My Lists Have Lists

Resolutions as such, just don’t do it for me. It’s just another list. If your life is like mine, it’s already full of lists. Right now, I need a list to keep track of the lists, and no doubt there’s an app for that. And I have so many time saving apps I don’t have time to use half of them.

One of my many lists involves my writing goals for 2017. Yes, in spite of the fact that I often hear the whooshing sound of a self-imposed deadline as I see it in the rear-view mirror, I still have goals. And I still believe they are attainable. And no, this is not a good way to build a writing career, but it’s authentic.

For the past several months I’ve been working on simply being consistent. That sounds easy. If it were easy, we’d all be living our dreams without effort. Life is good at curve balls and often they can derail the best of intentions.

Right now, I’m dodging curve balls and showing up. And doing the work as best I can. Sometimes it’s not as much as I planned, but it’s something. So, I cut myself a little slack, and consider the progress. Rather than simply quit or lose focus because I didn’t reach that big goal yet, I’m concentrating on I what I have accomplished, not what I haven’t.

And you know what? I don’t feel so derailed. That’s been a big one for me. It eases the frustration immensely. It also really helps the motivation factor and keeps the writer’s block at bay. Instead of thinking, ‘I’ll never get this book written’ I’m changing my self-talk to ‘Look what I managed today. I’ll get this book written!’ I confess, I’m cautiously optimistic about what I may be able to accomplish this year.

Do you have any tricks to keep the motivation humming along?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

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Heart Songs

Like most of us, I’m part of several social media groups. One of them revolves around a cable TV show and it’s quite entertaining. Of course there’s a dashing male star, we’ll call him… Fred. Someone asked everyone to post pics of the ‘Fred’ in their life. Looking at the posts there were photos of men who were tall, short, thin, not so thin, bald, and every other male attribute you could imagine. The only thing they had in common with the male star were the women in the group. The comments made it clear that every woman who posted was very proud of her ‘Fred’.

I love my Fred, I wouldn’t trade him for anything. And I realized it’s those very qualities that ring true for us in our writing. It’s not only about love, although that’s primary for romance, it’s about those indefinable characteristics which draw us into love in the first place, and then ultimately keep us there. Intelligence, kindness, honor, integrity, gentleness, valor and other qualities that reach into our hearts and make them sing.Christmas Wishes

Even though this has been a very tough year for a lot of people, myself included, I feel so blessed. Not only to have a great man in my life, but to have the treasure of great writer and reader friends who share my love of the romance genre in all its many forms.

As writers we have great talents, and we are unique in the way that we give the gift of love through our stories. For that shining moment of HEA or HFN we help people believe in the magic that sings to their heart, and allow them to be a part of something unique and wonderful. That’s a remarkable thing. And yes, it’s a ‘thing’. It was a thing long before ‘things’ were popular.

At this time of year I’m most grateful for this writing journey and for each of you. Thank you for sharing this ride with me. During the holidays when everyone is focused on family, food, and whatever may pass for fun in your world, step into the quiet for just a moment, listen to the music of your heart, and know you are loved.

Wishing you the best of holidays! See you next year!

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

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Lead Me On

We talk often about what makes a good romance hero. And honestly, who doesn’t love it? I could go on for hours about what makes the perfect book boyfriend.

SONY DSCFor the sake of this discussion, what about the female lead? What is that something special about her that makes you want to buy into the story and keep reading? Strong motivation is absolutely vital, but I’m thinking more about personality. How does this person approach a challenge? What does their self-talk sound like? How do they treat others and what tack do they take when they interact with people?

Should they be sweet, smart, or sexy? From the hero’s POV, there’s no doubt they are all that and a bag of chips. But like it or not, as readers (and yes authors, but that’s a whole other kettle…) we feed into that equation. What draws a reader to fall in love with a character? Who do we enjoy or identify with? This is such a subjective thing, let’s do this – I’ll tell you my favorites if you tell me yours…

For the most part, I prefer what I call kick-ass with a heart of gold. Yes, they are considered “Strong”, but they are so much more IMO. Occasionally I love a funny, sweet, kind of ditzy character, yet I find myself consistently drawn to these serious types with a hint of darkness more often than not.

  1. Eve Dallas from the In Death series.
  2. Anita Blake from the Vampire Hunter series (mostly the earlier ones).
  3. Claire Fraser from Outlander.
  4. Alexa (Lex) Parrino from the Beyond series.
  5. Beth from the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

At the moment I’m having fun with May Wexler from Wrong Number, Right Guy. She’s just funny, all the way around.

