Archive for the 'Sasha’s Posts' Category
Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 by Sasha White
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the best writers group/organization I’ve ever belonged to is Romance Divas. It’s not really an organization, or even a group. It’s truly a community of writers of all levels from NYT Bestsellers to those who have yet to write finish their first story, and everyone is there for everyone.
It’s about more than the business of writing, or the craft. It’s about those things, but it’s also about being there for each other, sharing and cheering, commiserating and venting as well.
On the weekend one author posted a little story about how she started out. How she subbed and subbed to agents and editors and kept getting rejections, but they were all those ones that say things like “I love it, but it’s not for me.” Or “I really enjoyed it, but it’s not right for us at this time.” Y’know, things like that. Anyway,she then talked about how she was going to quit writing, give up. But she couldn’t. So when she started writing again, she really thought about what her strengths were, and building form there instead of concentrating on what what selling, or what others were doing. And of course she found the success she’d been looking for.
This reminded me of one of the NightOwl workshops I’d done at the 2010 Ninc conference and how great I felt after that workshop, so I tried it again. I emailed some friends and said “Hey, do me a favor and tell me what you think my strengths as a writer are.”
Everyone had the same answer. My strength is writing well developed, realistic characters, realistic situations, and great sex scenes. I’m not going to share what they said my weaknesses are, because they hit that on the head and I feel exposed.:oops:
What they said about strengths is what I also thought of as my own strengths, so no real surprises there. Which was both nice, and a bit disappointing. (Yes, weird I know.LOL ) Strangely enough, a couple of them also touched on one of my own secret desires in my writing. Again I’m not going to say what it is is just yet, but hopefully someday I’ll be able to shout if out as a success. The best thing about being reassured of what my strengths are is that those strengths can be easily applied to any genre or sub-genre I want to explore.
Now, on The Voice (Australia) last night I watched while Seal coached one of his singers and he was talking about helping that singer “find your pocket”, as in your niche, and your comfort zone where you feel strong, and are strong. I liked this.
You see, I’d always assumed that erotic fiction was my “pocket”, but like all creative people I often find myself wanting to stretch beyond the limits of that pocket. It was a comfort to get the reinforcement on what my strengths are from others because now I look at them, and think “Yes!” Because my pocket is creating well developed realistic characters, situations, and great sex scenes and that means I can pretty much write in any genre or sub-genre I want, and still be in that pocket.
Of course if I were to write thrillers the great sex scenes wouldn’t be needed as much as they are when I wrote erotic. If I choose to delve deeper into paranormal then maybe I don’t want my situations to be as realistic as they are in contemporaries, but that’s okay. Because all those elements can be flipped around, and used in different ratios, and I’d still be in that pocket. Especially when, in my opinion, the well developed characters is the most important element.
So I’m wondering, how many of you have really sat down and thought about what your strengths are? Have you asked critique partners or readers what they thought your strengths were…and were the answers the same?
If you haven’t done this, I say give it a try. I found it a comfort, and you might to…. you also might be surprised.
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 by Sasha White
I’ve always been someone who struggles to meet my word counts. It seems like no matter how hard I try, how much I plan, or what length of story I’m striving to write I tend to come up short on my goal count. I’m not a fan of adding things like plenty of description, or even sex scenes, just for the sake of word counts. I prefer things that move the move the story forward, or at the very least, flesh it out a bit.
One of the things *I* look at when I’m short and know I have to add words is if there is any where I can develop a character more by turning something small into a bit more.
Example: When I first wrote TROUBLE this was how this part was written.
Bodies brushed against her as she walked, and Samair felt alive for the first time in a long while, almost as if she were wakeing from a deep sleep. Stepping up to the bar she smiled at the bartender and ordered a tequila and water. The sexy Goth chic made the drink and accepted the payment, winking at Samair when she was told to keep the change.
Glass in hand she started the stroll around the club. A tingle of awareness danced up her spine and she looked over her shoulder but saw no one following her. She continued to walk around the club, heading for the dance floor, unable to shake the feeling that someone was watching her in the packed crowd of the busy club.
That’s 127 words… Now, I tend to edit as I go, so the next day before I started writing I went over the day before’s work to edit, and changed it to this….
Bodies brushed against her as she walked, and Samair felt alive for the first time in a long while. Almost as if she were waking from a deep sleep.
