When to Let the Specter In

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WindowI’m hungry to write. There is no doubt about that. But sinking my teeth into the Six Brothers project is proving difficult and I think I’ve finally figured out why…

I don’t know if I’m doing it right.

Yes. It’s simple, childish, and probably a sign of a cowardly soul. But there it is.

After writing and selling lots and lots of novels in the m/m romance genre, I had gained a certain amount of confidence that I knew what I was doing and that I was doing it right.

I’ve always been a creature who appreciated a pat on the head every once in a while. Just a little assurance of “Hey buddy, nice going. Keep it up.”

Selling a novel every three to four months is a remarkably fine pat on the head.

Insecurities have rushed in in the absence of such gestures.

Frank (my long-missing specter of imminent failure) has begun to rattle my front door again. And as a result, I’m closing the blinds, turning off the lights and hiding.

Apparently, I can’t write in the dark.

So, do I keep cowering behind the sofa, pecking out a sentence here and there? Or do I risk throwing back the curtains and letting light and Frank back inside?

The answer is unfortunately clear…

Time to clear off the end of the couch and whip up some crumpets.

Frank is back.

God help us all.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe

Shackled to the Wandering Path

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BridgeIn a furthering of yesterday’s post in which I complained about “lack of wiggle room” in my first, humongous, mainstream romance project, I’d like to explain my grief a little more clearly.

The way in which I write is this…

Say I’m working on the classic tale of Jack, Jill and the hill that broke his crown. In my mind, I divide the story into four parts (this is heady stuff, so please take notes):

1.) “Jack and Jill go up the hill”…. Characters and setting are introduced. The rhythm of the writing style is struck. Character banter.

2.) “To fetch a pail of water”… Motivations of the characters, the upward sway of the storyline arc, and a wee touch of action come in here.

3.) “Jack fell down and broke his crown”… The climactic scene with high action and “hit ‘em in the gut” drama.

4.) “And Jill came tumbling after.”… The fallout. Everything is tied together for the reader and the audience is left feeling fully satisfied but breathless for more.

Ok, so I hop out of bed each morning, write this blog, feed my face and the dog’s, and decide what I’m feeling that day.

Am I in the mood to write banter?…  Off to Part 1, I go.

Perhaps I’m feeling rather plotty and full of myself?… Action scenes always intimidate me so while I’m feeling heady, I head to Part 3.

Perhaps I’m feeling rather plotty but insecure?… Part 2, where I will no doubt spend the majority of my time.

Or maybe the day calls for playing the tragedian?… Hello, Part 4!

This is all well and dandy (if a bit weird) when writing a 50k Jack and, well, Jack story. (17 novels in m/m romance, remember.)

But, add another three major storylines that must be intricately intermixed and triple the main character count and Chloe’s got a problem.

With everything so laid out, I have no wiggle room to take a certain scene and run with it, just to see what wondrous places it can go.

I know exactly where it has to go, venturing off the well-laid out path is a no-no if I ever want to get this done.

As you can see from the bloated size of this post, I can ramble and sometimes ramble quite effectively.

All rambling in the Six Brothers project has already been done in the crafting of the plot and the detailed lay out of the scenes. There’s no room for blatant exploration, seeing which way the wind will blow your writing that day. I’m shackled to the path. See what I’m saying?

*sighs*

Probably not, but I say it just the same. Maybe someone out there can scrape a little wisdom out of this.

I hope so.

If not, I apologize for the ramble.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe

The Ill-Fitted Glass Slipper

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people-clips-02Working on the assumption that the move from the m/m genre to mainstream romance is indeed fated (as I’ve really, really got to believe or I’m about to give “panicked hysteria” a test drive), I have come to the following conclusion…

Glass slippers are sometimes a little tight around the toes.

Despite what Disney tells you, some adjustment time is needed for learning to wear glass on your feet.

For instance, in my case, there’s some pinching going on.

Nothing serious. Nothing that has me seriously contemplating shattering the dang thing against the nearest brick wall and reverting back to flip-flops. No, just a little “Ouch!” here and there.

Working within the confines of a tremendously detailed outline that has to be followed for the story to not only fit into 100k words but sparkle (i.e. The Six Brothers project), has left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. Like I need more wiggle room, a tiny more space by the little left toe.

However, I’m going to keep shoving my unwieldy feet into the glass slippers until I make it to that freaking ball.

This girl might show up limping, but Chloe Stowe is dancing, darn it.

I just wish Disney would put a warning tag on its shoes.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe

Send Me No Flowers

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stockvault-flower-pots-132195I’m feeling monumentally silly this morning, so you may want to pass on this nonsensical grievance.

*waits patiently for 72.3% of the blogging audience to file out the door*

Assuming that everybody who remains is willing not to pass guillotine-like judgment, I will continue with the day’s stupidity.

Ready?

Here we go…

Today, I’m mourning the death of my garden.

Literally.

I feel like I’ve lost a friend in the blink of a cold, unforgiving night.

How freaking silly is that?

In a world running over with real tragedies and real losses, my “grief” is simply idiotic. I realize this. I recognize it. But it doesn’t make the loss any less shallow.

I’m always telling my psychiatrist that I feel so achingly silly all the time. (When success is measured by how many people you dare to interact with during a day, your life can really be considered nothing but, well, stupid and trite. I mean, really? You dared to visit two little boys’ lemonade stand across the street and you are fist-pumping the air and considering a ticker tape parade? Now, how is that anything but dumb?)

So, I shouldn’t be surprised by my sadness over winter stealing away my flowers.

I shouldn’t be, but I am.

Sometimes silliness sucks.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe

Treasure the Piggish Hours

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kids-animals-33I wrote good yesterday.

Pardon the lack of fireworks or gratuitous adjectives.

Sometimes they’re just not necessary.

Sometimes the truth is just that simple.

(Although I’ve now come across as a boorish twat thumbing her nose at all those inconsequential worker bees of the past like Dickens, Eliot and James… *dark clouds gather rapidly in the skies above*…That snap, crackle and pop you hear is literary lightning striking and frying the uppity Ms. Stowe. Good riddance to her too, I say.)

Ignoring all of the above nonsense, I did enjoy a refreshing streak of “Wow! That really is kind of awesome” writing yesterday.

That “I’m good and I know it” groove happens so rarely with me that when I accidentally stumble upon it, I roll around in it squealing like a little pig in fresh mud. (It’s all rather embarrassing.)

I mention it here to spur on the newbie writers out there who are suffering from the dry spells all authors suffer through.

There is mud out there.

You will find it.

And you will roll.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe

Cowering in the Parenthetical

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stockvault-danger-sign142382Got a weather situation going on here. (Insert: Flailing Arms and Disaster Gear Prep.)

Me and my pup have got Tornado Warnings scattered about northern Florida while a blanket Tornado Watch covers us until 2pm. Then, to just add to the drama, a Hard Freeze Watch is up for tomorrow night. (It’s 71 right now… yeah, not good.)

Looking on the bright side of imminent destruction and potentially life-altering mayhem, at least this weather event has given me something to blog about this morning. (Crown me “Miss Silver Lining.”)

I’m sure you were all getting bored hearing about the Six Brothers, mondo grass and my general state of nuttiness. (I mean, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t”…. Almond Joy or Mounds, anyone? *chuckles nervously as the frantic search for batteries begins, but not before some chocolate*)

My mixed metaphor lectures on life, writing and the occasional garden drama were getting a little stale and moth-eaten. (Note the mixed metaphor here… Hey, I can do them in any weather. *winks desperately* (Can a person even “wink desperately,” I wonder?… Geez, somebody make me shut up.)

So, let’s all enjoy this break from the blogging norm and embrace the parentheses. (Have you noticed the sheer number of parentheses in this post? Apparently, I have some sort of Parenthetical Nervous Tic.)

Anyhow, I believe I have babbled incoherently enough for today. I will let you all get to your Mondays, while my furry muse and I head to the bathtub. (No basement. No storm shelter. So tub, it is… This is going to be a long, uncomfortable day.)

Until tomorrow…

Chloe

Size 8, Red

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finger gripI’d like to request a harness, please.

You know, one of those that the dangling window washers in NYC last week were sporting?

The kind that keeps you calm and cool in, well, life’s most dangling moments?

Yep, one of those. In red, if you’ve got it.

Thankfully, my dog already has one and is firmly tethered to my side (despite her very rational protests and her squiggling, furry behind).

Yesterday, I had a bit of a “yawning, gaping, what-the-crap-am-I-doing moment.”

The reality that I am no longer contracted by anybody anywhere to publish another word in the entirety of my life jumped up and bit me in the butt.

As expected, I yelped.

Flailed a bit.

And, surprisingly, recovered. (Yeah, I didn’t expect that either.)

Facing the cavernous mainstream romance genre is occasionally scary-as-all-heck.

While I am adjusting slowly to the challenge facing me, the lack of any kind of a safety harness (i.e. a contract with Ravenous Romance to fall back upon, which I’ve clung to for the last 5 years) does send my nerves a-chattering sometimes.

Sometimes was yesterday.

Hence, my harness request.

Size 8, please.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe

Hodgepodge

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volumeAs the title suggests, a day of ill-shaped bits and pieces…

-After a less than stellar start to the writing week (i.e. bumpy as he**), the Six Brothers is finally starting to roll. The fact that I’ve spent the entirety of the last two work days waltzing with a supporting character whom I can make as quirky as I want should be added as a disclaimer.

-A shout-out to my subconscious this morning. Last night I had a nightmare so blatantly horrible I was actually surprised by its dark ingenuity. After twenty-odd years of very, very bad dreams this is high praise indeed.

-My 4 little clumps of mondo grass in the dark little corner of my backyard are still alive and kicking. Feel free to take this analogy and run with it.

-It’s cold. I despise being cold. I think it’s a mental thing. But really, what in my life is not?

-Went to the store to buy Cinnamon. Came back with Cumin. If it wasn’t for my habit of smelling every spice before I use it, my Molasses Christmas cookies would have been “interesting” indeed. Visions of lawsuits from fellow church members danced in my head. I backed away from the mixing bowl at that point and scampered away.

Here ends today’s hodgepodge.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe

Meanwhile, in the Laboratory…

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ChemistryI have an unhealthy relationship with honesty… I demand it of myself.

Not a problem in real life. In fact, it’s kind of refreshing, I think. A bit obsessive, as well. For example: Ask me how I slept last night and prepare for the gory details. A “Fine” will hardly ever cut it when nightmares curl around me like lovers every night.

So maybe (i.e. definitely, absolutely, “Please, make it stop!”) the honesty jag is a little annoying to family, friends, strangers, etc. I do try to temper it, though. I succeed a lot of the time too.

However…

In my writing, give me a character based on a real, historical, once-living-and-breathing entity and I go rather stupid with the honest kink.

I mean, I feel kind of Frankenstein-ish changing the way a guy really looked. Fiddling with his age or his background is tantamount to a major crime in Chloe World. Even if I’ve changed the man’s name, reinvented him to a completely different beast than the original, guilt tackles me and drags me to the ground yelling “God-Complex! God-Complex!”

It’s really rather freaky.

Why am I telling you this?

Freaky sometimes works.

As an author, embrace the freak in you.

Maybe, that’s what will make you stand out just enough to catch that publishing house’s eye.

Meanwhile, me and Igor will continue to play harmlessly in the laboratory, creating fiction out of truth.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe

Love & War

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kids-playing-23After a night in which my complete ineffectuality as a human being was blasted at me in dream Technicolor, I humbly ask apologies for my tone today.

It could be a little, well, pissy.

Sorry.

Now, putting that aside, I’d like to discuss Writer Warfare today.

*glances pointedly at my 15 pound, four-legged, muse kitted out in combat helmet and tac vest*

*studiously ignores the “You are SOOO going to pay for this” look on said geared-up beast’s face*

As I mentioned yesterday, I struggle with writing the traditional romantic female leads.

I generally find them boring and pretentious.

*warily watches the door for RWA (Romance Writer Association) troops to storm the house and strip me bare of my membership*

So, now that I’ve alienated most likely half of my readers I better explain myself before picket signs start popping up in all my comment boxes.

A “perfect” man is so much easier to swallow than a “perfect” woman. (Minds out of the gutters, people. *snickers*)

In my opinion, the best protagonist is a flawed protagonist. And while each of these traditional female leads I’m wary about have their foibles and sometimes truly gashing scars, their faults by the end of the love story are so caked over with the heavy-handed blush of romance that they resemble Barbie dolls more than living, breathing humans.

*listens as another quarter of the audience storms out the blog auditorium’s doors*

Of course, all of the above may only be a result of my skewed life. (A chronic panic disorder which sends you into the DTs at the unexpected ring of your doorbell does tend to taint your view on the world.)

I realize that and I am trying my darnedest to battle it, hence, the warfare bit and the camo paint on my dog.

Admitting your problem is half the battle, they say. So, with the confession part now in the books, I hope the skirmishes with the dear ladies of the Six Brothers will be toned down just a bit.

I’m trying.

My muse is trying.

I’ll keep you updated on the efforts from the field.

Dismissed.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe