VISION TO PAGE: A Tip from the Trench

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posted by | on My Kitchen Table |

WARNING:  This is a no-edit zone…

We dream, we write.  We’re excited or enthused and we attempt to translate the vision in our head onto the page.  We get it down.  We’ve manifested the vision.

Then we go back and read what we’ve written.  In our minds, we see the same visions that we saw when we wrote.  We know what we meant, what we were feeling emotionally, what motivated and prompted the actions depicted and why they’re happening now.  We know the people acting–and being interacted with and upon.  We have insights.

But are those insights effectively translated onto the page?  Really?

Or does the vision in our minds add depth to what’s written that isn’t actually depicted there?

And that’s the heart of this tip from the trench.

Writing cinematically and developing that emotional attachment is imperative to the reader-to-work connection.  And too often, our vision clouds what is actually on the page.

Some suggest letting the work cool–and we should.  Set it aside long enough to let the visions dissipate and then read the work again to see what is actually there.

One problem.  We’re creative and that makes our imagination a vivid partner.  That’s of course an asset, but in determining what’s actually on the page, it’s also a challenge.  Because what triggered the visions in our minds to write also triggers the remembrance when we attempt to rewrite and to look at the work objectively.

The point being, we might gain some distance, but we cannot gain objectivity.  And that makes it seriously important that we find someone who can be objective to give us a “clean” read on the work.

Naturally, we must be extremely selective in our choice of objective reader.  A family member or non–writer can give us an opinion, but even at their most frank and honest, they often have difficulties in pinpointing what is or isn’t working.  They know what they like or dislike but when it comes to pinpointing specifics that relate to writing elements or devices, they’re at a disadvantage.  They simply don’t have the usual resources that another writer has to call on.  That’s experience and expertise that’s outside their field of expertise.

That does not mean that their insights lack value.  Absolutely not.  They’re readers and there is no more important opinion.

But because writing isn’t their field, they often can’t relate specifics on what is wrong or how to fix it.  And that’s where the value of a clean read by another writer shows its worth.  Because s/he does have writing expertise and experience, s/he can give you the specifics from within your realm.  And that often turns the light switch on for you.

So the tip from trench is to hook up with a partner to clean read your work.  Read for each other, or pay someone qualified to read for you.  But get a clean read from someone you trust who will be open and honest and give you an unstinting opinion (and not massage your ego).

This tip helps to ensure that the vision in your head is the same one you intended to convey and place on the page.




posted by | on My Kitchen Table |

WARNING:  This is a no-edit zone…

Self-fulfilled prophesy:  the art of willfully structuring events to manifest a projected outcome…

It isn’t enough that we have to battle the rest of the world, we have to battle ourselves. And often we are not only our greatest critic, we are our worst enemy. We treat everyone else in the world–including strangers on the street–with more dignity and compassion and respect than we treat ourselves. Why is that? Why is it that everyone else deserves more and better and kindnesses and considerations that we feel we don’t deserve?

A huge part of it is due to upbringing and what we have adopted or has been forced upon us as appropriate conduct and social behavior. We’ve all heard some form of:

Be modest. Be humble. Be unassuming. Don’t get a big head. I made you, I can break you. You owe me. If it weren’t for me, you’d be nothing. I don’t care what you think, in my house, you’ll do as I say. Pretty is as pretty does. Never brag, it’s bad form. Don’t blow your own horn, toot your own whistle. You do you think you are? If I wanted your advice, I’d ask for it.
Loser. You can’t do that. You’re too __________ (fill in the blank).

Think back through your life. This goes back further: (color inside the lines; be seen, not heard; don’t cause a stir). What putdown or well intended behavior sapped the confidence right out of you? Made you feel small and insignificant? Hopeless? Helpless? Clueless or unworthy? Like a victim?

These types of things happen to all of us. Often, they were well intended and not meant to impact us they way they did, but they do. (Remember that saying about the road to hell being paved with good intentions? Well partly, no doubt, it got to be an often-repeated saying like this.)

Words carry power. We know that. And that definitely includes words spoken to us about us. Ones that impact us strongly, we carry with us. They help form and shape our opinions, our esteem, our behavior and our beliefs. We believe we can, odds are we can. We believe we can’t and we never will–and we will make that true because we believe it to be true. That’s self-fulfilled prophesy. And often to make it happen, we embrace self-sabotage.

