Sunday, April 30, 2006

It's Spring

And it's too nice a day to stay inside and blog. I mean, really -- check out my Weather Pixie, she's practically in a bikini.

So instead of gabbing with you folks (or editing Camilla hangs head in shame), I'm going to go pull the dandelions from my neighbor's lawn before they spread, cancer-like, to ours.

It's a losing battle, but at least I'll be getting a bit of fresh air!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Reading and Writing

I have a writing friend with a great hook idea for a series of books (not saying what... you'll have to wait until they're published) but recently, I came across a newly pubbed book with the same idea.

First off, does anyone else find that a little "woo woo"?

Secondly, the first thing I did was go grab a copy and read it. Unlike hers, it falls within the action/adventure/romance area, so I was excited because that's one of my favorite things to read.

I cracked it open and started reading with great anticipation.

After three chapters, I wondered how on earth this book had been published (and I was filled with great relief, as well, because my friend's books is so much better).

Keeping in mind that this is suppposed to be an action packed romance (and promises me this by both the cover picture and the blurb) -- the first three chapters are full of angst and not much else.

The hero wants to get married and the heroine doesn't because she can't deal with his occupation. So she breaks up and he pursues her. And she says "no, I can't" and he says "please, oh love of my life, give me another chance, I l-o-o-o-v-v-v-e you" (which brings in mind that scene from "Singing in the Rain" -- you know: "yes, yes, yes" "no, no, no" "yes, yes, yes"...).

This goes on in one form or another for fifty pages (which are also full of backstory to explain her position).


Where's my action?

Where's my adventure?

Where's my hero?

Even when the "exciting" stuff starts, it's not all that exciting. I finally stopped reading at about chapter five.

In any case, I'm sick and tired of folks who say you must (insert writing rule here) to get published because I find books (newly pubbed and older) that break every friggin' rule. And no, these aren't established writers. The book I talked about, above, is a first novel (and if she doesn't get any better, it should be a last -- sorry, but tact is NOT my middle name).

So you know what? I've made a decision.

The rat stays. (May-nard! May-nard! May-Nard! Ya-a-a-a-a-a-a-y!)

Friday, April 28, 2006

small Rant

I was puttering around some study groups this morning -- periodically I go into all of them and snoop just because I can (and no one has updated their blogs yet, so I have nothing else to do) -- and I came across a reference to someone, once again, stating that they are planning on writing a category romance in order to get their foot in the publishing door with the implication that:

1. Romance is easy to write; and
2. Anyone can get published in romance.

That said, I have also hesitated to return to one of my crit groups because a member who had taken a long hiatus has now returned. She is a talented literary writer with an acerbic tongue and an intense dislike for the pablum that is romance writing. Because of this, I'm not entirely certain that I will be comfortable in there any more, which is a shame because I love the rest of the folks in there.

I know I've ranted about this before, but it still gets my goat.

Writing romance is no easier than writing anything else. You still need decent characters, interesting plot and good grammar (though I've seen dozens of books published with one or more of these "requirements" missing).

And, if the person I'd referenced above took the time to look through some of the "aspiring romance author" blogs, she'd see how many folks are out there writing and submitting and NOT getting published.

I don't read literary novels... I'm not wired to enjoy them. I had several shoved down my throat in English lit classes, and every one of them was a wall banger for me. I finished them because I had to, but never found one that kept me awake reading until 2 a.m.

I love reading genre novels: romance, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy. You know, all the stuff that's panned in the "real" writing world.

I read a blog this morning that compared the garbage he's been reading in the literary community to (said with a sneer) chick-lit. He called it "lit-lit" and it wasn't a compliment.

But doesn't it say something that the biggest selling genre of books out there is romance, following closely by mysteries? People have enough darkness in their real lives, they need happy endings in make-believe.

Or at least I do.

And writing them isn't easy.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

My Secret Identity

You Are Jan Brady

Brainy and a little introverted, you tend to think life is a lot worse than it actually is.

And while you may think you're a little goofy looking, most people consider you to be a major babe.

Actually, I have to admit that Jan was probably my favorite Brady -- Marsha was a conceited, angst-ridden girl, and Cindy was just too young. Jan did, in fact, remind me a bit of me, so this works.

Introverted. check (yes, really, I am -- but I hide it well)

Brainy. check (I've been called worse things, and I like being brainy)

Pessamistic. check (at least most of the time - it's easier, somehow, to see the glass half empty)

I think I'm goofy looking. check (nowadays, especially, I look in the mirror and wonder why hubby still says I'm beautiful other than the fact that it's part of the wedding contract)

So, there you have it. The real me.

Hey, was it Jan that dated Davey Jones? Man, oh man, did I have a crush on him...

(Psst... did you notice that my edited word count for Camilla is going up? See - -I am working!)

