Author Archive for Erica Hayes

16
Jul
10

Guest author — Isabel Roman

Please wlecome Isabel Roman, author of the Dark Desires of the Druids series from Ravenous Romance!

Alternate History

Isabel RomanI love alternate history books. Harry Turtledove’s Southern Victory Series? Read him, though I couldn’t get into the whole alien thing. Fatherland by Robert Harris? One of my favorites—and oh my God, there’s a movie?! 1994 TV movie I didn’t know about? Ohh, and with Rutger Hauer…how big a crush did I have on him during the 80s? *sigh* Now then, where can I get this little known movie?? Star Trek and Stargate alternate universes? All over them.

I don’t know what it is about the What Ifs of the storytelling, but I’ll read just about anything that has to do with changing something in history and seeing the timeline through from a different angle.

In my Druids series, I took one aspect from history, the Spanish Inquisition, and twisted it. The Inquisition was no longer about the persecution of religion, but the persecution of Druidic magickers. Those with the ability to do deviltry, those who were different.

Magickers went into hiding, creating small enclaves of safety even as their own hunted them for money and power. By the time these stories take place in the 1880s, they’ve forgotten their past as Druids, lost much of their knowledge, and barely survive in small outposts along poorly populated areas. Those still in power guard their secrets from high society with a paranoia that is only partly contrived.

A long time ago I read a romance about a woman who stepped around a corner in her office building and popped into a different world, effectively switching places with the her from that world. In this one, the wife of the guy she’d been dating is still alive, and yet she’s still having all sorts of erotic thoughts about him. I’d have liked it to be longer, I really wanted to know about the world-building, but I think she eventually traced it to JFK’s assassination. Or in this world, the lack thereof.

Pretty interesting stuff. How would JFK surviving have affected the world? The US? Or even every day people? Would we still live in a Camelot-like place where we believed world leaders could do no wrong? (Please, no hysterical laughing here—no snickering either!) Or mandatory joining of the Peace Corps?

Would the Cold War have ended? Would Regan ever have the opportunity to utter his famous “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall” speech? Would we still send missions to the moon? Would we be on Mars by now?

Ohh, Mars. Imagine. That’s pretty cool. Or a colony on the moon, family vacations there instead of the beach.

What would you like to see? Do? Imagine? What would you change? Where would you take an alternate history?

Isabel is giving away a fabulous prize on one random commenter on her blog tour: A Vice Versa beaded fashion purse, a summer shawl, and a box of Godiva chocolates. So drop a comment here, and be sure to check out her other blog tour dates as follows. The more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win.

7/12/2010 Cherry Mischievous
7/13/2010 Alisha Paige
7/14/2010 You Gotta Read Guest
7/15/2010 Romance With an Attitude
7/16/2010 Romantic Journey
7/19/2010 Domestically Challenged Momma
7/20/2010 Fantasy Pages
7/21/2010 The Cozy Page
7/22/2010 Amber Scott Project
8/5/2010 Romancing the Pen
8/6/2010 Authors by Authors

Dark Desires of the Druids: Sex & Subterfuge available now in bookstores! And be sure to check out Isabel’s free story!

Sex and subterfuge cover artA master magicker, Morgana Blackthorne has a tenuous hold on her following. When a strange Englishman arrives on her doorstep with news of other druidic magickers, and magicker problems, she’s intrigued but suspicious. There hasn’t been contact between the American and European druids in over a hundred years. Plus she has her own worries and doesn’t need the handsome earl adding to them.

Lucien, Earl of Granville, left England to seek out the Blackthorne Druid line and discover what they’ve been up to since contact was lost. Once he and Morgana meet, their mutual attraction distracts him from his purpose. Embroiled in her problems, he finds himself more concerned with her welfare than is practical for a passing affair.

When I invited you into my bed, it never occurred to me I wouldn’t want you to leave.

There are darker forces at work and the hunger of a weak magicker desperate for power. Will Lucien convince Morgana of his true feelings before things spiral out of control? Or will the surrounding subterfuge tear them apart?


