Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ugh

“A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.” - Hippocrates

I am sick. I haven't been sick in a year, so I suppose I should be grateful, but I hate feeling under the weather. My eyes are watering, my nose is running, I'm coughing, sneezing... Geez, I sound like a NyQuil commercial.

Bet you wish you were here.

My deepest desire (aside from getting well immediately) is that my daughter doesn't catch this.

Since my brain is fuzzy, I'm offering up a few quizzes instead of coherant thought.

Your Vocabulary Score: A

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.


My Yahoo Horoscope:

Quickie:
Today you'll attract many different people, including some flighty personalities.


Today, I'm laying on the couch and watching football. If different people come by, they'll have to deal with me snarfing and wearing jammies.

Overview:
It's the perfect time to ask for a favor, score an invitation to a hot event or connect with that supposedly unattainable love interest. Not only will you meet with a warm reception, but you'll be invited back for more.


Huh... unattainable love interest? Yes, of course, because I am at my best (and my husband surely won't mind).

My Humorscope:

Capricorn
Beware of poltergeists, today.


This is always good advice.

And now... I'm off to the couch. Have a lovely New Years Eve, whatever you do. See you on the flip side.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Goals Again!

If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time. ~ Author Unknown

I have a wicked head cold this morning, so bear with me if this blog post sounds weird.

Last night I spent some time reading in a book called WishCraft. It's all about figuring out what you really want and then getting it.

She said a couple of things that I wanted to share, because this time of year people are all about setting goals OR defending their lack of goalsetting by saying that it doesn't work for them.

I firmly believe that if you don't set goals of some sort, you won't get to where you'd like to be. I also believe that you need to set realistic and specific goals.

The books states that if you set a goal, and work toward it, but it turns out that it wasn't the right goal for you, change it! Because: Goals exist only to serve you and make you happy.

Makes sense, doesn't it?

She also talks about taking bite sized pieces out of you goal. That: The sooner you start getting some of what you really want, the more energy you'll have to go for the rest of it.

If you goal is to "get published", then plan big (I want a three book deal with Kensington), but do something smaller just to get the ball rolling -- that's why I subbed my story to The Wild Rose Press. It's a start... a good way to get a taste of being published and it really made me ready for more!

Don't be afraid of setting goals and deadlines. But remember that you own them and not the other way around. Dream big, but then break it down into smaller pieces so you can achieve goals regularly (I will write one page every day) and feel good about it.

It's what I plan to do. I have, in fact, written out my goals and given them dates. I did not set goals that I have no power over (i.e. I will get published by Harlequin this year) but set ones that I can control (i.e. I will query Harlequin this year).

It's exciting to think about what can be in store. But if I don't have a map, how will I know when I get there?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Continued From Yesterday...

I do not like to write - I like to have written. ~ Gloria Steinem

So... yesterday, I got to meet Allie!



It was fun, it was far too short, and I can't wait to do it again (don't know if we will, but one would hope). But her husband and my DD (along with Grandma, who watched her) were quite patient as it was, so I don't suppose we could have made them wait for three or four more hours!

She brought me the only book I was given for Christmas:


The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction


I was ready to read it all right then and there. I've heard good things about this book and it appears as though they were all true. I thrive on writing prompts and exercises, they stimulate my creativity and my writing juices, and this book is full of them! It was a wonderful gift.

I didn't do much writing yesterday, but I did do a lot of thinking. My original idea of how to "hide" the killer isn't going to work, but I might be able to tone down my heroine's reaction to him and ramp up her reaction to others... I'm also trying to make her look like a possible suspect as well -- though the reader will know otherwise, the hero won't and will also not like the fact that he's attracted to a potential murderer. Also, if I throw some other folks in there who may have committed the crime (the victim wasn't well liked), maybe I can make it a little less obvious. We'll see how it works out.

Allie and I talked about our writing goals for 2007, and they were close to the same: get the books submitted. She has several completed drafts of novels that just need some tweaks and polish to be ready to go. I have half a dozen first drafts that need a lot of editing and polish, but getting them ready to head out the door would be less onerous than writing a new draft and then having to tweak and polish... Hopefully we'll both be subbing manuscripts this year.

We also discussed the fact that our writing groups and partners are probably far more picky and tough than many editors about specific things like conflict and character motivation. Based on books that I've read lately, logical character motivation isn't necessary for a book to make it into print. I've gone through five different category romances, and specific inconsistencies drove me batty.

In one series, one book paints a character as quiet, shy, retiring and in the next (the one in which she is the heroine) the first thing she does is go alone into a bar and pick up a guy --with a minimum on conversation -- then bring him back to her hotel room and get it on. THEN throughout the book she's an in-your-face, confrontational, independent woman.

What?

Or the one I read where the heroine is married to her job, a job that requires so much travel that she doesn't own or rent a home. She falls for the hero, but breaks up with him because she refuses to compromise her work. Period. So the hero sells his house, gives away his dog and figures out a way to bring his job on the road and then proposes marriage. This really ticked me off because the heroine had to sacrifice NOTHING. She wasn't even willing to sacrifice anything. What kind of hero worth admiring would be such a pathetic sap to love a woman who loved her job more than him? Is it just me?

In any case, enough complaining. I did manage to find a category book that I sincerely enjoyed. It wasn't something I'd read again and again, but I smiled through it and it left a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Awww... so that was nice. I'm not sure it was worth going through the other ones, but hopefully it's the start of a trend.

Time to go write. Have a good day!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Villains & Friends

“One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.” - William Shakespeare

So... yesterday my hubby decided that the basement -- after much shifting of furniture from the day before -- needed repainting. All the furniture was moved again, away from the walls and much of it was stuffed into my office.

The result?

No writing for me yesterday. Grrr.... when does hubby go back to work? My DH, when unable to recreate in the outdoors, finds busy work around the house. He's on a forced vacation this week - if he doesn't use it, he loses it, we have no snow for snowmobiling and he's bouncing off the walls.

However, aside from the paint fumes which may make me a little loopy, it does look nice down here. AND even though I was away from the computer, he couldn't shut down my brain.

I've been considering the villain in my mystery. Currently, it's very obvious from the heroine's reaction to him that this person is the bad guy. I want to change that. I couldn't think of how to do it exactly, but worked at it and worked at it in my brain yesterday and figured it all out! Only one small problem... I was in the middle of shampooing the carpet with my cool new 'pooer, and didn't write it down.

Guess what?

Yup, I forgot what I was going to do. I remember one part, but not the other and it won't work without the whole enchilada. Oh well, it's in there somewhere and I'll remember it again, hopefully when I have some paper handy.

What about you? Do you prefer the villain to be obvious and then just watch the H/H figure it out, or do you prefer to figure it out right along with them?

==========================

I'm excited! Today, I get to meet one of my virtual writing friends, Allie face to face. She's up here on vacation with her husband, and we're getting together at 10 a.m. It'll be very cool to finally meet her. I've "known" Allie since my earliest days at WVU and my very first romance writing class there. Now, if only I was closer to Minnesota, Indiana and Georgia (Hey, Pam, Maryland isn't that far. Come visit!) life would be wonderful.

Have a good day!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tales From the Crib

Losing baby teeth were a part and parcel of one's life - a symbol of growing up, and it is the tooth-fairy that makes this otherwise dreaded and painful process an exciting one - something to look forward to. ~ Mansi Maheshwari

Yesterday morning, my daughter smiled at me when she woke up -- and one of her two front teeth was missing. Those teeth have been loose for months, but I guess it took being popped in the mouth by her cousin at Christmas to finally make it happen.

She said she was a little concerned, though, because the tooth had come out after she went to bed, but before she went to sleep and the tooth fairy didn't come. I didn't tell her it was because the tooth fairy was comatose in the bedroom next door, but I did say that she was probably tired from Christmas like everyone else.

Last night, the tooth fairy managed to stay up until nine o'clock and add that newest lost tooth to her collection.

Every parting is a form of death, as every reunion is a type of heaven. ~ Tryon Edwards

Shortly before Christmas, I told my daughter I would arrange an "art center" for her in the basement where she could go and cut and paste and paint to her little heart's delight. I told her we would do it right after Christmas.

Yesterday morning, she popped out of bed (toothless) and said, "Can we do the basement now?"

Um... can we have breakfast?

In any case, after having a bit of sustenance, we took to our task. It became much larger than I first believed it would be. After some time, hubby pitched in. Everything in the play area AND my office (except the desk, thankfully) had to be moved. Bookshelves unloaded, toy boxes shifted, TV/Stereo disassembled and reassembled. It took all day.

I used to have two large bookcases in my office, but one of them held her art supplies and my scrapbooking stuff, so I took the one with my writing stuff and moved it across the room where hers used to be, then replaced it with a long, short set of shelves. It opened up the area behind me very nicely.

I sat down, looked at where all my stuff was (all of about three feet away) and had a severe case of separation anxiety... all of my WIPs were there (the research and whatnot, not the actual ms), notes to myself, spiral pads that I write on constantly when brainstorming. They were so far away, I couldn't reach them easily. I nearly hyperventilated, all the while telling myself it was silly to feel that way.

It didn't matter. I moved them to the long, short bookcase behind me. It doesn't look as neat, but at least I can breathe.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Glad It's Over

I'm still pooped. As my husband said last night: His family is getting bigger, and it's true in more ways than one. More babies are being born AND the other "babies" are growing up. We had them all at our house yesteray -- let me count. There were thirteen adults and seven children (it felt like more).

My daughter had a blast with all her cousins. The dog and cat were not so happy as they were locked up in the bedroom... many times, I wished I could join them!

In any case, it's over, I was in bed at eight o'clock (it would have been earlier, but there was much cleaning up to be done) and I slept in until about 4:45. But I'm still tired.

I got some interesting gifts yesterday, and some fun ones. My DH and I had an extended discussion about what a "spatula" was because I had asked for a new set of really good ones.

What do you think? Which of these items is a spatula?

Number One:



Or Number Two:



I'll clue you in. I wanted number two, and got number one; a really, really nice set of number one, so I can't complain. Poor hubby. He tried. He also got me a carpet shampooer -- a nice Hoover steamcleaner.

There was talk recently of all the stuff you "shouldn't" get your wife for Christmas, and home cleaning items topped the list - don't get her a vacuum. Overall, the top item you should get your wife was jewelry. I was horrified. All I could think was, "What would I do with a diamond necklace?"

Give me a good shampooer any time. Last year I got a Dyson DC07 animal vacuum. I LOVE it.

My mom got me a shiatsu massage cushion. Oh yeah.

My friend, Cathy, who has known me longer than anyone in the world except my family made me CDs off of her LPs of Rick Springfield's first albums. You know, the one no one really knows about. I own all of them on LP (yes, vinyl), but you can't buy them on CD. They are:

Beginnings



Comic Book Heroes - Possibly my favorite RS album.



Wait For Night

I can't find a copy of the album cover that I have... I bought the original re-release on LP back in the early eighties.

Beautiful Feelings



Guess what I'm listening to right now?

No laptop, but I'll survive. I have Rick Springfield.

Was Santa good to you?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas to All!





'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"


I'll see everyone on the 26th! Have a wonderful holiday!

A Funny

I love Pearls Before Swine... and this one is great! Take a look at a romance with an alternate ending.

My Blog is Listing....

“We aren't in an information age, we are in an entertainment age.” - Anthony Robbins

Swiped from Mary, here are a few things that managed to keep me entertained this past year. Unlike her, I can't seem to put them in order of preference.

So... without further ado... in no particular order, I give you:

My favorite TV shows of 2006


* Criminal Minds - except for the first five minutes or so, which typically scares the heck out of me, the thing that sets this crime drama apart is a distinct lack of gore. We certainly see dead bodies in all their glory, but that's not the focus here. I think that this is one of the most suspenseful crime dramas around, it's more intellectual, less dependent upon forensics and, hey, it has geeky Dr. Reed. I have such a crush on him!

* NCIS - I started watching this because of my hubby. He was a JAG fan, though because he served in the navy, he loved to point out all the little things that were wrong. Mostly, though, they did good. When JAG went away, all that was left was NCIS, but that wasn't a bad thing. In fact, IMHO, NCIS has one of the best "clicking" casts around. The thing that makes me want to watch this show every week is their interactions -- I wish I could write this kind of cast into one of my books.

* Eureka - OMG what isn't fantastic about this show? Carter is the perfect fish out of water in a town where everyone, including the kids, have about genius IQ's and the place exists to create new and incredible inventions. In Eureka, anything is possible... and hysterically funny. Thanks to Tori for introducing me to this show. It is, quite possibly, my favorite show of 2006.

* The Closer - another crime drama with a great cast, a neurotic lead character and lots of brain food. I love a show that makes you think. This is one of those.

* Animal Cops, Animal Precinct and Animal Planet Heroes - These are essentially the same shows, the just take place in different cities. As a heavy-duty animal lover, I am alternately horrified and encouraged by these shows. It amazes me how unbelievably and intentionally cruel humans can be, but worse how unintentionally cruel as well ("Gee, you mean I have to feed the dog?"). This is the only show with a "due to the graphic nature of this show..." warning that I allow my DD to watch.

Would you believe that those are the only shows I watch regularly? What about you? What are you favorite TV addictions shows?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Blathering

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~ Burton Hillis

We're hosting the hordes for Christmas this year. My in-laws will be descending upon our household midday on the 25th for fun, festivities and food. I'm glad to do it, because I hate having to travel, but I have to say: I miss my family. My husband's family all live right here in good old NH. I find this to be true of a lot of people in New England. They tend to grow where they're planted. My family? All over the freakin' place: California, Oregon, New Mexico, Kansas, Maryland and here, of course. Makes it tough to get us all together.

