Why So Series-ous?

First, you’ll have to forgive the horrible pun–I’m still braindead from my recent trip to New York City and susceptible to bad judgement calls. Puns, the temptation to cut my own bangs, watching Sharknado 3 last night…

But I didn’t actually want to discuss the series of increasingly outrageous shark movies. I wanted to talk about book miniseries. I have a new book coming out! FALLING FOR THE SHERIFF will be available for download as an e-book starting August 1 and should be hitting bookstore shelves by mid-month. It’s the first book in my new small town series Cupid’s Bow, Texas.

It’s funny because for the first dozen books of my career, I only wrote “standalones.” It never occurred to me to keep writing about familiar characters or settings even though some of my favorite authors do just that. Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark hot paranormals? I am a HUGE fan girl. (Seriously. I have no dignity at all when I talk to her.) And, after discovering the first two, I read every Harry Potter book the day it was released, saw every movie and may or may not have attended the screening of Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 dressed as Luna Lovegood. (You don’t have the photo. You can’t prove anything.)

But it wasn’t until an RWA conference like the one I just attended that I heard Eloisa James give a workshop on writing your own miniseries that I had a lightbulb moment.Aha

I love fictional communities. I love picking up a JD Robb “In Death” book and seeing how the characters’ lives are progressing, whether it’s Eve & Roarke’s marriage, Peabody making detective, or Eve’s best friend having a baby. And let’s not even talk about the four zillion “Sweet Valley High” books I read when I was twelve. My favorite television shows are usually ones with a tight-knit community of characters, whether they’re the quirky employees of Pawnee, Indiana’s Parks & Recreation Department or a vampire slayer, her best friends and her Watcher. So why wasn’t I building my own community, book after book?

I have now done a few miniseries, such as the Colorado Cades trilogy and Four Seasons in Mistletoe, but those were finite. I knew before I started them that it would only be a certain number. Then I had to start all over, reinventing the wheel–coming up with a new place and all new people. My editors and I have left the Cupid’s Bow series open-ended and I hope to be writing them for a long time to come.

But if you’re going to write a series, there are a few things to keep in mind.

1) The sooner you start a record of all the characters, the better. Details will trip you up. Decide early when a character’s birthday is and what color his eyes are. Mistakes later will jar readers from your story. A record of overlapping plot timelines is also critical.

2) You’re stuck with the facts you create. If you have a secondary character who has five kids and you want to write her book later but five kids is too many to keep track of on page, you can’t suddenly pretend that one of them didn’t exist. Perhaps the child can go stay with Grandma, but you have to acknowledge the absence. Similarly, if you have an anti-hero type who would make an interesting protagonist down the road, make sure you don’t have them do anything in an earlier book that you can’t redeem.

3) If you don’t subtly create expectations, readers will develop their own. Sometimes I give a minor character a few great lines of dialogue and readers will attach to that character, sending me emails like “Will the cranky old postman have his own book?” It would be very difficult for me to convince my editors to buy a book where the cranky postman is the hot hero. So while I like all of my characters to be interesting and have some great exchanges, I’m working harder to make it clear with each book who the hero and/or heroine of the next book will be. That gives readers something specific to look forward and hopefully they’ll be invested enough to pre-order the next book!

Currently, I’m working on Book 2 in the Cupid’s Bow series (Falling for the Rancher) but when I’m done, I plan to go on a massive reading binge. What are some of YOUR favorite book series that I should check out?

2 Comments

Writer Church

Jude

A quick photo with Jude Deveraux after the luncheon

This year during the RWA 2015 Librarians’ Luncheon, I put a new name to an old feeling: writer church. Jude Deveraux wasn’t telling us how to be a better writer. She didn’t even have an altar call, although I might’ve gone down if she did and I doubt I would’ve been alone. No, she told us about her trials and tribulations in writing a story based on Pride and Prejudice. I saw a lot of nodding heads.

IMG_3595

Jennifer Crusie, after her workshop on turning points

Later in the conference, I had the pleasure of hearing Jennifer Crusie. I’d never heard her speak before, but it felt as though my atrophied English major muscles were reaching out to her PowerPoint perfection. Once again, writer church.

