Friday, July 31, 2009

Release Week is Kicking My Patootie


Current Project: Promo for STOLEN HEAT
Status: Exhausted

Unless you live under a rock you know that my second book, STOLEN HEAT, released this week. I know Alice has a Saturday Update coming tomorrow, but I'll post mine now. What have I done this week? Promo'd my tushie off. I've been all over the blogosphere blogging, giving away books, answering questions and talking up the story. I'm also hosting giveaways on my blog every day for thirty days, so I'm there as well, monitoring comments, uploading guests, doling out prizes and contacting winners. And if that weren't enough, I have a booksigning in Springfield tomorrow, one in Portland next week, and a book club meeting at Powell's after that. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled STOLEN HEAT has released and that buzz is building and people are excited about the book but I'm exhausted already!

This is the life of a single title author. I don't think I knew what it would be like before I sold. And I'm not complaining, I'm just stating a simple fact here for those of you working on your books, targeting agents and editors and waiting for "the call". There's so much more that goes into a book than simply writing. There are revisions and copy edits and ads to place, promo materials to mail out to workshops and conferences, release announcements to send to booksellers and librarians. There are interviews - online, in person and on the phone - there are blog tours, photo ops and conferences you really should attend to keep your name and face in front of editors, agents and readers. And amid all that, your agent wants to talk about your option material, your editor's sending you revision notes on the next book, production needs a list of ideas for the new cover, and the editorial assistant wants your acknowledgements and dedication, like, yesterday because you spaced it off. And the WIP? You know, that one you're already contracted for and is due soon? Yeah. You still need to find time to work on that as well.

Can you handle all of that? Do you have a day job, kids, a spouse, commitments that will keep you from getting all of this done well and on time?

As I sit here in the middle of promo week, crazy as it is, I have to admit that I love it. Sure, I'm exhausted. Sure, I have a thousand things going on, some I know I've let slide and others I need to get on top of. But this is the profession I've chosen. I think back to all the years I struggled and waited for my turn, and I know I wouldn't change any of this if I could. Ann Aguirre, a good friend and writer pal of mine, said yesterday that she gives 150% to her writing because she knows if she doesn't, someone else will. That's so true. She loves what she does as much as I do - even the stuff that wears us out like the promo - so to her, it's all worth it.

Each of us is different. Each of us has different limitations on time and abilities. For those of you who are unpublished - or even for those of you trying to break into a new field - what you need to ask yourself is, what do you really want? What are you willing to do when you get there, and will it really be enough? We live in an era where there are a wide variety of publishing options. Not everyone has to choose the same path. I'm a firm believer in not sacrificing your goals and taking the easy route - if you know what you want, go after it and don't let anyone sway your determination. But be realistic about what it is you're after. Talk to authors who are already there and find out what their reality is. You may be surprised.

Then again, you may realize that's exactly what you want to do. And, like me, you may realize all of it is worth it in the end.

***

I'm giving away Stolen books today at Much Cheaper Than Therapy and Naughty & Spice. Stop by and leave me a comment to enter!

And don't forget to enter my big STOLEN HEAT release contest!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

DO BEAUTIFUL MEN MAKE GOOD HEROES?

Posted by: Genene Valleau
Current Project: Nine-book series

Status: Being developed


Have you ever seen a man who is so physically perfect he can only be considered beautiful? Yeah, I'm talking about that heart-stopping, turn-you-on jolt of lust at first sight. I suspect we've read about a lot of these guys in romance novels.

Now, what if this beautiful guy is also respectful, sincere and downright nice. I've met a couple of these kind of guys in person and, for various reasons, I was too dumb to snatch them up without a second thought. Yeah. I'm still shaking my head over those choices too. But I digress...

Have you ever read about a physically gorgeous guy who is also a really nice guy in a romance novel? Have you ever written a hero like this?

As I think about the heroes in my stories, some have been physically great looking but facing serious character demons. There's also a charmer who is average looking and has a lot of room for growth. And the heroes in my upcoming series are pretty darn good-looking but have all been adopted, so have a lot of childhood baggage.

Not one truly beautiful man among my romance heroes--at least not at the beginning of the story. Are beautiful guys too perfect for a romance story? No apparent flaws, so no potential character growth, and no conflict with the heroine. Or, as someone commented on an earlier blog, do we just have to live with a seemingly perfect guy awhile to discover his irritating habits?

What do you think? Have you ever read about or written a hero who is beautiful inside and out right from the beginning of the story? Was he memorable? Or did the story lack spark...or something?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

DESK TOP MAYHEM


Current Project: Untitled
Status: Five pages of a proposal idea, a contract and deadline based on that idea. Well, mostly that idea, it needs serious tweaking. (As you can see, I'm borrowing from Lisa's idea to expand upon the status line. Thanks, Lisa!)

The picture above is not my desk. In fact, looking at that picture makes me feel better about the mess staring me in the face in my real work spot which, while pretty bad, can't compare to that.

