Monday, July 31, 2006


"Easy reading is damned hard writing." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

I've been reading the Grant County books by Karin Slaughter. I may have already mentioned this, but I'm going to do it again. If you like crime drama/suspense stuff where you don't know whodunnit, you like forensics and the requisite romance, you'll enjoy these books. I highly recommend them -- but keep in mind these are primarily suspense books NOT romance.

She's done a great job with her characters, though, and that's what always draws me in to a book. 3-D characters who are all distinctive and clear. It's what I want to do and feel like I fail miserably at. In this one thing, I know I set the bar too high -- I compare my work to the masters and don't measure up.

We all want to be perfect. At least I assume I'm not unusual in this respect. We all also realize that perfection is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in any part of our lives. So why am I frustrated when I don't get there?

I've been writing forever, but haven't been studying writing forever. I really hunkered down to learn and practice the craft about four years ago. I think I've learned and improved quite a bit since then. I should pull out the two novels I have from fifteen or twenty years ago and look at them. Maybe it would make me feel better.

Some days when I write, it feels like everyone is the same. Camilla and Laurie and Liv and Tish are interchangeable. Maybe not really, but I think that they have many similarities. And I wonder if I forget to keep those things that make them unique at the forefront so that they get on to the page as individuals.

I want to write a character driven story because that's what I love to read.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Saturday Six on Sunday

Finally! He posted these at 11:17 last night.

From Patrick's Weekender

1. If you had to choose a theme song for your blog, which would would you choose and why?

I was thinking maybe "A Different Story" by Peter Schilling would work for me, but this quiz says otherwise:

Your Theme Song is Back in Black by AC/DC

"Back in black, I hit the sack,
I've been too long, I'm glad to be back"

Things sometimes get really crazy for you, and sometimes you have to get away from all the chaos.
But each time you stage your comeback, it's even better than the last!

2. Which was the last kind of doctor you visited, and which one do you need to visit the most?

The veterinarian.
Oh, wait, you mean who did I visit for me?

General Practitioner ... and I need to go to the radiologist for a mammogram (TMI?)

3. What's stopping you from making the appointment with the doctor in #2?

Nothing. They're scheduling appointments WAY out there, so I just have to wait my turn. I always try to take care of myself. Preventive care is why I am seldom sick.

4. Take the quiz: How scary are you?

You Aren't Scary, You're Scared

Probably even scared to see how this quiz came out!

Huh. I wouldn't have thought this... Guess I'd better start shaking in my shoes now.

5. What's the most exotic drink you've tried recently? Did you like it enough to have another at some point in the future?

Recently? I almost never drink anymore (Hey, I was a bartender, I saw what it did to you). But, as a bartender, I can honestly say that when I did drink I liked trying some weird stuff. I loved the hot shot (cinnamon shnapps with a 151 float and a few shots of tabasco). One bartender I worked with used to serve Rumplemintz and then light the glass afterwards for effect. Purple Hooters were good, too, but not so exotic.

6. Who was the last person you had an online conversation with? How long had it been since you had previously talked to that person either on the phone or in person?

My husband on IM. And we didn't talk long, we never do... he's busy. I just find out what I needed to know and move on. How long since I'd talked to him? About two hours.

And now you know everything there is to know about me! Have a great day!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

No Meme

I've been waiting all day for This Blog to update with today's meme and it's 3 p.m. and it still hasn't.

So, guess I'm out of luck...

I'm also hot and in need of a nap.


One Step Forward...

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

I've been writing scattered lately. A little here, a little there, here a word, there a word... some on this novel, a bit on that and let's edit that short story. As a result, I'm not finishing anything which frustrates me.

I have to admit to having some problems concentrating because of several things going on in my life, and it's also been absurdly hot and humid and all I want to do is go somewhere with air conditioning (this doesn't include my house).

Excuses, one and all.

Still, I am writing. I've started half a dozen short stories that I think will be really good when I finish them. I've edited one that I think would be a better novella than a simple short story -- too many characters to squeeze into 3000 words. I've written some more on my mystery and I like what I've done on that.

I just don't feel like I'm accomplishing anything of note.

And now, like many times lately, I suddenly have someone looking over my shoulder as I write (that would be my niece who, thankfully, is moving in with her father in two more weeks). I'm going to do a Saturday meme later on today. So check back later this afternoon if you're interested!

Have a good day.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ideas Everywhere!

But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think. - Lord Byron

Ideas... I have lots of ideas suddenly. They're bombarding me from all sides. Some are just to gruesome to deal with any time soon.

For instance:

On Jenny Cruise's blog recently, she posted pictures of some Black Swallowtail butterfly larvae hanging out on her parsley. Clearly, she gets her ideas from just about anywhere, too.

In response to Jenny's story about the caterpillars, there were many comments. One of them, from Talpianna posted information about a book called Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation. In one of the reviews of this book, the reviewer says this: "Or consider the well known fate of the male praying mantis, whose head keeps his sexual urges in check until this organ is devoured by the amorous female: the the male's sexual inhibitory mechanisms (residing in the head) are removed, and he becomes a veritable sexual athlete while in the throes of death. Adds Dr. Judson: "Something analogous even happens in humans: Throttle a man and like as not he'll get an erection, not from erotic pleasure in dying, but because 'Down, boy' signals from the brain stop coming."

And it got me to thinking about the possibilities -- since I am embarking on my first mystery -- but the thoughts weren't very pretty, so it's being stored for another day when I'm in a much gorier mood. If you know what I mean...

Was that TMI? Incidentally, that book looks like a hoot. It's in my library system, and I'm going to check it out.

Okay, a nicer one. A song called "She Misses Him" by Rushlow. Sweet story about an elderly woman taking care of her husband with alzheimer's.

The chorus says:

She misses his gentle touch
And the way he used to make her laugh
She misses the man he was
In all of those old photographs
So strong, so kind, so sweet, so smart
The man who stole her very heart
She misses him

And it got me to thinking... and no, I'm not saying about what. You'll have to wait for the short story which should be done soon.

There's more, but I think I've babbled enough. Now I need to get writing and make use of the ideas that have rained down from heaven ... I have a short story to complete.

Like Sands Through the Hourglass....

Finally. I can actually get into Blogger. I've been trying since 3 a.m.! Argh.

I talk to him when I'm lonesome like; and I'm sure he understands. When he looks at me so attentively, and gently licks my hands; then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught thereat. For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes, but never a friend like that. ~W. Dayton Wedgefarth

I got my dog back from the vet yesterday. Along with her came some not so great news about why she isn't walking on her left hind leg. She has a Cranial cruciate ligament tear and needs surgery. I figure if I don't eat for the next three months, I can swing it. Anything for the pup - she is, after all, my eldest daughter.

She cried all night long. I'm assuming that all the manipulations that the vet did yesterday hurt the already sore limb. She cannot stand up from a prone position on her own, and cannot go up and down stairs at all. I actually carried her up and down our stairs four times thus far (all 85 pounds of her). There is literally no place in our home that doesn't have steps to get outside, so going to the bathroom for her is an adventure.

