BLONDE MOMENTS

There are three amazing, selfless, friends who have taken time out of their crazy busy lives recently to read my new manuscript with a discriminating eye.   Then, they have spent even more time hashing out the good and the bad with me. I’ve never felt the need to do this with any of my past eleven books.  But, since I’m changing genres, and this book has been such a labor of love and agony for so long, I have been paranoid about my new writing style using a contemporary voice rather than an historical one.  I felt a desperate need for outside opinions before I could push my creation from the safety of the nest and allow it to soar out into the scary literary world.

All three readers absolutely loved my vampire hero.  But, only one liked my heroine and felt like they could identify with her in any way.  One of my awesome readers had a really difficult time getting to know her; and last night, my third reader told me she couldn’t stand my beautiful heroine, Dawn, at all.  Not even a little bit?  Gasp!  She said she was a ‘ditzy blonde’ and sexy Mateo Two Moons deserved so much better.  O.M.G.

Now, I don’t know about other writers, but I have really appreciated this honest criticism.  Since I haven’t submitted the manuscript to a publisher or agent, yet, hopefully there is still time to fix the big issues.   Like a very unpopular heroine.  Wow.   Although, it can be a bitter pill to swallow, I know that if the majority of people (two out of three) who read my draft don’t like something, then I’m thinking the big guns are not going to like it very much either.  My marvelous friends aren’t professional editors or agents, but their opinions count just as much, because all of them are readers, just at different levels.  I have no doubt the way the words I’ve written touches those select few will be similar to the way they affect the all-important readers who sit in those agencies and publishing offices.

So, it’s back to the drawing board for this battered manuscript…again.  I only have four hundred and fifty-three pages to revise so that my poor ostracized Dawn can be the woman every woman dreams of being, and the goddess in every man’s fantasies.   No more ‘blonde moments’ for this girl.

Image

Advertisements

THE DEATH OF A MANUSCRIPT

Revisions.  That part of writing where—after you’ve celebrated writing ‘THE END’ and thought you were some big shot because you did finish a whole book; you imagine your name on the New York Times Best Seller List, and start picking out the stars you think should play your hero and heroine in the movie version–you then go back and rip the guts out of your first draft.   Now, you are standing there with nothing more than bloody entrails of what was so recently your ticket to fame and fortune.

Wait?  You didn’t really think you were finished just because you wrote those two final (THE END) words, did you?  Ha!

Cowboy Up, Cupcake.   This massive operation isn’t over yet.  Hook up the heart monitor, because the writing process isn’t for weaklings.

Sure, you’ve birthed a complete manuscript, but it’s only a pitiful little skeleton of what it needs to be before you’re ready to send your brilliant creation out into the cold cruel world.  Take that scrawny baby, print it out and get a new bright red pen.  For me, the printed version looks nothing like or reads nothing like the version on the computer screen.  Then, pour some wine, or make a pot of coffee, grab lots of chocolate and settle in for the slaughter.   With knife—er—I mean, pen in hand read those words like you want to slash the fricking life out of them.   That’s what an agent or editor is going to do if your manuscript isn’t up to par when you send it out to them.   They don’t care that every word of your incredible work of genius was lovingly written with passion and devotion.   Don’t make them gag on your words because you were too anxious to give your masterpiece its wings, and didn’t complete the entire (painful) writing process before letting it fly.

At this early stage of the revision cycle I’m really excited to start reading through that entire rough draft for the first time.  Usually, it’s been a long while since I initially began writing the book to the time when I’m ready to do revisions, so it’s somewhat like that feeling I get when I’m going to see an old lover who used to make my toes curl and my socks roll up and down.  I’m all giddy and excited at the possibility of seeing him again after such a long time; I’m fantasizing about taking a hippity-hoppity skip down lover’s lane.   But, then he shows up, a total loser now, and fatter than I am, and I’m not so turned on any more.   That’s usually how I’m feeling about my first draft after a few chapters, too.   As I hack through page after page with gory red marks, notes in the margins, and huge what-the-Hell-was I thinking question marks, my enthusiasm quickly wanes.   I wonder why I had been so excited about this book, because seriously, it’s total crap.   This is where self-rejection sets in, and I’m truly my own worst enemy when it comes to my writing career.

