Archive | May 2008

Writing in Haste…

Haste Makes Waste… an interesting thought for the day, really. Today we’re told that haste makes waste in publishing, so be careful what you write when writing quickly. Isn’t that the truth? And here I am, hastily blogging about that subject.

I’ve recently switched WIPs away from contemporary – which was fun (my promotional short story Tessa Takes a Chance will be available soon from Wild Rose Press – YAY! 🙂 — so, I’m back to re-writing a White Rose Historical – set in the golden era of Hollywood. It was one that was tabled and reviewed by Harlequin ages ago – but never made the final cut due to (looking back on it now) some hasty writing that was long on dialog and short on research and historic detail. *How mortifying to admit to this! but I was young. What can I say?*

What I love about writing historicals – is that you must research a subject, know it, practically live it before you can etch one word – rather than just streaming it all down off the top of your head. Granted, we are living in contemporary times – but I digress.

When researching All or Nothing – I made a home for myself in the reference room at Fort Lowell Museum. Now, I have my favorite online research sites I haunt on a regular basis; there’s nothing like hesitating mid-sentence to wonder: What sort of underclothes would my heroine be wearing? What does her hat look like? Her hair style? how would she voice that particular thought? The deeper I research, the more in tune with her I become, and the better able I am to weave her plights, and share in her victories!

I remember Jude Deveraux once saying that she was always most interested in underclothes and where people went to the bathroom. Think about it. What’s more intimate than that? I’ve also read that with regards to setting – the worst thing a writer can EVER do is to jar their reader out of the universe you are creating. Setting is such an important part of that universe. As is avoidance of all anachronisms.

So, perhaps the internet allows historical writers to conduct our research a little more hastily – however, it also enables us to get the details spot-on as we don’t have to stop writing, get in the car, drive to the library, get sidetracked by the new releases, etc. and so on.

Finally, this begs the question: Where do you, as readers, find yourselves most intrigued when diving into a historical? What gets you flipping pages? What do you want to know about – regardless of the time period you are reading? Do you want to know how they cook? sew? gossip? shop? how much things cost?

Please comment – I’d love to know your thoughts

Plotting

For the next few weeks, I’m digging deep into the craft, working on that elusive concept of plotting. And, I’m very interested in how my process varies from other writers…how do you plot your tales? weave your universes?

I’ve asked the writers and readers in my Yahoo Publisher’s Group on what types of reads they were most interested in. Short, “quickies” if you will – fulfilling stories you can read in 10 minutes or less (frankly, for the mother of toddlers, this is an awesome idea).

Personally, and the general consensus is – that the full length novel is still our over-arching favorite. To read and to write. But in either case, you must give way to plot. A conceivable, believable plot that will draw your readers in from sentence #1, and keep them turning pages late into the night.

If you’re like me, you have a trunk full of stories that you’ve been writing since you could hold a pencil. Most of them are unfinished. Un-plotted. Written by a plotter who was writing like a pantster.

Okay – what’s the difference? A plotter knows basically where the story is headed. A pantster writes “by the seat of their pants” – giving life to their characters and letting them go and do as they will.

Writing like a pantster for the past two weeks, working on a short, has been an excellent exercise for me. Allowing my organized self to just let it go and see what happens. Of course, once the bones are there, then the plotter goes back in, fills the holes, revamps the ending, and ties up all loose ends in a nice, neat little bow. We’ll see if the latest submission has any merit soon. Hopefully. Perhaps what I’ve written is actually a first chapter and not a short story, as one of my writer friends mentioned. Aye yai yai. Too late now.

So, with regards to plot – here is what I do when laying one out:

  1. Pour a cup of coffee
  2. Pick up a yellow note pad
  3. Write a quick scene, off the top of my head, introducing me to the hero or heroine I’ve been chewing on (if no one particular is in mind, I’ll add someone into the scene and ask them who they are…)
  4. When the mind clicks, (authors, you know what I mean), I give the hero/heroine a problem, and then introduce them to each other. Do they like each other? Have they ever met before?
  5. Write out the storyline for the two to solve their problem together.
    If all of the above clicks, you have a story to write through to fruition. If none of the above works, it’s back to step 1 tomorrow.

Now – though I’m a plotter, I’m vicious with my stories. I am known to hack my darlings to pieces if I don’t believe what they’re up to. Often, I’m surprised by what happens. I mourn when someone dies. I laugh with them, cry with them, and lose myself – much to my family’s chagrin. Even Rachel now “writes books” at her little student’s desk in my office, telling me, “Mommy, read what I’ve written here!” – okay, voices from MY past – I did the same thing to my mommy. Ha.

