I like to listen to music when I write. And unlike some writers who theme their music to the mood of their scene or book, I have no problem listening to wildly inappropriate songs. Even when writing the naughty scenes.
One of my critique partners puts her CD player on random and says it's a little awkward when "The Bear Necessities" from Jungle Book starts blaring while she's writing sex. My response: um, why?
For me it's all about background noise. I can happily listen to the same song or CD over and over (and over and over) again. In fact, I find it better when I am on repeat for the background sound. That way nothing is pulling me out of the zone. And, yes, even if that means I'm listening to bears and apes singing about Man Cubs. The bad part about it is, I end up memorizing songs that I had no intention of ever getting that friendly with. When I start humming and singing random bits of lyrics in the grocery store lines, you have to understand it can get a little awkward. Especially when it's Nine Inch Nails "Closer" and the only part I remember is "You let me violate you, you let me desecrate you, I want to f*ck you like an animal, I want to feel you from the inside, my whole existence is flawed, you get me closer to God."
Um, yeah. Awk-ward.
I usually stumble across new songs while randomly clicking links on YouTube. This is either a way to find good music I've never heard before...or a recipe in disaster. It's a toss up and has gone both ways for me. (I won't talk about the time I stumbled across Japanese lesbian cartoons...and they say romance novels have unrealistic body expectations. Riiiight.)
One of my jaunts around YouTube helped me fall in love with the music of Missy Higgins, an Australia singer. I decided to include her video in my post today.
I'm part of a local group that's part friendship, part critique partners. Last night we were mostly about sharing a potluck, watching the lunar eclipse, and catching up. Finally we got around to the business part of things, or to be honest, the rest of us hung on her every word while Gail told us about her most excellent weekend. The weekend? Glad you asked. Gail is an awesome writer and has had both fiction and nonfiction published, but for reasons I don't quite get, her first love is screenwriting. To my way of thinking, straight writing is competitive enough while it appears that half of the population is trying to get a screenplay published. Granted, the payoff can be like hitting the lottery--only the odds are even higher. Back when I'd briefly given leave of my senses, I tried my hand at a couple of screenplays and loved the process, but I have all I can do to pay the bills doing what I am which these days revolves around erotica for Aphrodisia. You think there are a lot of rules to fiction, try screenplays! The workshop Gail attended is taught by Cynthia Whitcomb who knows what she's talking about. Among Cynthia's credits: she's sold more than 80 feature-length screenplays, 30 of which have been filmed. Her scripts have won and been nominated for the Emmy, Cable Ace Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award, Humanities Award, and Writers Guild of America. She's taught screenwriting for many years, including seven at the UCLA Film School. So what I'm thinking is, Gail's competition includes Cynthia. Good luck my friend. But Cynthia really cares about her students' success and is open and honest about what separates a pro from those, like me, who are clueless. Think about it, how many NYT writers teach those who might become their competition? So Cynthia knows all the tricks that separate her from her students, little things like aiming for over 100 scenes in a script that averages 120 pages, opening with an outdoor scene because it paints a larger landscape, not describing the actors or giving them ages, knowing who you want to play the various roles (yes, that is contradictory), starting scenes in the middle of the action and leaving before the action winds down, keeping the clock ticking, limiting dialogue to three lines, giving no stage directions (that's the actors' job) sticking to present tense, using active verbs, keeping it lean and cutting it mean, knowing the format. Writing those two screenplays was an incredible experience for me. No exposition, no thoughts, no internal monologues. Nothing but dialogue and action. I loved it. I'm also going to stick with print publishing. Speaking of said print publishing, the anthology Only With A Cowboy will be released April 29, I now have the yummy cover for Going Down which shows a man lapping at a female torso, have turned in Hawk's Talons, and am in desperate search of a story for book 2 in my current contract. Anyone with a spare plot or characters hanging around, PLEASE send them my way. Or I could use what was in those screenplays. Hmm. Something to think about. Vonna www.VonnaHarper.com
Posted by Vonna Harper ::
2:33 PM ::
I have this coffee mug that I picked up a few years ago at RWA National. It asks: "What is worse than writing a synopsis?" And you turn it around and it declares in big capital letters, "NOTHING!"
And that's where I am right now, working on a synopsis. More fun than you can shake a stick at. Not.
What's worse is that the way I write has changed. I used to be very strong on the beginning and the end, and the middle was a bit wishy-washy, but at some point I'd down writing utensils and figure out what would happen in the middle.