Between books, I usually try to mop up my space. De-clutter, throwaway, file, dust, scrub, de-booger my mousepad. My printer is held together by dust and a couple of cobwebs. When I doodle, I draw women's faces, esp. eyes, and right now, there are about twelve staring up at me. There's a really rather awful watch I bought so I could see my life passing as I sat in the hospital recently. (Note to self: do not buy a watch with a face the size of an alarm clock in the summer. All that metal sitting against your skin gets really irritating in the heat.) There is a corn nut package I can't stick in the garbage can because the resident puppy will drag it out and tear it into shiny foil pieces. There are hair bands, extra glasses, a knife, a calculator I never use, toothpicks, a thumb drive I had in mind to employ as back-up but that won't let me add anything, a container of body butter for my elbows, and a piece of paper that reads: "It's extremely insalubrious to inhale the obnoxious effluvia arising from the carcass of a defunct _______________________ ." (fill in the blank). That last little ditty came from my mother who said it one day as we drove into town and got a whiff of the pulp mill back when we lived in Eureka. I'd never heard her say it before. I can barely imagine the woman I know now being able to say it and I don't know where it came from. Hm---

There are other things, of course. Business cards I don't remember collecting, pencils in all colors, pens, a knife, a couple of reader letters, two contracts ... the list goes on and on. As the only other writer desk I can recall seeing lately belongs to Eli and consisted (at the time I saw it) of a lovely wooden desk, a lap top, a few pictures and an inspirational plague or two, I am kind of horrified at the disaster before me and yet strangely unmoved to do anything about it.

Your assignment: clock in as slob or neat-nick. Give yourself a number rating as it pertains to your desk top -- 1 for Hurricane Katrina federal disaster status and ten for picture perfect -- then chose one something on your desk and tell how it came to be there and if you have any immediate plans for moving or discarding it.

I am a two. Sometimes a three. Every year or two, an eight, but I can't maintain it for long, I'm not wired that way. As for immediate elimination? I choose the corn nut wrapper. That baby is history.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

STOLEN HEAT

Current Project: Submissions from RWA requests
Status: Trying to finish

Late to post. I apologize. I'm helping the husband pack the truck to take the kids camping for 3 or 4 days. I get to stay home because I work for the next three days. Maybe. I have a hunch my strep throat is making its third appearance in as many months.

This woman is the blogging queen this month. I have tripped over her and STOLEN HEAT at every blog I visit. Her stamina blows me away.

HAPPY RELEASE DAY, ELISABETH!!

stolen heat

CONGRATULATIONS!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Delving into those characters


Current Project: Leg Shaving Leads to Trouble
Status: This is the book that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends. I started writing it not knowing what it was, but I'll continue writing it forever just because, this is the book that never ends.

On my last blog post I whined about my book and how I've restarted it a couple of times once I got an idea for the plot that would strengthen the plot and be more conducive to conflict. But it brought up a major problem with my book that I wasn't seeing clearly at that point - I don't know my characters very well. The fact that they didn't seem real to me allowed me to keep changing my story, and my conflict was never very good.

So this time around (and the final time, dang it!) I'm going to get to know my characters better and hopefully knowing their quirks will drive the conflict. I've always thought of plots before people, but that's not always the best route to go in romances.

I looked for some articles and worksheets on how to create great characters, and here is some of what I've found:
Creating Great Heroes and Heroines by Anne Marble
Developing Characters in Novel Writing by Beanerywriter
A 9-part series on developing characters, including worksheets
Character and story graphic organizers

What are some ways that you develop your characters? Do you do the plot or characters first?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

SATURDAY CHECK IN


Current Project: Cast
Status: thinking...

My check in is easy. A Baby Between Them is gone (and all I can think of is all the things I left unsaid, undone, unfinished) but I need to write the Cast of Characters by Monday so that's what I'll do today. I have to admit I kind of crashed after the book left the house on Wednesday -- I think between finishing it, early hours with the pup and my mother's illness, etc... it just got stressful. So I'm also trying to take it easy today and hang out which I haven't done in awhile.

I'd love to hear how all of you are doing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Grammatically Correct Tattoos



Current Project: Synopis + Contest Entries
Status: Picked the next two months of contests and carried synopsis in my bag to work. Writing by osmosis not working yet, but am hopeful.

I want a tattoo.

I'll give you a minute to find your jaw amid the pencil stubs on your floor. No, not a dancing lady or Chinese symbol or intricate ferns, or even something cute and sentimental like Lisa's.

I want a big, bold, 72 pt. Font tattoo that says:

When joining two complete sentences with a FAN BOYS*, a comma is required.


A bit cumbersome, yes, but as a "traditionally built woman," my back is broad, and I figure we can set it off nicely with some scroll work. Further, we can balance it out with several smaller tattoos:

A cayenne pepper semicolon (A semicolon has one purpose in life: to join two complete sentences that are not joined with a comma + FAN BOYS. Semicolons add versatility and zest to one's punctuation repertoire, but too many of them spoils the soup.)

Were= Verb. Where = Place.

A smiley face accompanied by, "That is for things; who is for people."

A red hot rod underscored with, "They're moving their car over there. "

A purse monogrammed with, "You're in need of a new purse to match your dress."

