Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Super Book Store



I read an interesting article in this morning's Publisher's Lunch about some book stores applying for a liquor license. Interesting. Boozing and browsing. Seriously though, you figure many book stores these days feature a coffee shop, some include a cafe, so why not alcohol?

I think the main goal is to boost evening and weekend store traffic. Not a bad idea. Plus with all the big chain stores bogarting the majority of book business, the indies have to do something different to set themselves apart. Would you rather go to Barnes and Noble to browse and sip lattés? Or to the corner bookshop where you can sip a brewski as you browse. Hmmm...

There are already retail stores that may not have a book section, but they'll feature books to go with other products, like cook books in cookware, and fashion books in the clothing section (especially if the book jackets color coordinate with what the maniken is wearing), and sports books in sporting goods. So why can't book stores be a cut above the mundane? Books would always be the focus, but there'd be add-on pleasures to your book buying experience.

I remember when there used to be story time at the local book store for the kiddies on the weekends. Do stores still do that? I'm glad the library does. My kids used to love that.

There's live music in some book store cafés. In fact, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, the writers organization in Colorado that I belong to, just started an "open mic night" at different independant bookstores throughout the city. Members sign up to perform and read from their unpublished or published work. Sounds like great fun. I remember when I lived there we'd sometimes have open mic readings at local coffee shops, and that was a lot of fun, too. But I think bringing the entertainment to the book store is even better.

There's a great need to be creative in retail during these tough economic times. Book stores offer inexpensive entertainment through reading, and family night might have mom, dad and the kids spending a couple of hours at the local book store sharing a meal in the cafe, listening to live music or a reading, buying some books, then spending the rest of the evening at home curled up by the fire, reading to each other. I see the cocooning trend coming back, and it's about time, too.

What would be your fantasy book store? What would you like to see offered at your local book store that would make it special and more inviting?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Show v. Tell, Part Umpteen


I lectured on showing versus telling to my students tonight, and seeing as how my brain is stuck on "teacher" right now, I thought I'd revisit the topic here again. To my mind, showing versus telling is the hard, red line separating stellar writing from merely good. Sometimes we get so married to a particular paragraph or turn of phrase that it's hard to make the necessary revisions. Or we settle for "good enough for government work" because GAAA! it's hard to be so active all the darn time. Sometimes a girl just wants to lay on her proverbial editing couch and eat very real bon-bons.

This is where short writing exercises shine. I see it again and again with my students--they can make individual sentences sing, and then, slowly over time, the creative forces make their way into their "real" writing. Let's get those brains limber and shake off the cobwebs as we shimmy our way through a little tune-up.

(Please note that this is clearly a do as I say and not as I do blog because there's not an ounce of showing going on here, and I think I've managed to single handedly set the record for most cliches in two paragraphs. Reminder to self: do post on cliches next.)

Choose your poison:

  1. My book is on the NYT list.
  2. Her contract came in the mail, but she was disappointed.
  3. I wrote 10,000 words last week.
  4. She is a great author.
  5. She is my inspiration.
Have at it!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Premise, Plotting, Writing


I wasn't going to ask a question this week because, Alice has dubbed me the question asker (LOL)- but after reading hers and Eli's comments on the Saturday check-in it made me wonder- What do you find the most difficult stage of a new project? Is it coming up with the premise or idea for a book, the plotting of the book, or the writing?

With everyone at different stages in their projects and listening to the concerns or problems they face- it made me wonder, just like everything else in writing, does each writer also find different stages of the writing more difficult than others and is it because of the genre they write, or just their own preference of getting the story on paper?

Myself, I love the research involved in writing the historical westerns. I don't have a problem coming up with a story premise/idea- but I tend to get frustrated with the plotting at times, but find the writing, once I get started flows fast and the story comes. With the contemporaries- the story idea comes and the plotting seems to fall into place, but the writing is harder. Not sure why, but I feel like a newbie writer every time I attempt contemporary.

So what is your genre and which of these do you feel you struggle more with Premise, Plot, or the writing? And why?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Check in


Hey all! How did your week go? Did you accomplish what you wanted? More? Less?

I didn't write near as much as I wanted, about 4000 words. I was hoping for five times that. Hopefully this next week will work out better. But Wavy will be proud of me. I read three books this week! I had two to read for final edits and one was an EPPIE entry. That's why I didn't get as much writing done this week. Plus buzzing over the mountain for the meeting. It always takes away from my writing time, but it refuels and re-ignites my writing flame when I get back.

Only one more week until NaNo. How many of you are participating?

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Name Game

Yesterday, my six-year old son informed me I fail miserably when it comes to the name game. This is a snippet of our conversation after school.

Him, coming in the door, tossing his backpack on the couch. "Mom, I want to change my name."

Me, not bothering to look up from my computer. "Hm, sounds like a plan. What are you changing it to?"

Him: "Bryce. Spelled the right way."

Me: "Your name is spelled the right way."

Him, crossing his arms over his chest, looking way too much like his dad: "Uh-uh. You can't spell. Bryce: B-R-I-C-E. I can hear an 'I', not a 'Y'."

