Times a wastin’

Blogs, facebook & twitters are messing with my life. There is so much information coming in that very little solid writing is getting done.  I have some exciting stories to write and more keep popping into my head when I sit still for longer than ten minutes.

At the moment I can write pretty much full time but I’m finding the distractions of the internet really hard to resist. The need to network, research sites to visit, and of course checking out the cabana boys the RWA Australia chickies like to flaunt uses up a lot of valuable writing time. But hot bodies won’t increase the word count.

So what can?

The answer is GOOGLE READER.

I currently follow 41 blogs by subscription. I know its too large a number of blogs to open on a daily basis. I already had an account with Google and under the “more” tag I found this nifty little helper. When you subscribe to a blog, Google Reader will list all posts by reverse date order (so you see the newest at the top).  All I have to do each day is click on the top one, read, then click next until all the new blogs are viewed.  I’m done without fuss and with far less time wasted while the blog pages update.

It’s a great way to manage my blog surfing. Have you found anything similar elsewhere?

The end of a character

Last time I blogged about character development. I wondered how the children I know now would grow as they become adults. When you’re young you have so many choices before you. You can be anything you want to be and nothing can stop you but your own mind.

As a writer we dream a past and future for our characters. We grow to love them, even the evil ones, and plot out their lives. We hold the power to make their lives wonderful or miserable. Long or short.

I joked this morning to a critique partner who was after feedback that when in doubt she could consider killing  a character. That death could have caused huge conflicts between the hero and heroine, guilt and relief. It might make the story better and the happily ever after sweeter. It is not a joke I will ever make again.

There is no happily ever after today. Not when a boy was sixteen, had his whole life ahead of him but by a foolish choice deprived himself of a happily ever after. Youth, speed and trees end a life.

RIP Ryan.

Building Character

My son played soccer this weekend. Not really an uncommon event but it was interesting game. I was particularly interested in how the boys interacted.

One boy has a habit of stealing the ball away from his own team members. Not really a nice trait in a player but I don’t think he means it. His focus is totally on the ball and the other kids seem to let it slide.

Another child, a frequent goal scorer, I heard him mutter “too easy” when he scored his third goal of the match. Yeah, I agree, his reaction is slightly scary but I’m hoping he’ll grow out of it. He’s a really sweet kid.

My son is not a consistent player and is easily distracted. Yet yesterday he was on fire, his best game of the year, but unfortunately the last of the season. He scored! And his reaction – the biggest, brightest smile I’ve ever seen on his face. Plus two thumbs up!

What I’ve been thinking about is how differently the boys react. How far will the traits they have now change as they age? What type of partner will grow to love them?

I know, at age seven, I might be getting a bit ahead of myself, but when we develop characters to write about, the experiences of childhood affect how they react to situations too.

How far back into your characters past do you imagine when crafting your story?

Information overload – Reboot required.

As you can see, I made it back from the Romance Writers of America conference.  The flight was as expected, I didn’t sleep but since I was on the Qantas Airbus, I was pretty comfortable and very well entertained.  Half a season of True Blood, 3 movies and I started learning to play bridge.  What more could a sleepless girl want?

The conference was awesome.  The Marriott Wardman in Washington was such a pretty venue, but large.   I did get lost a couple of times. LOL. It’s so hard to pick a favourite presenter or even a favourite session, so I’ll name three.

Sex Throughout History with Delilah Marvelle – if you can catch this author presenting its well worth attending just for the slide show.

The Birth and Feeding of a Series Story Arc with Claudia Dain, Sabrina Jeffries, and Deb Marlowe – should be essential to a romance writers education.

The Setting as Character with Jade Lee – OMG what a funny and great session. I learned heaps from this author.

As with any conference there is so much to take in that there comes a time when its too much. You guessed it ‘conference flu’ hit hard once I was on home soil. Did I worry that it might be serious? You bet. But after two weeks I’m well again and planning to resume torturing myself with my early morning walks.

The best part of the trip was meeting my critique partners in the flesh. They are an amazing bunch of women, smart, funny and all very pretty. I think we will all look great on our future book covers!

Writing a historical requires research

Readers are clever people, they know what they like, and especially what they don’t. Some like danger and intrigue and some, like me, prefer things on the lighter side. I write what I most like to read: an escape from the present world and a good dose of hero and heroine attraction.

When I began reading historical romances, I had no idea what a barouche was. I did not know when gaslights were installed in London, and I knew nothing about King George III or his illness, other than what the writer told me. The more you read, however, the more you learn that sometimes works of fiction are not always correct and it should be.

The detail in a historical romance fascinates me but since I don’t live in England, and Australia doesn’t teach a great deal of English History, I have to find my own sources of information. All I can say is thank you, internet. So, in appreciation for the wonderful internet resources out there I am going to plug some of my favourite sources of information on the net.

Google books is brilliant.
It contains thousands of book titles and frequently, partial and full, PDF copies of older books (those out of copyright), from cover to cover. Each entry includes an ‘About this book’ page with basic bibliographic data like title, author, publication date, length and subject. You will be able to download, save and/or print a PDF version to read off-line.

For the historical romance writer, acquiring older works can be expensive and unless you live in the country you are writing about, copies can be hard to track down. With the internet at your fingers, you can find an answer to almost any question but be sure to double check your facts. You don’t want to make a mistake.

Homework for this edition:
Go to the Google books homepage, type in Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, and click search books. You should get a list, now qualify that you only want to show Full View Only and your list will shrink. The top few books should mention the author Francis Grose and list different publication dates. Click on the one you would most like to view and you will get a “Read this book” page. Just follow the arrows and leaf through the pages. It’s that easy.

Getting it together

Learning new things take time. And developing strong, clear writing is no exception. The critique group I joined is a wonderful group of writers, funny, warm, and extremely talented. I have recieved so much encouragement for my work that I often blush. I hope if your part of a critique group that you recieve the same level of encouragement and give back in kind.

But writing isn’t just about the story. As I have come to understand, a writer must also learn how to market themselves and I hope you will enjoy the sneek peeks at my works in progress.

In the beginning …

In the beginning there was the idea that I could write a novel. It took me nine months to complete Chills, another month to type up because I wanted the whole writer experience (or what I thought it was) and hand wrote in notebooks. Foolish girl aren’t I.
Then came NaNoWriMo – and I thought why not. So I spent a month feverishly writing my next novel and let my butt really spread. Just kidding … although! Never mind. Thanks to NaNoWriMo I now know what I’m capable of. I wrote a 70k novel in a month. Knocking over a chapter each writing session was possible. Editing should be easy right! Yeah sure. No.

Editing my first novel was hard. I had forgotten a lot of what I had written. I seem to have forgotten all about the rules of punctuation too. A crash course in punctuation was needed. I’m a member of a nice friendly writing group and I have finally submitted some chapters for critique. I’m looking forward to hearing what they say…