Positive Energy

Sunday, August 30, 2009
I'm discovering more every day how much easier it is to review a book than write one. Stories are subjective. Either you like it or you don't. So, there's no training needed to review. You simply list everything you loved or hated about the plot, characters, emotions, word choices, etc...and TA DA! You reviewed a book. Reviews aren't wrong, either. It's all a matter of opinion. Whatever you say is okay because that's how you feel about the story.

Writing is a whole different ball park. First, you learn the trade, take classes, get advice, join groups, attend conferences, study the craft until your eyes want to fall out, and practice, practice, practice. Then it's on to writing.

In the rough draft, you pour your heart and soul into a manuscript, ignoring friends and family, to say what you've always wanted to say. Then you go back to it with revisions, checking grammar and word choice, sometimes obsessing over one phrase for hours to express it it just the right way. Then, you go back again and again, adding scenes, deleting scenes, and revising some more to insure a durable plot or believable and likable characters with actual character to them. Then you revise (yeah, again!) to make sure the soul and emotions shine through. Revise a couple more times to turn all the telling into showing, once again strengthen the weak points, and check grammar and word choice a few more times. Layer upon layer, days/weeks/months/years of work and yet, there will always be something that could be better. And there will always be someone more than willing to point out your weaknesses.

Doesn't matter what step you've reached in your writing career.

  • In the middle of crafting your first manuscript? Critique partners will deflate your excited balloon of joy within five minutes.
  • Submitting to a publisher or agent? Rejection, rejection, rejection.
  • Entering a contest in the hopes of getting your name out there? Your results come back and your score is the last on the list. Ouch. Then all the judges bleed your entry to death with ghoulish red ink.
  • Finally selling stories? Reviews, bad reviews, worse reviews.
  • Made the best seller list? Fans complain this story wasn't as good as that other you wrote and suggest it's time you should retire.

And it's not that most of these people are deliberately trying to be cruel. I'm sure many merely want to be helpful, give advice, correct every possible thing they can find wrong so your story will be the best it can be. Or maybe they have to feel better about themselves by showing you how smart they are. Who knows. The point is, all the critiquing, correcting, and negative reviews can sometimes bring you down, possibly even make you question why you're even bothering, make you think you have no business trying to share your stupid, worthless story with the world.

So, how do we drag ourselves out of this painful funk? Dude, I don't know. Honestly. But I'll try to suggest some ideas to help pump up our esteem and bring positive energy back into the force.

I'd like to say, "Just ignore those mean bullies ripping your story to shreds. They don't know what they're talking about." But, sometimes their suggestions really are useful and can make the story ten times better. So, you can't completely discount them off hand. Maybe just set their critiques off to the side for now, and go back a little at a time. Don't overdose on negativity.

Maybe you could come up with a mission statement to remind you WHY you like to write. Me, my mission statement is the movie Romancing the Stone when Joan Wilder finishes her manuscript in the beginning of the movie and burst into tears with, "Oh, God, that's good!" To me, the moment I finish the last word of my story is the best moment of writing. The elation, joy, and satisfaction of completion...it's very consuming. Fulfilling. I actually did it. I wrote a story... a real story with a beginning, middle, and end and characters that I created and love. Wow.

So, remember that: Mission statement. Repeat it when things get bad.

OR... you could make up a happy box. Jot down things people say about your story that are good and positive and bright. Published authors could print out all their good reviews. Put each exciting comment on a piece of paper, fold it up, and slip it in the happy box. Linda, I had no idea you could write like that. It made me cry. I got emotional when stories never make me emotional. Dialogue is obviously your strong point. I really loved your strong and endearing characters and your sassy writing style. Your concept is really good....it moves well and is cute and funny and sexy. So, whenever you get overwhelmed with negativity, start pulling out a piece of paper and read those lovely comments made by other people until you begin to feel better.

Okay, after the happy box idea, I'm out of ideas other than to take a break and get away from whatever is depressing you for a while. Spend time with loved ones. I heard once that you could make yourself happy by making someone else happy. So, maybe you could do something special for a friend or family member to make their day, then bask in the joy radiating off them.

What do you guys do when you're getting sucked into the vortex of negativity?

College Town

Monday, August 24, 2009
I wonder if the dynamics of a college town is the same everywhere. Here, the city's population grows anywhere from twenty to fifty percent whenever school's in session. The streets suddenly become busier, traffic more hectic. Stores and restaurants grow crowded. The waiters and check-out clerks turn into hip young students.

