Friday, October 30, 2009

WIPs - My Head Hurts...

My works in progress are split between my two favorite sub-genre – medieval romance and contemporary. Thus my continued discussion here on The Prairies about branding. And if I find a blog that discusses branding, I’m usually reading avidly and returning to the comments all day to hear what others have to say about it. After all, how is a girl who loves to write all kinds of romance supposed to pick just one and stop those other stories from making my head hurt? Obviously, I haven’t found the ultimate answer, so I continue to write and think of stories that cover both contemporary and historical.

Everyone knows my WIP, The Seduction of Lady Bells. I like to think of it as my WIF (work is finished), but we all know that until a story is published, there is no ‘finished’. Even now, I’m looking at reworking my beginning pages to bring in more conflict and tension. The information gleaned from the Surrey International Writer’s Conference showed me that that conflict really needs to be front and center at the beginning of my work – a hint for the reader as to what trials and tribulations Lady Bells will face throughout the book. Of course, you don’t want to give away everything, but you want to seduce (ha) the reader into turning those pages.

A follow up novel, because who doesn’t dream of a sequel to their first novel, is Hugh’s brother’s story. And, you all know that my creativity in titles is amazing, it’s called "Ranulf’s Story". This story has been percolating in my head since I started writing Lady Bells. There’s a document open with a first chapter, but nothing more. The reason – if I can’t sell Lady Bells, then Ranulf’s Story is dead in the water. The story arc over the two books is the subplot – sheep stealing around the English/Scottish border back in the fourteenth century.

A big discussion in Surrey is the love of trilogies in the publishing world. The first workshop I attended (panel discussion on romance) talked about how imprints want/hope that an author is coming to the table with at least an idea of two other books related to the first. So, my third in the Lady Bells’ trilogy would focus on Hugh’s best friend, Thomas. Now Thomas has a special place in my heart and everyone who reads Lady Bells enjoys Thomas’ antics. His story will need to be very special and I’m going to do some free writing over the next couple of months in order to bring his story to life.

My other medieval romance, already started, is Grayce and Droyn’s Story, tentatively titled Have No Mercy. This is the story I’m sharing over on betabloggers 500 words at a time. Grayce is a troubadour and Droyn’s task is to kidnap her and bring her home in order to hold her for ransom. Her father is a nasty man and Droyn’s family can think of no other way to save their land from this greedy baron. Grayce has her own agenda that will conflict with Droyn’s, of course.

I have one other historical, set in tudor times, that I’ve dabbled with over the last couple of years. I haven’t figured out the entire plot in my head, which is why I haven’t continued working on it. The characters are there – they sneak into my consciousness every now and then and I know their story will have to be written.

Now, onto contemporary – Gillian and Mac’s Story. I’ve re-titled it The Art of Betrayal since Gillian is an artist. Everyone knows of the problems I’ve had with this story, but I think I’ve made some progress by working backwards. I really want to finish this story just because it’s been with me for too long. An interesting workshop at the conference sparked some thoughts. Bob Mayer’s workshop, The Warrior Writer, gave a wealth of information on being a writer – from the writing to the business side and everything in between. He moved rather quickly, cramming a 9-hour workshop into an hour and a half discussion, but during that time he mentioned writer’s block. In the same breath came the word ‘laziness’. Of all the information he shared, that stuck with me. Is my block with Gillian and Mac really about not knowing my story – or am I being lazy with my writing? Or is it that I just don’t feel passionate about these characters anymore?

Next up – a romantic comedy which I used for my Blue Pencil Session with Eileen Cook (if anyone loves to read romantic comedy, Jennifer Crusie great, you MUST read Eileen’s book Unpredictable – can’t say enough about it). I’ve almost finished this manuscript – and really love the characters and the story line. With Eileen’s encouragement and enthusiasm, I plan to go back to this, finish it, and polish. I think this will be my next manuscript that I will send out on the query trail. It’s about a woman who has been cheated on and has used food for her salvation. When she discovers that her cheating husband is about to marry the bimbo she caught him with and they’ll both be at a high school reunion, she is determined to show that she, too, can go on with her life – accompanied by a hunky piece of arm candy.

So, for my final WIP – and I count those stories I’ve spent my sleepless nights thinking about as a WIP even if I haven’t written anything down – is a combination of contemporary and historical. This one scares me because of the amount of work, structure, and risk involved. It’s a contemporary suspense about a woman who is a writer. The historical romance she’s working on parallels her own life without her realizing it. The hero solves the mystery with the help of her finished manuscript. Again, I’m plotting in my head and can see the story – writing it down is going to be a big job and I’m shying away from it due to lack of confidence in my ability to explain my vision. I’m sure, at some point in time, the characters will get their way and I’ll have to write it down.

Oh, yeah – forgot about the Sci-fi Romance I plotted at the conference. Jana, Suse, and I spent an hour or so discussing it, plotting some of it, coming up with some wild and crazy ideas, and laughing so hard our stomachs hurt. Of course, it has a major element of comedy and not really sure if there’s a market for such a wild and crazy story. But now that it’s in my head, it’ll plague me constantly. Just what I need – more voices in my head.

So, People of Blogland, what’s up with your WIPs? Does your brain storytell during sleepless nights? Do you write all over the romance genre or are you focused? Do you read more than one sub-genre, or genre? When do you consider a work finished? And if you know how to stop the voices in my head, I’d appreciate your advice.

Janet (who's Internet-less for another week or so - I'll try and check back today and then tomorrow)

10 comments:

Yunaleska said...

Keeping it short because I've just woken up.

I write mostly YA, I read in several genres.

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Most of my plans could pile off one-another at least tangentially, what with fantasy's penchant for neverending series, however there are some good standalones in there as well. It all gets connected by the setting, which keeps it unified in sub-genre, except some plans for something set much earlier in the same world would probably feel like a different genre ('sword and sandal' sort of thing).

The lesser formed ideas are to wander into something more historical fantasy, probably 17th century, or perhaps try a bit of steampunk (I can see it now, a story revolving around clocks with my dad for endless founts of research knowledge). Then there's a little kernel of a story waiting for attention that's either heading into the sf or urban fantasy category, depending... but I don't see it getting much attention until much farther down the road, if that.

Honestly though, none of them are that well formed, beyond the core plots. There's no room for debate over what to work on.

Karyn Good said...

I have two sub-genres that I love to write in - romanctic suspense and paranormal. I can't see me choosing just one anything soon although I do concentrate on RS. At this moment in time the romanctic suspense is geared towards categorory length and is part of a stand alone series (does that make sense?). The one paranormal has a 15,000word cap with an eye to Silhouette's Nocturn Bite line which for now it the perfect length for me to get my fix.

Like Yunaleska, I read in several genres and am open to trying most anything. The only exception I can think of is horror but then again I've not given it a try in a long time.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Janet,
If you ever write the crazy story we "plotted" in Surrey, you have to give Suse and I, and all our husbands, acknowledgment for helping you come up with the idea!

I like writing different styles as well. Mine aren't quite as different as yours(contemporary and WW2 era). I've also written romantic suspense and romantic comedy. I hate to be hemmed in. But I also recognize that this is a business and you have to do whatever it takes to get published. If that means writing in one area, I guess that's what we have to do.

Jana (singing "Don't Fence Me In" at the top of my lungs.)

Janet said...

Just checking in here at the local library. I, too, read in several genres, Yuna. I think that's why I don't limit my imagination to just one kind of story. Of course, I have my favorites - right now, it's women's fiction with a humorous slant.

I can honestly say I've never read any YA - although I should. The majority of writers who attended the SiWC were YA writers. Trend or up and coming genre that's here to stay? Could make for a great debate.

Janet said...

Hayley, with your imagination and the amazing world you've created, you could be writing stories based on your first novel for years and years. And as long as you don't get bored or staid, I say go for it. You really have made me interested in reading about fantasy.

And I think steampunk about clocks would be fabulous. I believe steampunk is really just beginning to take off and my prediction is that it will be the next big trend. Don't quote me, though. If I could tell the future, I'd have already picked a winning lottery number and be lounging in my Caribbean hide-away :)

Janet said...

So not a horror fan! Even though I've been given lots of titles to try from my horror reading buddies.

I think you do romantic suspense very well, Karyn. And what I've read over on betabloggers with your paranormal I believe your voice works well for that, too. I like that your voice is very contemporary - a little chick lit sassy - and that makes for a great backbone for romance, period.

I also thought of you and your stand alone series at the conference. Many of the editors talked about series and Susan Wiggs talked about her series set in a place - the glue that hinged all the stories together. I think you're on the right track and I can't wait to read more about the characters who live in Aspen Lake.

Janet said...

Hey, Jana - you bet I'll be acknowledging all of you if I get to writing that sci-fi story. I can't get it out of my head, so it just may get a document open for some free writing.

And you never know - your WWII story just might spark an editor's wish for more stories set in that time period. I mean really - the stories that could be told (love, adventure, terror, espionage- spelling?, revenge). WWII stories are very popular in film, why not in romance books? Afterall, most of us can relate and feel for our parents', grandparents who lived through that most tumultous time.

And thanks, now that song's in my head. Do you think the other library patrons will get upset with me humming it over and over again for the next hour or so?

Silver James said...

Okay. I swear I replied to this this morning. Iffy? IFFY!?! Where are you IFFY! Oh...yes...Iffy came across this article about how a bird navigates and...


...


...wait...

...what...

Oh! As you well know, my subgenres have subgenres! LOL. At least one editor likes the fact that I describe myself as a cross-genre writer. We'll see. He still has my SciFi/fantasy/romance MS. As a rule, I think in trilogies, though Penumbra is more of a series. There are at least four stories there.

NaNoWriMo starts Sunday. That WIP is...a steampunk/vampire/zombie/romance. Branding? What's that? *bwahahaha*

Don't forget brunch tomorrow (if you get internet back)... *GRIN*

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Janet, you sound like me! Not only because of my 'pick one' post, but because I've been internetless for the past week, too. It's back now but tech thinks problems are not over.

(Anita puts her hands on her hips) If I had to pick one genre, then you have to pick one too. So there! (Anita sticks her tongue out at Janet.)

Honestly, I've felt much better since picking my Inspiration Historical genre. I'm fired up and working about 8 hrs per day on Emma's story.

However I have to admit, those 2 contests I entered at the end of Aug are due to announce finalists any day (Finally A Bride is late even) and I don't know what I'll do if I final with my contemporary mss.

It's kind of like having to pick one flavour of pie when I really like 6 of the flavors. *sigh