header('Cache-Control: max-age=259200'); Writer's Block Archives – Kristen Koster
Jan 182013
 

Staying Positive Despite Rejection: Wildflowers blooming in the scrub by Kristen KosterThis week in my accountability group’s How I Write series we were asked, “Every writer goes through ups and downs. What do you do to keep positive about what you’re working on?” I chose to interpret this as “How do you focus on staying positive despite rejection?” Because, we writer’s know, there are different forms of rejection that must be faced and overcome on a regular basis.

Staying Positive Despite Rejection from Our Selves

This is the hardest one for me. I am definitely my own worst critic. So, how do I deal with this?

Work with a timer.
This gives me something to beat. It’s that competitive streak. Also, I know I have to write until the timer goes off, but then I get a quick break.
Stuff the internal editor in a box.
Ok, so some days the visualization is more like stuffing her into an iron-bound chest and shipping her off to Timbuktu, but I’m sure you get the idea. She’s NOT welcome for first drafts.
Reread Old Stuff
Yup, pull out that ms that’s been hidden with the dust bunnies under the bed and see just how far my writing’s come. Who would ever start with a daydream where the heroine’s looking in a mirror. Cringe and be glad you’re not that writer any more.
Revisit the Praise
Reread some of the good comments from feedback from crit partners, beta readers and contest judges.

Staying Positive Despite Rejection from Our Peers

Writing is often a solitary pursuit, but many don’t think you should remain completely in a vacuum for the entire process. It took me a long time to build the confidence to show my work to others. When I did, I told myself that I wanted the feedback and that it wasn’t personal and that the people giving the advice wanted the same thing I did, to improve the story.

Critiques
Take what you can use, and ignore what doesn’t make sense or doesn’t work. It’s your book/story/etc, don’t write by committee. But do remind yourself that people have the story’s best interests in mind. Sometimes, when you come back to it later, you may see the comments from a different perspective.
Contests
Again, you’re not going to please everyone, but save off the stuff you do well and sift through for the useful stuff. Remind yourself that people have the story’s best interests in mind.
Reviews
I’m not lucky enough to be in this boat yet, but I’d like to think I could handle truthful ones.
Comments/Corrections
This is a more general space. This could be in email, on your blog, or even facebook or twitter.

Let It Sit
This is good for all of the above: read it, let it sting, bask in the praise, whatever. Then, put it away! Come back to it at least a day or two later and look at it with a fresh perspective.

Staying Positive Despite Rejection from the Industry

I don’t have a lot of experience with the publishing industry beyond querying some agents and editors, but here’s what I’ve learned so far and from watching others go through similar situations.

Hit Send & Move On
After hitting send, I try to jump into the next project and ignore the fact that it’s out there.
What’s the worst they can say?
No, right? Ok, there are probably worse ways they could phrase that “no thanks”, but really, it’s not personal. Move on to the next person on your list. Besides, you’re liable to get pleasantly surprised with a “yes!” at some point.
It’s all Subjective!
Look at how many books/movies/tv shows/paintings/photographs/dances/sculptures that you’ve either loved or hated. Or even just been “meh” over. Everyone has their own tastes and no two people will ever read the same book.
Keep Going/Keep Learning
This may sound similar to the first one, but it’s more specific. Keep practicing, don’t stop if it’s something you love. I don’t know who originally said it, but I love the quote, “Failure leads to success (unless you quit trying.)”. So true.

Your Turn: What do you do to keep positive about what you’re working on?


And if you’d like to read what the rest of my accountability group is expanding out their comfort zones, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney * Susan Saxx

Overcoming Obstacles

 The Writer  Comments Off on Overcoming Obstacles
Jul 202012
 

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group was asked, “What’s your current biggest obstacle to success? Name at least 3 things you can do improve your chances of overcoming obstacles.”

Ok, lemme ‘fess up here. I posed this question this week to my accountability group. And you know what sucks? This question sounded good in my head. It even looked good on the forum where my accountability group meets. However, when I realized I had to answer it too… it suddenly looked a lot more daunting. So forgive me, while I try to do this justice. I know it’s something I need to force myself to look at closely, answer honestly and use to build a game plan.

I’ve been skating by on minimal effort and making far too many excuses lately. And honestly, I’m not sure I can answer this with just one thing. I could point my finger in a number of directions: drive, follow-through, time management — hell, even blaming disruptions of my writing schedule on the people around me, but that one would mostly be a lie I tell myself to feel better. I still have the house to myself most days from around 9 am until noon or so, and I’ve failed to make the most of those hours.

I could also point to the many things I know are NOT obstacles. I can string a sentence together. I can even put together some workable paragraphs that read smoothly. I’ve been told I have a good historical voice. However, some spark is missing between me and the page. The ideas in my head aren’t translating properly. I get feedback that asks if I was going for a certain effect until I want to bash my head against the wall, because… Yes. Yes, that’s EXACTLY what I was trying to do. Only apparently, I didn’t quite.

So what’s my obstacle? Me. Sounds too easy right?

Lemme break it down by tackling three things I need to do in order to up my game and get past this hurdle.

First, and I’ve done this to some degree, but publicly own up to the idea that I am a professional writer. I just haven’t gotten paid for it. But in order to do so… I need to put in my hours and do the work. Nothing is going to write itself. To this end I’m renewing my commitment to use a time tracker on my iPad to make sure I log a minimum of 500 hours this calendar year toward justifying this as a business and not a hobby.

Second, I can’t let my head get in this place where nothing I do is any good. I’ve gotten fabulous feedback in some areas. I just need to work harder and improve the others. How exactly I’m going to accomplish this one? Yeah, I’m not sure either. I know what I can do toward this end is to take the valuable feedback I’ve gotten so far this year, and see if I can tease it apart from the exact manuscript, figure out how to make that work in general and then apply it back to the manuscripts in progress.

Third, I’m going to the RWA National Convention next week. This is part of the first step in treating what I’m doing more seriously, but also a great way to talk shop with experienced writers, take some workshops in some areas to get ideas on how to address the craft issues I’m having and also forcing myself out of my comfort zone and embracing that this is something I want to seriously pursue.

I think that last bit there is probably the most important piece of this post. “This is something I want to seriously pursue.” Pursue, not just allow to happen, not react to it happening around me, but to actively go out there after it, which I believe to be a very important piece of the puzzle when you’re looking at overcoming obstacles of any sort.


And if you’d like to read about the rest of my accountability group’s plans for overcoming obstacles, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

May 252012
 

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “How do you develop your characters? Do you have a favourite kind/archetype?”

We covered part of the idea of character development before and my general method is in the post, Building Characters where I likened it to my daughter’s cosplay outfits. I skimmed the highlights, but that post has more info.

The BASICS
Deb Dixon‘s GMC — WANTS, NEEDS, CONFLICTS, OBSTACLES
Michael Hauge‘s Establishing Connections – likeability, skill.expertise, sympathetic, funny, jeopardy
Strengths/Weaknesses —
At Least 5 Whys —
Biggest Fear & how you will make them face it
Jodi Henley‘s idea of a Core Event

BELLS & WHISTLES
Tics, expressions, rituals, habits
Friends, possessions & pets

That all still holds true. Now, moving on to the section where I listed What I didn’t use.

Character Sheets — You’ve seen the ones: star sign, height, weight, occupation, model of car driven, all full of useless trivia that probably won’t make a difference in how your character will react to the things you need them to. Oh, and I always read them with much amusement considering I write historical fiction. I don’t think I’d find them very useful even if I wrote contemporaries.

Stereotypes/Archetypes — Ok, I TRY not to use stereotypes and I was re-introduced to the notion of using archetypes again this summer, but I’m not sure that I’ll ever dig too deeply in that direction as something to build a foundation on. Some people may find them useful, but I also think the temptation to slide back into stereotype is too strong for me.

Character sheets filled with useless trivia are still a no go for me. Most of it just isn’t relevant for the historical setting and I don’t feel like making one. I have been using Scrivener, which has character templates that are more flexible and include general information.