She watched the couple behind the bar as they mixed drinks for the crowd. The male bartender was tall, slim and clean cut while the girl was the complete opposite with vivid purple streaks throughout her black hair, heavy eye make-up, and black lipstick.
Despite being the odd-couple, it was clear they got along as they worked well in a synchronized dance behind the bar. When she was up, Samair ordered her drink and decided to do things the easy way. “Is Joey Kent here tonight?”
“Joey’s here somewhere.” Purple and black curls bobbed as the bartender squeezed a lime in Samair’s drink. “If you can’t find her in the crowd, wait ten minutes and you’ll see her in one of the cages. She never breaks for long.”
That sounded like the Joey she knew. Full of fire and never far from a dance floor.
“Thanks.” Samair put a ten-dollar bill down and picked up her drink. “Keep the change.”
“Anytime, sweetness,” she replied with a wink and a grin that was completely at odds with her dark Goth look.
Glass in hand, Samair started the stroll around the club. A tingle of awareness danced up her spine and she looked over her shoulder, but saw nothing unusual. She continued her walk around the club, heading for the dance floor, unable to shake the feeling that someone was watching her through the packed crowd.
Now, it’s 266 words. Not a huge thing, but if you do something like this in a few places throughout the story, it makes a difference.
I did something like this again later in the story, using the bartender in a short scene with the hero (who owns the bar) to show a specific aspect of the hero. The funny thing, Kelsey, the bartender, ended up being the heroine in a later book. (MY PREROGATIVE) Which goes to show you that sometimes the little things not only improve your word count, and help round things out, but they can be a blessing later on.
Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 by J.A. Pitts
Blogs are a funny thing. I feel like they’ve completely replaced the Dear Diary of generations gone by. Pretty much anyone over the age of has a blog of some sort, where they post their daily rambling about school, food, sports, sex, relationships, politics, religion, books, movies, music, cars, war, peace, rallies, government and business. The list is really only limited to the imaginations of the blogger in question.
And sometimes, only that blogger has any idea what the hell they’re talking about. I’ve read blogs that needed a secret decoder ring to understand the hidden meaning buried in the page after page of rambling text. I’ve frequented blogs that are as short as a sentence per post and the meaning was much deeper than other who write volumes.
Blogging is an individual sport that, like most things, is completely and utterly a matter of taste.
My buddy Jay Lake can blog three thousand words a day on top of writing another twenty-five hundred words of prose, plus his regular email, day jobbery, etc.
I struggle to blog, frankly. I’m an introvert who suffers from the notion that my daily goings on are probably too boring to be foisted upon the reading public. I do blog, just infrequently and with great purpose. I have to be moved by a topic on most cases, or I find myself bored with posting.
Funny thing is, when I’m guest blogging that totally flips for me. I love guest blogging. I feel like I’m funnier, more salient and generally enjoy the experience. I have deadlines, I know when I’m supposed to write something and frequently I’ll have a topic or theme to work with. This makes it oh, so much easier for me to blog.
On my own blog, I’m in charge of the content, I’m in charge of the deadline, and without that external driver, I just don’t blog frequently. I’d love to have the drive of John Scalzi or Elizabeth Bear. I’d love to be as funny as Jim Hines or gee whiz informational as IO9 or Boing Boing.
I’m a fiction writer. I spend my days in the soup of story and character. I think about Norse gods and giants, black smiths and social ramifications of killing dragons in a modern world. Thinking about something to post on my blog rarely surfaces through the layer upon layer of story I carry around in my head. So, thankfully, there are awesome blogs like Genreality, Tor.com, Grasping for the Wind, SF Signal, SFFWorld, Ranting Dragon, the Skiffy and Fanty Show (also a podcast) and a whole host of book bloggers, science bloggers, culture warriors, political wonks and generalists to keep me and the world entertained and informed. Unfortunately they could also take every ounce of free time I have and keep me fascinated and engaged — but not writing. I have to strike a balance between curiosity and obsession.
But the fiction comes first after the day job, the family and a modicum of sleep. Blogging is a lower priority for me, but once I’ve done it, I’m always relieved. It’s a great feeling expressing oneself publicly. I just need to make sure my fly is buttoned and I have my sunscreen on before stepping into the limelight.
Tuesday, May 1st, 2012 by Sasha White
“Some people dream of worthy accomplishments while others stay awake and do them.”
Years ago I had a calendar full of motivational sayings. You know the kind that has an image of some extreme sport or something awe inspiring, and then a saying for Determination, or Goals, or whatever. I got rid of the calendar at the end of the year, but I kept one page from it. The page for EFFORT, and it has the above quote on it. That calendar page is pinned to my cork board and directly in front of me when I sit at my desk. Sounds motivational, right? But sometimes it’s hard to see what’s right in front of you.
It’s May 1st today, and, as usual, I’ve set myself some goals for this month. The difference? I’m seeing what’s in front of me.
What am I seeing?
Hard work- I have three main goals, none of them easy. I have a book to write, weight to lose, and bad habits to quit. SOunds like every day life, right? That’s because it is. But in all honesty, I’ve been slacking for a while. a long while. I kept saying I’m going to lose weight. I keep saying I’m going to write (and I do,but they’ve been short stories, not novels) I keep quitting my bad habits, but they keep coming back. (Damn that Diet Dr.Pepper. It will just not leave me alone!)
So what’s going to be different this month than every other time I’ve tried to do these things? Me. I’m tired of myself. I’m tired of my own excuses. It’s time tho admit that trying to d things the smart way, (tackle on issue at a time) is like plotting for me. No weather how much I want to do it, no matter that I know in my mind it would make life easier to do things that way…it just does not work for me.
Someone told me earlier this month to embrace my chaos. Stop trying to rein it in, and just go with it. Use it…and it got me thinking. You know what I think? I like it.
One of the keys to success in anything you do, no matter what your career, what you r dreams, what your goals..is knowing your weaknesses so you can compensate for them. Another of the keys to success…knowing your strengths, so you can use them.
Being able to work well under pressure or amidst chaos has always been a strength of mine. For a while there eI thought I needed that to work well, but I’ve proven I don’t. I can work without the pressure, without the chaos…I don’t need it. But it is time to admit I like it. I work better when I stop trying to do the things they way they should be done, and just do them the way I want to…which is pretty much anyway I can.
Does any of this make sense?
Here’s an example. For the last year or so I’ve been trying to seriously turn around my night owl habits. I’ve been getting up every morning (almost) between 9 and 10 am, and sitting at my computer and forcing myself to work. I know this sounds pretty easy going to most people, but you have to understand I’ve been a night shift worker for over 20 years. For more than 20 years, I never went to bed before 3:30 in the morning without being sick. Getting up at 10 was normal, though. I’ve thought that if I could go to bed before 2, I’d be able to get up earlier, work all day like a normal person, and have my nights for moves, reading, friends…. ANd I can do that, but it hasn’t given me at my best. I hate mornings. I can’t focus and it’s time to accept that while I can work, and get things done that way, I can get a hell of a lot more done, and done better, if I stick with what works for me. I’m a night owl, my creative brain , hell my brain period, works better after I’ve been awake for at least 6 or 7 hours. So, I’m not longer going to feel guilty if I get up, and start reading a book before I do anything else for the day. Even if that means staying up until 4 AM to hit my works count goal.
So my motto for this month…Embrace the chaos, and get it done.
Now tell me…do you have a personal motto? If not, think about it. *g* If you do…What is it? Share with me, please.
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 by Sasha White
I’ve never been a plotter. When I write a synopsis for an unwritten book, it resembles a back cover blurb. My brain just shuts down and my imagination freezes when I try to think too far ahead in a story. And yet, when I started selling to NY publishers, I was urged by people who knew I wanted to build a career, and not just sell a book or two, to come up with a series idea. And of course, I froze. A series? Uhmm, I can’t even plot one book let alone a series!
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t come up with a series idea. Everything sounded idiotic, or had been done, or my ideas could cover one book, but no way could they cover a series. I just couldn’t do it. I got down, I got a bit depressed, and I resigned myself to writing stand alone books. What was the big deal? Sure the trend was trilogies, or series, but the trend isn’t always the way to go. Especially if your mind is like mine, and it doesn’t always follow the same path everyone else’s does. Besides, plenty of authors have built careers on stand alone books. Yet now, almost nine years later, I look at the novels I’ve written and surprise, surprise, I see not one series, but Two!
And guess what? I’m actually aiming to continue one.
