by KimLenox on February 20th, 2010
When you were young, did you ever read those chapter books where you got to choose Chapter Ending A, B or C? I used to love those books, and would read them time and time again, enjoying the different story combinations.
Writing is a lot like that for me, but the A, B or C (or D - ZZZZ) choices come at every turn. Every next sentence, every paragraph transition brings a choice. What if I make the wrong choice? I have to battle not to fall into analysis paralysis. At the same time, that’s why writing is so much FUN. There are so many possibilities. It’s truly an unfolding adventure.
Do I do a lot of plotting? Yes. You’ve probably seen me say on this site that for every book, I write out a fourteen to fifteen page synopsis. Seems pretty detailed, eh? Not to my brain. There’s a million different choices to make for my characters buried within the framework of those fourteen pages of story.
Do I make story mistakes sometimes? I’m certain of it. And when you’re writing on deadline, sometimes you have time to write things wrong, and realize they are wrong and go back and fix them. Sometimes you don’t.
But the amazing thing that I’ve discovered is that sometimes, I’m so certain I’ve taken my characters down the wrong path, and I make myself sick over wishing I could have a do-over … only to read the pages later (usually much later, months after the book is published) and realize I made a great choice. Surprise! I tend to get very consumed by my stories, and sometimes just need a bit of distance.
One ever present reality in my mind is that I have a responsibility to my reader to do my very best as a writer. I know books are dear to readers, as is the money they spend on them. I don’t ever want to produce a story that is lackluster or meaningless.
Going back to the A, B and C choices, have you ever read a book, and imagined a better ending for the story than what was written? Do characters usually stay “alive” in your mind after you put a book down?
by KimLenox on February 5th, 2010
At the beginning of each book, I’m always sure I have a very clear plan for what’s going to happen in my story. After all, I always write up a 14 - 15 page synopsis for my editor. I don’t know if she wants them that long, but that just seems to be my normal synopsis length.
But once I start writing, the story inevitably takes on a life of its own. Sometimes I write a few chapters and read back over them and think, “Where in the heck did that come from? That’s not at all what I was thinking!” But suddenly, THAT becomes the story, and I can’t imagine it unfolding any other way.
There is a lot of creativity lurking in the subconscious, and I think if we let loose and let it come out in whatever art or form of expression we pursue, we can expect some great surprises.
As for description — I love writing description. If you read my books, you can probably tell that right from the get go. Description can add dimension and mood like nothing else. I also imagine my stories cinematically, as a movie unfolding in my mind.
But unlike movies, it’s interesting to realize that if ten people read a single book, there will be ten very different mental interpretations of what they “see” as they read. Authors paint a certain picture with words, but in many ways it is the reader’s imagination that completes the process.
I see that SHUTTER ISLAND comes out this month. The movie is based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name. I really enjoyed the novel. I’m interested to see if the screen version matches up to the story I “saw” in my mind.
What new books or movies are you just dying to get your eyeballs on?
by KimLenox on January 24th, 2010
Oh, yes, my first million! SCORE!
I don’t have to think twice. If I had a million buckaroos, I would quit my job. I might work for a few more weeks, just to enjoy the secret knowledge that I could quit at any time, but yes, the job would go. It’s stressful, time consuming, just pays “okay” and all my hard work seems to benefit the higher ups, not me. I’m not bitter, it’s just the way things are. I say all this as I drink my coffee, and spend a couple of hours with my awesome family. It’s Sunday morning. Because of pending deadlines, I worked all week, including late nights. I worked all day yesterday and have to go in again this morning. You might say I am feeling a bit frazzled.
After I was blessed with my first million, I might take a few weeks off just to exist in pajamas, lay on the sofa and roll in the grass–WHEEE!–but then I’d focus on my writing, and opening my own business. I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, and I think one day I will be. But until I got my first million (oh, wait, we’re still just dreaming, right?) I haven’t had the cajones to take such a gamble. I’d also get back to volunteering, which in recent years has fallen by the wayside. What’s my interest? The elderly. I’d volunteer for Meals on Wheels or get certified to be an Elder Advocate.
I like to work, and stay busy. But I would rather do something more meaningful to me. The Million would allow me to do that!
What about you - if you haven’t already shared this week, what would be your dream-related-to-a-million$$.
And WELCOME to Joss Ware!
by KimLenox on January 17th, 2010
I think that I’ve mentioned on this blog before that apocolyptic/post-apocolyptic stories always make me a little nervous. There are so many apocolyptic books and movies from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s that have featured scenes or incidents that have in many ways come to pass. But still, I’m riveted by post-apocolyptic stories. I’ve got Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD on my bedside table, because I want to read it before I see the movie.
I also love a more tongue-in-cheek type despair and destruction — SHAUN OF THE DEAD anyone? I thought that movie, and its multitudes of lurching, moaning zombies was hysterical!
I think the one thing that pulls me toward apocolyptic stories is that I know the characters are usually unwilling heroes and heroines. Because of the terrible circumstances, they have to find the best inside themselves, and fight with every ounce of their strength and willpower for an optimistic and hopeful tomorrow.
We’ve all watched the news this week. The people of Haiti who survived the earthquake must feel like they’ve survived an apocolypse. It’s my hope and prayer for them that they will find comfort in one another and in the good wishes of the world around them, and somehow find a bright tomorrow.
My husband and I donated money today to a relief agency, and my kids and I are filling “personal care” bags that are being collected by another charity for distribution to Haitians in need.
Have you done something this week to support the efforts in Haiti? Even if it is just to stay informed and give your emotional support, feel free to share.
by KimLenox on January 1st, 2010
Happy New Year!
Have you eaten your black eyed peas? Your cabbage? Will you have good luck and prosperity in the new year? We can all hope, right?
I never really make resolutions, but there are a few things I’d like to devote more attention and energy to in 2010. One of my Christmas gifts from my husband this year was a beautiful, stainless steel Williams-Sonoma compost bucket. Romantic, right? But the bucket is representative of a goal we’ve both made, and that’s to start reducing the garbage we put into the landfill. Instead of throwing our veggie scraps and coffee grounds and egg shells (etc., etc., etc.) into the trash, we are making more of an effort to take them out to our compost pile, which we started earlier this year, but to which we have only halfheartedly contributed. My husband is a green thumbed devil, so the compost will eventually find its way into our flowerbeds. We’ve also set up our recycling bins in the garage, which is something we have not previously done.
Another personal goal has to do with writing, of course! This year I really want to challenge myself to write bigger and louder and stronger, and continue to evolve and improve. Would I love to be on the New York Times bestseller list? You know I would! But that achievement is really out of any writer’s hands. It either happens or it doesn’t. Instead, I’ll focus on expanding my creativity and my abilities.
How about you — do you come up with a list of resolutions every year or go along, business as usual?
by KimLenox on December 13th, 2009
I’ve been really thrilled with the covers for my Shadow Guard series. One thing that happened that I really didn’t expect, was that I actually got some input. For example, the cover for NIGHT FALLS DARKLY is based on an actual scene for the book where Archer, Lord Black, is standing at the base of St. Botolph’s steeple, looking out over London’s Whitchapel district. I submitted the scene with my ideas for my book’s cover conference.
A cover conference is where your editor asks you to send in some character and plot information, and some ideas for artwork, and then they go in and meet whoever from the art department. Mystery Art Department Person/People.
I also received a really nice e-mail from the historical costumers who costumed the model, Nathan Kamp. They asked what Archer might be wearing. I also got to specify the weapon he’d be holding.
When I saw the final result, I was truly speechless. It’s really amazing to see something you’ve created in words, come to life as a vision.
For my upcoming April release, DARKER THAN NIGHT, one of my ideas was that my hero be shown with dark raven’s wings, because he’s the Ravenmaster of the Tower of London. The wings got nixed — instead (see below), I just got “yummy”. Hey, I can’t complain!
by KimLenox on December 6th, 2009
Release days are always a thrilling time. For my first book, NIGHT FALLS DARKLY, I threw a joint release party with author Sharie Kohler. Because we are both paranormal authors, and the release date was near Halloween, we signed books for friends and the public at La Carafe in Houston. Lots of spooky ambiance. The place is supposedly haunted. Awesome, right!? There were congratulatory calls and flowers from friends. I felt like a movie star.
For my second book, SO STILL THE NIGHT, I’d gone back to full time work and release date consisted of waking up and thinking, “Woohoo! Release day!” then getting in the car and fighting traffic.
No matter how much celebrating and promo writers do when their book comes out, there’s always the anxiety and hope that comes with putting out one’s most private creative thoughts “out there” for everyone to read and comment and opine on.
I attended the NUTCRACKER BALLET last night. The costumes and scenery were gorgeous. I couldn’t help comparing myself, as an author, to the dancers. Their movements were so fluid and graceful. They made it look so easy to hold their foot up behind their head (NOT easy - try it!) and balance on their toes while spinning around.
As authors we hope for the same sort of performance. We want to present you with a fantastically plotted, seamless story. One you will want to read in one sitting, from page one to whatever, and that will linger on in your mind for days afterwards as a story you did not want to end.
In closing, I guess one of the questions I have for you as readers, is do you think about a book’s “release”? Do you pay attention to release dates, or do you just head to the bookstore and shop for good books regardless of their issue dates?
by KimLenox on November 29th, 2009
I’ve started writing this post about five times, and each time deleted my words because they sound so SAPPY! Maybe I am sappy?
I am! I am sappy! It’s okay, because it’s Thanksgiving.
Did you travel for Thanksgiving? I did! Just a few hours, by car.
As a few other Silk & Shadows authors have mentioned, 2009 has been a difficult year in many ways. Yes it has! But as you can see from their posts (and mine!) challenging times have a way of bringing life into focus. What am I most thankful for? That’s such an easy question to answer — my family.
I could list out a million other things I’m thankful for, but that’s my Numero Uno Answer.
Thanksgiving is about family and friends and … well, YA — food! I think cornbread stuffing (or “dressing”) is my favorite dish.
What’s yours? Even if you aren’t from the US, what’s your favorite traditional “gathering” food?
by KimLenox on November 22nd, 2009
Current Status: ALIVE!
Working on: Copy edits for DARKER THAN NIGHT - due Tuesday!
As the historical writer in the Silk & Shadows bunch, I’m sure you know I loves me some smokin’ hot history. (How’s that for creative grammar?)
Growing up and on through college, history classes were always my favorite. I know a lot of people find history dry and boring, but it’s never been that way for me. Regardless of the skill of my instructors or professors, my imagination always saw things in vivid color and three dimensional detail.
I think one thing that’s always been so alluring to me about the past, is the danger. Our modern day life is dangerous enough, but wow - even more so in the past, there was so much that could go wrong in a given day and those involved couldn’t just flip out their cell phone and make a 911 call to the authorities. They had to deal with the unexpected as it came along. And even though I don’t really care to have a lot of danger in MY daily life…danger’s kind of sexy. Men and women alike really show their true potential when the pressure is on to survive or to save the ones they love.
I loved Sharon’s post (see below!). It’s true. So many people make assumptions about the past, and stereotype previous societies into the clean little boxes created by very helpful book resources such as “Everyday life in (whatever era).”
But no doubt about it, there was a lot of misbehavior and rebellion and individuality through the centuries. It’s so much fun, as an author, to read between the lines of the recorded history and fiction written during those times.
What do I look for when I’m researching my historicals? I look for the colorful, the intriguing, and sometimes the quirky and bizarre. I also try to write historicals that will appeal to fans of both historical novels and contemporary. In my mind, my historicals always have a contemporary sound track. Lots of The Cure, and Smashing Pumpkins and Shiny Toy Guns. It’s a blend of all the things I love.
I went with my family to the renaissance festival yesterday and did a lot of people watching — there are a lot of very interesting variations and interpretations of history on display. I’ve got my new Tartanic CD playing now, drums and bagpipes, but with a real contemporary power. My creativity is waking up and … hey, I want to write!
Do you like/love/adore history like ME, or does it put you to sleep!?
by KimLenox on October 31st, 2009
Status: Taking a break from revisions on DARKER THAN NIGHT to get ready for friends and TRICK OR TREAT!
I love Halloween. Wait, did I tell you? I LOVE HALLOWEEN! We’ve got friends coming over. The kids are so excited. No, I don’t have a costume. I’ll probably just wear my black witch
hat with the sparkly red cobwebs on it.
Here’s the path leading up to my front door …
And my pumpkin chiminea.
And my Dia De Los Muertos Candy Bucket (named Fred!)
I love everything about Halloween, except maybe the fact of how over-marketed its become. I don’t know how old YOU are, reader, but when I was little, we went down to the store and there were boxes of costumes. You picked out the one you liked, and you pretty much wore it until you couldn’t fit into the plastic suit anymore. Lol! Yes, it makes me laugh, but that memory makes me happy. I was a yellow cat for a number of years, and then a pirate — which was a costume my mom made for me. The candy was awesome, because like Annette’s, my mom didn’t buy us a bunch of candy. So it was a really special treat to get a whole orange plastic pumpkin bucket full.
Oh, but enough of the “back in my day” talk, else you’ll think I’m some old crone (maybe with green skin, and a wart on my nose) pecking out words on my keyboard.
What are your plans for the night? Going to watch any spooky movies?
Happy Halloween to YOU!