Role in Story: Hero
Occupation: Card Sharp
Physical Description:
Personality: Jack is a bad boy, appearing unreliable and capricious at first impression.
Habits/Mannerisms:
Background: Jack is a card sharp with the longest running winning streak at the game of Whist at the Stratford Club in London. He wants to make a name for himself.
Internal Conflicts: Jack is motivated by resentment and rebellion which keeps him from finding love and keeping it. He’s a bachelor who refuses to marry and keeps being left by his mistresses.
External Conflicts: Jack is driven by the thrill of winning and beating the odds. He wants to win back his brother’s losing for the week and keep his reputation because Amanda’s protector has accused him of cheating and offers a stacked deck.
Notes: Jack is used to playing Whist with his brother as his partner. He’s also distracted by the heroine’s beauty. He may lose his reputation and the girl. Jack realizes he’s always help part of himself back. He puts that on the table with Amanda as well, hoping to win her love.

Photo of a kid catching a frisbee. He's putting everything he's got into it.And in looking back at my stories after taking Tami Cowden’s workshop on archetypes for writers, I realized I do use them as a very rough base for personality and building conflicts, but it hadn’t been a conscious part of my character development process.

I think if I had to name a favorite hero archetype, it’d be the bad boy — or maybe the nice guy who’s been pushed to live up to his bad boy reputation. My heroine’s have also been stronger than they appear or are assumed to be by others, but other than that, they seem to be all over the map in terms of which archetype you’d label them as.

Another thing I’ve realized through photography and pushing my comfort zone there, is character matters so much when photographing people. Capturing it and using it to tell a story was a big part of what I was missing when I took pictures of people. For some reason, this seems easier with people I don’t know. Maybe because I’m freer to make things up? Anyway… this kid with the frisbee has a ton of character, doesn’t he?


YOUR TURN:How do you go about building the foundation of your creative projects?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

May 182012
 

A photo of three Regency ladies.

Tabitha Gifford (Center)

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “Could you be best friends with any of the heroines you’ve written. Is she/Are they someone you would hang out with? Why or why not?”

I don’t know about BFFs, but my heroines are definitely the kind of people I’d hang out with. In my head they’re all strong women who know what they want and don’t suffer fools lightly. On my current pages, they’re not quite there and a couple times I’ve needed smacked upside and asked “What were you thinking?”, but hey, we’ve all got friends like that, right? We love them despite their occasional bone-headed decisions or statements.

They definitely share some of my interests: gardening, music, solving puzzles, playing games, reading, horses. One thing we all seem to have in common is a liking for handsome blokes wearing cravats. Completely understandable, I think.

I’ve also spent about 5 years with Marcia (Revealed) and Tabitha (BHT) in my head. They’re probably my favorite heroines so far, although I like Althea from The Flower Queen’s Daughter (FQD) and Amanda from Jack of Hearts (JoH), but they’re definitely not as fully formed personalities, but I definitely want to get to know them better. I think Henrietta will also be one of my favorites as she really appeals to the tomboy I was growing up. One thing I know, I’d definitely like you all to meet them one day!

A photo of a Regency Lady.

Marcia Drummond

I’d need a time machine to go hang out with them, but isn’t that exactly what books are? Time Machines, rocket ships, portals to other dimensions, flies on the wall where we can’t normally go? I think it’d infinitely cooler to go hang out with them in their time period than this one. I suspect I’d have a better chance of fitting into Regency times, despite missing many of the modern conveniences like computers, internet, air conditioning and indoor plumbing. I think the social whirl would get to me and I’d gladly sit with Marcia on the sidelines and just watch.


This question was very difficult for me to answer because I have tended to have very few close female friends in real life at any one time. I was always one that hung out with the guys in school and even afterwards, working in the computer games industry, I was definitely in the minority. Barrington and I would have been best buds and Bolster too, just because with one, you get the other in the bargain. Isn’t it odd, that I say that, yet STILL feel Barrington is the one character I know the least about his backstory and motivations?

Cub Scouts and writing changed that balance for me. Cub Scouts gained me several close mom friends who were going through the same things, even though I was just as happy hanging out with some of the dads at events too. Getting more involved with writing and the community around it expanded my virtual and local circles to include some amazing women who are super supportive and even though I haven’t met all of them in person yet, I’m proud to call them all ‘friend’.


YOUR TURN: How do you push through things you don’t like to do and can you turn your weaknesses into strengths?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

May 112012
 
Parts of Writing: Dialogue: photo of two people conversing.

