Friday, July 30, 2010

The Reunion / The Hanged Man

I'm working out of sequence as I have been frequently because of how I keep getting stuck. A friend had a bad day yesterday, and she read the first draft of Courting Apparitions and laments the fact that Basilie and Étienne don't have sex except for one in the entire book.

That is a bad, bad sentence. But let's move on.

Since my friend had a bad day, and I'm very close to that big sex scene, I thought I'd go ahead and write that scene to cheer her up.

In the tarot, there's a card called the Hanged Man. It's not the well-hung man, so get your mind out of the gutter. The hanged man is the guy who always looks at a situation differently from everyone else. If you watched Project Runway last night, he would be Casanova (who thought WAY out of the box) or even Ivy H. (her approach to the project was the opposite of everyone else).

A good sex scene has to have an element of the Hanged Man. If it's merely presenting what happened, it's not enough. If it's merely erotic and graphic, it's not enough.

I've talked in the past about every sex scene doing its job to move the plot, and enhance the character and show us about the relationship we're seeing. But it should also have that special quirkiness that makes it real.

In real life, this happens.

Like the time I asked my husband in the middle of things if he remembered whether or not I turned the oven off.

Or the time things went incredible and my husband thought something was wrong based on an unusual noise I made.

I already have a very powerful surprise for the revision to book three that shows how quickly "the other woman" picked up on a secret fantasy of the male character that his wife never noticed in 25 years together.

And don't even ask about the Tufula Tufts.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Take a Chance and Tap Dance

As writers, we often get to research topics that interest us and no one questions this. Like Nisha, from Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers, who spent last weekend at an archery lesson for her book (which sounds like an incredible retelling of some mythic Indian stuff).

For me, this usually means fashion and French stuff and Paris.

Artists get to explore their dreams in unique ways. Normal people could, but normally don't give themselves permission.

I gave myself permission.

There's a side bit in my story. It's serves a purpose, as an indicator of Étienne's health and... um... self-control. He learns to tap dance.

I have always wanted to tap dance, but I have cerebral palsy so it seems like a stupid thing for me to try and do. My daughter is in ballet and tap now. So, I asked her:

"If you knew something Mommy didn't know and wanted to learn, would you teach me?"

She said sure.

So I bought tap shoes.

And we started lessons. I love it. It took ten minutes for the six-year-old to forget anything else to teach me, so we turned to YouTube and we've started working on Rod Howell's dances classes from

I'm no Gene Kelly, but tap is teaching me lots of exercises for moving my feet and my ankles. It's also using muscles in my calves that I don't normally use. Which is great for my CP. I wonder if someone would have enrolled me in tap as a kid if I would have better control walking now...

So, it just goes to show, everybody needs to indulge. I've been told I don't know how to have fun, and this summer has worried me that maybe that's true. Tap dance is something that serves no purpose, other than having fun.

Yeah, I can blame Étienne, but really, I didn't need to learn to tap dance for him. I did it for me.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writing means deleting

I think most writers would agree that revising is an extensive and important part of the writing process.

So is deleting.

A writer must be willing to let go of words, sentences, scenes, even chapters upon recognizing that they do not work. Every word in a manuscript must forward the plot.

Now that I'm deep in the middle of my revisions, I have written, rewritten and started over on some chapters a frustrating amount of times. What motivates me is knowing eventually I will find treasure in one of those rewrites.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Even though this is an edit of a third-ish draft, I have been rewriting some chapters here and there to boost their effectiveness. I have written and re-written some of these chapters several times in a week, which I have mentioned before... but there is something about it...

*intentional dramatic pause*

The struggle makes the success sweeter.

A writer friend and a member of my critique group asked me what Étienne was going to do to get his wife back. She wanted to know if he would do something "over the top." I told her no.

I lied.

Her simple question led me to think about it all day yesterday. When I started to write last night, the words and the emotion and the scope flooded out of me. I've now got the next draft almost done and I'm pleased though I'm missing one thing at the end...

The big, life-altering, mind-blowing, commitment-affirming kiss.

And trying to write something like that reminds a writer of a very big fact. As writers, everything we do must capture a truth of human existence. If this kiss does not capture every magic glimmer of their relationship, then I have failed.

Makes you want to test some kisses...

Monday, July 12, 2010


I have kicked around a few ideas for what to write in this space, but not until today did I "feel" something strong enough to write.

The American book industry has been suffering. Some people like to argue about eBooks versus traditional books and how it will play out in the marketplace, but the whole argument reminds me of what happened with online/electronic music sales.

Not everyone reads at the same level. I am reminded of this when I read a book in French. Some people like easy books, mindless books. I like hard books. Some people aren't avid readers and a hard or elaborate book might feel to them like a book in French does to me.

But this shakedown of POD, independent, subsidy/vanity press, traditional and ePublishing has made it more and more difficult to determine what is the best fit for each author. I think it the end, more authors will see publication because of the variety. Among these will be good authors too risky for big traditional houses and some too poorly skilled for these same houses.

Editorial staff may play out the same way. Some small houses may not have the money for quality editors.

As if this weren't enough for authors to worry about, I now hear about more and more "contract cancellations" and similar situations where houses cancel the publication of a book.

This is heartbreaking to me. I look at the industry right now and wonder if I really want to deal with all of this. I wonder if the industry will find better footing in a year or two.

Cancellation is happening to good authors... some of whom I know from writer's groups. It's like a death in the family. What do you do but say "You have my sympathy" and "I'm sorry."

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Writers must possess incredible empathy-- and our empathy extends to things in the imagination.

I mentioned about a week ago that Basilie had thrown Étienne out, smack dab in the middle of what was supposed to be revisions to my second manuscript, Courting Apparitions. In order to understand the why, especially since it happened so suddenly and not as part of the drafting process, I went back and read the whole manuscript for clues (and they were there!)

But then I realized, I had a very pregnant woman, under emotional duress, and bad memories tormenting her not only in regards to how jealous her relationship makes her but also the fear associated with pregnancy.

I am now in the process of writing out what happened in Basilie's last pregnancy, even though I only need snippets for the chapter. I have to really understand what happened to her even though I can tell you in a succinct sentence what happened. And I can tell you in a paragraph how it altered her thinking about herself, her role as a wife, and her present frame of mind.

To capture successfully the magnitude and importance, I need to live the details with her, so her emotional state resonates viable and true in the present scene and doesn't fall flat.

To do that I must share her tragedy.

I'm nine pages into this, and it is very very sad, and I suspect it will take nine more pages to get it all down. In the end, the paragraph or bits of dialogue that reference this event from the chapter in question will automatically have the zing they need because Basilie's memories are now my memories and not merely a question of her internal conflicts and motivations.