Saturday, January 31, 2009

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project: DADDY AGENT
Status: page 213

Here we go again, time to participate in the Saturday Check-in. As noted above I'm still at it. Two weeks to go, about sixty pages, but happy days, they're the last sixty pages (I'll skip mentioning the whole rewrite phase but the truth is there are some giant potholes to fill, sigh). Momentum should set in soon. Any time now. Yesterday would have been nice. On the other hand, perhaps I should take a note from the tortoise and appreciate slow and steady.

I'm anxious to hear how you are all doing!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Romance writers in real life


Current Project: Leg Shaving Leads to Trouble
Status: Replotting bits

Elisabeth is on her way to Reno for a fabulous Super Bowl weekend away. I'm so jealous! I'm filling in for her today.

We've all probably heard it - romance writers must have incredible bedroom experiences. We all know how true that is or isn't for ourselves. I'm not trying to make this a steamy post and discussion. But related to that, what I want to talk about, is how writing and reading romance has negatively impacted our relationships. If at all.

As most of you know, I'm divorced. I'm not dating anyone, not really trying to. But that doesn't mean I never think about it. However, I feel like reading huge numbers of romances has negatively impacted my expectations of a future relationship a bit. Let me preface this by saying I know most of this isn't logical, but that doesn't mean I don't wish it could happen!

Here's what goes on in my crazy brain. I don't know if I believe in soul mates or true love (I know, I know, that's blasphemy for a romance writers). But I fully expect that there will be an instant sizzle and undeniable connection with the man of my dreams. A part of me always waits for that feeling when I meet new guys. Never happens quite that way.

I also expect my dream guy to make me feel comfortable to fully be myself. I won't be as shy, or quiet or timid. I'll feel comfortable arguing back, being sassy, what have you. Will that really happen? Doubtful. I am who I am. But that doesn't mean I don't expect it!

On some level, well likely because I read too many vampire books, I expect my guy to only have eyes for me. The thought of straying would be beyond appalling and just not conceivable. Whereas, I believe for most men, they may think about it or wonder about it, but are good enough men to never consider acting on it. I guess that means I need a vampire whose soul is connected to mine for his salvation?

So, has reading or writing romance altered your view on relationships? Has it helped? Hurt in any way? Do you find yourself rewriting your significant others' dialogue to better match what you'd write (and expect of them)?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A DIFFERENT SORT OF HOLIDAY


Current Project: Chasing Rainbows
Status: On my "to do" list while promo continues for my February 27 release, STARS IN YOUR EYES

Some people's favorite holiday is Christmas. Others love Valentine's Day. However, I'm intrigued by the more off-beat holidays, including Ground Hog Day, which is celebrated on Feb. 2.

An "official" ground hog site on the Internet claims Ground Hog Day grew out of a mainly German superstition that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow Feb. 2 -- the Christian holiday of Candlemas -- that winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says spring will be early.

What do ground hogs have to do with writing, you might ask? Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania has been celebrating this holiday since 1886 and claims perhaps the most famous ground hog, Punxsutawney Phil. You can visit his Web site at *http://www.groundhog.org/info* to enjoy some creative writing "facts," such as...

--Yes! Punxsutawney Phil is the only true weather forecasting ground hog. The others are just impostors.

-- How many "Phils" have there been over the years? There has only been one Punxsutawney Phil. He has been making predictions for over 120 years! Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking the "elixir of life," a secret recipe. Phil takes one sip every summer at the Ground hog Picnic and it magically gives him seven more years of life.

Now, if you lean more toward nonfiction, you might want to consider these fascinating facts:

-- Ground hogs are the largest members of the squirrel family. Though they are usually seen on the ground, they can climb trees and are also capable swimmers.

-- Ground hogs are excellent burrowers, using burrows for sleeping, rearing young, and hibernating. The average ground hog has been estimated to move approximately 1 m³ (35 cubic feet), or 320 kg (700 pounds), of dirt when digging a burrow.

-- Ground hogs are also known as wood chucks. Though they don't chuck wood, perhaps you've heard the tongue twister, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"

-- When alarmed, ground hogs use a high-pitched whistle to warn the rest of the colony.

-- Though they are celebrated as being able to predict the onset of spring, ground hogs are considered pests in many agricultural areas.

If you are would like to celebrate Ground Hog Day with your kids or grandkids, try this Web site of kindergarten age activities: *http://www.geocities.com/athens/aegean/2221/groundhog.html*.

How about you? Do you like the more traditional holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas? Or do you enjoy something different? If so, why? Have you ever written a story about an off-beat holiday?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

MY MOTHER AND ME


Current Project:Agent Daddy
Status:page 200
I’ve mentioned my mother and her situation enough over the last two months that I imagine most of you are aware she is having extreme memory issues. It seems that every time I see her, there is less of her, both physically and emotionally. At 92, her past is gone, her future doesn’t exist, she is a woman inhabiting the here and now.

My mother and I are different in many ways. She is more private for instance. She keeps her emotions in check, suffers in silence, withdraws when wounded. She also is not a writer, dreads writing as a matter of fact, and though she expresses herself well she does it in a straight forward manner. I can’t think of a single instance when I have heard her use a metaphor.