About this time, I also start avoiding the wounded pile of red slathered vile like it has a sexually transmitted disease.   I stop bragging to my friends and to random strangers on the street about my new book.  Instead of working extra hard to fix all the problems with the poor bloody babe I’ve just shredded to bits like yesterday’s recycling, I start running blindly into the dark.   I spend my nights trolling Pinterest, cyber-stalking Facebook friends, cleaning out my Yahoo emails, and writing blog posts about revisions.   I listen to old songs I never really liked all that much.   I’m just a hot mess.

This lowly period could last a day, a month, forever.   Fear of failure is a paralyzing  emotion.   If you give into it, you will absolutely fail.   So, let yourself wallow in self-pity for a short span of time, but not long enough to let your evasiveness take control of that dream you had of publishing this book, or it will remain just that…an elusive dream.   Get a shot of penicillin and get your butt back to work.

The next phase of this major surgery really isn’t as bad as you might think.  You’ve already found the major issues such as where your heroine has blue eyes like the azure sky in one scene and hazel like the desert landscape in another scene, or you hero’s father is named Harley in the beginning of the book and Jack about mid-way through.  You’ve wrote everything from ‘puke’ to ‘you suck’ on all the scenes that really did suck and made you want to upchuck, and wrote ‘good job’ on the scenes that were so good you just had to point that out to yourself.   Now, you merely have to sit down in that chair in front of the computer—you know, the one that has started to resemble an electric chair that you must avoid at all costs—and just do it.   Stitch up all those jagged wounds you made with that evil red pen, sooth your baby’s pain, and let the healing begin.

Wow.  This second draft is so damn good.  Who knew you could write like that?  Who should play your hero in the movie?   Get real.

It’s time to get out the scalpel and do another major surgery.  Yeah, that’s right, round two.  Not as painful as the deep cuts of those first revisions, in my humble opinion, but equally as important.   I’ll talk about my next revision phase in another blog post.  I hope you’ll stop back by and join me.   Bring wine or coffee, lots of chocolate, oh yes, and a mirror.   Guess you’ll just have to wait until next time to find out what we’re going to do with that mirror.

Image

MY WILD ‘SECRET’ NIGHTLIFE

There’s a ankle-length dark green trench coat I wear when it’s not cold enough for a heavy winter coat.  Every time I slip it on, I feel like a secret agent and I have a little fantasy lasting a couple of minutes about a passionate rendezvous with some sexy James Bond type along the white sands of the Riviera.  This morning, as my mind filled with images of gentle waves lapping up on the shore where my fantasy lover is sensually rubbing oil into my wet sun-drenched skin—still aglow from our recent lovemaking—it occurred to me that I really do lead a ‘secret’ double life.

By day, I’m just a typical average type person, doing mundane everyday things at the office job that pays the bills, running errands on my lunch-hour, rushing home in the evening to do the normal type chores that finish off the remainder of my day.   But, as the last glow of the hazy twilight fades from the darkening sky, and night-time encompasses my little corner of the world, my wild ‘secret’ nightlife begins.

On a typical night, you’ll find me meeting a tall dangerous stranger at some exotic locale, or maybe engaging in some perilous journey sure to lead to a night of sweaty animalistic sex or sweet tempestuous love.   I might spend the entire night helping to cover up some dastardly deed, or maybe even (gasp) kill someone off.   Whatever my nightlife has in store for me, you can be assured it’s going to be the polar opposite of my daytime activities.

Do I work for an exclusive high rolling escort service, you might ask?  A fast talking pimp down on some seedy street corner?  Am I really a double agent who works under the cover of darkness and only pretends to live a normal type life in the glaring light of day to conceal the secret life I really live?   Ha!

I’m just a writer.

When I delve into this exhilarating world I create with my wild imagination, I become those electrifying characters I’ve conceived,  and I’m living their bigger than life escapades.  There is no place I’d rather be, well, unless I could live the ‘real’ adventures, of course.   Sigh.   But, oh baby, here in my secret fantasy world the possibilities are endless!

beach 1

THE SIMPLEST THING

As I was literary dragging myself into work this morning at 7:15 a.m., thinking about all the stacks of papers waiting on my desk, worrying about my elderly parents, whom I stop by and check on every morning before coming to the office, agonizing over a meeting I had to attend today, and basically just hating life…the most extraordinary thing happened.   It was something I’ve never seen before in the little mountain town where I live and I’ll probably never see it again; it’s something I might have seen in a TV commercial or movie.  But wow, it touched me in the most amazing way.

Loaded down with my purse, my bag the size of a suitcase that carries all my necessities for the day, my coffee mug and my bitchy attitude, I sauntered very reluctantly up the sidewalk towards my office building.  And then, this young man—probably in his early twenties—came dancing around the corner, down the sidewalk and right past me.  Yes…dancing and smiling, and changing my entire world.  He was tall, thin, and wearing tan pants, a red hoodie and a burgundy knit cap.   Earphones dangling from under the sides of his cap were obviously providing him with a melody that was starting his day off in a spectacular way, because his expression was one of complete happiness.

The smile that came to my face was immediate and sincere.  I turned after he danced past me and watched him swinging his arms out to his sides like he was doing the wave, and moving his feet in rhythmic movements, until he was around the next corner and out of sight.

He was so unexpected, and what he was doing was such a simple thing really, but he brightened my day in a way he’ll never even know.   Thank you, Happy Young Dancing Man.   Even though nothing in my world has changed other than my attitude, I’m now having a spectacular day, too.

Image

THAT FOUR LETTER WORD CALLED LOVE

The word ‘love’ is a word I say and write about a lot.  In my books, I try my absolute hardest to create a deep emotional connection between my characters by describing all of the tender, exciting, aching, heartbreaking, passionate elements associated with this four letter word.  Hopefully, my written words will also evoke the sense of all of those emotions in my readers.  In my everyday life, I find myself saying, and/or, writing that little word all of the time, too.  Of course, I always say ‘I love you’ when I’m saying goodbye to my parents, children or grandchildren, other cherished relatives and my closest friends, whether it’s on the phone, texting, or in person.  But, it recently occurred to me that I’ve been adding ‘love you’ or ‘love ya’ to a lot of my posts and comments on social media sites, too.  Many of the people I’m saying ‘love you’ to are people I haven’t even met in person.  So, am I using this special word, this emotionally-charged sentiment, much too casually?

In analyzing my use of this word, which is something I rarely do…analyze anything.  I usually just stumble through my life blissfully ignorant of my good or bad habits, until someone else points them out to me.  But, in this case, I noticed this habit all on my own.  Wow.  When this revelation of what most would consider extreme irrelevance hit me, I began to think about why I found it so easy to say ‘I love you’ to people I don’t even know outside of our little cyber world connections.  I really don’t want to use this beautiful word in vain.  Much to my relief, I realized I don’t.  Whew.  The people I say ‘I love you’ to on social media sites are people I truly do love in a different sense of this four letter word.

I have seven media outlets where I post everything from what I ate for breakfast to my deepest darkest desires, and there are some people who care enough to respond to my online craziness on all, or most of these sites on a regular basis, with words of understanding, encouragement, and lots of humor.  Most of them, I have never met in person.  But, we have connected on so many personal levels.

So, if I am commenting or posting on Facebook, Blogging, Tweeting, Pinteresting, chatting with you on Goodreads, Amazon, or any other media site, and I write that ‘I love you’ it is because I really do.  It’s that different kind of love I mentioned earlier…it means you have touched my life in some very emotional way and made the time I spend online with you extra special.  Thank you…you know who you are because I’ve told you ‘I love you’ and I’ve meant it.

Image