Grimdark

I have a tendency to go grim in my stories. It’s something I need to keep a close eye on, and one of the reasons that I write Romance (they have to get to their happily-ever-after!). I find that if I don’t feed that part of my muse, though, it gets…demanding.

The weird thing about it is that I can write creepy and even gory scenes in my own works, but if I read them or see them in other stories they’re hard to take. I’ve even had to stop reading a story or watching a show when events take a gory and dark turn. A friend called me out on this once, and I explained that if the character is someone (or something) that I control, I don’t find them as frightening and the situations don’t bother me as much.

I talk to my characters in my head as well as on the page. When my own stories become too intense, I’ll sometimes imagine myself in the scene shouting, “Cut!” Then everyone breaks character and pats each other on the back and talks it through. At one point, a villain actually seemed abashed and asked the others if he was going too far, and they all reassured him kindly. He’s still super creepy on the page.

Writing Romances frees me to go grimdark when I need to. When it happens, I can just remind myself that, in the end, the protagonists will get their happily-ever-after.

Top Ten Things I Loved About ORACon

I had so much fun at ORACon over the weekend. Seriously. Here is my top-ten list of my favorite parts of the experience.

10. The drive. The scenery on the drive was beautiful with Fall getting ready to set in. At one point, I was driving through the countryside during the golden hour. The trees were just gorgeous.

9. The mystical. As I was getting onto the first highway, a hawk flew in front of my car, chasing something Continue reading “Top Ten Things I Loved About ORACon”

Happy Birthday, Elsa!

A very happy birthday to Elsa Sinclair, who is 31 today (if she was real). It is the first birthday that she spends with Dante. For that and many other reasons, this is the very best birthday she has ever experienced.

Her friends are in a jubilant mood, and are spending the day at her house celebrating and doting on her and Dante. Elsa acts annoyed at times, but is overjoyed to be surrounded by people who are as close to her as family.

This evening, after everyone returns to their respective homes, she and Dante will sit on their back patio and watch the stars drift by overhead.

Happy birthday, Elsa.

ORACon!

I’m going to my first writing convention this week! It’s called ORACon—the Ozarks Romance Authors Conference. I’m looking forward to meeting other authors and getting to talk face-to-face with my editor.

It’s a very busy time with finishing the first round of edits for the second scifi romance novella, editing the third in that series (The Department of Homeworld Security), and doing another editing pass of the third Summer Park Psychics novel. If I have time, I also want to revamp this web space, but we’ll see. I’m working to get this all done before I return so that I can throw myself into the spider-headed zombie romance 🙂

I hope everyone is staying busy with awesome projects. See you next week!

You are ready.

Self-Talk

I can keep track of dozens of books in multiple series, yet I often lose track of the scripts running in my own head. This is a problem, because my thoughts aren’t always running along the tracks I intend. Often, they’re off the rails entirely. I can lose perspective and get bogged down in minutia—things that really don’t matter in the long run. If I don’t pay close attention, thoughts will take center stage that seem rational but are actually based in fear or self-doubt.

After my first novel was rejected, I wrote six more before I sent one to a publisher. Six. While I do believe that I needed to get all those words out—all those stories—to learn the craft and grow and become the writer I am today, I know that toward the end I was stalling. Continue reading “Self-Talk”

Self-Doubt is Lying

Some parts of my process are really fun. The idea stage, the planning stage—mapping things out with an outline, checking my pacing, discovering themes. My absolute favorite part is formatting the finished work as an ebook and reading it through to check the readers’ experience.

Other parts are not so much fun, and self-doubt is at the center of it. During edits, I have a tendency to become incredibly hyper-critical. I panic and think I don’t have enough time to make the work perfect. Luckily, I have friends to remind me that there is no such thing as “enough time” to make anything perfect (because perfection isn’t really attainable—there will always be things I’ll want to fix).

In the draft phase, I struggle with impostor syndrome. I think the words I’m getting out are inferior, that the end product will need endless editing. I question whether I’ve nailed the characters’ voices, have set the tone well, or made the comedies funny enough. And every time I go back and read it, the work is so much stronger than I expected.

I’ve worked hard for decades to build my writing skills to this point. I need to own it, because otherwise, I’ll keep getting pulled into the cycle of self-doubt. I’ll waste time and energy wondering about the words I’ve written instead of making new ones or further sharpening the ones I have. This time around, I’m onto it. Self-doubt is lying.