Listen to me, talking in the present tense. None of the attributes I just mentioned are valid any more. And yet to use the past tense would shine a light on the very nature of Alzheimer’s or dementia and that is that a person disappears while still drawing breath.

My point is this. Now my mother must search for words when she speaks. I visualize the inside of her head as a refrigerator door where the contents of one of those magnetic word kits are stuck to its surface. She tries to link together the right ones but since the words are usually very specific, it’s hard to build a decent sentence. It’s a painful process and hence a thought that used to take ten words might now take fifty as she tries and discards combinations, hoping they’ll fit together, sensing they don’t. The idea, of course, gets lost in the telling.

But it also results in some interesting sentences that are beautiful in their way, lyrical and metaphorical in a manner she would never have spoken before. For instance, when she first fell and was moved into a nursing home to mend, she was desperate to leave. She would ask me every time I came if she was going home now. One day this is how she asked: Looking right into my eyes, her voice hopeful, she said in a halting, unsure way, “Am I going home with you … or don’t you want my shadow touching your shadow?

I told her shadow was welcome to touch mine anytime she wanted which didn’t elicit the expected smile, just anxiety. Damn disease.

Another time she asked if I would share her lunch. She always asks this and since she can’t recall asking, you must refuse her every minute or so in the tremendously long time it takes her to eat anything. It gets tedious and I worked on finding a way to refuse the food without causing her alarm. One time I said, “This is a hospital, Mom. The food here is for the people who are staying here, not their family members.” Graciously, she responded, “It’s s shame they can’t open their arms to include you.”

There are other instances, but what strikes me is this. Each life is a journey specific to the person making the trek. As my mother loses her way and searches for words to express the ever bizarre thoughts that occupy her head, she is becoming downright poetic. Now as I listen to her telling me about places she’s never seen and walks she’s never taken, I listen to the words she chooses to link together to make her story accessible to an audience.

It’s the grass roots of communication touching the wings of imagination. And in a way, it makes us more alike than ever.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Guilty Pleasures



Current Project: Preparing Daphne Entries
Status: Done




At a loss for a blog idea and growing frustrated, I made some hot chocolate and added a generous portion of peppermint schnapps. I instantly felt relaxed and rewarded. And had a topic. What are your guilty pleasures? What special thing do you do for yourself that makes you spend more money than you should? Or something you don't want to share with your family because it is all for you and no one else! Maybe it's something very simple but makes you feel great. In tough economic times we must take our pleasures where we can find them.
My top ten:

1. The drink above. Best on cold evenings. Like right now.

2. Starbucks Espresso Truffle instead of my usual black coffee. A seasonal drink that is not available nonfat.

3. Haircut and color. I pay too much, but damn I feel fantastic afterward.

4. Coach purses.

5. Hardback books.

6. About once a month I must have a Big Mac.

7. Real butter

8. Haagen Dazs. Usually I buy for family, but sometimes it's just for me.

(Suddenly I'm very disturbed that most of my favorite pleasures have to do with eating. I should weigh ten tons.)

9. Movie rentals. When I can select alone and watch any DVD I want alone. No negotiating with the kids or husband. Last time it was the first season of Heroes.

10. Writer's conferences. Usually too spendy, but I'm on a writing high for weeks.
Your turn. Does everyone else think of food first?


Monday, January 26, 2009

E-book readers...


Current Project: Leg Shaving Leads to Trouble
Status: Trying to finish the bloody first draft!

So...I think I'm going to get an E-book reader for romance novels. I never thought I would say those words, but I'm pretty much sold on the notion. I was in Border's a few weeks ago and was approached by a Sony E-book reader salesman. He was incredibly hot. But I promise you, that does not sway my opinion. It just makes the story better.

Previously I had seen a Kindle, one of my good friends bought one months ago. I love how it's not backlit, so it's very similar to reading a book. Your eyes won't tire out like with backlit devices. However, some of the buttons and scrolling features are awkwardly placed and makes it sort of difficult to use for long periods of time.

So, Borders Hottie (that is how I shall refer to the E-book reader salesman) showed me the new Sony. It, too, is not backlit and it's a more comfortable size for holding. Very similar to a paperback. There are also three sizes you can make the font, so it's more comfortable for you to read. And there aren't the same button placement issues as the others.

The downside to the Sony is that (I believe) you have to buy the books from the Sony store and I don't know how good their romance selection is. I'm not 100% clear on if you can buy books on Amazon for use on the Sony. I guess I'll have to revisit Borders Hottie and ask him more questions. ;)

Overall - I think it's a good investment and meets my personal needs. I usually read romance novels before bed and I get tired of holding the book open. My hands cramp. How lame is that? I think it would be nice to be able to just rest an E-book reader on my knees and scroll down. I also like that you can put so many books on there. Vacations would be so much nicer!

I don't know much about battery life and how long they last, but I imagine battery life would be great for a machine that's not backlit. Plus, e-books are cheaper than print books.

The downside is also that e-books are cheaper than print books. As writers, we understand more about royalties than the average reader. So it's difficult to want to save money when it impacts the writers. For me, I buy so many romance novels that it would be nice to save a buck or two on each one. Plus, I'm seriously running out of room to store the books...

What are your thoughts on e-book readers? Have you seen the new ones that aren't backlit?

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Current Project:Agent Daddy
Status: page 177

I'm still plodding (and plotting...) Note to muse: Anytime you want to show up for work, it would be appreciated, hint, hint.

