Archive for the 'Writing Process' Category

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Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
The Chase

Last week was a busy one for me. I finished the first draft of Witch Fury, and I completed all the edits on Witch Heart. *whew* Except for the final proof read, I don’t have to worry about Witch Heart anymore. Witch Fury still needs a lot of work, though. That book will go through at least two more drafts before I send it off to my editor.

Yesterday I also started plotting a new novella. I’m itching to begin writing it, but I need to map it out a little more before I dive in. That’s what I plan to do today. I need to delve a little deeper into my characters and find out what makes them tick. I have to decide whose story it is primarily–the hero or the heroine’s?

By the end of the day I’ll probably know a lot more about how the “chase” will go.

There’s a common thread that runs through all romance novels, no matter the sub-genre. Usually either the hero or the heroine is doing the “chasing”. Nine times out of ten, it’s the hero chasing the heroine. Generally that’s because most romance novels focus on the heroine–it’s mostly her story, her journey–and she’s the one with the most emotional baggage. That baggage prevents her from jumping right into a relationship with the hero. He needs to pursue her and convince her that she loves him and will be happiest with only him.

It’s not always the hero doing the chasing, sometimes it’s the heroine. And in some books neither of them wants a relationship, but it ends up happening anyway. But I mostly seem to read stories in which the hero chases.

I tallied up my own novels and found they range the spectrum. When I write there tends to be a natural “chaser” who emerges, and that chaser tends to be the character who has the least amount of personal baggage. Or sometimes, like in Witch Fire, they both resist–but falling in love happens despite them.

So, here’s my question for you–what sort of story to do you most enjoy reading? Do you like it when the hero is the one to pursue the heroine or vice versa? Or do you enjoy a mix? What scenarios do some of your favorite romance novels feature?

Friday, July 11th, 2008
The Typical Writer’s Cycle of Anxiety

Well, this is my personal cycle of anxiety, anyway. The creation of a novel brings with it a roller coaster of emotion.

I start research on a new novel. There is excitement! Geeky joy! The glomming of lots of new books to read in order to help me build my world! Yay! Yayayayayayayay!

During the plotting stage — more happy, happy, joy, joy! The creation of new characters? Bliss! Discovering their pasts and all the deep, dark secrets that drive them throughout the book? Wheee!

I start the novel and look forward to writing every day. I luuuuurve it with a passion that gets me up from my fluffy bed at six every morning to write before my tornado, er, daughter wakes up. There are occasional bouts of dark ohmygodthisSUCKSandeveryonewillhateit.

I finish the first draft and go into the editing stage, which is intensive for me. Happy, happy, yet far more frequent incidences of ohmygodthisSUCKSandeveryonewillhateit.

I complete all revisions (which take me almost as long as writing the first draft) and send it off to my editor. I’m satisfied with my story and the way I told it. It could be no other way, after all. *shrug* I feel I have done justice to my characters. Yayayayayayayayay!!! *drinks champagne with husband*

First round of edits from editor arrives. I realize that while I can change sentence structure and move paragraphs around, ect, I can’t make any major changes to the book. Eeek! Anxiety sets in. Lots of ohmygodthisSUCKSandeveryonewillhateit. Lots and lots of second guessing myself.

Final proofreading stage. Same dealio as edits, except I have talked myself into my zen place now, so I’m feeling better about the whole thing.

Book release. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay! Lots of joy! My book is out there and people are reading it. Ohmygod…my book is out there and people are reading it? Eeeeeeeeeeek! What if everyone hates it? What if it totally sucks? Ack! Blarg! Blargity blarg blarg blarg! *vomits in trashcan* And yet…my anxiety is also mixed with this euphoria born of having my story out there in print.

Gradually the anxiety fades back into peacefulness as I see that not everyone hates my books *wipes sweat from brow* Whew! I mean, I can’t expect to please everyone but most people seem to be enjoying it. And all is well. S’okay. Zen place is found once more.

And the cycle starts again.

Welcome to a peek inside my head. Scary, huh? 😉

This post brought to you by the first round of edits on Witch Heart.

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

I am about 40% finished with Witch Fury and rapidly reaching the halfway mark. It’s misleading to say I’m “40%” finished, however, because there’s always so much cutting, rearranging, adding, rewriting, ect during my editing portion of the book writing process. But this is how far along I am in the initial draft.

The male lead is infuriating. He won’t do what I need him to do. Sometimes characters are like that. You create them to be a certain way and then their personalities make “dealing” with them difficult. In this case, the hero is stoic, untalkative, gruff and uncooperative. He was like that in Witch Heart too, but in that book he was only a secondary character. I’m going to have to get the whip out soon.

I’m writing this morning, but will probably knock off at some point today to take my daughter to the zoo. It’s beautiful here. I hope it’s half as pretty where you are.

