Thursday, April 27, 2006

writing, writing, always writing...

some days it feels like that--that I do absolutely nothing else but sit at my computer and write. And, in many ways, it is all I do. Not that I'm really complaining, mind. I've wanted to be able to support myself with my writing for as long I've been writing seriously (writing with the aim of getting published rather than for my own pleasure), so actually being in that position now is amazing. And when it comes to work, I'll take sitting in front of my computer over working in a hot and sweaty kitchen for eight or ten hours a day (or night) anytime.

It's just that some weeks it seems that I never see anyone but my family (I love my family, but occassionally, it'd be nice to talk to someone different ;) ) Which probably explains why I've turned into something of a shopaholic. It's not that I buy something every time I go out, it just nice to get out, be with other people, see things other than my computer screen. And I have noticed that my muse tends to work better after a shopping bout--getting out and about, flexing her spending muscles, obviously revives her :D

I didn't go shopping yesterday, but I did take the dogs for our usual walk, and it was such a gloriously sunny day that it put us all in a good mood. The muse decided to buckle down a little after that, and I ended up getting nine pages done. And I'm halfway through the first love scene (finally!). But while we were out sunning ourselves, I actually caught an idea for the final scene. I know this might sound strange, but ideas generally come in 'whole scenes' to me. Sorta like a five minute preview of a movie. Usually it happens in the middle of the goddamn night, meaning I have to get up and write it down, because I know I won't remember it in the morning. Luckily, that wasn't the case here, and I was like, yes, that's it! (thankfully, there wasn't anyone else in the park, or I would have been catching some strange looks, I'm sure.) Anyways, this ending provides an excellent lead-in for the next book--actually gives me another logical reason for a next book--and I'm now a happy, happy camper. I'm not sure why, but I always feel better once I have an idea for the book's ending. It makes the story feel like it has the legs to become a whole book.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

new release date...

As I mentioned over on my website, there's a new release date for Kissing Sin--it's now coming out in Feb 07, not Oct 06 as I'd thought. Sorry for sending out the wrong information, everyone!

Nothing much else has been happening--I've been totally slack for the last few days, and have really only opened up Destiny Kills once. I did a read through, then added one whole page. Not exactly an effort worth celebrating. I'm going to try to get my five pages done today, but the muse is still off with the fairies at the moment, so anything could happen.

Just about finished reading Lilith Saintcrow's Working for the Devil, and I'm totally enjoying these characters (love the demon!). If you're looking for a kick-ass heroine who's not afraid to swing a sword, check this novel out. It's a good one. Next on my read list is Kitty and the Midnight Hour--but given how slow I read, this will probably be the one I take to read on the plane when I choof off to RT. Which, incrediably, is only a few weeks away now. Can't wait!

Friday, April 21, 2006

a little bit of good news...

got a letter from Bantam yesterday, and with it came a photocopy of the Locus Monthly bestseller list for March. And there, highlighted in yellow and sitting in number nine spot in the hardcover list, was Full Moon Rising. How excited do you think I was? :D I mean, that's the second time I've actually made a top-ten list (the other being Rosemary's Romance books bestseller list for Feb/March, and that was pretty darn exciting. This is even more so!) Needless to say, much grinning and not much writing was done (sad to say, it doesn't take much to distract my muse these days.) I did write--3 pages, which is better than nothing. The lack of writing has rolled into today--so far, I've only written a couple of pages. But there's nothing much on TV except the football tonight, so I'm hoping to at least hit my five page target (and maybe even catch up on the two I owe from yesterday :) ) As ever, I'll let you know what happens.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

a good writing day...

despite having a muse that still wanted to fluff about, yesterday actually ended up being a pretty good writing day. I did a couple of pages in the morning, then started writing again mid-afternoon, determined to at least get my five pages done for the day. But the muse was on something of a roll (finally!) and I ended up doing nine pages in all. Which I'm pretty darn happy with. Of course, a good action scene always helps kick-start my muse, and Destiny was having a pretty good fight with one of her would-be captors. (and no, the hero does not come in to save the day--our heroine is more than capable of taking care of herself. When she wants to ;) ) And she's just remembered a whole bunch of stuff about her dad and the past, and what is going on, so that was all good too. Now I just have to get her from Florence to Michigan in one piece. And then decide what to do about her mum.

