Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Full Circle

I really didn't have a picture to go with this particular blog so I decided to share one that I often use as "go-to" for visual relaxation. I rarely get to see the beach except in my mind, so when I visit that place in my head, this is what I see. 
When I decided that I was done working a typical 8-5 job, I swore I'd never work another office job. I know better than to say "never" but I did it anyway.
Last week, I started a new job. It's only part time and I have the most flexible boss and schedule on the planet, but it's an office and I have tasks to do, no matter how fun they might be to me.
Yesterday, it occurred to me that I was reliving the early days of Bimini, The Romance. I'm working two jobs... again.
The first one is for myself with three partners who also happen to be a few of my best friends and it's doing really, really well. We're getting new clients and sales are up.
This second job is in a field that's near and dear to my heart, Environmental/ Geological and it's also with a person that I've had a long term friendship with. Someone that I respect and enjoy being around. The work doesn't feel so much like work at either job but still, over the last two weeks, it's been a challenge to find time to write in between. That's more so my own fault than the fault of the jobs I have. I've come full circle with my work-a-holic tendencies. One job has never, ever been enough for me; even when I was in high school.
I'm the type of person who has a tendency to immerse herself in whatever I'm doing at whatever given point in time. I get easily tunnel-visioned, and while, no, I'm not the most ambitious person, I have my own brand of dedication to the things I decide that I want to succeed in. I never do anything half-assed and that's both a blessing and a curse.
If I decide I'm going to clean something, I'll do my best to make it sparkle.
If I start a painting, everything else goes on hold until it's finished; the dishes and laundry will pile up, the dogs will beg me to feed them, the plants will nearly die of neglect until that final stroke of the brush.
If I give my commitment to a person, I'll do my very best to move mountains to see it through, even if it puts me in a difficult decision in the end. I can't always guarantee fast results, but I can guarantee that I won't give up until the mission is completed and that it'll be done right when all is said and done.
I was always what my dad called a "roller-coaster" kid. When I wanted to do something, it was done to stellar perfection. When I didn't want to do something, I just wouldn't do it. A lot of the time this depended on the day and the attitude I woke up with. In my older age, it's a matter of my integrity to do even those things I might not want to do, to the best of my ability, even if it takes me longer to get motivated in the process.
That's sorta where I'm at with the sequel to Bimini. I want to write, but I honestly don't want to find the time to sit down and do it. I'm doing it anyway and I'm not half-assing it, but I have to be honest when I say that the excitement of my business doing well and the excitement of a new job is sorta taking priority right now with me and while that's a little worrisome because I definitely don't want to be consumed with something else for another five years, I also see the difference in my drive and determination these days versus those childhood or teenage years.
Take this blog for instance. I made a commitment to Jadie Jones and an associate of ours
The sequel is almost finished. Once the last words are down, the editing will come into play and that's another drawn out process, but it's been less than a year since I started this project so it looks as though we'll be sliding into home four years earlier than the last time I played this game.
While my business is a commitment to the three other women that I share ownership of it with as well as the clients that we take on; and my commitment to my new job is another facet of the commitment to my friendship with the person who hired me, finishing this sequel is a commitment I've made to myself and I'm firm believer in never letting myself down either. How you treat yourself is often times how you'll treat others and vice versa. So while I ask for patience from the fans of the first book, I also ask for patience with myself because though I'm not working on it diligently every day as I should be, it's still getting done and done it shall be.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What it takes

One of my best friends and soul sisters, Jadie Jones, just recently had her first novel published by WiDo   Publishing. For me, it was probably almost as exciting as when I published Bimini, The Romance; maybe even a little more so.
You want your friends to succeed. At least, I do. The way I look at life and view the world is that when the people we're close to do well, they elevate us and inspire us to do well also. Our successes and joys should always be cause for celebration and when "my" people are happy, so am I.
I was privileged to be able to read the first draft of Moonlit. When Jadie and I had first met three years ago and I'd told her I'd been struggling to finish my first book, she'd confided that she'd been working on one as well for quite some time and that she, like I had with mine, would work on it sporadically and then put it down for months at a time.
When she started working on it again, I hoped that she would finish it and she did. When I read it, I was completely blown away by the sheer force of her talent and her ability to draw the reader into a story... and this was just the rough draft.
I'm not particularly a fan of YA fiction, or I wasn't, but she changed my mind by engaging it in her story. That said, much as I love her wordsmithing and her imagination; it's been her sheer determination that has honestly impressed me more than anything.
I didn't have it easy with the writing of Bimini, The Romance. I worked two jobs, I'm a mom, and had various other things going on in my life at that time; but Jadie, wasn't just a mom... she was a BRAND NEW MOM and she didn't just work two jobs, she worked THREE. She's also a wife and a pretty damn awesome friend. I don't know how she found the time to pound that book out with everything that she was doing outside of writing, but she did.
A few months ago, Jadie, our other soul sister Ashley and I went to Kitty Hawk, NC on a research trip for Moonlit's sequel so I was able to witness first hand the enormous dedication she has to her craft. Long after Ashley and I had gone to bed, she sat up two of the three nights of our trip working until the wee morning hours on the rough draft for book two. During the day, even while we were sight seeing, she was gathering information. Her mind never wandered and she never became distracted from what she was there to do. As I drove part of the way home, she sat beside me in the front seat and typed the final few words of the sequel. Her shout of joy almost caused me to sideswipe the line of traffic in the other lanes, but it was worth the near heart attack to know that she'd completed what she'd set out to do when we left Georgia for North Carolina just a few days before and it will always be one of my favorite memories. Had it been me, I know that I wouldn't have done it. I'm too easily distracted; too easily thrown off course by the thought of a good time.
While she is working on the edits for the sequel now, the first book, Moonlit, is for sale and Jadie will have her launch party at Barnes & Noble this coming Thursday. I'll be there; nothing short of death would make me miss it and even under that circumstance, I would still do my best to find away to watch her come in to her own. She's going to be a best seller. I may not be the best writer in the world, but I am a pretty great reader and I know a good story when I read one.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Finding your Inspiration

All artists, writers and musicians lay claim to one particular thing that acts as a muse or an inspiration for them in their creative process. I'm certainly no different, though I maybe just a tad bi-polar in my approach to creativity.