But writer church isn’t just about the preaching. It’s also about the fellowship.

IMG_3557

The view from my side of the table–alas, I did not have truffles to throw #fail

Kincaid

The fabulous Kimberly Kincaid–poor dear will often be stuck next to me, I’m afraid

On Wednesday I got to have my first Readers for Life Literacy Autographing. It was only my second group signing, but I kinda loved it. Thanks to years of observation, I didn’t expect to sell a case of books, but I sold a few. More importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie. Kimberly Kincaid and I held it down for the Ks then did the same at the Kensington signing the next day. I then had a great time at the Kensington party, and my only regret is that all of those pictures came out either dark or blurry.

On Friday, I got to be Tanya’s plus one, and you can see we met up with fellow Bad Girl, Brighton. That was quite a party. Maybe we didn’t brainstorm or do anything writerly, but those parties are still important. The writing profession is a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. Celebrating each milestone helps us keep going.

BadGirlz

Selfie with Tanya Michaels and Brighton Walsh

Criticism Workshop

Post-workshop ladies ready to go conquer all of the constructive–and not so constructive–criticism

On Saturday, Tanya and I gave our workshop. I’m hoping we gave a little bit of church to the folks who attended. I have no illusions of being one of the heavy hitters, but, over the years, I’ve learned that all of those little workshop granules collected over the years add up to my being a better writer. I’d settle for dispensing a granule to someone.

Nora

Nora Roberts is a boss

Just for fun, here’s a picture of me with Nora Roberts. I like to soak up a little of her aura when I can. Also meeting her reminds me of my lax discipline, and I keep trying to get a little better about that each year.

Any questions about Nationals this year? Or about conferences in general? Any speakers I particularly need to be on the lookout for? Even as I write this I’m still in the post-conference fog. Pretty sure I’d have a cold, too, if not for Tanya’s insistence that I take my daily Airborne.

FullSizeRender (1)

I go away for a few days, and the Mister decides to be a pirate complete with nontraditional shoulder pet

Oh, and while you think on those questions, here’s what was happening back at the Ponderosa…

8 Comments

CAUGHT UP IN THE TOUCH is here!

Is there anyone out there? (I can actually hear my voice echoing back:) Many, many romance writers headed to New York City this week for the annual Romance Writer’s Convention. But, not me. Wah! I’m consoling myself with the fact I released my second book this week.

CAUGHT UP IN THE TOUCH is out in the wild and available for your eyeballs! I’m especially proud of this book because it has garnered some really great reviews. It received RT Book Reviews TOP PICK and a Caught-Up-in-the-Touch-by-Laura-Trentham-300x433STARRED review in the Library Journal.

“The electrifying chemistry and sassy banter between her protagonists is decidedly fun, but their clumsier, awkward moments are perhaps a bit more endearing, adding a sweet note to this all-around success.” — RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 star TOP PICK

“Reliable characters coupled with passionate and genuine love scenes complete the package.” — Library Journal STARRED review

“It’s funny and touching and sexy and irresistible. I loved every single minute of this book!” — Romantic Reads and Such

“Caught Up in the Touch steals my heart!” — Romancing Life book blog

Have I sold you yet with my shameless marketing? How about a short excerpt?

They didn’t talk on the short drive to Lilliana’s. He turned the truck off but made no move to get out. Neither did she. Instead, they turned toward each other, still in-sync, their fingers twining. He dropped a kiss on her temple. “I don’t suppose you’d let me smooze with you a little?”

She darted her eyes around the truck cab. “Here? You could come in. We are adults.” She craned her neck to look to the side of the house. “And, I don’t see Lilliana’s SUV.”

He circled his hands around her rib cage, a couple inches shy of her breasts. His breathing turned shallow. “I can’t wait that long. I’ve been dying to kiss you again. Dying, baby.”

“Can you die from sexual frustration?” she teased.

“I don’t know, but I heard-tell you can go blind from too much masturbating. Thanks to you, I already need glasses.”

“Logan, you are so bad.” Her laugh was one of scandalized amusement.