I did come up with a new trick for this book that's come in pretty handy. As I name a character, I add it (and a designation: Julie, ER nurse) to the list I keep a page after the WIP. Then when the lazy deputy makes an encore appearance a hundred pages after his original walk on, I just peek ahead to remember his name. I imagine most of you are able to keep all the names clear in your head or make a note on a piece of paper that stays right where you put it, but paper tends to wander on my desk and it's not uncommon for me to find I named a minor character three different names in the course of a book. Ack.

So, where are you guys, how is it going?

SATURDAY CHECK-IN

Current Project:Agent Daddy
Status:pg. 177

I'm still plodding (and plotting...) Note to muse: Anytime you want to show up for work, it would be appreciated, hint, hint.

I did come up with a new trick for this book that's come in pretty handy. As I name a character, I add it (and a designation: Julie, ER nurse) to the list I keep a page after the WIP. Then when the lazy deputy makes an encore appearance a hundred pages after his original walk on, I just peek ahead to remember his name. I imagine most of you are able to keep all the names clear in your head or make a note on a piece of paper that stays right where you put it, but paper tends to wander on my desk and it's not uncommon for me to find I named a minor character three different names in the course of a book. Ack.

So, where are you guys, how is it going?


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Begin at the beginning...

Current Project: Mystic Taxi
Status: Page 302

I haven't blogged about craft stuff for a while, so I thought I'd talk about beginnings today. Beginnings have become all the rage lately among writing-related blogs and forums. It's like if you don't nail down that first page, or perfect the hook that invites someone to read your first page, you're SOL.

There are a lot of ways to start a novel, not all of them good. We're familiar with those throat-clearing starts, the one where the writer is warming up to the story and needs to get all that preliminary set-up crap out of the way, like weather and the character waking up and what a tough childhood he had. Yawn. So we'll leave those as given no-nos and go on to some other first page killers.

I don't think readers can always identify what turns them off when they read the first page of a novel, but a lot of the reasons agents give for passing on a project would probably apply. Here are a few to consider:
  • Opens with rhetorical question(s).
  • The first line is about setting, not about story.
  • Not enough happens on the first page.
  • The opening contains clichéd phrases and/or situations (i.e. a character shakes his head to clear the cobwebs, character runs away from an unknown assailant, etc. )
  • The main character responds to an unnamed thing (e.g., something dead in a bathtub, something horrible in a closet, someone on the other side of her peephole…) for more than a paragraph without naming it, creating false suspense.
  • The characters talk about something (a photo, a person, the kitchen table) for more than a line without describing it, creating false suspense.
  • The unnamed protagonist cliché: The woman ran through the forest... The man hid the knife in his pocket... yadda, yadda.
  • Fake suspense created by some relevant fact that's kept from the reader for longer than a paragraph.
  • The character spots him/herself in a mirror, in order to provide an excuse for a physical description.
  • The first page is straight narration that doesn't involve the character doing anything.
  • Too much physical descriptions in the opening paragraph, rather than action or conflict.
  • When the first lines are dialogue, the speaker is not identified.
  • The book opens with a flashback, rather than what's going on now.
  • Descriptive asides pull the reader out of the conflict of the scene.
  • No conflict.
  • Too much repetition.
  • Too many generalities.
  • Stakes are not high enough.
  • Story is written in the second person.
  • The narrator speaks directly to the reader (“I should warn you…”), making the story hyper-aware of itself and thereby tossing the reader out of the story.
  • When characters tell one another things they already know.
  • The tag lines are more revealing than the dialogue. ( “She squawked.” "He growled.")
  • The writing switches tenses for no apparent reason.
  • The action is told out of chronological order.
  • Took too many words to reveal what happened.
  • Dull and/or awkward writing style.
  • The writing falls back on common shorthand descriptions: “She did not trust herself to speak,” “She didn’t want to look…”
  • Too many analogies/metaphors/similes per paragraph.
  • Purple prose and overwriting
  • Melodramatic opening
  • Makes the reader laugh at it, not with it.
  • Too much unnecessary explanation.
  • Unmotivated characters.
I'm sure there are more that just these. Can you add to the list? Did anything on here make you go back to look at your first page? Do any of these opening bloopers rate high on your pet peeve-0-meter?

Winner!

Current Project: Untitled RA proposal
Status: Chapter One (still!...but it's coming together)

Thanks to everyone who added title suggestions for my new paranormal series. There were some really good ones in there that stimulated lots of ideas. I'm still taking title ideas, so if something pops out at you, feel free to send it my way.

And now...the winner of the autographed copy of Kresley Cole's Dark Needs At Night's Edge...

Maggie Jaimeson!


Maggie, email me at elisabeth (at) elisabethnaughton (dot) com with your snail mail addy and I'll get your book in the mail!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Where's the Romance?

Current Project:PNWA Entries
Status: Revisions

I know it's a bit late for a year-in-review entry, but I've seen a number of "Best Books of 2008" articles lately, and they all irritate me. There's nary a romance in sight and each entry begins something like, "In this angst ridden tale . . ." "This dark and twisted novel . . ." "In this haunting portrait . . . " "X's life is meaningless and about to get more tragic . . . " Lovely, lovely, lovely. Literary fiction is usually much more . . .depressing than genre fiction, but this year it seems especially bad. Also, as much I support literary fiction, with so much of the book market made up of mystery, romance, and science fiction, shouldn't at least ONE genre book make SOMEONE's list? And yes, you can find lists on the various romance review websites, but I'd really like to see a mainstream publication add a genre novel or two to their year-end lists.