Ten Things

Borrowing from Mary's post yesterday, but whittling it down a little, here are Ten Things I Know About My Writing:

1. I know I'll never run out of ideas - because I always have a new one before I'm done working on the old one.

2. I know that writing the first draft is fun, editing the first draft is hell.

3. I know I'll have to break down and write a real synopsis someday - just not today.

4. I know I wouldn't be as happy writing if I didn't have my writing friends to share it with (*waves*).

5. I know my love of writing stems from my passion of reading.

6. I know that I never get rid of anything I write (not even stuff I edit out - it's just in a different file).

7. I know that most of my novel ideas start with a writing prompt.

8. I know that I am sometimes swayed too much by other peoples opinions.

9. I know I want to hold out for the brass ring and not compromise when I do get published. I want it all, and I want it with a well known print publisher.

10. I know that I've been writing since I could write, and will write until I die.

Anyone else want to share?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

This is Your Brain on Contests

"Books aren't written--they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it." - Michael Crichton

The results for the last contest I entered are due at any moment and I can't seem to concentrate on anything else. Will they like Maynard? Are my first couple of chapters strong or weak? Will they notice those blasted typos that I found about five minutes after I mailed the entry out?

I already have my next contest chosen -- it has two final judges (editor and agent) and doesn't require a synopsis (I know, I know, I need to get over that but my current synopsis on Camilla is about 20 pages long and I still don't have it finished -- uh, maybe because the book isn't finished), but I'm waiting to see what these guys have to say. Mostly about Maynard, but about the other stuff, too.

I'm having a terrible time trying to stay focused on my editing. Maass is helping, I think, although he may be a better help on my next WIP so that it'll be in better shape from the get-go and not need quite as much fixing. Am I dreaming?

In any case, I need to stop looking at the red letters on my calendar ("Contest Results due by EOM") and focus, focus, focus.

And, worse, the nice weather isn't helping any. Ugh.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I'm (still) working through the Maass workbook, and am up to the chapter on antagonists. This should be a no-brainer, right?


It occured to me that I don't have a human antagonist in Camilla. And, so, can't really do the exercise. That was frustrating. BUT, I do really that I need to pump up the conflict some more, make it clear just why my H/H can't be together (even though they must be together). So, I guess I did get something out of the lesson.

BTW, my writing group had fun with the phobia prompt. We had:

Fear of eating bugs
Fear of beautiful women
Fear of grates (you know, those gaping maws in the street)
Fear of giant mole rats

I, ahem, didn't do the prompt this week... still, it's fun to see what happens when you toss your character into the middle of their phobia.

I'm gonna do it to my characters. Over and over. Muh-ha-ha...

It's fun being a writer.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Happy Birthday to my DD!

My daughter is seven-years-old today.


How is that possible when I only had her last week? I was chatting with one of her Aunts yesterday -- who was at the hospital when I was in labor (funny story, I'll have to tell you some day) -- and she said the same thing.

Where does the time go.

Oddly, I found myself going around the house singing "Sunrise, Sunset" the other day. Now I really do get that song. I mean, she's going to be a teenager tomorrow at this rate!

In her honor, I did a quiz:

Your Birthdate: April 24

You understand people well and are a natural born therapist.

A peacemaker, people always seem to get along when you are around.

You tend to be a father or mother figure to friends, even to those older than you.
You enjoy your role, and you find that you are close to many people.

Your strength: Your devotion

Your weakness: Reliance on others for happiness

Your power color: Lilac

Your power symbol: Heart

Your power month: June

This is actually quite true, especially the "You tend to be a father or mother figure to friends" part. She is a great little mother, and takes care of anyone (or anything) in her path.

She is also my best cheering section about my writing (along with my mom, and friend, Cathy - *waves* - and a great bunch of online buddies that I couldn't live without - *waves again* - ), though she does get frustrated that she can't read everything I write. I let her read quite a bit, but not *ahem* certain parts.

Today, the world revolves around her. She usually feels that way, but today it's true! One of the joys of homeschooling, is that she doesn't have to "do" school today -- I've declared a holiday in honor of her birthday. She's going to have a blast.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Between Tears by Pamela Ridley

I'm very excited to announce the release of a writing friends first novel!

Between Tears by Pamela Ridley

Two murders intertwine. Andrea is bereaved by one, accused of the other. In the meantime, she's engaged to the man with motive for both. Benjamin's a likely suspect in her sister's murder, but Andrea's heart says no. She searches for her sister's killer and at the same time, she falls in love with Benjamin. On top of this, her ex-boyfriend decides he made a mistake in letter her go and has the sex tape to prove it. He come up murdered. Will Andrea's faith be strong enough to allow her to face the truth and find happiness between tears?

From Romance Fiction: Have We Got A Story For You:

What if someone you loved, did something very bad for a very good reason? Would anything, including love, survive the fallout?

In Between Tears, two families meet drama head on in their quest to answer this question.

The book began as a short story trilogy, but by the end of the third story, the author knew the cornerstones of faith, love and murder made an excellent foundation for a tale of romantic suspense.

Between Tears is Ms. Ridley’s first published novel. Three of her short stories have appeared in E-zine publications and her tips on writing dialogue are part of a e-book compilation project.

The story is set in St. Louis, the author’s hometown. She’s a Sumner High School and a Washington University alumni, but she now resides in Maryland. She’s a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and is affiliated with the following writers’ organizations:

Romance Writers of America
Washington Romance Writers
RWA-Kiss of Death
Maryland Writer’s Center
Sisters in Crime
Sin-c Guppies
Writers’ Village University

After publication by Genesis Press in April 2006, Between Tears will be available in bookstores nationwide.

The Book Lovers Club in St. Louis, Missouri made Between Tears its April selection. It will also be featured on targeted book and reader on line sites.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


I posted a prompt in my writing group yesterday that suggested you choose a phobia and plop your phobic character right in the middle of it. It got me to thinking -- my characters don't (any of them) have serious phobias. At least not my heroines. And that is certainly not realistic, is it?

I'm scared of several things, a couple to the point of being incapacitated. I'm scared of heights -- really, really scared of heights. Some friends wanted to climb up onto the roof of their little house to watch fireworks once, and I got as far as the top of the ladder and froze. No one, including myself, thought we'd get me back down. I really was frozen in place.

I hate those drainage grates (Pam reminded me of this with her prompt response). It's second nature now to step over or around them. If, for some reason I have to walk on them, I freeze, break into a sweat and inch across. But I'd cross the street in heavy traffic to avoid doing that.

So, I need phobia's. Camilla can't be afraid of critters -- that's her job. And I know she's not afraid of heights, because that comes up in the story.

Tish... Geez, I haven't thought about her in a long time. But, nope, no phobia.

Liv... well, she may be phobic about being poor, and she's moderately afraid of dogs (but overcomes it). Nothing serious.

So -- any suggestions? What are some funky phobias I can use? Some unusual ones that your typical person wouldn't think about?

And, what about your characters? What are their fears?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Quiz Day

I did this for me, and then I decided to do it for my characters, too...

Here's mine:

You Are Red Orange

You are a very genuine person, although it takes a while for you to show the true you.

A bit introverted, you desire respect and affection from those close to you.

You are quite empathetic, and you have a true concern for the well being of others.
Many people have warm, heartfelt memories of you - even if you don't remember them well.

Okay, I'll buy that. My quizzes always come back that people don't get to know the "real me" easily. That's very, very, very true. And I am empathetic (though I tend to have more empathy for beings who are at the mercy of others: children and animals).

Here's Camilla:

You Are Cranberry Red

Peaceful and philosophical, you are almost always at harmony with the world.

You're not very social, but you always enjoy a deep, complex conversation with a friend.

It's possible that you've been disappointed a lot in your life, but you've gotten over those disappointments quickly.

For you, each day is new and glorious. You wake up refreshed and happy, even when things aren't going your way.

This is mostly Camilla, though I wouldn't call her "peaceful and philosophical". She is pretty anti-social at heart, even if her family and friends won't allow her to be in actuality.

Lastly, there's Liv:

You Are Rouge Red

Of all the reds, you are the most energetic and vibrant.

You never need to recharge, and in fact, you often recharge others.

Gutsy and brave, you've never let your fears stop you from doing anything.

You figure that life is all about experiences, and you'll always take that leap of faith.

This is pretty much true, too -- although answering the "what color sneakers would you buy" was tough for her, because she'd color coordinate to her outfit -- if she even buys sneakers (in the story, she doesn't own any).

So, there you have it. At least my characters are all different. That's a plus!

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pet Peeves

I'm empty today -- no words of wisdom or blathering about writing. I could opt not to post, but what fun would that be?

Instead, I'm going to share a few things that make me crazy (see title of blog -- you've been warned).

Yesterday at WalMart, an employee asked if she could go ahead of me in line because she was due to work in five minutes (and yet, after taking about that much time to check out, she still had seven... huh. I guess time runs backward at WalMart. A good thing to know.) and wanted to eat.

She had a bottle of Coke and a KitKat bar. She proceeded to pay with her food stamps card. Um... Coke and Candy aren't food.

This boils down to my pet peeve: people with food stamps using MY tax dollars are eating better than me. They're the ones in line ahead of me eating the best meat, prepackaged foods and junk (not that it's a bad thing that I don't typically buy junk food...). And they almost always reek of cigarette smoke -- if they can afford cigarettes ($3 a pack!! Holy cow!), why can't they afford to buy their own food?

I think that food stamps should only be used for unprocessed, fresh food: veggies, meats, milk, fruit, etc. No Junk Allowed.

Okay, done venting about that.



Hey, I have one of my own. But I have never let her run wild in public. I was at a store on Tuesday when I heard this strange noise. I thought there was a toy or something that made it (growling and yelling). Nope. It was a kid, running around with his brother like the aisles were their personal playground.

And, I understand that young children throw fits at inopportune moments (like two-thirds of the way through the grocery store when you have too much invested to turn back). Prepare, people. I had a friend who fed her son non-stop through the store. With his mouth full, he was pretty quiet.

And, what about the people whose kids wander away and the parent doesn't even seem to notice? I was in Target a few weeks back wandering down the middle and saw this little girl, about two-years-old walking all by herself, no parent in sight. I asked her, "Did you lose your mommy?" She nodded, thumb in mouth. I started peering down aisles trying to find mom (didn't touch this child, however, something that will be addressed shortly). I finally discovered the woman, on her cell phone about three aisles away walking in the opposite direction of her child. And this kid was actually pretty close to the doors... anyone could have snatched her and ran. Grrrr....

Check out This Article entitled: Did Pedophilia Hysteria Cause Child's Death?

When the day comes that people are afraid to HELP children because they'll get in trouble for it, then the world is coming to an end.


All done.

I'll keep the rest inside.

Well, except maybe the The Candadian Seal Hunt. I think it takes a really warped human being to club a baby seal to death, let alone 300,000 of them. Almost half a million babies. Geez.

Okay, now I'm finished.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

For Every Action...

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

I'm puttering forward on revisions for Camilla. Trying to figure out how she changes by the end, because that seems to be an important thing for writing. Your characters actually have to grow. And, to make matters worse, they need to change for the better. Can you imagine?

And *&^% motivation. Ugh. Why can't writing just be like life. I know, I know -- even when it doesn't seem that we have motivation (in real life) for our actions, we do if you dig deeply enough.

Maybe I should pay closer attention to me and my actions just for fun. See why I behave the way that I do. Although the few times that I have based anything on my life, I've gotten feedback that says "that would never happen" or "that's improbable" ... the last one I got when I fictionalized how hubby and I met. I didn't think it was that weird.

Guess I should have paid closer attention in all those pysch classes I took. I do remember my hierarchy of needs. Does that count?

Okey-dokey. Off to edit some more. Try to make my characters even more real. I want them to leap off the page.

But most of all, I want them to make sense.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Funny

Got this in my inbox this morning, and had to share:

*Office Hours*

"So tell me, Mrs. Smith," asked the interviewer, "have you any other skills you think might be worth mentioning?"

"Actually, yes," said the applicant modestly. "Last year I had two short stories published in national magazines, and I finished my novel."

"Very impressive," he commented, "but I was thinking of skills you could apply during office hours."

Mrs. Smith explained brightly, "Oh, that was during office hours."

Feeling Stupid

I'm still working, slowly, through the Maass Workbook, and have realized something (well, maybe "re-realized") -- I am so not deep. I can remember in my college philosophy class (which I dropped after a week), my teacher came into the classroom, all weird and wild looking, reached into his briefcase and pulled out a mirror -- picture Doc from Back to the Future -- and ran around the room holding it in front of our faces:

"What do you see?"

He got a variety of answers, but didn't respond. Then he grabbed a partly filled glass of water and did the same thing.

"What do you see?"

Some of the students got really deep, but all I could think (besides "Who is this nutcase and why am I here?") was:

I see a mirror and a partly filled glass of water.

And this is my biggest problem dealing with most writing courses ... I simply don't get the deep stuff. It's all face value to me.

What's Camilla's Irrevocable Commitment? Don't have a clue.

What's Camilla's Moment of Irresolution? I don't know.

*sigh* holds up manuscript

"What do you see?"

Monday, April 17, 2006

Story Telling

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

I finished reading a book yesterday -- and it shall remain nameless. This is because, when I love a book I'll post it, when I don't, it disappears into the reading log never to be heard from again.

This writer's style is awful. Awful. It's juvenile and rushed and she constantly tells instead of showing. Ugh. I could go on and on (if her hero had "puffed out his chest" one more time, the book would have become a wall banger... it was a very close thing).

And yet, not only is she a bestselling author whose books are released in hardback, but I've read more than one of her books. Yes, I've put myself through the torture a total of five times so far.


Because her stories are interesting. She has and absolutely amazing, incredible, unbelievable imagination.

Still, I often wonder why she was selected to be published. I have a couple of writing friends whose work is astoundingly good, and several more whose work is well above par and yet -- rejection after rejection.

Very weird.

So... is it the story or the telling that matters the most? I know, I know -- you are all thinking "it's both!", but I'm beginning to wonder because so many of the books I read have only one of those components.

Just another one of the frustrating things I can't seem to figure out about the publishing industry. I'm certain that the list will continue to grow.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

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A Prayer in Spring
By Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid-air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


I've always wondered what the big deal with The Sims was...

Last night, I messed around with my niece's version of the game, and my writer's brain went wild. I could build a 3D looking house! I could actually SEE Camilla's home, or Liv's, or Mike's... No more sketching a floor plan to give me an idea of what the house looked like -- it could have WALLS. I'm dying here...

I have to admit that it was fun watching the character do stuff and interact (one family kept burning their food - mac and cheese and a toaster pastry, I mean, come on) and I found out that they call, ahem, lovemaking "woo hoo" (this arose from my daughter wanting the character modeled after me to get preggo -- she's dying for a sibling). No, she didn't get to watch the "woo hoo", even though it takes place under the covers. And since the Sim vomited after eating the next morning, she's pregnant. DD went to bed last night dreaming up names for the new baby.

Yes, it's addictive even to 6-year-olds.

I just want the building capabilites. I'm dying to see Camilla's house.

Do you suppose it's a tax write-off?

Friday, April 14, 2006


I'm so tired and brain dead. Don't look for anything profound in this post -- and nothing about writing. Just a little whining...

Stayed up late (for me) on Tuesday to watch American Idol with my niece (I usually TiVo it and watch the next day because I watch NCIS on Tuesdays but it was repeat last week... and have I mentioned that I tend to babble when I'm tired?) and then stayed up late on Weds to watch the results show -- PLUS hubby had a friend over who just bought a new car and had my DH looking it over (which is a little like shutting the barn door after the horse is out isn't it? Shouldn't you have a mechanic check out a car BEFORE you buy it? Maybe that's just me...) and the air compressor was going, and metal was hitting metal and -- did I mention that my bedroom is pretty much over the garage?

Last night I was determined to go to sleep early. I crawled under the covers at 8:30 and started to doze off a few minutes later. Then my niece came home, and the storm door SLAMMED shut. Then her boyfriend walked out a few minutes later and BAM! Again. Then my daughters bedroom door started going "ka-thunk, ka-thunk" because I left her window open a crack and it was breezy out. So I got up and stuffed a washcloth in the door. And for good measure, I closed the window in my niece's room so it wouldn't do the same later on. Then, thinking I had all bases covered, I crawled back into bed. By now, it's about 9:15 p.m.

It is at this time that the cat decides a bath is in order. I disabused her of this notion.

Downstairs, DH and the niece are watching a hockey game -- it's a big one, very important, can mean the difference between our team getting into the playoffs. At about 9:45 I hear "Ahhh!", jolting me out of my sleep yet again. Something apparently happened in the game. I don't know if was good or bad, but it was loud. Heart pounding, eyes burning from fatigue, I try to get back to sleep.

Niece went to bed about half an hour later... thump, thump up the stairs, close bathroom door by pushing it instead of turning the knob so it clicks loudly, brush teeth with battery-operated toothbrush.

DH came up about 45 minutes after that. Ugh.

I woke up at 4 a.m. when the cat jumped off the bed.

Tired. Brain dead. Zzzzz.....

I want my own hotel room, far, far away for Mothers Day. All. Alone.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

You Say To-may-to

Ever notice how you can get hung up on something really stupid? How it grows and grows until nothing else seems to matter?

I have that problem. See... Camilla wears cotton fabric shirts a lot. These are commonly known as t-shirts.

Or is it T-shirts?

Or maybe tee shirts?

I was just working on editing again, and came across that word. One of the ladies in my crit group mentioned once that my spelling (t-shirt) should have been T (with a capital or is it capitol?) - shirt.

I couldn't seem to remember that (and I'm pretty sure she's right -- or is it write?) and so decided to use the spelling "tee shirt". But now, that's annoying me. Plus, I have to remember to remain consistent and not use T-shirt part of the time and tee shirt the rest (wrest?).

I think it's having that capital/capitol letter in the middle of the sentence that annoys me about the first spelling.

So there you have it -- one of the problems that keep me up at night and wile (while? whyle? wial?) away hours of my editing time.

On a side note -- as many of you know, I homeschool my daughter. I highly recommend this to anyone partly because I'm learning so much (LOL). I'm also realizing how truly stupid our language is. "This sound is spelled like this. Unless it's spelled like this. And sometimes, without any reason whatsoever, it's spelled like this. And you just have to remember which (witch?) goes where because there is no rule about it."

Why oh Y do I put myself through this?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Must. Write.

"What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out the window." -- Rudolph Erich Rascoe

I haven't written a word in days (except for this blog). I feel like I'm doing nothing. I'm not, exactly. I am working through the Maass workbook, but when I'm not getting new words down, I feel like a lazy bum.

I need to write something.

I got a response back from a flash fiction submission (hmmm... how to say this withough sounding uncaring?) -- the editor was diagnosed with leukemia and they also found some kind of fungus on his lung, so he'll won't be able to work on the submissions for a little while. That's very, very sad. And it's not like I don't care. It's just, this type of thing has happened to me before and I'm feeling like a jinx... I submitted to one place, who promptly went out of business. Because, of course, it's all about me, Me, ME!

I wonder if someone is trying to tell me something.

In any case, I need to write something. I'm hoping that this weeks schedule won't be too weird because my niece is staying here again AND she's not working so will be hanging out with me more often than not. It's not that I don't like my niece, it's just that I have a schedule that I like and having her here will change things. Oh well. Guess I could throw her out on the street (like her folks did... but that's another story).

I. Will. Write. Something.


Time to dig out those writing prompts...

Have a great day!!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Follow the Bouncing Ball

I'm trying to stay focused on my story about Camilla, but it's hard when I've got other stories tugging on your leg, sleeve or any other part they can reach. It must be a little like how a mother of quintuplets feels.

I also have this little thing called Spring Fever affecting my ability to write. My office is in the mushroom basement, and to sit down here when it's beautiful outside is absolute torture.

Additionally, since I'm editing Camilla it's not fun. Writing = fun. Editing = no fun. Why would anyone want to be an editor as a career? Ugh.

Then I got to thinking about the contest I entered Camilla in. I alternately go between, "It'll never final, so who cares about the massive changes I have in mind?" and "What if it not only finals, but WINS and I get a request and I've made all these huge changes to the manuscript and it's nothing like what they originally read and...."

A DEEP BREATH is in order.

I also promised D that I get her the completed, edited, polished first part of Camilla by the end of this month. That's not going to happen. Of course, her computer crashed, and I have no idea if it's back up again, so that may be a moot point.

Speaking of Moot... anyone else read "Don't Look Down" yet? I'm still sad I couldn't make it to the New England RWA conference last weekend where the Bob and Jenny show was on stage. *sniff*

So are the days of our lives....and the inside of my brain. Bouncing around with no particular destination in mind.

Boing, boing, boing....

Monday, April 10, 2006

Meme's and Characterization

I couldn't think of anything to blog about this morning, so I decided to go on a meme hunt. I actually found a website that lists them! The Meme List

Anyway, as I was looking around for a meme I felt like doing, I came across a site called Monday Madness that has questions to answer each Monday -- which seemed appropriate since today was, well... Monday.

There are only a few questions each week -- and pretty simple to answer, but it got me to thinking (UH OH) -- I should have my characters answer them, too! They're really great for getting down to the nitty gritty stuff.

For instance (from the March 26th post):

1. Do you use a bag/sachel/wallet?
2. Do you use the same bag/sachel/wallet everyday or change depending on your outfit?
3. What do you carry in your bag/sachel/wallet?
4. Do you check and change the contents of your bag/sachel/wallet before you go anywhere specific or do you take everything everywhere?
5. How often do you have a good clean out of your bag/sachel/wallet?

Basic questions, but could really add something to your character, don't you think?

Or this (from March 5th):

1. How many hobbies do you have?
2. Name at least one of your hobbies.
3. What do you like about your hobby?
4. What keeps you from spending more time on any one of your hobbies?
5. Do you have any hobbies that you haven't taken up yet, but would like to?
6. Have you ever decided to give up a hobby? If so, why?

So, now, instead of blogging anymore, I'm going to go answer these questions for my characters and see what they have to say. What about you?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Bless Maass...

Bless Donald Maass. I know, I know, I was cursing him not so long ago. But the guy and his workbook have really made me dig deep and think. Now there's a shocker!

I had this breakthrough on Camilla yesterday and it's all because of him. It started out as a typical workbook question: What is something your character would never say, do or think? Now, make a situation where your character must say, do or think that thing.

Once I got past the really, really extreme examples (and some of you know what I'm talking about!), I moved in to the realm of possiblities. And once I got my brain really awake and moving... other things started popping in there that had nothing to do with his questions.

I thought of a dozen ways to deepen my characters and make them unique. Ways to up the "funny" in the story without making it slapstick. Some great new scene ideas popped up.

And, for the first time in a long time, I'm excited to write in Camilla again.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Mmmm.... Mmmmm.... Don't Look Down...

I finished "Don't Look Down" yesterday -- swallowed the book in one big gulp. I am a fast reader. Always have been. This is both good and bad. I was thrilled to read the book from cover to cover -- but now, it's over.

This was a great read, but a totally different book than I've ever read. I think Jenny and Bob are right in saying that they've created a new genre: romantic adventure.

"Don't Look Down" had Jenny's trademark humor, but this was NOT a romance. Exactly. Things happen in this book that wouldn't happen in your usual romance -- like the H/H hopping into bed with someone other than each other.

The man's POV was actually written by a man, so was quite unique in its flavor. I loved it.

The characters reflected typical Jenny, with funky quirks and interesting habits. They are all so utterly unique that it makes me unbelievably jealous -- how does she do that?

Fast paced plot, quirky characters, real romance... it doesn't get much better than that. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loaned it to my mom to read, but may re-read it as a writer instead of as a reader when I get it back.

The true test of a good book? If I forget to "nit" the writing... if it can suck me in to the point where I don't say "ah... passive voice" or whatever. This book made me forget I was a writer.

Two thumbs up -- and I wish I had more thumbs (even if it would make me look a little odd).

Friday, April 07, 2006

Made My Day

After traveling to three different stores, I finally ended up at Barnes and Noble (I know, I should have started there... and even they didn't have to book out anywhere that I could find the blasted thing... they should be shot) and found a book I've been waiting forever to get:

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Because I didn't have enough to distract me from my writing.

This book is really quite fresh (so far... I'm only about six chapters in) -- funny (how could it be otherwise? I mean, it is Jenny Crusie), interesting, well-written. Bob Mayer is such a man... and it's refreshing to see an actual man's POV in this book because, no matter what, women authors are still women. Most men's books don't include such a strong look inside a guys head. I'm getting a kick out of the whole thing.

And, hey, if she can have a one-eyed alligator as the star... I should be able to have a rat.

Gotta go read some more.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Just a Few Thoughts...

Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs. ~John Osborne, Time, 31 October 1977

I watched American Idol last night and was surprised (as was the rest of the world, I suppose -- judging by the absolute silence in the auditorium when Mandisa was voted off) at the choices "America" had made.

Mandisa. Elliot. Paris.

Arguably three of the best voices in that competition.

So, why were they at the bottom last night? Oh, I have my own thoughts: Really bad song choices (especially Mandisa's -- she has a powerhouse voice, and chose a song that doesn't show anything off), flat personality (this would be Elliot's problem - I think he has an amazing voice, but there's nothing memorable about the guy) and youth (Paris is a sweetie, but doesn't really know who she is).

It got me to thinking about writing. And publishing. And the capriciousness of the American (and International) public.

When we, as writers, throw ourselves on the mercy of that public, we never know exactly what we're going to get or what they're going to like (and buy).

And, I think the same factors I mentioned above will count toward our success:

Bad plot choices. It's tough to write to the market, considering the lag time in getting your query read, your partial or full manuscript read and then, even if it's selected for publication, getting it printed. We're talking years, here. So you have to figure out either something timeless or something fresh. Ugh.

No personality -- not having a unique voice. If I pick up a Jenny Crusie book, I know, without looking at the cover, who wrote it. Same with the other "biggies" in romance. They are unique. They stand out. That said, many of them didn't in the beginning (in my personal opinion, Nora Roberts earliest stuff is boring and average)... which leads me to --

Youth -- or inexperience. Not learning your craft. Not reading within your genre. Not submitting your writing to other writers for feedback. It takes time to polish and hone your craft. Whether you do that using short pieces and your first novel comes out perfect, that doesn't matter. Learn, learn, learn.

And then, maybe America won't vote you off.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My Office

Now that it's all over, what did you really do yesterday that's worth mentioning? ~ Coleman Cox

Yesterday, I cleaned up my office.

Oh, it's not pristine, but it's much, much neater. I went through the piles of books and papers shoved onto each bookshelf and tossed what I didn't need, realized I had some duplicate books and also figured out that I have w-a-a-a-a-a-a-y too many spiral notepads. I bought them on sale at Staples for $0.10 each and went a little crazy.

This morning, I came downstairs into the office and thought I'd lost my way. It just didn't look right. Or feel right. Weird.

I did no writing yesterday. I tried, but my story is boring me to tears. I gotta figure if I'm bored, y'all will be even more bored so it needed a fix. So, though I didn't actually put pen to paper, I did spend a lot of time contemplating.

And I realized that some major plot points need changing - some will be deleted altogether, some will be shifted to different places in the book. Half of me is excited, because it'll make the story better. But the other half just wants to curl up in a ball and cry because it's going to take a lot of work.


Today, I hope to start making the changes and, ideally, I'd like to finish the process in the next month or so. Is that realistic?

Part of this is all Donald Maass's fault - damn him anyway. His blasted workbook is making me think.

There ought to be a law.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Library Thing

"Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers

I'd kill Charity, but Minnesota is too far away, and I wouldn't know where to hide the body.

Yesterday on her blog she mentioned finding a site called Library Thing. It's a place to catalog your books.

Sounds basic enough. But...I spent hours on it yesterday. I had wanted to create a reading log for this blog, but hadn't figured out how to. Now I have. It's linked on the sidebar for your future entertainment, but to make things easy the first time, it's also right here. I've started with books I've read thus far in April, because there's no way I'm going back in time -- I read too much.

Incidentally, I've been rereading books lately because I can't seem to find any good books I haven't already read. I am open to suggestions -- Please?

For fun, I also decided to create a listing of books I own. I had no idea I owned so many books. I've made to out of state moves: California to Colorado and Colorado to New Hampshire. I got rid of A LOT of my books, but not as many as I thought. That list is still a work in progress, but if you're interested, it's both on the sidebar and right here.

And, Ceri, this is the addiction I spoke of yesterday.

And (again), I overslept this morning AGAIN. Guess I'm going to have to break down and set the blasted alarm.

Monday, April 03, 2006


As if I didn't have little enough time before, I had to lose an hour this weekend. It's killing me.

I'm an early riser, and it's when I get the majority of my writing "stuff" done - responding to my writing group, answering emails, research and ... oh yeah... actually writing.

This morning I couldn't drag myself out of bed until 5:45 -- about 90 minutes later than I usually get up. The only thing that's going to save me is the fact that my DD will probably sleep in as well.


And, also, because I'm an early riser, I was enjoying having the sun up with me -- but, not anymore, which makes it feel just that much earlier.

My husband likes it because it means I'm still coherant after I put DD to bed, but I'm picturing an afternoon nap. Of course, picturing it is probably as close as I'll get to one...

How are you doing with the time change?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Research and Writing Blocks

I've been struggling with a bit of Camilla lately. When I write the first draft, if I come across a part that I'm not sure exactly how to deal with it, I skip it and leave myself a note about what I wanted to happen.

The problem with that is simple. Eventually, I need to go back and fill in the blank. CC's been full of them.

First was Jed's injury. I think I finally have that one figured out.

Now it's how to work with Camilla's Critters (the place, not the book about the place). Can I make it a licensed shelter in a matter of two weeks or can it simply be an offsite "storage unit" of the original shelter? What are the legalities to opening a shelter? What hoops does Camilla have to jump through? What, why, when, how...????

I hate research.

It's one reason I will NEVER write a historical novel.

And, how did people ever research before the internet? I can't begin to imagine how much more difficult it used to be. It still isn't easy, but ... geez...

In any case, this whole non-profit thing is holding me up. Yesterday I opened, stared at unproductively, then closed my word document of Camilla. Several times.

I. Must. Get. Past. This. Point.


On a completely different tangent...

I was watching about five minutes of some movie on Lifetime the other night -- hubby was channel flipping, so I was lucky (or maybe not) to get that much time.

Making a really stupid long story short, the end of the scene I watched involved this man getting shot. The woman ran to his side and produced a bit of cloth to staunch the bleeding. She pressed it down for about half a second, picked it up, looked at the gushing wound, pressed, lifted, looked, repeated this action about five times and then cried out in anguish, "I can't get it to stop!"

Well, duh. Pressure on the wound might help, stupid woman.

And this was just the end of a laudry list of really ridiculous things that happened in just a few minutes. (We won't go into the female cop going outside to check out a noise "Probably just a cat" -- yeah, not the vicious killer that's after the woman -- takes only her flashlight and leaves the front door wide open. Puh-leez).

If I wrote this kind of stuff in my book, I'd never be published. How on earth did this get made into a movie? With actors I recognized??

It was the first time I was ever happy hubby channel flipped.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Something To Talk About

"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." -- Oscar Wilde

Yesterday, I opened up my email and found a comment that was made on this blog from someone whose name rang a bell, but because my brain is on strike, I couldn't place it.

Until I read the comment.

It was from Raeanne Thayne, an author I thanked a month or so ago for writing the first book I've enjoyed in quite some time.

She'd Googled her name (yes, we all do it!) and found the entry on my blog .

I was tickled at first, but then realized that I talk about authors a lot on here, books I've enjoyed or not enjoyed. And sometimes I forget that they are both human and curious. I wonder if other authors have Googled their names and stumbled across my comments.

Occasionally, they haven't been as kind as my comment for Ms. Thayne. I criticized the most recent release from a very well known author a few months back -- did she see it?

I'm the kind of person who seldom says something about someone unless I'm willing to say it to their face, so that doesn't worry me so much. Still, it always hurts when someone says something not so kind.

So, perhaps instead of the quote I have at the top, I should post this one (and then try to live by it!):

I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of everybody. ~Benjamin Franklin