Category Archives: Rebekah Turner
So, I’m writing, writing, writing. Am hacking my way through book 2 of my urban fantasy series. Hacking, I tells you. Limbs are flying. Structural edit ahoy! I can’t see the light yet, but I know it’s there. I’m at the point when another project beckons to you like a siren, crooking her finger sweetly, saying, hey, come over and work on me, I won’t be as hard. Well, I’m NOT FALLING FOR IT BIKIE WEREWOLVES IN TASMANIA. I shall soldier on and finish this project first. Book 2 of the Chronicles of Applecross is going to be most awesome, I can smell it in my keyboard. Or is that last nights popcorn…
I’ve met some amazing writers through the experience of getting published with Escape Publishing. My website is up and people have been lovely in their congratulations. I’m reading some of the other launch author’s books and they are pretty damned good. I had a most cool write up in the paper, including a saucy excerpt of Chaos Born, which my grandmother read (yikes) and promptly showed my grandad (double yikes). And don’t talk to me about my hair in the shot. Why I didn’t flat iron it is beyond me. Whatever! Still delighted for any publicity of Chaos Born.
To inspire me in my quest to finish and polish book 2, I’ve discovered a cool new trailer soundtrack artist, Zack Hemsey. Behold! Click here to listen to some of his awesomeness. And here is another one (Please note, I still like this song, but after watching the video clip, I felt like jumping off my roof. Surgeons Warning: Don’t watch if you’re feeling a bit blue).
On that note, I’m off to
hang the washing out write.
Well, GenreCon was on the weekend and sadly, we are now in the work week. For those who aren’t in the know, GenreCon is an annual conference that celebrates genre fiction and explores genre writing craft . There were panels, workshops and even a chance sit down and chat with an agent or to pitch to a publisher.
Fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie, Ginger Clarke from Curtis Brown and Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, were guest speakers. They were very approachable and full of great advice. Sarah Wendell’s talk, Author Platform 101, was packed. It was very interesting to hear her talk about the uses of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest when promoting yourself as a writer. Joe Abercrombie was hilarious in the Practical Worldbuilding panel. Ginger Clarke’s talk, entitled The Future of Agenting, highlighted how much things had changed in the industry, compared to five years ago. She talked some grim facts about the reality of publishing and how she found her role expanding beyond its usual parameters as she supported her clients in the current publishing climate. (Oh, and she also talked about Neal Stephenson, Sister Charlotte adds).
The Saturday night three course banquet was awesome fun, and the theme of Pistols and Parasols saw some great costumes. There was even an interesting clash of cultures when costumed revellers tumbled into the bar which was full of rowdy Parramatta younglings, fresh from the races and probably feeling like they’d wandered into another dimension. Sister Charlotte was asked if she was a leprechaun. No, she wasn’t. But perhaps if you’re a slightly sozzled racegoer, a leprechaun looks like a character from the Firefly universe.
I had some interesting conversations with other writers about their work and how they were carving their own way to publication and beyond. There were quite a few published writers at the conference, all interested in learning more about promoting and growing their careers, and everyone was happy to share their knowledge and experience.
The last session of GenreCon was a rousing debate on Plotting vs Pantsers. Kim Wilkins delivered a magnificent opening speech for the Plotters. There was much shouting and cat-calling, and things didn’t look good for the Pantsers side when one Pantser debater threw her notes on the floor to make a point and promptly forgot what to say next. Point made for the affirmative! Author Narelle Harris delivered an almost knock-out blow with her evangelist sermon on her sinful, sinful Pantser past. There was also much talk of Romans, sex and three-legged dogs. Daniel O’Malley, representing the Pantser side, made an interesting point when he pounced on the moderator and planted an ‘unplanned’ kiss. However, there is some suspicion that kiss might have been planned, making it a moot point.
So, a great weekend was had by all and even better, the organisers announced GenreCon 2013 will be held in Brisbane with additional academic stream. All I can say to that is: woohoo!
Woohoo! GenreCon kicks off tonight!
I haves me a costume. I haves me babysitters. I haves me a camera. Am looking forward to meeting new writer friends and listening to the panels. I’m particularly interested in hearing Ginger Clarke talk. She is a lovely agent from Curtis Brown and will be chatting about the future role of agents. I’ve seen a few agents begin to advertise services for writers looking to publish with e-publishers and have wondered how that is going to work. Then of course, I want to hear Joe Abercrombie talk about his work and worldbuilding methods. I’m planning on taking heaps of photos at the Pistols and Parasols Banquet, and sincerely hope my corset will hold tight for the night.
