Things to do while you should be editing your novel

image Editing is a giant pain in the butt and is the kind of activity that brings out the procrastinator in me.  I hate it, it’s driving me crazy, and I’m only up to Chapter 5 in first round drafts.

So, I’m giving into my procrastination, if only to give my slumped shoulders a break.

Here’s a short list of some of the things that I do instead of editing my novel:

1) Studying, tearing, and biting my nails – I spend all day using my fingers to type and yet when I come home to edit my novel, they suddenly become interesting.  “When did I get that hang nail?” nom, nom, nom.  “Why do my fingers hurt?”

2) Playing candy crush – I hate this game, honestly.  And yet, I keep crawling back to fulfill some kind of deranged mind-numbing addiction.  Why?  Why am I still stuck on level 125?  Don’t judge, I’ve only been playing since….August?  <Save me> :p

3) Buying books on amazon – This really isn’t wasteful because reading can count as skill development.  Ha!  Also, I like to troll Amazon for amusingly titled romance novels or cover art. 🙂

4) Buying running shoes on amazon – Well, this can count toward writing too.  Really!  I’ve written my best scenes while running.  Although, it’s somewhat difficult to edit while running (especially if you labor through running like I do).

5) Getting pulled into a TV drama, comedy, or nonsense – Oh glowing box that gives me entertainment, why do I watch you even when there’s nothing on?  Well, because my mind is numb from reading my own rambling prose.  Upside:  Sherlock last night was fabulous!  Benedict, you are lovely.  Hmm, maybe I can buy fangirl stuff on Amazon?

6) Randomly searching Etsy – Don’t do this (do it!), it will kill so much time!  My favorite search term – victorian.  But this counts as research too, because at some point, I’m sure I’ll write a historical romance.  🙂

7) Stressing over my word choice – oh wait, this is the one thing that actually does count as editing.  So yay, maybe I am actually making progress. 🙂

Good luck, all you fellow struggling editors!

Pacing

My struggle to slow things down

imageI’ve recently finished a first draft of a novel and have begun the process of editing.

There are many authors who trim the fat from their rough drafts.  I will trim some of my story in places, I’m sure.  But, a lot of my first draft editing will revolve around adding flesh to the more bony pieces of my story (there are a good many of them).

And why is that?

Well, I need to slow down when writing – to expand on some of my over-simplification or summarization to enrich my story.  I feel like my “bony parts” are a natural outgrowth of someone who used to skip around to different scenes in a story (and never finish) moving to a more linear form of writing.  And then there is always the hurry to get a rough draft finished.  All of these factors can make me forget to savor the true magic of description for some of my “in-between” or “set up” scenes – something I am trying to work on now.

While going through my rough draft to expand certain sections, I like to think of Frank Sinatra’s words of advice in “Nice n’ Easy:”

“…the problem now of course is

to simply hold your horses

to rush would be a crime

’cause nice and easy does it every time…”

Ol’ blue eyes can always put things in perspective.  🙂

Review “Suddenly You”

Ebook Review:  “Suddenly You,”  By Lisa Kleypas

imageIn “Suddenly You,” we follow the story of Amanda, a so-called spinster (she’s really only 30 years old) and novelist.  Amanda’s parents died a few years ago, during the time when Amanda would have been looking for a husband (this is a regency romance, after all).  After her parents die, she boldly sells their house, publishes novels, and goes to live in London – and succeeds!  Yay for successful female characters!

Despite all of the success and fame from being a novelist, she is lonely.  Enter Jack Devlin, a successful publisher who enjoys “stealing” authors from their current publishers and releasing scandalous books (that of course, sell).  He pursues Amanda for her literary talent and her body.  Excellent, who doesn’t want to be appreciated for both their brain and body?

Ah, a romance between a novelist and publisher – an interesting off-take of the boss/employee sub-genre (sexy and power over your income? double score! :p)

I’ve read several of Lisa Kleypas’ books, most notably her Wallflower Series, and enjoy this author very much.  “Suddenly You” was written before that series.  As a result, it was interesting for me to compare this work with her Wallflower Series: 1) both bodies of work showcase strong and interesting female characters that buck the traditions of their time (which I love).  2) Both bodies of work have good plots and were enjoyable stories.

