Friday, February 8, 2013

A Writer's Doubts

Self-doubt is one of the most debilitating of traits, and yet, we writers constantly denigrate our best efforts in spite of the evidence around us.

My guest is suspense author, Jo Robertson. Jo shares two novellas for your enjoyment. Her topic is one writers everywhere can identify withself doubt.

Anne Bradstreet, the Colonial American poet, wrote a poem titled “Author to Her Book,” in which she uses a lovely metaphor.  She compares her book to a child being sent out into the world as parents might send an unprepared child from their home – dirty-faced, tattered-dressed – not ready for the world to see it, judge it, or evaluate it. 

She indicates her book of poetry (her child) was sent out into the world by well-meaning friends, “friends, less wise than true . . .," who knew she needed the money. 

As a writer I identify with Bradstreet's sentiments.  Most writers never feel their works are finished, complete, or polished enough for the world to read and judge.  Every time I peruse an older manuscript of mine, I think of dozens of ways I could alter it, make it better, or just fiddle around with the damned thing! 

Extending her metaphor, Bradstreet insists that the book’s “visage was . . . irksome in [her] sight,” but because it was hers, she believed that affection would amend its blemishes.  However, the more she scrubbed its “face,” the “more defects [she] saw” till at last, her poverty “caused her to thus send [it] out of door.”

Oh, don't we fall in love with our words!  How difficult it is to eliminate a single one.

It’s a given that we writers have a lot of angst in our profession.  If we’re unpublished, we doubt our worth as writers; if published, we believe someone made a monumental mistake in acquiring the book and we’ll never sell another one because it was a fluke in the first place.  If we're indie published, as I am, we wonder how we became successful, or alternately, why we didn't.

Self-doubt is one of the most debilitating of traits, and yet, we writers constantly denigrate our best efforts in spite of the evidence around us.

I think artists of all kinds are the greatest self-doubters, but writers are particularly vulnerable.  After having published twelve titles with moderate success, I finally learned to trust my gut, to rely on my best judgment of my work.  Authors have always struggled to make a living from their writing.  Isn't it wonderful that in this electronic age we have so many options open to us?
When I'm selling well, especially in this quixotic and undependable market, I count my blessings!  I remind myself, when sales are low, that many of the greatest writers of our generation and previous ones, were not popular during their lifetimes.
What do you readers think?  

Are you one of those who doubts yourself?  Do you always second guess your decisions?  Are you too hard on yourself?  Do we writers fail to admire our strengths and dwell instead on our weaknesses?  Why do you think we do this?  

If you're not a writer, what do you have self-doubts about in your life?


Jo Robertson

Logan is a professional hit man. He finds the Christmas Season the dreariest and most boring of the year, but this particular year he gets caught up in a holiday jingle that lodges in his mind.

When he gets an unusual December contract, he follows a sassy twelve-year-old and her odd companions through the Bronx ... and serious trouble.

This assignment brings Logan face to face with the concept of how far he can go on this dark path before there's no turning back. 

Is it already too late for redemption?



When her husband dies unexpectedly Jane Stark is left with four young boys and a mother-in-law who hates her. When she finds herself pregnant with the longed-for baby girl her husband wanted and ex-detective Rick --- moves in next door, Jane doesn't know whether to be happy or overwhelmed with the changes life has handed her.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013


My guest is romance author, Susan Sey. The road to writing an engaging book has a lot of bumps, roadblocks, frustrations, and false paths. There are many necessary ingredients that must be blended just right to tell a good story. Certain components of a book are easier to develop than others, depending upon the author, and Susan discusses what is the hard part for her. 

What’s the hardest part of writing a book?  Ask one hundred authors and you’ll get one hundred different answers.  Possibly more.  (There are so many hard parts and some of us are indecisive.)  But if you’re asking me?  It’s the heroine.  Heroines just kill me.

Now according to conventional wisdom, readers want two things from their romance novels.  First, they want to fall in love with the hero.  Which is great news for me because my heroes are cooperative that way.  They jump out of my imagination and land on the page ready to run directly at the thing they want (us), conquer it (swoon!) and carry it home like Rhett carrying his Scarlett kicking and screaming (but not really) up the staircase.
*happy sigh*

So I've got that going for me.  But the other thing readers want from their romance novel experience?  A likable heroine.  A heroine who is so utterly engaging that readers not only root for her, but want to be her.  At least while reading the story.  That’s not our name on the page, but we like the character so much that, in our hearts, we are experiencing the story on her behalf, as if we are her.  And being that intensely involved in the story?  That’s what makes us close the book after THE END with a big, satisfied sigh. 
Creating a heroine who can do this, however?  That’s a problem for me.   I am, by nature, a cautious person.  It takes me a good long while--and considerable courage--to offer my friendship to somebody.  That whole instant likability thing?  Not a strong suit of mine.
It’s not that I’m writing myself as the heroine in every book.  (God forbid.)  But I, like most writers, am an introverted control freak who desperately craves connection.  As a result, every story I write is--at its heart--a journey from isolation to connectedness, at the cost of control.  In other words, while my characters are going to up happily enmeshed in family, they start out Chapter One in sort of a rough place.  Lonely.  Disconnected.  Unhappy.  But that sort of relentless grimness isn't exactly inviting.  So it’s my job as a writer to leaven it a bit with hope, comedy, and--yes--some instant likability.

My latest heroine--Belinda West from TASTE FOR TROUBLE--taught me a great deal about how that can be done.  When we meet her, Bel’s about to get married to a very good man she doesn't love.  And who doesn't love her.  And she’s fine with that.  Better than fine.  She doesn't want love in her life or anything like it.  She is, in fact, marrying her lawyer.  Her best friend is her personal assistant.  There is nobody in Bel’s life--in Chapter One, anyway--who isn't paid to be there.  She has her reasons for keeping people at arm’s length--really, really good ones--but until we discover what they are, she’s a little tough to love.

But fear not!  Nothing makes a girl more accessible than public humiliation, right?  So how about we have her fiancé and her best friend discover they’re in love and run off together minutes before the wedding? 

Not enough?

What if it all unfolds on live TV?

Still not enough?

What if it’s all the hero’s fault?

Mission accomplished. 

And why?  Because we all know what risk is.  We all know what failure feels like.  We all know how public humiliation stings, especially when it comes at the hands of a hot guy who didn't even notice you standing there.  And watching poor Bel swallow the whole thing in front of an audience of millions?  Instant sympathy.  Maybe she wasn't making great choices, but nobody deserves that.  You know what that girl deserves?  A happy ending.
And guess what?  She gets one.   She earns it.  I hope you’ll join her on the journey.

  • So tell me, who’s your favorite heroine of all time?  Why do you love her?  Did you love her right away, or did she have to grow on you?


Take one West Texas bad boy...

On the field, soccer star James Blake is pure poetry. Off the field? He’s pure trouble. When his fondness for fast women and bar brawls lands him a suspension from the game, he’s prepared to take his punishment like a man. But since when does a suspension come with a live-in nanny?

Add one domestic diva...

TV baking maven Belinda West is the epitome of home-made hospitality, on-screen and off. The personal is the professional when you’re selling the good life, after all. But when her wedding day implodes in front of a live studio audience, Bel’s career goes into a death spiral. She’ll do anything to save it, even take charge of soccer’s most famous bad boy.

Mix well and stand back... 

To hell with the morals clause in his contract; James isn't about to shape up for some knock-off Mary Poppins. But since when does Mary Poppins laugh like a naughty angel and smell like sugar cookies? He’s not looking for love but that kiss of hers is practically perfect in every way. And James has a powerful taste for trouble.

Because it's about to get hot in this kitchen.  Excerpt

Some years back, Golden Heart ® Award Winner Susan Sey gave up the glamorous world of software training to pursue a high powered career in diaper changing. Two children and millions of diapers later, she decided to branch out and started writing novels during nap time. The kids eventually gave up their naps, so now she writes when she's supposed to be doing the laundry. She currently resides in St. Paul, MN, with her wonderful husband, their charming children and a *very* tall pile of dirty clothes. 

You can visit her on the web at Facebook and Goodreads.

Monday, February 4, 2013


I've been fighting the creeping crudsneezing, sniffling, shivering and I feel like crap type of crud. See, when I'm sick, I'm not the sort that likes to be hovered over. I'm perfectly happy being left alone to sleep or entertain myself. It's a case of, I love you, but please go away. Bless their hearts, my guys have yet to get that, even after all these years. Case in point, Saturday.

“WHAT are you watching, Mom?”

I poke my head out from under the quilt, sniff into my tissue, and eye son #1 and his best friend who is really like son #2. They really are smart guys. Well, most of the time.

“What do you mean, ‘what am I watching’? Duh. Looney Tunes. Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, and Daffy Duck. That’s Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote. Sheesh. You've seen them before.”

I did mention he is usually very smart right? Just thought I’d remind you of that.

“Yeah…but you’re watching cartoons.”

“Okay. And…?

“But, you don’t watch TV.”

“Correction, I don’t watch stoopid zombie stuff and all the horror flicks you and Dad like to watch. Obviously, I do watch TV.”

My attention drawn back to the cartoon music intro and I smile as Foghorn Leghorn comes on. 

“Boy, ah say BOY. Go away yer botherin’ me son.” Foghorn always has the perfect quote. I pull the cover back over my head and settle down to watch Foghorn and the chicken hawk. The ‘lil persistent chicken hawk cracks me up. I love the laughter and trip down memory lane when times were simple.

I vaguely hear, in the background, my son talking to his dad. “Dad, I think mom’s feverish. You better check on her.”

A bit later, hubs pokes his head in to check on me. “You doin’ okay? What are you watching?”


I pull back my quilt and glare. “Looney Tunes. Somehow it fits my environment today.”

“How much whiskey did you put into that hot toddy?” He lifts the cup and sniffs.

(Obviously, not enough.) “It’s actually just hot tea, lemon and honey.”

“Huh. Can I get anything for you?”

“I fine, I just need everyone to leave me alone for a while.”

As Foghorn would say, “Like beatin’ a dead hoss, no get up and GO.”

A be dee be dee be dee a That’s all Folks!

  • What do you like to do when you're sick?
  • Do you like being catered to or left alone?