Friday, December 22, 2006

Reading as a Writer - A Christmas Carol

Okay, I just had the weirdest experience. I LOVE the Charles Dicken's tale, A Christmas Carol.

To elucidate.... I'm one of those really geeky people who can do comparative analysis about the movie versions based on who starred as Scrooge. There's the Reginald Owen version (1938), the Albert Finney musical version (Scrooge -1970), the definitive Alastair Sims version (1951), etc.

Every so often I return to the book to READ it. This time, I received a visitation from the Ghost of Critique Writers. The ghost who is normally invisible except when you pick up an old favorite to read and he whispers in your ear about how someone could have written something better. Now this is Charles Dickens I'm reading. Right? Widely famed in song and story.

So I curl up to enjoy a good book but as I'm reading through chapter one, I think, "Damn Chuck, what voice is this?" I think it was third person omniscient, but I'm not completely sure. Took me right out of the story. Well, crap.

I push past the Ghost (who is giggling by the way) and keep reading. Well, Dickens digresses maundering about in Scrooge's mind. Okay, keep going. Then I get to a couple of beautifully written paragraphs about the London fog. Though they help to set the tone, these paragraphs in no way advance the story. What are they doing there? Dickens wrote for Londoners. They already knew what the fog was like....

I stopped reading. The Ghost was laughing maniacally by now. I am cursed. Doomed to forever read Dickens like a modern writer. Sigh. I guess I'll just stick to the movies from now on...

Merry Christmas, gov'nor. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Midwestern nice can derail your pitch…

My muse has returned from Tahiti, or the NASCAR race where he was hanging out, and damn he’s horny again, thank god! That’s the good news.

I’ve been working on my story, a query letter, and a synopsis while I get more nervous by the minute. I’m almost ready to pitch my story and I’m scared spitless. I could say something else, but I was trying to be polite. I’ve gotten some wonderful feedback from various critique partners, so I think the story will be ready to go when I am.

Now granted, being this close to pitching something isn’t bad news, but being scared sure is. I’ve never been good at selling myself. I’m one of those people who receives a compliment and says thank you, but…. Maybe it’s the midwestern nice in me.

Midwestern nice? What the hell is that, you ask? I’m sure people in other parts of the country do the self-deprecating thing, but it is dangerously prevalent in the midwest. You always have to defer your good acts, cool thoughts, etc. onto other people.

“Yes, I did think of (whatever cool thing you thought of), but I was inspired by Barney Rubble (or whoever), who was instrumental in making it work.”

Instead of grabbing your own limelight and standing smack in the middle of the warm glow, you tug other people in to share the limelight with you until you get lost in the crowd.
I need to get over it. I’m the first one to step up and say, yeah I screwed up and take the hit myself. But when I should be out there selling my own idea or basking in my own glory, I’m trying to duck and cover like a nuclear explosion would occur if I had the temerity to accept a compliment gracefully.

It’s time to learn to toot my own horn, or whatever other cliche applies.

Like Stuart Smalley used to say on Saturday Night Live,

“I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.”

Okay, it wasn’t my idea, but I like the sentiment.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I went flying!

I’m so excited I just had to share with everyone. I went flying on Saturday, November 25, 2006. Mark it on your calendar! No, I don’t mean I got high - like the Harry Chapin song.
I got in a small aircraft (a piper) and went 2500 feet into the air accompanied by a trained pilot. It was the COOLEST thing! I got to taxi around the runway, handle the yoke and rudder during take off, and fly the plane while we were airborne! I love flying! When I scrape the cash together, I’m planning to take lessons.

I can hear you out there - okay we’re happy for you, Cesca, you went flying. What the heck does this have to do with writing? Ah, my friends, much. I can now have a character take flying lessons, or pilot an aircraft. When I write a scene about flying, my writing will have the authenticity of having done it.

Doing some activity or skill you plan to have your characters do helps you get in touch with them more deeply. By flying, I can share the excitement of the first flight with readers through my character. The moment when you leave the ground in a small craft is so totally different then in the commercial craft. You can feel it more and it’s so much more immediate. After all, it’s just you and the plane-and the instructor. I let him land. Hey, my mama didn’t raise no dummies.

My flight instructor said he’s been flying for several years now and it never gets old. He still loves it. That’s knowledge I can use. Also, I now know someone who might be willing to let me pick his brain about an aviation business if I want my characters to be part of one. The knowledge I gained by flying isn’t just what I’ve read or seen on TV. I’ve experienced it and damn its cool!

I’ll keep you posted about my flights. You’ll definitely hear when I get to solo for the first time.

Hot damn, what a ride!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What’s “The Secret”?

I went to a friend’s house last night and a group of us watched a video called “The Secret.” I admit I was pretty skeptical cause it seemed gimicky but I was willing to let it in and see if it spoke to me. It was way cool. So what’s the secret? It’s an informational video about the law of attraction. There wasn’t anything we haven’t heard in a variety of ways, but it was put together in a very smooth cohesive way which presented things that made me think. Thoughts have power. You are what you think. You draw to you what you think and feel.

So how is this about writing? Lately, I’ve been saying to people. (Hell, to anyone that will listen…) I can’t write this one scene - it just won’t come. Pun intended. (See previous post). Talk about bad vibes. I’ve been thinking about how I can’t write some scene, and guess what kids…I can’t write that scene. Viewing the video made me think about all the blessings I have in my life and how many of them just flowed to me. Powerful happy things came to me when I was happy. Do I need to get a clue-by-four? I guess so and watching the video last night was a ringing clue-by-four.

So I’m making a New Year’s resolution in November. I’m going to think creatively. I can write easily and creatively. Words and ideas flow. Story ideas come to me. I finish what I write. Love scenes are a pleasure to write. People enjoy reading my work. Agents and publishers like my writing…

You get the idea. I’m putting it out there and I’m going to try to think about it every day. If I believe it, others will too. Seems simplistic - or so my intellectual side says. My feeling side is telling my intellectual side to take a visit to Tahiti with my Muse, so I guess I will.

Do you have to agree with me? Nope. Go your own way. But if you want to learn more visit The choice is yours.

Funny… The video said that too. Hey… It’s working!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Seducing my muse

My muse has gone on vacation to warmer climes than Iowa and I’d like to smack him! I need him desperately but he’d rather go snorkeling in Tahiti or surfing in Hawaii. Selfish man! The worst part is he didn’t take me with him! :pout:

Have you ever had a scene that just won’t come? The pun isn’t necessarily intended but it works here because I’m stuck on a love scene. In an erotic romance a love scene includes sex. I can write my characters cooing at one another, but I can’t seem to write them getting down and dirty together, damn it! I open the file and edit everything BUT the scene I need to write. Oh yeah, I could tell myself “write something, even if it’s crap.” I just hating writing crap. So what do I do?

Lately I’ve been giving my muse a come hither look, but the bastard is cheering a football game or watching NASCAR. The next time he is flirting with me, I’m half tempted to get him all riled up and leave him begging but that would just screw ME up, not him. Muses are perverse by nature, but does he have to be THIS difficult?

As soon as I see him again, which better be very soon, I’m going to tie him up and…. Hmmmmm I think he’s back. I’ll let you know how long I made him beg for mercy later.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Is that a pen in my back or are you just critiquing me?

As a writer I want to improve my work, really. But occasionally when I receive a crit of my stuff from a fellow writer I want to screech and throw a temper tantrum reminiscent of a two year old. Why IS that?

I’ve only rarely had a critique from someone that was downright mean-spirited, and yet I still feel like doing someone an injury sometimes.

To all the writers who’ve critted before… (do a Willie and Julio visual for me here)
  1. Okay… if I put a date in there… PLEASE for my sanity if not your own health…make a note of it.
  2. If you talk about my characters and use their names, please spell them correctly.
  3. If you correct my grammar or spelling, be right. Don’t guess. If it looks wrong but you don’t have a dictionary handy - then just put a comment in.
  4. If you have questions about the story - include them. If it confuses you, I need to know. I promise I won’t inflict bodily harm on you. Well, not too much.
  5. Do not tell me my story is boring. Tell me WHY my story is boring. Is the pacing slow? How do I fix it? Help me out here!
  6. Hell, I’m know I’m the original “that” girl. Nope - not the Marlo Thomas one. The other one. ”Fred jumped through a hoop that was swirling madly that bounced against a tree that flew threw the air….” You get the idea. I’m not quite that bad (there’s the word again) but almost…at least in first drafts. I apologize already - just make a note and move on.
  7. Give me some balance in your comments. Pretty please with sugar on it? Like “This works for me, but that doesn’t.” Damn it. I said that again. :sigh: Writing a rough draft sucks.

Yes, I know, I’m whining. At least someone is WILLING to read my stuff in really rough form. I am grateful for every critique given in a kind spirit, but please remember, you are carving on something I just gave birth to - metaphorically. If a Rabbi said ‘oops’ during a bris, I can guarantee you the parents would get a tiny bit testy. Okay?

Thank you. I return you to your reading….

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Why don’t men read romances?

In the deep dark corners of the night I ponder weird things. This is one of them. Why don’t men read romances? It isn’t that they don’t like happy endings. After all, every mystery, thriller, adventure, etc has a happy ending appropriate to its genre, and genre fiction by its very nature is formulaic.

The hero faces down evil, has many adventures (sometimes boffing a hot chick in the process), and triumphs over all. He nails the bad guy and status quo is returned. Happy ending….
So it isn’t that. Maybe if men KNEW that many modern romances don’t end with just a kiss, we could convince them to give romance a shot. I mean, I write some explicit stuff and I know many other authors who do too. Hmmmm.

If men just realized that picking up AND READING every discarded romance their wife, girlfriend or significant other read would reveal the incomprehensible to their minds - Women - they might give it a go. What do you think? Men find us mysterious and hard to fathom, but we aren’t any deeper than they are, not really.

GUYS! Romances are women’s sexual fantasies. Get a clue here. If you read what she’s reading, you’d know what turns her on.

Okay, yeah, I don’t want to REALLY get bitten by a vampire, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like playing vampire and the reluctant virgin sometimes.

Actually, more often than just sometimes. ;-)

Friday, November 3, 2006

Never apologize for your reading- or writing - tastes.

In the first edition of Genreflecting, Betty Rosenberg told readers, and especially librarians, NEVER to apologize for their reading preferences. I think it was a revolutionary idea back then, and it still is now.

How many times have you been reading a romance in public and hidden the cover because you were afraid people would look down on you for reading it? I’ve been there as a reader, it was like my dirty little secret. But how much more so does it affect you if you are the writer? I’ve felt the need to apologize or dismiss my own work…. Oh I write romances… Um… yes, they are kind of hot….

NO MORE! I’m proud of it! I write romances, damn it. And not only that…I write EROTIC ROMANCES! The hot steamy kind that require pot holders to handle.

Wooo Hoooo!

Okay, I admit, I’ll have to work on remembering my pride 24/7 but I want to own it and we all have to start somewhere. As a reader I loved reading the erotic romances, I just didn’t want everyone staring at my book’s cover art featuring Fabio’s slick, muscled chest. But talk about contrary, I was one of those readers that WANTED the stepback covers so my hot hunky Fabio was still available to drool over. I just didn’t want to share him with the businessman stuck beside me in coach.

What does this have to do with Betty and librarians? When I’m not writing erotic romances, I’m a librarian. Really, I am! And…Nope. No bun and I rarely shush people, but I do wear glasses. I love being a librarian, yet I’ve known librarians who called romances trash. Now I admit, the ones I’ve heard use the word “trash” were men, but I’ve met female librarians that crinkle their nose about romances. It pisses me off.

Romance is a multi-billion dollar business but I’ve known people who would only add romances to a collection when they received a specific request and did it only reluctantly - like pulling teeth. Romances would circ (check in/out) like mad if they were kept current and weeded well. I honestly think if librarians broke Romance out of the collection the way they do mystery and SF/Fantasy and really BUILT a romance collection circulation would go way WAY up. Oh well, when I win the Powerball and have a few hundred million to throw at the problem, I’ll open my own library with Romances FRONT AND CENTER.

For now, I’ll work on not apologizing for what I read OR WRITE!

Hi, my name is Francesca.

Hi, Francesca.

I’m an erotic romance writer, and I’m damn proud of it!

More about Betty Rosenberg here:

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hello World

Welcome to my new blog. I’m just getting started here so my commentary could be a bit sporadic. I recently joined RWA (Romance Writers of America) and I had a birthday on October 20th. It was a nice quiet day and I went shopping. It was a nice birthday present to me! I’m still working on Crime of Passion, but I’ve got many ideas for additional stories in my shapeshifter world. Please post here and let me know if you enjoyed Alpha v.Alpha from the anthology, Paranaughty.