Thursday, May 31, 2007

Now don’t anyone fall off your office chair or, if you’re using a laptop, don’t slide off your couch onto the floor, but…

I’ve actually been writing this week! Woo Hoo for me!

For months now I just haven’t been in the mood, or groove, or whatever, to write, or really even think about opening my laptop to write, but this week I started and now I just can’t seem to get over the fancy that’s struck me.

Oh, I’m not complaining, it’s just that I’m so afraid the hankering to write is going to slip away again into the dark corners of my mind (you know, it’s that place I’ve not had access to in so long) I’m almost panicking.

As I’ve pondered about what’s put me back on track, I’ve realized it’s the fact that I opened up an old story and started reading what I’d written and UGH!, it was in dire need of fixing; anyhoo, I started tinkering around and eliminating words and phrases that I’ve learned are passive and just did some general script clean up, and then I started adding layers and I realized that my characters were starting to talk to me again. It totally gave me chills!

So, what did I do? I just went with it. I listened to what they had to say and found I was typing away and finding out a whole lot of new and fun things about these characters. I had no idea they’d take me in the direction they did, but it’s been a trippy ride this week. I’m loving it! (But not like McDonalds loving it. I actually hate McYucks. LOL)

When I started thinking about the inspiration and how the bug bit me hard on the ass this week, I’ve realized that even though I’ve not been in the mood to write and haven’t hardly tried in months, I was still on the ‘write’ path because I never stopped learning about the writing process.

Things I’ve learned over the months, while the tumbleweeds flitted around on my laptop, have been slowly sinking in to my skull, they finally hit my brain, and now I’m starting to use them. My confidence is coming back and I’m finding pleasure in writing again.

This may seem foreign to all of you, but it’s where I’ve been for far too long and I’m excited that the blockage is melting away and that I’m headed in the right direction again.

I don’t have any words of wisdom to give to you about writing or anything. This is just a blog entry to show you that even if you get a major blockage, one that may go on for months, there’s hope. Don’t give up or think you’re a failure just because it seems everyone around you is going gangbusters while you’re sinking into the depths of writing despair. (a bit o’ drama for ya’ll)

Please, if any of you have wisdom or helps for the problem of blockage or if you just want to share your story of a time you were blocked, use this opportunity to share with everyone in the comments section. It may seem silly, but I clung to the fact that Alice and Bethany both have had blocks and shared that they were blocked and that they had actually gotten past it. It was a great help to me and gave me hope for myself.

The world of writers is unique and so important in spinning the tales that make the world go ‘round.

Don’t ever quit!

The Five Senses While Writing


Sitting here breathing in the scent of horse, all kinds of scenes are conjured in my mind. There’s nothing like the scent of dirt, horse sweat, and hay. I love that smell! It does something visceral to me. Since starting a habit of riding my horse everyday, my writing is blossoming. I’m more prolific sitting here breathing the scent of yesteryear. When all people had to travel were horses or feet, they had to have carried the scent of the animals. And it seems to help me get in character and scenes.

And what about music? I listen to the same cd’s for the entire time I’m working on a project. Just the music and lyrics drifting in the air seem to spur me into the story I’m working on. I can sit in a quiet house and mull over a scene for over an hour- push the button on the cd player, the familiar strains form words that float from my finger tips.

Sight- do you have pictures of your hero or heroine or maybe the area your book is set in? I bet some of you do. This particular book all I have is a photo (you’ve seen several times on my blog ;0) of the hero and I have an 1888 map of The Dalles as well as a topographical map of Oregon at my elbow. These are my sight enhancers.

Taste- can’t get through the morning hours of writing without my hot chocolate and the afternoon without my green tea. Hot in the winter - cold in the summer. If I don’t have these libations my brain doesn’t function no matter the music, the scent, or the sights! LOL

Touch- Ahh, that’s a tricky one to get the scenes flowing. I would say the only thing tactile about my writing is the fact I’ve worn the letters off of eight of the keys on my keyboard! Oh! Or the times I run my fingers over the Pool Boy’s smooth, waxy head and pat his waxy, rotund belly for inspiration and luck. ;)

What do you use to enhance your senses to make your stories come to life or your writing prolific? Or am I just strange???

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Expectations

I picked up a new book over the weekend by a very well-known RS author. I haven't read any of her work, but I've heard good things about her, so I decided to give it a go. The cover was done all in dark, sultry colors. A man and women, both obviously naked, were shown from the neck up in a provocative, almost-kissing pose. It screamed sexy read. The title foreshadowed an imminent threat, a book wrought with spine-tingling suspense. The back cover blurb confirmed this, hinting at a story filled with danger and intrigue and unbridled passion. The problem? What was inside the book - so far - hasn't lived up to what was on the outside.

This is my biggest pet peeve with books. Sort of a bait-and-switch by the publishers. They promise one thing on the outside, give you something else on the inside. Because this author is on the NYT Bestseller list, and because my CP has raved about one of her previous books, I've muddled through. (I also happen to be obsessive-compulsive sometimes, and this is one of those times.) I'm halfway now, and there's finally something happening. The back cover blurb wasn't totally wrong, it just took almost 200 pages to get there. How many of you would have given up before that point?

I could go on about the 150 pages of backstory, or the fact the hero doesn't get a POV scene until chapter 10, that the real action doesn't start until chapter 8, or that by the time I finally meet the hero I'm rooting for the bad guys because they've had several POV scenes up until this point and basically I'm fed up with how long it's taken to get this book going. But I won't. :) I will tell you this: As a writer you have an obligation to give your readers what they expect. Granted, I haven't read this author before, which is why I'm giving her some leeway here, but overall if your book cover or title or blurb promises a sexy read, then make sure that's what's inside the book. If your book is a suspense, make sure there's something suspenseful happening early on. If it's a comedy, it sure as hell better be funny in the first few pages. And if it's a paranormal, something other-worldly better happen before I hit page fifty. Some of you may say, "But the title and cover and blurb are out of the authors hands," and to that I say, "hogwash." Authors have a say, it's not completely out of your control.

