Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lesson Number One: Do Not Make Travel Plans Under Duress

Current Project: DECEIVED, book 2 - Eternal Guardians
Status: Halfway done

This is where I'm headed on Saturday. Look like fun? Oh, let me tell you, grasshopper...

If you learn one thing from me, let it be this: Do not ever, ever, EVER make travel plans during times of high stress, after a near death experience or when you are on heavy (and I mean heavy) pain killers. If you do, you'll most likely live to regret it, and your spouse should be shot.

My husband has been in San Francisco all week for business. He came home tonight to three screaming kids and a wine-drinking wife. I'd been so busy prepping for our trip that I hadn't written a word all day. It was my night to drive carpool to volleyball practice, I'd spent all afternoon tearing my hair out over the eldest two Gremlins' homework assignments while the youngest Gremlin dragged out every Halloween costume we own and proceeded to strip, dress, strip again and hurl dress-up clothes all over my semi-clean house. The hubby took one look at me (and the board games Gremlin #3 somehow also managed to scatter all over the room during one of my distractable moments) and said, "Let's get dinner out." (Wise man.) So we did. We dropped the eldest at VB with her friends then went to pizza. Where the younger two ran like demon children, we yelled occasionally to make it look like we were being responsible parents then proceeded to drink beer to drown our sorrows.

At one point my husband looked at me across the table and said, "Remind me again...WHY are we taking them with us to Hawaii?"

To which I replied (oh, so sweetly), "Because you're an idiot."

He had the audacity to look shocked (imagine!), and said, "Excuse me?"

And what was I to do but tell the truth? "I nearly died and was on drugs. You were the sober one at the time. You LET me book this trip. Therefore the blame falls squarely on your shoulders."

Just picture it. A distraught husband, only days past the point where he thought his wife was going to die, agreeing to give her anything she wants so long as it makes her happy. Including a family vacation to Hawaii he thinks will motivate her to get well, even though a little voice in the back of his head is whispering, "This might not be the brightest idea you ever had..."

Do you see the problem here?

Don't get me wrong, I love my Gremlins dearly and I'm tickled the hubby would subject himself to this kind of torture just to see me smile. And normally I would be over the moon for this vacation, but right now I'm not. I have a book due Dec. 1 that I didn't work on all summer due to my illness. I didn't add any new pages last week because I was reworking the opening of book one per my editor's request. Add to that I am just exhausted when the DH travels (which he's been doing nonstop for the past two weeks) and the fact my brain feels like mush AND the fact I'm trying not to freak out over this new claustrophobia thing I somehow developed from my hospital stay and you can see why this vacation isn't sounding quite as relaxing as I once thought it would be.

Of course, I know we'll have a wonderful time. My mom is going along to help out with the kids. We're staying at a beautiful resort right on the beach and I know once I get there and the pre-travel stress is over I'll enjoy myself. But deadlines don't wait for vacations--even if you almost die--and I do now have to take the laptop with me and write every day to make up for the pages I lost last week. And while some of you are shaking your head, saying, "poor baby", let me remind you how hard it is to write in your own house with the distractions of every day life and family. Now add in sun and surf and FUN and see how much writing you get done.

I know. Woe is me. I'm not complaining, really. I'm just...stresssssing. (Like that's anything new.)

Okay, I'm done rambling. Make me feel better...PLEASE! Tell me about a trip you took that turned into a "working vacation". How did you stay focused?

And just for fun, I'm posting this picture because, well...isn't it CUTE???

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Wile E. Coyote Moment

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: The Space Between (trying out a new title)
Status: 4 pages + more backstory!

I'd call it a light bulb moment, or better yet, an epiphany, but honestly, this feels more like a Wile E. Coyote having an anvil fall on his head moment.

Between our chapter meeting this month and Paty's post yesterday, I've been thinking about a few things, but in particular, why I write. I've given various answers to that question in the last couple of years, depending on who was asking and the way they phrased it.

For instance, if someone asked why I want to write--the implication being, of course that unless/until I earn money for my writing, what I do doesn't count--I'd vaguely say, 'oh, you know, it'd be cool to be published' and then promptly change the subject. If someone just casually asked why I write--as if I have a choice not to--I usually mumble something about wanting to entertain people by spinning a good yarn and leave it at that. For those who'd dig a little deeper and ask what I write, the answer varied depending on my current WIP. But the one thing I was always quick to add was that I don't write Romance, not "traditional" Romance, anyway. Whatever that might be.

Funny, huh? I'm a member of RWA, an organization I respect and for which I'm grateful, and I don't write Romance. But here's the thing. I've been lying--not just to the people who ask, but worse, I've been lying to myself.

I realized that all of the stories I've written or started to write--all of the ideas that I've come up with for new stories--every one of them, without fail, has a romance/relationship component. The romance may not be the central story, but it's always an integral and complete subplot.

I'm not sure why I've had this problem, other than I guess I carried around this self-image of myself as a writer of Fantasy/SF/Mystery, since those are the genres I've mostly read all of my life. But I also read Romance, just not exclusively. And I much prefer my genre (non-romance) books to have a satisfying emotional component (if not a romantic HEA, at least an equivalent).

So, no more prevaricating. I'm here, standing (virtually) before you today to declare: Hi. I'm Debbie and I write Romance.

How about you? Did you always know, when you started writing, that you wanted to write Romance? Did you ever consider writing in a different genre? How did it go?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Endings- What's your preference?

Current Project: Christmas Redemption
Status: Chapter 4
Our oldest daughter was here on Friday night. We couldn’t find a good TV show to watch so she scrounged through our dvds and said, "Oh this is a great movie. Have you watched it yet?" ( I tend to buy the $5 movies at Wally World that I've heard are good and then they sit because we don't have time to watch them) We hadn't seen the movie. It was a good movie, it kept my dh awake, which is not the norm. This time of year he is sound asleep in his chair an hour after the sun goes down.

But the ending and one other scene…I have never cried twice in a movie. And my dh was crying, blubbering at the end of the movie. Any guesses what it was?


I'd been warned the ending was sad, one reason I hadn't watched it yet. I don’t like leaving a movie or a book on a sad note. My daughter said it was a bitter/sweet ending. Which is true, but I think if I'd watched it at her age it wouldn't have affected me the way it did at this age. I would have thought the same as my daughter bitter/sweet and moved on. At my age, I went to bed, clung to my dh and thought, that could be us in 20/30 years. Though there isn't the threat of Alzheimer in either family it is a sobering thought. That you could forget the person you spent years loving. And that person is searching for you to see them as you once did. Powerful stuff. Especially for a book and a movie.

Now I hate unhappy endings, but is there a book or movie that moved you to tears? Why?

