Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Order, Chaos, and Killings

I have decided I like order in my life... it has only taken me 50 something years to realise this. - Okay not enough order to make me a plotter... or to follow orders....yeah still have a few problems with that one as LOML will tell you..but oddly enough I am missing my structured writing day.... weird for the last five months (when I'm at home as I travel a bit) I have been writing or researching writing for 6-8 hours a day... now with the rewrite of Witch Hunter's Moon off I feel cast adrfit... to start on the rewrite of my NaNoWriMo is a bit premature so close to Christmas and I leave for New Zealand tomorrow... but I am missing it and killing people off... it really does spice up a day! Okay now the chaos part - packing.... yuck how do three suitcases fit into one? I honestly thought I had posted the presents to everyone in Oz but some how come more have snuck into my bag? Like a dolt I bought son in law the maple syrup he wanted... forgot carryon restrictions - this will be a test for those zip or presslock bags... anyone know how to get maple syrup out of a suitcase?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Rewrite, revision, rewrite

For the last week I have been balancing the festive season demands with my writing, and that has been the revision and rewrite of my wicca-based paranormal. I have found out something interesting over this exercise, and that is the characters I thought I knew inside and out still surprise me and impress me with their growth and development.
So today I posted it off..... phew... now it is back to the NaNoWri Mo book and get it polished up and out there. Can't waste all those words and hours....

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tagged by a fellow Ontarian.

Hmm... I hope I'm doing this right.
Four Jobs I've Had:
First one working in a local toy shop
Kindergarten Teachers Assistant
Four Places I have Lived:
Auckland,New Zealand
Sydney, Australia
Wilton, Connecticut, USA
Makati, Philippines
Four Fav Foods
Anything Thai
Bread and Cheese
Wine... all those calories it has to be food
FOur Movies to Watch over and over and....
All the Lord of the Rings - extended DVD
A Walk in the Clouds
Old musicals - warped I know but I can't help it I was born that way
FOur TV Shows I watch.
The seven year series - 49 UP latest
History Channel
Food Channel - esp Rachel Ray
Four Places I have visited
New Orleans - pre hurricane
St. Petersburg
Niagara Falls - many many times
Four Places I'd like to visit
Galapagus Islands
Four Web Sites I go to daily
None I'm fickle but I visit blogs most days
Mmmm WHo to Tag

Michelle, Gus, Leanne

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Catching up.

Okay, so I 've been slack.... its the run up to Christmas and so had a marathon session of card writing and the Christmas 2006 Epistle .... but each day I have been working on my writing too.
My Paranormal is nearly ready to be sent off to LUNA , and Im on my last run through before my last read through then its off to the copier and then in the mail... 108,000 words so it is not something you pick and put down in a second... but fave reviews back from my unknown readers and not too much rewriting (about my 700th rewrite -ok an exaggeration but it feels like it)... so lets hope I get something fave back from those that matter.
I have been trying to decide which is my most favorite Christmas Carol and my least favorite... and have decided that if I worked in retail I think I would hate them all by the end of Christmas...
I got 'Serenity Christmas' from shoppers Drug Mart... thinking it would calm me down..... it put me to sleep and I got nothing done..... Indigo Remix.... not a good idea if you want to singalong and became really irritating.... Are there any Canadian ones.... does anyone know of one...?
Stuart McLeans - Vinyl Cafe on Sundays 12ish on CBC had me in hysterics ... that guy can write life with a humorous slant..... a lady from Burlington ON had a great story read by him....
Cheers Robyn

Thursday, December 7, 2006

But what about dialogue and the other 'stuff'?

As this is a 'learn as I go'... I soon discovered there was lots of other 'stuff' to consider. Like dialogue, POV (points of view), descriptive passage, etc etc. Don't be put off. Once you start writing it soon becomes obvious - well it did for me when someone said "too much head-hopping". Go figure- I'd never heard of it. (It's number one below).
Yesterday it was the nuts and bolts, i.e., think of your novel like you are building a house, you need frame work, or essential elements(plot, characters, conflict and theme) for a story, today I'm going to add to that list. Groan, go on I did too.
All I wanted to do was write a novel... how hard can that be.... yeah right!
These are other essentials you need to practice for these help bind plot, character, conflict and theme together. Here, that daily practice of writing is a good habit to develop. They are like the 'and' or 'linking' words that brings it all together in your own unique way.