I read around 300 books last year, and about 30-40 of those were literary fiction. However, when I look at my "Keeper Shelf" for 2008, it's ALL Romance. Here's my top 30 Keepers from 2008. Note that not all of the books have 2008 publication dates, as I mainly read used books. (Oh and are you signed up for Good Reads yet? You should!) What books made it on to your keeper shelf in 2008?





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Where's the Romance

Current Project:
Status:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration Day!

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: A short personal project
Status: 10,793 words and going strong!

There's a lot happening today. No matter what your political leanings may be, take a moment to consider the historic significance of this day. We're all a part of this moment, just by living in this time.

This is going to be one of those events that become part of my "I remember where I was and what I was doing when..." memories. You know what I'm talking about -- significant happenings that make such an impact on you that they stick with you for the rest of your life.

My personal list includes the Kennedy assassination, the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Kent State Massacre, Nixon's impeachment hearings and subsequent resignation, the 49ers beating the Bengals to win their first Superbowl, the destruction of the Challenger space shuttle, and the Loma Prieta earthquake, to name a few. Now I'll be able to add President Obama's inauguration to that list.

Now consider how different my grandmother's list would have been. She was born in 1888 and died in 1972. She lived through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, two World Wars, Korea and Viet Nam. Her world went from horses and buggies to jet airplanes and men landing on the moon; from being disenfranchised to having the right to vote. All of these things had an impact on who she was, on her character, just as my list influences who I am.

To bring this back to writing, our characters aren't just a collection of random feelings and beliefs. Those feelings and beliefs are shaped in part by the external events they experience. Just something to think about when digging deeper into what makes your characters tick.

Back to the Inauguration for a moment for a brief personal note. For those of you who have a chance to see the Inaugural Parade and who stick it out to the end, bringing up the rear will be the new Lunar Rover with two astronauts aboard dressed in space suits. When the rover reaches the President's box, one of those astronauts will step away from the rover. Carrying an American flag, he'll stride several paces toward the President and halt and salute, ending the parade. That astronaut's name is Rex Walheim (Colonel, USAF) and he's my cousin.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What's it take to be a hero?



Current Project: Improper Pinkerton
Status: Fine tuning



I attended a Chippendales's performance last night with my friend. For those who don't know, the shows are good looking men dressed tastefully who dance and take it off down to a G-string. When I was younger I enjoyed the dancing and watching the women's responses to the show.

I don't know if it's an age thing or how entertainment and society has gotten raunchier but there were some of the dances last night that turned me off rather than on. I don't understand why men think women get turned on by them grabbing their crotch. It totally revolts me(one reason I don't like rappers). And them humping the floor.... Nope. That's when I'd watch the women and discovered quite a few of them looking at each other going "Huh?" So it wasn't just me.

There were three dances that I liked, they danced, real dancing not humping and grabbing body parts, and left something to the imagination at the end.

But the reason I decided to post about this today is the fact that when all seven men (boys to me, they were all the age of my sons and son-in-laws)first entered the stage, my eye went to the two fairly muscled, poster-boy types. I thought those would make great heroes. But after one did a really raunchy dance and I swear he had a sock and ballbearings in his G-string (I've never seen balls hang that low and big except on a bull) The girl next to me held up dollars and had the men come over and lap dance her. I told her if that guy came over she was to grab him and see if he was real. He must have known because he stayed away from our table. Anyway, he not only lost my hero status with the dance and the decidedly fake hang, but when he did lap dances, he was bored out of his mind. You could see it in the way he acted and stared around the room looking for more money in the air.

My other hero choice (at first sight)was a little too cocky during the dancing and rolled his eyes and acted like he was god's gift when he did lap dances.

BUT the two that when they first came out, I had luke warm feelings about as heroes, by the end of the night they were the ones who caught my attention. They danced with a little more humility. They smiled at individuals in the crowd and made eye contact. When they did the lap dances, they gave the woman their attention and talked to them. They smiled and chatted with women on the way to the ones with money in the air. Where the others were just moving as fast as they could to gather the money.

So this whole excursion turned into a - What kind of Chippendales' dancer would my hero be? My hero wouldn't be caught in a G-string. He wouldn't be flaunting for any woman even if it was the only way to capture his suspect. Now the heroine- she'd work a strip a club to fulfill her assignment.

So would your hero strip to a G-string and dance for women? And if he did would he make them feel special or just do it for the money?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project: AGENT DAD
Status: page 145 and counting

It's that time again. I'll go first. Still moving at a snail's pace but this last week some good things happened. 1. I completed the dreaded art forms. Describing scenes as yet unwritten and black moments as yet unexperienced is tricky for me, but at least it's done and out of the way. 2. The senior editor of Intrigue came up with a title which I like and which actually redirected the hero's motivation which turned out to be a good thing. So FAITH'S BOOK is now formally AGENT DAD with an Oct-09 release date. 3. though I haven't forged ahead with pages the way I wanted, I did calm down enough to figure out how many balls I had dropped (they were bouncing all over the place) and get a few of them back in the air. I have a month in which to finish the book. I know it will happen though I don't know exactly how. I can see you shaking your head and you're right. The way to get from the beginning to the end is simply to keep working.