I'm currently sitting on 162 pages completed, so I'm edging ever-closer to my aim of having 200 pages completed by the time I go to RT. Of course, if I stuck to my 5 pages a day aim, I'd actually reach that goal (and then some) with ease, but the muse has a wandering soul of late, and given it can't seem to concentrate on any one thing for long, anything could happen. If she does go off writing Destiny's story, I'll switch back to writing the fifth Riley. The Lulus critted it for me over the weekend, and made a few suggestions, but overall, they liked the slower start. Which is a relief--and means I can get on with writing the rest of it without worrying over the start.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

slow progress...

had one of those days, yesterday. You know, where everything else seems more enticing to the soul than actually sitting down in front of a computer screen and doing some work. I had to head off the the quacks yesterday morning for a check up, but driving back, the sun was streaming in through the car window and the day was so warm that I just didn't want to stop. So, I went for a bit of a drive through the hills and farms, enjoying the scenery and generally just relaxing. Ended up doing over 80 kilometers in all, so it was quite a drive. And then I get home and eat an easter egg for lunch, and the dogs are bouncing off the walls because they hadn't gone for their usual morning walk, so I gave in and off we went. And the sun was still shining (t-shirt weather in the middle of April? In Melbourne? Who'd have guessed :D ) so we went for an extra long walk (needed to work off that egg somehow!) Our usual walk path is about 7 kilometers (well, 7.2 if we're precise), but yesterday we did about ten. Even the energiser puppy was tired (for all of two seconds). But I did eventally do some writing. Three pages, not a whole lot, but better than nothing. Destiny and Trae are sharing another kiss, but I'm about to shatter all that lovely lip-locking with a little bit of nastiness. They're going to escape Destiny's pursuers by the skin of their teeth. The muse is rubbing her hands at the thought--she just loves throwing crap at my characters :D

Monday, April 17, 2006

stuff....or stuffed?

the original title for this blog was stuff (because it's basically a ramble about whatever comes to mind), but considering the amount of hot cross buns and easter eggs I've consumed over the weekend, stuffed is probably more apt. :) I don't know what it is about easter buns, but not even raisin bread can compare with the taste. I love them, especially when smothered in melted butter--the thicker the better!

The diet, as you may have gathered, has gone out the window...and I still have a ton of easter chocolate to consume. I'd actually love to throw it out, but the chocoholic in me just can't waste good chocolate like that. (yep, I'm weak). I guess it means the dogs are going to be taken for a longer walk for the next few days!

Writing wise, well, there hasn't been a whole lot of that happening. I did another read through of the 150 pages of Destiny Kills written so far, and I'm still liking what's there, so that's a good start. I'm still not entirely sure whether this is going to be a two part story or a three part, because despite the fact that I'm 150 pages in, I don't know where the end of this will be. I know what Destiny has to achieve, but can she achieve it in this book? At this particular moment in time, that's the million dollar question. I actually don't want to write more than two books--I don't really want this to be a series, though I wouldn't mind eventually writing more books in this world. But I've also got another book idea brewing in the back of my mind--something that's little more than a first sentence at the moment--and will undoubtedly want to write that once it's fermented. And really, one continuing series is more than enough. For me, anyway. I like visiting other places and other characters, and I think getting stuck writing in one or two worlds only would be detrimental to those worlds.

Anyway, we have a lulu meeting on today, and I'm taking the first chapter of the 5th Riley. The start of this one is a whole lot slower than the previous four, and I just want to be sure it still hooks the reader enough. Slow starting books always worry me--which is why my first chapters tend to be action laden. It'll be interesting to see what the gals think of it--hopefully, I won't have to prod them awake as they snore their way through the chapter.... :D

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter!

Hope everyone has a safe easter, filled with family, friends and good times...and most importantly, fine chocolate!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

comments on stuff....

got an email from myself today. Apparently, I'm now selling the sex drug, Cialis. God, it's annoying enough getting those damn emails that sell everything from sex drugs to porn sites to penis enlargements, but when the bastards start using peoples real emails to mask their own, it's even worse. I wish there was something we could do to stop these idiots! But we can't, so in the meantime, if you happen to get a wierd email from my kez@keriarthur address selling sex drugs or the like, please remember it's not from me. And if anyone knows how to stop the idiots from using my email to mask their own, I'd appreciate the info.

Amazon--most authors won't admit to checking their amazon rankings or reading the reviews there, but most of us do it. For many, it's the only way we have of telling if the book is actually selling (royalty statements only come around twice a year, so sometimes there's a huge wait before you know.) So, we check Amazon, and get all excited when the numbers zoom down for a day or so, because it means we've sold a book (yep, one book sale can dramatically effect amazon's rankings.) I also like reading the reviews, whether they're good or bad. Nice reviews are always a good ego boost (and who doesn't like a pat on the back occassionally?), but it's also interesting to discover what people didn't like about the books. As I've said in past blogs, I realise not everyone is going to like what I write, and I have no problems with reviews that are less than complimentary. Hell, in the cheffing trade, if people only throw insults, then it's been a damn good day. But one of the recent reviews on amazon did surprise me enough that I'd thought I'd comment on it. And no, I'm not dissing the reviewer or the review. I think knowing what people don't like is just as important as knowing what they do. Writers have a duty-of-care to their readers, and part of that duty involves acknowledging concerns. Anyway, this particular review compared FMR to my very first book, Dancing with the Devil. The reviewer said that, sex aside, the FMR plot was basically the same as Dancing with the Devil, and that she could see it ending exactly the same, despite the different hoops the characters were going through. It was a comment that totally surprised me, because I can't see any similarities. But then, I guess my vision is colored by the fact that I've now written four books in this series, and I'm onto my fifth. To me, the Nikki and Michael series was a paranormal romance series while FMR and its sequels are dark urban fantasy--and the expected conventions of one does not flow over into the other. And those romance conventions certainly aren't followed in FMR. It's a good example of readers seeing something the writer doesn't--and it's also a gentle prod for me as a writer to remember those past books and ensure that future ones are totally different. And, more importantly, that they take readers along different paths and to totally unexpected places. I believe the FMR series does--but I guess those who read the future books will be the judge of that.

Anyway, while I'm on the subject of amazon, I just thought I'd say thank you to everyone who's taken the time to write a review for either amazon or someplace else. Whether your review was good or bad, your time and comments are still appreciated by this writer.

Writing news--well, after another day battling a muse that wanted to fluff about, I ended up getting another five pages done. I'm currently sitting at 146 pages completed, and ideally, I'd love to hit the 200 mark by the time I head over to RT in May. It's a totally achievable goal if my muse stops its fluffing and starts getting serious. Story wise, the characters are still flirting with the idea of having their first love scene. They're randy little buggers, these two, so who knows what will happen next. I know how I want the scene to end, but it appears the characters have other ideas. Ah, the joys of being a seat-of-the-pants writer! :D

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

if you're game enough to look....

there's a pic of me over on the Rosemary's Romance Books website (in the 2006 photos section). Rosemary hosted my first ever book signing in March this year, and this pic was taken on the day. The short round one wearing jeans, a brown top and absolutely no make-up is me :)

Writing news....well, there's not a lot. Spent a lot of yesterday fluffing around, generally doing all I could to avoid writing. The muse gets like that, sometimes--especially when she's dithering on where to take a scene. But I eventually got stern with myself, and come mid-afternoon, forced myself to sit down and write. I ended up doing four pages, and probably would have done more if I hadn't actually left it so late to get started. The scene didn't eventuate in a love scene, but Destiny and Trae (heroine and hero of the loch ness book) did have their first kiss, so that was all cool. I'm just about to throw more shite their way, though, so the muse is raring to go again. Hopefully, I'll get a few more pages done today :)

Monday, April 10, 2006

modesty blaise...

anyone who's been to my website knows I adore the modesty blaise series. Modesty Blaise (along with Honour Blackman and Emma Peel from the Avengers) were the true and original kick arse heroines. Modesty was always more interesting to me as a character, because she had a dark upbringing, ran a powerful crime organisation and has a loving relationship with a man she has never slept with and who calls her princess (who doesn't love willie garvin? sigh...) She also has sexual relationships with a number of men at the same time, which, even though it was the swinging sixties when the original comic strips and books came out, was still a somewhat frowned upon concept. (well, for a female. James Bond doesn't count!) But as much as I always thought these books would make great movies, its never happened. There was a French version that sucked lemons (it was a farce, and had modesty and willie sleep together! Obviously, those people had never read the books.) There was also apparently another version done that never made it to Australia, and from the sound of it, that's a good thing. So, when we found a straight-to-video, 2003 version called My Name is Modesty over the weekend, it was with some trepidation we picked it up and took it home. And the trepidation didn't ease any when I did an internet search on the movie, and discovered Miramax only made the movie in 2003 because it's rights were running out and if it didn't use them, they'd lose them. So, Modesty was produced on a shoestring and made in two weeks. And you know what? It's a surprisingly good movie considering all that. Not a whole lot happens action wise--this is more a prequel that sets up Modesty's history and how she became head of the crime organistion--but it's extremely faithful to the books, and if you've never read them, this might be a good place to start. The woman who played Modesty sounded the part, and she certainly had the exotic looks, but she was far, far to skinny and had no muscle (flabby arms on a woman who basically had to fight to survive her entire life? I don't think so.) The production values are okay (think TV movie) and the little bit of action there is isn't too flash, but hey, I've seen worse. And it at least gave me hope that when a 'real' movie is done, it might actually be done properly. But the best bit was the included interview with Peter O'Donnel--I had no idea he was still alive, and it was facinating to hear him speak about Modesty and her history. Now all I have to do is hope Quentin Tarantino (a long time fan of Modesty blaise) stops 'introducing' movies and actually gets off his butt and makes one! (he's been saying for years he wants to--well, stop talking and start doing!)

Onto some writing news--I actually had a good day of writing on Friday. I didn't do much in the morning, and it was something of a struggle to make myself sit down in the afternoon. The first few pages were tough, and I really didn't think I'd make five pages. But after the third, the writing started flowing a little easier, and I ended up writing 11 pages for the day. With which I was very happy. I'm just about to write either a love scene, or an almost love scene--not sure which yet. Which is probably why I didn't actually write anything yesterday. I'm still not sure which is the best way to go--to do it, or not to do it, that is the question ;)

I guess we'll sit what happens when I sit down to write today!

edited to add-- speaking of my favourite authors...just read publishers lunch, and Dick Francis has a new one coming out! woohoo! imagine me grinning like a fool here. I love, love, love his stuff. It'll be his first in six years, and is slated for publication in September 2006. The title is Under Orders. Can't wait to get my hot little hands on it!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

SEX...and writing redux

Most of this was actually the second part of yesterday’s post, but I rambled on a fair bit and thought I’d better spilt it. This one is mainly about writing to markets…

The only time I’ve ever actually written a novel with the market in mind is when I first joined MRWG. I was a total newbie—I knew absolutely nothing. My plotting was okay (in as much as my plots made sense, because I didn’t plot any more back then than I do now), but I did all those things nasty things like use passive tense, break all the grammar rules (mainly because I didn’t have a whole lot of understanding of them), head-hop, over explained, under described, etc. Basically, I was no where near readable, let alone publishable. I might have been writing all my life (well, at least since I was 12), and my stories might have contained great ideas, but I was writing for my own pleasure and had spent no time learning the craft. No one, least of all me, thought I’d ever truly make a living out of it. Hell, my dad used to call it ‘my little hobby’. It was only when I had Kasey, and retired from work the first time, that I actually got serious about trying to get published. It was around that time that I joined MRWG. Up until then, I’d spent most of my life writing fantasy romances and edgy paranormals (though the genre didn’t really exist back then, let alone have a name). After grossing everyone out at MRWG with my ‘not-so-romancy’ novels, they gradually made me realize that there just wasn’t a market for my sort of novel. And there wasn’t. Paranormals blooming as a genre publishers took seriously was still a good ten years away. So, I started writing romances. Straight romances, because that’s what the market required. Unfortunately, my muse isn’t exactly ‘straight’ and no matter how hard I tried, someone was always getting killed, splattered, kidnapped or whatever. And usually by something dark and dangerous. I did manage to curb my rebellious muse and write a few ‘straight’ stories, but my heart wasn’t in it and that came through in the writing.

And that’s the point I’m trying to make here. If you’re writing something you’re not comfortable with, something you don’t know or don’t like, then it’s going to show. I’m not a huge fan of ‘straight’ romances—I tend to like my romance with large dashes of action, murder or humor. So in following the market trend, and trying to write what I didn’t read and didn’t really like was stupid, because not only was I unhappy about writing it, but what would have happened if I’d actually been good enough to get published in that genre? I would have been stuck writing something that wasn’t me, wasn’t what I wanted to write long term.

And that’s something all new writers should think about—the future. If you write to the market, are you going to be happy writing in that market year in, year out, five, ten, fifteen years from now? Yeah, sure, break outs happen, and some writers can and do write in two or more genres, but the fact is, most don’t. Most writers stay with the field they were published in—mainly because it’s almost as hard to switch genres as it is to get published.

When I was writing Full Moon Rising, I didn’t actually set out to write a hot book. At the time I was writing FMR, erotica wasn’t really ‘in vogue’. It was getting noticed, picking up more and more readers, but it really wasn’t the market force it is at the moment. I was just writing a story about a dhampire, and the sexiness crept in. After all, in Riley’s world werewolves come ‘in heat’ every month, so sex was always going to be a part of the story. Just how much a part I had no idea until the story started unfolding. And it did present some problems once I’d finished. I shopped it around, got rejections from publishers and agents alike, and even gave up on it a few times. But I could never let it go entirely, because I believed Riley’s story was a good one. So, I sent it off to another round of agents, and this time got a good response from one. She gave me lots of good advice, helped me tighten the story, but, in the end, decided that she just couldn’t represent me because she just didn’t know where to place a story as different as Riley’s. And then I found Miriam (still can’t believe that stroke of good fortune!) and by that time, the trend that had only just been developing when I started Riley had become a force and Riley finally found a great home with Bantam.

But I didn’t write to the market or even a perceived future market—though I was certainly aware of the increasing popularity of sensual/erotic books. I wrote because that’s what I wanted to write, because that’s where the muse led me. And I was lucky.

Writers should always be aware of what the market is doing. Writing is a business, and all good business people know what the current trends are. But writing solely to the market and what’s happening now simply isn’t a good idea, because that’s just setting yourself up for failure. Remember, by the time you write your book, submit it, and the publisher publishes it, a good two or three years could have passed. (on average, accepted books appear on the shelf a year or so after being contracted.) So by the time you finish writing your book, the wheel could have turned and that trend could have come and gone.

Which is why, as I said yesterday, writing a darn good book in the first place is so vital.

Friday, April 07, 2006

SEX...and writing

If you’re a published writer, then you’re not only going to get fan mail (which every writer adores getting, btw :D ), but you’re also going to get emails from unpublished writers asking questions about markets, writing, and all sorts of other stuff. I have no problem with this—indeed, I can all too easily remember what it was like trying to find information and get help in the time before I found MRWG, RWAustralia, and my crit group, the Lulu’s. Writing is an inherently lonely job—basically, in the end, there’s just you and that empty computer page—but when you’re just starting out with a head full of ideas and enthusiasm, but absolutely no idea about the market and the rules, it can be quite scary. Especially when you just don’t know where to turn for help. It all became a whole lot easier for me when I found somewhere where I could learn information and ask my questions—who knows what would have happened to me as a writer if I hadn’t found RWAustralia and MRWG?

So, I always try and answer questions people ask me. Or at least, provide ideas about where they can go for help. But one of the questions I’ve been asked a lot lately is….is sex a requirement in all paranormal/ dark urban fantasy novels? Is there a place for a books without sex?

The easy answer is, yeah, of course there is The market is a huge place, and there’s plenty of room for a well told story, whether or not it has sex in it. Moon Called, by Patricia Briggs, proves that (great book, if you haven’t read it.). Sex and erotica is ‘hot’ in the market place right now, and just about publisher imaginable is after sexy stories—particularly hot, sexy paranormal or urban fantasy stories—but that doesn’t mean there’s no room left for a great story that has little sex, or no sex at all.

Thing is, the one thing all publishers want, above everything else, is a great story. They want a story that grabs them—and the readers—by the throat, and doesn’t let go. They want a story that they can’t stop reading, and even when they get to the end, leaves them hungry for more. Not necessarily more of the same story, but another story just like that, by you.

If you write a great story, with characters the readers care about, it won’t matter whether there’s sex in it or not.

So, that’s my advise to all those asking about writing sex in their novels—don’t do it unless you comfortable with it or the characters and the story demand it. There’s room for all sorts of stories out there—the only real requirement is a damn good read.

Monday, April 03, 2006

lunch time....

Today was the by-monthly lunch get together of the melbourne mob--a talented group of melbourne ladies who come from all ends of the writing spectrum--so much food, gossip and just a little wine was consumed. Which of course means, no writing. Can't feel sad about that tho when my belly is so very happily filled with delish desserts :)

I did sit down and write Sunday though--got 8 pages done in all, which is a pretty good effort considering I also watched two movies and chatted for several hours with Robyn (a fellow lulu and all round good egg :) Destiny's story is starting to pull together a little more--her background is forming in my mind, and I now know why she's doing what she's doing. (can't say anything else without walking into spoiler territory). I'm still not entirely sure what the hero's story is yet--but at this stage, his story is going to be a second book, so I'm not overly worried about it at the moment. I'm curently in the midst of doing the final edits of the fourth Riley book, so that'll take most of tomorrow. Hopefully, I can get back to Destiny and the fifth Riley once Wednesday rolls around :)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

got distracted by shopping...

I am a shopaholic in the making. Truly. I love shopping. I don't usually spend a whole lot of money (haven't got it to spend, most times). I just love wondering around all the stores, checking out things I'd like to buy and things I can't afford. I especially love going into those 'high-class high-price stores' that sells things nanna used to wear (or stuff even nanna wouldn't be caught dead in) for several thousand dollars. Such fun (okay, I'm warped. I admit it ;)

Which means, as you may have gathered, not a lot of writing has been done. I went out shopping Wednesday and Thursday (and got two lovely pairs of shoes to wear to RT... :D) and most of Friday I spent doing some critting I was behind on. I did manage to get three pages of Loch Ness done, so that was at least something. I'm currently sitting at 117 pages of Destiny's story completed, and I'm planning to write some more on Sunday, just to see if I can catch up a little. Next week won't be real good writing wise, as I have to do a final edit of Dangerous Games (the fourth Riley book) before I hand that in.

anyway, hope you all have fun weekend! I plan to :)