Monday, February 15, 2010

Love & Laughter with Genene Valleau

My friend Genene Valleau has a timely new release called A VALENTINE ANTHOLOGY. After the way I trashed the holiday last Friday, I thought I'd make up for it by showing some love for Cupid and his arrows today. Please welcome Genene!______________________________________

Hello to everyone! And thanks to Emily for having me as a guest on her blog.

When we talked about topics, I mentioned that my latest release was a romantic comedy novella, "Chasing Rainbows," in A VALENTINE'S ANTHOLOGY from Rogue Phoenix Press. My previous three novels contained touches of humor, but sustaining the laughs all the way to happily-ever-after was new to me.

How did I do that? Ironically, the comedy story was drafted during one of the darkest times of my personal life. I can only tolerate things like sobbing and crabbiness and self-pity for so long. Since getting away from myself is a little tough to do and therapy is expensive, I write. So I tossed a bunch of zany personalities into outrageous situations they thought were perfectly normal and came up with a rough draft of a romantic comedy.

As my personal life brightened, the romantic comedy was set aside and I returned to writing stories with a darker edge of reality. Yes, that seems like a contradiction to me also, but that's the way it turned out.

A few years later, a friend asked if I'd be interested in participating in a Valentine's Day anthology. After I said yes, I needed to come up with a story and this romantic comedy came to mind. When I reread it, I still liked most of the characters and still laughed at their antics. However, I had learned a lot about the craft of writing in the meantime and cringed at "minor" details like bouncing point of view and lack of a character arc and weak motivation. Oh yeah, and the story would have to be trimmed from 60,000 words to about 30,000.

Fortunately, I enjoy editing. It gives me an excuse to shop for office supplies and use a half dozen different colors of highlighters. Pink for heroine's point of view; blue for hero's. Lavender to show the romance plot and yellow for the bad guy's role. Orange if there are subplots and, in this instance, a lot of red to show deletions.

After edits, the hero and heroine are pretty much the "straight men" to the heroine's zany family: an uncle whose inventions tend to explode, an aunt who ends up mentoring her kidnapper, a brother who impersonates their artist aunt to pick up women, and a mother stuck in a 1950s time warp. In spite of her family, the hero and heroine do reach their happily-ever-after.

In addition to being my first published romantic comedy, this story is special for a couple of other reasons:

--All three stories in this anthology have a "write-in" part--similar to a cameo appearance on TV--that was auctioned as part of a fundraiser for the Willamette Humane Society. I worked at that animal shelter several years ago, and all six of my beloved doggies are alumni of WHS.

--The other two stories in this anthology were written by my good friends, C.L. Kraemer ("The Lending Library," a faerie fantasy) and Christine Young ("The Gift," which is a romance set during the Civil War). We had such a good time collaborating on this project that we're doing another anthology for St. Patrick's Day 2011, which will include another romantic comedy novella from me.

It will be interesting to see how this one shapes up, since I'm at a fairly "sunny" time in my life. If you want to find out more about A VALENTINE'S ANTHOLOGY, you can visit our author blog at Rogue's Angels or visit my Web site at www.genenevalleau.com.

As a thanks to all who comment, everyone's name will go into a drawing for a chance to win a print copy of A VALENTINE'S ANTHOLOGY, as well as chocolate and beautiful heart pin.

Many thanks to Emily for hosting me!

______________________________________________

My pleasure, Genene. Thanks for the tip about color coding POV(Point of View) in the editing process. How lovely that this anthology supports the unconditional love of rescued pets! My Mack (pictured at right) is a puppy mill reject and destined to be destroyed before he was rescued. We're so glad to have him! Hope your animal shelter benefits big time!

Do you like to balance your mood with books on the opposite end of the emotional scale, comedies when you're sad, tragic dramas when you're happy? Do you have a rescued pet that's special to you? Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Genene's book.

21 comments:

Jane L said...

Genene! Good Morning! I love the puppy so adorable. I may have missed this in your post, so you write your first draft and then edit how many times? I think what I am loooking for is authors sometimes refer to writing as spewing the pages and then going back and editing over and over. Is it better to write slower and edit less?? Thanks! Have a great week ladies!

Virginia said...

Cute puppy! I do read books according to my mood! If I am not in the mood for a certain book it takes me forever to read it.

EmilyBryan said...

Jane--Every writer finds the process that works best for her. I personally am not a spewer. I go forward a few pages and then back to rework things. Even so, I usually manage @ 10 pages a day.

I tried the spewing process with Nano last November and ended up with 100 pages of overwhelming unusable junk. I'm sure it works for others, but not for me.