If you have a second, be sure and check out Lauren Dane’s new cover for Fated. Also, go on over and take a peek at Megan Hart’s cover for her next Spice release, Stranger. They are both incredibly pretty!

Saturday, December 1st, 2007
Argh! First kiss scenes!

Kissing scenes are hard to write anyway, but the first kiss scene? Argh! The pressure! The expectations! It makes it all the harder. You have to get it just right, you know? The charged erotic climate. The blossoming attraction between the hero and the heroine that might, juuuust might turn into something more.

You have to nail the sensuality of it. The slow glide, lip to lip. The taste of each other’s mouth. The scent of their skin. The slip of tongue against tongue that sends tremors of want through them both. The twining of their breath, a little bit of their souls. How to get it exactly right… What are their hands doing? Are his hands at the small of her back, holding her flush against his chest? Are hers curled into the fabric of his shirt at his shoulders?

It makes me crazy getting the details straight.

As you might be able to tell, I’m writing a first kiss scene right now. I’ve rewritten it several times. 😉

Not holding this one up as an example of a good kiss scene (I’m waaay too critical of my writing to ever think that), but I do like this one in Water Crystal (Ellora’s Cave).


Excerpt from Water Crystal, by Anya Bast (Copyright 2008, all rights reserved)

The room was empty save for the two of them. Steam billowed from the surface of one filled tub. To its right side stood a shelf containing shampoo and soap. On the other side stood a rack of large towels.

Angelo uncuffed her and turned to leave, but hesitated at the door. “Let me check the boards on these windows, Bianca.” He went around the room, making sure the windows were nailed tight enough that she couldn’t pry them off.

“I’m not going to try and escape,” she said.

He turned and gave her a look of disbelief. “After what you pulled at Hank’s, am I supposed to believe that?”
“Angelo, I swear. I’m much safer with you than without you at this point.”

“I agree with you for the first time since we met.”

“The water’s getting cold,” she complained.

“Just give me a few more minutes, okay?”

She gave him that sly, secret smile that was fast becoming her trademark. That smile meant she was up to something. “Well, if you won’t leave me alone, I guess I’ll just have bathe with you in the room.”

Before he had a chance to protest, she unbuttoned her pants and sent them sliding down her legs to pool at her feet. Shapely calves flowing into strong, beautiful thighs met his view. Above that was a peek of blue material under her shirt, blue cotton with tiny, faded red roses.

She kicked her pants away with one slim foot and the smooth muscles of her legs rippled. He couldn’t look away from her. Damn, he couldn’t even move. There it was again—that tightness in his body, settling in his groin. He hated that she had such power over him. He hated it even more that she knew she had that power over him.

Her hands went to the bottom of her shirt, as she prepared to slide it up over her head. Her flat abdomen came into view.
His paralysis broke and he went to her in four fast strides. He caught her hands and pushed them down, forcing her shirt back into place. She looked pleased with herself. Too damned pleased. She knew that she had the upper hand, and that she could bring him to his knees if she tried hard enough. He knew it and so did she.

Playing with fire, that’s what Bianca loved to do…but she could she handle the inferno once it was started? Angelo doubted it. Maybe it was time to turn the tables. Maybe it was time to push her buttons and reveal the truth at the same time.
Winding one arm around her waist so she couldn’t step away from him, he caught her chin in his fingers and tipped her face to his. “Are you going to be ready for me, Bianca, when I finally call your bluff?”

She looked uncertain for a moment. That same raw look of innocence wounded crossed her features. A fake smile flickered across her face. “Bluff? What do you mean?”

He drew his thumb over her lower lip. It was soft and smooth. He couldn’t help but think about how her mouth was going to feel under his, so lush, warm and wet.

“This is what I mean.” He lowered his face toward hers, and he felt her stiffen.

“Look, I’m sorry I teased.” She snaked her hand between them. Her palm pressed against his chest. “This is a bad idea, Angelo,” she whispered so low he almost couldn’t hear her.

He nodded his head slightly, his intent gaze on her lips. “It’s the worst idea I ever had.” He drew his hand from her chin to the base of her spine, and then pressed her into him while his mouth descended on hers.

Her lips were unmoving at first and then her body relaxed, curving to fit him perfectly. Her mouth moved under his, returning his kiss with a sudden urgency. He coaxed her lips apart and let his tongue explore within.

Her hands came up tentatively, fluttering against his arms as though she was unsure what to do with them. She finally curled the fingers of one hand into the hair at the nape of his neck. The other she pressed tight against the back of his shoulder. It almost seemed as though she was willing more of him against her.

Her tongue found his and moved against it artlessly. Her inexperienced strokes simply served to stoke the fire that was already burning hot and high within him. All his resolve about staying celibate dissolved like sugar stirred into water at the press of her lips and tongue against his.

