Saturday, April 25, 2015

It's a confusing world out there...

It's a very confusing time to be an author. Most of us who love to write are writers because we are introverts. We spend a lot of time in our heads analyzing life and then putting the results of our analysis into stories. We're deep thinkers. We love people. We hope our stories give you a new perspective on a thorny problem...or maybe just a new way of looking at things. We hope our stories inspire you.

To be able to put all that into a story, all that thinking, all that time...we need some alone time.

But, we're told by agents, editors and pundits...you don't have that luxury anymore. You need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google Plus, Instagram....Tell readers what you're doing, what you're thinking, how you feel...

All of which doesn't just take away time for writing, it also feels like I'm giving you bits and pieces of information that hasn't had enough time to gel in my brain.

So to avoid telling you things about a book that might change, lots of authors have taken to false personas. It's a way to "be somebody" in public, while you race to figure out your next book and get it into the hands of readers. You see a lot of pix of author pets. You see a lot of "quotes" authors found in books or on the internet. You see a lot of I'm-eating-eggs-for-breakfast posts.

And that's cool. I look at that sort of like a place holder. It's like authors (including myself) saying, Here I am! I haven't forgotten you. Here's something that interests me. Hold on until I'm done with my book and I can get back with real information about the story, the cover, my inspirations!

But I've also seen a lot of interaction that upsets me...both as a reader and a writer. I received an email yesterday on a loop of authors who are supposed to be friends. I read the post as a personal request for help with something, and I did as the post requested. But two people had questions. Those questions went unanswered...meaning the author wasn't actually on the loop, chatting with us...which led me and probably everybody else on the loop to realize we'd just answered a cross-posted request for help, which wasn't personal at all. Almost like being spammed by someone we considered a friend.

As an author, I recognize this woman was/is busy. I cut her some slack.

But if I were a reader, thinking I was getting a "personal" request for help...realizing that post had been cross-posted to other loops, other friends, perhaps thousands of other people when it read like a personal request to a group of intimates...I might have been insulted. Really insulted. Maybe even insulted with a dash of embarrassment because I was too simple (or trusting of the author) to realize that.

So the world of reading and writing is probably every bit as confusing to readers as it is to authors.

And I'm guessing that when you, a reader, gets an email from an author, you've been burned enough that you automatically believe it's the same email that's been sent to thousands of other readers. Even messages that look personal, could be a "form" email of a sort, thanking you for signing up to a newsletter or thanking you for liking a post...whatever.

So the system that was meant to bring readers closer to authors isn't really bringing us closer at all. Yes, some days you will know what I had for breakfast. :) You WILL see pictures of my cat Sophia because she's beautiful. I will show you my covers. You will know bits and pieces about my stories and how I feel about them. But really there will always be a distance between us....

And maybe that's a good thing? I'm not incredibly cool. I have my interesting moments, but in general I'm a normal person...except that I think about things most people don't have time to think about. I ponder the stuff that really matters. I root around for the real meanings of things. So that my stories grab you, enrich your life, make you think about things differently.

I can do that for you because I'm not a socialite, dashing around New York city sipping champagne. I'm not always on vacation in some sunny locale. I'm not a baker, painter, revolutionary...I'm a thinker.

And thinkers aren't always online. :) Our pix wouldn't thrill Instagram. Our hair sometimes looks like Einstein's. We forget to eat or eat a lot of fattening takeout because we forget to cook. We shop from catalogs. When we do get out we ask a lot of questions that seem personal or intrusive because we're curious -- in a good way, not a gossipy way. In short, we're introverts who love to read, to think, to ponder.

But -- if you read and love my books -- maybe that's a good thing?

Happy Reading

susan meier

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hey, it's my birthday this week...

I gave up posting blogs about writing mostly because I've already taught every lesson that needs to be taught on writing. Look at those archives! LOL

But the behind-the-scenes reason I wanted back the time I was spending on those blogs was to give myself time to live my life.

Right now, some of you are frowning. If you're breathing, aren't you living your life? Yes. LOL So maybe I don't want to say that I wanted time to live my life as much as to appreciate the life I was living.

