Another Elizabeth Rose

Not even sure why I did it, but I looked up my name writer’s name today on Google.

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I learned that there is another Elizabeth Rose. She is also a writer. A Romance writer. Not a household name, but she has over 55 books currently published.

I am not entirely sure what I’m going to do.

I don’t have a book published yet. Not even ready to query yet as I still have a final revision or two to do on it.

Elizabeth in my name, and I chose Elizabeth Rose in honor of my mother’s family.

I could go to my married name or my maiden name, I suppose, but after two years of thinking of my writing self as Elizabeth Rose, it’s going to be difficult.

I suppose I should’ve researched the pseudonym a little before taking it, but it’s one I’ve honestly been thinking about for almost twenty years.

Guess I’ll have to think a little more on this!

 

What are your thoughts? If you found out another author had “your” name, would you change it? Run with it? Something else?

Alive!

Ever have character come alive that you never expected? To develop such complete and totally personality, yet you have no story for them? No idea where or how they fit into your world?

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This happened to me the other afternoon. DH and I had a couple of hours to ourselves (I know, how did that happen?), and we started discussing the book I’m editing now. This led to us discussing the hero and heroine’s two sons and me wondering if I’d one day write their story. We started talking about the boys, and that led to some interesting insights.

 

A quick snippet of their conversation:

“At least I didn’t set Mom on fire.”

“I was two years old! Nobody brings up the fact that you pooped on Mom when you were two.”

“Did not. And you were three when you set her on fire.”

“Two, three, whatever. It’s not like I had control of the magic. Not like I meant to do it. And I’ve tried to make-up for it every mother’s day since. But no matter what I get her, Dad still gives me this look like, ‘That’s it? That’s all you could get your mother after setting her on fire?’ I could get her a solid diamond horse and carriage, a fleet of solid diamond horse and carriages, and it still wouldn’t be enough.”

“You did set her on fire. And a solid diamond horse and carriage wouldn’t exactly move.”

Dylan glared at his brother. “I tracked down three golden unicorns, captured them, brought them back here and taught them to dance for Mom. Dad still gave me the look because it wasn’t all five. But the other two were so freakin’ fast.”

“Should move faster.”

“You fast enough to outrun a fireball?” A glowing ball appeared in Dylan’s hand.

Lucas grinned. “Whatcha gonna get me for my birthday if you set me on fire? The last two golden unicorns?”

“Go to hell.”

“Speaking of hell, Dad did have to bring in an Oskelesian to teach you to control your magic.”

“An Oskelesian that the legendary Sir Marcus married and, even though you’re a prince, Sir Marcus would still kick your ass if he heard you say anything bad about her.”

Lucas crossed his arms over his chest and raised a brow.

“For Dracor’s sake, you were engaged to their daughter. How bad can her mother be, Oskelesian or not?”

“You had to bring that up.”

“You were engaged last month. I burned Mom over twenty years ago.”

“But Mom didn’t bargain her life to a dragon to save Tamryn.”

“Not my fault you can’t keep your girlfriends. Shouldn’t you go slay the dragon or something and bring her back?”

Lucas’s jaw twitched. “She made the bargain voluntarily, and he lived up to his half.”

“Hasn’t stopped other men.”

“I’m bound by the code of Dracor and the Dragon Church.”

“Thank the gods I’m not.”

“If you’re not fast enough to catch the last two unicorns, you wouldn’t stand a chance against a dragon.”

“Better a dragon than Mom and Dad trying to marry me off. You weren’t fast enough to escape that. Took a dragon to get you out of it.”

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Now, to figure out a story for them… They have a unique dynamic. I can see how they love each other, hate each other, and would do anything for each other, but only after giving the other one a thorough teasing. I don’t think any of this would ever make it into a book, but knowing it about them makes them richer and easier to write.

 

How about you? Ever have an idea for a character come to life all on its own? How about characters having arguments in your head, or making you smile at your desk for no reason?

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye is hard. Really hard. The longer you’ve known someone, usually, the harder it is to say goodbye.