When I sent my spirit book to an endings contest- one judge said it made her cry, but in a good way. What have you read or watched that brought tears of happiness? Why?

And here is the cover for my next Halsey brother book, Doctor in Petticoats. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Current Project: The Baby's Bodyguard
Status: page 100

I am living proof that a firm goal expressed out loud, one you own and feel responsible for, can stick in your head like a nettle in your hair. Yesterday, I was five pages short, but I kept thinking about writing this today and admitting I fell short of my stated goal of last week and got those last five pages. It's actually even more complicated than that because racking up pages that don't work is pointless. I was stuck. I had about 97 pages but I knew something was wrong, so I cut and rewrote and went backwards before moving forward again with a scene that upped the tension. So the new stuff is good stuff (she says hopefully) and what I mean by that is it advances the plot.

TMI? LOL, probably. So, last week I said I would get to page 100 and I did. Yea for me. Next week I will be at 140. That's my goal.

How about you. What was your goal from last week? Did you meet it? What is your goal for this week? (Writing goals are like diets. Slipping off is part of the process, getting back on track is always what matters.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009


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

Status: Developing scene sheets for each book

By popular demand--well, at a request from two people--I'm blogging about the scene sheets I use to help plot stories.

For those who don't know my writing style, I do a lot of detailed plotting on my stories. I think this is going to be especially beneficial for the series of nine books I'm working on. These will be stand-alone books that are tied together with a subplot that runs through all the books as well as characters that appear in all nine books.

The scene sheets I use are an adapted version of one I ran across in a workshop years ago that I tweak as each project develops. The information on the scene worksheet includes:
--Purpose of the scene. This comes from another worksheet I use (12 steps to Happily Ever After) to rough out the character arcs of the hero and heroine, as well as the development of the romance and the plot of the book.
--Point of view character. Who has the biggest stake in the scene.
--Characters in the scene and their relationships.
--Setting the scene. This includes notes on the location, time of day, season of the year, the overall tone of the scene, as well as sounds or smells or any particular symbols or images.
--Opening line or hook of the scene. (Many times I won't do this until final edits.)
--Action and dialogue. This is the "meat" of the scene.
--Ending hook of the scene. (Again, I may not do this until final edits.)

These scene sheets also keep me on track for the length of the book. For instance, each book in my nine-book series will be approximately 75,000 words or 300 pages. That's 15 chapters of 20 pages each with three scenes per chapter, or 60 scenes for each book.

Though this process may seem detailed, for me it's simply a guideline for the actual writing, which always brings new revelations, details and surprises.

We've talked about writing styles--plotter or pantster or somewhere in between--in previous blog posts. I don't know if we've touched on worksheets. Do you use worksheets in the process of writing your stories? Or do worksheets fall under the topic of devil's taskmaster that ruins telling the story? :)

P.S. My apologies for no graphic this time--Blogger wasn't letting me upload an image.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Current Project:The Baby's Bodyguard
Status: Page 87

Searching for a topic to blog about, I asked a friend for advice. She suggested the therapeutic value of a glass of wine (she's had one of those days.) Since I often have one of those days myself, this struck me as brilliant. What a wise friend. What a pal. Someone to laugh with and compare notes with and complain about writing with... what would I do without her? And all of a sudden I knew what I wanted to say today, that I wanted to lift a toast to my friends, and maybe some of yours, too.

Here's to my writing friends, near, far, on the phone, in person, often, infrequently. What would I do without you? You know how it goes ... if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? I would ask: If a writer becomes so frustrated they want to pull out their hair and gnash their teeth and there's no other writer with whom to share it ... okay, maybe that doesn't work. Suffice to say that no one understands the frustrations and the joys of writing like another writer. Along this journey you need friends who haven't achieved yet what you have achieved so that you remember the pure joy of accomplishing what seems impossible. You need the company of peers who can identify with your struggles and lend insight in how to deal with them. And you need the guidance of those who have gone further than you have, maybe further than you will ever go -- they represent hope. So, a toast to all of you no matter where you are in this journey. It's nice to have companionship.

I'm also raising my glass to my non writing friends who will never see this blog because they don't care about things like this. They're too busy canning tomatoes or making quilts, teaching children or practicing law. They don't give a hoot about writing, in fact, they've never read a word I've written, but they enrich my soul and give me glimpses of other lives where the world revolves around real people and not the ones who scamper around like lunatics in my head. This would include co-workers if I had a "real" job. It definitely includes people I see and talk with all the time who are more acquaintances than actual friends, for they also give my life dimension and sometimes say the most amazing things without realizing their words are going to end up in a book.

Another toast to friendly strangers. The lady at the deli counter with the sausage curls (thanks, I love those curls.) And the tiny woman who sells shrimp at Albertsons. Here's to the snotty clerk at Bed Bath and Beyond, I love you anyway. And what the heck, here's to the guy at the service station who is trying to teach my puppy manners in his bimonthly run ins with her as he's giving her a Milkbone. You guys are the people who parade through my mind as I write, and I am indebted. Have a glass on me.

And lastly, here's to my friends who are also my family. My sister, my daughter and son, my grandchildren, my mother and most of all, my dh. You guys are there when I need you and you pretend to care about the stories I babble on about that don't make any sense taken out of context. You answer a million questions about horses or boats or being a cop or building materials or a how a charitable foundation runs. You are the Wikipedia of my life and I truly appreciate you even though you, too, will never see this blog.

So, I may never win a Rita (it's hard to do when you never enter... that's my excuse and I like it...) but I have now lifted a glass of red and another of white in pure gratitude for each of you. Irritating at times, annoying, patient, loving, snarly or anything in between (and that's ME not THEM), thank you one and all.

Did I leave anyone out? Who would you like to thank?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lessons Learned. Hopefully.

Current Project: Below Freezing RS
Status: Just finished revisions a la Eli

Yesterday Lisa admitted to giving up on a book and moving on. A difficult act. I thought I'd given up on one particular suspense. I'd queried it around a bit and got a few bites but eventually received the big Rs. I'd never been completely in love with the story.

In 2008 I pitched it at nationals and received a request for a partial. I sent it off and sat back to wait. And wait. I followed up and didn't hear back. I assumed it was a pass. This summer I pitched it to an editor at the same house. This fact didn't click in my brain. I'd put last year's pitches out of my mind. Again I received a request for the same partial and promptly sent it off.

A week later, I received an email from the 2008 editor. She asked the status of my project and apologized profusely for the long wait. CLICK. (beat head on desk) I informed her that a different editor had the new and improved partial on his desk. She said she'd follow up. A few days later she requested the full.

Suddenly my manuscript had new life. Here is where I thank Elisabeth. She did a read and pointed out some problems. Thankfully there wasn't a wide range of issues. One consistent BIG issue presented itself over and over that directly affected the pace. No wonder I'd received the Rs.

Has anyone ever pointed out that you've always misspelled a particular word? That is how I felt. Suddenly the issue is obvious. Blatantly obvious.

As a writer, when do the light bulbs stop? In the beginning, there were countless things I didn't know about writing a book. I slowly learned the hard way, mentally tucking away the lessons. I thought I was getting a grip on this whole writing thing.

What are memorable lessons you've learned along the path to publishing?

Monday, September 21, 2009


Current Project: Starting something new
Status: Good so far...

I've given up on my WIP. Well, I suppose I shouldn't phrase it like that. I've decided that completely reworking the story for a third time isn't worth MY time. I have finally figured out what I've been doing wrong the past few years. I over-plot and don't spend enough time developing my characters before I start writing. I let the plot lead the story, rather than the character interaction.

Not this time, baby!

I have decided to start on an idea I've been kicking around for a while. I've got the basic conflict and plot down, but that's it. All I've been thinking about is my characters. Who are they? Why are they in conflict with each other? How do they compliment each other? What about them becomes vital to the other's happiness by the end of the story? I started with trying to develop a flaw for each of them. Feeling mush brain after working a lot yesterday, I turned to the internet to try and track down some lists of character flaws. I know I've seen them before - they are helpful for basic brainstorming. But I couldn't find one to save my life. And, by the way, all of a sudden there is a million Web sites out there for brainstorming characters for online and role playing games.

Then I started thinking about archetypes. I love archetypes. Huge fan. They work so well in stories and each archetype can be individualized easily enough that it doesn't feel like the same person over and over. If you think about it, everyone has different reasons for become the person who falls under a certain archetype.

I wasn't having much luck googling what I wanted to see - examples of archetype compatibility in romance. Then I remembered, I have a ton of writing books on my shelves! DUH! I walked over and found a treasure trove of character books. (I guess I've secretly known for a while that this is a weakness of mine and began collecting help for when I finally realized I needed it!) Then I saw the Holy Grail, my personal favorite archetype book: "The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes & Heroines: 16 Master Archetypes" by Tami Cowden. I love, love, LOVE this book. Eight major male and female archetypes are broken down into simple terms with examples from major movies. Then, each hero and heroine archetype are paired up and an explanation is given of how they would work together, what they don't like about each other, and how they affect change in the other. The perfect recipe for conflict, black moment and resolution!

I knew right away that my heroine was a nurturer, but I hadn't fully decided on my hero. So I read how the nurturer paired up with each hero archetype and BAM! like a lightening bolt it was clear. He's the chief. The way those two archetypes interact is exactly what I envisioned for my story. The warrior was a close second, but not quite there. We'll save him for another book and another heroine archetype.

This book spurred a flurry of little notes about my hero and heroine that I now have in a character brainstorming document. I'm going to understand them before I do any more thinking on my plot. Dang it!

Do you ever use archetypes in your writing? Any success? Good resources to share with the rest of us?

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Current Project: Bodyguard Book
Status: page 69

Yep, only sixty-nine pages. I've had almost a week without the distractions of the dh and I still made pitiful progress. I can't even blame the puppy (and believe me, I tried.) I can't blame the blizzard of TP I found last night when I came upstairs to go to bed (you would have thought I would have wondered what that romping noise was for twenty minutes earlier in the evening, but noooo....) I can't blame her new found skill of sitting on the deck chairs as though she's waiting for Roberto the cabana boy to bring her a cocktail. I can't blame the dried dead rat she ate that gave her a tummy ache and all accompanying physical manifestations for three days including a vet bill of $30.50 to be told she had a tummy ache. I can't blame her preoccupation with Lucy, the orange cat, or my blue beaded slippers. I can only blame myself.

You know, on the other hand, maybe I can blame the dh.

Yeah. From now on, I'm blaming him. And the rain.

So, how did you do this week? I'm hoping those who attended the Rose City book signing at Powell's last night will check in and give a report, but more to the point, did anyone get any good writing done? Any epiphanies? Any break-throughs?

My goal is to be past page 100 by next Saturday. That's only thirty pages away but I'm going to make it a small goal in case the dh lets me down again or the rain keeps up. What's your goal for the next week? Try being specific. I think planting a specific goal in your head with a tangible deadline helps achieve that goal. For instance, if you were at work and your boss said he wanted a project completed by November 1, would you say, "Well, I'll try. I'll see if I can fit it in. Maybe."? Treat yourself as well as you would treat an employer. (In case you can't tell, this is a pep talk I need to hear, and maybe you do, too.)

Good luck!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Super Exciting Amazing News!!!

Current Project: Deceived
Status: 40,000 words

If you're wondering, What is Elisabeth up to today? you're spot on with your curiosity. Today is not my normal blog day, but I'm here, out of the goodness of my heart, giving up my scheduled writing time to tell you some exciting news.

(You can't wait, can you?! I know. I'm all a twitter with it, too...)

Drumroll please...

We're going to be switching things up here on the blog! From now on I'll be blogging on Thursdays, alternating with the beautiful and talented Genene Valleau every other week. Fridays will then become what we're going to call Free For All Fridays. What are Free For All Fridays, you ask? Oh, let me tell you, grasshopper. Free For All Fridays are basically open mike days:

MWV members...have a writing topic you want to rant about, a question you need answered or just something you'd love to discuss with write-minded individuals? Email it to me at (my contact info is also at the bottom of this page) with your post and we'll put it up!

Regularly scheduled MWV bloggers...have news you want to share? A new release, a sale, an event, a contest, a game you'd like to play or even a writing challenge? Pick your day and go. No schedule! Free For All Fridays are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Guest bloggers...have a new release you want to spread the word about? Well, email me and we'll get you up on Free For All Friday!

(*Cough, ack, cough* Please note: The powers that be (that would be moi, by the way) reserve all rights granted unto here for to us (I doubt that's appropriate legalese, but, oh well) to edit and/or say, "No frickin' way!" if your post topic is inappropriate, offensive or just plain stupid, FYI.)

That's it! It's basically that simple. From now on, we'll have our regularly scheduled bloggers Mon-Thurs, and Fridays will become open free for alls where you may (or may not) get what you're expecting.

And with that in mind, I'm taking the first Free For All Friday. (You knew it was coming, didn't you, you sly dog, you...)

