Category Archives: writing

What inspires me.


Every month, I choose a classic quote for whatever I face at that time. In May, my mind was on how long I could continue to be creative in my present genre. I began my journey in Regency romance in 1999! I have always tried to be consistent because I believe that my identity as a writer of humorous, action-packed sexy romance is a sort of promise to my readers. “I, Celeste Bradley, will continue to deliver books of the same kind and quality that I have done in the past, so that you always know what you are going to read.”

Like McDonalds.

Except that I’m a person, not a corporation. I might go through many things in a year, much less nearly two decades! How can I possibly remain consistently Celeste Bradley when I often don’t feel a bit like the same person who started writing my first book?

What if I falter? What if one day I just can’t do it? What if my writing changes without me realizing it and I disappoint everyone who has been so loyal and kind to me all these years?

Locking myself into that past place seemed so drastic–and essentially impossible. Then I realized that quitting altogether would also be drastic (and quite possibly impossible!). I love what I do. I love my characters–oh, those naughty Worthingtons!–and I love creating new and different visions of my Regency romance world.

The fact is, I can’t remain the same. But it occurred to me that my readers are people too. People who change and grow every day, who might go years without reading one of my books, or might binge an entire series in a week. We are all just being human, and I truly believe that most people are really trying to do their best.

So here is my new promise. I will do my best. I will write humorous, adventurous sexy Regency romance–as the writer and woman that I am RIGHT NOW. It might be that I worry for no reason and that I will be able to write stories that you will all enjoy. Or some people may fall away. Some new people may join in.

I love what I do. I love it even more now that I have come to understand that, just like Lewis Carrol’s Alice, “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”

Weren’t we all?

Simplicity in good writing

via GIPHY

The Geek God and I are finally watching The Wire. Yes, I know, a decade behind the rest of you. At any rate, we recently watched that famous moment in “Old Cases” where McNulty and his partner, Bunk, are investigating an old crime scene. It takes place in an apartment that has since been cleaned and repaired. They crack the case with nothing to go on but a few crime scene photos and the F word. Seriously, the dialogue of the entire scene consists of them conversing in Vulgar Dude. The F word, and only the F word, for a solid 5 minutes. It is offensive, gripping, and absolute genius.

Truly, this brief scene attained a level of Haiku-esque minimalism that made me want to watch it again. “Less is more.”

Yes, I realize that this example is visual and therefore not the same as written fiction. As writers of books, we have to set our stage and dress our actors with nothing but our fingers on the keyboard.

My point is that great writing isn’t about big words or heavily detailed description (“Excuse me, but your research is showing.”) or even perfectionist grammar. Yes, knowing all this is important. Proving that you know it is not. Great writing is about connection. Without connection–that freaking divine thread of communication made by tapping your soul like a Vermont maple–well then, you are just scratching lines and curves into the sand before the incoming tide. Your work won’t be remembered by anyone but you.

So, the next time you feel stirred by a sesquipedalian adverb you stumbled upon in your Synonym Finder, remember that it isn’t the size of the word, it’s how you use it that counts!

FADE IN:

This past week I attended the SCSFe (Screenwriting Conference in Santa Fe) and I had an amazing time. I love learning about writing in any format and I learned many things that will definitely improve my novel writing as well as give me a new creative outlet in screenwriting.

First of all, screenwriters are so cool. Seriously. Unlike introverted thin-skinned novelists (unlike me!) they are tough, funny and determined. They have ideas coming out of their ears, more smart-assed comebacks than a roomful of teenagers and they are willing to be shot down again and again in the hopes that someone, somewhere will like just one of their ideas. I came out of that week tougher, funnier and more determined to be determined!

The conference seemed a little expensive when I registered, but I had no idea that the week would entail exposure to such amazing professional screenwriters and Hollywood producers. I went in confident about my ability as a writer in general but open to new ideas. I was very frank about the fact that my entire screenwriting experience consisted of the assignment I had to finish for the conference itself.

First, we submit the first 10 pages of our screenplay and join a mentor group. Every day in class we’d rip each other’s stuff apart (more or less anonymously) and put it back together–all in a friendly but ruthless way. After lunch, there were seminars for all levels, provided by experienced teachers. In addition, one-on-one critiques were made available. Then we broke for dinner out in the city of Santa Fe–and then the fun began.

Okay, I’ll just say it. Screenwriters really know how to party! Drunken Karaoke, anyone?

Fortunately for me, my mentors were very patient and (once I had been thoroughly spanked for my lousy formatting) were very encouraging about my ability to tell a story on screen. So I buckled down and listened and wrote and learned and I started seeing movies in a way I’d never understood before. I learned an entirely new language in a matter of days!

So a big fat thank you to Ian Abrams, Darren Porter, Wendell Thomas, Ken Rotcop and everyone else who taught me more than I thought was possible to stuff into my overworked little brain. SCSFe is the best conference I have ever attended.

I can’t wait until next year!