side. The action sequences that had seemed so scripted and flat previously now jumped to life while the words and music of Nickelback pounded in my ears. My output shot up to my usual levels and then kept going, until I discovered that I could write faster and with better results than I ever had before – all because I took a chance and changed the usual way I did things.
Is something in your writing process stuck? Are you getting frustrated by your inability to accomplish the goals you’ve set for yourself?
Then step outside the problem. Come at it from a totally different direction. Take your usual process and turn it 180 degrees in the other direction.
Change your perspective – you might be surprised at the results.
I know I was.
Monday, April 27th, 2009 by Alison Kent
I have a book releasing tomorrow, and have mixed feelings about the fact that I do. The memories of writing this book are ones that will never go away because it was one of the worst writing experiences of my life. I had tons of external things going on, and every single one of them made their presence known in my head and on the page. I took a week of vacation to get the manuscript in by deadline and missed attending a writers / readers convention I’d paid to go to because I’d lost my grip on the book. My husband went to the booksigning. He got to see my friends. I did not. This was two years ago this month. In fact, two years ago tomorrow was the date of the signing. I was physically ill for a week after I sent the book in, even missing work. Two years and I haven’t forgotten a single painful word of the writing process.
On the other hand, I had some amazing fun writing this book. I’ll never forget a plotting session I had with my husband at Panera Bread one night. We ate and talked, and I had a notebook with me, and while explaining to him the petroleum geology thing I needed to have happen – since he is a petroleum geologist – I drew diagrams of my hero’s Louisiana property, where I wanted the oil rig, and we went from there, talking acreage, drilling costs, rig and well terms, etc. Not only that, my sweetie took care of everything around the house during those final days. Cooking, cleaning. Me. He fed me B-12 like the pills were M&M’s.
When I read the galleys in January, I thought, “Oh, this isn’t so bad after all.” But that was just the first third of the book. Maybe the first half. Then things got bad. Horrible. Then they got good again. Really good. A couple of scenes in particular read like the most emotionally authentic and honest scenes I’d ever written. The crap followed shortly thereafter. And stayed. And stayed. I was having Jekyll & Hyde whiplash. Was the book good or bad or both? I couldn’t tell. All I could see was the pain as I remembered where I was sitting or standing or lying or pacing while writing a particular scene, and OH the SUCK! ::shudder:: Then I started sending it out to early readers and reviewers and bloggers and friends.
And you know what? To this day, none of them have pointed and laughed at all the crap scenes I know are in there. In fact, they’ve been pretty nice about what they’ve said. I’ve given away a lot of copies via Twitter and blog contests, and I’ve heard from readers privately that they really enjoyed the story. I want to ask them all to take a closer look at such and such a scene, and how can they read that and not think the book is a complete FAIL? But then I remember they weren’t there for the misery. That was just me, and somehow my subconscious slapped my sobbing self aside and pulled off a miracle. The book is on the shelves, has the most gorgeous cover ever, is receiving good feedback . . . what do I know anyway? *g*
NO LIMITS is a May release from Kensington Brava. You can read excerpts here, and here, and here.
Saturday, April 25th, 2009 by Jason Pinter
I thought I’d post something a little different today. Since we were recently discussing writers organizations and conferences, I thought I’d repost my running diary from my trip to the Romantic Times convention in 2007. I think things have changed over the last few years, more Y chromosomes and more genres represented, but in ’07 it was an eye-opening trip in many way. I can’t wait to go again.
Romantic Times Convention Running Diary
Must wake up. Flight leaves in 2.5 hours. Didn’t I just leave the Edgar party at the Black Orchid? I swear Dave White was just balancing a beer bottle on his head. I don’t really have time to double check my suitcase. Is it possible to forget something before you actually leave?
10:15 am (Houston time)
My plane landed despite a monsoon outside that looks like something out of commercials for “Lost.” Was it so wrong to assume Houston would be warmer than New York City?
I arrived at the hotel, and I have to say the Hyatt is mighty impressive, plus they have those cool see-thru glass elevators that never get old. After checking in, I went to the third floor to register for the conference. There’s a big line for, um, something, but I’m able to skip it because nobody else is registering in the ‘P’ section. I feel lonely. I do see two or three other men, some of whom are even wearing badges, meaning they’re here for the conference. I hope they become my friends. There are already a ton of people here, and many of the conference highlights are actually spotlighted in a big display on the hotel wall. Very cool. They have nifty blue conference bags for all the attendees, which contain all sorts of giveaways from attending authors and publishers (my favorite is a pink heart attached to what I think is a bunion remover. Or it could be a nail file.) It also contains a free copy of the Romantic Times magazine, which has a feature on Lee Child. I wonder if Lee has ever been to this convention. My first scheduled panel (as a viewer) is at 3 pm and features MaryJanice Davidson and Charlaine Harris. The star power is already out in full force.
