Writing isn’t all glam and cocktails, you know…

romancing-the-stone-special-edition-20061016035744678-000Have you ever seen the movies Misery or Romancing the Stone? Both feature writers banging out the final paragraph of their books before they triumphantly type THE END, culminating with either an elaborate ritual or an all-encompassing snif of enormous satisfaction. Now although it’s true that most writers look more like Kathleen Turner sporting a red nose and a dirty bathrobe than James Caan with his Dom Perignon, it’s also true that if there’s a writer out there who is really and truly done when she types THE END, then I’ve yet to meet her. The fact is it’s the rare person who emits perfection the first time.  My best writing usually comes through in the rewrite, which I’m sure is true with most: it’s all in the editing.

But there are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to the nip/tuck of the edit (perhaps more, but I’ll just focus on two, or we could be here all day.) The first is the “just write it!”, the second is to edit on the fly. Both have their merits, and neither method is wrong.

The average novel is anywhere from 75,000 to 125,000 words, or 300-500 double-spaced pages, most falling somewhere in between. For a work of this length, I’ve known “just write it!” writers to pump out 200,000 to 300,000 words before they finally take a breath and fan the smoke off their laptops. Many take their inspiration from such methods as Book In a Week or NaNoWriMo which instructs participants to just get it out–no editing, no going back over what’s been written. The point is to get the words down and create a first draft, and worry about the revising later. The main thrust is to get the ideas out. I believe this method works well for people who plot their story out beforehand, who work from outlines, or, to take the opposite tack, who write best in stream-of-consciousness. Like a virulent case of verbal vomit, “just write it!” writers throw it all against the wall, deciding to see what’ll stick after it dries.

I prefer to fix on the fly and edit whiile I write. Unlike my plotting, I’m deliberate in my revising. Usually I go back to edit before starting another writing session, whether that session is a couple of hours worth or from the day before. Most of the time I do both, and always if I set it aside for a while, as I’ve done now by revisiting the novel I put aside last year. The advantages to this is it keeps the story fresh in your head, lets you and fix plot or continuity problems, and you’re certainly writing more concisely and compactly, as you’re choosing your words more carefully, not just pumping out the first thing that flies into your head. Of course, there’s always the chance, with constant revisiting, that you’ll drain the life out of your prose. The last thing you want to do is beat it into an over-processed, mechanical bore. But this method does help if you tend to lose track of your story, working even better if you’re actively writing every day and on a deadline.

Neither method is right for everyone, and you may work best under a combination of the two. The important thing is you’re writing, and if it takes a bit of the nip and tuck, or more than a few Joycean interior monologues to get you going, then damn the Spell Check–full speed ahead!

 

Five Sure Signs the Holidays are Coming

vintage-christmas-shopping-pinterestHere’s a post making the rounds of my recent Blog Tour. You know, in case you missed it. Doubtful, right?

It’s December and the Holidays are coming, a time for parties and family and my favorite part—lots and lots of cookies. Rather than get caught up in the chaos that befalls so many this time of year, and I simply let it all rumble past like a runaway train, and if something happens to fall out of the caboose for me, so be it.  But if you believe the concept driving the season is peace and not what-piece-is-for-you, then here’s a few hints to let you know just how far behind you are:

  1. The Great Work Stoppage -As soon as the Thanksgiving turkey comes out of the oven, it’s as if everyone forgets they have a job. Suddenly all meetings become holiday parties, and if you’re expecting that report to get finished, you might as well call back next year. In my day job I’m a college professor, and I nearly have to hit my students over the head with their final exam to get them to even remember my name.
  2. Vanishing Editors -If you were hoping to get your manuscript sold before the end of the year, you can forget it if you didn’t hear by Turkey Day. From then until after New Year’s, editors, as well as a goodly amount of agents, take a breather and make the rounds of Gotham’s holiday celebrations, where I imagine a fair amount of dealmaking takes place over the babaganoush. If you’re the writer, think of it as a temporary reprieve from submission angst.
  3. Everything’s on Sale - Back in the day, you used to have to wait until after Christmas to get a price cut, but thanks to retail giants like Wal-Mart and Macy’s, the discounts only get deeper the closer you get to the big day. Which is fine, because if you’re like me, the shopping starts the day before, and I’m all about half-off.
  4. The Dread Christmas Sweater -Think about it: if it wasn’t the holidays, would you ever wear that sweater in public? Do you actually like rick-rack, glitter, Rudolph’s battery-operated flashing nose, or cable-knitted Thomas Kinkade reproductions on your chest? So much better to wear the DCS’s less offensive cousins, The Christmas Socks. At least we only have to endure them when you cross your legs.
  5. “Oh go ahead – it’s the Holidays.” – Which means, go ahead and eat that brandy cheesecake as big as your head. What the hell – you’re on Lipitor anyway, and your blood test isn’t until January. Which also means you can eat half that Hickory Farm’s beef stick, which is my personal holiday no-denial favorite. No fooling, I’m stocking up!