Dialogue: Talking Heads vs Meaningful Conversation

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “Dialogue, narrative, exposition, or description? What are your favorite parts of writing and why? Your least favorite and why? What do you do to make your least favorite parts more attractive or easier?”

Deceptively Easy Parts of Writing

When I am able to completely turn off my internal editor, my writing defaults to dialogue. I end up with pages and pages of talking heads with the barest indication of what’s going on around them physically. The other trap I seem to fall into is INTERNAL monologues where the character will go on forever about what they think of a situation or mull over what to do next.

The dialogue runs are fun, because it’s like eavesdropping on a conversation and taking dictation. The trick is tipping the balance from talking heads to meaningful conversation between realistic characters. The introspective runs… they’re usually a good sign I need to stop, figure out where the story is going next and how to get the hero and heroine back on the page together. When I’m stuck, if I can get them in the same place and get them talking, things usually get moving again.

The Hardest Parts of Writing

I think the aspect I’m currently weakest on is using body language to convey emotion and character. Showing character is usually a little easier, but I find myself drifting back to my online roleplaying game days and relying on a small repertoire of actions: smiling, nodding, eyerolling, and various methods of fiddling with hair.

In the first draft, I do a bare minimum of actions. They’re more placeholders to remind me of the mood at the time. I have to go back and layer in emotion and variety. This is often done by adding in thoughts and reactions as well as other physical actions.

Description is another thing I find is either on or off for me. Usually, it’s something I have to go back and add in, unless it’s part of initially setting a scene. Oh, and I suck at describing clothing. I may have researched a fair amount on it, but I’m definitely not a fashionista for either the 21st or 19th century.

Strengthening the Weaknesses

So…how do I take the things I don’t like writing as much or don’t come as naturally and turn it into something that works? I’m apparently still working on that. For me, I need to make several passes and concentrate on one aspect at a time. My current pass is turning wooden, rote actions into something meaningful for the story that paint a better picture of the characters for the reader. Reading aloud helps find the stilted phrases and roleplaying the characters makes this more entertaining for me and often brings pleasant surprises with it.

I’d say the best thing to do is run with what you enjoy and comes easy to get down the story bones, but don’t be afraid to go back and add in more details even if it takes a few passes to flesh out that skeleton. Critical reading (to see how others pull it off) and practice also makes it easier. I don’t know if I’ve been successful at strengthening my weaknesses, but I know my writing process is going to be a work in progress for quite some time.

A Different Lens

I knew I used that phrase a lot in respect to my writing, but it had never really clicked before, why. I’ve been using the phrase long before I got my dSLR camera last year, but I get it now. I’ve mentioned before that photography has always been present in my life between my grandfather and my father. I frequently had a cheap little camera in my hands growing up and got a SLR camera as my high school graduation present. I loved to play with light, natural objects, and rarely took pictures of people or buildings.

With photography, my weaknesses are definitely still in architecture and people. I very rarely luck out and get something I love. But then again, deliberate practice on these two subjects is not something I have done very often. I think where I succeed with these is when I’m able to bring in elements of nature or at least let go completely and don’t think about it so much. But deliberate practice to explore what works and what doesn’t has been a huge part of this for me. Somehow, working with strangers is easier than people I know, maybe that’s a self-conscious thing. Although that’s my husband’s brother and sister in the photo at the top.

Sometimes, I just luck out.


YOUR TURN: How do you push through things you don’t like to do and can you turn your weaknesses into strengths?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

May 042012
 

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “What advice do you think your younger self would give to you now? What advice would you give to your older self/future self?”
 

Then

Advice to the Future: A very out of focus image of a fish tank at night.

FOCUS!

In college, I first had the idea that I too could write a romance novel. It’s still firmly tucked under the bed, a few chapters in. I just sat down and started writing. No planning, no outline. Seat of my pants. And those first three chapters came out, splat onto the page. Then I hit a wall. I had no idea what happened next. In addition to that, I was in my junior year and there was so much shiny out there in the world to explore. The campus had just been wired with intranet and we had a chat system. This was not a recipe for good concentration. So, like now, my younger self would be warning me to focus on what I want to do, and do it.