So now it’s your turn. Who are some of your favorite female lead characters, and why?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

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Maybe Next Year

My apologies for being a day late with this post. Yes, it’s the same day every month, but it snuck up on me worse than usual this time. I promised you a report on the RWA conference, and let’s just say it’s one I won’t forget for a while.

I arrived in San Diego late on Tuesday to a beautiful hotel. These photos are the view from my room which had a lovely balcony.

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On Wednesday I did attend a gathering with other contemporary romance writers and listened to a panel of speakers who gave some interesting advice. We’ve all been there when authors and editors are talking about which sub-genres in romance are getting hot and which ones are waning. The advice I’ve always heard is ‘Oh, don’t write that, it’s on its way out, editors have seen way too much of it lately.’ Here’s the short and sweet of it. Just because editors are tired of seeing it, doesn’t mean that readers are tired of reading it. There were multiple authors who said that once a lot of authors stopped writing in a sub-genre, yet they kept on writing what they loved, that’s when they made the most money. Big money, like six and seven figures. I realize we don’t do this just for the money, however, if we could make some serious dough, I can’t imagine any of us turning it down, what with kids in college and other bills to pay. I hadn’t heard this advice before so I thought it would be worth passing along. Do with it what you will.

As luck would have it, I became really ill on Thursday and ended up in the ER, where they told me I could stay and have surgery, or head directly home and have it. So I chose to check out, go home and have immediate surgery. The health issue has been taken care of and recovery is slowly under way.

There’s my conference report. Here’s hoping I’ll make it all the way through next year!

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

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Conference Time

Writing by its very nature is a solitary activity. So it’s really nice to be able to get out and spend time with other writers face to face. Although for some, the larger gatherings can be overwhelming.Red Hearts Blank Small It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a writer’s conference. I’ve been before, as a participant, a speaker, and a volunteer. So the drill is familiar. Comfy shoes, business casual, and a little extra room for books.

As you are reading this, I’m in San Diego, at the RWA conference. I know people have mixed feelings about this organization, and I respect that. I have mixed feelings as well. But I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends, making some new friends, and talking with other like-minded folks about the state of the publishing industry.

It looks like there will be some interesting workshops, and some fun. My goal is to come away from this experience having found those nuggets of information about writing that ring true for me. We’ll see. I’ll let you know how it goes next month!

Do you enjoy conferences, or do you prefer a small group setting?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

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Writing to Word Count – Yes, You Can

The question I hear most often from new authors: “How long should my book be?”

My answer: “Long enough to tell the story.”

That may not seem like a great answer, but it’s my personal belief that it’s the most honest one. As writers we tell the stories of our hearts, the tales that live inside our minds, birthed by our soul and shaped by our life experience. We each have a story to tell, and each one is as unique as leaves on a tree. Nope, I can’t bring myself to use snowflakes. I just can’t.

Writing doesn’t come easy as most of us know. It forces us to grow in ways we never imagined. And one of the ways we grow as writers is to learn to shape our work into a particular format. Book bundles are big right now. A group of authors write short stories as a sampling of their work to invite readers to try them.

I love these. I’ve found many a new favorite author this way. In these collections the story usually has a recommended word count, say five or ten thousand words. As an author how do you make your work fit this word count?

The answer is simple. Editing. As writers one of the biggest and best things we can do for our work is also one of the most difficult. We must look at our work objectively. If you’ve written a story for inclusion into a bundle with an 8k word count and your story comes in at 12k, you need to cut some words.

“But my story will suffer!”

No, it won’t. Step back, think on it overnight or a week later if you’ve got the time. Look at the details. Character, setting, and dialogue. Does each item move the story along? Are they necessary or are they just taking up space? If they are space invaders, cut them.

The same goes for writing short. I struggle with this. If there’s an 8k word count, my story will be 6k more often than not. So I need to look at where I can add details and fill out areas that are sparse.

Read over your story to make sure the conflict is strong enough and the plot flows coherently from beginning to end. Then read it to make sure everything your characters are doing makes sense for the story line. Are their motivations believable? Review it for details, and lastly read through for those pesky adverbs, filler word, echoes and general grammar.

Part of being a professional is meeting a goal. Not making excuses for why you didn’t meet it.  As writers, we are not weak. We are strong. We tackle the hard stuff.

It takes work, but don’t shy away from the challenge, rise to it. With polish, your words will shine.

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

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