Have you ever read a book that wasn't what the jacket promised? If so, tell. And those of you who are published, (Yes, Alice, this is you) what have been your experiences with titles and covers and blurbs? I'm imagining epubbed authors have a lot more control over these things, but I know print pubbed authors also get a say.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

To-Do Tuesday: Finish Line

Welcome to this week's edition of To-Do Tuesday. I hope you all had a great three day weekend! I had houseguests, so no writing was accomplished, but I know some of you may have good things to report! Speaking of good reports, my in-box is loaded down like the buffet table at Memorial day BBQ. Be sure to check out our question of the day at the end!
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Cobblestone Press Celebrates One Year Anniversary!

I received an email from Sable Grey of Cobblestone Press announcing their one year anniversary celebration, June 1-3. They have a number of great give-aways, author chats, and editor chats lined up to celebrate. Among other things, they'll be opening a new vampire series and calling for new submissions! I know we've got a lot of Vampire lovers (and writers) in the chapter, so check this site out, and take advantage of the chance to learn more about this author-driven small press.
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Paty Jager to Host Booksigning in Sisters, Oregon

Paty continues to show us the benefits of self-promotion. At her signing in Baker City, she sold a book to a woman who owns a bookstore in Sisters. The woman liked the book so much that she's booked Paty for a signing on June, 29th in Sisters at 6:30. Please consider making the trip to join Paty!

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Two June PRO Bootcamps

PRO members don't forget to sign up for the class loop! June's bootcamp classes includes one about Dallas (great for those attending Nationals or setting a book in Texas) and one about pitching.
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A Good Rejection?

I'm still pretty bummed about this, but I'm trying to see the glass as half-full. I received an email from the agent who had the full of my YA. She had many nice things to say about my writing and the work, but she decided to take a pass.
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Finished! Jen and Danita do the Happy Dance

Chapter members Jenni Gilliam and Danita Cahill have both finished MS's in the last week. Jenni finished her third MS, and sent out a query for her 2nd MS. Danita's long round of edits is coming to a close, and she's ready to "query, query, query." She also recently announced that she's working on the outlines for her next WIPs. Way to go ladies! Your awesome productivity inspires all of us.

Other productive members include Karen, making steady progress with daily page goals, Genene, continuing to move forward on her WIP, and Paty, who continues to redefine multi-tasking. What progress are YOU making? When do you want to cross the finish line next? And this brings me to our question of the day: what gets you across the finish line? Do you have little rituals you find yourself following as you type the final chapter(s)? Do you require "the zone" to finish, or does the zone usually leave you at the end? Do you bribe yourself to finish or is your eagerness enough? Ever face the dreaded block during those final pages? Share your thoughts with us.

Have news to share? Remember to email me with "blog news" in the subject line!

Friday, May 25, 2007

WILL YOU WRITE MY BLOG FOR ME?

Wow! How do I follow up a post like Alice's? Totally poetic! So I figure I'll go to bed and inspiration for a fantastic blog topic will come to me in the morning.

Ah, blog day arrives with not one clever, witty, writerly idea in my head to blog about that hasn't been done to death. So I put in a load of laundry, contemplate feeding my dogs, make a list of things to do today. Waiting for inspiration to strike.

Hmm. No strike yet.

So I take to the Internet, type "blog topics" into Google and come up with -- not inspiration exactly, but things I could steal, I mean adapt (!) to a blog. OK, I found one listing twenty types of blogs. Good suggestions, but no inspiration.

Twenty minutes later, I've started breakfast for the dogs, grabbed a cup of water -- too bad I don't drink coffee or I could write about coffee stains on my manuscript -- and sit at the keyboard.

OK, forget inspiration, I'll let all of you write the blog today!


Why do you write what you do?

Contemporary or historical? I'd have to do a lot of research to write a historical novel, yet some writers say those are easier to write than contemporary. How about you? Did you choose the time period of your stories or did it choose you?

Suspense, inspirational, comedy, young adult or another subgenre? Do you see parallels to beliefs or issues in your own life? My stories usually end up being dramatic, with emotional issues at their core such as child abuse or betrayal and abandonment. Not surprising considering my background. Yet there are funny scenes and characters who persevere in spite of great odds.

Another question: if you initially choose to write stories from your heart, what happens when there's no market or a limited market for that type of story? I know several of you have been faced with this situation. How do you make the decision to write another type of story or stick with what you're writing until the market changes? Is it financial survival? A desire to see your stories in print or to share them with others?

So thanks to all of you for writing this blog with your (anticipated) comments!

(Oh yeah, the dogs did get fed before I finished the blog!)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

THE LOBBY

The minute I walked into the lobby I knew it was special.

Have you been in the lobby of a tropical hotel? Splattering fountains, rattan furniture, dinner plate sized hibiscus and graceful arcs of orchids. An open air bar, cocktails with spears of pineapple, tiny umbrellas, exotic blossoms. Hawaiian music, the smell of the last rain that moved through earlier in the day. Tanned people wearing revealing clothes, hushed voices. Beauty everywhere you look.

But not here.

This lobby had walked out of an old book and planted itself two blocks from one the most famous beaches in the world. This lobby was filled with sandy surfboards and a multitude of mementoes placed on battered shelves a lifetime ago. No music, just the sound of the street coming through the perpetually open doors. No flowers save the brown, wilting leis departing guests loop over the head of the carved Thai princess. No bar, but there's a guy lounging against the check-in counter nursing a Bud lite, his gaze drifting over the wall of empty cubby-holes awaiting messages that will never come, not now, not ever again. He appears to have been there for ten or fifteen years.

There's a cockatiel names Emilio, warning: he bites. Faded photographs hang slightly tilted on the cluttered walls. There's an old upright piano that smells of mildew. There are sagging shelves of books by popular authors, left there by former visitors, waiting to be snagged by an insomniac or someone just arrived from New York where his internal clock is off six hours. There's a table where a congenial group of ladies meet each evening with the aging Chinese owner to play a card game called Bingo which requires little active thought and thus makes conversation the main goal. The owner always brings a bag of sweets to share, filling the hands of passing children with cookies and hard candies until her even older husband announces it is time to go home.