Because she cried all night, and because I'm a very light sleeper not to mention a worrier and quite the mother hen, I got little sleep. I finally threw in the towel at about 3 a.m. and carried her downstairs so my husband could get some rest. I tried posting to Blogger then, but they've been offline.

I worked on writing a little this morning, but first I had to do my letter of intent to homeschool for my daughter and her complete curriculum listing for the upcoming school year. I can't believe it's almost August! Where did the summer go?

In any case, I did do a little writing. I worked on a short story that I had subbed (and had rejected) to WW. It lacks real conflict, and I'm working on that so I can submit it, in a longer form, elsewhere. I also worked on using a writing prompt from an online source whose link I can't recall at the moment. They are having a writing contest - 300 word entry using one of their prompts. The prize is a $25 Amazon gift certificate. It's good practice to get my brain moving, although one of the ladies in my writing group did a fabulous one and will probably win.

I imagine I'll crash and burn at some time this afternoon (Note: I did, in fact, crash and burn -- I napped for about an hour after lunch, and I'm still dopey. I don't like napping in the daytime, it messes me up), but hopefully it will be when I'm at home and not, say, driving. And I really, really hope the dog stops crying at some point today because it's wearing on my nerves -- not because I'm angry or annoyed but because I'm her mom and can't make it better. (Note: I talked to the vet and he said I can increase her arthritis pain meds to three times daily instead of two. It seems to be helping. Now she only whines when she needs something -- it is, of course, up to me to figure out what she needs).

And those are the days of our lives….

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love. ~Author Unknown

Don't have a clue what I'm writing about today, so bear with me as a babble. I scrapbook in my spare time (this being the reason I'm almost a year behind... I should make it a priority instead of for "my spare time", of which I have none) and Creative Memories has a little packet of stickers with miscellaneous little things: paw prints, bubbles, confetti, etc. They call it "sprinkle". It's one of my favorite packs of stickers because it decorates your page and fills in the blank spots.

I'm dedicating todays blog to that pack of stickers, since that's essentially what I'm doing here. Bet you wish you lived closer so I could talk your ear off in person, huh? At least here, you can just stop reading and move on if you want. It won't hurt my feelings (*sniff*).


Last night I called a friend to whom I had given some bulbs from my garden. I told her that the container with the larger number of bulbs were the light pink lillies and the one with fewer were the orange.

I got off the phone and wondered if I should have said "less" instead of "fewer". Stupid, I know, but it's one of those things that bugs me... so I looked it up to refresh my memory, and thought I'd share with you.

From Guide to Grammar and Style:

Less versus Fewer.

They're easily confused, because they're both the opposite of more, but more has two meanings, one for a greater amount of stuff, the other for a greater number of things. Less means "not as much"; fewer means "not as many." Trust your ear: if you'd use "much," use "less"; if you'd use "many," use "fewer." You earn less money by selling fewer products; you use less oil but eat fewer fries. If you can count them, use fewer

That got my brain going on all that other stuff... you know: slander vs. libel (One's written and one's spoken, right? No, I don't remember which is which so I just never use them), imply and infer (these I do use, but I swear I have to look them up EVERY blasted time I do). I do have the whole "lay, lie" thing down thankfully, but sheesh... the English language is confusing.

I wrote a scene from my WIP yesterday. It was from a prompt in a mystery class I'm in and it felt great writing out of order. It was a scene I'd planned already, but it doesn't happen until about the middle of the book. I suppose I could have left it as a carrot to entice me to keep writing, but it really helped me enjoy writing in this particular WIP again. I think I did pretty well with it. I also think I'm going to write out of order some more. The romance class at WVU has some great ideas for scenes -- maybe even some I haven't thought of yet!

I got a bunch done with my editing, too... though I'm still not entirely happy with it. I think I need more emotion. I'm going to blast on through to the end, though, so that I can get my synopsis done, hopefully in time for that contest I talked about a million years ago (okay, last month, but who's counting?).

I'm taking my dog to the doggie doctor this morning for x-rays. She's been lame on her hind leg for several weeks. We've tried a couple different pain medications (one that she couldn't tolerate) and nothing has seemed to help. Poor baby can barely walk, and going up the stairs (which she does constantly, because she follows me around everywhere and we have two flights of stairs) is nearly impossible.

I'm dreading today though. She has to be knocked out - which at her age can be life threatening. AND she has to be gone all day. I'll miss her. I just hope they find out what's wrong and that it's easily fixable. I still want to keep her around for a couple more years (well, forever, actually, but I know that isn't going to happen, so I'll take what I can get).

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer. ~ Edward R. Murrow

I tried to get into Blogger all morning without success. Very Frustrating. Oh well, I'm over it now.

Was reading through my Womans Day magazine last night and came across some things I just had to share. What does this have to do with writing? Nothing, really. Just felt like gabbing a bit today instead.

First off, if you're down and need a grin, check out Cute Overload. There are pictures of nearly every kind of critter.... cute, cute, cute.

Then I read about "Jobs You'd Switch To" if you could.

One lady, after my own heart, answered: Romance Writer. Note to Amber R., "Just do it."

But this one kind of bugged me, because if you're dreaming why not go for it all, the brass ring, the whole enchilada?? Mary M. said she'd like to be "Backup singer for a country band." Me? I'd simply say, "Famous, multi-platinum country singer." Forget that "backup" stuff. Sheesh. Note to Mary, "Dream big."

And then, everyone's favorite article, "Lose Weight Without Dieting". There is sage advice that, as a chronic dieter, I never would have figured out on my own. For instance:

* Rather than the usual doughnut, enjoy an Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat waffle... Note to Womans Day - substituting a WW Waffle for a doughnut IS dieting, IMHO

Maybe I was just feeling a little snarky last night, but all I could think of is, "They get paid for writing that?"

Incidentally, for some unknown reason, I'm not getting any of my comments emailed to me. I opened up my blog today and discovered something like 12 comments that I didn't know I had. If you commented on any earlier posts, thanks -- but I don't have a clue what you said.

So, to start in the way I began: Blogger-grrrrr.... Guess I wasn't over it after all.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Weeding and Words

"He that uses many words for the explaining of any subject doth, like the cuttlefish, hide himself for the most part in his own ink." ~ John Ray

We actually had a decent day, weatherwise, yesterday. I took the time to discover that everything outside grew two or three feet because of the heat and the rain. Unfortunately, along with my tomato plants, the weeds grew as well.

I've decided on my epitaph:

Here lies Marianne.
Don't bother weeding her grave, she'll do it herself.

Honestly, I'll bet if you watched me sleep last night, my hands were still weeding. And I barely even made a dent.

I did manage a bit of writing. Well, editing, actually. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy the characters in Camilla's story (TPOF) and it was a kick working with them again. I got quite a bit done, though I still have a long way to go.

While I was weeding yesterday, I got to wondering about my WW submission. It's been forever (okay, four months) and I'm now wondering if they even got the thing or if it got lost in the mail. Everyone says "no news is good news" and that the longer they have my story, the better my odds are, but the waiting is killing me.

