Thursday, March 28, 2013
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
As much as things change, they also stay the same. I am working on something entirely different than anything I've written before and am enjoying the process so much, but although it's new to me, the love of the craft remains the same. Love it, hate it, highs and lows. Stuck, unstuck. Constipated, diahrr... diarr.. diharreah...NOT constipated. And by that I mean that there are days when the words flow by the thousands and then there are those when I'm happy if I go to bed at night having written only 500.
Over the course of 14 years I've had published: four romantic/adventure novels, a series of four historical novels about the Civil War, and three historical romantic mysteries using a spin-off character from the CW series. Throughout those 14 years I have also given birth, taught preschool, taught 4th grade while hubby went to grad school, babysat, and edited. If life hadn't kept interfering, I like to tell myself I'd have been a more productive writer. But life interfering also has had a way of making me a better writer, has given me more fodder, more insight. A different perspective.
Some trends have emerged, lately, in my interests and I'm finding my writing following those trends. I'm finishing a very fun gothic steampunk novel with Beauty and the Beast themes and Jane Eyre overtones. The process has flown and I have absolutely loved it. It's the fastest book I've written to date, and I think the fact that it's fresh material has helped. I also used a great portion of K. M. Weiland's suggestions from her book, Outlining Your Novel and that's helped keep me from staring at the blinking cursor in frozen horror.
This new novel of mine will need to find a new home, because it doesn't fit the style my current publisher is looking for. That being said, I have about a dozen ideas for other novels percolating that will be a good fit for them and I'm thrilled to continue that relationship. Covenant took a chance on me when I was so very green and knew so very little about writing. I've worked with some amazing people through the years and I don't take the fact that I'm published for granted. Ever. There was no such thing as self-publishing on a Kindle or Nook 14 years ago, and I do not allow myself to forget that.
I do love, though, that there are so many wonderful options and avenues for authors now. As a reader, I've progressed from a paper-only-purist to a Kindle fanatic. I freak out if I leave the house and my Kindle isn't in my purse. And as a writer, it seems as though the sky's the limit if one approaches it the right way, armed with knowledge and hopefully a good agent who understands the changing nature of the business.
Change seems to be the trend these days--at least with many of my contemporaries. My friend and fellow author, Annette Lyon, also posted today about her own evolution and the fact that her writing path is taking her down a slightly different road, but one she'd really already been on. And even in this new project of mine I'm seeing themes that I always seem to carry with me. I love a good romance, get angry at social injustice, and like everything wrapped up and deposited in a good place by the end.
I've heard that any given writer will have a style that is as individual as a fingerprint, that even when trying to disguise it, the piece will have certain "tells" that would give her away to a careful observer. I'm sure this is probably true. My voice, while a little more settled in and anchored these days, is also there in my beginning novels and runs through my contemporaries and historicals alike. So indeed, as much as things change, they also stay the same. I find that a favorite author will still be a favorite author, even if he produces a book that maybe wasn't as good for me as the last one he wrote. More often than not, the voice is there. It is the constant.
So here's to change! And here's to consistency. May they ever remain lovely bedfellows. :-)
Monday, January 7, 2013
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Progress! Webb 3 is nearing completion and almost ready to submit. I've had a lot going on with this book--life has intruded in a big way, and some of the huge time span between this and The Pharaoh's Daughter has been out of my control, and admittedly some within it. Sometimes it's just so much easier to not write.
Because writing is hard. The guilt that claws at my gut when I don't do it, though, is just as hard to deal with. I hate a day that passes without much writing done as much as I hate sitting down when the muse is nowhere to be seen. She's a beeotch, the muse. Fickle and self-aggrandizing. She thinks we all need her.
(Wow, did I just say all that out loud? Pay no attention to the crazy woman behind the curtain. She's getting ready for her daughter's wedding at the end of the month and realizing she hates dealing with details.)
The most exciting thing of all--other than the wedding, of course--is that when I finish Webb 3, I'm going to begin a new project in an entirely new-to-me genre and I'm thrilled about it. I'll post more details as soon as I can--it's going to be very cool.
Until then, wish me luck, and tell the muse to get over herself and come sit on my shoulder. :-)
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
It's with pleasure that I get to do a review of Liz Adair's Cold River. This book is part mystery and part romance, which is a perfect blend for me as a reader. The fact that this book is set in the Pacific Northwest was an added bonus.
A brief description of the book from the backliner: Mandy Steenburg thinks her doctorate in education has prepared her to run any school district—until she tangles with the moonshine-making, coon-dog-owning denizens of a tiny district in Pacific Northwest timber country. She’s determined to make a difference, but the local populace still looks to the former superintendent for leadership. When Mandy lands in the middle of an old feud and someone keeps trying to kill her, instinct tells her to run. And though she has to literally swim through perilous waters, she finds a reason to stay and chance the odds.
And now my bullet list:
What worked for me:
- First of all, the setting, as I mentioned. I will read just about anything set in the Pacific Northwest. It's one of my favorite regions ever.
- A wonderful bonus to the setting was a good plot! :-) The book was a page turner for me, which I know is always a good sign. The author places hints, clues and questions throughout that kept me wondering if I was guessing correctly and anxious to see if I was right.
- Mandy is a likeable character. She also shows character growth by the end of the book that takes her from a borderline education-snob to one who appreciates differing talents and abilities.
- Mandy makes friends with the locals, brings her know-how to the job, and takes a lot of ribbing and not-so-good-natured jokes in stride. Her discouragement was believable but she wasn't a sulker, which is a good thing.
- The author does a good job of painting a realistic community full of colorful characters with unique foibles. Backstory of the town's prominent family comes out in bits and pieces and adds to the overall plot.
- I liked Grange, the former superintendent. As the book develops, we see the skills he brings to the community.
- The author brings to the fore an unlikely "hero" in the form of Mo Smith, the district accountant. Through Mandy, we see a man who is largely unappreciated for his talents become someone others recognize. This is a character we often see cardboard cutouts of in books and movies--thinning hair over a bald spot, middle age, largely nondescript. Liz gives him depth and I liked it.
- The mayhem! I loved the mayhem. Threats against her life, accidents, a former lover and a fun younger sister add to the mix. The more danger, the better, in my opinion, and every time something bad happened I found myself eager to figure out who was responsible.
I have very few complaints about the book, and I can't even say they qualify as "complaints." Perhaps just minor issues that I might have preferred to see differently. As I mentioned above, the author gives the reader good clues to see what's going to come as the plot develops. I think that Mandy should also have seen those clues a bit better than she did, however. In my mind, she would have figured out who the bad guy was long before she did. It's a balancing act as an author, though. Have your main character figure things out too quickly and you don't have much of a book.
All-in-all, this was a very fun read and one that I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys a good mystery and settings about quirky, small-town communities. I enjoyed the book and am so glad to have had the chance to review it!