Let the Bidding War Begin!

writing-at-snowy-window

Let the Bidding War Begin!

Shaaa! I hope.

I finished my next contemporary romance novella last week and spent Easter weekend submitting it to a half-dozen lucky publishers. You may remember from an earlier blog post just how taxing book submissions can be (ha ha, since I sent them April 15/16).

I’ve posted a few extras and excerpts from Counting on Him for your enjoyment.

Here are 5 reasons to love this book: 

  1. The hero, Sean, isn’t a massive, successful, tough, Vin Diesel Alpha male. He’s more of a laid back, charming, Matthew McConaughey screw-up. He lives life on his own terms, doesn’t bother anyone, doesn’t rely on anyone, has gorgeous green eyes and is happily cruising through life.
  2. I wanted to add a little diversity to my book, but I’m about as diverse as a box of tissues. What do I know about the complexities of life experienced by people of color, gender fluidity, refugees of war-torn nations and the like. Nothing! Not. A. Thing. But I did grow up in North Jersey. And 30 years later, the nasally twang of my friends’ Jewish mothers still infects my brain. Not necessarily in a bad way…but it’s there nonetheless. So, I decided my heroine, Gabby, would not only struggle dealing with her life choices, but the anticipated reactions of her Jewish mother.
  3. Stephen King’s On Writing book encourages authors to weave symbolism into their writing. I embraced that sentiment and added a few elements into Counting on Him.
    To mirror the book’s title, numbers are prevalent. Sean counts the floors in the slowly ascending elevator. Gabby counts the weeks before she has to make a decision.
    To build tension through the book, the summer temperatures grow more and more oppressive–until the story culminates in a massive cathartic thunderstorm.
  4. I loved the Gilmore Girls and desperately wanted to live in Stars Hollow, so I gave Roselle a similar small town vibe. The coffee shop has a bell over the door and a big bay window. The town hosts a Community Service Fair in the park. It’s quaint and charming and I can’t wait to revisit it in my next book.

Number 5–The book’s ending is to die for! Sean finds his motivation, Gabby gets her perfect man and they live happily ever after. Isn’t that all any of us want?

SO, now I just have to sit back and wait to hear the accolades from my potential publishers. FYI – I give points for quick responses.

Tick tock, people. There’s a whole world out there, eager to read my book. 🙂

4 Analogies for Skiers and Writers

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I love skiing, but I hate being cold. That may seem like an untenable conflict, but it’s actually not. You see, I have spent considerable time and energy (not to mention money) creating the perfect layering philosophy.

For you novelists out there, you’ll appreciate how this philosophy aligns with writing strategies:

  1. Double layers. To stay warm in single, and low double digits temperatures, make sure every body part is covered with three or even four layers. Camisole, shirt, sweater and jacket on top and socks, leggings, long underwear and ski pants on the bottom.
    For writing, I equate double layers to the symbolism you should weave through your writing. By adding repeating themes or elements, you can give your reader a jolt of pleasure when they recognize a pattern–it’s like finding a prize on a treasure hunt. In Dare to Love, Nivea’s favorite flower was the forget-me-not. I used it to represent her hope that Dare would not cast her aside, and it provided a nice tangible element that ties them together throughout. Nivea’s wedding dress is blue and Dare gives her a handkerchief embroidered with the delicate flower.  
  2. Make sure all your layers are smooth. When wearing so many layers of clothing, it’s hard to bring everything together smoothly. But there is nothing worse than stepping out on the slope and realizing you have a big wrinkle in your sock, right under your left heel. And it’s driving you crazy. But you’d have to take off six layers of clothes in the freezing cold, to smooth it out. So, while you’re dressing, make sure everything is comfortable before adding another layer.
    Writers – figure out your pacing. Your readers want a satisfying conclusion. But they don’t want the ending to feel rushed. Build the attraction, draw out the conflict and then develop a satisfying resolution. Readers want the hero and heroine to overcome challenges, but deserve each other in the end.
  3. Tuck everything in. Shirt tucked inside leggings, gator tucked into jacket, glove liners tucked into sleeves. The cold will creep into the smallest openings and drive you nuts.
    Writers – don’t leave the reader hanging. If you mention a person/place/situation, make sure there’s a reason. If your heroine references a crazy Aunt Doris in chapter two, be sure she pops up in chapter 17 to offer unexpectedly sage advice or to diffuse a tense situation. Readers don’t appreciate dead ends…unless they serve as a teaser for your next novel.
  4. Fill your pockets – On the mountain, you are at the mercy of mother nature. The cold will make your lips freeze, your nose run, your eyes tear. You’ll get hungry, thirsty and tired. But you will also see amazing sights you’ll want to share with your friends. This is where the ski pockets come in. My jacket currently contains:  chapstick, tissues, ski pass, money, my license (hot chocolate with Kahlua is da’bomb!), hand/foot warmers, trail map, cell phone, a PB&J sandwich (because ski food is expensive!) and a small flask (ditto).
    Writers – get the tools you need. There are a number of great books to help you–Stephen King’s book On Writing  is my favorite. Find a writing chapter, support group, or writers conference where you can learn the finer points of writing dialogue, researching, copy editing, creating a plot board, etc. For romance writers, joining Romance Writers of America (RWA) is vital. You can register for online workshops, conferences, contests and chapters around the country. There are message boards where you where you can ask questions and share advice.  Plus you can find the best resource–a critique partner. No matter how smoothly the story sounds in your head, it is most likely not translating as seamlessly on paper. Creating a support network of writers will help boost you up when times get tough, cheer you on when you have doubts and celebrate when you finally achieve your dreams.

Happy writing. Happy 2017!

Stephen King Rules!

I have become a recent devotee of Stephen King. Not for his horror novels, although if you like that genre they’re certainly riveting.

Nope, I am reading his legendary “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” In a word, it is awesome. Part autobiography, part “sitting down to bullshit with an incredibly insightful author who is happy to share his secrets to writing.”  I wish I had read it like 10 years ago before I started my novel, but I’m self-aware enough to know that I never would have paid attention. Why should I? I knew how to write!

But now that I’ve started and tossed aside two manuscripts and been mercilessly tortured by my editor on the third (thank you, Corinne), I’ve learned a few things. And Mr. King has been kind enough to package those rules in an elucidating and entertaining format. I’m paraphrasing here, but he advocates:

1. Learn your grammar. I had no idea how little training I had. Sentence structure, tenses, adverb… I thought I could skate by with guessing, but no, that stuff is actually important. And Mr. King explains why.

2. Read–anywhere and everywhere. I love this advice, because he specifically recommended reading on the treadmill. I’ve been doing that for years and my family makes fun of me for not really working out. Now I can say I’m working. The purpose is to study what works and what doesn’t–dialogue, tension, pacing–and figure out why.

3. Write. He’s a pantser (writes by the seat of his pants). He deliberately avoids plotting his book because he never knows where his characters may take him. He recommends writing your ideas, writing every day and getting out a first draft. If you get stuck, take a walk, mull, ponder, put yourself in your characters’ minds and they will tell you where to go.

4. Polish.  Once it’s written, then you fine-tune. Add embellishments. Look for, and strengthen symbolism, Read your dialogue out loud to make sure it sounds natural. And don’t be afraid to “murder your darlings,” cutting out the precious gems you’ve written that just don’t work.

There’s much more, all written in a much more interesting voice than I could ever match.

Read it. And let me know what you think.