Friday, August 14, 2009

Back to School.

This is the most perfect time for me to take a class. I'm always envious of anyone returning to school and as this is the season, yeah, I've been turning a pale shade of green. There were no funds allocated for any continuing education for this year and two years ago I quit taking a fall workshop. I was getting itchy when along came Romantic Comedy author, Lani Diane Rich. My savior.

Lani is trying a new type of classroom experience with a live feed and a back up audio. Questions will be asked during the lecture, making it more like the actual classroom, and I think it should work well. She's a good teacher from all accounts and will be able to keep a tight grip on the students and not allow too many digressions. We've been advised to put our manuscripts aside and not work on them until class starts. The old let them simmer for a bit and see what flavors come to the fore. Also, we've been told to stock up on supplies. Oh goody! A trip to Office Depot. All of those sticky notes, and colorful markers, and highlighters, and colored pencils, and...

Lani has set up online Forums and we future students are getting to know each other already. What she plans to do is use us as guinea pigs. : ) For 50% off her six week class, we will help her to iron out any hitches or glitches in the program before she gets it up and running full time in the fall. We start in mid-September and I can't wait.

I've always enjoyed Lani's writing and look forward to every new release. She definitely has the humor gene I never inherited from my parents. I envy her that, too. I like her quickness of thought. She offered two classes, one called discovery, the other, revision. I chose revision but seriously wanted to do both. I've never taken a revision class before and am looking forward to this. I've recently finished a manuscript and although it has an amateur sleuth I'm not sure of its sub genre. I'm pretty sure it's a romance but if it is a romantic adventure, a mystery with romantic elements, or a contemporary mystery with romance, is anybody's guess. I'm hoping that through this class I'll be able to identify the story's strengths and weaknesses, and embellish both to know for sure what it is I've written. That would surely help with querying and marketing, don't you think?

For more on future classes of Lani's, or to check out her books, please visit her new site:

Thursday, August 06, 2009

What color is your manuscript?

I had lunch with a writer pal, Lynne Marshall, some time ago. We met halfway as we live three hours apart and chose the small town of Monrovia just off the 210 Fwy. What a delightful main street. All of the shops and restaurants were trimmed in nice woods and hunter green and people were actually out walking. Go figure. I felt like I'd stepped back in time.

We had a great Italian lunch at Bela Sera and nobody hurried us out. We spent a couple of hours there chatting about writing. Lynne writes medical romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon. I think to date she has something like six books out and a couple more in the works. We talked about her current story, now in its first draft, and she said she would let it sit for a couple of weeks before rewriting. I said something about taking a vacation then coming home and adding in all the good stuff. She said, "You're right. I'll color it all in." And those words stimulated this blog post.

On the drive home I thought about Lynne's words, and have often done so since. Lynne's stories have a richness of emotional layers. I imagined her stories in color and sensed vibrant reds and purples, rich dark greens and vivid blues. And always a touch of sunny yellow to counteract the dark storms of relationship and medical catastrophe. Her stories always have romance, of course, but there are also deep layers of medical illness, babies being born, work tensions in her make-shift hospital, emergencies, near death situations and family issues. I've given up trying to read these stories when I travel by plane as they always make me cry. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, I just don't want to arrive looking like I've been dragged through some emotional storm of my own. : )

Anyway, that got me to thinking about what colors I would use if I were coloring in the pictures of my own stories. I've tried my hand at several romance sub genres trying to figure out where my voice could do its best work. I don't write erotica so no pulsing red for me. I tried paranormal but they were more like paranormal cozies, nice witches and ghosts. : ) Then I tried romantic suspense but wasn't writing dark enough for today's market, so not enough black color.

Am I a pastel writer? Yikes! I don't want to do watercolors. I want big bold canvasses heavy with oil paint. I finally sat down and looked for the core or the ongoing theme in my stories and found they all held a mystery but they also included romance and family issues. Not what you would call a cozy, I don't think, but definitely mystery at the forefront. So I shifted my focus to concentrate on the solving of the mystery and made my protagonist an amateur sleuth. The first story is finished, rewritten and currently being polished. I loved writing it. The second one is almost done in first draft. In these two stories my colors are richer, definitely more oranges and hot fuchsia pink, dark browns, and grays. The second one may even have some black. ; )

So, what color is your manuscript?