header('Cache-Control: max-age=259200'); Plans Archives – Kristen Koster
Jan 252013
Steaming Hedge - Version 1 before self-editing process

Raw image as downloaded from camera.

I’m trying to develop/discover my self-editing process and this week in my accountability group How I Write series was asked, “Do you have an editing process? If so, what?”

This is one of the things that I’m honestly struggling with as a writer. I do not currently have what I would term a self-editing “process” and have just sort of flown by the seat of my pants in this area. But this year, I decided I needed a process that I could follow and would cover the necessary bases instead of just getting lost in an endless circle of line edits as my internal editor argued with itself.

So, what did I do? I started researching it. I’ve read through Cathy Yardley‘s Rock Your Revisions, by Renni Browne and Dave King‘s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, and Noah Lukeman‘s The First Five Pages. However none of them really felt like a good fit with what I have in my mind as what an editing process should look like. Just call me Goldilocks… cause they’re either too vague, too fluffy, or too small and only cover a particular part of the self-editing process.

Now, that’s not saying I don’t recommend any of these books. I absolutely do! They are ALL great books, they’re just not what I’m looking for right now. They may have PART of what I’m looking for, and I haven’t discounted that either. I have one more to read through that I have high hopes for that Danie Ford recommended: Alan Watt‘s The 90-Day Rewrite: The Process of Revision. On the surface it sounds like it has the stuff I’m looking for.

So what is it I’m looking for that I haven’t found yet? Something that’s kinda like a checklist, but organized in a logical fashion. Something that details not just what I should be looking for, but how to address any problems I find. Something that holds my hand through the process and doesn’t just say, “G’won! The water’s fine! Just jump in!” Something that’s a comprehensive game plan to tackle these projects. Tall order, right?

I think I’m also looking to clarify in my mind what I should be doing at this point to get a manuscript to a state that is “good enough” to send out and hopefully one that better matches what’s in my head.

As I sat down to write this post, I immediately started thinking about what photo I was going to put with it that would be illustrative of the self-editing process. As I was looking though my digital collection, I realized I do a lot of preliminary editing “in the camera” as well as a bunch of post-processing, especially on my close-ups of flowers to get them to pop.

By “editing in the camera” I mean that I take several shots of the same subject. Often with identical settings, but sometimes I purposely try several different ones to get different effects. Then once I download the photos from the camera, I’ll sift through the multiples and pick the ones that appeal to me. Sometimes, it’s a no-brainer — blurry, badly composed, and/or poorly lit ones get tossed. But I’ve found some that had lots of potential, but it hadn’t been captured in a very flattering way.

Take the photo at the top of this post, for example. Lighting and composition were the first things that jumped out at me at problematic. In writing, this would probably translate to tone and structure. If that photo were a book, I’d say it had a lot of extra irrelevant scenes and odd tone choices that were detracting from the overall story I wanted to tell.

Steaming Hedge after self-editing process

Final image after cropping/resizing, desaturation & additional affects applied.

I’m not sure if I tackled the lighting or the composition first. I suspect I probably played with the lighting first, trying to minimize the glare from the morning sun and then added a few special affects to get the hedge to pop more visually. In that process, I’m sure I decided to play with the saturation levels and the black & white struck me as the best way to show off the contrast between the hedge and the steam rising from it. Then, a quick crop (re-framing the picture and cutting away parts of it) to fix the composition and further eliminate the big ol’ glaring sun from the top left corner.

I guess my next question is, how do I take the ideas of what I do instinctively (now?) for photography into something usable for writing.

YOUR TURN: Do you have an editing process? If so, what?

And if you’d like to check out the rest of my accountability group, you can find their blogs here:

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

Hello 2013 Goals, Thanks 2012!

 Writing Life  Comments Off on Hello 2013 Goals, Thanks 2012!
Jan 042013

Photo of hydrangea by Kristen Koster on flickr.comMy accountability group just kicked off a new year with new goals and are continuing with our How I Write series. This week, the question asked was, “What is one thing you’re going to do to refocus your 2013 goals that you learned in 2012?”

Each year I always seem to bite off more than I can chew. Always with the best intentions, of course. And always in the name of balance. I’ve tried several different methods of organizing my goals and what seemed to work best was a breakdown by quarters.

