Wednesday, December 31, 2008

YOUR DESTINY AWAITS....



First, a brief recap of the blog week so far:
Dec. 29th: Monday: Lisa blogs about resolutions
Dec. 30th: Tuesday: Kendra blogs about resolutions
Dec. 29th or 30th: Genene announces she will blog about resolutions on Thursday, Jan. 1st
Oh, did you notice Dec. 31st, New Year’s Eve, is missing?

Yeah, that’s right. I pulled the lucky New Year’s Eve slot. When I realized this last week I was beside myself. It was a gimme blog! I could not go wrong! Whoopee!

And now this. Everyone has revisited their resolutions, admitted their failures, talked about their successes….. and you watch, Genene will come up with some thoughtful approach that makes us all feel good about ourselves (I’m counting on it, Genene.) But meanwhile, do you really want more of this from me (do you hear crickets chirping?)

So, I am taking a different route. As a special New Year’s Eve treat, I’m gazing into my crystal ball, looking into the murky future in search of the answers for your writing fortunes. Play along, it’s easy.

I. Choose a question from the list below: In 2009, will I............

1. Sign with a great agent?
2. Sell a book?
3. Hit the bestseller list?
4. Finish my manuscript?
5. Crash and burn?
6. Give up writing and become a supermodel?

2. Pick a number between 1-11 (No fair peeking below)

3. Look at the pretty picture of Times Square celebrating New Years (and posted here to keep you from seeing the answers beneath it—if this works right) and then go down to the answers, find your number and discover your destiny!



The Answers:
1. Absolutely!
2. You’ve got the legs for it!
3. If you get a new bra!
4. Right after you have a baby!
5. Not unless Jupiter aligns with Mars!
6. In exactly thirty-one days!
7. It depends on your Twinkie consumption!
8. It depends on a sexy hunk named Marcel who only has eyes for you!
9. Bundle up, take a walk, the answer lies outdoors!
10. The spirits are baffled. Try a new question!
11. Your destiny lies within you!


Happy New Years Everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Four Letter Word



Current Project: Birthday parties
Status: One organized, two more to plan

Can you take one more blog about goals? I read Lisa's blog yesterday and purposefully didn't comment. I'm rotten on goals. I don't like to set them. When I do set them and fail, I beat myself black and blue. And it's even worse if I've stated them in public and failed, so I usually keep them to myself.

But I'm always inspired when I read about how people set their goals. I admire them, envious of the discipline they have in their lives. I'm impressed by Lisa and everyone else who shared their goals. Wow. 26 goals! I love to hear about the goal setting process from all types of writers. Here's a list I've compiled that many good goal setters seem to have in common.

Take an entire day to plan your goals for the year. Don't spend five minutes jotting down a list.

Record your goals and place them somewhere you'll see them every day.

Study them monthly and consider your progress.

Goals should be measurable. Use specific numbers--five pages a day, not write more pages.

Get a goalie to be accountable to.

As I typed that last line, I slapped my forehead. We already do this to a degree for each other. The Saturday check in is our opportunity to report our goals and progress. What a great group! There's lots of back patting and sincere encouragement whether we've hit our goals or slacked off. Slacked off and admitted it, that is. I'm probably not the only one who avoided the check in when their week fell to pieces.

This is the predictable part of the blog where I post my goals, right? Not going to happen. I'm going to take this advice and spend a day seriously pondering what I want to achieve in the next 12 months. I might even mention a few on the next check in.

I won't ask about your goals, but I would love to hear any techniques you use to achieve those goals.

Happy Release Day, Elisabeth!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The dreaded look back


Current Project: Catching up from 10 days of snow captivity and isolation
Status: Ask me at the end of the day

This time of year signifies a look back for me, when I analyze what I did over the past year, what I didn't do, what I hope to do next year. With my writing, I notice a trend in this analysis. The same reflections carry over from year to year (i.e. I will finish a book next year!)

Well this time I bloody will. Darn it. I just have too many ideas to get through, so I need to get started! I've made a couple of changes to my schedule to accommodate more writing, such as cutting back the number of classes I'm taking.

I took a look back at some goals I made on the blog last April. Let's see how I did...

1. FINISH A BOOK. Siiiiggghhh. I'm actually much closer than I've been before, and I'm pretty sure it will happen this year. (Nope...2009 is the year!)

2. Edit the book. (...)

3. Submit the book to agents. (...again)

4. Write at least a draft of a second book. (...oy)

5. Get a tattoo (hopefully happening tonight!) (yup! hehe)

6. Get a nose piercing (again, hopefully happening tonight!) - priorities, eh? (yup!)

7. Apply to graduate schools. (decided to wait a year or two)

8. Finish my senior thesis. (still working on that)

9. Begin blogging on my personal blog again. (I did once, does that count?)

10. Get fit and healthy. (working on it, lost weight and in better shape)

11. Clean my apartment (I'm really starting to see a pattern here...same goals as every time...) (ummm I'm moving in a few weeks, we'll just count that as apartment cleaning)

12. Redesign my personal Web site. (it's not finished, but I did a bit)

13. Read a crapload of books (both romance and anthropology). (oh yes)

14. Flesh out ideas of a couple more books. (I did that, I just need to finish them first! oy)

15. Pick up my paranormal ideas to see if they cause any sparks. (definitely completed that one!)

16. Study for the GRE. (thank goodness, don't have to yet)

17. Take the GRE (and do well). (see above)

18. Do better at keeping up with current events. (eh, about the same)

19. Learn basic Italian. (yes, a bit, and some Latin!)

20. Learn the human bones. (much better off now than I was)

21. Try to decide on a grad school regional focus. (done!)

22. Write a short story. (nope)

23. Do better at keeping in touch with people. (Facebook definitely helps with that)

24. Get rid of a bunch of crap (ties in with the apartment cleaning thing). (thank goodness for Goodwill)

25. Write at least SOMETHING in my current WIP each day. (nope...)

26. Be happy! (absolutely!!!)

My main goals for 2009 are to finish my WIP. Not just A book, but the one I'm working on now. No more switching around when the ideas get stale. I'm going to see this one through. Then pulling an idea from my treasure chest of ideas will be my reward. Come to think of it, I'm going to make a treasure chest of ideas. Instead of keeping a notebook, I'm going to get a cute box, decorate it, and write ideas on pieces of paper. Then when I finish a project, I'll pull a new idea from a box!

How did you do on your personal goals for 2008? What are your main writing goals for 2009?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project: FAITH'S BOOK
Status: pg. 105 (sigh)

It's that time again. I am writing a book slower than I have ever written one before, but I have TONS of excuses. All those excuses will be null and void (as in, so what -- is the book finished?) in seven weeks, but meanwhile, I plod along. I'm at the stage where I like it one day and despair the next, i.e., normal book writing stuff.

We know Eli's book is officially launched on Tuesday and that Paty finished her book and Genene's book is up for an award and Danita published a story or two, but all these accomplishments could use author elaborations and surely everyone else has not succumbed to holiday inertia and stopped working??

What's going on? Did you survive the weather, Christmas, family?

Our Christmas was just the two of us although we did go visit my mother. We wandered around the facility for awhile searching for her before someone asked if they could help and we said no thanks, we were just looking for mom and they said, didn't you read the sign on the door as you came in warning you there's a flu epidemic in here and we're on a sort of quarantine? You shouldn't be in here.

Oops.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Home for the Holidays . . . .

Current Project: Rewrites & plotting
Status: "gobbly gobbly pfferneuse! "*

Ah. Christmas Eve. Feel that fire crackling? Hear those Christmas Carols on the iPod? Smell those cookies coming out of Mom's oven? It's enough to send you rushing from the internet to dive into the nearest vat of eggnog. But not yet! We have work to do!

Work? Yes. Work. See, you are not the only one atwitter with anticipation. Your characters are about to celebrate the holiday as well. "But I'm not writing a holiday novel, Wavy!" Patience, grasshopper. Patience.

A person's reaction to the holiday reveals a lot about who they are, what they value, and what their goals are. GMC all in a tidy little holiday package. And, if you really want to get to know someone, send them home to their family and watch the dysFUNctional times. Many times, novels take place over a course of days or weeks--lives change before the first frost falls. Often, the extended family only makes a cameo appearance at the epilogue wedding. Consequently, you only get a limited glimpse of your character--who she is two weeks in May while Mom's on that Bermuda cruise and crazy stalker guy is terrorizing the surbubia.

Consider this: Where was your character on their last pre-HEA Christmas? Where will they be on their first HEA Christmas? I've been looking for ways to get deeper into the emotional growth of my characters, and I've found that looking backwards from their HEA gives me remarkable insight and clarity as to what changes are going to need to occur over the course of the story to allow that character to get his or her HEA. Sometimes, we get so bogged down in certain scenes or in the need to make forward progress with word count that we miss chances to play with our characters and really get inside their heads. Recently, I've been sending my character on all sorts of sidetrips that will never make into THE BOOK, but I'm learning so much about her that I'm planning future outings for her.

Your Turn: Send your character home for Christmas! Where were they last Christmas? Where will they be this Christmas? Next Christmas?

In the spirit of giving, I'll go first:

Last Christmas, Claire worked. As an intern, she was only too happy to pull extra shifts on Christmas and New Years--she didn't have any family to go home to, and she was grateful for the excuse of work to avoid her well-meaning friends. Growing up, Christmas wasn't a big deal--money was at its tightest as her mother struggled to pay for heat, and she usually had to work as well. Unlike Claire, however, she had no choice. Any presents that Claire got were practical in nature, and her mother was usually too tired for big meals or decorations. Later, after her mother died, Claire used holiday breaks to catch up on her studying and to work extra hours to pay for tuition. Now that she's finally done with school, Christmas still doesn't have any special appeal for her, although some deep, secret part of her feels a little twinge when she sees a Santa Hat in the waiting room or when one of the nurses passes around a holiday photo. She just buries those twinges under more work.

This Christmas, everything is different. She got her HEA moment months ago, but everything still feels raw and new--like stitches that still haven't healed. Claire is surrounded by hero's big Hispanic, Catholic family. She's overwhelmed by all the relatives, food, and decorations. Christmas Eve will find her going to midnight mass with hero's family, and even after several months in their fold, she still feels like an observer. Her sisters-in-law to-be cornered her and goaded her into a wearing a dress. An actual dress. Claire doesn't do dresses, especially velvet ones that pull and tug, but she liked how hero looked at her in it, so here she is. She really enjoyed helping Hero find gifts for all the nieces and nephews. She has absolutely no idea what to get Hero, and she doesn't want to give the sisters-in-law any more chances to meddle, so she's struggling with what to give him. She's afraid that if she dickers any more he'll end with something from the 50% off shelf in the hospital gift shop!

Claire could go on and on, but she (and I) want to hear about your character's Christmas history! Do share! Merry Christmas everyone!

*Swedish Chef, Muppet Family Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Point of View

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: A Killer Pinot Noir
Status: Re-writing the first 8,000 words!

Or, what do you do when your protagonist suddenly jumps out of a nice safe third person narrative and starts telling her story in first person?

But first, a gratuitous snow picture taken yesterday at my house.



And now back to our regularly scheduled ramble.

Here's the thing. I'm not particularly fond of reading first person POV. However, since a lot of mysteries, especially in the amateur sleuth sub-genre, tend to be written in first person, I will read it. Grudgingly. Don't ask me why I have this aversion to first person, because I don't have a clue. I just do.

And I really don't write first person POV. Guess you saw that coming, huh? I've read some writers who go on and on about how easy it is to write in first person. Let me just say that I'm not one of them. I've tried it a few times and found it...limiting...and frustrating. I immediately revert to third person and cruise along comfortably, like driving a 1956 Belair Convertible down Highway 1 from Carmel-By-the-Sea to San Simeon in the middle of July. Part of the problem, I think, is that I tend to see stories through the eyes of multiple characters and find it natural to want to tell some of the story from their viewpoints. Hard to do in first person. Not impossible, or so I've been told, but you couldn't prove it by me.

Imagine my surprise when, at about day 5 of my modified NaNoWriMo, my main character starts demanding to have her say--in first person. I decided not to fight it, thinking that if I just kept going with the flow that I'd be able to come back later and fix the anomaly of these--surely--few pages in first person POV. Ha, I say! She went on like this for the next couple of days before I could successfully wrestle the story back into third person narrative again. A couple of days later, you guessed it, we're back in first person. This went on for the entire month, ping-ponging back and forth.

I'm now at a point where I need to choose a POV and stick with it, because it's just going to get harder from here to be able to go back and fix things later. I've gone back to the beginning of the story and started rewriting in third person. If that doesn't work out, I'll (reluctantly) try the same thing in first person and see what happens. At only 8,000 words in, though, I don't feel so bad making this experiment. I've never had this particular problem before -- and I hope I never have it again. I was beginning to feel like my character had multiple personality disorder!

So what about you? Do you have a favorite POV, or a POV in which you simply can't write? Is the POV you use dictated by the genre in which you write? Or are you free to choose whatever style you feel comfortable writing? How do you decide on POV, if you have that luxury?

My characters and I would all like to know. :-)

PS. Happy Holidays to All!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stealing a Rant From Bethany



Current Project: Improper Pinkerton
Status: page 320

I read the first story of a Christmas anthology last night to relax. I didn't relax. The more I read, the more I couldn't believe the story was published- and by a large press.

The heroine kept alluding to the reason the town's people had turned on her, and she just plain came across as whiny. I think the character and story would have been stronger had the reason been right out there and the author had given the character more internals about the problem and why she was so desperate to make the Christmas Eve Church Program the best ever. As it was, I never felt a connection to the heroine. She just seemed to wishy-washy and whiny.

Then the reason the town was giving her the cold shoulder was they thought she was a prostitute, so why in heaven's name did she sell store merchandise (her father only had utilitarian items in his store- she purchased and sold frivolous items)out the back of the store at night to men? DUH! Don't you think that helped fuel the rumors she was supposedly trying so hard to prove wrong?

Then her father leaves and she doesn't know when he'll be back. She has a store room full of her frivolous lovely Christmas gifts and Christmas decorations a rich woman ordered then left town without paying for- My first thought was "She's going to whip out the better merchandise and the decorations- well... over a chapter later she finally does. I swear this is the slowest thinking heroine I've ever encountered!

I liked the hero. He was clear thinking, action oriented, and his internals and externals made sense and drew the reader in more than the heroine. But I must say I was ready for the end of this story. And I read it to the end thinking it had to get better- the end was "Yawn" an end.

Now I'm hesitant to to read the other two stories in the anthology. But my curiosity will get the better of me and I'll have to see if they are any better.

Again, I shake my head that this kind of thing can be published and other outstanding stories get pushed to the side. What a fickle industry we are in.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


"If you can't be a good example -- then you'll just have to be a horrible warning."
-Catherine-

Current Project:Faith's Book
Status: Page 95

I hope that little lady up there gives you courage. As for me, I'm determined to get to page 100 today. Actually, knowing I am going to give a status report Saturday morning encourages me to keep at it even when I'm pretty sure I'm writing terrible, icky stuff. I'll fix it later, right now, I am just putting the words down. I don't really like working this way, but you have to stay flexible as a writer and use whatever skills and tools you can come up with, right?

Your turn!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Current Project: STOLEN FURY Promo
Status: Swamped. And obsessing.

I just realized this is my last blog post before STOLEN FURY releases. Eleven days and counting. Apologies if you're tired of hearing me talk about the book, but this post is going to be all about my obsession. Or neurosis. Or...the life of a (almost) published writer.

Most of you have already been through this, so it's nothing new, but for me, "R" Day (Release Day) is all I can think about. My poor kids...they're all psyched for Christmas and Santa Clause, snow and twinkling lights. And all Mommy can focus on is what happens after Christmas. Did I finish the Christmas shopping? I think so, but honestly, I don't know. Did I order bookmarks though? Is the Launch Party all planned out? Does the bookseller know how many books to order? Did I remember to send out invites?

This is my life these days. Stressing over this and that. I think I checked my Amazon ranking like 10 times today. Did you know my book is listed under time travel romance? Yeah. I have no idea why, but I was #36 today! (Stop laughing.) The good news is my measly Amazon ranking has gone up since my contest went live, so that's encouraging. And several people (strangers even!) have emailed me this week saying how they can't wait to read the book. Another good sign. And to top it off, Bethany informed me my book is listed under a "can't wait to read" list on Amazon. That sorta made my day.

