Monday, August 31, 2009

What's in a Title?


Current Project:Christmas Redemption or....
Status: Chapter two

Today I'm looking for help with, you guessed it, a title. Usually the title comes to me either before I write the book when the first inkling of an premise starts forming or shortly after I start the story.

For the above mentioned novella I'm not happy with anything. It's a Christmas story about a man who as a boy helped with a bank robbery and spent ten years in jail because the judge had a grudge against the hero's family. The man comes back to town right before Christmas. He learned a trade while in the prison and has formed an impressive list of clients across the state.There are people he feels he needs to redeem himself with- his parents and the young woman who's father was killed during the robbery. He didn't pull the trigger but he feels like he did.

So my question to you- is Christmas Redemption too harsh a title for a Christmas story? And my other thought was Christmas Proposal, because, yes, he proposes and marries the young woman at the end of the story.

This story is going in an anthology titled: Lawmen and Outlaws Christmas Anthology so my thought is the second title is too fluffy for an outlaw story, but the first one seems to harsh for a Christmas story.

Let your thoughts fly and have you ever worked yourself into a lather over a title? If so why?

(Some of you may say, they'll just change it anyway. My publisher has so far taken all my titles and they usually don't change them unless it is already used.)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project:THE BABY'S BODYGUARD
Status: Page 41

If you had told me last weekend that I would still be floundering around in this synopsis, I would have bopped you on the head with a newspaper. But here I am. If we're going to get out of here next week, then it's crunch time.

What did occur to me was that this book might be one of those that were I unpublished, I would ditch. What I mean is if I didn't HAVE to figure this book out, I might not. I might let it slip away and look elsewhere for enjoyment because at this stage, it's not a lot of fun. But experience has taught me that an easy book is not always the best book and the ones that cause the most conceptual pain can be very fulfilling. Maybe it's like raising a difficult child, maybe you're just so glad when the work is finally done that you let it go willingly, amazed it turned out so well in the end.

My plan today is to continue my chapters and make headway on the synopsis. My goal is to have a flash of intuitive brilliance and wrap everything up by tomorrow night. Barring that, I'll take what I can get.

Did you meet your goals? If you haven't been setting any for yourself, are you getting ready to start? Summer is waning, a change of seasons is hovering in the air -- always a good time to redefine and hone goals don't you think?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Guest Blogger - Elissa Wilds!

Please help me welcome our guest today, Dorchester author, Elissa Wilds!

Elissa Wilds write paranormal romantic fiction and metaphysical/new age non-fiction. She loves to write about magick (spelled with a "k" to differentiate between stage magic and real magic) because she lives a magickal life. She enjoys investigating all things paranormal and has developed extensive knowledge and expertise in areas such as alternative healing, intuitive development, Wicca, Feng Shui, and more. She's spent the past fourteen years teaching others about these and other metaphysical topics and holds Bachelor degrees in Communication and Creative Writing and a Master's degree in Communication. In addition to writing, she enjoy singing karaoke, reading, meditating, and spending time with her family.

Elissa's 2nd book - DARKNESS RISING, the sequel to her 2008 debut BETWEEN LIGHT AND DARK - just released last week from Dorchester. Here's a sneak peek at DARKNESS RISING:

He is a god, and he embodies everything the word implies. Everything. That makes Aurora a very lucky woman. Because Mobius wants her—not for her ability to neutralize the dark forces of the Umbrae, or for her kick-butt approach to the Finders wreaking havoc all over Earth. No, he wants to protect her, to harmonize their separate energies, to show her exactly what it means to be perfectly attuned to another being.

In a realm where creating a sexy little red dress is as simple as thinking it, the mind is the most powerful tool of all. And Aurora will use hers to tantalize her lover, outwit their enemies and defeat the...DARKNESS RISING.


Check out Elissa's website at www.elissawilds.com.
***

Summer is officially over. Sigh of relief. Kids are back to school. That’s good. The house is quiet. It’s easier to work. Summer is officially over. Sigh of sadness. I didn’t make it to the beach even once this summer. Not once! And I live in Florida! I started the summer with all sorts of ideas for how to use the time. I had lots of plans – much to my husband’s chagrin – for what he was going to get done around the house. Some got accomplished. Some didn’t. Not all his fault either. It seems, despite my plans for yard work followed by leisurely days on the beach as our reward – I’m just too darn busy! And I made my family just as busy as me! How did I manage to fill every waking moment with stuff to do? And then more stuff to do? And not much of it, relaxing and enjoyable? Does this sound familiar?

Here’s is what I realized. I’m an overachiever. And I clearly subconsciously expect everyone around me to be one too. Granted, I usually manage to do a lot of things at once. There was the time I was writing a master’s thesis, starting a new job, finishing a book, and became pregnant. There was the time I worked two jobs, took three or four classes, wrote a book, and taught Feng Shui and intuitive development on the side. These are just a couple examples, but my friends will tell you – there are plenty more examples from my life. Apparently doing too much is the norm for me. And I’ll bet I’m not alone. I’d bet plenty of you are also overachievers.