Houston has more in common with NYC than I thought. Even here a large coffee and a turkey sandwich cosst $12.
To get to the panel rooms, you have to make your way through a gauntlet of tables filled with every kind of promotional goodie you can imagine. Buttons, pins, cds, lollipops, nerf automobiles (seriously), chocolates, votive candles, tea packets, you name it. I give the prize for the most unique giveaway to a set of business cards tucked into a poster that looks suspiciously like a jeans pocket on a cowboy’s derriere. I haven’t seen this much man flesh since I watched Wrestlemania.
Terrific panel on paranormal books. MaryJanice Davidson is simply hilarious, and now I have to go buy some of her books. If they’re half and energetic as witty as she is, I’ll be happy. Two things I noticed in the paranormal panel. First, that authors and readers commonly refer to publishing as “New York.” As in, “New York finally noticed me when…”. Second, romance authors like to use slang words that describe er, manhood. The energy on this panel was off the charts, and made me excited for my panels tomorrow. Some really interesting insights from the authors, especially when it came to World Building (i.e. setting guidelines, rules you can and can’t break, etc…).
Best quote (serious): “It’s better to take something out than to not be brave enough to write it in the first place” –Charlaine Harris
Best quote (semi-serious): “Heroes don’t eat people.” –Angela Knight
Best Quote (after someone said ‘I love c–k’ in regards to writing explicitly): “That’s going on my buttons for next conference.” –MaryJanice Davidson
I finally ran into someone I knew, the one and only Alex Sokoloff. After the panel I caught up with Allison Brennan, who is simply put conquering the world. She also made me feel slightly less neurotic about my obsession with publishing numbers. Also ran into Rachel Vincent, another MIRA author who I met at their sales conference and whose debut STRAY comes out in June. Also met Marjorie Liu, who apparently has to write four books by the end of the year. People like Allison and Marjorie make me feel like a slacker. I hate them.
At the opening dinner. There are at least half a dozen men walking around topless wearing cowboy hats, leather pants, and suspenders. I think I need another beer.
Something I’m fairly certain that won’t happen again in my career: two men wearing bowlers and suspenders (without shirts) asking me if I’ll kill characters named after them in my next book.
Romantic Times Convention
First up, a thriller author-sponsored bookseller event which begins at 9 am. I don’t have any swag to give away, with the exception of some pretty neat business cards (made by my talented father-in-law). My first panel begins at 11. It’s called “Hooks That Shock,” and I’ll be participating alongside Carole Nelson Douglas, Heather Graham(who pretty much owns this convention), Libby Hellman Fischer,Rick Mofina (go dudes!) and Alex Sokoloff. I don’t think any half naked cowboys will be in attendance (though I wouldn’t put any money on it). The panels yesterday were terrific, so if I can make my first Bill Simmons-ism of the diary, I’m a little giddy.
I have been out-swagged. Authors at the bookseller event had everything but the kitchen sink to give away. ARCs, finished books, bookmarks, matchbooks, playing cards, luggage tags. One author even built a few dozen feeaking DIORAMAS. Let’s just say my business cards were like bringing a toothpick to a knife fight. New authors, when you go to a conference or convention, bring stuff. After “wear sunscreen,” that’s the best advice I can offer.
Well, my panels for the day are over. The first went very well, great attendance, I only wish we had time for a Q&A at the end (but with 6 authors on the panel, everyone had to get their 2.5 cents in). The second panel had four authors, Karna Small Bodman, Rebecca York, Ann Parker and myself. Really interesting stuff, such as how Heather Graham uses her family in her books, how using “Mental Real Estate” can help readers notice your book, how you don’t need a book tour to get major speaking engagement, and why it’s ok to write a cozy where the body has a maggot crawling out of its nose. Plus Heather Graham threatened to have me killed. Ok not really, but she said she had a great idea for a premise where a 27-year old author goes to a book convention and doesn’t make it out alive. Trust me, there are about 1,000 fans here who might actually commit murder if Heather asked them to, so I’m using the deadbolt tonight.
I chatted for a while with Jennifer Armintrout and her husband (who was brave enough to admit he hasn’t read his wife’s books). Jennifer and I share the same editor and publisher, and her debut novel THE TURNING was a USA Today bestseller. Plus she’s apparently in some sort of feud with a bestselling paranormal author (who shall not be named). Hey, the more literary feuds the better. Jennifer is also blogging from RT, so check it out.
Tonight is some sort of Fairy Ball. Or maybe it’s ‘Faery’. Or ‘Faerie’. Either way I expect to check my sobriety at the door.
Apparently an ARC of THE MARK is for sale on eBay. Two people have already bid on it. Between the bidding price and shipping cost, someone is already willing to pay more for THE MARK now than when it hits stores in just over 2 months. For some reason this makes me happy.
Romantic Times Booklovers Convention
So I never made it to the faery (correct spelling!) ball. I showed up about an hour into it, not realizing it was a actually a sit-down dinner (the ball the night before consisted of people either wandering around or dancing to Will Smith’s “Miami.”). Rather than canvas the enormous ballroom for the 5 people I knew, I went back down to the bar and watched the rest of the Jazz-Rockets game. Had I not done that, I wouldn’t have overheard this priceless comment from woman wearing a gigantic winged harness and face paint: “I used to work in the sex industry. If I don’t get it four times a day I go crazy.”
Stay classy, San Diego.
This morning I’m looking forward to the Murderers Row panel at 10:00. It’s actually called “Urban Fantasy,” but it features a murderers row of authors including Jim Butcher, Jennifer Armintrout, Keri Arthur, Charlaine Harris, Marjorie Liu, Vicki Pettersson, Jeri Smith-Ready and agent Miriam Kriss. I’m giddy again.
I already got my breakfast bagel and coffee (cost: $936). And who’s the very first person I see in the elevator? The cowboy dude/cover model from the opening night ball. He’s wearing a tank top that reads “Got Sex?”. It’s not even 9:00. I don’t think many people do.
Anyway, he says, “Hey, name’s Mark, remember me??”
I say, “Yeah.”
He says, “You gotta kill me and Kimo in your next book.”
I say, “I remember.”
I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time trying to draw attention to my wedding ring.
On an important note, my heartiest congratulations to the Edgar Award winners and nominees. I was incredibly disappointed to miss the majority of this year’s festivites, but hopefully I’ll have many years to make up for it. I’d like to add that Stephen King deserves every single accolade and ovation he receives, times ten. King was one of the first authors who hypnotized my senses growing up, and I’m proud to be one of seemingly thousands who were inspired to write by King’s ON WRITING. Throw snobbery out the window, without King we would have legions of fewer readers then we do now. And just like every year, the Edgars make me get off my butt and read many wonderful books I didn’t get to for whatever reason.
I wonder if King has ever promised to kill two half-naked cowboys in his books…
Another great panel, the best-attended one I’ve been to so far (not a shock, considering there were four NYT bestseller authors and twoUSA Today bestselling authors sitting in). Despite the crowded dais everyone managed to get their shot. Highlights were, of course, Jim Butcher admitting he had 20 books in the Harry Dresden series planned out when he was in college, Charlaine Harris “thanking” fans who point out the errors in her books, literary agent Miriam Kriss advising aspiring urban fiction authors that it’s good to have material for your second book ready when submitting the first, the fan who advised Jim Butcher to “eat in the shower” so he could write faster, and Vicki Pettersson assuring the audience that getting pregnant and writing back-to-back books are not dependant on each other.
After the panel I ran into an old editorial colleague, and we’re meeting for a drink later. We’re both recently married, so in the words of Sherri Ann Ward Cabot from “Best in Show,” we have a lot to talk and not talk about. Right now I have a break, so I’m going to work on revisions for THE GUILTY (aka Henry Parker #2). Tonight is the big Heather Graham vampire gala, but there are also a ton of good basketball games on. Choices…
While we’re on the topic of urban fantasy, I think some of the covers used in this genre are simply tops in the industry today. I LOVE Jim Butcher’s covers (and actually recommended them to my publisher as far as atmosphere). Vicki Pettersson’s are also very cool. When it comes to “commercial fiction” many covers seem a little too similar (god help me if I see another blurry guy running). And though I’m not a big fan in general of showing characters’ faces on a book cover (I’d rather not get locked into a visage and prefer to let the reader use their imagination), the lighting, mood and detail in many of these covers are simply stunning. Case in point, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, Patricia Briggs’s BLOOD BOUND, and Carrie Vaughn’s KITTY series.