And on my shoulders:

A lovely modern art piece of quotation marks hugging periods and question marks.

A thesis playing hide and seek amid the sentence forest.

Can you tell that I've been grading? There are days when I really wish I had a set of stamps because I just keep seeing the same errors over and over. I wonder if there is something faulty in my teaching methodology that commas remain elusive for my students, popping up in spots they don't belong and conspicuously absent from spots where they are most needed. Last night, I decided to try something new and pulled up a news story so that my class could analyze why the writer placed each comma and discuss the editing process.

Imagine my dismay when I found THIS lurking in the article:

Cronkite was the broadcaster to whom the title "anchorman" was first applied; and his name was at one point synonymous with the role even outside the U.S.


Can you spot the error? I would explain, but I'm still waiting for my copy of Elements of Style to quit twitching. I begin to think that my tattoos may be the only sane solution.

Your turn: What grammar pet peeves do you have? What literary tatoos would you most like to get (see below for inspiration)? If you want to practice commas and semicolons as to not offend the grammar gods, I love this short exercise (it has an answer key). How did you do?


*FAN BOYS= For, And, Not, But, Or, Yet, So
** The awesome tattoo is from a great site of literary tatoos: http://www.contrariwise.org/

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Conference Impressions

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: Current WIP
Status: I actually wrote a couple of pages on the plane back from DC!

I've been trying to make sense of my notes from the RWA National Conference so that I could share a few great insights, but I'm afraid all you're going to get are my jumbled impressions and odd thoughts. That seems to be the way my brain works these days, so I'm truly not surprised. I should mention that this was only my second RWA conference--my first was last year in San Francisco.

I can't tell you how fortunate I felt at being able to attend the conference this year in Washington DC. It's been almost 20 years since the last time I was in DC and I arranged to arrive a day early so that I could at least go to the National Mall and see some of the monuments. The Mall was as awe inspiring as I remembered and I overloaded my poor brain at the Smithsonian, only making it to Air & Space and Natural History.

I stopped in only very briefly at the Literacy Signing. The picture I took doesn't do the room or the crowd justice. It seemed to me like there were more people -- both authors and readers -- at this signing than at San Francisco. It could be, though, that the room was a bit smaller and so felt more crowded. Still, the signing raised over $60,000! I was just too pooped from sightseeing and too in need of quiet away from crowds to spend much time squeezing through the rows of tables.

The opening session of the Conference was fabulous. Instead of a prepared speach, Janet Evanovich answered pre-submitted questions. Her answers were funny and honest and inspiring. Did you know it took her ten years and a packing crate full of rejections before she was published? It's so easy to look at successful authors and forget that they started out just like me -- at the bottom and hopeful about breaking in.

Linda Howard gave the Keynote speach. She was really very funny (and I'll never look at a riding lawn mower in the same way). Her message (and I'm paraphrasing) was essentially: Everyone has distractions. Don't let those distractions become your excuse not to write. Do your best, hang in there, and eventually you'll make it.

I tried to attend a mixture of craft and career workshops this time and I think I succeeded. Two standouts for me were Suzanne Brockman's workshop on "Breaking the Rules" and Jenny Crusie's workshop on "Turning Points." Both of these women are funny and passionate about what they do. In fact, all of the workshops I attended were informative and fun. It constantly amazes me at the open sharing and honest encouragement that happens within RWA. This is a professional organization like no other I've been a part of and I'm very, very happy to be a member.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Politically correct or Factually correct


Current Project: Doctor in Petticoats
Status: Revisions....

My son-in-law the State Police Detective and I had a good interview this weekend discussing what I needed to know of the underbelly of the area I'm setting my contemporary western mystery. I want to make this ring true. There is a certain ethnic group that is dominate in the illegal activity I am using in this book. He was giving me ethnic names to use for characters, and we were having a good time coming up with combinations. But as I drove home I'm wondering if I'll get hammered for making it real?

When you write stories, contemporary, and use villains do you contemplate what the fallout might be if the character or characters are a certain ethnicity? Am I being too paranoid? In my historicals, I make all walks of life the bad guys. But it's history and people know there were bad factions in all nationalities back then as now. But now, it seems you point a finger and you get nailed to the wall.

In this world of "don't hurt anyone's feelings" and "you're out to get me"- can I use the truth and not find myself in a prejudice entanglement?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project: A BABY BETWEEN US
Status: almost done

I'm in the hospital this a.m. with my mother who came down with pneumonia. When they called me at 5:45, I was already awake thanks to -- yep, the puppy. And, btw, the photo above is of Fort Bragg taken a few years ago and has nothing to do with anything. I just like it.

I've finished the book to the point of an epilogue which will be essential for this book. It's already too long, so I need to reread, edit and cut five to ten pages then write the epilogue (and tie up loose ends, get rid of red herrings that never panned out, etc... I'm also a little worried about a character's motivation slipping midway through -- ack!) It's due Monday, obviously it won't make it by then, but hopefully it will be ready to go. I'm not sure how I'm going to do this from the hospital as the laptop is refusing to open the book file I emailed myself before I left, but fingers are crossed.

