Wednesday, January 31, 2007

2000 Bloggers

Found this link over at Judy's blog and it's a cool idea. So, yeah, I signed up.

There are still some spots left AND you don't have to do anything else (except have your picture somewhere on your blog).

Wonder if he'll make his goal?

Also, if you have the time... Welcome to blogland my friend Gay Walker! Woo! Head on over to her pad and say howdy. She's got a lot to say and a cute kitty to boot.

Polish ' til it Shines!

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without. ~ Confucius, Analects

They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds. ~ Wilt Chamberlain

I think I finally have my contest entry ready to submit. The scariest thing about getting some feedback and then polishing it was this: it's a much stronger piece than it was, and it occurred to me that I should really pay the same close attention to THE ENTIRE BOOK.


I wonder if editors and agents see the contest affliction a lot. They read the synopsis and query -- great! Request the first 50 pages or three chapters or whatever -- fantastic!! They request the full manuscript -- and it fizzles.

How many folks work and work and polish and edit and go back and do it again on their first few chapters, but don't have the energy to sustain that pace for all 300 pages?

I can understand that. I only did twenty-five (with a little help from my friends... and it took several days and much agonizing.

I wonder, too, as you grow as a writer -- do you get better at editing as you go? Do you become aware of your shortcomings ("that" or passive voice or run-on sentences? Yes, those are some of mine) and just pluck them out on your first run-through?

If not, then how do so many people write so well, yet so prolifically?

It's both discouraging and energizing. I'm ready to make this novel perfect. I'm so jazzed about my ending (talk to me after the contest is done... we'll see if I feel the same...LOL) that I want the entire book to be that good.

So, I guess I'm off to work on the next twenty-five pages. I wonder, if I divide the total number of pages by twenty-five and multiply the days it takes to polish each block, how long that would be? Who said you didn't need math in real life?

Have a great day! I know I will, because I get to go to Staples! I LOVE the office supply store. Seriously, I would rather shop for office supplies than clothes. I love all the little pens and pads of paper and neat little gadgets. Even though I'm only going for printer ink, I'd be willing to bet I'll walk out with something else. I have to scour the aisles, look at everything.

It's a disease. I can't wait. Why don't they open at 5 a.m.? Huh?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hope and Dreams

When the world says, "Give up," Hope whispers, "Try it one more time." ~ Author Unknown

Excuses. The world is full of them. We all have them, for all parts of our lives.

I don't have the time. My life is too stressful. I'm not good enough.

Bull puckey.

Make the time. We all have stress. And you ARE good enough, if you think you are.

If you can dream it, really dream it, then you can find the strength to make it happen.

My husband's dreaming muscles are very small. They don't get a workout often. Last week, the Powerball was an estimated $240 million and I couldn't resist buying a ticket (yes, just one -- so my odds were 1 in 8 gazillion... is 20 in 8 gazillion really any better?).

I tried to dream with him. It took him a while to get warmed up but he decided on a big barn to house all his restored 1985 Toyota pickups and his other toys (the boats, the snowmobiles). And he dreamed about not working -- at least not for money. He talked about volunteering for somewhere like Habitat for Humanity full time. It was a start, a decent though modest beginning.


I'd like more than one home. I'm a nomad at heart, but I also like roots. So having two (or more! Hey... it's my dream) homes would be perfect.

I'd also like a private jet. Seriously, I just don't like to fly anymore. It's a pain, it's more stressful than it ever used to be, it's expensive. Ugh. So I don't really travel. But a private jet? Oh yeah. Leg room (heck, a bedroom to sleep in while you're waiting for takeoff), liquids, a clean bathroom big enough to turn around in (I had to change my DD in an airplane bathroom once -- OMG, it's funny in retrospect, but not so much then).

In all of my houses, I'd like a small theater. With movie popcorn.

I want my OWN house ... just a little cottage that I can decorate and live in any way I want. Sometimes it's hard to continually compromise with a husband. I love flowers and frills, he loves guns and mounted deer heads.

I want to be able to put my daughter into any class she wants: singing, acting, drawing, swimming, karate... whatever. And I want a limo driver to take her there.

Then... I want to sponsor homes for battered women or needy children. I want to be able to show up at the local food pantry with a years supply of food. I want to expand our library and add more reading programs for kids. I want to give the no-kill animal shelter food and blankets and toys for the critters. I'd love to build a kitty place where all the cats could run free instead of being cooped up in their kennels.

I can dream.

Unfortunately, we didn't win the Powerball. But that doesn't stop me from dreaming. If not the Powerball, then maybe I'll be the next Nora. It's close enough, and it would fulfill my other dreams.

What about you? What do you dream? Don't put limits on it -- DREAM BIG! If you can't dream it, you'll never get it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Got My Latest Cover!

Here's the cover for "Tickle Fights and Barbecues"!

And the cover plus the blurb:

I have to tell you, the cover artist for The Wild Rose Press is wonderful. You should see the beautiful covers they have on the full length novels. Amazing!

Nightmares and Memes

“Those with the greatest awareness have the greatest nightmares.” - Mahatma Gandhi

DD woke me earlier than usual this morning -- about 3:15 a.m. She'd had a nightmare (again) about the family being kidnapped by "a very mean ghost". I snuggled up with her for a little bit until she went back to sleep, but I was awake by then, or at least my body was. My brain? Not so much.

So... since I can't think very clearly yet (I've only just started on my first cup of coffee), I give you a cheat and a meme.


To be posted VERY LOW on the refrigerator door - nose height.

Dear Dogs and Cats,

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years -- canine or feline attendance is not required.

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough!

To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:

To All Non-Pet Owners Who Visit & Like to Complain About Our Pets:

1. They live here. You don't.
2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. (That's why they call it "fur"nature.)
3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly.

Remember: In many ways, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:
1. Eat less
2. Don't ask for money all the time
3. Are easier to train
4. Normally come when called
5. Never ask to drive the car
6. Don't hang out with drug-using friends
7. Don't smoke or drink
8. Don't have to buy the latest fashions
9. Don't want to wear your clothes
10. Don't need a "gazillion" dollars for college.

And finally,

11. If they get pregnant, you can sell their children.
And the meme from Judy:

Rules: Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following…They must be REAL places, names, things…NOTHING made up! If you can’t think of anything, skip it. Try to use different answers if the person in front of you had the same
1st initial. You CAN’T use your name for the boy/girl name question.

Your Name: Marianne

1. Famous Athlete: Mario Lemieux
2. 4 letter word: mink
3. Street name: Main
4. Color: Maroon
5. Gifts/presents: milk chocolate
6. Vehicles: Mercedes
7. Tropical Locations: Maui
8. College Majors: Medicine
9. Dairy Products: milk
10. Things in a Souvenir Shop: Mirror (?)
11. Boy Name: Michael
12. Girl Name: Marie
13. Movie Titles: March of the Penguins
14. Alcohol: Midori
15. Occupations: Model
16. Flowers: marigold
17. Celebrities: Marie Antionette
18. Magazines: Ms.
19. U.S. Cities: Mt. Aukum, CA
20. Pro Sports Teams: Magic
21. Something Found in a kitchen: Masher
22. Reason for Being Late: My alarm didn't go off
23. Something You Throw Away: milk carton
24 Things You Shout: Make Me! (LOL)
25. Cartoon Character: Mickey Mouse
Tag! You're it!

Sunday, January 28, 2007


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

When you love a story you're working on, do you think about it all the time? Dream about it?

I have a short story that I wrote a couple years ago... I dreamed it, actually, from beginning to end and got up and wrote it all down. I thought it might have too many characters (it was a little reminiscent of "The Big Chill" without the body) to fly.

But, I sent to a couple (non-writer) friends to read, just for fun. Recently, one of them asked me about it. Had I submitted it anywhere?

I was startled that she still remembered it after all that time. And I decided that if it stuck with her, it must have some merit. So, I've been working on it and puttering, adding scenes, etc.

I thought I was done after a marathon writing session of two and a half hours straight yesterday. I was wrong.

Last night, as I began to doze off, I thought: Those two characters are superfluous and I can eliminate them with ease and I think I'll take out the letter.

I sometimes wonder, even when we've submitted something and it's published, is it really ever finished?

Hey! It's warming up here... it's supposed to be 27 degrees today! Woo!

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Winter is nature's way of saying, "Up yours." ~ Robert Byrne

It's freezing here. Actually, I think today is supposed to warm up to about 20 degrees, but the past two days? Brrrr...

It was so cold (how cold was it? - Anyone remember what that's from??) that when we fed the birds in front of WalMart (a favorite pastime - we get seagulls, pigeons and little birds that might be sparrows or starlings), they would fly over to the food and then hunker down on top of their feet to eat. One or two of the seagulls would eat standing, but they'd tuck one foot up into their belly feathers to keep it warm.

With the wind chill it was -15.

What does that have to do with anything but me complaining? My office is in our basement. Our unheated basement. Charity thoughtfully sent me her old MobilePro, but I can't seem to get my husband to make sure he knows how to get the stuff all hooked up for me to transfer the data, so I'm not ready to commit to using it when I don't know for certain I can retrieve what I write.

My basement is cold. I have a little space heater, but it doesn't work that well -- enough to keep the frostbite away, but that's about it. Sometimes I type with one hand and sit on the other one to keep it warm.

My dream is to one day have an office outside of the mushroom pit, though I do admit that it's awfully nice in the summer.

DD and DH are going ice-fishing today. Are they nuts? Brrrr.... I'm staying home and I might even go see a movie (This is a very rare happening). Anyone want to suggest a good movie that's out right now? No horror, and nothing that doesn't end happily.

I watched the "Dresden Files" last night on the Sci-Fi channel and really enjoyed it. Is it just me or does the ghost, Bob, remind you of Tim Curry? So, Tori, thanks for the viewing suggestion. As long as it doesn't get too freaky, I'll keep watching (I stopped watching "Ghost Whisperer" because of how freaky it became).

Have a great day! Since it's so toasty outside today, maybe I'll sunbathe.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Public Service Announcement

Charity is giving away a book at her blog, but you have to enter today! Come one, come all....hurry on over and put your name into the helmet.


Give A Warm Welcome To...

One of my writing friends, Sylvia Dickey Smith, just received her first publishing contract and has started a new blog. Please head on over, leave a comment and give her a big welcome!

Congrats, Syl!

That's That

An old racetrack joke reminds you that your program contains all the winners' names. I stare at my typewriter keys with the same thought. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook

I finished working through my edits yesterday, and had an epiphany. Well, okay, actually I read a comment from my editor, but it amounts to the same thing.

She said: 95% of the time the word "that" is unnecessary.

Half of you are probably snickering to yourselves ("She didn't know that?" -- incidentally that "that" is necessary). But I imagine there are many of you who will have your eyes opened like I did.

---> Joe decided that he wanted a cookie.
---> That is why she needed to leave today.
---> Camilla couldn't believe that she'd forgotten the kittens.

I went through my contest entry for Camilla and did a search on "that". I ended up removing well over half of them.

I went to bed last night really feeling like I'd accomplished something. It seems a little silly, but I felt like "real" writer for the first time in a long time.

And all it took was "that".

Next up? "Try" and "Was, would, should and have/'ve".

I can't wait.

And now, just for fun:

You Are Bert

Extremely serious and a little eccentric, people find you loveable - even if you don't love them!

You are usually feeling: Logical - you rarely let your emotions rule you

You are famous for: Being smart, a total neat freak, and maybe just a little evil

How you life your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others

Oooh... I like this one much better:

Star Wars Horoscope for Capricorn

You have a ton of ambition and inexhaustible desire to reach your goals.
You are very loyal, going to great lengths to help someone out.
You are a very social unit, winning the hearts of many with your cute personality.

Star wars character you are most like: R2D2

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A funny!

Got this from Mary's blog - it's so funny:

It Begins

“Editing should be...a counseling rather than a collaborating task. The tendency of the writer-editor to collaborate is natural, but he should say to himself, ''How can I help this writer to say it better in his own style?'' and avoid ''How can I show him how I would write it, if it were my piece?” - James Thurber

I got my first round of edits on my latest Wild Rose Press short story, and so it begins.

The good news is, I apparently learned from my first story not to use gerunds to begin sentences and to be wary of passive voice. It's good to know that it's finally getting through my thick skull (both of those things I've known for years, but still applied them without thinking).

The bad news is that I've found new and exciting ways to mess up...LOL. The latest (and something that Darcy mentioned when she looked over one of my contest entries) is my propensity for very long sentences, especially connected by a conjunction or a comma.

As an example, check out the previous paragraph. It's only two sentences.

On the show don't tell thing, I'm running about even. I get it right a lot, but not all the time. I had one very slight POV slip that ticks me off, because it's something I really try to focus on.

Oh... and "try". I really gotta stop using it. I need to remember the wise words from Yoda to Luke Skywalker: "Do, or do not. There is no try."

Stand up, sit down.

I have to admit that the sheer volume of comments in the story were overwhelming at first BUT upon reflection, many were silly typos (forgetting a hyphen, for instance) and others were longer comments that were only about one thing, but look intimidating by their size.

It's a wonderful process. I'm keeping a notepad to write down the things I do regularly in hopes that actually writing them down will make me more aware. I'm telling you, the editors at TWRP are amazing, and very serious about making certain that a good product is being offered. If you haven't checked them out, either as a writer or a reader, you should.

Okay... back to work. There's still a lot to do!

Have a great day.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Conflict Box?

I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught. ~ Winston Churchill

American Title Fourth Round Voting started. Go forth and Vote! I did (though I have to admit, I didn't love any of the entries this time... weird, because I've had a hard time choosing the best the past few times).

So... I've been trying to get my brain around the latest Crusie/Mayer workshop post, The Central Question and the Conflict Box.

I've had a hard time. I've sent my confusion out into the world (or at least to a few writing friends) who have tried to help me out, but still... some days I wonder if my IQ is around 7.

Fact is, two of my four novels (and most of my short stories) DO NOT work in her conflict box. Period. I wondered for a couple of days about changing something so that they would, but then thought -- it's only one person's idea of what is "right" (though apparently it's more than one person's, and I appear to be the only one stymied by the whole thing. I came to this conclusion after reading the comments on the post -- all raving about how wonderful it is, and what an eye-opening experience).

In fact, at one point Jenny points out that the story, "Cinderella" doesn't fit in the conflict box. And, well, that story seems to have stood the test of time -- AND spawned dozens of stories and movies that mimic the basic storyline.

So maybe I should just get over the whole conflict box thing and just write again. I've spent WAY too much time the past two days pondering that fact that my conflicts are somehow wrong and need fixing.

The hard part is that I love Jenny's writing, and figure that she must know what she's talking about, so for me to disagree with her makes my head hurt.

Guess I'll just have to take an aspirin.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Meme Day!

