Monday, June 30, 2014

My Creative Process

My sister from another mother, L. Penelope, asked me to come on board a blog hop about the creative process. So here's my whirl!

What am I working on?

I'm currently revising a contemporary romance, fairytale reinterpretation alongside drafting a paranormal shifter romance. I often get trapped in the first twenty pages of revision playing with words and phrases. My solution to this is to limit the amount of pages I'm allowed to revise each week and then move on to writing something new, even if its just writing exercises. I've heard many professionals poo-poo this path noting that drafting and revising exist on two different sides of your brain that should not be engaged at the same time. But I prefer to listen to fitness experts who say that you have to exercise both sides of your body to become stronger.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

In the planned series of fairytale reinterpretations the heroines are all mothers. Statistics show that single mother households make up 25% of today's families. Romance novels are a form of escapism and all mothers need escape from their lives at some point during the day. More importantly they need heroines who look like, smell like, think like and have the same issues as them. The first in this Cindermama series is based on the story of Cinderella. My heroine, whose nickname is Pumpkin, fell for a 'toad.' Years later, when the actual 'prince' comes around, she no longer believes in happily-ever-afters. I hope it'll be out next year.

Why do I write/create what I do? 

I can't not tell stories. If you ask me how my day went be prepared for a diatribe. When you tell me how your day went, rest assured that I'm crafting an adventure plot around your completed To Do List and trying to figure out where to insert the hook! My brain doesn't stop telling stories. I'm finally breaking down and appeasing it by writing the stories down and sharing them with others.
How does my creative process work?

I write like a homemaker. I make an absolute mess on the page. I call this the "dump" stage. I usually do timed sprints of an outlined scene, not stopping until I reach the end of the scene or the end of the time period.

Then I clean up the mess. I'm training myself to just clean the story at this point and not the words. I love a thesauruses and will spend all day picking around connotations to find the best word for my meaning.

Once the draft is clean, I go back and give it a scrub. Here's where I allow myself to look at word choice. The scrub is followed by a good polish where I check my grammar and spelling -or have someone else do it.

Be sure to check out my other sister from another mother, Angela D'Ambrosio and look into how she creates her stories.

Monday, June 23, 2014

BOOK REVIEW -A Survey of Shifters

I'm currently writing a PNR shifter serial and wanted to check out the competition. I spent the weekend reviewing some Amazon Bestsellers in the shifter world. Here's my takeaway.

Copper King by Vivian Arend
Three things make billionaire Jim Halcyon's to-do list: women, work...and more women. It's a perfect agenda for a rich shifter who has no problem letting his inner grizzly out to play. From the bright lights of Vegas, to the sophisticated action of New York--he's got the money and the power to do anything he wants.

Anything, except resist the lure of Lady Luck, an ancient copper coin he gambles yearly to possess. Jim is determined to regain control of the pretty penny, and damn if he'll let any bit of eye candy distract him from his goal. Not even the mesmerizing woman in the middle of the casino floor with the shimmering hair and enormous green eyes.

With a life-changing move ahead of her, Lillie's finagled a temporary layover en route to her future. She's got five days to soak in new experiences, and while Vegas is too big and shiny and loud for her shy bear self, she's eager to do this up right. It's the last chance she's got to let her hair down.

Until his challenge begins, Jim is more than willing to oblige Lillie's wish for a final fling. Only Lady Luck has some twists of fate planned for them both...

The hero's setup was very interesting with the winning of the coin mentioned in the title. That drew me right into this book, but then we walk away from that bit of intrigue for the romance. Unfortunately, I experienced no connection to the heroine. I had no clue to her goals or motivations for a long time. Her dual shyness and promiscuity confused me. Her bear was shy, her human was skittish, but she was ready for sex with the hero in a heartbeat. I really needed that connection to believe the love story, which of course takes center stage in a romance, and it just wasn't present for me.

Bodyguard by Jennifer Ashley

Elizabeth Chapman is saved from an armed robber by a giant Kodiak bear who shifts into a large, well-muscled, and fully naked human male. But when it's revealed that the robber is the brother of a dangerous criminal, Elizabeth finds herself the target of a vendetta.

Ronan, the Bear Shifter, takes her to Shiftertown for safety, where Elizabeth learns that the mateless Ronan, alone in the world, takes care of Shifters who have also been left on their own. Having grown up in foster care, Elizabeth can only admire how protective Ronan is.

But Ronan will only let Elizabeth leave the confines of Shiftertown if he becomes her 24/7 bodyguard. Elizabeth chafes at her restriction, but agrees. The trouble is, the sassy human Elizabeth is triggering Ronan's long-buried need to find himself a mate.

I liked the world building with shifters living in Shifter Towns and fitted with Collars made by the fae to keep them under control. But I didn't take to either hero or heroine.

Claimed by the Alphas by Viola Rivard
For Mila Foster, the idea of becoming an alpha wolf’s mate is so tantalizing that she is willing to leave her human life behind to join the Lazarus pack. Their alpha, the handsome and sensual Asch, is more than she could have ever hoped for, and Mila is beyond ready to surrender herself to him—until she finds out that the Lazarus pack has a second alpha, the dominant and primitive Caim.

Caim’s wolf lurks very close to the surface. He likes the lean and taut females of his own kind, women who can handle the aggressive mating he enjoys. He has no interest in Mila, that is, until he gets his hands on her lush curves. 

The plotting was excellent. The POVs short, to the point, moved the story and kept the pages turning. At no point did the world building overwhelm. Rivard gave enough to give readers a firm footing. The heroine was likeable; the two alphas were strong with very different personalities. Her dilemma at the end, which is as close as you can get to a cliffhanger without hanging off a cliff, is intriguing. And it worked. I bought the next installment immediately after the last page!

Put the character goal and motivation up front.
Build the world through action not inner monologue or backstory.
Introduce conflict or complications early.
Sexual tension is great early, but consistency is even better.