As illustrated by the Harry Potter cast.

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Same is true for me when I finish a story. Whether a rewrite or a first draft, there’s a bit of sorrow that casts its shadow on the accomplishment.

So, yes, I finished the most recent edit of “Crowned Prince” that I started on October 24th. It took me eleven weeks to finish, and in that time, I was able to dedicate some pretty serious hours to the revision process. Interesting, as the first draft only took me eight weeks to write.

On this rewrite alone, I’ve traveled with these character for almost a quarter of a year. I’ve spent much of my free-time with them and many hours thinking about them. Working through their foibles, their defeats, and their victories. Seeing them change and grow. Falling in love with them along the way.

As I reread the ending for the eleventh time last night before finally sending it off to my beta readers, I knew I was going to miss these characters. Finally, at long last, they had each other and their happily-ever-after. They’d earned it, they knew what I cost, and they were both willing to fight to keep it.

I lingered with them a while, and then I closed the file and cracked open the novel I finished in October. Best way to beat the sadness of saying goodbye to one set of characters is to become invested in the next set.

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Years ago, when I finished writing my first book (that the Doubt Demon eventually stole), I actually cried when I was done. I had put over two years into the story, and I never thought I’d be able to write another. Took me a lot longer back then to realize I had more than one story in me. Once I realized I could write more than one book, and started work on the new one, I felt much better. Completing it made me feel better yet. (Yeah, Doubt Demon got that one, too).

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I’m not a big fan of book series that feature the same characters as the “leads” over and over, but I do love series that let me go back to the world the author created. Especially if I get a glimpse of some old favorites living their happily-ever-after while becoming invested in new characters.

Perhaps this is why all three books I’ve written so far stand alone, but they’re all in the same world. While you may never “see” the characters from the previous novels “on screen”, you hear the new characters reference them as appropriate. It gives me a little hug of feeling, reminding me I didn’t really say goodbye. I just said until later.

 

How about you? Ever feel sad when you come to the end of a book, whether reading it or writing it? If so, how do you overcome the sadness? Do you like series that feature the same characters? Same world(s)? Why or why not?

Top 7 Things to Focus on When Editing

I’ve talked to you about my first drafts and how they require a great deal of editing. I think most novels require some level of editing after they’re complete.

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As much as we’d all like to produce J.K. Rowling or Stephen King level work on our first draft, I have yet to see someone who does. I try so hard not to cringe when I hear a writer say they’ve just finished up, they’re going to take a look at it, and then self-publish.

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As I am working through this first rewrite, there are 7 things I really focus on:

1. Beta reader Comments – this isn’t entirely fair as I don’t even let a story out to Beta readers until I’ve done a revision or two. But once I do send it out, I take their comments very seriously. These are no people who’ve spent months with these characters in their heads. They frequently see things more clearly than I do as I sometimes get lost in the trees and can’t see the forest.

 

2. Characters – this is where I spend the lion’s share of my time. I’ve put together a lot of stuff on heroine analysis herehere and here. And on heroes here and here. During this first revision process, I know my character a lot better than when I was writing them. They’ve shown me more. I’ve been with them all the way through the end of the story. Seen their foibles, felt their fears. Seen them succeed or fail. I know a lot more about them, and I can bring that back through the whole story. Here are a few things I consider:

  • Do I like the hero or heroine? If either are unlikeable, time to rewrite. And no, this doesn’t mean they need to be “perfect”. Truly likeable characters seldom are.Is what the character doing within their personality?
  • Are they making choices true to them? For example, is the British spy-master forgetting who he is and what he does to marry a woman being manipulated by a French spy-master. Please, please, please tell me no. Or go back and rewrite it.
  • Do their words in the dialogue sound like them? I still struggle with this, but a prince and scullery maid should not be using the same words.
  • Do I want to see them get what they want? Will the characters getting what they want give the reader that happy smile that says “I just read a great romance novel”.

Invariably, I answer “no” to some of these things, and that means rewriting. Sometimes it means changing the characters early on in the story, and that usually flows into changes later.

And that means the ending must change. *sigh* Perhaps with practice, I’ll get better at getting the characters right earlier in the writing process and not have to scrap the last 10-15% of the story.

 

3. Point of View –  This is an area that an editor corrected me on. Once, romance authors were allowed to go back-and-forth between the hero and heroine’s point of view in the same scene. Best-selling authors and authors who started when this was allowed are still allowed to do this. Those of us that are trying to break into the genre aren’t. Changing the point-of-view and making sure I stick to it has been one of the most difficult aspects of rewriting for me.

 

4. Plot – A lot of this is taken care of by character actions. But, I want to make sure things are logical and consistent.

  • Is anything happening that appears weird, unusual or out of context?
  • Am I keeping things happening at a realistic but not boring clip? This should be true for the external plot as well as the romance itself.
  • The romance is the main plot. But I can’t tolerate lack-of-communication or stupidity, so it has to be real things keeping the characters apart.
  • Is it engaging? Do I want to know what happens next?

 

5. Descriptions – My first draft is pretty bare bones. What will ultimately be a 75,000 – 85,000 word novel starts out at around 50,000-60,00 when I’m done. Why? Because I’m so busy getting things done in the story that I skip right over descriptions. My first draft sort of takes place in a void. Yeah, there are occasional descriptors, but nothing that pulls in the reader with sounds and smells. Maybe even tastes.

 

6. De-Clunking –  Revising clunky words or phrases and streamlining the actual words themselves. This takes a larger chunk of time than it looks, but it’s important that the story reads well/

 

7. Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling I don’t bother much with this in the first edit as so much that’s going to be rewritten, I wait and save this revision for prose I’m pretty sure isn’t going to just get cut.

 

How about you? What’s your rewriting/editing strategy? How do you tackle it? What do you look for first? How long do you wait after writing the first draft to start revising it?

Heroes Analysis: My Current Work-in-Progress

Continuing on the vein of applying my likes and dislikes to my own work, I’ll take a look at the hero in the story I’m working on.

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In Crowned Prince, the calculatingly practical hero fall in love with a slave girl and has to choose between his elaborate plans to take the throne or happiness with the woman he loves.

1. Does he brood? – Very little. He is cold, ruthless and practical. Brooding does nothing to forward his plans, so he doesn’t indulge in it.

2. No arrogant jerks- He can be a touch arrogant. He is a prince used to getting his way. But, he listens to the heroine’s advice, and he will do everything in his power to protect her and make her happy.

3. Indecisive – He has a moment of indecision when he realizes he’s in love, but he doesn’t lie to himself and he knows he’s not a man to deny himself. Once the decision is reached, he never looks back and all of his actions forward are to take what he wants with as little political fallout as possible.

I think I succeeded pretty well on these counts. The hero in this story is a more traditional alpha male, so it was easier to fly past brooding and indecisive. I also worked hard as I was writing not to let him be too much of a jerk. He’s cold and calculating, but for very good reasons, but not too over-the-top.

So, do I give him the characteristics needed to like him?

 

1. Competence – the hero is competent. He can carry his own in a fight, and he’s good at machinating and reading people. A bit Machiavellian, but goes with the strong alpha male.

2. Protector – he may not have been much a protector before the start of the story, but we see what lengths he’ll go to in an effort to protect the heroine.

3. Honorable Leader – the hero is already a leader of men, and the head of a plot to put himself on the thrown. He is not chivalrous or terribly honorable at the beginning of the story, but that changes by the end as he’s come to see why it’s important.

Interestingly, this hero started out as a villain in a different story but was too interesting to “throw away”. He got a story of his own, and I found him surprisingly easy to fit into the alpha male role. A thought to ponder in another post.

3 Things I have Learned About Time Management

So, I was a bit frustrated on Wednesday after reading a post blaming writers for not making time for writing.

I have learned a lot about time management since I started writing with 2 kids, a husband, and a full time job. Here are a few of them in hopes they help you, too.

