Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christie Craig on Finding Your Voice

Christie Craig
Divorced, Desperate and Delicious
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing
Pub date: November 2007
Agent: Kim Lionetti




(Click to Buy)

Christie Craig writes romance fiction that has both witty humor and a suspenseful, sexy tone. Published by Silhouette in the '90s, she recently broke back into fiction in a big way, acquiring a three-book deal with Dorchester. The Everything Guide to Writing a Romance Novel is her latest nonfiction book, coauthored with Faye Hughes and scheduled for release in September '08 through Adams Media.

Awards: A Golden Heart finalist, Christie has also finaled in over 50 RWA-sponsored contests.

Web site: www.christie-craig.com

Divorced, Desperate and Delicious is a humorous romantic suspense about a wounded cop on the run who is being framed by this partner, and a divorced animal-loving heroine who is finished with men forever . . . but has a weak spot for all strays, even wounded cops.

Because my book Divorced, Desperate and Delicious was released today, Kim, Jessica, and Jacky gave me the floor at the BookEnds blog. They even said I could choose my topic. Pretty fearless of them, isn’t it? I considered sharing about the night I saw Kim and Jessica in their pajamas running down the stairwell of a Dallas hotel. But then I’d have to explain that I, too, was there, donned in my PJs. So nope, that wouldn’t work.

Instead, I chose to blog about something I heard at one of my first writing conferences. This piece of advice sent me on a frantic search, too. A well-respected editor said, “The one thing a new writer can do to guarantee her/his success is to go home and find their writing voice.”

So I did just that. I went straight home, got into my comfy clothes, poured myself a glass of wine, went into my office and . . . looked under my desk. I found a few dust bunnies, some dirty socks, a surprise my cat had left for me, but no voice. Where and how did a new writer find her voice?

Over the years, I learned a few things. I’m not saying I’ve found the answer, but I have discovered more than just dirty socks and hair balls. I’ve found there are many debates concerning the elusive thing called a writer’s voice.

Some believe the writer’s voice is encoded in the author’s DNA, that it’s a mere reflection of his or her personality. They insist it lurks within, and if the writer is patient, it will simply come.

Others argue that voice is not something that comes from within, but writers must be willing to shop for it. (Like at Wal-Mart . . . or Neiman-Marcus.) Still others believe the writer’s voice must be tracked down, clubbed, and dragged back by the scruff of its neck, then be caged to avoid its escape.

What’s more, some think a writer gets one voice, while others believe you can have several, or you can train and retrain your voice to work in different types of genres and tones, like a singer who is famous for country and rock.

What do I believe? Well, I think there’s some truth is every one of those debates. I think voice is connected to personality, but I think some people don’t know who they are. I don’t think it hurts to shop around—to try to write in different genres—until you find something that clicks. I also don’t think your voice can run away—there are no cages in my office—but I admit I keep a close eye on mine at all times. I don’t think you can lose your voice, either, but I believe you can get writing laryngitis.

I think voice is a combination of how words are threaded together, how sentences are sewn into paragraphs. It’s also about mood, tone, pacing, and word choice; it’s that elusive something you recognize when you pick up a Jennifer Crusie, or a Lisa Jackson. I think most of us can train ourselves to sing/write in different genres, to use different tones, but perhaps not everyone can. Or perhaps, voice and how it works is as unique to each writer as is . . . well, the types of things found under our desks.

Anyway, I’m hoping that when Divorced, Desperate and Delicious hits the bookstores, people will connect with my voice. Mostly, I hope readers will discover my voice to be entertaining and they’ll be waiting with bated breath for my next release to come out in June of '08.

So what about you? What is your definition and thoughts on voice? Have you found yours, or are you still searching for it behind the dust bunnies?

43 comments:

Heather B. Moore said...

Congrats on the new book, and great post, Christie. I think my voice does change to a point depending on the genre. I also think that voice can change with each character. It's a tricky balance to get into your character's head, while maintaining your own unique author voice. Those who write in first person can really bring out their unique author voice. Third person seems more difficult. It's also tough to keep your voice fresh enough in each book that they don't start bleeding together. I agree that finding your voice is part of discovering what you love to write and what comes most natural.

Amy Nathan said...

I think that I sometimes put my hand over my mouth, so to speak, quieting my true writer's voice. When I reread what I've written I sometimes find I've squelched what could have come through if I had written abashedly. So that's what I try to do -- I'm working on a memoir and the voice is therefore my own. Being true to myself/my narrator takes patience -- sometimes the most difficult person to hear is yourself.

Thanks for the thoughts and good advice!

Christie Craig said...

Thanks, Kim, Jessica and Jacky! I still get goosebumps when I see my cover. I can't wait to see the book actually on the shelves!

CC

Christie Craig said...

Heather,

Thanks for posting and thanks for the congrats on DDD. I really am loving every moment of this.

Now, about a writer's voice changing with each character, that's a great point. When we write in different POVs, the voice should reflect the character who is telling the story, but don't you think the author's own voice shines through, regardless of the characters? (Or am I the only one who has that happen to her? lol.)

CC

Christie Craig said...

Amy,

Good luck with your memoir - just remember to tear your hand away from your mouth and let your writer's voice speak. *g*

Thanks for dropping by.

CC

BookEnds, LLC said...

Congratulations Christie! Great book and fantastic cover!

--jessica

Angie Fox said...

Congratulations, Christie! I can't wait to dig into my copy of Divorced, Desperate and Delicious. And your cover is simply wonderful.

Great post on finding your writer's voice. Personally, I think this is like so many aspects of writing, each person has to find his/her own way.

I also find it fascinating to watch how an author's voice will change as her career evolves, or from series to series.

Oh and just a quick question - when does your nonfiction book come out?

Christie Craig said...

Thanks, Jessica!!

We'ren't your the cover model? Or was that Kim?

CC

Kim Lionetti said...

My goodness, did my X-mas card photo get mixed up with your cover shot?

I apologize!

Christie Craig said...

Hi Angie,

Thanks for posting. I know my voice has evolved over time. And I think I can tone down certain aspects of my voice. But I do think it comes out in other ways.

The nonfiction, The Everything Guide to Writing Romance Novels is scheduled to be released, September 07.

Thanks for asking.
And when is your due out?

CC

Faye Hughes said...

Mega Congrats, Christie!!

Oh, and Kim...I had heard that Jessica had a "blackmail" photo of you but I didn't realize that she would go so far as to have it plastered on Christie's book cover. LOL.

Faye

Christie Craig said...

I'm sure that's what happened, Kim.

CC

Karen Duvall said...

Congratulations, Christie! The title of this book alone makes me want to read it. 8^)

It took more than one book for me to find my voice, and I attribute the discovery to my characters. They're the ones who brought mw out. Once I got into my characters' skins, there was no holding back. It was truly liberating.

Christie Craig said...

Thanks Karen. I was thrilled to keep my title.

I agree, it can take several books to find your voice. When I look back on my book that was published in '94, I see some bits and pieces of what I consider my voice to be now, but I think it has evolved.

I'd like to think it will continue to grow, to become stronger.

Thanks for the post.

CC

Aimless Writer said...

If my voice is connected to my personality I'd have to name her bitchy and sarcastic. (Oops! Was I thinking out loud again?)
Congrats on the new book! I'll definately have to pick it up. Might make a good xmas gift for my mom in law too. She loves Evanovitch so it should be right up her alley...then there's my daughter... wait, I have to get my xmass list!
:)

Kate Douglas said...

Well, Christie, since I know your "you" voice, I tend to read everything you write with a bit of a southern twang...and a whole lot of humor! I can't WAIT to buy a copy of your book. I was in a bookstore yesterday but didn't see it and I was looking!!!

Congratulations and here's to many sales and a gazillion new fans!

loralee said...

Christie, your voice is as unique as you are. That's a winning combination, girl. Wishing you huge success on your new book and all the ones to follow.

Christie Craig said...

Aimless Writer,

Thanks. Here's wishing us all lots of contracts.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Kate,

Thanks for stopping by. And Ya'll come back ya here!

CC

Christie Craig said...

Loralee,

Thanks for stopping by.

From on piano girl to another.

CC

Christine Wells said...

Hi Christie, congratulations on your new release! Great cover! I was around the contest circuit at about the same time you were and your titles really stood out--I must have seen them about 100 times. What, only 50+? Oh, ok:) I'm dying to read Divorced, Desperate and Delicious. It looks like great fun.

Anonymous said...

Hi Christie,
Thanks so much for a great post. Your voice shines and you can count on me picking up a copy for myself plus several Christmas gifts.
Petrina

Christie Craig said...

Christine,

Okay, girl, are you saying that I was a contest addict or something? lol.

Thanks so much for dropping by!

CC

Christie Craig said...

Petrina,

Thanks for stopping by...and for making my day! I hope you enjoy DDD.

CC

magolla said...

Congrats Christie!
I loved your voice when I judged a few of your contest entries. I'm excited to finally read the rest of the stories!

Christie Craig said...

Magolla,

Thank you so much! Everybody who knows me knows that I'm a big believer in the power of contests. I hope you enjoy reading all of DDD.

CC

Josephine Damian said...

My goal is to walk the line between voice and author intrusion.

Great post, Christie!

50 contests!? Christine, I had the same reaction. lol Christie, whatever works and helps you get ahead in this biz, then its worthwhile.

Christie Craig said...

Josephine,

Thanks for dropping by, and good luck with your own "tightrope" walk with voice.

Now, about contests, did I mention I got a tiara one year for having finaled in so many contests? lol.

CC

Anonymous said...

Great post, Christie. I can't wait to read DDD.

Jenna

Jeannie Ruesch said...

I'm excited to read your book, Christie! My husband saw it on my Amazon wishlist and looked at me strangely, saying, "Why do you want to read a book about being divorced and desperate? Is there something you need to tell me?" He was a little chagrined when I told him it was fiction. ;) Anyway, I digress...

Voice. The one bit of "wisdom" I have learned about voice is simply how to have it beaten out of you...and from that, how to avoid having it beaten out of your work.

When I first joined critique groups, I sucked up every bit of advice like a sponge, because I believed everyone knew better than me. When all the edits were done (and I do mean ALL), everyone's advice was adhered to, I had chapters that were awful. It was a harsh learning lesson, but it forced me to look at what MY voice was. One crit group member would rewrite my story in her voice, though it took me time to realize that. So perhaps from the bad crit partners I had, I learned how to find MY voice...because I had to learn to protect it.

Erik said...

I believe, very sincerely, that one should start out a project by getting rather drunk.

Seriously - the best way to find your voice is to lose your inhibitions. Granted, quality is likely to suffer, but you can get that in editing. Once you are sober, you can see what it is you were doing and try to stay true to it. With better grammar.

Yes, I realize that novel writers have a reputation for being alcoholics in the first place, but I do think that much as a bar is a place where people "loosen up" to meet persons of the gender they are attracted to, a few drinks can help find that perfect pick-up, er, opening line.

Hopefully it still looks good in the morning.

(I do feel like Bukowsky at times, however ...)

Christie Craig said...

Jenna,

Thanks so much for posting. I hope you enjoy DDD!

CC

Christie Craig said...

Jeannie,

LOL about your hubby seeing DDD on your Amazon Wish list. I'm sure my title must have made him wonder what you were up to. LOL.

Now, about voice. Girl, I am so glad you learned your lesson with that critique group. It sounds like they were not a good fit for you at all.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Erik,

I don't know if getting drunk would help me find my voice -- that's usually when I lose stuff (like my glasses...my keys...LOL.)

Thanks for posting!

CC

Maria Zannini said...

Congratulations, Christie!
Love your blurb! Combining the heroine's weakness for strays and wounded cops was a stroke of genius.

Great post too. Voice isn’t something that's discussed in great detail. I wonder if that's because it's a journey that is individual to each of us. In my case, I don't think I learned voice as much as recognized it by being exposed to good (and bad) writing.

Christie Craig said...

Maria,

Thanks for posting!

You've made some great points about voice being something writers discover as they continue to write.

Actually, all of you BookEnds commenters have been awesome!

CC

Stacey Kayne said...

Hey Christie! I've been waiting for my copy of DD&D!!

You are so right--voice is a tricky wicket to try and pin down beneath the microscope and say "Aha! THAT's my voice!" As you said, voice is derived from the author's manipulation of ALL the elements, word play (dark, light, humorous, lyrical), sentence structure (long and wispy, short and snappy), the combinations of pros and dialogue--the amount of rein they give their characters' voices over their own. I think one of the hardest elements for new authors is recognizing and defining the combination that works best for them. I write two genres, and I do believe I have the same voice for both--but then, I tend to bring out the cowboy in just about any hero ;-)

What I do know is that YOU have a rockin' voice! Wishing you much success, CC!

Stacey Kayne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christie Craig said...

Stacey,

Girl, you are making me smile today. Thanks so much for the kind words.

CC

Christine said...

I think voice is also heavily influenced by who/what you read. Along with her own thoughts, an author's voice is an amalgam of the authors' voices that she's come into contact with.

As for me, I'm still searching among the dustbunnies.

Christie Craig said...

Christine,

Thanks for posting, and good luck with those dustbunnies!

CC

Allison Brennan said...

Hi Christy, I for one love your voice. It's fun and original and very *you*. Good luck with your release!!!

Christie Craig said...

Allison,

Thank you, girl. This means a lot to me coming from you!

CC