I write.
I paint.
I draw.
I play music.

Each one of these things is inspired by something different. Some might think that my inspiration for writing comes from the work of other authors. That's untrue. While yes, I have authors that I admire and whose drive and dedication make me feel like a major procrastinator; Jean Auel being my top number one and new author, Jadie Jones for both personal and professional reasons, I don't really get my so called "creative" inspiration from them. Music is my muse and what inspires me to write creatively, specifically, an independent European band that I discovered years ago. Suzy's Field.
I found Suzy's Field's music after they'd changed their name to the OK's and I quickly became a fan of both bands, though there were more resources out there for the OK's music than SF. I identified with a lot with lead singer/songwriter Alan O'Keeffe's lyrics, especially the song "Grace" which talked about writing for the sake of trying to purge or release feelings of pain or regret (maybe that wasn't his intent when he penned the lyrics, I never asked, but that's what I took from them when I heard it), which I can definitely relate to because my grief over the loss of my brother in 1993 was what actually started me on my path to writing and eventually lead me to live his dream of having a career in journalism later on down the road.
I credit my brother's death for helping to me to find many of my talents and abilities because I desperately needed a benevolent way to process the emotions and pain I felt over his loss. Music was the first, writing came second and much later on, painting joined that mix.
But of all the creative muses I might have, "Grace" reminds me of why I started writing and when I'm blocked as I sometimes can get for weeks at at a time, I'll listen to that song, which I downloaded years ago and made back-up copies of so that I could be sure to never lose it and the blocks disappear. Because of that song, I can tap back into the emotions and that place inside myself that remembers what it was like to need that mental release of words on paper.
I was thrilled with the recent news that Alan, Paul and the rest of the gang were getting back together after all this time to produce a new album and I hope it's so successful that they'll be compelled to continue producing them in future. There's a simplistic, yet very complex quality to their music that inspires me in a way that no other music does. I had hoped when they gave hint about an announcement that it would be an OK's reunion, but this is just as good and it gives me an opportunity to listen and explore the SF side of the band.
Independent artists, and this includes writers as well, don't get nearly the credit they deserve for the blood, sweat and tears that they put into their product. We don't have agents that promote us or advertise for us. Most of the time lack of funds ensure that the only marketing we get is word of mouth and social networking done by our own hand or the hands of our fans. While it's never easy pushing your own product, there's a sweetness to every download, every "Like" and every "Follow" you receive that might be missed should you have the luxury of being more hands-off.
I look at SF's return to the music scene a little like I look at my return to writing after the long break I'd taken once I'd published Bimini, The Romance. If they can get it together and organize studio time between six people when they're living separately in three different countries, surely I can devote a little time every day to getting my own words down on paper to make sure this sequel isn't another five year project.
In return for the inspiration this band and its music gives me, I offer my gratitude to them and my wish of success and longevity for this reunion of theirs.

If you'd like to follow them on facebook, you can find them at https://www.facebook.com/suzysfield2013?fref=ts
Or to follow them on Twitter: @SuzysField

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Falling in love with your character...

I think it's necessary when writing a story that you genuinely like your characters... even the bad guys. If you don't like the product of your creation, in my opinion, you might want to review why you've even created them. That said, I've found it doubly necessary since romance is my chosen genre of writing, that you must not only like your lead male, you need to love him as well.
If you're writing romance, the point should be that your readers understand and become as emotionally involved with your leading male as much as the leading female has to in order for it to be considered the least bit romantic.
In the first Bimini, The Romance, it took me awhile (and a lot of tweaks to the character) to fall in love with John but by the time I finished, I was as over the moon for him as Laurel was. He epitomized the stead-fast, ever conservative male who loved deeply but wasn't sure how to show it and so his methods in expressing that love left a lot to desired. He was a little repressed in a cute way and even a little up tight so that when we finally get a chance to see him let his proverbial hair down, not only is it endearing but it's sexy too.
While writing the sequel, falling in love with this new leading male has been instantaneous. He's so opposite end of the spectrum from John with his passion and his humor that almost before I had his character fully outlined, I was in love. He's a man I think most women would be attracted to. He's a mixed bag.... part bad boy, part wounded dove, part instinctual protector and caretaker. Where John was just a little out of his element, this new guy IS the element.
In my first blog on this site, I talked about patterning my characters off of people that I've known or know. I think it's important to note that even though you're patterning your characters after someone, it doesn't mean that they ARE that person. Your patterns should be just that... a pattern. You take certain parts from those people and sometimes, parts from others as well and you mix them and shape them into what your readers should see as a man they could easily become entangled with. So, where I had a little trouble in the beginning of the first book seeing myself with John, I've had no trouble emotionally entangling myself with this new character from the get-go. He's more my kinda guy, I guess. Easy on the eyes, good to the core and has a love of life that matches my own with a little bit of a hot temper that puts the right spin on his passionate nature.
Someone once told me that it's not good for writers to become emotionally involved with their characters because it makes the process of ending the book difficult or Heaven forbid, killing them off should a later story line call for that. "Emotional investment," they said, "is for the reader."
I don't remember who it was, but I do remember disagreeing then and I still disagree to this day. If you can't fall hopelessly in love with your characters as you're creating them, then how can you expect your readers to?