These ladies have been coming here for thirty, forty, fifty years. Every year. room 231, room 340. The same room each time. Garden view--what garden? Poolside, heaven help the squealing child who makes too much noise.

A box of abandoned dive gear to share. Old furniture, castaways. Old rugs--how many feet have trod upon their faded fibers? People coming and going. A family from Tahiti. Newlyweds. Old ladies and old men, some tanned to the color of burnt toast, visiting alone now when they used to be part of a matched set, finding joy and comfort in familiar faces, familiar surroundings, this small oasis that belongs in a mystery book.

It's the dead of night. The elevator door creaks open. The body of a wealthy widow slumps in the elevator, a round bullet hole between her sightless eyes. A burned-out detective calls a meeting in the lobby and questions the suspects. You know who they are. The laid back surfer. The huge lady in the muumuu. The young couple holding hands. The elderly man with a walking stick. The heavy drinker, the lonely spinster, the defrocked priest. One by one their stories are revealed…

They're all there. In that lobby. Waiting.

Have you ever encountered a place that struck you with its potential the minute you saw it? That was so full of life it filled your head? A place that begged to be absorbed and filtered into your work, a little here, a little there like the flotsam of a hundred tides?

We found a decaying golf ball while snorkeling. We left it in the lobby.


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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Knowing your audience

The last couple of days I have been thinking about that a lot - knowing the audience for your writing. I think it's important to know who you want to read your book. Not only will it help you write it, it will help you market it.

I've been talking to a someone about this. She had an idea for a scene, but was worried it would be too much, maybe cross the line. I'll admit, it's a racy idea but I think it fits into her style of writing. I said to her that people who like her writing wouldn't be bothered by that. She's an edgy writer. Inspirational readers should not pick up one of her books, but someone like me would.

I know we all want our book to be liked by everyone, but trying to please a wide range of readers will only make our books weaker. We need to know who we are targeting. Is someone who likes a lot of sex scenes (am I a romance writer Antichrist for calling them sex scenes instead of love scenes?) going to like my book? Or on the other end, will my sex scenes offend some readers?

If I'm going to pick up a Laurell K. Hamiltion book, I'm going to read some fairly hardcore sex. I know a Katie MacAlister book will have explicit sex. I know a Michelle Rowen book will be sexy, but not explicit. These are things I expect from an author. I'm sure you all have favorite authors and pick up their books for certain reasons, whether its because they have the most tortured heroes, or a very sweet romance, or on the more explicit side.

As writers, we need to remember that. We need to think like our potential readers. I don't want to go too jargony on you, but we need to brand ourselves. If someone is expecting a sweet romance and picks up your book to find a racy love triangle, you may lose a reader. And hey, isn't that what pseudonyms are for? Lots of writers have multiple names they write under for various genres or steamy levels.

I have an assignment for you, feel free to put it in the comments if you like. Ask yourself this, "what would a (insert your name) reader expect when picking up my book?" I'd answer it now but a certain someone is pressuring me to get this up so she can read it before going to the gym *a-hem* so I'll put my answer in the comments as well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

To-Do Tuesdays: Darn Those Crickets

Blast those crickets! Not only have they kept my in-box empty, but they also kept me away from the computer today. I know y'all ARE doing things: Eli is back in the land of the happy-laptops and writing again, Jen mailed her second query, Paty's finishing up her contemporary edits and is very happy with them (yay!), Paty's also running a contest this month, and everyone returned safely from their travels. I KNOW there are more little snippets of news floating around, so why don't you go ahead and email me for next week.

One small RWA reminder: Send your comments about the GH/RITA format changes in!!

So in lieu of news, I'm going to send you over to Jenny Crusie's awesome post about ideal writing groups. BUT, you must return and share your thoughts with us here! What would your ideal writing group look like? Do you think her format is a good one? How have other groups that you've belonged to worked?

Also, who's made good progress this week? Let us bask in your good writing ju-ju!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Writing and Tattoos?

Okay, this is sort of a quirky blog subject, and it may wind up as one of the shortest posts to date, but here goes...

Tattoos: Do you got 'em? Want 'em? Love 'em or hate 'em?

Your Characters and Tattoos: Do they got 'em? Want 'em? Love 'em or hate 'em?

I've written a couple characters with tattoos. In my never-ending, OMG am I so very ready to be done with this book that I'm writing, rewriting, adding to, subtracting from, editing, rewording, repacing, revving up (you get the picture) there's a secondary character with an important role who has a fanged rattle snake tattooed around her wrist. She also has one cheek and both eyebrows pierced. This poor woman has been through the wringer and the tattoo and facial jewelry is her way of shouting her anger to the world.

Do you use tattoos or body/facial piercings in your stories to signify, express or decorate your characters?

Do you have any tattoos of your own? Do you want one, or plan on getting more?

Scenes that Multi-task


I'm a multi-tasker in my day-to-day life as a graphic designer. I use up every drop of available RAM on my computer as I work with at least 5 or 6 programs open at the same time. Not only that, I work on 2 computers at once, running back and forth between them (I purposely keep them in different rooms to force me off my ass during the day ). Multi-tasking makes me more productive as I'm able to get several things accomplished simultaneously.

This got me to thinking about how we write books. We can't compartmentalize each element in a scene as a separate component in and of itself. We can identify it that way, but we can't work it into a story without the support of so many other elements that happen all at once. So it means we multi-task our scenes to make them the most effective in telling our story. Does that make sense?

