June 14

On Time & Words & Finding Both

I made a few mistakes when I came back to writing after my long sabbatical. I took myself too seriously – which I’m still trying to recover from – and I thought for sure I could find one solid hour per day for writing. Nevermind the fact that I’d never been able to before that, and all of my previous manuscripts had been written in bits and drabbles of time as I could find them – most often 15 – 30 minute chunks.

I foolishly thought that because I was a more “seasoned writer” now, that I could certainly set aside one hour per day (night) for writing, and stick to that. I’d done a couple of hour-long stints before here and there, and liked them, and it was so easy to just get lost in whatever I happened to be working on at the time. So that’s what I was determined to do. I blocked out my hour from 11pm to 12am Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri (and Weds in the summer when there’s no pool), and told my husband that I’d be in the office writing during that time, and that would be that.

The thing about plans is…well, you know. For awhile, I was religiously in my office at 11pm with tea and a snack, ready to go. And I wrote. And it was fun. But it was never, ever uninterrupted. Because the dogs needed in or out (or sometimes extra care for the dog who died this past February). Or just as I was hitting my stride, hubby would decide to go to bed, and we normally make the bed together at night. So then I moved my writing time back to 12am – 1am…which was fine in theory and finally quiet, but I was so tired I could hardly stay awake, and then I wasn’t getting to sleep by one either, which was making me late in the mornings, and it was kind of a big mess. I decided my health had to come first, so I had to be in bed by midnight (to read/unwind for half an hour, and then be asleep by 1am).

So then I moved it back, got lazy, and ended up having several late kitchen nights where something “healthy” had to be prepped either for us or the dogs (for the next day) before I could write, and then it got cut to 30 minutes, and hubby needed help, and the dog needed out, etc. And so I didn’t write, because I couldn’t get my solid hour, and real life kept interrupting, and I had to be in bed on time (which I haven’t been for the past couple of weeks again) and…yeah. No words.

Last week, I finally got over myself and realized that there was never going to be an hour of time for writing. Not at this point in my life, anyways. There is never one full hour where no one needs me unless I head out past midnight, and my health is not worth going too much past that soft deadline. So, I made peace with having to write in 15 or 20 or 30 minute intervals. It’s just how it has to be.

And now that I’m “finding” time wherever I can, I’m also finding words. It’s not always easy, but one thing about writing in shorter bursts is – I get used to remembering where I am in the stories at any given point in the day/night, so I can jump right back in and write another 250-500 words whenever I have one of those illusive chunks of time free.

Someday long into the future when I’m able to retire – that’s when I’ll get my long chunks of free writing time. But for now, in this particular season of my life, I need to make use of whatever time I can find. And that’s just the way it is.

A recent excerpt from my spec-fic novel in progress:

Unlike Donteneoux, where most of the buildings were built of wood harvested in the abundant forests, Nymar was a desert community, and the buildings were mostly yellow stone hewn from great cliffs that spanned the northern edge of the keep. The surrounding walls were also made of thick blocks wide enough for a man to walk on, which had served them well in less peaceful times. Detan’s workshop was nestled against the southern wall, sharing space with a woodworker on one side and a leather worker on the other.

Author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

Publisher Site: Brazen Snake Books

Category: Writer's Notes | Comments Off on On Time & Words & Finding Both
May 24

Rollin’ With It

My writing space is protected by the coziest slumber party ever...every night.
My writing space is protected by the coziest slumber party ever…every night.

Last week was nutty – lots going on at work meant I was discombobulated at home too. Funny how that happens. But things are calmer now, and I’m focusing on not feeling guilty for things left undone and just moving forward, doing what I can. Last week, no blog, and no writing. This week, I’ve already gotten 500 words in for Monday, and hopefully will do at least that much every day for the rest of the week too.

I just got the edits back on my first Stone Scavenger novel too, which means I have something to look forward this weekend as well.

My writing session Monday night was inspired, I tell you what. I love when that happens. You’re just writing along, minding your character’s business, and all of a sudden – bam! The story you thought was taking off in a completely unrelated direction just suddenly makes sense again, and you have this perfectly logical explanation for something that you had no idea how it was going to come about or work out. I love it when that happens. It’s magic.

In any case, it’s also very late, and I have an early morning at work on Tuesdays, so off to bed I go. Here’s an excerpt from Monday’s session on Donteneoux’s Dragon (mostly because I haven’t downloaded Friday’s session on The Beauty Stone from the Neo just yet…).

They would need protection. Something scarier than ghosts and yet otherworldly in nature. Something that would convince the Triad Council to stay away from that land and allow his family to live in peace.

A lizard scuttled onto the windowsill and sat up on its hind legs, tiny claws braced on the side as it considered the pan he’d just finished eating from. The sun was just behind it, casting a long shadow on the far wall of a monstrous being that appeared for a split second to unfurl wings of an immense span when a bird flew by at the perfect height.

If only such a creature existed, Peraine thought as the lizard leapt from the sill to the table. If one could tame such a creature to do one’s bidding, no one would dare come near enough to harm anyone under the creature’s protection…

February 16

Musings on Voice & Genre

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past six months or so about the genres I write in, and my personal writing voice. Part of the reason I’m giving up romantic suspense, at least for a little while, is because when I look at my version of the genre, it’s…different than what I think people are expecting. Different than what most readers of the genre want, but not different enough to be distinctive and forge a new trend.

A writer’s “voice” is an all encompassing thing…not just how we write, but how we see and filter the world and then translate that onto the page. I’m very independent (often accused of being too much so), but I also love men, and get along with them better than I do with most women. So that comes across on the page, and I’m often harder on my female characters than males…which, I’m afraid, is exactly opposite what most women want to read about (not all – there are people of both genders who’ve enjoyed my books thus far, and I appreciate them more than I can say).

Until I started thinking about this in terms of voice, I really kind of felt like this made me a bad writer. My books never really caught on no matter how much marketing I did (which has been admittedly less than I should). One would think that keeping on writing, studying the craft and working to improve things like descriptions and plots would make me improve, but I wasn’t getting anywhere, and after a really long, frustrating year last year, I finally realized that there may not be much more I can do to become “good” in that genre without changing my overall voice.

I could do that, I suppose, but honestly, I don’t think it would come out right on the page. And writers with similar perspectives (it seems) to mine seem to be writing mostly romantic comedy. Though I can be funny at times, it’s a dry wit, and while I do occasionally give it to a character here and there, it’s often misunderstood and causes problems.

In any case, this year I’m focusing on three genres – young adult, speculative fiction, and horror. And I have to say, while the young adult is a bit of a stretch (to put it mildly), the other two are more like putting on a comfy pair of shoes. I use a different writing style for each and the cadence between spec fic and horror occasionally bleed into each other (no pun intended), but the young adult is teaching me a lot about range and alternate cadence and character arcs and growth.

Basically, even though it was hard to make the decision, I’m glad I left romance behind. I’ll keep reading it, of course, but I think I’m finally on the right track to really use my natural voice – which will hopefully resonate with readers as well.

I’ve had a rough start to writing this year, but I’m slowly working my way back into it. Next week, I’ll have an excerpt or two to share.

Until then…

Related Reading:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch on “Serious Writer Voice”

Author sites: JamieDeBree.com | TrinityMarlow.com | AlexWesthaven.com

Publisher Site: Brazen Snake Books

Category: Writer's Notes | Comments Off on Musings on Voice & Genre