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Monday, February 8, 2016

Let's Talk About Tango

I've been bad about keeping up with Music Mondays over the last few months, though I'm usually listening to something. Today, it's "Alive," and "Shoot It Out" for Tango (the acoustic version of "Shoot It Out" is cool too). So let's talk about him for a minute.
I've had more emails and messages about Tango than about any other character. I've had a blast watching everyone go back and forth about Ian vs. Whitney in the FB group. Tango has always been special to me, and by now it's clear that he's special to readers too. I think it's safe to say that Loverboy is the most-requested book of the series. I'm working on it now, trading off between it and Candy, alternating days. It's unlike any previous project; to sit down and write is to go to an unfamiliar creative headspace, one that is consuming and a little bit depressing. None of the Dartmoor books read like genre fiction, but this one...Tango's even more different and off the grid. And I almost feel like I need to prepare everyone for it.
Several things: for starters, this is a heavy book. When I wrote Angels, I decided that Holly's terrible past had to be just that for readers: terrible. I don't believe in using trauma as a means of generating sympathy, or pushing the plot forward in lieu of slowly-developed chemistry and organic character growth. Having Holly say that she was abused, and leaving it there, would have been the equivalent of her telling the audience, "You should feel sorry for me, and I'm a brave person." That would have been cheap, and I don't do cheap. I like for my work to feel visual and cinematic, and so I thought nothing could convey her strength like simply drawing back the veil of time and showing you the things that happened.
So I always knew that if I wrote Tango's book, we would have to go back and *see* the past. And I also knew that I wanted his story to be interesting, to consist of small scenes tucked into larger scenes, and memories fading in and out of focus. Non-linear, rule book chucked into the trash compactor, big messy issues dropped on the floor and left for the characters, and you, to decipher at will. Brace yourself for flashbacks, angst, and some possibly-disturbing imagery.
This is going to be a multi-POV novel with three central protagonists, and plenty of input from the rest of our expansive cast. It is not going to be a tightly-focused romance novel. For the readers hoping for a book about one couple's romance, I'm sorry to say that this just isn't going to be the book for you. Likewise, this book will not appeal to readers who prefer "alpha" men. Tango is not, nor will he ever be "alpha." He is a very broken boy; this is a book about overcoming the past, accepting your life for what it is, and learning that you have value as a human being.
I want to be very exact with this one; I want it just so. I don't want to do what anyone says I *should* do, just because I'm writing about bikers. This isn't about bikers. This is about Kevin Estes, who is loved by his brothers, and who needs so badly to be loved, even though he thinks he doesn't measure up. This is a character story, a study in dark realities, and I cannot wait to share it with my dear readers. I can't wait for you to watch Kev succeed.  
So. Stock up the tissues. I'm shooting for April.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Weekend Reading

One of my favorite things about book club - aside from sitting around Lyn's adorable shop with the sweetest group of people and discussing literary fiction novels classic and contemporary - is getting great new book recommendations. When you become not just friends, but book friends, you get a feel for what the others in your group gravitate toward, and you receive the most pointed, taste-specific book recs. One of my book club friends suggested Rosamunde Pilcher to me. "Read The Shell Seekers," she said, with a knowing smile. "It's wonderful."
Wonderful was right. I started it about a week ago and it's been one of those books I struggle to set aside every night. I'm 80% finished, completely enchanted and heartbroken by it, and almost jumped out of my computer chair earlier today when I realized there was a sequel, September.
When I'm writing, no matter how busy I am, I just HAVE to carve out a little time to read on the side. It helps me stay in writing mode. And I love to read the sorts of books that make me feel stupid and inadequate as an author, the kind that make me want to be better, more clever, and more focused than ever before.
The Shell Seekers is one of those special books that brings you in slowly, seductively, with plenty of ordinary people dashed with wonderfully rich prose. An enthralling, whale-of-a-tale kind of book that spans decades and jumps backward and forward in time without any regard for linear plot. My favorite kind! I love for a book to be bold in establishing a world and a pace for itself. For the author to say, "Come sit down, have a drink, really get comfy, and let me tell you this story." No formula, no regard for an agenda of any kind, just a complete devotion to tale-telling and word-crafting. I'm in book love.
I hope to finish this weekend, and then have September ready to go on my Kindle the moment I'm finished. In between long bouts of writing about my favorite bikers, I'm going to be sneaking chapters of Pilcher's unforgettable characters.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

LG's Writing 101: Theme
source: pinterest
Let's talk about theme. We've already discussed building characters; now let's talk about the meaning of the characters' stories.
Sidenote: my upper and lower back are all kinds of messed up, and my feet and hands are semi-numb at the moment. So forgive me if I sound a jumbled mess.
So in any fiction novel, the plot is what happens - the physical bones of the story, the action - and the theme refers to the meaning of the plot. The theme is the representation of the human spirit within the book; it's what makes the story compelling for us.
Take superhero stories, for example (I'm looking at you, Marvel Studios, and y'all have no idea how much restraint it took just now to keep from mentioning particular films, and particular characters. Whoa. I almost fangirled, but I pulled it together). Yes, the special effects may be visually stunning, and yes, the action is exciting, but those aren't the reasons those kinds of stories are so wildly popular. It's because, amid the action, spectacle, and spandex, there are some deep, meaty, universal themes at play. Themes like personal sacrifice, the responsibility that comes with power, friendship, acceptance, relevance, self-loathing, and coming to terms with your own demons and shortcomings. Superhero stories are stories about personal growth; that's what we connect to as readers and viewers.
When we set out to write a story, we have to know who our characters are, and how they're going to grow. What themes will drive their growth?
I have a lot of fun, in my Dartmoor books, playing with the theme of acceptance. What does it mean to belong? How can you be accepted by the family while retaining your own identity? On its face, Fearless is about a rather taboo love story unfolding amid an outlaw biker soap opera. That's the plot of the book. But what it's truly about is the importance of family, the need for love and acceptance, and the persevering, rationalizing human ability to find joy amid the strangest of circumstances.
So don't forget the heart of your book. Even the most interesting of concepts needs a solid backing of theme to make the novel real and relatable.

Monday, February 1, 2016

January Recap

I didn't boot up the computer at all yesterday and it was blissful. I proofed (about half of) Snow, caught up on some reading, and flipped the day planner over to February. Being an introvert, having those web-free days where I can withdraw into my little cocoon is really important. And then this morning, I was totally refreshed and ready to dive back into writing. Unplugged days are so necessary.
One of my New Year's resolutions is to keep better records of the progress I'm making work-wise. It's so easy, when you sit at the computer and type every day, to feel like one day is bleeding into the next, and the next, and that you aren't making any headway in any direction. That's not true, but the sensation leads to a less productive mindset. So I'm making a point of reviewing each month and setting goals for the next month.
January was busy:
Smoke released on 1/14.
Snow was complete as of 1/23.
I got my proofs for it and will have it ready soon.
Candy went up on Wattpad on 1/27.
Plus started The Shell Seekers.
Excited to be back to work this morning! 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Fresh Starts

A Monday in January feels like a good day to start a new manuscript, don't you think? I've spent great chunks of the day - between various chores and dog walks - navigating the first few important pages of Tastes Like Candy, in the company of Michelle Calloway, and Uncles Albie and Tommy.
The intricate and strange family dynamics of this one, paired with an intentionally dramatic age gap, and some club royalty themes, questions of place - this book is going to have a Fearless vibe, and it's going to be FUN to write. (Hopefully fun to read)
Beginnings are always delicate, though. You can't rush; have to feel your way step-by-step until you've got your footing. New places, new people, new aesthetics. New minds to crawl inside; new skins to don. I do love setting scenes, and walking you into homes, shops, and favorite haunts we've never seen before. I like introducing you to strangers.
Listen to me. I'm a nerd.
Okay, so I'm right now (still working) at 3,622 words. Currently listening to this song on repeat.
Fave line of the day:
“The wolf reminded me of you,” he said, voice contemplative. “Even the loveliest of creatures has teeth.”
Candy is coming to Wattpad very soon. I want to ensure I have a nice meaty chunk to kick things off.
Happy Monday.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

LG's Writing 101: It’s the Character That Counts

source: pinterest
1/20/16 – It’s the Character That Counts
There’s a long list of attributes that make a story attractive to readers. Everything from an intriguing cover, to critical acclaim, to simple popularity. People will pick up a book for so many reasons. But what makes someone reread a book? Stick with a series through the long haul? Sit up nights thinking about what they’ve read? Send an email to the author? The connection the reader feels with the story’s characters.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

All The Light We Cannot See

One of my (many) goals this year is to read more. Last year I got sucked so deep into writing that I read less than I should have. I have a long list of books at the ready, and I'm hoping they'll keep me literary-minded as I embark on a crazy year of writing. So far so good.
Last Thursday, my book club discussed our January pick, All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. What a beautiful, moving, lyrical book it was.
The novel follows two central parallel stories, that of a blind French girl living with her father, and a young German orphan with a knack for radios, as the second World War kicks into full violence and eventually sweeps both of them up in its tide. It is as compelling, raw, and devastating as all WWII fiction - a time period that has always held a particular fascination for me. Doerr paints the most gorgeous and specific pictures; the settings of the book unfurl before you in full-color and surround-sound. With often direct and concise language, he pulls us into the characters and allows us as readers to experience their emotions to great effect.
It's the sort of book that reminds why I love being an author...and simultaneously makes me wonder why I even bother trying. I couldn't put it down. A fantastic start to the year's reading.