Things do work out for a reason. If I hadn't sold this book, I would have gone to the conference and I wouldn't be here now and that would be hard on my mom, so there you go.

Hope each of you had a productive week. Can't wait to hear if Wavy accomplished what she wanted to accomplish.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Oh, Ms. Muse? Where have you gone?

Current Project: Promo for STOLEN HEAT
Status: Thick in the middle of it.

We've talked a lot about writer's block - what causes it, how to get around it, strategies writers use when the words just won't come. I think we've all been in a place where getting words on paper is like making my kids' clean up their rooms - a near impossible feat even on a good day. Up until recently, I thought I knew what writer's block really was. I now know I was wrong.

It's been over six weeks since I last wrote anything more than a grocery list. Luckily, my next book isn't due until December 1st and I'm close to the halfway mark in that book already, so I have lots of time to finish it. I haven't been putting pressure on myself. Two weeks in the hospital from an infection that almost killed me has reminded me not only that I'm mortal, but that I need to slow down and enjoy the process of life more than I've been doing. So for the last few weeks while I work on resting and regaining my strength, I've been spending more time with my family, reconnecting with my mom (who has been an angel and has come in nearly every day to help out with the kids), and appreciating things I took for granted before - like the way my backyard smells on a dewy summer's morning when the sun is just rising, or the way clean Egyptian cotton sheets feel against my skin when I go to bed at night, or the sweet sound of my kids' laughter.

Of course, one can only "relax" so long before real life sneaks back in. Last week my editor sent me line edits for STOLEN SEDUCTION (Jan, 2010). It nearly killed me but I got them done. And let me tell you, it was worse than making my kids' clean their rooms. I didn't have to rewrite much, but I had to "think" writing, and I discovered not only that I have writer's block right now, but that my muse seems to have taken off for Hawaii and doesn't want to come back.

I've heard writers talk about traumatic life events changing their writing. This is my first experience with it. Right now I'm in promo mode for STOLEN HEAT, and I have a bunch of blogs I need to write and send off for my blog tour. I'm secretly hoping doing so will tempt the muse to come back, but I have no idea if it will work or not. At night I try to think about my WIP as I fall asleep, but invariably my mind wanders to other things...like what really happened that week I was in ICU which I can't for the life of me remember.

Have you ever experienced a traumatic event that halted your writing? I'm not talking about normal writer's block, I'm talking about something major that impacted your life.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

FEEL LIKE MAKIN' LOVE

Posted by: Genene Valleau
Current Project: Nine-book series
Status:  In the development stages


I've heard many romance writers say they dread writing love scenes. Kind of a contradiction for our genre in a way, isn't it? I generally don't have a problem writing love scenes, even though my mother has commented that I could leave them out of my books and she wouldn't mind. :)


Romance writers also have differing levels of sensuality in our stories which will, of course, also make a difference in the love scenes. To date, my stories aren't burn-your-eyeballs hot in the sensuality ratings. My rock'n'romance trilogy released last year had fully-developed love scenes, which varied for each of the three couples. My recently completed novella, CHASING RAINBOWS, is a 35,000-word romantic comedy. Because of the shorter length and the tone of this story, it just felt right to go a little lighter on the love scenes. 


My next project, a nine-book series of seven adopted brothers and their sister, will have varying levels of sensuality because the love scenes will be tailored to fit the different personalities of the main characters. Which is the main point of this blog post: writing memorable love scenes that go beyond the mechanics of sex.


Because my nine books have an over-arching theme that ties them together, I'm developing a lot of the plot at the same time, as well the differences that will make each of these stories unique. One of the ways I'm doing this is to take an element that's common to most romances--in this case, love scenes--and thinking about how this element is unique to my characters.


For instance, in one story my hero is a strong, macho-type police officer and the heroine is a shy baker. They get married fairly early in the story because the heroine isn't comfortable with sex before marriage and the hero respects that. Also because of her personality, she isn't very adventurous (at first) when making love. So their love scenes will change as the heroine grows more assertive--from fairly tame to something with frosting and cake decorations. I'm not sure if handcuffs will play a role in their love scenes...I'll wait and see where the characters lead me. :)


One of the other stories features a firefighter hero and a heroine who almost died in an arson fire. For her, just having candles burning when they make love is a huge step forward in her emotional healing and in trusting the hero. 


How about you? How do you make love scenes unique to your characters? Or is there a love scene in a book you've read that is particularly memorable because it is so perfectly unique to the characters?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

SABOTAGE


Current Project: A BABY BETWEEN THEM
Status: Rolling toward the end.

As anyone who watches reality TV knows, many people have a tendency to shoot themselves in their foot. Take last week's episode of The Next Food Network Star when an over the top, life of the party, self acclaimed global-a-go-go guy made a point of telling the judges that he loved being around people, he just wasn't good in front of a camera. Even he realized he'd just committed suicide as far as the show went -- the judges weren't looking for the next flamboyant guy who doesn't like performing in front of a camera.

This happens over and over again. The model who is told she's put on weight (egad, she's ballooned to a size 4) and who continues to eat poorly while telling herself she isn't. The singer who is "encouraged" to stretch but who continues to play it safe.
And the writer who is under the pressure of a deadline and goes out and acquires a time sink when time is something she has precious little of.

