Thursday, 29 January 2015

Rules


I’m not going to pretend there isn’t a place in writing for rules.  There is.  If someone is writing a novel with the intention of charging others money to read it, you bet your ass it needs to be professionally edited by a third party. And before that even happens, the author has the responsibility of improving their work though constructive feedback until it is the absolute best story that they can tell.

That’s how the members of All Over Ink met, as you may know.  We started as critique partners. I was the first of the four of us to join the critique site where we share our writing. In my first round of feedback, there were a lot of good points of things that I could improve. But I was amazed when someone told me not to use the word was or adverbs (words ending in ‘ly’). 
This was before I had Anna, Marianne, and Megan to bitch to, so I could only stare at my computer in shock. I’m writing a romance novel in past tense and have to stay away from the word was and adjectives?

really animated GIF


Source- http://giphy.com

Like I always do with my feedback, I took it into consideration and stayed aware of all the forbidden words as I kept writing. But after a few weeks, I wound up using them again. I don’t write to be technical. I write to shut up voices in my head (and because I enjoy it). Since I’m putting it out there I have the obligation to make it as clear and easy to read as possible. But other than that, I just let my characters tell their story. They say was and use adverbs. And to be honest, I really don’t think it’s a big deal. I just ignore all of the debates in the writing world over the merits of these words and do my thing.

However, I realized when I started submitting my first completed novel to small press publishers that there was another set of rules I didn’t take into consideration:

(The following is an actual email that I received.  I removed identifying information about the editor and the publishing company, and identifying information about the story I submitted)

Hi Kelly,

We would like to offer you a contract, but would need some alterations done first. The sex scenes are too erotic to fit your plot and [our line of books]. There is an overabundance of unnecessary 'key' words--clit, dick, cum, etc. Also, you have a lot of 'fuck'--mostly used as an expletive. Most of that should go. I have attached the manuscript with notes made by [our senior editor] to guide you.

Editor’s Name

Take out my fucks and tone down my sex scenes????
seth green animated GIF
Source- http://giphy.com

Yeah well, I wanted to see what the contract looked like so I did it.  It took me less than an hour and I sent it back to her that evening. And two months later, I got this reply:

Kelly,

I really like the premise of the story; it’s different from many that cross my desk these days. I’ll have to pass on this story though. For a couple of reasons.

The first seven pages are [main character and her daughter]. Then we meet her sister and there’s some interplay between them. [Our company] requires the hero and heroine meet asap in the story—preferably by page 5.

In reality, the story doesn’t start until she meets—remeets—[the love interest]. There can be some lead up, of course. But shorten it. Remember, your job as author is to get the reader to know your main characters, especially the hero and heroine. A romance shows their meeting, sparks fly (whether good ones or not), they build a relationship (rocky or not), then eventually fall in love.

Chapter two begins between the [main character and her daughter]—still no [love interest]. See where I’m going with this?

Another thing our company likes, but doesn’t demand, is to see the point of view of the hero. It’s nice seeing how he feels/reacts to his new neighborhood and the lady next door.

Anyway, I am really sorry not to have a more positive response for your story. It’s clear you’ve worked hard on it.

Editor’s Name

I’m going not going pretend that after being told I would be offered a contract and then waiting two months, I was happy to receive a rejection. But then I remembered, it was rules. In both instances, the reasons why it came back was because my way of writing doesn’t follow their guidelines.

In all honesty, when I made those changes for the contract, small as they were, my novel didn’t feel like the story that was told to me from the main character anymore.  It felt like someone was choking her voice. And all I did was take out ninety eight uses of the word fuck (and a few clits and dicks).

In the novel I am working on now (and will be self-publishing in June), there is a fuckload more swearing and sex. The male main character doesn’t come into play until Chapter Four. And I don’t plan on changing it. The character that’s telling the story isn’t ready to meet him until then. And I love her voice and wouldn’t dream of taking it away from her. If I did, she won’t be the same character whose story I wanted to tell.

So I’m a bad writer because I use the word ‘was’ and words that end in ly and ing. And I’m a bad romance writer because my characters like to be established as an individual before the love interest comes along.