Okay, I recently finished reading the Twilight Series, and though it took me forever to get through the first book (I exceeded my tolerance level for teenaged angst way back when I was teaching), I flew through books 2, 3 and 4, mostly because I couldn't wait to see what would happen to Jacob. (Yes, I am very clearly in the Jacob camp and am most definitely not an Edward lover. Could be that stone cold thing...I'm already always cold and have a hard time imagining cozying up to a popsicle. But that's a topic for another post...) So, I think it's easy for you to understand that I enjoyed New Moon way more than Twilight because Edward was missing for most of the book and it was all about Jacob! Recently, my daughter and I watched the the Twilight movie (she loved it), and while I thought it was okay entertainment, until I read the books I wasn't planning on seeing the next movie. Now I am. (Like I said, it's all about Jacob.)

Here's the trailer for New Moon, which releases from theaters November 20, 2009:

But that's not really what made me want to watch this movie. No, what convinced me is the following "banned" version of this trailer. Check it out:

Now if THAT doesn't make you want to watch New Moon, I don't know what will.

What's the last movie trailer you saw that made you want to see that movie, like, now?

And because it's Free For All Friday, this is where I remind everyone that if you're in the Portland, OR area tonight, please stop by Powell's 3rd Annual Romance Event where I'll be signing books at 7pm! The official deets from Powells are below:

Rose City Romance Group Signing
Join us in supporting local romance authors at our third annual Rose City Romance event! Meet these talented women, ask questions, and get books autographed in a casual setting. Featured authors include:

* Cathy Lamb (Almost Home)
* Delilah Marvelle (Lord of Pleasure)
* Minnette Meador (Edge of Honor)
* Jenna Bayley-Burke (Her Cinderella Complex)
* Meljean Brook (Demon Bound)
* Jean Johnson (The Sons of Destiny Series)
* Margaret Mallory (Knight of Desire)
* Gina Robinson (Spy Candy)
* Elisabeth Naughton (Stolen Heat)
* Hanna Rhys-Barnes (Widow's Peak)
* Lisa Hendrix (Immortal Outlaw, Immortal Warrior)

Friday, September 18th @ 7pm Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd. (800) 878-7323

I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Miracle of Publishing

Current Project: Tavy's Birthday Book
Status: Nearly done!

I'm astounded at my productivity as of late. I've been up at all hours of the day and night. I sneak a few minutes in at my computer whenever I can. Blogs are going unread, facebook is neglected, email is unchecked for hours at a time. The house is a wreck, and the toddler has discovered some unusual methods for keeping herself occupied (hide and seek for one, anyone?). The spouse is neglected but pacified nicely with Unreal Tournament. And me? I'm fulfilled in that rich, magical creative sense of the word.

However, it's not my new YA WIP that has me burning the candles. It's the fact that in a few short days, I will have my first hardcover release. Admittedly this will be a limited print run (if by limited you mean a single copy), and the potential audience is small (if by small you mean a certain toddler and possibly her adoring grandparents), but I will be PUBLISHED.

I have made no great secret of my dislike for self-publishing and those companies that prey on the insatiable desire to see your name in print with the promise of riches. However, a year ago I was at a playdate when I spied a gorgeous hardback book on the coffee table. I noticed that the girls on the cover had a striking resemblance to the girls stacking blocks. Intrigued, I opened it up to discover a lovely tribute to the girls' first three years.

The mother revealed that she had discovered software that easily let her convert her blog into a keepsake book. I loved this idea, especially since I have never had the patience for traditional scrapbooking. But, at the time, I was overwhelmed and underfunded. In the last year, however, the price of the books has dropped substantially. Also, the Blurb software now works easily with Flickr. I still wasn't ready for a project the size of converting my blog into a book, but I hit upon the idea of doing a little book for Tavy's birthday.

I've tried to analyze why I'm enjoying this project so much and if I can learn anything from this to apply to my longer projects. I think these are the key:
  • I have a limited focus: Rather than chronicle Tavy's life, I've focused in on the differences between her as a baby, her at one, and her at two.
  • I outlined and pre-planned: I drafted an outline and assembled all of the Flickr photos I wanted to use into a single folder before starting.
  • The project is limited in length: The finished book will be around 50 pages.
  • I see tangible progress: Each time I finish a layout, I know that I am much closer to the end.
  • I have a deadline: Tavy will only turn two once.
  • I have a guaranteed audience: Tavy loves looking at pictures of herself. Her grandmas will undoubtedly want a copy as well.
  • I'm working with a topic and materials I love.
  • Publication is a certainty: I will finish the project, hit submit, pay, and someone else will handle everything else.
  • I will be able to hold my work in my hands and show it off.
At first glance, this would seem to limit me to vanity projects like this. But, then I dug deeper and I thought about what I have learned about myself: when I have a deadline, an audience, and a promise of publication on a project I love, I will go to any lengths to finish it. Suddenly, my doubts about whether I could produce on contract evaporated. Further, I clearly know my strengths: I'm a plotter, I like clearly focused projects, and I need a main character that I love. Most importantly, I NEED a contract. My focus needs to be on getting to that point ASAP, and I need to believe that it WILL happen.

Right now, I'm finishing up Tavy's book, but I'm also living with my WIP's characters chattering away in my head and moving forward with the design for my new professional website. Ever since I said goodbye to the deadweight of the previous MS, I have a reached a new place of serenity about my writing. This little project has further bolstered my faith and belief in what I can accomplish.

Your turn! Have you ever done a project "just for fun?" Did it rejuvenate you? What did it show you about yourself? Does learning new skills/software related to writing excite you or frustrate you?

The Miracle of Publishing

Current Project: Tavy's Birthday Book
Status: Nearly done!

I'm astounded at my productivity as of late. I've been up at all hours of the day and night. I sneak a few minutes in at my computer whenever I can. Blogs are going unread, facebook is neglected, email is unchecked for hours at a time. The house is a wreck, and the toddler has discovered some unusual methods for keeping herself occupied (hide and seek for one, anyone?). The spouse is neglected but pacified nicely with Unreal Tournament. And me? I'm fullfilled in that rich, magical creative sense of the word.

However, it's not my new YA WIP that has me burning the candles. It's the fact that in a few short days, I will have my first hardcover release. Admittedly this will be a limited print run (if by limited you mean a single copy), and the potential audience is small (if by small you mean a certain toddler and possibly her adoring grandparents), but I will be PUBLISHED.

I have made no great secret of my dislike for self-publishing and those companies that prey on the insatiable desire to see your name in print with the promise of riches. However, a year ago I was at a playdate when I spied a gorgeous hardback book

The Miracle of Publishing

Current Project: Tavy's Birthday Book
Status: Nearly done!

I'm astounded at my productivity as of late. I've been up at all hours of the day and night. I sneak a few minutes in at my computer whenever I can. Blogs are going unread, facebook is neglected, email is unchecked for hours at a time. The house is a wreck, and the toddler has discovered some unusual methods for keeping herself occupied (hide and seek for one, anyone?). The spouse is neglected but pacified nicely with Unreal Tournament. And me? I'm

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Rose by Any Other Name Would...Smell?

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: "Shadows" WIP
Status: Reworked the characters and plot, 2500+ words of backstory written

I'll admit it up front -- I suck when it comes to thinking up titles for my stories. That flash of inspiration that screams, this is it!, just generally fizzles for me. It's a disappointment, because I love a good title, don't you? I can walk through a bookstore and get inspired to write just by reading all the titles on the shelves.

There are titles I will always love, though I have no doubt I'll never read the actual, you know, book. Love in the Time of Cholera and The Unbearable Lightness of Being are two such titles. I'll never forget them, but I'm just as sure that I'll never read those books (yes, I know they're prize winners and considered amazing works of literature -- it's nothing personal, I'm just not interested).

Let's face it, though, one the purposes of a book title--if not the purpose--is to sell the book. There are definitely books I picked up because I couldn't resist the title. I started reading a few mystery series because of the title of the first book in the series: Grime and Punishment by Jill Churchill (the Jane Jeffrey series), and Death on Demand by Carolyn Hart (the Death on Demand series) are just a couple of examples. And how about the titles of Martha Grimes' Richard Jury mysteries? Each book title is the name of a pub in England and some of them are doozies, starting with the very first book: The Man With a Load of Mischief.

Switching genres, I still love the title of the first book in Karen Ripley's The Slow World fantasy series published in 1993 -- The Persistence of Memory. I don't much remember the story, but the title has stuck with me all these years. I might not have started reading Barry B. Longyear's wonderful Circus World trilogy if the first book had been titled something other than City of Baraboo. Come on, who wouldn't take a second look at a book with that title? And then there's Bride of the Rat God. While I was already very familiar with Barbara Hambly's work when she published that novel, if I hadn't been I still would've picked it up just because of the title.

I hesitate to say this, but most titles are forgettable. Oh, they're interesting enough to briefly catch my attention, which is good enough from a sales standpoint, I guess. But I can't honestly say that I remember most of the titles of the books I've read, and certainly not for long after I've finished them. Those titles that do stick with me tend to have an intangible quality, a way of rolling off the tongue, that I'm always hoping to find for my own writing.

How about you? Do titles come easily to you? Do you have favorite titles you'd like to share?

Monday, September 14, 2009

I found a true hero

Current Project:Christmas Redemption
Status: Chapter two
As writers we are always asked where we get our inspiration or ideas for stories. I can whole-heartedly say from the world around me.

My recent cruise gave me a myriad of ideas and views into different relationships. It also gave me an even firmer belief in the power of love and romance watching couples who have been married 50+ years.

One such couple were high school sweethearts. When they talked about how they met and even about the pet racoon that they had stuffed and to his "addiction" at purchasing anything that was a good deal, you saw the warmth and love they shared.

Getting out into an environment you don't usually travel in can open your eyes and ears to so many treasures that can be used in your stories. It was for me anyway.

Our first evening on the cruise we arived at the formal dining room and found we were seated at a table for two. We enjoyed sitting by ourselves but heard all the people around us getting to know one another at the larger tables. When a steward came by and asked if we'd like to be seated at a larger table the rest of the voyage we said yes.

The second night we joined a couple from North Carolina, he is a retired fireman and she is a pharmacist and a couple from Alabama, he is a retired carpenter and campaign manager for Ronald Reagan, she is a retired county employee. These two couples were a delight to visit with and see their interactions. We, of course, exchanged addresses and they took one of my bookmarks and said they would definitely be ordering my books!

Several tables at a formal dining room on a cruise ship are designated to a waiter and his assistant. These two wait on you every night of the cruise. The night we joined the group table I was given the wrong order. I tried to endure and not say anyting but it was lamb. My family raised sheep when I was growing up and I spent many hours inside a large wool sack stomping wool. To me all lamb tastes like wool. So I gave my meat to my dh and the waiter asked me what was wrong. I told him I hadn't ordered lamb and he offered to get me a new plate and apologized over and over the rest of the night. I told him I was fine, I didn't need to eat that much anyway. (Did I tell you they way over stuff you on cruises?)

The next morning in the breakfast buffet line, the waiter, dimples, large smile, and twinkling eyes, came up behind me and offered to carry my tray and get me something to drink. All the time apologizing for the mix up the night before. That night when we arrived at the formal dining room, he held my chair, placed my napkin in my lap and said, "Patricia, I will be more careful with your dinner tonight." I told him it was okay. We had a wonderful dinner, he offered to bring me two desserts and folded my napkin into a tuxedo. The next day as I was eating lunch, he came to the table and offered to bring me cheesecake from the dessert counter (he remembered that was what I'd orderd the last two nights at dinner)

The third night he enthralled the whole table with magic tricks. They were much better than the magician at the theatre.

The second fomal night I asked him where he was from and why he was working on the cruise ship. He is from India a small province that was once owned by Portugal (he has a Portugese last name) and then was taken over by the British. He told me about his son and wife. Tears glistened in his eyes. His son was four months old, and he had only seen him in a photo. He would finally get to hold him when the boy was eight months old. I asked him why he was on the ship. He said by working for the cruiseline it gave him higher credentials when he applied to work at the high end hotels in India. He was far from home and the ones he loved to further his career and make a better life for his family. Hearing the pride in his voice when he talked of his family and a better life and seeing his charisma and interaction with all the people he came in contact with, I can see him one day running a highend hotel and his staff and clientele all loving him. He was the epitome of a true hero. And not just because he catered to me- it was because of his love of his family and his conviction to giving them a better life. And the sacrifice he's made to do that.

I have a photo but I'm on someone else's computer without access. When I get to my duaghter's house or at the airport, I'll try to add the photo.

Have you met someone in your travels who inspired you as a hero or heroine?

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Current Project: Untitled
Status: page 52

Hi everyone. Is it just me or are the weeks streaking by?

As noted above, I'm back at work with a Nov. 15th deadline for the book, a next Friday deadline for the art sheets on this same book, and a Sept. 25th deadline for the final edits on the Feb. release book. Lots of hats to wear this week while the dh goes camping. Since he'll be gone, Kujo -- er, Bonnie Puppy -- gets to spend the night at a kennel so I can come to Salem Thursday night for our meeting. Our former dog would have hated a kennel; I have a feeling this one is going to love it. Slumber Party!!!

Speaking of the meeting -- Lisa has me billed as the pitch doctor. Isn't that cute? While I think it may be a bit of an overstatement, I do think all of us can benefit from paring our stories down to salient facts, so I plan to work on a pitch for mine, too. Even if you don't plan to pitch your book now (or ever), grasping what its essence is can't help but be beneficial. As one page swells to three hundred, a book can get to feeling like bread dough with too much yeast, unwieldy, its core lost in the mass, so come if you can, don't think of this as just a workshop or conference skill.

Now it's your turn. How's it going?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Guest Blogger Leanna Renee Hieber

Welcome today's guest author, Leanna Renee Heiber!

Award-Winning author, actress and playwright Leanna Renee Hieber grew up in rural Ohio where her childhood memories are full of inventing elaborate ghost stories. While performing in the regional theatre circuit, her one-act plays such as Favorite Lady, were published, produced, won awards and continue to b produced in colleges and festivals around the country. She has adapted works of 19th Century literature for the professional stage.

She hit the fantasy fiction scene with her novella Dark Nest which won the 2009 Prism Award for excellence in Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is the first in her Strangely Beautiful series of ghostly, Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels published by Dorchester Publishing.

From the Back Cover:

"What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Considering how few of Queen Victoria’s Londoners knew of it, the great Romanesque fortress was dreadfully imposing, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met the powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadow, the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She knew simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow-white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gifts. But this arched stone doorway offered a portal to a new life, an education far from the convent—and an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death…"

The Strangely Beautiful Haunted London Blog Tour day 11!

I’m thrilled to be here. Thanks so very much to Elisabeth for inviting me!

Today we visit:

The Ship Tavern – 12 Gate Street, WC2

A Place of Refuge

During the intolerant reign of King Henry III, Catholics would sneak into this cozy 18th century pub to attend a furtive Mass conducted outside of the law by priests. Lookouts were posted in the surroundings and signals would warn the congregation when officials were coming to pry. The priest could then escape into one of the pub’s hiding places and allow the congregants time to pick up their mugs and play the part of mere pub regulars. If the priests were found, only torture, jail and execution was in store. There is an air of relief in this pub, a sense of comfort and refuge, likely left over from those sentiments of old, when priests could leave their hiding places undiscovered and blessedly return to their lives. The staff is rather fond of a prankster of a ghost that likes to hide cooking utensils or move keys.

It is this same sense of comfort, refuge and ghostly pranks that I’ve created in The Guard’s “Local”, their favourite pub/café; La Belle et La Bete.

From The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker:

--- (Beginning of Excerpt) ---

Headmistress Rebecca Thompson owed Professor Alexi Rychman a very expensive bottle of sherry. Luckily, spirits—liquors as well as ghosts—were in ample supply at Café La Belle et La Bête.

The spectres came and went as they pleased, now and then troubling to adjust the glassware, to the owner Josephine’s unending irritation. One pair of Restoration wraiths kept to a corner, eternally interested in gossip divined from the living. One former army general never left his post at the end of the bar. And of course there were many, many others.

Everyone inside, living and dead, turned as the door opened and the scowling Rebecca entered.

“Good afternoon, my dear Miss Thompson!” hailed her jovial, rosy-cheeked friend in a modest suit, rising from a table by the window to press her hand. The other gentleman at the table, more finely dressed, waved a limp hand and resumed gazing out the window.

“Hello, Michael … Elijah,” Rebecca murmured with a curt nod.

Vicar Michael Carroll, maintaining his affable grin, pulled out a chair. “And what has you so flustered?”

“Alexi, of course,” she spat, taking a seat between them, removing her hat and gloves to replace stubborn locks of hair falling from her coiffure. She failed to notice Elijah roll his eyes.

“What now?” Michael asked, twirling his grey-peppered mustache.

Rebecca sighed, adjusting the gathered folds of her navy skirt with a pronounced rustle. “Do you recall the trouble at Fifty Berkeley Square?”

“What of it?”

“Alexi seemed to think I was outmatched. But as we often perform alone, I never dreamed—”

“Old Bloody Bones got the better of you, eh?” Michael grinned.

“Yes,” Rebecca muttered. “What a horrid sight. And stench. It wouldn’t stay still long enough to bind properly! I’m afraid I made a mess of it.”

“Alexi’s been hard on you, then? Did he come to your aid?”

“Yes, yes. He was right. It took the two of us to dispel the bloody devil.” Rebecca glowered. “So, as was our wager, I owe him a bottle of sherry. His absurdly expensive label, of course.”

“Ah! A bet against Alexi?” Michael shook his head. “While I admire your pluck, my dear, I must say I’d have foregone that temptation. Now he will be gloating and unbearable.”

Elijah sniggered against the window.

Rebecca turned. “Good afternoon to you, too, Lord Withersby. Your impeccable manners are always a balm.”

Elijah turned, as if he hadn’t yet noticed Rebecca or heard her previous greeting, and inclined his head in an exaggerated bow. “Miss Thompson. Delighted.”

Michael laughed. “You know, Elijah, you match the consumptive artwork Josephine has on these walls. You really should sit for Rosetti. Or … I suppose we could simply leave you in your seat and hand you a gold frame to hold over your face.”

Elijah pursed his thin lips in annoyance.

“Oh, is that a new one of Josephine’s?” Rebecca pointed to the opposite wall and rose to examine the indicated canvas. Michael followed, always eager to be near her side. Elijah remained seated … and held a peppermill over Michael’s tea.

A clatter of glasses above the polished oak bar brought the lovely, olive-skinned Josephine, cursing in French, out from a back room. Brandishing a wet towel, she waved it in the air with a few words that were not French but instead the Guard’s strange and ancient tongue. The towel passed straight through the portly body of that spirit in military uniform who was trying to unsuccessfully help himself to a glass of wine. Glumly, the general heard the odd words, felt the tickle of the towel and went again to sulk in his usual place.

It was good the four friends were the sole living occupants of the bar, Rebecca mused; the afternoon was shaping up to be a bit of a production unfit for outsiders. Improper familiarity across class lines was one thing, but blatant interaction with the dead was another.

--- (End of Excerpt) ---

I’m indebted to Richard Jones, founder of the fabulous Discovery Walks of London and author of the fantastic compendium “Haunted London” and “Walking Haunted London” published by Barnes & Noble Books, a main resource for my research. Visit him at Come visit me at to find out more about The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parkera and follow along the final days of the Haunted London Blog tour! I hope you’ll also pick up the book and love it as much as I loved writing it! Be sure to comment to be entered to win a signed copy!

Leanna Renee Hieber

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Current Project: Nine-book contemporary romance series
Status: Coming together

My son left home yesterday. I suppose in this season of kids starting school or going off to college, that shouldn't be considered odd.