These include,
  1. Point of View - whose head you are in when you read the story, 1st person, 3rd person or omnipotent (all seeing). Jumping from one to the other (head-hopping) in a scene tends to confuse the reader and is best left alone for a beginner like me... stay in one POV for a scene.
  2. Dialogue - how your characters speak, can add color and dimension to a story
  3. Show - as opposed to tell( a big NO NO I'm told) I'm telling here I guess. i.e. get your characters to live through their actions and dialogue to describe themselves, the theme, conflict through 'concise, specific description' (according to Sharon Sorenson). SHe's right, it moves the story along and keeps the reader engaged with that particular characters journey.
  4. Imagination/literary devices - I've lumped these two together as I think they go hand in hand... this is using vivid language, imagery and things such as flash backs, symbolism and foreshadowing.
  5. Be Consistent - especially with the mood and tone of the scene and the overall theme of the book
  6. Word Count -Keep your framework to fit the desired number of words.... is 100,000 plus words you are going to have to have a substantial plot and subplots, and the secondary characters will have a story woven through the main characters. If it is category romance then you leap right into the story as your word count will restrict development of other characters to any depth and your focus is on them with skilled use of all the above without excess words.
  7. Significance - Make everything that happens, or is said, or done have significance to moving the story towards it goal and the overall resolution of conflict... if Mrs. Brown buys a bigger turkey than Mrs Green,... who cares - unless it is vital to the Christmas Turkey War between Mrs Green and Mrs. B and important to the story- you get the idea.
  8. Know your market and Target Audience - it is vital to know where your book will fit on today's market, and the type of reader you wish to attract. Use the internet to study publishing house requirements, specific editor likes and dislikes, study what they are currrently publishing, read what is currently on the marketing the genre you wish to write. Unless you are lucky to be at the cutting edge of a new genre or wave of renewed reader interest in a specific genre - your story has to offer something that is unique to make the editor interested, but not turned off.
  9. WRITE. WRITE. WRITE. - A novel in your head stays there...!
Cheers Robyn

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Precious Prose

Edgar Allan Poe said 'that a story has a beginning, middle and end.'
It is true with whatever fiction genre you write. You, the writer, take the reader on a journey from beginning to end conveying a message or theme in which the characters grow and learn something about themselves and life. In the case of romance
  1. in the beginning - your characters meet and engage the reader
  2. in the middle - they face growing conflict and 'nearly' insurmountable obstacles
  3. in the end - they resolve the conflict and move forward, or, leave the reader knowing they will
TO do this you must learn and develop the elements of Form:
  1. plot - must be sustainable for the whole story, (not like a character goal which can be more fluid). It has to contain conflict, rising action, a climax and resolution.
  2. characters - they have to be believable, someone the reader can identify and engage with, and have motives the reader can get behind.
  3. setting - it must be consistent with the characters personalities, and believable for the challenges they must face in order to grow.
  4. theme - this is the reason for the story to be written, a message you want to get across to the reader. In the case of romance it is an emotional journey the characters must take to find true love and happiness.
Then it is up to you the writer to combine these elements - I'm told it takes a lifetime, that the writer never stops developing and growing.

I wonder if Stephen King would grow more if he wrote an inspirational category romance for say Steeple Hill? Or Nora Roberts an action war drama with a personal journey of survival and no romance?

Tomorrow we look behind these elements of form to see exactly what they include... see I told you I'm learning as I go... But first you have to - GET THOSE WORDS ON PAPER - these things help you refine what you write . Unless your lucky and can do it automatically - then I probably won't like you.
Until tomorrow Robyn

Sunday, December 3, 2006

So I know what I am, what I do, but what do I need to do it?

Pencil and Paper, quill and parchment, blood on the kitchen floor !!!
Okay seriously - sadly it seems you need to produce legible type the others are okay if you are 1. Beatrix Potter, 2. Shakespeare, 3. dying and need help.
I very quickly discovered that no publishing house will take manuscripts in long hand... there are probably exceptions to this but as a general rule my research would tend to agree that any submission has to be typed, 12pt (Times New Roman or Courier), double spaced, with one inch margins. Now I don't know about you, but my old imperial typewriter has no delete button and I can't tell you how many times I got to the bottom of the page and had to use the white out.... So I invested in a computer... then a laptop, you know for that portability/lifestyle versatility. I love it... then came the printer. and the ink it drinks by the gallon.
And paper... plain white 100gsm nothing coloured,lined,perfumed... gee they take the fun out of it.
Books for research, relaxation, and reading.
A firm surface... I hate it when the bus stops suddenly, or the ferry pitches and rolls. Desk, knee, table, lap... as long as it's stable - deciphering can be a chore if its not.
Five or ten minutes - to write that line, that sentence or thought. They add up over a week.
There you have it... the rest is optional, the music, the chocolate, the coffee....
I almost forgot... a memory stick... it sucks when the computer crashes with your nearly completed work on it...
Tomorrow... the first step to pen on paper...
Have a good one Write a word now, Robyn

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Inspiration, Order and Advice

Well, now that I know what I do, how do I do it?
There are hundreds of books out there offering advice on how you 'could' approach writing.
Now comes an oxymoron - don't follow advice. From the writers I speak to they approach their writing in a way that works for them. Some have to start at the beginning, others write the end first, others make copious research notes and write the background story, draw elaborate plans or cut out pictures and paste them on boards, use postit notes then sort them in order, be anal about grammar,characterization,plotting, and style. Some have to write early in the morning or late at night, can only write on a computer, or with a pencil and paper, at a desk, in bed, in a particular room or get their greatest writing surges in a coffee shop. Such is the beauty of writing is that you can make it fit you and your lifestyle. A notebook in your pocket or bag to jot down scenes, smells, or an overheard phrase. All helps to draw you (and hopefully your reader) into a scene.
The only one thing you must do - is write. Nora Roberts is reputed to have said... "I can't fix a blank page."
So what are you waiting for, inspiration? I'm told it won't come by staring at your computer or blank page. I've tried it and it didn't work for me... but then my head is so full of ideas that I have yet to come across the dreaded 'writer's block'. The point of this is, just write, even if you have to scrap it later... just write.

Friday, December 1, 2006

While in Rye - an old smuggling town on the coast of England came across this....mmmm maybe they only smuggled on high tide?Posted by Picasa

So I'm a Pantser but what do I do?

Okay, what is it that I actually do? I am told it is 'creative writing'. What actually is creative writing? In a nut shell - it is the use of language and imagination to tell a story.
The Complete Idiots Guide tells me - 'Is all about " staring at a blank page until you sweat blood, as much fun as root canal or an IRS audit... It is a way to get a message across to a reader by means of narration (eg biographies), description (involves the five senses and in most forms of writing esp poetry), exposition (shows and tells about a subject eg articles, essays, business reports), and persuasion (uses the written word to move the reader in thought or action eg journalism, advertisements etc."
For example that annual christmas letter you are struggling to get around to about now, is an act of creative writing. Creative Writing falls into two main categories:
Fiction - made up events and characters eg novels and short stories
Non-Fiction - writing about real people and events. eg biographies, essays.
That Christmas letter falls into Non-Fiction, though if you over exaggerate over little Johnnies successes or the size of the fish you caught on summer vacation - it falls into the above category.
Each Category has sub categories/ or genres.
The Non-Fiction I will only touch on- this includes Biographies, Essays of John Bunyan, Speeches of Winston Churchill, the diaries of Samuel Pepys, and those Playboy interviews .... I guess you get the idea. But as I fall under the Fiction Category I will focus on this.
In Fiction the List iss endless and you will know of many of them and even read most of them. Action Drama, Murder, Mystery, Espionage, ChickLit, Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Erotica, Comics, Young Adult, etc., and of course Romance.
LOML wouldn't be seen dead reading one, but what guy doesn't like romance in his life.
So are you with me so far on this voyage of discovery - I'm a Pantser, and a creative writer of Romantic Fiction.
But it doesn't stop there. Romance has its own sub-genres like ... I heard that groan (now you know why they put microfish and computers into libraries TG for the internet...)
Historical, Romantic Suspense, Erotica, Fantasy, Paranormal, Time travel, Inspirational, Contemporary, Western, Medical, etc., each with it's own levels of plot involvement and romantic elements ....
How did I decide what I liked to write - In truth it is still a work in progress. I have tried the sweet virginal love (remember the one in the bottom drawer), I tried a Gone with the Wind... it was very, very long winded....
Basically I write what interests me, what stirs my imagination, what real life events trigger an idea, it can be as simple as an article in a newspaper, an overheard conversation, or the vague remnants of a dream.
Writer John Updike tells us that' creative writing is like a sailor setting out to sea.'
We are explorers and ground -breakers who make the mundane magical, who are not afraid to go 'boldly where no man has gone before', just because we have a passionate urge to tell a story to entertain, transport and delight the reader for those precious minutes of time they give the words you have put on paper.
Having a fertile imagination helps but is not essential, but a love reading and research is a must for what you write while it may be beautifully creative it has to be able to hold and capture the readers interest and make then want to turn the page to find out what happens.
So there you have it...
I'm a Creative Writer of Romantic Fiction, in many of its varied sub genres with a passion to get an entertaining, believable story across to a reader by the pantsing method.