Working in a college town (or more specifically AT the college), I've noticed a certain energy in the air when August approaches. Classes started for us today, and all of last week the campus stirred with growing activity. The usually-dead parking lot started accumulating cars and trucks, the grounds crew became busy trimming and perfecting the already stunning lawns. Parents and students strolled the sidewalks between dorm houses.

This morning, all I have to do is look out the window beside my desk and I see a girl walk past with a backpack strapped to her shoulders and a guy riding a bicycle. A couple toting a pile of books. The sound of a lawn mower.

Yes, school has definitely started. Seems like everything is changing... except me. As usual, I'm still waiting. Waiting for a word back from a publisher on one of my submissions. Waiting till noon so I can eat. Waiting until work is over so I can go home. Waiting until bedtime so I can get some blessed sleep. Waiting until my stomach gets big so I can tell there's actually a baby in there. Waiting until my next doctor's appointment so I can hear a heartbeat again. Waiting until the little critter finally starts moving around enough that I can feel him or her. Waiting for my husband's business training trip to be over so he can come home. Waiting for my first book to be released... Just waiting.

Bad Boys Don't Play Hero - CH 1

Monday, August 17, 2009
In anticipation of The Stillburrow Crush's debut release (26 Feb 2010), I've written a short young adult story to keep you occupied while you wait until February. I'll post a chapter a month on my website, starting... TODAY (yay!).

So, to begin Bad Boys Don't Play Hero, just head over to my bookshelf page at http://www.lindakage.com/books and start reading now. It's as simple and as free as that!

In September, I'll let you know when the next chapter is uploaded and ready to go. Thank you so much for visiting. I hope you enjoy Nick and Kiernan's quickie romance.

Blog Awards

Friday, August 14, 2009
I've received a couple of blog awards lately. So, I'd love to thank everyone who thought of little-'ol-me. Plus I'd like to pass on the favor.

Blogging Award Rules
1) Accept the award and post a link back to the awarding person.
2) Pass the award on (the rules differ here; sometimes you pass on to one person, five, or even more).
3) Notify award winner.

Sounds easy enough to me. So, here we go.
-I've received numerous blogging awards from Kate at Another Book Blog-Whore.
-I've also received the Kreativ Blogger Award from Laura, who writes Laura's Reviews.
-Then Linda LaRoque from Linda LaRoque's Musings awarded me the Lovely Blog Award.
-And most recently Robyn from Putting Pen to Paper passed the "Premios Dardos Award" to me.
Thank you, thank you, all. I know I don't deserve any recognition. But, heck, I'll take an award from you anyway!!
Now I'd like to pass on the love:
To Nancy J. Parra from A Room with a View, I'd like
to award the "One Lovely Blog Award" for being so faithful on her blog and having something new to say EVERY SINGLE day. Amazing.

To Kate at Another Book Blog-Whore for introducing me to the blog awarding ceremony, I'd like you to have the "Kreativ Blog Award" since that's about one of the only awards you haven't gotten yet!!

I'd like to award "The Literary Blogger Award" to:
All three women write the ideal literary blog.

And I'd like Jackie Bannon's Chaotic Thoughts From Ms. Quirky to receive the "2009 Friendly Blogger Award" because a person always feels like they're one of her good friends, sitting down in her living room and chatting, when they read one of her personable, humorous blogs.

Guess I should go do this part now and let my winners know they're... winners!

Baby Update

Thursday, August 13, 2009
I'm heartily endeavoring not to talk about the whole pregnancy thing in every post. But sometimes I just can't help it (sorry...yet not quite sorry enough to shut up about it already).

Anyway, I had another doctor's appointment today, and everything is going good. Yay! We're thirteen weeks along, so I'm finishing up my first trimester. The second is supposed to be the easiest, though the first wasn't that hard at all now that it's all said and done. Baby's heartbeat is 140 beats per minute (it sounded so beautiful too. Sigh), which I'm told is perfectly normal. And I'm happy to brag I've only gained one pound since last month--astonishing to learn after all the food I've been snarfing down lately. Of course, the doctor seemed almost too happy to inform me I'd be gaining more--lots more--from here on out.

If everyone cooperates (that's you in there I'm talking to, Kiddo), I should be able to learn a gender in October and finally be able to talk in terms of Him or Her. We'll see.

And now, in other news, you might've noticed I've done a little remodeling around here. I've given my whole website a face lift. It matches my book cover a little better and seems to brighten things up a bit. So, if you're bored or the curious type, you can check out my home page at http://www.lindakage.com/ to see what all is new.

I'll be back tomorrow with a special (non-baby) post. Yeah, you heard right. Three posts in one week. I'm definitely feeling better these days.

