Friday, June 30, 2006

blocked, Blocked, BLOCKED!

If the reader doesn't understand what you're saying, you're talking to yourself. --- Nigel Hamilton

Had (and am still having) a frustrating day. The new WIP has me scared to my shoes about screwing something important up -- I mean, really. What do I know about investigating a crime or police procedure? Gah. As a result, everything is coming out forced and stilted.

Camilla is struggling to keep me from changing her. Maybe she needs to go sit in a corner for a couple months so who she is right now isn't so fresh in my brain. But then, dang it, I won't have anything for that stupid contest.

I looked at a couple of my short stories and proclaimed them "ridiculous".

Thusly, no work cometh forth from these ten fingers. So, on that note -- how about a quiz?

Your Gemstone is Topaz

Comforting, considerate, and stable.
You are down to earth and grounded.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hook 'em!

"Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life." - Lawrence Kasdan

Opening hooks.

They're on my brain right now because I've just started SBCM and wanted to write a good one. Funny thing is -- I've never, ever kept my beginning the same in any novel (or most short stories) that I've written. So, I don't know why I focus on it so much right out of the gate.

Donald Maass says that in his live writing classes, he has the participants read their opening line aloud and then asks, "Do you want to hear the next line?"

Your success in this case rests on your ability to write one amazing sentence.

I've heard conflicting, but similar, views of how much of your submission an agent or editor will read. Some say a few paragraphs, some say a few pages. Some writers say that you need a hook, sure, but it doesn't have to be the first line.

While I'm inclined to agree that it doesn't have to be the first line, I do believe it should be the first paragraph.

If I hadn't had Julie Kenner's book "The Givenchy Code" recommended to me so highly, I don't think I'd have read it. The first few pages are all your usual chick lit stuff -- the kind of stuff I can't relate to (I really don't give a flip about shoes and not so much about clothes, either, sorry) and I was bored. Really, really bored. But after the first few pages, when she got that mysterious package, I was totally hooked.

I loaned the book to my mom with a warning that she would probably hate the first few pages, but to press on. It was worth it.

So, clearly Ms. Kenner didn't rely on having her hook in the first line, the first paragraph or the first page. She also wasn't a first time author. And I think that makes a difference.

What about you? Are you into a first line hook? First paragraph? What do you think about the whole hook thing? I'd love your two cents!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Let The Games Begin!

"The first thing you have to consider when writing a novel is your story, and then your story—and then your story!" - Ford Madox Ford

Time to start getting it down on paper. I've been plotting and planning my Secret Baby Cowboy Mystery (henceforth referred to at "SBCM") for some time, and I feel ready to start.

My knowledge of police procedure is limited to CSI, NCIS and (my new favorite show) The Closer, so I'm certain that there will be times I'll need to stop and (gasp) research it a bit.

Still, though a murder has certainly occured in this story, the STORY is really about the characters. It is, first and foremost, a romance. And that I can handle.

I did take the time to do a photo collage of the story, and I'll post it here to get you acquainted with Stiller Creek.

In other news, I received a request for my full ms from the short story publisher. We'll see if they like it. Yup, I'm nauseous again... :-)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Synopsis's and New Writing

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." - Robert Francis Kennedy

Got some practice in this week on writing queries and synopsis's (synopsi?). I submitted a query to an ePress that accepts short stories. I have one that's about 5000 words that they'll hopefully love and want to publish. It was odd, summarizing a short story. I think I did okay, though it was a bit long at 623 words. I pared it down a bit again this morning before sending it off.

It did show me how blasted hard it will be to write a short synopsis for a longer piece. I haven't tackled that yet for any of my novels, but will have to do so at some point.

So, the query went off this morning, and I have yet another submission to be nervous about. Ugh.

In other news, I'm just about ready to start writing on my new WIP. I don't have quite as many scene cards made up as I'd like, so I'll do a little more brainstorming, but I also think the actual writing will help fill things in, too. Still loving the process and wishing I'd done it sooner. I suspect it would have made Camilla much deeper and more coherant.

Speaking of Camilla, I'm still plugging away at her. I think I'm going to overhaul the entire manuscript though (gulp) because it simply needs so much work that I don't have the energy to go in and revise. PLUS, I don't think the beginning introduces the conflict soon enough. I love my beginning, I really, really do... but it has to change. I already have an idea in mind that will take the best parts of what I love about the current start and meld it with the conflict more immediately.

And that's all about me. What are you up to?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Why Do Fools Fall in Love?

Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too. ~Greg, age 8

I TiVo'd "Kate and Leopold" the other night, remembering that I'd enjoyed watching it. I get Friday nights alone because the hubby plays hockey and the niece always has a date with her boyfriend. So I get to watch the chick flicks I never get to watch the rest of the time.


I sat down to watch it and remembered how much Hugh Jackman made my heart go pitty-pat in that movie (not that he wasn't a hunk as Wolverine, too... but... yanno -- English Duke, mmm....) and I guess that was the main reason I'd loved it.

NOT because of the love story.

Seriously -- why would anyone have fallen in love with Kate? She was rude, harsh, abrasive and unkind. And yet, he still invited her to dinner on the rooftop -- and he was already falling for her before that point? When did that start? Was it when she yelled at him to get out of her house? Or maybe when she derided him about his inability to make toast?

I remember that the old Harlequins were much like this. The characters hated each other and fought like crazy until the end where there were suddenly all, "Darling, I love you. I've always loved you." Kiss, kiss, HEA.

It's one thing to have a reason for your H/H to not be together. Absolutely make a misunderstanding -- the book I'm reading right now has two people looking for a guy. The Hero thinks this guy killed his family, the heroine is looking for her brother who she's sure is innocent of all charges. BIG problem. And yet, they still like each other even though there's an elephant in the room with them at all times. Yes, they fight over the problem, everyone fights, but as a reader I can understand why they'd be attracted.


See... told you I'd find something besides plotting to write about.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

More on Plotting....

"An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one." - Charles Horton Cooley

Paperback Writer had an interesting post on plotting yesterday. I found myself sitting at the keyboard sounding like Meg Ryan's character in "When Harry Met Sally"... I'd read a bit and "YES" and more and "YES,YES" then "YES, YES, YES...!!" My husband probably wondered just what was going on down in the basement.

I think that some people who don't plot think of plotting as linear thinking. Um, no. At least not for me. I started with my main character (my first PBW YES!), well actually I started with an ambiguous idea because I was feeling a little snarky about people saying category romances were cookie cutter and I decided that I had to write a Secret Baby Cowboy book but then I started with the main character.

Oddly, I ended up writing her in a prompt from my writing group -- twice -- to get a feel for her, and in one of the prompts she found out that her mother had been murdered (!). And I thought, "I didn't know this was a murder mystery.", but went with it. After I got to know her, and did a lengthy character profile of her, I created both her nemesis (and discovered why her baby was "secret") and her hero. And I had to make something big to keep her and the hero apart, so I did. And then did backstory and characterizations on those two folks.

These characterizations led to a multitude of scene ideas that will be in different spots in the book.

Then I thought about the crime, why it happened and whodunnit.

More scenes.

And the H/H and the Antag's Internal Conflicts.

More scenes.

Then Maass's "Plot Layers" (I love Maass, I really do).

More scenes.

And then Elizabeth George's ideas on "surprise".

Even more scenes!

I wrote the scene ideas down on index cards and put them away. They are in no particular order, and some may not even work for the book, but I just let myself imagine things. I "what if'd" the book to death.

And now the book is quite well plotted. What I didn't do was sit down and say, "The book starts thusly, and then they do this thing, and then this happens." That would never have worked. But letting imagination fly free while doing different exercises worked wonders. Now I can take out my scene cards and see about putting them in an order that makes sense, see what things might be missing and then...


And all the while, I'll know exactly where I'm heading. It's as though I printed off the driving directions from Mapquest. I may see something interesting that's off the path while en route, but even if I take a short side trip I'll still get to my destination.

Some people say plotting makes writing boring. I disagree. It's taken much of the stress out of writing and just leaves me with excitement.

Tomorrow I'll try to find something else to talk about. Really. But I've been so focused on this, and so happy doing it, that I can't help it. It's just bubbling over.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Revising and Plotting - Two Sides, Same Coin

"Writing is rewriting. A writer must learn to deepen characters, trim writing, intensify scenes. To fall in love with a first draft to the point where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never publishing." Richard North Patterson

I've started using the same technique that I've used to plot my latest WIP on my completed about Camilla. It's working so well in the plotting phase that I hoped it would help me to revise.

It's amazing to me that I was able to type up a category length novel that lacked so much depth. Don't get me wrong, I love Camilla and Jed and there's much I do adore about the story. But as I started answering Maass's questions about plot layers and internal conflict and sub-plots and so forth, I realized that Camilla's story is quite shallow and that simply won't do.

I don't think a mystery will be appropriate for this upcoming contest, so it's Camilla's story or I have to pull out and dust off Tish's story. Though, now that I'm thinking about it, I do want to try and revise Tish (and maybe even Liv Leigh) using this same system. And, I'm telling you, I don't think I'll ever, EVER, not use these tools when plotting a book again.

I've come to the conclusion that many people don't plot a book because they don't know how. It's not just sitting down and doing character sheets and writing an outline. It's so much more. My imagination has been soaring, high and free, during this process. And, as one of the ladies who's going through this with me said, "This story is half written already!".

How could you not want to make it easier?

I've had to accept that much of Camilla's story will need rewriting. I'm trying to attack this post-writing work much the same as I would approach it as if I'd never written Camilla. I have to pretend that I don't already have 200+ pages written and start from scratch. I have to realize that, even though there are scenes that I LOVE they may not have a place in the revised edition. I think I'm ready.

Wish me luck. I'm going to need it.

Friday, June 23, 2006

So Much Fun!

Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place. But there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around. ~E.L. Konigsburg

Who would've known that plotting a new book could be so much fun! I'm having a blast with my latest project, and am getting more and more excited about actually writing it.

I've always thought, in the past, that spending too much time outlining and planning and imagining scenes and so forth would take away that initial fire that I get for a new love and make me less inclined to write it. I thought I'd be sick of the story by time it was ready to be written.

This is SO not true. And part of me is truly excited because I think the writing will be easier because I know where I'm headed. I know what subtle things to layer into the story to foreshadow things that will happen later (whereas, if I don't know what's going to happen later I either wouldn't ever do that, or would have to fix it on the edit through).

Seriously, I'm so thrilled by this process that I'm practically jumping out of my shoes. I'm using the Donald Maass workbook for much of this process where I can, plus drawing from "The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery" and some ideas from Frey's "How to Write a Damn Good Mystery".

I have scenes. I have plot layers. I have sub-plots. I have clues and red herrings. I have backstory.

I have such enthusiasm for this, and not just because it's new to me. Good heavens, I wish I'd done this before!

*hums happily to herself as she gets back to work on her outline*

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I Love Deadlines

The greatest thing about these contests, in my experience, is that they keep a lot of poor writing out of the overburdened journals' slush piles. - George Murray

Yesterday, Charity told me about a contest... and NO I'm not going to tell you which one, cuz then I'd have to take you out. Eliminate the competition. Ya'know?

Anyhoo, the entry deadline is October 31st. It requires a (*gulp*) outline. This would, I imagine, then require the story to be completed to my satisfaction -- though I'm not certain that will ever happen.

Now I need to decide... do I edit Camilla and submit her, or do I write my mystery and submit it? I'm leaning toward thinking that Camilla is more appropriate to this particular contest, but I hate, Hate, HATE editing.

Regardless, I love a deadline. Deadlines get me fired up. Deadlines give me something tangible to work toward. I adored doing NaNoWriMo (never mind the book was crap). I work well under pressure... at least I WRITE well. The question is, do I EDIT well?


I'm going to have something ready for this contest. Maybe if I sacrifice my first born to the editing God -- Nah... she's too cute.

How about y'all? Do you work better under pressure? And which do you prefer: editing or writing first drafts?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ten Things

Swiped from Tori's blog:

Ten Elements or Words I Always Use in My Stories

1. There's always an animal as a main character.

2. My heroines never were and won't be sexually promiscuous.

3. I've always used a setting from a state in which I've lived.

4. "Grin" seems to be one of my favorite words to use. My characters seldom simply smile. But they "grin" constantly. Any ideas of another word I can use?

5. Thus far, all of my heroines have only had one living parent. Huh. I just realized that.

6. With one exception (that I made consciously when I realized that I'd fallen into this rut), my heroines are always tomboys - unafraid of dirt and work and having a job or hobby that's usually considered something a man would do.

7. Coffee. Coffee figures prominently in nearly everything I've written (including most of my short stories... apparently coffee is so important that even a limited word count won't let me edit it out).

8. I was stuck in the "only child" rut for a while. When I realized this, I made up for it by giving a HUGE family to dear Camilla. But, I've just realized that my latest WIP that I'm plotting right now, I've fallen back into that rut. Neither my hero, heroine or villan have a sibling. Huh.

9. All of my novel length writing is category length -- I don't know if I have 100,000 in me for only one story. I typically fall in the 65,000 - 70,000 word length.

10. I love comedy, so most of my stuff has at least a little silliness in it. I sat up last night trying to figure out if I could include some into my latest WIP. I like a touch of the absurd, what can I say?

Man. This was HARD. But it's done, and now you know everything there is to know about my writing. Why not do one for yourself?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sex vs. Sensuality

A student undergoing a word-association test was asked why a snowstorm put him in mind of sex. He replied frankly: "Because everything does." ~Honor Tracy

In my latest WIP, my heroine has serious issues with intimacy, both physical and emotional. The poor hero will have to take everything VERY slow with her... thus leading to my question for all of you:

Would you continue to read a romance where the relationship isn't consummated until the very end? Do you think that a high level of sexual tension without "the act" is enough for you? In this era of erotica, I'm curious as to your feelings on this.

I have no intentions of this being a "sweet" romance. There will be sexual tension and I imagine that the book will be full of what would basically be foreplay... but it would be terribly out of character for my heroine to engage in premarital sex because of her background.

What think you? Is no sex okay if the book is still sensual? What do you require in your romance reading in regards to the physical aspects of the story?


Because my dog kept getting up and growling at the window last night, thus earning me several hours of NO SLEEP (Paula Poundstone said something about this kind of thing in a video once, about how her cats would all turn at the same time and look at the front door of her new apartment and "Oh fine, I'll just lie here wide awake and bathed in sweat for another night"). I kept thinking that our bear was back, but I knew I'd taken in the feeders. I still don't know what it was, but since I'd just re-read Dean Koontz's "The Watchers", my imagination ran amuck.

So, I swiped this meme from Charity:

1. Last present you gave someone?

I'm guessing that this must have been a pile 'o' stuff for my DD's birthday in April. Yes, April. Hubby hates holiday's, so the only Father's Day gift he received was a BBQ scrubbing brush from the DD - she bought it herself, with her own money and was very proud. Dad ooooohed and ahhhhed sufficiently. He's learning.

2. Last time you danced?

Really danced? That would be 2 - 3 years ago in the garage of my hubby's parents house at a family gathering. Hubby and I met because of my interest in country dancing (I was having my car fixed where he worked, he had country music blasting, I said I was new in town and was there a good place to go country dancing, he said "yeah... I go to this particular place every Thursday" and the rest is history), and we used to go several times a week. I swear that's what kept me so thin back then.


Now I'm depressed.

Oh well, at least I still get to dance to The Wiggles on a regular basis (I'm particularly fond of "Hot Potato").

3. Last meal you cooked?

Let's see... it was WAY too hot to cook last night, so I made a chef's salad. Does that count? The night before, DD had her ballet recital, and we got home LATE so I made PBJ... does that count? The night before that we'd been at the lake all day and got home and we were exhausted and had cheese and crackers and an apple... does that count? The night before was Friday and hubby plays hockey and can't play on a full tummy, so it's my day off of cooking dinner, so we had YOYO ("You're On Your Own")... I know that doesn't count. So it would have to be Thursday and I made Hobo Dinner (don't ask - it's a recipe I got from my MIL) for the husband (I don't eat meat, so end up making two meals most nights).

Unless you count the pancakes I made yesterday morning. That's a meal, I suppose, so ignore all of the previous.

4. Last letter you wrote?

I don't write many letters because email is easier, but I think the last letter I wrote was to my adopted soldier from Adopt-a-Platoon over in Iraq, though I send him email as well. But DD draws him pictures, so I usually pop a note in with those. The only other person I write to is my SIL who refuses to get email. The ingrate. She'd hear from me a lot more if she'd get online.

5. Last time you got on a plane?

It has been FOREVER. I know it was before 9/11. How sad is that? I went out to California to visit all my friends when the DD was about 18 months old -- she's seven now. Geez... time to go visit again, isn't it?

If you read this, and you're so inspired, feel free to consider yourself tagged.

Monday, June 19, 2006

And I Call Myself a Romance Writer?

Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love. ~Albert Einstein

I watched "Four Weddings and a Funeral" this past weekend. I'd heard so much about it and I enjoy Hugh Grant's dry humor ("Notting Hill" was a wonderful movie - I could have cut Julia Roberts out and just watched the interaction between all the Brits and been happy), so I decided to give it a go.

I hated it.

Oh, his humor was spot on, but the love story? Sucked.

IMHO (she said humbly).

Seriously... Hugh and Andie (who was a TERRIBLE actress in this movie..UGH) meet for a quick bout of sex every six months or so, and decide they're in love? Puh-leez. I wasn't buying it for a minute. I kept waiting for them to actually have a conversation. Didn't happen until the very end when they profess their undying love.

Am I the only one who doesn't buy the whole "love at first sight" stuff? Am I the only one who will accept a three day courtship in a novel or movie, but require a bit of soul-searching and conversation? Am I the only one who doesn't believe that "love conquers all"? Am I really a romance writer?

Relationships are work. Hard work. Any relationship: friends, siblings, marriage. And, except for family, you have to want to be together which usually requires common ground somewhere. So the idea of a lightning bolt, love at the moment our eyes meet thing doesn't fly for me.

Instant attraction? Absolutely. We've all been there, right? But love? Uh-uh. That takes more than the meeting of a couple sets of orbs.

Please tell me that I'm not the only one who feels this way...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

How Sad...

Reality check: you can never, ever, use weight loss to solve problems that are not related to your weight. At your goal weight or not, you still have to live with yourself and deal with your problems. You will still have the same husband, the same job, the same kids, and the same life. Losing weight is not a cure for life. ~Phillip C. McGraw, The Ultimate Weight Solution: The 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom, 2003

Was reading an article at WebMD about the price people would pay in order to avoid obesity.

Weight gain is something I struggle with. I am, in fact, thirty pounds heavier than when I was married ten years ago and about fifteen pounds heavier than where I'd like to be. I can't wear my wedding ring right now -- between my extra weight and the heat/humidity that's causing my fingers to swell, it simply won't fit.

BUT... would I be in any of these percentages?

We all harbor antiobesity bias -- even those of us who are, ourselves, overweight or obese.

And we're so afraid of being fat that we'd make tremendous sacrifices to avoid it, find Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD, associate director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, and colleagues.

As part of her online study of antiobesity bias, Schwartz asked lean, normal weight, and heavy people what they'd be willing to give up if only it would keep them -- or make them -- not obese.

"A surprising number of people would make significant sacrifices," Schwartz tells WebMD. "That is an indication of how aversive being obese is."

'Desperate' to Avoid Obesity

Among the 4,283 people who participated in Schwartz's online survey, in order not to be obese:

46% said they'd give up a year of life.
15% said they'd give up 10 years of life.
25% said they'd rather be unable to have children.
15% said they'd rather be clinically depressed.
14% said they'd rather be alcoholic.
5% said they'd give up a limb.
4% said they'd rather be blind.
Moreover, 10% of participants said they'd rather have an anorexic child than an obese child. Eight percent said they'd rather have a learning-disabled child than an obese child.

"It is easy to hypothetically say you would give something up, so I would take this with a grain of salt," Schwartz says. "But the fact they would even say it shows how desperate people are to avoid being obese."

Schwartz and colleagues report their findings in the current issue of the journal Obesity.

These findings are so sad, especially the part about kids. My DD is a little heavier than I'd like her to be, but she's still growing and not unhealthy, so I don't worry that much. BUT my husbands family is terribly fixated about weight (my SIL taught my 7 y.o. daughter the following phrase: "He who indulges, bulges" and repeats it often). My daughter told me the other day that she was fat, and needed to go on a diet. ACK!! I'm terrified I'll end up with an anorexic child -- how could those people, above, be willing to risk the death of a child rather than try to teach their child about healthy eating and exercise??

So, so sad ... but it does give me some ideas for a story.

Of course :-)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Day Off

A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking. ~Earl Wilson

Just a brief note before I leave for the day... my UIL (Uncle-in-law ... LOL) has offered the use of his lake house for the weekend. Unfortunately, my DD has her ballet recital tomorrow, on Father's Day (whose bright idea was that? I mean, think about it: "Dad, where would you like to spend Father's Day?" "Oh... at a ballet recital of course. Where else?" Incidentally, my husband was given a Get Out Of Ballet Free card since it was his day). So, she and I are only going up for today.

It's going to be HOT today. And HUMID. A good day to be at the lake... if only it wasn't Motorcycle Week. That's going to make the driving to and fro a little nuts.

In any case, have a great day, and I'll see y'all tomorrow!!

PS. Have you read Paula's book yet?? Ain't it great?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Looking For A Good Book?

I popped over to Paula Graves weblog a couple days ago to see if I could win an autographed copy of her new book "Forbidden Territory".

Though I didn't win, I knew I had to have to book. So two days ago, I grabbed a copy (the LAST copy) at WalMart while I was shopping.

I started reading it and couldn't put it down. I gave it to my mom yesterday and she finished it last night. Both of us are pretty picky readers.

This book was fabulous. What's it about? I'm so glad you asked:

For Lily Browning, there was no escaping the visions that had haunted her all her life. And now a little girl's desperate cry for help had brought enigmatic, disturbingly masculine Lieutenant McBride to her door....

McBride didn't have time for psychics. He had a kidnapper to catch. But the honey-haired woman with the golden eyes seemed to see things no one else could — including his own tragic secret. With a child's life at stake, he had to trust Lily...even as each step plunged them deeper into danger and into the uncharted territory of irresistible desire...

Yup. Another paranormal romance.

This was interesting and well written. The romance was just right -- not overdone, not underdone. The characters were interesting and well-rounded. Even better, Lily, the psychic -- she has TWO sisters who will hopefully have their own books.

A great read. I don't buy many books before I read them because I have a limited amount of space for my "keepers". This was an exception -- and it'll definitely end up on that little keeper shelf. As will the next two -- hurry up, Paula!

And if that didn't get you, check out the cover. What a hero!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ten Things

Because I'm still brain dead and have a horrific day looming ahead of me, I'm borrowing this *sort of* meme from Word Nerd (this was HARD… mostly because I think I've entered a time warp and have no idea how long things have been around):


1. My daughter.

2. TiVo (I never understood the attraction until I actually got one. Now I don't think I could live without it.)

3. Online billpay.

4. eBay (they haven't been around for ten years have they?)

5. My last two novels (though I'm not loving either one that much right now… editing… grrr…)

6. My online writing friends, especially - Charity, Darcy, Judy and Pam -- without whom Camilla and Tish wouldn't be the ladies they are.

7. American Idol (yes, I went out and bought Taylor's cd single today… what about you? My daughter was boogie - ing [how the heck would you really spell that?] to "Takin' it to the Streets" in a huge way)

8. Tons of meat alternatives - God bless Boca Burger and Veggie Slices.

9. A chest freezer.

10. Lots and Lots of computer games that distract me from writing.

How about you? Consider yourself tagged (and let me know if you've opted to try this).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Random Writing

Got this from Charity, who got it from the Random Paragraph Generator. And they say writing is tough -- it's just about stringing words together. Right?

Beneath writing lurks the worrying force. The jerk chops a librarian. Under Marianne purges writing. Writing travels the passport without the graduated acorn. Past the army farms the originator.

See, I have been wondering about my writing, and now I find out that beneath it lurks the worrying force. I wonder if it can be surgically removed?

A warning to all jerks, though. No one chops a librarian around me and gets away with it.

When I'm done purging the writing, I'll try to translate the rest.

Hmm... what else?

The devoid worry accents writing. The incomplete occurrence objects past writing. Writing deals the drip against the repaired market. A gutter attends the taste.

I wond if the worrying force is devoid?

The incomplete occurance is probably the fact that I can't seem to finish editing in order to send my stuff out.

The market has been repaired? Thank heavens... Lately, it seems any market I submit to goes out of business.

... wondering about gutters and taste... and before breakfast. Ugh.

Okay, one last time:

Marianne tries without writing. Writing explodes outside Marianne. The belt receives Marianne. Why does writing suspect this crack?

This is quiet true. When Marianne tries without writing, it does tend to explode. Or I do. Something like that. Trying without writing is not a good idea.

Aha! And I have a clue to add to my mystery: Why does writing suspect this crack? That's enough to keep you awake at night, isn't it? I have, indeed, been wondering about that crack...and to end this on a cliffhanger is just perfect.

One should always end ones chapter with a good hook.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Interviewing: Me!

Borrowing from Mary at the Bandwagon, today I am interviewing ME!

1. When the well runs dry, how do you recharge your creative spark?

I love prompts and other writing challenges. When I did NaNoWriMo last year, I used their "dares" message board A LOT in order to keep writing. It takes my mind off of whatever is blocking me and gives it something utterly new to think about.

2. What is your motto?

My Creed by Dean Alfange. It hangs on my wall next to the computer - read it... I think you'll agree it's motivating!

3. What fictional character is most like the person you wish you were?

Kinsey Milhone or Eve Dallas -- someone who doesn't give a rip about what anyone else thinks, she's independent and smart and takes care of herself. I suppose I'm *sort* of like that, but not quite so free!

4. The biggest enemy of creativity is....

Worrying about what my husband will think of what I write. I also have issues with "time bandits" especially blog hopping and email.

5. My best ideas come to me when I'm...

Responding to prompts. I love to "what if" things and see what happens -- there's a freedom in not having to worry about whether something makes sense at first.

6. What is your ideal work environment?

Absolute quite and being outdoors. I loved our vacation a couple years ago at a little house on the lake. I woke up at 4 a.m. and sat out on the screen porch with a pad of paper -- just me and the loons. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, that can't be totally recreated here, but maybe when I'm the next Nora (LOL).

7. What accomplishments are you most proud of?

My wonderful daughter, who is beautiful, thoughtful, smart and sweet. The fact that I've FINISHED novels, even if they're not ready for human consumption quite yet.

8. No one is better than I am when it comes to...

Being critical of any and all mistakes. I can never seem to forget any of them.

9. I still can't quite get the hang of....

Gymnastics...LOL... (my DD keeps wanting me to do handstands and back bends with her). Seriously, I can't discipline myself to exercise regularly.

10. The only thing I know for sure about the creative process is...

it's HARD! But it's fun. And rewarding.

11. What was your first job?

I worked as a hostess at a restaurant called "The Old San Francisco Express" - a family restaurant where many of the tables were actually part of an old train. It had the BEST minestrone soup and it was there that I learned how to make change the old fashioned way -- with my brain. Unlike the cashiers of today... (mutter, mutter)

12. Earlier in your career, how did you deal with people who tried to discourage you from pursuing your dreams?

No one really has, though my husband likes to remind me that my words have the power to sway people, and I should always think about that.

Okay... it's your turn. Interview yourself and let me know so I can go read it!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Getting A Clue

"Great ability develops and reveals itself increasingly with every new assignment." - Baltasar Gracian

Still working on brainstorming my latest WIP and one of the ladies I'm working with asked me about the clues in my story.


You mean I need clues??

I have a motive. I have a murder. I have a sleuth. I have a love interest. Now I need clues?

Uh oh.

I know, I know, I'm at the very beginning here. The story is just beginning to get fleshed out a tiny bit. I have about ten scene cards, and some of them are just labeled with things that I need to have happen but still don't know how they will happen (i.e. the sleuth finding the second body - don't know where the body is going to be or how the sleuth finds it, but find it she must).

So, the clues will come.


In other news....

Wish me luck. Today I'm going to wrangle a porcupine. Maybe.

My BIL decided that he would trap the porcupine that's eating his lake camp. But he doesn't have time to go back up there in a reasonable amount of time ("I can leave it up there for a week, it'll be fine"). Uh, no. It won't be fine, you jerk.

So, without telling him (because he would object... and that's just too bad), I'm driving up there this morning to pick up whatever he may have caught (maybe a porky, maybe a squirrel or other critter), drive it away many miles and let it go (his plan was to, ahem, "take care of it").

I've never used a live trap before. Hope I can figure it out. Maybe I'll take pictures!

Have a good day! It's SUNNY here again. Woo Hoo! Two days in a row!!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Happy Sun-Day!

Yesterday, the Kmart in our town that still hasn't reopened since the floods last month had to start pumping out water AGAIN because of all the rain we've had lately. But, today I woke up and guess what I saw outside? This strange yellow disk... what could it be?

It looks like our Nor'easter will be moving back in a little bit this afternoon, but for now, I'm enjoying the sunshine.

Hope you have a wonderful Sun-Day. I'm so overwhelmed by the natural light that I have nothing more to say... :-)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

In Control

"Start early and work hard. A writer's apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he's almost ready to begin. That takes a while." - David Eddings

I'm working through a new WIP idea and I'm taking it step by step for a change. Usually, I get an idea, a couple characters and start writing.

This has had the ultimate result of LOTS of editing required. UGH. Also, there were times when I had no clue where I was going or what came next, and I wasted precious writing time staring off into space trying to figure out what might work.

I'm excited about taking the time to really, thoroughly brainstorm all aspects of this story. I decided to do that because this one is a mystery and will require appropriate clues to be dropped throughout and information to be given to the reader strategically. Also, I really felt like I needed to know what happens all the way through in order to make everything make sense. I hate reading a mystery where something feels like it's significant in some way (long descriptions of a place or object) and then they're never mentioned again. Conversely, I hate reading a mystery where I, as the reader, am not given the tools I need to solve the story myself. I don't expect it to be easy, but I do expect it to be possible.

I'm working with one other writer (it was supposed to be two but one who shall remain nameless - by rhymes with Trudy, and you know who you are - hasn't shown up to play yet) and we've worked through our hero, heroine and antagonist and are moving into the crimes scene(s) and setting next. It's exciting.

I never thought I would ever call plotting and planning exciting. But seriously, if you've never done it and always swore that you're a "pantser" I highly recommend giving it a try. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Need More Tension


Donald Maass has this exercise about adding tension to every page of your WIP. Half of me thought "Yeah, baby. Great idea." and the other half thought, "EVERY page?!? That's not humanly possible! ACK!"

Okay maybe the part that went "ACK!" was a little bigger than the other part...

Still, I was using his idea (though I wasn't using random pages as he suggests -- I was using my first chapter that I am NEVER going to finish polishing) and realized that I have this one scene at the beginning where my heroine is cleaning up after a fall into the pond... and there's NO tension for something like three pages.


I pounded my head on the breakfast bar a few times hoping that some tension ideas would tumble out my ears but had no luck. Until I realized that I could change the POV. To the hero's. Who is outside with her family. Who breaks in while she's in the shower.

There's some tension.

And this leads me to a question for you... but first, and explanation of why I'm asking. I'm finding that I'm writing more and more of this story from the male POV. For some reason it's just working better that way. The scenes are fresher and more humorous... and apparently, more tense ala Maass.

So, is it kosher (in your opinion) to write half or more of a romance from the male POV? Do you think that will fly with an editor? A reader?

C'mon, give me your $0.02. You know you want to!

And, yes, it's still raining here, never mind what the Weather Pixie says. She and I are going to have words at some point (half of the past few days she's shown sunshine... maybe it's the liquid kind).

Thursday, June 08, 2006

This Was Cool!

Stumbled across this link whilst bloghopping and thought it was cool! And it really did work... try it:

Spanish Castle Optical Illusion

Excuse Me, Sir, Could You Spare a Book?

I currently have nothing to read. I've picked up some books at the library and they were awful. Sorry, folks, I typically don't buy a book first -- I read it and if it's something I'd read again, I go buy it (with some exceptions... I do have some authors who are "auto-buy").

In any case, I find myself without a book to read -- a situation that is utterly unacceptable -- and would love, Love, LOVE some book recommendations. I am trying to locate some of the YA books recently recommended to me by Charity and Darcy, but they aren't at my library and I'd have to drive to the library about 45 minutes from here. It's on my list of things to do, but I've been busy this week.

Anyhoo... any recommendations? Any books knock your socks off recently? Any authors you love? C'mon folks, everyone should have something to say on this. And I'm desperate. Send help!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Me In a Nutshell

Got a rejection on my latest flash piece. The cool part is that I got editorial comments, and it's like they know me!

The comment: This is cute, but it didn't have enough depth for me.

That's ME!

Cute... but no depth. What can I say?

Inside a Writers Brain

Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake. ~E.L. Doctorow

I went to see X-Men: 3 yesterday. A good movie, but it felt a little rushed... was that just me? Keeping in mind that I've never, ever read the comic book, I enjoyed this. Wished Scott was in it more (I missed watching Scott and Logan together), and thought "Phoenix" had a really boring part. Mostly she just stood there.

I sat through the credits (which was murder... I really needed to go potty!) because I knew "something" was supposed to happen after them. It did, but that's not the point of this paragraph. The point is, when words are in front of my face, I have a need to read them, so spent the entire five minutes (had I known it was going to take that long, I'd've run to the bathroom... but I digress) reading the names in the credits.

There were some GREAT names! I wish I'd had a notepad with me to jot them down. I kept thinking about what kind of character would have that kind of name. Lots of hyphens, many cool nicknames (Jimmy "The Claw" types) and all kinds of long, nearly unpronounceable ones.

I wonder if we're ever totally able to shut down the writer inside? Does it take some of the joy of simply "living" when you're a writer? Everything, everyone has a story and I can't help but think about that wherever I am or whatever I'm doing. Maybe it doesn't take away... maybe it makes life richer. Kind of like living in wonderland.

Have a great day! It's raining here... what a shocker (she said sarcastically).

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Quote Fun

I was blank this morning when thinking of what to write today. Blank. So, I looked for blog meme's on Google, and found this site. It has quotes to be used as writing prompts which, while not what I was looking for, had a cool enough quote I had to share.

Here it is:

Why do writers write? Because it isn't there. -- Thomas Berger

That's a strong truth, in my opinion. I think, too, that writers write because there are stories in their brains that bounce around, needing to get out, and we'd go a little crazy if we didn't put them down on paper. Think of the heaaches!

Here's another great quote I stumbled upon:

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity. -- Christopher Morley

It's kind of fun to be just a little different than everyone else. As a writer, I tend to see more in things. As a person who loves to figure out a mystery, I tend to see suspicious acts in what others might think is normal behavior. If I keep it up, I'll end up like Mel Gibson's character in "Conspiracy Theory"...LOL...

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.
-- Ursula K. LeGuin

This is the story of my writing life. I try, oh I try, to figure out what's going to happen in my stories. It doesn't work. At least it keeps me interested in what I'm working on... I need to know what happens next!

When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. -- Walt Disney

How many writers ideas have come from "I wonder..."? I wonder what would happen if.... I wonder who might do....? I wonder if this would....?

Curiouser and curiouser...

And thus ends my foray into quotations today. I wrote a lot and said nothing (hmmm... I wonder just what that says about my other writing?).

Incidentally, yesterday I mentioned a book I'd read with a character who was chivalrous, to the dismay of the very independent heroine. It kept poking at me all day... what book was that... what book was that? So, I pulled out my "keeper" books and figured it out.

It was "Heaven and Earth" by Nora Roberts (not Jenny Crusie, as I first supposed). I just needed to get that off my chest.

Have a lovely day! I will -- I'm finally getting to see X-Men 3! Yay!

Monday, June 05, 2006


How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank

My niece called from the road last night to let us know she and her boyfriend were on their way home from Washington, D.C. and their general ETA. She wouldn't be home until the wee hours of the morning, and it made me start thinking about the last time she was dropped off so late by her boyfriend. He took off out of the driveway before she even had the key in the door.

The next time I saw him, I suggested that, if he wasn't going to walk her to the door, he should at least make sure she got in safely. His response was pretty much, "I'm too tired, and I just want to get home."

When they left for D.C., she asked him to grab her bag (the biggest one) and she'd get her purse and little tote. He said "no".

Now, I'm making him out to be a jerk, and he isn't, but I do think he's a product of his raising and the current culture.

I expect respect. Especially from men. And, typically, I get that response.

My SIL, who is single and very capable, doesn't understand why the guys at Home Depot (or other like places) let her struggle with her big purchases when I've told her that I've even had guys walking by in the parking lot ask if I need help loading the bags of gravel into my truck. Keep in mind, I'm not a tiny, helpless looking person. I'm 5'9" and not frail.

I am not helpless, and if there were no guys around, I'd do it myself. I have done it myself for a long time. But it's nice to be taken care of.

I read a book, and I can't remember which one (maybe a Jenny Crusie?) where the guy keeps helping the heroine: opening her doors, helping her on with her coat... she comments "I don't know how I ever got that on without a man to help", and he just smiles and keeps doing it.

Good for him.

I looked for quotes on chivalry this morning, and found instead dozens of messages from guys who want to do things for the women in their lives: walk them to the door, open the car doors, etc., but are afraid of offending them. How sad is that?

While I'm all for things like equal pay for equal work, I'm still a woman. And I like men to remember that.

Last night, I was so tired I didn't wake up when my niece got home, so I don't know if her boyfriend waited this time, but I'm going to ask. Someone needs to teach the children how to behave.

Am I that different from everyone else?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Can't Put This Down

Warning: If you have anything else you want to accomplish, DO NOT pick up this book:

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

This is technically a young adult book, but I'm absolutely enthralled. It's one of the best written, best plotted, most engaging books I've read in months if not years.

I can't recommend one higher. If you're not into paranormal, it may not grab you like it has me, but otherwise -- go get it NOW.

Just to hook you a little more, here's the blurb on the back of the book:

About three things I was absolutely positive.

First, Edward was a vampire.

Second, there was a part of him -- and I didn't know how dominant that part might be -- that thirsted for my blood.

And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

Are you dying to read it yet?

You should be...

I'm a Five

Thanks to Charity, I have a blog entry today. She shared the link to find out your "soul number" from

After clicking through about fifteen different pages, I discovered that…

Your Soul Number is FIVE.

A deep inner restlessness and discontent with the status quo makes you seek out adventure, excitement, and the unconventional. You thrive on new ideas, change, travel, experimenting with new ways of doing things. Predictability and routine make you feel lifeless and unhappy so you must find a lifestyle that is varied enough to be mentally stimulating and challenging. Independent, freedom-loving, and easily bored, you have trouble making commitments and finishing projects. You often "move on" prematurely, whether in a personal relationship or in your work. You need to develop discipline and perseverance when you have an important goal.

You have many talents and need many outlets and avenues for their expression, but try to finish one thing before attempting the next.

I had to laugh a little, in a "how did they know?" kind of way at this.

While not all of this is correct -- For instance, "You often "move on" prematurely, whether in a personal relationship or in your work." couldn't be more wrong (consider that I've had few jobs in my life, only leaving when I had little choice, I've been married for ten years, and I've known my best friend for about twenty-five years!) -- much is correct.

I do get bored easily. And the older I get, the less patience I have with boring things (books, for instance) and people.

The whole "seeking out adventure" thing isn't absolutely correct, either. I like familiarity. I won't jump out of planes or tie a bit of rubber around me and leap from a bridge. I do have to admit to enjoying new places, and discovering new things.

But, I think that my writing meets much of those requirements. I may not jump out of a plane, but my character might. I may not actually be an international traveler, but my research and my reading puts me anywhere I want to be.

I do think that I have a problem with stick-to-it-tiveness in my editing, though. The writing is fun and stimulating. I haven't got any problem finishing a first draft. Editing is NOT fun, nor is it stimulating. It is WORK.

But, I'm determined to overcome my soul number and get it done. I'm hunkering down with both my new book and my old, and will finish them both -- have them polished until they shine and get them out there in the cold, cruel world.

Of course, I could always just change my name and see what happens...

Saturday, June 03, 2006


"Be yourself" is about the worst advice you can give some people. ~Tom Masson

I was swapping sheets out this afternoon - flannel for cotton, since summer is finally here - and, as I was folding up the newly washed flannel sheets, and I fumbled with the *&$^^&%% fitted sheet, I started thinking about all the things I can't do.

1. I can't fold fitted sheets.

I've been shown how to do this a few times, and I always watch closely. When I'm sure I know how to do it, I hie my fanny home and try. No go. I might as well just wad them into a ball and stuff them into the linen closet. Oh. Wait. That is what I do.

2. I can't raise just one eyebrow.

Growing up, reading the old Harlequins, I was always intrigued by the way each and every hero could lift an eyebrow (usually "sardonically"). I tried and tried, with no success. I can remember once, in eighth grade, my friend and I were talking about this very issue - during class of course -- and our teacher cleared his throat to get our attention. When we looked at him from the back row - where he couldn't possibly have heard the content of our whispered conversation - he lifted one eyebrow. We literally fell out of our seats laughing.

3. I can't squash spiders. Or beetles. Or grubs.

I can't squash spiders because I like them. They're "good bugs" (in this house, we have definitions of good and bad bugs. Good bugs eat other bugs. Bad bugs eat my plants.) and are therefore deserving of life. They are scooped up and taken outside to a warm, dry place where they can live to eat another day.

I can't squash beetles unless I can't hear the "crunch". That crunching sound does me in every time. I've taken to drowning them in a bucket of soapy water instead (but only the "bad" ones: Japanese Beetles and Red Lily Beetles and most recently, Click Beetles -- whose larva is the wireworm... grrrr -- all others get to live).

I can't squash grubs for a similar reason. They squish. Their little guts go everywhere. I was totally disgusted last weekend, during the sprinkler installation. We have Japanese beetle grubs in the lawn, and my SIL was squishing them -- with her bare hands. EEEEEEEEWWWWWW.... Not me. I put them into the bucket with the beetles.

4. I can't eat the venison in my freezer.

I looked it in the eye when my husband brought it home. We bonded. I'm not eating it.

5. I can't diet.

The moment I say "I am on a diet", I am instantly filled with cravings and hunger pains. I say this because, for the past three days, I've been dieting. And I'm starving. It's not like I'm really eating less (minus the peanuts that I snacked on). It's the whole forbidden fruit thing. I've been strong so far, because I've gained enough that my wedding ring cuts off my circulation and I'm not paying $125 to get it sized (that's four contest entries, for crying out loud!). I just don't do deprivation well.

What's the point of my soul-baring? I think I'm going to give some of these problems to my next heroine. Just because I can. And misery loves company.

Although, I might make her able to lift just one eyebrow, cuz that's really cool.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Thunder and Lightning

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet. ~Roger Miller

We had some big time thunder-boomers yesterday afternoon and again last night -- right about the time I started dozing off, of course. It was hot, muggy and loud. Not optimal for snoozing, though my dog and my daughter didn't seem to have any trouble.

No so me.

So this blog entry will be brief and late.

Thunder is amazing. I know, I know, "Thunder's just a noise, it's lightning that does the work" (that's from a Chad Brock song). Still, it's thunder that amazes me. I've been knocked off my feet by lightning that struck so close it fried everything electrical in my house. But it's thunder that really commands our attention.

Thunder is what scares the dogs and my daughter. It's the warning of the storm before it arrives. It's the sound we count to after the flash and it's the last part of the storm that leaves.

I want my writing to command attention like that. I don't need it to knock you off your feet or make the hair on your arms stand at attention (though I don't suppose I'd be disappointed with that result). I want you to pay attention, for it to be the first and last thing you think of. For you to remember the characters, to have them linger long after the book is done.

And if that's a lame metaphor, blame it on the lack of sleep. From the thunder.

BTW, anyone else watch the spelling bee last night? My daughter was enthralled. I TiVo'd it so she can finish watching it today. It's nice that there are still some kids that don't spell in text message slang.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

It's a Mystery

The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. - Marcel Proust

Plotting a romantic mystery is a challenge. I know, I know, a bunch of you write this stuff and are nodding your heads. Uh, at least I hope you're nodding your heads and I'm not just a total idiot.

See, it's bad enough to plot a romance with conflict's and relationship problems, etc., and not have to worry about paltry little things like murder, blackmail and clues. How much to reveal to the character and the reader, and how little. What's a red herring and what isn't. Whether to reveal your bad guy or keep him hidden. How the H/H can get involved amongst bullets flying and big misunderstandings.

Still, although it's a challenge, and I don't feel that I can start writing until I've got it mostly figured out, I'm enjoying it. It's a little like reading a good mystery and not being able to figure out whodunnit until the last page. Only, I know I'm going to be right.

Anyone out there have words of advice for a novice romantic suspense gal? Do's and Do Not's?