Me, smiling, finally turning from the computer: "Honey, we spelled your name with a 'Y' because we liked it that way. Sure, some people spell Bryce with an 'I', but we liked the other way better."

Him, looking quite indignant: "Well, I don't. I'm changing it to B-R-I-C-E. Because 'I' know how to spell. Better than you."

Unfortunately, the Gremlin has a point...though there's no way in hell I'm changing his name. ;) Nothing irritates me more than not knowing how to pronounce a name. My first year as a teacher, I remember standing in front of my 8th grade classroom reading the names off the roster list. Smart me, I didn't look at them ahead of time. I got near the bottom and saw this: Xipe. Now you tell me how you would pronounce that name! I took a wild guess, thought of Xerox and said: "Zippie". Um...not even close. The name is Aztec, and is pronounced "Sheepa". Needless to say, this boy and I were not lifelong friends.

As a parent, I wanted to give my Gremlins unique but easy to pronounce names. Our kids are: Alia, Bryce and Reece. When the oldest was about 2 we took her to Disneyland, and when we were getting on the plane to come home, the flight attendant at LAX looked at her boarding pass and said, "Wow, I've never seen that name spelled with so few letters." She's right. Look at all the spellings: Aleah, Aleea, Aleia, Aleya, Aliyah....I know there are more, but that's just a sampling. At the time we named her, it never occurred to me anyone could screw up the spelling (or pronunciation) of her name, but they can. And I won't tell you how many times people misspell Bryce and Reece. (Reese is feminine, Reece is masculine...how hard is that to remember? Sheesh!).

As a reader though, there's nothing more annoying that reading a book about a character and not knowing how to pronounce a name. The hero/vampire in JR Ward's first book is named Wrath. The first time I read that, I thought, "Seriously? No way. No one would name a baby Wrath. No matter the race." That name has always bothered me. I know, I know, it fits in with all her other "vampire" names, but it still bothers me. In my head, from day one, I've pronounced his name Wraith. Don't ask me why. Just sounds better to me, I think. So whenever I'm around anyone who's talking about those books, I always do a double take. As a writer, I try very hard to come up with names that are somewhat unique but still easy to pronounce. I learned my lesson early on. The heroine in the 3rd book I wrote was named Maren. To me that's a pretty easy name to pronounce...think Mel Gibson's dead wife in Braveheart (and when spoken with a Scottish accent...perfect). Apparently, though, not so easy to pronounce. Just about every person who read that book for me pronounced it Mare-in instead of Mahr-en. And when they would talk to me about the book, I used to cringe inside when they'd mispronounce the name, though I never corrected them.

I have my trusty baby name book on my desk, because yesterday I was looking for "unique but easily pronounced" names for the characters in my new books. As Alice's editor a few books back pointed out, the days of John, Mike and Tom are gone. Readers want more unique, but still easy to read names. Surprisingly, this is the first time in my writing I've had to turn to the name book - usually names just come to me. But now that I know these books will see print, I want to make sure I don't pull another Maren or Wrath out of the hat.

How are you with the name game? Ever heard feedback from a reader regarding a name you used in a story?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

TAKING STOCK

Ready or not, 2008 is quickly wrapping up. What have you accomplished this year in your writing career? This isn't meant to be an exercise in beating yourself up--think of it as a warm-up to claiming those raindrops and chapter awards in December!

When I first made my list, it seemed pretty short. However, when I considered all the pieces in each item, it wasn't so bad after all. I also noticed that each item on my list included learning from and working with other authors. That's also very cool.

Anyway, here's my list (without too much detail):

-- The first part of 2008 was dedicated to promotion for my first published book. This was a new adventure for me with contests, booksignings, reviews, blogging, and more. As I have all year, I'm still gathering ideas from other authors and sorting through what worked and where I could have used my resources more wisely, as I promote two more upcoming releases.

-- I plotted a series of nine books and I'm eager to dig back into the actual writing of these books. Other projects (such as the large holes in the back wall of my house) have delayed this. To jump-start this writing project, I've decided to do a modified NaNoWriMo. I'm not sure that I'll officially sign up on the Web site and participate in the forums, I just want to write as many words as I can. And I'll be watching you other Wrimos for tips on how to be productive. :)

-- I'll be part of a Valentine's Day 2010 anthology with a new e-book publisher (Chris Young's) and some wonderful opportunities for promotion, including a "write-on" part that was auctioned off as part of a fundraiser for the humane society here in Salem. This promises to be lots of fun!

So what have you accomplished in 2008 and what do you hope to finish yet this year? Remember, there are two more months left in this year--still time to squeeze in a bit more writing time!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

EVERYTHING MUST GO!


As you can see from the sign at the top, you have just stumbled across a yard sale. In respect of Kendra's recession related blog yesterday and the seemingly universal struggle to make ends meet, I have decided to get rid of extra stuff I don't need (and at bargain prices, too.) So, take out your wallets, it's your opportunity to stock up on stuff I no longer need (or hope to get rid of -- hey, one woman's cast-off is another's treasure, right?)

First to go, Indecision. This one goes cheap. Buy a big chunk, think Christmas! It's a killer for a writer, but it might be useful for -- okay, nothing. It accomplishes nothing. It freezes actions and undermines forward movement. Still, think about giving the gift (at a reduced rate) that keeps on giving! Give the gift of indecision!

No? Over there! Look. A whole shelf of fear. Man, this is going cheap, too, so stock up for those times when you think you are on top of the world. This is how it works. Things are going good, you are totally on your game. Then someone innocently says something that reminds you you don't really know what the hell you' re doing. Or maybe you read something by an "expert" that seems counter-intuitive to you but figure they know more. Drat. Or maybe you just think of something all on your own. It doesn't matter, that's the beauty of fear. No special requirements, an equal opportunity condition, you can never have too much (or too little...)

I can see you're a tough cookie. I have something guaranteed to soften your cold heart. Over there, lurking behind the monitor, you see her. Isn't she cute? Yes, she's fixed, she has all her shots, she'll sit on your desk and nuzzle your hand and demand just a bowl of cat food every once and awhile and in return, she'll drool on your keyboard. ZAP! Wait, wait, she's free! Come on, you know you want her!

Don't want a perfectly nice little orange cat? Tsk...

Wait, don't walk walk empty handed. That bin over there with the two for one sign on it? That's the Envy bin. Oh, yeah, baby, you know all about this. Maybe not in your conscious mind, but it's there lurking in your subconscious, and who can't use a little refresher? Be sure to read the warnings on the label, though. Rumor has it a tiny bit can motivate ... perhaps. But too big a dose can cause discontent and literary impotence. I don't have a lot of this to get rid of, thank goodness, but what I have I'm willing to let go at a ridiculously low price.

I can see you are a discerning shopper. Let me part the curtain and show you the trio of goodies I save for special customers! That's right, I see you eyeing that little beauty called Greed and right next to it, a companion piece, Impatience. They don't seem related to you? Think about it for a moment. One says I WANT MORe and the other says I WANT IT NOW. And don't overlook Inertia. Yes, I know Inertia looks a little worn around the edges, sure, I've taken it around the block a time or two, but it's still in working order, trust me. You can have all three for half price, but don't tell anyone.

I think that's about it. No, that box is just for show. What are you doing? Don't open that box! Oh, dear, look what you've done, you've released negativity. Gad, it spreads fast, doesn't it? Cover your mouth and nose. Close your eyes. No, that won't work, it seeps through your skin. The only defense is not to let it near you. See it? Look away. Read it? Close the book. Hear it? Cover your ears. Unless you can think of one positive thing negativity can offer you, one way it can return what it takes away from you, give it a cold shoulder. You don't want that either? I'll get the vacuum and we'll try to get it back in the box.

Okay, I can see my yard sale is a total bust. I know, let's make a bonfire! Let's pile on everything that didn't sell -- except the orange cat -- and toast marshmallows!

Did I leave something out that you'd offer for sale cheap?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Rant for the Week

My husband did the grocery shopping on Sunday. Usually I do it. As he came in from the garage with a bag of groceries, his first words were "Man, stuff is expensive!"

Have I mentioned he's a store manager for Safeway?

The slowing economy has made me more aware of my spending. I've tightened my belt a notch. Not a huge notch, but enough. I wait for my weekly staples to go on sale instead of automatically throwing them in the cart. Funny how the new sale price is the same price as the old regular price. I glare at the shrinking boxes of cereal and crackers. Their prices have stayed about the same, but the boxes are noticeably smaller. I rarely buy impulse items, but my hub often does. He bought egg nog this week. Huh?

I try to do all my grocery shopping in one trip. If there is something I need mid-week, it has to wait, because I'll buy more than I need. Or I text my husband to bring it home. This usually doesn't work. He doesn't like to shop on days he works; he just wants to go home. If he takes off his tie and name tag to shop, customers and employees still stop him in the aisle with questions.

Several years ago I stopped clipping coupons, but I recently started again. I also let my house cleaner go. I felt horrible, but she acknowledges her job is a luxury for most people. I wonder how many clients she's lost.

I had my hair cut last Monday. My hair dresser was the only one working in a salon of 12 stations. That place is always cranking with business, usually every station is full. Mondays are the quietest days, but I've never seen it completely empty. She tried to get me to set up my next appointment around the end of November. Six weeks? When I went eleven this time? I wonder how bad her business is hurting.

I'm thankful my husband has a steady job. When times tighten, grocery business increases because more people are eating at home instead of restaurants. I'm thankful we didn't get sucked into the mortgage mess. We almost did. Several times an agent flat out lied to me when I talked to her about refinancing. I thought it was a good deal. My husband ran it past a mortgage broker in his Rotary club who steered us away. I'm thankful we saved and invested our money. Yes, we could have saved more, but we're sitting better than a lot of people. I'm thankful my parents taught me the value of a dollar.

We've raised a generation of spenders. Cell phones, iPods, huge homes, awesome cars. A generation who believes these items are a right, not a luxury. We brought a large part of this crisis on ourselves and I believe it all came down to greed. People wanted items they couldn't afford, and companies loaned the money wanting the income from interest. Now everyone has to pay.

