Thursday, 29 July 2010

Pesky Characters and when to dump them

If you're a writer, or know a writer, you'll know that us writers hate to cut anything out. All that time spent on a gorgeously crafted scene? Every word, sentence and plot arc is a blood testament to my art. Right?
So, I've been nitpicking my last chapter over and over and over. Re-reading, editing, tightening... staring at the page for hours on end. I just couldn't seem to move on. The problem? There was this character, a delightful character with a walk-on role earlier in the book but with big plans for later. Round about the time I got stuck on that chapter.
Now, as wonderful as she was, as much time as I spent defining her personality, looks, objectives, entry and exit points, the problem is that she simply didn't contribute anything vital to the story. Worse? She kept on getting in the way.
Being stubborn as I am, it took me three weeks of moving forward a few words a day to make the decision. She had to go.
This wasn't easy. My stories are totally character based, I build the characters first and let them lead the plot. So, for me, dumping a character is akin to a meteorite crashlanding in my story and leaving a big 'ol crater right in the middle of it.
But I pulled on my big-girl boots and snipped her out. Amazingly, the chapter I was working on needed very minor changes to do this - which just goes to show how unneccesary she was. And suddenly I'm steaming ahead again - the storyis working again.
Maybe I'll miss her a few chapters down, maybe I'll regret dumping her, but so be it. If I'd dumped her 3 weeks ago, I'd be 3 weeks closer to the end of this book. A lesson hard-learned, but I don't consider it wasting time. Every book I write, I learn something new about the craft and about my personal writing.
Maybe next time I won't be stubborn quite so long - although I doubt it :)

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Fear is a five letter word

I've been resisting, truly, but apparently the strength and length of my willpower is 1 day. But seriously *shakes head* what is it about every small success or growth in the EBOOK market that immediately causes an outcry and vehement denial?

Once again Amazon mentions how well their digital devices and ebooks are doing and once again there's an outroar about how skewered their figures are and it cannot possibly be true. Close eyes. Dig head in ground. If we don't acknowledge it, then it isn't happening.

Now I have no idea how Amazon derives their figures and I'm not privy to details so I won't approve or disapprove their marketing ploys. But I do think, and this is personal opinion, that the publishing world is changing at a rapid pace and professionals in that field would be better off embracing it and changing business models with the times than denying it's happening.

Totally showing my age now, but I got into computer programming at around the time pcs had just started taking off in SA, and the doom and gloom forecasted smells and looks very much like what publishing is going through now. And you know what? Millions of people didn't get replaced by computers and millions of people didn't lose their jobs and the world didn't drop straight into hell. Jobs were created, dull and repitious chores were replaced by inspiring, creative tasks and everyone prospered and was happier. And the only people who got left behind were those refusing to embrace the new technology, for (almost) everyone else a spot was found.

Do I believe ebooks are taking over the world? LOL, certainly not, at least not until ereaders drop to a price that everyone can afford without cringing. But change is definitely in the air and it's all good. And yes, I will miss brick bookstores and I really hope they find a way to evolve and find their place, but I also believe the true death knoll of book stores is on-line retailing and not ebooks.

I'll still be reading all my favourite authors and I'll still be relying on all my favourite publishers to be my gate keeper and I'll still squee with joy if I one day land myself a NYC agent, and yes, I've pretty much committed myself to going green with ebooks.

and to go out on a lighter note, I came across the snippet about the recurring newspaper and thought it hilarious. Apparently the exact same newspaper template has been used in movies and tv shows for the last 15 years, and I never noticed. You can bet that every time I see someone reading a newspaper on tv now, I'll be checking it out...

Monday, 12 July 2010

Coming up for air...

Feels as if the last couple of weeks sucked me down a black hole, but I'm finally seeing the sunlight.

And I've finally got an e-reader. After more than a year of reading ebooks on my netbook, I made a decision. Well, I was actually rooting for a nook, but Barnes & Noble customer service informed me they don't ship internationally, baaah! So I got a Kindle and I'm loving it! I was mostly relieved to find that I could still buy my drm-free books at other sites and upload them to Kindle effortlessly - this was a big fear for me. I've even gone and bought some drm books from Amazon. Mostly I only read a book once and then it goes to book-charity-heaven. If I want a book from one of my auto-keeper authors, then I'll buy elsewhere.