Now it's your turn. Oh, btw, do I remember someone issuing some kind of challenge recently? Something to do with the Nano concept of writing every day? Whoever you are, speak up!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Help! (and a Giveaway)

Current Project: Untitled RS Adventure Proposal
Status: Chapter One

Okay, I'm in need of some help. Who do I turn to? My friends, of course. ;)

I need ideas for an umbrella title for my new paranormal series, and a title for the first book in the series.

Here's the Publisher's Marketplace blurb for the first book:

To stave off a war with the demons of the underworld and protect his people from extinction, an Argonaut hero must find the woman who unknowingly fulfills an ancient prophesy, only to fall for her even knowing she is marked for sacrifice.

And now a little about the book and series...

The first book in the series, originally titled Marked, is the story of a mythological warrior - a descendant of Heracles (Hercules) - one of seven warriors who protect his race. A vengeful god is out to destroy their world, and one lone woman in the human realm is their only hope. She, linked to both worlds though blood and history though she does not know it yet, is marked to complete the prophecy that will end the god’s immortal reign.

When the god sends his demons to destroy her so the prophecy cannot be fulfilled, she realizes in order to survive, she must put her faith in the mysterious warrior suddenly in her life. She's not sure she can trust him, however, and when she discovers the secret he harbors - that his taking her to his world to fulfill the prophecy will not only save his people but also ensure her certain death - the unexplainable spark that ignited between them at first meeting becomes the least of her worries.

So book one in the series follows the strongest hero and the leader of my warriors - the Argonauts. His name is Theron. There are six other warriors, all chosen because they come from the lines of the strongest original 7 heroes - Heracles, Achilles, Theseus, Odysseus, Perseus, Jason, Bellerophon. Each one has their own special power and weakness. Theron's power is great strength (because of his link to Heracles) and his weakness is lack of emotion and loss of his humanity. For those of you who don't know the history of the great heroes, in Greek mythology they were the offspring of both a god and mortal. In my world, they are still mortal, with long lifespans (up to 700 years), but can be killed like any other mortal.

The heroine in book one has a mark on her lower back, much like a tattoo, that she's had since birth, which marks her as the one to fulfil the prophecy. Hence, the title Marked. The problem, however, is that that title has been used quite a bit in the last few years and I need to come up with some other ideas to give my publisher.

So...here's what I need:

(1) An overall title for the series. (If it goes well it could go so far as seven books. Right now the first two are under contract. The first is set to release in March 2010, the second soon after.)

(2) A title for book one. Ideally I'd like a title I can then link to all the other titles.

As a prize, for everyone who comments, I'll stick your name in a drawing for a copy of Kresley Cole's Dark Needs at Night's End. So throw those ideas out there!!!
***

And totally off topic...Beth Kery interviewed me today at her blog. Head over and check it out.

Also, my Fortune & Glory Contest is in it's LAST TWO DAYS!!! If you haven't entered...go do so! (You can enter more than once. See rules for details.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I HAVE A DREAM

Current Project: Edits to CHASING RAINBOWS
Status: Getting there!


Today is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. His words, "I have a dream," seem especially appropriate to me this year. Of course we've just passed New Year's Day, the traditional time of making resolutions--which I'm still working on. Maybe I'm lagging behind on setting resolutions because I needed a broader framework for these resolutions.

That broader framework came in the form of an e-mail newsletter I received recently. That newsletter suggested broadening one-year resolutions to TEN-YEAR BIG DREAMS.

Ten years seems like a long time in the future. The year 2020 will be just around the corner. My grandchildren will be young adults. My sons will be entering their 40s, and I will be--a decade older than I am now. :)

So what do I want to be doing? What do I want to have accomplished in ten years?

Dream and dream and dream, the newsletter said. So I have been. Some things came easily: for me and my family to be healthy and happy. Yes, these fit with my annual resolutions. So for those of you who wonder if having the same resolutions every year is a good thing, the answer is yes! I'm still putting my big dreams on easel paper--big paper is good for big dreams. :)

The writer of the newsletter also went on to suggest a way to meet those Ten-Year Big Dreams. Start ten years in the future and back up a year at a time (2019, 2018, 2017, etc.), figuring what you need to accomplish each year to reach your Big Dreams. Yes, I've also heard this strategy, but this year it really resonated with me.

Right now, I'm focusing on getting projects accomplished. But that easel pad of ten-year big dreams beckons. As those big dreams take shape, they give me a destination as well as a way to set priorities and measure progress.

Have you ever set goals ten years in the future? Do you wonder what your life will be like in another decade?

(For my next blog in two weeks, I'll give goal-setting a rest. But perhaps I can come up with some fascinating facts about ground hogs, since Their Day will be nearly upon us. :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

RWETEIR

Current Project:
Status:


Current Project: Faith's Book
Status: grrr...

I'm still on the brain dead side so today I have a game you can play if you like. The jumble above creates a word we all know plus there are 22 other words possible using these letters. The underline dashes represent how many letters in each possible word (i.e, there are 10 three letter words, etc...) For the sake of anyone who wants to play after you post, don't put any of the words in your responses to this exciting, challenging, laugh a moment blog. I'll post all the words later today. Have a wonderful today.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Inspirational places


Current Project: Leg Shaving Leads to Trouble
Status: Still truckin'...