Of course, I vacillate between being super excited about the release and scared to death. It's different from sending my book to publishers and agents. In a matter of days, people are going to be able to READ it. Readers. Not industry professionals. The real test as a writer will come when the book is truly out there. And real feedback starts rolling in. What if they like it? What if they hate it? What if I'm truly kidding myself here...what if I can't write at all???

See? This is where the neurosis comes in. I am sure all writers feel this way at one time or another, especially just before sending their "baby" out into the world, so I'm comforted by the fact I'm not alone. But even that knowledge can't curb the crazies over here. I'm very lucky in that I have a ton of people spreading the word about my book. Not just my fabulous RWA pals (you guys rock!) but friends and relatives who are telling their friends and relatives about the release. And I know when all is said and done, things are going to be fine. I'll survive. The book will find fans who adore it, and probably some who don't. (That's okay, too). But at the end of the day, I'll go back to writing and move on to the next book, just like every other writer out there.

It's a cycle, really, isn't it? And I feel like I'm finally coming to the end of the first circle. About to go around again. The really crazy part is, I'm looking forward to that next circle. And the one after that. And the one after that. I guess that's what makes us writers.

So to finish this neurotic post...here's my shameless self promotion.

If you haven't checked out my FORTUNE & GLORY CONTEST yet, do it. It's fun. Visit the link for a bit of, well, fortune and glory!

I have a spotlight article going up on the Dorchester website. It should be put up sometime in the next few days. I talked about what sparked my interest in writing adventure. Check it out at www.dorchesterpub.com.

And on release day, I'm going to be a busy blogging girl. I'll be blogging at the following places if you want to see how truly neurotic I can be: Magical Musings, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The Rose City Romance Writers Blog.

And just to prove I can do crazy like the best of them..my hubby asked me tonight, "What do you do on release day?" I said, "Well, I'm going to be blogging all over. Then you're taking me out to dinner and I'm getting drunk." He smiled and said, "Sounds like a plan."

This crazy thinks so too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

THE GIFTS WE GIVE OTHERS


posted by Genene Valleau
Current Project: Chasing Rainbows novella
Status: My status is busy! And the project is waiting until I get my office moved!


A friend of mine sent me one of those forward-to-ten-of-your-closest-friends-within-the-next-ten-seconds-or-your-brain-will-implode e-mails. But that's a whole different topic than what I chose for this blog. :)

This particular e-mail resonated with me. It was titled "Getting old and loving it." Some of the content was, "...As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging."

The great freedom that comes with aging.

Sounds like a a wonderful gift to give ourselves. But why wait until we are older to enjoy this freedom or to share this and other intangible gifts with each other? This may be especially appropriate at this gift-giving time of the year. Here are just a few intangible gifts I thought of:

--Laughing at the same joke the DH has told at every gathering for years, or NOT telling your 12-year-old son's peers that he still wants a hug from mom (or dad!) at bedtime.

--Sending e-mail support and cyber (((hugs)))--thanks for expressing hugs like that, Debbie, I like it!--or cheers for writing accomplishments to friends.

--How about a smile and sympathetic comment to the obviously overwhelmed clerk in the department store who just rang up the most expensive item in your cart twice?

--Encouragement for someone who just had the same surgery your sister endured last year; or a kind word or extra prayer for someone whose trials tug at your heart.

--Giving our pets an extra scratch behind the ears for no particular reason.

What are some of the intangible gifts you share with others?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

CURIOUS AS A CAT

Current Project: Faith's Book
Status: pg. 80


Wikipedia: A simile is a figure of speech comparing two unlike things, often introduced with the word "like" or "as". Even though similes and metaphors are both forms of comparison, similes allow the two ideas to remain distinct in spite of their similarities, whereas metaphors seek to equate two ideas despite their differences.

A couple of nights ago, I watched a George C. Scott remake of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. During one scene, Scrooge visits the home of his nephew where he witnesses his nephew and his wife and their guests playing a game called "Simile". In this game, the host throws out an unfinished simile, challenging his guests to complete it. If they cannot, they must stand behind their chair. In the end, the last woman/man sitting is the winner.

So you get the gist. He says, "Pretty as a _______" and the guest must respond, "Picture." "As curious as a ___________" and the guest should say "Cat."

One of the similes was something along the lines of "Quick as a _______" to which a guest (that puckish imp) replied "Night wind." It worked for me, but the nephew was aghast and everyone started counting down from five until they all chimed in, "As a wink!" The poor thing had to go stand behind her chair.

What struck me was how difficult this game would be for a writer. We try our best to make colorful, unique similes and avoid the obvious. All of us would have been standing behind our chairs.

So, here are some unfinished similes.

Choose one, fill in the "right" word and then rework it to fit your WIP or your last book or whatever you want. You can provide a little background to deepen the impact if you like (sometimes the h/h occupation or preoccupation makes a simile all the more intriguing) but you don't have to.

Here they are:

1. As easy as ____________.
2. As mad as a ________________.
3. As stubborn as a _______________.
4. As blind as a ______________________.
5. As smart as a __________________.
6. As quiet as a ______________.
7. As clear as ___________.
8. Or make up your own using as or like, whichever you prefer.

