Getting up and running

Sharon Ashwood
December 29, 2009  •  No Comments

I sat down last night and wrote a scene of the new book, which is under the working title ICED. Why that title? It’s a winter book, for one thing. It’s also about people and societies being frozen in their way of thinking. It’s also about murders.

I’d written a “test scene” before. I’ll usually do that–throw the characters onto the page and see what happens. It helps me get a feel for the dynamics. Version 1.0 has its good parts and I’ll keep about half of it, but there was too much that wasn’t worked out to really make it fly on its own. This new scene was the real thing, all the characters’ strengths and weaknesses in place. Of course, the beginning wasn’t where I thought it should be. It never is.

Who will be back? So far, Perry, Lore, and Errata have made it through casting for major roles. Alessandro needs to be in it later on as well as some folks from UNCHAINED.


Invasion of the demon horde

Sharon Ashwood
October 5, 2009  •  No Comments

In the world of the paranormal romance, demons are growing nearly as popular as vampires and were-critters. Whether this reflects a desire for the badder bad boy, or just for an alpha hero that doesn’t require plasma slurpies or a chew toy, we seem to be in a Dantë-esque surplus of the demonic. I’m guilty of adding to the horde: the hero of Scorched (Signet Eclipse, Dec 1/09) has his own brimstone moments. It’s not that he’s a bad guy. He just tried to pick up the wrong girl in a bar. It happens.
And, where there are demons, angels (fallen flat as my last souffle) are not far behind. I’ve noticed a flock of the ex-angelic gracing romances these days. Not surprising: Entities finding their way across the old good/evil dividing line is an interesting subject, no matter where they start out from. Romance is often about redemption and, if love is the agent of change, it’s hard to find a reader who doesn’t root for a hero who, after a suitably rocky start, turns out to be good. Not so good he can’t adore his woman’s earthly charms, mind you. A few rough edges have to stay. Otherwise, they won’t fit into our human lives and families.
I’ve often wondered, though, about the practical side of paranormal romance. Case in point: what about the subtle but pervasive sulphur smell clinging to the carpet and drapes after your demon sweetie has invited the boys over for poker night? Will Febreeze take care of that, or do you need to exorcise the rec room yet again? And then there’s that gross head-spinning thing he always does after a few drinks on New Year’s Eve. That never goes over as well as he thinks it does. Boys will be boys, whatever the species.
There could be rocky moments in these happy-ever-afters. Nevertheless, we live in hope. The animal rescue societies can’t hold a candle to the vast number of fanged, furry, and feathered we romance writers have rehabbed and found forever homes. Fortunately, we don’t require a mandatory spay/neuter program.
Collectively, we’ve done good work rescuing the noble lover from grave, pit, and dog pound. However, domesticating the demonic does have a “farthest frontier” feel about it. I mean, after all the ectoplasm and belching of flame, after we’ve redeemed all the bad boys in hell, what next?
Anybody find sea monsters sexy? I mean, we’re talking lots and lots of flexible tentacles here …


Finish the wretched book mini-marathon

Sharon Ashwood
October 3, 2009  •  1 Comment

I’ve taken some time off the day job to shove Unchained closer to the finish line.  This book has had a very disjointed writing process.  Part of it was finishing up with school – I kept having to stop and write an assignment or exam.  I had a few other writing commitments to take care of.  Then, there is promo for Scorched, and the whole living as a functional adult problem.  Good for practicing multi-tasking, bad for writing.

So, I had to set some time aside and give it priority.  Yesterday, I made the mistake of going to email first, and that held me up until about noon.  But, I wrote a complete chapter after taking a walk.  I had one of those insights that I really only get partway into a long work – a real sense of what’s at the bottom of a character’s personality. It cleared a lot up for me and I think will make the story a lot more understandable for the reader. Ashe is a fairly straightforward gal, but even she has her blind spots.

If all else fails, always ask the vampires what’s going on. They always seem to know.


Naming Characters

Sharon Ashwood
July 12, 2009  •  No Comments

My characters tend to show up full-grown. They walk into my head, sit down, and start trying to boss me around. Usually they come with their names, as well as annoying habits, a fashion statement (or lack thereof), and attitude.

Occasionally, though, you get the one-name guy. Historical writers will be familiar with this phenomenon—they’ll be “Buckingham” or “Fitzcarruthers” and evidently popped into the universe with no first name and, if they’re aristocracy, only a title. It takes me months of prodding before they finally confess to being “Steve” or “Bob”. Captain Reynard (you’ll meet him in SCORCHED) didn’t have a first name until I slapped one his forehead and said “live with it.” He’s still pouting even though I’ve explained REPEATEDLY that a hero with his own book has to make SOME sacrifices. Yeesh. I’m still writing book three, so he’d better mind his manners or I’ll have my revenge.

However, it’s not safe to assume a werecougar or a hellhound or even a witch will have the same naming traditions as a human. Witches take their surnames from their mothers, not their fathers. This had me really confused until I figured out that the blood relationships between my various characters would only work if the society was matrilineal. Suddenly a complex family tree problem was solved. Yup, the author is sometimes the last to know.

Hellhounds, as far as I can figure, only have one name. Lore is just Lore, although there’s no “just” about him. What do you say about a guy who risks death daily to save just one more of his people?

Another upcoming character is Errata Jones, an announcer/journalist/werecougar and a good friend of Perry Baker’s (the werewolf professor in RAVENOUS). An errata is a list of corrections, so she’s obviously playing a joke. I wonder about her real name but, y’know, cats have secrets. She hasn’t given me hers yet.

There are a lot of complexities in naming characters, and I’ve always found that it never pays to force it. If I sit down with a book of names and try to choose one, it won’t stick. It kind of makes me wonder about our parents picking baby names before we’re even born. How many of us feel like we truly fit the name we got?


Someday I might pay handsomely to keep this all quiet …

Sharon Ashwood
February 24, 2009  •  No Comments

Cross posted from www.SilkandShadows.com

The topic “favourite paranormal stories that I didn’t write” is a bit ambiguous. Does that mean a story that someone else wrote? Or does the “I didn’t write” mean books that I wanted to write, but never got to? Too many of those to list in one blog!
The topic might also mean my problem children—books written or partially written that will never see the light of day. I have at least five ‘under the bed’ books. My earliest full-length, complete novel was written when I was 16, and it was a coming of age story which I believed worthy of common stock in Kleenex. Enough said.
During university I wrote a peculiar novel about a frat house where some of the Romantic English poets lived and attended classes. I also had John Constable and Eugene Delacroix having a torrid affair. There was a beach-at-dawn duel between John Keats and the narrator. No, I don’t know what I was thinking. Probably exam stress.
Then there was one I wrote when I was incarcerated in Secretarial College. Yes, that’s where (during the last major recession) cash-poor English majors went after graduation and there were zero jobs to be had. We weren’t allowed to wear jeans and had to sign in and out. Absences required a doctor’s note. A come down from cum laude, let me tell you.
I wrote, during the particular hell known as typing class, a comic adventure about a vampire, a werewolf, and a tiger’s eye ring. Writing was my means of mental survival and, what the heck, I was typing, wasn’t I? It was a very hot summer, I was stuck in a room with about forty IBM Selectrics all going at once, and the roof next door was being tarred. Blargh!
While I was clerking at the mall part-time, I wrote another historical involving a consumptive poet, an opera-singing count, devil-worship, a secret baby, sorcery and, oh, a few other odds and sods. It had (she says with a sentimental quaver) my first ritual sacrifice scene.
There were others, plus a boatload of fragments, bright ideas and things that puzzled my editor. Yes, I’ve become much more aware of the demands of the commercial market, but I’m glad I wrote for a long time with no eye to sales potential. I had amazing adventures, made mistakes with gusto, and plumbed the depths of cheesy plots—all with no one (except teachers and employers) looking over my shoulder. Now I can settle down and proceed with more method, less hysteria, and a snowball’s chance of getting another human to read it.
Those old manuscripts had better stay buried, though. Good thing I’m too poor to be worth blackmailing!


Touchdown

Sharon Ashwood
November 21, 2008  •  1 Comment

Wow.

The initial production on the sequel to RAVENOUS is complete.  That is, the author has proposed, and now the editor will dispose.  There bound to be some changes. There always are.

I’m sad, because I really enjoyed spending time with my characters, particularly my sarcastic hero.  It’s an emotional wrench when the manuscript leaves. Of course, it’s going to come back forty thousand times until I’m heartily sick of it but, for now, I feel all empty nesty and woebegone.

The book is (at least in this point of time) called SCORCHED. As both my editor and I like the title, I’m hoping it stays.

Tonight I’m going out for dinner.  Tomorrow—I have to look at the list that starts “when the book is done …”


Deadlines

Sharon Ashwood
November 11, 2008  •  No Comments

I’ve been quiet lately, but in a good cause.  It’s deadline time! Yup, the initial round of manuscript fun for book two is happening right now. The rush to the finish line. The pile of candy wrappers. The endless cups of coffee. The thousand-yard stare at the flickering screen. No more “I’ll fix it later” because the later is now.

Yeah, we’ll get to the finish line on time. It’s never pretty, but it’s a necessary part of the process.

 


Yee-haw – product endorsements!

Sharon Ashwood
October 17, 2008  •  No Comments

This week brought early Hallowe’en presents from the universe.  RAVENOUS has cover quotes! It’s impossible to describe how much this is valued by an author, especially one like me who is launching a debut. Let it be known that these fine ladies have bestowed an act of kindness–and they’re darned fine writers, too!

A multilayered plot, a fascinating take on paranormal creatures living among us, plus a sexy vampire, a sassy witch and a mystery for them to solve. . . RAVENOUS leaves me hungry for more!

 –  Jessica Anderson, author of The Final Prophecy series

 Sexy, suspenseful fun. Ashwood really knows how to tell a story.

 – NYT best-selling author Kelley Armstrong