I'm sorry about my EXTREME tardiness today! I just got back from a trip late last night and still getting my bearings. I went to read the blog for today, saw it was empty, then the lightbulb turned on.

My trip is what leads me to today's topic. I went to Philadelphia for the better part of a blessed, whole week to attend a conference on classical archaeology. I'll be honest, I didn't make it to much of the conference ;) I spent most of the time exploring Philadelphia!

I started off the trip with a trolley tour to get my bearings of the city. Definitely worth the time and money. I got to see so many incredible cities (plus quickly learn where not to go after dark...). I also spent much of the days walking around the city and visiting historical places, museums and bars. Hey, it's like the beer capital of the country, right!?!

As I wandered around Philly, I began to picture scenes and characters in my mind. There's the bartender (at my new favorite place) from Manhattan who was definitely a cynical hipster with a great sense of humor. But sarcastic as all get out. "Please tell me you did not go on the trolley." Yeah, Dave. I did. Also the greeter at Chilli's. A cutie pie who talked so much my food was cold before I got to it (well worth the cold food, however). He swore he was shy, but said he couldn't stop talking if he got a person to laugh at him once. My bad!

Then trolley driver who stopped the trolley to talk about chicks with some guy on the street he knew. The trolley tour guide who was all smiles when the trolley was full, but when I was fortunate enough to be the only person on board at one point, she let go of the facade and told me about how much she hated her job. But how much she loved the city.

All of these people, although they were real, began to take shape as secondary characters in a story. As I walked around the city, the buildings etched themselves in my mind, demanding to be described in print. I swear the atmosphere itself was tangible!

I've never reacted so strongly to a city before. I loved it. Both to visit, and as a setting to my writing. I can clearly see myself setting books throughout the greater Philly area. A ghost story about Eastern State Penitentiary, or a love story about a jaded tour guide in Independence Hall.

My fingers are itching to write! But not until I finish my current WIP, you darn fingers!

Have you ever reacted strongly to a place, realizing instantly that it was going to be the setting of many books to come?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project: Faith's Book
Status: page 130

Well, as you can see, I'm not exactly burning up the pages but I am doing as good as I can. I'm taking today off from outside the home duties, so maybe I can get my head screwed on straight and advance. My editor's assistant emailed me last week asking me to submit the art fact sheets for the book I'm writing -- interesting as the proposal has not been technically okayed let alone the book even half written. Ah, publishing. My goal for the weekend is to accomplish the art sheets and add ten pages (maybe 20?) to the manuscript, but the way things are going lately, who knows?

Your turn.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Natural Writers


Current Project: Untitled Adventure Proposal
Status: Chapter One (again)

This morning when I dropped my youngest off at the gym's daycare to go for a run, one of the daycare providers, Elisabeth (whose name is spelled the same as my name, but you have to say it with a deep French accent because she's French), was talking to me about my book and its release and writing in general. Her 18 yr old daughter is a senior in high school who loves writing and, apparently, is very good at it. Over the course of our discussion, I realized that this kid is one of those natural writers - she doesn't have much use for school other than writing, and she really has no use for the writing assignments they give her, but she takes them and twists them around in creative ways that interest her. She's taking college level writing courses right now, and one of her teachers is married to an English prof at OSU who read some of her work and told his wife if she were in his senior level writing class, he'd give her an A.

And she's 18.

It floors me. It really does, people with this natural writing talent that seems to come from nowhere. Recently, my agent signed a 19 yr old girl to her list because her book was that good. 19! I can't imagine diving into writing at 19, landing an agent and having my work shopped to editors.

While writing has always come easy to me, I wouldn't say I'm a natural at it by any means. Sure, I did well in all my writing courses in high school and college, and in grad school I edited and rewrote all our friends' papers, but that wasn't real writing. In fact, when I was teaching junior high one year we were short on teachers and they asked me to teach language arts one term. You should have heard me protest that one. Sure, I can teach science. I could even manage a reading class if they really needed me. But writing? Uh uh. No way. I got out of that as fast as I could. Which seems strange, doesn't it? Considering I'm a writer now? But the honest truth is I can read a passage and tell you what works and doesn't. I know when something's written well and when parts of speech are wrong. But I can't label what's wrong and I can't teach others how to do it right.

So for me, no. Writing is not something I consider myself a natural at. In fact, my writing journey has been what RWA labels "average". A few years ago RWA ran an article about the length of time it takes to get published. The average writer writes 5 books and it takes them 5 yrs and 4 months to sell. Wanna know how long it took me? Well, STOLEN FURY was the 5th manuscript I wrote before selling, and it sold EXACTLY 5 yrs and 4 months after I started writing.

Average. Not a natural at this whole writing thing at all.

Does that mean you can't be a good writer if you aren't a natural? Not at all. In fact, I think for those of us that have to learn the nuances of writing and really strive to get better, maybe it means more. Some of the most natural writers won't ever see publication because they don't have to work as hard for it or because they don't have the drive. And sometimes, I think that might even mean more than all the natural talent in the world rolled into one.