                                                                (Source: assholedisney)
I
’m cool with people thinking that. I don’t write to follow guidelines or rules. I write to tell stories, and they’ll be told the way the people living in my head want to tell them. Fucks, clits, dicks, was, adverbs, and all

Sunday, 18 January 2015

What the hell is All Over Ink?

About 3 months or so after I started writing, I was looking through some author websites.  I came across a site that was for writers that finally worked. I joined and cruised around. Seemed interesting enough. You post your work for people to critique and you do the same for them. The thing that makes this site so great, is you have to 'pay' to post your work. To get the 'money' needed to post, you have to critique others... that's how you get 'paid'. It's a fair trade, not just people posting their stuff waiting to get feedback. You have to be active and do the work in order to get feedback on your piece.

So, on this site, I found these three people. We all gravitated towards each other's stories. I anxiously waited for them to post more work so I could read it. We would talk about pretty much nothing other than our stories. It was nice to have someone to talk to about writing who understood what you were going through. I could pick their brains forever about what they were writing and their opinions of my work. One thing led to another (get your mind out of the gutter...) and we started talking more and more.

I was invited by them to join a group they were starting... kind of like an author support group. Holy shit! Me? They want me to join them? I was blown away they thought enough of my writing and me as a person to ask me to join, that I couldn't stop smiling for like a week.

We started talking about writing things, mainly. What we hoped to accomplish as a group. We decided to write a book together, asked questions about our work we were maybe too embarrassed to ask on the site, we got a logo, made a blog, did all sorts of stuff.

After a short time, the conversations started getting more personal. Somebody would make a joke about something, and we'd all 'LOL' at it. Very quickly we started to realize we all have the same raunchy sense of humor.  We talked about our families, our real life jobs, honest and deep fears about our writing... stuff you would talk to friends about.

Then it hit me. Friends. They're my friends. But, that's so cliche. Meeting friends online. Who does that? Well... me, us, apparently. And I can honestly say I don't know where I'd be without them. They really have been my rocks. As it said in the post last week, we each have different strengths and weaknesses. But the one thing we all have in common, is we want success for each other.

We started the group, not really sure what it would be. Support for each other, someone to bounce ideas off, honest opinions, whatever we wanted it to be. Now, All Over Ink is more than a group. It's a lifeline, a support system, a shoulder to cry on, a bad joke to lighten the mood, an honest, loyal, and dear best friend.

Basically, All Over Ink is a group of four girls (I hesitate to call us women because we act like children a lot!) who are there for each other in this crazy world of writing. We are working on putting an anthology together and of course working on our own stories. We love reading and writing. Can discuss books for hours. We like to laugh. We are there to help each other in whatever capacity we can. But mostly, we're mothers and wives who share a passion for romance novels. We love reading them and writing them. It's what brought us together, but what will keep us together is an unbreakable bond that has formed when we least expected it.




Sunday, 11 January 2015

This afternoon I sat in my conservatory, minding my own business and mindlessly flicking through the endless rubbish on the Internet. Thoughts ran through my mind about what I should be writing/doing, and it dawned on me that it’s my turn to write the blog post this week! Oh, shit! What am I going to write about?

Then I had an idea…. Yesterday we were all talking on FB messenger. Well, Kelly was doing a drive by on the thread, because she’s on the most amazing holiday. Anna had an author take over event last night (because you know ‘Make Me Forget’ has released, right?) and Kelly participated in the event from a theme park ride!! Like, WTF? That’s badass. Anyway, I‘m going off on a tangent.

So, we started to discuss how we are so alike to the point where we are actually one quarter of each other. Stupid? Of course it is, that’s the whole point. But I thought it might give you an idea of who we are. Obviously we aren’t interbred though. And, we have some very different personality traits but….

We all have slightly twisted sense of humors (the girls are hilarious!) We can all be feisty when needed. We all have husbands we want to maim on a regular basis and who all sound so similar it’s pretty scary. Okay, so that’s not a personality trait, but it is true. However, we’re all socially awkward introverts who are little nuts. After all we are writers.

In the thread Marianne asked, ‘Who is the most out going?’

What? Hold on. Outgoing? In real life the real answer would be none of us. We are all to shy and reclusive. It has been said that if by chance we had been put together in a room, we all would have stayed in our respective corners and not spoken a word.

However, we live in a fictional world most of the time, and this poll is between us four, not the world.

It was a close call, but Anna was voted the most out going. A fact that she flatly denies, but when gauged amongst the other three of us, she actually is. She’s also the planner. She likes to know what’s going on and when. She doesn’t care if it changes, but the initial framework needs to be there. She’s also super sweet.

Marianne is the adventurer and the peacekeeper. She can make friends at the drop of a hat. She has brought quite a few authors from Twitter over into our online critique community. Yes, you heard me right, Twitter! How the fuck, do you make friends on there? And she likes an even keel, not that ours rocks, but just in general. So you’ll always find her trying to see the good in the bad and ironing out the creases.

Kelly is the take no shit girl with a heart of gold. If you ever want someone to have your back it would be Kelly. She’s quick to tell you not to let shit bother you and move on from anything negative in your life. She’s also an amazing listener. I’ve rambled at her on many an occasion and she never tells me to fuck off.  I always imagine Kelly to be walking around Lara Croft style, killing bitches and protecting her own to the death.

And, me? I’m the therapist. I give good advice apparently, but then never take my own words to heart. And I’m probably in need of more therapy than the other three girls, combined. Oh, and I’m the procrastinator. Everything, and I mean everything in my life is left until the last possible second. Just like this blog post.

So, that’s a little bit of a personal insight into the ‘All Over Ink’ girls. Normal girls, with a love of romance and hot sex scenes. A little wacky, but a lot loveable.


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Happy 2015!



It's the first week of 2015 so what better post than one about New Years Resolutions?

 Except I'm not going to make any resolutions, because I know I'll break them almost immediately. Like my gym membership of 2012 and my war against chocolate in 2013. I never even bothered making a resolution in 2014 because I've never made one I've kept.

So this year, instead of telling myself I'm going to finish two more books and the screenplay I've been going on about, I have a list of things that are possible. And just to be on the safe side, I've also made a list of things I should try to stop doing.

Here are my attainable goals:
  1. Take my writing seriously. By this I mean, make sure me and everyone around me knows that my writing is work! I'm sure my family thinks when I'm on the computer I'm doing unimportant stuff like playing games or chatting with friends on facebook. So instead of slinking away, I'll announce, "I'm going to spend the next hour working." Emphasis on working. Take note, husband.
  2. Keep writing! I'm sure every writer knows how hard this is. When the right words don't come, when the doubts set in, when dreaded writers' block takes hold. I'm planning to treat my writing more like a job. Get up, go to work. I'm not going to resolve to write every day, because that can't happen. I'll allow myself a day off when things get tough. But there are going to be no long vacations from writing!
  3. Schedule time limits for social media. Authors are constantly bombarded with the importance of having a social media platform. I'm not saying that's not important. I love talking about books with other writers, readers and bloggers! But social media can suck away an awful lot of valuable writing time. And since writing is my driving dream, that has to come first. Nobody is going to be even slightly bothered if I don't turn up on facebook for a few days. The successful authors I know seem to make social media appearances two or three times a week and sometimes a lot less. They spend most of their time writing!
  4. Read more! I usually always have a book I'm reading. I take a few minutes in bed every night to read the next chapter or so. But I rarely have time anymore to get cosy, make a nice drink and just settle down and read. I'm also planning to read more widely. I've been reading a lot of romance lately, because romance is my real love. Somehow over the past year I've gotten into a rut. I remember the days when I loved to read all kinds of things: detective novels, sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers etc. I'm excited to think of all the amazing books I'm going to read this year!


And now for the stops and there's only one:
  1. Stop caring so much about the business of writing. Wait. What? Okay, let me explain. This past year I've been writing a lot. And worrying a lot. I've stressed about not writing, about writing crap, about social media, about publishing, about costs involved in publishing, about critiques, about queries, about submission guidelines, about deadlines. And a whole lot more I've even forgotten I worried about! This year, I want to calm down my business mind, try to shut out all that extra stuff. I want to go back to just immersing myself in and enjoying my fictional world and my fictional characters (I'm only saying they're fictional. They're completely real to me).