Tuesday’s Thoughts

I read a variety of blogs, most of which are not about the romance writing biz. I read writing craft blogs, some editor’s blogs, some author blogs. I don’t even subscribe to newsletters and the ones I do subscribe to, I rarely ever read. Not to say I don’t know things, I just listen. I may tweet a lot, but I do listen and I do watch.

One particular day a couple weeks ago, I read a freelance writer’s blog posted, entitled ‘Breaking News: Criticism Destroys Writing’. His post was entirely sarcastic, but…I do think there was one valid thing. BITCH. About it.

This can be applied to anything. We don’t like criticism. We do care what others think and we want people to love us, like us, want to be us, but in our personal lives as well as our professional lives, we know that’s unlikely to happen. You don’t want someone to notice you because your ass is too big. You want them to notice you because you’re soul is beautiful. You want to be noticed for you inside not you outside and rarely is that done with any measure of sincerity. (Yes, I am cynical. I have been on both sides. Ask me which one sucks more…)

As writers, we know there will be criticism. Some of it will be constructive and help you to grow in your writing. Some of it will be downright awful and mean and will make you want to crawl back under the pretty rock you came out from. There won’t always be 100% support and love and happy feelings. I’m not even sure there’s 50% support, love, and happy feelings. It’s probably more like 10% and often comes from places you least expect and not from the places you think it should. We even have critique partners and groups. We expect them to be honest. But we also go to them, seeking their honesty. It’s when it comes from other sources that we freeze and threaten to shatter.

We have to come to grips with the criticism, with the badness and find a way to the other side so we can go back to being productive. The stories don’t write themselves. One way that actually does help is to bitch about it. If someone does hurt your feelings, question your facts, say you have shit for brains and know nothing of which you speak, says your writing is worse than their second grade kid’s writing, sends you a scathing rejection…go ahead. Bitch. Bitch about it all you want. But then…go back to work.

We are human and we do have feelings. Some have networks of people they can turn to that know just how they feel. Others have to suffer through it alone. And it is suffering. Someone has just attacked your work and no matter what anyone says, it is personal. To a point.

Everything we do with regards to our writing…the time it takes, the research, the hours of lost sleep, of solitary confinement, of coffee jitters…is personal. It’s  what we do. It’s who we are. Our books are so very personal to us. We put so much into them and when one is shredded all to hell…

And I said, to a point. This is also a business. There’s good and there’s crappy. If it’s all a bed of roses, then how will you learn? How will you grow? If they don’t criticize, tear down once in a while, how can you, as an author grow from ashes. (*wince* purple much Lissa?) We should all grow, too. We should all get rejected, get those bad reviews. We will grow from them. Maybe not right away, but we will. Once we take a step back and look at what was said, deconstruct it, analyze it, we’ll see places to improve. We’ll also be tougher for it.

There will also be some criticism that you can’t grow from, that you can’t do anything about but bitch, because it was so unfair and so painfully wrong. Not all criticism is good and not all of it is worthy of attention or time. Some do it out of jealousy, spite, professional envy, or to drive traffic.

But the good criticism…the rejection that says, this isn’t for us but send us something else, we like your voice. The revisions your editor asks for, the suggestions she makes and questions she asks, this is good. She wants your story to be better, to see you as a writer, grow and learn and write more. The fact that they took the book in the first place out of all the others they didn’t take, be glad of it. Yes, you can bitch about revisions and edits and wait times and contract clauses and bad covers…but once you’ve bitched it out of your system, move on and keep writing. Take the bad with the good. Find someone that’s been on both sides and befriend them.

One day someone will come and ask how you got through it. If you don’t, then you can’t answer them, you can’t be there for them. If you do, make sure you did it in a positive way rather than giving up so that they too can move on.

Bitching is good. Venting is good. We all need to do it about our kids and husband’s and evil day jobs. This is no different. Let it out. Scream, cry, rant over all the bad criticism and even over the good if you need to, then suck it up and move forward.

Here are my two ways to deal with it…

1. Bitch loud and long until it’s all out. If you don’t have anyone to bitch to that really cares, then bitch about it in a blog post you never publish. You can say anything then.

2. 24 hours. My husband gave me this rule and it works. Take 24 hours and walk away. Mope, veg, eat bad food, watch bad television, cry, scream, read, whatever. But it’s 24 hours only. That’s it. After that, go back to work. Don’t let the critics beat you. Don’t let them get the best of you. Do what you’ve gotta do and then get back to it. As writers, we always have stories to tell, so, tell it… Hell, write it out in your next book. Give your heroine a take no prisoners attitude.