When I get real bored, I like to drive downtown and get a great parking spot, then sit in my car and count how many people ask me if I'm leaving. ~ Steven Wright

I wonder if I'm channelling all of my writing energy into, you know, writing and don't have so much left over for blogging lately. So, in honor of my utterly empty brain, I give you:


Take Me Back Tuesday - Week 106

Tell us about your first Musical Obsession! We want to know.

Real obsession? Cuz, I crushed on Donny Osmond, but I was only around six. I suppose my first musical obsession would have to have been Rick Springfield. He was my first concert (I was sixteen and he was dreamy Noah Drake on General Hospital -- actually, he still is, come to think of it). *sigh* I remember that I wore leg warmers to that concert. I was seriously stylin'. I've actually seen him in concert a couple of times (his "Working Class Dog" tour and his "Tao" tour).

Who was it?

Uh... I already told you, above.

Why did you like them?

I like him because he was cute and appealed to my sixteen year-old heart. He sang pretty well, too. Interestingly, as he got away from his bubblegum pop "Jessie's Girl" image, he really rocked out. Don't bother to watch his movie "Hard to Hold" though. So. Awful.

And, yes, I saw it in the theater. Me and about ten other people in the world.

What were your favorite songs they did?

I actually like stuff from his older albums the best -- ones that never "made it". He released four albums before "Jessie's Girl" was a hit AND had a TV show in Australia -- it was animated. Betcha didn't know that.

Some of my faves?

"Life is a Celebration" from the album "Wait For Night"
"Weep Not More" and "Born Out Of Time" from the album "Comic Book Heroes"
"Speak to the Sky" from the album "Beginnings"

Do you still like them today? Why or Why not?

Absolutely. My very oldest friend sent my copies of those first albums on CD that she made from her vinyl LPs. I have the vinyl, but they didn't release the albums on CD, so I was thrilled. I have them in my CD changer right now.
And just in case that wasn't enough information, here's meme number TWO!

Tuesday Twosome

Short-term Memory - List the last two…

Movies you watched:

Air Force One on TNT Saturday night

Tim on DVD a couple weeks ago

TV shows you saw:

(Wish I could say "Heroes", but that has to wait until this afternoon while DD is doing her seatwork)

Animal Cops Detroit
Deep Sea Detectives

Items you purchased:

I went grocery shopping yesterday... so, it's boring.

Green Mountain Fair Trade organic hot chocolate

Chicken leg quarters

Beverages you drank:

Coffee with chocolate soy milk - sitting on my desk right now


Internet sites you surfed (before coming here):


the Daily Meme (to find these memes)
And now you know everything about me, except the book I'm currently reading (thanks to a recommend from Charity):

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

It's really good so far! Thanks, C.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Monday is a lame way to spend 1/7 of your life. ~ Author Unknown

I used to love Monday's. I know, I know... that's a little warped. But, I'm a creature of habit, and on the weekends my life it utter (and unknown) chaos. I am not spontaneous. I am not a social creature. If I had my way, I would most likely crawl into my cave and never come out. I remember when I watched the beginning of "The Net" thinking, yeah... I could live like that.

I don't love Monday's so much anymore. DD has her homeschool gymnastics class at the YMCA. At noon. Noon? Seriously, what the heck were they thinking? Noon? Like that's a good time for anyone.

The good thing about today?? Heroes starts again! WOO! I really <3 this show (Hey, D, that heart is dedicated to you :-] )

I looked for a meme for today, but couldn't find any. Most of the Monday ones aren't up yet and the one that is is all about work -- and, well, I'm a SAHM so really can't answer the questions.

So I ramble instead.

Hey, Paperback Writer has a great list of ten things to organize your writing! Check it out.

And that's all for today folks. I think I'll actually try to be productive this morning for a change! Happy Monday.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


We live longer than our forefathers; but we suffer more from a thousand artificial anxieties and cares. They fatigued only the muscles, we exhaust the finer strength of the nerves. ~ Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

I was reading through Readers Digest last night, and came across an article about stress and how to avoid burnout. It had eight simple suggestions and, since I'm a SAHM I naturally applied them toward my writing.

1. Make time for yourself.

My "time" is almost always writing. Sometimes, I watch a little TV that I have on TiVo, but I purposely don't get involved with too many shows. When Mary wrote about her top ten TV shows of 2006, I couldn't even think of ten that I watch.

Still... is taking "me" time for writing always a good thing? Hmmm...

2. Develop a method to calm yourself.

This I'm not so good at. Typically, when something makes me really angry or upset, I walk away before I lash out. Yes. I have a bit of a temper. The article talks about prayer or meditation -- but neither of these things calm me down because it gives me too much time to focus on whatever it was that made me angry. I need to redirect. Maybe on writing!

3. Analyze what you love and hate about your work.

I love that I LOVE writing. Seriously love it. Putting words on paper (or screen, as the case may be), making people come to life. It's like a drug.

I hate that it's so much work to get it right.

3b. Once you've identified problem areas, think of specific strategies to resolve them.

Uh... making writing well less work? No way to resolve that, I imagine. Though I'm told it does get a little easier with time. They're talking about having problems with the boss or a co-worker, etc. Tough to have those problems when you're a business of one.

4. Settle for less than perfect.

Oh, please. I already do. If I waited for "perfect", I'd never submit anything anywhere. I think this is one of the biggest problems for many aspiring authors -- they work at something over and over waiting for it to be "perfect" before they send it off. Fact is, what's "perfect" to you is absolute crap to another. And vice-versa.

5. Take good care of yourself.

* Eat healthy foods. Check!
* Get enough sleep. Uh, little check (I get about 6-7 hours a night)
* Exercise every day. Does running up and down the stairs fifty times a day count? No? Well then, I'm not meeting this one AT ALL.

6. Cultivate a support network.

Woo Hoo! Got one of those (for writing), thank you very much. :-) Of course, my personal one isn't' quite as strong -- mostly because my best friends live w-a-a-a-y the heck out of state. Thank God for email.

7. Set limits.

The sky's the limit, bay-bee. Oh, that's not what you mean?

8. Plan for the future.

Been there, done that. It's all about the future. I even know where I'll have my first booksigning! Build the dream.
So, all in all, I guess I'm not so bad off. Then why do I feel stressed so much of the time? Oh. Yeah. I have a life outside of writing. Now I remember. :-)

Have a great day.

Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow. ~Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I'd Like to Give to You

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Days of My Life

"What I had to face, the very bitter lesson that everyone who wants to write has got to learn, was that a thing may in itself be the finest piece of writing one has ever done, and yet have absolutely no place in the manuscript one hopes to publish." - Thomas Wolfe

Ah, the joys of editing.

And oh! The true joy of a second (or third) pair of eyes.

D sent me back her crits on the first twenty-five pages of my mystery. And she made one very specific and quite valid observation about my heroine's (bad) attitude. I reviewed it a couple of times with her notes, and feel like the blinders were removed. She's right. Laurie's attitude makes her a little unlikeable. Thankfully, it's not a hard fix. And, thankfully, her attitude doesn't continue throughout, so it's not something I'm going to have to edit for the 25,000 words I have completed.

Thanks, D!

Yesterday, I worked on a synopsis for my Camilla story yesterday because, of all the novels I've written, I think hers would be the easiest to sell. Of course, there's that pesky last third I need to write -- I have the ending, I have 43,000 words of the beginning, but there are some scenes I just can't get down on paper.

My attention feels a little fractured right now. I have a lot of different projects on my plate, and usually I like it that way, but for some reason lately I've had difficulty working on any of them. I suppose I should only do one thing at a time, but multi-tasking is built into my genetic structure. Really.

In any case, I expect this to be a very busy year. It's good.

Friday, January 19, 2007


"Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon." - E.L. Doctorow

I'm working on the first twenty-five pages of several novels for contest entries. Openings, really good openings, are hard to manage and though I've done my best with the ones I sent on to some friends, I figure they'll come back with "good, but you can do better" written along the top in virtual red ink.

I still have 2.5 to work on. I far prefer endings to openings. Endings are great. Wrapping everything up, HEA and all that. I usually try to end with one good sentence that puts it all into place. I agonize over that sentences, but I think I do pretty well (she said humbly).

But openings? I. Hate. Them.

There's so much pressure to get it right. Editors and agents want the first three chapters. Many times you include the first page or three when you send a query and if they aren't strong, well-written and attention grabbing, you can kiss your chances goodbye.

Openings. Ugh.

And you don't want to start of with a prologue, right? Or maybe you do. Depends on who you ask (Bob or Jenny). And don't start with dialogue, right? Again, depends on who you ask. So, if you do or don't do one of those things, and hit the agent or editor who feels strongly in the opposite direction, well then you're out of luck again.

Oh, the pressure.

What about you? How do you feel about openings? Love writing them or hate it? Do you prefer endings? C'mon, give.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Too Much Fun To Pass Up!

A meme from Booking Through Thursday:

  1. Grab the book closest to you.

  2. Open to page 123, look down to the 5th sentence.

  3. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog.

  4. Include the title and the author's name.

My response:

"John?" She cleared her throat. "Tell you what. Do you have something I can write on?"
Does that count as three sentences? Or should I continue?

Numbly, he shook his head. He'd left his pad in the house. Idiot.
Yunno, this excerpt does no justice to the book.

It's from "Lover Awakened" by J.R. Ward and this is not a dull book. In fact, this is a big scene. It's interesting when you take something out of context, isn't it?

Let me try this with one of my WIPs:

"Milla. Stop. Listen." He folded her hands inside his, staring down into her face. "I’m crazy about you."
Gee, and that pronouncement didn't even come from her love interest!

How about this one:

It didn't work. The moment Booboo knew she was awake, he crawled up to her face and patted her cheek with a soft paw.

"You hungry?"
Huh, this happens after quite a big night for our heroine.

And lastly, this one:

Laurie stood at the passenger side door and stared at Clint across the seat. "Do I get a say in this?"

"Not if you're going to say no."
Hey, that's the best sounding one yet.

Anyone care to join me? If you do, leave a comment and let me know so I can go take a peek (no, you don't have to post from your own stuff).

Letting Go

Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use. ~ Earl Nightingale

I'm working through my contest entries and it occurred to me that one of them is a novel I wrote more than five years ago, and that the original idea and first scenes were written about 15 years ago! Geez... talk about letting is simmer.

I love the story. It's the reason I met a couple good writing friends (waves at C and D!) who were in the class I took with it. It's the first novel I completed as an adult (I wrote three as a teenager... I still have one of them and wonder what happened to the other two). It's a fun premise (if I may say so) and I've missed the characters.

A couple of days ago, Colleen Gleason wrote about letting your books go... when is it time to shelve them? The thought of giving up forever on one of my babies is hard. I keep thinking that, with enough time, effort and editing it will be publishable.

So, when do you decide your baby has to be put away for good, that it simply isn't saleable (is that a word?) and your time would be better served by starting something new? Are you able to simply consider it time well spent in learning the craft and set it aside?

I'm not at the point, because I haven't shopped this novel yet. But suppose a hundred agents/editors tell me that the book is simply not going to sell anywhere for whatever reason? Then what?

Charity has shelved several of her books (sadly for me cuz I want to read them all, over and over... esp. CC, C, though I'm still reading GGG - and enjoying it) so she's a pro. Speaking of Charity, check out the article she wrote at "Literary Mama" -- It's really great!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Kindness of Strangers?

I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. ~ William Penn

Yesterday, I was out on the skating rink my icy driveway trying to chip away at the 1 - 2" ice that was in a clear sheet. I did pretty well -- at the front it was softer from the salt and sand that the plows put down and by the garage, it had some soft places from the salt and sand that had dripped off of DH's car.

I had piles of shattered ice to clear off the driveway so I started to sweep it to the lawn, but made the mistake of standing on the ice to do so. Whoop, whoop, BAM! Yup, I did that thing with my feet like I was running in place and then fell backwards -- thankfully landing on my well padded rear first, then elbow, back and head. I lay prone for a moment and realized that one of my neighbors drove by during this little production, passing my driveway as I lay there on the ice, the wind knocked out of me.

And I thought: if it had been me, wouldn't I have at least stopped, rolled down the window and shouted to see if that person was okay and not unconscious or bleeding to death? Most probably, I would have pulled in and gotten out to check, while making some remark like, "I give it a nine point five". We all know each other on this street, and while there are some not-so-fond feelings for a few of the folks, we're still all human.

And then it got me to thinking about characters and how they respond.

In the Crusie/Mayer workshop (you knew I'd get to that eventually, didn't you?), Jenny says:

"...the inciting incident may come from without–the volcano erupts–but the resulting events happen because of the way the characters react to them. They can run away screaming, they stop to save the dog, they can detour to loot the town, they can stay and sacrifice a virgin, the action they take determines their plots."
This was clearly illustrated yesterday.

I asked another neighbor later in the day what she would have done if she'd seen that happen. Her answer was, "slam on the brakes and jump out". Of course, on the ice slick that is our street, she may have gotten herself into trouble, but the point is that everyone really does respond differently to the same situation.

It's fascinating to have real life illustrate a point so nicely.


A couple of days ago, a friend of mine (who is not a writer) asked me about a story I'd sent to her to read. It's been 1-2 years since I sent that thing... and it made me think that, if it stuck with her all this time, maybe there's something to it. I actually lost the story in a computer crash a year ago, BUT had a hard copy of it -- something I seldom have on hand, but the stars must have been aligned just right, or someone up there loves me because in this case, voila!

It needs some work, but I do enjoy the characters (there are NINE in this particular short... can you believe it? I may pare it down to seven). So I'm working on that. I'm also working on a couple of potential RWA contest entries and rediscovering how much I really love one particular novel because of that. Some days I forget why I wrote something in the first place because I'm so focused on its faults, so this was nice.

And, I'm finally starting the next Jane Jeffries novel! I hate that I read so slowly anymore (actually, it's not that I'm reading slower, it's that I have far less time to read anymore).

So, this morning I get to crack open "A Knife to Remember" by Jill Churchill. I still am really loving this series.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


This is perhaps the most beautiful time in human history; it is really pregnant with all kinds of creative possibilities made possible by science and technology which now constitute the slave of man - if man is not enslaved by it. ~ Jonas Salk

We had ice storms all day yesterday. Where I live was right on the ice/snow line and we did get snow for about five minutes, but the rest was all ice. By the time it was done, we had a solid two inches frozen on our deck and the trees, though still standing so far, look like they're decked out in their finest diamonds.

My poor doggie -- you know, the one who had serious leg surgery not too long ago -- couldn't get down the steps to the lawn without falling. Once, I lifted her up the two steps. Finally, I went out armed with hot water and melted a path through the ice off the deck. I'd pour some water then whack it with the heel of my boot and sweep it away. Repeat.

Those chunks of ice came in handy when we lost power later last night. Though we don't have a generator, we do have candles and a wood stove. But we can't flush the potties, so I went and collected ice chunks to melt on the stove for dumping down the potty.

The good news is that the outage only lasted about three and a half hours, but I'm telling you, you don't realize how much you rely on having juice. At our house, we can easily survive without it, but it's still inconvenient.

Ironically, I was in the middle of reading Anno's response to having no power when I lost mine! Thankfully, it appears that the computer suffered no lasting harm. And DD loved having a booklight for a nightlight. That was great fun. DH was most distressed about not getting to watch the Colorado Avalanche game -- but the power came back on before it was over, so he got to see most of it.

And, I was worried about not being able to talk with all of you this morning. I'm glad that didn't happen. I enjoy our daily chats. Hope you do, too!

Have a great day.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Lightbulb Moment

We should not only use the brains we have, but all that we can borrow. ~ Woodrow Wilson

As always, I read the Crusie/Mayer Online Writing Workshop this morning, because there was a new post. As always, she said something that I should have already gotten through my thick skull, but for some reason, the way in which Jenny stated it made me go, "Oh. Now I get it."

It was about the antagonist. See... in my head, that's always been "the bad guy". You know: In Batman, it was the Joker (or the Riddler or...). A bad guy.

And yet, some of my stories don't have a "bad" guy. I like to think that there is conflict, but it's not always because someone nasty is doing a bad thing.

Then Jenny says:

The antagonist is the fascinating character who by pushing against the protagonist shapes the story and who, if removed from the story, would cause the conflict to disappear.

So, it doesn't have to be a "bad" guy. Well, duh.

Don't laugh... this is something I've struggled with on an ongoing basis. It's frustrated the heck out of me.

So there you have it. My lightbulb moment of the day.


In an aside, I have to tell you how much I'm enjoying the Jane Jeffrey mysteries by Jill Churchill (you remember, Tori, the ones you didn't tell me about....LOL). If you like cozies with quirky, memorable characters, these books are for you. I can't put them down.

I'm currently reading "The Class Menagerie" having just finished "A Quiche Before Dying" .... LOL... man, I'd read 'em just for the titles.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Missing Link?

“Whenever I found out anything remarkable, I have thought it my duty to put down my discovery on paper, so that all ingenious people might be informed thereof.” - Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

Not much deep or exciting to say today. I did use a fun prompt that Paperback Writer posted some time ago on her blog and wrote what was going to be a short for Womans World, until my heroine became a bit too independent and outspoken. I like her, though, and wouldn't change her for the world. I'll find her a good home.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share some interesting links:

Book Lust - A Community for People Who Love Books - There's a lot here, and I haven't had the chance to look at all of it. This site is fairly new and they're looking for folks to help add information as well -- It's not just romance it's for all genre's and it looks like a place you could spend some serious time!

The Wild Rose Press "In the Greenhouse" - There are a ton of writing articles here, for newbies on up to published folks. They have it broken down into categories.

* Seedlings - For newer writers, though I found much of use there.

* Blooming and Growing - for more experienced folks.

* The Writer's Toolbox - For everyone!
WritersWeekly: I stumbled across this site because Charity mentioned a course she was taking, and it looks worth some time. They have articles, online courses, warnings, forums and more.

Lastly, I'll mention the OWL Lab at Purdue: This is the best place I've found for grammar explanations (see their link called "Grammar and Mechanics") plus much more about writing in various forms.

And don't forget, I have a Links Page on my website, and am always looking for more to add, so feel free to share any writing links that you find value in.

Have a great day!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Editing and Friends

No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published. ~ Russell Lynes

I've spent the past few days working through Judy's novella for her and trying to give good advice. I find myself focusing on those things that are my weakness -- gerunds, passive voice, repeated words -- and have to force myself to look outside that particular box because there are other things to be aware of.

Also, I try to remember that it's not just about criticizing the bad stuff. It's about complimenting the good stuff. For instance, I just read a part that I zipped through and forgot to crit because it was so good and I had to know what was going to happen next. I got to the end of the chapter and realized I hadn't made one note for pages and pages. Oops. That was fun, but let's go back with an editor's eye instead of a reader's.

Truthfully, some days reviewing other folks stuff can be frustrating because I want to write my own. BUT, I find that it helps me as a writer to work through critiques. Plus, I get to read some really great stuff and that's exciting, too, because good reading material is hard to find.

I'm almost done with Judy's -- it was a novella (though, Judy, I'm happy to take a look again once you've finished all the changes). Next, I get to read a book I've waited YEARS to read: Less Than Three. I'm bouncing in my seat and can't wait to crack it open (figuratively, of course, since it'll be on my computer).

What about you? Do you do much reading of other people's work? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Do you find you learn from it?

Editing aside, I find great value in my writing friends, and can't believe how much I've come to rely on them. You guys are the best!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Character, Plot and Voting....

"You see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream things as they never were and ask, 'Why not?'" - George Bernard Shaw

Yunno... about yesterday and that P&E and my story and go-forth-and-vote-for-me thing... Um, it's clear that not ALL the romance short stories from the year are there, so how do you get on there? Are you nominated and then seconded or something? Just curious.

And if you didn't know what I'm talking about, go see the post below this one.

So, I was reading Jenny's response to Bob's inital post this week on their How To Write Workshop. And much of it intrigued me.

It's all about plot vs. character, though she clarifies and says that it shouldn't be plot VS. character, but plot AND character.

For example, she writes:

The event or situation that begins your book happens to Character A and because of the kind of person Character A is, you get Story A. But if the exact same event happens to Character B, you get Story B. Character determines plot.
I suppose that, intellectually, I have always known this. But I wanted to test the theory.

So, I wondered (and this will make little sense to those of you who haven't read my WIPs, but bear with me)... what would happen if I took Camilla's situation of having an unwanted person forced upon her and put Liv, Tish or my newest heroine, Laurie, into the same situation?

Liv would rent a hotel room -- a really nice, swank, plush, over-the-top hotel room for one of them. Or hire help. And he might end up being her type, but I don't know if she'd give him the time of day long enough to find out.

Tish would be his friend and mother. They'd go shoot some hoops together and then she'd cook him dinner and iron his clothes. But they'd never fall madly in love.

Laurie would leave. It's what she does best. When the going gets tough, Laurie gets going.

The fact is that the story would be completely different if I changed the heroine. So I suppose that means that, for me at least, character really does determine plot. Or, conversely, plot (or the end result that you desire) determines the characters you use.


Maybe I'll mix it up a little more, just for fun. Take character A from one story and introduce them to character B from another. Hmmm ... I think Minerva and Geoff might be an interesting couple.

What about your stories? Do you think that any of your H/H's could be interchangable? And do you start with plot and add characters to fit or do you think of interesting characters and then add a plot that works for them?

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Hey all... Allie just gave me a heads up that my Wild Rose Press short story "Now That We've Found You" is up on a Preditors & Editors poll for Best Romance Short Story published in 2006.

Care to vote for me?

Feel free to pass the word!


Forty Years Old

When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it. ~ Mark Twain

Welcome to the beginning of my fortieth year! You know what one of the best parts of my birthday is? That Charity has to write a blog entry over at the Wet Noodle Posse. So, C... no pressure or anything... but, um... I'm waiting.

Your Birthdate: January 11

Spiritual and thoughtful, you tend to take a step back from the world.

You're very sensitive to what's going on around you, yet you remain calm.

Although you are brilliant, it may take you a while to find your niche.

Your creativity is supreme, but it sometimes makes it hard for you to get things done.

Your strength: Your inner peace

Your weakness: You get stuck in the clouds

Your power color: Emerald

Your power symbol: Leaf

Your power month: November

Now that that's out of the way...