So, yes, Amazom might be the big bad wolf, but in some cases it's just so convenient and tempting and I'm glad I succumbed!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Introducing Rae Summers

It's very exciting for me to have Rae Summers here, a fellow South African and a writing friend. Rae's debut book, Let's Misbehave, releases today from Wild Rose Press. I was priviledged to read this in raw form, and absolutely loved it.

Gabrielle is the quintessential Flapper, a wild child who turns her back on home and a resentful and unloving mother to become a nightclub singer. She wants nothing more from life than freedom and pleasure.

Sebastian is a dutiful son, following in his father’s footsteps and on the verge of marrying a suitable bride. But as the Twenties roar to their conclusion, he finds himself torn between duty and the urge to indulge his adventurous streak.

From the moment Gabrielle and Sebastian meet, the tension between them simmers. When he rescues her from a boorish suitor, Gabrielle discovers a kindred spirit beneath Sebastian's serious demeanour, and she sets out to seduce him into one last passionate fling before he settles for a loveless marriage.

But the fire that burns between them threatens to consume her. Will Gabrielle survive falling in love with the one man she cannot have?

Now available from Wild Rose Press

Want more? Want to see the trailer? Here you go!

Rae's first grade teacher was so seriously concerned by her day dreaming that she called her parents in for a conference. Fortunately, her parents staunchly defended Rae's right to daydream and these days she's able to prove their faith right by turning those day dreams into novels. She hopes her stories bring as much pleasure to her readers as they bring to her.

Rae Summers lives in South Africa where she works in television advertising, a line of work that is only glamorous on very rare occasions. When she isn't working or being mom to two young daughters, Rae can be found with her nose in a book.

Rae, can you tell us a little about the making of Let's Behave?

The characters for this story came into my head fully formed as I was driving home from work one day and singing along to the song 'Let's Misbehave' from De-Lovely (the biopic of composer Cole Porter). That song not only sparked the idea, but is also integral to the story - you'll have to read it to find out how. After that, the novella practically wrote itself in less than a week, the words pouring out of my fingers. It's taken considerably longer to get to publication.

Is there a character in your book that you love to hate? If you had to pick just one (the worst) and invite her to tea or him to the pub for a drink, what's the one question you're dying to ask?

My least favourite character in this story fortunately never made it onto the page, and that was Gabrielle's mother. There are hints of Gabrielle's unhappy childhood and her relationship with her mother, a hard, unloving woman jealous of her daughter, but she is already history by the time the story starts. I'd definitely ask her to the pub rather than to tea.

And how would he/she answer?

She'd refuse to come to such a den of iniquity, and Gabrielle and I would breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy ourselves instead

If your editor told you that, while she absolutely loves your work, your next book had to be in another genre… which one would you choose?

That would be a tough choice simply because I have so many stories floating around in my head that I wouldn't know which one to choose. One of the stories that's clamouring loudest right now is a light paranormal.

What's next? Next book in sequel or in the same genre or something totally new?

I'm putting the finishing touches on another novella set in the 1920s, this time set on the Amalfi coast of Italy, and I'm also rewriting a full length contemporary while I wait for a response on the partial I've already submitted. More immediately, I'm attending the RNA conference in Greenwich this weekend and expecting to come away more inspired than ever!

Thank you so much for this opportunity,

Rae Summers

Thanks for stopping by Rae

Monday, 5 July 2010

Happy Release Day to BETRAYED

It feels a little like Betrayed's 21st birthday today.

I nutured this book through draft mode and many rounds with my critique group to get it edited and polished. I worried when I sent Betrayed out on submission and I might have shed a tear or two when it came back rejected, I smiled when it came back with gracious comments and I squealed in excitement when Carina Press loved Betrayed and wanted to publish it.

I took a small step back, relinquising my possessive hold on every last word and comma I'd crafted during editorial revisions and line edits.

Now it's time for Betrayed to make its way out there in the wide world of readership. I've done all I could, it's time to let go and leave the rest up to Betrayed , although I'll  always be around to hold Betrayed's hand whenever I'm needed.

On Tuesday, 6 July, I'll be doing an author spotlight on the Carina Press Blog. Please stop by for a visit.
There's bribery involved!
I'll be giving away a free copy of Betrayed :)

Betrayed releases today and is available right now from
Carina Press
Barnes and Noble
and most places where ebooks are sold.