How about you? Do you consider yourself a natural writer or one who has to work at it every day? And if you ARE a natural writer...please explain this one to me because it's one of those things I never get right...lay or lie. Which one when?

***


And in case you missed it...check out my blog today. Free copies of STOLEN FURY are being given out all over!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Time Managementaphobia

Current Project: Mystic Taxi
Status: Page 274

Uh-oh. I spaced out my blog day. Aargh! I was all set to write it this morning, then work happened and I got distracted... Sorry.

I want to talk about time management, or in my case, the lack of it. I've always been pretty bad about managing my time wisely, and I think it's because I've become sort of flighty in my, uh, mature years. In my youth, I was very militant about my time, getting all my ducks in a row, etc, etc... But unfortunately, my ducks have flown the coup.

Sometimes it's okay to just get things done whenever. Other times, not so much. I've been experiencing that lately, and it creates stress.

It seems that whenever something new gets added to my life, like a new project, or a new puppy, chaos ensues. I've accepted that and work around it.

I think time management is especially hard for writers because I don't know about the rest of you, but I require an atmosphere of peace in order to get the words down. Constant interruptions disrupt my flow. How about you? Can you write no matter what's going on around you at any given time? Can you write in the ten minutes you have before leaving for an appointment? Or while the spaghetti's boiling? Or while the puppy goes out to pee? I'm challenged in this regard. Please tell me I'm not alone.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

File under Last Name

Current Project: PNWA Contest Entry
Status: Waiting for the weekend

(Don't forget to check out Debbie's awesome post on research below!) We've had numerous posts on first names. First Names are fun. I love pulling out the baby name books and trolling around various baby naming websites. However, last names are a burden. We're saddled with them from birth, and no real choice is involved. * And, while we get to choose for our characters, it's still a burden. There are no handy naming guides, and we have to be careful to not use last names that we know lest friends and relatives start seeing themselves on our pages.

Last names have become even more important with a big trend towards characters calling each other by their last names. Eli's hero and heroine in Stolen Fury use last names as part of their banter. I just finished Elizabeth Bevarly's You've Got Male, and again, last names feature prominently in the story. Many a rugged hero seems to be going by his last name-as-first name these days, and even the historical ones often answer to their last name or title. Saving the first name for intimate occasions is a nice trick to show the growing connection between hero and heroine and to showcase the hero's vulnerable side.

All well and good, but how to find the perfect last name? How do you avoid a slew of Smith's, Jones's, Lee's, Robert's, and Adam's? My mother loves combing the phone book, but I get very sleepy very quick. I like looking at family trees, but this falls under the dicey don't-use-names-you-know rule. You don't want to poach off another writer either, especially one you know. It's kind of like when your best friends uses YOUR baby name--you pretty much have to suck it up and find a new name, even if YOUR hero/ine had the name first. Sigh.

So tell me, how do your characters get their last names? Any good resources to share?


* Well, 99% of the time anyway. I do know one awesome couple who gave their children the last name "love."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Confessions of a Research Junkie

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: A Killer Pinot Noir
Status: Still plugging away

Well, I guess it's better to post late than not at all. I wish I had a well thought out and beautifully written post for you to enjoy, but I'm gonna have to wing it today, so bear with me. :-)

One of the areas that we newbie writers seem to struggle with is research. How much should we do? When do we know we've done enough? How can we tell when we've gone overboard and done too much? Is there such a thing as too much research? Is research from source material sufficient or do we need to visit locations or personally learn how to do the things our characters can do? Obviously we can't do "hands on" research on poisoning someone, for example (ahem), but some things might be possible, such as learning to shoot a gun or ride a horse.

I'm sure the answers to all these questions (and more) will be more a matter of personal preference than hard and fast rules. But still, I'd like to hear your thoughts on researching your novels. Do you find that you research about the same amount and in the same way for each novel you write, or does it vary? Do you use research to procrastinate (one of my bad habits)? Or are you the type of person who likes to dive right in and write and who only researches when your story forces you to do so?

Personally, I'm still struggling with the whole research issue. I can easily get lost in reading about just about any topic, either online or in a book. I have to be careful that I don't use the research as an excuse to put off the actual, you know, writing.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Word Fun



Current Project: Improper Pinkerton
Status: page 230 of polishing

My daughter redid my website and we launched it Jan. 1st. Take a look and let us know what you think. www.patyjager.com
I wasn't feeling very writing knowledgeable or having any rants, or anything I felt worthy of posting. So I'm stealing something someone posted on a loop I'm on. I found it fun and entertaining since it pertains to words.


Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to
its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply
alternative meanings for common words.

The winners are:

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3 . Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly
answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run
over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that, when
you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any
word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one
letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are this year's winners:

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright
ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign
of breaking down in the near future.
2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject
financially impotent for an indefinite period.
4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.
8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
9. Karmageddon (n): its like, when everybody is sending off all these
really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've
accidentally walked through a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your
bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.

Happy writing and revisions all!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

SATURDAY CHECK-IN



Current Project:Faith's Book
Status: page 125
Another week. More stuff happening with my mother, none of it good. We're cleaning out her apartment today and tomorrow, then early next week moving her to a new place better suited to her increasing needs. I hope none of you ever have to make these kinds of decisions for the people you love and who depend on you. Annie Rose, our dog, is hanging on, going from adorable to failing in the blink of an eye. Sigh.

