Saturday, March 24, 2007

Goodies for You

Happy Saturday!

Thought instead of posting any writing news or pearls of wisdom ;) today, I'd let you in on a few freebies that are out there for the taking:

1. Julie Cohen is giving away a copy of her newest release, Driving Him Wild.

2. Carly Phillips is sending bookmarks and autographed bookplates for her 2 upcoming releases to anyone who mails her an SASE.

3. And while you're at the above link filling out Carly's information, check out the blog space for rent that Alison Kent is offering. She claims to get 1000 visitors/day, so if you have anything to blog about or promote, that's a great opportunity!

4. While this one isn't totally free, you can celebrate the up-coming Buy a Friend a Book week and share your love of books and reading. And hey, you might just get a book in return. Karma, you know. (Thanks, Judy, for the link!)

5. Visit Marianne's site for a few more freebies...

Okay, I'm off to write (and clean the coming this weekend).

Have a great one!

Friday, March 23, 2007

With Friends, or Going Solo?

"Everywhere I go, I'm asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. "
- Flannery O'Connor

Last night I met with a sub-group of my local RWA - basically 4 of us who live within the same 20 square miles. And it was nice. We exchanged sample pages, talked about the sample pages we’d shared last month, enjoyed some coffee (and beautiful weather outside - almost 60 yesterday!), and watched the Borders customers browse.

(Interesting side note: at one point, a couple who looked to be in their late 30s sat down in a chair in the lounge/coffee shop area, near our table. The woman hopped onto the man’s lap and began gyrating and kissing him. It lasted all of 30 seconds or so, still, the 4 of us were sort of left with our mouths hanging open. Never know what you’ll see when you head to the mall…)

Still, I left the evening thinking, well, it sure is nice to have fellow writers to sit down with. To talk about the industry and contests and conference news with. To share writing struggles and frustrations. To bemoan rejection together.

And yet.

It’s always a little frustrating for me when someone gives you a writing sample, asks for your feedback (which takes time), and then defends every comment or criticism you make. “Well, but that’s how I want the hero to behave.” “Well, I know people who talk that way.” “Well, many authors write from multiple characters’ POV.”

I sort of feel like, well, don’t ask if you’re not going to change anything or at least take suggestions under consideration. I like writers’ groups and critique partners for so many reasons. They are the reason my writing improved to publishable quality and the reason I picked myself up after so many rejections over the years. Still, occasionally, I’m reminded of why I go it alone as often as I share my work with others.

Anyone else ever experience frustration in working with other writers?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Dealing with Rejection

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to read Diane’s great post yesterday on Inspirational Romance. It’s always interesting to hear about the “rules” for a certain genre and then to see how authors manage to play by them (or not).

Speaking of which, one of my writing friends got back a short story she had submitted with a rejection note saying that her ending scene (2 older adults sharing a dinner that was originally meant for one) was not believable. Now, the plausibility of the comment and the scene aside, my friend gave a big cyber-sigh and said, basically, getting turned down time and time again takes a toll on you and your muse.

I tend to agree.

However, I also believe that those of us who submit our work are braver than those who write and want to submit but never do. At least we’re in the game, stepping up to the plate and giving it our best.

Still, that “no” stings. A lot. I’m planning on writing a Wednesday post that talks about how to deal with rejection…so for the record, how do you? Is it easy for you to shrug it off and move on? Do you assume a cavalier, “they don’t know what they’re missing” attitude? Or do you cry? Throw a tantrum? Pour a tall glass of wine and watch your favorite sappy movie? Stop writing altogether?

I’m interested to hear what people do, and more important, how they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and dive into the process of writing and submitting all over again.

What do you do?

And for a little (addictive and time-consuming) fun, here’s a game I found for you to play. Go on, see if you can stop after you lose the first time...

Get Flash Games for your Blog

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Writers' Wednesday: What Is Inspirational Romance?

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today we have a guest blogger, Diane Craver, sharing her knowledge of the Inspirational Romance genre. Diane is a multi-published author with Samhain Publishing and has just released her newest work, Never the Same.

Sit back and enjoy - and make sure to leave her a comment when you're finished.

Thanks, Diane!


What Is Inspirational Romance?

When I did a chat in December, I posted an excerpt of my inspirational romance, No Greater Loss. The excerpt dealt with a character’s near death experience and how she saw her loved ones in heaven. After reading this excerpt and entering my contest, a reader said, “I never read an Inspirational. Diane, does this mean they are related to religion or is that called something else?”

I thought this was an excellent question. I like RWA’s definition of Inspirational Romance which is “a romantic novel with religious faith as a significant element of the story.” I think it’s important to explain what Christian publishers want in their inspirational romances, but I want to add here that No Greater Loss doesn’t fit their guidelines. Publishers such as, Steeple Hill Love Inspired line, Barbour & Company, Zondervan, Bethany House, Multnomah, and Tyndale have strict requirements.