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Know Your Attention Span

More time does not mean more writing gets done. At least, not for me. It might mean I poke around on the internet more. It might mean I check e-mail or tidy my desk. For me, I have found that 45 minutes to an hour is about as long as I can productively write at a stretch. During that time, it’s ideal for me to put on a little music to focus. And to remember that if the baby fusses, DH has her for this period of time. I don’t need to go poking my nose in.

Focus. Write. Edit. Revise. Whatever I’m going to do, do it.

 

Use Dead Time

Dead time for me is during my commute, while I’m folding laundry, putting away dishes, etc. I try to think about characters, motivations, plot, etc.  Amazing how many little scribbles on sticky notes during this time have helped get through a block.

The time I spend on a walk may convert to this once I work through the pain from breaking my foot.

Best time I’ve ever had for creativity was taking walks outside. Got me some exercise, too. But the slow healing and large hills in my neighborhood has made that difficult since my fall.

 

Minimize Distractions

Whatever yours may be. As my writing desk is in the middle of the living room since the baby got my office, my writing time has to be after my oldest child has gone to bed. Her kissing my leg, as cute as it is, is not conducive to writing.

I can’t write while she watches her episode of TV before bed, either. Even children’s television programming tends to be too distracting for me. TV, in general, is just something I can’t ignore. No matter how bad it is, no matter how much I may want to, I can’t look away.

I’m not much for social media (still need to get a twitter account and a Facebook account), so that isn’t a distraction for me. I know for many it is, and I have heard of writers purposely getting a computer for writing that doesn’t connect to the internet just so they can stay focused.

Diamond Part 5: Bourbon in the Dark

 DH’s next installment of the Drake Diamond Saga. I like Betty. Unusual for me as vampires aren’t usually my thing. 

Part1Part2Part 3, Part 4 are available if you want to read them for the first time or get a refresher.    

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Betty has to rush off to meet Papa Thorne, and she swears to me she’ll be back as soon as she can.

“I’m already a dead man in a cemetery,” I assure her, smirking.  “What’s the worst that could happen?”

She smiles apologetically at me, and I catch another glimpse of her fangs.  Then she turns and runs off with a superhuman speed that surprises me.  Although it really shouldn’t.  It occurs to me that I’ve spent the evening with a blood-drinking creature who preys upon the living.  I’m not afraid of her, myself.  I’ve got no blood to drink.  But how would I feel if Betty preyed upon someone like Maxine to meet her dietary needs?

Or Lana?

In all the stories I’d read about vampires, they were monsters.  The bad guys.  The stories were filled with fear, tragedy, and death until the happy ending where the good guys finally destroyed them.  Usually involving a wooden stake and a mallet.  Dracula.  Nosferatu.  Varney.

Maybe they’re not so bad once you get to know ’em.

Of course, I’ve only known Betty for one night.  She’s likable enough.  Not sure I trust her though.

I’m not the trusting sort to begin with.  The trusting sort doesn’t do well in my line of work, for one thing.  But that’s not the only reason.

I’d worked on a fair number of kidnapping cases, both as a cop and as a private eye.  When making ransom demands, kidnappers almost always say “don’t go to the police or your loved one gets it”.  They do that ’cause police have a lot of experience and proven techniques at their disposal for effectively dealing with kidnappers.  If you go the police for help, the kidnappers are likely going to wind up behind bars instead of getting paid.  So they use fear to keep you from doing the smart thing and going to the professionals who know how to effectively unravel their plans.

Same thing with brainwashing cults.  They tell their recruits…their victims, that is…that psychologists are evil.  To be avoided at all costs.  That’s because psychiatrists and psychologists are really good at recognizing brainwashing techniques, and the cults don’t want that.

So earlier when Betty told me not to think too much about the magic she used on me, or it would stop holding me together, I couldn’t help but see the same pattern.  I got to wondering if besides raising me from the dead she cast another spell or two on me.

And then there’s the matter of giving me a place to stay.  In her family’s mausoleum.  In a cemetery surrounded by a brick wall with decorative wrought-iron spikes and heavy wrought-iron gates.  She says she didn’t know I’d be vulnerable to iron.  But she knew ghosts were.  And I’m not exactly a ghost, but whatever I am, Betty’s the one who cast the spell.  I was a desperate experiment, she says.  Maybe she was telling the truth.  Maybe.

I may not trust Betty.  Not fully.  But for now she’s all I’ve got.  For now.

Now that she’s run off, I might as well head inside the mausoleum.  She’d said she spent a lot of time fixing up the inside.  Might as well have a look.

Right inside the entrance there are some steps down.  Not very many.  Coming into the crypt is like stepping down off of a porch.  First thing I see is a row of plaques on the wall.  A bunch of names I don’t recognize, and Salvatore “Sonny” Malone.  His plaque is recessed into the marble wall about an inch.  The other plaques are flush with the wall.  Odd.

I press my hand against his plaque.  There a soft “clunk” sound, like a weight somewhere shifting position, and the plaque springs out, flush with the wall like all the others.  And the entrance quietly slides closed behind me.

And now there’s not even moonlight.  The darkness is absolute, pitch black.

And I can see just fine in it.

Guess from now on the only thing I’ll need a lighter for is my cigarettes.

It’s different, seeing without light.  And yet it’s still “seeing”.  I can see all the colors and textures and patterns I can see in light.  But I see them in the dark, while also seeing that it is, in fact, perfectly pitch-black dark.

Is that hard to picture?  Once I figure out how to describe color to someone who was born blind, I’ll have the words.

Past the row of plaques are walls with long recessed shelves.  And on each shelf lays someone wrapped in a shroud.  Well…this is a crypt.

“Pardon me.  Don’t get up.  Name’s Drake Diamond.  Betty said I could stay here.  Hope you don’t mind.  It’s just for a few days.”

Nothing.  Either Betty was telling the truth about them Resting in Peace, or I’m being snubbed.  Hard to say which is more likely.

There are three layers of shelves, from about waist high all the way up to the ceiling.  It’s a narrow corridor, only slightly wider than a closet.  I don’t recognize the names carved on the shelves either.  Three body-length shelves later, about twenty feet, the corridor ends but there’s a stone spiral staircase down.

One rounded flight down, and I find myself in a cozy one-room apartment.  No kitchenette, and no bathroom, but that’s okay.  I don’t need them anymore.

There’s a desk with a blotter, and a wheeled leather swivel arm chair.  On the desk is a crystal decanter and a couple of matching glasses.  No filing cabinet.  Not sure I need one, but the desk doesn’t look right without it.  There’s a coat rack by the desk, too.  Across the room there’s a comfy looking sofa and some cushioned chairs.  The floor’s even covered by a decent rug.  In another corner there’s a wardrobe and a few other cabinets.

Of course, when you fix up a crypt, it’s still a crypt.  All four walls are more of those shelves, and there are a few dozen folks interred here, by my guess.  And it’s still pitch-black darkness.  Something tells me if I wasn’t undead, I’d find it awfully creepy in here.

“Evening, folks.  You may have heard me upstairs.  Drake Diamond.”  I give a slight nod to the crypt in general and touch the tip of my fedora.  “Betty assures me none of you will mind my staying here for a few days.  If she’s wrong, don’t hesitate to speak up.  I’m sure we can work out a reasonable arrangement.”

After what feels like a full minute none of them voice any objections.  Yeah, I remember what Betty said, but that’s no reason to be impolite.

After hanging up my coat and hat on the rack, I make my way over to the desk and take the crystal decanter and pull out the knob and give it a whiff.  Bourbon.

I pull over a glass and I’m about to pour, but stop myself before a single drop leaves the decanter.  Why the hesitation?  Because wasting good bourbon is a travesty, and the question just occurred to me:  Is bourbon going to be the same, like cigarettes?  Or a hollow sensation of its former pleasure, like eating?

Frowning, I recap the decanter and put it down, and put my hands in my pockets.  Empty.  My matches and smokes are in my coat.  Betty’s right.  I’ve got no wallet.  No keys.  No cash.  Couldn’t have gotten a room or a bed without bumming more off of her.  Macho pride, she called it.  Well, dead or not, a man needs his dignity.