I found a short story in my file that excited me for a change. I worked on it like a maniac, changed it A LOT and added a couple thousand words (of course, I deleted about the same amount... so it's a wash). Then, last night while I was vacuuming the black fur off my carpets (I love my dog, but some days...) I had an epiphany! I thought of the perfect last line (well, three lines, actually). The best part is that I now know how it's going to end, which is the problem with the other umpteen stories sitting there, unfinished.

Then, as I got all dozy in bed last night, I thought of my next line in the manuscript. It seems simple enough: "No." But the thing is that she's asked him a questions that he originally said "Yes" to, and it changes the whole feel of the story.

In fact, as I write this, I'm getting all excited again and need to stop this and go write that.

Then, I'll have to make time to do a bit more editing on Judy's novella. I'm really enjoying her story, even though it's depressing as all get out right now. She's really got the whole "drag your character down as low as possible" thing down pat.

I'm playing a really old Rick Springfield CD right now, and it's got one of my fave songs: "Why Are You Waiting?"

The chorus is simple but powerful -- he's talking about standing outside the door (of success or progress or to the place he's always wanted to be) and he's afraid to go through.

Then comes this:

Why are you waiting? (this is loud and on a heavy beat)

What if I fail? (Just Rick by himself)

Why are you waiting?

What if I fail?

You won't fail, you won't fail, GO! (loud again)
Don't we all feel that way sometimes?

I can't submit that story or novel. It's not done.

You've been polishing it for five years now. It's done. Submit.

What if I'm rejected?

Submit it.

What if I'm rejected?
Who'da thunk I'd get deep thoughts from bubblegum rock?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

DeLurk and Win!

Okay... not here, though I'd love for all the lurkers to delurk and just say "HI! I was Here!!"

But Judy (Ju-Dee, Ju-Dee, Ju-Dee) is celebrating her 199th post by giving one lucky de-lurker a book of choice from her bookshelf.

So, go forth and comment!

Goofy Stuff

Humor has a way of bringing people together. It unites people. In fact, I'm rather serious when I suggest that someone should plant a few whoopee cushions in the United Nations. ~ Ron Dentinger

Judy went to town yesterday with all kinds of games and quizzes. I played the map one so far, and after all the "next" buttons came across this:


While seated, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.

Your foot will change direction and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.
I did this a ton of times, and they're right! I can't seem to stop my foot from changing direction.

The things we do to waste time.

While reading this blog entry, I came across Rule Number 4:

New Rule 4: Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: do you have two of them? Okay, we're done.
This completely cracked me up for some reason. Maybe it's just me...

And lastly, I leave you with something you might have already seen, but contains the wisdom of the ages:

Why, Why, Why

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting weak?

Why do banks charge a fee for "insufficient funds" when they know there is not enough ?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars but check when you say the paint is wet?

Why doesn't glue stick to the bottle?

Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"?

If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?

How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?

When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, "It's all right?" Well, it isn't all right, so why don't we say, "That hurt, you stupid idiot?"

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?

In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?
We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Yes, I'm still writing.

Yes, I'm still reading the same book from yesterday.

Yes, I really, really need a second cup of coffee before I post any more blog entries.

How's your day going?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Hey folks, looks like "old blogger" is down and many of the folks I refer you to in the post below are on "old blogger" so you can't get to them. I think it's an evil plot to get everyone on to "new blogger". What do you think?

It's Official

The blurb for my latest Wild Rose Press story is up on my author's page. Will it ever stop giving me the tingles to see my stuff up and all official?

It's also up on the Coming Soon page for the Sweetheart Rose line.

Am I boring you?



A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be. ~ Douglas Pagels

Yesterday, Judy decided to create "Promote Your Friends Day" (after carefully Googling to make sure she really was the creator of said day). I thought it was such a good idea, I decided to do it, too!

Go congratulate Allie for the sale of her novel, "One Night In Boston" to Samhain Publishing! Allie is a fantastic writer, and it constantly amazed me that she hadn't found a home for her stuff. Now, some exceptionally wise editor at Samhain has rectified that. Yay for Allie!

The very busy Ceri has THREE books coming out this year, two from Samhain and one from Whiskey Creek! Feel free to head on over to her blog and tell her congrats.

And friend by osmosis (is the friend of a friend my friend, because I know that the enemy of my enemy is my friend... or am I just my own Grandpa?), Colleen Gleason just celebrated the release of her first novel, "The Rest Falls Away" -- this book is absolutely the next book I will purchase. Head over and check it out.

And just because they're warm, wonderful human beings, feel free to go say howdy to:

Charity, Anno, Mary and Tori.

Got friends? Why not promote 'em?


So... I was at the library the other day, and I don't even know why I was looking in this particular section, but some brightly colored books caught my eye (they were on the very bottom shelf, it's weird I even saw them). Once I read the titles, I knew I had to read the books -- and I haven't been sorry.

If you like cozies with strong characters (and a decent mystery, but it's the characters that have me hooked), you have to read Jill Churchill's Jane Jeffrey's mysteries.

The first one, I listed yesterday - "Grime and Punishment".

Today, I'm starting - "A Farewell to Yarns"

Then comes "A Quiche Before Dying". I can't wait!

Check 'em out!

Monday, January 08, 2007

I Have An Idea

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Ideas. I have hundreds of them. I try to jot them down if they seem particularly interesting or add them to a current WIP. Many seem like they'd make great stories, and I often sit down and begin to write.

I must have a dozen or more short stories begun that I can't find an ending to -- or I know the beginning and the ending, but I don't know how to get the characters there.

Yesterday, I read the latest lesson in the Crusie/Mayer online writing workshop, and in it Bob said:

Idea is not story.

To me, there is a very big difference between the idea and the story. I’ve had great ideas that I couldn’t transform into a story.
And a bit later he said,

It is a big jump from idea to story.
I couldn't agree more.

I really want to flesh out some of these ideas, and brainstormed a bit the past couple of days. I started one short story that would have been for Womans World, except it took on a life of its own and is now at about 2000 words, and the characters show no sign of slowing down. Probably is, I've got this great set up, but I don't know how to get to the HEA with them.


What do you do with "great" ideas that just don't want to work out for you?


Sunday, January 07, 2007

One Step at a Time

If at first you do succeed - try to hide your astonishment. ~ Author Unknown

I woke up this morning to an email in my inbox from The Wild Rose Press editor to whom I most recently submitted. Immediately my body went into fight or flight mode. I'm telling you, there's nothing like an email from an editor to wake you up. Works better than the strongest coffee.

Just to make sure I wasn't disappointed, I said outloud, "Bet she rejected it." That way, if she did, I already knew and if she didn't it was more than I expected. Right?

I closed my eyes and clicked (will it ever get any easier?), then peeked through the slit of one eye -- as if it will be somehow less painful that way.

Good news! Phew!

The Wild Rose Press offered me a contract on my Sweetheart Rosette, "Tickle Fights and Barbeques". Yay!

Now I just have to fill out the Author/Story information sheets and get the contract in the mail.

I'm very grateful that TWRP offers the medium to publish short stories. When I was published in December, I went shopping and bought several other stories to see what the quality of work was there, to see if I was keeping good company. I bought four random stories that sounded interesting... and I loved every one of them. That helped to make me feel good about having my own work published there.

I'm still working on my novels, but the little successes really help keep my momentum up.

So, how's your day going?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Funny!

I don't often share the funny things my daughter says, because all kids are pretty witty. But this morning, while she sat sniffling beside me from a cold, she asked me why your nose gets stuffed up when you have a cold, and I said it was all the yucky stuff our body was fighting off along with the dead white blood cells (who nobly sacrifice their lives for our health)

She replied, "Why can't blood cells be like us and bury their dead?"