By the time I type "The End" I could turn it in if I had to, but I always try to give it at least one more pass before my editor sees it.

I'll give Genene a nudge and see what she does.

EmilyBryan said...

Hi Virginia. Thanks, that's my Mack. He's a good little boy most of the time, a real snuggler.

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Jane! Thanks for stopping by.

And Emily, I love the photo of your dog. I did a double-take, as he has ears like my Batman--one of the former shelter dogs I currently have. They all have interesting stories!

Jane, I'm going to preface how I write with what you may have heard many times: use a writing style that works for you. As you read my rambling process, you'll notice that each writing project I do has its own process that mutates as the story progresses.

I have a pre-writing phase where I do research and write notes about the story as ideas occur to me, gather pictures that capture the essence of my characters or what is important to them or things that set the tone of their story. These go on a vision board that helps keep me grounded in my story. For the nine-book series I'm working on, I have an entire wall in my office that has the start of a vision board for each of those stories. (There's a picture of this wall on my Web site at **http://www.genenevalleau.com/AboutNov09.html**) This is an early picture of this process and has gotten messier as I've added to it.

Then I do scene sheets for the entire book. This is a page that outlines the "meat" of each scene. When those are done, I have a pretty detailed road map of the story.

When I get to the actual writing, I work in what I call layers. I do a rough draft and don't worry much about holes. I just make notes in brackets and keep moving. Otherwise, I fuss over every detail and it takes me forever to finish the story. Then I go back and fill in those holes. Not exactly "spewing" because I do so much detailed work before I start the actual writing, but the first time through is definitely not ready to be published!

The process for the romantic novella I've just started is similar to what I described above, but it's an adjustment to write something shorter. And it will be linked to the stories two other authors are writing for another anthology, so we're making up that process as we go along. :)

My current novella in A VALENTINE'S ANTHOLOGY was really different because it started out to be a full-length novel and I had to cut about half the words.

In addition, I'm always curious how other writers write, so as I learn new methods, I adapt their suggestions to fit my style and it mutates into a different process.

Hope this gives you some ideas for your own writing and doesn't make you throw up your hands in frustration!

And, Emily, you are forgiven for trashing the commercialized Valentine's Day because it sounds like you and your DH celebrate your love every day. That's very cool!

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Virginia!

I also read--when I get the time--according to my moods! I've also gotten more picky with what I read. If it doesn't grab my attention right away, I usually don't go back to it. Fortunately, I have a large stack of books to be read that fit many moods.

Thanks for stopping by!

Genene Valleau said...

I'm here, Emily! With the time difference from East Coast to West Coast, you probably have half a day's work done. And my doggies let me sleep in...well, that's my story. :)

I am always in awe of writers who can write as you do with a nearly perfect manuscript on the first time through.

It's also amazing to me that some writers can just sit down and write that perfect story without plotting. Wow!

My first serious attempt at writing a novel probably fell under the heading of "spewing." However, 600 pages of "spew" had to be stripped down to the main characters and totally rewritten over a half dozen times before it sold fourteen years later.

Guess my process falls somewhere between spew and first-time perfect.

Jane L said...

Thanks you ladies! I think the Valentine Anthology looks wonderful!

Genene Valleau said...

Thanks, Jane! It's very special to me.

Paty Jager said...

Fun post Genene, and Emily! I use highlighters when editing, too. Only for a whole boodle of things. I like color!

Your story sounds fun!

Janet Kay Gallagher said...

Hi Emily and Genene,
Had to laugh when I read that you like shopping in Office Supply Stores. My late husband and I always loved doing that. He never wrote or anything but he loved all the gadgets. I have not found the lavender highliter.
Thanks for the great information, on how you write. Our group is working on a story and I will tell them about the Vision Board and the Scene Sheets, I think that will be a good way for us to do our project.
Emily, thanks for bring us so many valuable Authors, also for your great guideance. I am pretty new at all this and am learning from this site and your guest author sites.

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Paty! Thanks for stopping by!

I've heard a lot of writers have a fetish--er, I mean, find many uses for highlighters in their writing process.

I also use color-coded sticky notes when I plot my stories. If the thought of my photo vision boards makes your eyes roll back in your head, you should see my plotting boards once I get going. One story usually takes up most of a wall. Don't know where I'm going to find nine walls when the series I'm writing is in full swing!

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Janet! (Or do you go by Janet Kay?)

I think my lavender highlighter may have come in a package of several. If you don't find one at an office supply store, you might try one of the superstores or a dollar store if you have one in your area.

There is an incredible amount of information on vision boards on the Internet. I just did a presentation with another author at our local Romance Writers meeting on this topic. (By the way, the other author was Paty Jager, who also stopped by to say hi.)