Maybe I should explain better. Think of all the things that go into making a scene. You have the vital basics of goal, conflict and dilemma. But what do you do to reveal your characters' goals, the conflict that's preventing them from attaining those goals, and the dilemma that challenges them to rethink and/or redirect their actions for reaching those goals? You bring in elements of craft that develop character, describe setting, establish tone, reveal plot, introduce subplots, create snappy dialogue, foreshadow future complications, ratchet up the tension, put the characters into action... Do you devote a paragraph to each? Of course not! That would be soooooo boring. You weave them together, so in other words, you multi-task.

Everyone has their own system of keeping track of each element that goes into a scene, making sure the pace is active, you remain true to your characters, and the plot progresses. I keep written lists in my day-to-day multi-tasking life, but I keep a mental one when I'm writing. Hmmm. Maybe I should write them down instead. How about you? Do you keep lists?

Here's something else to think about (as if you don't have enough already. Heh.) Do you remind yourself about a certain buzzword or question that keeps your scenes on track? I've heard things like: "Never let your characters relax." That's a good one. How about: "There should be emotion in every paragraph." Ooh, that's tough to do. And of course my all-time favorite (thank you, Mr. Maas): "What's the worse that can happen? What's even worse than that? What's worse still?" What special sayings or quotes can you share that help you keep your scenes on task?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A little Recap on Elizabeth Boyle's Class

IMO... Last night's meeting with Elizabeth Boyle was great.

Elizabeth has a lot of fun energy and is easy to listen to. She had some very good information on conflict. (Too bad we had such a small group show up last night. I hope everyone is feeling better today.)

As I've pondered last night's subject on Character and Conflict, I've realized that I need to go back through and see if my story is going to have enough conflict to see it through to the end.

Some of the things Elizabeth talked about were:

1. Conflict can take a so-so story and turn it into a page turning story.

2. Conflict embeds your reader into the story.

3. Characters in conflict are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

4. When you let go of the conflict of the story, the reader relaxes and lets go too. (Meaning, they are able to put down the book and may not pick it up again. ACK!)

5. Keep conflict alive in every scene as you work your way to the happily ever after.

6. Write from the conflict, not from the plot or the characters. Whether you're a plotter or a panster this is from where you need to write your story. (This was an "Ah Ha!" moment for me when she said this.)

Elizabeth said that the characters need to go through certain steps during the story.

1. Denial (of needing to change)

2. Resistance (to the change that needs to happen)

3. Exploration (If I have to change, what do I have to do?)

4. Acceptance of the change. (Black moment and realization)

She also talked about the character's self-image (how the character sees him/her self) and compared it to the movie, Monsters, Inc. with Sully and how he sees himself as a top Scare Monster until Boo comes into his life and challenges his self-image. People are not happy when someone challenges their self-image.

It was a great example for me since I've seen that movie a bazillion times and totally understood what she was talking about. How your characters see themselves (self-image) was a great smack in the head for me too.

It's funny how all of the elements are right there in front of your face sometimes, but until someone points it out you're blind to it, or maybe you just weren't ready for it yet, or maybe you just forgot. I don't know. But I really got a lot out of the meeting and feel like Elizabeth presented some very fine info. :)

So, think about it. Do you have enough conflict to see your story through to the end and keep the reader hooked? (rhetorical question)

Does conflict and character growth just come natural to your writing?

I've read a lot of the writings from our chapter members and I know so many of you have got it down, but for those of us still not quite there, last night's meeting was a great reminder and help.

Have a great day everyone and I hope your characters and their conflict are right where they should be!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

To-Do Tuesday: Slow News Day

Welcome to today's edition of To-do Tuesday. Chapter members seem really busy (unicycle riding, returning from trips, burning up the keyboard), but alas, my in-box hasn't benefited. Remember to e-mail me news! But, really, though, I'm okay with the slow news day--I'm supposed to be resting with my feet up because I've been having cramping (I'm trying to decide if "rest until Wednesday when you teach again, then rest some more" leaves room for the meeting or not).

If "resting" doesn't encompass the meeting, though, I'm going to be totally bummed. Our speaker tonight is Elizabeth Boyle, and as I told you last week, her success has been awe-inspiring. This best-selling historical and paranormal author will be speaking about:

Character and Conflict: Let them Drive Your Plot. This is an advanced writing workshop on using character and conflict to plot your book and gain new insight and depth into your characters and their story.

And trust me, this is one author who knows about character driven plots. If you haven't checked out the excerpts on her site, do so today! I've ordered her latest, and as you all know about me, I'm not a huge historical fan, but Chapter One hooked me. I haven't checked with Borders or the Book Bin, but it might be possible to pick up a copy before the meeting if you wanted to!

So, in the spirit of slow-news Tuesday, let's get our minds focused on tonight's topic. How do your characters drive your plot? Do you think of the character first, then find the plot that fits, or do you think of the plot? I've got to confess, I think of the plot first, then work up a suitable heroine and hero to fill in the details. It's a bit like Dr. Frankenstein, building the monster, then dropping a suitable heart in. Minus the cackle and weird little dance, "It's alive." But, it works for me. What works for you? Share!

Congrats to all who had a good week of meeting their writing goals! And welcome back to all our weary travelers!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Faux Book Tour


Whew! Am I glad that's over with. As promised my interpretation of my book reading and signing in Eastern Oregon.

On the way to Baker City, I ran what I would say before I began reading over in my head. When I was satisfied the words were flowing, they were coherent and eloquent, I poked the button turning off George Strait's crooning and tried it out loud. I stammered and couldn't remember half of what I wanted to say.

I replaced George with Shania Twain and worked it all out in my head - again. Poked the button - again. When the upbeat tempo faded, I started repeating it out loud- again. I painfully reached into my brain to remember what it was I wanted to say and stuttered out a sentence. I looked over at Tink reclining in the passenger seat and said, " This is impossible. I'll just hold you and let everyone gush over how cute you are and I won't have to say anything." She raised her head from her sprawled position and blinked twice before going back to sleep. I decided at that point I was on my own.

At Baker I went to the book store to deliver books and speak with the owner, Carolyn. ( A really nice person!) When she asked if I had any questions, I informed her I'd never done a reading before, but someone (Thank you, Wavy) gave me some advice. I explained that I planned to read a section that was just under ten minutes. She paused and said a few weeks earlier someone had read too long and lost the audience.