I've been working on another short story. I love the premise, adore the heroine and have no clue how it's going to end. That's a first for me. Usually, the ending it the one thing I know in everything I write. I can see it. Sometimes I even write the ending first. So this is frustrating for me. Oh well, writing my poor, dysfunctional heroine is a lot of fun, so I'll keep moving forward until someone clues me in as to how the H/H are going to end up together. It may end up being a novel instead, LOL.

So, am I the only person not going to National? Seriously, though... Atlanta in the summer. Whose bright idea was that? Minnesota in the summer, Montana in the summer, even here in the summer -- that I get. But the south? It's freakin' hot there. I know. I had the bright idea of doing Disney World for my honeymoon. My tenth anniversary is in three weeks. HOT.

All of you folks going to Atlanta, have a wonderful time and make notes to share.

I'll just be here.


Sunday, July 23, 2006


"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." - Henry David Thoreau

So I had an epiphany today.

I figured out that I have to finish something and submit it in order to be published.

Yeah, I know. Duh.

I read a lot of blogs of first time published authors and crave their excitement about their book being published. But I have yet to submit a novel anywhere.


I have several drafts of several stories finished but not edited.

What's holding me up?


No, wait, that isn't big enough.

Absolute terror.


I also have this perfection issue. When do we decide when something is good enough? How do we know? I can write and rewrite something forever. When is it done?

I'm considering something out of character for me... and for the ladies in my writing group, please don't hit me.

I'm thinking about not posting everything there. In the past, I've posted sequentially, chapter by chapter. And, usually, by around chapter fifteen, I'm so tied in knots about the differing opinions that I can't write another word. This person loves something that another person hates. Or one person is confused by something that another person thinks is dreadfully clever writing.

I know I shouldn't allow opinions to sway me. I should be confident in my vision. I should march steadily on and damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!

But I'm clearly not.

So, I may only post the occasional scene that I want to share or need some help with. And when the draft is done (DONE!) to the point that I like it, I may share it with one or two people whose opinions I value and whose writing ability I admire for a read through and some general opinions.

Of course, that's if they'll be open to that, because they are writers, too, and also have that thing we call "a life" to think about so they may be a little busy.

I'm beginning to think, however, that I need to write for me first.

I know. Duh, again.

I'm torn between writing for the love of it and writing for the business of it. I've sworn I don't want to compromise when (WHEN!) I'm published, that I want to pub with a print publisher. But as I think about things, I wonder if trying to conform to their specific requirements may hinder my ability to write what I want to write.

I'm babbling. Sorry about that. I'm pretty certain that my novels are a little more coherent (at least I hope so).

What about you? Those of you who have writing groups -- do you post everything? If so, how does it help and how does it hurt? If not, why?

Do you think outside forces are more of a hindrance to your creativity, or inner doubts and conflict?

C'mon. Babble with me.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Headstrong Characters... grrr...

"Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success." — Dale Carnegie

Thank heavens for Dale Carnegie! Clearly I am bound to succeed.

So, here's the question of the day for those of you who plot: What do you do when, while writing the actual story, your characters veer from your outline? When you have it all figured out how to get the characters from point A to point B, C, D and beyond, and they opt to flip a U-turn? Do you go with it and see what happens, adjusting your outline accordingly or do you try to keep them on the path you have set out for them?

My heroine from my latest WIP told me adamantly last night that she DOES NOT want to work for the killer. Well, you know, I can understand that but now I don't know how she's going to find the murder weapon. And it would eliminate a couple other plot points as well. Still, every time I've tried to write the scene where she accepts the job, it doesn't work. Paula wrote about this same issue, and clearly doesn't mind taking a leap and seeing what happens.

What about you?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Search Me!

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

Yay! I finally figured out my problem with the mystery! I was focusing on everything but the mystery -- and, IMHO, that should be the center of everything else. That is the sun around which the rest of the story should revolve. And I made it Pluto.

I found a short story I'd started some time back. It was sitting patiently in my "stuff I've started but haven't finished" file waiting for me to notice it again. It has a great premise and I love the heroine... but I'm kinda stuck on how the problem she has should be resolved, which is undoubtedly why it got stuck away. But I really love it, so I'm pulling it out and putting it through the paces because my submission rate really stinks.

I've been exhausted lately and not getting up in a timely fashion. My eyes don't open until 5 a.m. which gives me little time to write because it takes me 20 minutes to get stuff together -- including brewing coffee which is mandatory. Guess I need to start setting my alarm again. The saddest thing is that it's dark when I get up now. I miss that early dawn light... it means summer is on the downslide and winter is coming. YUCK.

I've been looking at some of the hits I get from Google or Blogger searches, and it's interesting to see. I forget what I've written about in the past and this refreshes my memory.

For instance:

"loudest burp Guinness" - this would have been back when I did NaNoWriMo last November. One of the challenges posted on the NaNo site (as a writing prompt) was to have your character attempting to break a world record. I wrote about some really odd ones on my blog.

"that makes me crazy" - this is from my blog title. But, yanno, I don't understand why someone is searching for this phrase. I mean, don't you know what makes you crazy? Is it a song title or something? Because I get hits from this phrase every single day. Weird.

"Marianne Needs" - this one I get because I did it myself. It's fun to see what comes up when you type in your name and a verb of some sort. I'll probably do something like that again.

"foreplay" - this is intriguing. Since I write romance, I'm sure I've mentioned it. But is this person looking for pointers? I suppose that's commendable. You really can find anything on the internet. Still, Googling one word isn't going to get you good results... be more specific please.

"John Steinbeck" - I've slammed him so many times on my blog. I hope this person wasn't a fan.

"your soul number is five" - I took this quiz way back when… I suppose someone was looking to see who else got his/her result. I wonder why? I mean, it never occurred to me to do a search on those silly quiz results.

Something that I find amusing is the fact that the posts on this blog entry are clearly common searches, and by posting them here, I 'm going to have even more people coming over! I should start writing about stuff that are hot searches. You know: Brad and Angelina, Lost…. geez, you know what? I can't even remember what IS hot nowadays. How sad is that?

Gotta go write. Have a great day!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I'm Writing Garbage. You?

"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

Have you ever felt utterly incompetent as a writer? As though you have this amazing story inside you and you can see it, like a movie, in your head but you can't get it down so that anyone else can see it?

Man, I hope so, because misery loves company ;-)

I've been writing lately, quite a bit actually, but it's all crap. Seriously. And it really frustrates me, because I can see the scene, really see it in my head. I can watch the characters walking around and talking and doing their thing, but I Can. Not. Get. That. Down.

Still, I write. At some point, I imagine, my brain and my fingers will connect and make nice with one another. But this has been the most frustrating week. It's vaguely reminiscent of when I did NaNoWriMo and hit the second week. It was an effort to get anything out, but because I HAD TO in order to get my word count, I pushed through and wrote and when I got about halfway through that week, I had a breakthrough, and it was all pretty easy after that.

What do you do when you feel like you can't write a decent sounding word? It's not writers block, exactly. I know what I want to write, it just isn't coming out well... Any and all advice appreciated.

But, hey, on the brighter side -- at least it's cooler here. Finally. Phew!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Feeding the Frenzy?

I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book. ~Groucho Marx

Yesterday on Romancing the Blog, they wrote this quote:

A recent chat with Borders Group Lead Romance Buyer Sue Grimshaw revealed that a new author needs to be releasing a book at least every six months if they hope to get a toehold in the market.


