Thursday, September 22, 2011

A day in a writer's life...

Since publishing my first novel way back in 1997, my friends claim that they have spotted a genuine “writer’s peeve” in me  And they may be right…
When is the last time you bought a scarf?  Okay, maybe you bought more than one – anyway, is that why a very nice Atlanta boutique recently posted signage offering lovely scarfs for sale?  Maybe a lot of people see nothing wrong with that, but the ghost of my third grade teacher cringed at the sight of that sign and I felt her do it, deep in my heart.  As a writer, I felt a determined need to stand up for my language. Okay, maybe it was a hair over the top, but I felt a need to locate management and offer a flash English lesson.  And after the fact, I probably should have just bought the scarfs and left the store.
But, no, I found the manager and explained that the plural of scarf is scarves, not scarfs.  Then I explained why (and then we had to talk about leaves vs. leafs, and the difference between deer, deers, and dear).  Do you know that the woman told me that she’d heard that, but she didn’t see why it mattered?  When I suggested that if it didn’t matter, perhaps there was no need for a sign, she seemed offended because a store needed signs.
I had a headache.
I couldn't help thinking about the consequences of writing a book that was as grammatically and syntactically tilted as that sign (oh, and there were others, like the sign for the Lady's room...).  So, long story short, I finally gave up on the conversation because we clearly did not speak the same language.  I left the scarfs in the boutique and went across the street to another store where scarves were being sold for .20% off.
.20%.  Really.

Guess I’m just a glutton for punishment… but at least the scarves are pretty.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ode to Writing by Electa Rome Parks

I think I've loved you since the first time we met.

There was something about you that spoke to me, spoke to me with a passion and genuine honesty like nothing ever before. When I was in your presence, I realized my full potential, my destiny, and became whole.

To this day, when I'm with you, I come alive. I burn with the fervor of a woman possessed. I can't get enough of you. Just the thought of being with you makes my body ache and burn with desire.

You complete me. I know, I realize that's a very strong statement. But it's true, you make me whole. I couldn't imagine life without you. You're my beginning and end. My alpha and omega.

You're the keeper of my secrets and desires. You share my dreams as if they were your own. You delight in my triumphs. And my failures and hurt, you ease the pain with the stroke of a pen. You embrace me in loving arms with your magic and power.

When I become one with you, I feel...


In the deepest throes of my pain, just the thought of being without you, of not having you in my life. . . makes me so unbelievably sad. I can't phantom life without you. I need you. I desire you and I cling to you so desperately. Can't you see that?

We've had our ups and downs over the years. I guess that's just part of life, part of any relationship. But I can't continue to live like this. . . not knowing if you love me back. I think you do, but sometimes I'm not so sure. I shouldn't have to struggle and back pedal and take three steps forward to take one back. I shouldn't have to hustle every day of my life to prove my alliance. Don't tease me and make me work so hard to prove my faithfulness. I've shown you over and over again how deep and true my passion runs. I know I love you much more than you love me.

I realize I need you much more than you'll ever need me. I accept the fact that you have other friends in your life that love you just as much as I do. I'm willing to share as long as you will commit to me when you're with me. I adore you. Can't you see that? You are so beautiful. Only you can awaken my soul and create magic all around. I'm totally sprung.

I don't want to sound desperate and lonely, but I can't lose you, not now, not ever. I need you in my life like I need air to breath, eyes to see. You nourish my soul, my very being. I don't think I could go on without you. Does this give you pleasure? Pleasure that you have so much power over me?

Please try to understand. I can't, I will not, go on without you. Knowing I'd do almost anything to keep you in my life makes me take a good, hard look at myself. What type of woman am I?

How damaged I must be since I can't survive without you? How desperate I must be to beg you to never leave me? How deranged I must sound to adore you even if you sometimes don't love me back?

See, I've loved you since the first time we met. And no matter what, I can't live without you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Muse

As a full-time writer, I get many people asking me what is my process to creating a book. I usually laugh at that question. Not because it's funny; simply because there's nothing mystical or magical about the creative process. I don't have candles lit or music playing in the background. I will say that more often than not I'm in my pajamas and robe drinking a cup of green tea with my lap desk and laptop. Then I just write. Sometimes in silence, othertimes with the TV on low.

If my muse is visiting, then it's a great writing day. I can easily get a few thousand words written. Those are the days I boast on FB or Twitter that I've written 3,000 or more words.

I like to write when I don't feel the pressure of a deadline. Having deadlines isn't the problem. It's the procrastination leading up to the deadline that becomes a problem. When my publisher gives me a date to have my next book turned in, the date seems so far away. So instead of writing a little every day, I slack off, thinking I have plenty of time to get it done. Pretty soon, one year becomes six months, six months becomes three months, three months becomes a few weeks, and I still have 55,000 words to write. Pressure. And with pressure comes a little thing called writer's block.