So, I’m off now for a good writerly time, and coming home with my pants on my head!
I find editing a difficult beast. Is it an allergy? Something I ate? All I know is that it’s not as much fun as being in the hot seat of creativity, hammering out a new story. I like to go to coffee shops to edit, because when I start the process, I get distracted too easily by sparkly things like the internet, or crazy lint on my shirt and hey, my nails need clipping…
I’ve attended some great classes on how to edit a manuscript at the Queensland Writers Centre and I can’t recommend enough joining your local writers organisation for this kind of thing. An added bonus is you meet other people to toss ideas around with. I also like to buy books on editing, stack them in a pile and feel wonderfully smart that I’m going to read these awesome books…any day now. I do have one dog-eared book, called Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell, which I sometimes go back to for a pep talk or game plan.
A recommendation I’ve heard a few times, is let your manuscript sit for a few weeks, if not more, then do a complete read through for the big things, like structure and characters that don’t work. When doing this, some of the questions James Scott Bell says to ask yourself are:
- Does the story make sense?
- Is the plot compelling?
- Does the story flow or does it seem choppy?
- Do my lead characters “jump off the page”?
- Are the stakes high enough?
- Is there enough of a “worry factor” for readers?
Personally, I’m a slow editor, as I know I have a tendency to skip words or paragraphs I’m familiar with. So I go slow. My editing method begins with reacquainting myself with old editing notes as a reminder of what to watch out for. Then, since I have the attention span of a fruit fly, I write out a list and tape it to my monitor or my forehead, depending on my mood.
My mantra is: Try to remember the BIG rules. Drink COFFEE. Turn OFF internet. Ignore kids FIGHTING in the back room. Then I combine it all with a huge dose of self-belief. I CAN do it! Even when it feels I can’t. I call it my soapy bubble of self-belief and I think everyone should have one.
Hello, my name is Ronin the Boston Terrier. I am very unimpressed that my mistress, Sister Rebekah, has not finished her blog on purple prose in romance, entitled: Oh La La! Are those Titties I See?
So I am posting my own blog. Here we go…
Ronin’s Review of: Guilty Pleasures
by Laurell K. Hamilton
“My name is Anita Blake. Vampires call me “The Executioner”. What I call them isn’t repeatable.”
Rebekah cut her Urban Fantasy teeth on Laurell K Hamilton’s adrenalin-fuelled, blood-soaked adventure, Guilty Pleasures, the first book in the Anita Blake series. This is a series that has been credited in establishing urban fantasy in popular fiction by bridging romance with the supernatural. Not that others hadn’t done it before, but Hamilton’s hard-boiled writing style and Anita Blake’s uncompromising character was, at the time, fresh and new.
Anita Blake works as an animator; raising zombies for money. She also doubles as a court appointed vampire executioner. In Hamilton’s well-realised world, vampires are out of the closet and petitioning for the right to vote.
When Rebekah read this book, nearly ten years ago, Anita Blake rocked her FREAKING socks off. She’d never read anything like it before. Anita was a fascinating character. She went to church, had strong morals, could kill a man with her belly button and slept with a stuffed penguin called Sigfried. Of course, now the series is up to something like nineteen books and the tone has changed dramatically. But that’s another story.
Guilty Pleasures follows Anita as she investigates a murder with the police, acting as a consultant (a plot point that is something of a cliché now). A rampaging ghoul is mutilating bodies and Anita has to find and kill it. Her second problem is the master of the city blackmails Anita into finding out who is murdering vampires. The horror! The horror! And much horror there is, churned together with sex, action and great beats of humour.
The narrative in Guilty Pleasures zooms at light-speed. Rebekah remembers devouring it in two days. The book reads like if Anne Rice lived in a trailer park, ate greasy Chinese food and packed a pistol. There’s with great sexual tension between Anita and the vampire Jean Claude, though, personally, Rebekah didn’t like Jean Claude. He dresses like a pimp and says ma petite too much. There’s the ice-cold assassin, Edward, who is so cool, I suspect he wears sunglasses at night. Then there’s a rat king, a stripper called Philip, and references John Carpenter movies.
What’s not to love? If you’ve never read this book and have a thing for classic trash, this book is a killer read.
What a glorious conference! This was my first time at a Romance Writers of Australia Conference, and I had the good fortune to attend with my good friend and fellow writer, Charlotte Nash.
Can I just say, it was magnificent. Everyone I met was super supportive and genuinely interested in hearing about projects (Yes, I couldn’t but help mention Bikie Werewolves in Tasmania). Published authors were friendly and approachable, the RWA volunteers were easy to find and super helpful. And the hotel. Well, let’s just say those beds were like sleeping on freaking AIR.