What habits have you changed recently to cut back on spending?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Valentine...



is the best show EVER! Has anyone watched this? I remember seeing ads for it last month. It caught my interest because it has Greek gods, but that interest left once I saw it was on the CW. Most of their other shows don't appeal to me.

But on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008 - my life changed forever. I was procrastinating on homework and channel surfing. Absolutely nothing was on TV, I'd already watched Sportscenter twice, so I decided to stop when I saw Valentine on. Heck, the guy was cute! And the whole Greek mythology thing.

I happened to catch it at just a few minutes in and was hooked. For a romance writer who loves Greek mythology - this show is perfect. Let me tell you about it.

Aphrodite runs a business called Valentine, Inc. - they get soul mates together. She sends her business cards into the sky, and the fates deliver them to a soul mate in need. Then Aphrodite can tell when someone has picked up a card, so they go to a woman named Phoebe and she checks the Oracle of Delphi. The Oracle shows them about the two soul mates and what their destiny will be if they don't get together. And what the timeline is.

The premise is that their business is waning, less and less people are using their "service." Keep in mind that the soul mates don't know they are getting services by Greek gods. The gods use the purpose of their business to fit the needs of the soul mates. In the first episode, the hero and heroine (just friends) has a tiff so he shoved photos of them down the sink. The Valentine, Inc. card came floating through the window as a 24-hour plumbing service. So the gods show up as plumbers then proceed to help the soul mates get together. Another episode they were wedding videographers, last night they were lawyers, etc.

So, in this world the gods start turning mortal as they become irrelevant. So they need to kick their business up a notch. Aphrodite decides to bring in an expert on modern love. She waits for the fates to show her what to do, and she picks up a book that's used as a table leg. It's a romance novel :) So she convinces the romance writer to join their team. It's really cute to see her reaction when she finds out the Greek gods are real. So a romance writer is helping these ancients to help others find love. Isn't that the best premise ever?

Other characters are Hephaestus (who now goes by Ray), who is Aphrodite's lover and first husband. Ages ago she ran away from him and married Aries (who goes by Ari), who is still her current husband in a loveless marriage. Aries and Aphrodite have a son, Eros, who is on the Valentine, Inc. team. And Hercules is there too, he's with the seer Phoebe. It's such a great cast! Each week they connect a new pair of soul mates.

I swear the writer of this show recorded my dreams and turned them into television! The first couple of episodes (last night was only the 3rd) are on the CW's Web site. Enjoy! :)

Have any television shows inspired you?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

SATURDAY CHECK IN


I need a blog fix and some accountability!

How's everybody doing?

I received the quadruplet baby book back for copyedits. It arrived yesterday afternoon and they want the changes in NY on Monday. Huh? Naturally, we have visiting family to throw into the works. It just never amazes me the hurry up and wait aspects of this business. I'll work on the edits which are the lightest I've ever seen, and then it's back to work on the WIP which is taking baby steps toward creation. I have to admit that editing a story I just finished while beginning a new one is a little daunting. Can these five pages ever swell into almost three hundred? Right now it seems kind of impossible.

So, where are you, what are you up to, and those of you getting ready for the write a book in a month thing starting in November, explain to me how you get ready for it. I think Wavy said something about plotting -- does that mean you must have it plotted first? (The plotting is the thing that sometimes takes me a month!)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Power of Patience

I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel like this is happening to me. Waiting. Always waiting. It can be so frustrating sometimes.

I'm usually a very patient person, but what I've discovered about myself is that when I'm waiting for something, I tend to subconsciously go into a holding pattern. I don't mean to, but I put off doing certain things until I hear about X, Y or Z. It's that niggling voice that whispers in my ear, "Well, there's no point in doing this or that until you hear something first."

Of course I'm talking about all things writing related. Well, other things, too, but for the purpose of this blog, I'll stick to writing. We work on our WIPs, then submit pages to our critique partners, then wait for their feedback. When we query agents, we wait for their response and hope it's not a rejection. If it's a request for a partial, we wait to hear if they like it enough to ask for the full. If they ask for the full, we wait to hear if they love it enough to offer representation.

Then comes the next phase of waiting. Our agent submits the manuscript to publishers, and you wait for news. Your agent follows up with editors, who haven't made a decision yet, and you again wait for news. I just heard this morning about a second pass on Knight's Curse, but there are still many more pending a decision. Aargh! The waiting!

So while I wait, I do other things, like work on the next book. I'm so glad I'm in love with this new project or I'd be a gonner. Even so, that waiting bugaboo bugger sits on my shoulder and whispers in my ear, trying to get me to put off this, that and the other until I hear news. So to quiet my torturer, I decided to enter a couple of contests.

So I enter the PASIC Book of Your Heart contest, make the finals, then wait past the September date winners are to be announced. It turns out the editor judge for the paranormal category (the category I finalled in) has not responded to the contest coordinator's plea for a judgment on the finalist entries. Wait some more. Then we find out a new final editor judge (St. Martin's) has agreed to do the honors, so we start waiting all over again.

I also entered RWA's NOLA Star's Suzannah. Finalists will be announced at the end of November, so I'm waiting to find out about that.

