Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Like Scrambled Eggs

For the last fourteen months or so, we've been eating primal/paleo which means eggs for breakfast every morning. I've learned to cook a large variety of egg meals. One of the easiest and most versatile is scrambled eggs. I've also learned the trick of not making rubbery scrambled eggs. The trick is: low and slow. As soon as you up the temperature, it turns into hard, rubbery balls. But it takes time and patience. I have to start at least twenty minutes before my husband comes through for his breakfast else it won't be ready.

I'm learning that sometimes writing is like scrambled eggs. I'm an impatient person. I like things done and achieved here and now. It's been a whirlwind year for me. In the space of about nine months, I signed five publishing contracts. I'm used to fast and furious. But it's not working with my writing at the moment. I need to ease my breath, sit down and ponder. Ponder, stew and stir. Talk about stew: the low and slow ones always taste better. I'm making stew for supper tonight. I have a recipe that takes about four hours to make, but oh, what a difference to the meat. It drops off the bone into soft, juicy pieces instead of being so hard you break your ten-year old fillings on it. (The red wine in the recipe helps too.)

A writing mentor said something valuable a short while back when I was struggling with sticking to books that I'd started. I'd trashed a 17,000 word book because the heroine wasn't interesting enough. I'd already started and stopped three ideas before that. How frustrating to have spent all that time writing and have nothing solid to show for it. There's this pressure to keep books coming. But there's also the pressure to produce quality. She said that when a book idea comes to you, leave it for a while. Stew on it. If the idea won't let you go, then it's the one. Wedding Gown Girl's idea was one of those that wouldn't let go. So was Dragonfly Moment's. I think she gave a very valid point.

I'd started another book just before the 17,000 word one but put it aside to concentrate on The Creators Series. You see, Dragonfly Moments is book one of the The Creators. The creators are characters who create. Tessa is an artist. So, each of my books will have a hero or heroine or both who create things. Anyway, I wanted to work on Tim's story. But the heroine in his story didn't work. She was too wimpy. I'd started another book set in Zambia where I lived for seven years. I kept on wanting to go back to that book but knew I needed to work on the book two. I did go back because the characters were calling. Then I had an absolutely wonderful revelation. My heroine is a creator. She's a ballet teacher and choreographs dances. This book can be my number two.

It doesn't stop there though. This book is taking some time to write. One reason, is busyness in my life at the moment. I don't have huge chunks of writing time anymore. I have to make time. Also, I'm taking it slow. I'm researching, working on setting and pondering everything. I think the more I learn about the craft, the longer I take to write a book.

There are times that call for fast and furious. Nanowrimo is one of those times. And it does produce results. My Nano novel from last year is coming out with Astraea Press in early July. It's going through a fast and furious edit to get it out in time. Kind of like cooking a soup or stew as opposed to fried steak. Hope that the quality doesn't suffer with speed.

Just a snippit of info you may enjoy: Decadent Publishing is having a fantastic giveaway. Check it out: Decadent Publishing Giveaway

Image courtesy of

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Fingers are Itching

My fingers are itching with excitement as my book, Dragonfly Moments, has a release date. And that release date is next week Wednesday, the 22nd of May. I don't know why I'm so excited about this book. Maybe it's because the editors at Decadent Publishing took it to a whole new level. The usual angst before release day isn't there. I feel almost confident.

I can't stress enough how writing is a team effort. I admire those authors that have the courage and skill to successfully self-publish without hiring an editor. (I've done it myself when I wasn't ready.) I admire their ability to trust their own work. There's something liberating about having professionals work with your book who have so much more experience in the publishing world and who are often seasoned writers themselves. Also, to have an editor check out all the grammar nitty gritty. There's something about grammar. The more I seem to learn, the more confused I get. I'm hoping when I get a new grammar programme for my kids at school and as I teach them, I will become better at constructing perfect sentences.

The other benefit of working with a great team, is that you learn so much from them along the way. Your writing can progress and reach higher heights for the next work.

What I love about Decadent Publishing, too, is their assistance with promo and the way they communicate and keep you abreast through the whole process.

Dragonfly Moments is one of my more serious books. Wedding Gown Girl and Reminding Me of You were more flirty and fun. Although the writing of Dragonfly Moments was just as fun. Here is the blurb to give you a taste of what will be entering the cyber romance world soon:

A young woman’s first love walks back into her life at the worst time possible—she is about to start a family with another man. But when her dreams begin to crumble, which one will be there to help her pick up the pieces?

Seven years earlier, Tessa Calitz wrote a letter to Ryan le Roux promising her undying love. As time passed, she forgot about that letter...but not Ryan, who clung to the hope that she would wait for him.

Such is not the case when he walks back into her life. Tessa is in a serious relationship, and is busy setting up her art gallery in Johannesburg. She has plans to start a family, and the arrival of Ryan into her life throws her for a spin.

He is the worst thing that could happen to her dream of stability and starting a family...or is he?

Because when her relationship and everything she clung to starts to crumble, Ryan is right beside her to inspire her to greater things.

But her obsession for having her own child pushes Ryan away when she falls in love with an orphaned HIV-positive baby.

Will Tessa push him away forever or open her heart to what she has longed for all along?

The other exciting thing is that Dragonfly Moments is part one of a series called "The Creators." I'm working on part two right now (in between lots of promo work.)

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Awesome Eiffel Tower

In "Reminding Me of You," Mia and Bryn kiss for the first time up the Eiffel Tower. Mia is petrified of heights and Bryn comforts her. That's the start of a Paris affair that leads to much confusion in Mia who thinks she loves someone else.

I adore Paris. Mostly because it contains the Louvre and I'm crazy about the famous artists' works, especially Renoir and Monet's Impressionist paintings. But I also love the French architecture and their quaint restaurants. The whole Mediterranean area appeals to me and I would love to visit there one day. That's why I set my book partly in Paris.

The Eiffel Tower is one of Paris's attractions. When I did research on it, I discovered how huge it actually is.

According to Wikipedia, the Eiffel Tower is the tallest structure in Paris and is the most visited paid monument in the world. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.

Even though it no longer holds the title of the highest building in the world, it certainly holds merit in terms of height. It's 320 metres or 1050 feet high. The highest accessible platform available to view from is about 279 metres or 916 feet high and is only reached via a lift. Mia and Bryn only went up to the first platform which meant they climbed 300 steps.

The Eiffel Tower was built in the World Exhibition of 1889 in celebration of the French Revolution a hundred years earlier. At the time, many people feared it wouldn't fit into French architecture and that it would be copied and architecture would lose it's individuality. This didn't happen as predicted. The tower was designed by Gustav Eiffel who used to build bridges and he incorporated his bridge building techniques into the design of the structure which took more than two years to complete. It was constructed out of 12,000 prefabricated pieces of wrought iron fastened with about seven million nails.

What is the magic of the majestic structure?

I think the magic is in its individuality. It creates the characteristic skyline of Paris and is an icon of France. Close up, the structure is enormous, towering above you like a giant mesh of iron, light filtering through the weave in beautiful patches. At night, it is lit with a myriad of lights, sparkly and energetic. Not only looking at the structure is magical, but viewing Paris from the structure is even more so. Now I speak as if I've been there. This link makes me feel like I'm really there: Panorama. Paris is truly the most beautiful city in the world! You just have to watch the whole panorama on this link.

I'm hosting a giveaway of "Reminding Me of You," to a lucky commentor on this blog post. Taste a bit of Paris in my romantic novella.

Images courtesy of (danielito and sioda)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Grit, Guts and Gumption

I've read several posts on this topic, and it may be quite familiar to many writers, but this time, it comes from my heart and I had to share my experience with it.

As much as I love being a writer, it's hard, very hard. When I first started writing as an adult about ten years ago, the thrill was intense. I had lofty dreams of publishing contracts, best-selling novels, and many adoring fans. Actually, not so sure about the adoring fans part. With it came lots of angst, insecurity, and disillusionment. But I loved every minute of the story. The words flowed endlessly. I had no idea what it was like to experience writer's block.

Jump forward ten years. I've self-published several books and have signed a few publishing contracts with two of my books out already. The angst hasn't gone away - it's magnified. But, sadly, the thrill has died somewhat. I won't say completely, but I would say it's tempered. I have these moments when the muse takes over and the words flow freely, but it rarely lasts through a whole book. Nanowrimo helps immensely but I can't just write one book a year. In fact, I love writing so much that I'm miserable if I don't have a project to work on. Crazy contradictions.

One thing I know is that writing takes much courage, determination, self-discipline, and stickability. You have to write through the dry patches.

For me the hardest part of a book is sometimes the middle, but most of the time, the beginning. I absolutely despise coming up with a new book idea. Ideas pop into my head, but I'm so unsure of them. Will they work? Will I keep inspired with the idea? Will it sell?

When I finished "Three Tiers for Win," I couldn't come up with a new idea. I started a chapter in two book ideas but they didn't work. The frustration was immense. What if I never came up with a decent idea ever again? What if I'd lost my ability to write? Oh dear, crazy but familiar feelings.

Finally I came up with an idea but have left it to work on a sequel to "Dragonfly Moments" instead. The thing that inspired me was my editor suggesting I write Tim's story. Her suggestion gave me the motivation to stick to this book. The first 10 000 words have been like wading through syrup. It hasn't been easy. Yesterday, I felt like giving up on the story - not the characters. But I keep on writing, despite the pain, despite the doubts, and because it's my work.

Not every day is the same. Some days are easy, some days are hard, others are inbetween. Some days you think you wrote junk but when you read it the next day, you love it. Other days you think you've written your best but when you read it the next day, it stinks. The fickle moods of a writer. Sigh ....

So, like any other job or career, we have to stick to it through the hard times and the easy ones.

Today I had a breakthrough with my book. Now I can see a way forward with my characters.

I'm a pantster. That's another difficult thing. I start a book with a very general idea of where it's going, but don't plan the details. Every time I've planned a book in detail beforehand, all the inspiration for it has fled. It's like the thrill of the unknown has been taken away. I love not knowing how it's going to pan out. Of course, I always aim for a HEA, but I never know exactly how it's going to happen. As much as this is my only way to write, it causes problems. I reached a spot in my WIP where I could see no way forward. The story seemed too simple with too little conflict and sparks. Now if I'd planned it, that wouldn't have happened. Tell my right brain that. Yesterday, I stared at the screen but couldn't write. So, I switched off my computer and went to bed. Today, I forced myself to write something, anything. After a while, the ideas started to flow. I had to leave my work to prepare supper but as I worked in the kitchen, more ideas came. I've climbed over the hill into a valley of ease. I think the muse is going to be good to me for a while. The grit and gumption paid off at last.

As the very well-used and familiar phrase goes - apply butt to chair. That's the best way to become and to stay a writer. And never give up.

To top it, I found the most delightful review of "Wedding Gown Girl" on Amazon today. These words touched me:

This is definitely one story that this author uses her magic in a wonderfully written story. The characters were all colorful and this story only produces a "gentle and tender romance that touches the heart with its' honesty." Be ready for a good read. Would I recommend this read? Yes!