Tell you more about this awesome conference, you say? Alright then…
How not to Pitch to a publisher
I was lined up to pitch my polished manuscript, Blackgoat Watch to one publisher and then another the next day. Can I just say…curse my nerves! Curse them to the pits of HELL. My first pitch went something like this:
(Rebekah finishes her pitch, realising too late it was too long.)
PUBLISHER: Nice, nice. (pause) So…is there romance in it?
ME: Oh. Yeah. Well, there’s that guy I mentioned. And they have sex.
PUBLISHER: I see. And where did you say this story was set?
ME: Oh, you know, a place I’ve called The Weald. A realm, like, if Narnia smoked methamphetamine and forgot birth control.
PUBLISHER: I see….
Cue internal scream of noooooooooo! That is NOT better than what I was supposed to say, which was: “A pre-industrial fantasy world”. Publisher asked for a couple of chapters though, so a nice outcome, though I suspect he was taking pity on me, I was pretty shaky. Not the greatest moment in pitching history. Fortunately, I learnt from my errors, trimmed my pitch to a neat 30 seconds and made sure I mentioned the romantic angle. The next day I pitched and it went great. What can you do? DON’T DWELL REBEKAH, DON’T DWELL. MOVE ON. NOTHING TO SEE HERE.
A stand out session for me was the “Putting Sizzle into Every Scene” with amazing and hilarious Fiona Lowe. She talked about vital elements for a brilliant love scene and how unresolved sexual tension is a powerful tool. She also showed some wonderful examples of body language in kissing scene. See here…meeeeoooow Does anyone recognise the first kiss? Is that Daniel Day-Lewis? How could I miss this movie? And another kissy-kissy clip she showed us… (Now, what is this North and South business? Who is the guy in the train? Who is the woman? Stuff them…WHO IS THAT GUY KISSING HER? I shall be hunting down this BBC series to watch, my bosoms all aquiver in anticipation.)
Of course, in my opinion, one of the best kiss scenes is the one from Drive. Oh yes. Oh noice. Very noice.
The panel of erotic writers talking about their craft was interesting. I’m still wondering about the story one author told us she wrote, about a women who bakes a gingerbread man who then comes alive and they have erotic sex (Don’t visualise it, Bek, just don’t…aaahhhh! My eyes! My eyes! All that gingerbread!)
Alexandra Sokoloff had some great things to say about techniques on the four act story structure. I’ve bought her books online and am looking forward to utilising what I’ve learnt in my structural edits for Bikie Werewolves and Griorwolf.
The cocktail party was a blast, though I think I had just as much fun getting ready as I did at the party, as there was knarly-pants 90’s music on the telly (When Bobbi Brown and Vanilla Ice were hot). I swear it felt like I was getting ready for my senior ball. Cue montage of Charlotte and I, getting ready…
The variety of people was outstanding and everyone was keen to chat about writing. Some of the interesting people I met were fellow writer Karyn Brinkley and her rather interesting handmade brooches. I also met the talented up-and-coming writer, Whitney Keevers-Eastman.
So, now I am charged up to edit and polish Bikie Werewolves (I really need to think of a better name…like…His Dangerous Passion Stick…or something) and book 2 of my dark fantasy series, Griorwolf. I am super psyched to beef up my romance subplots and create those dark and dangerous hero’s
Rebekah everyone adores. Yeeess. Just like Michael Fassbender. We’ll even forgive his rather unattractive skinny gymnastic hips. Oh, Mr Fassy Pants….how you shall inspire me!
One thing I struggle with in my first drafts is getting to know my cast. Really knowing my characters, so I’ve captured their voice and know them like a friend. I’ve found with past projects, sometimes I don’t ‘get’ my characters until the second draft. With one story recently, I got to a scene where I was being very nasty to a character I quite liked and found myself very upset. How could I do that to him? What would become of him now? I felt his loss and was surprised at how sad that scene was for me to write (I admit it! I had a little cry!). Considering my plans for his story arc in the following stories, I think I shall have to steel myself somewhat. I love him to bits and I’m going to be very, very, very bad to him.
Now, I’m still getting to know my cast for the Bikie Werewolf story. I’m nearly at the end and I haven’t got a feel for the main female protagonist, which is terribly annoying and I suspect means she has dragged into life with a cookie cutter. An easy fix will be to FINISH the story first, then go back and flesh her out some more, so she lives and breathes like the rest of us. Fortunately I have a scene coming up where she rescues herself from the bad guy and I think that will help. You can tell a lot about a woman after she kicks her attacker in the balls.