The problem with doing so many things at once is that you rarely get to do everything you’d like, and inevitably, some aspect of your life suffers. For me, it’s been the relaxation and fun part that has suffered. My house is clean, laundry done, book getting written, day job getting accomplished, kids are fed, but…I’m still feeling like I’m lacking somehow. I know it’s because I haven’t gotten to do anything for me. I recently read a book called Harmonic Wealth by James Ray. I loved it. He talks about our attempts to accomplish everything in our lives and how hard it is – if not impossible – to touch on all facets of our lives and keep them in balance. He gives some wonderful suggestions for coping, however. And I’ve already put one of his suggestions into practice. I make a list every morning of 6 things I need to accomplish that day. I automatically make one of those items (and I place it near the top of the list) something that is either fun and/or good for me. Examples, an afternoon at the beach, an hour on the elliptical, an hour of reading for pleasure, etc. Sometimes, I put two of these on my list. I focus on that list and that list only. If the housework isn’t on it, it waits until the next day. If I don’t get to everything on the list, I roll items to the next day, putting the ones I didn’t accomplish at the top of the list.

So far, it’s working splendidly! Granted, I’ve only been working this process for a couple days, but man – what I’ve been able to get done! And, I’ve had time for myself. Which is huge with a new baby in your life!

In honor of the release of DARKNESS RISING, I'm giving away a copy of the book to one lucky commenter! All you have to do is answer this question:

What are your tricks for accomplishing all that you’d like to get done each day?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

UNPLUGGED

Current Project: Novella edits and nine-book series
Status: Unplugged (see post below :)

When was the last time you were "unplugged" from your computer? Or your cell phone? Or any of the other electronic gadgets that control a large part of our lives?

When my son ended up in the hospital earlier this week, I found myself unplugged. (Eli, did you start this hospital precedent? Or was there someone before you?)

I've  been gradually changing my day-to-day habits to focus on one project at a time and also to allow myself time to slow down and enjoy the moment. So, after an initial adjustment, I decided this enforced focus was an added boost to my new new habits. I read part of a self-help book from my to-be-read pile. I hand wrote the draft of this post. I napped while my kiddo slept. 

I'm not completely comfortable with this enforced hiatus from my long "to do" list. I still dash home to feed doggies and check e-mail and see what has to be taken care of. (Sorry, I haven't caught up with blog posts yet.) However, it's helping me find a balance between relaxing and productivity.

How about you? When was the last time you unplugged--either intentionally or unexpectedly? 

P.S. If I don't respond to comments until late tomorrow, it's because they are discharging my son from the hospital and we are getting him settled. (Cause for celebration!)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

!!! CONTEST !!!!!


Current Project: bodyguard book
Status: struggling

I am joining the promotional bandwagon. The prize is a three month old puppy (photo above).
All you have to do is read one of my books. Like the next one, for instance, although since it's not out until October, perhaps you'd rather read an already published book. Well, maybe category isn't your bag. In that case, go ahead and read someone else's book. If you're too busy to read someone else's book, then a magazine will do, and no, silly, I don't mean the whole magazine, just an article. That's fine. Or the caption under one of the political cartoons. Yeah, that's good. What? No magazines at your house? How about cereal. You have cereal, don't you? Everyone has cereal. Go ahead and read something on the cereal box.

If I'm still striking out and you are reading this blog, then that will do. You are officially entered into the Puppy Prize Contest. All you have to do to win is show up at my house (or maybe I could meet you half way. Bring thick gloves, ear plugs and treats.) * Keep in mind promotional prizes are non-returnable.*

We chose to get a puppy on such an emotional level that in retrospect, I can hardly believe it. Suffering from the loss of our beloved pet, we wanted a dog that looked almost exactly like her. Having lived through an old dog's degeneration, we wanted a baby, we wanted vigor and life and challenges. We got it.

But looks are a tiny piece of any animal. I assumed when you bought a certain breed you would get that breed's characteristics and that's why we chose a lab. But this puppy didn't read the lab handbook. She is what she is, a separate and unique individual and I think if we can live through the next two years she'll be a terrific friend (this, btw, is the daily pep talk my dh and I give each other every afternoon about four o'clock.)

For instance, the dh was watching this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v4QrX1GOR4
with the volume turned way, way up. Bonnie, in another room, heard the puppy sounds in the first few seconds, ran into his office, jumped up to watch the screen and then tried to jump on the desk to get to the puppies. You could almost hear her shouting, "Friends!" Pens and papers and books went everywhere and she escaped with a permanent marker which we (thank heavens) retrieved before she figured out how to get the lid off. And this was one of the cute things she does. However, since I am running a contest here, I will end with cute. You don't need to know about the howling.

Seriously, I am dragging you through this blog to get to this point. People chose cars, clothes, lovers and pets for reasons, and many of the those reasons are emotional (if you chose shoes solely for comfort, why would you buy four inch red stilettos?) Think of a current or recent h/h and give them a pet and tell us why they chose that particular kind of pet. Can anyone forget Stephanie Plum's hamster or the Golden Retriever named Bob she shares with Joe Morelli? Your h/h pet doesn't have to actually show up in the book, but what would appeal to them or would it have just happened -- for example, inheriting a grandmother's toothless, onerous toy poodle named Ignatz and trying her best to give it a decent home would say a lot about a heroine. It might say even more about a hero.

As for me, I'm off on a whirlwind blog tour promoting my new contest. Don't forget to read something.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

If Real Life Imitated a Romance Novel


Current Project: Untitled RS
Status: Coming along

A couple years ago, someone commented to me that romance novels can ruin a marriage because women compare their husbands to the heroes and find them coming up short. I blinked and asked if the woman if she was serious. She nodded and told me of a friend who'd left her husband for a bit. The friend believed her romance novels contributed to her need to leave her husband. He just wasn't as good as the men she was reading about. HUH?? "Is she crazy?" I asked after I picked up my jaw. "It's not real. It's a book!" I can't get this conversation out of my head. Are there readers who can't separate reality from the pages? I started thinking...what if real life was like a romance novel? There would be definite pros and cons.

Pros: fantastic sex (Did anyone not think of this first?)
incredibly hot man
perfect bodies (no post-baby tummy)
he only has eyes for you
international travel
good financial means
sex in unusual places (tropical beaches)

Cons:
kidnappings
serial killers (or bad pirates for the historical fans)
being shot at
often on the run from the law for a period of time
lover holds a dangerous job (cop, federal agent, good pirate)
arranged marriages
sex in unusual places (Yes, I know, but think of sand)
other women jealous of you because of your incredibly hot man

Can anyone add to my lists? And have you heard of this issue with readers before?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Smorgasbord


Current Project: Leg Shaving Leads to Trouble
Status: If wishes were wings. I don't know why I put that - it's a news headline that's on my other monitor. "If wishes were wings: vampire woman unearthed in Venice."

I wish I had some incredible transition from that status line to the topic of this blog post. Alas, I don't. This post is going to be a bit of a mish-mash because I'm feeling sort of scrambled today. Lots of stuff going on and I'm having a hard time keeping it straight, so I'm going to touch on a variety of topics.

1) I'm definitely becoming more picky with my reading. I'm tired of all the novels I have on my bookshelves, but I'm having a heck of a time finding ones I find interesting to add. I picked up a few on Friday night at Powell's and have been reading one of them. It caught my eye because the hero is an anthropologist. I was simultaneously excited, yet wary because I was concerned that there would be terminology and action in there that would go against some anthropology knowledge that I've learned. Sort of like if you're reading about someone firing a gun and it's written in a way that you know isn't accurate.

Well, I've had many, many, many cringe moments. The book centers around a tribe that is referred to as "undiscovered." That wouldn't stick out to most people, but if you've taken an anthropology class, odds are your teacher has taught a level of sensitivity and about ethnocentrism. Just because the Western world didn't know about a tribe doesn't mean they were undiscovered. They knew of themselves!

Also, the author keeps referring to them as a "Stone Age" tribe in the hero's POV. This, too, would make many anthropologists cringe. It stems from late 19th/early 20th century selfish anthropologists who ranked groups of people on a scale from barbarians to civilized. Again, just because they aren't using computers doesn't mean they are akin to prehistoric peoples.

Wow talk about a tangent, eh? There probably aren't very many people out there who would read this an cringe. And you can't please everyone, that's for sure. But once in a while it's just hard to separate the fact that it's a book and to not let those things bother you. Normally I would brush it off, but coupled with the fact that I'm already struggling to find things to keep my attention makes it stick out more to me.

2) Have you ever done something you normally wouldn't do in the name of research? Or trying to understand something your character would do? Say, go skydiving or scuba diving. On Saturday night I was at a concert of my favorite band. This is an alternative rock band and there's a lot of moshing and stage diving. I've never crowd surfed or dove from a stage, but I found myself wanting to. I was already amped up on adrenaline from moshing and had I not been much too overweight to do such an act (I'm being realistic here, I wouldn't want to catch myself!) then I would have done it. I wanted to see what it felt like so I could portray that experience in a book should I ever want to. I think this could also be dangerous territory for me because "in the name of book research" can cover a whole lot of things ;)

Have you done something our of your normal character for research or trying to better understand a character?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

SATURDAY CHECK-IN


Current Project: Bodyguard Book
Status: Chapter Three, some of synopsis

Another week has gone by. I heard from my editor yesterday that the copy edits on the last book are on their way and they would like them returned to NY by Thursday. Good grief. It's not her fault -- it's no one fault, it's just the way it rolls, but yowsa. If they come today I think I'll scream. If they don't, I think I'll still scream.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get the hero of this book very straight in my mind because he's a character in the book I am about to do the copy edits on and I don't want to have him do or say something (or even look a certain way) that doesn't glide between books. The dh is off on his annual golf soirée so I am in charge of what is now about twenty-five pounds of teeth with a tail. Where we got the puppy from hell, and why, seems a mystery to me right now.

So, this is a heavy duty working weekend for me. How are you doing? I noticed Paty checked in yesterday on the loop since she's off dragging sprinklers in Princeton again. How was your signing, Eli?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Just For Fun

Since today is open, I thought maybe we'd do something fun. In the comment section, answer the following questions. Hopefully we'll all learn something new about each other!

1. What (book) are you working on now?

2. What's on your night stand?

3. Who is (are) your favorite author(s)?

4. Last book that made you cry?

5. Last movie that stayed with you longer than the credits?

6. What are you doing tonight?

That's it. Answer away!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Dear John Letter

Current Project: NMMNG ( I'm superstitious about sharing the title, so I'm doing initials)
Status: Plotting

Dear Manuscript #3:

I've tried to break up with you in person a thousand times, but I just see your sad face blinking on my hard drive, and I always give you one more chance. I'm not very good at confrontation, so if you're reading this, I've already left. Or rather, YOU'VE left. My hard drive that is. You'll find your new residence on the back-up server to be quite spacious and accommodating of you, your 14 odd drafts, your many failed synopses, and that Rolling Stones poster you insist on toting everywhere with you.

I really hoped it wouldn't end this way. I still remember when you popped into my head back in 2005. I finished my YA in record time because I couldn't wait to move onto you. When I first sketched the rough outlines of the plot that would become you, my fingers tingled. I started drafting you in 2006, and I loved everything about you: the meandering plot, the beta hero, the funny secondary characters, and the ugly duckling heroine. You were going to be THAT book for me: The one that earned me a golden heart final, the one I snagged an agent with, the one I launched a career with. You made me laugh, you made me tear my hair out, and you forced to me to grow in ways I never could have expected.