Do you find that you miss family even more during the Christmas season?

I think I'll require all of my in-laws to call my this when they come visit:

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Her Most Noble Lady Marianne the Surprised of Much Madness upon Avon
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title


In any case, since I expect that many of you aren't going to be around much, I'm going to have fun with meme's.

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Marianne!

  1. Marianne can squeeze her entire body through a hole the size of her beak.
  2. A bride should wear something old, something new, something borrowed, and Marianne!
  3. According to the story, Pinocchio was made of Marianne.
  4. Peanuts and Marianne are beans.
  5. Oranges, lemons, watermelons, pineapples and Marianne are all berries.
  6. Europe is the only continent that lacks Marianne.
  7. You share your birthday with Marianne.
  8. Research indicates that Marianne will be attracted to people who have recently eaten bananas.
  9. Fifty-two percent of Americans drink Marianne.
  10. Medieval knights put the skin of Marianne on their sword handles to improve the grip!
I am interested in - do tell me about


My horoscope on Humorscope:

Capricorn (December 22 - January 20)

Your children will return, but they'll be unnaturally quiet and good-natured. Eventually, you'll discover how the switch was made.
And my Yahoo horoscope:

Quickie:
In the mood for an overhaul? Hit the mall with one of your fashion-forward friends.

Overview:
There's nothing more contagious than enthusiasm. Your interest in an off-the-beaten-path topic has a surprising way of bringing the people in your life closer to you, especially when they see how much you enjoy this subject.
Are they out of their minds? HIT THE MALL???? On the last Saturday before Christmas? Puh-leez.

I'm okay with the second part...

See you tomorrow. Or maybe not. If not Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Creating Community

While the spirit of neighborliness was important on the frontier because neighbors were so few, it is even more important now because our neighbors are so many. ~ Lady Bird Johnson

I've been wondering, lately, just where my strange version of romance novels would fit in the grand scheme of the publishing world. I have a couple that I don't believe would fit into the box of a print publisher because they're a little different. But I have a couple that I think might fit in the Harlequin American mold. I've read several in that series (I like Kara Lennox's stories quite well... thanks Kara, for writing such interesting stuff), but took it upon myself to read more.

I went to the library in Salem (45 mins away) because my library doesn't buy category romance (which ticks me off a little, but that's a story for another day) and loaded up. I showed the logo to my daughter and where to find the copyright date (because I wanted more recent stuff to see what's being published now) and sent her into the stacks. I checked out about fifty books!

Last night I started reading one. I'm enjoying the story so far, and writing is really quite good.

But... (you knew there had to be a "but" didn't you?)

The author is trying to introduce an entire town in the first two chapters. This book happens to be the first in a series that takes place in this little town, so I understand why she's doing it. I just think she should slow it down a little because I'm lost. The hero (we'll call him Joe - names have been changed to protect the innocent) keeps bumping into people and the author describes them thusly:

Joe saw Amy on the corner. Amy was the sister of his friend, Mike and the daughter of the mayor, Pete, by his first wife, Lydia. She currently worked at the library with Joe's employee's fiancee, Jane who was the step-sister of Fred and Dave down at the auto repair shop that Frank owned.
Ack!

The mystery that I'm currently working on takes place in a fictional small town in Colorado. There's definite community there, as in all small towns where everyone not only knows your name, but your past and present and they spend much time speculating over your future at the local diner.

I have lots of characters I want to introduce, but I'm trying to do them one by one so that the reader will remember them, who they are, where they work, etc. without having to make a chart.

I wonder if this story will still be Harlequin American material? That's not to mention that I'm 19,000 words into the story and my H/H haven't so much as held hands. There's a good reason for it, and it's in character, they both know that they're attracted to one another but nothing has happened yet. Partly because it's only been three days since they met, and I have issues with the "meet and make out" scenario that I see so often (are folks really that easy in real life? I'm not that old, and I don't recall that folks were that easy...) and partly because my heroine has serious intimacy issues because of abuse in her past.

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if I'll ever write anything appropriate for category. But, you know, I'm okay with that because I have to write what I have to write. My characters wouldn't have it any other way.

What about you?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Miscellanea

This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield, and the battle takes place. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensuing to the wind. The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition, the shafts of with start up like sharpshooters. Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink; for the struggle commences and is concluded with torrents of black water, just as a battle with powder. ~ Honore de Balzac, "The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee"

See... I knew there was a reason I have a nice 32 oz cuppa sitting here at my desk.

Do you ever find yourself automatically correcting or improving writing that you see? I read a headline on a news page that read:

A major snowstorm was blowing across Colorado toward the Plains early today...

And my brain instantly changed it to:

A major snowstorm was blowing blew across Colorado toward the Plains early today...

Ugh, passive voice. For shame, for shame...

Ever submit a query for something, and then when it's requested, panic and think that's it's not ready?

I did.

The good news is that the editor told me that the office is shut down until after Christmas, so I have a few days to polish it up until it gleams.

Oh, well.... Yahoo Horoscopes just smacked me upside the head for that last comment I made, above. It says:

If you want a positive outcome in your latest endeavor, you have to be positive!

*hangs head*

It also says:

Make some contingency plans just in case. However, don't act on that plan B, or you could undermine the good fortune that just landed in your lap. Just have it drawn up and safely tucked away for use in the event that you need it later on.

The story I just had requested, though, wouldn't fit just anywhere. So my "contingency" would be to put it in a drawer. Of course, I'm thinking positive and am certain that it'll be accepted for publications.

But the drawer is ready. Just in case.

Your Elf Name Is...

Grumpy Ho-Ho-Ho


Who you callin' Grumpy? And a ho?

You Are an Angel

A truly giving soul, you understand the spirit of Christmas.


Geez... considering that I'm "Grumpy-ho-ho-ho", I find the whole "Angel" thing hard to believe.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Search Me!

Gee... the things you find out about yourself when you look. I decided to take some of the advice I found on the "50 Ways to Help your Author" and I went to Dogpile.com and searched for myself.

I discovered that my story is on sale at Fictionwise. I had no idea. I also got two reader ratings: "Great" and "Good". Guess I can't complain. But, hey, if you haven't bought my story (and why, may I ask, haven't you?), you can get it on sale and there's even an excerpt!

And, it looks like the same listing is at KnowBetter.com as well.

I'm also listed on the new releases for the Wild Rose Press at Coffee Time Romance.

Interesting... guess I should look for myself more often.

This and That

Is life not a hundred times too short for us to stifle ourselves? ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Saw this at Tori's place, and I thought I'd share: 50 ways to help your author (without buying her book).

A writing friend has been following Miss Snark's hook cropometer and boiled down the bones of a good hook to this:

Remember the basic ingredients of the hook souffle: the main character is; s/he has a problem that is; s/he must do something to solve it that will: the consequences of solving it create a different problem which is. Fill in the blanks.

I figured that was a good recipe and it's going into my "keeper" file!

I wrote like a maniac yesterday. It was wonderful. I keep thinking maybe I can finish 40,000 words in ten days so I can enter the Harlequin Great American Romance contest. Okay, so maybe I should have finished the novel just a little bit earlier... If they just didn't want a pesky synopsis, I could send the beginning and finish it while they judged that. But, n-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o...

I tried to post the Zokutu word meter on the blog sidebar, but it was all fragmented. Don't know if it's just me, but I tried and tried and it was still all messed up. Anyone have another word count meter I could borrow?

Does anyone find it odd that nine tenths of the search hits I've gotten over the past week were "make me an elf"? I elfed myself sometime back and I'm getting hammered with hits about it. Geez.

Done with your Christmas shopping yet?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Is Writing Fun?

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure. - Samuel Johnson

Yesterday I introduced my daughter to the pleasure that is The Manhattan Transfer. About a million years ago, when I was in high school, I participated in jazz choir and discovered that this musical group was about far more than "The Boy from New York City".

As I washed dished and DD dried them, I sang "A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square" and she thought it was great, so we came downstairs to listen to some music on the computer.

While we listened, and she danced around to "Trickle, Trickle", I did a bit of work responding to some posts on a writing message board.

After watching me for a bit, she said, "Mommy, you know what I want to be when I grow up?"

"A singer?" It seemed logical, considering what we were doing.

"No. An artist." She sighed and pointed to some of the pictures I have of hers on the wall. "I love to paint."

"Okay, that's wonderful." Always the encouraging mother.

"Do you love to write?"

It was as though a gong sounded and the walls dropped in around me. A spotlight came up and shone on me while all other lights dimmed. A voice from above boomed, "DO YOU LOVE TO WRITE?"

I gulped and tried to think of an honest reply. "Sometimes." The word came out as a squeak -- would lightening strike?

"Only sometimes?"

Feeling a little more confident now, I sat up straight and said, "Well, yes. Sometimes it's really hard work. Sometimes I want to scream and throw the computer out the window and never write again. Some days the words won't come or the story is hopeless. Sometimes I just can't get it right, no matter how hard I try."

"Then why do you do it?"

"Because sometimes there is joy in the words. And sometimes my characters are my friends and I want to see what happens to them. And some days you struggle through the difficulties and the words just tumble from your fingers and it's a high like no drug could ever give you."

"Oh. So you love writing."

Well, yeah. I suppose I do.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Writers Write

"If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow." - Louis L’Amour

In response to my post yesterday about using prompts to get the juices flowing, Judy said: I was watching an old movie the other day about a writer and he happened to mention to another character that he "didn't feel like writing." She asked him, "What would my poor cow do if I didn't "feel" like milking her? Or how would the crops get picked if I didn't "feel" like picking them?" When he told her that was "different," she asked, "Why? Don't you make your living from writing? Isn't it your business?"

Isn't that the truth? The funny thing is, after feeling all excited for breaking through the wall on Saturday, I did nothing yesterday. Nothing. And the strangest thing about that is that I didn't even realize that I had written nothing until I checked my email at night, right before bed, and saw an email from the group where I post daily writing totals.

I'd even managed to forget about posting to that group. My brain had been wiped clean.

I'm trying not to feel too guilty about it, after all, it was a Sunday, I was mostly hanging out with the family and quite busy... but still, I've set a daily writing goal and that is EVERY day. It's far too easy to let a day, and then another and another go by. Once you get out of the habit of writing, it's terrifically difficult to get back in.

That's one of the reasons I try to update my blog every day, even when I don't have much to say. It reminds me to write. Although, apparently that didn't help me yesterday!

Just remember: Writers Write.

Period. If you say you're a writer or you blab about writing a novel or a story, but you don't actually write... you're a talker. Not a writer.

=======================================

A quick note: I removed the writing links from my blog template and moved them to my website under "links for writers" (I added a link to the blog sidebar that takes you there, too) because I'm going to expand them regularly. I have a couple hundred sites bookmarked, so will try to include them all as time allows. If you have any amazing sites you'd like to share (Tori, I added Once Written. Thanks!) please feel free to leave them in the comments or send me an email.

Me, The Reader

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
Non-Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz


They're right! I am convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone would read more.

How did they know?

==================================

I had to share this... Yes, it's country. Bite the bullet and trust me. This is the cutest video ever.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Got Prompts?

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. ~ Vita Sackville-West

Yesterday I had trouble focusing on my writing. But I am involved with a group of people who are trying to keep accountable for writing or working on writing on a daily basis. We set our own goals and then post at a message board daily to say what we did or didn't do. As the competitive sort, I hate not reaching my goals, especially when it's because "I didn't feel like it".

That's an unacceptable excuse, IMHO.

So to get the juices flowing, I used a writing prompt. It worked, and I met my daily goal of 500 new words written on my WIP. Yay!

So, to celebrate, I thought I'd share with you some places to find prompts:

The Desk Drawer - I used an exercise from here yesterday.

Writers Digest - they post a new prompt every day, and you can access their archives.

Pumping Your Muse Prompts - a blog that posts a new prompt every day. She also has a book available by the same title.

Charlotte Dillon Writing Prompts - she has several posted on this site, but she also offers a Yahoo group with a new prompt weekly.

The Story Starter - a fun place to get yourself a line to inspire you.

WritingFix - they have a dozen or so prompt generators. This is one of my favorite sites.

Creative Writing Prompts - 203 prompts for fiction and poetry.

Anyone have any sites to add to this? I'd love to see them... in fact, I think I'll add this to my writing links page on my website.

And now, you have no excuse. Go forth and write!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sesame Street

I went around the house the other day singing a song from Sesame Street and my DD thought I'd well and truly lost it.

So, I thought I'd post it here (not me singing it, the original), just for fun.



And then, just for grins... my second most favorite skit from Sesame Street... C'mon, you guys remember this, right?

Family and Friends

Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted. ~ Paul Pearshall

A good friend is a connection to life - a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world. ~ Lois Wyse


I got to thinking, yesterday, about family and friends. I know it's been said that your friends are the family you get to choose. I suspect that is correct. I think that much of the time, we take our family for granted. They're family so they have to love us, to be there for us. Right?

Not always so, I think. I had a virtual arguement with a family member yesterday that is still festering. And I consider the fact that I typically hear from them (with one or two exceptions) maybe once a year, if I'm lucky -- and that's if I count the signed Christmas card with no note.

Sometimes that can make me terribly sad. Until I remember that I am rich with friends. I don't have dozens of close friends - I'm not the type of person to surround myself with people. I have one or two people I've known for many years, and they know me and love me anyway (for I am far from perfect). For them, I am truly grateful. My family had no choice but to be stuck with me and each other, and we make due.

