Friday, January 28, 2011

You’ve Hit a Wall, Now What? Advice from Lila Munro


You know the proverbial wall I dare speak of. The one that is erected in front of every writer right in the middle of the greatest scene they’ve ever written. The one that muffles the voices of their characters that reside just on the other side of it. The one that they bang their head on wondering why and screaming at the muse gods. So, what does one do? Climb over, dig under, go around?

Well, I for one am not much of a climber. I’m short and well, too many chocolates have settled in my derrière. I’m not much of a digger. That requires some degree of brute strength, which I do possess some degree of but prefer to reserve for situations that actually require me to exert that sort of energy. Go around? That seems feasible with the appropriate GPS capabilities. But what are the capability requirements? Well, I think they are different for each individual person. I’ll share my techniques, then tell you what I think the universal cure all is for this dreaded WBD (Writer’s Block Disease), then I’ll let you decide for you what is best for you.

A few months back at the beginning of summer, I was stricken with such a case of this horrible disease I thought I should never recover from it. Many people know something of this story as I talked about it at length on my own blog as the events unfolded. You see, my heroes have always been marines. I’m married to one and that’s where I take my inspiration from for my military men in all the hot stories I write. In June, they completely annihilated my view of them as heroes. Well, that’s not entirely right. A few of the proud were responsible for it. A terrible accident happened on the beach (which happens to be my place of center) and I watched as eight or so of them stood by idly and did nothing to help. They didn’t even ask if they could help. It sickened me and rocked me to the core. These were not marines the likes of which I worship.

Needless to say, the novel I was working on had a terrific marine at its center, and he ran for cover as I raged about the events of that day and didn’t speak to me for a long time after. My place of center, the beach side, was also shattered and I couldn’t even go there to find my focus. I was adrift without a rudder and the paddle broke—not a good place to be. Well, my husband helped a bit with things—he listened to me yell for hours on end about the Marine Corps and its wavering values, then he did something so incredibly strong and heartfelt. He inadvertently took me to the shore. Yes, he tricked me. Once I saw the water again, I perked up and could feel myself righting again. With a lighter heart I came home and sat down at this keyboard, but Alec was still hunkered down behind the screen trembling. I told him, “Okay, Alec, I can do this with our without you, if you want a say in how you get the girl, you better come out.” Then I began to type—it took a few pages and he peeked around the edge of the screen and watched me whacking away furiously. Then he turned and looked up—unhappy with the way the events were unfolding he came out and started to talk to me again.

Bottom line—never let your center be rocked and keep writing no matter what. In other words, don’t let your confidence waver and even if you’re not in the mood…write, write, write. Even if it makes no sense, even if later you tear it all to pieces, write. Sooner or later your muse and your characters will get the picture, step off the picket line and help for fear of losing their jobs. I promise. It works.

***

Now I’d like to introduce you to my new novel that hit e-shelves January 18 at ARe through Rebel Ink Press for $5.99. It is a 58,000 word contemporary romance with erotic overtones and is entitled A Slower Lower Love.

Here’s a bit about the story:

When running isn’t the answer,

Cait O’Kelley loved Bryce Delaney with all her heart. But loving him scared the hell out of her. She didn’t want to settle for being married to a cop and having his children. She wanted more. Unfortunately, more came with a price. After leaving her small home town for more glamorous life and working her way up the corporate ladder, a whirlwind affair with the boss’s son tears her world apart. On the brink of losing everything she’s worked for, she had to make a decision.

and going back seems impossible,

After eight years of living without her, Bryce finds himself tasked with the job of watching over Cait during her week long stay at her parent’s beach house in Bethany. She’s come there to sort her life out and while she’s contemplating her future, they discover the fireworks are still there. But can they ever go back to where they once were? As his secrets begin to surface, he sees only one way to save her. He disappears without a trace leaving Cait behind to pick up the pieces and deal with a whole host of new problems. One of which she can’t explain away or hide.

can you find middle ground?

With Bryce out of the picture, his brother, Kurt, finds what he’s wanted a lifetime handed to him on a silver platter. After watching Cait and Bryce toy with each other for fifteen years, he steps up to the plate. He’s always wanted her and now is his chance. But is he strong enough to ground Cait and keep her from making yet another mistake? Which brother will win her heart and show her that a slower lower love is enough?

