Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Negative Habits & Personality Traits

It's amazing where your brain goes during morning coffee and a poppy seed bagel. I'm not much of a morning person, I can tell you that. Takes a while for the fog to lift and coherent thoughts to kick in. For some odd reason, the dope in the poppy seeds were reminding me of all my negative habits when I write a book. Of course, most of them spring from my own character traits.

What are they?

  • I repeat myself too much. I can't seem to get it out once and let it go, so I nag until I'm sure you got the point.
  • I forget to write down the name of non-essential characters, like the butler at the estate or the attorney that gave advice. When I need to mention them again, I'm frantically going back through text trying to find the name. Then, to my chagrin, I usually discover I have one too many in the story with the same first name! Same thing in life. I can never remember a name when first introduced to anyone.
  • Point of view switches. I really wish I was omnipresent, like God, and could write from inside everyone's head at once and make sense of it all. I can't, so I jump back and forth head to head and muck it up in scenes, because I have more than one head going on at the same time. Writers, will know what I mean. Can I accept the point of view of others? Usually, but I often don't understand another person's logic.
  • I tend to write down, rather than up. Most people think I'm a easy read. I hate being easy. Makes me feel cheap. I'll get a word that I like stuck in my head, and I'll beat it to death throughout the text. I guess it's back to point one again.
  • I hate confrontation in real life, but my books are filled with confrontation. I torture my characters and make them work for happiness and usually only give it to them so my readers don't shoot me. Nothing comes easy in life, at least for me. I've struggled, so I make them struggle. Write what you know, so they say. Let me clarify though that I've never been a prostitute. Definitely could use an hour or two on the counselor's couch.
  • I can't see my typos. I really can see. I have progressive lens glasses. My brain reads what is right, my eyes pass over it when it's wrong. I suppose it's because no one likes to have their errors in life pointed out to them. (Please forgive any typos here.)

Do any bad habits or traits translate into my characters? Of course they do.

  • Robert can't seem to deal with emotion without a drink in his hand. Thank goodness for crystal decanters of cognac and brandy or the guy wouldn't be able to handle life, so I have his booze strategically placed throughout his residences.
  • Suzette is chronic worry wart. You'd think she'd get over this homeless thing and move on, but apparently lack of security has the tendency to make her wring her hands or bounce her knees. (That reminds me, I have no knee bouncing scenes in book two). She cries way too much as well. It annoys me.
  • Philippe is a pompous control freak with an over-inflated sense of honor. When he thinks that he's losing control, all those suppressed negative traits become prominent through expressed anger.
  • Jacquelyn has a loose screw in her pretty blond head. Obsession has a way of making you pushy, cranky, and irrational in your behavior. Can't have what you want in life? Then you'll make everyone else as miserable as you are until you get it.

Well, bagel is done. Thoughts are jumbled above. It's morning.

I'm on Chapter 19 in my second read through. Beta readers are standing in the corner ready to pounce. Should have it out to them by next week.

Just remember as you take this journey, each book has a key word in it that drives the theme. P-R-I-C-E. It's what each will pay for innocence, deception, and love.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Draft The Price of Deception Completed

I'm happy to report that the first draft of The Price of Deception is completed. Right now I'm at 78,000 plus words and 29 chapters. That is subject to change, of course, as I put more meat on the bones of the story.

It always feels great to get to this point. Writing for me is easy, but now the real work starts in reviewing, checking for consistency, revising, and polishing the product before release. I do have a group of beta readers who are going to devour it in a test run after I'm through tweaking the first draft. Afterward, I'll take the constructive criticism, mull it over, make a few more changes, if necessary, and then will send it to an editor for proofing and grammar revisions. At this point, I'm targeting an October/November release.

What has been interesting about this journey, is that book three, The Price of Love, is flooding my brain with plots, scenes, and characters. Part of the reason, no doubt, is that I'm heavily immersed in the current book, so you cannot help but have some foresight for the future of your characters and their outcome mulling around in your head.

I am thankful the inspiration is coming, but it can get a bit annoying when you're trying to finish one book before starting another. I'm back to jotting down notes and writing scenes on the run, whenever the muse taps me on the shoulder. I just wish it wouldn't happen at work, in the shower, driving a car, or on the . . . well, you know.

Once you finish The Price of Deception, you'll have a very clear vision where book three will take the journey. Book two is set five years after the close of book one. Book three will pick up 12 years later.

When I first began book one as my debut novel, I really hadn't planned on this turning out to be a series, until I left the cliffhanger at the end and readers began threatening bodily harm. Right now, I'm very glad they did, because I'm excited to turn this story into a family saga. Now, if I could just get it sold as a series to BBC, I'd die a happy woman. Well, I can dream, can't I?

"Gentlemen, choose your weapon!"