I'm still laughing.

The More Things Change...

Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better. - Sydney J. Harris

I fell in love with this quote while reading my Taste For Life magazine and had to share it. Ain't it the truth?

We want to keep our job, we just want the schmucks we work with to go away.

We want our kids to stay small (don't you wish they would just STOP growing so fast?), but we want time to ourselves as well.

We'd love our puppy to stay a puppy forever, just to stop peeing on the carpet.

We'd like to have the body of our youth, and the wisdom of the ages.


That wasn't really what I'd planned to post on. I just really liked that quote and feel compelled to share it.

What I did want to talk about was joy in writing. Just a little, because what got me going about it was Brenda Coulter writing about Susan Hill writing about it. So it's clearly been well discussed. Being me, and being opinionated, I had to add my own two cents.

Susan (may I call you Susan?) found herself frustrated that so many aspiring authors don't seem to enjoy writing. She says that, if you don't, you shouldn't be writing.

Brenda (may I call you Brenda?) added:

...if you don't find it irresistibly challenging and deeply satisfying--in other words, fun--then maybe you weren't really cut out to be a writer.
I think "joy" and "fun" are really two different things, I understand what she's saying here. Both seem to indicate that there should be joy in your writing or you simply shouldn't write.

There are many times I don't have "joy" in writing. Times that I hate, Hate, HATE editing, don't like the story I'm writing because I have to push through a particularly tough part and just opening the document is agony. Times when I just don't think I have it in me to continue one more day.

But the truth of the matter is this: I can't NOT write. Even when I wasn't writing for potential publication, I wrote. I wrote poems, and short stories and in my journal. Even then, when the stress of publication wasn't hovering over my head, threatening to squash my heart and my ego, there were many times that I found no "joy" in what I did.

But I couldn't stop.

Writers write.

Now, there are certainly times when there is joy. When the words pour from my fingers like they were written in the stars, and I'm simply transcribing them. When my characters come to life and throw themselves and their story onto my page. When I laugh out loud at something unexpected that happens, or feel my heart squeeze when my hero says something particularly wonderful.

Those are the times that make the tough times worth it. But I can't count on them. I write because I must. Not because I find joy in it our because it makes me happy (I don't want you to think I'm miserable, I'm not... but more than "joy" I find challenge and stimulation in my writing).

Writers write.

That's the difference between a writer and someone who isn't (but who proclaims themselves to be). If I said I was a waitress, but never went to work at the restaurant, all I'd really be is a woman sitting at home.

Should there be joy in writing? Of course, some of the time. If there was NO joy, then there would be no purpose. But should I always love sitting at the computer? Should I smile just to think of starting my day? Not always.

Brenda says:

Maybe that little word "fun" bothers some writers because it appears to suggest this process is an easy one. Writing isn't easy--it requires vast quantities of patience plus unwavering concentration and some amazing organizational skills--in short, discipline.
That may be part of it in my brain... it is hard to be a good writer.

But it's not always fun. Sometimes it's boring, challenging, frustrating, annoying, and demoralizing.

But, if you can't NOT write, you're a writer at heart. If the stories buzz in your head until you put them down on paper, you're a writer. You don't need to cackle with glee while you do it.

In my opinion.

Friday, January 05, 2007

To Make Sense of it All?

Life is like a blanket too short. You pull it up and your toes rebel, you yank it down and shivers meander about your shoulder; but cheerful folks manage to draw their knees up and pass a very comfortable night. ~ Marion Howard

I got conflicting responses yesterday to my post regarding depressing stories vs. uplifting ones. I didn't expect differently, to be honest, because those depressing stories are still written, read and "enjoyed", so clearly someone must be doing the writing, reading and enjoying!

Allie reminded me of some good classics (I liked "To Kill a Mockingbird" a lot and forgot that!) and Charity threw a quote at me from my fave author, Jenny Crusie (which makes me sit up and listen):

Then Bob says, the more negative the Intent/Theme, the harder it is to keep readers. I don’t agree. So you write a book in which love doesn’t conquer all, big deal. Some readers don’t like happy endings, they want their catharsis through tragedy. What matters is that your negative or tragic intent have meaning.
I suppose I agree with this, in part. It's probably why I love the movie "Beaches" and my favorite episode of "M*A*S*H" was the finale "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" even though it made me ball like a baby when I saw it (and, just to date myself, I watched it on its first run in prime time -- I was reminded of it recently when TV Land ran the episode... and it still makes me cry).


The crying that I did wasn't so much from sadness, though it's certainly sad with whatserface dies in Beaches. It was from something different that I don't think I can put a name on... so maybe "catharsis" would work best.

The stories, movies, etc. that I hate are when something happens (like in a book my mother just read) where the heroine spends the entire book getting over the death of her husband by cultivating a new relationship, and then at the end of the book the guy says (and I'm paraphrasing), "Well, I'm glad you're all better, but I've decided I want to marry Elizabeth instead."

Charity also said:

And if an ending is sad or tragic, it doesn't mean it is necessarily depressing. The news is depressing because a lot of the time, it's hard if not impossible to find meaning in some things that go on.

That's why some people want to read/write sadder books--to make sense of it all, to give it meaning.
This is probably why I enjoy TV shows like "Criminal Minds"... that and the fact that they always save the person at the end (my HEA). But this show in particular helps the viewer understand the "why" of the crimes and not just the "who".

"Where the Red Fern Grows" SUCKED. That was NOT catharsis, it was tragedy. I found little meaning in this. Same goes with some other classic youth literature like "The Yearling" and "Old Yeller". HATED THEM.

I also detest "Romeo and Juliet" and thought they were both absolute idiots who blew their chance at a HEA. Good prose, though, much of which I have memorized because of a ninth grade English teacher. But the story? Ugh.

"Of Mice and Men"? Puh-leez.... (though I really pretty much hate all Steinbeck)

I suppose, though, that Mary summed my own opinion up best when she shared hers:

That's exactly why i read romance! I am not so much into the light and fluffy, but I love the security of knowing it will all come out.
I need a REAL happy ending, not a lame one where it "might" work out, or "maybe" he'll come back.

Life is uncertain, scary, ugly, and unkind. Every day I read about death, abuse, kidnapping; I hear ugly words; I see litter, graffiti, need, anger and inconsideration.

I have to live in this world where the negative stuff is thrown in our faces no matter where we turn. So, when I try to escape it -- whether through books or movies or television, I demand something that makes me feel good.

That's why it's called "escape".



I just finished reading the Jenny Crusie comment that Charity referred to (or to which Charity referred -- reminds me of a scene in "Designing Women" where they were at a fancy to-do and one of them asked a snobby lady, "Where y'all from?" and the lady replied, "I'm from where we don't end our sentences with a preposition." to which the character replied, "Where y'all from, bitch?" LOLOLOL...)

But I digress.

The end of that Jenny Crusie quote was exactly the point I was trying to make. She says:

When I was in workshops in grad school, I read one literary short story after another that ended hopelessly because “the world is like that.” No, it isn’t, especially it isn’t for a lot of grad assistants who were getting a full ride on their tuition plus a stipend. We were the luckiest people in the world, where were they getting this “Life is hopeless” garbage? Their unhappy endings didn’t mean anything, they were just depresssing so the writers could look Deep.
Yes. That's what I meant to say.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Show Me the Funny

Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is. ~ Francis Bacon

Life is depressing enough... why would I want to read depressing stories? I never, never, never liked Danielle Steele, even in her heyday because she truly tormented her protagonists, ripped them limb from limb, destroyed them in every way possible before -- in the last ten pages -- she gave them a happy ending.

