This is the paranormal blog of author Lynda Hilburn, http://www.lyndahilburnauthor.com
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Australian Chick Lit: My friend Louise Ross
Louise Ross is a delightful woman. Even if she didn't have a cool Australian accent, you'd have to appreciate her persistence, dedication, quirky world view and rebellious grin. Louise has been a writer for a long time, while also exploring other interests, such as astrology. I met Louise when she came to me for a Tarot reading a long time ago. I'm especially jazzed to see Tildy Wilson (the book written by Louise's alter ego) journey down the birth canal and scream for all the world to hear. Check out her website to discover the wild and clever world of Tildy Wilson/Louise Ross. www.TildyWilson.com No worries.
OK. I know I shouldn't be making such a big deal out of a trip across the pond. I'm a contemporary woman. Savvy. Appropriately jaded and cynical. Ah, London. Yawn. Well, forget that. I've been fantasizing about going to England for forever, dreaming of castles, perfecting my various English accents and acting out the Elisa Doolittle part in "My Fair Lady." (Which I got to sing in high school.) A guy with an English accent just does it for me. Maybe a past life memory, maybe ancestral/cellular recollections, maybe a simultaneous existence -- who knows? So, I'll be there as part of a very brief tour the first week of October. I'll have unstructured time to wander about, and I would appreciate hearing about anything you think I should go and see. What would a paranormal fiction writer like myself find appealing in London? I'll be staying at a hotel in the Victoria Station area. Are there any London paranormal writers who might like to get together for a meal? An ale? All suggestions/ideas appreciated!!
I've said often that I haven't been involved in fiction writing for very long. Only a couple of years. And during those two years, I've been in learning/listening mode. As usually happens when I begin something relatively new (and I was very surprised by how different fiction is from my familiar nonfiction, although writing in first person takes a bit of the edge off), I respectfully sit back and figure out the ground rules -- scope out the territory -- map the psychic environment. I noticed several things which I found to be annoying, but wrote them off to the eccentric characteristics of some writers. Hell, I'm eccentric. I thought most creative types were. But then I started to notice this other thing. This nasty, competitive thing. This "I'm an expert" thing. Let me say right off the bat that I know for sure that writing -- regardless of the "rules" -- is highly subjective. One reader's masterpiece is another reader's eye-rolling, book-in-the-trash disaster. One writer's wonderful story is another writer's info dump. A dear writing friend of mine recently got a "critique" from someone who writes in an entirely different genre than she does. This "critique" not only hurt her feelings (she's a fine writer) but set her back (my friend has the necessary tough skin, but this "feedback" was unnecessarily harsh). My friend let herself be swayed by the "I'm an expert" approach of this "critique" giver, and forgot that what this woman considered "wrong" with my friend's story, was only her OPINION. Take what you can use from the feedback and beware of people who give their opinions as if they're facts. At a conference, I listened to two editors trash a well-known book series for a multitude of reasons. As much as I was offended by this public display of ignorance, I was more amazed by the audacity of the "experts." Their reasons for trashing this book series made it clear that they are both very, very young and their understanding of the layers and complexities of life is very limited. What I learned from listening to them is that I would never, under any circumstances, submit any of my work to them. I wonder how many other people in the audience came to the same conclusion as I did? Then there was the moderator of a loop I belong to who felt totally free to tell her membership that a highly-touted new book ("The Historian" -- I added information about it in my list of recommended paranormal books in the November, 2004 archive) wasn't the literary gem they'd heard, but it was, instead, a massive info dump. Having just read that book, and enjoyed it tremendously, I'd suggest that everyone remember that info dumps are in the mind/eye of the beholder. Just because something is too much for YOU doesn't mean it's wrong, bad writing, or should be slapped with a simplistic label. There are many, many kinds of good writing/good stories. Enough rant for now. I'm sure I'll think of something else. Stay tuned.
I went to Writers Weekend in Seattle with an optimistic attitude and expectations about learning great gobs of good writing stuff. I came home smiling. Exhausted, but smiling. First, I want to say that Karen Junker, who puts on this weekend of creative madness, truly deserves many metaphorical and literal pats on the back. She went above and beyond to make sure everyone had a great time and she succeeded. I think it will take her an entire year to recuperate from all the work she put into this conference, but I certainly plan to attend again next year. The best part of a small gathering like this is getting the chance to talk with agents, editors, published authors and unpublished authors in comfortable, informal groups. You never knew who you'd find sitting in the little food room, and everyone was willing to chat. The lectures, discussions and panels were very good. The focus of this Writers Weekend was genres, and all sorts of permutations of category blending could be found. It was great to mingle with science fiction, mystery, fantasy, paranormal, paranormal chick lit, romance, etc. writers and to talk about the ways the lines between the genres are blurring. Pitch appointments were the source of much anxiety, and I slipped around that this time by not doing any specific pitching. I had already submitted my stuff to the one agent there who might have been a good fit for my paranormal women's fiction/chick lit w/romance elements and mystery elements, so I could relax and enjoy everyone else's success stories. And there were lots of them. I did talk to many published authors who strongly encouraged me to contact certain publishers and I'll definitely follow through on that. It was great to be able to put faces with the names of people I only knew through online groups. Meeting my critique partner Patricia Crossley/Margaret Dawson in person was the highlight of the weekend. Not to mention my roommate Lynn Jordan (request for a full manuscript! Way to go, Lynn!) and some of the FF&P loop members. One of my favorite authors was there -- Jim Butcher, creator of the Dresden Files -- and he presented several topics on various panels. In addition to enjoying his writing and his quirky, clever personality, it was neat watching Jim and his wife together. So sweet. And then if all that wasn't enough, I was surprised at the goth banquet on Saturday night to find out that my entry in the Writers Weekend's "The Scarlet" contest (The Vampire Shrink) was a finalist and then got a Judges Choice Award. I hadn't expected that at all! Sherillyn Kenyon's keynote address talked about a dark time in her writing career when -- after having achieved some success -- everything fell apart. Listening to her talk about how she came back from that rough patch was highly inspirational. Jim Butcher's stories about his beginning also energized everyone. The consensus seems to be that if a writer perseveres, learns the craft, and then develops her/his own spark/voice, success can definitely happen. The only thing I wished I'd gotten around to was going up to the Space Needle. It was only a couple of blocks away from the hotel, but when I went over there on Thursday afternoon the line was so long I couldn't convince myself to stand in it. But maybe next time.
Chick Lit "Unique Plot" Finalist in The Sheila contest
I just got an email telling me that The Vampire Shrink is a "unique plot" finalist in the chick lit category for the Valley Forge Romance Writers' Sheila contest. I hadn't even noticed on the entry form that such a thing existed. But what a nice surprise. Fool for Love finalist and now this, all within a week. I'm on a roll!