Romantic Times Convention
Day 4 (aka travel day)
I’m sitting in the Charlotte International Airport in Charlotte, NC, waiting for my connecting flight to NYC. I arrived here about 2 hours ago from the George Bush International Airport (trust me, there are few things stranger than telling a cab driver, “George Bush International Airport, please”). And did I mention my connecting flight to LaGuardia isn’t for another 5 hours? Good times.
Thankfully the good Charlottian folks have wireless internet in the airport, so I’m watching the NFL Draft on my laptop, as well as running through edits on THE GUILTY. I’ve already read the NYT book review online (she’s surely heard by now, but congrats to Allison Brennan whose FEAR NO EVIL is still on the list!). Oh, and so is Laura Lippman. Might I just say that on March 22nd, I emailed Laura to congratulate her on WHAT THE DEAD KNOW hitting the New York Times bestseller list. Laura insinuated that after that week her book would “drop like a stone.” Man, that’s one buoyant stone…
Most unintentionally hilarious subplot of the NFL draft so far: Brady Quinn starring in a commercial for Hummer which plays right before the video of the Browns selecting Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas and passing over their hometown boy. I had an evil laugh as I watched Brady driving up a soggy mountain in a Hummer saying “This is awesome” right before a video showing him being passed over in the draft.
The RT convention was quite an experience, the best part was meeting lots of terrific authors and sitting in on some great panels. Mine were a blast, and hopefully I’m getting used to them to the point where I don’t come off like a complete fool. Though in my second panel I actually quoted Jeff Foxworthy.
Might have to go over my material before the next one…
See you at ThrillerFest!
Friday, April 24th, 2009 by LViehl
I bet you’re all ready for another reality check about working in Publishing. Well, here it is: give people interesting, funny or valuable content, and they will pay you back by marketing you for free.
In addition to boosting our blog traffic by a couple of thousand hits per day, last Friday’s post demonstrates how certain content has the power to attract attention, become contagious, and create discussion. Whether you call it generating buzz or going viral, content that can do that is one of the most desirable and possibly the least understood no-cost marketing tools on the internet.
I’ve been blogging almost continuously in some form or another since 2001, and I’ve created as well as read a lot of internet content over the years. Just as with our stories, there is an art to writing decent content, but to give it viral potential there are a lot of other factors involved, not the least of which are universal appeal (which you can plan) and fortunate timing (which you can’t.)
We all want to write the post that a portion of NetPubLand will link to, discuss, debate and spread the word around for the next week or two. I’m not suggesting every writer post their royalty statements online, but it doesn’t hurt to consider what content you can put out here that has the potential to become contagious.
Content that presents a new concept, offers a fresh perspective, or takes an unusual angle seems to have an immediate advantage over the usual fare. New concepts are more interesting than something that has been recycled or restated repeatedly; fresh content holds our attention longer than just another echo of what we’ve read before somewhere else. Taking a different approach makes content stand out versus blending in, especially with topics that have been well-covered elsewhere.
I’ve had a fair amount of success with my author blog, and while most of my posts don’t go viral, my satires often attract some attention: Publishing 911, The Devil’s Publishing Dictionary Part I and Part II, and The Last Samurai Agent have been the most popular to date.
When it comes to content, I enjoy reading other writers’ opinions, shop talk, and anything about the writing life. Authenticity, humor and truth in content appeal most to me, so I always try to incorporate those factors into my own content (which is probably why I write so many satires.) Anyone who is frank and open is going to get more attention from me than someone who pretends and postures. Although I don’t think we’re all doomed, things are tough right now for most of us, so if your content can make me chuckle or laugh, you’ve lightened my mood and brightened my day.
Truth is tougher. Not everyone wants to hear the truth, especially if it rocks their boat or challenges their belief systems. Because so many people want to write professionally and/or become stars in the industry, those of us who make this our profession are constantly put under a microscope. On the internet the scrutiny is magnified, and any success or popularity inevitably attracts negative attention. We should always think about what we write, but now we also have to consider how it can be used and twisted and misconstrued and turned against us. These days it takes some courage to offer any kind of truth, so whenever I see it out there, I value and deeply appreciate it.
I also believe in supporting industry pros and writers who offer great content. If an author gives me a free story and I enjoy it, I’m definitely going to buy one of their books. As-yet-unpublished writers whose content I enjoy can expect me to be first in line to buy the first novel they sell, and if it’s as great as their content, I’m going to give away copies of it on my blog. If an agent offers some valuable advice or insight, I’m probably going to mention him or her to writers who are shopping around for representation (one agent has already signed four clients I sent her way.) If an editor posts a great sub op, I’m going to link to it and pass it around to my friends. And I’m not the only one doing this.