This needn't be time consuming or difficult or terribly clever, just have fun. There's always the pressure with something like this to come up with something perfect. THIS IS NOT A TEST. NO GRADES WILL BE ASSIGNED.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


/Users/alicesharpe/Desktop/Nationals+&+South+Carolina+002.jpgCurrent Project:Faith's Book
Status: pg. 70 (sigh)

A simile is a figure of speech comparing two unlike things, often introduced with the word "like" or "as". Even though similes and metaphors are both forms of comparison, similes allow the two ideas to remain distinct in spite of their similarities, whereas metaphors seek to equate two ideas despite their differences.

A couple of nights ago, I watched a George C. Scott remake of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. During one scene, Scrooge visits the home of his nephew where he witnesses his nephew and his wife and their guests playing a game called "Simile". In this game, the host throws out an unfinished simile, challenging his guests to complete it. If they cannot, they must stand behind their chair. In the end, the last woman/man sitting is the winner.

So you get the gist. He says, "Pretty as a _______" and the guest must respond, "Picture." "As curious as a ___________" and the guest should say "Cat." One of the similes was something along the lines of "Quick as a _______" to which a guest (that puckish imp) replied "Night wind." It worked for me, but the nephew was aghast and everyone started counting down from five until they all chimed in, "As a wink!" The poor thing had to go stand behind her chair.

What struck me was how difficult this game would be for a writer. We try our best to make colorful, unique similes and avoid the obvious. All of us would have been standing behind our chairs.

So, here are some unfinished similes.

Choose one, fill in the "right" word and then rework it to fit your WIP or your last book or whatever you want. You can provide a little background to deepen the impact if you like (sometimes the h/h occupation or preoccupation makes a simile all the more intriguing) but you don't have to.

Here they are:

1. As easy as ____________.
2. As mad as a ________________.
3. As stubborn as a _______________.
4. As blind as a ______________________.
5. As smart as a __________________.
6. As quiet as a ______________.
7. As clear as ___________.
8. Or make up your own using as or like, whichever you prefer.

This needn't be time consuming or difficult or terribly clever, just have fun. There's always the pressure with something like this to come up with something perfect. THIS IS NOT A TEST. NO GRADES WILL BE ASSIGNED. I'll start. The hero, former FBI agent, now reluctant rancher says of an intruder: He was as subtle as a terrorist at a beach party.

If that doesn't relax your self expectations, I don't know what will!


Current Project: Faith's Book
Status: pg. 80, sigh

A simile is a figure of speech comparing two unlike things, often introduced with the word "like" or "as". Even though similes and metaphors are both forms of comparison, similes allow the two ideas to remain distinct in spite of their similarities, whereas metaphors seek to equate two ideas despite their differences.

A couple of nights ago, I watched a George C. Scott remake of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. During one scene, Scrooge visits the home of his nephew where he witnesses his nephew and his wife and their guests playing a game called "Simile". In this game, the host throws out an unfinished simile, challenging his guests to complete it. If they cannot, they must stand behind their chair. In the end, the last woman/man sitting is the winner.

So you get the gist. He says, "Pretty as a _______" and the guest must respond, "Picture." "As curious as a ___________" and the guest should say "Cat." One of the similes was something along the lines of "Quick as a _______" to which a guest (that puckish imp) replied "Night wind." It worked for me, but the nephew was aghast and everyone started counting down from five until they all chimed in, "As a wink!" The poor thing had to go stand behind her chair.

What struck me was how difficult this game would be for a writer. We try our best to make colorful, unique similes and avoid the obvious. All of us would have been standing behind our chairs.

So, here are some unfinished similes.

Choose one, fill in the "right" word and then rework it to fit your WIP or your last book or whatever you want. You can provide a little background to deepen the impact if you like (sometimes the h/h occupation or preoccupation makes a simile all the more intriguing) but you don't have to.

Here they are:

1. As easy as ____________.
2. As mad as a ________________.
3. As stubborn as a _______________.
4. As blind as a ______________________.
5. As smart as a __________________.
6. As quiet as a ______________.
7. As clear as ___________.
8. Or make up your own using as or like, whichever you prefer.

This needn't be time consuming or difficult or terribly clever, just have fun. There's always the pressure with something like this to come up with something perfect. THIS IS NOT A TEST. NO GRADES WILL BE ASSIGNED. I'll start. The hero, former FBI agent, now reluctant rancher says of an intruder: He was as subtle as a terrorist at a beach party.

If that doesn't relax your self expectations, I don't know what will!


Christmas Vacation has Started Early


Current Project: STRONGER THAN BONE
Status: Holiday Hiatus

School was canceled for Monday. School was canceled for today. One weather man said 2to 6 inches of new snow for tomorrow. A different one said 8 to 16 inches. I didn't personally hear that forcast; my husband announced he'd heard it on the car radio as he walked in the door last night.

Translation: The kids might be home all week. Official Christmas vacation is supposed to start next Monday. I think it started last Saturday. I'm so not ready.

If I was a perfect mom, I would have been out sledding on the hill with my kids Monday and making them hot chocolate with marshmallows. I did sled a little on Sunday, but I have a thing about cold weather. I don't like it. Especially windy cold weather. Instead I stayed inside and griped at the girls about tracking snow into the house and the importance of wearing a hat.

We did make Chex Mix together. That should've scored me some good mom points. I have cupcakes on my mental entertainment list for tomorrow. Maybe cookies, too. But will that be enough to avoid the anticipated fifty "I'm bored" comments? No.

Two weeks ago I ordered some Christmas crafts online. They finished them in two afternoons after school. I'd hit the video store if I could make it down our hill, but I don't think that's going to happen for a while. I always tell the girls it's not my job to entertain them, but they love doing new projects or playing games with me.

Help me out here. Because of the weather and the dates of the holidays, it looks like I won't return to work until January 7th. What wonderful projects for kids can you recommend to keep me from going insane?

Monday, December 15, 2008

FORTUNE & GLORY????


Current Project: Promo for STOLEN FURY
Status: Busy, busy...

I waited to see if Lisa would post today. Because of the snow, I'm figuring she got the day off. So to fill in for her, I'm going to post the link to my contest. Feel free to share it wherever you want. And play!!!! (It's fun!)

Searching for excitement and adventure? Then don't miss my FORTUNE & GLORY CONTEST in anticipation of the release of STOLEN FURY. Embark on your very own quest, partner up with a sexy treasure hunting guide and enter to win a $100 VISA gift card!

Share image! Enter today!


Here's all you have to do to:

Click the "Enter Today" button on the above graphic. It'll take you right to the contest page on my website. From there, follow the directions for a fun, interactive treasure hunt and a chance to win $100 on a VISA gift card. It's that easy!

Trust me, you don't want to miss this contest. Go play today!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project: Faith's Book
Status: Chapter Four, page 70

Well, I just hope the rest of you are doing better than I am. After another week of trials and a tribulation that included getting together with writing friends (i.e. the Xmas party), I am advancing at a snail's pace. My hope is to finish Chapter Four this weekend and then next week read from the beginning and try to recapture the energy of the first three chapters, redo four and get cracking on the rest. I'm finding it hard to concentrate and focus with all the outside pressures, but that's no excuse!!!! These pressures will likely continue in the near future and I need to learn to cope! Pep talk given.

How about you guys? Is everyone taking a seasonal hiatus or is everyone hard at work?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Release Day!

Current Project: Promo for STOLEN FURY
Status: Swamped

So in case you haven't heard yet (and how could you not????), Genene's 2nd book, FEATHERS ON THE FLOOR, releases today. Happy Release Day, Genene!

In honor of her 12 Days of Christmas Contest, which she's been running the past 12 days on her blog, I thought we'd do our own 12 Days of Christmas. What do you say? I'll start, you add in the next line.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...a copy of STOLEN FURY. (You knew that was coming, didn't you???)

Who's next?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Change


Current Project: MYSTIC TAXI
Status: Chapter Sixteen

I lay in bed this morning, wide awake but foggy-brained from getting up before the butt-crack of dawn to let the puppy out, wondering what to blog about today. There've been a lot of changes in the world lately, in the U.S. in particular, and that got me to thinking how change affects us as writers.

It's been said change is a good thing. I get a daily email from a psychic friend called "New Perspectives." Every day, it seems her message has to do with change and our response to it. Some people take change well, and others resist kicking and screaming. Today's New Perspective is: Unexpected changes ask you to be flexible and open minded. Smile when the plans change and welcome the new experiences. This is so appropriate for writers.

What's interesting about change is that you can either make it happen, or let it happen, but the one thing you really can't do is prevent it from happening. Change is inevitable, and sometimes it's good, and sometimes not so much. But it's like writing a scene in a book. Create change for your characters and see how they react, because they always will. They have to. It's human nature.

I like change. I like variety. I like to experience different things. It creates a chain of events that can only be interesting. Sameness is boring, but if my husband had his way, nothing would ever change, and then he could complain about whatever's bothering him at the moment forever. Because if he changes it, then he'll have to complain about the outcome and regret making the change in the first place. He's funny that way. I think that's why we're so good together. I adapt to anything, he adapts to almost nothing.

Gee, this was a rambling post, wasn't it? Sorry. I'm struggling through a new change in my life: the addition of a baby animal to the family. It changes everything: schedules, habits, sleep... Sigh.

So what changes have you experienced in your life recently? Have they been beneficial? Detrimental? What changes would you like to make happen for you now?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Current Project: A Killer Pinot Noir
Status: still poking along at about 8,000 words

Ack! I've be mulling over a post on POV (and the fact that my current work seems to be being written by someone with multiple personalities) for the last week, but it's all still in the nebulous stage. Between fighting fires at work and getting ready for the chapter party tonight, I think my brain has short-circuited. I'll save the POV post for next time.

For now, I'll just say, yay! party! I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to celebrating with everyone! 'Tis the season, after all. :-)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Do You Love 'Em Enough?


Current Project: Improper Pinkerton
Status: Downhill slide

How deep is your love for your hero and heroine? Is it the same for every one of them or do you struggle to feel as much love for some characters?

I hadn’t really thought about this - believing I love them all equally, after all, why else would I write their stories?

However, a close friend bought Outlaw in Petticoats, usually she calls me up the next day after purchasing one of my books and gushes over it. This time I didn’t hear from her for a couple of weeks. We had lunch this past week, and I finally brought up the subject saying my oldest thought it wasn’t as good as earlier books, but it was okay. My friend sat there a minute, then asked, “Did she say why she felt that way?” To which I responded, “No, just she liked Nanny and Gambling better.” My friend said, “It felt to me like you didn’t really love these two characters.” That took me back a second. I LOVE Zeke, writing him and getting to know him better and unfolding his character and emotions, I admit at times I struggled with Maeve. Not because I didn’t love her, because I made her too much like me and over thought her reactions to things too much as I wrote. Now while my close friend and daughter wasn’t enamored of this book, I’ve received 4’s-5’s for this book in reviews and several fan e-mails saying they loved it. But I wonder do the people closest to me and know me know my writing better than me?

So now, I sit here wondering- Did I love the characters in the ms I sent off to Harlequin enough? I used an actor I love to watch for the model for Holt in Cowboy Up and my mom sort of for the heroine in the story- so yes, if not lust (the actor) there was definitely love for the characters.

The WIP I’m working on, do I love them enough? The hero is fashioned after a football player in looks and my ideal of a straight laced U.S. Marshal and while I don’t lust after him(the heroine does) I do love a lot of his characteristics. And the heroine- I can’t help but love her do or die attitude, spontaneity, and spunk.

But am I showing them the best I can and pulling in the reader? Am I loving them enough? Just when I think I’m getting some things figured out another question/problem rears up.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Current Project:Faith's Book
Status:Page 54
How is everyone doing? Now that November has faded away, have you set new goals for yourself? Still finishing original goals? And those of you who worked hard to establish writing habits that you would like to sustain, how's it going?

After a rough start to Chapter Four, I'm hopeful that I have come to some sort of peace with my personal life and can now hunker in for the next 225 pages ("hunker in" being a relative term which in this case includes frequent trips to Albany -- my goal is to let go of the angst when I get back home.) The deadline is Feb. 15th.

Can't wait to see how everyone else is doing.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Nine Qualities Every Hero Should Have


Current Project: Untitled RS Proposal
Status: Chapter One

I've been spending a lot of time plotting out my new RS and unraveling the characters in my head. They're starting to take shape, I'm beginning to see and understand them, and their goals and motivations are sloooowly appearing through the fog. Last night, while procrastinating, I came across an article entitled 9 Attractive Qualities Women Look For In A Guy. You can read the entire article for the nitty gritty, but here's a condensed version (with my writerly interpretation and why the qualities listed are or are not important in your books):

1. Sense of Humor - This one ranks high for me. I don't write comedies by any means, but I think the ability for one character to make another character smile or laugh is important in their overall chemistry. My characters may not laugh a lot, but they definitely have their humorous moments. Let's face it, we want our books to be realistic. In real life, once the lust phase is gone, relationships with a healthy dose of humor tend to last longer than ones that don't have that humor.

2. Trustworthiness - In romances, trust is one of those traits that seems to take longest to develop (at least in my books they do). The heroine not trusting the hero makes for interesting (and fun) conflict. But in order for a relationship to really work, there has to be trust. And no happily-ever-after can happen if one character doesn't trust the other.

3. Kindness - This ranks right up there with making your hero empathetic. He may be a total ass at the beginning of the book, but he helps an old lady cross the street or he stops chasing the bad guys long enough to rescue a kitten from a tree. He shows the ability to be kind, even if he's not apparantly kind to anyone at the opening.

4. Money - I'm not totally sold on this one. Though I will admit I've never written a book about a homeless vagrant. That said, I don't think a hero has to be wealthy. But he does have to be able to support himself. We've all heard of the super rich football star or the Donald Trumps of this world. Sure, they're set for life, but do they make the best romance heroes? Depends on your spin, I guess.

5. Super Hot - This is a no-brainer. We all write romance. Our heroes are all super hot (in one way or another) already. ;)

6. Confident - Who wants a wishy-washy hero? Why do you think the alpha male still rules the romance world? Because confidence is sexy. Let me say that again in case you missed it: Confidence is seeeeeeeexy.

7. Talent & Passion - I think these go along with confidence. A hero who is passionate is going to be confident and he's going to use his talents to go after whatever's most important to him - be that answers or treasure or the heroine herself. I love brainstorming my characters' talents and passions. It's like playing God for a few precious moments.

8. Intelligent - My hubby was watching some comedy special the other day and the comedian (I don't know who) was talking about what men should look for in a woman. His advice (minus the humor)? Go for brains over looks any day. Looks change and eventually disappear. Besides, if a man has enough money (#4), he can buy a new look for his woman. But he can't buy brains. Stupid will never be anything but stupid. True, don't you think? This is why - in addition to writing super hot heroes - we need to make sure they're super smart as well. And when you write suspense of any variety, why you need to make sure your hero can ultimately outsmart your villain.

And finally...

9. Convenient - In the above article, the author mentioned this as location - does the guy live close or is he at a place in his life where he's emotionally ready for a relationship? In a romance novel the author sets this up with plot. How are you going to get your hero and heroine together? How are you going to keep them together? What plot elements are in your novel to keep the pace high so your readers want to read how and why the hero and heroine keep getting tossed back together over and over (convenience) until they don't ever want to part.

So that's the nine. Set up by the "experts". (Okay, one guy. LOL) Which one do you think is the most important trait for your hero to have and why? And what traits are missing from this list?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

SHAMELESS PROMOTION


Current Project: Promoting the release of FEATHERS ON THE FLOOR on Dec. 12

Status: Special event underway at <http://feathersonthefloor.blogspot.com>

Hello to all!

Today I'm shamelessly promoting my Twelve Days of Christmas special event to celebrate the release of my next book, FEATHERS ON THE FLOOR, on December 12.

In addition to daily prizes, guest authors are stopping by at the FEATHERS blog <http://feathersonthefloor.blogspot.comto say hello and to promote their latest releases. Here's the line-up of guest authors:

Dec. 2: Terri Reed (Harlequin Love Inspired)
www.loveinspiredauthors.com

Dec. 3: Nickie Fleming (Rogue Phoenix Press)
www.nickiefleming.com

Dec. 4: Chris Kraemer (Wings ePress, Rogue Phoenix Press)
www.celiacooper.com and www.clkraemer.com

Dec. 5: Christina F. York (Five Star, Simon & Schuster, Berkeley Jove)
www.yorkwriters.com

Dec. 6: Christine Young (Awe-Struck E-Books, Rogue Phoenix Press)
www.christineyoung.bz

Dec. 7: Minnette Meador (Resplendence Publishing)
www.minnettemeador.com

Dec. 8: Paty Jager (The Wild Rose Press)
www.patyjager.com

Dec. 9: Teri Brown (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster)
www.teribrownwrites.com

Dec. 10: Delle Jacobs (Samhain Publishing, Awe-Struck E-Books)
www.dellejacobs.com

Dec. 11: Elisabeth Naughton (Dorchester)
www.elisabethnaughton.com

I'm also running a bonus contest for those who like a challenge. The following list includes one fact about each of my guest authors. Match the fact with the correct author above. You can post your answers here on this blog--though I won't tell you if you're right or wrong until next week--or send your answers to me at if you want to enter the contest for a surprise bag of goodies. (Yes, chocolate will be included!) 

Since several of these authors are members of our chapter, this might not be much of a challenge for some of you. However, I've given you the first answer as some of you might not know this author. Other answers can be found on the Twelve Days blog as guest authors visit or on each author's Web site. 

A) Writes under two different pseudonyms (Answer: C.L. Kraemer/Celia Cooper)
B) Operates her own e-publishing company
C) Will celebrate her birthday on the day she guest blogs
D) Her debut cover was designed by a well-known artist 
E) Writes inspirational suspense
F) Has won the RWA Golden Heart three times
G) Her horse was the model for one of her book covers
H) Celebrates her 20th wedding anniversary this month
I) Lives in Belgium and knows several different languages
J) Drives a Volkswagen "Beetle"


Have fun!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Current Project:Untitled Intrigue
Status:Chapter Four, kind of


Doesn't this book look like a great Christmas gift for a writer? You can purchase it brand new at Amazon for two bucks (or used for $1.85). No, I have not gone to work for Amazon, but this is all I could find when I went looking for a cartoon of Snoopy at his typewriter.

I've mentioned before that I wrote a book while undergoing Chemotherapy. I plotted a book while my husband was having open heart surgery. During another surgery of his this summer, I finished up a proposal and two weeks ago, while sitting beside my mom's hospital bed, I figured out the synopsis for the current WIP. Last week, while my sister visited my mother in the nursing home for a few hours, I completed the current proposal, basking in the realization that I can write my way through anything.

Sister is a thousand miles away now, the long haul is upon us. Missing one day with my mother is like casting her into a fog bank and yet she forgets I've been to see her before I can even get out of the building. Yesterday we discovered the nursing home had only been giving her pain medication if she asked for it. I'm not sure how they expected a woman in such mental confusion to understand how to request it, I only now know she's been there eight days with a broken pelvis and has had one pain pill. We cleared it up and they immediately began administrating them on a regular basis and lo and behold, she's actually more cogent than she's been in over a week.

My point? I can't write. I've thought about this quite a bit and have finally decided that I could write during the other stresses because everything that could be done was being done. Things were in motion, wheels were turning, the car was speeding down the road with an able driver behind the wheel and I could retreat into my head and make up stories (though, frankly, to me, writing always seems less like making things up than relating what happened to so and so on their way to a HE.)

This time, the car is speeding down the road, but the driver is too short to see over the steering wheel. Or, the driver is drunk. Or, the road is being bombed. Pick a metaphor, it doesn't matter, the point is there is no room for retreat. I have to sit in the passenger seat with my left hand on the wheel, helping to steer, hoping to keep the tires on the road and avoid obstacles. If I'm not paying attention, things will get worse. There's no one else to take care of this matter. And while in this mode, I'm finding it very difficult to find a writing place inside my own head.

Everyone goes through these times when events and circumstances overwhelm them. Experience has taught me that I will eventually find a way to deal with my mother's needs and my own and that even if her situation never improves and turmoil becomes the new rule of the day, I will adapt. But it takes a little time and a little patience to domesticate new troubles and they sure can freeze you in your tracks when they first rear their ugly heads.

We use to end a blog like this, but within the last year or so, we usually tack on a question or two. I don't have any questions for you. My fondest wish for each of you is that you have no idea what I am talking about! However, that seems unlikely. Eli just saw her dh through a trying time, many of us have lost parents, Piper is moving -- life is in constant flux, and I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise that the theme of many of my books is that things change, embrace change. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I do, it's just that I know I should.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Break Time


Current Project: STRONGER THAN BONE
Status:Big Time Revisions

The kids were home for five days. Two Thanksgivings. The tree is up. The outside lights are up. Shopping is nearly done. Time for a break.










Check for more at http://icanhascheezburger.com/

Monday, December 01, 2008


Current Project: Surviving the last week of classes.
Status: Still breathing, but it's labored and sparse.

Well I really don't want to move the Duck down. He just looks so glorious in his prominent display :) So I'm going to keep this short and sweet.

Let's hear how everyone did with NaNoWriMo! Even if you weren't participating officially, post how you did with your writing projects in November. My November was less than successful. Much less than successful.

Would anyone like to get another official challenge up and running again? We've got a writing retreat planned for the end of February. Would anyone like to set a big goal to complete by then, so then if you're going to the retreat you can start a new project? Or maybe a goal for the end of January/middle of February so there's a break worked in to start something new that weekend?

Also, a reminder that our holiday party is next week (Dec. 9) check the chapter e-mail loop for more details.

Lastly, I have a small writing prompt for you: There's a 10 x 10 room. No furniture. White walls. A single light hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room. There are two individuals in the room: the Beaver and the Duck mascots. What happens?

Let's see how different our minds work :)