Hey, romance addicts. Let’s welcome author Brenda Whiteside to the Layla Writes Love blog. I am thrilled that Brenda is sharing her experience with transitioning from traditional to self-publishing.
My first contract offer landed in my email inbox in 2009. I jumped around the house like my pants were on fire. Seeing an offer, the thrill of putting your creation out for others to enjoy never gets old. I stuck with my publisher for eleven years.
I whipped the vehicle to the side of the road, put it into “park” and jammed on the emergency brake. I jumped out and joined about 50 other people along the bank of the Madison River inside Yellowstone National Park. We watched a pair of trumpeter swans gliding gracefully through the ripples of water with six cygnets. Although I had seen swans before, rarely had I encountered so many babies with their parents. I’ve not experienced such a sight since.
I relish open spaces, like those found in Yellowstone. Public lands, from parks and forests to wildlife refuges and national monuments, provide sacred spaces to still one’s soul, open one’s heart, and inspire creativity in one’s mind. I am fortunate to live near such special places, and each visit produces a piece of writing or two from the experience.
Other landscapes can stir the imagination, too, such as community parks, botanical gardens, and picturesque farms. Nature’s sights, sounds, and smells open the book of our senses and provide opportunities for creativity to flow.
Two other special outdoor spaces spark creativity for me. One is a ranch located 75 miles from my home, owned by some friends. About three times a year I travel and stay there for an extended period of time. The sage and grass-covered hills, rolling Powder River, and the distant Bighorn Mountains provide solace, and livestock and wildlife encounters bring smiles. Crimson sunrises greet me, and golden sunsets beckon sleep. The quiet relaxes me, and my friends’ generosity brings me joy. The modular guesthouse at which I stay possesses large windows from which one gazes upon the nearby fields and woods. White-tailed deer, fanned-out turkeys, and dancing sandhill cranes abound. I’ve composed many articles, short stories, and book chapters at this scenic and tranquil place.Continue reading “The Outdoors: My Writing Inspiration”→
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?
“Make the story as long as it needs to be.” The words from my writing coach echoed in my mind when I began my journey writing romance and continues to help me with each story as it evolves.
Storytelling is an art form that requires writers to let the tale unfold the way it needs to. Resisting can influence the quality of the final execution. I have been in situations where I tried to pound a story to fit into specific word counts, mainly based on my own capricious standards or a publisher’s guidelines. The story almost always pushed back, leaving me to streamline and coax it into the required length. Sometimes it worked–but not always.
The characters in my romances drive the plot. Besides unfolding how a couple falls or stays in love, I like to portray them doing it while holding down jobs or running businesses. While they may not be flat broke, they still have to get up and put in the work, and their clothes reflect their ambitious and entrepreneurial lifestyles.
Every writer gets inspiration from somewhere, a muse that shouts (or whispers) in their ear, asking for a book. Often, I find mine in songs or from a phrase in a conversation.
I wrote the paranormal, erotic romance, The Man of Her Dreams (soon-to-be republished), based on a song I heard while out driving. The song was Wish You Were Here. It was about a man who had gone away for business and sent his wife a postcard talking about how beautiful the place was. He ended with “Wish you were here!” He died on the way home, and she received the card after his death. In The Man of Her Dreams, the heroine receives a strange card from her husband and then he dies on the way home. Her card ends in mystery and intrigue. I am enjoying re-reading this book as I update it for a publication this summer!Continue reading “How Author Dee S. Knight Finds Inspiration”→
Hey, beautiful ones. I am excited to introduce the author, Ann Raina. Ann lives and works in Germany with cats and a horse. Riding and writing are her favorite hobbies. Her latest series, starting with Twisted Mind, turns around an FBI-agent, his demanding lover, and a bad case getting worse.
In all of her books, she combines romance, suspense, and humorous elements, for no thrilling story can stand without comic relief.
Have you ever gone on a literary pilgrimage? If so, where and why?
Pilgrimage is an important part of my faith. In Islam, traveling to the venerated city of Mecca (known as Hajj) is a sacred journey that provides those blessed with the chance to perform Hajj rites expiation of their sins and closeness to the creator.
Some people save for their entire lives to make the holy trip. Others go on Hajj to die. It is an arduous trek. Every pilgrim has their Hajj stories, telling of illnesses, injuries, and challenges to finishing everything without blowing their cool. Despite the physical obstacles, many Muslims through the world strive to go on Hajj. The emotional and spiritual benefits far outweigh any difficulties.
Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?
Why y’all asking people to tell their secrets?
A lot of my work as a cultural critic and author involves me asserting confidence about my abilities and talents and using them to encourage writers to form supportive networks that will help us all get our words to the world. While I am blessed to get to write for online publications and my own stories, I also take advantage of opportunities to coach, mentor and cheerlead my fellow writers to get their thoughts and stories out there. I guess that is why it is hard to accept the infrequency for substantial mutual support. Continue reading “#IWSG – Swallow Rejection, Focus on the Work”→
Talk about the setting of your book. Is it entirely imaginary or is it based on a real-life place?
I love writing stories that allow readers to tap into the fantasy and escapism that fiction provides. At the same time, I like to include points of reference from my environment. Similar to integrating real-life characters experience, my story plots also contain geographical references to position readers in characters’ environments, potentially essential to reinforce arches and allow them to relate.
Settings in the romance genre tend to be at economic and geographic extremes. At a Popular Cultural Association conference, romance scholar Jodi McAllister pointed out that romance plots frequently unfold between female protagonists and rich men in cities or small-town bearded hunks. She posed a question asking why people didn’t seem to fall in love in the suburbs. She made a great point. I spent my teens and early adult life reading about ridiculously wealthy men taking their love interests to bed. Not necessarily a bad thing, I enjoyed the escapism, but not everyone lives like that way, nor do they exist in tiny towns with one traffic light. I want my readers to see themselves in my stories.Continue reading “Writing Characters in Real Places and Spaces”→
Share how you keep your characters, storylines, etc., organized. Do you use an outline? Notecards? Post-its all over your walls?
I am back, everyone. I’ve missed writing for this blog hop, but I was slammed…hard…with a number of illnesses and was laid out for weeks.
Yeah, it took a while, but I am better now and ready to go!
Okay. How I keep track of everything needed to write a cohesive novel, novella or short story. What fun! And how convenient that I recently wrote articles about high and low-tech productivity for the awesome Haute Hijab blog. Below are some tools I use to keep things in check while story writing, even rebellious characters like Quinn Ang and Raad Khouri.