This is my time sink:

Looks innocent, doesn't she? Ah ha, don't be suckered in by this moment of peace. Yesterday, while I was finally figuring out what to do with the end of my book, I had to interrupt everything over and over to: 1. Save a bee from Bonnie's attention. I'm happy to say puppy remains unstung and the bee kind of aerodynamically sputtered away. 2. Save 47 plants for being denuded. 3. Get up from my desk and take the puppy downstairs and outside twenty times to visit the backyard where she does her business -- after chasing a pissed off cat or two, attacking said plants and affecting the great escape by tunneling under the deck. The list goes on. Anyone who has ever been responsible for a puppy knows it by heart (the dh is camping, a trip planned back when I still had a life and was to be away this week at nationals, sigh, so he's no help. Although, in his defense, I post an additional photo to illustrate he's an excellent babysitter and Bonnie obviously has plans to enter the construction field at some later date (once she catches up on her nap time):

While I'm joking a little here, I'm actually also serious. I could have finished this book two weeks ago if I'd been able to concentrate but I couldn't, meaning this week I am rushing to get the story down when I should be refining a manuscript. I think I froze for a couple of weeks (although records show I went forward, just not as dynamically as I needed to) in order to feel as though it was a good thing I cancelled plans to go to nationals. See? I knew I couldn't go because the plans had changed and it was too late to change them back, so I made sure I couldn't go by being up to my ears in book. Clever, huh?

And then I got a puppy.

I believe we may all sabotage ourselves from time to time in unconscious ways. Debbie hit on this a week or so ago with the perfectionism vs procrastination ploy she feels she employs. But it may be more subtle than that. It may be eight pounds of yellow fur with razor sharp teeth and puppy breath.

I bet if you think about it, you'll come up with an instance when you threw a wrench into your gear box. I hope it was as cute as mine...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

East Coast Update


Current Project: Untitled RS
Status: On Hold til RWA is over

I arrived in New York last Thursday morning after a red-eye flight. Luckily I managed good sleep on the plane. Even with a layover in the middle. I'd never been to NYC before. I met my roommate, Susan, on Facebook about six months ago. She's a romantic suspense writer from Atlanta and we got along fabulously. (Thank God!)

Thriller writer, facebook buddy, and New York City local Tom O'Callaghan took Susan and I under his wing, showing us the sights of the city. A convertible ride with the top down was perfect for taking pictures. But I admit to closing my eyes at times. Tom drives like a New York cabbie. Fast and fearless and all over the road. Strangely I felt safe the entire time. Safer than the real cab rides I later took. Tom also guided us down into the subway system. He doesn't use the subway and we fumbled around for a while before getting to the Statue of Liberty. Susan and I voted for a cab ride back to the Hyatt. I owe my fantastic NY experience to this generous man.

Another highlight was standing guard for Lee Child at the book signing. I'd volunteered for a group author signing and most of us were assigned crowd control. I was assigned to Lee specifically because he was expected to draw a large group. Susan came along and we parked ourselves against the wall next to his table. People probably thought we were Lee Child groupies. I chatted with another woman as I stood guard, exchanging stories about the conference and talking writing in general. We'd talked for five minutes before I discovered she was Danielle Perez, an editor from Bantam Dell who was there to welcome Lee.

Susan and I flew to DC on Sunday and were pleased to find Mary Buckham and Dianna Love on our flight. Monday was the FBI tour of Quantico. We heard some fabulous speakers on undercover agents and espionage investigations. ASAC George Piro interrogated Saddam Hussein for eight months in prison. Amazing story. Some of you may have seen it on 60 minutes. Saddam talked to no other people during that time, spending five to seven hours each day with George, believing George was talking to President Bush after he'd leave each day. This was an assumption on Saddam's part. George had made no such claim. It was fascinating to hear about the personal relationship that'd developed between the two men.

At Quantico, we used the firing range, toured Hogan's Alley, and the rest of the campus. I'm tired. It's Monday night and we're currently catching our breath in the hotel room and deciding if we're too tired to go find dinner. I've posted pics on my facebook page.

Now to gear up for the whirlwind of the rest of the week.

Monday, July 13, 2009

When do you stop changing things?


Current Project: Leg Shaving Leads to Trouble
Status: Not far enough

A couple of you on Facebook commented on my most recent frustration, and since it's my blog post day, I thought this would be a good topic. I've been working on this book "Leg Shaving Leads to Trouble" for a while. It started out with the heroine attending grad school, trying to finish her Ph.D. in anthropology. She meets a guy, gets knocked up on a one-night stand, then he shows up on campus a month later. The complications ensue. I wrote a lot of the book that way, but it just never felt right. It was forced and certainly not a very good read. The ways I had them running into each other weren't working.

Then I changed it so she wasn't studying anthropology, instead, she was a psychology post-bacc trying to earn brownie points to get a professor gig. She with the impact of scent on cancer patients, basically aromatherapy. The school she worked at was very progressive. She got assigned to a project that was going to do research on the effect of scent on sexual desire and relationships. A cosmetic corporation donated money to the school and she got stuck working with the company on this project, and the hero is the company's rep on the project. This worked better because it forced them to see each other much more frequently.