But my friends take the time and make the effort to keep in touch, even though my closest friends are nowhere near me anymore. And, I thank God for my friends every day.

Interestingly, my "virtual" friendships with people in the writing community are probably as important to me as my "brick and mortar" friendships. There are several of you, and you know who you are. So thanks.

And thanks for sitting through my sappy introspection :-)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Goals

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful. ~ Buddha

That quote really has nothing to do with my post today. I just really liked it. Here's the quote for the post today:

Goals are dreams with deadlines. ~ Diana Scharf Hunt

I didn't do a lot of writing yesterday, which was frustrating. I did polish up my short story a bit and hope it'll work. Guess we'll see. Thus far, it hasn't gotten past the query stage, so I may have polished for nothing.

I am working on my writing goals for 2007. I've got them down, but I need to decide if those goals are really the ones I want to work toward for the next year. Do you set goals? And if you do, do you meet them? Do they seem to morph and change as time goes by? I looked back at my goals for 2006, and I only met one out of the eight I had set. That's rather sad.

On the other hand, I'm a firm believer that if you don't set goals, you seldom achieve anything. If you don't have any idea of where you're headed, how can you get there? I suppose you could stumble across success, certainly it has happened to some folks, but it's rare. I prefer to have an end in sight, and to have wayposts along the way.

Too, if you set your goals absurdly high, it can be discouraging, so I try to set small goals that lead to the big tamale, to the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. Baby steps. (Points to the person who can name that movie).

So, I'm off to finish up my goal setting. Anyone else want to share their goals or ideas on setting them?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What I Did on My One Day Vacation

I do not really like vacations. I much prefer an occasional day off when I do not feel like working. When I am confronted with a whole week in which I have nothing to do but enjoy myself I do not know where to begin. To me, enjoyment comes fleetingly and unheralded; I cannot determinedly enjoy myself for a whole week at a time. ~ Robertson Davies

I laughed when I saw that quote because it is SO me. I get restless when too much time off stretches before me. I suppose I'm an "A" type personality but, hey, it works for me. Drives my husband crazy, but it works for me.

I got to thinking yesterday, what kind of a blog post will solicit comments from my readers. My hits haven't gone down the past couple of weeks, but my comments have. Hmmm.... any thoughts?

I had the day pretty much to myself yesterday (a mini- vacation from my DD) and worked on a bit of editing of two of my short stories (one is a Christmas story I started in response to the Wild Rose Press call for holiday stories, but it started to get really, really long and I didn't finish it in time. They're going to do another similar call next summer... so I want to be ready!

I also reaquainted myself with my mystery and realized how much I liked my characters. I'd forgotten that when I got wound up in how difficult it is to write a mystery - planting clues, etc. I'm much better at building a relationship than a mystery. Some time ago, I'd thought about removing the murder aspect of the story and just focusing on the love story, but I don't think it would hold up. Testing your muscles makes them stronger, right?

I puttered around on Cafe Press, too, because a friend sent me an online coupon. I did a search for "writing" and found some really cool stuff. This logo was one of my favorites.

Romancing the Blog had a post with gifts for booklovers, too. I especially liked this one.

I found this nifty site, too! If you have a little one (like I do!) who wants to be a writer like mom or dad, try the Chateau Meddybemps Young Writers Workshop - they have some great kids story starters AND publish many of the kids stories online.

Judy posted yet another online game on her blog, along with a challenge to beat her high score. Never one to pass on a challenge, I played until I did just that. Time well spent? You decide.

I also picked up a novel that Lori recommended at her blog "I Just Finished Reading..." and am about halfway through it. Though I'm enjoying the story to a certain extent, I'm not as madly in love with it as she it. It's frustrating that I'm unable to find books that really engage me anymore. Since most folks out there are raving about certain novels, it must be me and not the writing. That's discouraging...

And so was the (yester)day of my life... What have you been up to?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pardon Me, Do You Have the Time?

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day. ~ William Shakespeare

There's an interesting discussion going on in one of the writing groups at WVU regarding creating culture - especially as it pertains to those of us who are writing in the present. The person who began the discussion is reading Holly Lisle's Create A Culture Clinic and quotes the following:

"Novels set in the time of the writer frequently assume culture, and hope the reader will share (or at least comprehend) the culture the writer is assuming. These novels are written for the day and the moment; they'll be unreadable in twenty years. If you want to write for the ages, your writing has to have complete, working subsets of all the cultures you wrote about IN the novel. Every single time. Cultures change. Dickens and Twain are still comprehensible today because they included right in their stories everything you needed to know about how their worlds worked. Their contemporaries are gone because THEY assumed that their readers would live in a world just like the one they lived in, and would simply understand all the things they left out."

I am writing my stories in America for a presumably American audience. In one of my writing groups we used to have two Aussies (we're down to one now ... Al, where are you?) and they commented on my use of a "fanny pack" for one of my characters. Because you DON'T use the term "fanny" loosely in Australia -- as I read on one website, in America both boys and girls have "fannies" but in Australia only the girls do... So, in Australia, my character would use a "bum bag".

Have you watched Lethal Weapon lately? The first one? There's a point where Danny Glover's character pulls the car over to the side of an overpass and pulls out this big brown box and sets it on the concrete railing. He reaches in and pulls out.... a phone! The whole thing is bigger than your standard briefcase, and every time I watch the movie I'm reminded that this wasn't made recently. But, it was an innocent use of the technology of the time, and clearly sets an era in mind. It's isn't over the top like That '70s Show , just little things that pop up now and then.

Do you take this into consideration when you write? Do you wonder if someone who isn't American (or whatever culture you hail from) is reading your work? Do you try to describe something like a "quad" (does every school have one of these? Mine did.) or whatever?

It's really made me think, especially since technology today is changing by the minute and, really, our whole culture is wrapped up in it so it's going to make a strong appearance in most of our stories.

Marianne wanders off, still trying to wrap her brain around this whole concept

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Have Yourself a Merry Little uTube

Swiped from Judy... This is really cool!

Lumpy Mattresses and Cream Filled Donuts

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it. ~ Mary Engelbreit

So... I finally had my Pay Pal echeck cleared at midnight last night (it took five days for my cash payment to be accepted... a pox on PayPal -- especially since the money actually came out of my account in a matter of a few hours) and read through the four Wild Rose Press stories I purchased. They were all very well written, which was a relief to know, and very cute.

And every single one of them ended with some sort of declaration of love - even the ones where the people didn't know each other very long.

Um... my latest submission to them doesn't end with a "happily ever after" it ends with a "hopefully ever after", a "maybe this is the guy I've been waiting for, but I can't be sure until I've known him a while longer" kind of ending.

I think that may be a problem. More of a problem is this: I already sent a synopsis, so can't really make any significant changes to the story.

Guess I've made my bed, lumpy and hard, and now I have to wait and see if I can sleep on it.

Bummer.