After I picked myself off the floor, I realized that this may be pretty close to correct -- after all, if you're a new author and don't have a substantial backlist to entertain the reader who loves your voice, you need to keep feeding the frenzy. Readers are fickle, and forget quickly. I've read dozens of authors who I thought were pretty good, looked and read their one other book and then promptly forgot about them because I hadn't been able to reinforce how much I liked them.

One exception was Raeanne Thayne because, even though I wasn't able to get a ton of her backlist after I enjoyed one book I stumbled upon, I blogged about how much I enjoyed the book and she commented on my blog. So she's in my brain forever, and I look for her new releases.

As a reader, how do you remember authors names that you love? I'm not talking the biggies like La Nora or Jenny Crusie, but the newer ones like Paula Graves or Diana Peterfreund ? Do you write them down? Do you look for a website or blog and bookmark it?

And how do you find new authors? Recommendations from friends? Book reviews? Those funky recommendations on Amazon or Barnes and Noble?

As a writer, how will you keep your name out there after your first book is published? What do you plan on doing to promote yourself? Do you think you can write a decent book quickly enough to provide one for publication every six months? Do you think you need to?

Talk to me folks!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Just Write!

Contrary to what many of you might imagine, a career in letters is not without its drawbacks -- chief among them the unpleasant fact that one is frequently called upon to sit down and write. ~ Fran Lebowitz

I don't understand "writers" who don't write. Writing something is never a problem for me... now, writing something specific? Yeah, all the time.

Fact is, though, if I can't write on my WIP, I'll work on a short story. BUT, because I have goals, I will drag myself through hell and back to work on my WIP and meet them. I'm all about goals. Seriously, it's the competitor in me. I try not to set the bar impossibly high, but high enough to challenge me. I have my excel spreadsheet that keeps track of word count and either congratulates me for meeting or exceeding my goal ("Way to go!!") or chides me for being behind ("Get on it!!").

With few exceptions, however, I write every day. I suppose some would say that I have it easy because I'm a SAHM. Maybe. Still, I get up earlier than everyone else in the morning and that's my writing time. When my DH and DD are up, my work day has begun, and I don't get vacation or sick days. Ever. I may be home, but I'm working. I homeschool my daughter. That's HUGE. And we school all year (though we take more days off in the summer). And she's an only child, so guess who her playmate is? Yup, that would be ME. So, time off during the day? Hah.

The biggest thing I've ever heard from any published author as far as what you do to get yourself published is WRITE. Write everyday. Get your butt in the chair and get some words on paper (or computer). Write. Even if it's crap, write something.

I'm up to fifty-eight pages in SBCM and have edited/rewritten ten for TPOF (Camilla). I've done that all since June 29th. Certainly, much will be edited and changed. But I'm getting the story down. I didn't "outline" per se, but I did enough pre-work to get a real feel for the story. I have a couple dozen scenes in my head (and on scene cards), and as I work more come to mind (that will take place in the future) and I jot them down.

So folks, if you want to be a writer -- write. It's really just that easy. The more you do it the easier it gets, and hopefully the better it is.

Monday, July 17, 2006

This and That

Brain, n. An apparatus with which we think that we think. - Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

So, after my first blog post this morning, I started to work on SBCM. As I'm typing the scene, I said to myself, "I'm going to need to increase my total word count on this draft to 70,000 to allow for the removal of this scene."

If I'm going to take it out, if it doesn't move the story forward, if it doesn't serve a purpose, then why the heck am I writing it in the first place? Well, because it happened in the story. It just doesn't have to happen onstage.

How much of what you write do you toss out again?

I think that the first part of the first draft allows me to really get to know my characters. It's a voyage of discovery for me and some of my scenes are really just a way of finding out how the H/H would react in different circumstances.

I also don't think my story is romantic enough.

On the other hand, sometimes I think the H/H in stories are thinking about sex from the get go, and that isn't realistic in my mind either. I mean, as a woman (my husband assures me that sex is always on the mind of a man, even if it's just simmering on the back burner, so we'll take men out of the equation since they aren't the primary reader of romance)... where was I? Oh yeah, as a woman, when you see a good looking man, do you wonder immediately what he'd be like in bed? I think it starts slower... the initial attraction (mmm... yummy), the first touches (zap, zing) and the moves toward something more. What do you think?

I've received a bit of feedback on the new beginning to my other WIP. I think it's all right on track, both the good and the bad. I have serious issues with passive voice -- and every time I write "was" or "could" or whatever I think, "I should fix that" but I don't and so there it stays. UGH.

I also think that I'm trying to force the whole attraction thing at the beginning. My hero is recently jilted, and although he realizes that he never actually loved his ex-fiancee, I still think his penis shouldn't leap to attention the moment he sees the heroine (even if she is hot). So that needs fixing.

I'm considering taking it literally a paragraph at a time and making each one the best it can be. I wonder if I get away from reading it like a book and start reading each bit for actual craft, it might get better.

I was reading over at Mary's Blog where she's talking about what's she's learned from all of her manuscripts, and she mentions that she's written seventeen.


Holy Jamolee...

I only have six under my belt, and three were written more than twenty years ago (before I was even walking...LOL...) and aren't romance (one sci-fi, two mystery). Sheesh. You go girl!

I think what frustrates me the most about writing for publication is that what is in my head just won't come out the way I see it on the paper. There are only so many words in the English language, and sometimes none of them will appropriately express the thought I'm trying to share.

What frustrates you the most?


If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit... ~Chief Seattle of the Suwamish Tribe, letter to President Franklin Pierce

I adore animals of nearly every shape and size. I'm afraid of few living things outside of the human species (people terrify me, frankly). But lately, it seems that odd creatures are visiting some well known authors.

Paperback Writer was visited by the kind of critter that slithers.

And Jenny Crusie had something even stranger show up at her back door (and, of course, she made me laugh out loud when talking about it).

Makes me feel a little sad that the only relatively odd thing that's shown up around here lately was the threatened green snake. Yeah, we have bears and fisher cats and lots of birds and toads, but nothing so cool as Jenny.

In the new beginning to my WIP "TPOF" about Camilla, she makes an unkind reference to a hedgehog. One of the ladies in my group mentioned that she has a hedgehog as a pet, and that it is a wonderful creature. I'm tickled about that... because I know what my odd pet of the book is going to be in my next story now! Yay! I usually have a dog as well, although in my current WIP "SBCM" there is currently NO pet at all! And, to be honest, I haven't got a clue whether there will be one or not. This book is completely different for me.

With my luck, it'll be the one I get pubbed first and then, when I try to get my more off the wall stuff out there, no one will want it because it's different than they expect.

Incidentally, yes... I'm babbling. I had little to talk about this morning, and my DD woke up with a nightmare at 3 a.m. and I really never got back to sleep because my brain woke up, even if my body was still desperate for some zzzzzz's. So I have a feeling I'm going to be a bit dingy (dingier than usual?) all day long!

In closing: What was your favorite pet in a book?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Delights and Frustrations

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath

I'm reading Nora Roberts new book, "Angels Fall". I have to say, I'm loving every minute of it -- and, in a new twist for Nora, she isn't head hopping! In any case, it's a mystery, so the timing for me was good as well. She's shown me how there can be a murder, but that the book is first and foremost a love story.

Her characters are so rich and real, too. Different, funny, and they pop off the page. She's done what some other writer said to do (I can't remember who, sorry) -- take one or two phyical characteristics and make them BOLD then forget about the rest. I know our heroine in this story has long dark hair and is way too skinny. Otherwise, who the heck knows what she looks like? Still, I feel like I'd recognize her if I met her on the street.

Reading a book with such well rounded characters delights me as a reader and frustrates me as a writer. I want to do that! I know Nora has written a gazillion books, and her first books weren't so hot. So I should give myself permission to not be absolutely perfect right out of the gate. But that's tough to do.

Still, I write. And I read. And hopefully, I improve.

In other news, I've broken 10,000 words on one WIP, and managed just over 2,000 on the edit/rewrite of the other. Yay me! My new WIP isn't going in the direction I had planned (*&%$^ characters), so I've slowed down again. But once I figure out what they're trying to tell me, I'll be moving right along.

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Desperate Readers

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." - Saint Augustine

My DD is participating it two reading programs this summer (and, really, why are they only in the summer? Is there some rule that kids can't read when they're in school? But I digress...), the Summer of Unfortunate Events through Barnes & Noble and the one our local library offers.

She reads like crazy anyway: when she wakes up, when she eats, when we're in the car, when I'm too busy to play, when she goes to bed.... but now, because she has blanks to fill in with books she's read, she's bananas about it. She's probably reading 5-6 hours a day.

She's beginning to have the same problem as I have -- running out of books to read. She has inherited the "speed reading" gene that I got from my mom. Reading a book a day, even when I'm busy, is not atypical. For me, it's just a matter of going to a different library or finding highly recommeded books to buy (and, folks, feel free to recommend some more!). My problem with finding reading material for her is the difference between her age and maturity level and the level at which she reads.

She's seven y.o. and reads at a fifth to sixth grade reading level. She has the heart and brain of a kindergartener, but is flying through chapter books. I have her reading the Redwall series right now, and thank heaven the books are long and the series is big. Still, she'll be finished with that in a few weeks. She's also read the Magic Treehouse series, Pony Pals series, Animal Ark series, Bobbsy Twins, Boxcar Kids, the Prydain Chronicles, Narnia and many more.

So, any of you out there have suggestions for reading material for her? I read The Hobbit in fourth grade, so I have that online for her. I have pulled out the Wrinkle in Time series, and have that in the queue as well.

See... I'm working at creating a reader for all you writers out there. In ten years or so, she'll be ready for your stuff. So, could you help me out now?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Yes! Yes I Am!

Courtesy of Charity:

You're a Fluff writer!
Take this quiz!

In my mind, there's never been a question of what kind of writing I prefer. It's always been romance. Even when I dabbled in fantasy or suspense, romance seemed to take the front burner and the other stuff was incidental.

Interestingly, I am apparently in the minority of the folks who've taken this quiz. When I was finished, and got my results I checked... "Fluff" writers comprised only 1% of the total.

Speaking of Fluff --

When I moved to New Hampshire, I felt like I'd entered another world. I'm originally from California, and apparently we have a completely different language out west. It got me to thinking about people that write stories based in a part of the country they've never spent a significant amount of time in, because all the research in the world isn't going to give you the nuances and little idiosyncrasies that living there will.

For instance, when I got here, I asked how come there were Dunkin' Donuts shops EVERYWHERE. Seriously, they are on every frickin' corner and they're always busy. The answer? "Where else would you get coffee?"

Uh... Starbucks?

And that thing that you put your wallet, lipstick and keys in and then sling over your shoulder? In California, that's called a purse.

Here? It's a pocketbook.

You know how, when you go to the grocery store and get a wire or plastic box on wheels to push around and fill with your stuff? In California, we call those "carts".

Here? It's a carriage.

In California, I took the freeway when I drove a long distance. Here they're always called "highways" (mostly because they're never "free"... holy cow, I've never seen a place with more toll roads in my life).

And that "fluff" I referred to at the beginning? When I met my husband, he told me that one of his favorite things to eat was a peanut butter and fluff sandwich. Huh?

In California, we have "marshmallow cream". Out here, where hubby is from, they have "Fluff", always Fluff. Never, ever marshmallow cream.

It's the little things that trip me up. No wonder I'm so hung up on the details in my current WIP. The good news about that, though, is I lived in Colorado, so at least I know how they talk.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Playing Catch Up

A good writer always works at the impossible. ~ John Steinbeck

I can't believe I'm quoting John Steinbeck because, well... I can't stand his work. Any of it. And being from California originally, I was force fed his books. Bleh. I remember my SIL asking my opinion on what "classic" novel she should have her homeschooled high school aged daughter read. I didn't like any of the options she gave me, but ultimately said "A Tale of Two Cities". Bleh again. Seriously.

I don't know what I'll do when my DD is high school aged and assigned the classics to read. I hated it so much, it's going to be hard to force her to read through them.

And, no, that wasn't what this post was going to be about, but it's one of my favorite things to rant about.

I spent quite a bit of time at the keyboard yesterday. As fortune would have it, my DD had an unexpected playdate at the neighbors house from around 11 a.m. to about 3 p.m. Yay for me!

I did discover the downside to having scene cards, though. I'm rushing again. Hurry to that plot point over there and then sprint to that one. What are the characters thinking? Feeling? Who cares!! Run, run, run!!!

I suspect that when I go back through the writing I did, I'll add a few thousand words just so that the reader can get inside my POV characters head a little. Everything is a bit distant right now.

Still, I managed to just barely catch up to my daily writing goal. My Excel word tracking spreadsheet now says "Way To Go" again instead of "Get On It". Man, I hate a nag.

An aside: I watched my TiVo'd episode of "The Closer" yesterday that was from Monday night. Man, I love that show. Really. Anyone watch it, or am I all alone? I mean, I've always felt a little strange in the blogosphere because I don't like "Lost" and I've never seen "Buffy" or "Serenity". Of course, I've always been a little off, so that's nothing new.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It's All In The Details

Discipline is based on pride, on meticulous attention to details, and on mutual respect and confidence. Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger than the excitement of the goal or the fear of failure. - Gary Ryan Blair

I had to get up early to take my niece to the airport this morning, and was itching to get home and write since I'd have so much extra time. I was reading about law enforcement agencies in a Howdunit Series book, and discovered that a sheriff would be located at the county seat and would not be an individual city elected employee. Since my investigator is a sheriff, I have to either: a. change him to a police officer; or b. Make my made up town the county seat.

The nearest county seat to where my made up town is located is Las Animas, CO. It has a population close to my towns: 2,758. So, I'm thinking that it wouldn't be too out of place to create a new county for Colorado, right? Geez... my next mystery is going to be solved without DNA and by some housewife somewhere who has nothing to do with cops.

This is a pain.

And now, I'm so far behind on my writing goal, I may never get caught up.

Speaking of caught up, do you suppose I'm getting too caught up in the details? Is anybody but me going to care about this? Am I stupid to want to be correct in even the small stuff?

What about you? How careful are you about making certain that the things that you write about are correct?

Off Topic:

Saw "Pirates" yesterday. It was okay. A little gorier than I liked, and I couldn't understand half the characters (especially voodoo lady with the smeared black lipstick) when they talked, so I know I missed some of the point of what was going on. It was kind of slow and they probably could have cut about 30 minutes and I wouldn't have missed it. Still, I'll go see the next one.

But this one was nowhere as good as the first. Too bad.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

This Seemed Timely

Because I'm going to see "Pirates" today! Can't wait...still, I'd rather be Kiera Knightly (do you believe she isn't anorexic? I mean, check out these pix: Fugrates of the Fugabbean - Go Fug Yourself).

Which Pirates of the Caribbean character are you?

Writing? It's happening slowly. I've made some changes that I like and am inching forward. Have added a few hundred words, and hope to do more when I'm done with this blog entry -- which is why it's so short!

Gotta go write!

Monday, July 10, 2006

What You Know?

"Don’t write what you know—what you know may bore you, and thus bore your readers. Write about what interests you—and interests you deeply—and your readers will catch fire at your words." ---Valerie Sherwood

I love reading a good mystery. My brain thrives on them. I love watching them on TV, although it drives hubby crazy because I can usually figure it out by the end. I try to keep my mouth shut, but that isn't one of my strong points.

I'm trying to write a mystery. Reading them is much easier.

I know nothing about crime-solving protocol, and I already made a boo-boo in my first few pages. I've written enough that I felt confident about starting to post to my crit group. One person (*waves at Judy*) said that in a small town, the sheriff would probably call in the state investigation team because of a lack of local forensics ability. Oddly, the book I had just picked up takes place in a little podunk town, and starts with a murder... and one of the first things out of the sheriff's mouth was, "Call in the staties."

Gee... you mean they wouldn't keep a fully functional forensics lab even though there hasn't been a murder in town for the past ten years? Grr...

I'm a serious perfectionist and that really bugs me. And I'm terrified of other mistakes I'll make -- certain that there will be more. It's made it hard for me to move forward, but I'm trying.

Another issue was pointed out as being weak and fairly unbelievable as well, but I got some really great suggestions from two other wonderful people (*waves at Charity and Darcy*) and I think that part is fixable. Thanks you guys for putting up with my panic attack :-)

Just another day in a wannabe published writer's life.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I'd Like To Report a Murder

Ignorant people think it is the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain't so; it is the sickening grammar that they use. ~Mark Twain

A murder of the English language, that is.

I have to admit to being all worked up about something. I'd planned on posting about this a week ago, but I couldn't (re)find the link on the news page I read, but then, kindly, Miss Snark thoughtfully posted it for me - Push for simpler spelling persists .


One thing that folks don't seem to understand (that the spelling bee competitors do) is that much of our language is derived from OTHER languages and spelling it phonetically just. won't. work.

I've said it before and I'll say it on my death bed: Our kids are not stupid.

I learned to spell. I also learned to recognize words that I consistently have problems with like "marriage" and "license" (don't ask... seriously, I have a mind block on those words). But would it help to have them speld maireg and lisens?

I love good grammar as well, and have watched it get kicked to the curb over the past decade or two. Frustrates the snot out of me. Seriously.

Our kids are not stupid -- but we're letting them become lazy.

Very, very sad.

Thus ends my commentary. The opinions shared are not necessarily the opinions of blogger or any reader herein, but they should be.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Keep sowing your seed, for you never know which will grow - perhaps it all will. - Ecclesiasties

I just checked my submissions tracker (an Excel worksheet I made up) and discovered I only have two outstanding submissions. Bad writer, no cookie.

Worse, I only had TWO submissions in June. My goal is at least one submission somewhere each week.

Sometimes I wonder why I bother with short story subs as my ultimate goal is novel publication. Then I remember that it is great practice for when I'm subbing my full length stuff. For my last short story I had to write a query and a synopsis, something I've yet to do for my novels (well, the synopsis anyway -- I have played around at writing queries for all my novels). It also builds up my resume to give me some credibility and, hopefully, will pay for some of my expenses.

I also like to take a step back from my novels now and then, and writing a short story truly helps because I'm not starting a whole new long project, but I do get a taste of something new when I feel like I'm beating my head against the wall.

What about you? Do you ever write shorter stories? Do you submit them? What are your feelings about whether having shorter stuff published helps your chances with an agent or editor?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Definition of Depression in Two Words:

Swimsuit Shopping

I went on a fruitless shopping marathon today trying to find a tankini to wear for tomorrows trip to the lake. My needs are few, but apparently impossible.

1. I don't want my boobs to hang out.
2. I don't want my belly to hang out.
3. I want bottoms that are either a skirt or boyshort.
4. I don't want to break the bank buying a suit that I'll wear maybe three times this year (I'm totally a "cost per use" kinda gal).

Guess what? I found NOTHING. I did find ONE suit that I kinda-sorta liked, but I didn't love. It was $76! That's (hang on, let me grab my calculator...) -- $25.33 per use. Puh-leez.

In honor of my oh-so depressing shopping trip, I give you:

*Calories That Don't Count*

Dieting is a lot easier when you factor in recently determined calorie counting principles. The following are calories that don't count:

CUSTOM MADE FOOD: Anything somebody made "just for you" must be eaten regardless of the calories because to do otherwise would be rude. But don't worry, because the calories don't count.

FOOD EATEN QUICKLY: If you are rushed through a meal, the entire meal doesn't count. Conversely, if you have ordered something fattening and now regret it, you can minimize its calories by gulping it down.

OTHER PEOPLE'S FOOD: A chocolate mousse that you did not order has no calories. Therefore, have your companion order dessert and you taste half of it.

INGREDIENTS IN COOKING: Chocolate chips are fattening. So are chocolate chip cookies! However, chocolate chips eaten while making chocolate chip cookies have no calories whatsoever. Therefore, make chocolate chip cookies often but don't eat them.

LEFTOVERS: An extra hamburger, a hotdog butt, half a Twinkie, anything intended for the garbage has no calories regardless of what happens to it in the kitchen.

TV FOOD: Anything eaten in front of a TV has no calories. This may have something to do with the radiation leakage, which negates not only the calories in the food but also all recollection of having eaten it. In fact, entire " no-calories dinners" are now manufactured and frozen for this purpose.

ANYTHING SMALLER THAN ONE INCH: contains no calories to speak of. For example, chocolate kisses, cubes of cheese, or maraschino cherries.

CHILDREN'S FOOD: Anything purchased, produced or intended for minors is calorie-free when eaten by adults. This category covers a wide range, beginning with a spoonful of baby tapioca-consumed for demonstration purposes-up to and including cookies baked and sent to college.

CHARITABLE FOODS: Girl Scout cookies, bake sale cookies, ice cream socials and church strawberry festivals all have a religious dispensation from calories. I heard this last Sunday.

LEFT-HANDED FOOD: If you have a drink in your right hand, anything eaten with the other hand has no calories.

AND LAST, FOOD ON FOOT: All food eaten while standing has no calories. Exactly why is not clear, but the current theory relates to gravity. The calories apparently bypass the stomach flowing directly down the legs and through the soles of the feet into the floor. Walking seems to accelerate this process, so that a frozen custard or hotdog eaten at a carnival actually has a calorie deficit.

An Unproductive Day

"Say not, when I have leisure I will study; you may not have leisure." - The Mishnah

Didn't get any writing done yesterday. Not a word. I probably wouldn't have posted a blog entry except I'd written it the night before. Maybe I should do that more often!

DD was sick yesterday - like praying to the porcelain god sick - and didn't want me more than about two feet away. Since there are no potties in the basement, that created a problem. Poor squirt.

I did get a lot of reading done. I read Ingrid Weavers "Eagle Squadron" trilogy and quite enjoyed it. I'm so frequently disappointed with category romance that when I do enjoy something I wonder if I'm just reading it wrong. These were decent plots with hunky heroes and good writing. So that wasn't a complete waste of time.

And I did print off all of my pre-plotting exercises to work through with TPOF (formerly Camilla's Critters), but got hung up on the antagonist again. In my head I keep thinking it needs to be something besides the heroine, but in my heart I know that she's her own worst enemy. Regardless, it makes it tough to write stuff on the antag when it's the devil on her shoulder.

Hubby has been off this week as well, and home for the past two days (boating on the others -- I don't like boating, so I don't go) which has also wreaked havoc with my routine. I don't think I've ever looked forward to a Monday so much (and I, unlike most, look forward to Monday every week!).

Hopefully today will be vomit free and I will get some work done! Wishing all of you a vomit-free day, as well.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Changing Names and Starting Anew

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~ William Wadsworth

Today I started working on all those wonderful pre-plotting exercises that I used for my SBCM on my finished WIP, Camilla's Critters. While doing the very first one (Give an overview of the plot--no more than 100 words that lets us see how the story will flow.) I came up with what I hope will be the permanent title for this book. For now, I'm going to refer to it as TPOF.

I'm starting from scratch, as though this WIP isn't finished. It's terribly weak and needs a complete overhaul. I'm planning on keeping the scenes I like, if they'll fit into the new and improved version, but otherwise I'm ditching it all. I'm doing new character profiles, new plot layers and conflict, new, New, NEW!


I struggled through the last 30,000 words of this book and it's clear to me why (to me and no one else, because I haven't even shared with the wonderful ladies who nit and crit for me) -- so I'm going to fix it. But in order to do so, I need to re-brainstorm this book. Re-configure the conflict. Re-do the characters and consider eliminating two of them (that would be Danny and Joe, Camilla's twin brothers who don't contribute that much to the plot).

I'll be switching between TPOF and SBCM over the next few months and it'll be interesting to see if my brain will work that way. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why I Became a Writer

You're a writer. And that's something better than being a millionaire. Because it's something holy. ~ Harlan Ellison, On Being a Writer

Mary wrote on her blog yesterday about why she became a writer -- or at least as close as she coul figure. And it made me think...

Why did I become A Writer?

More than anything, I can't help but wonder if writers are born, not made. Seriously -- do you ever wonder if we have an extra gene? I'll call it the "what if" gene...

You see a lady walk by with a baby that clearly isn't hers. Most people without the What If gene would glance at her, think "Huh." or something equally deep, and move on.

A Writer with the gene?

* What if she killed the mother and married the father because he's a gazillionaire who runs an oil company that she's been trying to infiltrate to steal the secret they've discovered about making oil from water.

You see?

People with the "What If" gene don't wonder where you get your ideas. They KNOW because they get them, too. All the time. Ideas bombard the entire population every single day, but you need that extra gene to receive them. It's like radio waves -- but if don't have your radio turned on and tuned you don't receive them.

I don't remember not writing. I can remember writing my first novel (all eighteen handwritten chapters of it) in fourth grade. But I can't imagine that I sat down to do that without having warmed up at a younger age. I suspect my DD will be the same way -- since she's already written two "books".

I love to read, love, Love, LOVE to read. And I think my desire to write must have come with the times I hated endings. Like "Where the Red Fern Grows". While, as an adult and A Writer, I realize that the book couldn't have even existed without that ending I hated it. I wish I'd never read it. Other books that I discovered had sad endings before I read them (like The Yearling)... never even cracked the cover.

I also think that may be why I write romance. Who wants a story that ends unhappily? NOT ME. Never. I don't think there's ever an excuse for it. Real life sucks. Seriously. So why, when you can create anything, would you want to break hearts, when they're already breaking every day all over the world??? Romeo and Juliet (or, alternatively -- as if once wasn't enough -- West Side Story)? Hated it. Romantic? No. Especially not R&J. Juliet was an idiot. Actually, come to think of it, Romeo wasn't exactly top of his class either. Sorry if I'm being sacrilegious, and criticizing the great Shakespeare. I love his stuff, mostly, but thought R&J was awful. Oddly, I never had a problem with Hamlet and the massive amount of death in that story, so it must be that I perceive that romance stories MUST END HAPPILY.

So I became a writer to stop the voices in my head. To reward the "What If" gene for throwing ideas at me. To create happy endings in a world with so few.

And, as I've said before, I can't not write, even if I never get published because it's part of who I am.

What about you? Why did you become a writer? Can you remember what caused you to pick up your pen/pencil/keyboard and start your first story?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day!

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must ... undergo the fatigue of supporting it. ~ Thomas Paine


I walked through a county courthouse square,
On a park bench an old man was sitting there.
I said, "Your old courthouse is kinda run down."
He said, "Naw, it'll do for our little town."
I said, "Your flagpole has leaned a little bit,
And that's a Ragged Old Flag you got hanging on it.

He said, "Have a seat", and I sat down.
"Is this the first time you've been to our little town?"
I said, "I think it is." He said, "I don't like to brag,
But we're kinda proud of that Ragged Old Flag."

"You see, we got a little hole in that flag there
When Washington took it across the Delaware.
And it got powder-burned the night Francis Scott Key
Sat watching it writing _Oh Say Can You See_.
And it got a bad rip in New Orleans
With Packingham and Jackson tuggin' at its seams."

"And it almost fell at the Alamo
Beside the Texas flag, but she waved on through.
She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville
And she got cut again at Shiloh Hill.
There was Robert E. Lee, Beauregard, and Bragg,
And the south wind blew hard on that Ragged Old Flag."

"On Flanders Field in World War I
She got a big hole from a Bertha gun.
She turned blood red in World War II
She hung limp and low by the time it was through.
She was in Korea and Vietnam.
She went where she was sent by her Uncle Sam."

"She waved from our ships upon the briny foam,
And now they've about quit waving her back here at home.
In her own good land she's been abused --
She's been burned, dishonored, denied and refused."

"And the government for which she stands
Is scandalized throughout the land.
And she's getting threadbare and wearing thin,
But she's in good shape for the shape she's in.
'Cause she's been through the fire before
And I believe she can take a whole lot more."

"So we raise her up every morning,
Take her down every night.
We don't let her touch the ground
And we fold her up right.
On second thought I DO like to brag,
'Cause I'm mighty proud of that Ragged Old Flag."

Written by Johnny Cash

A special thanks and prayer goes out to "Ski" -- the soldier I support via Adopt-a-Platoon. He is stationed about 60 miles outside of Bagdad, and is one of the kindest, bravest men I've had the priviledge to know.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Moving Too Fast

Speed is a great asset; but it's greater when it's combined with quickness - and there's a big difference. - Ty Cobb

I'm writing up a storm all of sudden. Have you seen the word counter on the sidebar? I'm averaging just over 1000 words a day which has been wonderful! My characters are starting to come alive for me, though my heroine is more of a smart a** than I thought she'd be. In fact, that's in direct conflict with her character chart, so I'm going to have to think it through some.

BUT I'm finding myself going too fast. I'm rushing from scene to scene likes there's no tomorrow. I need this to happen, and then this, this and this. Just do it. Right?


This is the beginning of the book. It's the time for your reader to get hooked on the plot and to fall in love with your H/H. The way I'm plowing through plot points, you hardly get to know them. They're running from point A to point B without the slightest pause.

Do you ever find this happening to you? You think you've got a 65,000 word novel going, but if you continue the way you've started it'll end up more like 20,000 words?

Tomorrow morning I'm going to take a deep breath and s-l-o-w down just a bit. I'm going to take a peek back at what I've written and figure out what I can make a little deeper, more descriptive without being boring. Hope it works.

Incidentally, yesterday my seven-year-old DD who is currently reading the "Redwall" series (she's on book three) discovered the hook at the end of the chapter. Before bed, I told her she could read to the end of the chapter she was on and she said, "But, Mommy, that's when it's the most exciting!"

I talked to her about how authors use a "hook" to keep you turning pages because the chapter end is a logical place for you to stop reading and they don't want you to stop.

She clearly took this to heart. Yesterday she wrote a four chapter book called "Sara's Scary Adventures".

Chapter One ends: She fell into the depths below.
Chapter Two ends: She did everything she could, but each stroke made it more painful.
Chapter Three ends: She tried to jump out, but he held on and got to the police station.
Chapter Four (the ending) ends: Sara got safely home.


Gosh, she's cute. I think I'll keep her.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Of Fireworks and Being Considerate

What makes a person think it's okay to shoot off fireworks in a (normally) quiet neighborhood at 11:30 p.m.?

Seriously, I don't care that it was Saturday night. I don't care the the freaking Fourth of July is THREE DAYS AWAY. I don't care that you have money to burn. I don't care that it doesn't bother you to keep your two-year-old and five-year-old up until midnight. If you had a piece of property away from those of us who actually sleep when it's dark and wake when it's light, I wouldn't care about anything at all.


Our new, rich neighbors (the designation given by my husband, since these folks recently bought the very nicest house on our street and own two others, to boot -- one in Florida and two here in NH) decided that last night was a good night to blow off fireworks for half an hour - 11:30 til midnight.

My dog was a wreck, I was awake and -- even if I'd been able to sleep through the noise -- my DH was grumbling loudly every time there was a boom. Don't know why he was so blasted upset - he sleeps in. Not so me.

My DD woke me at 4 a.m. to ask if she could turn on her fan. Could I get back to sleep after that? Uh. No. And, believe me, I tried. But shortly thereafter, the sun rises, the birds awaken (LOUDLY) and my night is over.


I swear, I'm killing this family off in my next book. Kids and all, because their boy threw rocks at my dogs, and I have yet to forgive him for that. Maybe I'll let the baby girl live... Hmmm... There could be a horrible fire that starts with sparks from badly placed fireworks land on their house and....

mumble, mumble, mumble

Saturday, July 01, 2006


And remember, no matter where you go, there you are. ~ Confucius

Got this from Charity who got it from Mary who got it from Tracy who got it from Entertainment Weekly (there... I think I gave everyone credit who needed it!):

1. My American Idol audition song would be: Leave me Alone by Helen Reddy (or by anyone else who sang a song called that -- it's my mantra -- I vant to be alone.)

2. If my life were a drinking game, everyone would do a shot when ... either my dog or my daughter followed me around.

3. The Rat Packer I most identify with is: a) Frank Sinatra b) Sammy Davis Jr. c) Dean Martin d) Peter Lawford

None… I'm swiping Charity's idea on this one:

The Brat Packer I most identify with is: a) Emilio Estevez b) Anthony Michael Hall c) Rob Lowe d) Andrew McCarthy e) Demi Moore f) Judd Nelson g) Molly Ringwald h) Ally Sheedy.

I loved Ally Sheedy, especially in The Breakfast Club, so it would have to be her.

Question: Why did everyone think Molly Ringwald was so hot? Seriously… I mean, she was okay, but there were about a hundred thousand chicks who were WAY hotter. I still don't get it.

4. The first famous person I befriended:

Befriended? No one. Met? Tim Matheson and Meg Tilly. They were filming a movie in my hometown (Sacramento, CA) and my drama teacher had a tiny part in it, and asked them to come visit our drama III class. They did. Pretty cool.

5a. Choose one: A) Demi Moore in Ghost B) Demi Moore in Striptease

Ugh… I hate Demi Moore -- I remember her as one of the Laura's on General Hospital a million years ago, and I hated her then. Do I have to choose? *sigh* Ghost, I guess, cuz then I'd get to smooch with Swayze… oh, but UGH, I'd have to slow dance with Whoopi. Those two things might cancel each other out.

5b) Choose one: A) Transformers B) G.I. Joe

I'd have to go with G.I. Joe -- I fell for him when my mom got him instead of Ken to hang out with my Barbie -- and how cool was it that his back pack talked? Plus, I've always been a sucker for a guy in uniform.

6) What was your first concert?

Rick Springfield. Yes, it's true.

7) Pick a Jessica: A) Alba B) Simpson C) Biel D) Tandy

Okay, I don't even know who Jessica Alba is (I am SO far off the pop culture track), I hate, Hate, HATE Jessica Simpson. Jessica Biel sounds vaguely familiar… still, I guess I have to go with Jessica Tandy. Gosh I loved her.

8) If I had to gain 30 pounds for a role, I would eat:

Anything I wanted for a change … Okay: pizza and chocolate moose tracks ice cream

9) The first R-rated movie I saw: I don't remember! Ack… what "R" rated movies came out in the late 80's? I think the first PG-13 movie I saw was Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom (wasn't it the first PG-13 movie ever?). Guess the "R" didn't make that much of an impression on me.

10) You're stranded with your four favorite authors and you've run out of food. Who do you eat first?

Nora Roberts? -- Nope, she's one of the few authors who make it to my "keeper" shelf with her new stuff. I don't love her older backlist, so reading that just wouldn't work for me.

Jenny Crusie? -- Never, I couldn't survive without my Crusie fix.

Iris Johansen? - I really got into her -again - with her latest book, but she's a maybe.

Kay Hooper? - I am so loving her Bishop: Special Crimes Unit series and can't wait for the next one.

Looks like it's Iris. And besides, flowers are edible, right?

11) My porn name (childhood pet name + street you grew up on) is: Misty Leola

Tag, you're it. Whoever you are.