But that still didn't feel quite right. Well I'm taking an alternative medicine class right now and I had an idea. Maybe the heroine should be a practicing aromatherapist and the big boss at the company had a wife with cancer, and maybe the heroine's aromatherapy work really helped her. So he wanted to bring her in to consult on this product line and the research for it. The hero thinks she's a quack and that there's no basis for that type of medicine. Then the conflict, again, ensues.

I like this much, much better. I think this frees me up to play with the heroine a bit, and although the book is primarily heroine-focused, it gives me a nice arc for the hero where he becomes more open-minded, less stubborn, and more accepting about things by the end.

I'm happy with this. But...it means nearly complete rewrites for everything I'd been working on ALREADY rewriting over the past couple of months! All those academic scenes, the power struggles in academic, none of that fits. I need to restart...again. I can't tell if I'm purposely sabotaging myself, or if this really is the way to go. All I know is I'm tired of this plot already! Haha! But I need to finish the darn thing. And for my alt medicine class I chose aromatherapy as my research paper topic, so hopefully that will help out a lot.

Have you ever had to restart a few times as you have gotten ideas you liked better?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project: A Baby Between Them
Status: page 260

Been a slow week at my house. Karen, every time I take this puppy out, I think of you trying to do that in the snowy winter and I laugh! Bad enough when it's warm. I NEED SLEEP.

Meanwhile, book is almost done which is handy as deadline is a week from Monday. The ending is being very tricky -- actually, this whole book has been a departure for me and a little harder to write than normal and who knows what pitfalls await rewrites. I know some of you are at Thrillerfest -- that would be Kendra -- and some of you are departing soon for DC. If you have a chance to see this, let us know what you're hoping to accomplish in DC, what you want to learn.

How's everyone doing, even you Eli lost in line edit Hell.

Friday, July 10, 2009

GROWING BLUEBERRIES ... AND KIDS




Please help me welcome my very good friend, award winning author Ann Roth. Ann and I met several years ago at a national RWA conference, I can't recall which one. She is smart, funny, witty, intense and one heck of a nickel slot machine hustler. Ann lives in the greater Seattle area with her husband. After earning an MBA, she worked as a banker and corporate trainer. She gave up the corporate life to write, and if they awarded PhDs in writing happily ever after stories, she'd have one.
Ann has sold fifteen novels, both romance and women's fiction, as well as a novella and a serialized online romance. To contact Ann, visit www.annroth.net or email her at ann@annroth.net. I always enjoy the time I spend with Ann and I think you will, too! (And as always when I insert photos, I'm crossing my fingers they come out in the right spots -- apologies, Ann, if I mess it up!)

Growing blueberries takes time and effort ... Just like growing a kid into an adult ...

At my house, we grow things. Flowers, tomatoes, herbs and beans. And raspberries and blueberries. Every year, thanks to my husband's care and use of organic soil enrichers, the blueberry bushes bear more fruit. This year they're roughly five years old, and loaded with berries. Enough for breakfast and a few pies. Yum! (If you want a fabulous recipe for blueberry pie, email me at ann@annroth.net and I'll send it to you.)

I had no idea we'd have to wait all this time for those blueberries. But the wait was well worth it. And got me thinking ... Growing a kid takes patience and effort, too. (And a whole lot more work than bushes!)

In A Father for Jesse, the fourth and final book in my Harlequin American Halo Island miniseries (in bookstores everywhere now!), Jesse is a kid with problems and a load of underserved guilt on his young shoulders. Emmy Logan, his single mom, is doing her best to keep him on the straight and narrow. But with constant battles and no father to help (the rat took off and hasn't been in contact since), that isn't easy.


Enter Mac Struthers. Mac raised his twin brothers, and the last thing he wants is another kid to raise. He ... But I'm not going to tell you the whole story. I'd rather you read the book.

I would like to know what you grow-if anything.

Wishing you the patience needed for plants and children, and thanks for letting me visit,
Ann
www.annroth.net
A Father for Jesse
July RT Top Pick!
Current Project:
Status:

Please help me in welcoming my very good friend, award-winning author Ann Roth. Ann and I met several years ago at a RWA national conference -- I can't remember which one. She is smart and funny and intense and dedicated and one heck of a nickel slot machine hustler. I always look forward to the time I spend with Ann and I think you will too.

Ann lives in the greater Seattle area with her husband. After earning an MBA, she worked as a banker and corporate trainer. She gave up the corporate life to write, and if they awarded PhDs in writing happily ever after stories, she'd have one.
Ann has sold fifteen novels, both romance and women's fiction, as well as a novella and a serialized online romance. To contact Ann, visit www.annroth.net or email her at ann@annroth.net.

Growing blueberries takes time and effort... Just like growing a kid into an adult.
At my house, we grow things. Flowers, tomatoes, herbs and beans. And raspberries and blueberries. Every year, thanks to my husband's care and use of organic soil enrichers, the blueberry bushes bear more fruit. This year they're roughly five years old, and loaded with berries. Enough for breakfast and a few pies. Yum! (If you want a fabulous recipe for blueberry pie, email me at ann@annroth.net and I'll send it to you.)

