March 6th, 2006
Editing Revelation

I’ve been polishing the first 60 pages of a new WIP to a glossy, high shine, (well, that’s my intention, anyway,) and found a new way to catch all my stupid little errors.

All writers have these trademarks screw-ups when they write. For me it’s sometimes writing “slid” when I mean “slide” and vice-versa, or writing “breath” when I mean “breathe” and vice-versa. I also skip words frequently. It’s almost as if my mind is going faster than my typing fingers and I leave out words in my haste to get everything written.

One of my other writerly “quirks” is an inability to really SEE my work when I’ve been spending so much time with it. Normally I need to let the pages sit and cool off for a while (like a couple weeks) so I can go back and reread it with fresh eyes. This is a common technique with writers. However, I don’t have that kind of time in this situation.

So I learned that if I change the way the WIP looks, I catch typos, missing words, wrong words and just general badness-that-needs-changing. If I switch the font from Courier New to Times New Roman, I catch stuff. If I take my whole WIP, copy it and drop into my email acct and read it that way, I catch stuff.

Cool, huh?

Yeah, I’m a geek, I know. It does work, though. At least, it works for me.

March 4th, 2006
Saturday morning feline love

….or feline alieness, depending on your point of view.

This is Samson wondering what the hell I’m doing with the digital camera.

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March 3rd, 2006
I have a myspace profile.

Not sure exactly why I have one. I set it up last week in a fit of boredom.

http://www.myspace.com/anyabast

Still not sure what MySpace is for, exactly. *shrug* I guess I’ll figure it out eventually.

In other news, the only thing worse than writing a detailed ten-page synopsis is writing a one-page synopsis. O, what sweet new misery is this? Actually, it’s an old misery, I just haven’t had to do it in a while.

I have thoroughly bloodied my forehead on my desk.

In yet other news, I’m editing Seduced in Twilight. Hopefully that means a release date is not far behind. (Hopefully.)

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March 1st, 2006
Hmmmm.

Apparently today is National Hey You Got Some Shmutz on your Head Day. Sadly, I am shmutzless. I feel rather less than festive.

Today is the last day of my arduous work week. Hallelujah. Three ten hour workdays here in the Cube Farm leave me with creative impotence. I just can’t get it up. But I’ll sleep in a little tomorrow morning, regain my verve, and be ready to start back in on my BDSM quickie for Ellora’s Cave. There’s nothing like a story with lots of hot bondage to burn the remnants of the Dilbertesque portion of my week away.

TGIW.

February 28th, 2006
Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy. Synopsis Writing

Synopsis writing is one of the most distasteful parts of being a writer. I have heard of very few writers who enjoy it. I am definitely not one of those (insane) few. Typically, I write my synopses by repeatedly banging my head against my desk until something breaks free in my brain. So far, it’s been an effective technique for me.

Although there are a few other guidelines I follow when synopsis writing:

1. Be a sexy hooker. Find a line that’s intriguing, or humorous, something that immediately grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read on.

2. One paragraph describing the internal conflict for the heroine or hero — usually the protagonist comes first. In romance the story is about two main characters, but you still have a protagonist. In my books, that’s generally the heroine. It’s mostly her journey.

3. One paragraph describing the internal conflict for the other main character. Ideally, the internal conflicts of both the h/h should dovetail and grate against each other. (For example, in Blood of an Angel the heroine has a special grievance against vampires and, as luck would have it, the hero is a vampire.) In these two paragraphs explain why this is the worst possible match for both characters.

4. A paragraph describing the external conflict. This is whatever external circumstances are bringing and keeping the h/h together long enough for them to fall in love. The external conflict, ideally, should magnify the internal conflicts.

5. The inciting incident. This is whatever happens that pulls the protagonist and/or main character from his/her ordinary circumstances into the external conflict.

6. Alliance. The characters decide to overlook their differences and work together to resolve a situation, the external conflict.

7. “Holy crap, I’m attracted to you.” First intimacy occurs. The heroine and hero discover they’re attracted to each other on whatever level — sexual, emotional, both.

