Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Art of Writing

There were many things running through my mind about how to open my first blog for The Morgan Diaries. Everything from what I’m reading to a tirade about the amount of cream filling in Twinkies. Honestly, I believe Hostess is putting not even half of what was in there when I was a kid, but I digress.

Instead, I thought I’d talk about the main focus of this blog. Writing, or at least my take on what it takes to be an effective writer. Feel free to skip this if you wish, but sometime in the future there may be a test and then won’t you look silly, sitting there with a dumb look on your face.

For those of you who know me, probably think this is going to be another insane missive from me, you may be in for a surprise. More than likely, I’m going to prove you right, seeing as how I am slightly to the left of sane on a normal day. But here goes.

Writing is more than simply sitting in front of your keyboard, laptop, or the old click and clang on the typewriter your Auntie Bea gave you for Christmas a hundred years ago or even the trusty old spiral notebook and Bic pen. That is a valuable part of the process, don’t get me wrong. Without any of those tools, you’re just whistling Dixie, so to speak. To write in my opinion you must first be an observer of the human nature.

Inserting hero A into heroine B isn’t going to cut it. As a writer you need to breathe life into your characters. Hiding away in your office won’t work. You can try it but I think your characters will feel flat to your readers and if you’re honest with yourself, you too. In all my books I try to kidnap… Uh I mean, look for a personality that fits what I’m looking for in who I want my heroine or hero to be.

In my book How Wicked Can She Go? I actually started with Nikki as a character before I even had a story to go along with her. That’s because I knew Nikki intimately. I had her personality firmly in hand because she was a good friend of mine—both literary and in real life, so to speak. My good friend Meme—shameless plug to my bud—presented just the right amount of insane and lovability to make Nikki come to life in my head. As a result, Nikki is perhaps one of my favorite characters out of all the ones I’ve created. I didn’t just pull the trick in Wicked. All my books have pieces of all those people I love in the them. To my friends, it’s up to you to figure out which ones you are.

That’s one way to observe. The other is watching the world around you. Check the news, what your friends are doing—anything that screams there is a story to be told in this. I’ve had trips to Wal-mart that have sparked scenes, but Wally World is the seventh ring of Hell. If you don’t have at least one Wal-mart story begging to be told, something’s wrong with you. The basic thing I’m getting at is don’t close your eyes for a minute, you might miss something.

The hardest thing for an author to do is make their world believable. Let’s face it, there are no new ideas. Everything has been covered, a thousand—make that a million—different ways. We—as authors—have the task of making a story you—the reader—have read a kaziollion times seem new and fresh. Tell me that ain’t a bitch and a half to do.

How do we do it? By making our characters and settings so real and personal to you, you can’t help but be drawn into it and incapable of escaping to the safety of the world around you. That one statement brings me back to where I started this rambling. Step one in becoming a writer is observation, not plunking down in a comfy chair and taping the keys. I think if you examine the books you love, you can see what I’m talking about.

In closing, if you spy on your friend’s and neighbors, you’ll become the writer you always wanted to be. But, to avoid jail time don’t do an illegal wire tap unless the dirt is just too juicy to pass up. Then, feel free to pass the info on to me. Desperate Housewives is becoming a little too tame.

Another insane missive from the mind of
the Redneck Bubba Romantic

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What you look like depends on where you're standing

I'm sneaking in while J.Morgan isn't looking. This topic isn't on our manifesto, but I'm adding it anyway.

This week is turning into something of a surprise. I'm attending Bouchercon, a convention for mystery writers.

Why is a Romance author at a convention for mystery writers? Make that, Erotic Romance Author (capital letters if you please).

For one, it's in my home town. It isn't often Anchorage, Alaska plays host to such a national event. Well, for mystery writers it is a national event.

For another, the publicity person is one of my RWA Chapter sisters. She talked me into it. In fact, once I told her I was attending on behalf of my publisher,
Dark Eden Press, she tossed my butt onto the schedule and made me do a panel. Now there was a laugh, two romance authors (Jackie Ivie was the other) flanked a former columnist, Mike Duggan, and talked about marketing and such. I got to tackle the ebook angle which surprisingly hit a positive nerve.

Anyhow, what a kick. I've been handing out business cards. Talking epublishing, and listening in on panels. I'm taking a break this afternoon because I had other business to attend to. My dreams get cranky if I don't pop in with an afternoon nap sometimes. I don't want to fall asleep during the big event tonight. Diana Gabaldon is in town and she's the keynote speaker.

I digress. This morning I sat in on a panel about Writers and the Internet. Imagine my surprise when
The Man In Black himself was on the panel. Editor/author Jason Pinter, in case you don't recognize his name. There were some other authors, one who belongs to a group called the Naked Authors. Not one erotica writer in the bunch I'm sad to say. Jason was joined by Patricia Smiley, Aliza Sherman Risdahl and Frank Wydra. Anyone recognize any of those names? If you do I may send you one of the free books I got in my book bag. I also spent time chatting with Robert Fate this morning. Anyone know him? I got one of his bookmarks.

I digress again. The whole point of their panel, they went into more detail about what I'd said the day before. Authors who want to get noticed need to use the 'net. Blog. Website. Myspace even if you have to hire your teenager to do it for you. But get out there and get seen on the net.

Hey! That's what we're doing here! Only I don't have to hire my teenager. I can't speak for the other Morgan...

So, per the title of this post. What do I look like in this crowd of mystery writers? I'm not sure, but I wonder if the chairwoman has taken exception to my tiny little e-publisher. I'm sure she thinks we publish only smut. I noticed that in the catalog my blurb merely says "No information at time of publication." Well, Dark Eden Press does publish smut, but there are also plenty of fine stories in with all that smut. We have two mysteries already published and more on the way. In fact, there's a fabulous Romantic Suspense series on the way. The Rich Series, courtesy of yours truly - shamless self-promo plug.

Anyhow, I'll have more information and news later. Signing off from Bouchercon 2007

Morgan, the cute one.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Morgans are In the House

In the immortal words of the Rolling Stones…

Please allow me to introduce myself. Hope you guess my name.

Seriously, I am the J. Morgan in this M&M smorgasbord of insanity. In addition to being a Morgan, I also ply my trade as an author quite liberally whenever the real world gives me time to do so. Why romance you may be asking yourself? Being from the Deep South, I felt it incumbent to represent all the repressed males hanging around by becoming a romance novelist. If I didn’t, who would? So, Bubbas of the world unite. The Redneck Romance Novelist is alive and well in Louisiana.

And forty years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught the band to play... That would make me the Morgan Q. O'Reilly half of this panel.

I'm the frozen one, or soon will be as winter creeps down the mountains in Alaska. So we have you covered with sultry southern nights and cozy fires backlit by the Northern Lights. I write Romance with a strong Erotic edge. I write contemporary as well as futuristic sci-fi, sometimes with a paranoral edge, as well as romantic suspense. In other words, whatever strike my fancy or tickles my muse.

Not only are we romance novelists, but we will always be readers first and foremost. That being the case, we have our own unique views on authors, genres and what direction romance is taking. What we hope to do is share our views with all of you. Whether you agree with them or not we want to hear from you who take the time to read this blog. Let us know what you’re reading, writing, or anything you feel passionately about that we’re discussing.

There's just one rule to posting - NO SNARKS.

Future topic we want to get into include, but are not limited to:


  • Series - are they killing the HEA?
  • What makes Romance?
  • What crosses your line?
  • Authors who inspire(d) us
  • Other media which parallels the Romance Movement
Book Reviews - What's hot and what flopped.
Author spotlights
Guest Bloggers - Authors making a difference and Newbies we think you should watch out for.

That list is just to get us started. We'll think of more as we go along.

Feel free to pass on ideas of topics you'd like to see addressed or the name of an author you think deserves some positive time under the limelight. We'd love to hear what you have to say.

Morgan2x, or M&M