I had no idea we'd have to wait all this time for those blueberries. But the wait was well worth it. And got me thinkingÅ  Growing a kid takes patience and effort, too. (And a whole lot more work than bushes!)

In A Father for Jesse, the fourth and final book in my Harlequin American Halo Island miniseries (in bookstores everywhere now!), Jessie is a kid with problems and a load of underserved guilt on his young shoulders. Emmy Logan, his single mom, is doing her best to keep him on the straight and narrow. But with constant battles and no father to help (the rat took off and hasn't been in contact since), that isn't easy.

Enter Mac Struthers. Mac raised his twin brothers, and the last thing he wants is another kid to raise. Hez But I'm not going to tell you the whole story. I'd rather you read the book. :

I would like to know what you grow-if anything.

Wishing you the patience needed for plants and children, and thanks for letting me visit,
Ann
www.annroth.net
A Father for Jesse
July RT Top Pick!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wearing That Book Plum Out

Current Project: Finding my way back . . .
Status: waiting for a map

Oh um, HI! Is it my day to blog? REALLY? Of course, I remembered LAST night, only to forget in the course of freezing berries, toddler wrangling, and general life. And so it goes.

Have you ever worn a book out? My beloved copy of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything has been in three pieces for months now. Note that this is NOT a three volume set. Then this weekend, I noticed that pages were missing. The death knell has finally tolled, and I'm facing the need to replace. Similarly, my copy of Dr. Sears' The Baby Book has not survived the toddler years. I'm wondering if the universe is sending me a message. When I was younger, I wore out These Happy Golden Years, Anne of Green Gables, countless Judy Blume books, and the first 10 Babysitter's Club books. My copies of Suzanne Brockmann's Unsung Hero and Breaking Point are in sore need of an upgrade to hardback. I wore my copy of Lori Foster's Mr. November out and was so happy to see its release in anthology last year.

The toddler is following in my footsteps. Baby Colors is in tatters, Dear Santa needs a trauma team on stand by, Dr. Seuss's Alphabet book is missing a few letters, and Johnny the Gorilla is now a two volume set. I look at the carnage with pride.

I'm always torn between replacing and repairing. I'm not an expert on repairs like some of my relatives, so my repair jobs end up impairing the reading experience. Yet, the battered books stand as testaments of love and devotion. They are badges of honor. I can think of no greater compliment to a writer than a worn out book. Personally, I would much rather see a tattered stack of paperbacks than a shelf of display books in pristine condition. Books are meant to be loved.

Which books have you worn out? Have you ever replaced a beloved book?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Silencing the Little Hater

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: Shadows, Inc.
Status: Still developing the backstory...

The other day I came across a link to a YouTube video by Jay Smooth, a hip-hop video blogger. You may have seen some of his vlogs, but the one I'm talking about here is called "Beating The Little Hater" (embedded below). I clicked on it out of curiosity and then found myself nodding in total agreement. You see, the "Little Hater" is that voice inside your head that tries to sabotage you. My Little Hater happens to use the same tricks as the one in Jay Smooth's head -- perfectionism and procrastination.



My Little Hater gets the upper hand by whispering that I don't know enough to start writing. That every word needs to be perfect. That if the words aren't perfect, then I have no business writing. That if I keep procrastinating--that is, if I read yet another book on how to write or take yet another online writing class or research yet another fact on the internet--maybe, eventually, I'll be able to get the words just right.

Of course, all of that is nonsense. Still, that little voice--that Little Hater--is ridiculously easy to believe and oh, so very hard to ignore. And it seems like the longer I listen, the more power it has. It does me no good to argue with my Little Hater; sometimes the voice seems even stronger if I engage it. The only way I've found to silence it is to put my fingers on the keyboard and...wait for it...WRITE.

What about you? Do you have a Little Hater living inside your head? If so, what tricks does yours use to sabotage you and how do you deal with it?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Eye Candy or Inspiration


Current Project: Between Projects
Status: Tidying up Doctor in Petticoats, Researching, stewing and brewing For a Sister's Love (next WIP)

While in Kalispell Montana over the weekend, Cory and I were driving the main road through town on our way to see if the flowers for the wedding arrived. (Cory was the florist for the wedding) We stopped at a light beside a white Dodge pickup. We'd just been discussing maybe Cory could find a handsome rich Montana cowboy. Well, we both looked over at the pickup at the same time and our chins hit our chests and drool slid out the corner of our mouths. I looked forward and said, "Grab your phone and take a picture of him. He's inspiration." I looked back over. Cory was still drooling, and he shot her a devastating smile as the light changed. He drove off, and I finally found the gas pedal and moved forward. Alas, Cory didn't take his picture, but between the two of us we conjured him up pretty darn well on the trip back from Montana.

