We’re so glad to have romance legend Lori Foster with us to take a spin around the dance floor, with some great advice for writers! Stay tuned after Lori’s post for information on how you can win a copy of one of her books!
Lori Foster is a Waldenbooks, USA Today, Publishers Weekly and New York Times bestselling author. During her career she has received the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Fantasy and for Contemporary Romance; Amazon’s top-selling romance title for Too Much Temptation; Amazon’s Top Ten editors’ picks in romance for Causing Havoc; Waldenbooks’ second “Bestselling Original Contemporary” romance for Say No To Joe; the BGI group’s “Bestselling Original Contemporary” romance for the The Secret Life of Bryan & “Bestselling Romantic Comedy” for Jude’s Law; and Amazon’s #1 Editors’ Pick in Romance for Servant: The Acceptance. Lori has been featured as a clue in the New York Times crossword puzzle, and the USA Today “Quick Cross” puzzle.
As well as writing a variety of romances in all lengths for multiple publishers, Lori has a successful urban fantasy series under the name L. L. Foster.
Lori Foster on Writer’s Block
In all of my comments, I’m going to assume we’re talking about romance books. That said, I don’t really believe in writer’s block. To me, that’s just one of the catch-phrases inherent in this business that are almost designed to stall your creativity.
“Bleeding on the page.” Yeah, who wants to do that!? If you’re not enjoying what you’re writing, I’d have doubts that others would either. If it’s making you so miserable, how will others relate to it? I understand scenes that pull your heart, that touch a sad memory. Those should be in there. Shoot, when writing my own books I snort, chuckle, cry a little, sigh… and I always know it’ll end happy so it’s okay. Because we write romance, we go into this knowing that it’ll all work out in the end!
“Book of your heart.” Well, aren’t they all books we love, otherwise why would we write them? To torture ourselves? Sort of like wearing a hair shirt or something? It’s silly.
To label one book more important than the other is (to me) sort of putting too much importance on the fact that it’s a book meant to entertain. That’s all. But believe me, that enough. We don’t have to make it sound more torturous just to validate it to those non-believers who think romance has no importance. Our books are not there to enlighten the world or solve conflict between nations.
If you’re entertained (and hopefully not bleeding) while writing the story, others will be entertained too! And that’s what our books need to do: entertain. They give relief to readers during times of hardship. I’ve gotten wonderful letters from moms who’ve read in the hospital while sitting with a sick child, spouse, or parent, or herself recovering from an illness or operation. I’ve gotten letters from an elderly gentleman doing chemotherapy, and he told me my books are what made it all less wrenching. I’ve gotten letters from victims of our economy, those who’ve lost a job, or a house, or more, and they say the books are a small get-away from the trouble.
That’s entertainment, and it’s a powerful, powerful thing!
So now that I have that out of the way… writers block. You could have major things going on in your life. Sick children, aging parents, 2nd job conflicts, divorce, etc… But that reflects back to my point: if you enjoy what you’re doing, then writing will be your downtime. There’s a difference in not having time to write, and choosing to do anything and everything else instead of writing.
If you sit down to write and nothing is coming to you…
a) You’re probably telling your friends far too much about your book, and therefore diminishing your drive to get it written. Contrary to popular opinion, you do not need to share each chapter, each page, with a critique group. Your group can’t buy your book, but an editor can. Polish it as much as you can and then send it in. You don’t need to be spoon-fed self doubts by friends who are giving their honest opinion on something that very well may not be the opinion of the editor. It should be YOUR book, in every possible way, not a book by committee. There are truly no new storylines, no new characters, no new settings. The only thing new is YOU. Your voice, your unique take on how characters act and react. Cherish that. Please. Do not dilute it by running it through the mill. If the only way you can share it is to finish it and send it to an editor, you’ll be far more motivated to write, write, write. A story with a few pits and hollows will stand out more than a shiny, smooth surface, because believe me, publishers get plenty of those.
b) Or it could be that you’ve taken the story in a wrong direction and now have yourself lost. In that case, you need to backtrack and “fix” where you went wrong so that the characters and their actions are more spontaneous and “believable” for how you’ve created them. I remember when writing “Caught in the Act,” I needed a specific thing to happen, but couldn’t figure out how. As you see in section (a) I am not a fan of writing groups. But I am a fan of talking out a problem with a friend. I call Dianne Castell aka Duffy Brown. I don’t bore her with the whole book, but I’ll tell her the situation and why I can’t figure it out, and more often than not, just saying it aloud gives me an idea and I work it out. Dianne does the same with me. Having a close friend who can drop into a scene with you to figure out a quirk is invaluable. Sometimes all you need to do is take a look at the whole, not just that one section, and you see where the kink is in the otherwise straight shot to the end.
c) Or you could be trying to force yourself to write a book you don’t really want to write. You look around and you see that vampires are selling. So what if you don’t enjoy those books – they’re selling and you want to sell! Or you see that erotica is a hot market. Not your thing, but again, you want to sell! Well, trust me on this, you won’t be happy. You have to write the book that wants to be written. For 99.9% of all writers, it’s going to be mega-tough to sell anyway. Why set yourself up with books you don’t “get” by trying to force yourself into a niche? Write the book you enjoy writing, make it the best book YOU can do, and don’t lose your enthusiasm along the way. It might be hard to believe right now, but the journey to publication is part of the fun.
Lori, we’re so glad you came by the Ball, and we’re grateful that you shared your experience with us! Want to know what’s next for Lori? Read on!
Lori’s new single title series for “Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor” will launch as three books, in three months, back to back in 2011. When You Dare is in May, Trace of Fever is in June, and Savor the Danger is in July. The books are tied together by characters who work in an elite and very private group to rescue women from human trafficking, and to take down the traffickers… by any means necessary. They work with clearance from the law, and outside the law when they have to. She’s working on a 4th book for the series now, out in 2012.
Because we love Lori so very, very much, we’re giving away two classic Lori titles: Too Much Temptation and Never Too Much, to two lucky commenter! These books are smart, sweet, and steamy enough to melt the last of the winter snow right off your roof! We’ll announce the winners in the March 13 News Flash!