8. “What the hell was I thinking?” When the brief interlude ends and the h/h remember all their fears and internal conflicts

9. The external conflict draws the h/h back together. They must work together to resolve the situation, no matter how they might feel about each other. Of course, they’re still attracted to each other. They’re falling in love despite the odds.

10. The black moment. Just when you think everything might turn all right, disaster strikes. This could be a result of the external conflict coming to a head, the internal conflict coming to a head, or both.

11. Resolution. When all conflicts are resolved and the h/h find their Happily Ever After (this is must in the romance genre).

Necessary ingredients:

Show the first meeting between the h/h.
Show their first kiss
Include the loves scenes — especially important in erotic romance

Things you shouldn’t do:

Write a synopsis that reads likes a textbook. The synopsis should be written in an engaging manner. The editor has ten zillion partials on their office floor. You’ve got one chance here. Make the synopsis readable and interesting.

Never leave out the ending or try to hook the editor at the end. They will NOT think it’s cute. They will NOT be rushing to request the full to “find out what happens next”. The synopsis is not a blurb. It should be a clear outline of the entire book, hitting all the plot points, from beginning to end.

Don’t overcomplicate things. Keep it simple. Keep it short.

Happy synopsis writing! (Now there’s an oxymoron.)

February 28th, 2006
Hubris

It takes a lot of ego, or maybe a wish for self-destruction, to write, paint, produce movies, sculpt or do anything artistic and expect people to actually pay money to own, read or watch it.

I mean, think about it. Essentially a writer sifts through their subconscious, mining away, until they think they have a hunk of precious something-or-other they can polish until it’s shiny enough to be desirable to someone else.

Craft definitely comes into play with writing. You know, the whole process a writer goes through to make that hunk conform to certain genre expectations, certain editorial guidelines. I know your ass just puckered at the word “conform,” but we all do it to some extent. Still, that original hunk was pulled up from the muck of our subconscious. The craft part is just the polish.

So, here we are, thinking that this junk we mined from our brains is *valuable* in some way. That people will acually spend *money* for it. Maybe even most impossibly, that they will actually spend *time* engaging with the hunk in some meaningful way.

That takes hubris on the part of the author. Or, perhaps, a will for self-destruction.

Why do I say self-destruction? Because the hunk comes from us. Then we send it out into the big, bad world to be praised…or shat upon. (Woo! I got to write “shat upon” today!) That’s just a part of being a writer, of course. You can’t have thin skin to be a writer. Well, you CAN, but isn’t much fun.

Ever since I can remember I wrote because I love the way words look, feel and sound. Especially the way certain words look, feel and sound when strung together in a certain way. My love for reading and writing sprang originally not from a love of character or story, but for the love of the language.

After I sold my first book and got feedback on it I suffered writer’s block for about 3 months. I couldn’t believe people had actually PAID money to read something I’D written. I was shocked. I was also terrified I’d never be able to do it again. Maybe my next book would completely suck. All of sudden, I felt pressured.

Which, of course, I realize now was the height of hubris. I write my books and send them out. The reader judges them. Some books hit people one way, another book hit people a different way. There’s no telling how the book will be received. There’s too many elements in play to make an adequate prediction for that.

So, I got over myself and now I just write. These days I write for the love of story, character and language (oh, and sex. Can’t forget the sex.) and I only hope that people out there will enjoy the end product.

But I still think I must have a lot of gall to think people will actually want to buy and read the polished hunks of muck from my subconscious.

February 28th, 2006
Recent Reviews

I don’t have any incoming reviews for forever it seems, then I get a whole bunch. Not complaining when they’re like these.

Romance Reviews Today

“BLOOD OF THE DAMNED is a dark, sensual read with many layers. The main characters are both hard edged alphas, but caring and patient with each other. Their personalities are written in a way that makes us acutely aware of their strengths and weaknesses — you either love them or hate them. No ambiguity here. The sex scenes are hot, but tender with a natural feel. They are also believable. If you haven’t read the rest of The Embraced series, BLOOD OF THE DAMNED will make you want to.” ~ Belinda Mays

Read the whole review.

Historical Romance Club
Ordinary Charm

4 1/2 star review ratings
5 rose sexual rating

“The instant attraction between Serena and Cole is captivating. Serena’s self-confidence grows with Cole’s every touch and her earthy energy grounds his God-like powers of magick and seduction. With a generous measure of steamy romance and a heroine of realistic proportions Ordinary Charm is a compelling and wonderfully paced story of timeless and tireless love.” (Ohhh, I like that!) – Jennifer Begley

Read the whole review.

Historical Romance Club
A Change of Season

4 1/2 star review ratings
5 rose sexual rating

“Anya Bast’s A Change of Season is a gripping story of life-saving love and passion, wild and tame at the same time, both scary and wonderful, and so very erotic. Dain is a tortured man and it is Moira’s love that brings him back from the brink of despair and self-loathing…. with a very good mystery thrown in, you are in for a wonderfully lustful and unbridled read.” – Sandra Marlow

Read the whole review.

And…I just booked my THIRD booksigning for next month. Two in Kentucky and one in Nashville, TN.

February 28th, 2006
When You Fall

I fell last night like a big, clumsy dork. My fuzzy slipper got trapped under the couch while my upper body was still experiencing forward momentum and I fell. I didn’t get hurt or anything. My pride was wounded a bit, but the only ones watching me were of the feline persuasion and they see me do stupid things all the time. It amuses them.

The human body rebels against falling. It goes against our drive to protect ourselves. That sensation of falling is actually terrifying because of this. The moment before you fall is like that crystal clear moment before you know you’re going to be in a car crash. Your mind is strangely calm.

So, I’m teetering there, trying to dislodge my fuzzy slipper and I’m thinking, “No, I don’t want to fall! Must get free! Must stay upright!” and my all my self-preservation instincts are fully engaged. Fear is the keyword here.

But at one point I realize I’m going to fall. There’s just no way around it. It’s going to happen. So something in my mind clicks and surrenders. I’m going down. That gut-level, instinctive fear of falling melts into acceptance of the inevitable. I know the only thing I can do now is try and minimize the damage. All this happens in hyper-brain speed, of course.

I can feel my body relax as I start to fall. My mind is clear of thought and fear. You know what they say about a branch needing to bend or it breaks, right? I drop everything I’m carrying and catch myself in a position so I don’t damage my knee.

My point? I do have one, promise.

It brought me right back to high school figure skating. I was on my high school figure skating team and on the hockey precision line (think dance line on skates). Before I say any more, I want to make sure I impress upon you that I was not a GOOD figure skater. Not by any stretch of the imagination. My ass had a very special relationship with the ice. They met often and had extended conversations. So did my hips, knees, chest, elbows and sometimes even my head.

You fall a lot in figure skating, especially when you suck as bad as I did. Because of the falling, figure skating is not a sport in which you can FEAR. If you fear while you’re on the ice, you’re stiff and screwing up and you will spill.

I was not one without fear.

I can still hear my figure skating coach screaming at me to “moooooooooooove!” her voice echoing through the arena. She wanted me to move faster, of course, which meant falling harder. God, sometimes I really wanted to hurt her.

I knew this girl who wore skating outfits made of material that would make her slip and slide on the ice when she fell. She embraced falling and tried to make it fun. She knew that it was a part of the sport she loved and had completely accepted that. No fear. This girl was like that in life, too. She pursued everything passionately, accepting risk as the cost of happiness.

And there was this little girl at the rink I used to go to on weekends. Tiny bit of a thing. She must have been 7 or 8. She’d do salchows, toe loops, axels. She’d fall and pick herself and launch into another round of spins and jumps with a laugh and toss of her head. No fear, this child. Of course, she had less distance to fall.

I admired these two people a lot for their lack of fear, a state I was never able to achieve.

Although I’m getting better at doing it in my life. When I know I’m going to fall, when it’s completely inevitable, I’m getting better at surrendering, accepting and bending into it. So figure skating taught me something important, at least.