Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Art Of Writing Doesn't Always Come Easy

My guest is para romance author, Devyn Quinn. She admits that she’s had to struggle with her writing. Finding her voice and style has taken time. Devyn won the 2009 Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award for paranormal. She certainly seems to have hit her stride with her new series, The Dark Tide.

What impressed me about Devyn is she had a goal and didn't let anything get in the way of accomplishing it. She was willing to learn and work hard to achieve  that goal. Kudos to Devyn!

Writing doesn't come easy to me.

Does that sound like something a writer would say? Well, it's true. The art of taking pen in hand and creating effervescent prose that fairly jumps off the page and catches the reader's attention is an art I've struggled to master for over 20 years.

Don't misunderstand me. Since grade school (the first grade, as a matter of fact) I knew--just knew--that I would grow up and write books. From the moment I learned that individual letters make words, and that words made sentences that contained fantastic stores of other worlds far away from my own, I had only one single goal in mind. To write my own books.

Unfortunately there is a lot more to the process than simply sitting down and telling the stories writing in your mind. There's that thing I like to call "mechanics", all the various pieces it takes to write a good book. By mechanics I mean more than simply being able to write and punctuate sentences. Mechanics also means arranging the words into dialogue and description that will convey the images living in your mind to your reader.

But how to do that?

For the longest time that answer eluded me. I thought the best way to learn to write was to read stories that interested me by authors I admired. And that's true. But only to a point. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When I go back over my earlier pre-publication work I can clearly pick out the style and influences of the writer I was reading at the time. Yes, the writing was competent. But it wasn't my own. It was me, trying to recreate the style of another author.

Although I wrote many books as the years passed, I came to a point where I began to doubt publication would ever arrive. The thing editors often refer to, as "a writer's voice" seemed to elude me. It was there, but always out of my reach. Where to find my voice and how to use it were questions I asked, but ones seemingly without answer. In quizzing my published friends, they would often shrug and admit they didn't know where that special inner touch came from. It just was.

Sounds so Zen, right?

Instead of feeling tranquil, I was gnashing my teeth. “So where's mine? “ I often demanded as I flogged myself with my metal whip for being too stupid to write a good sentence.

And then it dawned on me. Instead of trying to imitate my favorite authors, I needed to close their books and put them out of my mind. No, it wasn't that I forgot what their stories were about. In fact, it was just the opposite. I remembered those stories, but I made myself forget their words. Instead of thinking, for example, "How would King or Grisham write this line?” I began to make myself think about how I would write it.

And then it happened. I found my "voice" as a writer. No, it didn't happen overnight and it certainly wasn't easy. But as I grew older and began to call upon my own personal experiences in life and my conscious perception of the world around me, I realized I didn't need to look to other writers for knowledge on how to write my books. The know-how was inside me all along. Time, practice and a little bit of nurturing sharpened my rudimentary skills.

In the 20 years I’ve been writing, I’ve written almost 20 books and several short stories. No, I’m not a bestseller or well-known author by any means. But I am determined someday I will be. I came a little bit closer to my goal when I did what I had thought was impossible: I was nominated for, and won, the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award for best paranormal erotic romance in 2009. Not only was I up against authors who I considered far more talented than I will ever be, there were a couple I considered virtually unbeatable.

So if I can do it, anybody can.

All it takes is a lot of determination, oodles of practice and the fortitude to shake of rejection and keep on working toward your goal.

Trust me on this one. I’ve been there, and I’m still learning the ropes.
  • What about you? What have you had to overcome in your writing journey?

Siren’s Call, Book One of Dark Tides Series

Between desire and love there are some things that can’t stay buried, even in the deep of the ocean.

As a woman with a secret, lighthouse keeper Tessa Lonike savors her solitude on the island of Little Mer, off the coast of Maine. During a violent storm, Tessa spots a man thrashing in the ice cold waters and dives in to save him, using her ability as a mermaid to easily pull him to shore.

When Kenneth Randall awakens on the beach he is alone, left with the haunting memory of his beautiful, flame-haired savior. But a year later, when Kenneth meets her again, he’s determined not to let Tessa slip away. Just as the desire between them begins to burn, Tessa’s archaeologist ex-lover comes back to town with a tantalizing clue to her murky heritage.

The trio travel to the Mediterranean in search of answers, and when Tessa inadvertently opens an underwater portal they find a lost mermaid city. But in the deep, not everything is as it seems, and Tessa must decide if she wants to take her place as the royal heir, or follow the call of her heart…Excerpt 


Devyn Quinn lives in the scenic Southwest, though she has called several other states home. She is a huge fan of dark gothic music & shoot-’em-up action movies. But reading is her first love and Devyn spends too much time with history books, as well as feeding her addiction for celebrity biographies. She especially enjoys reading books on Hollywood before the 1960′s and is crazy about Marilyn Monroe, her legend and her myth.

