Merry Christmas everyone. Thea Devine here, and I wish you all a happy and productive New Year.
This is my favorite time of year, for all the cliched reasons: joy, hope, love, new year, new beginnings, family, friends, gifts, drowsing by the fireplace, cozy in my house as it snows. I love Christmas. My boys have said I become a child at Christmas.
You bet. Why not?
We get to see family and friends, and best of all, I get to shop for presents. I’ve always loved the shopping part.
Years ago, when we lived in Brooklyn, we exchanged presents with a small circle of friends — until, that is, the Christmas that we and one couple in the group gave each other exactly the same gift.
I don’t remember what it was after all these years, but I do know it signaled “enough.” We knew each other so well, too well, that nothing more needed to be given — or said.
A Christmas lesson for us all.
Thea Devine is the author of 27 contemporary and historical erotic romances and a dozen novellas. Five of her early books are available in Kindle editions. Look for the sequel to “The Darkest Heart” in 2014.
Hey, all, Suze here. This is my last post for 2012 and, frankly, I’d like to thank all those people who misinterpreted the Mayan Long Count Calendar. I’m thrilled to still be here, and I’m glad all of you are too!
So, instead of talking about the Year in Review, I thought I’d talk today about the Year in Preview. I’m not talking about New Year’s Resolutions. Those tend to get shoved under the bed with the dust bunnies around January 10th or so. I’m talking about what I want my life to look like a year from now — here’s what I see. May I say, the view is pretty fine! Not in any particular order of importance:
I’m a published writer! Woohoo! I don’t know what form this will take: indie, digital-first press, or traditional, but you will be able to buy my book(s) before the end of 2013.
I’m in control of my health! I’m consistently making good food choices and exercising regularly. I may even have run that 5K. Catch me if you can!
I’ve finished two WIPs — great stories that have been sitting around and just need a few weeks out of my 52 to see the light of day.
I’ve finished (and sold!) at least one more new novel! 2012 was not exactly a banner year for me in the producing-new-words department. 2013 will see a huge jump in my lifetime word count, putting me closer to that magic 500,000 word mark.
I’ve made many cosmetic updates to my home environment. You know all those little things about your house that bug you and would be easy and inexpensive to fix, but always seem to get put aside? That tiny missing piece of molding? New paint needed in the dining room? Loose knob on one of the kitchen cabinets? That stuff is all taken care of in 2013. Sweet!
I’ve nurtured my relationships and friendships. Because without friends and family, life is pretty bleak.
One of the fun things about being a writer is breathing life into your characters. Imagining a back story, figuring out their goals, their appearance, and so much more. But my all time favorite act is creating the hero and heroine’s family and friends.
Often times, I don’t have to think too hard. They present themselves rather quickly and can be scene-stealers if I let them. Early on, I usually know if the heroine has siblings and whether they get along. Or maybe her parents were overbearing and smothering. Perhaps, they weren’t there at all and she’s been raised by someone else. Same goes with friends, colleagues and pets. My stories have them all!
Coming soon to a story near you!
When I think of my favorite books and television shows, I can’t think of a single one where the main characters don’t have family or friends in their lives. Often times, their loved ones can push their buttons like no one else. And on the flip side, no one understands them better than anyone else.
Imagine how dull and boring Little Women would have been if Jo didn’t have her sisters. Or how lifeless Stephanie Plum’s adventures would be without Lula or Grandma Mazur. Even Ebenezer Scrooge, super curmudgeon, has his faithful nephew Fred to anchor him to his past through his beloved sister Belle.
On the other hand, the lack of a solid support system is just as telling and can define the character’s actions and reactions. There are a lot of orphans in books – Oliver Twist, Cinderella, Harry Potter, James Bond, Heidi, Clark Kent, Jane Eyre, and Frodo Baggins – to name only a small fraction!
Granted all of the characters I mentioned rose above their orphanhood and went on to perform good and heroic deeds. But none of them did it alone (thank you Ron Weasly and Hermione Granger).
And that brings me back to family and friends (aka secondary characters). For me, secondary characters are just as important. Like in real life, we would all be lonely if we had no friends or family. We are social beings by nature. Even if your character is mostly a loner, there is usually someone (either human or animal) in his or her life.
If you need inspiration, <ahem>, borrow bits and pieces of personality from your family and friends. Now that we’re in the full swing of the holiday season, there are more people than ever around. If you don’t mind the crowds, people watch!
So remember, when you’re creating your world, populate it with more than just the hero and heroine. Otherwise, all you’ll have is an empty and lifeless world.
Who are your favorite supporting characters? And without naming names, have you ever “borrowed” traits from friends and family?
I spent the weekend in Maine with some friends. The trip had been planned since February and I had been excited to go all along but as the weekend neared I began to grow panicky. Why you ask? Was I afraid of bad weather? Not getting along with my friends? Spending hours in a car with little to do to occupy myself?
No to all of those things. I was panicky because I knew I wasn’t going to bring my laptop. Since I decided I wanted to be a writer I have written every single day without fail. And now that I have deadlines looming and characters begging for their stories to be told I really feel the pull to get the words out of me. But I was going away and while I can have hours of fun writing I know that my friend and her sister wouldn’t get as big of a kick out of it as I would. I told myself I could write anytime. That writing would always be there for me. Time with my friends might be limited. So I left it home.
The world wasn’t going to end without it. And even though when I woke up early some mornings with my fingers itching to add to my WIP I was okay without it, because I ended up needing to take a step back. I always think of myself as a panster, but in reality I’m not. Before I start writing I know how every book I write is going to end, the major turning points and the black moment. And each day I sit down to write I always have a plan for what I going to put down on the page. But lately in a rush to get my word count up I was writing things that had no purpose, scenes that didn’t move the story forward. I’m not a girl who spends a lot of time editing after the book is done, so it’s important for me to get it right the first time. (I know some people say it’s okay for your first draft to suck and it is okay for some people, but I’m not that kind of writer and if you aren’t then that’s okay too.)
It was good for me to take a step back because it allowed me to think of my book as a whole instead of just scenes slapped together. Instead of reaching for my laptop I lay in bed and thought about all the little things that make a book good. I want my book to be good. So I knew I had to dig deeper and find what it was missing.
On the second morning of the trip after a very fun day of shopping and a night of watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies my mind was clear enough to actually plot the second half of my book scene by scene.
I grabbed my phone and typed myself the world’s longest memo. I knew that I wasn’t going to add any new words to my WIP but I knew that when I did I wouldn’t have to rack my brain for words to put on the page. In the end even though I didn’t spend anytime actually writing I managed to get a lot of work done.
Now I’m back home enjoying my last free bit of weekend before I have to return to work. My trusty laptop is with me but I have decided that I’m not going to write a single word until tomorrow. My vacation from writing hasn’t ended yet.
So what about you? Do you ever allow yourself to take a step back? Are you really a panster? Like Maine? Ever see that giant liquor store on the highway in New Hampshire? Any and all comments are welcome.
Oh and I am heading back to Maine next week (a different part) with my family and I am lugging this bad boy with me. I missed it!
I went out with my two BFFs on Friday. No, we didn’t go night clubbing. We did what every bunch of twenty-seven year olds do when we have a free Friday. We spent the day at Ikea pretending like we lived there.(Side note: Don’t wear really cute shoes to Ikea. The store is huge and by the time I got to the check out counter I was walking like a Zombie.)
When I spoke to my mother later that night and told her what we did that day this is how our conversation went.
“Why did you girls go to Ikea?”
“Because it was raining and our original plans to spend a boozy day at a winery had to be changed.”
“So you went to Ikea instead?” I could hear the disbelief in her voice like we spent the day digging ditches instead of shopping for housewares.
“Yeah. We actually had a lot fun. And I got a sixteen piece cutlery set, a kitchen timer, a huge umbrella and a plastic bag holder thingy for thirteen dollars!”
“You guys are weird.”
Like a lot of mothers and daughters my mother and I are rarely on the same page about anything. I like to go to Ikea. She likes to dance on tables.
When I told her I wanted to be a writer she kind of nodded and smiled. And told me that everybody she knew wanted to be a writer, which was code for don’t get your hopes up. I knew she wondered why I didn’t take up a more adventurous hobby like base jumping or pole dancing. I knew she wondered why I would rather spend hours holed up by myself making up people than actually be with people. Or why I was so dedicated to going to my monthly writer’s group meetings even though there are very few people there my age.
So when I actually got a contract with a publisher she actually heard of I thought she would finally get it. That everything I had done for the past two years lead up to that moment. Oh she was proud. She told everybody within a thousand mile radius who would listen. But when I talked to her on the phone the very next day the first thing she said was…
“We need to talk about you getting married and having me some grandbabies.”
I went stonily silent. I knew if she weren’t fifty miles away I would have cheerfully choked the breath out of her. She still didn’t get it.
But it’s not just her who’s guilty.
My father, brother, uncle and I were talking at a family barbecue a couple of weeks ago when my father said…
“I keep telling her don’t quit her day job. Because she can’t move back in here when that book doesn’t sell. You know the only people that are going to buy it and me her mother and her two friends.”
The three men broke out in a fit of loud chuckles.
Asses! All of them!!!!
“Hey!” I responded, wondering if I could get away with throwing a drink at my father and live to tell about it. “I have at least six friends who will buy my book. So there!”
Don’t have to worry about anything going to my head with a family like that.
But it’s not just my parents who are like that. My friend had a really great job interview this week and was super excited about the prospect of working in a different part of the world for her. When she told her parents about it instead of being encouraging like she hoped they said,
“Yeah whatever, keep looking.”
It only takes a few words to crush somebody’s dreams. They poo pooed on hers and really bummed her out. Apparently the vision they had for her wasn’t the same one she had for herself. They probably also want her to stop putzing around settle down and have some grandbabies for them too. Her parents don’t get her either. They don’t see that what she wants for herself is drastically different from what they want for her.
And of course because they are older they think that they are always right.
What’s the point of this? I’ll tell you. For some of us, or for me at least, I thought when I grew up, moved out and started paying my own bills I thought my parents would magically understand me. That they would start treating me like the grown up I finally was. But it didn’t happen. And for those of you who think you understand your kids you don’t. Not really. Because while they are an extension of you they aren’t you. And they can’t possibly see everything the way you do.
My mother’s favorite saying is, “No matter how old you get you’re still my child and I will forever treat you that way.”
And that’s okay because if she started treating me like a rational free thinking adult I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.
So when your kid comes to you telling you that they want to be a writer, astronaut or rock star don’t just pretend to be supportive think back to when you were a kid when your parents just didn’t understand you.
Your turn! Were you and your parents ever on the same page? Are you and your kids miles apart? Did you ever want to be anything crazy when you were a kid? Do you understand your parents a little bit more now that you are a parent of your own. Any and all comments are welcome.