So being paranoid, I raced to my daughter's house and read several shorter passages to her, asking which she thought was more entertaining. And ended up using a passage completely different from the one I'd been practicing for two weeks!

That evening, my daughter and I arrived at the quaint coffee shop promptly at 6:30. There were three men and a barrista. I ordered mint tea to settle my bouncing stomach. Carolyn arrived and we helped her line up chairs and set up "the microphone". I'm glad I had the tea to settle my stomach! The other writer, who was also reading, arrived and Carolyn informed us I would be FIRST!

I sat at a table and waited for the around twenty-five or so people who drifted in, to get their drinks and the event to start. To keep my mind off what I was going to do, I had a wonderful conversation with two women who were part of the local writing group.

Then Carolyn approached the microphone and introduced me. I picked up my books, gulped, grabbed my glasses, and made my way through the potpourri of people, chairs, tables, and overstuffed sofas and chairs. All eyes were on me as I approached the microphone from the wrong side, bumped a chair with my wide hips, and nearly toppled the avante garde podium made of steel pipe and a piece of plywood. I steadied the podium, looked out at the faces and swallowed. I spouted something about being pleased to be there, where I was from and my connection to the area. Put my glasses on, explained the set up to what I was going to read and began.

Fast! After several sentences, I slowed down, used some inflection and by the end had generated some chuckles and smiles. Whew! I asked for questions- Had some great ones asked, ones I could answer like - when did you start writing, why do you write historicals. Subjects I could talk about forever! And my passion for history and my stories must have come through. I had several people afterward come up and say they enjoyed the reading and my comments afterward. Carolyn said I did an excellent job for it being my first time reading. Not only did I conquer reading- I sold seventeen books! It was a great night- one that had me up half the night grinning! Thank you, Wavy for all your wonder insight about how to make my reading a success!

Now Saturday, was a whole different experience. I thought more before hand publicity was done. Since it was my home town and all. I had three people show up in three hours! One said she didn't realize I was going to be there until someone else called and told her, and if she had known sooner she would have called others! It was in the paper and supposedly on the radio! But no one connected my married name with me! But I had a wonderful visit with a man, who heads up the writing community in Wallowa County. He came to see me because one of the people in the audience the night before called him and said he needed to meet me because my presentation was so awesome! That, my friends, made Saturday not be a total bust!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

THE DOG ATE MY BLOG ...

I confess. I totally forgot Thursday, May 10, was my day to blog until 1:30 a.m. on Friday morning. Ack -- GUILT!

Then I had to try to be creative in spite of the guilt as well as (EXCUSE Alert Ahead) "squeeze writing a blog into my already busy schedule."

The thought came to me: why not come up with creative excuses for not doing things and post this on Saturday when we don't usually have a blog -- like a bonus blog. (Oh, that could be an excuse -- I wanted to put a turn it into something special!)

Of course, there are the classic ones: "The dog ate my homework" and "I was abducted by aliens." Those have been so overused that no one believes them any more, so you can't even use them when they are true!

I also like this one: "Officer, I didn't see the fire truck..." (even though its lights were flashing and the airhorns rattle your fillings from six blocks away).

Here are some others:
- (Why I was late to work) "I felt it was better to sleep at home than at work" or "I wasn't late ... I was just early for tomorrow." (Check out for more.)

Here's one for missing school: "Please excuse my daughter today as she lost her voice in her pigsty of a room." Or for not doing homework: "I made a paper plane out of it and it was hijacked." More school and homework excuses at .

Also becoming classics are the excuses that a close family member died and you had to attend the funeral. Some exceptionally creative (or is it stupid) excuses claim that "I died and had to go to my funeral."

There's even a book titled, "Creative Excuses for Every Occasion" if you really want to do research!

So this is my "creative" bonus blog. What are your favorite excuses? Or what creative excuses have you used? You get bonus brownie points if they are true and sound like they couldn't possibly be.

(P.S. As penance, I won't even change the date of this late blog, even though I think I finally know how! And my humble apologies for missing my day and confusing Elisabeth even more. Sounds like you've had more than enough trauma already, Eli, over your computer!)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Totally Lost...and hating every minute of it.

Oh, man. I really hope yesterday wasn't my blog day.

To say I feel like I've been out of the loop is an understatement. I have to apologize to all of you. As the evil blog overlord, I am in charge of the schedule, but to be honest, as of today, I don't have a clue whose day it is to blog. Yes, I skipped the state and was out on vacation, and yes, I know most of you are rolling your eyes and not feeling sorry for me in the least. But wait. Read on. You will soon. Generally I can look back and see who blogs next based on our on-going rotation, but when I looked Wednesday and saw Becky was blogging out of order, I got totally lost.

But, Elisabeth, why are you so confused?

Ah, read on, grasshopper.

For those of you who haven't heard my computer horror story, I'll sum it up for you simply. I took my computer in for service FOUR FRICKIN' weeks ago and I still don't have it back yet. It was running slow. Every once in a while it would shut down and reboot all on its own. I was afraid it had a virus, and thought I'd take it in right away and have it checked. I figured it would be an easy fix. The computer store where I bought it - and where I have an extended warranty - kept it for a week, couldn't fix it, and then decided to send it up to Seattle for service. A week later it came back BUT instead of figuring out the real problem, the computer geeks up there simply wiped my hard drive without telling me.

(Okay, here's the part where you can start to feel sorry for me).

Wiped my hard drive??????

ARRGHGHGHGHGHG!!!

(That was the sound of me reenacting the screaming-fit I threw when I was told such news.)

