Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Fairy Dust? I want some of that! June 26, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 11:54 am
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One of my crit buddies Robyn has a don’t-miss post on the nature of inspiration over on the Seven Sassy Sisters blog today. Where do those magical, out-of-nowhere ideas come from?

Her Fairy Dust angel has to be seen to be believed…

I had my own fairy dust moment this week (missed seeing the angel, unfortunately!) while struggling with the synopsis for Marrying Ms Wright. One key thing that will hopefully fix my worst plot holes and “characters acting out of character” problems from the first draft.

Yippee! Hope it works!


More like a crawl than baby steps! June 14, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 9:28 pm
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The editing is progressing, but oh so slowly! Far more like a snail crawl than baby steps. Definitely not a baby crawl, kids scoot around on their hands and knees or bums much faster than I can keep up with.

Chapter two is finished, though no doubt will need some tweaking. I’ve already gone back and tweaked a few things since I posted a version on my crit group not that long ago for comment. The Sisters usually come back with some good suggestions, and as I do those I see other things that can be improved, and so it goes.

I do need to get moving though. I set myself a subbing date of June 20. Scarily, that’s less than a week away. So I need to write and polish chapter three, which like chapters one and two is all new, do a synopsis, write a cover letter, and get it in the post by next Monday. Easy peasy, right?


The cover letter should be okay, I know what I want to say and I already have a halfway decent pitch. Writing the chapter shouldn’t be too bad, it will just take time and focus, I know what needs to happen and where the characters need to be by the end of the chapter. The synopsis will be bloody awful, no doubt.

The first synopsis I did, for the Instant Seduction comp, dashed off in a couple of hours, came back with the comment “Good synopsis” written on it. I thought I’d done even better with my synopsis for last years Harlequin comp, I worked hard on it, was proud of it, but turned out it stank worse than a footballer’s kit bag after the big game.  So that might need special attention.

Gotta remember- focus on the emotional turning points, and not “what happens”! Also, play up the elements that make this story a fit for Superromance.

I can do it!


Editing is so different! June 5, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 8:54 pm
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I’m making slow but steady progress with the rewrite/ edit of Lock and Cady’s story.

I’m now half-way through chapter two, and I’ve set a goal to sub the partial by June 20.

I’ve never really done this before, not properly. I’ve completed or nearly finished first drafts then not edited them. I’ve written first chapters that I’ve laboured over and tried to edit then gone no further because I knew they weren’t good enough (actually, the problem is I know know that I write my way in, the real story for all those abandoned attempts started in chapter two or three!). This is the first time I’ve ever written a first draft, sat down and worked out what needed to be fixed, then set about doing it. It’s an interesting process, and far slower and more thoughtful than the first draft writing was.

A lot of the first draft  will go. The whole first three chapters will be new, completely different. There are several later scenes that don’t move the story along and can be compressed or removed. There’s a lot that needs to be changed. Which is good because that leaves more room for the real story, the relationship, the emotions. Room to go deep.

Chapter one is done now, I think. It’s been tweaked and retweaked. I added around another five hundred words to it today. The new words don’t change what happened, but they go deeper into the POV characters’ heads, and strengthen the body language and emotion (I hope!). Also deepen the emotional conflict too.

I’m taking this class with Margie Lawson. My characters’ physical reactions have been so cliche. They nod and smile and blink and grin hundreds of times. So non! She actually makes us check. I had 76 smiles in the first draft. I’ll probably still have a lot of smiles in the second draft, but I’m hoping I can describe them in ways that are a little fresher (but not TOO fresh- nothing like a startling simile to jerk the reader right out of story). Margie is good at pushing us to look at things differently. Hopefully I can also discover other things my characters can do besides smile and nod!

The other thing I’m giving close attention is the Donald Maass guideline- “Have conflict on every page”. I certainly didn’t have that in first draft! The potential for conflict was there, and some pages have it, but I have whole chapters where  the characters are doing things but not much is really happening on an emotional level. They don’t need to be scrapped necessarily. Conflict can be as simple as the character thinking one thing and doing another. It can be the tension of the character wondering if her secret will be discovered. It can be the will-they-or-won’t-they of the hero and heroine who want to act on their attraction, but have too much past history getting in the way.

This is one of my favourite articles on editing, by Melissa James. I think my writing process might be very similar.

We’ll see if I succeed. I’m having fun with it, anyway!


Harlequin Book in 3 Months Challenge June 1, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 10:27 am

Ideal for anyone just starting a new story and wanting some additional motivation and accountability, there’s a new Book in 3 Months Challenge on eHarlequin.

I’m definitely NOT participating, though I have a new story idea nagging at me. Gotta get Lock and Cady rewritten first! The articles look interesting though…