Last year, I had great plans to write a book along with my local RWA Chapter’s challenge participants. Life had other ideas. I’m refocusing on that book this year, but instead of just jumping in and running, I have a concrete step by step plan to see it all the way through.

Likewise, I did really well with my Project365 progress up until a certain point last year. I had worried about keeping up with such an ambitious project every day, but had settled into a comfortable routine until, it broke. This year, I will be focusing on one photo post per week, taking a lot of the pressure off.

This year, in pretty much all areas, I’m focusing on quality over quantity and approaching everything with a plan before execution, taking smaller bites. I’ve also learned that I absolutely must put my writing at a higher priority and I can’t be content to stay safe in my comfort zone.

So far, the momentum is off to a great start and I’m looking forward to keeping it building through out the year. Stay tuned, there are 51 Weeks to go!

Your Turn: What are you going to do different this year to reach your goals?

And if you’d like to read what the rest of my accountability group is changing this year based on lessons learned, you can find their blogs here:

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

Sep 282012

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group was asked, “If you could do anything for writing research, what would you do?”

Honestly, this was a no-brainer for me. I’d head over to Suzi Love’s blog and pull up her category of posts for the Best Places to Visit that relate to Regency England and start mapping out an itinerary. Since the question seemed to imply that time and money weren’t obstacles, I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about leaving anywhere off the list.

Oh, and I’d definitely take my camera. So I could go back later and revisit everything. Although I might have to invest in a few more memory cards.

I’ve never been to England, but as you can imagine, would love to go. Getting me to come home might be a problem. Hopefully, I wouldn’t fall through a time portal or anything so melodramatic while I was there, but I’m sure I’d come home with a whole flock of plot bunnies.

Your Turn: So what would you do for research on your creative project?

And if you’d like to read how the rest of my accountability group would like to do in the name of research, you can find their blogs here:

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

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

Jun 222012

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked about Comfort Zones. So what exactly is one?

Comfort Zone: Those places or activities where you’re comfortable and free from anxiety.

Things that create stress and ratchet up your fears are most certainly outside of your comfort zone.

Now, there’s no question I’m an introvert, I’m drained by physically being around other people and being “on” for them, which is one of the reasons I love the internet. So one of my physical comfort zones is my cave.
I don’t have a dark cave, but it’s mine and it’s comfy.

As you can guess, I REALLY dislike doing new things in new places, especially with new people. Just joining RWA and attending my local chapter meetings used to be outside my comfort zone. Now, I don’t want to miss a month! At times it can be a bit draining, but mostly it’s become something that is a breath of fresh air each month. A sort of homecoming.

On the writing front, there have been a few other frontiers that I’ve ventured toward this year: contests, conferences, and submitting to agents.

In each of these areas, I’ve told myself, “It’s ok. Do it once, if you really hate it, don’t do it again. But you’ve tried. Each step past the line is that much farther you’re stepping out of your comfort zone.”

Ok, so the verdict is still out on conferences, but I’m actually excited about it, not freaking out. Maybe I will when I get there, but I’ll have made the effort. I think it’s interesting that I didn’t even ask my family if they wanted to tag along this time. This is progress for me.

Contests: once I submitted to one contest, I submitted to another. Submitting was the easy part. Reading the score sheets was far more difficult! But I survived. Will I do it again? Probably. It was a great way to get impartial feedback from experienced writers.

Submitting to agents: I haven’t gone hog wild with this one. I’m actually “still waiting” to hear from the agency I submitted to last fall to get my PRO status. Yeah, not holding my breath though! I also won two opportunities through other agents to submit a bit of my work to them for critique. Talk about removing most of the pressure! I got very valuable feedback from one of them and I’m still waiting to hear from the other. It’s only been a few weeks, so I’m not worried! I know how super busy she is from twitter.

I think the biggest thing I gained from these latter two opportunities wasn’t just the feedback, but getting concrete evidence that they’re real people who love books too. They’re not scary except how we build them up in our minds as makers and breakers of our careers.