That isn't a good story for me.

As a younger person, I took English Lit and was subsequently force fed "literature". I read "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" by Ernest Hemingway. Now there's an uplifted story! No, wait... even better: "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck! Yes! That leaves a rosy glow when you read it, doesn't it?

With the possible exception of Charles Dickens, who had a wicked sense of humor (and whose work I wasn't required to read, though much of it is still rather depressing), most classic literature is depressing as hell. I think about this a lot because many writers aspire to this level. Also because I homeschool, and I imagine that at some point I may be required to assign the classics to my DD -- something I will undoubtedly resist with much fervor because of the clear memory of how much I hated it myself.

I'm finally reading a Harlequin American novel that I am thoroughly enjoying -- it's fun and doesn't take itself too seriously. The characters are great and well-rounded and quirky enough to really appeal to my odd sense of humor. It's one of the first times I've read a category romance and thought, "I wish I'd written this."

I'm only about 60 pages into this book, through, so I can't guarantee that my excitement with this particular story will last, but for now I give you:

Mad About Max by Penny McCusker

It may not be "literature", but after reading the news in the morning, I need something that will make me smile, not bring me down.

Maybe that's just me.

Is it just me?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


The time to read is any time: no apparatus, no appointment of time and place, is necessary. It is the only art which can be practised at any hour of the day or night, whenever the time and inclination comes, that is your time for reading; in joy or sorrow, health or illness. ~ Holbrook Jackson

Swiped from Judy (I seem to be doing that a lot) who got it from Karen (who is also holding a contest to give someone the book of their choice... go now and enter):

Yes, folks! It's BUY A FRIEND A BOOK WEEK!

This is really cool -- I have a friend that I wanted to buy a book for at Christmas, but by the time I got around to shopping for it, and then found that it wasn't stocked at ANY bookstore in town, it was too late to order it in time to be mailed to her. Grrr...

Now, I can order it and just have it shipped directly to her, because it doesn't need to be wrapped, right? Woo!

I'm available to anyone who can't think of a friend to buy a book for, BTW :-)

I'm in the market for Colleen Gleason's new book, The Rest Falls Away: The Gardella Vampire Chronicles which was released yesterday, if you need any suggestions.

Even if you don't choose me, choose someone. And feel free to support a new author, too! There are certainly plenty of them out there.

Go forth and shop!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Return to Routine

“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” - Mike Murdock

While searching out a quote for today, I discovered that most of them are very negative about routine. Routine destroys creativity. Routine destroys your soul.

I thrive on routine.

Today, I return to routine. Hallelujah!

Today, DH goes back to work after being off for ELEVEN DAYS. I know there are people out there who love to be around their significant others 24/7. I am not one of those people. Neither is he. Too much time together without a break and we get really cranky.

DD hasn't had any school in those eleven days either, so the return to routine for her might be a bit of a challenge. I don't envy teachers trying to get kids to settle back down after vacations.

I can't wait to settle back into a routine. My cold is clearing up and so is my fuzzy head (yay!), and I think I'll be able to get writing again. Yesterday, I opened up document after document, stared at each one blankly, closed them and played games on the computer. I had no brain power at all.

Today will be different. I can feel it already.

I rejoice in routine! Rejoice, rejoice!

“Most of life is routine - dull and grubby, but routine is the momentum that keeps a man going. If you wait for inspiration you'll be standing on the corner after the parade is a mile down the street.” - Ben Nicholas

Monday, January 01, 2007

The (blog) Year in Review

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day. ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Swiped from Judy who swiped it from someone else.

The rules: post the first line of the first post for each month from your blog in 2006.

January 2006

My husband is a neat freak.

That may as well be the first line of every post because truer words have never been spoken.

February 2006

Do you ever notice that you can see stuff in others work, and completely miss it in yours?

The scary part of this post is because it's in reference to editing my Liv Leigh story prior to sending it to my friend, Darcy. Why is that scary? Because I just did the same thing AGAIN and sent it to her AGAIN in November. She's an angel, and sent it all back recently. The more things change….

March 2006

Hubby is working from home today, so I can't hog the computer.

My worst nightmare. Seriously. Having hubby home changes the dynamic of the household. Doing school is next to impossible, I can't focus on my writing, just hanging out it awkward. Poor hubby.

April 2006

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

The comment was from Rayanne Thayne - a Harlequin author whose work I actually like! This tickled me to no end.

May 2006

I just found out that the contest that I'm in -- that was supposed to announce their finalists by April 30th -- has been delayed.

This post was all about the fact that I seem to jinx people - ezines I subbed to went out of business (twice!), once the guy got incurable cancer, and I'm sure it was all my fault.

However, since The Wild Rose Press is still alive and kicking, I hope that my jinx is over.

June 2006

Plotting a romantic mystery is a challenge.

The more I look back at last years blog, the more I feel like I'm stuck in a rut. I'm working on all the same stuff I was working on last year. Must. Move. Forward. GAH!

July 2006

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!):

Bet you're wondering just what I got, aren't you? Go here for the post.

August 2006

I may do this every week... if you all got some benefit from it!

This was my first, and possibly my last "Ten for Tuesday" post. Apparently, my attention span is quite short.

September 2006

From Charity -- I hadn't planned on doing another post today, especially another meme, but I couldn't resist. I mean, who could resist The Greek Mythology Personality Test?

Not I, apparently. I was all about meme's that day -- I did the Friday Feast and this one.

October 2006

I hadn't planned on writing anything much today -- I was a little on the discouraged side yesterday, and didn't feel like being discouraging again.

That's always a good thing.

November 2006

Okay... managed to get my minimum word count done today, but I'll be working some more.

The beginning of NaNo… need I say more?

December 2006

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

Ah, yes. The highlight of my year.

Anyone else up for the challenge?


Hey Look!!

The Crusie/Mayer 2007 Online Writing Workshop is up and running! Woo!

Happy New Year!

I was in bed at 7:30 last night and crashed until 11:00 p.m. I thought about staying up until midnight, but my body had other plans and I crashed again until 4:00 a.m. So, there you have it. My exciting New Years Eve. Considering DH was in bed next to me when I woke at eleven, he must have not been that into it either.

To be honest, the last time I stayed up until midnight on New Year's Eve was 1999 - 2000 and that was kind of a drag because hubby was at work in case all the bad stuff came true and the computer systems went haywire.

How did you celebrate the coming of the New Year? Anything more exciting than me (okay, so watching paint dry is more exciting than what I did. Still...)?

Let's see what I have in store for this glorious first day of 2007.

From Astrology for Writers, Editors and Filmmakers I found out it's the year of the pig. Hmmm... wonder what that means to a sheep like me?

Capricorn: after that mean and nasty mars square to Saturn last month, you need a few drinks with friends who love you. your writing life comes to a fruitful conclusion..placing it with someone trustworthy to turn it into gold. your birthday time is coming up, always a great time to seek and complete work that is unique to you.
I like that "fruitful conclusion" and "turn it into gold" thing... maybe this will be my year. It's what I have planned!

From Yahoo Horoscopes:

Look deeper into something that's already a part of your life. Explore the known.

Movers and shakers are listening to what you have to say right now, mostly because you say it so well. One precaution: Just because your brain is moving at the speed of light doesn't mean your mouth has to.
Are they saying I talk to much? Huh... they must have spoken to my hubby.

From Humorscope:

Capricorn - You will be able to get out of doing an unpleasant task today, by pretending you are a chicken.
Now that's more like it. cluck, cluck, cluck....