Tag Archives: writing

Geek Heroes For The Win (Three Wishes Blog Blitz)

Today I’m participating in the Three Wishes Blog Blitz, hosted by author Juliet Madison! From 2nd to 6th September you’ll have the chance to win some awesome prizes at all the blogs participating in the blitz, including mine. All you have to do is follow my instructions below for winning the prize I have on offer, and then you can click over to Juliet’s blog to enter her prize draw, and see the list of all other blogs taking part and enter their giveaways as well. How cool is that? Why is it called the Three Wishes Blog Blitz? Juliet’s new  romantic comedy release, I Dream of Johnny, is about three wishes, a high-tech genie in a lamp, and one very unfortunate typo that proves magic isn’t all it cracked up to be…

geek |gēk|
noun informal
1 an unfashionable or socially inept person.
• [ usu. with modifier ] a knowledge
able and obsessive enthusiast: a computer geek.

Recently, I’m seeing more ‘geek’ heroes appearing in the romance genre and as a bit of a ‘geek’ myself I feel drawn to writing them too. Okay, so the heroes of my last two books are definitely not geeky. Keir from Soul Ties initially pretends to be a little nerdy but soon proves he isn’t (and the whole geek vs nerd debate is a different story…). Evan in Because of Lucy, well, he has a poetic side but I wouldn’t classify that as geek – and he certainly isn’t socially inept.

But Jack in Torn Souls (Soul Ties, #2) is an unashamed geek. The story begins with him gaming – and he studies computer science. Jack is socially inept apart from a close circle of friends, and his first date with Dahlia is cringeworthy and funny. I suppose his ‘geek-ness’ helps a little with accepting the urban fantasy world Dahlia pulls him into. As a character he has to move out of his comfort zone to grow, but his ‘geek’ nature never changes, even when everything else in his life does.  Who would’ve known my years of playing World of Warcraft would end up helping me write a romance novel? And to the guys I met playing the game – no, Jack isn’t based on any of you!

I worried about the reaction I might have from some romance readers with this type of hero but I think there’s a place for the Jacks of the romance world. Not all readers want the alpha male – and I think the light-heartedness which can come from having these heroes is also a reason they’re popular. When I researched this topic I was amazed at how many feature in erotica!

When I introduced Jack to my beta readers they loved him, and I enjoyed writing his awkwardness and humorous thought processes. The quote above is from Jack in Torn Souls (shortly after he discovers his girlfriend isn’t human and he’s not entirely sure what she is). Torn Souls is the second book in the Soul Ties series and will be available later this year (more details here).

So, I’m looking forward to meeting Juliet Madison’s new geek hero in I Dream of Johnny and definitely planning to write more of my own! What do you think? Do you like geek heroes? Do you have any favourites you recommend?

I’m currently running a Rafflecopter giveaway HERE to win a copy of my new release contemporary romance, Because of Lucy. Entries close 12pm Friday 6th September.

Once you’ve entered my giveaway, visit Juliet’s blog & enter her giveaway too, and visit any or all of the other participating blogs to enter more prize draws. You could potentially win a whole heap of prizes! Good luck! Visit the official Blog Blitz post here: http://julietmadison.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/3-wishes-blog-blitz-official-post/ 

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Why I Enter Pitching and Writing Competitions. A Lot.

A year ago I didn’t know what a pitch (or a query was). I’d written a book and needed to figure out what my next step was. Apart from to write another book and continue to develop my writing skills.

I began to follow a lot of blogs, tweets, Facebook pages etc to see what was happening in the writing world around me. I soon realised I needed to practice writing pitches and queries if I wanted to find a publisher or an agent. I needed to learn the art of pitches, queries, first five pages and more to even put myself on the radar. If I didn’t get past the pitching, I wasn’t going anywhere because no-one would read my work. And that included the indie publishing route – readers need pitches too…

Since entering the social media universe in March, I have written and honed pitches for two of my books. For each I created: Twitter length (140 characters), elevator pitch, two sentence, one paragraph and more! Some I’ve entered into competitions, some I’ve used in standard querying. Writing the pitches and queries well enough to get a request for a partial or a full feels as big a craft as writing the book. Maybe I’m at an advantage because I once worked as an advertising copywriter, and commonly had to reduce things to a few well chosen words and sentences.  I enjoy doing it! (I know most people don’t). But I’m not saying ‘hey, I’m a perfect pitcher’…no way! But something worked, as I had a little success in getting myself noticed.