However, my son is thirty-two years old.

Before you laugh and comment that he should have left home years ago, let me explain.

This healthy young man recently spent five days in the hospital with a potentially life-threatening condition. He actually did leave home years ago, but was staying at my house and going to a clinic every couple days until doctors got his medication regulated.

He slipped easily back into my life and I quickly got used to seeing him every day instead of once every week or so.

Throughout his hospital stay and the life adjustments afterward, I knew with a certainty that he was going to be fine. However, that didn't stop a jolt of adrenaline whenever his phone number showed up as an incoming call on my cell phone. And it doesn't stop me from missing him like crazy now that he's gone back to his house out of town.

Yes, I held my tears until after he was gone and I only teased him about leaving home again rather than throwing myself in front of the door and refusing to let him go.

However, in the last few weeks, something inside me has shifted. I realized once again what a gift both of my sons are. I realized that even though we might go different directions, we're still connected. Most of all, the reminder that we're only on this physical plane for a limited time has made even everyday moments something to celebrate.

What about you? Many of us have faced losses and traumas and life-changing events lately. Have these experiences changed your perspective or the way you live each day?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Current Project: The Baby's Bodyguard (actually, there is no official title)
Status: waiting to hear on proposal

I have been sitting here for the past hour trying to think of something to blog about. My brain is either a bowl of Malt-O-Wheat or a vast sky or an endless desert or a bottomless and empty well. In other words, there's nothing up there. Nothing. I can think of NOTHING to blog about so I am taking a free day.

I think this is the first time I have evoked this privilege. I think we should all have this option at least once.

I know this is a chicken's way out. I have excuses, plenty of them, but unlike some naughty child in school spewing forth one excuse after another, I am going to be a grown-up about this. I'm not going to mention the fact we had a wheel blow out on our vacation or that we had to change it on a steep highway with no shoulder thanks to fifteen miles of guardrail and with big old trucks coming down doing ninety miles an hour or that I tripped on the spare and fell ass over appetite to the road and just missed getting squashed (no doubt jarring my poor little brain, emptying it of all the fantastic blog subjects I had up until that very moment.)

Nope, I'm taking the high road.

If you have something important, funny, silly, goofy, profound or anything else you would like to put in the comment section, I will bless your little heart forever. Hey, maybe what I can't do alone, we could all do together! Group hug!!! Let's see -- we grew up being told that idle minds are the devil's workshop. I profoundly disagree with this. Idle minds are imagination's playground. In fact, I think children today have too much going on. I think they need some idle time to reflect on their lives and think of stuff like stories. (I may have just discovered a blog subject...)

When was the last time you were bored? Did something good come from it?


Monday, September 07, 2009

Writing organizations

Current Project: Leg Shaving Leads to Trouble
Status: In progress...

I apologize for the quite tardy post today. I was camping over the weekend and thought I would have access to a friend's laptop this morning with a cellular wireless adapter, but it was so windy we couldn't get signal :( Just got home and am posting now.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about writing organizations and the reasons people choose to join them. All groups and organizations go through membership growth and loss and often it seems to happen in batches. Many times those batches seem to occur around dues renewal, especially in these economic times. That causes one to evaluate what they are looking for in an organization, what they are getting, and if it's worth the cost.

Before I joined RWA, I didn't hunt around for an organization that suited me. I learned of RWA and made a decision to join that specific organization because my understanding was that it's the premier organization for romance writers. Although I didn't make a decision between multiple organizations, I still had expectations of what to get from the organization. I had absolutely no experience with romance writing and hadn't been reading romance for very long. Once I started reading romance, I realized that the genre was what I had been looking for as a writer.

I went online to learn more about romance writing and came across RWA. I was excited to learn there was a chapter in Salem so I went online to learn more about the group. This was about a week before the fall workshop (about four years ago I think?) [holy crap, I can't believe it's been that long - think of all the books I could have written by now! UGH!] so I bit the bullet and signed up for the workshop. I had a great time and went to the next meeting. It was wonderful to see people at so many stages in their writing. I then signed up for the first beach retreat that happened a couple of months later and learned even more.

The group seemed so open, answering any questions asked, sharing resources. There was no sense of competition or jealousy - everyone was truly happy for one another. As I learned more about writing, my focus changed to learning about the publishing industry and honing my craft. I was able to keep learning on those topics. I've been to a couple of national conferences and received a wider view of the industry within the country and the world.

It has left me wondering if there are organizations that provide so many benefits within other genres. I haven't joined other writing groups yet. I'd like to know - what do you look for in a writing group? What are the important factors? What keeps you from joining a group?

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Status: Proposal Sent (whew...)

I'm writing this on Thursday with great hopes that I can successfully set it up to post on Saturday. If I screw up and it lands on here early, my humble apologies. The greatest shame in that would be bumping Bethany's post. If you haven't read it, it's probably the one directly preceding this one unless someone else posts. Now I'm confused.

I finished my proposal on Wednesday and got it emailed. That was self imposed deadline (I missed the original one and my editor is traveling, so I had another week) but I needed that sucker to be gone so I could go play for a few days. It's a huge relief although I have to admit, the synopsis is held together with bailing wire and a hot glue gun. It's hard to believe it won't cause anyone who reads it to shake their head and wonder if the cat helped write it.

Enough about me. How is everyone else doing? Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

There Will Always Be Something . . .

Current Project: NMMNG
Status: Outlining

I had a different post for today all about back story, but I had a different kind of day today than I planned. A friend lost her baby at 26/27 weeks gestation, and my day was spent trying to figure out how to support her family. I had my brother here, and I had high hopes of sneaking some writing in while the hurricane was occupied. Three months ago, a different friend lost a child, and I lost my writing momentum for weeks. A few weeks ago, my dad was sick, and I had to fight against the tidal wave of procrastination that threatened to capsize my meager WIP. I am the Queen of the "It's Always Something" excuse club. I didn't write for most of my pregnancy, and then I had a newborn, and then toddlerhood was hard, and I have all these classes to teach. . . .

It will ALWAYS be something.

This hit me a few weeks ago when my Dad became ill, and I realized that there will always be things more pressing than writing. Life is not going to slow down and hand me time to write. If not a demanding toddler, it will a new baby, an ill parent, a death in the family, or a friend's tragedy. I see Alice with her mother, Genene with her son, Eli with her illness, Lisa with her school, Debbie with her job uncertainty, Paty with the six zillion hats she wears, and I am continually inspired by the way that you all keep going in the face of adversity.