Does that mean I’m rushing out to query every other agent on the planet? Nope! But, I know it’s issues concerning my manuscript that are holding me back and not fear of the agents themselves.

“Been there, done that.” Is a big phrase for me and it doesn’t come with negative connotations. I don’t hear it in that condescending air of ennui. It doesn’t mean I’m bored with something, but rather that I’ve experienced it and it’s not a huge unknown looming on the horizon for me. It’s more of a “No big deal” type of phrase in my head.

YOUR TURN: What do YOU do to push yourself to step out of your comfort zones?

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 * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

Jun 022012

Writing Plan: Summer Edition -- Photo of someone coming down the pool slide.

Will you make a splash this summer?

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group’s topic is Summer Writing Plan. We were asked, “What adjustments will you make to get through the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer?”

We have 4 more days of school this year. Our son will be moving up from middle school to high school. It doesn’t seem possible we’ll have two in high school next year. But that also means for the next 9 weeks or so, I’ll have them underfoot for more of the day than I’m currently used to. They LOVE to sleep in. And by that I mean until noon or so. Then they wake up ravening beasts who want fed and entertained (which now usually means driven around to either be dropped off at a friends or to pick up said friends who are likewise transportationally challenged.

Luckily our schedules shouldn’t change too much except to open up more free time for everyone, both over the summer and next school year as I’ll only have 1 drop-off/pick-up time instead of two.

Writing Plan: My Big To Dos


  • Add 8,210 words to BHT to bring it up to 90k by July 1 — 328 words/day
  • Halfway point for Jack of Hearts (Stop laughing! it’s only ~2,300 words per day to get to 35k by mid June.)
  • Outline JoH using 9 sentences for structure and fine tuning.
  • Pitch Workshop, online
  • Get business cards reprinted with current info


  • Continue working on JoH
  • Attend National RWA Conference in Anaheim toward the end of the month
  • Take lessons learned from pitch class & combine with story bones for sequels to BHT


  • Continue working on JoH — need 70-75k by end of Sept
  • Analyze scenes for Revealed, Sweet Temptation and Flower Queen’s Daughter to see where to improve or rewrite

Writing Plan: My Big How Tos

  • Get Up Early and get working by 7am to take advantage of a quiet house
  • Focus on priority goals first: BHT & JoH before everything else
  • Track time spent writing in spreadsheet
  • Take advantage of other writers doing sprints via twitter or chat rooms
  • Limit Facebook Games until after lunch

YOUR TURN:How does summer affect your creative schedule? Does it enhance or impede it?

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

Spring It Forward

 Writing Life  Comments Off on Spring It Forward
Mar 232012

photo of spring flowersSpring forward. Spring Cleaning. Renewal. Rebirth. Awakening.

These are all clichés associated with spring. Now, we all know that clichés become trite and commonplace for good reason. There’s a universally acknowledge grain of truth in them or tradition builds up and it’s just the done thing.

So… What have I done to spring myself forward this year?

2012 Seems to be the year of challenging myself. This is the first spring in about three years that I’ve felt able to do this. I’m not swamped with my son’s health issues. My focus isn’t bent to making sure he’s finishing every piece of assigned work so it counts toward his attendance or even being split by calls from the health office to come pick him up from school, because his head hurts so bad he can’t make it any longer.

First there was my RWASD chapter’s PALS Challenge where the published authors challenge the PROs to finish a book between February and September. Yup. Jumped on that bandwagon. Signed up to finish a 75k word story, I need to put about 500 words a day toward it. This used to mean about 20 minutes of writing on a good day. Completely doable though.

Next came the chapter’s Spring Into Romance contest (Deadline was extended to March 31, 2012! The contest has a positive reputation for constructive and valuable feedback and is only about $1 per page before postage.) I only judged last year and I’m judging again this year. But, I decided I needed to enter as well this year. It was on my goals list to enter an RWA Chapter contest, and what better place to start than my home chapter. I pushed this one further. I submitted two entries to see the difference between the feedback on the older piece and the newer piece to objectively see how my writing has changed.

Never one to shy away from encouraging others to join her in mad deadline dashes, Bria Quinlan decided to host a #wordfool challenge this year (yup, that’s lots of words by April Fool’s Day). I thought it would be cheating to use the same words I was already doing for the PALS challenge, so I signed up to add an additional 250 words a day to one of my older manuscripts that could use some fleshing out. Again, not a lot, but manageable right now. So far, so good! Even after coming down with a horrible sinus infection this week. I slacked off on the PALs challenge, but even with a 102˚F fever, I managed to find those 250 words. Hopefully, they won’t be too obvious. =)

Use that renewed energy and challenge yourself to take new steps, up your game, reach new heights. Pick a goal, and spring it forward!

YOUR TURN: So… What are you doing to spring yourself forward this year? (This can be in your career, your life, or any creative endeavor!)

And if you’d like to read about what the rest of my accountability group is up to this spring, you can find their blogs here:

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

Mar 162012

Cover image for Dorothea Brande's On Becoming a Writer
This week’s topic for my accountability group in our How I Write Series is “What do you wish you had known before you had even started to write? What would you have told your past self? Would you have discouraged yourself or encouraged? Would you have gone a different route?”

So… this post isn’t so much general advice to newbie writers, but more specifically tailored to what I wish I’d known back in 2007 when I decided I was going to do this writing thing as a creative outlet. I was bored and at loose ends during the summer of 2007. I picked up my husband’s copy of Becoming A Writer by Dorothea Brande and was blown away.

The book was written in the 1930s, but here she was in my head, speaking directly to ME, telling me I COULD do this! She believed in me. Total and complete unconditional belief.

Ok. That sounds hokey, but it’s exactly how it felt. And, so armed with that boost in confidence and not much else, I set out to write a Regency-set historical romance, just like the ones I’d been devouring at an astonishing rate. In retrospect, probably not the best plan, but not the worst either. If I’d tried something too simple, I would have been bored easily and not stuck with it. Instead, I’m still eager to tell the first two stories I began the right way. And some day, I’ll pull it off! I’m getting closer all the time.


What do I wish I had known before you had even started to write?

How to better tell a story. I’m still working on learning this one, but knowing where to look for guidance would have been a godsend. These books will be some of the most influential to your writing process and understanding of how stories work: Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot by Peter Dunne, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee and On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel That Sells by Leigh Michaels. Go read them now.

Also, listen to Dorothea… write daily. The journaling is a good start, but keep it up and try playing with fiction in there too.

Oh, and going Gluten-Free will help instead of losing so much time to the boy’s almost daily migraines between 5th and 7th grade. Push to find the cause, not just treat symptoms.

What would I have told my past self?

This is harder than it looks. What you read in a published book is NOT a first draft. Don’t give up because the first draft isn’t perfect.

PRACTICE, practice, practice. Practice with ideas, synopses, hooks, blurbs. Oh.. and when you download Scrivener, don’t give up on it. It’s far more powerful than you think it is. It WILL help you see and build the structure you crave.

Would I have discouraged or encouraged myself?

I don’t think there are any valid reasons to discourage myself about writing in general. I definitely needed pushed and bless my DH, he’s encouraged me every step of the way.

Valid discouragement would be to avoid time sucks, avoid long stretches of not writing new words or ideas.

I would encourage putting myself out there sooner and networking earlier. Social media is a force to reckon with, but it’s not the only thing to spend time on.

Would I have gone a different route?

I don’t think I would have done things very differently, just sooner. And more consistently.

Life is going to happen around you. You will hit some serious road bumps, control what you can. Don’t hide from the world, don’t stop writing. Find your escape in the ballrooms, the salons, the characters. Yes, it may be easier to just play facebook games, and you may even convince yourself that you’re “helping your DH”, but you’re wasting valuable time and eneergy. *head smack*

Two other things, you know that Warrior Writer workshop with Bob Mayer?! It didn’t kill you, right? 1) You SHOULD take both days. *head smack* 2) You SHOULD listen to Pam and Margaret and join RWASD right away. *head smack*

YOUR TURN: What career advice would you go back and give yourself when you were just starting out?

And if you’d like to read about what the rest of my group would go back and tell themselves, you can find their blogs here:

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

Mar 092012

Photo of a rabbit munching on grass.

The seemingly innocent-looking plot bunny
(Cuniculus ex machina).

