Why????

I couldn’t stand it–even though I’m in the middle of reading TROUBLE IN MUDBUG, by Jana DeLeon and really enjoying it–AND I downloaded Staci Troilo’s novel TORTURED SOUL to read next–I still HAD to buy the last Kate Daniel’s urban fantasy that just came out by Ilona Andrews.  If you’ve read my blog very long, you know how much I love that series.  Her new Legacy series, too.  I’ve bought EVERY book.  And I couldn’t wait, but I also couldn’t find it on the usual bookshelf at my local Barnes & Noble.  Why?  Because one of their helpful clerks explained that it was on the hardcover display and wouldn’t be out in paperback until a LONG time.  Now, I know I bought the previous one in paperback.  The memory is sketchy, though.  Kids were in and out of the house, staying, moving, staying a little more, and the joy of reading got a little chaotic.  But I’ve bought all of the other books in paperback.  And that’s where my sorry personal lament starts–  WHY??? Why a hardcover now?

It’s time to confess that I can be a little anal about my books.  And I should have seen this coming.  WAY back before the dawn of man, I bought every Martha Grimes’ novel and Elizabeth George novel when they came out.  And they both started in paperback and then, when they became bestselling authors, their books went to hardcover.  So did Patricia Briggs with her Mercy Thompson series.  And now, so is Ilona Andrews.  I don’t mind paying $22. for their books instead of $8.  I’m happy for all of them.  They’ve EARNED more money and recognition.

BUT–I keep all of my favorite authors’ books together on my bookshelves.  And call me a little controlling, but my rows of books look crooked when half or three-fourths of a shelf is paperback and the rest is hardcover.  It hurts my aesthetic balance.  At least, until I get used to it.  And to have an ENTIRE series in paperback with just the one, last book in hardcover?  It just looks whopper-jawed.  I’m so into this, that I’ve already decided that when the paperback version of MAGIC TRIUMPHS comes out, I’m buying it.  And putting it with my other paperbacks in the series.  And I’ll give my hardcover copy to my library and hopefully some other readers will enjoy it.  But until then, I have to be patient and wait.  Not my strong suit, but hey!  I don’t have any choice.

Do any of you have bookshelf issues?  In the large scheme of things, it’s a minor irritation, but what can I say?  I hope every book you read is a winner, and happy writing!

Doggone!

Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty good about my writing.  I’m happy with how my two finished mysteries turned out.  Of course, no one’s seen them but my critique partners and my editor, so I haven’t had to deal with reviews yet–and that might be part of it.  I’m getting better at accepting bad reviews, though.  Most writers get them.  Books I really liked hit some other reader the wrong way.  We all have different tastes.  Anyway, at the moment, I’ve been happily hitting my keys–until–doggone!–I bought Elizabeth George’s newest mystery, THE PUNISHMENT SHE DESERVES.

I’ve been an Elizabeth George fan since I read her first book–A GREAT DELIVERANCE.  That book blew me away.  Her books have gotten longer (THE PUNISHMENT SHE DESERVES is 704 pages) and further between, so I usually have to wait at least a year or two before the next one comes out.  For some reason, in my opinion, they got gloomier, too.  George writes characters really well, and her writing itself is beautiful to behold.  I finally reached a point, though, where I fizzled before I finished one of her books because it was so depressing.  Did that stop me from buying her next book?  Of course not!  Thankfully, though, this new book breathes with great dialogue, characters who spring off the pages, and the occasional humor.  I think it’s her best novel yet.

As always when I read George, I toyed with the idea of adding a little more weight to my writing and my characters, but I decided against it.  I’ll never be an Elizabeth George.  I’ll never have her gravitas, and let’s face it, I’ll never have enough patience to write 700 pages.  I’ll never be like Jenna Bennett, either, with her sense of flippancy and daredevil jump-feet-first into things.  And maybe that’s why I’m happier with my own writing than I used to be.  I still want to improve.  I still want to write my story the best I can.  But I can admire and enjoy all kinds of other writers and learn from them while knowing that what makes my writing what it is, is ME.

We each bring our own voice, our own style to what we write.  Whatever you’re working on, good luck.  And happy writing!

 

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

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

twitter:  @judypost

Deadlines & Writing

I did it!  I finished romance #6.  I met my deadline.  Time to toast myself and celebrate. This was the romance I thought might never end.  I kept thinking of new scenes to add to it, so it grew from 63,000–what I expected–to 73,000, which should make my editor happy.  He wanted me to make my books longer–if I wanted to.  I didn’t think I did, but this book disagreed with me.

I’m not suggesting that you can write a sprawling epic.  Every editor/publishing house has specific lengths they accept, and if you go too far under or over those, your book will be a hard sell. But I knew my editor wanted 70,000 words even though my contract was only for 60,000.  Those extra 10,000 words take longer to write, so if you have a deadline, it’s wise to write a little faster.  Which leads me to a little kernel of thought that I’ve rolled around in my head for most of this week.

I recently read a blog post that implied if writers wrote more than one book a year, they weren’t serious writers.  I guess we don’t sweat enough, suffer long enough to produce  good books.  I used to write one book a year when I had kids and my husband worked second trick, and there was ALWAYS someone underfoot, needing to do this, go there.  The kids are grown now.  I have more time.  And now, I write three books a year and squeeze in some short fiction, too.  Remember, I’m talking about 60,000 to 70,000 word books.  The good news–I’ve been at it long enough, (and that  makes a difference), that I actually think my writing’s BETTER when I write faster to meet a deadline.  I don’t ramble around as much.  Now, I aim for 10 pages a day, every weekday.  That gives me plenty of time to plot a book before I start it,  rewrite as I go (essential for me, even though it messes up other writers), give it to my critique partners, and then do a serious rewrite when I get back their comments.

This sounds good on paper.  It hardly ever works that smoothly.  I lose writing days when people come to stay and visit with us, when I get sick and can’t function, when the sky’s blue and I HAVE to play hooky, or I get a chance to go out for lunch.  But regardless of what happens, I have to meet my deadline.  And that pressure keeps the book in the back of my mind.  Writing faster also makes me more conscious of pacing, how the book’s moving.  I can FEEL it.

I’ve read novels by some of my favorite writers where I can almost tell they wrote TOO fast, that they were rushed and HAD to get a book done.  Things get lost in the shuffle–like characterization, telling details, description.  But Elizabeth George–yes, my goddess of writing–wrote her first book A GREAT DELIVERANCE–(which I consider  flawless)–in three-and-a-half weeks.  I’m guessing it had lived in her mind for so long, it gushed out.  But, in truth, there’s no perfect time schedule to write a book.  It’s according to how complicated the story is and if the story flows or fights you.   Some books come to you almost whole and you have to write fast to keep up with them.  Others, well, there’s a push-and-pull that takes longer.  One book a year or three books a year can both be good. Find your own rhythm.  Do what works for you.

Any thoughts on the subject?

I found this link from Elizabeth George on writing.  Lots of good advice:  http://www.elizabethgeorgeonline.com/faq_writing.htm

And for you pantsers out there, I found an article on Linda Howard about how she writes: http://www.gadsdentimes.com/news/20130201/author-linda-howard-reflects-on-prolific-30-year-career

We have a solar eclipse this Sunday (we can’t see it in the U.S.).  I hope the planets inspire you.  Happy writing!

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

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

Twitter:  @judypost

I should never read Elizabeth George

Okay, everyone knows that writers need to read.  We learn.  We grow.  We re-energize.  We learn markets.  We internalize rhythms, techniques.  But there are some authors I should just stay away from.  And Elizabeth George is one of them.  I asked for a banquet of consequences for Christmas.  My sister bought it for me, but I was so swamped with manuscripts, I couldn’t get to it.  My good writing friend, Paula, read it and loved it.  We both appreciate Elizabeth George’s depth and language, her layers and nuances.  This last week, I finally got to start the book.  Poor me.

Elizabeth George makes me feel like I should sit in a corner and suck my thumb with a dunce hat on.  She makes me feel juvenile and inadequate, and I love her for it!  Every time I read her, she makes me want to strive harder, to show, not tell, to use small scenes to create big emotions.  She has a way of developing fully realized characters with strokes of dialogue, small gestures, telling details.  Sigh.  It’s a good thing she takes a long time between books, or else my ego might not survive.  She writes mysteries, but I consider her more of a literary writer.  The story’s characters outweigh the clues.  To be honest, I loved her early books, studied A Great Deliverance because I thought it was near-perfect, then had a rocky time for a few of her last books, but with this one, I’m back in reading Nirvana.

I feel the same way when I read a Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson novel.  Briggs writes urban fantasy–and who knew a writer could make that almost literary?  But for me, she pulls it off.  Yes, there are battles, struggles, and plenty of mythology.  But once again, Briggs’s use of language and her emphasis on characterization lift urban fantasy into literary status.  Everyone has their own likes/dislikes.  And I usually avoid literary with a vengeance, but when an author can combine the two–boy, am I impressed!

I hope your favorite authors never disappoint and always inspire you!  Happy Reading!  And as always, happy writing!

 

Five Books That Matter To You

I read a blog post yesterday that stuck with me.  The author listed five books he thought people should read.  When I was younger, I read my share of classics (mostly British, not American).  Fell in love with Pride & Prejudice, fought my way through Dickens (his wordiness was a struggle for me), became enamored of James Fenimore Cooper.  Took a class on Shakespeare, read Vanity Fair, The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Tess of the d’ Urbervilles, among others.  All worthy reads, and I’m sure they made me a better writer.  But when the time came, and I actually put pen to paper (all right, fingers to keys) years later, they were dim memories.  The books that influenced my writing the most were the ones that made me crave the next novel in the series, the ones whose characters lived in my mind, and whose plots made me keep turning the pages.  I have a sad feeling that I’m a genre junkie, and this list will prove it.  (These writers are listed in the sequence I discovered them, not in order of preference, and if I staggered between 2 authors in the same time period, I listed both–sort of a cheat, but there you have it).

1.  Agatha Christie.  For me, no one can compete with Agatha’s complicated, convoluted plots, red herrings, hidden clues, and complex puzzles.  It was fun to strive to match wits with her, hard to beat Poirot or Miss Marple to a conclusion.

2.  Nancy Pickard and Carolyn Hart.  These two women both wrote brilliant, traditional mysteries.  Nancy Pickard’s Jenny Cain had depth of character that I strove to achieve in my own writing.  Her short stories were extraordinary.  Carolyn Hart’s Max and Annie series mixed a playfulness with serious plotting ability that I admired.

3.  Elizabeth George.  When I read Great Deliverance, it blew me away.  Elizabeth George writes literary mysteries, and her writing bedazzles me.  I can burrow into her language for the long haul and return to the light a happy girl.

4.  Martha Grimes.  I have to warn people that it’s better to start at the beginning of Martha Grimes’ novels, because occasionally, her characters have become almost caricatures of themselves in her later books.  Each of her titles is the name of a pub in England.  Her writing can go from poignant to hilarious in the turn of a page.  Few authors do children as well as she does.  And quirks and eccentricities and all, I thoroughly enjoy her.

5.  Patricia Briggs.  I have to admit, I’ve only read her Mercy Thompson series and a few of her earlier novels.  I was charmed by When Demons Walk.  It felt like a fun and witty romp.  But I fell in love with Mercy Thompson.  She’s a heroine who feels REAL.  And the interplay between Briggs’ characters of all varieties seems genuine.  Briggs is the author who hooked me on urban fantasy.

My bookshelves are crammed with many more books, many more authors whom I can’t bring myself to part with.  So this is only a bare-bones list of the writers I love to read.  I chose these five because they influenced the direction of my writing.  If you had to pick a top five–of your own making–who’d be on your list?