This morning, watching Oprah's SUPERSOUL SUNDAY with a guest who spoke on living mindfully...I also played Words with Friends! LOL  We live in a society that applauds being overly busy, multi-tasking, being scheduled to the hilt. But at the end of the day, how much of the day do we remember? How much is worth remembering? And -- more importantly -- what did we miss?

I don't really want to miss anything anymore. I want to read in the sun. I want to learn to cook. When I'm lucky enough to be in a conversation...I want to listen.

So in this happy week as I add another year to my age, I want to be present, mindful, of all my wonderful blessings, as well as the inflammation in my knee and the beginnings of gray I see in my hair. Not to go nuts over the fact that I'm aging. (The alternative is worse. LOL) But if life is a journey of experience, then the whole point is to experience it. :)

Happy Reading (in the sun)

susan meier

If you're a writer, looking for a writing lesson...the archives are all yours. :) Enjoy.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Dear Readers

I spent a bit of time over the weekend working on a new series I plan to write...2 years from now! LOL

Lots of authors get asked why they write the books they write, choose the subjects they choose or just plain how do they come up with their ideas. For me, the answer is a lot of thinking.

A subject has to resonate with me. The Donovan Brothers Novels (which I wrote for Entangled -- working on the 3rd book now) are about three brothers who had survived abuse, beatings, from their father. When they turned eighteen, each went into the Marines -- and grew up. No longer fearing for their lives and "motivated" by drill sergeants, LOL, they became men and returned to their hometown to help their mom get away.

There's so much great stuff in redemption stories. Even though these brothers were technically redeemed BEFORE the start of the book, my challenge was to see how that would play out when they fell in love.

Or even if they could fall in love. <3 p="">
Every writer figures out her own process -- usually as she's writing -- and even now I can's say I have my process down pat. It's always evolving.

But...

I do like time to think about my stories. I want to find the best way to tell every characters' story. I want to come up with the best scenes, the best angles, the best themes to investigate. And for me that takes time.

Still, I love that part of storytelling. The "pondering" time. Because I'm not just sitting around staring out the window wondering. Even as I write book 3 of the Donovan Brothers Novels, I'm getting down to business with my next Harlequin -- writing a synopsis and character motivations. I'm even close to writing the storyboard -- as well as pondering that "new" series that I won't write for two years. LOL

Because that's what writers do. We're always thinking about something. Wondering why.  Which is probably why you're so intrigued by our stories. They aren't just off the top of our heads. We write about things we're curious about, and hopefully we satisfy your curiosity too!

Happy Reading.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Writing Posts

It looks like the writing post I put up two weeks ago will be my last. :(

I haven't necessarily run out of things to say, but I did notice that I was repeating myself. A LOT. LOL

Just about everything I know is now archived and can be easily accessed.

It's been fun doing these writing posts, but it's time to move on.

Enjoy the archives and good luck with your writing.

Happy Monday and Happy Reading...

susan meier

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Release Day! HER BROODING ITALIAN BOSS!

Happy Release day to me! I hope your go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your favorite bookstore and add HER BROODING ITALIAN BOSS to you TBR pile!





Happy Monday!

From busy Susan Meier! :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Characterization

I got a book recommendation a few weeks ago and immediately ordered it because the topic was Characterization. One of my bugaboos. Sort of. After you've written sixty books, you know how to do everything. But I'm still seeking refinement. I will ALWAYS seek refinement. :)

Anyway, I bought this book expecting to be wowed or at least enlightened, but before we were out of chapter one, the author/teacher said something like...a great plot doesn't make a great story. It's only when characters' goals and motivations drive the conflicts associated with the plot that your story really comes alive.

Well, duh.

Romance writers have known this forever.

It's why we focus on goal, motivation and conflict. It doesn't matter how crafty your twists and turns, if they don't significantly impact the CHARACTERS and somehow raise the stakes...Romance readers say, "Meh." Whatever.

I used to laugh at how blatant action/adventure movies were with their motivations...We must steal 60 cars in one night or our leader's brother will be killed by a gangster. Or "You killed my wife...I'm coming after you." Or...Let's not forget TAKEN. Daughter kidnapped. Daddy goes after her.

