Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kick Starting Muses for 2009

I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday! I'm taking some much needed time off. I'm reading, spending time with my horse, watching Movies, playing with my new WII (Spyro the Dragon sucks hours of your life away before you notice btw) and generally I've been lazing about in a way I haven't in... erm... yeah, anyhoo...

As the New Year approaches I've been doing what everyone does and looking back on the year we're coming out of. It's been a bumpy one all told. It had it's high points but MAN were the low points low. So I'm done with 2008 and now I'm looking forwards to 2009. And the first thing 2009 means for me? Yes, you've guessed it. It's new book time. Now the plan was to have an idea already passed by my lovely ed at this point so I could jump straight in. Naturally, it still being 2008 it didn't work out that way. So I've been thinking about what to write. And this pic?

You know where I'm going here, right?

My friends. There's nothing in there. At all. Nada, zip, zilch, not a thing. Okay that's a lie. There's plenty of ideas in there but none of them are suitable for what I'm SUPPOSED to write. So, while I'm on hols and while some of you lovely guys might be browsing the internet to escape your family or to wile away a few hours between large meals, I thought - I know! - I'll ask YOU for help. And maybe it'll kick start my muse into something wonderful.

So here's my idea. It's a Modern Heat. And what would be really helpful would be if you could leave me a word or a name or a hero or heroine pic link or a favourite theme - something short but sweet. Then I'll write them down, do a draw out of a hat, and see if I can come up with a plot from whatever fate hands me...

Kinda like a pick and mix for my muse. Maybe if there were enough ideas we could keep them here or I could make a page on my website and then we could all pick and mix to see what we came up with? Then it would be helpful for lots of people and who knows how many stories we might end up with :) Anyone? I can beg if you need me to...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

A friend sent me this...

*note to self: socialize more in 2009 and extend circle of friends...*

So I've almost finished updating my website, I've gotten three great RT Reviews in a row and I've finished my first ever short story for serialization as a free read on EHarlequin in the new year. Have I finally left the gremlins behind me? MAN I HOPE SO!!!

On the subject of His Mistress, His Terms (out this month), RT said:

"To keep his latest project on track, architect Alex Fitzgerald's rock star client wants interior designer Merrow O'Connell as part of the team. She keeps putting Alex off, so he decides to deal with the matter in person. The two are shocked to recognize each other. They spent an incredible night together but never asked for names. Now they know! It isn't long before they give in to passion and Alex realizes he wants a girlfriend, but Merrow professes that just having fun is enough. Is it? Trish Wylie's His Mistress, His Terms (4) starts as a fun,
sexy romp and turns into a sensual love story. There's humor, flirty banter, oodles of passion and terrific secondary characters, which make for an entertaining read." Sandra Garcia-Myers - Romantic Times

As Gabe makes his way to the States in Claimed By The Rogue Billionaire (online now and out in January) they said:

"Claimed By The Rogue Billionaire (4.5) by Trish Wylie: Growing up together on the Fitzgerald estate, Ashling Fitzgerald and housekeeper's son Gabriel Burke were quite close until she was 17 and he was in his early 20s. Then a hurtful and humiliating incident sent Ashling running away to France. Eight years later, she's home in Ireland, and once more her life is entwined with her now-nemesis, Gabriel. Although their constant bickering and sparring says one thing, their intense attraction says something else entirely. Can they finally open their hearts to each other? This is a terrific story about letting go of the past and embracing the future. The emotionally rich journey is saturated with passion and sensuality." Sandra Garcia-Myers - Romantic Times

And last but not least we have Manhattan Boss, Diamond Proposal (out in February, and the first book I really struggled with in 2008 I hasten to add...) of which they said:

"MANHATTAN BOSS, DIAMOND PROPOSAL (4.5) by Trish Wylie: Left at the altar, Clare O'Connor turned to the best man, club owner Quinn Cassidy, for help. Quinn made her his personal assistant and rented her his basement apartment, and Clare's grateful for everything. But now she's having some success as a matchmaker and is considering going into business. So Quinn makes her a wager: If Clare finds him a woman who lasts longer than his norm of six weeks, he'll help make it happen. Clare's in, but suddenly she's seeing Quinn in a new light, and it's clearly mutual. But can she overcome the past? Excellent characters, sparkling banter and touches of genuine emotion add up to a winner -- and Quinn's a keeper." Catherine Witmer - Romantic Times

So the year started well, and has ended on a high note. I just want to wish all my friends and readers a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

And here's to 2009 - May it bring a world of dreams and possibilities our way!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Yin and Yang of Writing. Pt 1.

Thanks again guys for all the comments welcoming me back and cheering me on!!! I've missed you all more than you know and it really does feel AMAZING to gradually come out the other side of this. But I said I'd come talk about it some, so here I am. And if the clouds come visit your house after this my SINCERE apologies. I just think sometimes it helps to know we're not alone on the dark days. Those people who say writing romance is easy? They wanna try making a living from it sometime and see how they get on! Just ask some of the TV show presenters who tried it this year... yuh huh... nuff said...

I think one of the biggest problems we all face is the contradictions. You kinda have to have a dual personality to write romance. And when you're digging deep into emotions on the page on behalf of your characters it can be hard not to either have it leave you feeling emotionally drained, or to balance the happiness you're writing compared to the tough things you may be facing in the real world. We have to be 'optimistic hearted' enough to believe in the power of love and that happily ever after's still exist - pouring our heart and soul onto the page - while at the same time having a really thick skin so we can deal with criticism and sales figures and harsh reviews. Romance writers, in my experience, live life on a bit of a knife edge. We can be bubbly and fun to be around and we can go through wine faster than some people go through oxygen, but we can also be incredibly insecure and unduly critical of ourselves and no amount of wine can help on the days we just plain feel like we SUCK.

How I feel we deal with this, after a few years of getting to know fellow authors, all comes down to personality. In just the same way your voice does when you're writing. And in order to deal with the hard times you gotta know yourself pretty well; particularly if you're someone like me who doesn't have a partner or family that lives in the same house who can distract me when the slump sets in. I know me. I've had a few decades to get to know me and to understand why I do the things I do - basically what my coping mechanisms are and where my strengths and weaknesses lie. A big problem I had this year were the extremes of my personality. Unlike the little faces above, I have a tendency to either be yellow or red - if I visit green at all it's as a brief skipping stone from one to the other. I can have extreme, bouncy, on top of the world yellow days - but I can also have dreadful, crawl under my duvet and stay there red days. Now normally, thankfully, I have enough yellow days to balance out the red. This year, those yellow days were few and far between - or certainly felt like they were - and weren't celebrated and enjoyed nearly enough. So the red days increased, and before I knew it I was in depression mode.

THAT'S when the 'I suck' voice gets louder in your head. And the louder it becomes the more it effects the house of cards we writer's live in.

  • The I Suck voice makes you question every single word you put on the page - aka over-editing.
  • The I Suck voice combined with over-editing means you become obsessed with things that shouldn't matter until the book is written - aka you forget to tell the story.
  • The I Suck voice complete with over-editing and not telling the story leads to avoidance - aka your word count goes nowhere and procrastination sets in.
  • The I Suck voice with a distinct lack of word count means you put yourself under undue pressure - aka looming deadlines to be missed.
  • The I Suck voice plus the pressure of late deadlines means your muse packs up and leaves due to poor working conditions and you don't get paid - aka your finances begin to waver and the rest of your world begins to fall apart...
It's a slippery slope my friends. And while each of these things is happening, the I Suck voice is slowly but surely tugging you over the edge at the bottom of that slope and dropping you into the pit of despair - while you're trying to write what will ultimately be a HAPPILY EVER AFTER. Now if your story has something deep and dark to explore then the accompanying mood the I Suck voice will bring your way will probably help. But if, like me, you tend to be about the funny and the ironic and the quick witted then you're pretty much stuffed because for me:

Personality + Mood = VOICE.

As writers we'll talk a lot about the personality types of our characters. But I don't think I'd really thought about my personality type as a writer all that much until this year. I knew how I worked, yes. But what I've discovered is it's another of those extreme contradictions when it comes to my personality. When I work with horses I'm very organized, methodical, I stick to doing things the way I was trained to do them and if I was packing for an event or for travelling with horses I would have lists and a specific way of packing and so forth. When I write? Not so organized. I'm not one of those people who can get up and stick to office hours and a specific word-count every day. I write when a scene is clear in my head and while the words are flowing I keep going - even if that means going without sleep for a couple of days. (I've discovered 36 hours without sleep is my limit) When the words stop or I find myself writing something crap I go have a sleep, let things mull over for a while, daydream, talk out loud as if I'm the characters - and when another scene is clear in my head off I go again. Not particularly healthy I know, but it's what works for me. Doesn't however, help when the I Suck voice is sounding loudly inside my head. No muse = lack of daydreaming scenes = lack of words to take a run at. I've tried being more organized and outlining a book scene by scene from the start and sticking to a daily word-count, but you know what? A part of me then finds it tough to tell the story. Cos I know what's gonna happen. There's no 'adventure' to it for me, like there is when watching a movie for the very first time. And there's no room for those little magic touches that so often appear when you're a panster. I'd miss those. My books would be much 'less' without them. So I'm chalking this quirk to my personality down to an artistic nature that is part of my so-called 'natural ability' to write... however, in my experience...

Natural Ability + Ambition + (too much) Education = LOSS OF VOICE.

This I've discovered, is an occupational hazard. And again, it's another knife edge. Your voice is what sells your first book. We're told time and time again it's all about voice. Voice can't be forced or taught in my opinion - it's a huge part of your personality, your personal experiences and opinions and therefore a big part of yourself goes into every book. I think that's why we get so attached to them. We get emotionally involved. Sometimes we literally bleed on the page. But as a series/category romance writer in a mass market, we also have the pressure of producing time and time and time again without becoming too repetitive. Some phrases and words will come up in every book because as individuals we'll use those phrases and words when we talk (a lot of people who know me from my pre-writer days say they can 'hear me' talking in my books) but we don't want the stories themselves to be too repetitive. So once we have a few books under our belt we get ambitious, we look to stretch ourselves, so we do what anyone does when they want to learn more - we read up on the subject. And this my friends? Is a DANGEROUS THING. Now I have strong opinions on this, so I expect there to be people who won't agree with me, but I really do think you need to know yourself pretty well before you delve too deep into books about writing. In my opinion, and without it being big-headed, I don't think natural talent can be taught. Methods can be, patterns can be, themes, commonalities, etc etc etc but you can read a hundred books on writing and know them all off by heart and you can fine tune what you already do - but you can't make yourself into a writer if you're not meant to be one. That's harsh, I know, but it's true. Some people can study writing for years and never finish a manuscript. Some people can have the best, most original idea in the world and can't translate it onto paper. There's an intangible that can't be taught. Full stop. Messing with that intangible can have horrific results in my experience. Because what does it do when you read too many books on writing? It can make you even more critical of your work than you already were. And when that happens what appears in your head even louder than before? Yep, that's right, the I SUCK voice. And this last eighteen months or so, what have I been doing? Yes. I've been reading more about writing. At a time when doubts were already setting in. A part of my personality is also masochistic. I know a great many writers who are the same. And this is where I'm gonna kinda contradict the whole point of this long post by saying:

Misery doesn't always love company.

Sometimes it FEEDS OFF IT. Which brings me to the pressures of online promotion and guest appearances and online communities versus writing time and having a life... But I'll come back to that in my next blog...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Repossession Of My Life

Is gradually taking effect...

Having come back from the States with an all new flattening disease and fighting my way through the worst case of writer's block/absense of muse in my life I then progressed to a laptop that played up. Then it crashed. Then it DIED. With all my files inside it. One frantic dash to computer doctor later and we had the file we were working on while he tried to get the rest of my life onto a disc. I can pack a lot into two years apparently...

Now while still fighting muse and trying to finish book (that ended up three months late - yes, you read that right; not three days or three weeks - three MONTHS late) I got word my website had crashed. And keep in mind three months without finished book = three months without pay. I can't afford to replace laptop with a spare at this point...(anyone coming to tell me this job is easy does so at their own personal risk about now. I won't be held accountable for my actions. You've been WARNED) I tried pleading with nice computer man for website stuff - cos all my website files were in sick laptop you understand... I then missed renewal on crashed website and nice website provider naturally DELETED all my files - am now begging nice computer man. Nice computer man gives sick laptop brand shiny new hard-drive and begins reloading two years of files. Nope. Laptop not playing. Nice computer man very apologetic. Trish now ready to huddle in a corner, rocking and gibbering... Laptop officially DEAD. Fried motherboards are apparently bad things. Who knew?! I'll know when I'm suffering third degree burns on my legs again that the over-heating isn't just bad for ME...

Now keep in mind while all this is happening we're STILL trying to write a book. Do we feel my pain yet? This year my life has been a house of cards. This week I thought about where it all started to go wrong when the year had such a good start and held so much promise. Then I remembered the Christmas tree I didn't take down till - you know - Easter. Not playing with THAT karma again I tell ya!!!!!!

So. Book now gone. Short story for eharlequin online read gone. Proposal for new Modern Heat ready. And having spent two months begging, borrowing and stealing laptops to work on in erratic bursts what did Trish do? Well not only did she get a pretty good idea about what kind of laptops she HATES she went out and bought not one but TWO of the little suckers the millisecond she got paid. Next time I'LL BE READY.

Dear GOD don't let there BE a NEXT TIME.

To Lorraine P, Anna, Rachel, Melissa, Ray-Anne, Michelle, Donna, Natasha, Ally, Nicola, Barbara, Melissa, Rita and Marilyn who left comments of encouragement on my last post - THANK YOU!!! I would hug every one of you if I could!!! And to all the people who helped gentle me through the clouds with emails, phone calls and cards - honestly - you have NO IDEA what it has meant this last while when I seriously contemplated throwing in the towel and never writing another word again! And Jenny, my lovely editor, who isn't paid any extra for therapy sessions or for listening to writers who CRY down the phone to them - I LOVE YOU. NEVER LEAVE. EVER.

I'm gonna try and get back on track now. Website is back up, but not updated cos naturally new computers don't have the program I run it off. I'm not even gonna shed a tear over that. This year has taught me how much I can survive. But I will come back and talk to those of you who asked about surviving the dark, deep pit of despair I've been in writing wise, and how finally I'm feeling like the clouds are clearing and theres a hint of a rainbow on the horizon...

Hopefully I won't pass on the clouds...