Monthly Archives: April 2006

"Personal Life with Deadlines"

A view at deadlines…

I know I’ve written about this topic already, but I’d like to reiterate that when bumps happen in the road of your personal life the writing deadlines still remain. You may be going through something that interrupts your life, or changes your comfortable writing routine, and you may not feel the inspiration to write, but you still have to write.

I’m learning this. Oh am I.

My first brush with deadline reality was when the family caught the flu in the middle of revisions. It was a 2-week domino effect of virus swapping. ;) I didn’t have the energy to write or edit while taking care of my family and myself. It put me behind my personal deadlines. I also had another project I owed my agent. I had a lot of catching up to do.

Well, the other project I had readied for my agent, paid off and sold–hooray!–and more deadlines were added. I didn’t let this freak me out because I want to write full-time and this is what I should expect, right?

I can only thank goodness I spaced my deadlines apart as much as possible, because I’m learning things come up that alter your plans. Such as my mother retiring and making a residence change a year earlier than planned. You might think, what does this have to do with you?

A lot, since I’m the only one to help her with this change and adjust to her new lifestyle. I am squeezing in writing, but I feel the pressure of the deadlines even though I still have months until I reach them. Like everyone, I also have personal life obligations that need to be taken care of as well. And I want my stories to be the best that I am capable of writing and as I’m making my way through extra obstacles, writing life and inspiration can get a little stressful.

Luckily the moms will be settled within a couple of days and I can let the stress level relax again. I can focus more on my current project. I can write!! *laughs*

Yes, personal life with writing deadlines is not a day at the beach. So note to self: plan for bumps in the road and always keep deadlines as far apart as possible. ;)

"Recommending: Fiona Brand"

Tomorrow Spring Break will be officially over. My kids will go back to school and our routines will slide back in order. And this means back to serious writing action. ;)

This weekend I read a great Romantic Suspense novel: Body Work by Fiona Brand.

I began reading Fiona when she was writing category novels with Silhouette Intimate Moments and enjoying her SAS heroes. (Serious alpha males with a tender streak.) Now still writing category, she writes Romantic Suspense for MIRA. And Body Work strayed into a more gritty serial killer storyline that surprised me, and I’m so glad to have picked it up.

Body Work is one of those books you only put down when you have to and then you pick right back up again. Her heroine is also one tough woman, which of course I love to read! But you also can’t help feeling a soft feminine quality to her heroines. They are always soft yet tough, able to undergo hard work while hiding some sort of emotional pain. Very difficult to pull off, but Fiona manages it perfectly.

Blurb:

The killer liked his women young and defenseless.

He was never caught.

As a child, Jane Gale witnessed her mother’s murder and was nearly killed trying to escape. Left for dead, she has suffered complete memory loss, unable to recall who she was before the “accident” or the events that caused her mother’s death. Twenty-five years later, Jane has a new life and a blossoming career as a novelist-until the killer picks up her book and discovers that the only eyewitness to his secrets has survived. And told.

Oblivious to the fact that she has attracted the murderer back into her life, Jane has no idea where the inspiration for her bestseller came from. But she has a photograph that leads her back to Louisiana, to a place she knows but can’t remember-and to a stranger she wants to trust. Because somehow he is a link to her past…and her only chance of staying alive.

I highly recommend this book and Fiona Brand’s Silhouette Intimate Moments series. Her books hold my favorite elements of suspense, romance, strong heroes and heroines, and now also gritty storylines that manage to keep me riveted for the entire ride. =)

"Writers & Rejections"

Traveling the blogosphere, especially the writer circuit, I often read about writers mentioning their rejections. Those of you who have begun any type of writer submission process–novel, short story, poetry, screenplays–probably already know about Writer Rejections. Likely have felt the sting, the disappointment, the different array of emotions.

I’ve written this before. Rejections are tough to take. Especially if you want the acceptance so badly that you put a lot of hope on a submission. Some can be really painful…if you let them.

As writers we have to remember that Rs are not the end of the world. That if you have tough enough skin, you’ll pick yourself back up again and send out another query, another partial, another full until you reach your goal.

I know everyone takes rejections differently. Some writers may dwell on a harsh rejection for days, weeks, months. Some may use the rejection as a form of determination to sell a particular project.

You might think, well, she’s agented and sold, she can talk all she wants about rejection. ;)

True, and I will continue to receive them in my career because projects will not always fit a particular house, or my writing will not always appeal to every editor. And I definitely went through my share of rejections before selling. Even wrote about a few on the blog–not all or that’s all I would have written about ;)–but with an optimistic slant that I had to keep trying. Because that’s the truth, you have to keep going in order to make good progress. Each step made is a small celebration in itself.

The first time you actually attempt to write. The first time you finish a story. The first time you share with someone. The first time you submit something. The first time you win a contest, or receive a small publication. The first time you receive a request from an agent or editor.

These firsts all mean something to us. And believe me, the rejections will be received or felt along the way. But turn them all into a learning process and move on. You have more firsts to experience and bigger goals to reach. =)

"Writer Status"

I had the pleasure of chatting with my editor from MTV Books for the first time. She is super nice and I’m excited to be working with her. Soon she will be sending the notes on Graffiti Girl. So far I’m slotted for an April/May 2007 release, so that is exciting to know!

As of yet, I don’t have my slot or title for my Bombshell. I’m waiting to hear if my revised manuscript is approved–yikes–then on to the next step…which I’m thinking will be either another revision letter or edits on the actual manuscript. I’ll let you know as soon as I know. ;D

I also have to turn in a bio for Harlequin. I’m waiting until I take another batch of author photos. I’m planning on taking some within in the next couple of weeks. Fingers crossed these come out okay!

At the moment I’m working on the partial for the second Bombshell. I have to turn in three chapters and a synopsis by July. I’m attempting to finish this by the beginning of May in order to get back to GG.

I’m going to be busy, busy, busy–a good busy!–probably until September. Am I freaked? Nah, who has time to be freaked?? *laughs* No, it can be a bit unnerving thinking about it all, but it’s fun and I’m excited to learn the whole process of writing a book to when it finally hits shelves. =D

"Ideas, Changes & Writing Patterns"

Recently, Allison Brennan discussed on her blog about novel ideas.

Unfortunately, good solid novel ideas don’t come to me too often. Aspects of characterization usually develop more than the book ideas. Mostly because I’ll see something or someone so interesting in the public, I’ll think he or she would be great in a book. =)

It’s possible the novel ideas may have come easier to me before I sold. Or maybe even before I signed with my agent. My agent talks a lot about high concept or fresh ideas, so when I try to think of a new novel, I want the concept to be a little different so an editor will be intrigued by the idea of the book. And these ideas take lots of time for me to create.

A fresh idea doesn’t just sell alone, though. Everything has to blend nicely with the writing, and the story, and the characters. But as writers we know we have to keep at it to make all those aspects come together for a story.

What I’ve noticed is that when a new idea comes to me, it’ll be in the form of one strong word. Weird, I know. This word then develops into a sentence. Then as I’m writing my current project, this sentence, or rather idea, starts to form in my head. Ask my critique partner. I mulled over my YA months before I attempted to write it. It’s like a picture I’m painting in my head. Sometimes if I have time, I’ll start to jot down character notes.

It used to be that I started with the character first, but not the case anymore. You’ll find as you become a more experienced writer your techniques may change or develop into different directions. This is what I feel is happening to me, anyway! I’m trying to follow my patterns of creating books. I’ve never had a pattern before. And if I find it, the process may become more familiar and comfortable. Whatever works to make it easier to get the next project is fine by me. =)

"From NY & Another Website"

Agent Kristin is blogging from NY this week. And the latest scoop from Random House is…

For all you writers out there, the word on the RH street is erotica and more erotica. Hot, hot, hot. In more ways than one.

Also for Penguin group.

Here’s what else she picked up:

Outside of romance, urban fantasy is also something editors ain’t got enough of on their lists.

SF still open if it can hybrid with something else (Military SF, Romance SF, Paranormal SF etc.) Much harder for the straight SF work. Epic fantasy a tough go unless it has a really original voice and storyline (so no queries on a group of friends on a quest. Need to make it stand out more.)

So keep your eye on Pubrants this week. Maybe she’ll dish more news from NY. =)

Also I’m going to have to be thinking another website design–this one for young adult fiction.

I thought about combining both my adult writing and YA as Ally Carter has on her site, but I push more limits with my adult writing and at the moment I’m thinking two websites would be best.

Jennifer O’Connell writes adult chick lit and for her YA fiction she writes under Jenny O’Connell and has two websites. Her novel PLAN B, is terrific. I really enjoyed it. Check it out if you enjoy reading YA fic.

Maintaining two sites is going to be extra work, I know! And there is the issue of coming up with another URL when I’m still going to be writing under Kelly Parra for YA (so far, anyway). My KellyParra.com focuses a lot on writing and my YA site will focus more on Teen interest.

Once I figure out a design for the YA site, it should be smooth sailing. It’s the time it takes to squeeze in all this stuff when I have to write that can be tough. =D

"Movie Weekend"

I had a wonderful movie-filled weekend…

We rented King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

Two vastly different films but I enjoyed both.

Okay, so I heard a few bad reviews on King Kong, and I’m sure it had its strengths and weaknesses, but what I personally enjoyed about the movie was the classic structure of the film. It was like watching an old black and white movie in color, if that makes sense. And ah, yes, Kong. You did have to feel for the big guy. Somehow being depicted as the giant, tortured hero. ;D The ferocious ways he saved Anne Darrow from the predators of Skull Island. The way he laughed at her and was hurt by her. The way she began to care for him and somehow always tried to risk herself by trying to throw her little body in front of a 25-foot ape. But hey, I loved the movie graphics. So very, fantastically well done.

Now I loved, loved Narnia.

I can barely remember reading the series so many years ago, but wow, the battle scene was wonderful! The characters from Narnia almost overshadowed the childrens’ characters, but it was such a great film to watch. And I absolutely loved the special effects here with the animals, especially Aslan. He was awesome. And my favorite character was the sweet and caring Mr. Tumnus (T/Y Diana =)). I’ve come to realize I very much enjoy fantasy movies. The awesome worlds always seem to grab hold of me until the end of the film. I think it all started with me with as a kid watching Dark Crystal, and The Labyrinth.

Both King Kong and Narnia evoked emotion, suspense and excitement. And in a way inspire me to “show” more as I write. To also try and provide some of that excitement and suspense in my books.

Sigh. Gotta love the movies. =)