Of this, I am sure.
Soooo. I always hit some sort of critical moment when I write my first drafts, where my imagination and writing brain desert me. It is….the Falter Zone. The point where the book stops being fun and starts becoming HARD. I try to have a subplot zipping around that I can stuff into those moments, jazz up the soggy middle and all. Sometimes works, sometimes it don’t. Sometimes I get the Great Hiccup of Confidence (G.H.C.). This goes something like: “Boohoo! my story is crap! Why am I bothering?” The G.H.C. usually appears after you get a Shiny New Idea (S.N.I.), after which your current work pales in comparison. Why, you need to get started on that S.N.I. straight away! This book wasn’t working anyway!!
I managed to get over the G.H.C. recently and am now on the home front for finishing the first draft of book 2 of a contemporary fantasy series. And boy, isn’t it a natty first draft. Or as I like to call it, Vomit on a Page (S.H.I.T.). When I did a course at the Queensland Writers Centre, my teacher referred to is as the Shitty First Draft. Now, I have a few of those hanging around, I know, because I looked at them a couple of months ago, wondering if there was anything salvageable. No. Computer says No. Those darlings are stone cold dead, I’m afraid.
It’s so hard to get those words down, so it’s extra awesome when you get over the hump of a book and realise you can finish it. I remember when I thought I could write a book; I was in high school and had just finished reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I figured since it was so much fun reading, it would be so much fun writing. Every lunch time, for 45 minutes, I sat down in the computer room and started hammering out my epic fantasy story. Girl gets kidnapped by aliens and is forced to hunt for magical rocks!!! Girl is sent to fantasy, medieval times!! Girl befriends sexy elf!!! Girl fights a dragon!!! Then girl discovers the stones were destroyed and finds her way back home. But she’s crazy by this point. Ahhhh, who doesn’t love a good Mary Jane. Well, most people, but that’s not the point. I remember showing my English teacher my awesome 60,000 word story. I remember the feedback being: “Yes. Well. There certainly is a lot of action in it, isn’t there.”
Damned straight, woman!
Oh, and there was a sexy barbarian in the story, who had to protect the girl. Ohhhh yeaaahh. And he was all broody and dark eyed and seeeexy. I’m pretty sure he looked Patrick Swayze. I’d been going through a Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja phase at the time and the hormones were strong with me. I mean, who doesn’t love a cool barbarian story? Give me a tall glass of Robert E. Howard any day. Okay, not for everyone. But still.
So, back to what I was talking about. Once I finish my S.F.D., I’ll put that puppy aside for about three weeks before picking it up for a read. In the meantime, I am going to finish a second S.F.D., which I ABANDONED when I hit The Falter Zone. Needless to say, I doubt my characters will be very impressed with me when I show up, commanding they DANCE FOR ME PUPPETS! GO ON, DANCE! This story is a traditional paranormal romance, with outlawed biker werewolves, banished to a small town in Tasmania. My working title is: Biker Werewolves in Tasmania. Yes. I will change it. I have 25,000 words to go. And I’m gonna stare that Falter Zone demon in its red, glowing eyes and poke ’em out.
Wo-hooo! So, come August, I will be attending the Romance Writers of Australia 21st Annual Conference with one of my fellow sisters. I am
knee groin neck-deep in the second MS of my contemporary fantasy series and planning to finish ASAP (Come on brain and fingers! Type faster, accurse thee! Be silent, children who crawl around my feet, sticking forks into wall sockets!). At the conference, I will be pitching “Blackgoat Watch”, the first in the series, so fingers crossed! Am seeing the pitch session right now: my glossy hair falls in perfect waves, my make-up is flawless, I confidently make eye contact (but not too much!) and laugh (but not too much!), I don’t stammer or repeat myself. I don’t accidentally spit. I don’t go bright red. Most importantly: I. DO. NOT. WAFFLE. No. I am Pitch Goddess. I think I need a talisman, like Wonder Woman underpants. Must remember not to mention underpants in pitch.
Then come November, I will be flying to Sydney to attend GenreCon, which will also be awesome! Some of the headliners are: Joe Abercrombie, Ginger Clark from Curtis Brown (Who liked my email pitch I sent early in the year and requested a partial. Project was passed on, but I was still over the moon my pitch got me to second base – woot woot!), Anna Campbell, Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (which I have been reading forever) and the always brilliant and magnificent Kim Wilkins.
So, a brilliant year still ahead! If only this manuscript would write itself. Curse you, stubborn protagonist! Be witty! Solve that crime! Kick that guy’s head in! DO something! Don’t just stand there waiting for me!