ONE MORE TIME didn't happen like that. I had a beginning, I had a cute premise and that was it. No idea how it was going to play out or end. I didn't have to write a synopsis for it, thankfully, but the latest WIP. Woah.
In the latest WIP, I got a scene -- possibly in the middle of the book, it might be earlier. At any rate, I needed to start earlier with the characters so I could figure out what they were like and how they interrelated. So now I'm wondering if my first three chapters will end up in the book. I think they will because it'll be too hard for the reader to find empathy otherwise.
(The prologue is already gone.)
However, for this WIP, that's all I had to start with: one scene, and a cracktastic idea derived from Exodus (the Bible version). I figured once I wrote the first three chapters, I'd know what happens next, right?
Well, I've managed 2.5 pages of a synopsis and I *still* don't know how this is going to end. Threesomes are so damn complicated and "what's the worst thing that could happen?" that I usually ask myself is bringing back answers that take this book out of the romance genre and into that "romance" genre where nothing ends happily, and I couldn't stand that.
So I am stuck, and as it is my turn to blog today, y'all get to hear about it.
This week the winners of the Judge a Book By Its Cover contest were announced. Alas, my book Touch Me was not a winner, or even a finalist (though The Firefighter antho took second place in single title/mainstream).
Take a look at the winning covers: http://www.hbarwa.com/contest/winners/php?y=2007.
Do you notice a trend? Four of the five winners feature naked male torsos. The traditional “clinch” cover (i.e., a male/female embrace) is much less popular.
Of course that’s just the opinion of these particular judges. Personally, for a romance, I do like seeing the heroine and hero together. If I only see one character on the cover, I tend to think it’s his or her story – as in chick lit or women’s fiction. But I know a lot of women readers do love those solitary hotties, largely because the reader can imagine herself into the scene with him.
I wonder how the art departments and editors decide which kind of cover to give a book? My Awesome Foursome books, which are definitely romances, all feature couples, though many Aphrodisia romances have a solitary (and near-naked!) guy. The Firefighter is an antho with three novellas starring firefighter heroes, so I can see why that one would have a sole firefighter on the cover. But how do they decide, with the romances, when to use a couple and when a man alone? And, by the way, you’ll notice it’s almost never a woman alone.
As this is a blog by erotic romance writers, "screwed" might not be a bad and in some cases it most definitely is not. :-) But, this isn't one of them.
No, I'm talking about "screwed" as in getting a bad break. My latest one was quite literal. I fractured my hip, not something that should happen at my age, but I like to be unique and defy the odds. This resulted in getting "screwed", three screws holding the bone together to be exact.
In writing and life there are times when events do not go our way and we end up in positions we never planned or wanted to be in. While not fun, and this is something I would recommend NOT trying, it's getting "screwed" when we learn the most about our abilities and ourselves.
What I've learned is:
**Not to take little things, like the ability to carry a plate from your kitchen counter to the table, for granted.
**When you want something bad enough, you'll find a way to achieve your goal.
**Necessity is the mother of creativity. If I can come up with plots, I can invent a way to get laundry to the machine and a dozen other chores.
**Most of us are a lot stronger than we think. It only in times of need does the strength show itself.
**Be thankful & kind to your friends and family, first because they are your friends, and because you never know when you will need help & support.
**Attitude is everything. No matter how bad the situation is you can choose to wallow or make the best of it and learn everything you can.
**Slow down. I'm guilty of rushing and a having a brain that moves at the speed of light, but when your body takes what feels like 5 times as long to accomplish normal tasks, you don't have choice but to slow down and take it one thing at a time.
**Never lose your sense of humor. Nothing is so awful if you can poke fun at it and yourself.
What lessons have you learned that were tough at the time, but turned out to be invaluable?
For those who have not yet heard, this post will probably come as a shock. Dawn Thompson (a.k.a. Dawn MacTavish), author of Lord Of The Deep and many other great stories, has passed away after a lengthy battle with several different sicknesses. She fought to get better and had hopes of returning home to her beloved cat and close friends, and writing many more stories. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and she died peacefully and painlessly early Friday afternoon.
Along with being a wonderful lady, Dawn was a columnist featured in numerous women’s special interest publications for over thirty years and, more recently, a terrific author of romantic fiction. She wrote across the publishers and sub-genres of historical romance, from fairly sweet regencies to scorchingly sensual paranormals. Her stories garnered excellent reviews and numerous awards, including recently being nominated four times for the 2007 PEARL Award for excellence in paranormal romantic literature. Dawn’s latest Aphrodisia offering, The Dream Well, was released as part of the Eros Island anthology in late January, and is a great example of her deft ability to mix lust, love, and deceit for a memorable conclusion. Her next offering is part of Sexy Beast IV, releasing later this month.
