Higher Levels, Bigger Devils

I love basketball. I get geeked for the start of NBA season, and March Madness is my personal holiday. I read sports-oriented publications, and I stan for Bleacher Report and its app, Team Stream.

Since its inception, I have enjoyed the online publishing portal Medium; specifically, its sports section, The Cauldron. While all and sundry can post their thoughts on Medium as a whole, certain sections such as The Cauldron are invitation-only, and if you’re selected, you have to show and prove.

I have never written about sports in an “official” venue, and never played sports a day in my life (unless you count high school varsity cheerleading, which many do not). Still, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and apply to write for The Cauldron.

My first article was rejected; no problem. As a writer, I’m no stranger to that. My second article was accepted, and has been getting good buzz. While I’m pleased, I’m also nervous. Medium reaches an audience vastly larger than my deliberately limited, personal social media presence. Suddenly, my ideas were exposed to a totally different audience…and along with the praise, came the trolls.

WHOA. What…who…WHAT?! To think that my six-minute read about granting NBA media access credentials to bloggers would strike nerves…it was interesting, to say the least, and at times amusing. And, I have to admit, kind of heady: that my words would make such an impact, become part of an ongoing conversation, and basically be  taken seriously (which is infinitely preferable to being considered a joke). That’s part of why writers write: to make that impact, to drive conversation, to call attention to an issue.

I’ve had people comment just to say they won’t read the article (huh?). I’ve gotten complaints that I didn’t take a firm stand on one aide versus the other (I did that on purpose). All this reminded me that when you strive for greatness, you catch more flak with each success. Or, as my late grandmother used to say, “Higher levels, bigger devils.”

Many of us say we want success but aren’t willing to pay the price. Part of that price, especially as a writer, is public exposure, and belief that someone out there wants to hear what you have to say. The flip side of that is opening yourself up to attack by those who aren’t feelimg what you have to say, or disagree with your right to say it. One article (so far) isn’t much of a down payment, but it’s a start. And the bill will only get bigger.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Stuck (pt. 1)

I haven’t blogged in quite some time. An emergency hospitalization of my grandmother (for whom I’m a caretaker) which required me to spend both nights there; followed by week-long bout with the flu (which I probably picked up from the hospital, but I digress) doesn’t bode well for the creative process. Even as my full recovery drew nearer, and I did my usual “write it in your head” part of my process, I faced a crisis that strikes fear in the heart of every creative:

I got stuck.

Once I was able to stop sleeping for long periods of time, and managed to stop coughing up a lung, I tried to work on the rewrite of next book in my Bastille Family Chronicle series, which is Dominic’s story. I made major changes to his love interest, which required more research (shoutout to Cynthia and Ekaterina for the gamer info!)–which required a recalibration of the plot, especially after I added some different tension points to the love interest. But the flow still wouldn’t come.

Then I pulled up the first draft of the novel I started for National Novel Writing Month 2012. This was a more serious book (the BFC series are contemporary romances), which take longer for me to write. Tinkered with that some, made some progress. But I felt guilty because I wasn’t working on the BFC book, which my readers are looking for by spring.

Then I managed to write a science/speculative fiction/fantasy (SFF) short story for submission to a magazine. The story was based on an SFF book I started back in…2006, or somewhere around there. Anyway, that was kind of fun, and made me think about revisiting that book again. And the guilt over writing another BFC book took over.

I had to ask myself why I felt so guilty. Was the thrill gone from the series already (I’ve only published the first one, and have five more to go)? If so, why? I’ve gotten positive word-of-mouth feedback from readers so far, and the excerpt seemed to work toward introducing me to a broader audience of fans. My readers are looking forward to the next five books, as well as a stand-alone spinoff. The book is selling, again via word-of-mouth. So what’s the problem?

I thought long and hard about it, and my conclusion wasn’t pretty. And I have The Ninja to thank for it.