Interview with Jennifer Sumner, heroine in Nancy J. Parra’s “Mr. Charming”

Monday, August 10, 2009

Today, we have heroine Jennifer Sumner from Nancy J. Parra's romantic suspsense novel, Mr. Charming to tell us a little about her and her story.

So, Jennifer, tell us a little about yourself.

Jen: “I’m a single mom who works at home…”

A single mom? Wow. How did that change your life?

Jen: *smiling* “Being a mom gave me real purpose. I thought respect for my work was a good life goal until I looked into my son’s wide baby eyes. Then I knew that recognition from my peers, helping my listeners, fame and fortune…all that faded in comparison to the needs of my son.”

You work out of your home?

Jen: “Yes, I have a studio in my basement.”

A studio?

Jen: “I’m an advice doctor. Think Dr. Phil with a female twist. I write a syndicated newspaper column and tape a show from my studio.”

You write a column, host a radio show AND raise a six-year-old. Amazing. What do you do on your down time? Or, DO you have down time?

Jen: *chuckle* “I don’t think there’s a mom out there who has down time. But I advise my readers to try to create some “me” time in their day. Children grow up and leave. If you keep some mommy time in your day it will be an easier transition later.”

What kinds of things do you do with your mommy time?

Jen: “I like to read romance novels and I play a mean game of tennis when I get the chance.”

So…who’s this Kane McCormick guy (eyebrows wiggling)? What’s the story with him? And please, feel free to go heavy on the juicy details.

Jen: *blushing* “I thought Kane was everything I tell my readers to stay away from. A self serving playboy with a different woman on his arm every night… but I was wrong.” *shakes her head* “I should have known better than to believe the tabloids. They were certainly wrong about me and my divorce… I should never have believed the stories about Kane.”

So, you’re saying your divorce and Kane’s playboy ways were falsely reported?

Jen: “Let’s just say you can’t believe everything you read in those papers. They are out to sell gossip—not report the truth.”

How did Kane end up at your house? Did you know him before he moved in with you?

Jen: “To begin with, he did not move in with me. My brother the homicide detective asked me if I would take in an innocent man for a couple of days. I said yes because I have a perfectly good guest room… I had no idea he was hiding Kane McCormick.”

Kane was supposed to be dead.

Jen: "Yes… the police thought it would be easier to catch the person who blew up Kane’s private jet and killed his friends if they thought Kane was dead, too.”

And things got messy?

Jen: “Let’s just say it was more complicated than I bargained for…”

Wow, I can’t wait to read your story to find out how everything turns out. But for the time being, let’s talk a little more about you. What’s your dream vacation? Mountain skiing with hot chocolate or umbrella cocktails on the beach? Or Other?

Jen: *smiling* “Anywhere I can take my son and watch him have fun.”

Are you more of a steak and potatoes girl, strictly salads, or pizza all the way?

Jen: I like a home cooked meal. It really is all about sitting down as a family and spending time together. Where better than at the dinner table.”

Finish this sentence. When the going gets tough…

Jen: “The tough do the right thing.”

I’m curious. What do you think of Nancy J. Parra? Has she done anything to totally aggravate you or give you insurmountable obstacles to overcome, or is she a pretty easy-going author?

Jen: *shakes head* “She certainly likes to torture me.” Laughs. “Just when I thought I had my life together she threw Kane at me…then before I could figure that out, Kane’s killer went on the attack… Thank goodness for HEAs.”

Now for the most important question of all. How can we get our hands on your

Jen: “The book is available at www.thewildrosepress.com in both e and print format. You can also find us at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Or visit nancy’s website at www.nancyjparra.com and click on her catalog page for buy buttons.”

Thank you so much for stopping by, Jen. I for one am excited about your story. For those of you who'd like a sneak peek of Mr. Charming before you buy it, just visit Nancy J. Parra's Excerpt page at address : http://www.nancyjparra.com/gpage8.html for a fun read.

Romance In the White House

Tuesday, August 4, 2009
This photo's just too funny not to share. It's been circulating around the internet for a week or so now. I first saw it on Gennita Low's Blog and then again on one of my writing group loops.

I guess romance author, Geri Krotow, signed and gave a copy of her harlequin historical romance novel, A Rendezvous to Remember, to First Lady Michelle Obama... and the hubby got his hands on it.

I think the look on the president's face is priceless. I can only imagine what kind of steamy scene he just found!

Here's a link to the actual article that featured it : A Romance Novel for Michelle Obama (PHOTOS). So, now we're legendary. Romance authors have found our way into the white house.