Friday, May 22, 2009

Writing Advice

Once a month Harlequin American authors will post a snippet of writing advice. Many of our blog readers are aspiring writers and since all of us authors have experienced the ups and downs along the road to publication we thought we'd share what has helped us in our quest to be the best writers we can be. We hope you'll find these "snippets" helpful and we encourage you to share any "tips" you have with us.

Thanks to Laura's May's writing tip-o-the-month!

While sitting with a writing buddy at lunch one day, I found myself making excuses for why I hadn’t written as much as I’d hoped since our previous get together (work, kids, housecleaning, laundry, etc.). She looked at me and said, “thirty minutes. That’s all.”

We batted her idea around for a few minutes and came up with a thirty minutes/thirty days writing plan. We figured that we could always find thirty minutes in any given day. And if that’s all we got…it was better than nothing.

We tried it, and it worked! Sure, there are some days thirty minutes is all I get. But more often than not those thirty minutes have a way of stretching into an hour, two hours, and sometimes even longer.

Of all the tips I’ve tried over the years, this has been—by far—the best thing I’ve done for my writing.

Laura Bradford

Thursday, May 21, 2009

How Much is Too Much?

First, let me wish you a very good weekend as we creep toward Memorial Day here in the states. I say "creep" because my assistant at my office is out with her seriously ill husband, and we're all thinking of her family as we try to fill in her duties. I haven't written a bit in two weeks, at least. At night I remember how tired I used to be after working full time, writing and taking care of the family. (I've been working part-time and writing part-time for years, and quite frankly, I'm spoiled.) I'm faced with the reality that I'm not as young as I used to be! Energy really does go down as we get older. I've been trying to stay awake in my favorite chair every evening as I watch a few shows! (Favorites include Castle, Medium, Survivor, Dancing With the Stars and Amazing Race.)

As I think about writing and one of my favorite reality shows, Dancing With the Stars, I'm reminded that our heroes are a bit of reality and maybe a little more fantasy. I'm thinking of Ty, the champion cowboy (bull rider, I believe) who competed on the show. He was a pretty awkward dancer at first, and turned into a fairly talented entertainer near the end. He never lost his "aw shucks" mannerisms and down-to-earth appeal during the interviews. He also showed great determination, all of those being heroic traits. However, if we were writing him as a hero in one of our books, we might make him look a little bit more like Gilles, the tall, dark and handsome movie star. The reality is that bull riders are usually lean, strong, and not so tall.

I know that the traits that make our heroes appealing are based more in their backstories, personalities and values than in their looks. Mixing all of those together in an attractive package is rather difficult, at times. Sometimes I struggle with getting compassion and strength balanced. Sometimes I lose perspective and can't tell if the hero is believable or not. When this happens, I thank heavens for my critique partners, who will tell me if I've missed the mark.

My questions are: How important is reality when you are reading a novel? Is believability the most important element to you? How hard is it to suspend disbelief, and is there one type of hero that is more difficult for you to like (or fall in love with?)

Again, have a great and hopefully long weekend. Maybe we'll all get to sit a while in our favorite chair, perhaps even with a good book!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm Late!

Sorry to post this blog late.

This month is life in the fast lane for the Dunaway household. In fact, I just remembered it was the 20th, that was after fixing the garbage disposal. Real women have their own sets of allen wrenches, drills, augers and all sorts of tools.

I've got weeding piled up and tons of laundry--mainly my teenager's who was recently diagnosed as being allergic to cats. We have 6. The doctor has her on Nasonex as she's not about to give up her pets, or the cat that sleeps with her. But she did give up her comforter set for a quilt that we can wash weekly, and we're working on getting her mattress cover on.

Work is crazy too. Not only am I at school every Friday night as part of my teaching job--for the yearbook must go out--but I just finished revisions on my February 2009 book this past weekend. Then today I learned that I sold another book, so that will mean getting right back to work.

I am finished teaching on June 1 with a June 2 teacher day, and then I have one more day June 10. I go back to school on July 28 to distribute yearbooks, which is really the first day back for me as kids are back in school August 12 to begin classes. So I really don't have much of a summer, and I'll spend it working on that book for American and two pet projects. Wow.

So life is crazy. Hopefully on my next post I'll be calm, collected, and contained. Until then, have a great memorial day weekend.


Monday, May 18, 2009

The Rescuers

No, not those cute little mice from Disney, although The Rescuers is one of my favorite “kid” movies. I have a thing for a hero who steps up and makes something a little easier for the heroine, especially when he’d rather do anything but that. Or maybe I should say a hero who tries to make something easier, because more often than not, it backfires.

It took me several books—some still under the bed collecting dust—to realize that I have a penchant for the kind of men who go beyond what’s expected. I’ve never figured out why. Maybe it’s the shining-knight-on-a-white-horse image or maybe I’ve secretly just wanted to be rescued—from the dishes, a bad day, a rain puddle (Sir Walter Raleigh to the rescue!), or myself.

In The Rodeo Rider, the hero offers to help the heroine overcome her fear of horses. She isn’t all crazy about the idea, but that doesn't sway him. He's going to help! His first attempt (of course!) backfires, frightening the heroine, who secretly longs to ride. But a good hero never gives up. He simply finds a better way to do it, sometimes by taking the heroine by surprise.

A hero who goes out of his way to do a good turn for the heroine always gets a little piece of my heart, especially if he had no intentions of helping, but did it anyway. It portrays a chivalry that we assume has been lost, although I believe it’s still there and always will be. At least in my heroes. :)

(By the way, Sir Walter never did spread his cloak on the puddle for the Queen. It’s pure fiction.)

Roxann Delaney
The Rodeo Rider - August 2009
Bachelor Cowboy - January 2010