Okay, I admit it, everything you’ve read in this post before now was actually written in a post I wrote 5 years ago, All I did was change the 4 years to almost nine years…So what does that tell you? I know what it tells me.
I’m not a plotter. Seriously, what drew me to re-reading my old post was the fact that I’m trying to outline three more books in my Dungeon series and I’ve been struggling a bit. I know which characters I want to write, and I think I know what the stores will sort of be, and thats usually enough. Only this time I’m stuck because I can;t decide what order they should be in. Isn’t that silly? Part of it is that I know which one calls to me right now, and it’s not the one I’d “planned ” as the first one. I’d gotten myself so tangled up in planning that I forgot that for me, the best thing to do is get writing, and true that it’ll work out. AFter all. Thats been my way all along, and it’s worked pretty well. There’s a damn good chance the stories I’m planning will never happen, but that doesn’t mean I won’t come up with connected stories that will be better than anything I’ve planned. After all, it’s happened before.
From my old post….
The first single title I ever wrote was BOUND, and in it was a ‘throw-away” character named Karl. Karl was just a guy that hit on the heroin in the bar one night. A hot guy she was attracted to sure, but he wasn’t a planned character. He was just something that needed to happen for the heroine to figure some things out. When I wrote the next single title for Berkley,(TROUBLE) a totally unrelated story, Karl turned up again, as the hero’s best friend. Half way through TROUBLE, I contacted my editor and asked her if we could scrap the idea I’d sold her for my third book, so I could write Karl’s story instead. And she said yes. That book is WICKED.
And you know what? WICKED, the completely unplanned, on-the-fly novel, is my bestselling one. Out of everything I’ve published, this book is the one that’s sold the most, and has been nominated for awards. That’s proof enough for me that I need to stop thinking so hard, and trust myself.
Now, to wrap this up..I’ll leave you with the end of my original post..
All of my books stand completely on their own, but at the same time, they tend to be connected by location and secondary characters. And in my mind, it just goes to prove that no matter what craft books, or workshop instructors, or even writer friends say… you don’t have to be a plotter to develop a series.
To this day, I still can not plot a book, let alone a series, but one thing I’ve learned to never forget is that it doesn’t matter what other people tell you can and can’t be done…it only matters what you do!
Friday, April 20th, 2012 by Sasha White
Diana isn’t feeling so hot so I thought I’d drop in and share a few tips that I’ve picked up over the past week. And because I’m trying to very hard not to give in to that 97% (you’ll get that in a minute) I’m going to do it with photos.
Right? This is important. As a reader I hate it when info dumps kill a story, so why would I do it as a writer? It is hard to remember sometimes, but very important.
Get it now? Yes, I love the internet, and it is a big part of my life and career as a writer, but nothing is as important to that part of my life as actually doing the work.
Lastly, and one I think should never be forgotten…
Now, go forth, and write Bravely!
Have a good Friday!
Tuesday, April 17th, 2012 by Sasha White
One of the best things that happens at the Novelist Inc conference is the Night Owl workshops. These are the ones given by authors, for authors. They’re usually interactive and often turn into roundtable discussions and creative energy floating around filling everyone up.
Last October, one of my favorite workshops was one put on by author JoAnn Grote. I can’t even remember what it was supposed to be all about for sure, but what I do remember is when we got talking the topics ranged from author burnout, to dealing with family, to tips to be more productive.
One of my biggest issues is finding the balance in life and writing and promotions. Since promotions, writing, and photography, are all things I do on my computer, I sometimes find separating them even harder. I get wrapped up in playing with photos, or chatting on twitter or with something thats happened int he industry, and then I can’t get into the right state of mind to write. It is a job, I know this. And I need to treat it like a job, I know this, too. Yet, sometimes it gets away from me.
One of the things someone mentioned in that workshop that really stuck with me was about an author they knew who always put on his “writing hat” when he sat down to write. As soon as I heard it, I knew exactly what Hat would be my “writing hat”. It’s a fedora that makes me feel all cool and sassy and sharp. I think it’s way better than the cat up top, but hey, we all need to work with what we have.
*** last week I did a giveaway, and asked y’all to offer up some advice you’d been given in the comments. Thanks so much, I enjoyed reading the comments. Random number generator picked Gabriella Hewitt is the winner. Gabriella, please use this contact link to email me your snail mail address so I can send you your prize. You have one week to collect. ***