There’s a New Scribe in Town

Suze here, with some big news for Scribe fans.  Guess what?  There’s a new Scribe in town, and we could not be more thrilled to have her join us.  (Never fear!  Viv will be rejoining us from time to time).  Our newest Scribe is . . . drumroll, please! . . . Thea Devine!  Please give Thea a big welcome.

Greetings, everyone, happy new year, and welcome to my first blog at the 7 Scribes. I’m so happy to be here, and I’m so appreciative of your kind comments and responses to my interview.   (Click here if you missed it.)  I do beg your pardon for not commenting that day — we had a death in the family, our beautiful, communicative, joyful and much adored mini-doxie passed away that Thursday.  She was twelve and a half years old, originally my mother-in-law’s dog whom we took in when she was a two year old yappy, snappy, untrained puppy.  She grew to be the The Best Dog ever over the ten years we were privileged to love her.                                                                         

She is by no means the first pet we’ve lost.  Five years ago, our elegant calico, Emily Bronte Cat passed away (yes, there was a Charlotte, an orange tabby fraternal twin).  As we said good bye to her, I promised to memorialize her by putting her in a book.  Which I did.  Emily was a major character in “Satisfaction,” (Kensington Brava, 2004) and “Satisfaction” was the book about which a friend called me and said, “Your writing is different.  Was it deliberate?”                                                                

I had no idea what I had done to make my writing “different.”  I’d gone back and now again and looked at writing from my high school and college days, and I could see there were vestiges of how I write now, in the rhythm and juxtaposition of the words especially.                                                                                                                               

And it became clear to me (this is in response to Casey’s comment) that the more you write, the more you figure things out — like you don’t need twenty descriptive sentences to go from here to there when two will do, or there is one word that could take the place of four or five.  Or there’s a more direct way to get to the crux of a scene.                                                                                                                               

Back when I started, we were writing 125,000 word manuscripts.  There was lots of room for description, different points of view and subplots.  It was also a daunting amount of white paper (this was pre-computer) –and eventually blank screen to fill.  Books were denser then, rife with details, spilling over with emotion and multiple plots.                                              

But now we’re writing for a speed read generation.   Time is of the essence, even in romance, and we need to get from here to there in the most direct way.  (Then again, the response to “Downton Abbey” kind of disproves that.)                                

My writing is different in some ways.  I used to love to luxuriate in the imperfect tense — a lot of “was”s and “were”s — and I adored conjunctions — “and”s, and” but”s —  until I realized that the line editor was cutting them right and left because it made the story sound more immediate.  And more direct.                        

Lesson learned.  So I’m trying to be more economical with my words while still maintaining my voice and the essence of the way I write.  I ask myself if there’s a better way to phrase things, another way to get at what I want to say.  My goal is to make sure the line editor has no work to do when s/he gets my manuscript (hardly ever happens).                                                                                     

It does make things more challenging.                                                                               

My advice always is to keep writing and don’t let external things deflect you.  It’s a solitary business and you have to learn to love your work, to trust yourself, and to retain your power over your fictional worlds and words.                       

By the way, everyone loved “Satisfaction” and Emily the cat.  I’ve reread it because I still don’t know what I did in it that was so different. But (oh those “but”s) I keep trying to figure it out.                                                                                   

What do you think?  Has your writing changed?  Have you found that by writing more you learn more?  Have you used a beloved pet in a story? 

Thea's most recent book, The Darkest Heart
Thea Devine is the author whose books defined erotic historical romance.  She’s the author of a dozen novellas and twenty-five historical and contemporary romances, the latest of which is The Darkest Heart  (Gallery, June 2011).  She’s currently working on a sequel.

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24 thoughts on “There’s a New Scribe in Town”

  1. Hi Thea!! Welcome to the Scribes. It’s so exciting to have you join us! And thanks for answering my question. I’m so sorry to hear about your dog. Sadly, I went through the same thing several times last year. We lost both our dalmatians (both 13 years old) and my 18 year old cat. It never gets any easier! And I have used my two remaining cats in my first book Ascension.

    1. Hi Casey — I just read through posts and I’m heartsore at how many of us have lost beloved animals recently. But that’s part of what we bear when we bring a pet into our lives. I loved putting Emily in “Satisfaction” as kind of a conscience and a sounding board for the heroine. We now have two other cats, floppy sloppy, ever purring Garfield lookalike, Gehrig, with the pugnacious chin; and type A maile Joey, who is constantly butting heads with my type A husband. Honestly, when he swipes at John’s ankles, he’s really “low-fiving” him.

  2. Hi Thea! Welcome! Losing pets is so hard. We just recently lost our cat who we got 15 years ago just after our wedding. It was so hard, because I would keep expecting her to be there and she wasn’t. Anyway, I’m looking forward to your posts! — Jamie

    1. Oh, I so know that feeling of the missing presence. I took Midgie out every night at 11pm — and every night I’ve turned to sofa spot before I think that she’s gone. I just was gaga over this dog. So, a hiatus on pets for bit (we have two cats — see above) — but I have feeling that won’t last long — my husband has always had pets and can’t be without one for long.

  3. It’s great to see that you, Thea, have joined a great blog. I have enjoyed reading your work for a few years now. I lost a beloved dog last year so I know what you are going through. They are more than a pet. They are a member of the family. They leave a whole that at some point will get filled but a small part of your heart will always miss them. Look forward to reading your posts. – Lynn

  4. Hi! Welcome to Scribehood! I’m sorry to hear about your dog. My husband and I had to put our beloved Skye to sleep almost four years ago. We adopted her and another cat the day we moved in together. She was only 8, but had kidney failure. It was the right decision, but a terrible one. And it’s the only time I’ve ever seen my husband cry, which made it worse for me. We still miss her dearly.

    1. Our Emily had kidney failure too, so we had to make a decision about her quite quickly. And, as you all have posted, it leaves such a hole in the dyanmic of the family and in your heart. It does console me that we can write about them, and keep them alive in a way that others can experience the things we loved about them.
      thea

  5. The divine Miss Thea! What a treat! I’m sorry about your pup…such a pure love pets give us! I think the more I write, the more aware I am of my pitfalls. It’s not that writing is easier now (in some respects, it’s harder), but it’s easier to see my flaws and know how to correct them. Knowing and doing are different, alas. : )

  6. Hi Thea! You are a welcome addition here at the Scribes. I so look forward to your posts and all that you have to offer by way of wisdom and experience. That’s quite a resume you have there!

    In answer to your question, my writing has changed dramatically over the past six or seven years since I started writing and consistently learning the craft. On line workshops, conferences, working with critique partners and editors, and just a ton of practice has made my writing cleaner and more concise. Revision was my biggest challenge because it was hard for me to see the mistakes. You only know what you know, right? Once editors and critique partners pointed out those misplaced modifiers, passive voice problems, and dreaded overused words like “just”, I could start to see the patterns of where I was going wrong and I could start to fix them. I also learned how to tell a story. Michael Hague’s workshop on story structure put a lot of pieces of the puzzle together for me. Once I understood how to write toward the turning points, my sagging middle issues resolved and getting from the beginning to the end became much easier. I also found that when I started writing in first person, my grasp of deep POV and the balance of internal and external dialogue found it’s way into my stories. Everything just clicked into place.

    This past year, I fiinally felt like my writing had evolved and matured enough to be print worthy and so far, so good, my readers are happy with the end result. I’ve got a lot more to learn and suspect my writing will change and grow with each successive novel I write, but I’m encouraged by the ease in which the words now flow, and relieved that the revision process is not quite so painful. Thanks again for joining us, Thea.

  7. I am so sorry about your loss of a beloved pet, I lost one of my dogs this year also. But on a brighter note Miss Thea I am looking forward to reading your post on the the Scribes. I am thrilled to see you join this fine group! May 2012 be a happy new year for all as we welcome you and I personally can not wait to read what you have to share with us.
    Bonnie Fahy

  8. Hi Thea and welcome to the Scribes! Very sorry to hear about your loss. In 2010 we lost our cat who was 14 and our daughter’s dog, who was 13. I think of both often and miss them. Wacko – the dog – will star in an upcoming story of mine. In my current ms, my dog, Bear is featured. I love stories where one of the main characters has a pet. You can tell a lot about a person from how they treat their four-legged family members. As for the changes in writing, I’m just a babe at the art of writing when compared to so many, but already I’m seeing subtle changes. As you said, learning how to say it better, faster and stronger.

  9. Hi Thea,
    Delighted to see you join Scribes. I will look forward to reading your weekly contribution. I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved dog. They do become members of the family. Has my writing changed? Yes, hopefully for the better. I forge ahead and hope for a bright future. Thank you for sharing with us.

  10. HI everyone. THanks for the warm welcome. I’ve actually been writing replies all morning, but none of them have posted. So you’ve learned one thing about me — I’m hapless when it comes to technology. I’m a little heartsick how many of us have lost beloved pets. But we can write about them, which has to be some consolation.

    thea

  11. Wow, Thea, I’ve been around your books for years (not to make you see old, btw), but to acknowledge your presence in the publishing world.

    I hadn’t realized how much my writing had changed (actually more like it improved), until I dragged out the second story I ever wrote (last year( to polish up to send to my publisher. Wow. Lots of unnecessary words taken out, lots of descriptions, feelings, etc. put in. After I finish my current two works, I’m going to tackle my first story, which I really like, and I feel like it has to be told, but boy is it going to need work!

    Good luck with your books.

    1. Callie — I’ve been around for years. Did you see my mention of — (gasp) blank paper? Isn’t interesting to read things you wrote years ago and see how much it’s “you” and how differently you view the writing?

      thea

  12. Welcome to the Scribes, Thea! One of my WIPs features a tuxedo cat named Moxie who looks and acts suspiciously like my Elliecat, and another WIP has a beagle named Lulu (my grandfather always had beagles, because he hunted rabbits with them). My son’s guppies are probably jealous, but fish just don’t make the cut when it comes to lovable pets! So sorry about your Midgie, and for everybody else’s losses too.

  13. Hi, Thea! So excited to have you here. Welcome, Scribe Sister. 🙂

    Losing a pet is hard. I feel your pain. But the joys they bring outweigh the pain for sure.

    Great post on how and why fiction has changed so much. Gave me a lot to think about…I too,like those “and”s and “but”s. 🙂

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