Stepping way out of my comfort zone, in February this year, I entered the Romance Writers Australia ‘First Kiss’ competition. I submitted the first kiss, from my first ever completed novel (after running by my awesome CPs of course!)

I did it for anonymous, constructive criticism. Three judges score entries with comments on aspects of the entry. By entering I could get an idea of what I needed to work on and if I was doing anything right. It was a very hard thing to do…(Remember this is the person who refused to let anyone read their work until November last year).

Entering the competition feels like an age away now, and the results came out this week. I received my ranking and my score sheets – the top 6 went through and I was number 7. I posted on Facebook that I was teeth-gnashing about it, but in all honesty, I was overjoyed. Especially once I got hold of the score sheets for my first entry to an industry writing competition and saw the positives and the ‘needs work’. When I re-read the entry this week, I saw 100 things (oh, okay, maybe 20) things I’d do differently. Maybe next time I’ll make that top 6!

I think the upshot of my rambling is: By entering competitions, big or small, you get an indication of how you’re faring in an aspect of your writing, judged by people who have no connection to you. Often these competitions include other writers and readers of the genre as preliminary judges, so I think they are as valid for those wanting to indie publish too. They’re not just about discovering what the publishers want. You will fail to win, you might not even get past the first round, but you can often see the results and what the winners did differently. Which helps for next time.

I haven’t won any competitions yet, but what I’ve learnt has been reward enough. No, honestly it has. And I’ll tell you why later this week.

When The Voices Stop

I end up on my blog.

I know it’s bad when even Facebook and Twitter hold no allure.

So I decide to read instead and can’t enjoy the story for one of two reasons:

a. Constant, unintended copyediting caused by my week in the editing cave OR

b. I fall into the ‘this is great therefore my writing sucks’ trap.

Gah.

I think I burnt my brain out this week. Or possibly this could be the reason:

Image

(Click on the picture for a link to the poster – it’s from the merchandise site of the lovely people who run NaNoWriMo )

I’m sure the voices will be back soon. Undoubtedly around 3am in the morning.

Writing Outside My Comfort Zone

I recently started writing a new book in the ‘Soul Ties’ series and I’ve given myself a challenge. I’ve decided to write in first person. And dual POV. And present tense.

All my recent books have been 3rd person, because I’ve never felt comfortable writing 1st person. I’m not sure why, I think I got into the habit and preferred it.

I’ve been reading a lot of new adult genre books written with dual POV. At first, I wasn’t too sure, I thought I’d find it too confusing. But I enjoyed them – being able to see directly into the minds of both the hero and the heroine added something new. Maybe it’s because I like delving into more than one character’s head and here is a different way of doing it.

I’m having a lot of fun writing my hero. Jack’s a completely different age (and sex!) to me, and getting the voice right is a real challenge as a writer. Dahlia is easier, but swapping from head to head means ensuring their voices are different.

I’m not head-hopping every page, they have their own chapters that blend and that is also a challenge – not making it too jarring for the reader. Occasionally, I come across a book using dual POV in a confusing way and I hope to avoid that!

Do you prefer 1st or 3rd person?

Have you read any books in dual POV you’ve enjoyed? Or have you written in that style? I’d love to hear your experiences!

Musings On Music, Ian McKellen and Writing With No Clothes On

ianmckellen

I have been watching very old episodes of the English soap Coronation Street. In the current episodes, Ian McKellen plays a writer of a trashy romance called “Hard Grinding”. From the reaction of the local book club, it sounds like it’s an early version of “50 Shades”…

But! Apart from the delight at seeing him hamming it up, I watched with interest as he gave out “how to be a better writer” tips to the unfortunate Norris. And the gem “write with no clothes on” was one of them.  Certainly a tip to consider when Ian McKellen tells you to write naked.

There are a few unusual “tips” out there. Such as…

The other day I read I should write sensual scenes wearing my best lingerie. Umm. Or sniffing wine corks. Err… I’d rather drink the wine instead – great cure for writer’s block. Not mocking by the way, just intrigued by what helps different people.

But one thing I choose to do is listen to music that fits the mood of what I’m writing. By the end of my first draft I normally have a couple of songs that evoke the characters or the world in my mind.

I know this is common amongst writers. So I thought I’d share some of mine:

Soul Ties:

Ava begins the book as a snarky, in your face character who storms into the world of the other characters. She gets cut down to size but this song reminds me of her and led to me giving her a signature item of clothing:

This song belongs to the blackest part of the story:

The relationship between Jack and Dahlia at the beginning of my WIP was inspired by this song:

For Eternal Vigilance, I got stuck in the atmospheric Disintegration album… so many songs from there fitted the atmosphere of the relationship between Lorelei and Gabe.

