People often ask me where I get my ideas from. I think they worry that I’ll write down everything they say and repeat it verbatim in one of my books right alongside their full name and an unflattering physical description. For me, ideas don’t happen like that. I admit to being nosey. I’ve been enthralled by the body language and conversations of complete strangers in restaraunts, it drives my husband mad.
But my process for writing is more sponge or soup-like, depending on which metaphor you prefer. I absorb ideas and information and somewhere deep inside my brain everything gets mixed together into a big primordial stew. Every so often a bubble pops up into my conscious mind and I think “Hmmm…that would make a great idea for a story.”
I don’t outline, I don’t draw up character profiles and construct an iron-clad plot, I just write and follow my characters where they want to go. A lot of wonderful writers plot-I wish I could do it sometimes. I admire anyone who is prepared. My writing is more of a journey of discovery both for me and my readers. I research the history and let the plot grow up around and through my characters as they develop.
Another question which relates to the one above, is whether my characters are real people. Well,, this is a tricky one because they become real to me. But no, they aren’t ever direct representations of people I know or have seen on T.V. etc etc. They are composites. Sometimes they surprise me and won’t keep to the plot I envisioned. That’s a good and a bad thing. Sometimes I feel as if I’m just the typist and ‘they’ are in control.
There are definitely similar themes in what I write. I’ve always been fascinated by family dynamics and body language, so those issues appear in every manuscript. I was inspired to step out of my historical slippers and write a novel set in the near future. (The Mating Myth) by my personal concerns about the internet and privacy. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to write to your own concerns and strengths and not worry about trends. Readers know when your heart’s not in it.
I’d beter get back to work. I’m busy editing a manuscript I finished two years ago and now realize needs a lot of work. I can’t tell you the number of ‘and, even, still and but’s ” I’ve had to take out.
I’ve always wondered who decides what goes on the cover of a book. Apparently, the cover can make or break the book as the average reader only takes about ten seconds to make up their mind whether or not they are going to buy. That’s a very short space of time! In recent years, romance covers have gone through a variety of styles ranging from the classic ‘clinch cover’ to flowers, pastels and more recently, cartoon styles.
I’ve heard from authors who love their covers and those who despair over them, so with thoughts of my own upcoming book, I was interested to see how an e-publisher would deal with the issue. So far, I’ve been impressed by the input I’ve been asked for. It’s good to know that someone will take my thoughts and try to come up with something that fits not only the image of the publisher and the book but my personal style or brand.
The concept of branding and marketing are also impacting the average romance writer. Like most authors, I thought my job was finished when I wrote the book and set up my website. I assumed someone else would do everything else for me. Not so anymore. Apparently, I need to come up with a ‘high concept’ pitch for my books and a particular author brand.
Don’t hold your breath-I’m still working on it…
Well, here I am posting my first blog to my new website. Being a computer-phobe, I had to chew my fingernails several times this evening while my DH set up this system. (I’m always convinced that I’m going to accidentally delete the World Wide Web with a click of my mouse.)
I’m intending this blog to be a record of my personal journey toward the publishing process. As a writer, you dream of the moment someone offers you a contract to publish your book. Then you realize that the process is just a new beginning and a whole new set of hurdles awaits you!
I decided five years ago after a series of life changing ‘moments’ that I would make a serious attempt to write a book. I wasn’t sure whether that book would be a straight historical novel or a romance novel. As I ploughed through my first draft, I realized that the relationships and the characters meant more to me than the plot-hence a romance writer was born!
My first effort ended up at 140,000 words. I was proud just to have achieved my goal-then I decided it was worth trying to get it published. Move forward three years, numerous rejections, and two more novels completed and I find an agent. I also joined the Romance Writers of America got feedback from contests and critique partners and just kept writing every day.
Slowly, I discovered my ‘voice’ and my style. My agent suggested I write to my strengths which included very sensuous and dark storylines. The one thing I’ve learned about writing is that, no matter what fiction you choose to write, you have to push yourself outside your comfort zones and not be afraid to try something different and courageous.
The story which finally helped me achieve publication with Ellora’s Cave, was written with all the courage I could muster. I turned off that internal editor and blocked out my relative’s shocked faces and just allowed myself to write whatever I wanted to. The result was “Eden’s Pleasure” a Regency-set novella which is a dark erotic romance.