Monday, April 26, 2010

Lack of Motivation

Have you ever lost your motivation to write? Lately, this has happened to me. I've procrastinated and procrastinated until I've turned it into a fine art.

But I'm a professional right? So I ought to be able write no matter what. The trouble is, professional or not I'm a perfectionist and just can't move forward if what I've written isn't just right. Even when I allow myself to write badly, I still can't do it. My gaze keeps drifting back to the last sentence until I can't stand it any longer and have to fix the thing before I can continue.

I know this is not a good thing, and I've been actively looking for ways to get myself back in the zone. I've purchase the AlphaSmart in the hopes that I'll be able to produce something if I'm not distracted by emails and word count. This is not working for me. I finally figured out the problem with my Dragon Naturally Speaking software--there was a program conflict--I fixed it but even that isn't motivating me. I even tried posting word count widgets for my WIPs on my blog in the hope that seeing the stagnant counters will motivate me to write. No such luck. I have no idea what to do to get myself writing again.

But I'm going to make it my top priority this week to try just about anything in an effort to find motivation to write.

Plan for tomorrow: Do school run, then go for a walk. Since that used to be part of my routine before Meggie got sick, I'm hoping it will get a few words out of me.

I'll let you know how I get on.

Hugs x

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Plot Devices

If, like me, you scratched your head and gazed into the middle distance in wonder the first time you heard the term Plot Device, then stick around.

This is what Wikipedia has to say: "A plot device is an object or character in a story whose sole purpose is to advance the plot of the story, or alternatively to overcome some difficulty in the plot. A contrived or arbitrary plot device may annoy or confuse the reader, causing a loss of the suspension of disbelief. However a well-crafted plot device, or one that emerges naturally from the setting or characters of the story, may be entirely accepted, or may even be unnoticed by the audience."

Okay, so we can agree that such things as extraordinary coincidence, hinging the plot on finding an object, or using ghosts to suddenly pop up and explain or give back story that wasn't originally known to anyone, are all plot devices we don't want to use. 

But what about the devices we use in romance writing? Things like:

The Secret Baby plot device?
The Hero with Deep Mummy Issues?
The Virgin Plot;
The dreaded Amnesia plot (sorry if you like this one :))
Mistaken Identity,
The eye-rolling Misunderstanding?
Secret Wounds or Past Trauma?

All of these are plot devices, whether we acknowledge them as so or not. So my question is this: What's wrong with using plot devices? Okay, I'm not trying to sanction the really annoying ones that no author worth her career would touch! But they are some we can't deny sells well.

My favourite plot device? Reunion stories! I just love, love second chance romance. 

In the article, Pitching The Category Buzz Words by Carol Stephenson, she gives an extensive list of  romance plot devices--we hear these "buzz words" and we instantly know what kind of story we're picking up.

With thanks to Carol Stehenson and Roxann Delaney, here's the list:

• Babies/kids: abandoned, arranged, lost, found, adopted, biological, inherited, borrowed, secret, switched-at-birth, matchmaking.

• Single parents: struggling unwed mothers, clueless divorced dads, surrogate, blended families.

• Pregnant heroines: stranger, estranged husband or ex as the guilty culprit.

• Cowboys & western settings: think taming.

• Amnesia/repressed memory: Is s/he married, a criminal, parent, missing groom/bride, presumed dead? Did s/he kill someone?

• Twins: so different/so alike, identical, fraternal, triplets, switched identities, mistaken identities.

• Weddings & brides: marriages of convenience, fake fiancées, mail order brides, virgin brides/grooms, runaway brides/grooms, green-card, royal, shot gun, jilted, on the rocks, terms of the will, fight for child custody, by mistake, stop that wedding!

• Reunion: estranged, lost, thwarted, divorced lovers.

• Boss/secretary: or any other combination where will he ever notice her as a woman?