And because I can't possibly end on such a downer, and because I find myself suddenly wanting donuts after just over a month with NO SUGAR AT ALL, I bring you this:

You Are a Boston Creme Donut

You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you. But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft.

You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily. You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.


Honestly, it's a little creepy when they can nail my personality so closely with just a few questions, because every single last word of this is right on.

Geez.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Very Google Christmas

From the Write Coast by way of Judy:

1. Google for Christmas (or the December holiday of your choice) plus your year of birth.
2. Post the most charming picture you can find.
3. Get misty with nostalgia over hot cocoa and peppermint cookies.

I was born in 1967 (yup, the big 4-0 is coming up soon) and pretty much all my hits were about Christmas during the Vietnam war - ironic, isn't it. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

So... here it is - Christmas in the Mess Hall during the Vietnam war:

In Awe

Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There's plenty of movement, but you never know if it's going to be forward, backwards, or sideways. — H. Jackson Brown, Jr

I spent much of yesterday's free time reading more of "Writing the Breakout Novel". Sure, there were other things I wanted to do -- I once again had time alone (ain't life grand), as my husband and my mother were off of the Magical Mystery Tour (aka DH needed help shopping for me for Christmas) and my daughter was at her aunt's house cutting paper snowflakes (that we now need to hang in our windows).

I kept a notepad beside me as I read to record either insightful words that The Donald said or story ideas that popped into my head as I read.

I love some of Mr. Maass's words:

If you do not have a moment of unexpected tragedy or grace in your novel, consider where you might put it in.

Marshalling detail and learning the art of writing in nouns and verbs are essential to success in any type of writing.

For anyone's life to be worth saving (in fiction) it needs added value.

Now these may not seem terribly profound to you, but they hit home to me. But possibly the most amazing thing he wrote was this:

A key question to ask yourself is this: Why am I writing this novel? A second necessary question is the following: If I stopped writing this novel, why would that matter? ... High stakes ultimately come from your own high commitment, either to moral truth or to truth in the telling of your tale... it does not matter which purpose motivates you. I matters only that you have a purpose.

Wow.

Let's all take a moment of silence in awe of simple ideas that are amazingly profound.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Getting it Right the First Time

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle

I finished off another short story and sent a query for it into The Wild Rose Press. They're getting to be quite a busy place, which is encouraging! It also means that the competition will be stiffer, but the stories will all be stronger for it.

Yesterday, DD and DH were off in the woods helping the rest of the family hunt and kill a Christmas tree. There I was, all alone, the entire day stretched before me and all I wanted to do was write.

And I was empty.

How frustrating is that? Seriously. I felt like I'd wasted an entire day.

Then I remembered that Charity was using Donald Maass's "Writing the Breakout Novel" book to help brainstorm a new novel she has in the works. I thought, "Yunno, the workbook was so cool, maybe I should go through the actual book again with my mystery." The mystery I plotted and began writing several months ago has been tugging at me lately, but I just wasn't ready to work out the kinks.

I think I am now. I really think that this story could be a winner. I like the characters, though they're all a challenge. I like the story, although it's very emotional in some places and makes me feel like I've been through the wringer.

Donald Maass is a difficult teacher. He makes you think hard, work hard and he challenges you in ways you can't imagine. I can't always do everything he asks... my brain doesn't work that way. But, I do try everything he asks and beat my head against it until I either figure it out or break my skull trying.

I hope this will help the first draft of the book to be stronger. I absolutely despise editing, I have a difficult time picturing anything different from the way it was originally written, and so must strive to get the plot right the first time. Ideally, I'd like to use editing to make the writing stronger and richer and to fix all the stupid typos and grammatical mistakes. Ideally, I'd like the plot to be justy right the first time through. Major changes? I can't seem to wrap my brain around them, and because of that, more often than not the book gets tossed aside, never to see the light of day again.

Since that makes me sad, I'm going to try Maass before I write the book and see if it helps.

I hope it helps.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Elf Yourself

I did. Watch if you dare :-)

A Christmas Meme

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. ~ W.T. Ellis

Some Christmas meme's to make your season bright (and I haven't had coffee yet, so am too brain dead to write scintillatingly):

You Are Dancer

Carefree and fun, you always find reasons to do a happy dance.

Why You're Naughty: That dark stint you had as Santa's private dancer.

Why You're Nice: You're friendly. Very friendly.


I took that quiz twice, because I don't feel carefree and fun, but got "Dancer" twice. Who knows what lurks in the hearts of men....?

Your Christmas is Most Like: A Very Brady Christmas

For you, it's all about sharing times with family.
Even if you all get a bit cheesy at times.


UGH... I'm in Christmas hell...
















Now that's more like it!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Imagination

The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts

Yesterday, my daughter and I (and grandma) watched the original Miracle on 34th Street. Though she didn't understand a great deal of it, she was terribly distressed that the little girl, Suzy, and her mother didn't believe in imagining. It wasn't that they didn't believe in Santa Claus that bothered her (DD still does), but that they didn't pretend in their minds.

She said emphatically, "How do they think I became a fairy princess?"

To be honest, I feel a bit the same way. Dreaming comes easy to me -- I can imagine all kinds of things, both good and bad. The curse and blessing of a rich imagination is that anything is possible.

From million dollar publishing contracts, and appearances on the Travel Channels "Ten Most Beautiful Houses" to serial killers and natural disasters ... they happen in my mind on a daily basis.

I don't understand people who can't imagine. I cultivate it with my daughter because if you can dream, you can do anything, be anything. It may take a little elbow grease, but if you don't believe it can happen, then it won't.

I remember a saying that went something like: Whether you believe you can, or you believe you can't, you're right.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I Love Tess

I know I said this before, but if you don't read Tess Gerritson's blog, you should.

This morning I opened it up to find a post entitled "You Can't Please All Readers All the Time" - it's all about writing for yourself and not for others.

If you write, you should read it.

Writing and Vomit...

If you can imagine it you can create it. If you can dream it, you can become it. - William Arthur Ward

It's amazing how different working with a story you like is from working with one you don't. I didn't like my NaNo story, and it was agonizing to get the words I needed. I'm working on a short story right now and had received some feedback that I wanted to incorporate -- it gave me an idea for a scene that would expand the story by a couple of pages -- so I sat down to write it.

At first, it wasn't easy, but this was the time I'd set aside to write, so I wrote (&^$%#&$). I got the general idea for the scene down, even if the words weren't perfect, and then went upstairs for coffee (yes, it was the afternoon - but I'd been up since 2:30 a.m. and was getting a little fuzzy - have I mentioned that I hate my husbands job?).

When I came back downstairs and settled in, I had one line in my head that I wanted to write that changed the timing of the scene a little. So, I wrote it and then I wrote more and more and virtually vomited words onto the screen. They just flowed (and, ugh, I got a serious visual just now).

The thing is, I really like this story. WW rejected it, but I wasn't ready to let it die. I like my characters, I like the general idea. I didn't like the fact that there wasn't as much conflict as I'd prefer, but that's being fixed.

When you have good characters that you love and that seem to click together, everything begins to fall into place, doesn't it?

But, speaking of vomiting, do you ever feel like doing so when you send your work off for critique to someone whose opinion you deeply respect (I ♥ you, D...)? Do you dread its return? Do you look at the document for a really long time and consider never opening it because you don't want to see what they say (because you're certain that your writing is all crap)?

Tell me it's not just me. Tell me I'm not the only completely neurotic person in the room... please?

==================================

Note to Charity: Yes... send the snapshot and then tell me how the heck you did it.

Note to readers re: Note to Charity: She told me that my story at Wild Rose Press is the bestseller in its line, and took a snapshot of it! Woo!

I looked, and it's the number six bestseller overall. Not too shabby... I went over there yesterday and bought several stories (research for submission to a different line -- at least that's what I'm claiming when DH asks). Unfortunately, I paid using PayPal's eCheck, and can't get the downloads until it "clears" -- geez, use cash, get punished. Next time, it's all about the credit card.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Push It

All experiences of life seems to prove that the impediments thrown in the way of the human advancement may for the most part be overcome by steady good conduct, honest zeal, activity, perseverance and above all, by a determined resolution to surmount. - Samuel Smiles

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained. - Marie Curie


I liked both quotes so much, I couldn't use just one. Aren't they great?

The past few days have been tough, writing-wise. I vaguely remember this same thing happening following NaNo 2005, like I'd written my annual allotment of words and had no more until January 1st.

I'm trying to push through it.

I want to be on the side which proclaims that I am not at the whim of the muse, but that I am her boss. I think there are times when inspiration is stronger than other times, but I believe that - when push comes to shove - I can always write. It's just a matter of pushing through all the crap first.

I typically find that if I just start writing, eventually the right words come. I may have to write 1,000 words of absolute crap first, but if I just keep moving forward, magic happens.

I think my biggest problem now is focus. I have short stories in progress, I have three novels with completed first drafts, I have two other novels either started or in the brainstorming phase and several other shorts that are completed and just need polishing.

I need to take them one at a time and finish one before moving on to the other.

Wow. You know... that's pretty good advice. Maybe I'll take it!

Do you ever have that problem? So much to write, so little time? What do you do?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Blah, Blah, Blah

A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one. - Baltasar Gracian

My brain is on vacation this morning... This is why it's taken me so long to blog.

I swiped this from Judy:

Check out Snowdays, make your own snowflake and help out the Salvation Army (Popular Front will donate $$ depending on how many snowflakes are created). And, while you're there... check out my snowflake. It's #3,208,628.

I did manage to do a bit of writing yesterday, so that's good. It's also good that I have an honest family writing critiquer (is that a word?): My Mom.

Yup, most everyone out there complains that their families are the "good job" pat on the back reader of their work. My mom (who is undoubtedly reading this right now) is brutally honest. And I appreciate it. Really (really, Mom).

She gave me some advice on what I wrote yesterday that I let simmer all night and has helped me come up with some ideas on how to make my heroine more interesting and lengthen the story -- which I wanted to do.

So -- Yay for Mom!

Hey, you romance writers out there -- Allie is looking for help in writing those, *ahem*, awkward sex scenes. Anyone with comments or advice, head on over and give it to her!

BTW, did I mention I'm giving away a gift certificate to the Wild Rose Press this month? Well... I am, so go check it out!

Anyone up to anything interesting?

EDITED TO ADD:

Paperback Writer has done it again -- she's giving away a copy of Holly Lisle's Talyn today! Go play.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Changing the Past

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. - W. Somerset Maugham

I just realized that I hadn't updated my blog yet today. I popped out of bed around 4 a.m. like always and got started answering emails -- but the husband is playing hockey in Nashua this morning, so I woke him at 4:30, started a load of laundry and basically skewed my regular routine.

I am working on expanding a story I originally wrote with Womans World in mind. It was rejected but I love the premise, so am fleshing it out. It's so nice to revisit characters that you enjoy, isn't it? That must be the reason that many authors write a series.

The only thing I've struggled with is this: in my mind, the story happened the way it happened originally. And changing it up is like trying to change my own past. In the original story, the characters only meet once, near the end, but I want to build up their attraction a bit more and let the reader get to know the hero more, so some of the characters original past needs to change. It's like pulling teeth.

Hey -- thanks to all the folks who've purchased my story at Wild Rose and left such nice reviews. I'm glad you enjoyed the story -- it's one of my favorites.

So... Christmas shopping done yet? Mine is (insert evil laugh here).

EDITED TO ADD: If you haven't stopped by Paperback Writer's blog today, you should. She has a list of ten really cool contests.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hey, Hey, Good Lookin'

The weirder you're going to behave, the more normal you should look. It works in reverse, too. When I see a kid with three or four rings in his nose, I know there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about that person. ~ P.J. O'Rourke

For the past month or so, I've been studying Womans World magazine for their romance short stories. This morning, I actually looked through the rest of one of the magazines and stumbled across a story entitled: What Would You Change About Yourself If You Could?

In this particular story, the woman got breast implants and went from a AA cup to a C cup. Not exactly earth-shattering stuff IMHO, but there you are.

Still, it got me to thinking about our characters and their appearances. Though chubby heroines are beginning to make an appearance (I am interested in the fact that Nora has Peabody in her "In Death" books who is very curvaceous, self-conscious about it and always considering a diet BUT continually getting wolf whistles and such), most heroines are slim and built.

Many have long hair. Full lips. Big eyes. Legs all the way up to their butts.

In the article, above, they list average sizes for American women:

Height: 5'4"
Weight: 163 lbs
Clothing size: 10-12
Bra size: C cup

How many of you have read or written a story lately with a heroine proportioned in such a way?

Me neither.

I know, I know -- we read to escape, at least I do. So it's a fantasy. If I could insert myself into a particular world and be anyone I could be, I'd certainly want to have a "perfect" body, be strong-willed and intelligent and sexy and self-assured, so I understand.

Still... it got me to thinking. Isn't it a shame that we, as women, would choose something like our breast size as the one thing we'd change about ourselves?

If I was being realistic, and had to change something physical and not my circumstances, then I wouldn't want bigger breasts (and I'm not exactly well-endowed). I would change my hair. I. Hate. My. Hair.

What would you choose?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hooked On A Feeling

I can live for two months on a good compliment. ~ Mark Twain

Yesterday, I had this odd realization: other folks, folks I don't even know, are reading my story.

Now, I've had a few other things published before, so this shouldn't be a new feeling. But it was. I tried to figure out why, exactly, and I came to this conclusion. Every other thing that I've had published I was paid a flat fee by the publisher, but the people who read it thereafter paid nothing to do so.

Folks who are reading "Now That We've Found You", however, are making the conscious decision to pay money specifically to read it.

All of you who've had your books published before have been through this. I wonder -- am I the only one who finds it odd?

Incidentally, to those of you who did make the conscious decision to purchase my story: Wild Rose Press allows readers to give reviews on what they buy. I'd love for you to do so!

I looked at the current holiday bestsellers at Wild Rose, and my story is number six. And in its category, Champagne Rose, it's number one! Cool!

Okay, I'll be over it all soon, probably about the time I start submitting again (which needs to be soon). Thanks to all of you!

Friday, December 01, 2006

It's Available!! Woo!

Finally! My story "Now That We've Found You" is now available at the Wild Rose Press.

YAY! Tell your friends, your family, strangers you meet on the street.... :-)

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My Latest Time Waster...

It's all Judy's fault (and Judy, I've almost caught your personal best -- I'm only a few feet behind, so watch out)!!! I can't stop playing this game.

Come join me at the Monkey Kick Off.

Patience is a Virtue

Patience: A minor form of despair disguised as a virtue. ~ Ambrose Bierce

Ahh... patience. I have none. Okay, very little. I bounced out of bed this morning and hurried downstairs to look at The Wild Rose Press page... and my story still isn't available. It should be soon. I hope.

beats head on keyboard

Okay, instead of complaining, I suppose I should be writing! I'm going to be messed up on the day of the week for the next few days because DH is off today and it already feels like Saturday. I hate that.

So, happy whatever day it is, and check back to see if my story is available for download!

EDITED TO ADD:

THE WINNER OF MY MONTHLY CONTEST IS "NOVEL BLOGGER", Brian P.

Brian, send me an email with your mailing address and I'll get it out to you! Congratulations!!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Decisions, Decisions...

Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit. — Conrad Hilton

Yesterday was "craft day at Gram's" for my daughter -- this means that I got almost an entire day to myself (Woo!). I planned on editing my WW story, but did some research into the stories they've published lately, painful as that was, and discovered that, without exception, they were all in first person.

Bother.

Massive changes ahead -- which means that it won't be there in time. So, now I'm considering lengthening it, making it better and subbing to The Wild Rose Press in a few months.

I decided instead to edit an existing novel (I have three completed first drafts), but couldn't get up any enthusiasm for the job.

I thought about continuing on my mystery, and did a bit of that, but it just wasn't flowing -- I'd changed the beginning and it made a huge difference in the story (the person I murdered in the original beginning was still alive), but really I like the original one better, so will most likely go back to that, but have to get my brain around it.

So, I tried to brainstorm something new because, dang it all, I wanted to write something. And I came up empty, totally and utterly empty. I panicked -- how can I have nothing? Not a clue, not a character, not a conflict. Nada. YIKES!

My life as an author is over. I have no ideas!

So I did what any panic-stricken author would do. I sat down in front of the TV with a pad of paper and took notes. I was watching The A-Team and paying attention to the little things. I know, I know, it's a flat out silly show but I love it. And I wrote down anything and everything that popped into my brain:

* Orange Soda
* Sisters
* Construction Company

And so on. Then, after doing this for a couple shows, I sat with my paper and tried to incorporate most of what I'd written down into some semblance of an idea. And you know what? I got one.

*big grin*

Guess my life as an author isn't over quite yet. And, as a side benefit, I got to watch two episodes of The A-Team guilt free.

What do you do when you come up empty? Or do you never have that problem?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

NaNo Day.... Ooops! I'm DONE!

Dreams are at once fruit & outcry against an atrophy of the senses. - Jim Morrison

Last year when I finished NaNo, I felt a little lost... I'd had this huge goal, this driving force that was suddenly gone.

Not so this year. I imagine that it's partly because I didn't love my story as much this year, didn't connect with my characters the way I did with Liv and her gang. It's also because I have a lot of other things to do that I've set aside while I finished NaNo.

Now I can get started.

I have many edits to make on my WW story, I need to decide which novel I want to polish and send out next year (Playing House, Liv or Camilla -- what the heck, why not all three? LOL...), and I have goals to set. I also have a couple other short stories I've started and not finished that I like and need to work through - one of which started as a short Christmas story and has since become more of a novella.

Lost? Nah... I'm found.

And, for my last ever NaNo post (until next year!), I want to send out a hearty congrats to my NaNo buddies who made it to the bitter end: Syl, Kathy, Ceri, Mary, and June. Well done everyone!!

I'm off to work on my WW story... it needs to go out this week or it'll be too late.

Don't forget: You only have two more days to enter to win The Courage to Write! Enter now by clicking here.

I'll leave you with a photo of the tree that we stalked, hunted, killed and mounted - does it help get you in the Christmas spirit?


And the perfect Christmas gift? That would be my latest short story release:
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Woo Hoo!



50,029 words in 28 Days!

NaNo Day Twenty Eight - The Walls Close In

You're not going to be a writer someday. You're a writer today. Discipline yourself to write and take time to enjoy writing. Do it a lot. Have fun with it. Begin now. ~ Jack Heffron

I think many folks think that exact phrase: I'm going to be a writer someday. What many don't understand is that they may not be a published author, but they are or can be a writer right now, at this very moment.

I'm a writer. And most days, I love being one.

Just a couple more days and NaNoWriMo (and NaBloPoMo) are over, done, fini. I want a do over. I want to plan better, choose better, write better than I did this past month.

*sigh*

Next year will be better. I learned a ton from this years NaNo, what to do, and more importantly what not to do. I also know that I could do this on my own if I really had the impetuous to do so. It's all about the deadline -- they are a good thing to help you keep your eye on the goal.

I'll finish it up, I'll have practiced my craft, I'll have created some interesting characters that I need to find a good home for and I'll have learned, again, that I write best under pressure. The discipline that is required by having to sit my butt in the chair every day and produce something is wonderful. I love that part. I just need to remember to apply that same discipline all year 'round.

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My writing friend, Allie, has had a novel accepted at Virtual Tales. Her bio is up at the VT site and I'm so ready to read the story. She's a very talented lady. Why don't you hop on over to her blog and check it out!

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Though my intention is to write more today -- in the hope of hitting 50,000, thus far I've written 1,779 words so my grand total is:

48,245 / 50,000

Monday, November 27, 2006

I Am An Impressive Mastermind... Who Knew?

Tori suggested that I take the personality test for the CIA and I couldn't pass that one up.

They think that I'm an Impressive Mastermind.

Woo hoo for me!

What are you?

Yes, I'm Procrastinating...

If you don't typically read Tess Gerritson's blog, you should.

A few days ago, she wrote an entry entitled: Why Self-Published Books Fail. Though she wasn't exactly slamming those who choose to self-pub, I think she was very realistic. And she got hammered by some folks who took exception to her opinion.

Saturday, she wrote another entry as a rebuttal that is a must read for those folks who think writing a book -- a publishable book -- is easy. It's entitled: Writers and Desperation.

Go check it out if you're procrastinating like I am!