I wanted this for you. For US. And so, I spent the last two years making excuses for you. I went on a reading tour of best-selling author's first books, and I tried to convince myself that you were just as bad as them. This should have been where I got a clue, but instead I tried an intervention. I didn't want you to meet my friends, so I said that you were in revision. For two years, I kept up the mantra that you were one synopsis away from being presentable. You were my invisible book--only I knew the REAL you. I kept hoping that you would wise up and do your part to achieve a marketable plot. You had so much potential. But, I can't keep your lazy behind around any longer on the promise of potential.

This summer, I finally decided to make you earn your keep. I tried for the umpteenth time to write a synopsis that would give me a road map to fixing your flaws, and I sent you out to a few contests that don't require a synopsis. Then the inevitable happened: I saw you for who you really are, not just who you have the potential to become. Your plot takes a year to complete, you have a beta hero, and your heroine is more than a little boring. You have a shiny title, but don't get too attached to it--I just might snatch it back later.

I was already packing my bags, but then I got contest scores back last week, and I realized that perhaps you CAN be fixed, but I just don't have it in me to try anymore. I love too much to take a chainsaw to the essence of you, and yet, I don't love you enough to let you stay the way you are. You've shaken my faith in myself long enough. At this point, I'm keeping you around for sentimental reasons, which isn't good enough. You are the embodiment of my journey to parenthood, and I secretly believe that I got pregnant because I wrote you. However, perhaps I can't fix you because I'm not that person any more. Silly inaccuracies that were endearing three years ago drive me crazy now. Thus, if I don't respect you enough to want to be seen in public with you anymore, you can laze around another hard drive for awhile.

I've got a new tingle in my hands and a new WIP that keeps me up at night. I'm a little more jaded this time around, but I still think it might be the one. I can't wait to tell its story. I'm sorry that to do it justice that I have to let you go. I wanted better for you, and I want you to know that I am a better writer for having written you to a completion, for having spent two years trying to save you, and for letting you go.

I know that someday we will both look back and know that this was truly "for the best." When I finally write THAT book, the one that truly is my ONE, I'll dedicate it to you for everything that you taught me and everything that you should-of-could-of-would-of been.

All my love,

Bethany

Your turn: Tell me about manuscripts that sit on your hard drive, under your bed, in your attic. Tell me about the one you thought was THE ONE but wasn't. Tell me about the one that you had a hard time moving on from. Tell me about your rebound book :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Tale of Two...Tales?

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: Current alternate universe WIP...and?
Status: Yeah, well, that's pretty much what this blog post is about.

From other posts I've read in the past few months on this blog, I know that others have experienced something similar to the situation I'm having at the moment. When I'd read those other posts, I'll confess I felt a certain smugness that I had my characters under control. Hah! I'm learning, slowly, but surely, to never say never. Or, at least, to never think it.

I've been working on my current WIP very slowly over the last few months. Building characters and backstory, thinking *a lot* about how to start and where I want to take the plot. So, okay, I haven't done much actual writing until recently, but I have started. I now have words saved as the beginning of the book. Things were starting to gain forward momentum, like a locomotive, barely moving at first, but building up steam to get me to where I want to go.

And then the oddest thing happened. A new character started invading my thoughts. A character who has absolutely nothing to do with this current WIP, but who absolutely demanded that she be allowed to tell her story, and in first person, no less. I gritted my teeth and shook my head and refused to listen. After all, I was already deep into another story, one I didn't want to give up. But this character, man, she's persistent--and different. The first thing she did was introduce herself, name and all. Which is weird, because I've always spent hours (sometimes days) agonizing over a character's name. Not for her. Nope, instead, she popped full-blown into my head, and said, "My name is Delilah Jane Sparrow and my boyfriend is a ghost."

And just like that, I knew where she lived, most of her backstory and a good deal of her current situation. I even knew the name of her boyfriend--Max. I didn't ask for that information and I sure as heck didn't sit down and start thinking about it! It was just there in my head. I have no idea where any of this came from.

My dilemma? Continue working on my current project, or strike while the iron's hot, so to speak, and start writing Ms. Sparrow's story? I don't particularly like either solution. I'm happy working on my alternate universe story and I don't want to give it up. On the other hand, Delilah Jane Sparrow just isn't taking no for an answer. I've started transcribing what she's been telling me--it's the only way I can get her to shut up, actually--and I'm beginning to be intrigued by her story (she hasn't gotten to the part where she meets Max yet and I'm curious as to how that happens).

Here's where that 'never say never' thing comes in. I've always told myself that I'd only work on one thing at a time. That I'd jot down ideas for future projects, but that I wouldn't split my concentration. I think I'm going to break that self-imposed rule and just go for it--work on both projects at the same time. Maybe it's crazy, but as long as I continue to make progress, I guess I shouldn't complain. And if I seem to run out of steam on one project, I can always set it aside and concentrate on the other for awhile.

What about you? Have you ever worked on multiple projects at the same time? Did you like it or hate it? Did you develop any habits that made it easier to manage your projects that you'd like to share? How about problems? I'm all ears (at least as long as a certain character stays quiet...)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Squeezing blood from a turnip


Current Project: WIP For a Sister's Love- adding to: Cowboy Up
Status: gurgling with frustration

I am currently doing what I always seem to do with a project- trying to make it longer. When I sent it off to HQ it fit their word limits, but to have it be a print book at TWRP I have to add 4,000 words. Now to some of you that doesn't seem like much, but when I'm a writer who never cuts but is always adding because I'm not overly wordy.... it is the hardest thing for me.