“Anyone here mind if I smoke?”

They’re exactly as chatty as they were before.  I go over to my coat and fish out my smokes and matches.  Six cigarettes left.  I’ll have to buy more soon.  Maybe later I can find some loose change over in the sofa cushions.

Striking a match, the tiny flame makes the room suddenly oppressively dark.  I can barely see a thing.  I let the match fizzle out, and I can see again.

I take out another match and do the same thing.  Light it, and let it fizzle out.  Same thing happens.  And again with a third match.  Now I’ve got a working theory.

Seems as though when there’s any light at all, even from a single match, I see like I did when I was alive: by light.  It’s only when there’s utterly pitch black darkness I can see like the dead.

With a fourth match I light up and take a few puffs, shaking out the match and looking around for an ashtray.  None.  I’ll have to get one of those.  No way I’m even going to try to quit smoking now that I’m already dead.

I crush the match out on the stone floor of the crypt, like Malone once did in my office carpet.  Even such a minor desecration makes me feel guilty.  I’m just here for a few days.  But to these other bones, this is their final resting place.  I should be a more considerate guest.

The glow from the end of my cigarette when I inhale is dim enough that my dead-sight still works.  Good thing, too.  I’d hate to stumble in the dark and knock over the bourbon.

Betty’s words in the diner come back to me:  tobacco nourishes death.  Well, in my case bullets beat it to the punch, but that’s why I still enjoy smokes while food, which nourishes life, gives me no pleasure.

Booze?  That seems like a gray area to me.

Sitting at the desk, I pull over one of the glasses and tap my cigarette ashes into it.  Until I get a proper ashtray it’ll do.  I’ve made enough of a mess as a guest here.  The other glass I set next to the decanter, and pull out the top once again.  I carefully pour myself two fingers of bourbon, and set the decanter back down and cap it.  Moment of truth.

I sniff the bourbon, and there’s a hint of a bitter, nutty aroma to it that complements it well.  I take a sip.

I’ve had good bourbon before.  Smooth, smoky, and slightly sweet.  But now I feel like I’ve just tasted it for the first time.  I have no idea what brand or label of bourbon is in this decanter, but this is top-shelf stuff.

I’m not too proud to admit, I’ve got a tear in my eye.  With all that I’ve lost, suddenly the little, simple pleasures that I still can enjoy mean that much more.

I sip the rest of the bourbon in the glass very slowly, savoring the taste of each drop.  The smoky, nutty, sweet taste sprinkling lightly on my tongue.  After I’ve finished my drink and my cigarette, I feel more alive than I’ve felt since I woke up in Betty’s chalk circle.

That’s when I notice the lamps.  There are a couple of unlit kerosene lamps here too.  One on the desk in front of me, and another one over by the wardrobe, on top of one of the cabinets.  They were there all along.  I just didn’t notice them until now.

Betty brought all this stuff down here, just so I’d have a place to stay.  She may have raised me tonight, but she’s been planning this for a while.

And besides all the furniture, and the most expensive tasting liquor that’s ever graced my unworthy mouth, she also brought a pair of kerosene lamps.  So I’d have light down here.  To see.

She doesn’t know I can see in the dark?  Maybe she really didn’t know about the iron.  What else doesn’t she know about me?

Is she wrong about Lana?

I mean, about my being able to talk to Lana.  See her again.  As far as I know Betty’s never met Lana.  But that whole business about Unfinished Business…I’d give up being able to enjoy bourbon and cigarettes if I could have another chance to…to…

Of course there are tears in my eyes.  Crypts are dusty places.

Trilogies

Presumptuous of me to post this, I know. I have nothing published much less ever having ever been offered a contract for a trilogy, but I can still hate trilogies.

And I do.

Much to my chagrin as a pre-teen, there was a book I loved, but at the ending, the author hadn’t wrapped everything up. Up until then, I had read books like Nancy Drew where is a series, but each book was a complete story. This left the story unfinished.

I noticed then it was the first book of a trilogy. I went to the library to get the next book in the series, only to learn it wasn’t written yet. Much less the third book. I was angry, frustrated, and sad.

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Will she die? What does it mean to her to literally trade hearts with someone? What about the Witch? Tune in next year to find out! 

The author didn’t finish the series until I was long over it. Still rankles, though, even now. I remember the excitement of finally getting to see what happened after begging my mom to take me to the library and finally getting her to agree. And then the devastation at learning there was no ending to read. I never did go back and finish the trilogy.

After that, I always checked to see if a book was part of trilogy. And if it was, I wouldn’t read any of them until all three were written and in my hands. This is true even now. I’m the reader, dammit, I don’t want to wait a year or more for the next installment. I don’t want to be left hanging not knowing what’s going to happen to characters I’m invested in enough that I am willing to buy a second book to see what happens to them.

Fortunately, I have not witnessed this trilogy phenomenon in the same format in romance novels. The handful of trilogies I’ve read usually involve three different female leads and three different male leads. Each book is self-contained with the romance between one set of characters being resolved. There may be an overarching plot that ties them all together, but this is secondary to the romance.

I still wait until I have all three to read any of them.

I have also seen a book “series” where all the stories are set in the same world, and you may see characters you’ve met before, but again, each book is self-contained. Kind of like my Nancy Drew books, but without the single protagonist tying them together.

Not sure where this trilogy business came from. I’ve heard it started with Lord of the Rings from JRR Tolkien. He never intended it as a trilogy, but it was too long to publish as a single novel. Guess they hadn’t seen Stephen King’s The Stand yet.

I’m sure there’s a business reason for it. Maybe it makes sure people buy all three books. But only if the publishers are patient enough to wait for the release of the third book as I know I am not alone on this. I’ve also wondered why they don’t release all three at the same time. Give the reader what they want and get us to buy three books as soon as we know we love the first one. Then I don’t have to remember I love it in a year when the next installment comes out.

3 Things I Have Learned

 

I have not yet published anything, but I thought I would share a few things I have learned in my writing journey.

 

Outlines

I have read that professional authors use outlines, so I need to use outlines. I tried to use them in a variety of formats with no success. Might be my personality. I used the outline more like a list to check off. Yeah, it kept me on track, but it also felt forced. And so did the story it generated.

I have found a stream of consciousness “outline” works best for me. What’s that? A Word document I throw all my thoughts and ideas into. Snippets of conversations, things I want to have happen, and a vague direction of the story I can solidify as I write. This worked well enough I was able to write a 55,000 word story in about 2 months.

Part of why this works well for me is because my first drafts are so skeletal. I tend to underwrite and need to go back and flesh it out. Add deeper descriptions, let you see more into the character’s thoughts, expand transitions so they aren’t so abrupt. These notes remind me of those details.

Clearly, your mileage may vary. The “outline” each author needs, I believe, is as unique as their personality and writing style.

 

Time

Time

I don’t really need as much time to write as I say I do. I want more, yes, but I have managed an almost complete, including revisions, manuscript in just over a year. I have 2 failed attempts at other novels that I may rework into different stories. I like the story ideas, they just didn’t work for the male lead. And I have managed a full rough draft of a new manuscript. All since January of 2015.

Plus, I started this blog in January 2016.

Only having an hour or so to write a day forces me to focus. It also forces me to use time more efficiently (I am writing this during breakfast while I watch the kids play). It also means I write almost daily as I won’t have “make-up” time later.

 

A Writer Does Not Write Alone

This is something I am still working on. Storytelling started as a group affair. People sitting around a campfire at night and making stuff up. It made the stories richer, better.

I tend to be very self critical and not want anyone to see my work until it is polished. But I have seen that my stories are better when I talk about the characters, their motivations, and what’s happening with one or two trusted people as I write. They offer another perspective and help make the story deeper. This is especially nice in the early phase of writing as it tends to reduce rewriting.