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12
Jul
10

Here be dragons

I’ve been working on something new.

No, really. Something new. After writing 4 manuscripts in a row in my Shadowfae Chronicles series, I’m working on something different for a few weeks.

Four manuscripts. That’s 2 years of work, folks. I sold that first one back in 2008, and since then I’ve written nothing but Shadowfae books. Now, I’m having a go at a romantic space opera. Let’s call it Carrie’s book.

So what’s it like, branching out? Well, it’s scary. It’s different. I mean, Carrie’s book is in a totally different style. She’s another first person heroine, but Shadowfae heroines live in a dark, magical, sensually charged world, and their books are full of sounds and smells and sensations. It’s laid on pretty thick, if I may say so myself, but of course in a good way…

Carrie’s world is made of metal and lasers, neural computers and spaceships, guns and money. She’s a hot-blooded woman, sure, but she’s a secret agent. She notices different things to a frightened fairy or a kick-ass banshee or a world-weary succubus. Her point of view is skewed to the right, if you like, where Shadowfae is hanging off the port bow by its claws.

Carrie’s book is more of an action story than a romance. Sure, there’s a romance in it — of course! — but it’s not to the forefront as much. And there’s no second character PoV, so everything’s focused on her. I’ve never written a whole book in one PoV before.

It’s liberating, and fun. But it’s also scary. I don’t have a contract for Carrie. I don’t even know if she’s saleable. But hell, is she fun. I’ll be back to Shadowfae. I’ve got another one cooking already, just in case. But I really hope people like Carrie.

I’m also hoping to get her finished before I head off to Orlando at the end of next week for the Romance Writers of America conference. It’s a long shot, but I’ll give it a go.

Better get back to it, then…

So have you ever tried a totally new genre? Or do you stick to what you know?

10
May
10

Revisions — love or hate?

I’ve been scarce lately. Not just on this blog, but everywhere. I had a couple of months where I didn’t achieve very much in the way of writing, so over the last six weeks or so it’s all caught up with me.

It’s exhausting. But kinda cool. I did a bunch of promo for my latest release, and promo is a huge time muncher. I wrote half a novel, in the time it usually takes me to write 15K, and it doesn’t totally suck. I revised another one for my editor. They were the edits from hell. But I did it, and she loved it.

And now I’m polishing the newly finished one, book #4 in my series, before it goes to the editor. This job never stops, and it’s awesome 🙂

Revising is one of my favourite parts. Okay, I have lots of favourite parts 🙂 starting, finishing, outlining, cutting… yeah, I guess I love it all.

But revising is special. There’s nothing like having a completed manuscript to play with. After having spent months on the nitty-gritty, it’s great to get back to big-picture thinking. Adjusting character arcs to make them sing, tweaking the scenery, sparking up the dialogue, trimming out the fat bits. Often it’s just a line or two that makes all the difference. You can change a character’s entire motivation with a few choice sentences.

It’s fun. It’s empowering. And it’s satisfying when you finally get it right.

When you have deadlines to deal with, revision time is also a huge relief! You can take a breather. You can say to yourself, I have a manuscript. I’ve made it. The worst thing that could happen is that I have to submit it the way it is. And hey — it’s not that bad!

Because it never is ‘that bad’. And that’s why revising is so cool — because every now and then as you read along, you find the little gems you’ve made. You go, no kidding. That paragraph was actually pretty good. That was an awesome simile. That character is really cool. Wow, that’s so sad. Pwhoar, that’s sexy!

Revising is a time for hard work. But it’s also a time for self-congratulation. And we all need that every now and then.

P.S. Anyone looking for some revision tips? I’d recommend — nay, insist on — Margie Lawson’s Deep Editing techniques. The emphasis is on tightening and empowering your writing, rather than structural revisions. Her EDITS system is one of the most intuitive methods I’ve come across for analysing what your writing needs. It’s hard work, but the results are extraordinary. Get thee to Margie.

So what are your thoughts on revisions? Love or hate?

08
Mar
10

the middle of the book. oh, yeah.

I have a new release out this week, which is really awesome 🙂

It’s SHADOWGLASS, book 2 in my Shadowfae Chronicles series. Check the cover. Isn’t it preeetty? You can read a blurb and excerpt at my website.

I’m also 50K into my work-in-progress. About halfway.

Yeah. It’s that time again. Y’all know what I’m talking about. “Eww. This has got to be the worst book EVER. How did I ever believe this was a good idea? What was I thinking? Maybe I’ll just bin the whole thing and start again. Better still, bin the whole thing and DON’T start again. Ever. Because, you know. I suck.”

It’s not good for motivation. Every word I write seems dull or awkward or just plain stupid. My characters seem false and idiotic. The plot I’ve dumped them in seems like a tangled mess.

Of course, none of this is real. I’m just caught in that crazy netherworld called the Middle of the Book.

So I just keep writing. I say to myself, ‘Self, get a grip. This wasn’t a terrible idea when you outlined it two months ago. If it was a terrible idea, your editor wouldn’t have approved it. So it can’t possibly be a terrible idea now. And no, you haven’t forgotten how to write a sentence that sparks, and your vocab hasn’t mysteriously dissolved overnight.

You’re just lazy, self. Lazy and tired, true, but who’s ever not tired? So just stick to the outline — which is GOOD, by the way, same as it was two months ago, so don’t give me any rubbish about restructuring — just harden up and get on with it.”

Yep, I don’t get much sympathy around here 🙂

But it’s times like these when I’m especially glad that I outline my books. Without that to fall back on, digging through the Dreaded Middle would be even more difficult.

So, writers, tell me: how do you cope when you get the yips in the middle? Push on? Have a few days off? Think about another project for a while?

07
Feb
10

the work takes care of itself

I’ve been having a rough time writing lately, and as usual the Other Things To Do Pile is accumulating to the point of insufferable, insurmountable hugeness.

You know that Pile I’m talking about. And believe me, when you’re writing for publication, the Pile only gets bigger and scarier. Edits, copyedits, galleys, promo, interviews, articles, contests to run… It never stops. And it eats into your writing time.

Not to mention that for me this year the holiday season seems to have stretched out into February. I’m still all over the place as far as work routine is concerned. Stuff interrupts me, distracts me, takes me away from my desk.

It’s all important stuff. But it’s not writing. And on the weekend I was having a whine about it (as you do) and wondering aloud when the hell I was ever going to get any work done.

And my husband (bless him) came up with one of his random insightful comments — he’s like that, you see. You have to listen hard or you’ll miss them. One minute he’s cheerfully rambling on about Warnie’s bowling average or the prevailing winds, the next he comes out with some deep philosophical precept, and before you can inhale it’s back to the cricket.

What he said was this: ‘Don’t worry about the work. Worry about the work and it’ll seem impossible. Just get back into your routine, and the work will take care of itself.’

Nice one, love. Granted, he’s a military type, and at work he’s the boss. He turns up at work way too early, tells everyone else what to do, spends the rest of the day being told what to do by his boss, gets home far too late, goes to bed and does it all again the next day. Routine is his thing. It’s what makes his workplace tick.

I don’t have a boss to order my day for me. Or rather, my boss is me. But what my man said still applies. Being at your desk is half the battle. Do things in order. Have goals. Don’t get distracted.

So get on with it, me. And here I go. I’ve made a list, prioritised from holy-shit-I-must-do-this-NOW-or-the-sky-will-fall through to get-around-to-it-when-I-can. And I’m working through it.

Blog post: done. Cool. Check that off. Next: open that file and make some words.

Right. I’m on it. Boo yah 🙂

So what’s your writing routine? Usually for me, it’s get up, read emails, go to the gym, supermarket, shower, work, lunch, work, dinner, then attack the Pile. How do you cope when your routine’s disrupted?

11
Jan
10

Truth is, it just doesn’t matter why you can’t

Okay, so the holidays are over. Now what?

Back to writing, that’s what. Now the visiting and eating and lazing around in front of the cricket are done, gotta get back to work.

But it’s hard. My brain gets accustomed to not being used 🙂 and the little bugger likes it. My usual word goal is 2,000 per day, and I’m struggling to make it. And I should be excited, because I’m starting a brand new manuscript, the fourth book in my Shadowfae series. It’s got an interesting heroine, a self-tortured hero, cool bad guys, a vengeful demon subplot and loads of hot sex.

So why do I feel like watching tv? Or going shopping? Or to the beach? Or milling about in the garden, or walking the dog, or doing anything except sitting in front of my computer and pumping those words out?

I could sit here and analyse. Maybe I’m ‘blocked’, whatever that means. Or I’m tired, sick, over-stressed, hormonal, headachy, need a break, got too much on my mind. Whatever. Boo hoo.

Truth is, it doesn’t matter a damn what my problem is. No amount of navel-gazing will get those words on the page. I’m a writer. I have deadlines. I must write. End of story.

And I need to have faith that my mojo, muse, inspiration, fun factor, writing juice will come back. Just because I’m having a rough few days doesn’t mean I’ll never write well again, or that the story’s broken, or my vocab’s somehow dried up.

I’ve done this before. I can do it again. So I only made 700 words today. So what? It’s better than none. Which is how many I’d have if I gave up and went to the beach.

My point? There’s no value in being hard on yourself when things aren’t going well. Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Persist. Scale your daily goals back if you have to — because goals are there to make you feel good when you achieve them.

Not to make you feel bad when you don’t.

So, yeah. I made 700 words today. Good for me. That’s 700 words closer to the end of this manuscript.

And if I don’t go to the beach tomorrow — if I show up at my computer at 8 am like a good little writer — I’ll make more.

So what do you do when things aren’t going well with your writing? Any coping strategies? I like to break the writing session up into little chunks, and give myself a small reward after each. Does this work for you? What other tips can you share for getting yourself out of a slump?

30
Nov
09

We’re all going to the same place

Everyone’s writing process is different. We have plotters and pantsers and into-the-misters, brainstormers and hang-around-waiting-for-the-muse-to-strikers, technicians and I-dreamed-the-ending-ers, disciplinarians and my-characters-talk-to-me-ers. And no one can (or should!) force their method on any one else — if it works for you, then it works for you.

But look at any published romance book, and you’ll see (I hope!) that a finished romance manuscript has structure. It has character arcs and turning points and goal-motivation-conflicts. It has acts, black moments, crises and climaxes (yeah, those too!). And if it’s a well-written book, you won’t be able to tell which methods the author used.

My point being: some of us take the train, some fly, some walk around in circles — but we’re all getting to the same place.

The other day at my local romance writing group, I was chatting with a writer who was a self-identified pantser. ‘I just get an idea and start writing,’ she said.

Those of you who know me will understand that the very thought of doing this breaks me out in hives 🙂

I shuddered, and thrust my latest outlining notebook in her face — I routinely fill up a 120-pager with handwritten notes before I even start typing the outline, let alone the manuscript — and stammered, ‘But… but… but what about character arcs, and conflicts, and GMCs, and… y’know, the story!!’

She shrugged, and said, ‘Oh, I just fix that when I’m finished.’

After further discussion, we ascertained that we’re actually doing the very same things when we structure a book — I just do it before I begin, while she does it by playing with a completed first draft.

So yeah, everyone’s process is different — but we all go through the same steps, somehow. And I’m a firm believer that no matter what method you choose, or when you choose to do them, there are some structuring steps that just can’t be left out. Eventually, you have to analyse your character arcs/GMCs and romantic turning points, whatever you like to call them, to make sure the romance is realistic and means something to the characters. You have to make sure something is happening in every scene. You have to pay attention to where the manuscript begins, and so forth.

I’m cooking up a brand new book from scratch as we speak, so in true Erica style, I’m up to my neck in spiral-bound notebooks and system cards. Good old outlining. I’ll drop by next week and let you know how it’s going.




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