Anyway, I got just twenty pages written this week but it's enough to reveal the pacing is way off. At this point, I think I'll just keep writing and do some judicious trimming once the story is down. We've had some great blogs this week on resolutions, digging deeper than the surface, trying to find hidden motivations. Interesting stuff.

Meanwhile, how is everyone doing?

Friday, January 02, 2009

Battle Of The Sexes

Current Project: STOLEN FURY Promo
Status: Busy

Happy New Year! To save Alice some angst, I won't blog about resolutions or goals. Instead, I'm going to blog about men. Those wonderful, mysterious creatures that are oh-so-important in our world and romance novels.

Currently, I'm in Black Butte with friends, celebrating the holiday. Three couples, all married various lengths of time from 17 years to newlyweds. One of the couples brought a game called Battle of the Sexes, which we just finished. (I'm writing this at 12:15 am.) For those of you who haven't played this game, it pits the men against the women. Men are asked questions most women know, and the women are asked questions most men know. The team that answers the most questions wins at the end. Guess who won....every time we played?

Yep. You guessed it. The girls.

Every. Time.

Now this is interesting. The questions ranged from pop-culture (what does NASCAR stand for?) to politics (Who was the first black president of South Africa?) to history (Who spearheaded the women's right to vote?) to language (what's a duvet?). And 75% of the time, the women knew the answers in both the male and female categories. We girls were chatting about this (laughing, mostly) and we discovered one very important fact about men and women: women pay attention to what happens around them, men don't.

It's true. Every time a question about advertising or politics came up, the women knew it. When the question was about movies or pop culture, the women knew it. Even when the question was about sports, most of the time we women knew the answer, because no matter how much we try not to listen when our men ramble on and on about sports, some of what they're saying seeps in (like in what pro sport is it illegal to run a zone?).

The men, on the other hand, rarely got pop culture questions right. They missed the ones that had anything to do with advertising or entertainment. They did okay on politics, and because they were being asked questions women would know, they didn't get a shot at the sports ones, but they didn't stand a chance on the literature or language or domestics.

My hubby actually answered a lot of questions I didn't think he'd know. But he floored me with ones I thought were common knowledge. So I'd like all of you to do a test with your men. We'll call it an unscientific survey. See if you can come up with the answers to the following ten questions. Then ask your men and see if they can get the answer. I'm curious if your results are the same as ours.

1. What is a duvet?
2. What is "blog" short for?
3. What techno-pop album relaunched Madonna's career in 1998?
4. Who were the two warring families in Romeo & Juliet?
5. Which "Friend" appeared in a Heineken commercial?
6. In Texas Hold-Em, what is the last card to be turned face-up called?
7. What supermodel is nicknamed "The Body"?
8. Who is the patron saint of lovers?
9. What is a mystic tan?
10. Who is the commissioner of baseball?

I'll post the answers later. I'm pretty sure most of you know these answers already, so please play along. Post how many you got right vs. how many your man got right. If nothing else, think of how important this research is for your writing!!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Current Project: Edits on a novella, CHASING RAINBOWS
Status: Getting there


By the time you read this, it will be a new year: 2009.

The theme of our blog posts this week has appropriately been goals and resolutions. When Lisa set 26 goals on her 26th birthday back in April, she asked others what our goals were. I didn't list all my goals then, but I did list some things I intended NOT to do (tattoos, nose piercings, daily blogs). Well, I met those goals--no tattoos, piercings or daily blogs for me. :)

At that time, I also touched on something that I want to expand on with this blog. Digging beneath the surface of the goals I set, as we do with the characters in our stories, to discover WHY some goals were on my list year after year with seemingly little progress and letting go of the blocks that were keeping me from reaching that goal.

I have a book written by Louise Hay called, "Heal Your Body." Ms. Hay's experience has been that physical illness has a mental cause. For instance, a sore throat is the inability to speak up for and express yourself, and eye problems are not liking what you see in your life. She goes on to say that if you recognize that cause and change your thinking, the physical ailment will go away.

If that works with physical ailments, why not with goals? Is there a mental cause or thought pattern that helps us reach our goals or prevents us from reaching our goals? And, if that's the case, you could just write a list of what you wanted to accomplish, get rid of any blocks or change your thought patterns, and voilá--success.

I had typed in a facetious comment here. However, as I think about it, this really should be the case. I just hadn't thought about my goals in that way.

So instead of including a list of goals in this blog, I'm going to take some extra time to really look at them. Why do I want to accomplish a specific goal? Has the goal been on my list for many years and, if so, why? Am I making progress and if not, I need to dig deeper to find the blocks, then get rid of the blocks or decide not to work on that goal right now.

For those remaining goals, I'm going to use the same type of detailed plotting I use for my stories. What do I want to accomplish toward that goal in a year/month/week/day (book/chapter/scene/page)? I can even set up my own character arc, so that in a specified time, I'll reach my goals (happily ever after). Yes, now I'm getting a bit silly and I'm sure these methods are similar to what many goal-setting experts have recommended for years, but perhaps just worded differently.

Since this is a holiday, I'm not going to give you an assignment or ask you to post your goals--unless you want to. :)

I'll just say Happy New Year and close with these words from Paul J. Meyer: "What you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass."