Archive for January, 2010
Sunday, January 31st, 2010 by Sasha White
The random number generator picked number 29 so The Winner from yesterdays Anniversary giveaway is Jeanette Juan.
Congratulations, Jeanette. Please use the CONTACT link on my personal site to let me know what three books you’d like, and to send me your snail mail informtion. You have one week to claim your prize, or I’ll pick another winner.
Rosemary Clement -Moore’s book Highway to Hell made the American Library Association’s 2010 List of Best Books for Young Adults. Highway to Hell is the third Maggie Quinn book, and the series isa favorite for many! YAY, Rosemary!!
Saturday, January 30th, 2010 by Sasha White
So… It was a year ago on January 19 that Genreality was born. We’ve ha our ups and downs, a few changes here and there over the year, but all-in-all I think it’s been fantastic. I’d like to celebrate. I’d like you to celebrate. And what better way to do that than with free books?
ANY THREE BOOKS YOU WANT.
Yes, there is a catch. The catch is any three books you want that are written by a Genreality Author. That means any book that is written by Carrie Vaughn, Joseph Nassise, Bob Mayer, Candace Havens, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Charlene Teglia and myself Sasha White. This also includes books by Alison Kent, Jason Pinter, and Lynn Viehl, who are no longer contributors, but who were a huge part of the blog from day one. The winner chooses them, and I will order them from Amazon, and have them shipped right to your door.
I think thats’s not a bad deal. What about you? Have you been following the blog and been curious about one of the authors here? Or are you perhaps a fan of any/all of us? Now’s your chance to get a book you might’ve heard about here for free.
All you have to do to enter, is wish us a happy anniversary in the comments.
I’ll post the winners name tomorrow- Sunday- so you have 24 hours to enter!
***I’m sorry to say this giveaway is only available to residents of Canada and the U.S.***
Friday, January 29th, 2010 by Charlene Teglia
Writing can be a very scary process. But something I’ve learned from experience is that if a project scares you, it’s probably good.
This doesn’t make working through the fear easier. One of the hardest things to do is nailing yourself to the chair and writing in spite of the fear. And on the flip side, just because something makes you laugh out loud, energizes you, makes you sniffle or is the most fun you can imagine to write doesn’t mean it’s no good because it wasn’t hard or scary.
Fear just happens in the writing process. Like the bogeyman, it pops out unexpectedly. It’s actually often worst for me AFTER I’ve written, rather than during. During I’m pretty good at tying the inner critic up, gagging it and stuffing it in a locked trunk. After, the critic pops out and screams all the things I didn’t let it say during writing. Which makes finishing something really fun.
My coping mechanism for this kind of post-project meltdown is pretty much to shut my mind off by focusing on something I really love, a book I’ve been looking forward to from a favorite author, episodes of Firefly, something that will capture my attention and give me a positive experience. And then I throw myself into writing something else, because writing is much more fun than angsting over what I’ve written.
But sometimes the act of writing is scary because you’ve hit on something important. Something about that scene really matters on a deep level. You’re revealing a truth that’s uncomfortable and the fear wells up. How to get past it and write anyway?
You can start by separating yourself from what you write. What your characters say and do are not reflections of you. (This is assuming we’re talking about fiction.) If it’s true for Character X, that’s all it has to be. But for the story to work you need all of X’s truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, no matter how much it may personally squick you out or how much you may disagree. So your characters may do things that are Not Nice. This is a big one, I think especially for women, because that whole Be A Nice Girl thing is so drilled into us.
Nice, to be blunt, is boring. Nice characters who only say and do nice things do not create compelling conflict on the page. Bring on the Not Nice. Welcome it. It’s a good sign.
But if you write about a topic or a character who isn’t nice, won’t somebody think YOU are Not Nice? Maybe. It’s a risk. At which point you have to ask yourself what’s more important. That everybody think of you as a Nice Girl, or to be the best writer you can be?
Nice is a straitjacket. Don’t worry about being nice. Worry about being good. It’s more important. Fear tends to evaporate when confronted, so recognize the fear and then write anyway. Everybody experiences fear at some point in the writing life, the trick is to not let it stop you.
Charlene Teglia is the author of multiple romances for multiple publishers. Her most recent release, Claimed by the Wolf (Dec. 09 St. Martin’s) is in stores now.
Thursday, January 28th, 2010 by Candace Havens
I get this way every time a book is about to come out. Well, one of my books. I have trouble sleeping. I think about stupid things like: Will the book sell? Will people love the characters as much as I do? Will they get into the story? The truth is, I can’t control any of that.
Of course I want the book to do well. Who wouldn’t? It’s my first time out with a new publisher and I want to impress. I’ve done my bit. Worked on promo, although it never quite feels like enough, and I’m tweeting, updating facebook and blogging all over the place.
You may hear stories of writers who don’t worry about their books coming out, but I have a feeling they are lying. I’m the last person to judge, but I don’t know how you can be successful in this business and not worry about it. Before you’re published you think that all that matters is selling the book to the publisher, but there is so much more.
But the writing really is the only thing we can control. When I feel like jumping on Ozzie’s Crazy Train, I ask myself two questions. Did you write a book you enjoy? Do you love the book? The answer is always yes. I can’t turn something in that I don’t believe in. I’ve created characters I want to spend more time with and that’s always a good sign. And I wrote a spy story that I’ve always wanted to write.
I’m happy with the book. I just want it to sell really well so I can do more. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
But back to that train. The best way to stay off it is to constantly move forward. I’m already two books ahead of the one that is coming out. And I’m contracted to write three more Blazes. So when the scary stuff bothers me, I think about the future.
Yes, you say, but what if you don’t have a new contract yet? You keep writing. I’ve been there too. Sometimes with Berkley I went close to a year between contracts. I just kept writing.
I was talking to a friend the other day who was upset about someone, who is at the same level as her in the publishing world, getting a huge world tour. That person also had special placement in stores and all kinds of advertising. My friends argument, was why not me? I get it. But we can’t control that stuff. It’s a combo of a pushy editor/publisher and a marketing department that thinks they can make big bucks, and sheer dumb luck most of the time.
So, when you ask what I’m doing these days. I’ll tell you trying to finish the first draft on a YA and then I’m jumping headfirst into the next Blaze, which I’m super excited about. Oh, and I’ll be doing book signings (Feb. 6, Hurst Texas, B&N, 2 p.m., you better be there) and blogging about TAKE ME IF YOU DARE. But most of the time I’ll be writing, because that is really all that matters.
What makes you crazy and how to you get through it? Tell me, I really want to know.
Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 by Bob Mayer
Since my last blog post was about fear, I figured it was time to talk about courage. First though, here is a list of fears writers have that I have compiled from the blog and from my Warrior Writer workshops:
The fears of writers:
Fear of failure
Fear of success
Fear of rejection
Fear of starting
Fear of finishing
Fear of revealing too much about ourselves
Fear of criticism
Fear of making the wrong decision
Fear of having hit one’s peak
Fear of making a mistake
Fear if not being good enough
Fear of the business
Fear of having regrets
To me, the last one is the worst. Regrets are terrible things to have. Yet often our fear brings about what we will regret.
What is COURAGE?
The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger with self-possession, confidence, and resolution,
The ability to do something that frightens one.
Strength in the face of pain or grief.
Ultimately, courage is acting in the face of fear.
To find my fears, I have to be honest with myself. I have to rip away my denial. I have found that some things I thought I was strong at, are actually hiding my greatest weaknesses. This is because most fear is subconscious.
There are times when we use fear to try to ‘control’ our world. If we are afraid of something, there is a part of us that thinks the fear keeps that bad thing from happening. It’s crazy thinking, but almost everyone does it. If I stay terrified throughout the flight, the plane won’t crash. As if our fear had that power.
So how do I defeat fear with courage?
First, acknowledge my fears exist. Then I try to find the true cause of my fears.
To exercise courage, I must act. There are three steps to change: Moment of enlightenment; decision; sustained action. I used to think the last step was the hardest, but I’ve learned differently. Looking at myself, I’ve learned that I am very good at sustained action—my main problem is making decisions. So I have to take that into account when taking action.
Living with fear is ultimately worse than confronting it with courage.
Some things that can help you: Put long-term goals ahead of short term goals. This is especially important as a writer, because publishing is such a slow business. Keep your eye on your goal while you struggle through each day.
Write not only what you know—maybe write what you are afraid to know.
Expand your comfort zone by venturing into your courage zone. Every day try to do something that you dislike doing, but need to do. Action is the only way to grow courage. If you’re introverted, talk to a stranger every day. If you’re a practical person, do something intuitive every day. Do the opposite of your Myers-Briggs character.
PICK ONE FLAW AND ONE POSITIVE ACT THAT WOULD CHALLENGE YOU TO FACE THAT BLIND SPOT, ACT IN THE FACE OF FEAR, AND ENTER YOUR COURAGE ZONE.
FOR THE NEXT WEEK, DO THIS ONE POSITIVE ACT EVERY DAY. BY THE END OF THE WEEK, YOUR COMFORT ZONE WILL HAVE INCREASED.
In the army at Ranger school they teach the correct way to defeat an ambush if you are caught in one. Your patrol is walking along a trail and suddenly you are fired upon from the right. Your instinct is to jump in the convenient ditch to the left. The problem is, if the ambush is set up correctly—that ditch is mined and you’ll die if you do that. Your next instinct is to just hit the ground. Except you’re in the kill zone and if you stay there, well, you’ll get killed. The third thing you’ll want to do is run forward or back on the trail to get out of the kill zone. Except, if the ambush is done right, the heaviest weapons are firing on either end of the kill zone. And you’ll die.
The correct solution is the hardest choice because it requires courage: you must turn right and assault into the ambushing force. It is the only way to not only survive, but win.
Whatever your fears are, you must assault into them.
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 by Sasha White
Joe didn’t make it today so I’m stepping in with something from the archives of my personal blog-something that I needed to read and remember and I thought you might enjoy as well.
From July 4th, 2008
I’m not one of those writers who says, “I’ve always wanted to be a writer.” Or, “I wrote my first story in grade school, and knew I would write for the rest of my life.” I’ve always been anavid reader, and I can remember in High school I once thought “Someday I’d like to write a book.” But that was about it.
Then, when I was in my mid twenties, I started to thnk about writing once again. I love to travel, and I thought if I could find a way to get paid to travel, it would be the perfect job. So I took a magazine writing course (One of those night school continuing education ones) and then started on an article about my trip to Nepal.
Of course, then work got busy and the article sat unfinished for six years. Then, six years ago, when I decided I didn’t want to be a bartender forever, and I didn’t want to own my own pub, my mind went back to writing. With a little guidance from a mentor, I started writing erotica…and haven’t stopped since.
If you’ve read a couple of my stories I’m sure you’ll find a blend of heat levels from sensual to hard core erotic. Some have a traditional HEA, some don’t, although all have a romance in them to some degree.
I know some readers get upset when they read a book labeled Erotic Romance and it doesn’t have a traditional HEA, but in my mind, not having a traditional HEA is better than forcing an ending to the story that isn’t natural to the characters.
Maybe I’m rebelling against all those harlequin romances I read when I was growing up, where the secretary and the billion dollar business tycoon end up happily ever after. Maybe I’m just more realistic because of 19 years in the hospitality industry, and seeing so many couples fight, cheat, and divorce. It could be a blend of both. The thing is, I do believe in HEA, and in my mind, my characters all have them, they just might not have them in the space of the story.
Take Devil’s Jewel for instance. It’s a category length story in SEXY DEVIL, and in my mind it’s erotic (even though it isn’t liberally peppered with sex scenes) and it’s romantic, even though the hero and heroine aren’t planning a wedding at the end. But the story takes place over a three-day time span. There’s a lot that goes on, and they know they want to be together more, and all that, but would you, as a reader, really want to see them planning marriage and babies? Yes, a certain amount of unbelievability is allowed – I mean, the hero is a mind reader who hunts things that go bump in the night – but then again, there will be a sequel, and the characters will be back…so is that enough?
In BOUND, it was a first person POV, and truly Katie’s story. It was all about her journey. I still get reader letters about how much they love Joe (the hero) and so far only reviewers have been the ones to mention wanting to have the hero’s POV. But to me, it wasn’t needed, because the story was about Katie. Did that take away from the romance? I don’t think so. I wanted to the reader to go on that ride with Katie, the fall in love, what the hell am I doing sort of ride.
I can go on and on and list examples of different levels and reasons behind why I write the way I write, but I think the truth of it is simple. I write the story as I feel it is meant to be told. Be it, first person POV, or multiple third person. It could be full of hot and sweaty wrestlin’ between the sheets, or full of tension and potential.
Why am I trying to make this point? Because I’ve been reading a lot in the last few months. And I’m sad to say, I’m not enjoying the majority of what I read. Plenty of great ideas, and story premise, but in my opinion, a lot of the books have lacked that magic I want. The story telling magic that draws the reader in a hooks me, and makes me laugh out loud, cry, or even call a lover and invite him over.
I’ve been thinking about it, and I figure too many writers out there are becoming overly-analytical in how they disect what they need to include in a story. I think that so many writers are delving into their craft books and studying and learning and trying so hard to do things right, that they are forgetting the most important thing. It’s all about staying true to the character, and the story – even if that means doing something the craft books, or the reviewers, or the bloggers who tear apart every book out there, tell you not too.
On the other hand, I’ve also been read some books recently where the author is obviously trying to break the rules. Trying to do what is completely unexpected and never been done. I love to see writers push the envelope, and go for it, but at the same time…sometimes doing things just to do them is just as bad as doing them because you’re told you can’t.
There is always an exception to the rule, any rule. But only if you are staying true to the character and the story, and not just doing it to break the rules. To me, the magic of the a good story comes from the heart of the storyteller, not the mechanics of a story.
Do good stories have good mechanics? Yes. Learning the craft of writing is important. Learning about what is selling is important to building a career. I’m not saying don’t do these things, but it’s all a balancing act. It’s important to not to let those mechanics take over the story. It’s a talent for the author to know when to quit mucking with a story, and let the magic shine through. Over thinking and over-editing can kill that magic.
I’m certainly not an authority on writing. Yes, I’m an author, and I feel I have some knowledge, and can form an educated opinion on many aspects of the craft and this business. Therefor, I just wanted to throw out my best advice to others who want to write, or who do write. That advice is: Realize that all those craft books, and workshops and lectures you read/attend, are only other people opinions. What they say will not always be right for what you do…so follow your heart, and to have faith in the story you want to tell, and what YOU can do.
Monday, January 25th, 2010 by Carrie Vaughn
“Aim high. You may still miss the target, but at least you won’t shoot your foot off.”
– Miles Vorkosigan.
John Scalzi has coined this term — Aspiring Writer Stockholm Syndrome — which I love. Stockholm Syndrome describes a process by which kidnapping victims come to sympathize with and defend their kidnappers/abusers. It’s said to come about through the victim’s perceived dependence on the abuser for their very life.
Scalzi used the term to describe why many aspiring writers seem so willing to put up with the worst kind of crap. Giving their work away for free, falling for scams, and so on. All in a belief that that’s “just how it’s done.” That they have to do those things in order to work their way up in the industry.
I don’t want to rehash the huge discussion of fiction magazine pay rates that led up to and followed Scalzi addressing this. But I’d like to discuss one issue that came out of all this, because it’s a publishing myth I’ve been combating for years.
The argument was presented that new writers — especially trying to break into the short story market — needed to have some kind of publishing credits before they could be taken seriously by more prestigious, higher-paying markets. This is often presented as a catch-22: you can’t get published without an agent, but you can’t land an agent until you’ve been published! You need publishing credits in order to get published, but how are you supposed to get publishing credits until you’ve been published! And so on.
Lies. Damned lies. All of it. You don’t need publishing credits, you don’t need a foot in the door or a secret handshake. You just need a good manuscript that someone in the right place wants to buy.
We all know writers who broke in without having a single credit to their name. All of us could make a list. I know writers who published their first science fiction short stories in Asimov’s Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction — two of the most prestigious markets in the field. And the noob writer will say, “Yes, sure there are some examples, but they’re so rare!”
Yes, they’re rare. Because it takes a huge amount of work and patience to break in at the top. But if you want a career as a writer, please consider breaking in at the top. If that’s where you want to be, that’s where you shoot for. Don’t settle for less, thinking you need to work your way up.
The solution to getting publishing credits for some writers is to give their stories away for free to virtually unknown publications. But publishing credits are like agents — a bad one is worse than not having one at all. If you list twenty short story credits on your cover letter, but the editor of the high-paying magazine you send your next new story to hasn’t heard of any of them, they’re not going to be encouraged. In fact, they may even think, “Here’s someone who settled.” Compare this to what they might think about a clean manuscript with no publishing credits listed: “Ah, this could be anything. Maybe I’ll discover the next big name!” Also consider: if you’re being rewarded by sales to no-paying or low-paying markets, how hard are you really going to work to make your writing better?
The reason it took me ten years to sell a short story is that I only sent my work to professional, paying markets. It took me that long to learn to write well enough to sell to those markets. I didn’t want to screw around in the bush leagues. I wanted to be a pro. It wasn’t enough for me to see my name in print. I wanted my work to be read. That’s an important criteria to consider when looking for markets to send your work to — does anyone actually read this market? Beside the editor and other contributors?