Don’t just play around for a bit, keep at it!

Oh, and she’d tell me she really likes taking pictures, keep at that too!
 

Now

Advice to the Future: Photo of the moon, just past full.

“Reach for the moon
because even if you miss you will be among the stars.”

I know I still have focus issues, but without a goal to shoot for, it doesn’t get you anywhere. This quote is another instance of the universe whispering in my ear. I keep seeing it everywhere. And as part of our accountability group we do set goals, but I suspect I like checking things off more than pushing myself to stretch farther. Recently, everything has been about stepping outside my comfort zone, I need to also reach higher and keep taking those steps to get there.

It can be kinda fun to pause on the staircase to look around and see how far you’ve come. But keep going! If you don’t push yourself, you’ll never see how far you can go.


YOUR TURN:What would your younger self say to you now? What do you want to tell your future self?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Teaching Moments

 The Writer  Comments Off on Teaching Moments
Apr 272012
 

Teaching Moments: Photo of the sun breaking through the clouds.This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group was asked about teaching moments: “What have you recently learned from a REAL LIFE event/happening that you can apply to your writing/writing career?”

Have you ever felt like the universe is trying to tell you something?

It’s been shouting at me lately.

When the same phrases and themes keep coming at you, eventually one is going to stick. First it was, “If you never ask, the answer will always be ‘no’.” And then there was all the advise on pushing boundaries one step at a time.

Lately it’s been all about soul searching, knowing yourself, digging deeper, how your experiences mold you and using those deep core experiences and decisions to improve your writing. Now, Jodi Henley‘s been talking about core events for a while. I listened. I really did. However, I didn’t have the right mindset at the time to learn as much as I needed. Jo Leigh came to my local RWASD chapter meeting this past month and talked about “Core Decisions” — it wasn’t the most comfortable meeting for an introvert who doesn’t like discussing what makes her tick. But man, did it make the brain work overtime. Lots of ‘Aha!’ moments when thinking about what my stories have been about and why the heroines act and react the way they do.

I’ve recently had a few people look at my work and while they agree that while I can string a sentence together, something’s missing. Now, none of them came out and said this precisely, and I may be putting words in their mouths, but what I feel is missing is the ‘heart’. The emotional side of things. How does it really feel to be in these characters heads and why should we care about them.

I’ve learned a lot about the theory of why Emotional Structure works, why connections are drawn between authors and readers. But most importantly, I’ve learned that I cannot avoid what makes me “me”, not if I want to find my voice and connect with readers to bring my characters truly alive and make their stories matter.

The trick now will be opening up those veins and allowing it to bleed out onto the page. I need to abandon the theory, no I need to TRUST it, and put it into action.


YOUR TURN:What have you learned recently that it suddenly seemed like you were ready to learn?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Apr 202012
 
Ways to Flip Your Brain: right brain/left brain spin dancer optical illusion

Click on image if not moving. Which way does she spin for you? Can you get her to switch directions?

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “How do you balance between your muse and your internal editor? (and/or) How do you make your internal editor work for you, and not against you?” In otherwords, how do we find ways to flip your brain back and forth?

There’s a lot of talk about right-brained and left-brained people where the labels “logical” for the left side or “creative” for the right are assigned. My more Vulcan-esque left side frowns and is confused by the lack of research supporting this split, because in fact, both functions are present in both hemispheres. On the right, the flighty and timid sprite is feeling extra whimsical today so we’re going to run with this analogy. You can even take a quiz if you’re not sure which side you exercise more.

I’ve always loved this gif. She’s got all the grace I lack and she can’t seem to make up her mind about which way to turn. Oh wait… does she only spin in one direction for you? You guessed it… this gif is a quicker test. If you see her turning clockwise, then you’re using more of your right side of the brain and vice versa. Can you make her change directions? Is it easy, is it hard? Do you find it just spontaneously happens or can you make her flip at will?

A lot of artistic types talk about their muse or their characters speaking to them, of being unable to create until that spark of inspiration hits. Others claim there is no such thing and you can train yourself to be creative on demand. Another term that comes up a lot is “internal editor”. You know, that voice that complains when you use the wrong word or says it all sucks, or wants those paragraphs or scenes switched around. Yeah… that annoying pest. I don’t know about you, but they always seem to want to get to work when I want to just write.