I've pulled out an online workshop I printed out eons ago about adding 10,000 words to your book. I don't have the name of the writer who did this on the pages anywhere, but it has been my bible every time I come up short.

So I am going back through line by line, paragraph by paragraph, and page by page finding little tidbits of description, emotion, and even dialogue to add to my word count. And you people laugh at me when I say I hate revising!

My CP says it is so much easier to cut than add. Sheesh, I wouldn't know I've never had to cut only to add, add, and add.

I'm adding more senses- will this book be sensory overload?
I'm adding more emotion- will this ring of emotional angst?
I'm adding more dialogue- will this feel contrite?
I'm adding more to the love scenes- will this feel overdone?

If I liked my story before adding the 4,000 words will I still like it after the additions? So far I have to say yes. The digging deeper is adding new nuances to the characters and the story.

So while I'm kicking and fighting all the way with adding the words- in the long run it will be a better book I can be proud of.

What is your hazard- do you generally have to cut words or add them? if so how do you make the decision to cut and how do you decide what to add?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

SUNDAY CHECH-IN


Current Project: Bodyguard Book
Status: Page seven, at last

Time to fess up and see who's been naughty and who's been nice. Okay, okay, not really, I'm just a little giddy that my brain is finally working again, ideas are jutting through the drifting ground fog, characters are beginning to take shape and other than the fact there's a yawing expanse of unplotted story, there is hope. I think.

I talked to two friends this week, one in Texas and one in Colorado. One helped me realize one aspect of what was missing and one helped me see another. They both write for Intrigue (as a side note, I heard the Intrigue line is the second best selling line at Harlequin. Happy days. This information came from a conversation at nationals -- another reason to hit those conferences. Can you say Nashville?)

This woman also pointed out the fact that the book I am plotting now is part of a series being carried through several months with many authors, the common thread being bodyguard. Believe it or not, I never think about this kind of thing, about the publisher promotion that goes with it, about the book-club advantages -- take Elisabeth, spin her around, and you have me, her opposite. It's embarrassing. My goal is start looking outside the writing.

I also brought my husband up to speed with what I have so now I'm prepared to move forward which is nice seeing as I have just two weeks left. Before this week, I couldn't even talk about this book, I just wasn't ready. I don't know what changed -- if I did, I'd try to figure out a way to duplicate it. Maybe it was just that enough time passed between projects that I could sort of reset my internal story teller.

I've rambled on enough -- your turn.

Friday, August 14, 2009

AAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!

Current Project: Project? What's that?
Status: Um.........

I get the late blogger award. Though as I type this it's 9:55 PST, so I think I still get credit for getting it in under the wire. (Feel free to cyber slap me. I know Lisa's been waiting for a good excuse for years...)

Ever have those days...weeks...SUMMERS...where you feel like you're drowning? Yeah. That's me right now. At this moment I am sitting in a hotel room in Kennewick while my mother takes my Gremlins swimming at the indoor pool to wear them out for bed. We've been in the car most of the day, driving back from Montana where we spent the last week visiting my brother, sister-in-law and 3 yr. old nephew. We had a great time, but it's a loooooooong drive, and I'm still heavy in promo for STOLEN HEAT. While my blog tour wrapped up early this week, I'm still hosting my big STOLEN HEAT Release Contest and Freebie Giveaways on my blog through tomorrow. So this was a "working" vacation. I also dragged my mother (and Gremlins) to every bookstore, Wal-Mart, and Fred Meyer in the area so I could sign stock. My mom took pictures (watching me sign stock is a new thing for her). My kids helped put the "Autographed by the Author" stickers on the books. I tried to hurry so I didn't have to talk to any booksellers with my raspy-ass voice no one can understand. "What?! You're the author? Yeah, right."

I'm exhausted, but I did have a few good things happen to me this week. First of all, I got news that STOLEN HEAT is in airports around the country. That was cool news. I'm in airports!!!!!!!! Kendra informed me HEAT finally showed up in Fred Meyer (for some reason Freddies is 2 wks behind release dates - at least for me with both books, but I'm not complaining). And my agent emailed to let me know she LOVED my new proposal idea. That was a huge relief as I wrote that proposal before I went into the hospital, and I couldn't even remember what the heck it was even about! She wanted me to fix a few minor things, mostly descriptions and word choice (and pointed out I've stopped swearing, which cracked me up), and I did all that last night, so we'll probably sent it off to my editor next week. So cross fingers and toes that my editor likes it as much.

This is kind of a rambling post...my brain is fried...but I realized on this trip that road trips are great because you get to see places you don't normally visit. I discovered that Coeur d'Alene, ID is GORGEOUS and a place I could easily live, Spokane isn't nearly what I expected, Montana is breathtaking, and windmills are pretty cool looking (I haven't driven along the Columbia since they put in the miles and miles of windmills...those things are ENORMOUS!) Road trips are also gold mines for research (I even passed some gold mines, believe it or not), and little book ideas were popping through my head with every mile of road we ate up.

I'm ready to go home. And I'm not planning anymore BIG road trips for some time, but now that I've done it with the Gremlins (and can I just say thank the heavens above for portable DVD players and Nintendo DS machines?), I won't be so averse to doing it in the future.

How about you? Any good road trips you can recommend? When was the last time you went somewhere you'd never been before?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

E-PUBLISHING PREVIEW DISCUSSION

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

Status: Developing!

For those of you coming to our meeting next week on e-publishing, this will be a teaser and hopefully generate more questions to ask the panel. If you can't make the meeting, this will be a teaser of what you will miss. :)

Chris Young posted a link on another loop to an article about e-publishing that talked about the current race for control of the e- book market and the future of e-books.

