Wednesday, May 31, 2006

“Writing Time is Sacred. No Excuses.”

I biffed my one hour free write yesterday, and eked out a syno intead. I can piddle away on the internet, but if it comes to writing I feel I should be productive. Today Writing Coach wants me to list all the things I do instead of write. I think she means when I could be writing, not all the things I do. So yesterday...
  • Read the erotic poetry book because it was due back to the library
  • Researched weekend activities for the boys
  • Chatted up a friend on the phone
  • Visited with my brother and s-i-l when they stopped by
  • Watched the new Deadliest Catch
  • Browsed writing forums
  • Got sucked into the email vacuum
  • Blog surfed
I'm just getting warmed up, but you get the point. And now Writing Coach expects me to put aside all that and freewrite for an hour a day! Um...I think I'll write for an hour or three a day. Starting tomorrow. I've decided to work the WriMo/Book-in-a-month program I know so well. I'll probably waste time today looking for a group that is doing that for June.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Writing Coach!

I need a gimmick to do anything, it seems. Or maybe I need a group. I like to do things enmasse, to share the joy. I'm not a follower really, I'll lead if their are people with me. But I hate to do anything alone. I mean, who will I kvetch with?

So, Stacey turned my nose towards The Writing Coach, a free online 30-Day writing course. C'mon y'all. Get on board. Even the non-writers. Everyone has a story to tell.

“The Writing Coach: 30 Days to Conquer Your Self-Doubt and Procrastination and Have 30,000 Words Under Your Belt” - each day we'll be given an exercise, and if we completet it we'll write 30K. So...what can it hurt? Today I have to freewrite for an hour!! How decadent.

**speaking of hurt, my You Can Do It! challenge is killing me - cardio & strenth today**

Monday, May 29, 2006

You Can Do It!

I picked up this book a little over a year ago - it's a merit badge handbook for grown-up girls. The vision of Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, You Can Do It! was begun by Lauren before her death on United flight 93 on September 11. Her idea was to empower every woman who's ever said "I wish I could..." to go out and do it. I liked that step-by-step style, the beginning and end of it all. I thumbed through everything...and then did the two most comfortable (for me) -- Be An Author (write a book) & Get Well-Read (book lover).

I'm feeling reflective, what with the family issues and my thirtieth birthday. Am I the me I want to be? Sometimes. Today was good...until I scarfed down a cheeseburger, even after working out for an hour this morning. I loved that I read, that I played with the Boynadoes (golf, bowling, & air hockey), baked for breakfast.

So...now I'm going to commit to doing a few more You Can Do It! badges. Bust A Move (dancing), Exercise Your Options (fitness), and Stretch Yourself (yoga). Three at once? Well, I'm multi tasking. Exercise requires cardio (dancing), strength training, and stretching (yoga). I started well. Today was 45 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of yoga.

I should be doing Be An Author again...I still haven't started Drive Me Crazy...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Publishing and other enigmas

I'm in a bummy mood. I'll spare you the saga. Let's just say there is a reason why I write light and fun.

My writing pal, Julie Cohen, is blogging this week about the path her latest release took on the road to publication. Julie can now understand something I have yet to grasp, how an editor can see flaws in a synopsis. I'm hooked, and it's only Sunday.

How can an editor reject a story on synopsis? What flaws can you see in a book that you missed three years before? And seriously, what is the deal with a chicken named MacNugget?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Enneagram

I'm finding my characters for the next book - we're talking Tarot spreads and Astrology here people - so Janet suggested I try Enneagrams. I'll try anything once. What fun! Try it on yourself.

Enneagramfree enneagram test

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

ELVIS LIVES!!!

Ignore the ugly tile...this is my Cameron in the shower.

The lovely editor called with the best news ever - not only did Cameron's story, Come For Dinner, get a December release (cross your fingers for a Christmas tree cover), but M&B is giving me a 2 book deal!!

They have proposals for 3...and we've chatted up an idea for the last one...which would you like to read?