The following list is what the above publishers look for in their inspirational romances:

No foul language, taking the Lord's name in vain, euphemisms for curses (heck, darn, gosh) and no scenes containing violent content.

No dancing, no alcohol consumption by Christian characters.

No graphic love scenes. In an inspirational romance, they are non-existent and unacceptable. No staying overnight alone together. The characters should not make love unless they are married. Inspirationals are "sweet" romances. Any physical interactions (i.e., kissing, hugging) should emphasize emotional tenderness rather than sexual desire or sensuality.

Do not preach. An element of faith must be present in the books, and should be well-integrated into the plot. The conflict between the characters should be an emotional one. The hero and heroine might be struggling to accept the Christian faith or can be active church members. By the end of the story, hero and heroine must be both believers and members of a church community.

Okay, this is how my inspirational romance differs. I’ll start with the foul language because two secondary characters use a few swear words. The main characters never use any, but the young arsonist and his girlfriend swear when they’re fighting over a major life changing event. I couldn’t imagine their characters not swearing at two crucial points in the story line. However, a reviewer was offended that an inspirational would have any swear words in it at all. I understand her point of view. I asked several Christians what they thought of these two characters using foul language, and all of them gave me strange looks because they didn’t remember this language being used in my book. My editor was surprised at the reviewer’s comment because she said that Christians do use swear words.

In No Greater Loss, Luke and Jennifer spend a night together due to a blizzard. They don’t have sex but the scene between them wouldn’t be acceptable by Christian publishers. They also speak of their sexual desire for each other and think about it. This just seemed natural to me to write it this way.

However, my inspirational romance does have many things in common with the ones published by the Christian market. No Greater Loss is a sweet romance with faith playing a large part in the characters’ lives. Dr. Jennifer Hunter is a Christian psychologist with a Sunday radio show dealing with women's topics. Her Uncle Ryan is a Catholic priest. Jennifer turns to prayer throughout the book. She’s great at helping her patients with their problems, but she can’t help herself work through her own grief and guilt. After her husband and baby died, she thinks God must want her to remain single. Luke needs to learn to forgive his past wife for something she did during their marriage, so he can move on with his life. My inspirational romance is emotional with compelling characters who find inner peace.

Fortunately for me, Samhain accepted my inspirational romance without all the restrictions imposed by other publishers. They allowed me to tell my story the way I felt it needed to be told.

Do you enjoy reading inspirational romances? You don’t need to go to a Christian bookstore to buy them. I bought a Steeple Hill Love Inspired recently in a grocery store. Because of their popularity, they are sold in many secular stores.

Have you considered writing an inspirational romance? Writing about Christian characters facing challenges of love in today’s world is rewarding. Inspirational romances will always have a place in publishing because people are looking for the deeper meaning in life, and they want to read faith filled stories.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An Excerpt

"Sometimes a player's greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team."
~Scottie Pippen

In honor of March Madness, here’s an excerpt from One Night in Memphis, my latest WIP (featuring the non-alpha hero I mentioned yesterday). Here, the H/H meet for the very first time, on a basketball court, appropriately enough.

[Dakota is our heroine, Sarah her best friend. Gunnar is Sarah’s neighbor and the reason they’re at the courts in the first place. And Ethan, well, Ethan is our lovable, wounded hero…]

“Far one,” Gunnar said to Sarah, motioning as they crossed the grass. He broke into a jog and headed for a group of guys huddled in the middle of a basketball court fifty yards away.

Dakota looked around the park. Six courts, five pick-up games going on. Lots of long legs and lanky arms and sweat-soaked t-shirts stuck to muscular backs. Lots of trash talking, too, from the comments she heard around her.

They took the long way around, past a stone fountain, cheering families, bikini-clad women. Past a set of swings and some slides. Past smooth cement ramps where kids in bandanas skateboarded. Over it all, the sun beat down, its yellow face sliding toward the western horizon.

Someone whistled close by, and she turned, startled. Ten feet away, ball propped on one hip, stood a stocky, redheaded guy. Thick freckles covered both arms like a tattoo. He winked at Dakota and gave her a once-over. “Hey, good-lookin’.”

“Hey yourself.”

Sarah tugged at her wrist. “Ignore him. He’s an ass. He’s here every weekend, hits on anything that walks by with boobs and a pulse.”

“Thanks a lot.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Got room for two more,” the guy called after them. “Or we’ll be over at Doc’s Pub later. You should come by.”

When Dakota looked back over her shoulder, he jerked his chin in her direction. For a moment, he looked as though he was about to say something else, when one of his friends jabbed a hand at the ball from behind him. It spurted from his grasp and rolled away.

Dakota giggled.

“Hey!” The guy turned around, hands fisting.

Dakota turned back and was about to follow Sarah when a basketball bounced near her feet. It slowed as it hit the grass.

“Can you get that?”

She stopped at the voice. Still masculine, though different. Not the obnoxious rasp of the redhead. Soft-spoken, almost. Polite. Kind.

She turned, and in that moment, the world tilted under Dakota’s feet. A guy she hadn’t noticed before stood at the edge of the pavement: medium height, dark brown hair, flushed cheeks. His chest heaved as he panted with the effort of the game. He smiled, sort of a crooked grin that lit up only half his face. Still, it worked its way under her skin, until she felt her cheeks burn. For God’s sake, stop staring at him, she told herself. He’s just a guy. Ordinary. Not even that tall, or good-looking, or built. She reached down and picked up the ball, rough and rubbery under her fingers.


Dakota took a few steps in his direction. Now she could see the color of his eyes, a greenish shade that reminded her of the lake back home, in early evening when the sun was right. Those would make a girl stop and stare, she thought, a second before she saw the sadness coloring the pupils. Sadness and distance and--what else is that? She tried to read the other emotion there and failed. Maybe he isn’t completely ordinary after all.

“No problem.” She bounced the ball over to him, and he caught it on the second hop. Strong fingers, she thought, even as she told herself not to look.

He smiled again, wider this time, and something inside her lit up. “You aren’t from around here.”

“You can tell?”

“It’s your voice.”

“Oh.” She felt herself redden. “No accent?”

“A northern accent.”

“Yeah, well, I flew in today. Just visiting a friend for the weekend.” She put one hand on a hip, liking the sound of his voice. Wanting it to continue. Wanting him to come closer.

“That’s too bad.”

“That I’m visiting a friend?”

“That you’re only in town for the weekend. Memphis deserves a week or two, at least.” He studied her for a moment longer. Then one of his buddies yelled something, and he glanced back at the court. “Well, have a good time while you’re here.”

“I’ll try.” Dakota dug her toes into the grass and waited a moment, watching the way his back flexed as he jogged away. I wonder if he’ll turn around.

He didn’t.

“D!” Sarah called. “Come on!”

Oh, well. She backed away, one slow step at a time. Good-looking, she thought, in a different way. Not the type I usually go for. But definitely good-looking. Maybe I ought to be watching that game instead of Gunnar’s…

Make sure to stop by tomorrow for Writers' Wednesday!!

Monday, March 19, 2007


"Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, but rather the hero's heart."

Over the weekend I won Diane Craver’s March Madness contest – yippee! – and so I now have a free download of her new Samhain release, Never the Same.

Can’t wait to read it. Diane’s going to be appearing here in the future as a guest blogger for Writers’ Wednesday, too, so stay tuned for her post on writing inspirational romance!

Spent a lot of time on my laptop this weekend, in front of the television and various playoff games, but I did manage to get about 5000 words written over the last couple of days. I’m struggled a little with the development of my hero in One Night in Memphis. He’s not an alpha male (I know…gasp), but a guy who’s more on the quiet, sensitive side, a 30-year old widower who’s venturing reluctantly into the dating scene after a year of mourning his wife.

I know I can’t make him too tortured or broken – my critique groups have already told me this – and yet the story is as much about his journey back to emotional health as it is the heroine’s. Maybe more. He’s not a confident, brash guy. He’s not muscular and chiseled. He’s…sort of regular. Kind but not a pushover. Smart but not that talkative. Do you think that makes him uninteresting? I hope not. I really, really hope not.

It’s definitely harder to write this hero than others I’ve worked with in my novels. Alpha males, for all their flaws, are easier to create and easier to make the heroine (and the reader) fall in love with. For me, anyway.

We’ll see. I do like Ethan. And I think he’ll be both believable and likable. And sexy, of course, in his own way.

What about you? Do you ever have characters, in your writing, who simply spring to life with little effort? And then do you have others who drag your creative muse kicking and screaming the entire way?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

And the Madness Begins...

Well, March Madness is upon us, and though it hasn't been a complete surprise, there have been a couple of upsets and some nail-biters of games:

VCU (who??) knocks out Duke, the name pretty much synonymous with NCAA Basketball Championships.

Winthrop (who??) takes down the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Xavier, a little private school, forces #1 Ohio State (huge school with huger players) into overtime.

#6Vanderbilt sends #3 Washington State home after double overtime.

UNC's Tyler Hansbrough (what a cutie!) scores a season-high 33 points, playing without his face mask for the first time in weeks. His father was almost crying in the stands...

Hubby doesn't watch basketball at all, and I usually don't follow it much until the playoffs. But I always enter the March Madness pool at work, and I watch as many of the games as I can.

Why? Well, I like sports in general. I'm a competitive kind of girl. But I do like college hoops especially, because the players (for the most part) aren't yet jaded by the media spotlight or multi-million dollar contracts. They bleed the sport and their school colors, and you don't usually hear of a player transferring half-way through because he can get a better contract at another college. They love the game, pure and simple, and play their hearts out.

Just for kicks, let's watch the greatest moment in NCAA playoff history, Duke beating Kentucky at the buzzer in 1992:

What about you? Are you a sports fan? Follow March Madness? Enter the office pool? Or stay as far away as you possibly can??