An Example: An author has been writing one type of book for years. The market for that type book is dwindling and her editor recommends the author write a different type of book and makes several suggestions. The author refuses–and when contract renewal time comes around, author is told publisher will not be offering a new contract.

Author refused for any of a number of reasons. Didn’t like the type of books suggested. Had no interest in shifting to a new type novel. Feared change. Feared losing her existing reader base. The point is, regardless of the reason the author is now without a publisher.

A more blatant example: An author goes to a conference and at a luncheon complains to a table full of people about her publisher. An editor for that publisher is sitting at the next table and overhears her house being raked over the coals. Said editor reports this tongue-lashing in a public forum to author’s editor. How how enthused is said editor to work with said author?

We all take wrong steps. We try something that doesn’t work. We write something that doesn’t resonate. We plan and set expectations based on the information we have available but that information proves faulty. These are mistakes, yes, but not ones where we have through our own arrogance or ignorance or fears or other personal issue-based actions, shoot ourselves in the foot and cut ourselves off at the knees.

The discretion errors are most frequent. Or, I should say, the lack of discretion. Over the years, I’ve seen more authors sabotage their careers by exercising a lack of discretion than anything else. A little story to keep in mind:

Author A wrote for an Editor at a publishing company.
Author A had some very nasty things to say about another writer to Editor.
Editor spoke very little and formally–cautiously–to Author A because Author couldn’t be trusted to be discreet.
Author A was offended by Editor’s distance and had some very nasty things to say to Editor about it, then promptly went to the Editorial Director and asked to be assigned to a new Editor.
The request was refused.
Author A left the Publisher and wrote for a New Editor at a New Publisher.
Before Author A’s first book with New Publisher came out, her New Editor left the New Publisher for employment at a third Publisher.
New Publisher hired a replacement: Editor from Publisher.

So now Author A is with Original Editor at New Publisher. The Editor she said some very nasty things to and asked to reassigned away from.

Small world, publishing. And Editors move around to move up. Author A is in a tough spot. One she put herself in because of her lack of discretion. Net: self-sabotage.

Can she recover?  Some would say yes, but in actuality, probably only if she looks for and secures a New New Editor at a New New Publisher.

Life would have been so much simpler for Author A had that author just been discreet.

Self-sabotage isn’t only seated in esteem and confidence and negative issues. It can also be seated in fear. Like the fear of success.

People driven by a dream will just about kill themselves to hit benchmarks that define for them success. They’ll climb the ladder, struggle and sacrifice and put in super-human effort to get up to the next rung. Their goal is in sight. They’re almost there. Almost to the pinnacle that has occupied their hopes and dreams and cost them so much and now–now they’re—
scared to death and decide they may not really want it, or that they definitely do not want it.

Suddenly unthought of facets come to life:

✦If I make that sale, people are actually going to read what I write. They might hate it, have ugly things to say about it–about me. I could be embarrassed, humiliated, rejected.

✦If I make that list, people are going to expect so much out of the book. What if it disappoints them. What if they bad-mouth me and it? My family, friends, everyone I know will hear all about it. I’ll look like a fool, an idiot. I could be hurt. My kids could be hurt or embarrassed or humiliated. Rejected.

✦The last book did so well. What if this one bombs?

✦I am going to be judged. I could be found wanting and/or rejected.

See how these things all tie back to self-esteem and image? Your perception of who you are and your place in your world, and in the worlds of others?

We all want to be loved and accepted. We all want our work, which is an extension of us, to be loved and accepted.

And it’s hard to open ourselves up for not being loved and accepted. But the simple fact is this:

Some will love and accept us.
Some will hate us and reject us.
And some will be indifferent.

Of all these things–think about this–indifference troubles us most.

Why? Because it jerks our chains and feeds those little nags in us that says we and what we are doing are insignificant.

You can go into broader analysis, but in my experience, when you do and then you dive deep, it takes you right back to this place. Maybe you need the journey to feel sure of that. Maybe you can take the word of one who has journeyed and taken that journey with many others. Regardless, you do need to grasp the reasons we sabotage ourselves and take constructive steps to resolve the underlying issues. Understand them. And stop doing it so that you can fulfill your potential.