He brought a hand around and cupped one small breast, brushing his thumb back and forth over her erect nipple through the material of her T-shirt. She moaned deep in her throat and arched into him. Reveling in the feel of her taut breast pushing against the thin fabric, he pressed his hard cock against her so she could feel what she was doing to him, and how much he wanted her.
She pulled away a little, gasped, looked surprised for a moment, then smiled and sealed her mouth back on his with a new urgency.

He found the edge of her T-shirt and pushed his hand under it to caress the skin of her lower back. She felt firm and warm. He let his hand roam down, finding hot, aroused pussy and cupping it. She’d creamed nicely for him. He could feel the dampness through the thin bit of material. He wanted to push aside her underwear and slide his finger up inside her but he resisted. He wanted so much more than she was going to be able to give him. His body ached with the desire to lower her to the floor and help her discover all the ways a man and woman could find pleasure together, because for all her teasing she didn’t know.

He’d been right all along about her. The truth of it was in her kiss. It had been in her innocent desire the night before.
Then he couldn’t stand it any longer, when his body shook from the need to explore the creamy folds of her bared sex, he eased his hand up her thigh and slid between them.

Bianca made a low, satisfied sound in her throat and spread her legs to give him better access. He pushed the material away and dragged his fingers over her sex. He shuddered, remembering how good she’d tasted the night before, how sweetly she’d shattered for him not once, but twice.

Angelo slanted his mouth over her and hungrily sank his tongue into her hot mouth over and over, trying to consume her. She whimpered against his lips and his cock twitched.

He teased and stroked her clit until her breath came faster and her body tensed, then he slid first one finger up inside her hot little sex, then added a second. He worked them in and out of her, still kissing her deeply, until her interior muscles spasmed and her cream gushed out as she came. He caught all her soft cries against his tongue. It hadn’t taken long to make her climax. She seemed hot and eager for sexual experience.

She groaned deeply into his mouth, catching and gently dragging his lower lip between her small white teeth. Angelo’s whole body shook. He was so close to throwing her down and fucking her until she couldn’t see straight.

But he couldn’t do that.

And she wasn’t ready for it anyway.

Suppressing a groan of frustration, he released her and backed away.

He looked at her and couldn’t help but smile. Now who had the upper hand? It had nearly killed him to get it, but he’d savor it while he had it.

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Cross posted to the Bradford Bunch Blog

Recently I’ve been hearing stories about writers doing rash things when they’ve been unable to sell their work. Quitting forever (is a popular one), but some people even hurt themselves physically over what they perceive as a failure. (I use the word perceive because I have a much different definition of failure than most people.)

On the happy flip side of this, one of my dear friends Lauren Dane has sold two books to Berkley Heat recently! I have watched her from the beginning, before she sold to Ellora’s Cave. Over the years I’ve observed her unwillingness to never give up, even when she thought things looked their darkest.
It took me ten years to sell my first book. During that time, I endured a bad agent relationship, and amassed enough rejection letters to wallpaper two rooms. I even I did quit “forever” once. I meant it, too, and didn’t write again for three years until I realized I was being dumb and I should be doing the one thing I loved, regardless of whether or not I sold. Once I started writing purely because I loved it, that’s when everything fell into place for me.

Of course we want to sell to publishers. Writers don’t want to exist in a vacuum. We want to share our words and worlds with other people.  That’s why we don’t simply just write for the joy of it and simply slip our finished product under the bed. We write for the the joy of it and try to sell that work to the world to read. And it’s a hard sell in most cases. Sure, once in a while you read about someone who never had to struggle, (and secretly we hate them. Heh.), but most of the time it takes years of blood, sweat, and commitment to finally break in.

It’s the result of art meeting commerce. It’s an uneasy match most times, and heartbreaking for those who have produced art that isn’t marketable.

The bottom line is that to pursue this path, you must have perseverance. Perseverance is not a guarantee that you will eventually sell, but without perseverance odds are you won’t. Writing is not an easy career path. Choose it because you love to write. Don’t choose it because you think you’re going to make a lot of money. You probably won’t. Choose this path because you love the “work” and, above all, persevere.

If you can keep an image in your mind of who you want to be and work toward making it real, chances are that, (with some stumblings and a few confusions here and there), you’ll succeed. It might take you ten years or longer, but you’ll eventually make a break.

Can you tell me about one time you really had to get your perseverance on?  How did you manage it?

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007
Stuff and Nothing

I woke up at 5am and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I got up to write and do some picky administrative things I’ve been putting off. (Writers have to do picky administrative things. Who knew?)