  1. Practice with the Gif above This is kinda fun and feels like you’re wasting time, but only you can tell if it’s worth it. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by my internal editor, I’ll pull up this gif and wait until I can get her going clockwise before trying to write.
  2. Visualization Sometimes before a writing session, I’ll visualize stuffing my internal editor into an iron-bound box and shipping her off to Timbuktu for a while. This, combined with a timer, helps me focus on the creation of new words instead of getting caught up in futzing with ones already on the page.
  3. Give Both Sides Time To Play It might sound weird giving your worst critic time to play, but it doesn’t always have to be on YOUR stuff. A critique partner can benefit too! So… Give that IE a vacation (forced if necessary like above), but also give your analytical side some exercise too.
  4. Compartmentalize Set boundaries for yourself. Maybe you can only allow yourself 30 minutes rereading what you wrote previously and make changes and catch typos. Maybe you feel more creative in the morning, so use that time to create and do your edits and revisions later in the day. You might even find alternating days or longer periods work better for you.
  5. Prime the Pump Similar to compartmentalizing… do some warm-ups before jumping in to your project. If you need to be creative, try do something for 5-10 minutes that stimulates one or more of the items on right-side brain function list below. If you need your best analytical skills, pick something from the left side.
Left Brain Right Brain
uses logic feeling
detail oriented “big picture” oriented
facts rule imagination rules
words and language symbols and images
present and past present and future
math and science philosophy & religion
can comprehend can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
knowing believing
acknowledges appreciates
order/pattern perception spatial perception
knows object name knows object function
reality based fantasy based
forms strategies presents possibilities
practical impetuous
safe risk taking

YOUR TURN: Which way did she turn for you at first? How do you switch gears between creative and analytical tasks? Easily, consciously or do you need to wait for inspiration to strike?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Feb 032012
 

New Cover for WHISPER TO ME OF LOVEA few months ago when I first decided I was going to try my hand at author interviews, I had been “talking” online with several other authors and a few of the well-known ones in my genre so I figured the worst I could do was ask and get told no. Imagine my surprise when the very first person I asked to do an interview, Shirlee Busbee, floored me by saying yes! And yes, there was much fangirl squeeing. My mom is a big fan of her books and since I’d snitch her romance novels to read, I became one too.

So today, to celebrate her Feb 7th re-release of WHISPER TO ME OF LOVEamazon tracking pixel, I’d like to welcome Shirlee Busbee and thank her for being my guinea pig and being an inspiration in so many ways!

AND we’ll be doing another giveaway! One random commenter today will take home a signed copy of WHISPER TO ME OF LOVE!

*** UPDATE: THE WINNER OF THE SIGNED COPY OF
WHISPER TO ME OF LOVE IS:
GRACE BURROWES!!
CONGRATS! ***

Let’s not waste any more time. Let’s see how Shirlee handled the questions I sent her way.

1. What drew you to writing Historical Romances in general and specifically to setting stories during the Regency Era?

I guess we can blame it on my mom. She read what passed for Historical Romances and I just sort of gravitated in that direction. It isn’t so much the Regency Era as the time period from about 1790 to 1815 that interests me. There was so much going on at that time. The French Revolution. Napoleon’s rise to power. The War of 1812. The Barbary Pirates, and, of course the English Regency.

2. What’s the strangest bit of historical trivia you’ve picked up in your research?

Well, duh. You have me there. Can’t think of a thing. I’m sure there was something at the time that caught my attention, but nothing springs to mind. Sorry.

These next few questions assume that time travel is possible. So, if you could go back to Regency England:

3. What modern conveniences would you miss most? What would you miss least?

Electricity and a microwave. Indoor plumbing would be a must. I mean can you imagine getting up in the dead of night and the dead of winter and hiking out to the water closet a couple of times a night? Of course, they did have ‘Thunder Mugs’ but still!
Miss the least…The internet! 🙂

4. What would be the hardest for you to adapt to in the Regency Era?

A woman’s position. Not being able to speak my mind and being under my husband’s thumb. Being unable to call my own money MINE.