• Favorite sexy 'occupations': doctor, cop, attorney, cowboy, small-town sheriff, FBI agent, secret agent, charming criminal with a heart of gold, bodyguard, journalist, fugitive, former military, mysterious man.

• Bad boy/bad girl: think a challenge to tame, think misunderstood.

• Makeover/transformation: Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Pygmalion, Ugly Duckling.

• Fairy tales/myths: Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Taming of the Shrew.

• Mismatched Pairings: May/December, wrong/right side of the tracks, star-crossed, mentor/protégé, virgin/rogue, best friends/lovers, opposing occupations [arsonist/fire investigator], she's the boss/he's not, rolling stone/homemaker, country/city, hermit/socialite, gambler/conservative.

 I'm curious to find out whether you have a favourite plot device? What about ones you just can't stand? Do you have any of those?

Thanks for dropping by. I can't wait to read what you have to say.

Hugs x

Saturday, April 10, 2010

How To Create A Collage

A collage is a collection of photos of your characters, pets, setting, furniture, inspiring objects, places, clothes, landscape, vehicles or whatever you might need to help you with a visual or to trigger ideas. Collages can be a source of creative inspiration or simply used as added information when you fill in your character sheet for your publisher.

I create collages for all of my WIPs in the prewriting stage. Since this can be a great time-stealer, I tend to hunt out my heroes and heroines, then any photos I need and can find quickly. Otherwise, I add as I go along, but only if I feel the need. Some of my collages have only a few photos and some have every available space filled. To me, the most important thing is to get the right hero and heroine for the job!

So how do I go about doing this?

1. Google appropriate photos (I’d either hunt out actors and actresses or check out for my photos)

2. Open Microsoft Office PowerPoint.

3. Add book title and tag line. (This is not compulsory; you don’t have to do this if you don’t wish to)

4. Add photos I’ve collected. (Do this by either clicking on Insert Picture, which will take you to your computer User pictures or wherever you’ve saved the photos you’ve collected, or you can copy and paste onto the PowerPoint slide)

5. When you’ve arranged the photos to your liking (I prefer a higgledy-piggledy arrangement, but I know some author friends who can boggle my mind with their fantastic ability to create straight-lined arrangements—you decide what works best for you) select them all by moving the cursor to one of the slide’s corners. Now click and hold down the left button on your mouse and drag the highlight square to form a box over the entire slide. Right click and select Group. This stops the photos from accidentally being moved.

6. Now for the good bit. Save your slide as a JPEG, this will allow you to upload the image to websites/groups or wherever you wish to put them on the Internet.

7. The next thing I do is print it off and blu-tak it to the wall in my study so I can see it. I also make it my desktop background.

That’s it, folks! How to create a collage in just a few steps. Let me know how you got on, won’t you?

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Hi, guys,

Just a quick entry to let you all know of my recent interviews.

You can check them out here: Just Me & You 

You'll also find me in the Author Spotlight at Cate Masters Blog.

Do stop by and say hi, won't you?

See you soon.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Rolling Up My Sleeves

Okay Holy week and Easter is now over. We have today as a bank holiday to get over, for some, a long week of church services and for others, copious amounts of chocolates. I didn't do the chocolate overindulgence, but I only made a few services since Meg tires easily and I have to be conscious of exposing her to too many germs and sudden weather changes, which can make her sick. 

Anyway, I haven't been writing much these last few weeks and I am anxious to get some more work out there. Let's Pretend just go released on Wednesday and I'm waiting for More Than a Playboy's galley. Also, Harlequin Mills & Boon is considering the full of Zach's Rebound Girl for their HeatTM line. All good stuff, but I would like to buckle down and see what I'm really capable of.

This said, I'm working on another story to submit to HM&B and a couple more for TWRP. This is Meg's last week of intensive chemo for a little while--she's still on chemo but not as invasive a treatment--so I have seven weeks in which to make real progress.

Wish me great time management & inspiration!