On Monday night, I participated in a panel discussion at the Dayton Metro Library on romance novels and writing, along with Athena Grayson, Stacy McKitrick, Catherine Castle, and C.D. Hersh. There wasn’t a huge crowd, but the ones who did come asked some very good questions, and it was a lot of fun! Some examples of their questions, with my answers:
Q. Why and when did you start writing?
A. I’ve always loved to read, and decided to write when I read a really lousy romantic suspense, and figured I could do better. But I’ve always wanted to write. I used to tell myself stories to go to sleep at night (maybe that’s why I don’t sleep well to this day), and started actually writing in high school, and took a creative writing minor in college. It just never occurred to me to actually write for publication until I read that bad romantic suspense novel back almost 20 years ago.
Q. Where does “write what you know” come into fiction writing?
A. Most of it boils down to universal, human emotions and experiences, that don’t matter whether you’re in Dayton, Ohio today, or in the past somewhere else, or in a fantasy world, or in outer space. Some of it is “write what you want to know” and research it. But it’s not a matter of limiting oneself to writing about one’s own, actual experiences and knowledge, because for most of us, that would make for some pretty boring fiction! They also asked us to each read a passage from one of our books where we illustrate this, which was fun to hear and do.
Q. My daughter writes, and has written two complete novels, but struggles with revision because she hates it. Any advice?
A. (Athena and I answered this one in stereo, LOL) “Then don’t!” We directed her to Dean Wesley Smith’s website. Smith encourages writers to trust their own voice and only revise if required to by an editor, a la Heinlein’s Rules. Instead, just pass a work on to a trusted reader, and address any problems they find, then go to a copy editor and proofreader if one is self-publishing. This writer’s mom was really happy to hear that revision is not necessarily a must for all writers.
Of course, the panel was time to coincide with the week of Valentine’s Day, which brought up its own questions from my husband a couple days earlier:
DH: So, what do you want for Valentine’s Day?
Me: Uh… same thing you got me last year?
DH: Good, because that’s what I want too!
Then we both had a good laugh, because we don’t get each other anything!
Which was just as well, because I spent Valentine’s Day–at least a couple hours of it–with my writing friends. It was writers’ group day, and we had a “write-in.” Or more accurately, a couple hours of socializing alternating with some actual writing. Always great fun!
What I read this week: Ghostly Liaison, by Stacy McKitrick. This was a really fun and different contemporary romance/romantic suspense, featuring a matchmaking ghost. The ghost just wants the heroine’s help gaining justice for her own death so she can move on, but in doing, ends up helping the heroine do some moving on of her own. While it’s a light read, it still deals with some emotional issues such as moving on after personal loss and accepting love. While it does have a paranormal element, it’s not heavy-handed, and this book is something I think readers who don’t normally read paranormal would still enjoy. Highly recommended!
I also mentioned last week that I designed a cover for another writing friend. Well, as it turns out, Huntress of the Star Empire Episode One, by Athena Grayson, will release this week! It’s a science fiction romance, about a female bounty hunter who’s after a psychic–which is illegal in their star system. Athena saw that this story lent itself well to the serial format, and has good break points throughout, so she is releasing this as a serial, with one episode coming out each week for the next twelve weeks. I’m about halfway through the first episode (I got a preview copy, :D), so will blog about it next week.
ROW80 Update: I’m still making progress on my revision, though not as quickly as I’d like. I realized one reason this book has been challenging is because it takes place in two historical time periods, not contemporary and one historical time, as my other books have. So there’s more research. And I tend to leave blanks and leave these details to fill in at the revision stage. This helps me do only the research I need, but still takes time on the back end. So with the panel on Monday night, and a lot of paperwork to do on Tuesday, that cut my week short, and I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped. This week I need to collect all the tax info for our accountant, but I don’t have anything else going on (that I know of), so I’m going to shoot for getting two chapters revised.
What about you–do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? If so, what did you do? If you’re a writer, what would your answers be to the questions our library guests asked? And whether or not you’re a writer, how are you doing on whatever goals you might be working toward? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!