I’d like to share a short excerpt with your readers, Anne. I hope they enjoy it.
The sound of seagulls screeching like nails on a chalkboard pulled Cait out of the peaceful place somewhere between sleep and wake she’d been dozing in and out of most of the morning. The raucous cacophony was far too close for comfort. Pushing up on her forearms in the warm soft sand, she peeled her eyes open. A summer browned boy that looked to be around ten or eleven stood a few yards away with a clear plastic bag full of bread crusts. The band of ivory and gray birds dipping and swooping behind him cast shadows over her and her fluffy yellow beach towel. Did the boy have no sense at all? Probably the offspring of interlopers, he obviously didn’t realize the scavenging birds would never leave if you fed them just once.

“Hey, kid,” she shouted. “Go somewhere else with your bag of bread.”

She didn’t want to share her space with a child and his flock of motley birds. Why wasn’t he back in school anyway? It was well past Labor Day.

He glanced over at her, pulled a piece of crust from the bag, and waved it in the air blatantly ignoring her wishes to be left alone.

Hating to be taunted, she started to get up. “I said get down the beach you scrawny urchin, this isn’t public access, so go.”

After watching him dart away with the gulls not far behind, she lowered herself back on her towel and closed her eyes again. She’d come here to rest and try to piece her life back together, not deal with truants.

It was her mother’s suggestion that she take a week at the beach house after the last holiday weekend of summer. She’d finally agreed after giving the idea some serious pause. There were too many memories here she didn’t particularly care to rehash. It had seemed at the time, however, a better alternative than being secluded in her town home for one more day alone. But if her first morning was any indication as to what her stay was going to be like, she might well change her mind and go back to Baltimore before sundown.

For now, at least, here she was. The very place that eight years ago she’d absconded like it was infested with the plague. Fled for a life outside the confines of small town life to anywhere bigger USA.

It just happened that anywhere bigger at the time was Pittsburg. She’d found a job and earned a degree at the university. Then she’d gone on to land a gig at one of the nation’s biggest marketing firms in Baltimore. After working her way up from the mail room, she’d been in charge of some very affluent client accounts. Always looking for more though, that hadn’t been enough fast enough. No. She wanted everything, and everything came with a price.

After practically throwing herself on him, she’d landed the bosses son. As far as Jamison Curtis and all their friends were concerned, they were a match made in heaven.

They both had good heads for business and eyes on the brass ring attitudes, and after a brief courtship they had been engaged to be married.

They weren’t a match made in heaven in her book though. He wasn’t much for wild abandon in the sack. In fact, he was more the missionary type, though she could concede it was usually satisfying enough. He liked the opera, while she preferred alternative rock. He wanted steak every night and she would have chosen boiled crabs anytime. On top of all that, she’d known she didn’t love him. What did she expect hooking up with someone that wasn’t raised on the eastern shore, south of the Mason Dixon, where life was simpler? But wasn’t that what she had run from all that time ago?

For her he was just a mere rung on the ladder of success, the toll to a better life. At least that was what she believed until three months ago when it all came crashing down around her like a skyscraper after an earthquake.

Feelings complicated things, and she didn’t want complicated. He, however, had apparently let himself fall hopelessly in love with her and it wasn’t until their engagement party at a five star hotel on the inner harbor that she fully realized that. She overheard him talking to his brother and inadvertently discovered how he couldn’t wait until they honeymooned in Paris, and actually hoped they came home expecting their first born. That she hadn’t counted on. After Jamison left Haden standing on the balcony overlooking the harbor, she had confronted him. They had already had the children or no children discussion and she had made it perfectly clear that they weren’t in the equation for her right now, and maybe indefinitely.

That led to an argument right there in the ballroom that escalated until all she heard was the sound of their two voices reaching a piercing pitch. The band had stopped playing and all their friends ceased what they were doing to stare at them there in the middle of the floor spearing each other through with glaring eyes. The silence had been even more clamorous than the sound of their arguing. That was the point at which the relationship had snapped in two like a dry twig. Pop! It was over.

She’d composed herself and tried to salvage some of her dignity. After apologizing to their guests, she made a hasty exit to take a cab home. Like a coward, she left Jamison there to put out the blaze she knew would consume Curtis Industries by Monday morning.

After ignoring his calls all day Sunday, the phone finally quit ringing. He hadn’t bothered leaving any messages. Nothing he could say, and nothing she could do, would make things right anyway. She’d torn another man down and crushed him. Only this time she was a grown woman and it was no longer a game of hurt feelings. Her livelihood would be affected by her stupid selfish actions.

Monday morning she’d slipped into the Curtis building downtown under the cover of pre-dawn. It only took minutes to clear her desk and type out her resignation.

She knew she could never set foot in the office again, and even if she could face the humiliation of it, chances were she’d be fired and asked to leave. After depositing the letter on Jamison’s desk, and laying the two carat Marquis cut engagement ring on top of it, she left like the coward she was and went home to try to figure out what to do next.

Three months later, she still hadn’t figured it out. She had no job, no Christmas wedding to plan, and, if the tides of fate didn’t turn in her favor soon and leave some source of income at her doorstep, she would soon have no gorgeous town home. Her
emergency funds were vaporizing and she had received so many rejection notices from prospective employers that she now suspected the elder Curtis of blackballing her all over Baltimore and a few other choice cities.

She squirmed around on her towel trying to root out a lump under her right shoulder and let out a loud sigh when she felt another shadow fall across her. That damn kid! She shot up fully ready to march him off and leave him with his absent parents, wherever that was. But when she looked up, instead of a four foot tall tow headed boy, a six foot tall dark haired man stood over her in blue board shorts with a matching towel slung over a very muscular shoulder. The sun wasn’t at its midday point yet and fell behind him shadowing his features, but she could plainly see that he was stacked to the nines. He sported chiseled biceps, his abs looked like a washboard, and every visible inch of his smooth skin was bronzed.

“Is this seat taken?” That voice. She couldn’t see him, but she would recognize that voice anywhere even though the years had deepened it to a low sexy pitch.

“What are you doing here?” she snapped.

“The same thing you are, Cait. Trying to relax. So do you mind if I join you?” He started to spread his towel.

“Yes, I mind. No, you may not. Possession is ninth tenths of the law. I’ve been on this piece of sand since dawn. Therefore, in this case, the law is on my side.” She plopped back down and crossed her arms over her ample breasts. “Now, go away, Bryce, my life is complicated enough as it is.”

“The law, huh? In case your mother hasn’t informed you, I’m a cop now. Your whole law thing doesn’t hold water with me. Have you forgotten our house sits just a few yards from yours? We co-own this stretch.” He continued to spread his towel and sink into the sand next to her.

“Fine, suit yourself. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that we’re here at the same time. Our mothers made sure of that didn’t they? I’ll try not to bother you.” She turned on her stomach and pointed her head in the opposite direction so she wouldn’t have to look at the fine example of a man Bryce Delaney had become. Her heart had done a familiar flip-flop at hearing him say her name and that really made her mad.

That was the problem with Bryce. He made her feel things she had no business feeling.
Thanks for hosting me today, Anne. It was a pleasure being here. Your readers may purchase A Slower Lower Love at www.allromanceebooks.com.

~*~

Lila Munro is a writer of contemporary romance currently residing on the coast of North Carolina. She is a military wife and takes much of her inspiration for her heroes from the marines she’s lived around for the past fourteen years. Coining the term realmantica, she strives to produce quality romance in a realistic setting. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading everything she can get her hands on, trips to the museum and aquarium, taking field research trips, and soaking up the sun on the nearby beaches. Her previous works include The Executive Officer’s Wife, Bound By Trust, and Destiny’s Fire. Anthology work includes a piece in All I Want for Christmas is Redemption. She loves to hear from her readers and can be contacted via her website, or her joint effort website.

Said Wendy from Happily Ever After Reviews about Bound By Trust:
Let me say, I loved the book and I fell in love with the characters. Their story is so realistic I felt as if they were my friends. Through all the hardships, Rafe is a man who Madi learned to depend on and love again. He made her feel like a woman cherished while teaching her what she craves is right in his arms. Theirs is a true love story with their share of disagreements and trials. The story had me from the first paragraph and is a must read if you want a real man falling in love with a real woman. 5 Teacups.

3 comments:

Alexandra O'Hurley said...

I have hit that wall before Lila - this past summer to be exact.

Good to know I wasn't the only one :)

Lila Munro said...

Hi Alexandra--I don't think we're ever alone when we hit it, we just have to hang together and dig, climb, or go around. Scaring the characters off the picket line seems to work for me. :)

Linda Graves said...

Very well put Lila... That wall can be so darn difficult to manuever around (I have like physical, and gps challenges) It's nice to know I am in good company. Love the excerpt...

Thanks,

Linda

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