So yesterday on my Facebook page I asked for blog topic suggestions and I got so many great ones, many of which were questions, I thought I’d just tackle them here.
Tammy asked: the ups and downs of being a mother who works from home
Well, this could clearly be it’s own blog topic and I’ve tackled some of it at my other blog, Peanut Butter on the Keyboard. I can’t speak for other working moms, but I will say that when you do something creative, like writing, that sometimes tapping into that creative energy is very challenging if I’ve had a difficult day with my kiddos. There are plenty of jobs I’ve done (when I worked full-time) that I could do while tired or drained or whatever, but writing isn’t one of them. At least not on a consistent basis. So I have to find ways to recharge myself on those tough days. Writing is similar to motherhood though in one very specific way, you’re never done. You don’t get a vacation from being a mom and though I take some days off every now and again, I don’t get time off from being a writer.
Susana asked: I’d like to read about your upcoming projects or ideas you’re mulling over or thoughts on books you’re reading.
Great question! I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire right now. My next release, A Little Bit Sinful, comes out very soon and it’s the sequel to A Little Bit Wicked. I’m working on the final book in that series right now, A Little Bit Scandalous. Those are the books in my Forbidden Love series that features three couples each with their own foray into forbidden love. It’s been a lot of fun to write because they’re books that focus more on the developing relationship than my longer historicals that have lots of meaty subplots. Then in June I have The Secrets of Mia Danvers coming out, that launches my Dangerous Liaisons series which centers around the hunt of Jack the Ripper.
Cynthia asked: I’d like to know how you overcome writing blocks. When the words just won’t come no matter what….
That happens sometimes, doesn’t it, Cynthia? Well, first I’m not a big believe it “writer’s block” though I do know that on occasion the words stall out for some reason or another. My best advice is to write anyways. That’s for the most common blocks, the I-don’t-really-want-to-write-today blahs. Then you have the stalled on a scene blocks, so sometimes I’ll try to brainstorm out the problem and if that doesn’t work, I’ll just skip that scene until later. Now when you have a real block, one that’s generally rooted in emotional stuff, that’s a little different.
True story – two years ago, The Professor and I took in two girls from the foster-care system. We were intent on adopting them, but initially they weren’t free and clear. To say things were stressful is a colossal understatement. Toss in the fact that we’d never been parents before and suddenly we had a toddler and an infant, we were emotional strung out. Like I said above, when our emotions are under assault, it’s very hard to find the words. All I can tell you is to write as much as you can. Sometimes all you can do is write about the weather or your feelings or whatever, but eventually the words will come back and you’ll be able to get back to it.
Angela asked: Your favorite/least favorite part of writing a book.
The easy answer is, I love the book when it’s done and about to come out. I hate the book while I’m writing it. But it is often a little more complex than that. Sometimes there are some really magical moments when writing the rough drafts, most of the time though the real magic (at least for me) happens during the subsequent drafts. I like to write the parts that come out great, the parts where I know I’ve nailed the characters and the dialogue is snappy and even I’m entertained.
(Joey asked about a blog of my favorite heroes and heroines, but I have a guest blog coming about that sometime soon…)
Nicole asked: Maybe write how you cope with your stress when you are stuck on a chapter and loose sleep! What do you do to relax!
I touched on some of this in Cynthia’s question, but relaxing, yes, that’s so important. I’m trying to exercise more to relieve my stress, walking and that definitely helps. Being with The Professor chills me out pretty good, he has a way of recharging my battery (and I don’t mean that in the dirty sense. :-)) Another good thing for me to do if I’m stuck on a chapter is I brainstorm with my writer buds. Shana and Margo and Emily know more about my crazy than they probably would like too and I’m a very needy writer.
Rhianna asked: Hand-in-hand with Joey’s idea… I love to see which characters an author wishes she’d been the creator of.
Oh wow, this could be a HUGE list. Um, can I just start with all of the characters in the Harry Potter books? Pretty much all of Suzanne Enoch’s heroes. Katniss Everdeen. Yeah, I could go on with this forever.
Cherrie asked: how to get over the fear of putting your work out to a editor/publisher etc…… as in…I got my book wrote, critiqued by my writer groups, read by friends that know the subject…so Im ready to let it go…now what?
Fake it, ’till you make it. That’s really the best policy here. I’ll be really honest, writing (as in the career) is scary as hell all the time for a variety of reasons. The fear never goes away. So really you just have to learn to either cope with it, or ignore it. Sometimes it’s best to ask for help if you can’t do it yourself. I know that before Emily sold her first book, I threatened to mail her manuscript off to a certain agent if she didn’t do it. That might not work for everyone, but we’ve always had that kind of relationship. So maybe your friend needs someone to sit with her while she sends it off. Sometimes talking through the very worst thing that can happen (in this case a rejection) can help. Rejection stings, but it doesn’t kill you and just know that all your favorite authors have gotten a slew of rejections too. It’s just part of the gig.
Melissa asked: Where you get some of your ideas for your stories, When you are stuck or at a standstill what you do to get out of it. When writing your stories do they change as you are writing? Or do they go as you want them to at the beginning? Have you ever used real life situations in your stories?…those are a few off the top of my head.
My ideas come from everywhere. Sometimes I start with nothing and just brainstorm the whole thing (usually talking that out with another writer), other times I’ll start with a character and build from that. I love to bounce ideas off of other writers, it’s the best way for me to brainstorm. For whatever reason I don’t do well brainstorming alone, I need that interaction. But if I’m stuck alone I have some tricks, I do the list of twenty (make a list of 20 ideas for that particular problem and don’t stop to analyze, write everything down), I have a box of index cards with character types (think stereotypes like wallflower heroine) and plot hooks (secret baby) and complications (dead body!) and I’ll pick some at random and see what I come up with. It’s kind of a fun exercise.
I so appreciate all the questions/suggestions because sometimes (especially when I’m on deadline) I just can’t think of anything. So to all the rest of you, if you could ask a question of one of your favorite authors, what would it be?