Chasing Inspiration

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

All I Want For Christmas

I have some very persuasive friends. They have been going on and on about a new series about vampires that I just had to read. The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward. I held out for a long time because I didn't want to start another series about vamps. So over done, right? Um, no, Not if the way this author has written these books are any indication. In a word, wow.

I picked up the first three books in the series late last week. And while visions of sugarplums should have been dancing through my head, I found myself settling in with some very totured, very hot vampire warriors, their highly destructive yet incredibly loyal human friend and some incredibly strong women. Not to mention so slick & sick evil guys. Yowza! And the high body count. Always a plus. *evil grin*

Wrath's book, Dark Lover, was a great set up to the series. I loved this story and the dark world into which I found myself being drawn. All the brothers are amazing. But even in that first story, I found myself drawn to the brother who stood toward the outside of the circle, the brother who was a little off, a lot twisted and oh so lost. I'm a sucker for the lost ones.

With Wrath's story finished, my heart bleeding for poor Darius and for Zsadist, I quickly grabbed Lover Eternal from my pile of books. Rhage is not my favorite brother, but as I became entranced with his story, he showed himself worthy. The book had so many layers - the lessers (souless vampire hunters) and their power struggles and ambitions, the orphaned and mute pre-transition vampire John, the aristocratic and fearless vampiress Bella, Zsadist, his twin Phury and all the other brothers.

I love how the story was about Mary as much as it was about Rhage and that with every dark turn there was a glimmer of hope. I also loved how the book didn't just center around this couple, but showed others in the Brotherhood, so when Bella stepped into the house for the party I was sunk. Just as I knew Zsadist was sunk.

And Phury. Don't get me started on that. Man, I almost teared up. Almost.

Then, on the heels of the cliff hanger ending, I picked up Lover Awakened and tossed it in my purse as we went to a family Christmas Eve gathering. I found a quiet corner and settled in. For here was the story I knew was going to break my heart. Wrath and Rhage and Darius and John were all tugging at it, twisting it just a little before doing something to make me smile. But Zsadist was going to break it, I could tell.

And I was right. Seeing Zsadist in Bella's house all alone after clearing up the mess the invaders made, having Butch tell him he wasn't wanted, my heart cracked. Then with the first flashback, I nearly died. The pain was unbearable. And through out the book I wept for Zsadist, for the young man he once was, for the hope and the future that should have been his and for the warrior he is now.

He totally broke my heart in a way few fictional characters have been able to. I mean sobbing, aching in my chest, howling to the moon broken.

I finished Lover Awakened yesterday and my heart is still heavy. I know Zsadist will have his happily ever after, but I also know there is so much left to heal. I ache for him. I also ache for John & for Tohrment. God, do I ache for them. And Phury. My favorite line in the book is John to Phury where John tells him he's worried about him because he's in a prison with no bars. *gulp*

JR Ward truly knows her writing. I've spent the better part of the morning reading her tidbits on the bb and she appears so very passionate about these characters and their world. It shows in her stories and in how she interact with her growing horde of fans.

And dammit, she made me cry!

If you're looking for something different, though not something for the weak of heart, I highly recommend this series. The next book, Lover Revealed, will be coming out in March I believe. Sigh, yet one more series where I have to wait with baited breath efor the next book. However shall I fill my days? Um, by working on my own darned book!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Et Tu, Nano?

Well, it's November 30th and I went through my word count for the month and came up with a whopping 13,000 words. And that's including what I've hand written

At first blush, I'm disappointed. I knew I wasn't going to make my 50,000 word goal, but I thought I would at least break 20,000. Nope. Didn't even break 15,000.

I stopped and read through what I had written. It's pretty good stuff, if I do say so myself. I've learned through this that I can write without an outline and I can get a lot done in a short amount of time. Not only that, but what I write, when I go from the gut, can be quite good.

I also realized that this month was heavy with things that took my focus away from writing. I didn't handle that as I had hoped I could handle it, but I think I've learned that sometimes life is going to get in the way. And it's okay. The key is to pick up the pieces quickly after and to keep moving foward.

I've also learned that it's easy to get out of a habit, but that once I'm in a daily writing habit, I don't spend as much time trying to find the story again when I finally do sit down to write. I know, it's a "Duh" moment, but sometimes it takes me a little while to get the hang of things. And even though I've learned this lesson, that doesn't mean I'm going to live it. I'm rather, um, bad that way, lol.

I guess, all in all NANO was a good experience. I didn't reach my goal. But I learned things I don't think I would have learned if I had been successful with my goal. Isn't that what life is about? How you live the journey, not necessarily where you end up? No? Well, it sounds good anyway.

Monday, November 13, 2006

And So It Goes...

I had all these plans of writing this weekend. I carved out time. I made sure the house was clean (well, relatively clean). I even had a few crock pot meals going so I didn't have to spend much time cooking dinner.

Then I remembered I had an all day engagement on Saturday. I was presenting a training at church for the children's ministry volunteers. Okay, so I needed to spend some time prepping for that and would be training all day. There were two videos in the training. I could write during those and over lunch. No problem.

Except I hadn't copied enough handouts for the morning session so had to use my "writing" time to make and organize copies. I still had lunch, right? Um, not really. Just as I had pulled out my AlphaSmart, my phone rang. So-and-So couldn't make it to the afternoon session, would I hold another session? Yes, I would be holding future sessions, but not until after Christmas. Let me take your name and put you on my list of people to connect with in the new year.

My tummy started growling so I left, picked up some hideous fast food and came back. I still had 30 minutes. I could get a couple of pages written in 30 minutes. Except someone stopped in and wanted to know how the training was going and was I going to hold future sessions. Being the nice and accommodating person that I am, I chatted for a bit, let my hideous fast food become vile by getting cold and took something for the headache that was brewing behind my eyes.

The next time I checked the clock, it was time to get the space ready for my afternoon session. There went my writing time. By the time I went home, I was exhausted. Don't get me wrong, I love training! And coaching. And having intellectual dialogues in general. But I have this goal to finish a rough draft of my current book by the end of November and something always seems to get in the way of that goal. Good things, but they get in the way nonetheless.

I just did my word count and I'm at 6500 words. Okay, that's more than I was at this time last week, but I'm still in the first third of the story.

I know, I know. Quit whining, Naomi! If this goal means so much to me, I need to find a way to make it happen. I know that life is not going to stand still while I work on my Great American Novel, so maybe I need to adjust my goal. Maybe my goal is not to have the book finished but to spend 30 minutes a day working on moving this draft forward. Can I do 30 minutes a day? Most days, yes. I write this and I feel some of the tension releasing inside me. Goals sometimes have to change. Or timelines adjust. And that's okay. It doesn't mean I have to give up on the goal or dream. Which is what I usually do.

So that's my learning moment for the day. Nano, you have not beaten me!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

NaNo - Week 2

NaNo writers all over the world have started week two of the challenge. According to the website, if you are on track, one should have 14,000 to 17,500 words written by now. The theory is ramping up when the energy is high to make up for potential loss of momentum as the month progresses.

Here is my current word count - 5500.

Yup, you read it. I'm way below the halfway point if I had been following the advice of the NaNo gods.

Am I worried. No, not really. My word count is not my primary concern this month. My goal was/is to write every day. And to not go back and edit. The ultimate goal is to have a skeleton draft finished that I can then finesse into a solid and compelling novel.

Still, seeing those numbers gives me a little angst. I am a wee bit competetive, after all. I guess I need to let that go and concentrate on moving forward at my pace. It isn't a race. And it isn't about comparing my success with someone else's. It's about me doing the best I can do in this moment.

Sometimes I scare myself with my insightfulness. *grin*

I have added a couple of new links to my blog. My friend Rayna Vause has a website dedicated to her writing. She is not published, but I have hopes that she will be. She's very active in her RWA chapter and she has a wonderful writing voice. Check her out!

Publishing industry insider and research Dee Power, co-author of the book "The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories From Authors and the Editors, Agents and Booksellers Behind Them" has a very insightful blog on the publishing industry.Check her out as well. I haven't read her book but have added it to my list at the library.

Other than that, I have decided to embark on a low carb diet, exercise more and clean my house in that way that is often reserved for the dreaded spring cleaning. Never mind that it's November and I hate exercise and have become a lazy couch potato. And have so many other commitments that it makes my head spin. Apparently, I either don't know how to say no or I'm using these things to avoid something. Gee, I wonder what I could be avoiding? Oh, perhaps this book I'm writing? And the family angst that's hanging like a cloud over us? Nah, couldn't be that.

Okay, kids. It's back to work for me. And not the writing kind. I still have that pesky day job. Well, at least it pays the bills. *grin*

Stay well and be blessed!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

NaNoWriMo - AKA My Voluntary Hell

I decided that for the current wip I was going to use NaNoWriMo as a means of jump starting the story. You know, get out of my head and get it on paper. Um, okay. Sure.

It's been a week. I have written a total of 20 pages or roughly 5000 words. The goal of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Which is basically a nice rough draft. One could jump up and down and say - you're a quarter of the way there, Naomi. Good for you!

And I would jump up and down, except my life has taken this lovely turn. My step-father in law is dying. My cheque book is a mess. Work is becoming busier not falling into the normal November/December lull. Things at church are gaining momentum. And then there's the husband. All this stuff is taking time. Necessary time, but time away from writing. My fear is that I'm going to get to the end of November and only have these 5000 words to show for it.

I know that's my insecurity talking and if I only dedicated 30 minutes a day I could still whip out a couple of pages. Yes, I'm learning through this that I do have it in me to be a fast writer. I'm sure most of it is dreck, but I can go back an fix it when it's on paper, I hope.

Why am I doing this again? Oh right. I have this crazy dream of one day being a published author and then making a career out of writing. And how does one become a published author? One writes a solid, compelling book and somehow manages to get that book into the hands of an agent or an editor or both. But first, you have to write that story. And then keep writing compelling stories.

That's why I'm putting myself through the hell I call NaNoWriMo. And whether I have 5000 words or 100,000 words, I have moved closer to that goal. Keep reminding me that, okay? Thanks!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Vince Flynn!

I am so psyched for this new book. And for the signing that will come with it. Yes, I'm one of those fans. I wait anxiously for a book to come out and then I wait with even more anxiety for a listing of book tours so I can sit around in my favorite places (bookstores with cafes) and have the author sign my book. I love pumping authors with questions about how they developed the book, their writing techniques and habits, and anything else they can share with me about the insider scoop. Such is the life of the unpublished writer.

I love Vince Flynn. His writing is tight and his characters grow with each story that comes along. I'm two books behind this one right now. Vince hasn't been a hardcover autobuy yet but he just became one because I hate the new style of paperback S&S is coming out with for their "top" authors. You know the size, about as wide and deep as a regular mass market paperback but taller. And more expensive. Honestly, people, if you're going to go to the trouble to make the book a little taller, just make it a trade paperback and call it good.

Anyway, because I don't like the new size of paperback, I'm now looking desperately for hardcover copies of Memorial Day and Consent to Kill in addition to picking up this very new, very sleek looking hc of Acts of Treason. The husband is going to hate me, but I want what I want and since I read these books first, he has no say, now does he. Besides, with the coupons Barnes & Noble gives out, I can get AOT for about $4 more than those new ugly paperbacks.

Oh, and fyi, I'm listening to Mr. Flynn on a local radio station and his advice to upping sales - release your new book in the fall. This doesn't mean you'll top the best seller lists, but you'll sell more copies because you're close to the holidays. And books tend to get more exposure close to holidays. But don't go to fall too early in your career because everyone is vying for a fall spot. I'm not going to love this publishing/marketing thing when I finally do publish, am I? Ugh. Still, sage advice, thank you Vince.

I'm off to head to B&N for my copy. Darn, another perfectly good writing day shot to hell because of the lure of a good book. Oh well, what's a girl to do? *grin*

I Really Should Be Writing, but....

It's been one of those weeks. I should be writing. The story is really starting to take form and I really should stick with it before I lose it, like I normally do. But there are so many good books out and I'm not one for delayed gratification, lol! So, instead of writing as much as I had hoped, I read the following books instead:

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
I really, really, really love this series. I don't know what my fascination with vampires, wizards, faeries, etc., is but I'm sure glad I can pick up one of these books to get a nice fix. Jim has great storytelling skills and his characters are anything but flat. I learn much about the craft of genre fiction by reading Jim's books.

Morrigan's Cross and Dance of the Gods by Nora Roberts
These are my escape books of the month. Nora has a very interesting take on the vampire genre and I'm anxious to see how this trilogy will end. So far I love Larkin, the shapeshifting hottie from another realm. Cian is another hottie. He's the vamp in the trilogy. Basically, this series is about six people with strong convictions, bravery and special powers who have been called by the celtic goddess Morrigan to battle the vampire queen and save all the worlds from a terrible fate. Yeah, I know, the premise seems very mellow dramatic and the first book feels that way for the first half to two thirds, but as the first book really builds steam and flows into the second book, you start to believe these people could be real and their quest is important. So far, so good.

Juliet's Law by Ruth Wind

This is only the second Ruth Wind I've ever read and fortunately it's part of a trilogy. The first book to be exact. This is the journey of a woman who has been raped and how she finds herself again. The book takes place in Colorado and infuses a lot of Native American spiritual beliefs into the story line. It was a satisfying read and I look forward to the nest two books, as the series is about three sisters. It doesn't hurt that the hero appealed to my baser side- yum!

Norah's Ark by Judy Baer

This is my feel good inspirational read of the month. It's a cute story about a woman who followed her dream and opened a pet store. You learn that Norah is a caring woman who loves to fix things. But she can't fix the mix-ups that occur when she is sucked into the drama of her best friend's love life or when she realizes that the man she could fall in love with cannot stand her dog. While this book doesn't address deep spriritual issues, it does show how daily reliance on God and strong communcation and trust impact relationships. Truly a fun read.

There have been more books, but they obviously aren't as memorable to me at the moment. I have way too many books on the to-be-read pile, too many assignments for the paying job to complete, too much to do with renovations and too little time to get it all done and write my book. Such is my life. If I could harness the energies I have for online shopping and surfing for good instead of evil, maybe I could find my way. *grin*

Monday, September 25, 2006

Books I'm looking forward to

I mentioned in an earlier post that Monica Pradhan's debut fiction novel was going to be released in October 2006. I've had to do a few web searches, but Bantam Dell/Random House now has her book, The Hindi-Bindi Club listed on their site with a release date of May 1, 2007 as a trade paperback. And available for pre-order.

No website or marketing or any other information about Monica's (mo-Nee-ka) new book, so I'll
keep you posted. I've been looking forward to this book for a few years now, I guess I can wait a little longer. *grin*

Farrah Rochon's debut novel Deliver Me, which is due out in stores in March 2007, is another book I'm anxiously waiting for. Farrah sold this took to Dorchester this past July. I've read some of the draft of this story and I have to say it's excellent. Not that I'm biased or anything. Farrah also happens to be a great friend of mine. I'm so very proud of her!

I'm also learned that T. L. Hines has a new book coming out next summer. According to Hines, The Dead Whisper On is not as dark as Waking Lazarus, not that I found WL dark. I found it fascinating and refreshing for a book by a Christian author. No preaching, no ranting, no agendas. Just a good story that had some faith in the story but was overall very entertaining and made me ask myself some questions. I've also read that WL is in it's second printing. Go T. L.! We should all be so lucky.

Those are just a few books I'm looking forward to. There are many more, but I need to cut back on what I read so I can put more time into what I write. Farrah, Monica and T. L. have inspired me to really dig deep into my current WIP because perhaps there is a place for me in the big bad world of publication.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Passing on the Book Love

I recently finished this book and LOVED IT!

Pale Immortal
by Anne Frasier is spellbinding, captivating, creepy and definately not predicable. It's a vampire novel, yet not. It's suspense with a twist. It's so amazingly well written that I couldn't put it down and took to my bed *coughcough* so I could read it uninterupted. That, my friends, is the mark of a good book, lol!

View the Pale Immortal music video below for a good feel of the novel. Then rush to your nearest Borders, B&N or indy bookseller, or hope on Amazon to order this book. And don't be surprised if you need to keep the lights on while you read it. And visit Anne's website and her blog for more information about Pale Immortal and her other spine tingling books. I also suggest you listen to the soundtrack and mp3s, read the first two chapters, and learn more at:

Oh, and side note - Amazon only has 5 books in stock! But are of course ordering more. Go Anne!

Here's a synopsis of the book:

Welcome to Tuonela, a sleepy Wisconsin town haunted by events of 100 years ago, when a man who may have been a vampire slaughtered the town's citizens and drank their blood. Now, another murderer is killing the most vulnerable...and draining their bodies of blood.

Evan Stroud lives in darkness. The pale prisoner of a strange disease that prevents him from ever seeing the light of day, he lives in tragic solitude, taunted for being a "vampire." When troubled teenager Graham Stroud appears on Evan's doorstep, claiming to be his long-lost son, Evan's uneasy solitude is shattered.

Having escaped Tuonela's mysterious pull for several years, Rachel Burton is now back in town, filling in as coroner. Even as she seeks to identify the killer, and uncover the source of the evil that seems to pervade the town, she is drawn to Evan by a power she's helpless to understand or resist....

As Graham is pulled deeper and deeper into Tuonela's depraved, vampire-obsessed underworld, Rachel and Evan team up to save him. But the force they are fighting is both powerful and elusive...and willing to take them to the very mouth of hell.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Writing News - Passing on the love

I recently discovered that some of the women I used to know from my local writing group are doing very well. One has sold her first book after years of writing. Congratulations Helen Brenna! I'm thrilled you made your first sale and look forward to Treasure from Harlequin Superromance this coming December.

I also learned that someone I hold as a mentor during the time we served on the board together made an amazing deal and is coming out with her first hardcover sometime this year. Monica Pradhan is a jewel of an author. She has written three Silhoutte Intimate Moments under the name Monica McLean - each and every one of them amazing. Her upcoming book is being published under Monica Pradhan and is titled The Hindi Bindi Club. I'm sure it will be wonderful. From what I've heard already, and that's very little, it made her editor cry. Monica writes with an emotion I long to have present in my work. She also has an amazing heart. I am truly blessed to have known her and wish her nothing but the best as she makes her HC debut. When the book comes out, I'll be sure to let you all know.

As I congratulate these women I know, I reminisce on times gone by. Times when I was young to the world of publishing and was more active in my local writing group. I drew inspiration from both these women. Both never gave up on their dreams. Both worked hard. Both followed their heart. Both showed me that the road was not a road to travel completely alone. I'm so happy and proud of Helen & Monica. I wish you both well and hope there are many more books in your futures. I'll be looking for both of these!

Virgin Territory

Well, not really. And I'm not talking about my sex life. Married 10 years so if I were a virgin something would be very wrong with me. Too wrong for words. Pathological even. The thought makes me shudder.

No, this is my first post on this particular blog. I have others but they are for very explicit purposes. I have one through which I keep in touch with a small group of friends. It's better than email and instant messaging and not as finicky as Yahoo Groups. I have another I use with my critique partners for the wip *side note: wip = work in progress*. I have yet another that is just a place for me to express myself anonymously. Its wonderful to be anonymous at times, isn't it?

But I digress. The purpose of this particular blog is twofold. First, I'm rather narcissistic and believe that everyone must be interested in my creative journey from frustrated unpublished writer to successful author. Second, I've been thinking lately about inspiration and creativity and want to explore just how we humans are driven by creativity and where do we find, or make, our inspiration. Lofty goals but if you don't reach and all that rot.

Let me share some background. I have been writing off and on for about 5 years. There are three completed manuscripts, or mss as they shall henceforth be known, in my filing cabinet, several aborted attempts in my computer and at least three partials in various stages of completion. There are no books out on the shelves with my name on them. Quite a few rejection letters in my file drawer, but sadly those don't count.

I work with a life coach regarding my writing and while she assures me I have turned the corner and am an author, I'm not so certain. I keep wondering when the jack-in-the-box will pop up and with his garish clown face inform me that I am a poser and should give up the pretense and grow up already.

Neurotic to the core, every night I look under my bed for evil writing gremlins. I don't think my friends and acquaintences would say I'm neurotic. Unique in a strange way perhaps. Certainly not neurotic. But those pesky gremlins lurk just beneath surface. Most days I'm able to ignore them. Then there are days like today when the words don't flow, I recieve yet another rejection letter in the mail and emergencies eat away at the time I so painstakingly carved out to write. Days like today make me question my calling, my talent, my desires and wonder if it has all been one big delusion.

Still, I push on. And this blog is just one way for me to push on. Publically declaring for all who care (and right now that's just me) that I am going to finish the damn ms and I am going to be pulished. Not just once. No, I aspire to join the ranks of those authors who make a living, albeit often a meager one, from writing fiction. Genre fiction at that.

So, join me if you wish. Or not. The choice is yours. I'm sure there will be days I wax philosophic or delve into my theological roots. Perhaps it will evoke discussion or be entertaining. Either way, it will be interesting. Long and strange and interesting.