Saturday, January 5, 2013

Overcoming Obstacles


Many times obstacles in life cause us to stop or find another way. Think of driving down a familiar road when a giant hole and a road closed sign both loom ahead. Your natural response is to retrace your route until you can find an alternate road. Maybe it is an unfamiliar path, instead, then, your reaction could be to return home thinking it’s impossible. Rationalization follows about not needing to go, or never wanting to anyhow, or putting it until another day.

Writing is full of similar blocks. Age used to be my personal block. I now look Desiree Holt as my model because she pumping out sizzling erotica at seventy-six. She refused to stop because of her age or pigeonholed as to what she could write.  

Writer’s block refers to not being able to think of where to go next in the plot. In the movies the blocked writer goes for long walks, meets with his agent and talks about the block. He does everything, but write because he is stymied by the next paragraph. I asked Mellanie Szereto, popular Siren author, what she did when she hit a difficult point in her story. Her response was that she’d work on a different story. At that time, she had almost eleven stories in progress. This worked out well because she signed a contract to produce eight stories.

Bad reviews often make us doubt our skills. Depending on your writing group, mine is wonderful, then, you may not have experienced petty, hateful remarks dressed up as a critical commentary. The bad review might be your first brush with someone not liking your baby. Have a favorite author, go on Amazon and look at their reviews. Heather Graham's new series, The Keepers, has everything from five to one star reviews. A fellow group member advised me any book that has consistently five star reviews is someone who is posting bogus reviews by family and friends. Not everyone will like your book, and that’s okay too. Still, they could have some class about it.

Obstacles are what make a reader continue reading a story to see how it is resolved. That’s the great thing about romance. We guarantee the reader a happy ending making them content to read on to find it. Who hasn’t read dramatic fiction or a mystery to have the heroine killed in an unsatisfactory ending? They term that realistic fiction, but I wonder if the writer didn’t simply write himself in a corner.

Romance writers try harder. Currently, I am reading The Last Bride of Ballymuir by Dorien Kelly, and the book starts out the hero being a convicted terrorist, recently released.  Miss Kelly starts the story with major obstacles that I willing embrace as I read page after page. Your heroes and heroines overcome roadblocks you should too.

Often our worst stumbling blocks are our own families who gobble up our time, and make depreciating comments about our writing. It seemed natural in the Rebel Heartsong, the third book in the Rebel Hearts series that Townsend’s issue is his parents. Here is a small excerpt. Townsend discovers his mother kicked Yvette, his love, off the plantation.

His long legs allowed him to take the steps two at a time until he reached the landing where both his sisters, wrapped in robes and barefooted, stood at the door of their mother’s suite. Her maid, Matilda, tried to turn away the agitated females.

“I said your mother has retired for the night.”

Eileen ordered the woman. “Wake her up. This is important. Yvette is missing.”

Their mother appeared in the doorway still dressed in her finery, showing she’d neither retired nor slept. She waved Matilda out of the way. “Go to bed, girls. Your floozy companion left you to take up with that worthless Macomber. Good riddance to both of them, I say.”

Townsend stood stunned on the last step leading to the landing. Did he even know this woman?  He considered his mother pretentious, arrogant, stiff-necked, and too full of her own value to acknowledge those around her. He never thought she was a malicious liar. Apparently, he’d been mistaken, which made him wondered what else was askew in his world.

“Liar,” he screamed the words, causing his sisters and mother to stare at him. A couple of servants popped out their heads, but seeing it was a family matter disappeared into the dark.  Marcus Sewell barreled out of his suite of rooms nightshirt clad and waving a Navy Colt pistol.

His wife raked his with a contemptuous glance. “Put that gun away.”

Marcus, red-faced, turned to confront his family. “Townsend, how dare you call your mother a liar.”

His heart thumped hard, and the pressure in his head felt like the top could fly off anytime. He had to make his father understand. He had to make everything right again. Raising his right arm, he pointed to his mother who stood proud, attempting to stare him down. No way, he wasn’t ten anymore when his mother was full of let this be our little secret whisperings when she didn’t want Marcus to know something.

“This woman, your wife.” He refused to call her his mother. “Send Yvette packing because one of the guests attacked her in the hall after drinking heavily.”

Emily was the first to speak. “Mother, you didn’t.”

Eileen waded into the discussion. “How could you? She can’t help it because she’s beautiful. You dress her in those horrendous clothes, trying to hide her beauty, but it still shines forth. Rather like a light under a bushel basket. I’ve slapped down my share of ardent suitors, and you still kept me.”

Townsend’s gaze flickered to each family member. His father still said nothing, but he was growing angrier by the moment. His stiffening shoulders and narrowed eyes told the story, along with him placing the pistol on the hall table. His mother, however, thought she could act her way out of this skirmish.

“Oh la, Eileen, you’ll being silly. Of course, we would never throw out family. That girl was just trash.” Her mother gracefully gestured her hand as if to throw something away.

Trash. That’s how her mother thought of her? It might explain why she refused to use her name even once.

Marcus’s voice boomed, stopping all conversation and movement. “Agatha, you go too far. Girls, go to bed.”

His sisters complained little as they left, though he was fully aware they’d eavesdrop at their partially open door as they usually did.

His mother pointed at him. “Be a good boy and go now.” She made a shooing motion with her hands as if he were a lapdog.

No way in hell, that was happening. He stood his ground. Hard to believe he actually went along with his mother for so long. Call it respect. Call it love. He never saw her as a monster until tonight.

Rebel Heartsong will be out in late January in eBook format available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the Secret Cravings website.

Remember to move around your writing obstacles, climb over them, or go through them if need be, but just keep writing.



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