The Marshall Memo 3/28/11

File this memo under – Never stop learning!

Sunday I attended a workshop given by authors Jane Porter (Flirting with Forty, She’s Gone Country), Megan Crane (Frenemies, Names My Sisters Call Me), and Liza Palmer (A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents, Conversations with a Fat Girl), hosted by my local chapter of RWA, the Los Angeles Romance Authors, in Studio City, CA.  The speakers were not only enlightening, but thoroughly entertaining.  It is always a joy to realize someone else knows exactly what it’s like to write a book.  They get the process, and I know what they’re talking about…because I’ve done it. We get each other.

Um, let’s see, I’ve gone through that process seventeen times now?  Yup, that’s my current total of completed manuscripts.  To date, only twelve have sold.

So what is voice and how do we find it?

I’ve heard that a writer’s “voice” is their personality on the page.  I’m currently reading a Susan Elizabeth Phillips book – Call Me Irresistible – and her personality/voice is so strong, I’m going to do a future blog about it when I’ve finished the book.

According to Jane Porter our stories are shaped by life, faith, and personality. (She may have said “fate” instead of faith but that’s what I heard.)

And Megan Crane aka Caitlen Crewes drove home the point that “voice” can’t be taught, it is your “you-ness” and if you can harness your voice you harness your power.

Liza Palmer, when she wasn’t cracking me up with her dry ADD wit, said in order to understand our writer’s voice we must understand ourselves.  We must know what we’re trying to say with our writing.

We spent the morning brainstorming, writing and analyzing our style, and their handouts were very helpful.

You mean it isn’t just telling a little story with a lot of plot?

Jane, Megan, and Liza all repeated one important point.  Everything, every type of story imaginable, has already been told.  Our only shot at being unique in our writing is through our voice, or the way we tell that story using our world view and everything that has made us who we are.

When I’m asked to examine my stories and come up with my “kink,” to use Liza Palmer’s word, I realize my stories are most frequently about second chances.  I LOVE second chances, yet we get so few of them in life.  In my books, Do-Overs are mandatory.  My characters tend to have always felt second best – they’ve been screwed over and deserve their chance to shine.  The beauty of writing is I can do that for them, I can give them their second chance.  I can write a story where they finally get it right, and I can’t tell you how rewarding that is.

I’ve done that very thing in One for the Road coming July 13 from The Wild Rose Press in e-book format as well as print (and will also be available on Amazon), and also in The Runaway Nurse Returns my debut Harlequin Special Edition book scheduled for 2012.  If you’re a fan of second chances, I hope you’ll check both of those books out!

The week in review:

Movie:  The Lincoln Lawyer – I liked it!

Book:  Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips – I’m loving it!

Music:  Beethoven, but I’m determined to check out Adele this week.

Until next week, make it a great one – and that’s a memo.


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16 Responses to The Marshall Memo 3/28/11

  1. Lynn, I was sorry I missed the workshop (son’s soccer game in Silverlake) and after reading your blog I’m even more sorry! You did a superb job of succinct summarization! Now say THAT 20 times!

    • Hey, Carol! I hope your son’s team won. I love Silverlake, having grown up in the area.

      Well, I hate to rub it in, but the workshop was really fun and enlightening, wish you could have been there.

      Congratulations on making the Border’s List with Navy Seal Security! Great cover, BTW.

  2. Aileen Fish says:

    I love second chances, too. Sometimes just one little thing needs to happen for a couple to be able to make it, and some characters need to have their HEAs withheld to make them want it badly enough.

    I wish I could have made the workshop, it sounds wonderful.

    • Hi Aileen –
      Ah, it’s good to know someone else out there enjoys second chance stories. Sometimes they come in the form of reunions and other times they’re with someone new, but the character doesn’t make that same dang mistake that always fouls things up.

      As they said in the workshop – every story and theme has been done before – but not the one you or I will write, right?

      Thanks for stopping by : )

  3. Great blog, Lynne! Makes me mad I wasn’t able to go.

    I find a ‘big factor’ or ‘theme’ in my stories is trust. Go figure, a former cop has trust issues! But then I’m always open for a second chance as well!

    • Hi Kathy,

      Oooh, trust issues – they’re always a challenge. Liza Palmer said it’s always good to “dip into the vulnerable side of your characters” and I can see where characters with trust issues would have a lot of dipping to do!

      Don’t want to rub it in, but I wish you could have been there!

  4. Hi Lynne – I enjoyed the 3 perspectives of the Voice workshop too and have already applied it to my WIP which I am now proofreading. It’s amazing how changing just a few lines or words in a paragraph make the reading/writing stronger. Great blog!

    • Hi Charlene – Oh, wow, that really is excellent. I still smile thinking about Liza saying “Why do I write?” while clawing her face. It really does put it into perspective, if we know why we write, all the other stuff falls in line.

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be as successful as you have been identifying what’s missing with this WIP!

  5. Awesome blog post, Lynne! It really was a fabulous workshop, wasn’t it? I’ve been working almost non-stop in the face of their inspiration, lol! My theme? Trusting yourself, believing in yourself in the face of incredible odds.

    And thanks so much for the ride! Everyone else on the freeway REALLY appreciates it, lol!

    • Hi Christine – Believing in self against all odds – that’s a great theme – Universal truths are always great themes. I love underdog stories. I love rooting for the person who finally finds themselves, believes they can do it, and overcomes all the odds.

      Glad I could drive you.

  6. Maria says:

    Argh! Well, I had a great time with my mom and sister, but this was one of those times that I wished I could have been in two places at once. Wow, I am going to have to think about my “theme” now. I have an inkling of what it is, but I think it needs more cogitation.

    Great post, Lynne.

    • Thank you, Maria. I missed you, but when I heard where you were and why you were there, I’d say hands down you made the right choice!

      But you still missed a great workshop. he he

  7. Nas says:

    Hi Lynne,

    How I wish I could take workshops like these for the writing craft.

    Your blog post makes it come alive for me. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Nas!

      I wish you could take workshops in person too, but there are a lot of online workshops you can find for writing. I hope you can take advantage of them.

      I’m really glad I can make the topics come alive for you! I promise many more.

  8. Ericka Scott says:

    Great wrap up of the workshop! Heck, I’m going to print out the blog and put it with my notes — yes, it’s that good.

    I was inspired by not only the speakers words, but from the energy of all the other women (and the men) in the room who “get” this journey. It’s exciting, dismaying, frustrating, and oh-so-worth it.

  9. Hi Erika!
    Oh-so worth it, yes, I agree – on good days. ha ha.
    I picked up on that energy, too. Multiply that by a three-thousand for National Conference. It’s almost unbearable for a little ol’ introvert like me.

    I’m glad you liked the blog. : )