Twitter Inspiration

Found out about National Romance Novel Writing Month, aka NaRoNoWriMo, a little late but decided to jump in anyway. Need all the inspiration I can get for Luke and Chloe, the star-crossed lovers in my WIP. Plus, they’re on Twitter @naronowrimo so I can check in. Got 300 more hard-won words today, and that’s all good. I revised 45 pages as well.

Traditionally, NaNoWriMo is “all new words” but that’s not what I need and I don’t think NaRoNoWriMo cares that I’m in revision mode. For me, that means going through, page by page, and adding to the story, upping the conflict and hotness factor. When I say hotness factor, I’m not talking 50 Shades of anything–I’m talking about the initial attraction between two people who are perfect for each other.

That’s priority one for me. I want the romance to shoot the moon. And when I wrote the first draft, I didn’t take it far enough. (Thank you to my critique group: Vernie Dale, Tom Phillips, and Bob Baker!) The other thing I need to do is flesh out a skimpy subplot that absolutely plays into the main theme of the story and is tightly entwined. In the first draft, that got very short shrift. My writing pals sat in my dining room a week or two ago and helped me brainstorm where the book needed filling out.

Because for me, it’s always about filling in the parts I skip over. Every writer has her weak spot, and that’s mine. What that means in practical terms is the first draft will be short, lots of it will be internal monologue (telling where it should be showing) instead of action, dialogue and conflict. So I need to use what I have but carefully cut the “sitting and thinking” and fill in the right stuff. The best stuff: Action. Dialogue. Conflict.

Revising, I also look at language and try to add color and humor. Cut those cliches right out of my book! One way to do that is to switch the cliche up with a new edge. Thank you Twitter for leading me yet again into inspiration! If you’d like to follow me, I’m @CynthiaHarriso1. I always follow back real people who are not scary:)

Book of My Heart

Having a super difficult time with putting my butt in the writing chair. General busy-ness. Birthday. Friends. Fun. Social media. Lee Child. Selling house. Looking at new places. Cleaning like crazy. A busy life is one part of why I have not written in the past week or so. The other part of it is my story.

This novel I am working on is “The One” — the book of my heart, as the romance writers say. And that makes it a joy but also very tough. I am writing about a personal truth with fictional characters. I need to make one character (the ex husband) so far from the real person, (the one he used to be; I don’t know him at all now) and it’s giving me fits.

It’s really hard to take someone you respect and love and make them into a creep. But I have to do it. For the story. It’s the only thing that works. This guy is a minor character in the novel but he is a major pain. I’ve got to fill him out more. I thought I could get away with a quick sketch, you know how some writers can do that with just a few words and you’ve got the whole picture? I’m not able to do that with this guy. I tried. It didn’t work. He’s too complex.

It’s easy to avoid people when they are on the page and not in your face. Put the book in a drawer. Clean another closet. Go out to lunch (again.) But that’s not what I really want. What I really want is this book finished before I go back to school. And that means I need to work on it. I have taken notes, I have ruminated, I think I have an answer to my dilemma. Now, I must execute it. It’s time. If not now, then when?

I have been saying if I get this book published, I’ll die happy. I will have fulfilled my life’s purpose to the extent that I understand it. So, if I don’t finish it, if I give up now, I will be forever pissed at myself. I will die mad at my own lazy ass. Which at the moment is in the chair, so I might as well click over to Word and get busy.






Forgot to mention to my publisher and editor that Blue Heaven is the first book in a series. Luke’s #1 Rule is the second of that series. I have an idea for a third…so anyway I finally wrote to my editor today and told her about the series idea. For me, as a reader, I do not want to read series that are obvious. I don’t want mentions of people who are not integral to the plot. I don’t want allusions to incidents past. Not unless it fits in the book as a stand-alone.

Every book in my series must first be a stand-alone. Since it is the setting, not the main characters, that stays the same, I think it shouldn’t be too much of a problem doing this. But really, I can’t believe that little “series” idea completely slipped my mind until this morning when I was pondering revisions. I shot off an email to the very kind and patient editor (this is not my first email to her!) and await her verdict.

Where Truth Meets Fiction

I wrote the memoir. It was a short piece for an anthology that doesn’t pay much, so just this morning, I decided not to send it. I don’t need the publication credit, and I don’t want it out there. It might hurt my husband or it might not, but he’s not the only one I’m thinking about. My sons don’t need to see this.

I think of all the people who I’ve hurt, all of those who hurt me, all of the times I’d had to forgive, the times I needed to be forgiven. The past–it will haunt you if you let it. The one who lifted my shirt while I was sleeping and touched me when I was a girl. The one who said a nasty thing to me, something a friend should never say. The one who talked to my chest every time I saw him when he should have been looking at my eyes. The one who grabbed my ass behind the bar. The one…well, you get it.

I still admire the idea of writing about stepfamilies and I realized that this is exactly what I am doing in my fiction. I am writing my second novel about “steps.” It’s a theme with me, and this is the way to get it out. Not through biography, but through my truest eyes. It seems strange, but I can be far more truthful in my fiction than I can in any other type of writing.

How to Overcome Rejection Fast

Last night’s mail contained a rejection of Luke’s #1 Rule from Harlequin. As soon as I saw the envelope, my heart dropped. I didn’t have to open it. I already knew it was a rejection. My husband brought in the mail, and I slid the envelope from the pile of mail and hid it behind my back. I didn’t want him to know that, once again, I had failed.

He didn’t notice as he’d just played a round of golf and was ready to hop in the shower. I was able to open my mail in private and it was as I had somehow known in my gut. The editor said very nice things about my writing and offered to look at anything else I have to show her.

What did me in was not explaining my character’s motivations in the synopsis. As a result, this editor could not believe in these characters and their actions. I need to read the ms. again to see if I make the motivations strong enough. It could be that I did, and just failed to convey it in the synopsis. Whatever it was, bottom line–my novel was rejected. Again.

I have been reading Eckhart Tolle, who uses an effective way to transform pain. His idea is to feel the pain, but don’t attach a story to it. So I tried that. My heart felt heavy. My gut twisted. My throat closed. I let myself feel these emotions and each time I was tempted to go back into my rejection story, I shut that story off and just stayed with my emotions. By the time my husband had finished his shower, I was feeling better.

I still didn’t tell him, though. I wanted to watch the season premiere of Burn Notice with him. We have very few television programs in common and this is one. We’d both been eagerly anticipating the new season of Michael and friends. I did make myself a chocolate martini, but Al didn’t think that was anything out of the ordinary. We had a nice evening together without the weight of rejection spoiling things.

This morning when I woke up, the pain was still there. I continued to set aside the story and stay with my feelings. Soon, I saw a brighter side to the rejection. I do have a new book I’ve been wanting to write. I haven’t written anything new in so long. So, I can send her those new pages when they’re finished. But first, I want to complete Sugar Shack and get in on Kindle. It’s almost ready. And now I have even more incentive to finish the Kindle project.

So that’s the trick, really, to overcoming any type of painful emotion. Let yourself feel as shitty as you feel. Don’t go into denial, don’t ignore your pain. Give it space to process, but don’t spin the story out. It is what it is. Dont’ make it worse by embellishing the bare facts of the story. Of course, after the pain has passed and a cooler head prevails, it’s good to take a look at what you can gain from the experience.

I learned that I need to step up my synopsis game. For every big action, I need to elucidate the motivation behind it. I’m also really happy that I can continue work on Sugar Shack and that it will soon be published. Plus there’s the very cool news that I’ll be writing a new story this summer instead of having to dive back into Luke’s #1 Rule so soon.