>What’s It All About Monica

>Over at the GabWagon.com, my friend Natalie challenged us to fess up to some different writer questions. Here they are.

What’s the last thing you wrote?

The Sheikh’s Courtesan

Was it any good?

My first reader says so, the jury (my agent) will have the final verdict and the judge (editors) will have final sentencing.

What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?

If we’re talking novels, that would be Sweet Shrew, which I wrote for HQ (rejected) and is a contemporary take off on The Taming of the Shrew

Favorite genre of writing?

Historical and paranormal.

I’ve tried contemporary, but I don’t think I have the voice for it, although I do have a couple of old stories that might work well for HQ’s line. It’s just finding the time to rewrite. Grrrr

Most fun character you ever wrote?

Simon Carton from A Bluestocking Christmas. He’s an arrogant, son-of-a-bitch in the first part of the story, but as the story progresses and Ivy brings him to his knees, he’s totally redeemed and I love him. He’s just so bold, charismatic and he has a wicked tongue.

Most annoying character you ever wrote?

My characters tend to be love ‘em or hate ‘em. I don’t know of any characters of mine that I found annoying. Now I’m sure that there are readers who would probably find some of mine objectionable, but I can’t name the characters.

How often do you get writer’s block?

I don’t have writer’s block per se, more like “God, I’m so tired of this crap, I don’t want to write.”

How do you fix it?

I watch movies, tv, read, play video games. It’s amazing the number of ideas I get playing a video game with Baby

Do you type or write by hand?

I pretty much type, but when I’m editing I print off the book and I write new paras or rewrite paras on the back of the paper or on a notepad. I also carry a pad of paper in my purse (small spiral) and sometimes I use my PDA…I’ve even used the back of a medical form at the doc’s office. LOL

Do you save everything you write?

Yep, I’ll gut something, but I cut and paste it and then I put it in a file. I’m a digital pack rat. I often will go back into those files and review lines, because some lines that I have to cut are wonderful writing, but I can’t find a way to meld them into the current story, so maybe I can utilize the in a later story. I like to recycle. LOL

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?

Yes, In fact, there are two books I want to rewrite as time permits because I love the story so much but the writing stinks.

What’s your favorite thing that you’ve written?

Damn, I hate questions like this, because I love ALL my works for different reasons. If I had to choose one that means something special it would have to be Love’s Portrait because it’s about overcoming something terrible and learning to live again rather than shutting oneself from life. It’s truly a personal story for me.

What’s your favorite setting for your characters?

Call me crazy (because personally I can’t take the heat and I’m terrified of snakes), but there’s something incredibly romantic about the desert. In particular the Sahara and Egypt. If you look at the dunes in the Sahara, there’s some exquisite scenery that tells me God loves the raw, primal vitality of the land, despite its lack of water. Maybe it’s the challenge it requires to live in the desert that I like, because I love challenges.

How many projects are you working on right now?

Well, I just finished a book and I’m working on the synop…but I’m also planning out the next paranormal novella, and two historicals are burning up the stove in the back of my head, plus the possibility of a sale with my Master of Sin book subsequent series. Lots popping, which makes life hectic.

Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper?

Yes, I’ve been published in the Beta Sigma Phi magazine, and I’ve had a photo used by a Biker’s magazine. I also wrote a number of articles for Virginia Business Magazine on technology.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?

Well, I’ve finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart, the Eppie’s, and the Passionate Plume and the Red River Contests. I don’t consider 2nd or 3rd places or finals anything of substance. If my work isn’t first place, it’s not an award as far as I’m concerned. Truthfully, the only reason I do contests is to hope I final so I can gain a little exposure for a few bucks. It’s amazing what a final in the Eppie’s or GH or etc. can garner you in the online community. It does have it’s advantages in terms of publicity, but rarely translates to sales.

Ever written something in script or play format?

No, although I did explore the idea. My nephew is studying at the UNC’s film school, and we’ve talked about me writing something and him directing it. THAT would be sooooo cool for me!

What are your five favorite words?

that’s a tough question, because I love words period, anything that I don’t get to use a lot of would be a favorite — vitriolic, fragrant, epiphany, pithy, equanimity

What character that you’ve written most resembles yourself?

Lady Aurora Lyndham from Dangerous. I wanna be her when I get old. Tough, feisty and definitely the mistress of her domain. She’s the epitome of tough love

Where do you get ideas for your other characters?

It’s more of a what does the hero/heroine need in order to get to point B from point A

Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Some of my best stories have evolved plot wise and dialogue wise in my dreams. I specifically lay in bed and think about what I want to happen before I drift off to sleep, and then while I’m under the Muse does her work. I’ll wake up and while I won’t necessarily remember dialogue word for word, I do remember the gist of it, and when I write it, the words come back.

Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliffhangers?

I think it depends on what type of book I’m reading. I want an ending that’s satisfying, but it doesn’t always have to be a happy ending. Although I do favor them more.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Nah, I’m good at both, and generally Word just ticks me off because it doesn’t want to cut me slack when I know I need to use a comma vs. a semi-colon. Yeah, BILL, the semi-colon might be correct, but it stops readers cold.

Quote something you’ve written.