Before we get to plot bunnies, let’s talk about creative insecurities for a minute. Many people worry to the point of paranoia about having their ideas stolen. This notion isn’t specific to any one industry either. Movies, music, writing, game design, car makers, electronics, everyone’s got something they’re afraid someone is going to overhear and take off with it and make their millions with it.

Unfortunately, ideas are cheap. Ideas are the easy part! It’s the execution of those ideas that are the equivalent of the MultiMillions Lotto ticket. Or not.

So… what’s a writer to do?

If you’ve ever heard the term plot bunny, you already know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, a plot bunny is an innocent looking idea that hops up to you, nibbles at the carrot you’ve been dangling in front of your muse’s cave, and promptly scampers off in completely unpredictable zig-zags only to disappear down some plot hole, dragging you and your work-in-progress (WIP) with it because you refuse to let go of the string tied to the carrot. Way to go!

Today, we’re going to talk about what we can do to harness these wild critters and tamer, more domesticated story ideas and put them to work for us when we need them. Generating ideas, once you start is easy… you play the “What If…” game enough and the ideas start breeding like… well,… bunnies.

How to keep track of story ideas?

You need a way to corral these pesky varmints! Whether you use a notebook, a scrapbook, a WORD document, some other fancy piece of software on your computer or a combination of all of the above really doesn’t matter. The important thing is that your system works for you and that you can periodically retrieve and review your ideas.

Personally, I keep a set of nested folders on my computer for projects I’d like to one day write. Several have simple notes, others are more detailed, complete with pictures and outlines. Others have exploratory writing where a character, a voice, or other aspect captured.

How to decide if an idea goes into the story idea file?

The middle of a brainstorming session is NOT the time to let internal editors out of their box. Leave the censoring until later. Ideas shouldn’t be tossed before they’ve had adequate time to ripen. Some will definitely be “off” when you look at them again. Toss them then. It really doesn’t cost anything in the meantime, and luckily there’s no physical mess or smell to deal with. The ones that only seem a bit stale? Let them percolate a while longer. They’ll either bloom given more time, or prove rotten later.

Yep, I periodically review my idea file (not just when I’m bored or procrastinating) looking to see what’s interesting, might spark other ideas, or just to see which ones need a little air and attention. This is all part of the next section…

How to decide if an idea will make a good story? If it won’t?

Some ideas won’t let go. Like earworms, they’ll keep coming back. Often when you least expect it. These plot bunnies are more like the vorpal rabbit of Monty Python fame. They’re the kind that leap up and grab you by the throat and refuse to let go. These shouldn’t be ignored, but carefully explored and exercised regularly. They can be tamed, although some may take longer than others. If it holds your attention over time, it probably has some merit.

Many people talk about the “Book of your Heart” and “commercial ready” fiction. Only you can decide if an idea contains a story you want to tell.

Take your plot bunnies to the equivalent of a county fair. Talk about them with other writers and readers. If they get excited about a story idea, it probably has some merit.

My biggest problem is identifying story ideas that are with the range of my technical capabilities. I often feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Practice and patience are probably the best tools to use in this situation. I keep telling myself that anyway.

How to choose which story idea to work on?

The one that won’t go away. That’s easy for me to say, because I don’t have any external deadlines yet. I’m free to pick and choose between which characters are vying most loudly for my attention. Shiny New Project Syndrome (SNPS) is a valid concern. This is when anything new looks more interesting than what you SHOULD be working on. Set a limit on how long you’ll allow the new idea out to play. Use it as a reward for progress toward completion on the dreaded old project.

How to take an idea and form it into a plot?

Once I have an idea selected, I play with it for quite some time before I ever try to begin putting together a plot. I have to know the characters first. I have to know what drives them and how they’ll react to certain things. Don’t get me wrong, I like to be surprised along the way too, but I need to know the lay of the land first.

What to do when a story idea hits while working on another WIP?

First, make sure it’s not just SNPS rearing it’s ugly head. If it is, feel free to set aside 5-15 minutes to jot down everything you can think of about it. Remember, at this point the idea is probably not ripe. You can’t judge its merit yet. Let you muse play with it for a bit, then let it sit. Of course, I’ve also taken ideas like this and run with them and I think it shows that they weren’t quite ready to go because there are either gaping holes or I run out of steam after a certain point with them. They’re still in my folder, waiting for more information.

What kinds of ideas are in my story file?

Regency Romance Ideas: Beyond my big three projects (BHT, Revealed, and a new one I just started writing, but have been playing around with since last summer), I have 2 sequel ideas for BHT, a sequel to Revealed, a story about horse breeding and bloodlines in the nobility that’s based on a folktale at the same time, a Regency-set romcom involving mistaken identity and gender role reversals.

Other ideas: contemporaries: chef & foodie/reviewer/blogger, Holiday story with two blizzard-grounded travelers paired up in hotel because the airline assumes she’s male because of her name, then there’s the game developer heroine who finds true love online.

Also, before I go, I’ll apologize for any mixed metaphors or even abandoned ones above. I’ll blame it on the free-ranging wild bunnies and not on distractions or the lateness of the hour.

YOUR TURN: How do you keep track of your ideas? Do you have a wishlist of things you want to work on (feel free to talk about artistic projects, or any other projects around the house, the organization methods are likely similar)?

And if you’d like to read about what the rest of my group suggests for ways to deepen characters, you can find their blogs here:

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

Feb 102012

Photo of luxurious fabric to be made into a cape.Last week in my accountability group’s HOW I WRITE series, we talked about 3 Things I Love About My WIP. This week we’re talking about why we write in a particular genre and what attracted us to it. Also, we were asked if we like to read any genres we don’t or can’t write? Why? And would we like to try a different genre? I’ve already answered the “Why Romance” question, but I’m not sure I’ve ever covered Why Write Historical Romance, and Regency Romance in specific.

What attracted me to Historical Romance?

I grew up reading a variety of historical romances pilfered from my mom’s stash: Kathleen Woodiwiss, Kat Martin, Rosemary Rogers, Shirlee Busbee, Virgina Henley, Johanna Lindsey, and many, many, more. I’ll freely admit I was looking for escapism and a bit of the bodice ripping excitement promised by the covers. It was a slightly different kind from what I was finding in Science Fiction and Fantasy in that this was real world stuff, not wholly made up! Westerns/Colonial American, Medievals, Regencies… all were fair game. I never read the contemporary romances then. Probably because they all had boring object covers instead of those wildly passionate clinches.

So why settle into the Regency Era?

The romantic notions like titles and balls, the escapist fantasy, the slower/different pace of life, the layers and intrigue in the rules of society. The descriptions of men’s fashions, especially the mysteries revealed when a man removes his cravat. While I love me some eye-candy, there’s something to be said for leaving things to your imagination too.

They’d also just done away with the powdered wigs, patches, and panniers of the Georgian Era. Nasty stuff. Not practical and not attractive. Medievals were too much fantasy compared to the historical reality of fleas, sandy grit in the bread, women being literal property. In the Regency that last hadn’t changed legally, but the authors were showing their heroines more as partners than dependents. Victorian Era was too hypocritical for me in many of its attitudes around sex. I never really got into Edwardian Era books because anytime they drive up in a car or the phone rings, my immersion is shattered. Yes, I love Downton Abbey, but yup, the phone and the cars were jarring at first there too. I suspect my problem is more with books where the setting isn’t firmly established in the beginning and those things sneak up on me.

What else do I read besides Historical Romance?

What don’t I? The most represented genres on our shelves (well, the ones *I* read anyway) include Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, some Contemporary Romance, some Romantic suspense, historical time travel, a handful of chick lit mysteries, and a selection of urban fantasy. Again, it’s usually the escapist aspect that draws me to these genres, something removed from my ordinary world.

If not Historical Romance, what else would I try to write?

Maybe contemporary romance, Urban Fantasy or some fantasy, but it’d probably be flavored in some way by the historical aspect and it’d likely still have lots of romantic elements. But for now, I’m focused on finishing the current crop of characters in my head who all reside firmly in Regency London.

And if you’d like to read more about what’s got the rest of the group excited about their genres, you can find their blogs here:

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

Your Turn: What’s YOUR favorite genre of book to read and why?