I'm fairly new to e-books. I sold my first three books to an e-publisher less than three years ago. At that time, I hadn't read an e-book and didn't own a reader. I still don't own a reader--the e-books I buy I read on my computer. However, I've become a fan of e-books and read articles about them with great interest and sometimes amusement.

The large print publishing houses all seem to be jumping into the e-book market. Harlequin releases electronic editions of pretty much all its print releases. Other print book publishers worry about timing of e-book releases so they enhance rather than undercut profits of hardcover books.

Of course, booksellers want a big piece of the action. Amazon's Kindle reader generated a lot of publicity for e-books. Barnes & Noble are reported to be working on a reader also.

I've also recently seen cautionary articles about authors not signing away their digital rights in book deals or all their rights in gift agreements to libraries.

While the "big boys" are jockeying for e-book profits, there are some things about e-books that I hope don't change.
--I like the wide variety of e-books available. A story doesn't have to fit in a narrow category to be published.
--I like having a lot of control over my books. I got to design all of my covers, write the back cover blurbs, and submit excerpts for e-books sellers to use. Oh yeah--and the editors didn't request major rewrites.
--My books will be available for years unless I request that the e-publisher remove them from the market.
--My books are also available in print if someone wants to order them.

Yes, I still like to curl up with a paper book and get my fix of happily-ever-after. However, as one article pointed out, we read millions of words on computer screens in the form of e-mails, blogs, Web pages, etc. Why not fiction? E-books may also make readers out of younger generations who quite simply don't often read paper books.

I'm also intrigued by the future of e-books. Articles speculate about a "tablet" from Apple that will allow sound and video files along with the text of e-books, as well as many other functions, and will also work in conjunction with Macintosh computers. (Yeah, I'm also a Macintosh computer fan.) Video trailers are all the rage. Will they become incorporated with text to become video books?

How about you? Have you caught e-book fever yet? Have you read an e-book? Had an e-book published? Are you waiting for the film version (kidding!)?

With e-books, at least my to-be-read stack could be neatly contained in a reader small enough to fit in my purse rather than several boxes under my bed. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

POWER


Current Project: Bodyguard's Baby
Status: still thinking

A random comment a friend made on a loop recently got me to thinking. She mentioned how unfair it was, this unbalance of power that exists between publishers and writers. At first I nodded and then I shook my head.

Say you make rag dolls. Really beautiful rag dolls. They sell for a bundle and since they are handmade, you can't make them fast enough. Still, word has gotten out and everyone wants one. Everyone. They're clamoring at your gate. They're chanting, "Rag doll! Rag doll!" You gently smile and take orders five years out. You then raise the price. You have power.

Now say you and the lady down the street and the guy across town and his brother and his fourteen children and their entire church all make rag dolls. They look exactly like yours. But the two hundred people at your gate now have a thousand dolls to choose from (it's apparently a big church) and so they shop around. Now they have the power.

That's capitalism, that's life. In the publishing world, the people putting up the money are taking the bigger risk and reaping the greatest rewards -- they hold most the power simply because there is more product than shelf space.

But this is about writing. Life is what we write about, too, so power struggles and issues exist within our pages, as well. I'm wondering if most our books -- okay, I'll stop lopping you all in with me -- most my books don't involve, either directly or indirectly, this quest for power. Power over relationships, power over career, power over the sanctity of self. Sometimes when I am writing I will reread a scene where a heroine has had a tough time and will purposely need to refocus her take, forcing her away from the role of victim and into one of victor -- even in small ways. When a person is bombarded by life and falls prey to their weakness they loose power, they lose control and while it happens, it can't continue through the whole book or the reader will probably lose their patience and interest.

I know I'm wandering around a little here, but my blog is late and the puppy disappeared about ten minutes ago and I really NEED to go find her before she returns to the wolf pack from whence she sprung (is that how it goes? Is whence even a word? Is sprung?) But I have been thinking about this power thing and how it affects our characters and how important balance is in the process -- how do you see this working in your books?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bad Reviews and Thick Skin.


Current Project: Untitled RS
Status: Coming along




Yesterday, Lisa's blog on covers reminded me of a blog devoted to bad reviews. Authors voluntarily post their worst reviews and answer set questions about how the review made them feel and how they reacted. Apparently being an author isn't the rainbows and ponies life I expected. This blog posts painful stuff:


  • It's a holocaust of prose.


  • If you hate Western Civilization, movable type, and the English language...


  • It's the same (plot) that has been reused and repackaged in every piece of YA literature for the last few years.


  • Shallow...really shallow...I was bored for the majority of the book...tiresome


  • This book fades into dust.


  • A candy coated turd

Ugh. The interesting part comes after the nasty reviews: How the author reacted. Some say they laughed hard, one said she took deep breaths and headed for the fridge, another said she got depressed and ate chocolate. I read almost every review on this site and never saw the words "I will never write again." Even the authors who wrote of heartfelt emotional reactions to the reviews, brushed themselves off, tried to see the positive, or else utterly ignore it and moved on.

Where would I fall in this list of reactions? If someone called my work a schizophrenic tangle, I'd crawl under the covers and not open my laptop for a month.

Published people, can you share your worst? For the unpubs, what would be your reaction?


Cover errors


Current Project: Leg Shaving Leads to Trouble
Status: Meh

Last night, instead of sleeping I was combing through hilarious photos and images on a Web site. I know, I know, bad Lisa. But one of them was a romance cover (don't worry, it doesn't show the name or author - I blacked out the bit naming the other author's books). Can you spot the error? Okay, it's kind of obvious with the circles.