Going through my email, I found five pieces of email from readers stashed in various places. OY. I have a one touch policy with reader email. I open it and reply to it immediately. When it’s stashed in strange folders, it makes it hard for me to do that. Four bits were about Witch Fire (I’m totally amazed I ever get any at all).  Made me happy. Did not make me happy they were stuck in an unread folder. I replied immediately.

There was also an email about Ordinary Charm. Out of all my Ellora’s Cave books, that one gets the biggest response from readers. Maybe because it’s a witch book? Apparently I’m not bad at writing witches. Hmmm….maybe I should examine that one more closely. Heh. Maybe because the witch is overweight? Not many romance novels, erotic or otherwise with plus size characters.

In other news, I finally hit my stride on Witch Heart. I had to rewrite the beginning twenty gazillion times because getting the book off to the wrong start…? Not good. Finally Adam blew something up and everything fell into place. I set the book in Crocus Hill, St. Paul, Mn (That would be the Summit Avenue area, for those who know). Well, a big chunk of it will be there, anyway. I plan to do some damage. 🙂 Demons run amok and such. Funnily enough, I know more about this area of St. Paul now than when I lived there. Via research and the Intarweb!

Today I am photo-documenting my day as a blogging experiment. If it doesn’t turn out too incredibly boring, I’ll post it soon.

Monday, January 22nd, 2007
My Muse (That Bastard!)

I finished Whisper of the Blade for EC yesterday, happily sent it off, and eased into the wonderful bliss that accompanies the completion of a work and the fulfillment of a contract. I love that short time between projects when you can relax and recharge your creative batteries a little.

But yesterday evening I began to see this scene in my head. It got stuck in there like a song you’re obsessively playing in your mind. I could see everything so clearly. So this morning I gave in and wrote the scene, thinking I just needed to get it out of my head…then kept writing. It was like the words became tribbles or something. I rarely have this happen. Normally writing is hard for me because I over-think everything. It doesn’t just come this way.

The bottom line is that now I feel a compulsive urge to write this story, which is GREAT except for a couple different things…

A.) I have two sequels to write for EC and people keep emailing me about them–the sequel to Ordinary Charm and the sequel to Blood of the Damned.

B.) I have a book for Berkley to write and I really, really, really want to write it, but I need to wait to make sure the proposal for Witch Blood (that would be the sequel to Witch Fire) is acceptable first.

C.) I have been robbed of my Between Project Downtime.

I really need to put my muse over my knee and spank his tanned, muscular butt. I mean, how rude!!

But, hey, I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. As long as I have the time, (and the words are making like tribbles), I’ll follow this trail wherever it leads.

Monday, January 15th, 2007
The Blinking Cursor

I’m sitting here looking at a blank page and a blinking cursor, wondering what to blog about. Cats? Been there, done that (often). Characters? Done that too. The lure of the vampire, werewolf and other supernatural folk? Been blogged about by many, including myself.

But I could talk about the blinking cursor and the blank page. That perfect nothingness every writer faces when it’s time to start a new project…with that annoying cursor that seems to be thumbing its nose at you if you’re not drawing any ideas. Writing really is like making something from nothing, or, rather, maybe it’s more like pulling a lump from the innermost quagmire of the author’s mind and then shaping it into something recognizable. Sculpting, weaving, those are the analogies I use most when thinking about writing.

I always start with a character—a man or a woman who has a certain personality. I want to see how they react when they’re thrown into certain circumstances. What decisions do they make? How do they react? How do those decisions and reactions drive the plot? I always use the example of Angelo from Water Crystal. That book started with him. I wanted to write about an honorable man who worked for a true villain. That concept intrigued me and I wanted to explore it further, thus, Water Crystal was born.

Normally when I’m confronted with the blinking cursor and a new project, I’ll write a few lines about the character I’m mulling and what I circumstances I want to throw him or her into. Then (usually) I’ll start out by putting him or her in danger or in some high-tension situation. Sometimes I keep that beginning, sometimes not. It’s important I write it in order to get a better feel for his/her personality. That’s really the purpose.

Then I’ll sit down and start to figure out their character more in depth. Sometimes I find out more about him or her–him AND her by this point, since I write romance—than I’ll ever need for the book. This is just more exploratory stuff for my own benefit. (Do you doubt I had an imaginary friend when I was a kid? *g*).

After I’m satisfied with that progress, I’ll plot. I used to be a pantser (a writer who writes without plotting, by the “seat of her pants”), but little by little, book-by-book, I’ve found that I prefer to plot first. I always leave some wiggle room, though, in case I have to take an unexpected turn down the writing road.

That’s usually how it goes for me. Sometimes I get a flash of a scene and everything flows directly from there, the plot growing organically (I did that with Edge of Sweetness). I don’t think that one way is better than another way. Whatever ways works best for the author is golden.

If you’re a writer, how do you deal with the blinking cursor, a blank page and a new project?

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