Saturday, June 30, 2007

It's a Meme, Meme, Meme, Meme Weekend

Since it's a busy weekend for me, I'm cheating a little and doing two memes stolen (borrowed?) from two of my best blogging buddies. Today's is from Judy:

First job:
Entering accent marks for the dictionaries on Smith Corona typewriters, the summer I was 16. Really. It was a trip.
First screen name: I'm technologically illiterate. Enough said.
First funeral: At age 12, for a classmate who committed suicide at age 13. Nothing more to say.
First pet: As a child? I was born into a family with one wonderfully protective collie named Heidi (my first word) and 2 very patient cats I adored. As an adult? A smart, sleek black cat I still have. He was part of the package deal my hubby married into. :)
First piercing: I had my ears pierced when I was in 6th grade (my parents made me wait that long).
First tattoo: Won't ever get one (too permanent) though I occasionally do the temporary thing when my beloved Cleveland Indians are in the playoffs.
First credit card: Don't remember. A Visa in college, I think, with a $500 limit.
First kiss: Oh, with a boy I had a huge crush on, the summer I was 16 (I know, I was a really late bloomer). He took me home from a party and I missed my curfew. :)
First enemy: In a friendly sense, probably the girl I competed against for high school valedictorian (I won).

Last car ride:
Last night...hubby and I went shopping and out to dinner.
Last kiss: Last night, before we went to bed.
Last movie watched: Knocked Up.
Last beverage drank: Propel Fitness Water, getting ready for a 10K race this AM
Last food consumed: Banana (see above)
Last phone call: To my parents, last night
Last time showered: Last night
Last CD played: Hmm...probably Gavin Degraw, in the car.
Last website visited:Marianne's (I always visit hers first thing in the morning...cause she posts at like 4:30 am)

Single or taken:
Gender: Female
Birthday: December
Sign: Sagittarius
Siblings: One younger sister
Hair color: Brown
Eye color: Hazel/brown/green/depends on the day
Shoe size: 9 for regular shoes, 9 1/2 for running shoes (I know, enormous)
Height: 5'7"
Wearing: Right now? Um...
Drinking: Water
Thinking about: Running the race this AM and then eating whatever I want to the rest of the day!
Listening to: My cats demanding to know where their breakfast is

Friday, June 29, 2007

It's Friday Already? Alright!!

Appetizer: How many pieces of jewelry do you wear most days?
Well, my engagement and wedding rings, of course, and then usually earrings and a necklace or a bracelet. When I'm not going to work, though, nothing but the first two. And 2 toe rings in the summer, instead!

Soup: What is your favorite instrumental song?
That's a hard call. I'll say Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, possibly one of the most joyful pieces ever composed.

Salad: Who has a last name that you like?
This is funny...a guy my husband knows named Mel Pierrepoint. Just has a cool ring to it, I think. I'm definitely going to use that in a novel someday!

Main Course: Name a popular movie you’ve never seen.
Um..."Caddyshack." Yes, really.

Dessert: Fill in the blank: Nothing makes me ___________ like ____________.
Nothing makes me angry like narrow-minded people who argue their POV without considering anyone else's.
Happy Weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lots of Good News to Share

"If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance."
~Bern Williams

I'm back from vacation, I'm enjoying summer vacation, and everything is going smashingly on the writing front as well.

Good News #1: I'm just about finished with my final line edits for One Night in Boston. Even better, the final line editor asked my regular editor if there were plans for a sequel, 'cause she wanted to see my two secondary characters get together. I'm taking that as a vote of confidence that my writing is decent and that my characters are compelling and likable, even the minor ones.

Good News #2: I'm working with a website designer to update my website, hopefully in time for my July 24 e-release of ONIB. She's a terrific woman who owns Glass Slipper Web Design, and she's doing discounted designs for Samhain authors, so I lucked out. I'll keep you posted on the unveiling of the new site!

Good News #3: I had a great time *finally* meeting one of my long-time writing mentors, Cynthis Borris, when she was in Philadelphia (i.e., my side of the country) last weekend for a conference. Here we are downtown, I think in front of City Hall, though I can't be positive.

Good News #4: This last one isn't necessarily good news as far as my husband is concerned, but he'll deal with it. We've apparently become host to a bevy of wildlife birthing activity this spring, as we have a family of 6 - yes, 6 - groundhog babies living under our back porch. They're a hoot to watch: they frolic in the backyard under their mother's watchful eye and generally get a thrill out of eating grass. Then yesterday saw the debut of a brand new pair of fawns. We have deer on a regular basis, and though they do a number on my plants, I'm still a sucker for those spotted babies!

So yeah, life is good. What about with you?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Writers' Wednesday: How To Wrap It All Up

"If I see an ending, I can work backward."
~Arthur Miller

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Yes, I've been away for a few days, and yes I had a terrific vacation that I'll tell you all about in the next day or so, but first, back to some writing tips for today.


Writing the opening line/paragraph/page to a story is often the hardest for authors (I know it is for me!). You need to keep in mind that you're tempting the reader and promising them a great premise all at the same time. You need to decide whether you'll use a powerful line of narrative, or an intriguing snippet of dialogue. You need to consider through whose eyes you'll present that opening scene.

But what about ending your novel or short story? Is that any easier? You still need to come up with one satisfying scene and one great final line, right? You still need to give the reader the pay-off he/she's been waiting, and reading for, all this time. So how do you get it right?

I do find it easier to write endings, maybe because I've spent the entire novel getting myself there. Or maybe because I often picture the ending to a novel before I begin the whole story. Some writers I know actually write the final line first. Recently, Writers Digest had a helpful piece on writing endings, so drawing on their advice, as well as my own experience, here are some exercises/thoughts to keep in mind as you wind your way toward those satisfying words, "The End."

1. Make sure your ending shows the way in which the protagonist has changed. This may take more than a final line or two, but you need to be sure that your hero/heroine has come through the conflicts of the story and changed/learned something/achieved a goal/become a different or better person. Go back to your character charts, if you use them, and examine that character at the start of the story. Go back to the first chapters. Compare to the ending. Are your protagonist's emotions/words/actions different? They should be.

2. Go fo the gut. Write the most emotional scene you can come up with. Free-write; don't worry too much about grammar or formatting or even whether the words make sense coming out of the characters' mouths. Just let those emotions rip. As a first-time exercise, this scene might be over the top. But go with it. Make your characters totally vulnerable to each other. See what they say or do. You might find some lines that truly work in communicating the powerful punch for a wrap-up.

3. But avoid cliches and emotional manipulation. Remember, anything your characters do or say at the end of a story needs to come directly from the elements of the storyline up to that point. A reader will feel cheated if someone speaks or acts completely out of character in the final pages.

4. Also avoid Deus ex Machina. This plot device is a throwback to Greek Drama when a character playing a god would actually be lowered onto the stage by a crane (the "machine") to fix all the characters' problems at the play's end. However, this "out of the blue" solution will generally not work in a well-written novel. Your story should resolve itself through the characters' own interactions. It shouldn't need another character to come from nowhere and put the final puzzle piece into place.

5. Write at least 3 different endings. Really. Consider where else you might finish the story. And who knows; those other endings might turn out to be scenes you can use leading up to/after the original final scene. Give yourself some possibilities.

Finally, remember The Promise you made to your reader at the beginning of the story. Every novel or short story makes a contract with its reader from the start; it promises a happy ending, or a thrilling mystery, or a tear-jerker, or comic laugh. Go back to the beginning of the story, and to your outline or any notes you made along the way. Has your story fulfilled its promise to the reader? Ask your critique partners to be brutally honest in this area. If your final scene doesn't pack the punch the reader has been waiting for, you'll need to revise and revise until it does.

Well, there you have it! Hope you found some inspiration in the tips above. And if you have any of your own, let me know! We can all use a little help in getting to that ultimately satisfying moment of writing the final line...and breaking open the champagne to celebrate!