Lisa Kleypas is definitely an author I admire and in this book (as it is an earlier work of hers), I was able to get a glimpse of a writer taking shape.   Many of us struggle in pace and the number of obstacles/events that our characters must overcome.  The one critique that I have for this story is that there are a lot of things happening at the end of the book.  Don’t misunderstand – this was a well written and entertaining story.  However, I felt that some of the action could have been spread out a bit more (maybe occur earlier in the story or maybe the novel should have been a little longer).  But I think that this is a natural problem for many “young” novelists (including myself).  And, the fact that Lisa Kleypas is a successful writer who creates enjoyable stories should give us all hope that our gifts will continue to blossom throughout the course of our writing career.

4 out of 5 stars for this excellent writer and her ability to write strong female characters who do amazing things. 🙂

Just how bad should characters be?

All characters, like people, should have elements of good and bad. The best of all villains (adult books) are those who start off good (either actually good or tricking us into thinking they are) and those who have good motivations for being bad.

Too much bad and you can end up with melodrama or worse, a cardboard cutout that causes readers to roll their eyes. Now, that is something that we all dread.

But what fun is it if only the bad guys are…well, bad?

There are many people who prefer their hero or heroine to be perfect (or nearly), and there is a market for that. It is the same market that always makes me think of sunshine, sparkles, and ponies. Don’t get me wrong, that world is lovely, that world is fine, I even visit those books sometimes….

…..all that said, I don’t know about you, but I don’t live there. More than that, I don’t want to live there. Is it any surprise that I don’t want to write there either?

I like my hero and heroine to have flaws. I love it when they are impure and imperfect, it makes them more real….more relatable.

If the novels that I’ve read lately are anywhere near a microcosm of the industry, many readers must agree with me.

I’ll end this with a simple statement: Give me bad any day, but be sure to make it good. 😉

Review “The Heiress Effect”

Ebook Review: “The Heiress Effect (The Brothers Sinister),” By: Courtney Milan

image

Oh, how I love the Brothers Sinister series.  These books follow the stories of a Robert (the Duke of Clermont), Oliver (the Duke’s half-brother), and Sebastian (their cousin).  The three were called the Brothers Sinister in school because they are all left-handed and were mischievous.

Side note: I can’t help but love this premise, as I am also left-handed and mischievous. 🙂

The “Heiress Effect” is the second book in the series and is about Oliver, who had a fairly humble up-bringing.  Because he is not of “noble” birth, Oliver has had to fight people who think less of him (since he’s not rich or titled) through school and continues to fight for his political ambitions.  Oliver is seeking to win a Parliament vote of an old (and evil) school mate, the Marquess of Bradenton, when he meets Miss Jane Fairfax.

Jane Fairfax does her best to discourage men from proposing to her – not an easy task, considering she is an heiress.  She plays up her so-called weaknesses (talking too loud, saying things that show she is smart/witty, laughing too loud, wearing too bright-colored clothing) and purposely annoys men so that they won’t be interested in her.  But, she has an excellent reason for doing so.  If she stays unmarried until her sister becomes of age, Jane can legally take her sister away from the guardian that keeps her sister under lock and key, due to her seizures.  Worse still, the guardian allows quack doctors to run “tests,” including burning and electric shock therapy.

Jane’s antics to stop male attention draw the ire of Bradenton.  This evil man tells Oliver that if he puts Jane in her place in front of everyone, he will vote as Oliver wishes him to on an upcoming bill.  But this isn’t just any bill – this bill will allow regular folk to be able to vote in England.  Not only is it important for everyone in England, it holds the key to Oliver’s political aspirations.  Will Oliver betray Jane?  The closer he gets to her, the more he struggles over the right and wrong, as well as his feelings for this colorful woman who does not fit into his definition of “ideal.”

I love Jane’s character.  She has a strong sense of self (something that many women in romance novels or in the real world don’t have) and refuses to change.  She’s loud, vibrant, and lovely  – and she is proud of it.

Five out of five stars!

I love this series so much!  This book is so excellent that it makes me want to go back to read the prequel to the series (“The Governess Affair”), the first in the series (“The Duchess War”), and the mini-novella (“A Kiss For Midwinter“)…perhaps I will.  🙂

Review: “When he was wicked”

Ebook Review:  “When He Was Wicked,” By: Julia Quinn

image Ah, it’s taken a little while to get here, but we’ve come to one of my favorite subgenre/themes/what ever you want to call it – the longing, tortured soul.  Call it whatever you want, judge all you want, but now and then, everyone likes to see it.  I’m not sure what that says about me as a reader/writer, but there you have it: I love the longing and I won’t apologize for it.  :p

Anyway, in “When He Was Wicked,” Michael (our rake/hero) falls deeply in love with Francesca upon laying eyes on her.  Unfortunately for him, this happens to be on the day of her wedding…to his sweet cousin, John.  Francesca and John are very much in love, and despite his secret love for her, Michael becomes good friends with Francesca.  He even entertains the young couple with filtered versions of his exploits when Francesca asks him to, “tell her something wicked,” since he is quite the naughty fellow with the ladies.

Sadly, John dies only a few years into his marriage to Francesca.  Michael is devastated to lose the cousin that was more like a brother to him and is laden with guilt when John’s title/land/money fall to him.  The guilt of wanting Francesca and sadness over John’s death cause Michael to flee to India, where he stays for several years.  Francesca is wrecked by losing a husband she loved, having a miscarriage over the stress, and not being able to lean on her friend (Michael) for the support she needs.

The story picks up again when Michael returns to England to fulfill his duties as the new Earl of Kilmartin, the first of which is to enter polite society and find a wife.  At the same time, Francesca (who has lived in mourning since John’s death) has decided that she wants a baby…which means that she’ll have to start husband hunting.

Francesca and Michael rekindle their friendship and unlike before, Francesca begins to feel attracted to him.  But the specter of John and their separate fears of hurting his memory keep the two apart.  Until the force that pulls them together cannot be stopped.

I really enjoyed this story for a few reasons: 1) well, we’ve already established that I enjoy “longing” in stories.  2) The characters actually have a good reason to be weary of being together – the feeling that they would be somehow dishonoring someone they both loved.  And unlike other books, that sometimes gloss over giant issues like this one, this book does not.  3) The hero decides that the only way to get our heroine to marry him is to seduce her – throughly.  Excellent.  And all you men thought that we wanted you to give us a diamond and to go down on one knee. <Giggle>  Tsk, Tsk.

I was, however, slightly annoyed with one romantic novel trope used in this novel – the hero/heroine (I won’t say which) doesn’t realize that they are in love until they think the other is near death.  Erg.  Luckily, this didn’t happen to the very end and was pretty short in duration.

I give this book 4 our of 5 stars for steaminess (our hero was a rake, after all) and heart twisting longings. One star deducted for, “oh, I didn’t realize I loved you until I thought you were going to die” trope.

Review – Again the Magic

Ebook Review:  “Again the Magic,” By Lisa Klepas

image

A prequel to the Wallflower series!   Oh, what wonders I discover while trolling for ebooks from the library before a business trip. 🙂

We previously met Marcus, Earl of Westcliff, in the Wallflower series. But in this lovely novel, we learn of the fate of his two older sisters – Aline and Livia.

Aline and a stable boy/servant, McKenna, share a deep and special bond of friendship at a young age.  This friendship blossoms into a powerful love.  However, after being discovered, they must part ways and Aline is forced to drive her lover away, in order to protect him from her vindictive, evil father.   (Gasp! A love story of two people from different social spheres, striving against the world for their love?! What more could the regency subgenre ask for?) 12 years later, McKenna returns to Aline’s family estate to exact revenge on the woman who wronged him, and of course, fails miserably as he is powerless in his love for her.

McKenna also brings with him a business partner, Gideon Shaw, who is the one person that is able to reach Aline and Marcus’ sister, Olivia, and draw her back into the real world (she’s suffered from a terrible twist of fate).

Again the Magic,” is sweet and equally heart wrenching, the kind of romance novel that so easily manipulates you into smiling mischievously one minute and threatening to make you cry (on a delayed airplane, for me) the next. As a result, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, an excellent read for a business trip or curled up at home on the couch. 🙂