Moving Forward

It’s December, and I’m not as far in writing my book as I meant to be.  I’m not as far at ANYTHING as I meant to be.  This year has sort of gotten away from me.  My broken leg didn’t help.  It’s cost me a lot of time, but next week, I have therapy on Monday and Thursday, and those are my last sessions.  I love my therapists.  Every single one of them at the clinic is awesome.  I’ll miss them.  I won’t miss the actual therapy:)  It never feels good, and it’s really cut into my writing time.  It’s made my leg better and stronger, but I thought I’d be skipping through the back yard by now, which made my therapist laugh. She advised me to just keep doing my exercises and getting better with my cane.  She said it’s going to be a long, slow process and that I probably won’t be feeling frisky again until next August.  She reminded me that I’ve come a long way, and I just need to be patient.

I hate being patient.  Hate waiting.  But I’m doing the same thing with my writing.  When I got a book contract and a publisher, I did a happy dance.  And my editor John Scognamiglio and all of the people who work with me at Kensington/Lyrical Shine are wonderful. They’ve done a fantastic job of promoting my books, but I’m still not a best-selling author.  I knew it would take work as a self-published author, but with a publisher behind me, why aren’t I selling more?  Because my agent and editor both told me that building name recognition takes TIME.  A fellow writer told me that she didn’t really start selling until she published her fifth book in a series.  Another writer told me her books didn’t take off until she published her seventh humorous romance, that she had to build an audience.  Aargh!  I’ve come a long way, but I have a long way to go.  Just like my leg.

Writers tend to think of agents and editors as enemies when they don’t have them, but if you’re lucky enough to get good ones, they’re willing to stick in there and help you grow. They know how the business works, and they actually DO care about writers.  They’re serious about books and authors.  They’re willing to invest time and energy in them, even when they’re buried under manuscripts and slush pile pages.  Most people in publishing are over-worked!  I’ve just published romance number three, so I’ve sort of come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to be an instant success.  Most people aren’t.  I’ve never been instantly wonderful at anything, and I guess writing shouldn’t be an exception.  But I’m making progress.  I’m moving forward. I’m working on romance number six right now.  And someday, I hope I have name recognition, that people look forward to buying my next books.

Wherever you are in your life, in what you’re striving for, have a great December!  Judy

http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

@judypost

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Not your typical holiday story

cover_27_thumbI just wanted to let you know that I posted the first chapter of a holiday story on my webpage.  I’ve missed Babet and Prosper, so my present to me was to write an urban fantasy with them as the main characters.  Instead of Christmas carols and cookies, though, the story that came to me is a bit on the gory side.  Sorry about that, but hope you like it anyway!  I love comments.  Check back next Thursday for chapter 2.

http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

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Blog/webpage

A while ago, I blogged about trying to keep up with writing a blog AND a webpage.  At the time, I was behind on my writing and sweating a deadline, AND my publisher had sent me pages to proof.  I felt buried, but thanks to my awesome critique partners, I got everything done on time.  And I started rethinking what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. And, once again, I decided I like both the blog and the webpage for different reasons.  I’m not toting this as something any sane writer should do or even telling you that it will increase readers or boost sales.  I’m just saying that I like it–for me.

When I write my blog, I think about the craft and business side of writing.  When I first started working on the blog, I shared writing advice that worked for me.  But let’s be honest.  You can find writing how-to tips online from Chuck Wendig (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/), K.M. Weiland (https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/), and occasional articles by Stephen King (https://smartblogger.com/stephen-king/), so I feel a little out gunned.  Now, I don’t even pretend to be an expert, I just share what’s happening with my writing–the good, the frustrating, and the ugly.  I figure other writers can relate to most of it.  At the  moment, my third Mill Pond romance just came out, and I’m working on the sixth one in the series. My goal is to finish it, turn it in, and then squeeze in enough time to try to write a mystery. I have the mystery all plotted out, and I’d like to start working on it in January.  I’m thinking snow will be on the ground, temperatures will be cold, and I’ll be in the mood to hibernate and pound on my keyboard.  It sounds good on paper, doesn’t it?  My worry? When I write a romance, I have at least 40 plot points (or chapter ideas) to move the story and come up with 70,000 words–if I’m lucky. For my mystery?  I came up with 23 plot points, but they’re more involved, and I HAVE to have 70,000 words.  Will that work?  I sure as hell hope so.