He hummed and nuzzled under her ear. Goose bumps broke over her arms. He moved his hands closer to her breasts. She squirmed and arched toward him. Satisfaction twisted his guts. She was as hot for him as he was for her.

“What do you want?” He hoped she didn’t recognize the thread of desperation in his voice. While the context was sexual, what he really wanted to know was where their flirtation was headed.

“I want”—her eyes closed, and she inhaled slow and deep—“a kiss.”

“That’s all?” Again, he was after more than a sexual answer.

She kept her eyes closed, her answer vague and dreamy. “I don’t know.”

He’d never had to broach the subject of getting serious with a woman. Either the woman brought it up, sending him backpedaling, or they were both in it for fun. He had no idea where he stood with Jessica. The only thing he was sure of right now was that she was in his truck and wanted a kiss.

His lips touched hers with a promise he couldn’t put into words. He would be patient. If things stayed uncertain, then he would enjoy her in any way he could, but he’d lay in wait for a signal she wanted more than sex.

The kiss deepened naturally, and her hands slid around his neck, a soft needy noise coming from her throat. He heeded the call, skimming his hand from her waist to the underside of her breast.

“Yes,” she hissed against his mouth.

He smiled against her lips, liking it when her assertive nature edged into their private moments. Would her passion or her logic dominate in the bedroom?

He cupped her breast, his thumb stroking her nipple. It came to attention beneath the layers of fabric.

“Let’s take this inside,” she whispered, skimming her lips along his jaw. She nipped at his earlobe, and pleasure suffused his body. Yet, he hesitated.

Was the bedroom the final destination or a pit stop? He definitely got the irony of the situation. He was worried she wanted only sex, and if he gave her what she wanted, would she lose interest. For the first time, this wasn’t fun and games for him. It felt more like life or death.

Headlights flashing through the cab saved him from choosing between the call of his heart or his body. “We’d better make it another time and place, darlin’”

She looked out the back of the cab. “It’s Lilliana. I guess I’ll see you at Adaline’s?”

She scooted away, but he grabbed her wrist and leaned in for one last too-brief kiss. He watched Jessica and Lilliana walk into the house together, his body screaming in frustration and his heart cramping with longing.

—————————————————————————————–

And…..in case you’re interested here are some convenient links:)

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

Happy reading!

1 Comment

Know Your Source

Approximately one year ago, while frantically trying to get ready for the RITA awards, I turned to my roommates—two very dear, trusted friends of mine—and I asked them a serious question. A question I had avoided asking for years, I was so worried about the answer I might receive.

Namely: Are my eyebrows okay?

Bert from Sesame Street says U is for Unibrow This might not seem like a serious question to some people, but to me, it was a source of anxiety and self-doubt. I’m the child of a woman who never wore makeup in her life, who referred to push-up bras as “liar bras”, and whose highest pair of heels was a staggering inch and a half. Pretty much everything I’ve learned about makeup and clothes has been self-taught, and I’ve always secretly worried I was doing it wrong.

Eyebrows in particular were this mystifying thing. I thought mine looked okay, but people who don’t get them right are subject to such derision.

Treating my question with the gravity it deserved, my roommates took a long look at my face. And then, at the exact same time, chimed in with, “Well, you could probably fill them in a little,” AND, “You could stand to thin them out a smidge.”

I was, unsurprisingly, boggled.

The interesting thing about this story is not the current state of my brows—though I would venture to say that they’re looking quite a bit better than they used to. It’s the fact that, upon further reflection, I noticed an important fact.

The person who suggested I could stand to fill them in a bit? Fills hers in. The one who suggested thinning them out? Has to thin hers out.

You see, no matter how objectively we think we’re approaching a situation, we can’t help but view it through the lens of our experiences. Our own biases. Whatever problem you see in your own personal care routine you’re more likely to see in others’.

And whatever problems you see in your own manuscripts, you’re also more likely to find in your friends’.

And so we arrive at the point of this post.

Critique partners, editors, beta readers. Whomever you turn to for feedback on your words. Their input is invaluable. BUT, they will always bring their perspective to their interpretation of your work. While no piece of feedback should be discarded out of hand, it’s important to know who’s giving the feedback and how their own experiences may shape what they have to say. The CP who LOVES dirty talking may prod you to add more. The one who cringes at it may suggest you cut it down. Is either point of view less worthy of consideration? Absolutely not. But knowing your critique partners’ biases help you decide how to take their feedback and how best to adjust your story in light of it.

Finally, it’s worth noting that with respect to my eyebrow situation? Biased or not, and as contradictory as their advice might have seemed at the time: both of my roommates were right.

And a tiny bit of plucking and a good brow pencil make an absolute world of difference.

2 Comments

Do You Change Your Game Near the Finish Line?

Wow, this summer is whizzing by! And if I say so myself, I’ve pretty much been winning it (just don’t count the vegetable garden or the state of my housekeeping, or my committed daily exercise regimen). I’ve been places, done cool stuff, seen family and friends including some much needed R&R with my BadGirlz, and even managed to get some sewing projects to turn out nicely. I may even have a new day job in the works. Best of all, though, is my writing progress. I’ve gotten some great feedback from critique partners and contest judges, and my current WIP is at the 75% mark. I can see, smell, and taste that finish line! So why are things getting weird?

 
I wish I knew, but it’s happened before… pretty much every time. By this point in the drafting process, I feel like I know the story inside and out. I know all the whats, whens, wheres, whys, and hows of everything that needs to take place to get me to The End. All this momentum, and motivation, too—and then I sort of stall out on my current scene. I’m usually a very chronological writer. I start on Page One and plug away until I get to the last page. But then, usually at about three-quarters through, all the later scenes start making too much noise in my head. The Black Moment, the bleakness after, the resolution scene that’s so sweet I can’t even stand it—all of these start feeling realer, better, and way easier to write than the thing I’m working on. And the thing I’m working on happens to be a decently juicy scene, too. Whole sections of dialogue, fully detailed descriptions, and awesome one-liners are now bouncing around in my head for scenes that are a couple of chapters down the road. My current scene feels like homework in comparison.

 
So, I’ve decided to go rogue. I’m writing the scenes down in another file, to be cut and pasted into the manuscript when the time comes. It’s resulting in word count and getting me closer to the ending… but it feels like I’m cheating. Cheating on my process? Bitch, please. For a good two years there, you didn’t even have a process. Maybe this is my process? Linear up to a point, then whatever’s going to get the job done. And the same sort of thing happened back in the old days, too. So I might be onto something. Like previous posts from Heather and Sophia, there is no one right way to do it. But I’m sure there are also more wrong ways to do it than stars in the Milky Way….

 
So how do you write as you approach the finish line? Do you do scenes at random when the fancy strikes, or are you a stickler for chronology? Do you have a tried and true process, or try different things each time?

6 Comments

The Right/Write Path…

I’m friends with a lot of writers – as I’m sure everyone reading this is!

Sometimes I get this weird feeling of an invisible spider crawling up my neck. And it always comes along when people start hating on someone’s chosen path to publication. I don’t want any part of that hate. I want everyone to be successful, no matter which route they chose. Traditional, Indie, Self, Hybrid, Fan Fiction, writing notes on the back of a napkin…

Woo hoo! Confetti Cannon!

Why does the creepy little spider need to come out at all? Why can’t we just be happy for the choice another person has made? Why do we have to belittle or give backhanded compliments? Why do we have to trash each other? The business of writing is difficult – no matter which path you chose. You have to do what’s best for you – no apologies.

Life-Motivational-Picture-Quote-1s413rn

My brain works in encouragement. It works in everyone being kind to each other. It works in building each other up, because there are so many ways that life can tear us down. I support my fellow writers. And I’m lucky to have a very supportive network of friends – writers and readers.

But what is success?

Is success getting signed by an agent? A traditional publisher? A small press? Self Publishing?

Is success amount of money made? Or number of books sold? Or making a Best Seller list?

Ask ten people and you may get ten different answers.

Here’s the good news: We can all be successful, because we all measure success differently. And hopefully – our measure of success is constantly changing.  (Mine sure has).

Someone else’s failure does not mean I will be a success – and vice versa. So there’s no reason to hate on others for the path they chose and the success they have, is there?

I love this Neil Gaiman quote, because seriously, if you put out the story in your head, in your voice, no one can say you aren’t a success. Because YOU DID IT!

Neil Gaiman Quote

Oscar Wilde, one of my all-time favorite authors, once said:  “Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.”

Be you. Live your life. Write your words. Be kind. Don’t worry about anyone else’s decisions. Give high fives and encouragement. It’s not gonna hurt. In fact, you may find yourself in the good graces of fellow authors who’s support may help take your career to the next level.

10 Comments

Conference Crazy!

With the RWA conference right around the corner, I have one question. Are you ready? I’m not talking about having your room booked, bags packed and your flight plan arranged. I want to know if you are mentally ready.

Mentally?!

Lori, why do I need to be mentally ready? I’ll tell you why. In my experience, a big conference can be a bit overwhelming. Lots and lots of things are going on at one time, and all of this awesomeness can lead to sensory overload and sometimes drive you conference crazy. Don’t be surprised if you need to sneak off for a little down time to re-center.

check yourself

Mingling!

The first day you’ll walk around in a state of amazement and euphoria. Your favorite publishers will be there. Your favorite agents will be there. Your favorite authors will be there. Right there in the flesh! They will be walking next to you, eating in the same restaurants, drinking with you at the bar. This is SO cool, yet emotionally overpowering at the same time.

Workshops!

There will be many, many workshops. You’ll find yourself stressing over which ones to choose. And sure enough there will always be a scheduling conflict, but it’s ok.  You’re only one person. Decide which one will benefit you the most and go to that one, then review the schedule again. You may find there’s another workshop with similar elements at a different time. If you go with friends, you can always take this tip from the Bad Girlz. We’ll split up and attend both, then share what we’ve learned later in the day.

Pitching!

I could tell you to relax and stay calm when it comes to pitching, but come on, really??? You’re going to be nervous. It’s natural. The best advice I can give you on this topic is to look good, be professional, and try your best. When you look good, you’ll feel more confident, and when it comes to pitching, we need all the confidence we can get. The industry professionals are looking for a great story and they’re not too concerned if your teeth are chattering when you give it to them.

Book signings!

Do you know when I attended my first RWA conference, I had no idea publishers gave away FREE books. Nope. I missed ALL the signings. Hangs my head in shame. However, YOU won’t miss them because I’m telling you about them right now! You will get to meet and fan-girl some of your favorite authors, and they will give you FREE BOOKS. Autographed books! Did I mention, FREE?

Keynotes!

Warning! The keynote speakers’ speeches will make you laugh, cry, and have you reflecting on why you write in the first place and digging that deep into your psyche can be exhausting.

Remember, as much as you try, you will not get to do it all. And that’s okay. Don’t stress. They have one every year. My point is this, don’t drive yourself conference crazy. If you find your feeling a bit drained, take a time out. Go sit in a coffee shop alone, or hide out in your room for a few minutes. Rejuvenate. Mentally prepare for the next thing on your list.

The wonderful news is YOU WILL HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE. You will come home on fire, ready to be the next Nora Roberts.

Remember to Dream Big!

11 Comments

Get Out of My Head!

Well, it was bound to happen eventually. And now it has happened, Bad Girlz of the World. Someone got into my head and sapped my ability to write this manuscript.

For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll call this person She-who-must-not-be-named. She-who-must-not-be-named said things that I can’t forget, but I also won’t repeat on the internet. Sorry. You’ll have to take my word that it was terrible. I had this unfortunate encounter with lady no name in May. Even now, with what I’m writing two months later, I can’t shake the feeling that all of my words are wrong. Every line of every character in every plot now fail to live up to some standard this lady has set for me. And if nothing is good enough, then nothing is exactly what I will write. Sounds reasonable, right? Only my total word count yesterday was 36 deleted words, so that would be negative 36…while on a deadline. Curse you, She-who-must-not-be-named!

Has this ever happened to you? I’m guessing that I’m not alone with all the experiences out there of critiques gone wrong, mean-spirited contest feedback, one star reviews, and bad editorial matches. We’re told that we must develop thick skin to be published authors, but that doesn’t make us impervious to taking vicious criticism to heart. It’s hard, but I’m usually able to bounce back from these situations once I’m away from it for a day. This time, however, I let this lady get into my head and now I can’t seem to get her out.

What’s a Bad Girl to do? I have no idea. But, this is what I’m trying…

1. Write a giant blog post of woe…Alright, maybe that part was self-explanatory since you’re reading mine. But it does help to write words, any words, if only to remind ourselves that we do have the ability to complete a sentence.

2. Assess She-who-must-not-be-named to determine the validity of her opinion. As my mom always advised me when I was upset about something that was said, “Consider the source.” If she offered information of value to positively change your writing, then use it. Some people, however, are mean for the sake of being mean. Others, while not mean, are not your readers. While still others are mean and not your readers. Mean people who are not your readers are allowed freedom of speech, but no one is required to listen to them.

mean people suck

3. Realize that you can’t make She-who-must-not-be-named happy. Some people don’t want to be happy. And as we decided in step 2, she is mean and not your reader. So, let her be unhappy over in her little corner of the world. Walk away and don’t look back. Don’t engage her. Don’t argue with her. And, don’t dwell on her awful words for the next two months of your life thereby stomping on all confidence and creativity you may have—I’m looking at you on that last bit, E. Michels. She-who-must-not-be-named doesn’t deserve that kind of power over you.

powerless

4. Remember that you have people in your life who love the words that you write, the stories you tell. Those are your people, those are your readers, not She-who-must-not-be-named. Write for your people, write for you—just write. Write….write…write…seriously, go write even if they’re all the wrong words. Two wrongs may not make a right, but 80k wrong words make a book that you’re then able to edit.

good enough

Has a She-who-must-not-be-named ever gotten into your head? What did you do to get her out?

22 Comments

Jenna P Goes to AWC: The Tale of My First Non-Romance Writers’ Conference

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend my very first non-romance writers’ conference.  That’s not to say that romance writers couldn’t attend, in fact the lovely Elizabeth Michels accompanied me for moral support (I swear I’m not balding.  The man behind me is. :) )

AWC-pic

It really just means that the primary focus isn’t writing in the romance genre.  And I must say it was very different.  Good different, but different.  So, today I thought I’d put together a little list of the things I learned while attending the Atlanta Writers’ Conference (AWC).

1.  Not all writers spend as much time planning their conference shoe selections as they do their pitch.

I know.  Crazy, right?  Every conference I’ve been to up until this point has been a combination of worrying over pitching and worrying over my wardrobe.  I realize this is mostly due to the fact that RWA hosted conferences are primarily made up of female attendees and this conference was not, but I thought it was worth the mention.  I saw all levels of attire while there, and it was kind of a nice break not having to worry too much with it.

2.  Being an introvert definitely leaves you at a disadvantage at the mixer events.

Not only am I an introvert, but I am also a big believer in manners and etiquette.  It’s hard enough for me to work up the nerve to blindly talk to someone, let alone interrupt a monopolizer pitching their eighth book in a row to the one agent I want to talk to.  First off, if you are that person, just…don’t.  And second, if you’re like me, you’re going to have to find a way to do this if you want your share of the limelight.  For me, a couple glasses of wine helps.

3.  Always remember how subjective this industry is, and learn to adapt.

Okay, so this isn’t really something I just learned, but I was reminded of it.  I signed up for both an editor critique and an agent pitch from two amazing people.  The editor read my query and loved it – said it was perfect and not to change a thing.  The agent read my query and spent most of my ten minute pitch session editing it.  And here’s the thing – they were both right, just liked things a little different.  It reminded me that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all.

4.  It’s okay if I can’t write 4 books per year, because no one in my genre is writing 4 books per year. 

This one was HUGE for me.  I’ve been stressing out because most of my friends with book deals have three or four releases in a year and I’m not sure I could do this, at least not without quitting my job and hiring a taxi driver to get my girls to the gym.  However, one of the agents at the conference said to expect a release every twelve to eighteen months – which I can definitely do.  Then when I hit it big (because it’s GOING to happen, right??), I can quit my day job, hire a driver, and pump out three a year, if needed.  Of course, this is very specific to your genre, so make sure you know what you’re in for.

And the most important thing I learned at the AWC is….

5.  Be YOU, Jenna P. Be dark and be serious and be as heavy as you want to be.

That is what I’m good at.  That is why I write.  That is what makes me get all teary eyed when I’m going through revisions.  I try to offset the darkness with quirky characters and happy for now endings, but the subjects I write about are still heavy and the characters are deeply tormented by bad stuff.  For a long time now, I’ve been worried it was just too much and thought maybe I should try something new.  But then the editor who critiqued my first chapter told me to make sure I didn’t get too light later on in the book.

Say what?

I seriously could’ve hugged her right there if they wouldn’t have thrown me out.  FINALLY!  Someone wants me to be darker!  And I knew this would NOT be a problem!  EVER!

So, all in all, I would say the Atlanta Writers’ Conference was a success in my book.  It was very well organized and I loved the smaller, more intimate feel of it.  I also love that they hold two of these a year, one in the spring and one in the fall!  You should check it out.  I will definitely go back, so if you see me don’t be afraid to come up and say hi to the introvert in the corner prepping herself with a couple glasses of wine!

 

 

5 Comments

Fotolia_48164774_Subscription_Monthly_XL_jpg

What If I’ve Already Written My Best Book?

This is a fear I have often. Daily, if I’m being honest. Am I alone? Please, for the love of chocolate, tell me I’m not alone. Lie to me if you have to…

I get asked a lot what my favorite book is that I’ve written and—thus far—my answer is always Caged in Winter. Why? Well, for lots of reasons. I love the characters—they’re, to me, the most complex I’ve written. I love the prose—again, to me, it’s been my most lyrical. Even though I spent the shortest amount of time with that book and those characters as I have anything else I’ve written, I feel like I know them best. I feel like it’s more a part of me than any other book.

Fotolia_48164774_Subscription_Monthly_XL_jpgIt was my first full-length novel, one that came to me in a flood of thoughts and rushed out of me like a waterfall. It is also, apparently, the book of my heart. I didn’t think it was at the time I wrote it—at the time, I just basically vomited out this story that demanded to be told. I’ve heard many authors talk about the books of their heart, and I didn’t think I had one, yet I continually come back to CiW when asked my favorite.

The problem I’m facing now, seven books into this journey, is…what if I’ve already written my best work? What if everything else I’ve done or will do pales in comparison?

And the thing is, logically, I know that’s not true. I know that with each book, I grow a little more as a writer. I learn how to better create and mold characters. How to create tension and smooth a plot arc and increase emotional investment. Besides that, I have readers who’ve loved each of my books more than any of the others—some of them are Caged in Winter, but, interestingly enough, most are not.

Years ago, when I was a professional photographer, I went to a workshop held by someone I highly admired in the field. She went through our portfolios and gave us feedback on them. When she was going through mine, it was quiet murmurs of appreciation interspersed with head nods and smiles. Until she came to one picture—a personal favorite—and that head nod turned into a head tilt. That murmur of appreciation turned into a, “Huh.” She asked me what the deal was with that picture, because, apparently, it didn’t go with the rest of my work. The answer? It was of my son. I had a personal attachment of the picture, and thus held it in higher regard than other pieces, even if they were “better” in the eyes of others.

Perhaps that’s where I am with holding all my other work up against my first. It was the book that got me an agent. The one that got me my first publishing deal with a big five publisher. The book that got me in bookstores. So I wonder if my viewpoint of it is tainted somehow? If I’m seeing it through rose colored glasses?

The point of this post? I don’t even know, man. This is something I’ve been struggling with for a while, and, honestly, that whole last paragraph? Totally just came to me as I was writing this. It makes sense, though. Readers, agents, industry professionals see your work with fresh eyes and a new perspective. When we, as writers, look at our work, we see the trials and tribulations. The late nights and early mornings. The writes and rewrites and edits and deletions. We can never see just the sum of all the parts. Can never only focus on the project as a whole. We only see what it took to get us there.

What about you? Do you have a book you think everything else you write should be held against? Something that everything else pales in comparison to?

4 Comments

%d bloggers like this: