Posts tagged with: muse
Posted by Heather McCollum Mar 16 2016, 1:00 am in fun, green, leprechaun, magic, muse, St. Patrick's Day
Do you know what is special about tomorrow? It’s a day of magic! Leprechaun magic! Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day.
And although this holiday is anchored in Ireland, many people off the green isle celebrate the magic of this fun day. Even though I have reddish hair and some freckles, and my dad looks like a Leprechaun (sorry Dad, but it’s true), I’m not Irish. But ever since I was a wee little lassie, I’ve been very fortunate to have the Leprechaun come to my house every St. Patrick’s Day.
Some years he would turn the milk in the carton green, or leave green pancake batter ready for my parents to cook. I wrote him a letter once, and he answered all my questions (my Leprechaun was named Paddy). Each St. Patrick’s Day I would dress in green from my dilly-boppers down to my shamrock covered shoes (compliments of that mischievous fairy).
As I grew up, the Leprechaun didn’t play as many tricks, but there were always shamrocks left to remind me of the magic. I think this magic, and the fun I associate with it, helped lead me to writing. In a way, Paddy was my muse, and I defended him to all those kids that said he wasn’t real. He was real to me.
Now that I have three spirited kids of my own, the Leprechaun once again invades our home every year. He leaves notes, changes the milk green, stacks the kitchen chairs on the table and turns all the pictures in the house upside down. He even pees in the toilet and forgets to flush!
My kids build Leprechaun traps, trying to trick him with fake gold. But all they’ve been able to catch is a tiny shoe and a tiny hat. My youngest is nine-years-old and is excited to see what her trap will catch this year. Maybe a jacket or a pair of shamrock undies. By the time she grows up, there will be a naked Leprechaun running around our house!
The winter is long, and spring is finally almost here. With flowers starting to bloom, it’s like magic fills the air (achoo! And pollen!). St. Patrick’s Day is another opportunity to embrace the magic in our everyday worlds.
Whether it just makes someone giggle and smile or it inspires them to embrace the idea of fairies and magic to later write a story – invite the Leprechaun into your house this St. Patrick’s Day.
Add green food coloring to milk, pudding or batter (when adding to batter, add a good amount so the color will show up after it’s cooked).
Add food coloring to the toilet water.
Make “footprints” on the toilet seat with washable paint (side of your hand or fingerprints).
Covering shoes and book bags with shamrock stickers.
Hang green streamers like a waterfall through doorways.
Leave shamrock stickers as tracks leading to a small treasure of chocolate coins or small shamrock plant.
Open all the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen.
Run green yarn through the house to make a big tangle.
Has the Leprechaun ever visited your house? What did that rascal do?
Posted by Autumn Jordon Mar 19 2015, 12:01 am in Autumn Jordon, craft, goals, golden heart finalists, inspiration, motivation, muse, writer's journey, writer's life
Last week, for about the twelfth time, I found myself befuddled up to my eyeballs over a romantic suspense work in progress. Whether you’re a panster, like myself, or a plotter, at some point you could find fresh ideas hiding in the deepest, darkness recesses of your mind amongst a pile of crappy overused ideas. When this happened to me in the past, I’d walked around for days mulling over my problem, my plot’s direction, which is perfectly fine, if you don’t have a deadline and or have time to waste. This time I purchased a few books (Snap: Seizing Your AHA Moments by Katherine Ramsland and Your Creative Brain by Shelly Carson, PHD) and learned for one that mulling is an acceptable process to release your muse. What I also learned, so far, that the more tricks you use to open the gates the faster that will happen.
We’re like the grains of sand on a pearly white beach. Besides having the potential to be stuck in places we really don’t want to go, we’re totally awesome and unique and we all learn in different ways. And in combination of ways.
It’s alleged that we have seven mind-sets (seven ways of learning and using our minds): Absorb Brainset, Envision Brainset, Connect Brainset, Reason Brainset, Evaluate Brainset, Transform Brainset, and Stream Brainset. I’m not going to divulge every detail I’ve learned from these books so far. I suggest you check them out for yourself. However, I will share a concise description of each mindset and an exercise you can use that key to unlock your mind’s muse.
Absorb Mindset: Ability to absorb new information in a non-judgmental way to be stored for use later when you can use say information to see associations between objects and to remain open to your subconscious.
Exercise: Pick a space, indoor or outside. For five minutes, really absorb your surroundings. Notice the colors, textures, lines and shadows. Then touch, listen, smell and taste. Next pick an object and think of a new way use for it. We’ve all seen the Knorr Side Dish commercial where a cork screw is used as a coat nail and a fork is used a cabinet handle. That is the same idea.
Envision Mindset: In this mindset we deliberately imagine ways to solve problems, using absorb information. This mindset is well known to creative people. The exercise below will help you increase your mental imagery. It turns off the stream of unwanted thoughts.
Exercise: Close your eyes and take three deep cleansing breathes. Now image your happy place. Where you feel the most relax? Picture yourself there. Allow yourself to feel the surroundings. If your recliner, feel the texture of the material against your skin, the firmness of the cushion surrounding you, the angle of your body as you relax. Are there sounds around you? Soft music or maybe a ball game on the T.V., or your children playing at your feet. How about smells, tastes. Allow yourself to enjoy your happy place for a few minutes.
Connect Mindset: This mindset allows you to spawn many ideas without concerns to how they will play out. You’ll think out of the box. Successful use of this mindset could lead you to become overwhelmed with creative possible ideas. You’ll become energized and excited about your work.
Exercise: Set a timer for three minutes. On a piece of paper write down as many uses for a shoe you can think of. Then set the timer again and write down all the things you can do with a shoelace. Set the timer again and jot down the consequences of a torn shoelace.
Reason Brainset: This brainset solves problems logically, using all your storage memories and knowledge. It allows you to control what thoughts occupy your mind. It is deliberate and necessary as you complete your creative project. It is the perfect mindset to flesh out a whimsical idea and make it realistic. It helps you motivate action, manage time, increases chances for success, strengthens self-confidence and heightens sense of control over your life. It’s one mindset I’ve consciously worked on every single day, several times a day, over the last several months.
Exercise: You will stop particular unwanted thoughts or train of thoughts as soon as they enter you mind by simply saying, “Don’t go there.” Or “Thinking of this is not my on my hour’s agenda.”
Evaluate Mindset: Coming up with fresh ideas is vital is our line of work, but judging whether those ideas are indeed worth spending time one is also essential. This is where this mindset comes in. Three factors are necessary: active judgement, focused attention and impersonality. We need to judge our work against others of which it’s competing. Not us against them. This is about our work, not ourselves. In order to do that, we need to get some distance from our work, judge it with respect, don’t toss the work mid-project, look at each of its parts and evaluate their merits, and look at the work from the point of view of your audience. Be flexible. Consult others. Be hard on your work and not yourself!
Exercise: On a sheet of paper write the titles of your top ten books of all time. Imagine they’re no longer available anywhere or ever again. Now, ( I know you’re going to hate me) cross off five. Behind them, write why you crossed them off.
Transform Mindset: Is all about emotion. Our emotion. Our negative emotions and how they affect our memories and visions. It’s important we know this mindset and how it disturbs our creativity. It is a what-if state, just like the envision mindset, but unlike the purposeful imaginings of the later, this mindset’s themes are worry, anxiety, self-pity or regret. But this mindset can help with your creative project. Our characters are an extension of humanity. People have flaws, negative thoughts, regrets. We can use this mindset to write timeless characters if only we draw on the transform mindset.
Exercise: Pick three things in your home that you feel best represents you: personality, taste, qualities. Now write a paragraph about each and how they relate to you. Did you learn anything about yourself? Was there a negative or positive view of yourself?
The Stream Mindset: We refer to this mindset as being in ‘the zone.’ It is the unique melding of self and action. You lose your sense of self and focus on the world at hand. But how do we achieve this mindset.
First, you need the expertise to enter the stream mindset. Second, you need to be engaged in an activity that intrinsically motivating you. (Intrinsic motivation means that you’re involved in an activity because of an internal award and not an external one.) Do you write for the joy of writing?
Exercise: On a piece of paper jot down five activities that had your blood surging and your mind whirling. These activities are your passion.
As I said at the beginning of this blog, I’ve only touched on the information contained in these two books. In fact, I’m not finished with either of them, but what I’ve learned so far has helped me to be more productive, to think out of the box on my wip, and be more acceptable of the amount of work I can accomplish in a day.
Posted by Heather McCollum Mar 17 2015, 1:00 am in inspiration, leprechaun, muse, technique, writing
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Do you have your green on? This fun holiday has a number of myths associated with it, one being the elusive Leprechaun. Considered a fairy who likes to cause mischief, yet also brings luck and riches, this little fellow has the makings of a great literary muse.
Originally a Muse was any of the nine sister goddesses in Greek mythology presiding over song and poetry and the arts and sciences. The term has come to mean “a source of inspiration, especially: a guiding genius.” (Merriam-Webster)
Well, I don’t know about you, but I could ALWAYS use a guiding genius! And so I employ ways to lure my elusive muse to help me write. Everyone’s muse is personal and unique (like your writer’s voice). I envision my muse as female, a strong Amazon-type warrior like Xena Warrior Princess.
When I fought (and beat the crap out of) ovarian cancer, my muse wore teal-colored leather and battled with grit and precision every day with her razor-sharp spear (okay, I was on some pretty nifty drugs during that time). Today she is still tough and wears way more leather than me, but she seems to be a bit more elusive now that my days of obsessing about survival are (hopefully) a thing of the past.
Now I call upon my muse to help me write historical paranormal and YA paranormal romances. And despite my love of writing and a desire to create tantalizing hooks, amazing worlds, and emotion-provoking characters, my muse sometimes fails to show up. I’m left alone, staring at the last sentence I wrote with hundreds of blank pages left to fill. Oh Muse, Muse, wherefore art thou Muse?!
I try to coax her out of hiding. I beg her for just a pinch of inspiration, a quirky description, a perfect line, something to get me going again. And then one of my kids yells “Mom, where’s the…?” and my muse vanishes like a dandelion puff in a tornado.
Over the years I have developed a few techniques to create the muse-alluring rainbow. And on lucky days, I can find her and her inspiration (aka, her pot of gold).
1. Clear my desk. I can’t think about my WIP when there are bills piled next to my computer or kid permission slips or my list of a million little things that need to happen. The clutter pulls my attention away from the book and my muse refuses to waste her time coming near me.
2. Make a cup of chai latte. I’ve addicted my muse to hot chai lattes. I make them at home to save on cost and limit them for the calories. But if I’m stuck and am desperately seeking the end of the rainbow, the spicy taste of cinnamon mixed with hot milk, black tea and cardamom really entices her out of hiding. I now save them for the time when I know I will be writing.
3. Find my playlist. At the beginning of a new book I create a musical playlist with songs that represent the time period and songs that help me understand the characters (which is why my iPhone has both Gregorian monks chanting and Eminem). I don’t listen to music every day, but when my muse is playing hard to get, the music lures her in like the Pied Piper.
4. Cut and paste. I’m very visually oriented, so I like to see what I’m writing about. Consequently I collage my stories, or at least the characters and settings. At the beginning of a new project, I take a day or two to look up pictures of places and people, print them off and glue them to poster board, manila folders or blank books. I actually brainstorm this way, discovering backstory and plot details in fun or creative images. My muse loves my collages so I prop them up in my line of sight (on my clean desk) when I write.
5. I walk. There is something about fresh air and rushing blood that gets my creative energy sparking. If I dwell on a scene while walking, dialogue pops into my head. It is almost like my muse is skipping along, flicking ideas at me until I grasp one and we run with it. By the time I get home I’m usually itching to start typing.
We all have a muse, our inspiration for creating art, expressing our ideas, and molding something beautiful out of lifeless material. She or he is a one-of-a-kind personal guide to finding our pot of gold. You just need to lure her in and grab on.
What are some ways you find inspiration to create your art? What lures your muse out of hiding?
Posted by Heather McCollum Aug 1 2013, 1:00 am in creativity, England, inspiration, muse, writing
Hopefully you are all logging on to read this fabulous ruby slippered sisterhood blog because of the constantly helpful tips and inspiration and not because your muse is still snuggled in bed. I must admit that earlier this summer, when I began the third book in my Scottish historical romance series, my muse was rebelling like a werewolf being trussed up in 16th century stays – very ugly. Part of the problem definitely had to do with me just having written the first three chapters of a contemporary YA paranormal for my agent to submit. My internal dialogue included words like “massive” and “epic fail”. Not very Henry Tudor.
When I had to shift immediately into the 16th century, my muse was…not amused -LOL! Luckily I had already purchased plane tickets and had planned a trip to England and Scotland where history permeates the very air you breathe. In between packing and mapping my upcoming route through the countryside, I rewrote the first seventy pages of my 16th century WIP three times and still wasn’t happy with it. Ugh! Surely I could convince my muse to wake up and help me in Britain.
My family and I landed in London after an all-night, no-sleep flight and pushed ourselves to stay awake. So despite standing beside the infamous white tower in the Tower of London and listening to French school children learn about Anne Boleyn being beheaded (Je crois que) right where I stood, my muse wasn’t all that impressed. That might have had something to do with my three exhausted, whining kids (ages 6, 12 and 14) who were also dragging behind me.
The White Tower in London
On to Hampton Court Palace the next day, my oldest daughter and I were able to run off by ourselves to explore Henry VIII’s kitchen and the incredible gardens. Since I had just finished writing my second Highland Hearts novel, which takes place at Hampton Court, this was thrilling. Luckily I hadn’t gotten anything wrong in the details, but just being there, walking the halls, touching the walls, got my heart pounding and my muse raised an inquisitive brow and put down her iPhone.
That night my family and I made it to our rental cottage on a farm in the lovely Coltswold village of South Cerney. It was like stepping into a fairytale with sheep and horses all around the stone cottage covered with climbing roses where it sat on a duck-filled lake. Walking paths led us through woods and meadows, along canals and under ancient-looking arched stone trestles. Neighbors meandered the footpaths with their dogs and trees bent over creating a shaded vault cathedral of leaves.
Heather & Kids under Coltswold bridge
One morning I escaped the family to stroll the footpaths alone. A light breeze blew, sheep bleated in the pastures and the sun shone in a blue sky above the flittering leaves. The beauty and serenity in the peaceful landscape filled me up until I was smiling outright, a silly grin of pure happiness. I roamed the countryside, watching new varieties of birds and studying the wild flowers and branched bushes trained to twine into fences along the road. And as soon as I got back to the cottage, I made some tea and sat down to write.
I wrote about the details of my new setting, this bit of heaven so d
ifferent from my American suburbia with its snaking sidewalks and rushing minivans. I felt full to bursting to write. My muse was whispering in my ear and willing to put on any period costume I wanted.
4-sisters tree in S. Cerney
What I realized then was that it wasn’t so much that I was in England that I could suddenly write. It was that I was filled up again. With what? Hmmm…I’m not sure exactly. Creativity, peace, inner strength and beauty. Whatever it is, we need it as writers. This is what woos our muse into creating our art.
Think about it. When you are stressed out with time lines, with children or parents or siblings pulling at you, with those gray rocks of annoyance or dread like unpaid bills or illness or loss – you become drained, empty. You have nothing to give, no juice within you to ink your pen, to pour into your manuscript. The well dries out and your muse collapses on a dusty, pebbled road with vultures circling overhead. Quite sad.
Going to London didn’t wake up my muse. Touring Hampton Court gave her a drink. But it wasn’t until I walked in the exquisitely quaint landscape of the Coltswolds that my muse revived, drank fully, and smiled with that twinkle in her eye. The great Tower of London had authentic details that I will remember, but in order for me to write I had to refill my creative well.
Sheep Sheep Everywhere!
I spent the next few days site seeing as well as resting under the magical trees and roses at the farm. We saw Bath, Stonehenge, Avebury, the Harry Potter studios, and Cirencester. But it was the cup of tea on the back patio watching the baby ducks and the cranes on the water that made me want to grab my journal and pen.
This is good news for you and for me. Why? Because this means that you don’t have to travel across the ocean to wake up your grumpy or thirsty muse. Yes, it helps to be immersed in the details you will be writing about, but even with the details, if you don’t fill up the well, nothing will come out on paper. And you can fill up the well here at home. You just need to find some peace, breathe, and explore your world until your muse becomes hydrated again. Here are a few ways I hope to fill my well here at home.
- Find new walking paths around my town to take my dog on.
- Visit the rose gardens in the town next to me.
- Visit the art museum and stare at art until my muse either becomes inspired or swoons from boredom.
- Investigate the quaint little shops in my own town while trying not to spend money.
- Find a tea shop that serves tea and scones. There’s got to be one around here.
- Make tea each day in my own tea pot at home and enjoy a biscuit with it.
- Sit on my screened porch and watch the birds swoop or thunderstorms roll in.
- Go camping or hiking or to the beach.
- Lay on a blanket under the oak in my backyard (with heavy clothes on to keep the mosquitos from eating me alive).
- Lay on that same blanket with my hubby watching the stars (nudge, nudge, say no more ; )
The next time you’ve lost touch with your muse, don’t feel like you have to travel the world looking for her. If she’s coughing up dust balls there are ways to revive her right in your own little corner of the globe. Fill yourself up. Only then will you have the creative juice to fill pages with your words.
What are some ways you wake up your muse?
Posted by Dani Wade Apr 30 2013, 1:34 am in Dani Wade, Finding Her Rhythm, inspiration, muse, romantic suspense, Ruby Release, taking risks, writer's journey
One of the joys of my Indie-publishing endeavors is being able to write a book how it wants to be written– let the characters lead me and follow them without restraints (or into restraints, if that’s where they want to go). My editors have led my Harlequin books in great directions, strengthening them and my skills. But there are just certain things Harlequin books don’t do. So Indie publishing lets me explore different aspects of my creativity.
In this case, I was able to follow the leading of my hero – my rock star hero.
When I first envisionsed Michael Korvello, little voices nagged at me. There’s a long-held rumor that editors don’t want Rock Stars. They aren’t popular enough. But still he hung around – that bad boy, brooding rocker attracted to the anti-thesis of his high profile lifestyle, his nanny.
I just couldn’t get him out of my mind, and before long, despite the push and pull of my first print release and new proposals, I had the full-blown story of a man who was lonely but afraid of revealing his true nature. And a woman so battered by life that trust had been all but obliterated – especially for a first rate performer.
So I chose to follow my characters and discovered a world beneath a world. The performer who wants to be seen and loved as a real man. A family who misses him. A woman who learns to trust him to protect her. A brother who teases and torments him, but who always has his back – on and off the road.
They took me on a journey and I enjoyed every minute! (Well, until I reached revisions.) A journey of a family trying to find each other again, and a man hell bent on using his sexual talents to teach a woman everything that she’s capable of, and everything they can be together.
So let’s celebrate those fun journeys we get to take when we follow wherever our characters lead! Share the last “fun” discovery you made about your book/characters while writing!
One commenter will win a giftie! An Amazon or B&N giftcard for a new journey of discovery.
Posted by Autumn Jordon Sep 20 2012, 12:01 am in Autumn Jordon, characterization, craft, golden heart, inspiration, Movitation, muse, Point Of View, Seasonings, Seasons, writer's advice, writer's journey, writer's life, writing romance, writing tips, writing tools
If you’re thinking this blog is about setting, you’re totally wrong. Maybe I should’ve changed the title so you wouldn’t have thought so, but after I started brainstorming ideas for a blog it actually fit.
My original idea was to write about two lessons I learned many years ago from my creative writing professor which, yes, would’ve pertained to setting, but then two of my Ruby sisters had also mentioned on our private loop that they planned blogs about the subject. Although I knew we’d approach the subject matter from different angles, I kind of figured our readers would say enough already. So I’ll save my thoughts on setting for another time.
Anyway, going back to my creative writing classes— since I know you’re all dying to know what they were—the first one was free writing. We all know what that is, right? You just write whatever comes to mind without stopping for a length of time and the writing doesn’t need to follow rhythm or reason. It’s a way of freeing your muse. Thinking about that lesson helped me put a twist on the second lecture, which was setting sense and had to do with experiencing your world, and ‘Wala’ I think I came up with unique tutorial for our awesome followers.
Posted by Heather McCollum Aug 22 2012, 1:00 am in busy, muse, peace, writing tips
The sweltering days of summer will soon start melting into the colorful, crisp days of autumn. I will once again be able to carry my 5-year-old’s restaurant balloon outside without fear of it touching the sizzling side of a car and exploding. No matter which stage of life you find yourself, the change of seasons and the start of the new school year signals a time to get organized.
Here in NC we have year-round school so a week ago my three little monsters, I mean angels, skipped merrily back to the classroom (if merrily means drooped shoulders and grim faces). This theoretically gives me more uninterrupted time to write. Which is just what I need since my editor is expecting a 100,000 word sequel by December.
So I have been trying to adjust my schedule to best use all this “free” time. I wake, start laundry, get the kids ready for school, drop my middle schoolers off at 7:45 AM, do yoga, drop my Kindergartener off at 8:45 AM, walk the dog, grocery shop, make my lovely kale juice and drink it, disrupt the fire ants who insist on making a home in my herb garden, unload the dishwasher, drink my chai tea on the back porch while doing the crossword puzzle and watching birds, ignore that it’s lunchtime, and sit down to write. I also try to squeeze in cleaning parts of the house, answering e-mail, blogging, showering and starting something in the crock pot for dinner. Ugh! Where’s my blasted Wonder Woman cape when I need it?!
I know some of you are looking at my list and mentally crossing off things I could trim.
1) I don’t want to use poison on the ants because then I can’t eat the herbs so I’m annoying them everyday until they move on. We’ll see if it works.
2) I’ve got health issues so I need to do my yoga or I can’t move, and with three kids I MUST move A LOT. This also goes for the kale juice.
3) That leaves my Peace of the Day – chai tea while doing the crossword puzzle and watching birds.
What is a Peace of the Day, and why can’t I eliminate it? It’s that part of my day that if I miss it, my body and psyche know that things aren’t normal. Either life is too busy or there’s been an emergency. It is a ritual that centers my whole day, grounds me so that I can be productive. If I jump immediately into writing without making my chai, I feel rushed and tense and nothing seems to flow. What is your Peace of the Day?
Here’s one way to find out. Fill in the blank: “I was so busy today I didn’t even get to ______.” Now if you filled in “use the bathroom”, that doesn’t count. Question: how many of you multi-task while using the bathroom? I am not proud to say that one time I managed to clean my bathroom while sitting on the toilet. At the time I thought I was Super Susie Homemaker, but now I realize I was working way too much into my day.
If you don’t get anything else out of this post, remember this. Stop multi-tasking in the bathroom. Bathroom time is sacred time. Husbands, fathers, old men in the park – they all know this. They spend time reading, relaxing and escaping on the pot. We can at least sit still for a few minutes. Sacred time, not Peace of the Day.
Try again. “I was so busy today I didn’t even get to ______.” For some it’s their morning coffee, prayer, or run. It’s personal and can change over time. It may seem like something to eliminate from your overflowing to-do list, but I warn you not to.
The creative mind is delicate. Rushing about and then plopping down to produce pages can range from being very difficult to completely impossible. By taking our Peace of the Day we persuade our muses to come out and play. So don’t feel guilty for taking time to start your day right.
As autumn trickles in with cooler mornings and shades of red, orange, and gold, think about your daily schedule. Maybe you don’t have a schedule and that works for you. For me the day speeds along way too fast if I don’t have goals.
Maybe you don’t have a Peace of the Day. It took me fighting cancer to find mine. Before that it was just eating breakfast which was a life necessity not a soul-inspiring ritual. Try out a few: watch birds, do Sudoku, meditate, play with your dog, or brew tea in a real teapot.
Maybe your schedule just needs a little revision. Start with guarding your Peace of the Day. Make it something you truly appreciate, something that feeds your spirit, and coaxes your muse. Everyone deserves peace, but it is something we must grant ourselves. Otherwise it will never find a place on our to-do lists.
I’d love to hear about your Peace of the Day and if you feel more productive when you make sure to work it in. Have a peaceful and productive day!
Posted by Cate Rowan Dec 22 2011, 1:28 am in inspiration, muse, perseverance, taking risks, writer's life
I don’t know about you, but for me, 2011 was quite a doozie.
In January I was diagnosed with a parathyroid tumor. It turns out that it had been doing crazy things to my body for years. In April, just before I underwent a surgery that yanked it out and cured me (thank goodness!), I self-published my second fantasy romance, The Source of Magic. In the months since, I’ve been thrilled to watch Source‘s sales surpass even those of my first novel, Kismet’s Kiss. But while this summer was a giddy time career-wise, September, erm, “blessed me” with a very difficult personal situation.
A few months later, I find myself living 1000 miles away from the state that had been my home for eight years. I’m in a truly nutty but special place at the top of a mountain, with (yes, I’m biased) one of the best vistas in the world. Okay, I may not have an oven, or even hot water every now and then, but at least I have one helluva Room with a View.
I’d originally hoped to be announcing the release of a new fantasy romance short story today. I’d envisioned 1500 words in the style of a fairy tale, but “Swords and Scimitars” has a mind of its own and is refusing to end where I’d planned…or heck, even take the same GPS route.
I’m realizing that sometimes it’s okay to take that new path, even when my life might be, well, simpler if I’d stuck with the old one. One of the gifts I’m trying to give myself these days is patience. After all, when I began 2011, I had no idea what was awaiting me. As I’m ending it, I’m so glad I’m where I am today.
During this hectic holiday season, I hope you get a chance to breathe, look around you, and remember what’s good and beautiful in your life.
What wonderful things did 2011 bring you? What do you seek from the brand-new year to come?
Posted by Joan Swan May 11 2011, 12:34 am in inspiration, muse, submission tips, taking risks, writing romance, writing tips, writing tools
My critique partner, Elisabeth Naughton, signed me up to speak on a panel at the Emerald City Writer’s Conference near Portland, OR in October and the topic is…you guessed it, What I’ve Learned Since I’ve Published. (In my case it’s sold, because my book doesn’t come out until April 2012.)
And it occurred to me that I’d love to hear what all the RUBY SISTERS have learned since they’ve sold and/or published. So, I’ll start the ball rolling with one element and I hope everyone who has been down that publishing road will give the ball a little kick and add one thing they’ve learned that hasn’t been listed yet.
I’ve learned that the published arena in a much bigger place, and I’m trying to please a whole lot more people, and to do that, I’ve got to be flexible. About everything. Title, cover, character names, the way a plot branches, etc. Being flexible with your time is important because everyone moves at a different pace based on what else is going on in their schedules. Flexibility extends to your marketing plan, your marketing budget, where your career goes after this contract is fulfilled and/or what you write next.
I’ve dealt with the title changes, the long waits, the altering marketing plans. And while I’m still waiting for the edits, copy edits and cover changes to come, right now I live in what-comes-next village.
With the two book contract complete and the option proposal written, I am in that phase of…now what? It’s…an interesting place. The freedom can make you a little giddy — but only for a while. Then it gets a bit dicey. Especially if what you want to write isn’t what’s selling or something you don’t have the voice to master. (There is a fantastic article on this topic written by literary agent Laura Bradford here.) Or maybe you are venturing into a genre that your current agent doesn’t represent, maybe staying in a genre that is saturated and struggling to find a “different” or “fresh” angle or concept to develop.
I recently submitted a proposal to my agent for a paranormal romance. It was rather different from what I write currently, which is a touch more romantic suspense with paranormal elements. How is that for pushing around a genre to fit? But the concept didn’t completely sit right with my agent. Some aspects worked for her, but some didn’t. She couldn’t envision how I would be able to make the premise unique enough to stand out from what had already been done.
Interestingly enough, I wasn’t crushed. I think because my subconscious knew something wasn’t quite right, or maybe I wasn’t completely in love with it. I don’t know, but I went back to the idea stage. Pieces of this story had come from an idea I’d had a long time ago, something quite different–dark and gritty. I took the original idea, fused it with some elements of the newer idea and of course, those two combined created elements unique to this book. As I developed the book, I could see where it would open up into a series of related books.
Luckily, my agent really liked this version. We talked over some issues she had, which if changed would make the idea stronger. Once again, I altered the story and the characters, rewrote the synopsis and am waiting to hear back.
So, that’s just one of the big things I’ve learned since I’ve published…you’ve got to be all kinds of flexible. Try things you never thought you’d try. Think in ways you never thought you’d think. Trust ideas you’d never thought you’d trust.
I can’t wait to hear what all of you have learned!!
Posted by Hope Ramsay Jun 1 2010, 12:01 am in inspiration, muse, Welcome to Last Chance
“Where do you find your ideas?”
I always find myself cringing, or rolling my eyes, or saying something snotty when a non-writer asks me this question. Every writer knows that ideas come from everywhere. But have you ever stopped to wonder about the miracle of that?