Monday, November 25, 2013

Writing on the Dark Side


Each of us here at Honestly YA has a choice of two topics to blog on during this iteration. In brief, the choice is either "crushing on bad boys" or "dealing with the dark side of writing". I have a very fun "bad boys" post half written. I even have pictures for it! But it's that half written part....

See, I'm currently on deadline. This time not turning in a book, but revising based on feedback from my editor. I'm shifting scenes, creating scenes, entirely reworking dialogue and entirely rewriting scenes.

So, for the sake of time (of which I have very little because those edits are due at the same time this blog is and I really should have planned better but hahahahaha -- yeah) and to give you a glimpse at my current struggle with the Dark Side, I bring you: Typical Deadline Day....

With a massive pot of coffee burbling in the background (because those cup-at-a-time things are just plain craziness on days like this) breakfast is served:





Yes, it wouldn't look quite so bad if I had sliced a piece and placed it on a plate rather than eating from the foil liner, but this is how many clean plates I have left:


This is my cabinet. One Hershey kiss on a cake stand. That kiss is mocking me.

Fortified by caffeine and powdered sugar, it's time to get to work. There will be twenty to twenty-five minutes of sheer panic and the threat of tears before the daily inspiration/reminder sinks in:


Coffee mug in hand, I settle in with the laptop and the edit notes. Realizing nothing fun will happen all day, the dog goes into deep depression.




Even if I had time to take a break, I couldn't go outside and throw a ball for her. The only clean clothes I own at this point are pajama bottoms and evening gowns. My laundry bin looks like this:




But it's okay. Pajama bottoms are crazy comfortable for writing all day. And while I won't actually put on an evening gown, sometimes I can't resist wearing a tiara to cheer me.

Disclaimer: this is not my tiara. I need to excavate my tiara from the
wreckage of my office. But I'm busy, eh? So here's the first tiara that
comes up on a google search.

Eventually, I get lost in the work. With no idea time is passing, I'm surprised/annoyed/embarrassed when I realize the sun has set and the reason I'm squinting at the keyboard like a blind woman is not fatigue but total darkness. This is also the point I realize I've had nothing to eat all day but some crumb cake. 

Bring on dinner!




See that diet coke with lime? That's totally Linda Gerber's fault -- she hooked me on the stuff. Now I wouldn't dream of approaching edit evenings without it. It's a special treat on a rough day, because let's face it:



And even though I have not sent my editor the first draft, or the second, still there's a whole lot of shoveling to do.

So you'll excuse me if I get back to it. I've got more words to wrangle, and then I might eat ice cream from the carton because I have just about as many clean bowls as clean plates...

~Jen

Monday, November 18, 2013

BAD BOYS REDEEMED


Good day, Honest Readers! Lorie here.

After Melissa’s compelling arguments for “Nice Guy” heroes (and the lovely shirtless Steve Rogers), I promised a Bad Boy rebuttal.

My assertion? Bad Boys make more interesting characters. Period. If I want a nice boy, I don’t have to look any farther than my own backyard. But a strong, gorgeous guy who’s unpredictable and a little dangerous hooks me faster than a dark chocolate brownie sundae.

So let’s get right to it! Continuing with The Avengers theme, I present: 

Exhibit A -

The Mighty THOR.
Two can play at that game, Ms. Landers!


Thor begins his first solo movie as the typical arrogant, punch-first, ask-questions-later kind of Bad Boy. Much like Prince Jamie MacCrae—the hero in my novel, DOON—Thor is heir to the throne, and is torn between his own desires and what is best for his kingdom. But through a series of superhero-sized obstacles, and with the help of a strong woman, his reckless behavior soon transforms into a humble nobility that earns him back his crown—and the woman he loves.







Exhibit B -

Tony Stark – a.k.a.: Ironman
Who could resist that wicked smirk?

Tony Stark has Bad Boy written all over him. He’s brilliant, charming and gorgeous. But he’s also a womanizing, self-absorbed jerk with a razor-edged wit. He’s flawed and we adore him for it. Through the love of the patient Pepper Potts, Tony becomes the kind of hero who is willing to give up his life to save the world.  I’m sorry, but if “Boy Scout” Captain America made the sacrifice play in The Avengers, we would expect it of him, and it wouldn’t be nearly as impactful.









And don’t even get me started on the ultimate Avenger's Bad Boy, Loki…that’s a whole different topic!
*Swoon*

In closing, there’s nothing more delicious than a self-assured, seemingly-unattainable alpha male character who can’t let his emotional walls down for anyone, except his true love.
But the appeal of Bad Boys isn’t just about the pull of danger or the enigma they present—though this does make for interesting reading—it’s about redemption. That perfect moment when love releases all the pent up emotion they’ve buried deep inside, transforming them into the honorable hero they’ve always had the potential to be.

Join the debate! Do you prefer a well-behaved boy next-door or a tortured Bad Boy with a reckless edge?


Lorie's co-written novel DOON, Brigadoon reimagined, is available now everywhere books are sold!
 


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Darynda Jones Loves Those Bad Boys!


When we first came up with the topic of Bad Boys for this blog rotation, I immediately thought of Darynda Jones.  In both her adult (Charley Davidson) and Young Adult (Darklight) series, the boys have the feeling of being bad, but they're the kind of bad you want on your side.  They're the kind of bad that protects a girl/woman with their lives.  The kind of bad you'd never want to meet in a dark alley.  My kind of bad!  Although I was originally hooked with the adult series, I became equally so with the Darklight series.  

Not only did Darynda Jones agree to post on our Welcome Wednesday about bad boys, but she's also giving away a copy of the Darklight book of choice to one lucky commenter.  (See choices at the bottom of her post).  

I asked Darynda how she felt about bad boys, and this is how she answered:



Okay, fine. I admit it. I love me some bad boys. The badder, the better, that’s my motto. But let me clarify: When I say bad boys, I do not mean those boys destined to spend time behind bars for crimes against women. No, no, no, no, no. I mean those boys who brood. Those boys who stew. Those tormented souls with a dark past who have a tendency to live on the edge. Who exude danger. A certain je ne sais reckless abandon.

At the same time, however, they ultimately respect the lives of those around them and, rather importantly, women. Girls. Their feminine counterparts. In fact, if anything they are more apt to fall for that one special girl and fall hard. Hard enough to go through hell and high water to keep her safe. THOSE bad boys.

That’s why I have more than one bad boy in the Darklight Trilogy. Among the group of misfits the trilogy revolves around is a quiet, brooding sophomore named Cameron. Tall with shoulder length blond hair and eyes like a swimming pool in sunlight, Cameron has a special connection to the spiritual realm, with good reason. He is nephilim, a half-angel, half-human created to protect the prophet (who is destined to save the world) against supernatural beings that will do anything to stop her. No pressure.

Then I have the hero, Jared, who just happens to be the ultimate bad boy: The Angel of Death. Literally. And he definitely has a dark side. After all, he’s taken the lives of humans since their creation. And he, unlike his brethren, has the autonomy to kill at will. That has to take its toll. He is also tall only dark and exotic and intoxicating to our heroine, Lorelei.  When he is sent to take her, to end her life, he recognizes the wild red curls and deep gray eyes of the prophet and realizes something is wrong. He was sent to kill her? The prophet? The only being on earth who can save it from total destruction? With that niggling question, he decides to risk everything, his autonomy, his powers, possibly his very existence, to do the right thing. Instead of taking her life, he saves it. And that’s pretty much when all hell breaks lose.

Thank you so much for having me here today and I hope you enjoy the Darklight Trilogy!

~D~ 
              


Please leave the book of choice in your comment.

Thanks, Darynda, for being with us today!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nice Guys Finish...FIRST!

by Melissa Landers

Happy Monday, lovely readers! Before I continue the Honestly YA "Good Guys vs. Bad Boys" debate, let me share a few things with you. First, the countdown to ALIENATED's release is in the double digits...only 85 days to go!

I'm running my *very last* autographed ARC giveaway on Goodreads, which you can enter here. Also, I'm offering signed swag to readers who pre-order. This is NOT a sweepstakes in which you enter to win. It's a sure thing. You pre-order the book, I send you free swag. Easy peasy.


For rules and additional information, visit my website.

Okay, now on to the debate!

The other day, I was avoiding my WIP (Work In Progress) by trolling YouTube for funny videos. (Don't judge. We all need a mental break now and then.) I came across "Honest Trailer: The Avengers." It's rather hilarious, so take a moment to watch it. Go ahead, I'll wait.



At the 1:08 mark, we hear "Captain America...NO ONE'S favorite character."

Wait, what?

Hold the phone!



Captain America was MY favorite character in The Avengers. Like, by a lot!

I perked up every time he entered a scene, and I might have even drooled a little bit watching him work out in the gym. But my interest in his character extends beyond physical appearance. There are plenty of hotties in that film, Thor, for example. What really set Captain America apart from the rest was his good ol' fashioned, nice guy, take-him-home-to-mama attitude. Steve Rogers is the kind of man who would track you down to return the wallet you accidentally dropped. He's a total Boy Scout.

And I love that.

Yes, that's right. I love good guys. Why? Because you can trust a truly good man, and he'll treat you with respect. A good guy won't ask if you really need that bowl of ice cream. In fact, he'll add the hot fudge. If you say, "Not tonight, hon. I've got a headache," he'll fetch you an aspirin instead of pouting or whining. You don't have to worry about catching him in a compromising position with a stripper, because he loathes the concept of paying a desperate young woman to grind in his lap. He will pull out chairs, hold open doors, and say that you look pretty when you're dressed in sweatpants and haven't washed your hair in a couple of days. Don't we all deserve that?

I married a good guy, and ten years later, I'm still glad that I did.

How about you, readers? Good guy or bad boy? Pick your poison!



 Melissa Landers is the author of ALIENATED, a seriously foreign exchange coming in February, 2014 from Disney-Hyperion. You can learn more about Melissa on her website, and she'd love for you to add ALIENATED to your Goodreads bookshelf!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Superstitions, Myths and Crazy Makers: What’s Stopping You?

As writers unite this month and plunge into National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the whole reason why this month exists: because too often, creative people get in the way of their own creation. They overthink and under-do, and nothing gets completed.

Myths and Mental Monsters

A case in point: a young writer recently contacted me about a story he was working on, wanting my opinion on an issue troubling him. He felt that the story should be told from a girl’s point of view . . . but he was a guy. And he didn’t know if people would take that the wrong way—a boy writing a girl’s point of view.

This seems like a concern that might reasonably plague a teenager, but I’ve also encountered the reverse among some adult female writers who write stories with teen boy protagonists. In most cases, they went on to write the book despite their concerns, and to publish those books, but the fear of negative feedback due to their gender was an early and in some cases ongoing concern.

In my own career, there’s a hint of this worry too—I write historical YA as Jennifer McGowan, but will shortly have another series under another name that is contemporary New Adult romance—and a bit steamy. I have already been asked if my college years were on the wild side. (Answer: a resounding No) and I know other writers get that question a lot in various forms (“so, um, I read your book and… do you need to talk to a therapist?”). It sounds silly, but it happens, and worry over reader perceptions, whether real or imagined, can absolutely slow down your writing process.

The Superstitious Writer

And then there’s the idea of what could be called “the precious perfect”—the idea that if you could only find the right process, place and time of day to write, plus the perfect beverage, the right tools, and the proper ambiance . . . your book would just pour out of you. And, conversely, if you can’t have that exact right moment: your doomed. The story will never get written, the words will never flow.

Now, I’m not saying that rituals don't count and that location doesn't help. I am a morning writer by preference. I use a laptop to write by choice and habit. And I prefer to draft on my couch, all things being equal. However, the reality is that none of these things are REQUIRED for me to write. They just make it a little more efficient or easier.

Putting the Cray in Creativity

Finally, there is the very real, honest-to-God craziness that writers sometimes encounter on the way to writing a book. The friends and family who stifle your story ideas and derail your writing time (intentionally or otherwise). The demands of job and schedule that seem to expand in proportion to how close your deadlines are. The proliferation of “oo bright shiny” distractions that want to lure you away from the sometimes-messy, sometimes not-very-fun world of your book.  As a writer, you’ll find yourself doing the damnedest things to avoid writing… up to and including cleaning out your gutters for the first time in a year (this totally happened yesterday).

So—how do you combat all of this? The only thing I have found that actually works is this:

Just write.

Trick yourself if you have to—engage in writing sprints, set a timer, turn off the Internet, create the oasis of calm or energy that you most enjoy—but start writing. Just ten minutes, if that’s all you have, but get started. Whether you’re on your couch or in a coffee shop or on a train or locked in your bathroom . . . open your laptop or your notebook, and begin. Write one word, and then another, and then a few more. And who knows? At the end of the month, you, too, may have a 50,000 story draft completed!



What about you? What stalls out your writing process—and what do you do to keep yourself on track?