So tell me, what are you waiting for right now? And how do you deal with it?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dear NYT Bestseller . . .

Dear NYT Bestseller,

Perhaps you weren't listening at our August meeting when Maggie Lynch from the Portland Chapter told us to read contest entries as if they were bestsellers. Maybe your mocha couldn't get around your cheese quesadilla and you thought she said, "Write bestsellers as if they were contest entries."

Had it not been for the glossy cover with your trademark sassy & fun cover that made me plunk down my $4.99, I would have thought I missed one in that last round of judging. You do not take an extremely likable hero and heroine and spend the FIRST SIXTY FREAKING PAGES mired in backstory and narrative. Long, winding, pointless backstory. NO ACTION. NONE. NONE. Heck, I'm just now on page 61 and the hero and heroine are about to meet. And nothing NOTHING else has happened other than set-up. Yes, you've got an amazing voice (10! 10! 10!) and you could probably make a grocery list readable, but you're not going to sell based on voice alone.

Oh wait.

You did.

In fact you sold ME. I, with no book budget at all, saw your shining moniker in a weak moment and snuck you home behind the detergent and baby food. Once upon a time, you knew how to plot. You've got the slot on my keeper shelves to prove it, and they don't exactly hand out RITA's for "Best Backstory in a Non-Novel." You were good. Scary good. Then what happened?

You got smacked with a big ol' dose of J.K. Rowlings disease--thy editor is in awe of you, and no longer speaks up to actually EDIT. Maybe you signed up for too many books this year. Maybe you had other stuff going on in your life. Maybe you resurrected this one from under the bed in a desperate attempt to turn your discards into college funds, but sister, let me tell you, if it didn't have your name affixed to it, I don't think it would have made it out of the first round of judging.

Now, while your latest work is lodged firmly under MY bed now, and won't be seeing the light of day until I trade it away, I'm not willing to give up on you get. You're no longer an auto-buy for me, but I'll let you keep your library privileges. Maybe this one WAS a fluke. You've got too much talent rattling around in there to let yourself off the hook so easily as you did with this go-around. You need to dig deeper and fulfill the promise you make to readers when they pickup a book with your name on it.

And how can you do that? It's simple "Write as if it's a contest entry!" Wait. I know you're thinking "But that's exactly what I did! Isn't that what you've been yelling about?"

Um. No. You wrote a bad parody of a contest entry. What you need to do is to write like you've never sold before, like you'd sell your left kidney to make the GH finals, like getting an editor or agent to read past the partial would be your own personal Everest. THEN. Then, you'll have a shot at reclaiming some of your past glory. And I'll be rooting for you! But until then, please, lay off the double lattes and take better notes!

Smooches,

Wavy

P.S. Feel free to post your own anonymous rants at the writing/reading related injustices in YOUR world right now :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Knowing Lori is on a hiatus due to personal reasons, I'm taking the liberty of blogging this Tuesday morning. Lori, if you happen across this, our thoughts are with you. Meanwhile, If I'm stepping on someone's space, please go ahead and post right over the top of me, I will love seeing what you have to say.

The reason I am taking this liberty is because I realized today what this blog means to me. It's the second thing I check almost every day (after the mail. Oh, and if the dog is still breathing.) Unlike so many of you, I don't have the distractions of children or commuting or deadlines other than writing ones. I don't blog anywhere else and I seldom read other blogs though I do sneak into a few of yours once and awhile. I love opening up this blog and seeing what everyone else is up to, what they think, what concerns them, where they are on their journey. I love Lori's gentle humor, Eli's snarky insights, Danita's wit, Paty's questions, Genene's thoughtfulness, Lisa's take on getting started. I love the ying and yang of Wavy's rants, hearing about Kendra's children and reading addiction --er, habit-- Karen's imagination. You are all funny at times, insightful at times, serious, confused and determined and you always start my day in a positive way. I love the responses from bloggers, members and non-members alike, they so often see things in a different way and they enrich the experience. So, from the bottom of my heart, thankyou to bloggers and readers alike.

Every once and awhile, one of us throws something out that raises hackles or eyebrows or blood pressure, something we either identify with or disagree with. Something that annoys us. And that, I believe, is okay. Maybe even good on occasion as it means we're thinking and reacting and becoming involved and isn't that the point? Most of the time, our blogs are not confrontational, they're more along the lines of musing meanderings with a little information, a lot of opinion and many questions thrown into the mix. And that's good, too. A decent walk along a riverbank may not get your heart pounding like running from a pack of rabid dogs, but on a day to day basis it's a heck of a lot more pleasant.

Do you look forward to reading our blog every day? Which kind do you enjoy the most? If you're not a member and you check in every day or even once and awhile, do you know we enjoy hearing from you and you are always welcome to participate?

OUR BLOG

I am taking the liberty of blogging this Tuesday morning. If I'm stepping on someone's space, please go ahead and post.

