June Rodriguez
JUNE: I made an attempt to decide on a writer that I could use as a contemporary example of my writing genre and /or style. It was more difficult than I expected. After going through about a dozen of my favorite authors I found that most of them were printed 10-15 years ago. Not quite the up to date examples I needed. How can I give my fellow critique partners an idea of what I write when I can’t even find one myself? It looks like my search for a contemporary needs a little more research on my part and a closer look into my own writing.

DORI: June, I understand your reluctance to read too many authors writing similar books but I think it is important to have a general idea of the market. I know you want to tell your story, untainted by what others are writing. That makes sense to me. However writing today is very different than 10-15 years ago. It’s different because readers today have different expectations. What worked for Shakespeare wouldn’t work for us. Understanding reader expectations is important. It won't change the story you want to tell, but certainly can affect how you decide to tell it. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with as an example.

SARAH: Writing evolves. The romances of the 80’s and 90’s are not the styles of today. Readers want more heroic heroes and heroines with smarts and independence. I know where you’re coming from in not wanting to venture out, but there is nothing wrong with getting a taste of what has changed. Have fun-you may just find an author to begin following.

JACKIE: Who's to say we won't actually find a greater range to our "voice" by reading other authors. I know I am certainly still growing up as a writer and there are aspects of what I want to reach for that have not reached my imagination. I think reading the work of others in our genres (and beyond) allows us the opportunity to glimpse a piece of our writer selves expressed in phrases and style we may not have thought of but are in our repertoire waiting to be discovered and used. So--I will gather my favorite stuff and take a serious look at what influences me and opens me up.

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SARAH: Write your character NOT you. We all have inhibitions. That one little thing we wouldn’t normally do, but that may not be so for our characters. While I might draw the line at chasing down a killer, my heroine, Melanie is hell-bent to attract one! As writers, we have to remember to get the heck out of our character’s way and let their voice shine through.

DORI: Characters in books are larger than life, that’s what makes them entertaining. If they mirrored my reality they would be REALLY boring. What’s hard is to allow ourselves to explore personalities, lifestyles, and situations that are outside our normal humdrum lives. Those lifestyles may be more vulgar, more risqué, more polished than ours. In other words, more interesting that ours. Getting into writing about from different perspectives doesn’t reflect badly on who I am as a person. I am not my characters.

JACKIE: There is a wonderful freedom that comes from writing stories. We can create characters and give them words and experiences that we would never seek to say or do (and may not want to). Remember that what your character says and the actions he/she takes are telling a story. It's the story that comes from you, that you want to place out there.

JUNE: When writing my characters I have to remember they are not me. I find I have a tendency to want to control them using my own standards. I will hold back on the urges to let my characters do and say things I personally have a hard time doing or saying. I have an inner me that is evidently a little repressed. I would never have believed that was true with the early life I led. My mother definitely would never believe it. I need to let loose my character's own head of steam and send them on their merry way and I might learn something from them.

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DORI: Life has a way of always interfering with our writing lives. Kids, jobs, bills, you name it they demand our undivided attention while our writing is relegated to the wee hours of the night or early dawn. What we need to assuage our writer’s cravings is to carve out some time, away from our crazy lives, to dedicate to writing. I’m excited that we're going to try to plan a retreat (hopefully on an annual basis) where our Friday Night Write group can meet for a long weekend of nothing but helping each other on our novels. I think June’s suggestion of a cabin at Yosemite is ideal. Now let’s make it happen!

SARAH: Since becoming a stay-at-home mom, one of the things I miss is the ability to grab “me time.” My writing is being pushed to the wee hours of the night the older my kids get. Therefore, I’m in full support of a Writer’s Weekend. How fun!!! No distractions, no chores, and certainly no diapers! Sounds like heaven to me.
A few days of concentrated writing could open the door for a lot of possibilities…like finishing our darn books!! Count me in and I’ll bring the chocolate. Bears don’t like that stuff right? No scenes from The Great Outdoors, please!

JUNE: Oh, what a great idea. We just flew with this one. Can we all say, we all need a stress break to write? I have visions of beautiful vistas outside a large patio door, a kitchenette stocked with good and bad writing fuel and plenty of writing space with no distractions (no internet). I will start researching info right away. We can start the next meeting with an update.

JACKIE: I am really excited about this. It feels like taking the bull by the horns. This is an important step we are taking together. To BEND our worlds to fit our need to write and finish our books. And that we are pursuing this together only strengthens it more. Yosemite here we come!
I too can envision it June. The filtered light coming into the windows through the tall trees. The scent of the mountains-especially in the evening. Ahhh, there is a place to write a story.

DORI: All right, now we definitely have to do it. I'm salivating already!
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