Friday, January 21, 2011

Happy me.

Today is my birthday.  But, more than that, one year ago, Portia de Moncur was born.  January 21 will always be the day I became a writer.  This journey has been so much more than I thought it would be.  Maybe someday I'll write a real writing book.  One that tells aspiring writers about the necessary evils of self-promotion; warns about the crazies that assume you are available for sexual advances because you write erotica and the time sucking phenomenon that is social media.

Most recently, I've spent the past weeks stuck in a fog that took writer's block to a dark, nasty place.  All my WIPs seemed superficial and predictable.  No characters were speaking to me.  The voices in my head had just stopped speaking  and I was scared to death.  Was this just a bad case of holiday blues, or was the flow gone for good?  The more I worried, the less I wrote.  The less I wrote, the more I worried.

I'd like to blame this lack of productivity on my muse quitting.  I talk about my muse all the time, but my muse has a name, Laurent.  He was the first person, outside of my family, who made me believe I could actually write a story that someone would lay down hard earned cash to read.  He was who I bounced story ideas off, sent my first drafts to, and who I looked for unconditional support.  And then one day he was gone.  The little green light dot across the bottom of my screen just stopped coming on.  In the blink of an eye, I was alone on this journey.  Or at least that was how I felt.  To say I panicked is putting it mildly.  I just stopped writing.  I didn't want it any more.  No Muse...No voices.

Now you see why I'm a writer.   I do melodrama better than most people you will ever meet.  It took me a couple of months to break out of that funk.  Months where I started another blog, Chocolicious Reviews, dedicated to steamy romantic book reviews.  If I didn't have what it took to write books, maybe I could hang around the writing fringe as a reviewer.  I am an Aquarius, I can tell anyone how to do themselves better. (smile) 

That site is still sitting waiting for me to post my first review.  I am amazed daily at the poor writing some authors are willing to throw into cyberspace.  I've read groups of words I can't even call stories because they shared no common purpose.  I've read stories with plots so predictable my 4 year old could tell you what was coming next.  Plots so bizarre, I'm still trying to wrap my head around them.  Subplots that lost themselves within a larger plot and never found their happy ending.  Authors with egos so grossly out of proportion with their skill set, the only way to describe them is clinically deluded. 

Many earth based religions profess that nothing happens by accident.  I believe in that truth.  I needed the months of seeming silence within my head to find my unique literary voice.  In addition to reading all those terrible books, I read and took apart the works of my favorite writers.  James Patterson, Kate Pearce, Cynthia Eden all were reduced to 3x5 index cards as I learned to plot, plan and characterize.  I discovered Maya Banks, Shelli Stevens, and Karen Erickson.  I saved clips of people I wanted to know better. Printed out lyrics of songs that caused stories to pop into my head.  I listened to people talk and stole dialogue that resonated with me.  Without my noticing, I was getting my mojo back.

In the past 5 days, I've written 7823 words.  If I wasn't trying to be more consistent with the running of my household I'm sure that number would be doubled.  I go to sleep thinking about my characters and wake up with new ideas on how to tell their stories.  I'm not agonizing on how to set up scenes.  The words on the paper are matching the pictures in my head.  Sure, I'm going to lose some of those brilliant words to the editing floor, but I know my WIP good.  Mind you, my muse is still MIA, so I only have my humble opinion that my words are hot.  I'm banking on the fact that delusions are not contagious, else I am in serious trouble.

Finally, I want to break from my usual post and thank a few people who have been in my corner every minute of the last year.

To all the published authors who have offered me both friendship and encouragement via FB, Twitter, Goodread here on my blog...thank you.

To the members of the Writer's Block who have chosen be join my merry band of guys make me better, thank you.

Steve:  Thank you for reading my stories even when I link up body parts you think are an abomination.  I have 20 more weeks of unemployement so don't look for me to look for a job for 19 more weeks.
Frenchie:  Thank you for reminding me I'm not too old to think dirty.
Wycliff:  Thank you for giving me a behind the scene glimpse into the workings of a gentleman player.
Tommy:  If you knew what your mama was writing you would have a fit, but thank you for asking for my word count at the end of everyday.  And being proud of me even on days when I don't write a word.
Tatia:  Thanks for always keeping a fine point pen hidden for me.

Gina, Judy and Raquel:  Thanks for ALWAYS believing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Muse

I've change my mind.
I need my Muse.
My words keep getting stuck
between my head
and the paper.

The part of me that was had began to blossom,
has once again started to die due to neglect.
I try to remember the feelings,
but they too are fading.

I need him to come back
stoke my embers,
make me laugh,
ignite my imagination,
play me a song,
spank my ass,
stimulate my mind,
feed my fantasy,
remind me to feel.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Historical Tour de Grande

Okay, I admit it.  I am a history geek.  I love history.  I have since Mrs. Cady (who was actually related to Elizabeth Cady Stanton) stood before our 5th grade class and told the most amazing stories of New York History.  I sat on the edge of my seat wanting to know more.  It wasn't about dates for geography, it was about people and their stories.  I was hooked.  My favorite time period?  Probably the Middle ages with the Civil War coming in a close second. 

When I began homeschooling my children, I was drawn to the classical module for education.  My children soaked up the stories and myths of the ancient world.  They didn't realize that they were doing history, they were listening to stories.  I want to do that for my readers.  I want to sneak in fascinating facts about major and minor historical figures.  When they reach the end, I want them to have to fight an inexplicable urge look up details they never would have thought to explore. 

Well, this evening I was presented with a challenge that I just could not pass up.  In the next 12 months I have to read 6 historical novels, in 6 different sub-genre.  I can't wait to get started.  Lucky for me, I know at least 2 of my favorite authors, Beverly Jenkins (multicultural)  and Kate Pearce (regency), either have a recent release or one coming out early in 2011.

What does this have to do with my WIP?  Hopefully, a lot.  First of all, Mrs. Research  here, is going to see how many book, within the sub-genres I can find that have characters of color.  Black would be nice, but I'm looking for Brown, Red and Yellow.   I want to use this challenge to learn about people I never thought to know.  Learn about a time period that has escaped my radar until now.   Learn to bring an long gone era back to life. I also hope that I'll be introduced to at least one author that I've never heard of, but won't be able to live without.

Let the games begin.

I am what libraries and librarians have made me, with a little assistance from a professor of Greek and a few poets.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Post NaNo Musings

NaNoWriMo is over and I didn't make my goal of 50,000 words.  Between my contemporary short story, historical novel and all my blogging, I still only achieved a final word count of 34.857  But, when I think about it, I don't feel like a loser.  Matter of fact, NaNo gave me a few things that I desperately needed.

The first thing I got from NaNo was a writing community.  The writers old and new that joined my Facebook groups are amazing.  From Reena with her stockpile of writing software to Jen with her perpetual cheer leading, I know that I wouldn't have done so well without the support of others who had entered November Madness.  Friends and family are great, but there is nothing like having another writer understand your frustration when the words aren't flowing.  Or having a writer friend give a cyber high-five when you work through a difficult scene.  If you aren't part of such a community, feel free to join mine on Face Book:  The Writers' Block group, The Writers' Block page (Education and self promo for Indie Authors and aspirings.)

I also think I will be writing on a more regular now that NaNo is over.  Who knew that writing everyday made sustaining a thought easier?  Not me.  Up until now, I've written when the mood struck me.  Having to sit down to the computer and churn out 1667 words a day was daunting, but it soon became a habit.  One that my husband and children grew to expect and even respect.  Now that I've grown accustomed to writing everyday, sometimes only a couple hundred words,  I think I may actually finish the pile of unfinished manuscripts in my desk drawer.  And that would be nice as my website went live last week and I have readers and a publisher waiting for me to get kick it up a notch.

But the thing that I am most thankful to NaNo for this year is my newest WIP, My Lover's Keeper.  Accepting the challenge to write an historical novel has been the most awesome ride.  I'd hate for anyone to see my desk.  There are maps and reams of print outs.  Not to mention the books of Kate Pearce and Beverly Jenkins that I refer to often.  Not of it all smooth.  You have no idea how hard it is to find out the exact length of a transatlantic voyage. Much less finding an image of the interior of a French galleon, but I digress.

Etienne Chavaleau

Michel Rigard

Henri Chavaleau
I introduced my female characters early in NaNo.  Now I'd like to share their love interest.  I'm curious to see if anyone can figure out who goes with who. The girls are a couple of post back - NaNoWriMo.   I've posted a excerpt  of "My Lover's Keeper, please leave a comment to let me know if I am on track.