The reason I am taking this liberty is because I realized today what this blog means to me. It's the second thing I check almost every day (after the mail. Oh, and if the dog is still breathing.) Unlike so many of you, I don't have the distractions of children or commuting or deadlines other than writing ones. I love opening up this blog and seeing what everyone else is up to, what they think, what concerns them, where they are on their journey. I love Lori's gentle humor, Eli's insights, Danita's wit, Paty's questions, Genene's thoughtfulness, Lisa's take on getting started. I love the ying and yang of Wavy's rants,

Monday, October 13, 2008

Titles

This one or that one.... Well, I'll post my original post here and the other one I was thinking about will be on my Monday personal blog. So you'll have to buzz over there to see what the subject I was thinking about posting is. :)

I know most authors say your titles will be changed you don’t need to think too hard about them. But according to agent, Jessica Faust of Bookends Agency, that is the first thing that grabs her about a manuscript and will keep her reading. The title.

She says it should evoke the feel of the story and grab the reader’s attention. Granted most titles get changed when they are bought by a publisher, but if you have a good one, it will grab the attention of your first reader-either an editor or an agent.

So, I’ve been anguishing over the title of my historical western mystery. I had planned to use colors in the titles, but so far no one has liked the titles I came up with. Then I thought I’d just go with Mae Simon, Pinkerton Detective: Vanishing Heiress. To keep the series influence the Mae Simon, Pinkerton Detective would be on all the manuscripts with a title for each book. But that doesn’t grab the reader. Then I thought of “Au Revoir Esther” since at the beginning of the story the heroine throws off her old persona “Esther”, and she pretends to be a French Prostitute. But this doesn’t tell you there is a mystery involved in the story.

Faust also said your title should let the reader know a little about the story genre.

I need something that says historical, western, romance, mystery…

The title of a book, usually comes to me just like the characters and the premise, but for some reason this book isn’t jumping out at me with a title. Here are some of my other ideas. Any thoughts?

Improper Pinkerton

Chasing Dead Ends

Posse of Two

Cloak and Colt .45

How hard do you work to get a title that suits the book? Or do you just name it your character’s names and figure it will get renamed when it is bought? What is your method for finding the right title for your story?


Friday, October 10, 2008

Holy Crap, Batman! It's My Blog Day

I don't know how I forgot that. (That lyric is running through my head: "...she was looking kind of dumb with her finger and her thumb in the shape of an "L" on her forehead...")

So today is a busy day in our house. The DH turns 40 today. He's taking the day off from work to do some projects around the house. His "big" party isn't until the 18th but he figured today is as good a day as any to get some stuff done. We're going out to celebrate with friends tonight. The kids are all also home from school today - inservice - lucky us.

I finished STOLEN SEDUCTION last night (the 3rd book in my contract) and sent it to my CPs. I'm pretty sure I left a couple threads hanging, and I'm 2K words over my limit, but I'm not stressing about it. Ironically, I'm also not stressing about whether the CPs are going to LOVE it or not. This book was a real struggle for me, but I'm very happy with how it ended. And I love my hero. Funny to say that considering I wanted to kill him so many times, but I do. I LOVE him. I also love the book as a whole, and really, that's all that matters. Funny part is, this is how I felt after I finished the first book in the series - which got me my contract - so hopefully that's a good sign.

So what's next?

Well, today, "next" is cleaning the pit that has become my house the past few weeks as I finished this book, and catching up on laundry. Then out to dinner tonight to celebrate the birthday and finished book. After that I have a HUGE promo mailing I need to put together for STOLEN FURY, some ARCs I need to get sent out, and my option book proposal I have to start working on. My agent pitched my paranormal this week, so that's also in the back of my mind, but I'm trying not to think about that one too much either.

In good news, I found out this week I'm going to be a speaker on the AskAnAuthorPro loop in June, so that was nice. And I've had several people inviting me to guest blog around the release of STOLEN FURY, so I have to start coming up with pithy "different" blog topics. (oh, the pressure!).

And finally, on my to-do list is redesigning this blog. I want to redesign it in a three-column layout, with our pictures and info on one side, our covers up closer to the top so they're visible as soon as you click on the page. I'd also like to see each of our thumbnail photos posted with our blog, so readers visually "see" who's talking, but that will require tweaking with the template I'm planning to use (and playing with the HTML code). Debbie...I may be emailing you with questions...

So that's what's up with me. What are you working on right now and what do you have planned for the next few months?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

WHAT'S YOUR PASSION LEVEL...


...for your work in progress? Lest you think this title was misleading, consider how writing a story can be like falling in love.

In the beginning, your fingers tingle to get to the keyboard. Your heart races at the thought of several uninterrupted hours alone with your WIP. A chill runs up your spine when planning the next scene.

However, during the writing process, you can lose that passion for your WIP--just as you might lose interest in a relationship--until you are slogging through to the end just to say you finished or think it sucks so bad you fear it will cause a black hole in space.

Don't give up! Perhaps all you need are some simple steps to re-ignite the passion for your story.

Think back to when you were falling in love with this story. What first attracted you? The hero? The heroine? The promise of adventure? The time period or a particular piece of information? The "fix" may be something as simple as revisiting what originally fascinated you about telling this story.

How long did your passion run high? One chapter or perhaps two? Or did you make it to chapter five or six before your mind started wandering to other stories you could have written? Try to figure out where you lost interest. If it was early in the book, analyze the beginning. Does the story start in the middle of the action or are you falling asleep over yet another scene that describes your heroine eating a burger with her best friend and trashing men? If your story sags in the middle, other authors suggest tossing in an explosion (or a car crash or a dead body or reveal a secret). Do something that turns the world of your hero upside-down and shakes him out of his routine.

Or maybe your problems didn't show up until you spent what seems like a life time with these characters and the end is a let-down. Perhaps you think you've made a terrible mistake and want to shove the whole darn thing under the bed to live with the dust bunnies.

But if this story is a long-term commitment, you don't have to let the honeymoon end! Go back and look at your characters' Goals, Motivation and Conflict. Did they have strong GMC or was everything resolved before The End? Perhaps you need to go back and strengthen the foundation of your story. Or maybe it's a matter of pacing. Don't let the heroine discover the hero's terrible secret until The End is in sight. By then, she has grown enough and loves him enough to work out a solution to reach a happily-ever-after ending.

So what is your passion level for your current work in progress? Are you still feeling the adrenaline rush or is it time to end the agony?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

SERIAL KILLERS

Honest, teacher, the dog ate my homework.
Okay, really, would you believe the computer ate my blog?
It's true.
So, here I go again.
I spent the week with John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Gary Evans, Jeffery Dahmer and several other serial killers. Trust me, there seems to be no end of them. I read chronological lists of their victims, learned who was an organized murderer and who was disorganized. I read how they killed, where they killed, mostly who they killed and endless attempts to explain why they killed. This is research, of course. I was trying to understand my developing bad guy and where he fit into the scheme of things, whether he killed for comfort or power or control or lust. I'm not sure I made an exact fit but that's okay.

According to Wikepedia, the following is a list of the characteristics serial killers share:
The majority are single, white males.
They tend to be intelligent, with IQs in the "bright normal" range.
Despite their high IQs, they do poorly in school, have trouble holding down jobs, and often work as unskilled laborers.
They tend to come from unstable families; as children, they are typically abandoned by their fathers and raised by domineering mothers.
Their families often have criminal, psychiatric and alcoholic histories.
They hate their parents.
As children, they are commonly abused—psychologically, physically and sexually—by a family member.
Many spend time in institutions as children and have records of early psychiatric problems.
They have high rates of suicide attempts.
From an early age, many are intensely interested in voyeurism, fetishism, and sadomasochistic pornography.
More than 60 percent wet their beds beyond the age of 12.
Many are fascinated with fire starting.
They are involved in sadistic activity or tormenting small creatures.

A couple of conclusions: 1.) These men led non-noteworthy lives until they started killing people. Their accomplishments were terror and destruction, not only of their victims but of society in general. Some seemed to be pathetic, some crazy, all seemed to be manipulative and lethal. 2.) The police and public outcry seemed to be linked to the social position and beauty of the victims. I suppose this is not too hard to understand. Prostitutes tend to lead nomadic lives, their behavior putting them at risk every day. If they disappear, it's not always noticed or reported for days, weeks, years. But make the victim a young mother on a run to the store, a coed asleep in her bed or a fourteen year old kid waiting for a bus, and things change. Their families know right away that they're missing and demand police involvement. It's not too different with male victims. Plus, when terrible things happen to people who are just like us, we can't pretend we're safe just because we're not in the sex trade or a drug user and the fright factor escalates. However, one thing is true: every victim is someone's child or mother or lover or friend and every one of them is missed and mourned and that's more than you can say for their killers. 3.) I do not ever want to write true crime books. Ever.

I know enough now to make my killer an asocial loner with unhealthy ties to his domineering mother (why is it always the mother?) I think I know enough to make him real but in the end, it will not be his story of depravity but the heroine's and hero's story of triumph.

Is there something you've researched that's left you cold inside? Kendra has mentioned reading about the Witness Protection program (I'd like to hear more, hint, hint.) I researched con men and the Mafia a few months ago and let me just say, as nasty as those folks are, these guys are worse. Is there a point beyond which you won't go, an identity you will not try to understand or inhabit?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Creating Readers


I think everyone has gotten the point that I read a lot. My three girls read a lot, too. I like to think they received my reading gene, but I also believe that early habits and exposure to books added to their love of reading.

My kids didn't keep stuffed animals in their cribs. (well, maybe one) They kept books. I have a fond memory of watching my second daughter, when she was about ten months, crawl over to a stack of picture books. She sat there and turned pages for twenty minutes, utterly entranced. To a mom whose first daughter wanted mom to constantly read to her, this was heaven. No, that's not my kid. Mine are much cuter. :)

Pat the Bunny, Goodnight Moon, Barnyard Dance, Go, Dog, Go, Are You My Mother? were all staples in our house. I purchased Pat the Bunny and all the coordinating books several times because curious little fingers would destroy the hands-on pages within months. When my sister and niece had babies, I bought these books for them.

At parent's night at school this year, the principal put up a chart that showed the minutes of a child's daily reading compared to their academic level percentiles. I can't remember the exact numbers, but children who read more than 30 minutes a day were in the very top percentiles. Children who read a minute and a half a day were at the bottom.

A minute and a half?!? What are they reading? Billboards?

That is why I don't remember the exact numbers. I was blown away by the concept of children who only read for such a short time. When my middle daughter was six, I was concerned because she didn't want to read. She liked me reading to her, but when I had her sound out the words she would do it for three minutes and then look anywhere but the page. At her yearly eye appointment, the eye doctor said to her, "When you read, are there sometimes two words where you think there should be one?" My daughter nodded and my jaw dropped. She'd been seeing double and didn't know it was wrong. No wonder she couldn't concentrate on a book. I felt horrible. She picked out cute little Princess Jasmine reading glasses and was immediately back to her original enthusiasm for reading.
School and pediatrician screenings didn't catch her problem. I'm so thankful I took my kids to regular eye check ups starting at age three. My mom didn't take me to the eye doctor until the fifth grade when I told her I couldn't see the blackboard. I can't help but wonder how many subtle eye problems could be affecting other children's reading habits.

Did your kids like books when they were tiny? Did it continue into school?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Nauta amat puellam.

One of my classes this fall is Latin 101. I had wanted to take Italian because I enjoyed the language so much while over there, but we don't offer it. I figured Latin would be a good second choice for a few reasons: 1) it will help me understand English better and possibly be a better writer; 2) it will help me as I pursue anthropology (species names and such in Latin); 3) it's the basis for Italian and Spanish, among others, and many say once you understand Latin you can understand most of those languages much easier.

But, let's be honest. The main reason I'm doing it is purely selfish and a bit silly. I want to be able to visit Italy and go back to Rome, Pompeii and Herculaneum and read the dang plaques and statues! Having that connection with the past would be amazing. I've always wanted to learn Ancient Greek for the same reason. Ha! We'll see :)

As I've been sitting in Latin class this past week, I've found about 80% of my brain focused on the work, and 20% mulling possible story ideas to incorporate Latin. An ancient society - Latin translators by day, vampire hunters by night. An archaeologist who finds an ancient relic on a dig, after translating it from Latin she learns it holds an ancient power. A Latin professor finds love in a laundromat. ;)

I've often wondered why there aren't more (any?) historicals set in the classical world. I'm going to start the trend dang it!

I hope this class continues to spew forth story ideas. What in your daily life produces the most fodder for your work?

Oh! And the subject line says: The sailor loves the girl. Latin 101, baby!

Estis meae amicae. (you are my friends).

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Saturday Challenge Check in

Couldn't stand waiting any longer!!!!!!!!!! Had to say- I Finished the contemporary yesterday!!!! So as soon as my CP gets to the end of her critiques and I read through one more time it's headed to a beta reader, then one more read through by me and it's off tot he Harlequin editor who requested the full.

So that's my happy news!

HOw did everyone else do this week?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Too Punny For Words

I thought these couple dozen puns were pretty clever. I didn't write them -- wanted to clear my name on the plagerism thing -- but I'm posting them for lack of time to try to come up with something even as remotely clever.

As fellow wordsmiths, I hope you find these as entertaining as I did.

Enjoy!

1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whisky maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, "You stay here, I'll go on a-head."

14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the Grass.'

16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, "No change yet."

17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

18. It's not that the man did not know how to juggle, he just didn't have the balls to do it.

19. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium, at large.

20. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

21. A backward poet writes in-verse.

22. In democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes.

23. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

24. Don't join dangerous cults, practice safe sects!

What was your favorite? I liked most all of them, except #10 is older than the mountains and I've heard number 11 before too. My favorite are numbers 2, 5 and 19.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Your life, the Romance Novel

I'm neck deep in all the lovely essays I mentioned yesterday, so this is going to be brief, but FUN. Don't you wish your life was a romance novel? You know, you and the hubs, gazing seductively at each other across the couch, lightly bantering as you celebrate the epilogue of your HEA? Adoring children frolicking in the backyard? Magically clean mansion with unobtrusive yet colorful servants? Quirky, supportive gal pals with Ya-Ya rituals aplenty? Master suite blazing with enough passion to make the neighbors jealous--seven years in? Kama Sutra on stand-by? And, don't even get me started on superpowers, wardrobe, and looks---Don't we all want to be a heroine?

What? Your life is already like this? Please, do share, before I strike you down with my green eyed glare! But, assuming that your life ISN'T a 24-7 romance novel, let's play a little game. Take a brief moment from your day, and re-script it, Romance Novel HEA Style. Go as overtop as you can. Share!

Here's a very brief sample:
Bethany shrugged off her manolos as she came in from teaching, exhausted yet glowing with satisfaction. DH looked up from the delicious Chicken Ala King simmering on the stove and, muscles rippling, threw his "Real Men Cook" apron to the side. His eyes sparked with the promise of passion.

"Hello, my sexy love muffin, have some of my delicious homecooked food while I rub your feet!"

"But the baby . . ." she sputtered.

"Has a bedtime of 7:30! You know that, silly girl. She'll be asleep till morning. Now, have a truffle!"