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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Seductive Musings

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Writer's insecurity/Wardrobe malfunction/J-Hole

I think the best compliment I can pay a fellow novelist is to say that reading his/her books made me feel like a complete amateur and made me consider giving up writing fiction for a permanent staff position on the obit desk. It means I was so impressed with his or her (mostly her) writing that my own looks like last week's garbage.

Authors whose writing has impacted me this way include Karen Marie Moning, Laura Kinsale and now... Tara Janzen.

I've been absent from this blog, and largely absent from life, for two reasons. One of them is Tara Janzen's CRAZY series. I read CRAZY COOL a few weeks ago and fell in love with the immediacy of her prose. So for my non-birthday, I went out and bought CRAZY HOT, CRAZY WILD and CRAZY KISSES. And I devoured them, cover to cover.

As a result, I'm now looking at my own WIP (that's writer shorthand for "work in progress") and hating it. Which means I'm not writing.. Uh-oh.

I once had a conversation with Karen Marie about this phenomenon. I told her that her writing was so elastic. She's able to bend and twist and shape it into really interesting, fun, lively expressive prose. Mine, I told her, was more like big blocks of concrete that are clumped down however best I can clump them but which don't DO anything. She told me my writing was like fine silk that slid through a sewing machine, whereas her writing was thick material that got caught on the needle and bunched up.

Yes, authors express themselves strangely...

Anyway, now I'm struck by how Tara (a fellow Colorado author) is able to write in such a way that you're right there with the character -- not outside but inside each character, breathing with them in each moment. That's how it feels to me. By comparison, I feel like my writing is terribly stiff and external.

The truth is that each of us has a voice, and I'm not sure how much can be done to change an author's voice. I do try to challenge myself with each book to have very in-depth characterization, to make each hero different so they don't all feel like they're made from the same alpha-male mold or something. So I can't write like Karen or Tara, and they can't write like me (or so I tell myself -- right now I think a baboon with a crayon could write like I write).

And, incidentally, my favorite Tara Janzen hero is either Quinn or Christian. I like those two heroines best, also. I'm not into kick-butt heroines much — strong and smart, yes, but not "tough" or kick-ass. I like Kid Chaos, too, and Nikki. Who spells her name like my sister Mikki.

The other reason I haven't blogged, besides too much reading and attempting to write my now grotesquely overdue book, is what I'll call J-hole from now on.

Here's what that means:

Ketamine was really popular in the late 1990s. It's an animal anesthetic, but people were breaking into vet clinics and stealing it, then using it. It really knocks people for a loop, sometimes resulting in them soiling their pants. (ICK!) A person who's really out of it on Ketamine (or Special K) is said to be in "K-hole."

I was in J-hole. J = journalism. Busy week at the paper.

In other news, I did something completely UNcharacteristic for me and went shopping for clothes. This was prompted by a wardrobe malfunction yesterday in which my favorite denim skirt split across the ass, leaving my butt hangin' out. The staff at the paper alerted me, and Grace, one of the reporters, helped me retrieve my dignity by taping it together with duct tape. But the tape didn't hold. And people gawked.

I was struck this summer by how nicely people who don't live in Boulder dress. In Boulder, almost anything goes. Women don't shave. People go barefoot. Tie-dye and paisley. Hemp clothes and T-shirts. Climbing gear worn for daily wear. (Tara does a funny job of describing my town, BTW. Travis cracks me up.) An office meeting here might have the CEO in shorts and a hemp T-shirt with Teva sandals or Birks (that's BIRKENSTOCKS) for non-Boulderites.

So I leave Boulder, get dressed up the best I can, go to the RWA conference... and arrive to find myself looking like, well, a fat slob. Lina helped rescue me last year. But I just don't buy clothes. I hate malls, hate to shop, hate the whole scene. I have to say that though I tried to upgrade my wardrobe to something un-Boulder, my tastes run to hippie chic. But at least my ass won't be hanging out...

I've missed you all!

8 comments:

Libby Loo said...

More books to go in the To Buy List LOL. I'm envious that you got to do so much reading!

Hmmmm yeah, authors do express themselves strangely. But I like it. Especially the baboon with a crayon reference LOL (NOT TRUE!!! btw). Your writing is incredibly unique, and there just isn't anything like it. If I had to speculate, I'd say there are hordes of writers out there who wish they could scratch the surface of your talent.

Suckage about the ripped skirt! But you're right, Boulder Couture is pretty much anything goes. I love it. Glad you made such a great haul with the clothes, that's awesome!

XOXOXOX

Kristi said...

Libby is definitely a past victim of wardrobe malfunctions.. (Remember? school.. cool belt.. unbuckled all day?) But alas, who HAS NOT been a victim? I'm sorry about your misfortune, PC. I myself HATE SHOPPING as well - and I could give a shit about fashion. (I know, am I REALLY a girl??) I prefer comfort and if I could live my life in sweats, I probably would. As far as you comparing your writing to others: STOP IT. People don't read you because you sound like SOMEONE ELSE. You are a unique individual who's soul spills out its own stories. Lucky for you, people like me LOVE them! I am drawn to each author I enjoy for different reasons, and I like to think it is that their creative soul shines so uniquely through them and they have a fantastic ability to bring it out onto paper. You, my friend, fit that scenario as well... So stop being over-critical of yourself and START WRITING.. xoxo, K

Debbie H said...

Kristi said it all as far as the writing goes! I too hate to go shopping only because of my shape and no clue about fashion. I know what I like and what is realistic that will fit me. I am an apple shape which means big in the middle (not boobs, just waist and belly), no hips (true, just skin over bones), thin arms and legs (I do love my legs!) so you buy for the middle only to have it too big on top and bottom. I usually wear t-shirts, skorts and men's jeans except when exercising and then I find some athletic pants to go with the tee. But, I am working on it and hope to have this 40lbs off by my birthday in Dec.

Now I will have to go get Tara's books, too!!

Be kind to yourself and know you are doing a great writing job. Now back to the writing before I bring out the whip!!! *LOL*

Rosie said...

You know that every author is different, and that's what makes the world of reading a happy place. Don't be hard on yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your writing!! You keep at it and bring on the next books. Okay? *G*

I've had the same thing happen to me with a denim skirt - in the mall of all places. At least I was able to run into the closest store and buy something new. It was quite embarrassing though.

Good for you on buying a new wardrobe. I kind of did a little damage last weekend and want to do more this coming weekend. I love hippy chic myself.

Hugs!

tammy2 said...

Pamela,
YOU HAVE YOUR OWN UNIQUE and BEAUTIFUL voice. You wouldn't be you Pamela the writer or Pamela the journalist without it. Your books have their own special voice and without it they wouldn't be your stories. The stories of your heart! Sorry about the skirt incedent.
I confess I hate clothes shopping too!I think the styles for summer are just a tad bit to ugly(sorry just mho). Here in Syracuse it is layers for winter and shorts and T's for summer at least for me.But I do like skirts and dresses.I can't wait till it gets above 60.If spring every shows up here It is suppose to be -8 below tonight. Off to have a cup of tea. BrrrBaby its cold here!!!

Bo said...

OMG,don't EVER think that your writing is stiff(well,there are times when it IS,and those are hot,sweaty,delicious times,LOL)

I have ALWAYS been able to get into your characters,some more than others(and some I would like to get into me,like a certain yummy barbaric Scot,LOL)but ALL of them,in some way or other,come through & breathe their presence into the story loud and clear!!!

Don't ever think you should write like someone else-you and KMM & all the rest of the best are,well,to be a bit corny,just like Highlander:In the end there can be only one!!! And it fits the writing world,too.

I've read books that seem like they are trying desperately to emulate another author,either through plot,characteristics/career of the H & H,etc. They fail,MISERABLY,at least IMHO.I read a book recently that I felt tried very hard to emulate KMM's Kiss,and I didn't like it,not b/c she copied some things,but b/c it didn't have a creative spark all its own.

Of course other authors you love will influence you,either in a positive,inspiring way,where you can take what you love from their writing and make it your own,or beat yourself over the head b/c you think they are better,slicker,more original,etc.
SOOOO not true!!! NO ONE else can give us what you have-stories that conjure up your favorite moments and scenes from each of YOUR books,playing across the mind like a fave movie you could watch a million times and never get sick of,loving every minute of it b/c you know EXACTLY what's coming next.This is the gift a GREAT writer gives to his or her readers-not necessarily with every single book,but I believe that only the really great ones are able to do this more than once,and you HAVE,for me and many,many others,I am SURE.

I will tell you again what I said here a few weeks(?) ago-I still see Cassie with her hands in the tobacco field,I mean I can SEE the dirt on them in my head when I think about that scene.And Jamie & Brighid at Tara? I was THERE,P.C.-you MADE me see her on the Hill,through Jamie's eyes.

And you know what I say about Iain,LOL.

Okay,hopefully we have all straightened you out a little now,yes? (((HUGS)))

Thanks, Libby, Kristi, Debbie, Rosie and Tammy for your supportive comments. They mean a lot to me. I think every writer goes through this, truly.

And, yes, I've had writers tell me the same thing. "Read your book, decided I need to quit." LOL!

Sorry to hear about your various wardrobe mishaps. Nothing like the unexpected appearance of your own butt... or whatever.

Sorry to hear it's so cold there, Tammy! I wore sandals today and a light shirt. No coat. Lovely weather. Robins singing.

I think you will all enjoy Tara Janzen's books. Let me know!

Nikki said...

I love the Crazy books!!

I'm just your everyday reader and blogger. I check your blog and I lurk on the RBL message board, too. Both you and Tara are in my top ten list of favorite authors. I wait equally impatient until the day that you each have a new book out. I love her books and yours equally. But I have to tell you that as a reader, your writing and Ms. Janzen's writing bring two different things to the table for me.

Tara's books are very fast moving and her characters are somewhat deep. For me she is like going to see summer movie full of action and romance but I can eat popcorn talk to my friends, laugh, go to the bathroom and I'm sure I won't miss anything. Don't get me wrong her characters are deep and intense. And her stories are funny. Her characters are a little over the top, which I like.

Your writing is deep and intense; I experience it more as character driven. Your characters are deep and the relationships they are in are moving. I can't have the TV going on in the background when I read your books. I want to concentrate so I don't miss anything. I learn things when I read your books. I learn things about history and I learn things about myself. Your characters are real and three dimensional. I feel like they are alive in a way that isn't so with the Crazy series. Your writing is much more intense for me.

I have no idea if I am getting my point across---

My favorite character of yours is Nicholas Kenleigh and he is an intense, full bodied character that I could swear has actually lived. I feel like I know him.

My favorite Crazy character is Kid Chaos. He is hot and intense but he is like a caricature of a person.

Kid is like Spiderman, but Nicholas Kenleigh is like Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans.

Yeah, that is it—It’s like watching Spiderman verses watching The Last of the Mohicans. They are equally enjoyable, just in some ways different. Both are nail-biting, riveting and surprising but they are different.

So please don’t try to change anything. You are one of the best (in my opinion) just as you are. Thanks for many hours of enjoyment!!

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Favorite Writing Quotes


"I am an artist. I am here to live out loud."
—Emile Zola

"I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day."
—James Joyce

"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."
—Jane Austen

"Writers are those for whom writing is more difficult that it is for others."
—Ernest Hemingway

"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."
—Kurt Vonnegut

"The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar is the test of their power."
—Toni Morrison

"No tears in the author, no tears in the reader."
—Robert Frost.

"I'm a writer. I give the truth scope."
—the character of Chaucer in
A Knight's Tale