Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What Season Describes Your Relationship with Your WIP?

I belong to a fabulously supportive Facebook group, Chick Lit Goddesses. Conceived of, developed by, and guided by the wonderful author, Isabella Louise Anderson. She poses questions periodically and one from last December caught my fancy as a potential blog post.

I did not respond to her and the other Goddesses at that time, but, late but not forgotten, Isabella, here’s my answer.

What season describes your relationship with your current WIP?
Since this is my romance and relationships focus blog, I will talk about my Angelica French works. Yes, more than one.

I published “Why Not Ask?” in an anthology with six other authors last December. So when Isabella posed the question, I thought to myself, that short story is late fall. I had gathered in the crop (the finished short story) and stored it for future use (reading in the anthology). Check. That was pretty easy to identify.

The second WIP is for maintaining my general membership status in Romance Writers of America using their new rules. I must produce a novel of at least 20,000 words by year’s end. I document that by posting a word count each month and must upload the completed document by year’s end. I am working on a dino porn anthology I will indie publish unless my Sizzler Editions editor accepts it for a novella length book.

It is pretty obvious that I am in early spring with that manuscript. I am sowing the seeds (developing
ideas for each segment), and watering and weeding them as they grow (line and content edits). Like any farmer, I hope the sun keeps shining (inspiration and commitment) so the seedlings grow into a finished crop (book).

Now to the toughie. Manuscript number three.

What season is Sex for Sale, the sequel to Streetwalker, in? I, as Angelica, have been working on that sequel for too long now. I seem to be stuck as I regard the garden where I planted it.

The seeds for Sex for Sale were planted and tended right after Streetwalker was accepted for publication, but then I walked away (to tend other books) and left the planted crop one-third done and untended.

Weeds took over and killed some of the seedlings. Left unwatered, other seedlings died. Some seedlings survived and sprang up but they seemed to be from another plant, a volunteer, as we say in gardening.

Winter snow covers it all now, and I can either shovel off the drifts and try to grow the story in this weather or wait until spring. Then I can dig up the garden. Separate the viable plants and discard the others. And start the growing season again.

I am in a fallow season with Sex for Sale. My editor keeps wanting me to send the manuscript, but it’s stunted. I think the biggest problem is I am trying to make the garden produce more than it is capable of.

The “Sex Sells” series was conceived of, from the beginning, as a trilogy. I have come to see it is more likely a two-book series. When I stop trying to stretch Carrie and Harlan’s story into a thin three-book package and instead develop a full two books, it will come together. Spring is coming again for Sex for Sale.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Writing "Truth" is Not about Writing "True"

Frost’s quote popped up on Facebook and shortly thereafter was shared at my local romance writers monthly meeting.

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”     Robert Frost 

I get what Frost was saying. Yes, I get it. And yes, I believe it. But doing it? Aye, there’s the rub!

To be really genuine, truly authentic in writing, to tell what you fear most is in itself terrifying. Honesty may be the hardest trait for an author accustomed to making up stuff. That would mean writing about a very troubled relationship with a father, a cousin’s sexual abuse when young, estrangement from a brother, admitting to the lies told, revealing disguises.

Oh, how I admire the “ Girl on a Wire” author-bloggers like Karen Chilton Wilder who fearlessly opens herself for all to pick at like a clam lying open on the shore, shredded by gulls. Her books also open up wounds and lets them bleed in front of us. And she’s not the only one.

And I admire the people who write revelatory books about really big deal topics like Jody Picoult does so well. And she’s not the only one.

But to step off the ledge that way is difficult for most of us. You have to trust your parachute will open, that the net is furled below you, that the fall won’t smash you to pieces. And most of us just aren’t willing or have enough faith to do that.

We couch it in terms of privacy. We tell ourselves that it’s no one’s business we engaged in adultery, or had that abortion, or felt responsible for the death of a child during an accident, or shoplifted some jewelry. Why reveal a child let go to adoption, or the affair with a best friend’s husband, or cheating on an important exam?

See, just reading this makes you wonder, “Which of these admissions belong to Angelica?”, right? That’s one reason some authors hide our own peccadiloes. We want your regard. We fear your opprobrium.

I have come to realize, very slowly over the years, that tapping into my well-spring of disappointments and sins doesn’t mean, necessarily, revealing all as in a supermarket tabloid. Rather it means going deeper than the transgression, down to the feelings surrounding it. Guilt, fear, anxiety, relief, disgust.

It is capturing what it means to be disgusted at an action and translating that into a character’s response and actions. Honesty, authenticity come from releasing the pus of the abscess and using it as ink to write your scenes.

You need not reveal it was you who had an affair with a professor, but you do need to probe what led to the decision and how one could get through each day anticipating yet dreading the next encounter with its concomitant fear of discovery.

Yes, that’s the authenciticy, the honesty authors owe readers. So, while I may never confess what I have done, and we all have our share of secrets, I do need to draw the mucky water beneath the clear to find truths hidden within to share with my readers. I have to pick at the scabbed-over memories and transfuse that blood into genuine action and words in my stories. Readers will know if I do.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Guest Post: "A Dash of Romance" by Anna Questerly

At a recent Valley of the Sun Romance Writers monthly meeting, Anna Questerly asked a question about romance novel guidelines, whether it had to be ROMANCE or did it count if there was romance in the novel. That made me see her as a potential blogger to bring to you! She is a delightful person, and her bookstore in Phoenix, AZ, Dog-Eared Pages, is one to visit if you're in the area. Welcome, Anna! 
First, I was delighted and surprised to be asked to post to Romance Righter. You see, I’ve never considered myself a romance author. I think of myself as more of a storyteller. I write sci-fi/fantasy for adults as A.J. Questerly and historical fiction for children as Anna Questerly.
I do, however, enjoy reading romance along with pretty much everything else, and as a bookseller, I’m able to indulge my love of reading and call it “work.” Not a bad gig, right? Trust me; I take full advantage of it. I read everything.
Maybe I’m wrong; what if I am a romance writer? I create worlds in which I’d like to live, and I wouldn’t want to live in a world without romance. Besides, I’ve found a dash of romance adds to every story. Romance is part of who we are. We exist to find that special person who gets us. This need drives us,  makes us do things we never thought we’d do, and connects us to one another in so many ways.
It was easy enough to add that dash to my newest release, Pangaea. Meant for adults, this utopian fantasy almost reads like a romance. The romantic elements are a huge part of the story and the character motivations. If I’d left the romance out – check that – I couldn’t leave the romance out. It’s integral to the plot, to defining my characters, to getting my readers to connect with my characters. Besides, I didn’t really add it, my characters did. Maybe they know something I don’t. Without it, Pangaea would have been no more than an interesting discourse on Utopia. The fantasy … the storytelling, would have vanished.
I found it just as easy and even necessary to add romantic elements to my Minstrel’s Tale Trilogy, even though it’s meant for smart ten-year-olds and those young at heart.
Romance in a kid’s book? The hell, you say! 

Yes; several, in fact. From the minstrel’s marriage, to the king’s arranged marriage, to the young narrator’s first kiss. Each sparking relationship adding layer upon layer to the story, building the characters, connecting my readers. Of course, again, I’m just the storyteller. I didn’t add any romance. Part of it was real history, and the others were these fictional souls finding each other, without my help.
Think about it, many of the books you read and loved as a child had that dash of romance: Nancy Drew, Cinderella, Snow White, and Aladdin, just to name a few. Would those stories have captured our imaginations and our hearts without the romance?
Which makes me think that all this time, I’ve been an undercover romance author and didn’t realize it.
Thanks to the recent explosion in the romance genre. Authors are no longer limited to Scottish Lairds and English Dukes or to swashbuckling pirates and rough-and-ready cowboys. The genre now encompasses the entire reading spectrum. Whether interspecies, intergalactic, or interdimensional, we’re finding love in all the right places these days. Not to mention the variety of heat levels available today, from that sweet and innocent first kiss to the steaming, racy erotica of which fantasies are made.
I must say, I’m proud to write a bit of romance, to bring a little heat into this cold world, to give everyone a taste of true love. This is a great time to be a romance reader and an even better time to be a romance writer. Read on, my friends.
Anna Questerly

 Undercover Romance Author

Bookseller and bibliophile turned author, Anna Questerly writes medieval fiction and fairy tales for smart kids and young hearts. For adults, she creates Utopian fantasy as A.J. Questerly.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Dino Porn???

Dino porn? Yep, it was new to me, too. As a review for one of the short--very short--books I read said, these two Texas college girls hit on the idea of taking some bizarre something and having sex with it in a thin story line with little character development. Dino porn was born.

But isn’t lack of character development true of porn stories? A distinguishing feature, in fact, that separates it from other romances?

I heard about dino porn on Twitter and just had to check it out. Given all the sites I clicked on, my spam filter may burn out just sorting through the spam I’ll be getting! There are short stories and anime and cartoons and comics featuring humans engaging in sexual relations with reptiles they never co-existed with. And let’s not even consider the mismatch of body parts. I kind of had to laugh at the lack of science!

My Twitter friend indicated she and some other authors were working on an anthology of dino porn. I agree. Best to write those stories fast as trends like this one tend to move a good bit faster than the T-Rex starring in their tales. But, hey, why not? Those Texas college gals got me to buy 3 books at 99¢!

As a romance author, I write both steamy and erotic. But in my books, the characters and their issues are more important than the sex that I liberally sprinkle about. Lots and lots of sex. But, to me, the character arcs of hero and heroine are what make the story a story worth writing and reading.

Though I have written sweet romances to erotic romances, I haven’t tried my hand at porn. But I just might. It actually sounds like kind of a fun romp. I could even use a table like this one to construct a series of short shorts that have graphic sexual descriptions. Think of this as a mix and match exercise.

A Somebody
B Wants …
C But …
D So …
1. Nubile, innocent
1. to have multiple partners
1. taboos forbid sex except for procreation
1. she sneaks out to meet him
2. Tribal elder
2. to try BDSM
2. she is afraid
2. she teaches her pet to pleasure her
3. Married couple
3. to experience orgasm
3. she is forbidden to be alone with a man
3. she pleasures herself with sex toys
4. Recently divorced
4. to know about sex experiences
4. she is attracted to the wrong one
4. she arranges to be kidnapped

Add your own!

A story with the S 1 + B4 + C3 + D2 would be:
A nubile young woman, overly protected by her parents, wonders about sex and the strange sensations she has. One day, playing with her dog, she explores his penis in several ways.

See how it works? Dozens of stories could be created with this one little table.

I’m thinking about using a non-venomous snake to pleasure a woman in one of them. Imagine that slithering into you and writhing about! Could be a prolonged orgasm, eh?