Monday, July 26, 2010

Choosing an Audience by Lori Hebert Leger

Okay, I admit it. My first try at writing was horrible. I know this, because after writing four more manuscripts I went back and re-read the first one. Awful, awful, awful…thank goodness I didn’t have the cahonas to send that one off or enter it in a contest. (I’m still editing that one.) I want to let you in on a little secret. When I first started writing, I thought I wanted to write R rated books. You know the kind I’m talking about. Where people cuss, fuss, and…other things.

Eventually, I had to stop and ask myself, who do I want to write for? Do I want to write for younger women who are looking for romance novels with hot, steamy, love scenes? Well folks, I tried my hand at writing a few scenes...really hot ones. It made me realize that, although I can write them, I don't want to. Frankly, just the thought of people reading a scene like that and knowing that I wrote it is embarrassing to me. I'm not a prude, and believe me, I'm no saint…I’ve read plenty of books like that over the years; but I am a Catholic, although I’m a lazy one. As a Catholic, I have a confession to make. I use my 84 year old mother as a thermometer for my writing. There, I’ve said it. If my mom, who's had eight children, and doesn't have a shy bone in her body, can't pass my manuscripts around to her friends in the garden club and Ladies' Alter Society without making excuses for my style of writing, then it's too hot. I don't care if my mom lives to be 110 and I'm a spry 77 years old, I still wouldn't want to disappoint her.

So, I’ve chosen my audience. I'm shooting for the middle age women, or men, who won't mind reading a book with only the occasional s.o.b., damn, or hell instead of the eff word. Someone who won't be disappointed when the hero and heroine don't rip each others' clothes off and make mad, passionate love on their first date. Oh, there’ll be sparks between them, don’t you worry. They may want to do those things, but I won't allow it...Not as long as mama's watching. ;-)
Happy Writing,

Lori Leger has only been writing seriously for two years. In that time she's completed five full length novels in the Women's Fictional Romance genre. She works full time in the Design section of the Department of Transportation and Development as an Engineer Technician 4 in Lake Charles. Lori is currently unpublished but hopes to rectify that situation in the near future.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Story of Me by Lori Hebert Leger

I just finished the first draft of the ‘new and improved’ version of my very first manuscript, Some Day Somebody. This is the story I wrote about me...or the new me...the one with a degree, a new career, the courage to walk away from a bad marriage, and the self confidence to find the love of my life. I never intended it for publishing because it was my life. So much so, that once I finished, my daughters refused to read it because of its personal nature.

After completing it, I immediately began a second manuscript, my head filled with ideas and characters. I used the two original characters and created new ones – coworkers and family friends from the original heroine’s hometown, a fictional town of Gardiner, taken from a real person, old Doc Gardiner. Doc Gardiner delivered so many babies in my hometown of Gueydan that they had a Doc Gardiner Day for him one year, with a parade and everything. He delivered me and all my siblings, as well as both my parents.

Okay, so I finished the second book, then began a third, using secondary characters from the previous book, then a fourth, and even a fifth. About halfway through the fifth book, something began to eat at me. The first story, Sam and Carrie’s story (I’ve changed all names to protect the innocent – and the guilty) never left me. It kept insisting that it needed to be told. After all, Carrie is the cornerstone of the five books - she’s the hub. Every character in my books either knows her or knows someone who does.

I jumped back on it, changed or removed the personal nature so that my daughters can read it and still face me afterwards, and added some drama and suspense to make it much more interesting. I revamped the story, in some ways telling it as I wish it had happened instead of as it did happen. I made Carrie wiser, less prone to losing her temper than I am, and infinitely more patient than I was at thirty-five years old when it all came about. I can almost see my daughters rolling their eyes at the nearer to perfect version of myself.

Seeing my life laid out in black print on a white page, I’ve come to accept something about myself. Doc Gardiner and my mom may have birthed me back in October of 1958, but ultimately, God and I are responsible for my re-birth back in December of 1993. In writing this story, I’ve come to realize that God presented the opportunities for me, but he also gave me the courage to step up and accept each and every one of them. Once I accepted the challenge, He closed doors and opened windows, essentially herding me to the destination He’d chosen for me. This time, instead of fighting Him and choosing my own path, I followed His lead and ended up exactly where I should be.

Happy Writing! ~Lori

Lori Leger has only been writing seriously for two years. In that time she's completed five full length novels in the Women's Fictional Romance genre. She works full time in the Design section of the Department of Transportation and Development as an Engineer Technician 4 in Lake Charles. Lori is currently unpublished but hopes to rectify that situation in the near future.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Writer's Lair by Georgia Downer

Writer’s Lair is the presumptuous label for my writing space at home. I love this room. It’s filled with books, pictures, 3-ring binders containing hard copies of my stories, and a metal Whitman’s Sampler can stuffed with receipts from exotic adventures at Wal-Mart, JC Penney’s, Popeye’s, and other reminders of exciting daily living. A poster-sized tempera painting of 2 deer hangs in here. I did it in 7th or 8th grade and won 2nd prize in the art contest. Competition was light that year.

Much of my time here is spent not writing. I pay bills online, read way too much email, and browse the ‘net. Or work with Bob on his video about the 75 cars he’s owned. I chat with Katy, our 10-year old granddaughter who lives in Illinois and types faster than I do. I often cruise through the twenty-five cookbooks at my elbow for a new recipe for dinner. Or pick up my all-time favorite book from the bookcase behind me and read “Beautiful Joe” by Marshall Saunders one more time.

These are a few of the things that inspire (such an elegant word) me to set down mundane events and thoughts now and then. A polite prompt from Jessica for a BWG blog offering never hurts either. Recording those experiences will never make me a great writer, but doing so has created a happy one.
Keep writing!

Georgia Downer is BWG publicist. She writes essays and short fiction and has won prizes for her work. She's currently working on a novel.

Friday, July 2, 2010


I'm going over my "baby"- -the first novel I wrote, and trying to re-format it (one space at the end of each sentence, punctuation-stuff like that) as well as rewriting awkward and unclear sentences and situations. I find stuff to correct, only to find that the next sentence clears it up. Is this bad? I read it 8 times, 4 in each version, and the more I do it the more neither seems correct nor better.

Show, don't tell. EVER? This is when the first shark appears. Will he eat the scene? Will he eat the author? Will he look at it and decide, "I wouldn't eat either on a bet." If he swims off and leaves the scene, have I been passed or passed over?

The dialogue shark swims over to look at the conversation carrying the action. Should it be ultra correct grammatically? Who talks like that? Realism rears its ugly head and repeats into my ear what I heard my character say in the vernacular of those about whom (gotcha there, didn't I?) I write. They don't talk like that. Y'all know it. Anybody who's been there'll set you straight on it. They won't correct you, but you'll get a side wise look wondering just how many days you rode the turnip truck before you fell off with your funny way of talkin'. Dialect can bog you down right up to your eyeballs which the dialogue shark will want to eat up and try to spit out as proper, sterile speech. Now what? Scratch his tummy or spread shark repellent? I lean toward the latter, but wonder if I have already leaned too far, fallen off the boat, and am both overboard and up to my eyeballs in dialectic speech and ready to fight the shark.

Now I wonder about the sharks. Am I relying too much on outside influences? Am I (quoting my wife) wringing all the flavor juices out of the work by jumping through other people's literary hoops and not relying on my own instincts?

Write what you know. I've heard this a bunch. I know how the people I write about sound. Grew up with them. Worked with them. Was loved, reared, and cherished by them- -black, white, and mixed, and loved and cherished them in return.

I'll borrow from Admiral Farragut at the Battle of Mobile Bay (Civil War), and paraphrase him:
"Damn the sharks. Full speed ahead." He won his battle.

Now, if the sharks don't get me, maybe I'll win mine and get published some day. Hope springs eternal.

Harvey Honsinger, a 6th generation Texan, has six completed novels--westerns and historicals--and is actively marketing them. His short stories and poetry have been published in Arena Literary magazine. Harvey is an active member of the Thursday BWG critique group.