5. Where would you fit into the society? Where would you like to visit most?

Well, since my dad was a Naval Officer, I suspect I’d have been a lesser member of the ton.
Visit? That’s a hard one. I think probably Cornwall. The countryside, mostly coastal towns.

6. You’ve been married for 48 years to your best friend, Howard, so I’m going to consider you a firsthand expert on HEAs. What describes your perfect Romance Hero and what’s the secret to keeping a successful relationship going that long?

Okay, I’m guessing what a HEA is (I know, I’m a dummy). The perfect Romance Hero is intelligent and honest. He’s also kind. That he’s also handsome is nice. Rich, or at least comfortable, is good.
The secret of our relationship, is consideration and respect for each other (even when we disagree). H. and I swear we never argue, we do have very loud, very passionate discussions :-). Oh, and very important, laughter.

You’re not a dummy, I had to look it up the first time I ran into it too! HEA = Happily Ever After, for anyone still wondering. =)

7. You know your first book, GYPSY LADYamazon tracking pixel, is one of my all-time favorite romance novels, even if it’s not set in Regency England. I have to admit I was blown away by your first novel story on your blog. I was going to ask how you went from Business School and being a draftsman to writing romance, but you already answered in that post about your husband’s joke and his continued support as well as encouragement (pestering?) from your coworker, Rosemary Rogers. Fate, indeed.

What advice would you go back and give yourself if you could? Would you aim to give that advice before or after you spent 18 months writing 4 pages by hand on a legal pad? Would this advice differ from what you’d say to an aspiring author today?

My advice would be given before I wasted the 18 months, producing only 4 pages. If you’re going to be a writer, don’t play at it. Do it. Diligently and faithfully. If you read interviews with successful writers, the one thing they stress is best summed up with Hemingway’s quote, “apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” It’s that simple. Oh, and you’ll have always something else to do, but you have to make time to write and again, DO IT.

8. I don’t know how I missed the original release of WHISPER TO ME OF LOVE back in ‘91, I’m a sucker for stories involving a thief! Which character (Morgana/Pip or Royce) or which situation came to you first that made you realize you had to write this story?

I knew I was going to use Royce because he appeared as a secondary character in a previous book (and don’t ask me which one — I’d have to go look it up), but when I started Royce’s book, Pip and her story just sprang to mind. I’m a seat of the pants writer and asking me to explain why or how has me as mystified as anyone. The story just evolves and the twists and turns it takes is as big a surprise to me as it is the reader. I can’t tell you the times when it all comes together and I’m like, “Wow. That turned out great.”

9. Are you still a voracious reader? What are some of your favorites?

Oh, yeah. I read constantly and if I don’t, I get all twitchy and weird. I call it refueling my batteries :-).
Favorites? Hmm. First you have to remember that I don’t, as a rule, read a lot of Romances. I do read them, but I prefer mysteries. I do love a book that combines both. Enjoy, Nora Roberts (who doesn’t?). Karen Robards. Tami Hoag. Some Historical Romance writers, I like — Elizabeth Hoyt, Julia Quinn and Tessa Dare (but since I write Historicals, I seldom read them). For straight romance, you can’t beat Linda Lael Miller. I also thoroughly enjoy Partricia Briggs, Paranormals featuring Mercy Thompson, but I also read a lot of books by Lee Child, John Sanford, Jeff Abbott, and Steven Martini. And, of course, Georgette Heyer. My list is endless and jumps all over the place.

10. You’ve seen a lot of changes both in terms of technology and the publishing business. What’s made your life easier and which changes have you found the most challenging as a writer?

You would ask :-). Okay, I love, love my computer. Especially spellcheck. The most challenging is learning how to negotiate through FB, Twitter and the like. Recently, for the first time, I had to edit my latest book, DESIRE BECOMES HERamazon tracking pixel, due out in July 2012, electronically and it was terrifying. I am so not computer smart and it’s been a real challenge stumbling my way through new methods.

Photo of Shirlee Busbee, romance author.Author of historical and modern romance, Shirlee Busbee has enjoyed tremendous international success since her first novel Gypsy Lady was published in 1977. Shirlee’s books have been translated into numerous languages and she is a household name to romance readers around the world with over nine million copies of her books in print. She is the recipient of numerous awards for excellence in writing, including the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and Affaire de Coeur’s Silver and Bronze Pen Awards.

