20 June 2009

Letting Go.... um, maybe... not yet.... i don't wanna....

I had a thought the other day... I might shelve Charlotte and Sorry's Not Enough for good.  Just set it aside and move on.  I'm still as in love with the story as I was from when I wrote the very first word.  But I'm thinking Charlotte may not be the one to launch my career.  I'm really excited about Confessions and Marisol's story, and I feel like one of those would be more likely to be picked up by an agent than Sorry's Not Enough.  They have stronger hooks.  A young woman grieving the death of her fiance, exploring her faith (or lack thereof), and falling in love with her dead fiance's brother.  Yeah, I'd say that packs more punch than Charlotte's story, which I can barely even sum  up in one succint sentence.

Then there's Marisol.  I think Marisol could be my big ticket.  I was sitting down to gather my thoughts the other day (I need to sort out my ideas and figure out which book they belong to.  I'm thinking there will be at least 3 books in the series!) and wrote a nice little blurb to sum up the first book.  It goes something like this:
With her sexy roommate Zane knocking on her bedroom door, a boss who likes a bit on the side, and the rest of Philadelphia's men to conquer, Marisol is having too much fun to worry about climbing the fashion industry's ladder.  But when her boss's philandering ways cost him his co-designer and fashion show coordinator, under-achieving Mari must rise to the occasion.  While pressures mount at work, Zane tests her boundaries in bed with an endless supply of techniques, locations, and partners.
Sounds like fun, right?  Besides, show me another erotica novel with a bilingual, half Puerto Rican, sexy size 14 main character who enjoys porn, fashion, football, ice hockey, and safe sex?  And oh yeah, to top it off, she loves all things British (especially Dr. Who), blogs about sex, and will try just about anything once.  Mari is crazy.  CRAZY, I tell you!  If she doesn't land me an agent somehow, somewhere, I might as well stop writing.

So anyway.  Back to Charlotte and whether to put her away.  I'm reluctant to do it.  That's my baby.  Plus, I'm not sure if my newfound "acceptance" of her non-publishability is just me being honest and market-savvy, or if it's just me being scared to go for it.  Because let's face it, I haven't exactly been querying my pants off.  Less than 10 queries, pretty much all form rejections.  But I know writers who have queried 20, 40, 50 or more agents for one project, and keep on trucking.  Am I just backing out because I'm afraid?  Could be.  It's a bit of a tendency of mine.  All bravado in words, but coward in action.

Is it that whole fear of failure thing?  Or fear of success?  Fear of owning up to who and what I am and really living it every day, out loud, and not just in cyberspace?  I don't know.  I like to think I'm being smart and unemotional by looking at the black and white facts.  I find that as I continue writing and starting new projects, the quality of writing is getting better and better.   And no amount of revision can really bring Charlotte up to that level.  Or can it?  It could be that I'm just afraid of all that hard work.  Or impatient.  I want to move on and really immerse myself in these new projects, but a big part of my time is being spent worrying about whether Sorry's Not Enough is in the best possible shape.  Is my revising really finished?  Is there something I could do better?  I've even toyed with the idea of splitting it up into two books again, which would require major overhauling, and writing about 50,000 new words to make the second half long enough for its own book. 

I've been working on it for so long now, maybe it just needs a long rest while I work on something else.  I tried to set it down - and managed to do that - for a while.  But it was only a few weeks.  Maybe it should be a few months or more.

Am I just being a lazy coward?  My crit group likes it, and the few friends who've read it like it also.  But that doesn't mean an agent will love it enough to rep it.  Maybe I should stop rambling about it on my blog and make a decision.  I'll let you know as soon as I make it.

06 June 2009

Aspiring Author Profile: ME!

So I'm rounding up some aspiring authors to profile in the coming weeks, but I figured it wouldn't be fair to them if I didn't also participate.  So here's my questionnaire:

Name: J. Lea Lopez, not to be confused with a much more famous J.Lo, whose middle name happens to be Lynn

Age…ish?: 26

Location: Pennsylvania, US

Genre(s) you write: Women’s fiction, Erotica

Books/Authors you love: Dean Koontz. Absolutely anything by that man. Some recent books I’ve read that became instant favorites are The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, by Mark Haddon, and Wetlands by Charlotte Roche.

How long have you been writing? My memory’s pretty hazy before middle school anyway, but that’s about when I can recall writing down stories. In secret, of course, because I always based them on real people I had crushes on at the time. Like my seventh-grade math teacher. No joke. They were really cheesy and bad, but that need to tell stories (I now make up fictional characters, thank you very much!) has never left me.

Do you have any professional/industry experience as a writer? Nope. Wouldn’t mind getting some, though.

Had anything published? Not unless you count my high school lit magazine, or that joke of a site poetry.com. They publish anything.

Agent status (please X all that apply)

[X] Need one
[X] Want one. Desperately. Want. One.
[ ] Got one
[ ] We’re “talking”
[ ] I’m cyberstalking him/her, but so far they have yet to respond to my inappropriate sexual advances…. Erm, I mean, my query letter.
[ ] Agent? Who needs an agent?

Either/Or when you write:

Pen and paper, or computer screen? Definitely pen and paper.

Plotster (outlines, scene cards, etc.) or Pantster (writing by the seat of your pants)? Major pantster. I get a hint of the plotster sometimes, but it’s usually overrun by the ADD tendencies of my pantster self.

Music on, or off? On, most of the time.

Solitude, or surrounded by people, sounds, things? Each has its benefits. I do enjoy my quiet, solitary writing time, though.

Cleanest first draft possible, or screw grammar/spelling/punctuation and fix it later? Cleanest possible. I think things over so long before I ever even write a word, I guess that’s why it takes me so long to actually get a chapter written sometimes.

Slave to the whimsy of your muse, or writing like it’s your job, even when you don’t feel like it? Total slave. Like whips and chains, it’s that serious. I get extremely frustrated when I’m inspired with a great idea and “real life” gets in the way of me sitting down and writing. And I don’t always have the self-control to make myself churn out a couple pages every day. My muse likes to jerk me around.

Do you have a certain place/time of day/writing implement/obsessive ritual/etc. that is crucial to your writing process? I like to write in black pen. Even red pen sometimes. But blue irritates me. I don’t like using blue pen unless I have nothing else.

Where do you get your inspiration? It just comes to me out of nowhere. I might see/hear/experience one tiny little thing, then my brain immediately shoots off into what-if land, and before I know it, a story is born. For example, Sorry’s Not Enough was borne out of the idea of ‘when might a student-teacher relationship not be so inappropriate?’ and it’s evolved into so much more. That student-teacher aspect is just a small part of the picture now.

What one thing do you really love about your own writing? I don’t know. I like the feeling I get when I sit down to do some editing, and before I know it I’ve forgotten the editing part and just read 30 pages for the pleasure of it. That’s pretty special. But I don’t know what it is about my writing, necessarily, that I like. People compliment my dialogue. And my sex scenes haha. So I guess I like those. But that’s two things. Whatever, it’s my survey anyway.

What one thing do you wish you could do better? Dialogue. Doesn’t matter how many people compliment it, I’m still my worst critic.

Anything else you want to say? Fish tacos. That’s what’s for dinner. Soon as I make them.

Anything for us to read? Aww, you want more? Haven’t you read enough? Well let me see what I can dig up for you….
This is from Chapter 14 of Sorry's Not Enough:

“So are you and this John guy serious now?”

The answer to his question was a resounding no. She definitely wasn’t interested in anything serious. Not with John.

“It’s not a big deal.”

“You might want to tell him that.”

Charlotte smiled. This was a new side of him. It was strangely flattering to know he was jealous, even if he wouldn’t admit it.

“If I know anything about 17-year old boys, let me tell you that he’s looking for something definitely more serious than you are.”

“He’s 18 already.” His birthday was in September.

“An older guy, huh?”

“Yeah, I seem to like the older ones,” she said.

They locked eyes.

“Do you?”

“Didn’t you know?”

His eyes glinted. “I might have guessed.”

She wanted to tell him that the way he made her feel just by looking at her like that was a thousand times more remarkable than anything she ever hoped to get from John. Her smile faltered when she remembered what she was supposed to be talking to him about.

“Is there anything I can do about my grade?” she asked abruptly, making sure her voice wasn’t nearly as soft or teasing as it sounded to her a moment ago.

“I’m glad you’re thinking about that. I don’t know what’s been going on the past few weeks, but your work isn’t meeting the expectations I have for you. Not in the least.”

She hated that authoritative tone and the way his eyebrows arched slightly, his concern almost parental.

“Can I rewrite it?”

“I’m sorry, but no. The requirements for the assignment were clearly spelled out, and you had plenty of time to do it right. Your overall average is a low B right now, but there’s no reason you can’t pull it up by the end of the year.”

“I know I screwed up, okay? Isn’t there anything I can do about it?”

“You can do better next time. There will be plenty of assignments between now and the end of the school year to balance that one grade. If you were in danger of failing, I’d be willing to discuss extra credit, but you’re not.”

“Fine.” Charlotte stood up and stacked her books. She was already ten minutes late for Chemistry.

“I don’t know what more you want from me. I can’t have a special set of rules just for you and not the rest of the class.”

“I’m not asking for a better grade in exchange for sexual favors, I just want to rewrite the damn thing!”

He jumped out of his chair and hurried to close the classroom door. He turned to her, his face flushed red.

“What the hell are you doing? Are you trying to get me fired?”

“No, I— I wasn’t trying—” It was just a stupid joke. He was supposed to laugh, to give her that knowing look like he had when they’d talked about John. She’d said it thinking of Steven, not Mr. Patria. She had to find a way to reconcile the two ideas of this same man, or she really would lose her mind.

“I shouldn’t have said it. I didn’t mean anything by it, I swear,” she said, picking up her books and trying to maneuver past him.

“Charlotte, wait.” He reached for her, sliding his hand all the way around to the small of her back.

It was much too intimate a gesture, and she reacted much too boldly, stepping into him so that the only thing between them was her armful of textbooks. Reaching behind with her free hand, she found the doorknob and clicked the button lock with her thumb.

“We can’t do this,” he said, but he made no move to walk away. She’d never wanted him more than she did in that instant when his hesitation proved to her that, though he was unattainable, he was not unwilling......
Want to know how they got here, and what happens next?  You can read Sorry's Not Enough on Authonomy.