Though not an extrovert by any means, Dawn touched many with her eloquent style and nearly 20 books in the last few years alone. Dawn’s last request was simply to be remembered. For those who knew her, remembering her will come easily through the memories of much happier times. For those who never had the pleasure of meeting her, I encourage you to pick up her novels and see first-hand the magic she brought to life through the written word. Dawn has five new books out from Kensington, Dorchester and Highland Press in 2008. Please do pick one up and, along with all of the Aphrodisia authors and many, many others, remember this talented lady.
At this time, it is not known if Dawn was able to complete books 3 and 4 in The Elementals series, which Lord Of The Deep began and Lord Of The Dark, set to release in Late July, continues. In time this information, as well as that on books through her other publishers, should be revealed through her website and/or blog: http://dawnthompson.com/.
It's been a case of Girl Gone Wild the past couple weeks (and wouldn't THAT statement reflect totally different things, had I said it, oh, 30 years ago!) because I've stayed away from the Mac and writing ON PURPOSE. After meeting 3 deadlines in the previous 5 months, it was time to get away! The galleys for my May "Charlotte" book got done, and a number of other commitments got met...and then I said "adios" to all this WORK stuff.
So I went to Lowe's--how's that for excitement?! Bought paint for my main bathroom, got rid of the tropical fish border (NO MORE BORDER! What a pain to remove that stuff!) and I now sport an accent wall of Red Gumball (read: whorehouse red) with some sponge texturing. Honey beige keeps the other walls sane...unless you count the bright, bold prints of jazz musicians from Memphis, and the Mardi Gras masks and beads from N'Awlins. The room ROCKS! Am finishing the final details before our potluck group comes this Saturday night.
I've also spent time wandering through Hobby Lobby. Did a pretty silk arrangement in a basket my m-i-l had--for HER new bathroom--in bright pinky-orange roses, yellow roses, and daisies. It's an eye-popper! I'm so tickled that I can do this without having had any real classes on it...I just intuit my way through this art stuff and do what makes me smile.
I've enjoyed lunch with a couple of friends. I've cleaned out the bathroom cabinets and reorganized the linen closet at long last. I spent the weekend in Memphis with my dh for an ear clinic appointment, but I was crocheting on a gorgeous striped afghan in Tuscan colors, for my sister's living room, and I was haunting the Beale Street tourist trap shops for one or two more wall doodads in my bathroom.
What does this have to do with writing, you ask?
Nothing. And everything!
My psychic advisor and my numerologist have both INSISTED that I get out for these "artistic trips" away from the computer, but my soul knew I needed them long before I met these ladies. I've found out I work best when I intersperse writing/creating wordscapes with activities involving color and eye-hand activities that leave my brain free to ramble. In the back of my mind, I knew it was time to conjure new proposals for both of my publishers, but I blew off that urge in favor of playing just a little longer.
And guess what? This week I found the PERFECT face for the identical twins who will star in my next Aphro title, which will be Victorian erotica! And I found their husbands' faces--and the face of the trance medium who leads to the big, bad revelations of past uh, indecencies, in this family's shadows. AND NOW, I CAN'T WAIT TO WRITE THIS STORY!
I hope you, too, will heed the call of your wanton Inner Kid--soon! I hope you'll give her free reign to play at whatever she loves...or watch dirty movies for story inspiration, or whatever she doesn't get nearly enough of. Eat lots of chocolate and wash it down with her liquid of choice (OK, so mine is tea! But only during the week!) and see what happens.
And I wish you all a wonderful journey! And a wonderful day!
My latest title, THIGH HIGH is out now. This book is an anthology, the first one where I'm the only author. Three different stories, with different sets of characters all in one book. But for the first time, I'm not sandwiched between other styles and other voices. Nope, this book is all on me.
I've had some really fab reviews on THIGHHIGH. I'm always surprised when comments come in about the warmth of the stories, the humor, the interesting characters. I've finally learned to trust them, to accept that I write in a voice that garners those kinds of comments.
I was surprised at first, way back when the line launched and reviewers were calling my story in The Hard Stuff, "sweet". I hadn't thought about how my stories would "feel" to readers. I wanted to heat them up (these are erotic romance, after all), I wanted to write "page turners" and books readers couldn't put down. I never thought about how readers would feel beyond that need to see what happens next.
Is that weird? I never set out to write about family connections, or warm fuzzies.
With novellas it can be difficult to paint a complete picture of a character, give them the layers that make for an emotional read especially if they're more action oriented. Maybe that's why instinctively, I write small mysteries or quiet conflicts in novellas.
Over the two years with Aphrodisia, I've had sons worried about widowed dads, brides without grooms, a reunion story, and now, 3 more novellas with quiet, small conflicts.
But at the end of each story, there's that sigh of satisfaction that romance readers crave...the reason we lovers of romance read what we read: the happy ending. I would post some of my review comments here...but I'm already running out of room.
First of all, take a look at my new book cover for Wolf Tales VI. Is this gorgeous or what? :-) It comes out in July.
However, that's not what I'm writing about!
This morning I packed up the finished manuscript for Wolf Tales VII, the thirteenth title in my series, and mailed it off to my editor. Then I immediately sunk into a deep and dark depression. Does anyone else do this? I think it's the fact I've lived with the characters for so many weeks (or months, in the case of this one!) and when the story ends, my relationship with my characters ends as well...at least until I start the next book in the series! I keep thinking, when the time comes that I don't write about my Chanku anymore, I'll probably need therapy!
I've always been that way with every book I've written. I honestly think the fantasy world I write intrudes so heavily on my real world that it's painful to get jerked back into reality. I look back over the months since I started this story, though, and there have been so many family and personal issues, that finishing the book became a major peak to conquer--my mother's surgery, my own health issues, a computer crash, then Mom's fall and broken bones, remodeling our kitchen, two weeks of snow in an area where snow is NOT supposed to come that often...it's gone on and on and on. My story was the only thing I had any control over at all, and of course, once the characters gained a bit of power, I lost even that!
I will say, though, that through it all my readers have been absolutely amazing. I didn't realize what a powerful support group I had until I sent out a whiny, grumpy plea for understanding on my newsletter, and got literally hundreds of replies from people offering me nothing but prayers and good thoughts. It made me realize just how lucky I am.
On that note, I'm going to close and head for the shower and bed. I need to get some sleep and start the next book, because I know I'll feel better once I'm back in sync with my Chanku shapeshifters! Do you have the same issues? Sort of a post partum depression for writers? I'd love to hear how you deal with it if you do!
Can you believe it's already February? There are definitely pros and cons of writing, but one con I find is that when I am on deadline (which is most of the time), the days seem to fly past. I swear it was just Christmas and now we are screeching fast toward Valentine's Day. Which reminds me on a side note, I have a contest up on my website that ends on Valentine's Day, so stop by between now and then to enter if you haven't already. One of the books to be given away is by the extraordinarily talented Devyn Quinn.
So with a new month came new cover copy. This I received in for Sweet & Sinful, my late July release. One thing I've found with cover copy for erotic romances is that the copy generally focuses mostly on the sex and not so much on the plot. I guess this is logical, but I often think doesn't the reader want to know what the story is about though? I mean isn't it a given that the book has sex in it with that erotic romance tag? Anyway, my new cover copy follows (see what you think)...
Two young women in the great big city find they have the same problem: office relationships are a definite no-no, but there’s always a way to bend the rules—for the right man…
Just Like Candy… Compared to Candy, her across-the-cubicle coworker, Courtney Baxter is shy. She wouldn’t mind being just like Candy, and she’s invested in a new wardrobe that practically screams seduce me. Suddenly Courtney has more men ready to hop into her bed than she ever imagined, including Blaine Daly. The man is sexy as sin with a body to match—and he’ll go to any extreme to please her...
Hard Candy… Sensual and flamboyant, Candy Masterson has never made a secret of her love for sex and the male physique. But until Ty Louis came into her life, she didn’t think she’d find a man who could satisfy her every need—and he just so happens to live in her apartment complex. How convenient. Sheet-scorching sex and torrid romance, coming right up…
Now, seriously, does this make you want to read the book? I am not quite sure how I feel about it yet. I sort of feel like it's not as catchy as some I have seen and some I've had in the past. Or maybe it's just that I wish it said more about the stories themselves. Well, what isn't said is that the first story is about a stalker and the second one about a woman facing a potentially serious medical condition. That is obviously the very succinct version, but I wonder why that stuff isn't on there. Maybe it takes the sexy out of the storyline. Within the stories themself, I don't think it does, I think it blends together quite nicely, but perhaps from a cover copy standpoint all that matters is the sexy...
What do you think? When it comes to cover copy and erotic romance, what do you like to see?
Posted by Jodi Lynn Copeland ::
1:49 AM ::