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Discovering My Male Side

Today I sat down and wrote a chapter where Philippe and Robert pretty much have it out between one another. Writing the male psyche has been one trip for me in this book. Book two is pretty much Robert's story, with a lot of Philippe thrown in. They are, after all, rivals for the affection of Suzette. Writing about those emotions that drive a man to love a woman and the lengths one will go to win at the end, is really taking me down a path I've not quite walked so heavily before. (I have, of course, crawled into the mind of the Phantom of the Opera with my Phantom of Valletta release, but he was a bit different and not your normal male.)

It's easy as a woman to write from a woman's perspective. No-brainer. I know what drives me as a woman. Women need romance, security, love, affirmation, and the list goes on. What drives the male psyche? Hum, that's a question women have been asking since the dawn of time.

We pretty much can categorize the basics regarding men. There are four I can think of off the top of my head:

  • Men have egos that need to be stroked. They thrive on respect.
  • They are visual creatures. Give them a female body to die for, and they're goners. Do they really think of sex every 20 minutes? I don't know. Never been inside the brain of one to find out, but I think the younger male studs probably do.
  • They keep their feelings to themselves. Don't ask a male to tell you how he feels. It ain't gonna happen.
  • They are providers by nature, or at least the decent ones who aren't deadbeats.
In any event, I thought I knew pretty much how to write a man since I roleplay for fun about four different male personalities in my roleplay group. (Yes, I fantasize with a group of writers.) I thought doing so would keep me on my toes, but this book is really challenging me to the core.

I'm adding for the first time to a physical altercation between two men. How do guys fight in the 19th century? Well, a lot of them resorted to other means when it came to matters of honor. A good old fist fight wasn't enough. A drop of a glove at one's feet or a slap across the face with a leather glove challenged a male to a duel. That's been an interesting study, to say the least, and I was surprised to learn that in France during the 19th-century men still had duels, even though it was illegal to do so. Mostly, the courts and church just turned a blind eye to the practice, but it was all about protecting one's honor (definitely wrapped up with that ego stuff).

I'm hoping to truly tap into my male side, if I have one, and make this a decent believable read from inside the head of two dudes.

Off to write. At 61,000 plus words, 23 chapters, and heading down the home stretch. Oh, boy, things are getting heated.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Woman Scorned

As you know, Borders is going out of business. Of course, I've been buying books in the writing reference section. I came across a really great one entitled, "Bullies, Bastards, and Bitches - How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction" by Jessica Page Morrell. I must say, what a great find! To top it off, Jessica is apparently a Portland, Oregon local resident, who teaches writing in the Pacific Northwest. Here is a link to her website. CLICK HERE I'm really hoping to attend one of her workshops in the future.

When I started reading the book, one early statement struck home with me, because it resonated the way I view my characters and stories.
"We don't read fiction to follow the lives of perfect people who float through blissful days. Nor do we read fiction to follow people in the midst of goodness, luck, success, and joy. Instead we read to wallow in a character's misery and struggles, to plunge into his or her emotional depths, to experience the doubts, worries, and pains." Jessica Page Morrell

Even though The Price of Innocence was my debut novel, I think I did a fair job on character development my first time around. Coffee Time Romance review stated, "The characters and scenery are vivid in their descriptions and examples. Readers are shown numerous aspects of the plot line, giving the book a depth few first novels achieve. Characters, both good and bad, are reflections of the times and readers get to see the root causes of the characters’ behavior, preventing them from being caricatures." I am very grateful for that comment, but something inside of me tells me I can do better and delve deeper into the personalities and mindsets of those in my story.

As I write about Duchess Jacquelyn Holland, I am truly being challenged by the personality I have given her. The old saying by William Congreve, "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned," is a quick portrait of Robert's wife. Crawling into her mind and writing about her feelings, hurts, and longings has been a very interesting journey. I'm right now at a critical part in Chapter 21 where I've taken her to the brink of her ability to cope. Where that takes her after this chapter is probably going to shock my readers immensely.

Of course, the challenge to develop characters on a deeper level is also challenging me to rethink Robert, Suzette, and Philippe. I feel like I truly glided over many of them in the first volume, even though I received words of encouragement otherwise. I can only say that each character is standing by my keyboard during this volume, pushing me to do better. Their voices are calling me to engage my readers to, "wallow in a character's misery and struggles, to plunge into his or her emotional depths, to experience the doubts, worries, and pains." I truly appreciate Jessica Morrell's words, which have confirmed my own goals as a writer.

As I end this post, I am reminded that many of you wait for that happy ending that I so terribly robbed you of in the first release. I can promise you that happiness will triumph, but the road will be somewhat treacherous on the way. A few close writing friends of mine accuse me of torturing my characters to bring them to an end. Perhaps I do, but it brings me such satisfaction to do so. Perhaps there is some deep psychological reason behind it all, but that's just me because of my own struggles in life that have made me who I am today--an author with a lo0se screw.