My scene sheets are pretty simple and are a mutation of some I've seen other authors use. Again, I just adapt them to what works for me. They include notes on point-of-view-character, setting, tone of the scene, weather/time of year, opening hook and closing hook, as well as the dialogue and action contained in that scene. By expanding those scenes sheets when I start writing, I get a pretty solid first draft.

You mentioned your group is working on a story. Though I'm collaborating on stories for an anthology with two other authors, the main parts of our stories will be done on our own. So I'm curious what you think of writing as a group. I've done newsletter stories by committee and it's an interesting process. I'd love to hear what process your group is using.

Thanks for stopping by!

Janet Kay Gallagher said...

Hi Genene,
Thanks for the answer.
I was asked to take over our Weekly Writers Guild in Marshfield, MO., when our leader, had to work more hours and could not continue with us.
A few months later I met several authors at a book signing and met people from three different writers groups in Springfield, Mo. I was invited to each of them. I went to our group and they caught my excitement.
We wrote short stories that entertained our group but that was as far as it had gone. Now some of us have submitted short and are now getting rejections. Looking forward for the first sale.
We had already started our book, but had no information on how to: anything!
We joined the groups and were so grateful for the authors helpfulness. When I asked, "what do you mean by voice?" They did not treat me as a dunce, but troubled to take time and explain. The six of us are writing a chapter each in a roundrobbin. It has worked well. We had put it aside for a while during NANO and Holidays and JANO(Sleuth's Ink Mystery Writers, version of NANO). Just getting back to it. Our story is needing refinement. The Story and Plotting Boards and Vision Board sounded like just what we need to round out what we have, so far and bring our ending out stronger. We are creating our own town.
We have been surprised at how the next person could take the previous chapter and continue. Each person has taken us another direction. We have had a lot of fun with it. It does take a long time to do it that way.
Like you, we give credit to our writers groups, blogs and guest bloggers. We are being sponges and absorbing all we can.
Thanks, Jan
P.S. the first meeting at Ozarks Romance Author's We learned to make a blog.
C.L. Wilson's blog site at the time was promoting her books and I decided to use the full name on my blog for name recognition. I am hoping it will help in the coming years.

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Janet! Thanks for the explanation of how your group is writing a book.

I'm not sure the control freak side of me could do a round robin with a number of other writers. Hmm... that means it might be good for me. :)

This is certainly a creative way to write. I'm constantly amazed at the scenarios writers come up with. Very cool that your group has gotten so far with this process. And I'm also glad the vision and plotting boards sound helpful.

It would be great if you sold this book, then you could do promotion together. I've found it to be great fun to do promotion with the other authors involved in A VALENTINE'S ANTHOLOGY. Much better than sitting at a table alone!

Genene Valleau said...

By the way, Emily, when do you usually announce the winner of the giveaway book? It's about 5:00 here on the West Coast and I'll up for hours yet. But maybe I should do a random drawing at 8:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time? That gives three more hours for any later commentors.

librarypat said...

We have helped at the shelters where we live and currently have 4 rescue dogs and 2 rescue cats. It is a great way to get a pet who will be your friend forever. I hope your shelter does well by this book.
I love stories with wacky humor. It adds so much to the story. My life is usually in chaos so I can both relate and know that things could be worse.
Good luck with the book.

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Librarypat!

Congratulations on your rescued furbabies! You are so right about them being forever friends. I won't ask if your life was chaos before the rescues or after. :)

Thanks for the good wishes on the book.

I appreciate you stopping by!

Genene Valleau said...

Since it's past 8:00 on my side of the U.S., it's time to draw the winner of the anthology. Since we had a very talented and experienced doggie name drawer at the launch party yesterday, I've decided to let my dogs decide the winner.

I've written all the names of commentors on pieces of paper, folded them over so the dogs can't read the names, and dropped them on the floor. I'm scrambling them up--oops! My terrier mix has grabbed a name from under Ebbie's foot and started chewing. That must be the winner, if I can save enough of the paper to read the name...

It's librarypat! Congratulations!

Please contact me by e-mail (genene@genenevalleau.com) with your snail mail address and I'll get A VALENTINE'S ANTHOLOGY in the mail to you.

Thanks to all who stopped by to comment. I so much appreciate you spending part of your day with me!

EmilyBryan said...

Thanks for being a great guest, Genene! And thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented.

Congrats to Pat who won the anthology!

librarypat said...

Thank you so much, Genene. A romantic comedy is just what I need right now.
Emily, thanks for hosting Genene.
It is a good cause these ladies are supporting.