When I go to my webpage, I switch gears.  When I write my webpage, I think of readers, not writers.  And it’s sort of my “spill” zone, where all the random, little ideas I have for characters or series that I can’t use in a book, spill out of my head.  For instance, when I wrote Wolf’s Bane, I fell in love with Wedge and Bull, the two werewolves who help Reece and Damian protect Bay City.  But they’re always supporting players, so I wanted to write short stories that featured each of them.  But what would I do with those stories?  Easy.  I’d put them on my webpage.  And sometimes, I put snippets from the novels I’m working on on it, too.  I even posted my one and only YA witch novel–The Familiars–on my webpage, because–why not?  Sometimes, I use my webpage as a place to experiment with writing techniques I’d never dare try in a full novel.  For Perdita’s Story, I wanted to write a story where the protagonist made one bad decision after another until the end.  I’d never do that for a book, but it was fun to play with for a short piece.  For Mill Pond, I introduced characters that would never get a full novel of their own, but I liked them and wanted to give them a happy-ever-after, so I did–in a short story.  Another thing I like to do on my webpage is introduce fellow writers whose work I like and think they might like, too.  In my  mind, when I go to my webpage, I think of readers more than writers.

As for marketing?  Well, I do my best, but I’m no wizard, so I post any new news on my author Facebook page or twitter.  It’s not the most efficient system, but it makes me concentrate on different areas of my writing:  fellow writers, readers, and marketing. Marketing, right now, is probably my weakest.  I still haven’t learned how to do rafflecoptors and give-aways, and I think I did better when I tried a blog tour and paid for advertising, but I’ve never had a publisher before, so I’m learning as I go.  One step at a time, right?  Hope you’ve found what works for you.  Happy writing!

My webpage: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

My author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

twitter:  @judypost

 

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Canning Gone Wrong

Today, on the 25th, I have a small, featured article in Reader’s Entertainment Magazine.  So many of my books feature cooking and food, I wrote about my experiences when canning and freezing went wrong.  Today’s modern pressure cookers are much, much safer.  And that’s a good thing!

http://www.readersentertainment.com/blog/2016/author-judi-lynn-shares-kitchen-horror-stories-and-her-latest-book-love-on-tap/

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Giving Thanks

We have the turkey.  Both of my grandsons, my sisters, and cousin are coming to our house to celebrate.  It’s a pretty low-key, happy event.  We eat and yak and enjoy each other.  This year, I’m feeling a little frisky.  I’m going to chop up my pretty bird and try to make The Pioneer Woman’s turkey roulade and Michael Symon’s braised legs and thighs. My friends and family are brave souls who let me experiment on them:)

I’ve been having fun experimenting lately, and I have lots to be thankful for.  If you follow my blog, you know that I broke my left leg–and did a good job of it–on June 17th.  I couldn’t put any weight on it for three months before I graduated to a walker.  But in the last few weeks, I’ve been getting better and better with a cane.  Whoopee!  AND, I can manage stairs now, even if they don’t have a railing.  I’m moving up in the world:)  I can leave the house for restaurants and friends now, not just for therapy.  And I’ll graduate from that soon.  I’ve had the most wonderful therapists a person could have, but it will be nice to get up in the morning, stay in my PJs, and write, write, write!

I’m starting to feel better about romances now, too.  An odd thing to say, maybe, but it’s taken me a while to feel comfortable writing them.  For my first novel, COOKING UP TROUBLE, I felt like I was hanging words on a tipsy clothes line.  I liked the characters and the humor, but I was never sure if I was getting it right.  The characters made it easier for me, though.   I liked Brody so much from book one, I couldn’t wait to give him a story of his own. By the time I reached book three, I was brave enough to play with my format a little.  I’ve known quite a few smart women who have terrible taste in men. The same can be said for men–they can choose Ms. Wrong over and over again, too–but since Paula was my protagonist in book three, I focused on her.  I was worried I’d confuse the reader by having her fixated on Mr. Me, but I decided to trust that they’d realize she was going in the wrong direction and pick up on the clues her friends kept giving her–“Not him.  Look in THAT direction.” I hope it works.

For book four–which won’t come out until next spring–I made a bigger leap.  I liked Tyne so much, I wanted to hear his voice.  I wrote the first three books from a single POV, the female’s only.   But for Tyne’s book, I added the guy’s POV, too, because Tyne doesn’t have a problem expressing himself.  And I loved it, going back and forth between the two leads.  I liked it so much, I kept doing it for book five and for book six, which I’m working on now.  I don’t expect to ever get everything right in a book.  That doesn’t happen very often for any author of any book.  I can count on my fingers the books that I’ve read that I considered flawless, but I hope that I keep learning and getting better and better with time.  And this year, I feel like I’ve made a few strides I’m happy about.  So I’m thankful.

Hope you’ve had a good year, too, and happy writing!

 

My webpage with free short stories: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

My Facebook author page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

twitter:  @judypost

 

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TagAlong

I just posted a new short, short romance to my webpage to celebrate the upcoming release of my 3rd Mill Pond romance, LOVE ON TAP.  Hope you enjoy!

http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

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What’s Wrong With Fluff?

I just finished reading two romances by two different authors, and each of them had protagonists who were dealing with some serious crap.  In Nora Roberts’s Whiskey Beach, the female protagonist had moved to Whiskey Beach after barely surviving a stalker boyfriend who nearly killed her.  The love interest–Eli–whom I seriously loved–had been accused of his wife’s murder since they were in the middle of a nasty divorce and had publicly argued the same day she was killed.  Heavy stuff.  The guy moved to Whiskey Beach, too, and someone followed him, so a good, solid mystery was thrown into the mix.

After Nora Roberts, I bought Stacy Finz’s romance, Finding Hope.   I should admit here that I did this partly for selfish reasons.  Stacy Finz is selling lots of books on Lyrical Press–my publisher.  And she’s one of the few authors I’ve seen who had 73 five-star reviews, period.  Nothing lower than five stars.  I mean, that’s almost like a miracle, in my opinion. So I wanted to see what she did.  And what she did is damn good.  She gave both of her characters BIG baggage.  The female protagonist was happily married to a wonderful man, whom I’m happy to say STAYED a wonderful man, so that Finz defied the stereotypes, but their six-year-old daughter was snatched from their backyard, and four years later, no one has ever found her, dead or alive.  Every mother’s nightmare.  (Father’s, too, but I’m talking about the lead character here).  She stays in her house, hoping her daughter will find her way home sometime, but after four years, the stress and memories destroy their marriage and get to her, so she leaves to move to Nugget, California, where she meets Clay, whose wife was cheating on him, drank too much, and wrapped her car around a tree.  He’s left to raise two boys who miss their mom and partially blame him for her death. More heavy stuff.  And I loved it.  The town, the people, the characters all came to life in this book.

But now . . . now I’m ready to read something lighter.  I’m not one of those readers who consume more and more of the same kind of book.  I love urban fantasy when I want good vs. evil and big battles, life or death duels.  I read mysteries when I want my little grey cells to strain harder than usual.  And once in a while, I want some lightweight fluff.  Now I’m not talking 30 minute sitcom light here.  No canned laughter at the end of each scene.  But sometimes I just want interesting characters who think they’ve got their lives flowing pretty well until they bump into each other and realize they might want more.

I’m writing my sixth Mill Pond romance right now and read the first chapter at Scribes, my writing group that I can’t praise enough.  I got good feedback, but two members asked me, “What’s the love interest’s flaw?”  Because he comes off as too good, too nice in that chapter.  (And the female has enough flaws, possibly, for both of them).  And I had to stop to really think about that.  Because I never define my characters by their flaws. I never define anyone that way.  I tend to look at people and see their potential, the things that I like, until I’m forced to confront the things that might annoy me.

I, personally, think every person on this earth has goals and dreams and things that keep us from reaching them, and that’s how I define my characters.  What does he/she want?  What gets in his/her way?  And how does he/she deal with it?  Flaws?  Oh, hell, we all have plenty of them, but that doesn’t help me wrap my head around a character unless he’s a minor character, where I just list the obvious.  Like Axel, in book six, who’s a mean, old coot who lives to annoy people.  And baggage?  If we’re older than two, we probably have enough of that, too.  But it doesn’t always have to be so heavy, we can hardly carry it. Some of my favorite characters are just good people who want something and can’t figure out how to get it.  Their books are just fun reads, but I need fun reads once in a while.  I crave something that makes me feel warm and happy, and that’s why I write Mill Pond romances.

 

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A snippet

I put up another snippet on my webpage for my upcoming romance, LOVE ON TAP.  Hope you enjoy it.

 

http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

 

http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/author.aspx/31751

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How do you like it? Sex in romances…

I’m reading a Stacy Finz romance right now, FINDING HOPE, and I’m really enjoying it. She’s created great characters who feel REAL, and they’re all searching for answers in their lives.  Last night, I hit the scene that if I was young and horny, I’d have earmarked and reread until the page fell out of the book.  Man, was it hot!  Before reading Finz, I read WHISKEY BEACH by Nora Roberts.  I’ve read MIDNIGHT BAYOU and ENCHANTED by her, (my favorites), and the sex sizzled, but not in this one.  The emphasis was on two people who needed to learn to trust again, so the bedroom scenes emphasized that.

My writer friend, alias Julia Donner, can write great sex for her Regency series. I blush in my living room where no one can see me:)  https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Donner/e/B00J65E8TY/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1478461347&sr=1-2-ent  So can my writer friend, Kyra Jacobs, who writes sweet romances for Enchanted, but wrote hot and steamy for her dragon shifter series.  And she does both well.  Me?  The first time I tried a sex scene, it was a real challenge, and it didn’t win any awards.  I still had the problem of picturing friends and family reading it.  One of my friends flat out told me, “If an author has to grab my attention with sex, I put the book down.”  Not every reader appreciates sex in romances.  They think you’re appealing for shock value, cheap thrills.  I remember reading one of Kyra’s blogs when it bothered her that a friend commented, “So, now you’re writing smut?”  (You can find her blog here:  https://indianawonderer.wordpress.com/)  The thing is, both Julia Donner and Kyra Jacobs can write great books without sex.  They don’t HAVE to have it to hold your attention.  They write it because it’s appropriate to the stories they’re telling.