In the opening scene of Wonder Boys (and yes I know I’m obsessed with this movie, sue me!), James’ fellow classmates in his advanced writer’s workshop, hate his short story. One guy even says he hated it and it made him want to kill himself. Professor Tripp says to the student, “That’s not what I meant by constructive.” The next person to speak is Hannah, and she says ‘I think we’re missing the point… He respects us enough to forget us and that takes courage.’

Have a great Tuesday. It’s wet, rainy, and sleepy weather here in NC

~lissa

All Romance eBooks 28 Days of Heart – Cat Johnson

Happy February! Can you believe it’s already the second month of 2010? I can’t. It’s already flying by.

I want to welcome Cat Johnson to my blog today. She’s one of the awesome authors participating in the ARe 28 Days of Heart campaign. I asked her why she wanted to do this, why she submitted a book to this cause and this is what she had to say:

CHARITY STARTS AT HOME…

With the crisis in Haiti dominating the news, primetime television and even the award ceremonies in Hollywood, charity is on all of our minds a lot these days. Not all of us have a private jet to fly down full of much needed supplies. Most of us don’t have thousands of dollars to donate, but we all do what we can. Over the years I’ve done many assorted and interesting things for the not-for-profit community. I’ve even dressed in 18th Century garb in support of our local historic restoration and done everything from leading tours, to playing harp, to performing traditional dances of the period.

Time is something I can and do give willingly and what I get in return is a feeling that even I, a middle class nobody, can make some small difference. That is what motivated me to donate my story, Private Lies, to All Romance eBooks’ 28 Days of Heart charity campaign to benefit the American Heart Association. Just as those singers donated their voices to the relief efforts in Haiti, I can donate my writing. Millions of people may not know what I’ve done, but I do, a small segment of the romance community does, and the AHA will in the form of the money raised. For me, that’s enough.

What can you do? Show your support by checking out the 28 Days of Heart line-up. And while you’re here, enjoy the following excerpt from Private Lies, available in eBook Febrary 19th exclusively from ARe/OmniLit.

Cat

PRIVATE LIES by Cat Johnson
http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-privatelies-402750-144.html
Sex. Lies. It’s all in a day’s work.

Jax Monroe is ready to swear off both sex and men forever. Then she meets the new hot bartender Shane Reynolds and the only thing she can think about is sex and him.

Why not have a little fun? After all, she deserves it, and Shane proves he can provide what she needs. Only Jax doesn’t realize something. Shane the sexy barman is far more than just the stud he appears to be.

Excerpt (PG 13)

The depth of Giovanni’s cries spoke his passion. 

That didn’t surprise Jacqueline Monroe Scarpelli one bit. Her husband Gio was a passionate man. Sultry, foreign, vibrant, and the most brilliant painter she’d ever seen. His artist’s temperament made him ardent and sensitive, but also sometimes moody and reclusive. Though he’d never stay that way long and would make it up to her in the most incredible and inventive, toe-curling ways. 

Jax closed her eyes to fully absorb each and every vocal nuance, recognizing as the volume rose, the resonance that signaled Gio’s impending orgasm.

She should be familiar with the growing crescendo. In their ten-month marriage, and during their short three-month courtship before eloping, she had experienced the symphony of his lovemaking more times than she could count. His progression from the words of love whispered in heavily accented English, which grew into shouts in Italian that she couldn’t understand but still knew instinctively their meaning.

Mouth dry, Jax’s stomach tensed and her heart rate sped in reaction to Gio’s lovemaking.

This time, however, was different than all the others. Very different. Tonight, Jax stood outside of Gio’s art studio, and the feminine cries of pleasure answering Gio’s inside were not hers. 

Hand frozen on the doorknob, Jax listened to her husband skillfully screwing another woman while he thought Jax was still at a Junior League meeting. It was obvious to Jax that she was the one being screwed here, and not in a good way. But the main thought dominating her spinning brain, more than anger, hurt, or jealousy, was this—her mother had been right and she would likely never, ever let Jax forget it. 

Jax pulled her hand back from the knob. Hearing her husband’s affair was bad enough; there was no way she wanted to see it too. Considering what to do next, Jax ran all ten manicured fingers through her straight, perfectly cut and highlighted blond hair and tried to think. Tiptoeing her designer, kitten-heeled, alligator slides away from the door,

Jax pulled her cell phone out of this season’s hottest new bag and reluctantly dialed the number of the one man who could help her.

When he answered, she whispered, “Daddy? I need your help.”

www.catjohnson.net
I appreciate Cat for sharing and for contributing.

Stay tuned in the coming days for more from the authors giving their work for the benefit of others.

~lissa

All Romance eBooks 28 Days of Heart

I have volunteered my blog for this very special campaign All Romance eBooks has put together. 28 authors. 28 days. 28 books. And all proceeds go to the the American Heart Association.

Please visit ARe and pick these books up and help support a very worthy cause.

Throughout the month of February, I’ll be posting blogs by some of the authors. I have asked them to tell us why they chose to submit one of the their books to this campaign and to provide us with an excerpt. I hope you’ll stop by.

 

~lissa

Snippet Saturday – Humorous

Howdy! It’s again, Saturday and you all know what that means…snippets, snippets, snippets.

Today’s theme is Humorous. Now, I don’t have comedy per se in my books. My humor is sarcastic, smart ass, and snarky. My heroines often need their mouths washed out with soap for their snide comments. But, because they are true to form, some people do find it mildly amusing. Sometimes, the best way to deal with an overbearing man or a situation you want out of, is to either by voice or thought, be a smarty pants.

I’ve chosen a scene out of my Samhain release, Pink Buttercream Frosting. Bailey is sitting at a table with an engaged couple. She is trying to focus on their happiness, but in her mind is Aidn, our hero, that has walked out on her after an amazing afternoon of sex, and the bride who is overly gushy and mushy and Bailey just wants to stab the woman’s eyes out. In a smart ass way, of course.

Pink Buttercream Frosting snippet:

Bailey pasted a smile on her face as she greeted her two o’clock appointment. Just because she hated all things having to do with men and romance and love and sex thanks to Mr. Slink Away Dominant, didn’t mean she couldn’t be sincerely happy for the newly engaged couple seated across the table from her. Did it? No, of course not. She was, after all, a professional.

“So, what’s the date of your wedding?”

“Valentine’s weekend,” the bride gushed, holding tightly to the arm of her very uncomfortable looking groom.

Bailey understood his pain and wanted to throw up, wanted to break her pencil and jab Barbie Bride in the eyes with the jagged ends. “Oh, isn’t that just wonderful!”

“Yes! Please tell me that you have the date open for a wedding. I just don’t know what I’d do if you’re already booked.”

“Let me check the calendar to be sure.” She flipped open her day planner and made a show of checking dates. She was open for anything, everything, and most especially Barbie’s wedding. “Yes, actually, I am still available and that gives us just about six months.”

“Oh that is just perfect. You were recommended so highly that I just had to have you and you did such a gorgeous job with my friend’s wedding cake. I knew you’d be perfect for what I want.”

Bailey was touched, this time truly touched by the kind words. “That’s a great compliment, thank you. What is your color scheme? Red and white?”

The bride beamed. “White with red and pink accents. Perfect for Valentine’s Day, don’t you think?”

Pencil snapping. Jagged ends. Deep breath. All without her smile faltering. “Absolutely. What color pink?”

“I want a really pretty shade and not anything that would clash with the red.”

That feeling of throwing up…it was back. “No, we don’t want anything to clash. I have a variety of cake flavors, do you have a preference?”

“Chocolate. That’s what you made for Angie’s wedding and it was to die for.”

“Great. Chocolate. Buttercream frosting?” Did they see the tightness around her mouth at all or was it just something Bailey was feeling as she looked at them?

“Is that what was on Angie’s cake? I want it to taste just like hers. Can you do that? Make it taste exactly like hers?”

The plea was so earnest that Bailey fought not to laugh. “I’m pretty sure it was buttercream I used on hers and yes, I can make it taste just like that.”

“Oh, good. And I want roses all over it in pink and red.”

“All right. Let me get one of my pattern books and you can see if there’s something that fits the vision you have in your head. I’ll just be a second.”

Bailey stood, walked behind the counter and knelt down, trying to compose herself, trying to get back the professionalism she was quickly losing. She didn’t know why she was losing it, except for the fact that images of Aidn kept drifting in and out of her mind. It wasn’t marriage she was seeing though, it was a collaring, which was dumb as she’d only been with him once and he’d walked away. It was just a feeling, a gut feeling, that he was the one. It was a feeling that pissed her off.

A few deep breaths later, she stood and pasted another smile on her face. She grabbed some wedding cake books and a couple of magazines and set them on the table for Barbie and Ken to begin going through. “I have some cake samples if you’d like to try them.”

“No, that’s fine. I know what the chocolate tasted like and that’s what I want. I don’t need to taste anything else,” Barbie said absently, her eyes and fingers devouring the pages of cakes in front of her. Ken simply sat there, helpless, looking even more uncomfortable in the silence that ensued. Bailey tried to give him an encouraging and kind smile but wasn’t sure she pulled it off.

“This one!”

Bailey looked at the picture that the bride was pointing to and inwardly groaned. The cake consisted of four stacked tiers, with cascades of icing roses from the top to the bottom and gum-paste petals sprinkled along the base.

“And I want alternating red and pink roses.”

“And the scattered, loose petals?”

“Can you make them white? Or would it be better if they were a color?”

“I think either would look lovely, but it’s whatever you want. It’s your big day.”

“Yes, it is,” she squealed.

“And what do you think?” Bailey asked, turning toward the still-silent groom.

“Oh he doesn’t care. He likes whatever I like.”

Sheepishly he shrugged his shoulders and nodded his head. For some reason the gesture caused a small twinge of sadness in Bailey. Her husband had been like that. Agreeing to whatever she wanted, never having much to say about anything. His nonchalant attitude about work, social plans, life and her…it was just more than she could take for the rest of her life. Now that she’d found heat and passion in a whole different personal lifestyle, she couldn’t regret having left him and striking out on her own.
She did wish things had worked out differently with Aidn though, that it had been more than just a one afternoon deal.

After filling out some paperwork and taking a deposit, Bailey walked the happy couple out and then returned to the kitchen. She needed to bake, to play. It helped her forget, to cope through tough times.
Half a bag of powdered sugar later, along with half a pound of butter, some vanilla and cream, she was feeling pretty good. Aidn hadn’t crossed her mind but three or four hundred times. Surely, that was some sort of improvement.

I hope you enjoyed my snippet and that you’re still all comfy and warm and ready to read snippets from these awesome authors:

Vivian Arend
McKenna Jeffries
Ashley Ladd
Kelly Maher
Shelley Munro
Taige Crenshaw
Lauren Dane
Shelli Stevens
TJ Micheals
Eliza Gayle

Finally Friday!

Yeah yeah yeah I know, but just live with seeing the cover for another day, huh!

It’s Friday. For some that means weekend, no work. For others, it’s just another two days in the week. For me, it’s sometimes no work, sometimes just another two days, other times it’s a combination of both.

When I was kid, Friday night was either pizza night. Homemade pizza. Rarely did we order pizza until I started working at Godfather’s. Then I’d bring home all the pizza we could handle and then some. Man, I loved Godfather’s Pizza. Or, we’d have burgers. Now, I don’t have a ton of good memories regarding my stepfather, but he could make a mean burger. They were delicious, had a nickname and everything.

In my house, we don’t have such ‘traditions’ on Friday night, but right about now, one of those burgers would sure hit the spot.

On Saturdays, we didn’t sleep late. No, it was house cleaning day and if the weather was nice out, yard work too. I didn’t do yard work. Have never cared for it, can’t stand it. I’ll clean the house all day long, but I won’t rake leaves, or mow, or weed, or anything else. I don’t know why. It’s just the way I am. So, my sister helped with the yard work and I turned on the radio and cleaned the house…three bedrooms, two baths, living room, kitchen, dining room, den. My mother was a stickler for neat rooms and clean everything. I’m not so…unflexible. I hated the rigidity, but appreciated the skills I have now to clean my own house, do my own laundry, etc…

I don’t require my kids to keep their rooms tidy and doors open and all. That’s their private space. If they want all their clothes on the floor in a wad…well, okay. I do like the bathrooms clean though. The downstairs and my bedroom are the biggest issues for me. I hate the clutter that has accumulated and I dread looking at it everyday. I keep telling myself I need to just start, one thing at a time until I’m done. And you know what? I will. This weekend, come hell or high..icy slush mix, I am going to clear out and clean out my craft bins. I have at least 4. That’s what I’ve paired down to so far. 4. I will be make a stack to donate and a stack to toss and fit whatever is left, into 1 bin. That will be my goal. By the end of Sunday night, I’ll have 1 craft bin paired down from 4.

On Sundays, if I wasn’t working as a teenager, it was hang around the house day. We didn’t do much on weekends. I wasn’t allowed to have too many people over and though I did spend the night at friends’ houses from time to time, it wasn’t a lot. My daughter has a lot more freedom in that area and I purposely wanted her to have more freedom. My son as he gets older will have the same, though he’s more of a loner like his mom and dad. He can sit for hours making lists and oftentimes my daughter would rather be home away from people more than out with them.

As a grown up, Sundays are sports in our house. Football, baseball, Nascar. It’s all there. I like to use Sundays for no writing, but for blogs and website and misc writing biz stuff. This Sunday though, there will lots of writing. Lots and lots of writing. Next Sunday there will be the Super Bowl (Go Saints!) and the Sunday after will the Daytona 500 (Yay Rowdy!) So, there will be NO writing those days and only minimal other work done.

I clean house throughout the week so the weekends aren’t all about cleaning like they used to be when I was growing up. I would like though a tradition of burgers or pizza on Friday’s through. I think I’m going get the fixings to have my own version of those burgers from all those years ago.

What about you? What are your weekends like? What is your Friday night dinner in celebration of the coming weekend? How many craft bins do YOU have to clean out? grins…

~lissa

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