Happy Holidays!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!Ah, Thanksgiving! The start of the Holiday Season and the end of all sanity. But not me. I’m taking each day one at a time. Which means remembering there’s always tomorrow to resume eating right again. For now, at least for today, there’s the Jersey equivalent of seasonal weather going on outside, making it all cozy and warm in here. So I can ignore the fact it’s slowly turning from freezing rain to sleet, and will eventually end up as snow just when I’ll be leaving to pick up my niece from the train. Oh well. What are holidays besides family time, and we’d do well to remember what’s really important in life, and gather them around us. Like Yuengling and pumpkin pie. C’mere, you…

Happy Thanksgiving, to all!

RELEASE DAY – THE LAWS OF SEDUCTION

TheLawsofSeduction (2)HiResWhen Rex Renaud, the COO of Mercier Shipping, is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, he knows he’ll need a miracle to clear his name … and sassy lawyer Charlotte Andreko is the perfect woman for the job. Charlotte has built her career defending pro bono clients against womanizers like Rex Renaud, and she’d much rather let him sweat it out in a jail cell than defend him in court. Yet Rex swears he’s been set up, and when he offers her a shocking sum of money in exchange for her legal counsel, the financial security is too tempting to resist. The court dubs Rex a serious flight risk—how many people have their own jet?—and he’s released on one condition: Charlotte’s his new jailer, and he’s stuck with her until his arraignment. But when a bomb threat sends Rex and Charlotte on the run, neither is prepared for the explosive chemistry and red-hot passion that flare between them as they hunt for the truth about his arrest.

BUY NOW at HarperCollins.com!

Tenacity, thy name is Writer

Gwen signingAh yes, there I am in New York at BEA back in June, signing copies of Wanted: Wife at the RWA booth. I’m happy to say that I “sold” every copy HarperCollins provided for me. Okay, I’m lying. They were free, and three-quarters of the people asked for them not to be personalized. Kind of reminded me when I was at a BEA authors’ breakfast the year before, and I asked the same thing of Chris Matthews of “Hardball” on MSNBC. He laughed out loud in that inimitable Chris Matthews way and said, “Ha! Better to sell it on eBay!” No, I thought, feeling slightly chagrined. He was so mobbed, I was trying to save him some time. Even so, I was under no illusion my many “fans” were thinking eBay about me. Seems most of them were librarians or booksellers, and WW would soooo fit nicely into that raffle basket…

Not that I cared. Truly, I didn’t. At this stage of my career, I’m just happy you asked. Writers are funny that way. We can be a cloistered folk, especially when we’re deep into a project, but if you want to get a writer’s attention, just ask her what she’s working on. If the work’s going smoothly, she’ll jabber on about it. If it’s going badly, she’ll give you a scowl that’ll melt glass.

I’m kinda at the in between stage right now, just starting a new project, and just pushing one out in the real world on Tuesday, November 18th. That would be The Laws of Seduction, the third book in my “French Kiss” series, and a bit different from what I’ve written before. It’s somewhat darker, but it was written at a very dark point in my life. I started it the day before my mother died suddenly, and worked through and finished it while I was still in mourning. In fact, this picture was taken just six days after her death and three days before her funeral, and to tell you the truth, as excited as I was to do a signing at BEA, I was pretty much in a daze. But I soldiered on. I think Mom would have wanted me to.

I’m somewhat better now, though I still miss her, of course. But out of all that sadness came something I’m pretty proud of. The writing, the plain work of it, got me through a very tough time by giving me something other than my grief to think about, and through it all, reaffirmed my conviction to the craft of writing. I knew then that if I could write through those dark days, I would never have an excuse again to not write when the times were so much better. Because as a writer, I was doing what writers do–write. I sincerely hope, with this next book, you’ll agree.

Grrls to Women and the Men Who Love Them

TheLawsofSeduction (2)HiRes Haven’t you guessed by now? I’m all about strong women. Grrls aside, my female protagonists know that it takes a woman to make it in a man’s world, and even though they’re willing to compromise, that doesn’t include their principles. This includes Charlotte Andreko, Esq. in The Laws of Seduction, my latest in the French Kiss series, which will make its e-book debut one month from today on 18 November. You see, when Rex Renaud, the COO of Mercier Shipping, is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, he knows he’ll need a miracle to clear his name, and he calls on Charlotte, a non-nonsense feminist lawyer, to defend him. Why? Because truly strong men are attracted to equally strong women, and in Charlotte, he’s more than met his match in intelligence and wit. Read the first chapter here, then perhaps pre-order a copy. Watch for a blog book tour coming next month and as always, thanks for reading.