When I first started writing romances, I worried how readers would react to the sex scenes in my books.  First, did they work, or were they clumsy?  Second, were they appropriate to the story?  Was sex a natural progression for the two characters in my book?  Was it to advance the story line and their relationship or just to punch up a sagging plot?  That feels just as gimmicky to me as writers who throw in a gruesome death scene to create tension when suspense has gone flat.  Even if I got the sex right, I still can’t do sizzle.  I think I’d have to blindfold my dead mother so that I can’t picture her looking over my shoulder and flinching.  But my biggest angst went away when I gave one of my manuscripts to my dear, wonderful friend and first draft editor Ann Wintrode.  Ann belonged to my writing group, was a retired librarian, and was in her eighties.  When I fussed because I wasn’t sure if I should show her my manuscript because I had sex scenes in the book, Ann skewered me with a look and said, “I think sex is a natural part of life.  If your characters are realistic, and are attracted to each other, wouldn’t they have sex?”

Well, that pretty much put it in perspective for me.  I guess I’ve decided that if the sex feels like the right thing for the characters, and not just gratuitous for readers,  then it works.  I don’t have to turn out the lights and show fireworks exploding outside the window, though that would have been better than the first sex scene I ever wrote.  I like books with and without sex scenes, as long as they’re well-written.  I like sweet and sizzling romances.  Whatever.  Just make me care.

Happy Writing!

My webpage:  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

My Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

On twitter: @judypost

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Making it personal

Experts tell you to write what you know.  That always confused me.  I started out writing mystery short stories and I didn’t know much about crime.  I went to conferences and listened to panels on poisoning, fingerprints, DNA, and serial killer profiles, etc., because I wanted to get the basics right.  And I’d read lots of mysteries to know the rhythm and format.  But I finally decided that “write what you know” meant write what you emotionally know.  I’ve never killed a person, but I’ve sure been mad as hell, felt betrayed,  or wished a person out of my life–forever.  The thing is, what we live, what we feel, is what makes our writing real.

In my third romance, the protagonist’s dad dies soon after he retires from the army.  My dad didn’t get to live long enough to retire.  After a long bout with multiple myeloma–where his blood became so thick, he was hooked up to a machine that took blood out of his left arm, used centrifugal force to “clean it,” and returned it to his right arm–he finally lost the battle.  His blood got thicker faster and faster until his heart had to work too hard to pump it.  I didn’t want to do that to the characters in my book, so Paula’s dad got a quick, unexpected death, but I know that feeling of loss and the aftermath.  Paula tries to help her mom through her grief.  That, I know, too.  So do my sisters.  Paula, herself, has lost her military husband overseas, and she has two kids to raise.  My daughter’s a single mom, and even though we helped her, I know it’s no piece of cake to raise kids without a husband.

In my fifth romance (and it’s far, far in the future before it’s released), Joel–the love interest–is raising his daughter by himself, because his wife isn’t emotionally strong enough to deal with their daughter, who has cerebral palsy and will never be mentally older than twelve.  She’ll never grow up and move away.  She’ll always live with him.  Which Joel is fine with, because, lord, what a beautiful human being she is!  But she’ll always be a child–the good and the bad of that.  My cousin has cerebral palsy, and is maybe mentally eight or nine, and I remember my grandmother and my cousin’s mother worrying about what would happen to her after they died.  My sister, bless her, took her in, but I’ve met more people with those worries.  When a child won’t grow up, will never be able to make it on her own, what happens to her when you die?

In the romance I’m working on now, Karli goes to Mill Pond to deal with her grandfather, who’s mean and uncooperative, but is reaching the point where it’s not safe for him to stay in his own home without help.  I’ve been there/done that.  My John’s mom was unstable when she didn’t take her meds, and after John’s dad died, sometimes she took them, sometimes she didn’t.  Even though we checked on her every day and brought her to our house for suppers, it didn’t work. Our two small daughters got on her nerves.  She’d wake up at two a.m. and call us.  Her doctor finally told us, “Find a place for her, or she’ll be in the hospital.”  The doctor told Harriet, too, thank goodness, and then Harriet pushed for me to find a good nursing home for her.  Those decisions are almost always messy.  They’re messy for Karli in book six, too.

You don’t have to battle witches or vampires to find the right emotions for good to battle evil.  Most of us have battled something in our lives.  We know how it feels.  A writer’s life experiences and the emotions they invoke add depth to our stories.  So use what you’ve got.  Write what you know!

https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

twitter:  @judypost

 

 

Posted in books, emotion, what to write?, writing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments