kate_sherwood: (Default)
I just noticed that MS Word has a feature that tells you the total 'editing time' spent on a given document.

The way I generally write, the documents are open pretty much all the time, just sitting there in the background in case inspiration strikes, so the numbers are pretty high right now (I REALLY don't think it took me 20 000 minutes to write the 12 000 words I've got so far on Shelter from the Storm), but I could change that. It might be good discipline, anyway, to sit down and consciously work at something intensely for while, instead of flitting all over the place. So if I closed the document when I wasn't working on it, then I could know how long it takes me to write each story. I think I'd like to know that... I could figure out an hourly wage, and realize that I'd be better off, financially, working at McDonalds...
kate_sherwood: (Default)
I'm going to try to get a bit 'bloggier' here. I'll still post promo stuff, but also musings on the state of the writing, etc. It still won't be truly personal stuff, but it will be my personal thoughts on how things are going.

So, to start the resolution off:

Jane over at Dear Author has a list of things she learned at RWA 2011. Some of the items were pretty interesting, I thought. (I know Jane has a somewhat tumultuous past (ooh, how romantic) with the RWA organization, but I think she's got a high level of respect for the membership, for what that's worth).

Anyway, Number 7 was interesting for me. ("Editors think that authors self-censor too much"). My first two books (the Dark Horse series) continue to be the ones that get the warmest response from readers, and they were definitely my rawest books. Loads of emotion, but not that much technique. I really worked on technique for my subsequent books, but possibly missed out on the emotion. I thought I'd found a good balance with Shying Away, and reader response has been solid, but critical response hasn't been good. I don't know what happened there. I reread it, and I still get sucked in to the story and the characters, and there are enough five star reviews floating around at Goodreads and Amazon to show that lots of other people got sucked in too, but it wasn't the universal favourite that I'd predicted. Maybe I need to give up on the pipe dream of writing a universal favourite and stick with writing what I love for the people who also love it...

I was also interested by Number 6. ("Family oriented sweet contemporaries, mostly set in some small town are hugely popular"). And when I say 'interested', I mean 'blown over with enthusiasm!' I love contemporary, I love writing small towns, I love family-oriented stuff, and I am getting REALLY tired of writing sex scenes (not that I want a full fade-to-black, but I'd rather focus on the dialogue and leave out some of the physical details). The problem, of course, is that m/m stories seem to be automatically disqualified from the 'sweet' category. I do have a small town, reasonably sweet het romance that I've submitted a few places, but it was set in small-town Canada. Maybe I need to switch it to small town USA, add a bit more family stuff, and see what happens...

And the state of the writer in general? I'm almost done a novella. It started off as Haley's Comet, and the first chapter is posted at my website under that name, but Haley isn't having nearly as much impact as I anticipated she would, so I'm thinking about renaming it. Something to do with chemistry, probably, although it's hard to find something that hasn't been done a million times. Hmmmm...

Anyway, I'll finish that today, and then I want to have another look at my YA story that's about to go out to agents, and then maybe I'll have a look at that small town het story. I still want to write Chris's story from Dark Horse, but as I've said before, the bastard is too stable and well-adjusted to produce any serious drama. I'm still thinking about it, though...
kate_sherwood: (Default)
I'm experimenting with having several works in progress at the same time, and I decided to post the first chapters of each at my website. If you're interested in a preview, check it out here.

As always, comments are totally welcome!
kate_sherwood: (Default)
Why did nobody bother to mention to me that I named characters 'Danny' in two separate books? Well, three, really, because Dark Horse has two books. I was just re-reading a chunk of Shying Away and I was surprised to see Danny appearing there, as well.

Damn. It's not like I have so many books I can't keep track of them. Or, apparently I can't, but I really have no excuse. Oops.
kate_sherwood: (Default)
I’ve sent my het romance off to a couple publishers to see if there’s any interest. I like the story, and I like the characters, but the whole experience confirmed for me that the reason I started writing in the m/m genre isn’t just that m/m sex is hot.

I’m still working through all this, and I should stress that I’m speaking only for myself, not for any other authors, readers, or feminists. But I’d love to hear any thoughts you guys may have about all this, including any thoughts that are critical of my own. If I can stand the editing process with my novels, I can definitely handle a few dissenting opinions on my blog!

Anyway - I think for me, one of the most exciting things about romantic/sexual relationships is the power negotiations. I was just re-reading my little ‘author bio’ blurb, and it says something about me being interested in characters who are struggling to decide how much of themselves they can give away, and how much they need to keep; I think a lot of that, for me, is about power. Can my character trust someone else enough to let himself be vulnerable, and to let that other person have power over him? As soon as you love someone, they have the power to break your heart, right? I’m not saying they’d WANT to, but they have the ability. While if you keep yourself shielded and NOT in love, you’re protected, because nobody can hurt you.

So it’s all tied in together, for me: power and vulnerability, trust and love. And somehow, I can make my male characters leap into the maelstrom of romance, but I seem to have trouble making my female characters do it. Somehow, when I write them in relationships, they start to seem weak to me. I don’t respect them as much after they’ve given up their autonomy and let themselves be open to pain.

I have no idea what this means. It could be my feminist values gone into overdrive, I suppose; maybe I’ve trained myself so rigorously in the field of female power and strength that I’ve become unable to appreciate the different kind of strength that it takes to be vulnerable. Or maybe it’s the opposite, and it’s some societal double standard working its way into my brain, insisting that women be madonnas or whores. Maybe as soon as a woman ‘lowers’ herself from her pure ivory tower of independence, I think she has to plunge all the way to weakness and subjugation. I mean, I know I don’t think that consciously, but I don’t really come up with my characters consciously, either…

I don’t know. I’m definitely going to keep trying to write het romance, and I’m going to keep making sure that my female characters in m/m stories are strong and multi-faceted. But I’m also going to keep thinking about the differences, and trying to sort out the connection between what I write and what I feel. It’s interesting…at least to me. And if you made it all the way through this rambling, I guess you're interested, too, so feel free to respond!
kate_sherwood: (Riding Double Cover)
Here's the other one:

I had a hard time with the ending for “Rode Hard and Put Away Wet”. Actually, I think I have a hard time with story endings in general. It sounds strange, given the genre in which I’m writing, but I’m really not much of a romantic. It’s hard for me to believe in a fairy tale “Happily Ever After,” and it’s important to me that my writing be believable. So even in my novels, I tend to slip towards “Happy For Now” endings. It’s not that I don’t think my characters stay together - I really believe that they do. I just think that they have to keep fighting for it.
This was really clear to me in the Dark Horse series. (Dark Horse and Out of the Darkness) One of the reasons that I was happy to write as many extras for it as I did (they’re available at my website, www.katesherwoodbooks.com) was because I liked being able to show that the guys were still struggling, but still holding on. So maybe that actually makes me a total romantic. I believe in the power of love. I don’t think it can erase all obstacles, but I believe that it can give people a reason to keep fighting, even through the toughest times.
With “Rode Hard and Put Away Wet” my first ending was “The kid took the towel.” That’s still in there, but I go on for another five hundred words after it, explaining and elaborating. It’s a bit of a violation of the minimalist cowboy aesthetic that I was going for when I started writing, but I think it makes sense. Even in a short story, people need some degree of closure. I might know what was going to happen to the guys after the shower, but that wasn’t quite enough; I had to give the readers at least a bit more to go on. And I know it sounds sort of ostentatiously artsy, but I felt like I had to give the characters a bit more, too. I like both of them, and I don’t want to leave them hanging. So, another five hundred words.
kate_sherwood: (Riding Double Cover)
So, as I think I've mentioned, I've had my first short story published in the latest Dreamspinner Anthology. They had a 'launch party' on their blog, and I posted a couple tidbits about my story and my writing process, and I figured I might as well reproduce them over here:

Cowboys. Sexy as hell, obviously, but kind of hard to write about, at least for me. My characters like to talk, but the thing I like best about the cowboy ideal is that they’re laconic and stoic. If I was going to write a cowboy, I wanted to make myself write a cowboy.

And them that don't know him won't like him and them that do
Sometimes won't know how to take him
He ain't wrong, he's just different but his pride won't let him
Do things to make you think he's right.
(“Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys”, by Ed and Patsy Bruce).

But that wasn’t quite enough. Hell, I wanted to write a desperado.

Oh, you're a hard one
But I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin' you
Can hurt you somehow.
(“Desperado”, by Glenn Frey and Don Henley.)

I wanted my guy to figure out that he needed to play the queen of hearts, and I wanted him to let somebody love him before it was too damn late!

And I also wanted to keep it short, because if I was given the opportunity, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep myself from making the poor guy babble on like some character from Dawson’s Creek. I knew I couldn’t do laconic long-term, but I hoped I might make it if I kept things short.

So, I wrote my first short story, “Rode Hard and Put Away Wet”. I’m really pleased with it. Some of my early readers encouraged me to expand it, and turn it into a novella or even a novel, but I didn’t trust myself. I felt like I got it just right, as a short story - any longer, and I was sure I wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation to start babbling.
kate_sherwood: (Riding Double Cover)
My first short story -- well, my first PUBLISHED short story -- is out in the new Dreamspinner Press anthology, Riding Double. In case the title didn't give it away - it's about Cowboys! Yummy.

I haven't had a chance to do more than skim the other contributions, but what I've seen, I've liked. And I really like my own story, "Rode Hard and Put Away Wet". It's pretty near pure sex all the way through, but I feel like I worked a lot of characterization in there, too. It's always a struggle for me to make my characters (myself) shut up, and it was especially hard for this story, since I really wanted the protagonist to be a traditional, mythic, laconic cowboy, but I think I managed it.

As always, I'd love to know what you think. The book doesn't seem to be on sale yet (it's not due to be released until February 18th, but I want to go to bed and sleep in tomorrow, so I'm posting a bit early), but it can be found here.

Have a good ride!

Snow Day!

Feb. 2nd, 2011 07:15 am
kate_sherwood: (Default)
I don't know what it is about snow days, but they make me write like CRAZY. I can schedule a full day for writing, and lock myself in the house, and it feels like a chore, something I HAVE to do. But as soon as that snow has me trapped, all of a sudden, writing is the best thing ever! I can't wait to sit down and get to it. It's 7:15 am, and I've already written about a thousand words on my WIP, and I am NOT a morning person!

Anyway, that's the state of the writer for today. I'm working on Shining Armor my first foray into het, and it's going pretty well, I think. It's surprisingly hard to write a strong yet vulnerable female main character, but I'm doing what I can.

And I'm still thinking about the Chris thing. I'm wondering now about Tyler as at least an entree to the gay world, because he and Chris could both be coming on to the same woman, and things could develop from there...

But I want to finish the het first, and then go back and see where Chris is at while the het rests before being revised and sent out to betas.
kate_sherwood: (Default)
I just got back from the cottage. No TV, no internet, just a lake to stare at and a netbook to type on. The first draft of the new WIP is done!

It's another threesome, and I found myself coming back to some of the same themes from Dark Horse and Out of the Darkness, which was a bit worrisome, because of course I want to be perfectly original, all the time! But I looked at it pretty closely, and I think the similarities are justified. I can't really conceive of a threesome where at least one of the parties isn't at least a little insecure, a little worried about being a third wheel. And it's TWO older guys this time, instead of just one, but they're almost as messed up as the hot young stud is - actually, they're probably a bit worse. Tyler (the new young stud) is kind of like Dan from Dark Horse would have been if his early life had been more stable and less tragic.

And this book is different in that I wrote from the point of view of all three of the characters. It's the first time I've tried that (I'd like to try something new with every book, if I can - although I guess that'll run out, eventually, unless I start getting crazy - 'this book was written with my nose!'). But I think it worked. It really made me think about all three of them, and I don't think it gave quite the same level of intensity with any individual character, but I think it shows why they're all interested in the unconventional relationship. I don't know - I'll send it out to betas, and hopefully they'll have some opinions for me.

And after that, what comes next? I'd like to do another threesome, someday, with all three starting new, instead of a third joining an existing couple, but I think I'd like a little break from the pronoun hell. (Sex scenes with three guys? 'He ran his hand down his chest while he licked his fingers' - you tell me - how many guys were involved in that line?) I still want to try a m/f story - I just need to be sure I can write a female protagonist that fits the romance genre without me wanting to slap her.

So, that's the state of things!

And Out of the Darkness is out in three days! Yay!
kate_sherwood: (Default)
First draft is done and ready to send to my beautiful betas!

I think I'm pleased with it. It's smaller than the Dark Horse epic, both in length and in scope. I was trying for a quieter story, and I think I got it, but I hope there's still enough drama to make it interesting.

But my angst-loving, melodramatic side is bursting! Where are my beautiful, tortured heroes? I need them back! I think my next story is definitely going to be more in that direction - I'm thinking of getting back to the horses, too.

How about - the Main Character is a damaged drifter who doesn't care about himself or anyone else (except, of course, for horses!). And then I think I'd like to try the duo point of view thing, so Main Character two is an innocent small-town boy, finally brave enough to venture out and explore the gay scene, and instead of meeting someone gentle and kind, he meets Damaged Drifter, who hooks up with Mr. Innocent and moves on. Or, he tries to. But something (to be determined) throws them together, and Mr. Innocent eventually breaks through the layers of damage and finds the Drifter's heart. I don't know, obviously it's chock full of cliches, but - they're cliches for a reason, right? Because they're HOT!

Or maybe instead of Mr. Innocent, it's another Damaged Man. Less cliched, maybe? Two fragments of men find each other and become whole (okay, yeah, put like that, it sounds pretty cliched. Damn.)

Possibly a twist - Drifter hooks up with Mr. Innocent, tries to move on, can't for whatever reason, but stays away from Mr. Innocent, but then Drifter sees Mr. Innocent about to hook up with Damaged Man 2. Drifter is moved by some tiny thread of compassion (or maybe self-interest) to try to warn Mr. Innocent. There's some sort of tension between the two damaged men, and probably some sex, 'cause, why the hell not? But we won't forget Mr. Innocent, and the two damaged men somehow realize that they like him/need him (or something), and then, tada! We're back in the land of threesomes! Even though my pronoun frustration with the last one made me swear to never write another...

Hmmmm...time for some thinking.
kate_sherwood: (Default)
I'm trying to get over my Dark Horse stalking by working on my next submission, which is tentatively titled Lost Treasure. It follows Kyle Champlain's return to the Muskoka cottage where he spent his early summers. He's there to deal with his grandmother's estate, but he ends up being more than a little distracted by his old friend, Ryan Summers, who has grown into a tasty treat of a man. I'm pretty pleased with it, I think, and it's been flowing pretty well, now that I've got time to work on it.

But I just spelled 'speak' as 'speek' - and the spellcheck picked up on it, and I looked at it and I knew it was wrong, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what the right spelling was. I think my brain may be a little fried by the heat.

In other news, I'm trying to break my Diet Coke addiction by drinking Club Soda. It's refreshing, in hot weather, but it's not as tasty as Diet Coke, so I won't crave it so much. Or so I told myself. I'm currently on my seventh can of the day. Yikes. At least there's no aspartame. And if I've got to have an addiction, fizzy beverages is probably not a bad way to go. Although I think possibly the extra carbonation is doing something weird to the roof of my mouth. Or maybe that's from all the ice cream bars.
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