I lost EVERYTHING. Most of my books were backed up (final copies), but all my edits, all my brainstorming notes, the edits my agent and I went through on my last book, three books I'd started and gotten about 2-4 chpts into, all my suckopses (oh, that one really hurts), all my notes on upcoming book ideas...all of that was gone. No, not just gone. Trashed. Deleted. Wiped. KAPUT. As in, stick a fork in me, people. I'm done. And not only that. I also lost a year's worth of pictures of my kids. My youngest son's second year of life. His first birthday. Holidays - Christmas, Easter, summer vacation, 2006 National pics with Alice and Lisa. All photos I just never got around to backing up because I figured I'd do it "another day". (Oh, yeah. And I also lost the MWVRWA blog schedule, the template, all the stuff I file away just in case, which explains why I'm so lost as to whose day it is to blog when. Thank goodness I called Lisa this week to find out when I was supposed to blog, though I can't remember if yesterday was Genene or if yesterday was supposed to be me...)

I learned all of this Friday before I left for vacation. Luckily, my husband was with me at the store so I didn't go all Mike Tyson on the girl behind the counter when she casually said, "Oh, they wiped your hard drive. That'll be $$$ dollars." After what seemed like an eternity in the computer store, the powers-that-be decided the only way they were going to get the hysterical writer-woman out of their store and away from their customers was to do a data recovery on my computer to correct their screw up. I (well, duh) was all for it. And stupidly, I figured that meant it would get done while I was on vacation, and I'd have it back when I got home - with or without the data. (And if it was without, THEN I would go Mike Tyson on them.)

Well, vacation came and went. I spent several hours on the phone with the computer nerds from Hawaii (talk about ruining your vacation). They (again) couldn't recover the data locally and had to send it back out again, this time to Kentucky (my computer is very well-traveled, don't you think?). The good news is the Kentucky computer geeks think they were able to recover a good chunk of my data, but I won't know how much and what until I look. As of today though, still no computer. I'm hoping maybe tomorrow it will be back, but at this rate, it'll probably be next week before I have it in my hot little hands.

(There is a moral to this story...don't worry.)

If you do one thing today, I want it to be this: GO BACK UP YOUR FILES. Right now. Don't wait. Log off this blog RIGHT NOW and go back up your files. Anything worth saving. Anything you don't want to lose. Pictures, music files, tax files, writing documents, research, everything. ANYTHING. I've read horror stories like this happening to other writers and I always think, Gosh, that's so sad. I'll go back up later. And, of course, like a moron, I never do. I'm kicking myself for it now. I feel extremely lucky that some of what was on my computer before might be there again, but utterly sick to my stomach at the thought of what I lost all because I was too busy to make sure it was saved somewhere else. Don't let this happen to you.

In my case, the data recovery is being paid for by the store because it was their error. I'd signed paperwork instructing them to backup my system in the event they had to clear the hard drive. Someone overlooked it. I'm also lucky that the hard drive itself wasn't damaged and that the data is still accessible (albeit, with some work and expense). Others aren't so lucky. A girl on the GH loop with me fried her hard drive and she's having to pay big bucks (between $600-$2000) to have someone try to recover her WIP which she was 3/4 finished with and hadn't saved. Again, don't let it happen to you.

So . . . I hope to have a new blog schedule out to you all sometime this weekend (I'm shooting for Sunday, but who knows if that'll happen). Paty follows me, so she'll take Monday. Hopefully by then I'll get this all worked out. In the meantime, I've been reading posts in the evenings when I get a chance, and though I haven't been online much, I am still thinking of you all and your writing endeavors.

Now, stop reading and go back up your work. DO IT.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What's Your Passion?

What's your passion, in the writing sense?

I mean, do you write what you love to read? Or do you try and write what you think is popular, trying to advance your career? Are you afraid to write what you're passionate about or does it come natural to you, flowing onto the page, never worrying that it won't sell because maybe it's not what's hot right now?

Would trying to write something you're not especially fond of even work? I know it wouldn't work for me. Like, I could never write an erotic romance because I have zero desire to read them. I wouldn't even know where to begin. But let's say that you've recently picked up some romance novels that are really hot topics right now; you read them and find that they're fine, nothing special to you personally, but you can see how someone else might like them. Could you write something in that category? Or, going back to my original question, do you mostly write what you love to read?

In case you noticed it's not my normal blog day, Alice and I traded. :)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

To-Do Tuesday: Progress!!!

Welcome to this week's edition of To-Do Tuesday. And man, did you ladies ever DO! My in-box is overflowing with good news! Keep it coming!!!!
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Elizabeth Boyle to Speak at May Meeting

Avon Author Elizabeth Boyle will speak next week at our May Meeting on Tuesday, May 15th. Elizabeth will speak on Conflict. However, only Elizabeth's characters in her historical/paranormal books suffer from conflict--in her real life, she's fresh off a string of successes. She's a finalist for a RITA in the paranormal category for His Mistress in the Morning and has a new book due out soon, Love Letters From a Duke. She's made the USA Today Bestseller list and has ten published novels to her credit, including a RITA for Best First Book.

We're thrilled to have such an accomplished and inspiring author join us. As always, we meet in the Plaza Room at Salem Public Library at 7 p.m. If you are a prospective member or considering joining us from Portland, please email me or another member about joining us for dinner at 5 p.m. We love seeing new faces!

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Author Brenda Novak Hosts Amazing May Auction

I'm happy to pass on an announcement I received about Brenda Novak's annual auction to raise money for Juvenile Diabetes. She's got an amazing assortment of items up for bid--signed books, dinners with authors, promo packages (take note small press authors--some of these are amazing deals!!!), coach purses, and over 600 other one-of-a-kind items. The auction is going on this month, with many items up for special one-day-auctions. Her goal is $75,000 and she's well on her way.
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Chris York Sells Again!

Chapter member Chris York has another sale under her belt! Christina sold her fantasy romance short story, "Cupid's Crib" to DAW for their anthology, Enchantment Place. She'll let us know when she has a publication date. Way to go Chris!
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Paty Jager To Hold Reading in Baker City, Oregon

Chapter President Paty Jager will be hosting a reading in her hometown of Baker City, Oregon on Friday, May 11 at 7 pm in Mad Matilda's Coffee Shop. On Saturday, she'll be signing books at the Bookloft in Enterprise, Oregon. And on Monday, she'll wrap up her busy weekend by telling us all about it on the blog!

We wish you tons of luck, Paty, and of course people will show up! They'd be fools not to! Thank you for continuing to inspire us with the zeal with which you have tackled self-promotion in unique and creative ways.
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Jenni Gilliam Makes PRO!

Chapter member Jenni Gilliam is happy to report that she faxed off her PRO application. Way to go Jenni!
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Terry McLaughlin Finals in Golden Quill Contest

This is from the loop, but it bears a mention here as well. Chapter Member Terry McLaughlin continues to rack up the awards in 2007. She's a finalist in the prestigious Golden Quill Awards with her Harlequin Super Romance, Make-Believe Cowboy. Congrats again Terry!
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Jane LaMunyon Teaching Writing

Chapter member Jane LaMunyon reports that she is enjoying Palmdale, California where she is currently attending the Antelope Valley Christian Writer's Conference and will be teaching beginning fiction. Jane continues to inspire us with her commitment to giving back to other writers. Good luck Jane!
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Members Celebrate Productive Writing Week

Finally, it seems like several of our members are busily lighting their keyboards on fire--in a good way. Danita, Paty, Shirley, Karen, Jenni, and Barbara have all reported incredibly productive weeks. WOW! If you didn't congratulate them on the loop, be sure to bow in awe here. These ladies continue to inspire us with their commitment to make progress--even just a few words or pages at a time. This truly is the heart of the writing journey, and we're fortunate to have them to inspire us.

Where will your writing journey take you this week? What new goals do you have? Share with us! And remember, continue to email me your news--big, small, and in-between.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Total fangirl moment!

I'm late! I'm late! No I'm not pregnant, on my post, silly! ;) Better late than never I suppose...

Well I learned today that one of my FAVORITE authors - Charlain Harris!!! - will be in Portland tomorrow doing a reading/signing/Q&A. For any other fans, she'll be at Powell's Books (the one on Cedar Hills in Beaverton) from 7pm to 8pm.

That got me thinking about meeting your favorite authors. I really enjoy reading Sherrilyn Kenyon's books and about a week ago she was the keynote speaker at the Rose City Romance Writers. And, it's not like I expect my favorite writers to be stuck up or snooty, but I find myself always surprised when they are down to earth and friendly. And boy was Sherrilyn down to earth and friendly. She was a great speaker, so real and honest. She was amazing!

I've met several other of my favorite authors through RWA events and I'm always pleasantly surprised, but still nervous to meet them. Although we are all writers, it's hard to avoid those fangirl moments. I must admit I nearly pissed myself when I got to meet Katie MacAlister last October at the Emerald City Writer's Conferene. Many were witness to my "squeeing" and fangirlness. Poor Paty, she must have been driven crazy by my "oh my God, I get to meet Katie MacAlister!" And the subsequent, "oh my God, I met Katie MacAlister! Did you see me sitting on the couch next to her? Did you see her in the same restaurant as us? Oh my God!" Etc...

What fangirl moments have you had? Have you made a complete fool of yourself? Were you pleasantly or not so pleasantly surprised when you met your favorite authors? What about those of you who are published, what are your experiences being on the other end?

C'mon girls, spill the juice!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Does Writing Sexy Help Your Sex Life?

This may be a little taboo, but I'm going for it anyway.

Since I've progressed as a writer, specifically one of romances, I've noticed that my love scenes have gotten steamier and steamier. I used to write more tame, poetic love scenes, but I think my stuff would be considered "romantica."

And more importantly, I think my husband is reaping the benefits.

One of my mother in laws, who reads my MSes, often speculates that my husband must be a very happy man based on said love scenes (she's his step-mom, so it's not totally freaky and they are a very open family).

There have been occasions on which I've (tee-hee) attacked my DH after writing a particularly sexy scene.

Sorry for the short post. Here it is: do you think your love scenes help or hinder your sex life?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

On Writing and Wait...er, I Mean Weight

So there's two things that bug me like crazy about living the writer's life:
The wait and the weight.

Let's talk about the latter first. Weight gain. It happens to the best of us. We BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keyboard) for hours a week. We don't exercise as much as we should (I'm speaking for myself anyhow) and we keep snacks near our computers to help us through those hard spots when the plot just isn't working. I write suspense and often scare myself -- a good thing, I think -- yet this makes me snack faster as I read through the spooky parts, working at revisions.

I know the anwers to the problem. Elementary. Eat less. Move more. But taking that knowledge into reality is the step I'm having trouble with right now. What do you do (besides riding a unicycle -- Ha!) to keep in shape and keep the writer's spread at bay?

Now, let's talk about the other wait. The one that involves endless patience, hope and perseverence. As a writer, it seems I am constantly waiting for one thing or another. Waiting to get through the first pile-of-crap first draft to get on to the second. Waiting to seriously tackle a new project, no matter how much it haunts me, to finish the Work in Progress.

Then of course, the wait for the slow wheels of the editors and agents -- will they request more pages from us? Will they flat out reject us? Or, hope above hope, will they see that shimmering sparkle of crisp dollar bills in our project and offer us a publishing contract?

So, how do you handle your weight? And your wait?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I bought a new toy!

I'm not a hundred percent sure today's my blog day, but I think it is. I lost my schedule and forgot to write it down, but since I didn't see anyone else's bog up today, I'm jumping in. I hope I'm not stepping on the toes of whoever's day it really is.

See my new toy? What do you think? Seriously, this is my latest "fitness" purchase, though it hasn't arrived yet. I ordered it online. It was on sale, free shipping, and I also bought the knee, elbow and wrist pads to go with it. Ahem. I'm not a total idiot.

Why a unicycle, you ask? And what does it have to do with writing? I'll get to the second question in a minute. First things first.

When I was 10 years old, I didn't have a bicycle. I'd grown out of my baby bike, and, newly widowed, Mom couldn't afford to buy me a new one like my big sister's. However, I managed to convince her to purchase a one-wheeled mode of conveyance that would get me to and from school. Hence the unicycle. Yes indeedy, I was the 5th grade circus act at my elementary school.

Riding a unicycle to school every day, and balancing my books in my arms while doing it, was a challenge. But it was fun! Seriously. I even talked a friend into getting one so that we could ride to school together. But after a few months the novelty wore off and the teasing wore thin. I was going through my tom-boy stage, and like most pre-adolescent stages, it didn't last. Girly-girls don't ride unicycles to school.

I rode my one-wheeled wonder off and for several years after that, but it didn't take long for the darn thing to become too small for me. The seat was shredded from other people wanting to try it, falling off, and then letting it bounce and skid across the pavement. Some people thought that if I could ride it, so could they. Oh, contrare. It's not as easy as it looks. It takes balance, skill, and strong leg and stomach muscles to control a bike with one wheel.

Riding a unicycle is a lot like writing a book. It takes balance, skill, and a strong stomach to ride it all the way to the end. Like riding a uni, it's not as easy as it looks. I finally tossed the busted up old uni before moving to Oregon 2 1/2 years ago. Coincidentally, 2 1/2 years ago I started slacking on my writing. Am I being superstitious? Maybe a little. And my husband is mildly unhappy about my latest purchase because he thinks I'm going to fall and crack my head open. I suppose there's a chance of that, but you know what they say about bicycles. You never forget how to ride one. It's a bit different with a uni, but hey, I like to live dangerously. And I desperately need to strengthen my leg and stomach muscles.

Are you superstitious about your writing? Can you only write in a certain room of your house? Must you have your mascot (dog, cat, child ) nearby to be creative? Do you wear certain clothes while working on your book? Can you only write long-handed first drafts that later get input in the computer? Are you only creative during certain times of the day? Not everyone considers the conditions for creative writing as ritual or superstition, but I'm not so sure. I've broken a lot of rituals I've had in the past, some with good results and some with dire consequences. Will the unicycle make me more creative? Of course not. But I'm excited about it's arrival. And anything that excites me these days is a real bonus.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

To-Do Tuesday: Wish We Were At the Beach

Welcome to this week's edition of To-do Tuesday! The crickets in my in-box have been replaced by actual NEWS, which I'm excited to share with all of you. But, the crickets on the blog have been strong this week with the desertion of Piper and Eli for sunnier places. We wish them well on their journeys, but we also wish they'd taken us with them!

Now, onto the news!
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Reader's Luncheon A Success!

Paty Jager and her friend Karen (whom some of you may remember from the first retreat at Paty's house) drove to Portland for the Reader's Luncheon. The reader's luncheon had a bit of a snafu about books, and poor Chris Young was left without books to sign! How disapointing! Paty was almost in a similar situation, but she demonstrated her 4-H preparedness and had extra books of her latest release, Gambling on an Angel, in her car. A great lesson in the importance of having a plan B, even when dealing with a well-planned event.

Paty signed books along side J.D. Tynan (our speaker on Query letters a few months back) and Terri Reed. Terri said that she's been keeping up with the loop and is happy for everyone's good news. She's looking forward to the fall conference.

At lunch, Paty was joined by chapter members Lisa P. and Donna Z. They sat with Ruby Lee Schiender. Paty said the food was outstanding and greatly enjoyed the fabulous setting of the Govenor's hotel. She summed up her report, "All in all it was a fun day, but would have been better if there had been a whole contingency from Mid-Willamette Valley. Hopefully next year!"

Inquiring minds want to know how the basket auction went! Did Alice's basket arrive? Were you happy with the bidding? Anyone win a basket?

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Shirley Gets A Request

Shirley Connolly had great news to report. The Wild Rose Press has requested three chapters from her recent query. This is awesome news, but the truly inspiring part is the history of this manuscript. This is Shirley's first manuscript, written in 1986. In 2005, she had it printed with a POD publisher, who recently returned her rights to the work. Shirley put everything she's gained in the last twenty years into a furious re-write and edit before querying TWRP. She got a fast response to her query and now has everything crossed for a positive response.

What an amazing inspiring story about never giving up on that first manuscript! Who says it's destined to live under your bed? Dig that puppy out and whip into shape! Way to go Shirley!
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Check out the May Contests at Writerspace

Chapter members Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush have joined other bestselling authors at Writerspace. This is an amazing site, and well worth a visit. All your favorite authors, all in one place, with their latest releases, contests, and promotional activities in an easy-to-navigate page. When I got this press release, I was skeptical until I visited and was blown away by the sheer number of contests offered each month. If you're a reader of ANY genre, you have to check this out. And if you're a published author, you'll want to check this out to get ideas for future promotions that you can adapt to your personal needs (and budget).
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"We Dare You" To Enter this Contest!

The Saskatchewan Romance Writers emailed me about their contest, the "We Dare You," hook contest. From their email:

Now in its ninth year, SRW's 'We Dare You' focuses on the 'hook', those vital opening moments of your romance story.Does your first scene grab the reader? When your hero and heroine meet, are there sparks? Do the first dozen pages of your romance novel leave us begging for more?

If so, then your twelve page entry may be one of this year's five finalists to be read by Tara Parsons, Editor at HQN.Entries are limited to the first 50 submissions COST: $20 Every entry receives 3 detailed critiques from SRW judges. DEADLINE: May 15, 2007For complete contest guidelines and entry form, go to: We Dare You Contest.

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Meeting Our Goals: Danita Celebrates Productive Writing Week

Danita continues to be an inspiration for all those of us who wonder how one writes with a toddler in the house! She celebrated an extremely productive writing week, outlining her next two books, and adding more pages to her WIP! She met her personal goal, and she inspires us to celebrate meeting all personal milestones--not just the biggies!

Did you meet your writing goal last week? Want to set one and email me your progress? Sure you do!
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Thanks for joining us this week, and be sure to keep that news coming!