The movies spend most of their time on the shoot 'em up, car chases and fist fights with kicking and head butts. But my husband buys into the premise every time. "Well, yeah. I'd be pissed if someone took Sarah." (Our daughter.) He puts himself into the shoes of his action heroes because he understand their motivations...no matter how cliché. LOL

Your reader wants to do that too. She wants to believe your hero's reasons for not wanting to commit and your heroine's reasons for not wanting to fall in love again. She wants to feel them fall in love. And feel them fight it because their experiences have taught them that love can be painful.

She wants to believe your sleuth when he can't walk away from the murder he investigates. She wants to believe the motives of your mainstream heroine or hero. She wants to believe.

And the only way you can make her believe is by creating strong goals, motivations and conflicts. Characters who have a real journey. (Let that last line sink in. Think about it. Do your characters have a REAL journey?)

So don't just come up with a "this happens, then this happens, then this happens" plot. Have your plot evolve logically from your characters, their hopes, their dreams, the barriers to those hopes and dreams, and the actions they take. And you will have a much better...dare I say compelling...story.

Happy Monday

susan

Monday, January 19, 2015

Structure, structure, structure...

What is three-act structure?

Simply put, it's the beginning, middle and end of your story. (BTW, don't get too complicated with how you think about things and they'll be a lot easier to understand!)

But the three acts aren't even. The first act is like a setup that ends with a decision or an action that turns the story on its ear and usually gets it going in another direction. It's usually one-tenth of the story. In a category romance, about thirty pages. In a bigger book, about forty. (YIKES) But it can be longer or shorter. There are no structure police. :) You will not go to jail if your setup takes longer or doesn't take as long.

i.e. In THE BABY PROJECT, the hero and heroine are made co-guardians of his half-brother in act one, which ends with them deciding to live together for the baby's sake. We also find out in act one that the heroine had a baby who died and she worries about her ability to care for another baby. Not because she's not competent, but because holding a baby brings back memories that devastate her. The hero doesn't know how to care for a baby either...but they don't yet have a nanny and two people really would be better than one.

So we end chapter one on a turning point...They decide to live together.

Act two is all about the results of the decision/turning point at the end of act one.

In THE BABY PROJECT it's what happens when the hero and heroine live together.

But in act two we also have the story's mid point...That's another turning point. In a lot of romances, the hero and heroine sleep together at the mid point and that changes how they feel about each other and also changes their circumstance.

From there it's a sort of tumble to the black moment which is usually the end of act two.

Which means that act three, like act one, is short. Misery without each other. Decisions. (Should I go back to my old job, my old life, my mom's basement? Or maybe should I leave this two-bit town and find my real destiny?) Followed by a point where the hero or heroine realizes (because of something that happens) that they made the wrong decision in dumping the hero/heroine...and then a happy ending.

Some people dress up act 3 with a Hollywood ending. A great/grand gesture made by the party in the wrong to win back the party in the right.

Other publishers like a more emotional ending. I done you wrong, but I am back, please don't shoot me...Love me.

Suspense authors have a whole different thing going on in act three. They have to solve the suspense problem (sometimes by killing the villain or rescuing somebody the villain took hostage); they have to fix the romance; and they have to debrief.

But essentially that's structure.

Why was/is that so hard? It isn't. Not if you use it. LOL But if you don't know about it, or if you let your characters runaway with your story...Yikes. You can have a mess on your hands.

Does structure ruin the free flow of your story? Read what I wrote above. I didn't give you the iron hand of the law that would make your characters puppets. Structure is just like a spine or a framework. Or maybe a tour guide. It doesn't boss you around. It just shows you the way to keep your story tight and on track.

Some people, Michael Hague, for instance, will give you a little bit more of a guide or a fence. I love his stuff! He's at storymastery.com. Get his plot template. You will love it.

The trick to this is realizing that you don't have to hit exact pages with things like turning points or act endings. You just have to be in the ballpark. :)

But trust me...in the end...you will be glad because you will have a clear, readable story.

Happy Monday

susan meier