Tuesday, July 22

Reviewed

I have always prided myself on being honest. I don't lie. Unfortunately, my honesty gets me in trouble sometimes. I'm not one of those people who hides mean or nasty behind "honesty". But I tell the truth.


Even on reviews.


A few days ago, I picked up a new to me author. I loved her book so much, I tracked her down on Facebook to tell her so. She didn't have an author page, so I friended her to tell her how much I liked her book and to ask about the next one.


Immediately, she asked for a review.  I had planned to leave one anyway, but with a sigh, I headed to Amazon and all the other usual spots and wrote my reviews.


I'm a lifelong rider. Been around horses, cattle and the mountains all my life. I'm extremely picky about details and I can spot bullshit a mile away. One of the reasons I don't read a lot of other western writers. A LOT of them fake knowledge and I don't like it. I don't write about jets, do I?


I left a 5 STAR review with glowing words about how I loved the book and how I was going to look for the next one. I commented on two small details that I didn't like, but they weren't biggies.


Imagine my surprise when I got a message from the author COMPLAINING about the review.


It made me not want to do another one. Ever. For anyone.


Have you ever been in this position? How did you handle it?

Monday, July 21

To conference...or not

           I’m not going to RWA’s National Conference in San Antonio. I haven’t been to a national conference since the year it was in Chicago. It was so much fun and I’d love to go again. To hear the wonderful speakers and schmooze in the bar with old friends, new friends, and ones I haven’t met yet. I’d love to wear cool shoes—well, I love the thought of cool shoes; I hate wearing them. I’d love to wear cool clothes, at least four or five sizes smaller than my actual size. I’d love to take home lots of cool free books—well, send them home.
          But I’m not going this year. Maybe next year or…no. Although New York City is closer for me than Orlando, Denver, or San Diego, it’s still over 1000 miles and an expensive flight. The truth is if I went to National, I’d spend such a large percentage of my writing earnings that I’m not sure there’d be enough money left to pay the accountant come tax time.
          While I freely admit I don’t make enough money writing to live on, the idea of spending virtually all of it on a conference is horrifying to me.
          So I will stay with the small ones, the regional ones. I had more fun at Chicago’s Spring Fling this year than I’d ever had at a conference. This November I’ll go to a retreat in a huge house with 20 or writers and a ton of great food. Next year in April, I’m going to Indiana RWA’s mini-conference featuring Lani Diane Rich  and Alastair Stephens. I will miss some things by not going to National, but I’ll gain some, too.
          I hope everyone at the conference has a great time, I hope those on the lookout for editors and agents find them, I hope someone has a rum and Coke with a twist of lime for me as they’re hanging out in the bar. I wish good luck to all Golden Heart and RITA finalists. I will be—honesty makes me admit this, drat it—so jealous during conference time. I will wish I was there. I will say maybe next year, but I won’t mean it. The crowds overwhelm me and the costs horrify my frugal Midwestern soul and checkbook. Though there are things in the San Antonio conference I want—I’d love to meet my Carina Press editor face-to-face and go to the Harlequin party—there is nothing I need.
          So, tell us—how do you feel about conferences? About big ones, small ones, and everything in between. 

Friday, July 18

Another Year

Saturday, I'll be forty-seven years old. Kicking fifty in the behind. Sometimes it bothers me. Most of the time it doesn't.This year, hubby took me to New Orleans. I write this blog fresh from a great night in the Big Easy. I got to eat oysters at the Acme oyster house, something I always wanted to do. A complete stranger recited a love poem to me on the street (that was weird) another stranger asked if he could be my second husband (more weird) and I took pictures with all kinds of  characters (that was fun!) 

But the highlight of my first day in New Orleans was when my husband gave me a gift bag with a big grin on his face. Inside was a framed certificate that a star had been named after me. Along with it was a star chart showing its location. It was the perfect gift. I love gifts like that. 

When he does things like that it restores my faith in romance. As writers we're sometimes encouraged to write what we know. What do I know? I know what it feels like to be loved. And I'm glad I get to experience it for another year.

Thursday, July 17

Telling A Story

I was writing at B&N the other day and at an adjacent table I heard two younger women in their twenties discussing writing.

Actually I only heard one girl talking as the other girl seemed to be a mentor or something.

But the younger one--let's call her Gabby--was talking about her work-in-process in exacting detail. I know, from the tidbits I heard, that there was some sort of alien royalty and swords involved.

I remember when I used to TALK my books to death. I'd tell anyone who'd listen--my poor, supportive family--of everything I "intended" to write.

Therein likes the kicker. I talked more about the story than I actually wrote towards the book.

I know I'm taking a big leap here--Gabby may well have a completed draft of her alien royalty tomb done. But, just listening to her reminded me of my younger, naive self.

I had so many "great" ideas that I soon bored with. Once I "told" the story a few times, I was no longer interested in writing about it.

Today, when people ask me what I'm working on, I give the cliff-notes version:

A college senior cleans out her grandmother's house only to discover a well of family secrets.

or: The identical twin of a suspected terrorist tries to get on with her life while proving her sister's innocence. I think this might become my logline and I just drafted it for this piece. Yay, me ;)

And finally: A 16yo boy enters witness protection only to discover that his new town is comprised of Witsec refugees and their handlers. And there's paintball. Lots of paintball.

And now I'm going to excuse myself so I can get back to writing while the words flow from my fingers and ideas are ripe for the plucking. 

Wednesday, July 16

Where The Journey Takes Us

Most of you know that my background is in television news. I was a reporter and anchor as well as a producer for both morning and evening news shows for many years. All those years telling other people's stories, watching their actions and seeing the results really helped me define who I was in the grand scheme of things. It also showed me the kinds of characters I wanted to write about from a fictional standpoint.

For me, writing is all about the journey. Every character has a story to tell, but for me the story is less about Point A and Point B than the journey getting from one point to another, and I don't think that journey has to change every single thing about the person.

Take my favorite movie heroine: Tally Atwater from 'Up Close and Personal'. She was a horrible reporter, a horrible journalist in the beginning. She was afraid of the camera, she didn't know what to say, she focused on all of the wrong elements.

In news, as in fiction, the story is about the facts, but more importantly how those facts impact the person. For Tally, in 'real' life she was the lifeline. She raised her sister, she paid the bills. She knew if they were going to get anywhere she was going to have to take them. She was afraid of all that responsibility and that fear held her back - at least at first - from what she really wanted. And then, in the middle of a crisis, she found herself in front of the camera...but more than that, she learned who she was behind the camera, too. It changed how she approached not only her job but her life.

It's the same in real life. Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees standing in our way. And it's the same in my fiction. I like a strong heroine. A woman who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it...but that strength needs to be tempered with a little fear, otherwise there is no journey. As with Tally from my favorite movie, the journey showcases that inner turmoil which builds into a strength that cannot be broken.

What about you - what is your favorite part of a story? The journey? Or something else?