How do you do that? There are many ways, I’m sure, but one I know works is by knowing what you need, which I addressed in the MISTAKES WE MAKE series in the library.






posted by | on My Kitchen Table |

WARNING:  This is a no-edit zone…

I did an interview this morning and got asked a difficult question.  One tries to prepare for these things, and one does prepare, but this wasn’t an ordinary question.  Oh, I’ve been asked about this sort of thing, had this type of thing suggested to me and even some serious interest on the matter about my books, but I wasn’t approached then in the manner I was this morning.  I thought I’d share so that you could add this one to your preparation list.

Typically when interviewed, I’m asked about my books, where my ideas originate–the usual.  Depending on the interviewer, I might be asked questions about my days as a military wife, or as a writer with a family, or even as a pet owner.  I’ve been asked about what kind of music I like to listen to when I write, what kind of junk food I prefer, what kind of car I think is hot–all kinds of things, depending on the interviewer’s audience.

I’ve been asked why I write the books I write, how I choose which books to write; why I don’t write more non-fiction; why I don’t write about distinguished “real” women versus imaginary ones.  I’ve even been asked which is my favorite book of all I’ve written.

But this today was a first for me.  “Which of your books do you want to be made into a movie, and why?”

My initial response (which thank heaven I didn’t share) was:  All of them.  Because they’re movies I’d like to go see.

That wouldn’t have gone over well, now would it?

Anyway, I paused a second to think on it.  As I said above, I’ve had interest in some of my books going to film, but in those situations, the interested party had read the book and came to me.  I didn’t have to choose.  And the question struck me the same way that asking me which of mine is my favorite book only even harder because someone else would adapt what I’d done.  It’d be the same only different.   I was momentarily lost.  Imagine someone saying, “You have three kids.  Which do you love most?”

Who can answer that?

Admittedly, I’m a bit of an oddball commercial writer.  Typically, commercial writers write what’s commercial.  I’ve written purpose books and hoped they’d be commercial.  It’s a different set of criteria.  Yes, I know that the books aren’t my babies and once you choose to sell what you write, regardless of all the couching, you’ve got a product on a shelf in a store.  No illusions on that, or problems with it, either.

But when you’ve written nearly thirty books, and every single one of them were written because you felt driven to write them, selecting a favorite one is just impossible.

My response:  “Based on what criteria?”

Now the interviewer was at a loss.  :)

I explained.  My choice would be based on the nature of the film someone wanted to make.

How do you succinctly explain your personal philosophy to someone unfamiliar with your body of work without boring them to tears?

I knew what I needed.  A high-concept pitch.  And that led me to wondering:  Is there such an animal as a “high concept” pitch for an author?

That was the question in my mind, and it’s what’s on my mind this morning.

If you want a rip-your-heart-out kind of movie, then HER PERFECT LIFE, is my choice.  A returning POW finding everything had changed (husband remarried, kids calling his new wife “Mom” and being a stranger to their mother, and a WHAT NOW?” kind of movie that ripped my heart out writing it.  It’s got a (to me) fabulous, happy ending.   My purpose in writing it?  Awareness of what serving our country can cost people–on a very real and personal level.

If you want a “I can conquer abuse” kind of movie, then it’d be ALL DUE RESPECT.
If terrorism is your focus, then any of the WAR GAMES books, or LADY JUSTICE.
If terrorism with a political angle is what you’re after, then LADY LIBERTY.
If you ever wondered what happens when one of those folks with top secret clearance mentally loses it; what happens to them, then ACTS OF HONOR is just the thing.
Maybe you’re into a Paris Hilton type with substance.  Then BULLETPROOF PRINCESS.
Or you’re into time-travel, or paranormal.  That’d be FESTIVAL.  Toss in Life After Death, and that’d be MAYBE THIS TIME.
Ghosts or a safe haven–healing story?  That’d be the Seascape novels.
Biological warfare?  SHADES OF GRAY.  Chemical or Nuclear warfare?  DUPLICITY or ACTS OF HONOR.  Terrorists striking your water supply?  SHADES OF GRAY.  Striking your shopping mall?  DOUBLE DARE.  Cloning people with high level security clearances?  BODY DOUBLE.

See what I mean?  It’s impossible!

So if a high-concept author pitch didn’t exist, it’s being born today.  I’m creating it.  Because never again do I want to be asked a question such as this and not have a ready response.  I can’t choose one book.  Not when every book I write is written because I consider the soul of the book relevant.

So maybe that’s my high-concept author pitch.   Relevance.  That’s my key point.

Course, I’ll have to elaborate a bit.  Relevance, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder…




posted by | on My Kitchen Table |

WARNING:  This is a no-edit zone…

A few days ago, a writer bragged to me that she was always late on delivering her manuscripts.  She blew that off, as if it were no big deal.  That left me shaking my head.   Not just at the lack of professionalism and personal integrity of the matter, but at the arrogance in it.


Well, yes.  What would you call it when one person not doing their job negatively impacts (read that:  screws up) the schedules of everyone else in the production line?

Now there are times when authors are late and it just can’t be helped.  One, a good friend, in fact, had a medical issue recently and her doctor banned her from the computer.  She notified the editor, her agent, and kept them updated.  As soon as she could do the work, she did, and got it in.  In all, the book was a few weeks late.  The difference was in the professional manner in which she handled it.

As soon as she discovered there was a problem, she informed the other parties.  She didn’t wait until the due date and tell them.  That early notification allowed time to schedule shift.  Time wasn’t lost, no one was scrambling to get “the hole” in their schedule filled, so that when the book did come in it’d cause a time-crunch or (depending on what else was coming in) an avalanche.

Stuff happens.  That’s one thing.  Unavoidable at times and everyone knows it because everyone experiences it.  But to consistently miss deadlines puts a lot of unnecessary (and unfair) pressure on others, and to brag about doing that is, simply put, arrogant.  It’s saying that your time is more valuable than everyone else’s.  And while your interest in your time might be more valuable to you, you can bet every other single person involved in the process considers their time more valuable to them.

Many authors don’t realize the challenges they create.  The editor schedules reading/editing time.  the copyeditor does, too.  So does the line editor and the art department and marketing folks.  Publicity and printers and shipping–everyone works on a schedule.

Can they shift it?  Typically, yes.  But that doesn’t mean it’s painless or easy or that it doesn’t create conflicts for them.  Enduring those conflicts as a result of necessity is one thing.  Enduring them as a result of arrogance is quite another.

Just step out of your shoes and put yourself in theirs–just for a moment.  You expect a manuscript.  It doesn’t come–and you have to contact the author to find out why not, and when it will come.  If the author has a good excuse, you might be miffed that you weren’t notified, but you’re apt to be more understanding than if the author lacks a good excuse.

Between you and me, were I in those shoes, there wouldn’t be many good excuses.  I can’t speak for editors, but if I were wearing those shoes, I’d expect compliance with the dates the author set.  If something came up, as does, I’d expect to be notified immediately and be given a new projection date.  That way, I could shift my schedule most effectively–and give everyone else down the production line maximum notice so that they could shift theirs.

You know, having a cavalier attitude isn’t just unprofessional, it speaks to the character of the person.  When an editor buys a book, s/he isn’t just thinking one book, s/he is thinking career.  And that being the case, if you were the editor and you were presented with two authors, both of which produced books that were equally good, which author would you select to work with?

Yeah, me, too.

Something to bear in mind…

And before the deluge hits–and it will–I’ll agree that editors miss deadlines now and then, too, and sometimes when they do, it puts authors in a wicked crunch.  They’re human; stuff happens to them, too.

But we aren’t responsible for what others do.  We are responsible–and accountable–for what we do.  That’s the bottom line.

So if you’re working on deadline and you reach a point where you know you just can’t make it, give as much notice as is humanly possible–and a very good reason for the delay.  Have an alternate date in mind and discuss it with your editor.

We can’t stop stuff from happening.  We can do all we can to minimize the impact on others of that stuff–and we should.  It’s professional.  It’s giving the same courtesy we’d like to be given.  It’s being accountable and responsible.  We owe that to them, and to ourselves.






posted by | on My Kitchen Table |

WARNING:  This is a no-edit zone…

A short time ago, I wrote a post on expectations.  In the past few days, it seems it’s a theme for authors and others to NOT expect good things in their lives, so I’m mentioning it again–and expectations is what is on the mind as I write this.

We all know about self-fulfilled prophesy and sayings like “where the mind goes, the body follows.”  But apparently too few of us are really getting the message, otherwise the prevalence of non-expectations wouldn’t be so out-of-whack–and it is!

When did we become a group or individual people who focused on what we couldn’t do, what wouldn’t happen, or why we’re ill-equipped to the point we feel incapable or unwilling to even make an effort?  When did we lose our faith in us?  Our spirit and determination?  When did we settle for less than we’re capable of doing?

What happened to our drive to do the undoable, the improbable, the impossible?

And whatever happened to it, can we undo the damage and get back to a place where we believe not in what we can’t accomplish but in what we can accomplish?  Can we be confident enough to take an interim “maybe I can; I’ll find out” step?

Yesterday, I spent the morning with two of my angels.  One is four, the other 20 months.  I am admittedly gaga over these two, but it isn’t just those bonds that mesmerize me.  It’s watching them interact.

The oldest is confident and observant.  She quickly catches on and draws conclusions.  She commits.  She forms opinions.  She decides what she thinks.  She’s also patient with the little one.  Makes allowances not excuses and doesn’t permit her to run roughshod over her.  That’s significant.

The younger is a little daredevil, an adventurer.  And if the elder can do it, then the younger tries her best to do it, too.  Things far, far beyond her capabilities.  Often she fails, but it doesn’t seem to phase her.  She just gets up and tries again–and sometimes she does these things that she’s considered too little to do.

I mention these things about the kids not because they’re unusual.  I mention them because they aren’t.  Kids don’t know how to lie, they learn it.  They don’t know how to hate or innately embrace other nastiness that stems from negative input; they learn those things, too.  More’s the pity.  But what is most interesting, in that it’s totally germane, is that kids don’t know what they can’t do until someone tells them.  So they often do things they didn’t know they couldn’t–and actually do them.

Kids are empowered by that in a way that adults are not.  Maybe it’s because we try and fail.  History and experience have beaten us down.

Maybe it’s the fear of failure or success or the consequences (anticipated or not) that we could or would suffer if we tried and it didn’t work out.

Or maybe we’ve just allowed ourselves to listen too much to what everyone else says can or can’t be done and we’ve stopped thinking for ourselves and giving ourselves the option to try new things.  Unlikely things.  Impossible things.

You know, someone somewhere considered everything impossible until someone did it.

So why shouldn’t we go for those pipe dreams?  Dare to reach for the brass ring?  Tackle the impossible?

Eventually, someone is going to have enough of that kid-can-do spark in them to go for it and accomplish it.  So why not you–or me?

Yes, we might fail.

But so what?  And guess what.

We might not.






posted by | on My Kitchen Table |

WARNING:  This is a no-edit zone…

If technology saves us time, then why are we busier than ever?

One of my writing students raised this question to me earlier today, and my first reaction was to say, “Amen!  No kidding.”  But my second reaction–”Yeah, why is that?” lingered and lingered.  So I thought on the matter.  Here are a few reasons I wholeheartedly agree:

1. Our world has expanded.  Gone are the days of waiting for the mailman to bring a letter someone wrote a week or a month ago.  Now it’s minutes or less via email.  Last week, my computer went into the computer hospital for three days.  When it returned, I had over 800 emails waiting.  I don’t recall ever getting 800 letters stuffed in my mailbox after a three-day hiatus.

So while our world has expanded, and much good comes from that, more demands on us and our time come with that good.

2. Because of technological advances, we’re capable of doing things ourselves that we once had others do for us–and delays in waiting for them to get to it.  For example, many do their own web work now.  Their own research.  Their own tax returns.  Their own marketing and promotion and newsletters and mailings and maintain their own data bases and do their own . . . well, you get the picture.

There was a time when you had to know html and own complex software programs to do many of these things.  And rather than spend the time and money buying the programs and learning to use them (which was a career in itself!), you paid someone else to do those things for you.

If, like me, you were prone to getting lost in research because it was so very interesting, you paid someone to do it because you couldn’t afford the time you knew you’d spend sidetracked.  This was especially true when the babies were with me.  They had priority and other time was scarce, so it was imperative to compress and get as much as possible done in what other time I had.  If I’d done my own research then, I’d have been blessed to get a book done in year and I was on a three-books per year schedule.  Sandie, my devoted and dedicated assistant, saved me from myself. :)

I’ll admit though, I miss the days of getting lost in the library, following threads.  Oh, I enjoyed that time.   Now, rather than routine, that’s a special treat.

3. Not only have we expanded what we do for ourselves, we’ve expanded on what we do for others.  We’re aware of more and involved in more, and each of those involvements (worthy though they surely are) take time and effort and energy.  A few years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to have two or three major areas where we concentrated our efforts outside of family/home and work.  Now it’s common to be involved in a dozen–any of which has a major project going on seemingly all the time.

4. Because of increased exposure and broadened interests we’re finding ourselves pulled in so many different directions at once that at times we feel just overwhelmed.  When that happens, often the first reaction is to pull back and do nothing.  It’s like when you go to the store and there are three items to choose from, you pick one.  But if there are thirty, you’re bombarded with the “which is the best one for me to get to do what I’m interested in doing?”  And when that happens, you often leave the store with none because you feel the need to do more research to make the best buying decision.

That same rascal is at work in us when we’re tugged in too many directions at once, or when our focus is too slivered.  No one thing gets sufficient focus to accomplish anything because our energy and effort is too diffused.

This can happen to us, but it can also happen to our works.  Ideas come easily to most writers.  They aren’t in short supply, but abundant, and we must sift through them to determine which we want to invest in writing.

Well, it never fails that when you’re neck-deep in one project is exactly when you’ll get a dozen great ideas for other projects.  And they nag you and won’t leave you alone.  In other words, they steal your focus.

That can create challenges and errors in work upon which you’re attempting to focus.  You lose that honed vision.  Sometimes you can get it back, sometimes you can’t.  So it becomes important to have a means available to you to deal with the challenge.

One that works for me:

I have an idea file.  Often ideas come in clusters.  But they’re not necessarily related clusters–or if they are related, I don’t see how they’re related at the time.  So I keep a file folder for “IDEAS.”  When a nagging idea hits me, I create a file, tag it with a couple keywords, and drag it into the Idea Folder, then return as quickly as possible to the work in-progress.

This way, the idea is logged in and I can get it off my mind.  It’s taken care of.  I won’t forget it.  I won’t worry about forgetting it.  And my mind rests easy on the matter so I can focus intently on the current work–the one I should be focusing on.

One cool thing happens when you jot ideas down in an idea file like this.  Your subconscious mind has taken the ideas in, and it will connect them and work through the logistics so that those connections are logical and rationale.  And your brain does this while you’re otherwise occupied.

You might not realize it’s even happened.  But you’ll be puttering along and suddenly the idea springs to mind and you realize it’s perfect for what you’re doing.  And quite often, you’ll look back and see that the foundation for including it is already in place.  I love it when that happens.

So the bottom line is that we do more now than we used to do because we have ways and the means to do more.  We have access and interest.  These are good things–assets–unless we take on so much that we drive ourselves into the ground.  We really are human and we really do need downtime, too.  And we need focus.

Being too busy is distracting.  It wears us down and then out.  So we must guard against taking on more than we should and remember that to accomplish our goals, we must focus.




posted by | on My Kitchen Table |

Bulletproof Princess has sold in Australia, New Zealand and in the Philippines!  I love the new cover for it.

Who says good news never comes over the weekend?



posted by | on My Kitchen Table |

The Harlequin community is committed to reading 100,000 Books this year to benefit the National Center for Family Literacy.

This is an unprecedented opportunity for all of us to help fight illiteracy at the grass roots level.

If the Harlequin community achieves its goal of 100,000 books read, it will be donating the equivalent number of books to this charity–and this charity is working hard to find solutions to the literacy crisis, so we need to do our part to make sure this a success.

That Harlequin book donation is equivalent to $700,000.  You know how much that kind of donation can benefit women and their families.

We all want to make a difference in the lives of others.  Here’s a shot to do just that.  Reading impacts lives; we know it does.  So get involved.  Be a part of making a difference.

register and participate.  Blog about the books you read this year.


Read a book and create a book review.   Do that, and you’ve added one more book to the total–and the National Center for Family Literacy is one book closer to getting those books!

We love reading–so much so that sometimes we feel we need a license to do more of it.  Well, consider this your license (you’re reading for a worthy cause, a critical purpose) and go for it!

Here is the link to the challenge rules and an introduction.  Please, please, use it!







posted by | on My Kitchen Table |

WARNING:  this is a no-edit zone…

First and foremost, a very big thank you to Kass (Kassandra Bakke at Consulting Services, Inc.) for working her computer magic and getting my iMac in order.  I organize creatively, and as a present to my iMac, Kass organized it logically.  THANKS, Kass, from me and from my Mac. :)

Being off-line for a few days gave me tons of time to spend with the grans, which is my most favorite thing in the world to do.  In the breaks, I spent a lot of time thinking, and one of the things I thought about was fresh starts.  As in I wanted to make one on a series I’m writing.   And so fresh starts is what’s on my mind this morning…

Most writers are happiest when they’re in create-mode.  By that, I mean, working with a new idea or concept and developing it–making all those decisions on point of view, main and secondary characters, setting and tone–using the tools writers use to take a flicker or glimmer of an idea and mold and shape it into a story.

We typically love that part.  And as we build and mold and shape our enthusiasm grows and grows until we just can’t stand to wait another second–we’ve got to write.  And so we do.  And we love what we write.  It is the manifestation of our ideas and thoughts–our creation.

So on we go, writing and writing.  And then we reach a point where we cross the proverbial line in the sand and the enthusiasm is invaded by our internal editor.  So we read what we’ve written.  And we realize that the images in our heads when we were writing are ill-reflected on the page.  And so we rewrite.

Oh, we think.  If I’d opened this story there rather than here, it would be so much better.  Oh, if she had a history of this instead of that, she’d have so much more at risk.  Oh….

And so we smile or grimace, depending on our attitude, and then we make a choice.  We elect to start over and rewrite from the stronger perspective (which in truth might or might not be stronger) or we elect to keep going, see what happens and then make our adjustments.

I’m often asked which I do.  I can honestly answer either or both.  It pays (for scheduling purposes) as well as other reasons for a writer to understand his or her process.  To notice patterns in the way s/he writes.  My pattern is to blaze through a first draft, knowing the writing is raw and needs tons of polish.  I’ve written other ways, but this is the most natural to me.  And then after I blaze through that first draft, I start polishing.

Which means, it’s only after the entire first draft is written that I rewrite the first three chapters.  The bones are there, but they need nourishment to be strong and healthy.  They need enhancing with details I didn’t know then that were revealed in the actual writing.

This makes it challenging to sell on proposal to an editor who does not see or share your vision.  One who hasn’t worked with you won’t know that about the way you work and that can give him or her a false impression of your finished product.  The only way around this, in that case, is to write the entire first draft and then rewrite your first three chapters for submission.

That’s not typically something multi-published authors do.  They explain their process and take their chances.  Sometimes it works out.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  The perk is that when it does, the author knows s/he has hooked up with an editor who can see his/her vision.  That’s priceless.

But this is about fresh starts.  It’s about the author remembering that the goal is to create the best book possible, and that means starting over because it’s best for the book.  No grumbling or groaning or whining.  Just doing it because in the end the work is the one thing the author can control.

Fresh starts like fresh perspectives, give us an opportunity to build on something that exists.  Something we created from nothing.

That’s a perk we don’t have when we first begin writing.  We’re blazing a new trail, creating something from nothing.  How many trials, do you think, Ben Franklin needed to get spectacles right?  Or any other inventor?  Do you think any one went from zero to finale in one shot?

Fresh starts are opportunities.  Embrace them–and you’ll see far more of the vision in your mind appear on your pages.



©2008, Vicki Hinze

What is Conflict?


posted by | on My Kitchen Table |

What follows is a handout from a workshop on CONFLICT (©2008, Vicki Hinze) from this past weekend at the Emerald Coast Writers Conference.

It’s lengthy so I’m linking to it.  It’s in pdf format, so it shouldn’t be a problem for anyone, but if it is, then contact me, and I’ll get it to you in a format that works for you.

If you click on the photo above (on the website blog), the entire article should open in your browser.

If you click on Conflict in the My Kitchen Table widget, you’ll get the article:

Or you can download it.  The link for that is Conflict.pdf.