In fact, I seem to have a bit of a The Cure vibe around my writing currently. Hmm.

Anyway, I’m off to sit naked, sniff wine corks and listen to Muse*. Or my muse. Or something.

*(so annoyed with them, I loved them pre-Vampire baseball)

The Ups and Downs of Throwing My Writing to the World

leopard2

Until last year, no-one had read a word of the fiction I’d written. Not since I was 15 anyway.

Since then I have sent my finished manuscript all over the world in attempts to get it noticed.

Obviously, there was a step in between where I wrote, edited, wrote, edited. And people read it. Critiqued it. Edited it. Beta read it.

I’ve had responses to Twitter pitches, requests for partial, requests for fulls and of course the rejections that go with it. I expect rejections. I didn’t feel like I was a “real” writer until I got one.

This week I have had three different types of rejections that have me wondering.

1. Thanks but no thanks. Keep us in mind for the future. No feedback.

2. Interesting idea, not for us and here are some links to places to help polish your manuscript further.

3. Not interested. And was that bit in the middle really necessary?

My responses were:

1. Another one with no feedback. Of course, the majority will be this. But that’s tough because how do I know what wasn’t right? What was good? Or was any of it?

2. At last! Some pointers in the right direction. The editor who sent me this rejection went above and beyond. She sent me the notes she’d made on my partial. She didn’t have to but she did. Despite the fact this was a rejection and it had a lot of negative comments…it was FANTASTIC!  I finally got to see some mistakes I was making I could change. I’m still overawed that somebody did this for me.

3. This has highlighted to me again the problem with where to “fit” my manuscript. I went straight to my beta readers and asked them what they thought. After a day of scratching my head I came to the conclusion that a NA romance doesn’t fit the Adult romance criteria the same. The bit in the middle? Her new adult world. The main focus of her struggle and development towards acceptance that allows her to react differently when the black moment hits. Cut it out and she’s a flat heroine running in circles whinging. My beta readers agree, one of whom is my target audience. TLDR: Not all stories fit all publishers.

And my steps towards learning from these things:

1. Well, keep submitting. If I’m getting asked for fulls something fits. I just need to grow my writing.

2. Found some wonderful, online editing software: Autocrit. I’ve edited some early chapters and sent to my CP who liked the changes so much she’s using it herself now. Throughly recommended to anyone editing their own work before handing it to others.

3. I’m pulling it apart. I’m re-writing. I’m restructuring. I have a better idea of the genres now than I did before I entered the crazy e-publishing social media melee. I know what works for the NA genre and what I need to add/cut to fit it more tightly. Which ironically means that middle part is no longer merely a middle part and becomes a bigger focus.

Not a very succinct post this time but I wanted to share. It’s been an odd week.

But I’m not giving up.

What The New Adult Genre Means To Me

na

When I began writing Eternal Vigilance, I decided that my main character should be college age. One of the reason for this is her journey from teen to adult is threatened by the intrusion of things into her life that she can’t control. I think one of the challenges in personal development at this age is the acceptance that the progression into a new adult life isn’t always going to go to plan. Okay, not normally due to supernatural interference but hey, it could happen… My heroine has to let go of the inflexible attitude she has to how she sees her adulthood in order to develop. I am also fed up with heroines in YA paranormal romances dropping at the feet of the first inexplicably beautiful supernatural guy they come across. If she has big plans, why give them up for someone so readily?

At the point I began to query, I considered my novel as a fit for the Young Adult genre because it wasn’t quite Adult. Until I came across the New Adult genre. I scratched my head for a while, read a few articles and I still think that there is a fine line between New Adult as a marketing tool and as a genre.

The best discussion I’ve read is an article in the School Library Journal by Angela Carstensen. The article is here . She describes it as:

The basic idea of New Adult is to create and promote a body of literature about the post-teenaged, emerging adult experience, aimed at readers aged 16 – 29.

I’ve seen NA described as YA with more sex and swearing or as books catering for the YA readers who’ve ‘outgrown’ YA books as they’ve got older. But I remember reading books years ago that I don’t think would be included in YA now because of subject matter but were in the “Teen” section back in the day.

Personally, I find the best way of thinking about NA compared to Adult or YA is the journey of the characters. NA characters are focused a little more on the here and now – new jobs, college, new relationships etc with very little thought of marriage, children, fully-fledged ‘adult’ issues etc found in some of the Adult genre. Sure, there’ll be more sex  “allowed” than in YA but please don’t dumb it down to just that.