Friday, March 02, 2007

Writers' Groups

Why I love writers’ groups:

1. They understand the meaning of query, synopsis, partial, black moment, hero’s journey, POV, H/H, WIP, and RWA.

2. They are brutally honest about why the scene in the middle of your story absolutely, 100%, does not have to be there. And they will pick you up when you’re finished mourning after deleting it.

3. They will bend over backwards to help you research a city/celebrity/disease/time period for your latest WIP.

4. They will meet you at Border’s on a Thursday evening and willingly give you feedback on your latest chapter even though it’s 6:00 and they could be at home sitting down to dinner or having a big ol’ glass of wine with their feet up.

5. They will celebrate with you at every milestone on your writing journey.

What do you appreciate most about your writing group/critique partners?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

For Your Reading Pleasure...

"March, master of winds, bright minstrel and marshal of storms that enkindle the season they smite."
~Algernon C. Swinburne

Congratulations to the winner of my February Giveaway: Cynthia Borris!

Hope you’re all enjoying this first day of March (is it here already??)

For a little something different, I thought I’d post an excerpt from my WIP Lost in Paradise, which is in its umpteenth revision since being pulled from Virtual Tales. It’s also being read as a partial right now by The Wild Rose Press, so fingers crossed.

Here, the hero and heroine reunite after a fight…

She’d almost made it to the stairs by the time his door swung open. Eddie stood on the other side, bare-chested and dozy-eyed. He wore a pair of cut-off sweats and nothing else.
She forgot how to breathe.
“What time is it?”
“I’m sorry.” The words came out in a rush. “I shouldn’t have--were you sleeping?”
He shook his head and ran one hand over his hair, standing it up on end. “Watching TV.” He paused for a moment, then pushed the door open all the way. “Want to come in?”
The living room smelled of him, that complicated scent she associated with baseball games and late nights on the porch and winks in the bar as he sat and watched her count tips. Ash stopped near the recliner and looked around. The kitten, now a few pounds rounder in the belly, slept on a towel Eddie had tucked into a cardboard box.
“You ever give it a name?”
He closed the door and stepped beside her, breathing the words into her ear. “Call ‘im Tiny. Seems to like it.”
She smiled. “Fits him.”
He sat on the edge of the couch. “So--”
“I’m sorry,” she said again. Second time in less than five minutes, she thought. Why don’t I just apologize my way into tomorrow? But there didn’t seem to be any other words to fit the enormity of what she needed to say.
“Sit.” Eddie cocked his head at her. “Stop being so god-damned nervous and tell me what’s going on.”
“It’s complicated.” She worked her way toward him. “I’m not--”
“So, start with something small.” He leaned back as she edged onto the couch. “Start with--I don’t know. Why you decided to leave Boston.”
Ash laughed. “I wouldn’t call that something small.” That’s the biggest part of what I need to say, she thought. And the hardest.
He didn’t say anything after that, didn’t press, didn’t keep questioning. He just studied her with that intent gaze of his, until she felt sure that he had stripped off every last stitch of clothes she wore, skin too, and saw through to the heart that beat erratically under her skin.
One hand worked its way across the cushion, until it rested on his bare leg. “What happened the other night--”
“Was nice. Was good. Should happen a lot more.”
She let out a long breath. “Yeah.”
Eddie’s hand reached for hers, five fingers twining their way around her own. Ash let her gaze move across his chest, over the pale fuzz that spread there. Up to the tattoo on his triceps. Over to his square chin, that bobbed when he spoke too fast or got too excited. Down, just for an instant, to the waistband of the cut-offs that dipped below his navel. Then up, where blue eyes met hers and a mouth looked as though it was waiting for her to make up its mind.
“There’s so much I need to tell you.”
“Okay.” Eddie pulled her toward him, working his hand from hers, slipping it around her waist and drawing her across the pillows so that her curves melted into his.
“Eddie--” But there was nothing she wanted to say. Nothing she wanted to explain. A dizzying rush of desire came over her, so strong and so sudden that she felt as though all the air had been sucked out of the room.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sex and the Story

"There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection is the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted. "
~Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour

There was a great discussion on Romancing the Blog yesterday about all the sex in today’s romance novels, and the fact that readers can’t seem to find a romance that isn’t either filled with sex or--opposite end of the spectrum--a “sweet” story with a sugary hero and heroine who wait until marriage to do anything more than hold hands.

But most of the posts seemed to agree that publishers (and agents) are wary to sign anyone who doesn’t fit into one or the other. There is, it seems, an absence of the good old-fashioned contemporary love story, which focuses on the emotional relationship and not the bedroom. And surprisingly, that’s what a lot of readers are looking for.

This was refreshing to me, especially, because in my mind, that’s exactly what I write: contemporary love stories. Novels about men and women who meet and fall for each other and then have to deal with the messes that life throws in their way. I don’t write sex. It just doesn’t interest me within the pages of my novels. But I’m wondering how to market myself, both in the publishing world and to my friends and family. (I have quickly discovered that “romance novelist” translates to “porn writer” in most of their minds).

So what do you think? Take a look at the posts from yesterday, then come on back here and let me know.

And on this subject, I discovered a new author at Samhain who, unlike most of their authors, doesn’t write steamy/sensual/erotica.

Her name is Kate Johnson, and she writes romantic comedy. I knew I had to take a closer look when I read the disclaimer on her newest novel: Warning, this title contains guns, swearing, dark thoughts about cheerful people, incomprehensible Britishisms, and painful sarcasm.

I downloaded her short story “The Twelve Lies of Christmas” and will give you the low-down when I’m through…

P.S. - Last day to sign my guestbook and qualify for the February giveaway! What are you waiting for???

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What's On The Tape??

That, of course, is the all-important question after last night's Prison Break episode. It was another good one, lots of conflict and tension and near-misses...but they also killed off another main character (or at least it appears they did. I'm still hoping he'll be alive next week).

Which leads me to wonder if the rumors are true: is this show near its end?

I suppose the Scofield brothers can't be on the run forever. And there are only so many times they can avoid either death or capture, what with clever FBI Agent Malone on their tails. Still, if this show does wrap, I'll miss it.

I continue to think the writing is tight and the characters well-developed. And I'm glad that, in these last few episodes, Michael and Sara have finally gotten together. ;)

Still, I always thought they should have spent more time breaking out of prison. That first season was filled with such great episodes and interesting character interactions. So in honor of the early days, here's a Fan Vid from Season 1. Enjoy.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Where Do You Find Your Ideas?

"If not for heart and imagination, the world of fiction would be a pretty seedy place. It might not even exist at all."
~Stephen King ("On Writing")

Where do you get your story ideas?

When I first started writing, I felt as though I had about 3 (yes, 3) good plots inside my head, and after I used them up, I would never be able to think of another interesting, original story.


I struggled with it. I’d jot down ideas only to realize the next day they were tired and old. Then thing started to change. I‘m not sure why, but occasionally (usually at those weird times, like in the shower or at 3 am or when I’m supposed to be grading papers) a crazy little sliver of an idea would spring up, and I’d grab the closest thing that resembled a piece of paper and write it down.

After a while I retyped them all into one computer file, which is where I still store new ideas. Last time I opened that file, I had about 10 or so. Not a lot, but enough. And finally, the finding of the ideas has become easier.

I get ideas from articles I read in the newspaper or tabloid headlines in the supermarket. I get ideas from songs and TV shows. I get ideas from watching people in Borders and Target. And I get ideas from talking to people. It’s great.

Last Friday, hubby and I went out with another couple we work with--great new bar for happy hour, great new restaurant for dinner. And we all told stories. The terrific thing is that our friends are about 20 years older than we are, and former hippies, so they have the best stories in the world. I’m serious. My mind was cataloging great characters and great situations all night long.

For example: they moved to a Idaho town (population 500: 498 cowboys and hunters, and our friends) right after they got married, since he was going to school out there. One day the woman, who’s a liberal NYC girl, activist, pacifist, and vegetarian, goes downstairs in her apartment complex to do the laundry, and there’s an entire gutted deer hanging there, in the laundry room.

How great a moment is that?! Can’t you just picture working that scene into a story?? Talk about multiple conflicts, and a terrific opportunity for character development, and a perfect way to suggest the setting of the town.

So I’m a little less worried these days that the Idea Well will run dry, that it’s a finite collection of plots and characters out there for me to work with. Now, I can’t wait to go to the mall, or the grocery store, or the gas station. Who knows where I’ll find my next hero or heroine?

What about you? Where do you find inspiration for your writing??