As I went to Smart Bitches, Trashy Books I noticed that a crop of this cover is the icon used to comment on their page. My original intent with this post was to find book covers with major errors on them. For my day job, I work a lot with publications, proofing publications - and I'm surprised by the stuff we sometimes miss. But as a reader I think, how in the world could they have missed that? Nice double standard, eh?

Well, I expected to find a treasure trove of sites dedicated to the topic. Did I? NO! Can you believe that? So the topic of this post is evolving midstream.

Sometimes when I'm reading and I spot an error, it instantly pulls me from the story. That doesn't happen all the time, it depends on the type of error. It's impossible to catch all typos in a publication (I believe) especially one as long as a novel. But, it's the ones like incorrect use of then/than or there/their/they're or its/it's that bug me. My biggest pet peeve is ensure/insure. *shudders* Some of those errors are shocking to me, how they crept by so many sets of eyes. But it's also understandable, you just can't catch everything.

What are some glaring errors you've found in books that took you right out of the story? Or can you read past them and not care or notice? Are there any book covers you've seen with big errors? Let's leave out titles and authors, this post isn't meant to point fingers or make people feel bad.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Saturday Check-In


Current Project: Unnamed book
Status: Don't ask

Okay, everyone who plays along, it's time to fess up. Did you get done what you wanted to get done or are you a %$#@!!* slacker like me?

One or two brain cells did devote themselves to a panic attack this week which I am taking as a sign the summer thaw is beginning. Any time now. Actually, what I think happened is this: I think my muse took a look at Eli's muse off loafing in Aruba and decided, what the heck, I haven't had a decent vacation in years. No doubt about it -- the two of them are sitting on the beach, sipping some dynamite concoction, hailing the cabana boy for refills, having a high time.

Note to muse: get back here.

Your turn.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Guest Blogger - Agent Laura Bradford!



Today I'm thrilled to bring literary agent Laura Bradford with Bradford Literary Agency to the blog!

Laura Bradford has fourteen years of professional experience as a literary agent, editor, writer and bookseller. Laura began her career as a literary agent at Manus and Associates Literary Agency and is a member of the Association of Authors Representatives and Romance Writers of America. She is a former board member of the San Francisco Area RWA chapter and an RWA-recognized agent. During her own misadventures as a writer, Laura came to understand the importance of having a friendly but critical eye on your side, a career strategist in your corner and a guide who can lead you through the travails of publication. With these qualities in mind, Laura delivers the personal and hands-on attention that a large corporate agency cannot offer. As an editorial-focused agent Laura works closely with her clients developing proposals and manuscripts for the most appropriate markets.

Please welcome Laura. And if you have any questions for her, leave them in the comment section. She'll be checking in during the day.

Thanks so much for being here today, Laura!

***


That NEVER should have worked

by Laura Bradford


A couple of days ago one of my authors Twittered that she was looking for recommendations of books that had ugly heroes or heroines. She did not mean one of those warrior-type heroes with a scarred face—the ones that really look more rakish than horrifying. She meant books with heroes and heroines that were plain old unattractive. When I saw that tweet, all I could think was, that sounds awesome! I want to see that list of recommendations, too. I totally adore a story that defies convention and I long ago realized that when referring to books, I use the phrase, “that NEVER should have worked” as a compliment. Which gave me the idea for this guest blog.

As an agent, my job is to sell books—yes, I do lots of other things too, but that is essentially what my job boils down to. I have to be aware of the market and know what will have broad appeal, I have to be aware of how markets shift and what editors and readers want. Some themes that are popular and salable aren’t at all to my personal taste and that is okay. I personally love work that is daring, that pushes the envelope, that is surprising but I absolutely understand the mainstream. It is how I make my living. However, I firmly believe there should be something out there for every taste.

Romance is romance because it embodies a certain set of characteristics or rules (like a happy-ever-after) and I, for one, love it. Then there are the conventions of romance, like pretty heroines and heroes who are, even if they are complete bad boys, ultimately redeemable. Authors may dabble with new ways to present those conventions but to completely defy them, well you run the risk of seriously falling on your face. Sometimes if you try to write something that should probably never work, it DOESN’T work. It is a disaster. It’s a hot mess. The characters are detestable, the plot twists are appalling, the romance is…not even remotely a romance.

But sometimes, those convention-defying elements that shouldn’t work, do. And it is brilliant and fresh and fabulous and breathes new life into the genre. There isn’t anything I love more than reading THAT book. The one that shouldn’t have worked. And I am grateful when I read those books, because they are what keep the genre from becoming hopelessly homogenized. How sad would it be if all the books on the market just started to run together and become the same? I’d cry. So I am here to say, please, please take risks with your writing from time to time. Don’t be afraid to try something that might spectacularly fail. It might just be spectacular.

***


If you have questions for Laura, comment away. She'll be checking in today several times, so don't miss this chance to ask what you really want to know about books, publishing, and agents.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

What are you reading?

Current Project: Contest Entries
Status: Getting them done!

I am chomping at the bit because I have yet to read the slew of great books that came out last week: Suzanne Brockmann's latest, our own Eli's latest, Allison Brennan's latest, but I'm waiting for them to arrive (and for time to materialize), and I've been on a up and down streak with books right now. But there have been a few gems:

I just finished Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips. The 12 greek gods are alive and well in London, sharing a cramped townhouse. Who will love it: Eli and Lisa.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner isn't really a romance, but it is a gem of a book as the best thief in the land gets a chance to go on a royal quest. Who will love it: Karen, Becky, and anyone else who loves a good fantasy tale in the spirit of Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings.

Wed Him Before You Bed Him by Sabrina Jefferies. This is the culiminatation of the school of heiresses series, and Mrs. Harris finally gets her book. Absolutely delightful, but you will get the most pleasure out of it if you start with the earlier books in the series. Who will love it: Becky and others who love historicals.

Tell me what you're reading right now, and what is on your TBR pile that you are most excited about? What have you read recently that you give 5 Stars to? Also, any interest in bringing books for trading to the August Meeting?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mind Like a Steel Trap

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: Current WIP (still something Shadows or Shadows something)
Status: Does it count that I can't seem to stop thinking about this thing -- the characters, the plot, the setting?

I've been trying like mad to come up with a solid topic for today's post. As you may have already guessed, I totally failed. Instead, you'll have to do with this random scattershot of thoughts. Perhaps that's apropos, since I'm easily distracted lately.

Speaking of being distracted (see what I mean?), I seem to be suffering more and more from what I call the 'oooh, shiny' syndrome when it comes to doing research, especially internet research. You know what I mean. It happens to all of us on occasion. There I am, innocently browsing the interwebs, looking for an answer to a question about Cypress tree varieties, when I get sidetracked by clicking on an interesting looking link. Suddenly I find myself emerging from a mental fog minutes (okay, hours) later wondering what the heck happened and why I'm staring at a Wikipedia page about the Siskiyou Trail.



Getting back to those Cypress trees, I was actually looking for something to use as the name of a fictional small private college. Don't think the tree angle is going to work. I plan to set the college somewhere on the California coast, north of San Francisco. I like the "College of the ___" type of nomenclature, but unfortunately, my first two choices--"College of the Redwoods" and "College of the Sequoias"--both already exist as Community Colleges. I guess I'll just have to think about it some more and try to come up with something locale appropriate. Unfortunately, "College of the Scrub Oaks" just doesn't have that same majestic ring to it.

Which segues into a related topic. I've been thinking about the importance of names in my WIPs. I'm not referring to character names--of course those are important. I'm talking about the other names, the place names (rivers, mountains, etc.), city names, and business names. I'm one of those writers who prefer to make up a setting, when possible, rather than use an existing place. For example, I have an old WIP set in the fictional town of Arroyo Verde, situated somewhere on the California coast between San Simeon and Cayucos. I probably could have just used Cambria, but then I'd have to get the details right for Cambria. By using Arroyo Verde, I could create what I wanted for the town, while still getting the feel of that part of the coast correct. Hmmm...some day I'll have to revisit Arroyo Verde. It's such a beautiful spot, with so many secrets...

Ack! See -- easily distracted. I'm not sure what to do about that. Maybe it isn't such a bad thing, that is, so long as I can rein myself in quickly enough so that I don't waste too much time following tangents. What about you? Maybe you don't have this problem. But if you do, how do you get back on track?

By the way, the image I used for this post? Totally random picture of my cats. :-)

Monday, August 03, 2009

CD Listening


Current Project:For the Love of a Sister
Status: Chapter One

As I mentioned last week I've been listening to the 2008 RWA conference workshops on cd while driving around. I'm up to workshop #28 though three were blank. Not sure what was up with those. And I skipped ones on Regency writing.

Some interesting things I've noticed and gleaned.

Many Dorchester mystery/suspense writers don't plot. Period. And yet by sending their editor one paragraph about the books they are bought.

Half the RS authors say you should use a known law enforcement agency in your books and half say make one up. They all say- action, action, action.

I learned two more resources for truly catching your characters traits- enneagrams and Linda Goodman's Sun Signs.

While I've been known to have a grasp on where to start a story, I realize I haven't been starting them with the needed hook. I have rewritten the beginning of the WIP I sent to my editor and the two novellas I've started. I also hadn't paid attention to starting every chapter with a hook.

Everyone says read, read, read. Which I am trying to do more of.

Voice- It is the cadence of your words and sentences, your phraseology, and your humor or lack of. They also said your underlying theme in most of what you write is part of your voice.

Every scene should have a slam- something that slams the emotion.

Some telling in a book is necessary, just don't make it a habit.

The question you need to ask yourself about every book you write: What keeps them together? What keeps them apart?

And I'm still gleaning more info as I prepare to hit the road again this week. I'm finding that listening to these workshops like this I am hearing more and figuring out how to use them in my stories better than when sitting in a workshop.

Do you think you glean as much as you should when sitting in a workshop or do you learn more by yourself listening to tapes?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

SATURDAY CHECK IN


Current Project: Untitled
Status: still thinking, but getting nervous...

I've been brain dead this week. Part of it was just not feeling well and part of it was book fatigue. However, with August starting today comes a thirty day deadline for three chapters and a synopsis so it's time to get back to work.

Last night I sat out in the yard and looked up at the trees. It was that time of day when everything is some shade of gray. The oak leaves looked one way, those of the rose that has climbed thirty feet into the tree, another. Without color to lead my eye the usual direction, I saw shape and that got me to thinking about perspective. When puppy-cake came strolling by and I hefted all fifteen pounds of her into my lap and she looked up at the sky, I wondered what she saw and that got me to thinking about individual perspective and how important it is in fiction (as in life) to always understand how your characters are seeing their slice of the world. Drawing this a little further, you know how we always say if a character is injured, for instance, you have to keep it in mind for the duration? An injury (or any unusual event) colors the way we perceive, both physically and emotionally, the situations that arise and guides our reactions. Nothing earth shattering here, just musing.

How are you doing?