“He stirred in his slumber, and a long, muscular leg thrust its way out from under the sheet to reveal the limb from foot to hip. The line of his thigh was beautiful. No artist could have created a shape so perfectly male. And there was nothing more dangerous than Morgan St. Claire and the unbelievable maleness of him.” Julia Westgard, Love’s Portrait

>Are You a Hannibal Or A Dalai Lama

>I’ve been writing an epilogue to my upcoming release from Samhain, Dangerous. The epilogue will be offered up free on my website a week after the book goes on sale. When I originally wrote Dangerous, the ending seemed final enough. However, my fantastic editor, Immi Howsen, convinced my muse that the book would benefit from significant changes. With those changes, I realized the ending wasn’t quite so cut and dried after all. It’s not like I left any loose ends that a reader can’t explain away, but there were a couple of things I wanted to delve into. Primarily the hero’s psyche at the end of the book.

Into The Breach Once More

In Dangerous, Lucien Blakemore is under a curse. It’s something that’s haunted him for years, but the heroine eventually makes him see he can come out into the light. But personal experience has taught me that once you’ve been immersed in darkness, there’s always a part of you that will remain in the dark. I wanted to explore that concept with Lucien. I wanted to see if I could take the character back into the darkness and then bring him back out again. It’s not quite as easy as it sounds. I’m not even a 1/3 of the way done with the epilogue, and I’m finding it difficult to yank someone so happy back into the darkness.

A Knife In The Back

Still, I keep remembering a post of Natalie’s titled Killing Your Darlings. While I’m hardly going to kill Lucien, I do intend to put a knife in his back, and that’s not going to be so easy for me. I mean the poor guy has gone through a lot, and now I’m going to make him relive some of that darkness? I know what that kind of a backslide that can be, so writing this won’t be easy.

So how easy do you find it to slice into a character’s psyche or soul? Are you as vicious as Hannibal Lector or are you compassionate like the Dalai Lama?


>I’m Running Out of Excuses

>Ok, I’m running out of excuses here, but I can’t help it that time is slipping away from me faster and faster as each day passes. This post was supposed to hit cyberspace last week, but somehow it didn’t. Ummm, could that be because I didn’t click the PUBLISH button???

Anyway, last week over at the GabWagon one my blog partners came up with this neat idea of posting some questions that all of us would answer. She made it easy for me. Well, making it easy for me and actually being able to take it easy are two entirely different things.

Anyway, the questions are related to how I write. It may or may not entertain you. Hopefully it will entertain as opposed to lulling you to sleep.

1. Are you a “pantser” or a “plotter?”

Pantser. I always fly butt naked. I like to be free. Recently though I’ve learned that doing a little plotting can keep one out of a corner and help in writing a synopsis BEFORE the book is done. So I’m slowly being taken over by the dark side of plotting.

2. Detailed character sketches or “their character will be revealed to me as a I write”?

If I spent all that time building a character sketch, I’d wind up dropping the story. I think devoting a huge amount of time to a character sketch in most instances is a way to avoid writing. I do add bits and pieces to a chart as I’m moving forward with the book. It’s helpful down the road if I need to remember who the hero’s nanny was or who the heroine’s BF4E is, especially if I’m doing a series.

3. Do you know your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing or is that something else you discover only after you start writing?

I so despise GMC…I know a character has to have goals and motivations, but those generally come from a strong internal conflict and the obstacles thrown up in front of the character along the way help to define the “GMC.” So NO, I don’t worry about the GMC…what I focus on is the internal conflict of the characters.

4. Books on plotting – useful or harmful?

Almost every book I’ve ever bought to help me with my writing has gone unread. I’ll buy them because so and so said it was great, then I start to read and I’m going, this boring. Following someone else’s instructions on how to write makes me think I’ll start writing the way that author thinks I should write. Let me just write and learn by practice. I learn and improve better by actually doing something than by reading. The only reading I like to do is for pleasure and that includes research.

5. Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work?

This will depend on the story. I always find I want to write when I actually have other work to do. *grin*

6. Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time?

It depends, if the story is going well, then I can write for hours with only bathroom breaks. I’ll even go without eating at times. I’ll dig in for the long haul. Then there are times when it’s a struggle to write just three or four paragraphs

7. Are you a morning or afternoon writer?

I love to write between 11pm and 3am….the world is silent as is the REST of my family. I come alive then if I’ve had a good night’s sleep the night before.

8. Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate?

Sometimes with music, sometimes in silence. I HATE other types of noises. They interrupt the train of thought and when I have to stop to pick up an unexpected passenger, I get really ticked.

9. Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?)

Computer. I can type fast enough to keep up with my brain. I have been experimenting with Dragon Naturally Speaking, but my voice has a tendency to put me to sleep. *grin*

10. Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One?

I’ve only known the ending to a story one time, and I went ahead and wrote it. It was actually the epilogue. But hasn’t happen since. I like the characters to just take charge. Now that sounds odd coming from this alpha. Perhaps there’ s hope for me yet in becoming a sub to a dom.

11. Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write?

I’m not really sure what this question means. I love historicals, paranormals, erotic romance and sometimes contemporaries. So I write what I love. I know I can make lots of money selling m/m books, but I don’t because I’m just made to write them, anymore than I’m made to write inspirationals. I write what I’m good at. If the story’s good, it will sell.

12. Editing – love it or hate it?

Well, I tend to edit as I go, which is why my writing a story in three months has stretched out to about 4-6 months. Granted there’s promotion and life happening there too. Mirage was my first real experience with an in-depth editorial process and it wasn’t painful at all. I only had to add maybe a page, delete over-used words or impressions and some grammar errors. It was relatively painless. Although I confess by round 3 I was pretty much sick of the book. It takes a few weeks to get over hating the book. Thank God there’s time between that final edit and the sell date. I don’t know how I’d promote a book if it went from edit to sell and I had no time to get rid of my angst.