Not everyone who takes an interest in your content is going to buy a book, send you a client or broadcast your call for submissions. But over time great content builds something out of what it attracts: interested visitors do keep returning, and if you keep providing quality content for them, they eventually become part of a following.
A following are people who will talk about you, link to your content, tell their friends about you, pass your books around and so forth. So will their friends, and their friends, and their friends. We call that word of mouth marketing, and as I always tell my readers, it’s the best advertising money can’t buy. Once you’ve gathered a devoted following, they will generate more sales for you than any high-priced widget or marketing campaign in existence. Even better, they’ll do it voluntarily for free.
One last thought – if you’re not sure what your visitors want to read, ask them. Their feedback will let you know what they’re looking for, and often will give you new ideas or directions to go with your content. Which brings me to my question for you guys: What sort of content would you like to see here at Genreality in the future? Let us know in comments.
Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 by Sasha White
I’m out of town for the Romantic Times Conference this week, so I’m reposting an old one from my own blog. A version of a Workshop I did last summer.
WHAT IS VOICE?
Voice it what makes an author stand out. It’s what makes a reader go out and search for an author’s backlist after reading one book, and what makes them anticipate the next story. Yes, readers fall in love with characters, but what makes the character come alive is the author’s voice – the way in which they describe the characters, the setting, the happenings. It’s the way they tell the story.
Voice is the natural storyteller in you, and we all have it. Did you hear that? Your author voice is natural to you. The key to the magic of it is…finding it, trusting it, and using it to make your stories shine.
And it’s a lot harder than it sounds. Why? Because voice is the “it” factor. It’s invisible, and it’s instinctive. If you don’t find your own right away do NOT get discouraged! It is a process, and one that, at times, requires a lot of faith in yourself.
In order to find your voice, and build on it, you need to know yourself.
What do you read?
What do you want to write?
What do you write?
How do you feel when you write?
What are your strengths as a writer?
What are your weaknesses as a writer?
Are you a fan or workshops and craft books for writers?
Who is your favorite author? Why?
Personally, I love writing for Berkley and Aphrodisia because they allow me to write the way I want to write. To tell the story the way I want to, and I’m not trying to fit into a style or line that isn’t natural to me.
This is one of the huge points I try to emphasize, when I do workshops on writing Hot. You can heat things up if you want, but if it’s not a natural thing for you, if writing sex or pushing the envelope isn’t something that you want to do naturally, you won’t be truly successful. Everyone has strengths, and they need to find them, and capitalize on them. One of my strengths just happens to be I’m fascinated by human sexuality.
It seems that Fear is a weakness for many of us. And let me just say, those of you that realize that you have that fear, are already a step ahead. Now, let me tell you that Fear is the worst enemy of Voice. Why? Because it makes you doubt yourself, and your natural ability.
I admit that when I started writing, I knew nothing about the industry. I didn’t know anything about all these online author communities, and I never read any craft books. I just decided one day I wanted to be a writer for a career, and I started to write. To me, that is why I found success right away. I sold my very first story I wrote, and have sold every one since.
But, I was fearless. I wanted it, I went after it and I got it. But, I was fearless because I didn’t know any better.
I know this train of thought is a bit wonky, but stay with me.
Kids are fearless. They want to do something, anything from drawing a picture to attempting a somersault on the trampoline or a 360 on their bike. They are fearless, they try it. They fail; they get back up and do it again. Because they don’t know what fear is until society teaches them that failure is bad.
Have you ever seen a child fall down, and start to cry, then realize no one was rushing up and cooing and making sure he was okay, then stop crying? Society has taught us that we need to always show only the good, only the end result, and that the journey, the learning, the failures, are something to be hidden. And I disagree.
I look back on some of my earlier writing, and I see that it’s not my best, but you know what? It’s a learning process. When I finished WICKED, which was my fourth story for Berkley, in my mind, at that time, it was my best work ever.
When I’m done each story, I hope to feel that way, but it doesn’t always happen. That doesn’t mean I stop trying.
You need to realize that what you are writing now does not have to be perfect to be good, or engaging, or even great! It just has to be best you can do right now. That means you have to try, and that means ignoring any fears you have, and doing what you want …which is to write.
The good news is, you can turn it around by using your fear. Once you acknowledge it, it loses a lot of its power. As long as you don’t feed it. That means, stop giving in to it. It means focus on the goal, eyes on the prize. We all have fears, find what yours is, introduce yourself, acknowledge it, and then slam the door on it.
Denial has always worked well for me.
And for fun…
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!