the ironing I didn't get to yesterday!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 30, 2006 - On Blogging and Pantsing

Day Two of Blogging- As you can see I have played with the layout - again.... having trouble importing photos but I guess I'll get around that. I think there are too many pixels... or something.

I have been asked how do I go about writing? Mmmm... I sit down and write is not a good answer but basically that is what I do. I attended the RWA NAtional Conference in Atlanta in July and attending a lecture by Susan Elizabeth Phillips discovered I'm what they call a 'pantser'. See I told you I'm learning all about this profession.
Being a Pantser basically means that I know a beginning and an end but only have vague notions of how to get from one to the other. This is opposed to being a 'plotter' who knows what they are doing step by step of the way. I'm told that neither one is better than the other.

Here is an example of being a Pantser - my NaNoWriMo novel, Twisted Vines - started with the first two sentences "Jordan Taylor was a self-confessed, rich bitch. No one disagreed." I thought it would be a satirical adult comedy, I had no idea it would turn into a murder, that would take me from Dubai, to Australia, to Paris, then Africa..... I guess that is what I like about being a pantser, the doors of opportunity are open. I think it would drive a plotter mad to have their novel take off in an unexpected direction. I must ask a novelist friend and see what she says. That doesn't mean I don't follow a guideline. From what I have heard, and my own experience to date, each story has to contain certain elements. If they don't the story fades away or rambles on about nothing. I'll go into what "I" think these are tomorrow.

Jobs to do today - meet with friend for writing session and critique of work. Dentist (ick), do ironing (ick ick) that I didn't do yesterday as I was playing oops- working with blog
site. Stick to diet # 300 for year and exercise...(ick ick ick).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Welcome to my Blog Site

Today is the beginning of a new 'techno' era for me, blogging. I didn't really know what it was until I got 'Blogging for Idiots', then I had to get help. TG for Ed Lucy my nerd from Nerds On Site who held my hand through the whole process and dealt with lurking cookies and other cyber thingamies that seemed to be blocking my way.
I'm learning as I go so bear with me. I'm also hoping that you will learn something too, either about blogging (through my mistakes probably) and the art of writing a novel, from its concept to the shelf at your local bookstore ( she hopes).

I write primarily because I love it. I love a blank page and the wealth of possibilities it can contain. All those words lining up to get on to paper to open a whole new world, full of people, their dreams and aspirations, and the rogues and villains who torment them with their devious conspiracies, and winding among them is threaded the magic of romance.

To date I have completed five novels, six, if I count the one in the bottom drawer that will never see the light of day. It is my first born and I haven't the heart to feed it to the paper shredder. I like to think of each completed novel as a step in the evolutionary development of AW (aspiring writer) Robyn Mills. For only by writing am I exposing my weakness for improvement, and building on my strengths.

Stolen Souls, a romantic suspense was a finalist in the Orange Rose 2005 COntest
Stolen Flame, runner up in Central Ohio's Ignite the Flame 2005 Contest.
Witch Hunter's Moon - my current manuscript, is my first journey into Paranormal, and has been requested by Treskillion and Kensington Publishing Houses. It is currently in revision.
Twisted Vines - is my current WIP (work in progress) as part of NaNoWriMo with a target market of Harlequin Presents.

Enjoy my site... come back and visit me and see what is new. Robyn