Wednesday, July 30, 2014

First Friday, Anyone?

When I'm not busy being a weepy pile of I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing, I'm doing things like this:


I'm kind of starting to loathe that photo of me. I should really stop looking at it.

So this is going down Friday night from 7 to 10 p.m. on August 1st. We'll be at Arts & Letters, a place I can honestly say I've never been to because I don't frequent downtown Springfield often. Downtown is an interesting place and chalk full of neat things to see, but I'm scared to go there alone. I will walk miles in the woods, but I'm terrified of the concrete jungle. Anyway, because Arts & Letters is a gallery, I have the suspicion that it's well-lit and there will be plenty of people I know. As long as I stay away from dark alleys, I should be fine.

You know about me (and way too much about my neurotic tendencies), so let's learn about those other faces shining out of that banner, shall we?

About Ellen Harger:
I’m a word gypsy and emotion sifter, writing about broken condoms, unhappy marriages and women’s issues at the chick-lit end of women’s fiction and women’s fiction end of chick-lit.

I believe great storytelling asks readers to confront what they've stuffed deep down. We all get blinded by emotion and stuck in ruts. In June 2005, I woke up to a wall of fire. Watching the flames eat away my life was my biggest turning point in life.

My first novel Strong Enough released February 2013. My sophomore work, The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones, debuted in July.

About Wanda Kay Fittro:
Wanda Kay Fittro lives in the beautiful Ozark Mountains in Southwest Missouri. Born and raised in a small town community, gave her an appreciation for that lifestyle, and provides the inspiration for her novels. A love affair with books started early on while reading Nancy Drew by flashlight under the bed covers. She won the prestigious Missouri Literary Festival Reader's Choice award in 2011 for her Civil War short story One, Two, Three.

About Beth Carter:
Beth Carter writes in many genres but has had a long-standing goal of writing a novel. Her dreams are coming true this summer with her new release, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. This women's fiction is filled with characters you'll love and some you'll love to hate. Her novel is laced with humor, suspense, and of course, romance.

Carter also writes children's picture books, short stories and haiku. She's also at work on a non-fiction book.

Previously a bank vice president and former marketer, she happily shed her corporate suits and heels to write from home.

We also have an event page if you want to tell us you're coming. There will be candy. Lots of candy. And there are boobies on one of my book covers, so there's that.


Adding a Google map is beyond my magic, so you're on your own to find it, but I hope we have a good turnout. Art Walk apparently (see, I've never been to this either) incorporates lots of art and walking around downtown. It sounds fun, even if I'll be at a table most of the night. A table covered with candy and book covers (there's nothing better). Flock to us, bibliophiles.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Quitting-est Quitter Who Ever Quit Quitting

I've recently had very good  news I'll share with you soon. Very good news is always awesome and wonderful. I can't wait to tell you about it.

Until then, I'm starting on kind of a dark note.

There's been a lot going on this year. It's been one blow after another (although there's been some good too). It seems like I've barely had time to catch my breath between crappy situations. I'm always behind and people are starting to get irritated by it. Essentially, I'm failing at life. I start thinking, okay, where can I cut corners? What can I do to simplify?

Because if I don't simplify, I'm going to go insane. I can't do everything, even though I want to. I have to do the things that are most important if I'm going to keep my head above water.

One of the things I've really had to cut back on was writing. You can tell. There are little notes throughout the blog this year (and far fewer blog posts than in recent history) stating my lack of ability to get anything written. I've been two one writer's group meeting and the write-in in January. I've written a little over 150,000 words this year, whereas last year I was at nearly 300,000 at this point.

I've allowed that maybe my pantsing ways have put me in that position. They might make it a little harder to stay on track. I've chalked it up to writer's block, but I usually have a fairly solid idea of where the stories are going in spite of being a pantser. Sometimes I think about and resent that I'm not going to the library every night, sitting in one of those uncomfortable chairs at the private cubicle, pounding out the next great romance novel. I've barely managed to finish one book and one novella. I'm so far behind, I hate myself a little. It doesn't seem like I can get anything to stay on target.

There are days when I've very much considered putting my laptop away. For good. Well, except for a hearty game of Candy Crush and the latest Facebook gossip. What would it be like to be one of those people who gets out in the sunshine and doesn't worry about the next turn in a novel? I was one of those people once. I'm sure it wasn't all that bad. There's no more stress about finishing a book. No more crazy characters talking to you--demanding time away from your loved ones. The dog might even thank me, because he wouldn't have to share lap space with a computer anymore. Seriously, I could work on my physique instead of throwing myself farther into the clutches of carpal tunnel.

fcl1971
I might actually sort through old clothes we can't wear. I could rearrange furniture. I could do...anything. Oh, the possibilities... One little detour. One little step away from authorhood. It's so hard, that mean little voice whispers. Marketing is just evil and think about how tingly your hands are by the end of the day. Your elbow hurts all the time. You can't even stand to extend your finger sometimes. Your eyes hurt from staring at the screen for hours while you don't type anything because your brain isn't even trying any more.

The voice has a point.

The voice makes good use of excuses, of laziness, fear, sadness, and magnifies it all. The voice tells me it's okay to quit because what I'm doing is hard and I've already done enough, haven't I? I didn't get into this business to make a fortune, just to tell a story or two.

Sad fact is, writing hasn't been as escape for me this year the way it was in the past. This year it's been troublesome, a bit of a burden at times. I don't know how to get from point A to point B on the two books I'm looking at right now. All I know is,

I can't quit.

Those characters, they're depending on me. They need a happily-ever-after (or for now). No one is going to give it to them unless I do it. Could I give up on Tell Heckmaster when his brothers are happy? No more than I could will my heart to stop beating. I care too much about all the Heckmasters and their brides. I care too much about the fate of the farm the characters in my historical are taking care of.

I care too much to be a quitter. Even when it's hard, even when I don't know if I'm on the right path. I may have to go in and delete half of what I've written and forge a new path. It may take another year. But I'm going to do it, because I owe it to them. I owe it to me, because I know I can do it, no matter how frustrating. Not everything worth doing can be easy. So I'm going to finish, even if it almost kills me.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Finally a Finish

On the last episode of "What's Allison Up To (I Bet It's Not Writing)?", you saw us at Ha Ha Tonka State Park. There's been a lot happen since then.

I had a doctor's appointment last week where he none-too-casually says, "Yup, that's carpal tunnel." And also he said something that made me laugh. Or at least, I wanted to laugh when he said, "I'm sure you think it's severe" and I'm going, so you're saying it's not severe, I just think it is, because that's what I really wanted to hear. I kind of almost wanted him to tell me I was crazy and fine. Sadly, he didn't. Anyway, it's bad, but it's not bad-bad-bad, so that's good. He didn't say, "Stay away from computers, lady", so that's both good and bad. What's so bad-bad about it is that it is in both hands, which makes for really awkward sleepy night-night time (that's what I call bedtime when I'm talking to PeeWee). See, they tell you to wear these huge gobbing braces to prevent flexion of the wrists at night. And to be honest, the braces work wonders. Since last Wednesday, I haven't had numb hands, which is really handy (pun!) when I'm trying to slide the alarm turner-offer on my phone to shut the alarm up. I can't blame zombie fingers for dropping the phone any more in the mornings. When it happens now, it's because I'm just a klutz. I'm supposed to have a nerve test and then go back next month, although I can honestly assure them I definitely know my nerves work when I smash the crap out of my fingers (figuratively, not literally, because ewww).

As you all know, I've been working semi-hard on the contemporary western romance for the box set my friend D'Ann invited me to write. Well, Friday night, I sat at home and wrote my little heart out only to stop shy of my word count goal of 20k by about 1500 words. Saturday, my car (gee, not my car!) needed some work (it was trying to overheat and spewing anti-freeze everywhere) needed some work, so while the spousal unit did that, I finished Always, Cowboy.

I haven't read through it, haven't done any editing, haven't done anything except plowed ahead writing. It probably doesn't make sense. I know it could use another scene to clear up some stuff that happened toward the end. I'm going to go over it, check for consistencies, but woohoo! I finally managed to finish something else this year. I'm even 5,000 words ahead of the word count goal on the word tracker program this year. Yay!

Now, if I could wrangle Tell into behaving and getting finished, we'd really be on to something.



Friday, July 18, 2014

Guest Post - The Top 10 with Wanda Kay Fittro

I have another great author friend with a new release. Welcome Wanda Kay Fittro (her book is special because it came out on my birthday. And it's also a great read!)

Thanks Allison for letting me take over your blog today. I hope all your readers aren't too disappointed.

Let's get the self promotion out of the way and then to the fun stuff.

My debut contemporary romance novel is now out and about. Beyond The Horizon is available  here http://bit.ly/1itl3rw from my publisher Breathless Press and here http://amzn.to/Wim1wI from Amazon (check out the great reviews I've received so far) and soon from Barnes and Noble.

Here's the blurb:

When Katie Sullivan makes the hasty decision to run away from an abusive relationship, she has no clue what is ahead of her. She only knows it has to be better than her life up to now. Her boyfriend is a powerful drug dealer who will stop at nothing to get her back. She knows too much. Car trouble leaves her stranded in the middle of Kansas, with little money, and a growing fear of failure.

Widower Josh Warner works and lives on an elderly couples’ farm. He juggles the responsibilities of raising his young son and his passion for the rodeo. Unable to let go of his deceased wife’s memory and on the rebound from a misguided affair, he has no desire for another relationship. But, when Katie appears out of nowhere, everything changes.

Against all reason, Katie and Josh find themselves drawn to each other. If the past catches up to them, their newfound passion, and their lives could be in jeopardy. Can their love win against the evil headed their way?

Now the fun stuff. I was asked to make a top ten list by another blog, but it never got posted.

They probably wanted serious writerly top ten stuff and I went the other way.

I love David Letterman's Top Ten Lists, especially when they poke fun at politicians or famous people who do stupid things. When it was suggested I write one, I jumped at the chance. Seems like a simple premise. After all, Letterman's staff comes up with one every day. Turns out, it's not that easy. Then again, writing isn't a walk in the park either. So here goes. I hope you enjoy.

Top Ten Reasons I Became a Writer

10. You can stay in your pajamas all day.

9. People will think you're rich and famous even though you can only afford Ramen Noodles.

8. You can be a heavy drinker and people will think it's just part of the creative process.

7. The dark circles under your eyes are acceptable because you stare at a computer screen all day.

6. Everyone thinks you are a great speller but you would be lost without spell check.

5. If you're a romance author, writing erotic sex scenes is expected and encouraged.

4. You can deduct things like paper and ink off your taxes.

3. It's okay to look up murder weapons on Google.

2. You are allowed to hear voices in your head without being labeled insane.

And the number one reason I became a writer

1. I've got nothing better to do.

Wanda Kay Fittro lives in the beautiful Ozark Mountains in Southwest Missouri. Born and raised in a small town community, gave her an appreciation for that lifestyle, and provides the inspiration for her novels. A love affair with books started early on while reading Nancy Drew by flashlight under the bed covers. She won the prestigious Missouri Literary Festival Reader's Choice award in 2011 for her Civil War short story One, Two, Three.

You can find and follow her at:
http://awritercalledwanda.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wandakayfittro
https://twitter.com/WandaFittro

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Guest Post - The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones by Ellen Harger

Good Thursday morning, y'all. Welcome my friend and wonderful writer, Ellen Harger to the blog today! Her new release The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones is coming out on Monday!

Pushing My Comfort Zone

Where’s Dr. Ruth when you need her? I struggle writing sex scenes. Perfectly choreographed sex in books and movies drives me nuts. When the scene is well written, I forgive many fantastical elements, but considering the statistical evidence about sexual experience (ranging over many questions), I consider easy sex in fiction to be akin to body image issues. Size zeros and perfect sexual encounters are just so normal. That’s one reason why I like reading and writing contemporary and women’s fiction. My characters ask difficult questions.


Wait a minute, when did this become sex therapy for sex scenes in fiction?


So one day, as she and I were getting know Mr. Write, I asked Gillian what she liked? You know, girl talk. What stimulated her after the heady euphoria of initial attraction? She didn’t know. After college and marriage, how could she not know? I allowed the stereotype of college sex to be mostly mindless nubile bodies filled with hormones on speed. Gillian just followed her curiosity through a couple of serious relationships and didn’t ask questions.


Then there was marriage. First it was euphoria of finding someone, then newlywed-bliss. This was where it got touchy. If she and her ex-husband, Evan, didn’t communicate about the little things in a relationship, there was no way they talked about sex. Gillian had never dared to answer,
By chapter fourteen, Gillian was settled into her new life when Mr. Write wrote his first blog post, amplifying her desire. In this scene, Gillian wanted to write a sexy blog post to Mr. Write. Since she’s aroused, it was a good time to  delve into "What do I want?"


Older and excited, she pushed her boundaries by looking for fantasy on the internet. First she searched for erotica, but like Goldie Locks, found the first option wanting--or in her case, repetitious and perfect. Next she tried self-pleasure.

OH BOY. I wrestled with the scene from natural shyness. And frankly, it’s as difficult to write about the scene as it was to edit it! Her sexuality wasn’t the central quest of the story, but I couldn’t ignore a more confident Gillian being honest with herself. So, we both had to look. I looked at sex toys and blushed, I can admit it!


I found a site that used words well, read a few descriptions and knew I must accept the challenge. Time for super-duper creative writing mode.


   Site after site, I search for a thrill until an unusual word catches my attention: recipes. On a sex toy site.
   The accompanying images are benign, a classy overlay. Only one is sexual. At the top is a starfish in a rustic frame, then a vase of tiger lilies, a pair of elegant low heels, and finally a woman draped in black threads. I study the last image. I can’t tell what she’s wearing. It drapes around her shoulders, cinches her at the waist, and then wraps into a thin thong. It’s gracefully erotic.
    It’s not just an advertisement. The story describes how to satisfy your partner with an anal vibrator. My face burns red but I can’t stop. Words I hate don’t slow me down. I’m aroused and it shocks me.
   Mortified I close the tab and erase my browser history. I can’t honestly like that.
But I do. I locate the site again and read the same page. It’s just as thrilling. After checking out a few other product descriptions, I know what interests me. Maybe I’m not so vanilla after all.


Of course, after writing the scene I worried people would presume it was about me. Worry. Doubt. Fear. All of these words get in a writers way. This was Gillian’s scene so I polished her curiosity until we were both satisfied.


Writing both her visits to the sex store was easier. Her embarrassment and expectations flowed from my fingertips. Then in chapter fifteen, she buys a toy. Thank goodness it was a traditional vibrator but she returned home self-conscious and inhibited. That meant I had to help her out again. In the tub. I swear. Then I remembered Gillian’s question--What do I want?


Intimacy with herself.


For too long, sex was hormones and instincts, gagging her mind and sticking it in the closet. Bathed in lavender salts and candlelight, she relaxed. Extending her leg, she admired the curves in the flickering shadows. Water caressed her, arousing her confidence with touch until a serene woman returned to her bedroom to enjoy the desires of her body.


    The floor tom reverberates deeply, leading me through the song. Only the rhythm can penetrate. I writhe as the music creeps. I can’t hear the lyrics but specific words heighten my arousal—darling, lips, hips, tightly, inhale, body, slowly, comes.
    Electric poetry charges through me as my mind dissolves and I shudder beneath the sheets.


While sex scenes can be difficult to write, masterbation scenes may be worse, but I was writing about Gillian’s emotional experience of accepting, then letting go.

About the Author:
I’m a word gypsy and emotion sifter, writing about broken condoms, unhappy marriages and women’s issues at the chick-lit end of women’s fiction and women’s fiction end of chick-lit.

I believe great storytelling asks readers to confront what they've stuffed deep down. We all get blinded by emotion and stuck in ruts. In June 2005, I woke up to a wall of fire. Watching the flames eat away my life was my biggest turning point in life.

My first novel Strong Enough released February 2013. My sophomore work, The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones, debuts this July.

Find us at: ellenharger.com. Contact me at ellen@ellenharger.com.