Friday, January 21, 2011

Smile, Feel Good, Pass the Blog

Hi, Kids!  It's Time for a brand new Episode of Trading Blogs, where two writers go to each other's blog and, with the help of an embarrassingly sterotypical gay web designer, rearrange the widgets and change the background, pretending to cater to the host blogger's tastes, but really just taking passive-aggressive shots at one another. 

Not really.  But wouldn't that be fun?  No?  Well, okay. The lovely and talented Jessica Lemmon decided she didn't feel like writing her blog for today, and frankly, I have been in a bit of a slump myself.  We decided to write each other's posts, instead.  I love Jessica's Blog, it makes me smile.  With a title like Smile, Feel Good, Pass It On how could you not come away with a positive attitude?  So I'm over there, talking about Critique Partnering. 

Oh, wait.  I'm not supposed to be writing here today.  Shutting up now.  And heeeeere's Jessica!

I come to you today as a humble guest of Teri Anne’s.  Thank you for having me Teri!  And hello to  all of you regular readers! *waves*
I couldn’t think of a blog for my OWN blog today so I asked who wanted to write it. Teri Anne offered. Which meant I should reciprocate, which oddly enough, I was happy to do.  I guess you could say I am “cleaning her room” today (Go HERE to see my intro to her blog today if you want to know what I mean…)

But, I needed a topic.  She suggested: My Writing Routine.  So I thought  - okay, I can do this.  Routine, let’s see.  Timeline!  People with routines have timelines. I can have a timeline…

5 a.m. – get up for p/t job (not every day – just 2x a week)
7 a.m. – get up (hmm… sometimes I sleep in until 8)
8:30 a.m. – Coffee (unless it’s a workday then, earlier)
9:00 a.m. – Blog (if it’s Monday or Thursday… or Wednesday)
9:30 a.m. – Read a novel. Or blogs. Or a magazine. But mostly novels I haven’t read by authors I often read.
10:00 a.m. – eat breakfast of eggs and toast.  Or oatmeal.  Or more coffee.  Or – I’ll own it – cookies.
11:00 a.m. – write (although sometimes I do this at 1 p.m., unless I’m at work all day, then not at all)

Then I realized. CRAP.  I don’t HAVE a routine. 
That’s okay, I consoled myself, I’ll find a common denominator – the one thing I do every day? 
Reading is my one constant throughout my life as a (yet-to-be-published) author.  I read a lot. I believe it was Stephen King that said, “If you don’t like to read, you will never be a writer.” (Forgive my bad paraphrasing.)
When I decided to become a romance writer I ravaged Harlequin’s website *snicker* … so to speak. Guess what they suggest? That you (writer) read the category that you want to write.  VORACIOUSLY.  They actually used that word. Voraciously. That means, like, RAVENOUSLY.  Or, you know. A LOT.

Why, you ask?  I have a few theories…

1.       When you read the genre you are writing, your crafty subconscious latches onto words and phrases and tucks them away for use later. This is important.  Just as romance has its clich√© phrases (heaving bosoms, anyone?), it also has phraseology the reader EXPECTS in a romance. Like the slanting of lips, the arching of eyebrows and the tilting of heads.  Stubborn chins, proud noses, pouting lips… you get the idea.
2.       You can learn from a good author because they have crafted a book out of various parts, just  as you are trying to do.  If you are interested in improving your own skill, pay attention to the where the plot shifts, the way the characters interact and how to SHOW rather than TELL what’s going on.

Often after reading a particularly wonderful book, I feel compelled to get off the couch and tackle my own manuscript with renewed vigor.  Especially after reading my favorite part of every Harlequin novel… wanna know what it is?
Come on guess…
If you said… 
The Letter to the Reader
You’re correct!

I love the letter from the author. On occasion the author will share where their idea originated, others clue you into their own process – like how they had NO IDEA that the story would wind up being the one that you hold in your hands.
But my favorite type of letter?  The letter from the debut author. No matter how divinely crafted that letter is, one message rings loud and clear.  Underneath the eloquent grammar, they really all say the same thing: “OMG!  I finally got PUBLISHED! I LOVE you! I LOVE my editor!  I LOVE everybody!”
If that doesn’t jet propel to your keyboard then I don’t know what will.
For today,
Smile, Feel Good, READ!!!


  1. Hi, Jessica! Nice to see you here on Teri's blog.

    Isn't it great to be able to justify all that reading (which, let's be honest, we'd do anyway) as "research" for our writing? Best. Job. Ever. :)

  2. Yes, Linda! Best job ever! PJ's, Coffee, Book. Whew! Tough. ;-)

  3. I love reading. I have found the more I learn about the craft of writing the more I analyze what I am reading.

    Usually not the point of losing the enjoyment, but just "Oh, that was a good drop in of background information" or "Wow, heading hopping, but it worked!"

    Hmm, I have some free time this weekend. Guess I will be doing some "research". :)

  4. @Dawn - it's true! Especially if you find someone who is brilliant at their craft (see Sarah Mayberry or Heidi Betts)