Monday, March 22, 2010

Who am I?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent the weekend re-vamping my blog and website. I really felt like my blog in particular was a generic, cookie-cutter product that didn't showcase any of who I want to be as a writer. Then, I got to thinking about it and realized that when I started my blog a little over a year ago, I had no idea who I was.

I wrote my first book in a flurry of keystrokes, cranking out a product that fit a preconceived notion of what I thought readers(and agents)wanted. It was soft, fluffy, and a bit non-committal. In essence, the book was a big fat bowl of vanilla ice cream. I took a break, queried, took my hits and started back up, this time working on a sequel. I relaxed a little, let my personality come though a bit more, and the end result was--well--more like pralines and cream. A step up from vanilla, but not by much.

The rejections rolled in, one after the other. My request rate, a little worse than ten percent. "Your writing shows promise, but it's not quite there," became the standard response to submissions. I took another break. A little longer this time. I networked, I blogged, I critiqued. And I made some friends in the writing world. But it wasn't until a rainy Saturday morning last May that I finally realized why my writing wasn't quite there.

A single sentence popped into my head. A voice in, of all things, first person. Um, I don't write first person! I don't like it! But the voice would not be silenced and an idea bloomed in my mind bright and urgent. I sat down at my laptop and in one weekend wrote the first 10,000 words. The story was dark, my heroine, bold, brash and unapologetic. Her steel-toed boots and samurai sword were a far cry from my previous characters. The tone of the novel, decidedly darker. I wrote the book in just under three months and couldn't have been happier with the end-product. My voice had finally shown through. The story had taken on a life of its own, no longer fitting the mold of what I thought readers and agents wanted. This book was one-hundred million percent ME. This book was a big 'ole bowl of Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey. And you know what? This book has had a much better reception. I can't believe how blessed I've been during this long query process.

One of my friends asked me the other day about my first book, now shelved and resting, maybe indefinitely. "You could always revise it," she said. "Do you think you will?" I thought about it, rolled the possibility in my mind and said, "I've been thinking about that, and I've decided that book just isn't what I want to be known for. It's not the kind of writer I want to be. I like the dark stuff, I like hard, angsty characters." And I know--KNOW--this dark stuff won't be everyone's cup of tea. But it's mine. And if I like it, there's other readers and agents out there that will like it too. I didn't try to please anyone but myself, and by doing that, I became the writer I knew I could be.

So when someone asks, "What do you write?" I'll no longer waffle on the answer, trying to decide what they want to hear. I'll answer, "I write dark urban fantasy. And I like it."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring "Cleaning"

I've been inspired by my super busy friends. Many of them are revamping their blogs and websites and since at this particular moment I'm in a holding pattern... that is, waiting, waiting, WAITING... I thought I'd spruce up for spring too with a new and improved blog backdrop and a title that I felt was more fitting to me as a writer. My website as well as been "enhanced" with a new photo and a new excerpt from my WIP. Do you get antsy as well? Are you constantly itchy to change your look? Let me know!! :D

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Quick Shout Out

I'm seriously going to TRY to be a better blogger, as in, I'm going to step out of the blog chain box and post more often. So, I think I'll take baby steps and crawl back in to it! ;)

My friend Michael's YA paranormal, The Dark Light of November, was recently released as an e-book! You can check it out by visiting his blog or you can purchase the e-book through the following links:



Congrat's Michael! And good luck!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blog Chain - Talk to Me

My poor blog... it's been pretty neglected lately. After a brief hiatus forced by a nasty computer virus, I'm back on line. But--I'm determined to finish all of my crit reading and give some much needed attention to my WsIP right now. (Yes, I'm working on multiple projects right now, something I said I'd NEVER do!)So, aside from blog chain, I've kept a pretty low profile. Thanks to everyone who still follows me, I'm sorry I haven't commented on your blogs lately and I appreciate that you haven't dumped me yet! ;)

Kate started the chain this round, throwing down the gauntlet with a many-parted question:

Do you enjoy writing dialogue? Do you use a lot of dialogue in your writing (for our purposes "a lot" will be defined as more than a smidge and yet not so much that the quotes key on your computer is completely worn out.)? Do you have example(s) of dialogue you especially enjoyed from something you've read? Do you have example(s) of dialogue from your own writing? What about these examples makes them special?

I LOVE writing dialog. It's one aspect of my writing that I don't mind tooting my own horn about. I think I do it well and I also think I have a knack for making dialog come across as natural and fluid. Though I don't think I overuse dialog in my writing, (I hope it's about a 50/50 mix), I use dialog as a means for description as well as a tension builder within a scene.

I have SO many favorite books, so many exchanges of words that I love. Finding a good example was hard. Ultimately, I decided on a short exchange that really shows how good dialog can amp up tension in a scene. I'm a HUGE Anne Rice Fan, and this exchange between Louis and Lestat in Interview With the Vampire is one of my favorites:

"Why do you do this, Lestat?" I asked.

"I like to do it," he said. "I enjoy it." He looked at me. "I don't say that you have to enjoy it. Take your aesthete's tastes to purer things. Kill them swiftly if you will, but do it! Learn that you're a killer! Ah!"

The dialog tags here are simple: he said, he looked at me. But the conversation between the characters shows me all I need to know. The heated tempers are there, the tension is there. I can tell the friction between them is building to a point that will soon explode. This--is great dialog.

As far as my own writing goes, I'm going to defer to one of my crit partner's suggestions. It's a small snippet, as I'd like to keep this post to a PG-13 rating ;)

“Finn, her house was decked out for a date night, candles, dinner on the table, wine. Are you seriously going to stand there and tell me that you stood her up? No phone call, no apologies?”

“You’re damn right that’s what I’m telling you.” He’d closed the space between them, his stance aggressive as he leaned down to eye level. “She was nasty to you every single day of your life. Do you really think I’d give two shits if her feelings were hurt about being stood up? She deserved it. In fact, she deserved a lot more than that. I’d never play nice with anyone who’d hurt you.”

“Did she deserve to die?” Jacquelyn asked.

“What? No,” Finn said, looking away. “But damnit, Jax…”

“What, Finn?” she demanded. “What?”

“Why can’t you see that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get you back? I’m dying here. I can’t breathe without you. You’re killing me.”

I like this exchange because it's a tense moment between my characters. I mean, it's not every day you accuse your ex-boyfriend of bringing down some serious supernatural death down on someone. Both characters are stressed. Jacquelyn, because she's trying to stop a killer and has to face the possibility someone she loved is behind the murders. And Finn, because he can't believe he's being accused by the woman he's been trying to win back for the last few chapters. I wanted their exchange to be charged, real. And as I wrote it, my stomach tightened, my jaw clenched, and I hope that the reader feels that physical tension as well while reading the words.

Want more spectacular dialog? Check out Sandra's post tomorrow!!