Writer's block always seems to come at the most inopportune times, causing more stress than a little bit. Insomnia is often a result. Staying up half the night wouldn't be so bad, if the creative juices were flowing. Since halting the creative flow is writer's block's job, it becomes frustrating to say the least.

The next question would be how do I overcome writer's block? After many sleepless nights and feelings of anxiety, I force myself to write something...anything. Most of the time it's a slow start, but it's a start. If I'm still having problems, I start talking to my characters, hoping and praying that they talk back to me. At some point, they talk back.

Although I'm elated when my characters talk to me, they tend to change the story quite a bit from the original concept, making my pitch to my editor obsolete. My synopsis almost always has to be changed. Nonetheless, the book gets written, and I celebrate with a sparkly drink. Cheers!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September has started off with a BANG!

I'm so jazzed! Please get October, 2011 edition of Essence Magazine with Michelle Obama on the cover and look for the article, "My Miracle" on page 170. Yep, it's me!!! ;o)

Somehow they got wind of a story I wrote about an accident I was in on my way home from a book tour stop in MS in 2008!

And yesterday "Ace of Hearts" audiobook went live! Take a listen:
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Last, and definitely not least, Full House will be released 11/11/11.

Have a great productive week,

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Welcome to Peach Diva Miranda Parker - Our Newest Official Member

Well, we offered the sixth spot in our group to Miranda Parker this week via conference call and she accepted. We are proud and honored to have her. She brings a great deal of knowledge to the group regarding the business, and is a very talented writer. Miranda's first event with the Peach Divas will be Saturday, 11/19/11 at the Authors on the Square event at the Central Library in Atlanta. Central Library event link

Welcome Miranda - let's, as you say it, "Get Peachy!"

Please click on Miranda's photo to the right to be directed to her website.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Diva Writer - 30-Scene Writing Process

The first step when I decide to write a novel is to obviously start out with an idea that moves me, that I'm excited about. For me, I need a working title right off the bat. Once I have that, I write a one-paragraph synopsis and then I begin creating characters, learning about them and their character arcs, naming them, doing an extensive resume on each one - who they are, where they're from, their education, dysfunctions, who their parents are, their temperaments, habits, and their issues. Without issues you have no story.

Once I have some idea of who the characters are (because it can change as they surprise even me once I start writing) I plot it out by writing an outline (by plotting I mean the selection and arrangement of events in the story). Some of my outlines have been six pages and some have been eighteen. I didn't always write outlines, but since I've experienced submitting titles to publishers based upon three-chapters and full outlines, I've used those outlines as roadmaps and have found outlines to be invaluable tools.

In the outline itself I determine the setup that leads to introducing characters, I expose their issues and wants, thrusting them into stumbling blocks of action or as I call it, fiction friction, building tension, then moving to the height of the climax, then the falling climax, and then finally the resolution, which doesn't necessarily mean all issues are resolved or that all characters grow.

Now here's the part of my process that really moves me along in writing a book: I break down the outline into thirty (30) scenes (you can use 40, 50, 60, whatever works for you), and each scene becomes a chapter. I immediately format my Word document with thirty chapter headings, i.e. Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc., and under each chapter heading I type one or two sentences of what that scene is about.

I print out that "word-map" as I call it, and then I can start at the beginning of the book, or the middle, or the end (I prefer to start at the beginning and go chronologically but that doesn't always happen). I can write what moves me that day, or what I'm in the mood for. I may not be in the mood for the party scene in Chapter 12, so I'll write the courtroom scene in Chapter 22, or the church scene in Chapter 6, etc. And even if I'm not feeling some scenes, I still take it on and it eventually flows. Those turn out to be some of the best ones. And when I'm done, my story may have deviated away from my original outline, so I make adjustments accordingly, but it rarely deviates from my original one paragraph synopsis.

Most of my books these days are approximately thirty chapters, some more, some less, and each chapter can be seven to ten pages, some more, some less.

This process works for me. I don't always have a prologue, but I usually have an epilogue.

I also use a calendar that's taped to my office wall - I have to see it, not on an electronic device but in my face, to schedule the production and determine how long it will take me to sit down and complete the first draft. Depending upon my timing and availability, I can write a chapter per week, or a chapter a day, or more. I've written as much as five chapters in one day (all day). That's when my muse is with me. If I fall short or do more than I've scheduled, I'll adjust my calendar so that I'm not as . . . okay, I'll keep it real, so that I'm not as stressed by looming deadlines (looking like the girl in the photo above).

So, there you have it. Folks have asked me and I'd never taken the time to write it out. Please share what tips work for you. I'd love to hear it! I hope this was helpful.

And yes, I am called the Diva Writer, Diva in a good way!

Write on :)