"He was gorgeous!" Cory said. "Sandy blond, curly hair, crinkles by his eyes, and his smile... It wasn't a yeah, you're looking at me cuz I'm hot, it was a genuine smile." ~Sigh~ "Now, I wish I'd taken his picture. There weren't any guys as good looking at the wedding."

Why is it the one that got away is always more dashing, more genuine, more exciting? Is it because we can make up stories of how the ending will be different? Like romance stories?

Have you ever had a chance meeting, had the person male or female strike a chord with the writer in you and you used their looks for a character and gave them the background and story you felt they deserved?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Current Project: Line edits for STOLEN SEDUCTION
Status: Need to start



Happy 4th of July everyone. As today is the observed holiday, this post will be short. I just want to wish all of you a very happy holiday.

As for me, I'm alive and well and working on recovering. I've cancelled my trip to DC for the RWA National Convention so I hope all of you are able to keep me entertained the week of National. And I can't wait to hear all about it when Debbie and Kendra get back.

So what does everyone have planned for the holiday weekend?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

CREATIVE GIFTS FOR SALE

Posted by: Genene Valleau <www.genenevalleau.com>
Current Project: FINAL edits on novella, CHASING RAINBOWS
Status: Closing in on "the end"

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of participating in the NW Book Festival with thirty or so other authors. Romance authors were well-represented at this event, with about ten of us from the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter and Rose City Romance Writers (Portland chapter of RWA).

However, this event went beyond romance to encompass poetry, health and wellness, travel, children's books, memoirs and much more. The Web pages for this event will stay up for awhile if you want to take a look at the authors who attended and visit their Web sites <www.nwbookfestival.com>.

Though sales were slow, creativity flowed like chocolate in a fondue pot. (A "groaner" analogy, I know!) Some of our romance authors were published by large New York publishing houses, but most of the authors were self-published or published by small presses.

Some people may roll their eyes here--yes, this is a definite tie-in with Alice's post on Prejudice from yesterday. In spite of many examples of NY Times bestselling books that started out being self-published, outdated stereotypes still exist that self-published books or books from small presses are of inferior quality. Not so!

The books that I looked at had beautiful covers, well-written back-cover blurbs, and useful/intriguing/humorous/entertaining content. Fortunately for my bank account, I ended up at this event with limited cash and no checks. I wanted something from every author!

Oh, yeah, and did I mention the authors were delightful? Which brings me to the topic of this blog. Each of these authors was offering their creative gifts for sale. They were taking the risk of someone rolling their eyes or, perhaps worse, walking past their table with eyes averted. However, if you took the time to talk to these authors, the passion for their gift quickly became obvious.

These authors believed in their creative gifts.

And that is something precious that writers and other creative people offer the world. A different perspective. The quiet courage to face eye rolls and/or stereotypes and prove them wrong. A respect for the unique gifts that each person brings to this sometimes crazy world. A belief that our creative gifts can touch the hearts of others and help them find their own creativity.

In our group of writers, we've seen a lot of challenges recently--loss of jobs or the possible of layoffs, cutting back expenses, serious illnesses, and aging parents--just to name a few. Perhaps life's challenges point out the need to explore our creative gifts even more. What do you think? Do life's challenges shut down your creativity? Or do you take refuge in your creative gifts?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

PREJUDICE

Current Project:Agent Daddy
Status: page 232

Pre judge. That's what prejudice means.

A couple of weeks ago when Lisa blogged about a pen name for her romance career to keep her own name separate for her career in academia, I have to admit I thought it might be over reacting. The days of bias against romance are over, aren't they? Who worries about stuff like this anymore?

Well, the days of prejudice are not over. I found that out around a friendly campfire when a nurse I'd never met before asked who I wrote for and I told her Harlequin Intrigue. I said it with pride. I love writing the books I now write and I'm proud of the company I sell to. They have treated me very well through the years and the editors I have gotten to know are wonderful, dedicated people.

The nurse rolled her eyes. "Wow!" I said. "You just rolled your eyes. Why?"
With a smirk, she informed me she's never read that kind of book. I asked her what that kind of book meant. "You know," she said and followed it up with, "So, how many books do you have to punch out in a year?"

"You're on a roll aren't you?" I said, adding I didn't have to "punch out" any books in a year, but most years I wrote two or maybe three. Frankly, I was just incredulous she was pushing things this way. She asked another snotty question and I asked her if she wanted to know my secret formula for making each book like the other. When she eagerly agreed and I admitted there was none, she finally dropped it.

This came on the heels of a comment made by a male friend about how he could help me meet my deadline and then launched into a vivid oral rendition of a scene that involved a guy's hand down a woman's blouse, etc... The people standing around in ear shot all laughed. He looked stunned when I mentioned the bruised and broken condition of my h/h and the two murdering thugs out to get them.

These people were both nice people with good careers and better than average educations and yet their view of the most popular genre in the country is mired in decades old prejudice. How would they have liked me making fun of their careers in front of others? Why did they think it was appropriate to make fun of mine?

Mostly when I say I'm a writer and I work for Harlequin I get positive reactions and I won't take those for granted anymore. So, I'm curious. When's the last time (if ever) you ran up against someone knowing all about what you write without ever having read a single word? How do you handle it?