CARPE DIEM!


seize the day

Original post -February 17, 2012- Things have changed a bit since then.  I don’t have the mortgage job working from home anymore. My editing is a work from home job and I still get the same type of issues. I thought this one summed up nicely the frustration of  others not respecting my time. I’m sure some of you can relate.

Seize the Day!

Oh if it were only that simple!  Opportunity knocks, frequently but do we recognize it?

Working from home presents a set of problems different from those in an office environment.  In an office,  there are politics, the cooler talk, conversations to distract you from working, and people to deal with. At home there is no politics to distract me, the coffee pot refuses to converse with me, and no people to deal with, normally.  However, it seems that many people think that if you “work” from home, you are really just being lazy and don’t have a real job.  How many writer’s have heard that one before?

These are the same people who drop in unannounced for me to go out to lunch.  Sometimes they stop in to vent about their day or their life.  Someone always wants my attention and help with their projects.  Funny how they never stop in to say, “Hey, how are you doing? Is there anything I can help YOU with?”

The point is, they think you are available for whatever they want to do. It’s the old ” Hey Ellie doesn’t have a real job, let’s ask her if she would volunteer her time to help us finish this project. I admit, sometimes the offer for a lunch out is a nice break.  Sometimes I need to run errands and company is nice.  I’ve usually completed my daily work for my first job by 10:00 a.m.  This is about the time when my friends seem to wake up and start their day.  It is also the time when I transition into writer mode.

It “looks like you’re just playing on the computer all day” is the way my teenage daughter put it.  Apparently, it seems to be the common opinion.  I do not have a boss looking over my shoulder or assigning me work.  I have to set my own schedule and apply self-discipline.  This is both rewarding and challenging!

But my work is right there, staring at me, calling me, summoning, taunting me in a way that it’s never far from my mind.  I try to set aside family time for the evenings, force myself to tune it out.  At least in an office, you can go home for the night and leave it on the desk. My desk is always visible. Most of the time I maintain a regular schedule – each thing in its proper place, nice, neat and tidy. This is the very reason that the interruptions in my day are so detrimental.  It’s not that I don’t like to socialize, if I didn’t it wouldn’t be such a temptation. If I’ve neglected a couple of hours work in the day, I feel obligated to put in the hours in the evening.

Sometimes those distractions are opportunities in disguise.  An opportunity to get outside these walls and live is often the fresh breath of creativity I need. At least that’s the story I’m sticking with!  A trip to the grocery store can open my eyes in a way that the dim light from my computer screen never can.  A chance to sit at the cafe and chat with my sister clears my mind so that I can truly think.

A stroll through the library can be like walking into a pheromone filled room, inducing a euphoric response that can’t be explained.  I know it’s weird but the smell of books, real books stirs things inside me.  Passion and envy are the two most frequently stirred.   Envy that their (whoever they are) books are on the shelves where mine will one day be. We’ll just glide on past the passion part, I’m sure my fellow writers will understand my meaning.

To appreciate life, you must learn how to live. To write, you have to live fully and experience life.  There are times to set schedules then there are times to not only set aside routine and seize the day, but there are times when you just gotta smash the whole box!  After all, tomorrow is another day, to write like a maniac!!

I realize this may seem rather manic on the tail of the previous post about Te Physical Act of writing. Welcome to the rollercoaster that is my mind.  Keep arms and legs inside your cart while it’s in motion.

Write on my friends, write on!

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Writing THAT scene


iheart

I am rapidly approaching a milestone, posting my 500th post. I was amazed last week when I saw this. Have I really made that many posts? HOW? This prompted something that I’ve had in my head for a while. I’ve discussed it with my writing group but up until now, I haven’t done anything with it. In that vein, I am working on something that will be ready for release during Penned Con! ( September 23 and 24)

This was originally posted February 15, 2012 entitled Steamy Sex Scenes. This was one of my most viewed posts. I received a lot of feedback from this, most of it comments that I did not share publicly. I find it disturbing the number of creeps that come out of the woodwork if that three letter word is used. Oh, I so wanted to respond to some of them, but at the end of the day, I chose to ignore and quietly delete them instead of engaging.

The WIP referenced is the third book of Realm Wars, tentatively titled Faere Guardian. I have shelved this for the time being as my previous coach advised me that I need to tell the story arc main plot first, to which I agreed.

First things first, this very much depends on the genre you are writing for.

In an Inspirational Romance, there will be NO steamy sex scenes. The list of words not allowed by the CBA is  extensive. Any impropriety is frowned upon and the slightest touch of hands can be provocative. The word desire and provocative are prohibited. You can imagine how monumental that first kiss has to be.

I like to read historical fiction and historical romance. Often the societal norms are to be observed in the telling of the romance between characters. The conflict and tension have to be developed in a manner that draws the reader expectantly along to the point of anticipated release. In these novels, a very sweet innocent progression of love usually culminates with the conclusion of a marriage where the sex is kept within the norms. Isn’t it fascinating however that within the Victorian Era of “proper society” was a sharp rise of immoral behavior?

What I’m working on now is a paranormal romance. The paranormal genre has been dominated by vampires and werewolves, but not exclusive to just them. Time travel, shape-shifters, magical elements, and yes vampires,Lycans and other mythological beings qualify in paranormal. Whatever subplot is going on, the primary story is always the romance. My story does not include vampires. It revolves around the Celtic mythology of the Tuatha  de Danaan or the Faerie realm.

My WIP (work in progress) is not an erotica nor am I a smut peddler. I hate when people use that term! Why is it  wrong to write about the love developing between characters and their natural desires for physical love, yet it’s OK to write macabre tales of murder?

Why write the sex scene?

If the story doesn’t call for it, don’t! If it’s just inserted for the purpose of sex, it’s gratuitous and should be omitted. If it moves the story forward, moves their relationship forward, and moves their own development forward then by all means, the characters should be between the sheets.

That’s a lot for a sex scene to have to accomplish!

Yes, it is! If it doesn’t accomplish these things leave it out or push it till later. Again, I’m not writing porn here!  I’m not writing a gratuitous sex scene just to write it. A good sex scene is difficult to write.

There are my own feelings to deal with.  If I’m not comfortable with the act, how am  I going to convey it effectively to a reader?  If you’re not comfortable reading about it, or actually doing it, then I suggest you move on to some other topic. I’m sure there are several articles about the current mortgage rates and the recovering housing market if that is more interesting.

There is the matter of the characters likes and dislikes. Maybe Joe is a sloppy kisser and Jill has hangups from being raped in high school by a man who was a sloppy kisser. This is why a writer has to know everything there is to know about their characters.  My characters are not flat Stanleys.  They are fully rounded people with backgrounds, families, quirks, and dreams. Just as in real life, there are certain turn-ons and turn-offs.  It’s the  spark that ignites between Jill and Joe, not between Jill and Tom, Brad, Bill, Derek, Randy, and every other man. It’s the spark, that secret key that unlocks their hearts and makes them willing to take the scary plunge into the sea of love.

There is the matter of building the expectations. By chapter 2 my characters are attracted to each other but in my personal world, it’s not proper protocol to jump in the sack on the first date. They have to wait and let the tension build. The relationship has to escalate, desire building to a crescendo of emotional turmoil,  the physical desire so strong  that they are willing to risk everything to be with each other.

Dramatic?  Yes, it’s supposed to be.

Cheesy?  The premise yes, but this is the stuff every woman fantasizes about and seldom realizes. This is why women read romances in the first place.  Real life demands our attention in various directions. A good romance offers an escape from the mountain of dirty laundry and the mess the kids just made on the floor for the umpteenth time.

Usually, the sex scene occurs about 2/3 of the way through the book. I have a friend that skims the first few chapters then jumps to this point, reads it then she’s done. Her philosophy is that all romances are the same, just different names so why not jump to the good part? Because she misses the entire story. It’s all about the story!

My paranormal romance is about a man and a woman who are falling in love. My moral integrity dictates to me what I am comfortable writing and what I’m not really comfortable with. To be honest, I’m more comfortable writing a battle scene that is more akin to 300 than to write the sex scenes. Sex is an intimate issue. It’s an important part of a relationship, but not the only part. I believe in a one woman one man relationship where there is mutual trust and respect. The couple learn about each other, explore each other, and give pleasure to each other. Isn’t that what is supposed to happen in a loving relationship? My characters may get frisky, may experiment with food, or blindfolds and silk scarves but my hero is never going to invite another guy into the picture or  have a bit on the side.

Sex is not just the physical act, if you want that go read Penthouse or some  gratuitous erotica that’s out there. Let me say here that not all erotica is gratuitous sex either. There are authors who make the effort to tell a story that happens to include a lot of sex. I write romance, a story that shows the developing relationship in the midst of whatever chaos happens to be going on in the world I created. In a romantic relationship, sex eventually happens when they progress to that intimate level.

The steamy part is tricky. Writing the scene to show the building tension, the desire, the passion without telling. Conveying the emotional impact of every touch, scent, and senses while making it last long enough to peak the reader’s interest and satisfy the character’s needs is a daunting task.

Ever see the Olympic figure skaters that make it look easy and natural? A good writer can make the sex scene like that. The reader never sees the hours of practice, the blood coming from the fingertips, the strain of putting the words together to show and not tell.

Having been married for many years, I know very well what goes on. Knowing that tab A is inserted into slot B is only part of the puzzle. I have read some things that make me wonder if the writer has actually ever experienced what they had written. Makes me wonder if their anatomy is somehow different.

Being comfortable in writing the most intimate acts down is another matter. Writing the scene that conveys the emotional impact while progressing the story is my goal. When Joe and Jill take that step, they have to be ready for it. Things between them will never be the same after the scene.

It’s really the same in real life. Once you share the intimate act of sex with a partner, there’s no going back. You’ve crossed a line that can never be uncrossed. If the line is crossed too soon, the relationship may never develop beyond “the act”. If that line is never crossed one or more may lose interest and move on.

I’m a firm believer in friends first lovers second. I married my best friend. It wasn’t a light matter for us to cross that line and I believe it shouldn’t be for my characters either.

The bottom line in romance is that we all want somebody to love us unconditionally. Letting someone into your heart at the level of intimacy that sex requires is a scary and tricky risk. In my romantic world, taking that risk should be rewarding. Ah, but there’s always the plot twist of unrequited love.  The darkest moment when the whole world is collapsing in on them and everything has gone wrong.  The moment they realize their own vulnerability because they took that risk and have to decide if it was worth it.

How much more impact does the steamy sex scene have when a few chapters later she is left heartbroken by the man she gave everything to? Sex scenes carry power if they are done well.

Summer Lit Blitz – Miranda Shanklin


My guest this week is Miranda Shanklin, a fellow Eclectic Bard’s Books author. I met Miranda at last year’s Kentuckiana Author Book Blitz. I was such a nervous wreck, I barely remember anything from the event. I do remember Miranda and her lovely daughter. She seemes so relaxed and at ease while I was trying not to throw up on people.  I’ve managed to glean a tidbit  or two from her. I’m not an introvert by any means,  but that first author event was worse than getting up on stage in front of 200 people.

Here’s your chance to get to know a little about Miranda.

1. Tell me a little about yourself

     I live in Central Illinois with my husband and our two teenage children. I work day job as a paralegal. I am also the assistant coach on my daughter’s competition dance team. I have been an avid reader since I was a kid. I have always loved to get lost in a good book. Now that my children are older I am chasing my dream of being an author.
2. What genre do you write?
   Paranormal romance for now…..  I currently have a 5 book paranormal romance series out.
3.  Do you have any future books already planned out?
     Yes. I have a trilogy that is a spin-off from my series that will be coming out probably next year. Then a contemporary romance. I am also researching a paranormal suspense series that will be starting to come out probably 2018.
4. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
   I am usually a pantser. I sit down at my compter and just start typing. I am usually just as surprised at what happens as you are! I have tried plotting and it never goes where I want it to. It is like my characters look at it and start acting like petulant toddlers saying ‘I don’t want to do that!’
5.  Do you have a dedicated writing space?
    Not really. My writing space is my dining room table. It keeps me in the middle of everything. That can be good or bad it depends on the day and how good my focus is that day LOL
6.  Was there a book that was really hard for you to write?
    I am having a hard time writing the third book in the spin off trilogy. The original series is in the process of being re-edited right now and I have written the first 2 books in the trilogy. All that is left is the last book in the trilogy. The whole trilogy still needs to go through the whole editing process but I haven’t been able to even start writing that last book. It will bring an end to that whole idea. It will be a final goodbye to all of those characters. It will be a final end to both the series and the trilogy. The book that started it all and the characters that brought me to where I am will be put to bed. It is more a sentimental thing and I will get over it, I just need to put fingers to keyboard. It is just getting moving on it.
7.  How do you keep track of details?
  Many authors use many different methods for this. I use a whiteboard. It is something that is not the best looking to walk into my dining room and see this huge whiteboard with multi-colored lines and words scribbled all over but I can look across from my seat and know exactly where to look without searching for the information I need for a name, eye color or hair color as I am writing.
8.  How do you come up with names for your characters?
    Most of the names I use I just look up names online. Some of them are from people I know.  I try not to use people I know unless it is a very minor role. I did use my kids names but I made sure it was alright with them and they told me as long it was for characters that were nothing like them. I go to name websites and just scroll through until a name jumps out at me for the character that I am looking for.
9.  Do you have designated writing times?
   No. I write when I have time to. I have such busy schedule that sit down in front of my computer every chance I get. There are times that the hubby will tell me that I am not allowed to be on the computer cause I have to pay attention to him, but other than that I am in front of the computer whenever I am able to be.
10.   What is your favorite thing about being an author?
   I love that I might be able to give to someone else what so many authors have given to me. I have used books for an escape and enjoyment since childhood. If only one person gets that from my books then it is all worth it.
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It has been many lifetimes since the cycle began.
The cycle that still haunts Annisa Lawson.
A spell cast in desperation to help, which only caused heartache.

Now, Annisa has found her way out of the varying repeats of her past; only to bring more danger to herself, and those around her. Now she must learn to survive with the help of her friends: Chase, Penelope, and Landon have all gone through each life cycle with Annisa. Sometimes helping, sometimes hindering. Now that Annisa has broken the cycle of their collective punishment, she finds that she needs her friends more than ever to keep their enemies, known, and unknown, at bay. As the group of friends learn of their souls’ journeys through their many life cycles, they must also learn to control the magick they have discovered within themselves and each other, in order to defeat the most feared assassin in their world.

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Soul Redemption
Just when Annisa and her friends were starting to think maybe the Counsel would leave them alone, two new students arrive at school. In any other town, new students wouldn’t be a sign that something big was about to happen to Annisa, Chase, Landon, and Penelope; but this wasn’t a normal town and they weren’t normal teenagers. They had come into their powers and defeated the most feared assassin in their world, so the appearance of new witches in their small town could only mean one thing…..the Counsel was ready to make another attempt to destroy them. After watching the new students alienate them from everyone they know, including their parents, Annisa and her friends break through the spell and things start to calm down for them. It’s not until an old enemy returns with news that will shock them that they realize everything is not as it seems. Now they have to decide whether or not to trust an old enemy claiming to help them, or try and fight against the Counsel’s most trusted Advisors on their own. The choice the group makes will change their lives forever.
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Soul Knowledge 
Annisa Lawson and her friends were getting pretty good at surviving. So far, they have defeated every force sent to destroy them. So when they are faced with new forces they had never thought possible, they were not entirely prepared. They were scrambling to catch up their magickal knowledge of the forces that were being sent after them. With their newly strengthened bond, they would have to work together to triumph. Just when they think they have it all figured out, something new pops up. They are offered help, but will it be enough to once again overcome the forces working against them? The highly misunderstood forces in play will either help or hinder them; the question is, who do they trust? The collective uncertainty and lack of knowledge could be the downfall of the entire group, testing their ability to trust in their own power, and that of each other. Can they overcome these forces and once again defend their special bond from destruction?
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Soul Freedom
With the stress of graduation and planning weddings, Annisa and her group of friends want to end things with the Counsel once and for all. They strengthen their bond to the strongest it can be and go on the offensive. After they achieve their goal, they find that was not their only problem. Now they have to figure out who will be the next Counsel, and how to deal with other realms that have found their way in. While the group guards over the Origin, Annisa goes with members of the other realms to track down the wayward travelers, before they cause too much damage in our realm. To prevent this from happening again or any damage that may result, the group, along with their newly appointed Counsel, must come up with a system to allow other realms access to our realm, so they don’t have to constantly be on the lookout for trespassers from other realms. Can it be done in time for Annisa and her friends to enjoy graduation, and Annisa’s upcoming nuptials? With the help of friends and family, it just may be possible!
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Soul Discovery
Annisa and her group have finally made it to the point where they don’t have to watch over their shoulders for someone trying to destroy them. They have put together a system that allows the other realms access to our realm and they are still able to keep an eye on them. Will the faeries and the trolls outsmart them and accomplish their goal? Will Annisa and the others be able to obtain enough support to keep their realm intact? Or will the faeries and trolls destroy all that this realm stands for? Chase and Annisa have taken on a task that they are not sure if they can accomplish without the help of the others who have to stay behind and keep things running smoothly at the passageways. They will have to be creative and convincing to pull this one off and create a truce between all the realms.

 

 

Thank you Miranda for being such a lovely guest and I hope to have you back again when you rerelease the rest of this series as well as the spin off!

Write one my friends, write on!

Ellie

It’s Never That Simple


I know some of you were already thinking it when you read my earlier post made  at 12:10 this morning. I can  hear the gears grinding in Cassidy’s head from here.

I can hear all of the old adages. Just wait. Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched. Don’t have the celebratory “toot toot” too soon.

*head desk*

Most of us are self-aware enough to know when we’ve done a good job, a mediocre job, a not up to par job,  and especially when we’ve half-assed it.   I’m not  pleased with the last edit job for the amount of time that it’s taken me to complete. I was thorough, I gave  the author  quality work but it wasn’t timely.

On this course manual however, I knew I did an excellent job.  It’s thorough, concise, and completed with a spirit of excellence. Their words, not mine.  In fact, they were so impressed. . . .   yeah when you hear those words and you’re getting praise for a job well done,  there is a moment of panic because you know it’s coming.  You know.

Blah blah blah, pat on the job,  blah blah job well done, we knew we could count on you to produce quality work, blah blah –  I can’t really tell you what the other stuff was after that because that’s when it hit me.  OH NO.

NO NO NO NO NO! What else? There is always  the next thing when you do good work. Don’t get me wrong,   I absolutely believe that we should do our best and not slack off.  This is how it works in the business world.  You do a good job you get promoted.  Your work gets noticed, you get the raise.  You want your name tied to quality. Isn’t that one of our goals to secure future work?  YES! Yes it is and that’s the problem.

I blame myself for the short sightedness. I didn’t look past this job to the “what next”.  I entered the “deadline game”.  Give me a minute to breathe and I’ll get to the point.

I have been so focused on the deadlines of these projects that I  overbooked myself. (Yes, again.) Savannah over at EBB called me on it last month.  I  never put myself as a priority. That’s what I was working towards, making time for me to write and pursue my dreams.  Time to write what I want to write. That block of time I carved out for ME. AS soon as I finish these jobs that I have hanging over my head. . . . the deadline looms on the horizon. . .  and I was short sighted not even thinking past that deadline other than ” block of time for me”!

“We are so impressed with the job that you did on this manual that we’d like for you to take this project to the next step as well. If that  goes well, we’d like for you to take a look at some other  publications as well. ”

I should have seen this coming. That’s what I’m upset about. Also, I have a problem saying no.  I said I’d do it, but I gave them a  super long time table as to how long it would take me to finish so that I can still have blocks of time for writing. They are just child sized blocks now.

 

 

 

 

I Did It!


Remember  my last post?  Not the one I shared from Cathy  Brockman’s romance silly, the one before when I said I was still here??

I DID IT!  I finished  not one but two edit jobs and got them off of my desk.

I finished the  mega file course manual exactly 5 minutes ago. (It’s now 12:10 am!)

Now I can focus on . . . oh wait. I have another book to edit. Well darn it! I don’t care.  I’m getting back to making time for MY writing tomorrow. Can’t even think about it right now as I’m so tired I may just sleep on the sofa because I’d have to walk down a long, long hall to get to my bed.

I’ve been jotting down notes, dictating some  things to my Dragon and building a file for  this next book. I’m so excited to start writing it. Who doesn’t love a murder mystery right?

I will get my copies of Valkyrie’s Curse to beta readers by the end of this week,  and then get that one tidied and polished.

Just had to share the exciting news that I FINISHED THE  EDIT JOBS AND THE  MANUAL!

To whomever it was that sent the chocolate and coffee –  I love you!!

Write on my friends, write on! (I’m going to join you  this time!!)

 

 

International Author Day


I was invited to participate in the International Author’s Day blog hop. By bookish Indulgences by bOOk r3vi3ws The Rules of the Blog Hop are to – Write a post about your favourite Author / Book or your Reading habit & thank the Authors Since I write posts all the time about some of my…

via International Authors’ Day Blog Hop 2016 #favorite Authors — Cathy Writes Romance

I’m Still Here


It’s been a while since I’ve posted and for that, I do apologize.

I’m still here!

Life has me going 200 miles per hour with my hair ablaze! I’m behind schedule on my editing and the client is not happy in the least. Can’t say I blame her.

A contract job that I took has morphed from a simple revision to a full-blown disaster that requires a great deal of time. This  has turned into a bleeding nightmare that I can’t seem to stop the hemorrhaging! I will be SOOOO glad to be done with this. This is also the reason that the above editing is behind schedule.

My own writing has been nonexistent, set aside in order to fulfill my  obligations to the above two demands on my time. This does not make my creative muse happy in the least. NOT. IN. THE. LEAST.

NOT. IN. THE. LEAST.

My family is falling apart around me. My oldest sister is  stressed to the max with  things going on in her life, and stress has landed her in the hospital numerous times before.  The younger sister, still older than me recently  was hospitalized with her health issues that are critical.

My oldest brother who has disassociated himself from me, I thought  it was the whole family but then found out that apparently, it is just me, has prostate cancer and glaucoma.

My other brother, still older than me – yes, I am the baby. I’ll always be the baby. I will be 75 freaking years old and still be the baby. – hs had some medical issues with his kidneys and  some other issues.

For the most part, I am healthy.  I need to shed  weight – a lot of weight, I  am learning to live with back injuries from a car accident several years ago, but I am healthy.  I’d like to keep it that way.

However, having said that I  am feeling the strain of too many irons in the fire. Between a contract job, editing job,  our home business, trying to  build a writing career, and maintain the rest of my life –  I think I’m losing it.

My  mind is like a Fourth of July fireworks display alight with ideas.  I want to write! I want to get the ideas down while I have them. but I can’t justify taking the time away from  the edits of which I am already behind.  I can’t  make myself write when I have a deadline for this course manual to be completed  either.

I feel like I am being stretched in twenty different directions, like everything is falling between the cracks and I will never escape the maddening pressure! I am beyond full capacity. I need a vacation, a serious vacation.  A vacation that doesn’t require me to cook the meals, or make the bed, or clean the house, or . . . . . is there a vacation plan  where you can just be a slug? That’s the plan I need.  The sea slug plan, booked at a hotel right on the beach, where the only thing required is for me to don enough clothing  to not scare away the small children and bask in the sun while listening to the waves. Better yet, one of those places that has the cabana boys that bring the drinks right to you. That’s what I need.  A hotel on the beach,  cabana boys bearing drinks, and a chase to lay on so that I’m not confused for a beached whale.

Until I can find that plan,  the stress continues. Reluctantly I  return to the editing cave.

I am determined to get these off of my desk. Currently, I have no wheels so I am  trapped in the cave. I may have to call out for pizza to be delivered.  I have to ease the suffering somehow, right?

I promise more next time. Go out there and have some fun –  live – enjoy the sunshine – do something exciting.

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie