When do you give up?


Written on Saturday, November 22, 2008 by haleigh

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm entered into Golden Heart. I paid my fifty hard earned dollars (I chauffeured the local news anchor and his family to a wedding at the beach and back to earn the money - after listening to him, completely smashed, singing Kanye West's Soldier Boy at the top of his lungs the entire 45 minute drive home, I will never again be able to watch the news with a straight face. Every time he comes on, I want to shout Superman and do the arm wave.). Anyway, I earned the money, I entered the contest.

And in nine days, I have to overnight them my completed manuscript.

After working 16 hours days every day this week, I'm exhausted. I knew November was going to be a bad month, but I didn't quite expect this. I run a lecture series on my campus, and between my boss skipping town to spend 6 weeks in Kathmandu and me almost losing my job Monday because the stupid bitch in the TV office on campus decided she hates me, I'm ready for a break.

So I have today, tomorrow, and Thanksgiving break to frantically write, edit, and polish my manuscript.

That's not enough time.

So when do I decide to give up and try again next year? I know the first 55 pages are good, but the rest simply doesn't live up to the start. Do I send it in since I'm already entered, and hope I don't final, since the last 350 pages suck? Do I send it in, hope I do final, and hope an agent/editor sees enough potential that they don't write me off? Do I just forfeit my hard earned fifty bucks and wait for next year?

Anyone have any advice? Anyone else having the same panic I'm having? Anybody wanna swap those first all-important first 50 pages?

smokin' in the boy's room


Written on Tuesday, November 11, 2008 by haleigh

Nov. 11th, 2008

I never actually got caught smoking in school -- I was too much of a good girl back then to dare do anything like that. *g* But I digress. The point of this blog is....

I'm going back to school!

I just found I was accepted this week, and am sooooo excited. It's a two-year, MA in Writing Popular Fiction, and I start January 4th.

I just finished picking my classes for the spring semester. I'm taking: "Empowering the Female Heroine" (doesn't that one just sound awesome?), "Maintaining Narrative Tension," and "How to Make a Living Writing Romance Novels," taught by writer Stephanie Bond.

I have one more class to choose, and I'm stumped. I can choose a class on POV, or "Plotting for Mysteries." The POV class is required, but will be offered two more semesters. The Plotting class may or may not be. But I write suspense, not mystery, so it may not be 100% applicable. And if I take the POV class, it's one more required class out of the way, and hence room for cool electives next semester. But the suspense side of the plotting has always been difficult for me (people always figure out the mystery, like 5 chapters before they're supposed to!), so it could be useful.

Can you tell I'm over thinking this, just a tad?

So, since my decision making prowess has always been a bit questionable, I'm doing some polling (that would be you). Which would you pick - POV or Mystery plotting?

endings and epilogues


Written on Wednesday, November 05, 2008 by haleigh

Nov. 5th, 2008

So I have a secret. After last week's posts, I'm sure this is no longer a secret to anyone else. But here it is. I hate epilogues. Blame it on the mini-feminist living in me, but the assumption that a HEA must include marriage, babies, and sex at regular intervals makes me want to jump out of my skin. And frankly, most epilogues take a satisfying happy ending and turn it into a sap-fest.

So this week, I found a new RS author - Annie Solomon who was the 2007 RITA winner in the Romantic Suspense category. I loved every word of her book, but most of all, I loved her ending. At no point did either the hero or heroine say 'I love you,' or have the classic 'Oh no, I realize now I'm in love with her' moment of internal dialog. There was no discussion of marriage or a long-term future commitment, and only a cursory mention of babies in a "lets practice since we've got the routine down" sort of way.

And yet, there was not a doubt in my mind, when I set down the book, that they were madly in love and would live happily ever after. And all without the normal sap overload of an epilogue. Personally, I found this thrilling, and I'm sure I'm going to re-read and re-read to figure out how she manged to do this so I can do it too!

the subjective success of best sellers


Written on Saturday, November 01, 2008 by haleigh

So I've been looking for new authors in the romantic suspense genre. Seeing as how I write romantic suspense, I've been trying all sorts of new authors, new directions, seeing what's out there and what I like and what I don't.

There's one particular best-selling RS author several people have recommended to me. Just the sheer quantity of books on the shelves says she's popular (and no, it's not Nora!). So I give it a shot a few weeks back. At page 136, when the hero and heroine still haven't met, and I've read 14 different analogies about the exact shade of blue in her eyes, I chucked the book at the wall.

Last night I was too tired to write, so I thought I'd give this author one more shot. One more book, just in case I happened to pick up a dud the first time.


I made it to page 91 this time, and went through an insane number of descriptions of his "golden eyes" (whatever that means) and the exact scent of a Chinese cigarette. Now, I love detail as much as the next girl, but give me a break! I don't need every puff of 3 cigarettes from the chain smoker in chapter 1 described to me in great detail. Or even better, if you love that much description, find something else to describe! It's a cigarette - we get it. There's smoke. There's ash. Time to move on.

And for goodness sake, can you pick a head and stay there? In each paragraph, the same thing was described from a different character's point of view. For example: "He rubbed her hands up and down her arms, reveling at the smooth feel of her skin. She shivered as she felt his hands rub up and down her arms, comforting her....." Yeah, we got it the first time. There were hands, there were arms, they were rubbed. Great. (can you tell this book hit the wall with a satisfying thud as well?).

I will say, after giving up reading straight through, I jumped around in the book for a while, and there was a phenomenal sex scene (though I'm glad I didn't waste 200 pages waiting for it) filled with deep emotion, and a very satisfying happy ending.

At some level, I can see why she's popular. Hot sex, deep emotions, cool characters. But it's not for me. So as I add to my little list of "what I like and what I hate," we're adding head-hopping to the hate side (it was already there, just adding it again for emphasis) and endless description of the same item/acts to the hate side.

Anybody found a new author recently they love? One that's just not for them even though everyone else loves them? Anyone else awed (and terrified) by the sheer subjective-ness of the publishing businesses?