Sunday, February 24, 2008

Life With All Its Ups and Downs

It’s been an eventful week. On the downside, a friend’s house burned down and she lost her two dogs in the fire. I’m not mentioning names because I don’t know whether she wants it made public yet or not.

On the plus side, Irene Watson of readerviews gave a presentation at the Writers League of Texas this week. She was very down to earth and answered every question the audience had. I haven’t used her site or used any of her services and suspect they may be more useful to the self-published or unpublished author but it was nice to see someone talk bluntly about some of the challenges for new writers.

And a truly bright spot this week was a performance by Joe Hartman in Overwhelming Underdogs at the Arts on Real Theater here in Austin. (city theatre) I went because he’s the son of a friend and found myself laughing through the whole performance.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What Is True Love?

It's Valentines Day this week so of course I have to write a blog post about love.

As a romance writer, I write about love all the time. But what is true love?

Whenever I ask myself that question, I think of a poem by Roy Croft. To paraphrase, it begins something like this:

I love you not only for who you are, but for who I am when I am with you.

That seems to me a very powerful statement and an excellent question to ask about any relationship we (or our characters!) are in. Do we like how we act and react when we are with this person (or group)? Do we like how they behave?

If we can’t answer yes to both questions then maybe we need to look at whether this is a relationship we want (or our characters want) to be in—as it is now. It may be possible for the relationship to change or for us to grow in some way so that we can answer yes to those questions. And that’s the goal—to be able to be better and happier and healthier together than we each are alone. If we cannot be together without damaging one another, then the best and most honorable thing to do might well be to end the relationship.

It seems to me that with true love, we bring out the best in each other and lovingly encourage each other to be happy and achieve our dreams and be the best people we can be.

If we write romance novels, it’s especially important to ask in what ways our hero and heroine will help each other grow and become happier and healthier people. It’s important to know how we’re going to show the reader that this relationship will allow the hero and heroine to become the best they can be. That’s when our readers will cheer for the hero and heroine to be together and truly be able to believe they will live happily ever after. Not that things will always be perfect or go smoothly, but that the hero and heroine bring out the best in each other and the reader can believe that ultimately they always will.

Here’s wishing all of you true love in your own lives!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Online Writing Classes

I’ve been giving Book in a Week classes in person for a long time and I know they make a difference. I was teaching a modified version on line through an educational website for a while but I’m just now wrapping up a 5 week version online. The response has been so positive that I’ve decided to offer online classes on a regular basis—details still to be worked out.

In the meantime, I’ve set up a notification only email loop so that people who might be interested in taking online classes from me can sign up to get notices about such classes. I’ve got a sign up button on my website and one on this blog—right below my picture here. You won't get much email and I won't ever share that information with anyone else.

I love teaching this class. I love empowering people with ways to find their own voices. I love knowing I make a difference.

As I said, details are still to be worked out. I know I’ll be offering Book in a Week again as a 5 week class and I have requests for an online class on revisions. Please post if there’s a class you’d like to see me offer—perhaps an area of writing that’s a challenge for you. (I’m sure I can think of classes but I’d really like to offer classes that I know people want to have.)

Words have power. Writing gives us a voice. Even if we only write for ourselves, putting into words what matters to us can our lives in ways we don't expect.

Here I am—hoping to empower the world.

Friday, February 01, 2008

I Love to Read

I’m currently reading contest entries for the RITA contest sponsored by Romance Writers of America. These are published novels and I’m struck by how much I love being drawn into a story. I love finding characters I want to spend time with. I love finding characters I cheer for as they grow over the course of the story and find true love.

I love to be surprised. I love when an author finds a way to handle a situation that I would not have thought of—so long as it’s consistent with how someone might really act or react.

I love having a story tug at my emotions. I love even more when the story causes me to explore my own ideas and feelings and challenge assumptions I’ve held in the past.

I love books that make me think, that expose me to situations or places or people I might otherwise never know.

In many ways, it’s easier for me to read a book than to watch a movie. I think it’s because I get to decide how the people look and sound. I get to fill in all sorts of details in my mind instead of a director doing so—possibly in ways I dislike. I get to put the book down and think about what I’ve read and then pick it up again and go on with the story.

Maybe that’s why I love to teach and coach other writers. I love the idea that maybe one day one of my students will write one of those stories that tug at my heart and make me think and enrich my life.

Gee, can you tell I love to read?