If they aren’t going anywhere, back in the WIP pile they go. I flip flop from story to story until I fall in love and can’t let go. Historical Romances are slightly different, as my plotting process depends a great deal on historical events, research, and finding believable voices and points of view.

I would LOVE to hear your plotting schemes – how your story arch comes into play. Feel free to comment!

Have a blessed day!
~Ashley

Another Thursday…

Perhaps it’s just another Thursday night – but I got to thinking… This has been an insane week, life wise. Everything has had to fall to the back of my list to take care of my kids. Whenever it didn’t, all heck broke loose. I think I had the fortune -can’t say misfortune here- of praying for patience not too long ago. There’s a line in Evan Almighty, where God tells Evan – “If you pray for patience, I’ll give you more opportunities to be patient…” And, oh, I got them in spades this week.

I’ve also had the opportunity to finish a book, plot three new stories, read some amazing shorts from my fellow authors at www.thewildrosepress.com, and what’s more, I have a clearer idea on where I need to be in the world.

I also got word from my editor that she’s working on my MS – so, prepare! the trimming of the darlings is bound to be coming soon…

Okay, back to it. Rachel & Ellie need to go to bed. Story time…which now involves each of them telling me one thing to tell a story about. Last night had to be about a bunny rabbit and a jewel. Yikes. Try coming up with that one off the top of your head!

Goodnight!

Crossroads

Clicking away through WIP – I’m still wondering what project comes next? DO I attempt something beyond my current comfort level? Stretch my writing to leap out of that zone? Or do I comfortably click away through another historical?

I’m enjoying writing in contemporary – in a way I never thought I would. No research – except in cooking, as my heroine is a fantastic caterer. My family is reaping the benefits as I’m cooking and experimenting in the kitchen.

I was thinking of having a log line poll to see who likes which one best – to determine what to do when my rosette is complete. Please let me know if that is something you’d participate in… curiousity of knowing where to throw my soul next is just killing me…

Have a blessed day~ and keep writing!

Of Little Girls and Ladybugs…

My sister gave us a “new” used hybrid trailer for Christmas – that means, it has a 17′ long body, and pop out beds to 23′. We’re planning on putting it to good use this summer, having already braved a trip in February – when we discovered the heater didn’t work (BRRRRR). All freshly fixed up and serviced, we just spent a lovely getaway to the lake over the weekend. Perry fished to his heart’s content (though I think I heard the fish laughing… we didn’t see ANYONE catch ANYTHING all weekend.)

The girls and I collected ladybugs and butterflies and played on a hidden beach.We had a picnic under an enormous oak tree on a field of grass. Flew a kite. Connected the dots with the stars, and woke up with the birdies. Idyllic? well, we were camping in a pop-out trailer. I did my best this time not to envy all of the lovlely, shiny new 5th wheels and Class Cs that were parked all around. Class As didn’t even bother to try camping where we were parked… So, social envy was curtailed in that arena.

We still love Lake Skinner – the best place close by, thus far, for a cheap weekend getaway – with no computer, no work, no bad days…

Let’s just say, we returned home with far less beer (and stress) than we hauled out with us. The girls are tan and happy, with some bandaid scars to share with their friends today at school. We spent last night finding many more places in and around SoCal to wander in our little tiny trailer. Can’t wait to see where we take it next!

All or Nothing – Blurb

A widow who finds love. A soldier who seeks redemption. And, a murderous bandit who will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

RuthAnne Newcomb nearly dies in a rockslide on the winding road to Tucson, Arizona in 1876. But, what seemed to be an accident was a cover-up for a heinous crime; the murderous bandit, El Tejano, has struck again. Robbed and left for dead, all that remained for RuthAnne Newcomb was her faith, and the gifts God gave her. She never guessed she would need both to endure the handsome, vengeful soldier who saved her life.

Captain Bowen Shepherd offers aid in exchange for information leading to the criminal’s capture. El Tejano is bound to strike again and RuthAnne is the only living witness to his crimes. Left with nothing but her savvy and unwavering faith, RuthAnne is forced to return to the scene of the crime and work with the intolerable soldier. She never expected to fall in love with him. But can Bowen let go of his troubled past long enough to give her all of his heart?

Already, the criminal is after the one witness that can destroy him. The soldier and the widow must risk everything to work together, to unmask the bandit once and for all, before he can strike again. Will their love be the cost of bringing a murderer to justice?