The easy choice is always to turn away from the blinking cursor. It is easy to do the "selfless" thing and put others first. There are only 24 hours in a day, and none of them are programmed to throw a quill at you and shout, "GET WRITING! THIS IS YOUR CHANCE!" Instead, there are phone calls to make, anxiety to beat back, lunches to prepare, noses to wipe, conversations to have, and there is always just one more thing that you could do. It is easy to fall into bed and think, "Tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will write."

Except, what happens when tomorrow ISN'T any better? And the day after that? We have a family joke about my father and a rubbish pile in the garden. "When are you going to burn that, Dad?" It was too windy. There wasn't enough wind. It was too sunny. It was too rainy. It looked like it *could* rain. It looked like it wouldn't rain soon enough. He had better things to do. He had nothing to do, so he needed a nap. He lost his matches. He had matches but couldn't find the hose in case he needed water. He didn't have a chair to sit on to watch the fire. If we were going to have a fire, we should have marshmallows and hot dogs, but we had none. This went on for YEARS. And then, one day, my mother went out, lit the pile, and 15 minutes later, there was only ashes instead of a pile of excuses.

Writing is my rubbish pile--the task I keep putting off, waiting for an ideal moment. Lately though, I've been talking back to that voice in my head. What would a perfect moment look like? Clean house, accomplished to-do list, bills paid, work caught up, rested, fed, and toddler on a five hour nap? Sure. And I'll dedicate my first sale to the flying pigs I just saw. There will always be something. And just as surely, I will always pine for more writing time.

It is not in my nature to write productively through pain. I have so much other stuff churning around in my head that it is easy to let writing slip. But, in the last year, I've been working on changing that mentality. I don't want to be hobby writer. I'm not sure if I've written that out before, but there it is. Leaving aside all doubts about my talent and my voice, I want to be a paid writer. And that means being able to produce in the face of distractions. I teach my classes when I would rather not. I read stories, assemble puzzles, and prepare lunch when I would rather not. I clean . . . okay. Bad example. But, I AM capable of doing stuff when distracted.

The key for me is making writing one of those things that I do no matter what. I am working on acknowledging to myself that, yes, this bad thing happens, and my heart breaks, and I do what I can to make the situation better, but I still write. And that doesn't make me a bad or callous person. Especially in light of my friend's tragedy, the temptation is so strong to bring everything to a screeching halt and simply rail against the universe and all its injustices and not resurface for weeks or months. I feel like a bad person for writing when someone I love is hurting or when I put things off to write. It sucks when I can't make things better or take away a love one's pain, and so I feel really guilty when I write instead of X million other things that I could do.

So, to deal with that, I'm starting a list. I call it my dedication list. Each time I feel guilty about choices I make, I add a line to my dedication page:

To the budgets I could be writing, to the cakes I could be making, to the "Little Bear" videos I have playing, to the dishes spilling over, the laundry exploding, to the husbands I'm neglecting, to the wallowing I'm not doing, this book is for you. To my father, to my friend C and her daughter, to my friend D and her daughter, I honor you with this book. If I had a beer, I'd raise it, and if I had a hat, I'd tip it, but I have a pen, so I'm writing.

What would your list look like? Has it been a struggle for you to make writing a priority in your life?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Current Project:

Recognize Your Tropes!

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: Shadows? Ghosts? Both?
Status: A few words, here and there, but mostly distracted by the upcoming final disposition of the day job (just days away!)

Hi there. I would've written an actual blog entry if my brain hadn't been eaten by TV Tropes. I stumbled upon this wiki site a couple of weeks ago and thought, hmmm, this might make an interesting blog topic. I started reading and reading and read--you get the picture. Just this morning I returned to the site intending to simply cull a few trope links for examples of what you'll find there and, well, I got sucked in again.

If you haven't already clicked on the link, I imagine you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about. Their home page provides the answer, as well as setting the tone for the rest of the site (i.e. very informal): "This wiki is a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction. We dip into the cauldron of story, whistle up a hearty spoonful and splosh it in front of you to devour to your heart's content." And it isn't just about TV. There are examples from Literature (by that, they mean *all* genres), Film, Anime, Comic Books, and more. It's a veritable cornucopia of story devices.

How could I possibly get sucked into this site? I mean, come on, there aren't that many original plots out there, so how many tropes could there possibly be? I can't answer that as I've only scratched the surface of this site and if it wasn't so damn entertaining, I might have a chance to escape. To see how this can happen, let's take a sample tour, shall we?

We'll start with the link on the left side of the home page, titled Narrative. Clicking it brings us to a page called Narrative Tropes, the elements of storytelling. There are a lot of links on this page, but I'm choosing the one that looks the most interesting (partly because it sounds cool): Applied Phlebotinum.

What's Phlebotinum? According to the wiki: "Phlebotinum is the magical substance that may be rubbed on almost anything to cause an effect needed by a plot. Some examples: nanotechnology, magic crystal emanations, pixie dust, a sonic screwdriver. Oh, and Green Rocks. In essence, it is the stuff that makes the plot go. Without it, the story would grind to an abrupt halt. It's science, it's magic, it's strange things unknown to science - the reader does not know how Phlebotinum would work and the creators hope he doesn't care. ... (AKA Handwavium)"

There's a long list of trope links on this page, all presumably different types of Applied Phlebotinum. There's Aesoptinum, Amulet of Concentrated Awesome, Clingy MacGuffin, Electric Instant Gratification, Love Potion, Made of Indestructium, Magic From Technology, and Medieval Stasis, just to name a very, very few. I followed the link for Deus Ex Nukina: "This is a situation when nukes and only nukes will do. Something Very Bad has happened, and only an uncontrolled release of nuclear energy can fix it."

There are examples you can read under Deus Ex Nukina, but I chose to follow the link to Canis Latinicus: ..."But what happens when you run out of Latin? Your spell or radioactive element has some attribute that you don't know how to name? Well, just make up some new Latin!"..."This use of Latin, as the trope name should indicate, is called 'dog Latin.'" Scroll down the page to read Literature examples (Harry Potter, The Dresden Files, etc.).

Out of curiousity, I clicked on the link for Harry Potter. This is the flip side of the coin on TV Tropes -- check out a specific work and see what tropes are listed as having been used in it. Following any of those links will lead you further and further into the brain-sucking maze of the TV Trope wiki. (Note: I've never read any of the Harry Potter books, so I can't comment on the accuracy of this list.)

So now you know what I've been doing for the past couple of weeks while I wait to hear the final word on my day job. I claim I'm researching potential plot ideas -- at least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! I hope you enjoy the site, but if you find yourself wondering where the time went when you intended to just check out a couple of pages, remember -- it's okay to close your browser and step away from the internet! Your current WIP will thank you.

PS: the picture in this post is apropos of nothing -- just me playing around with photoshop...