Born in San Jose, California in 1941, Shirlee grew up traveling the world with her parents, two sisters and three brothers as her father was a career navel officer. She attended high school in Morocco. Returning to California, Shirlee attended the Burbank Business College of Santa Rosa, then met and married Howard Busbee in 1963. While working in Solano County, she met her life-long friend and mentor, Rosemary Rogers. Shirlee followed Rosemary into the world of romance writing, with the much acclaimed success of her first novel, Gypsy Lady. Shirlee went on from that success to carve her own niche in the historical romance genre.

Shirlee and her best friend, Howard, celebrated their 48th anniversary in 2011. The couple resides in Northern California on a lovely ranch were they are kept busy with their beloved Mini Schnauzers, prize winning Shetland Ponies and of course Shirlee’s writing!

Visit Shirlee at her website and blog or “like” her Facebook page or follow her on twitter. She’s hands down one of the friendliest people I’ve met online!

Order from: Powell’s | Amazon (Kindle) | B & N (Nook)| Indiebound


Your Turn: What’s your favorite historical trope (Marriage/Betrothal of Convenience, Cinderella Story, Girl hiding as Boy, etc.)? Or just tell us the best thing you’ve ever heard while having sweet nothings whispered in your ear!

Don’t forget, one random commenter today will get a signed copy of WHISPER TO ME OF LOVE.

Nov 252011
 

Last week’s post How to Write While Dealing with Holiday Madness was more practical, but this week’s entry in our How I Write series, is all fancy. The questions posed was, “If you could spend a day with any one of your characters, who would it be and why? What would you do?”

This question was difficult for me and I kept putting off writing this post as I didn’t want to show favoritism or some such nonsense. I have to admit, I quickly discarded all my heroines, but one. She’s a veritable tomboy and much like me when I was younger, except she has a ton more confidence on her side. I figured I’d pretty much already grown up with her in many ways, so it was off to whittle down the list of heroes.

All of my heroes have something attractive about them, and they’re all quite dashing and fashionable. James, the duke, would be far too imposing and he’s a bit on the arrogant side. He’s also a bit of a starched shirt, as well. He needed someone playful like his friend, Hugh, the Viscount Barrington to offset his stiffer personality.

I suspect spending the day with the Viscount Barrington would prove both the most fun, and the most useful. He’s the class clown type and looking for attention. However, he’s also just coy enough, that unless you’re extremely close to him, you’d never know the real reasons why. He’s always been a thorn in my side because he refuses to open up and spill his secrets. Perhaps by the end of the day, he would open up or at least let something slip and I’d gain some insight into his personal demons.

As for what we’d do… I think taking a picnic and driving down to Richmond would be a wonderful way to start the day. He’s a dab hand with the reins and he owns a pair of prime goers that would make the miles fly past. Besides, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right? Feed him well, settle in for a long coze in the warm sunshine and I suspect with a few leading questions, I could get him to open up. I know he’s got an interesting story lurking there, I just need an opening. His armor is strong and has many patches reinforcing the spots where chinks had once been made.

I would also have to be on the watch for his tricks. He’s known for pranks that can be biting to those he dislikes, but I don’t think I’ve done anything to get on his bad side, so I should be safe. After all, it’s just another way he pushes people away when they get too close or annoy him by being hypocritical. I’d be understanding and gentle with him, but then again, maybe that’s part of the problem and why he’s not sharing… I’ve been too nice to him and haven’t pushed him hard enough with the tough questions.

I better go prepare a sumptuous picnic and work on my list of questions for him… asking everything I want to know might take a while. Perhaps I should plan to stop at an inn on the way back to Town.

After all, who wouldn’t want to spend a day and a night with this fellow?

A photo of Narayan Fergal O'Connor, an inspiration for Viscount Barrington.

Narayan Fergal O'Connor, an inspiration for Viscount Barrington.


YOUR TURN: If you could spend a day with a fictional character (one of yours if you write, someone else’s if you don’t), who would it be and why? What would you do?

And if you’d like to read about who the rest of my group would spend the day with, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford *
* Emma G. Delaney * Kimberly Farris *