Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Never Cry Writer

As most writers are painfully aware this is a path full of false starts and crushed hopes, but still we charge forth because we’re passionate about what we do. Nothing – and I mean nothing – can stop us from trying as long as it takes to get our stories out to the reading public.

Being writers of fiction, it’s all too easy to create our own fantasy world in which we are famous, best-selling mega stars. The dream is just around the corner. At least in our hearts. Trouble is the people closest to us begin to tune out all those glorious proclamations about making it big. My husband’s heard it a hundred times before.

                                         Praying for publication to the Incan Gods during a writer’s retreat in Belize.

Belize, Fall 2003

A call from the house phone at Francis Ford Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge located deep in the jungle. I am part of a weeklong writer’s retreat put on by lit mag Zoetrope: All-Story.

Nikki: Seb! I did it! I feakin’ did it!

Seb: What?

Nikki: The editor of Zoetrope loved my story and wants to publish it in the magazine. I made it! I’m going to be a published author. Finally!

Seb: That’s great.

Nikki: See. It was all worth it.

Conclusion: Never heard a word back. When I contacted the editor she said a) the rest of the staff wasn’t as enthusiastic about the piece as she was and b) she was no longer the magazine’s editor.

Sometime in 2005

Nikki: Seb, I’ve got it! I’m going to make it big. BIG I tell you.

Seb: Uh-huh, like I haven’t heard that before.

Nikki: But you don’t understand… I’m writing romance. I’ve got a real shot here. Over 50 percent of the market is romance and it’s what I was born to write. I don’t know why I didn’t realize it sooner. All those day dreams I made up when I was younger. Sneaking regencies inside my mother’s shopping cart. Loving Jane Austen…
                                         Dining table/desk where I completed two historical romance novels during the 15 months we lived in Central Oregon.

November 2009 – March 2010

After finishing my third historical romance novel.

Nikki: This is ‘The One’.

Seb: I thought the last one you wrote was the one.

Nikki: No, that one wasn’t good enough. Mark my words. This is ‘The One’.

Seb: You keep saying that. I don’t believe you anymore.

Nikki: How are you going to feel when I’m a best-selling author and you talked to me this way?

Seb: We’ll see then.

Nikki: You’re not being supportive.

Seb: (Getting angry.) I’ve supported you this past year while you stayed at home not working.

Nikki: I was working.

Seb: Making money.

Nikki: (Sniff.) Fine. I’m not ever talking to you about my writing again.

                                         The gray days in the Pacific Northwest makes for cozy writing weather.

January 2011

Nikki: I’m going to earn extra income writing erotica.

Seb: Where have I heard that before?

Nikki: But this is erotica. Erotica pays and I can use the money to support my other writing projects.

Seb: Yeah. Um, hmm.

May 2011

Nikki: I know I never said I’d write a vampire novel, but I came up with this idea for a YA vampire series 
and I’m really excited about it.

Seb: What happened to erotica?

Nikki: I’ll still write erotica and historical romance, but this vampire series is going to be what makes my career.

(Seb ignores me.)

Nikki: Seb, are you listening?

Seb: Yeah, Nikki. I’m sick of hearing about this. You were going to be published five years ago. I don’t believe you anymore.

Nikki: But Seb, it’s a young adult vampire novel. I’m telling you, this is going to be made into a movie. Seb?

Monday, August 29, 2011

On Sex and Sexism

J.A. Konrath dropped a bomb alright when he tossed a sex scene into the mix in his novel, Cherry Bomb.

Always great subjects of debate – I read two engaging posts this past week on sex and sexism. Funny enough, the one about sex is not by a romance writer, but thriller writer Joe Konrath. This is what he said about including a sex scene in his Jack Daniels series:

“I learned I liked writing sex scenes. They were fun, but they also allowed me to show a human, emotional, vulnerable side to my characters.”

He goes on to say: “Color me surprised when I began getting bad reviews and hate mail for daring to put explicit sex in a sci-fi novel. WTF? I thought everyone liked sex.” 

“What amazes me even more than that is the fact that my books have so much violence in them. Apparently I can stab someone fifty times and feed them to the crows while they’re still alive and that’s okay as long as there are no blowjobs.”

Two words: Repressed puritans.

I won’t regurgitate my entire comment to his post except for this:

That kind of strong reaction reminds me of homophobic senators going off against gays then getting caught soliciting sex in public restrooms. The haters are probably the perviest ones of all. Just be honest. Sex is entertainment. It’s a connection with another person even if fleeting and it changes the relationship with the other character.

YA author Saundra Mitchell wrote a post about sexism in response to a NYT article’s cry for more male protagonists ’cause boys just aren’t reading as much as girls. I found this post via YA author Amanda 

I think women, in general, are simply better at visualizing stories. When I read, a movie is playing in my head. My brother’s turning into a bigger Jane Austen fan than me, but would he read one of her books? Nooooo.

My husband doesn’t care if a man, woman or extraterrestrial wrote the story (or whether the protagonist’s a woman) so long as it’s entertaining and good. But he, too, prefers his stories in visual format. 

In the end, what does gender matter? It’s all about voice and I can relate to men as easily as women depending on their thoughts and values. Or maybe I can't relate to them at all, but they tell a dang good story.

Guys already lord over the business world, politics and sports. Women do dark extremely well and I love that we’re dominating the YA market. (And romance - but that one's pretty much a given.) 

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Comes First? The Book or the Blog?

Reporting live from San Juan Island. Last month a group of hitchhikers tried to tell me the lighthouse featured in The Ring was filmed on a neighboring island. They canoed over from St. John’s Island to see the new Harry Potter flick and needed a ride from the theater to Roche Harbor.

According to movie trivia, there is no Moesko Island and the real lighthouse is located in Newport, OR. 

If I’m gonna give you a lift, at least regale me with factual info.

Moving On:

An offhanded request for help customizing my blog quickly escalated into a heated debate with my husband who asked what the point was when I have no book for sale. My answer: Networking, building readership and having the site up and ready when it came time to announce the availability of said book(s). And let’s not forget the fun factor.

Right before turning back to his computer, popping in his earbuds, and queuing Battlestar Galactica on NetFlix he said, “That’d be like me opening up a car dealership with no cars.”

See how well I took his advice.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Writer’s Habitat

While I am no newbie to blogging, this is my first blog dedicated to fiction genre writing, promotion and connecting with other authors and readers.

I would like to start, not with words, but a photo essay of my current writing habitat. It was most likely a combination of the secluded forest surroundings, Pacific Northwest weather, part-time work schedule and not knowing anyone on this island since moving six months ago that lent itself to some of my most productive writing days (two complete novels in three months).

Now I’m taking time out to edit, enjoy the sun (at last!), spend time with friends and re-evaluate the road to publication. Online self-publishing is looking more and more like the most viable approach.

Check out our funky rental situated on three acres in Friday Harbor, WA.

Can't see a single neighbor from any window - my idea of paradise.
Jungle cat montage in the entry. The previous owner was a tile maker. 

A patch of bamboo in front of a defunct lap pool. For an extra $100 a month we could have had the pool reinstated with a greenhouse covering. We opted to save the money in rent and heating despite the temptation to have our very own lap pool right outside our bedroom sliding glass door. 
3 in a tree.

Beware Chair. Covered in moss below a circle of chains hanging from a tree towards the back of the property. Kinda creepy.

 "Wildlife" abounds on our lot.
 And there's a dog grave.

This funky shoe reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. On that note, I just learned that Dorothy’s slippers were actually silver, not ruby, in L. Frank Baum’s original story. I suppose red was more cinematic. My character, Aurora Sky, wears a red scarf to cover bite marks after she’s turned into a vampire assassin. She’s ironic that way.