Be on the look out for book two in The Dark Tide series: THE SIREN'S SURRENDER February 2011



~Sia McKye~ said...

Devyn, welcome to Over Coffee. There's plenty of coffee and fresh made breakfast goodies and snacks. Have a seat in our cofy chair and relax and enjoy yourself.

I have to say, I'm another who set goals and works my butt off to accomplish them. Writing isn't a matter of just putting words on a page and sending it off and eurecka, you're published.

I appreciated how you brought that out. :-)

Devyn Quinn said...

Thanks for the welcome! Glad to be here. I'm writing a new book now and it's like pulling teeth: painful! Lol

Darynda said...

Wonderful post, Devyn!!! I used to wonder about the writer's voice as well. I understood it on a visceral level, but I wasn't sure what mine was. Or if I even had one. Then I just decided to write like I think instead of trying to copy my favorite authors at the time like Judith McNaught and later, Julia Quinn.

So far, so good!

Tonya Kappes said...

I think most first time writers get in the habit of trying to imitate their favorite author. Finding your voice is crucial in this business and once I found mine, I became the confident writer! I love your journey story, thanks for sharing!

Mason Canyon said...

Devyn, sounds like you did indeed find your voice for writing. So glad that you continued on, Very inspiring post for writers and non-writers alike.

Sia, you've interviewed another wonderful author and introduced me to more books.

Thoughts in Progress

~Sia McKye~ said...

Mason, this one does sound like a good read, doesn't it? Besides, turnabout is fair play. You've been tempting me with Canadian writers you've found.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Tonya, if I need to for a project(we had to do some in a few College English Lit classes),I can *imitate* but I've always found it easier to write things my way, lol!

I do take note of how my favorites present family relationships, or a turn phrase, perhaps a transition, or pace. For me, imitating has always been harder work than just being me.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Devyn, have some more coffee, :-)

I can understand painful. I'm participating in NaNo. Good practice for writing to deadlines and for getting back your discipline for writing daily. I have a project I wanted to get done so NaNo is great for that. I did prepare but still there are times it's harder. That's why I liked your article.

Set your goal, work your butt off to accomplish it. Don't let anything stand in your way. I just keep putting one foot infront of the other.

VA said...

Hello...leg is caught in the ropes. Seriously, I frequently find myself hanging upside down from a story that got away from me. Not pretty and often a mutually contentious relationship-- I don't feel too happy about the story and it doesn't think I'm hot stuff either.

Nano is a nightmare. I caught myself rereading the sentences I was writing and changing text and punctuation. Soooo not the appropriate response.

Anya Howard said...

Great post, Devyn. But I always knew you are dedicated to your craft, which is one reason I find you inspiring as an author and a woman.

I guess the biggest obstacle I've had to overcome on the writers journey is being able to wisely and safely distribute my time on the computer. With my epilepsy it is important not to overdo the computer, but in this age the computer keyboard is just part of our daily reality.

Devyn Quinn said...

It is tough to figure out who you are as a writer and what you want to write. I've been at it for years now, and I still don't know! But it's nice to have a community of readers and other writers to share the journey with!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia and Devyn .. that sounds intriguing .. and it's good to hear the background to getting published etc ..

The book does sound fun - with those extra interests and twists .. and I love your paragraph .. where you say we need to find our own voice and our own stories - it will come.

Good to read - thanks to you both .. Hilary

Kat Sheridan said...

Hi,Devyn! What a great story of perserverance! I'm still struggling on the journey, flailing away at the whole writting thing, but hearing success stories like yours are so inspirational!

Jo said...

From all I read from authors, perseverance is what its all about. Slog, slog, slog.

Olivia Cunning said...

First, your book covers are GORGEOUS! Second, I had the exact same problem finding my voice. Lucky for me I have some very talented writer friends who pointed it out to me. Repeatedly. I think I have it figured out now. Maybe.

Many congrats on your publications and the award. Awesome!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Olivia, you certainly have figured it out and gloriously, I might add. Love your stories!

I LOVE Devyn's covers too. I've ordered this book. I like the story line, her style of writing and the cover.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo, lolol! Slog. I can tell you my brain is slushy right now.

NaNo is trying to kill me. But I love it!

Houston A.W. Knight said...

Hey Sia!

Ah, I'm glad I'm not the only one who's in the middle of writing another book that (for the first time) isn't coming as easy as all the others had come. Pulling teeth is right!

Enjoyed the interview!