Walking on a Tightrope

I’m rewriting a story. I’ve been rewriting this story for the past two years. Every time I pull it out, I stare at the words on the screen, then decide I’d rather become a tightrope walker without a safety net. Instead of writing, I fold laundry, walk the dust bunnies, and stare out the window at the still falling snow.

I tell myself I’m thinking. Yeah, deep thoughts are good until they turn into the question: What if this story can’t be fixed?

So I put it away, only to pull it out a few months later. And the process begins once again.

Stare, think, jump in the truck and go visit my mom.

I’ve finally figured out that there’s an invisible wall between my current thought patterns and the way my brain worked when I first wrote this story. Back then, I wrote angst. Oh, how I loved to torture my characters, putting them into a world filled with emotional pain. Thumbscrews to the wall. Such writerly fun.

But then I went through a rough patch, a year when I desperately needed laughter in my life and couldn’t dredge any up. So it came out in my writing efforts.

I drafted four romantic comedies, relishing in the snark that showed up on the pages. Laughing with my heroes and heroines as they dealt with family and each other. I discovered a new home for my writing and a new voice to go along with it.

Still, this story drew me back. I loved the hero and heroine and desperately wanted to share them with the rest of the world. Soon laughter spilled onto the pages and my new voice crept into the manuscript. Every time I pulled it out, I bounced back and forth between the old story and new story, between my old voice and new voice, attempting to reconcile the two and find some balance between them.

I’m back at it again, torn between the angst and the humour, attempting to find a structure in which I can incorporate them both. Or maybe I’m just procrastinating, putting off the inevitable difficult work ahead or the realization that this manuscript can’t be fixed, that it needs to go into the deep dark recesses of my computer hard drive and vanish forever like a fugitive on the run.

What do you think? Have you ever decided to rewrite an old manuscript, only to discover you’ve changed and can’t change back? Have you ever had your voice change midstride, then tried to incorporate the new with the old? Have you ever read a book where the author seemed to struggle between two very different author personalities?

Come share your experiences with me. I’m walking on a tightrope, hoping someone will toss me a safety net.

(Originally published at Women Unplugged.)

I’d Rather Buy Books …

… than food or clothes.

You heard me. Grocery shopping is a necessary evil and I do it because we love to eat. Shopping for clothes is something I put off until there are holes in my socks and my jeans are frayed.

But give me a bookstore – online, on the street corner, or in the mall – and I’ll gladly spend hours browsing the shelves, checking out covers, and reading back cover blurbs.

When I return home from my shopping spree, I’ll spread the books around me, then study the covers and reread the back story blurb. Or if I’ve purchased the books online and downloaded them to my Kindle, I’ll open each one up so I can view the cover and read the opening pages – copyright, acknowledgments, and story blurb or excerpt.

Then comes the moment when I have to pick which book to read first. If I have a favourite author in the mix, I’ll usually start with her book. Sometimes a story blurb will so intrigue me, my curiosity gets the best of me and I’ll dive into that book instead.

I dream about moving my household into the local library, where I can be surrounded by books 24/7 and browse at will. I’d be the happiest woman in town … except for when it came time to dust each and every book on the shelves.

Hello, my precious books. You are better than gold.

How about you? When buying books or bringing them home, what is your reading MO?

(Originally published at Women Unplugged.)

Shiny and New

Have you heard the tale about the curious little girl who, after breakfast one morning, left the house and headed down the block to grandma’s house for supper? (Don’t worry … this isn’t one of those tales where the girl gets eaten by the big bad wolf.)

Well, the story goes something like this.

The little girl spotted her neighbour’s prize roses, stopped to enjoy their irresistible scent, and ended up staying for milk and cookies. By the time she left, it was almost noon.

A little further down the street, she stopped at another neighbour’s yard to check out the goldfish in the new pond, and decided to stay for lunch.

By early afternoon, she was back on the road, determined to make it all the way this time. Except in the next yard, she spied a flock of hummingbirds feasting on some impatiens and before she could control the impulse, she’d joined the neighbour for tea.

When the little girl finally arrived at grandma’s house, it was dark, supper was over, and grandma had gone to bed.

This week, I’m that little girl. Everything around me is shiny and new and so very distracting. And I know exactly why.

I’ve resumed rewrites on my women’s fiction story.

After reading through the opening chapters, I’ve discovered I’ve barely left the house, that there’s a really long journey ahead, for both my characters and for me. I’m sure I’ll occasionally be witty and brilliant, but at this stage of the rewrites, the work still sucks and all I want to do is shove the story back under the bed and find something better to work on.

So how do you keep yourself focused on your job, whatever it might be? Are there moments when your focus splinters and you find yourself ready to tackle the most dangerous stunt, if it will only save you from the dreariness ahead? Or do you put on blinders, refuse to get distracted, and stay the course until the end?

Curious minds what to know.

(Originally posted at Women Unplugged.)

Author Linda Style and the Wounded Warrior Project

I met LINDA STYLE because of a snafu in a contest and we’ve been friends ever since. So when her latest release hit the shelf, and she announced she was donating a portion of the proceeds to the WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT, I knew I wanted to help her get the word out.

A SOLDIER’S SECRET is the third book in a series about the lives of three women who are best friends. Book one is THE MISTAKE SHE MADE and book two is THE PROMISE HE MADE.

In A SOLDIER’S SECRET, Natalia Sokoloff is a veteran of the Iraq war, has completed two tours of duty as a helicopter rescue pilot and has returned home with scars no one can see. David MacAllister, who saved Natalia’s life in Iraq, now works with her as a medic on the Mountain Air Search and Rescue team. This is their love story, but it’s also about a very serious problem facing many veterans every day.

A SOLDIER’S SECRET, in stores now, is also available for your Kindle or Nook.

Special Note: Anyone who leaves a comment will be eligible for a draw to win a signed copy of Linda’s A SOLDIER’S SECRET! So where do you find your inspiration? It can be writing related or just about life in general!

I asked Linda this question: Your Dear Reader letter said this was the most difficult book of the series to write. Can you tell us about the book and where you got your inspiration to write a story about PTSD?

* * *

Hello Everyone!

Thank you so much for inviting me today, Sheila.

Indeed, A SOLDIER’S SECRET was a difficult book to write. I knew it was the 3rd and final book in my Spirit Creek connected stories about three women who are friends, so I’m a bit sad to see my characters go off on their own. Plus, it was about a subject that has seriously affected so many people and their families. I wanted to do it justice…without going overboard. I had to keep reminding myself that, first and foremost, this is a romance novel, not a treatise on PTSD.

My inspiration, however, came from knowing someone who had returned from the Viet Nam War and experienced the disorder. He was severely affected and could never fully retrieve his former life. It’s heartbreaking, not only for our returning soldiers, but also for their families. And knowing so many of our soldiers would eventually be returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and may experience similar problems, I felt compelled to write about it.

I also discovered that the issues women veterans face when coming home are unique and have been largely ignored, so it was important for my heroine to be the one affected by the disorder. Studies show that among women vets who’d served in Iraq and Afghanistan, almost 20% have been diagnosed with PTSD. And now, with the pullout in Iraq, we can expect the numbers for PTSD in both sexes to rise.

The more I talked to people while doing my research, the more I realized I wanted to do more. That’s why I decided to donate a portion of the proceeds from A SOLDIER’S SECRET to the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) began when several veterans and friends – moved by stories of the first wounded service members returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq – took action to help others in need. What started as a program to provide comfort items to wounded service members grew into a complete rehabilitative effort to assist veterans as they recover and transition back to civilian life. The WWP offers a variety of programs and services to help veterans with every type of injury – from the physical to the invisible wounds of war.

I don’t have a lot of time to volunteer, but I do have the ability to help draw attention to the problem through my books and by donating to the program. It’s a small gesture compared with what our military heroes have given to us.

I hope readers enjoy A SOLDIER’S SECRET and maybe find a little inspiration to take a look at what they can do to get involved in helping our soldiers after they come home. Readers can find out more about the Wounded Warrior Project here.

Thank you again, Sheila, my good friend, for the opportunity to talk about both my book and the WWP.

I love to hear from readers and can be reached through my website, Facebook, Twitter, the Bootcamp for Novelists website and my author page on Amazon.

Happy 2012!

Another year has come and gone. 2011 was fun and productive. I learned a lot about indie publishing and in the process, even managed to get some writing done. 🙂

A huge thank you goes out to D.D. Scott and Tonya Kappes from the WG2EP blog. They have been a huge source of information, sharing the details of their indie publishing journey with everyone who stops to read their blog.

Another thank you goes out to my CaRWA chapter mates. This group of women — plus one terrific guy — are warm, caring, and welcoming. Although I live four hours away from the group and am unable to attend the monthly chapter meetings, not a day goes by without chatter on our chapter email loop.

I’d also like to thank the Bandit Creek group, whose special comradery has resulted in a 33 book series by 32 authors. My book comes out on July 15, 2012. I will be forever grateful to Vivi Anna aka Tawny Stokes for being the driving force behind this endeavor.

Also, a special thanks to Kristen Lamb and the WANA1011 team. It’s true. We Are Not Alone! Through The WANA class, I’ve met so many awesomely supportive people.

And last but not least, a very very special thanks to my long time friends Ann Voss Peterson, Susan Vaughan, Linda Style, and Virginia Kelly. I met these terrific women during the Outreach International contest way back in 1989 and we have been friends ever since. They have read and critiqued and encouraged me while I tried to understand plot and structure … and they finally succeeded in getting this important knowledge past my thick skull, into my brain, out my fingertips, and onto my computer screen. I love you girls so much. You are the best writer friends a girl could ever hope for!

So from my house to all of yours, I wish everyone a safe and Happy New Year. See you in 2012.

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