Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Impose Your Own Terms

I saw this T.S. Eliot quote on Facebook yesterday, and it really hit the mark for me. When it comes to writing, I'm always trying to color inside the lines, so to speak. There are specific elements required to meet the expectations of certain genres, and I've always struggled with that, no matter what genre I'm writing. This is especially true when I start a story from a plot scenario rather than from character, and more often than not, that's how story ideas come to me, as a snip of dialogue or an interesting situation.

With all the changes going on in the industry, as well as the changes happening within the writing communities I'm involved with, I've come to the realization that I've got to let go of the old rules and the expectations I've been trying to write by. I say this not because the genre purists are wrong, but because their rules are absolutely paralyzing me as an author.

When I saw this T.S. Eliot quote the other day, it was like finding a message in a bottle that was personally addressed to me. I've spent many years now studying writing craft and learning the rules, but at this point in my career, I feel it's time to break away and write my fiction on my own terms. ♥

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Dreaming, packing, and the airport

Last night I dreamed I was at my grandmother's old house with MiniBeast. We were waiting for the rest of the family to return from an outing, but they were late, and I was becoming frustrated, because I was ready to go home. I have no idea where the family had gone, or who I was specifically waiting for, but in waking life a lot of the family has since passed away - my grandparents, for instance. The house has special meaning to me, though. That house was a huge part of my childhood, and I spent many happy years there. 

In the dream, I was sorting through a linen cabinet when I decided I was tired of waiting around and wasn't going to do it anymore. I told Mini to grab as many bags as he could find and we would start packing. Being a kid, he groaned at the suggestion, and instead of packing, he hid himself on one of the linen shelves and went to sleep. I went on to gran's room, opened the dresser, and began packing clothes. I was putting them into all these purses and totebags that I have hanging in my office in waking life. 

In the middle of packing, the bedroom door opened, and this family I didn't recognize filed into the room. There were at least fifteen people, and they were dressed in their Sunday best. This elderly gentleman walked over to my grandmother's bed and set down two bulldog puppies on the bedspread. I was awed by one of the puppies because his brindle markings were an ombre black shade and looked like tiny scrolling leaves. Very strange. 

The next thing I know, I'm standing in a busy airport with my Tokidoki vampire candy tote bag strapped over my shoulder. The bag itself is huge, and it's packed to the max. I've used it in waking life to tote college text books around, so whatever I was carrying - the clothes from my grandma's room, I guess - was quite heavy. I was looking around for my gate, when I saw Gweneth Paltrow standing about three feet away. She pointed toward my bag and said, "Excuse me. Do you happen to know the length of the drop?" 

She was talking about the strap drop, which is the height from the top of the strap to the top of the bag. I told her I didn't know the drop size, so she walks closer and says, "May I?" I let her slip the bag over her arm to test it. Someone shouted back behind me, and I turned to see this group of guys, all of them dressed like dayglo versions of Wez (google it) stamepeding through the airport. I stepped out of the way just in time to avoid being knocked down, and I overheard someone saying that the guys had just come back from winning a championship football game. When they had passed by, I turned around to get my bag back, but Gweneth was gone. The dream ended with me wandering around the airport looking for her, because she still had my bag. 

I guess the key themes in all that is frustration, being tired of waiting, packing, and taking off to the airport without even knowing where I'm headed. In a nutshell, it's about change. A desire for change. One I'm sorely tired of waiting for.

Lately hubby and I have talked in passing about moving. If we had the money, we would. Our house is paid off, though, and neither of us are crazy about having a mortgage again. Still, if I could afford a little house on Tybee Island, or a cottage in Biloxi (I'd want to live in one of those little neighborhoods right off Beach Blvd), I'd do it in a heartbeat. I told hubby my dream home is a small house in walking distance to the beach and a grocery store. I could do without everything else. I'd ditch my car and walk everywhere.

I've also been thinking about taking my career in a completely different direction. I've become really disenchanted with some of the stuff I've read in the forums lately. I keep asking myself why I'm clinging on when lately it's done nothing but remind me repeatedly that I'm not really one of the crowd. What's worse is I'm paying dues to feel this way. Why? Why am I doing this to myself? It's not necessary to stay in publishing. Add to that, my best, most trusted friends aren't even a part of that community. I know, I know... It's time to start reassessing my goals, but I keep putting it off, because...well, I just don't want to deal with it right now. There's the sad truth of it.

So all the packing, moving, the's all related to feeling overwhelmed and desperately wanting to initiate change for the better. As for why Gweneth Paltrow wanted my purse in that dream, your guess is as good as mine. ♦    

Monday, August 03, 2015

Tah-Dah! Not really.

If you're looking for me, you've come to the right place. I changed the look of the blog into something more streamlined. I hope it doesn't throw too many people off now that all the purple is gone. The comments section, which had an overlay issue, is now fixed. If you have any trouble dropping a comment here or there, message me on FB or twitter and I'll check into it. As far as I can tell, I've worked the bugs out of it. Huzzah.
#PitchWars is going on today over at Twitter. If you have a completed manuscript ready to toss into the ring, check out the rules here: Similar to other events I've been to lately, this one is very YA and MG heavy, but there are some mentors calling for Adult genres. Check Brenda Drake's website for the mentoring blog hop list, and if you decide to enter - good luck! 

As for me, I'm about 19-20k shy of the minimum safe word count for my current draft. I was told 85k is the sweet spot for this type of novel, so I'm going with that. Last night I finally nailed down my hero's core motivation, or rather, he finally revealed it to me...this, when I'm already 65k into the dark. Stubborn goat, he's a man of secrets and few words. I have the biggest crush on him ever. 

I also figured out the final plot twist, which has given me the option of adding a new scene at the beginning. I'm debating whether to add that scene in there or leave it off. In the meantime, I'm going to keep charging toward the ending. I've been pantsing my way through this thing almost from the start, so I know it's going to need a lot of revision. That's fine with me. I'm just ready to stick a fork in this draft and call it a day. ♦

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Twitter Bonanza :: Manuscript Wish List :: 2015

Last night I was in a lot of pain, so I had trouble sleeping. Hubby woke me up around 5:30 to say goodbye as he left for work, and I was in too much pain to go back to sleep, so I relocated to my office and began the "daily rounds" online. I had my wip open, wrote one scene, then went online to check my Twitter, FB, and Neopets - yes, really.

I ended up on Twitter first and saw all my writerly people buzzing about #mswl. I had no idea what it was, so I investigated. It's an event where editors and agents tweet what their manuscript wish lists are. That's the gist of it. No pitches allowed.

Instead of being productive or going back to bed, I sat through the wishlist from pre-event til well after it was over. I made note of things I thought my friends might be interested in, so I could pass the info along, and I was also looking around for places to submit my latest novel. I didn't find a single taker for vampires, and very few for general paranormal. There were a few horror calls, but as exciting as that was, the event was kind of a bust for me. A treasure trove for the YA / MG set, though.

For a complete archive of the event, you can go to twitter and type #mswl in search, or you can go to  I posted the crib sheet version on my Facebook page for any friends who couldn't be there due to work or school. I'll add the images below. Click 'em to make 'em larger.

I had really hoped to find someone looking for more paranormal/supernatural/horror/crime/urban suspense, but the end results were very limited. I did find two interesting agencies I may send my novel to, but in the meantime, I'm going to keep searching. 

As I said above, the event was largely middle grade and YA focused, but I kept sticking around to try to get the biggest variation of information possible. If YA or MG happens to be your genre, you're in luck, because almost everyone there was wanting some form and fashion of it. I highly recommend going to the #mswl thread on twitter and poking around, or go straight to the website and start doing searches for your subgenres. There are a lot of submission opportunities out there. 

Now that the day is done, I'm going to take a pain killer, write another scene, then curl up in bed and watch a movie. Until next time... ♥♥♥

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Passion at the Center

If you find that you start a number of stories or pieces that you don't ever bother may be that there is nothing at their center about which you care passionately. - Anne Lamott 

Does anyone else have at least a half dozen unfinished stories on their computer? I have at least a dozen unfinished projects on my laptop, and whenever I pull one of them up, I end up giving myself the third degree. "Why didn't you finish this? When are you going to finish this? What was the initial idea you fell in love with? How do you get back to that?" I run through a list of stock excuses, then I feel guilty and develop a sudden craving for ice cream.

Last week, I was filling out a worksheet, and one of the questions happened to be "What are you passionate about?"  I stumbled. For, like, half an hour. I couldn't come up with anything other than a predictable answer. Of course I'm passionate about hubby, about my kids, my pets, my home life. But I knew that's not what I was being asked. I mean, a lot of people are passionate about their family and pets, but they don't blog about it, they don't hold sit-ins over it, or devote themselves to the study of it. They retain outside interests like geneology, photography, astronomy, political discussion, or collecting rare coins.

Well, I am passionate about writing. It gets me out of bed in the morning. I like to discuss craft with other writers; I like to read books on the subject. Writing gives me a place to think out loud, but...what's at the center of that? The act itself doesn't necessarily set me on fire with mad passion, although I've read plenty of books that hit that mark within me. They made me care.

So what am I passionate about? I'm not really sure. Animal welfare, maybe? Aside from signing petitions here and there, and sharing images of pets for adoption, it's not something I actively put myself out there and get sweaty over. Know what I mean?

When it comes down to it, I have a lot of interests, but I can't think of a single topic right off hand that inspires me to great passion. I like to learn new things, so now I'm trying to figure out where my passion lies. Why?  Because I want to write about it, warts and all, whether it turns out to be quirky people, saving the ocean, or recycling tin cans. ♦

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Seeing Stars: Over the 60k Mark

I'm officially over the 60k mark on the new novel. *confetti* I still haven't recovered my files from the Acer, or that count would be much higher. There's nothing to be done for it at the moment, though. I have to wait until I get paid so I can buy that sata to usb enclosure to put the old hard drive in. By then I will have pretty much rewritten the lost parts from scratch, so I might as well just keep going and write it through to the end. C'est la vie.

Anyway, I've been writing this book in little bits and pieces, and at the end of the day, I take the scraps and notes and turn them into scenes and chapters. Once I get it down on paper, I go dump everything into a Scrivener file. The draft is a hot mess, but the potential is there. Thankfully, Scrivener allows me to swap the scenes around with ease. For now, I'm letting the story be what it wants to be, which is a dark romantic suspense. Hmm. It may even be more in the territory of a crime story, but with a strong romantic elements. It doesn't really strike me as a Cora Zane type book, I'm thinking about publishing this one under a different name. I haven't decided yet.

This afternoon, I sat down and sketched out the ending of the novel. Up to this point, I had only a very loose idea for an ending. Okay, I was flying blind toward an event that had no name. I didn't have a tangible end target at all, and didn't realize it until I took a break this morning to read an interview.  After thinking about this story in a general sense, I realized I didn't have a target to hit so I'd know I'd reached "the end." So, I sat down in the writing cave with a pen and paper and began writing out all the possible endings to my novel: the good, the bad, and the ridiculous. I'm happy to say one ending stood out amidst all the others, and now I'm back on track.

So now it's 30k or bust. This book needs to be at least 85k, preferrably 90k; I still have a lot of words to work with. At least from this point on, I have a better idea of where the story is going to end up.

Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, 
to work to play, and to look up at the stars. - Henry Van Dyke

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Moonlight and Shadows :: Available Now at Smashwords

Woohoo! Moonlight and Shadows is available now at Smashwords. 

About the ebook: 
Two Werekind packs teeter on the edge of war. Someone has killed the Istvaan alpha, and Sylvie won't rest until justice is served. Forced into a meeting with her greatest rival, she's shocked to discover her mate is none other than the Dartega pack assassin, Erik. 

Sylvie realizes she'll never be able to claim him as her own, but there are other, more important things to do than mourn a broken heart. The mating moon is rising in a few days, and someone is trying to kill her. She needs to lie low, but Erik is on her trail. He has waited a long time to find her, and pack affiliations mean nothing to a man on the hunt for his one true mate.

Moonlight and Shadows is an expanded rerelease for readers 18+. Contains violence and graphic sex. Genre: erotica / paranormal romantic suspense

Reviews for Moonlight and Shadows...
Moonlight and Shadows - " paced, erotic, and action packed..."  - Tanya, Joyfully Reviewed

Praise for Moonlight and Shadows. "Ms. Zane's werewolf stories are always impossible to put down, but she has really outdone herself with this one." - Maura Frankman, The Romance Studio 

Moonlight and Shadows - "sexy shifters with a meaty plot" - L.T Blue, 5 stars from JERR (Just Erotic Romance Reviews