More on this in a later post. Thanks for stopping by.

Doubt

I’m re-reading Zero Day by David Baldacci, which is the introduction of his John Puller character. As I get into the story, one overwhelming thought continues to loom:

Why can’t I write like this?

My next Bastille novel is not progressing as I’d like, though I am loathe to admit it. I can tell because I’m finding too many other distractions. When a book is flowing for me, I focus on it and little can detract me from getting the words on the pages. Nowadays? I’m obsessing over tracing my family tree and going through boxes of old books, and thinking about whipping up a homemade batch of eggnog (’tis the season!). This effortless distraction is a clear sign that all is not well in the Tiffverse.

Why can’t I write like Baldacci?

I’m in awe of the way his words flow across the page, how he brings John Puller (and even Puller’s cat, named AWOL) to life, how even the scenery of the book leaps off the page. And I wonder how I can get to that level, or even a fraction of it, within the next month or so. Granted, Baldacci has been writing for almost half of my lifetime, and has many more books published to his credit. I’m a rookie author, he’s a veteran, and thus I should not really expect myself to be on his level right now. But I’m an overachiever, so of course I expect that of myself. 😀 Seriously, I don’t know how to be a rookie because I’m used to being around veterans. That being said…

Why can’t I write like that?

I am beginning to wonder, especially in light of feedback on my first novel, The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille, if I am forcing myself to write in the romance genre; by that, I mean forcing myself to write within the carefully proscribed parameters/formula of the romance genre. Which would explain why I am having such a problem making progress on this installment of the Bastille Family Chronicles. My writing tends to naturally cross genres, so it’s difficult for me to stick to one or the other–which really irritates me when it comes time to classify my book for sales purposes (although at least most sellers offer the options of choosing different categories at once, so as not to pigeonhole in one genre). Still, I may be trying too hard to be one thing, instead of letting my writing be what it is. And that’s where I’m getting hung up.

That may be why I’m writing different books in different genres so early in my writing career; I don’t want to be pigeonholed, since the stories I write aren’t always about love and romance. My writing style is as eclectic as my reading selections, and I want to represent that to the fullest. I enjoy writing thrillers and suspenseful novels, and commercial fiction; more, dare I say, than writing romances. Then why am I writing romances? Simple: I like those too, and I read those, and that was the first book that I completed that was ready for publication. Plus, I’d already planned a six-book series around the Bastilles and their love lives. However, I am not solely or primarily defined as a romance author, as authors such as Nora Roberts or Brenda Jackson are.

Perhaps if I focus less on the “romance” label  (e.g., The Bastille Family Chronicles) and just write the story (e.g., A Bastille Family novel), it will take care of itself.

I will ponder that as I embark on yet another session of procrastination.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thanksgiving Finish Line! (NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 27)

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 2,656

Today’s blog count: 28

Total words written: 50,050 (and counting)

Total blog posts: 28

Happy Thanksgiving, to those of us in the United States who are celebrating a day of being grateful (and gorging on turkey with all the fixins). And happy day to those in other countries. 😀

 

I DID IT! I DID IT! For the second year in a row, I have “won” National Novel Writing Month with a word count of 50,000…and I’m still writing. Once I crossed the 50K mark, I went ahead and validated the novel. There was a 100-word discrepancy between my word count tool and NaNoWriMo’s, but hey…I’ll take it. 😀

This is one of the many things that I have to be thankful for. Especially since this was a book that I never saw coming.

I am also thankful for NaNoWriMo being OVER, as far as the word count goes. This book is going to be longer than others I’ve written, as the plot has taken unforeseen turns that require more plot extension. I probably won’t even revisit it until next year, because I have other writing projects that are more pressing. But it will be nice to work on the book when I feel like it, versus the pressures of the NaNoWriMo workshop/competition.

I still have to complete National Blog Posting Month, so I will probably post about random stuff which may or may not be book-related. You’ve been warned. 😀

Now that I’ve cooked Thanksgiving dinner and eaten my first round, it’s time to get some dessert and curl up with a book (and some wine). 😉 The final menu was: turkey, macaroni & cheese, potato salad, collard greens, green beans, corn, dressing (which is just stuffing that is eaten outside of the bird lol), sweet potato pie, apple pie, rolls. All made with these two hands (except for the rolls, which were store-bought). And a nice pinot noir for myself. 😉

WriMos, the finish line is close; you can cross it! There are still three more days left. Let’s get it!

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Aside

Rocking Pots (NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 26)

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 1,103

Today’s blog count: 27

Total words written: 47,397

Total blog posts: 27

 

Not much to say today, except I added a bit to some existing scenes in the novel, and added the beginning of another twist. Most of my day was spent making the more time-consuming side dishes for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal: potato salad,  dressing (I don’t stuff my turkey; never have), macaroni and cheese, sweet potato pies (I’m in the South, and we do sweet potatoes), and apple pie. I also prepped some of the fresh vegetables for tomorrow, which will cook quickly while the turkey is roasting.

Despite all that, I managed to write just over 1,000 words today. And I have my alarm scheduled for 7:00 am to put the turkey in the oven.

I’s dawg tired, bawse.

Writers, keep on keeping on.

Thanks for stopping by.

Aside

Are We There Yet? (NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 25)

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 2,362

Today’s blog count: 26

Total words written: 46,294

Total blog posts: 26

 

You can always tell when it’s time for an activity to come to a close. For me, it’s when that activity starts becoming a chore.

I’ve been feeling that way for the past few days about NaNoWriMo. The checking of stats, pushing myself to make my allotted word count each day (even if–especially if–I have no idea what to write), etc. is getting tedious. And when something fun turns to tediousness, it’s time to leave the party.

I’m happy to be less than 3,000 words from the 50,000 mark. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it is bringing me a sense of relief. I’m ready for this to be over, for this year. Part of it is, as I’ve said in some previous posts, that I am writing when I am normally on a post-published-book, month-long mental vacation.  Part of it is that I’m running out of ideas on how to further expand the plot of my novel. Part of it is that I need to devote time to an upcoming book that is due in less than two short months. Part of it is that my time will be focused on preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Another part is that I don’t want to have to do ANYTHING on Thanksgiving but eat, read, relax, roll over…lather, rinse, repeat. 😀 Notice I didn’t mention writing.

Anyway, NaNoWriMo is an intense month, and as such I am ready to switch to a lower gear. 2,362 more words…

My fellow writers in the struggle–we’re almost there!

Thanks for stopping by.

Aside

Relaxing Rampage: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 23

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 3,763

Today’s blog count: 24

Total words written: 42,065

Total blog posts: 24

Today, I had a nice, relaxing Sunday. It was cool outside and pouring down rain, so I was snuggled on the couch under a blanket. I also fell into a nice, two-hour nap.

Perhaps today’s writing rampage came as a result of the heavy-duty maxing and relaxing. Maybe it came because I knew that my time would shortly be focused on the Thanksgiving Day dinner (which I will start making at least a day in advance, so as to preserve my sanity). Maybe it was because I saw the finish line looming (I am less than 8,000 words away from NaNoWriMo victory!).

Regardless of the reason, I am proud of writing so much today. The book is taking an interesting spin, one that I certainly didn’t see coming, and I probably won’t be finished with the book, plot-wise, by the end of this year’s NaNo. Also, as writing is wont to do, I got an idea for yet another book that i may try my hand at, and hopefully have ready in January.

The rain has stopped for now, but the relaxing hasn’t. This is a good night for a mug of cocoa before I go to bed. You should try it!

My fellow writers in the NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo struggles: EIGHT MORE DAYS! Let’s make them count, and please take into account the tryptophan coma many of us will fall into on Thursday (here in the United States).

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Aside

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