FOR KICKS – Along Came Polly...in sneakers
STRIPPED – Daring doctor stripteases her way into lawyer’s heart.
THE GIRL SHE USED TO BE – Sex In The City goes golfing.
DRIVE ME CRAZY – An energized teacher and fickle playboy hate relationships, until they find themselves in one.

AND...what do y'all think of this blogskin? I'm thinking about changing it up.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I LIED!!

I said I was starting something new today…but after the doctor this morning and the ‘I’m not worthy’ feeling form reading Mia Zachary’s latest, Afternoon Delight, I decided to do some studying up instead. I have to raise my game if I want to share shelf space with a book as richly layered and emotionally poignant as Afternoon Delight.

So…I went trolling for craft articles. Here’s my day in class. Best of all – it was free!

Writing Articles
Synopsis Creation-Plot Revision by Alicia Rasley - example of how to fix a bad syno
How to Plot when you Can't by Sarah Smith - plotting with notecards
Honing your Synopsis Skills by Joanne Rock - emotional landmarks make the syno, not just a string of events
Synopsis by Linda Needham - synopsis worksheet
Writing Romantic Suspense by Adrianne Lee - conflict plot plan worksheet
Jumpstarting a Stalled Scene with Deborah Hale - great emergency backup for when your Muse goes on strike
Taking a Risk with Anti-Heroes with Theresa Weir - Q&A
The Importance of Friendship in Romance by Julia Quinn
Top Ten Plotting Problems by Alicia Rasley - great!!
THE FOUR POINT PLOT LINE by C. J. Hannah - good to help focus a syno
Plotting Your Novel by Stella Cameron - 6 steps to a perfect plot

And...my editor is scheduled to call me this morning. Hope it's good news. I'd like to stop being the only 'published' author who talks about their rejections. Even if it does help my pre-pubbed comrades, it stings, people!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Fun Writing Exercise

Tired of boring cliches? Contest judges always point them out in my work, but never offer fresh suggestions. So, let's do a little exercise and rewite these boring bits:

like an idiot - like an academic ninja
strong as an ox - strong as a defensive lineman
faithful as a dog - fathful as a bill collector
drunk as a sailor - drunk as a frat brother
broken hearted - in need of ice cream therapy
pretty as a picture - pretty as a postcard...pretty as a princess...pretty as a pop star
cute as a button - cute as a bunny...cute as a speckled pup...cute as a cupcake

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Fiction Writer's Workshop

I made it through the book! It has a ton of wandering writing exercises, and if that's your thing, you'd love it.

Plot is not the driving force of the story - that tidbit really got me. Plot is the what and where without the why and how, like a football playbook, you can't tell how it will go down without the influence of the other team -- characters.

POV still confuses me. Do the 'rules' really apply? In my prewriting days when I just enjoyed books for their story, I never noticed much. As I learned the craft of writing I noticed every blip and switch. Now, I'm coming off that obsession. I don't have the skill to sxswitch too often without head hopping, but I love when others cast the 'rules' aside for the sake of the story.

The section on scenes was interesting. There are technical terms for the type of scenes (summary, minor, silent, big). This book touched on erotic scenes, advising it better to dazzle the reader with images rather than arousse. Well, um...yeah. No. Personally, I hope to someday earn a bare male torso cover.

Beginnings got a section - again with the technical terms. I was proud to find I'm not in a beginning rut. I've started with character portrait, thoughts, needs, sensation, scene and setting. Endings I don't have quite the range, but then romance shouldn't. I like my guarantee of happiness that comes from a surprise or open ending.

Here's where this book annoyed me. One of the exercises for this chapter was to write the opening of a romance. Fine. But then "if you can't do this with a straight face, do a parody" and then "a formulaic beginning, since most romances start that way."

Oh really, Buster Brown? I've written seven and that hasn't happened yet. I've only doine three where they meet in the opening scene. Puh-leez. Romance reads are voracious, they wouldn't stand for formular, and with all the gems on the shelves they don't have to.

I'm rewarding myself with Mia Zachary's Afternoon Delight. I love her stuff, but I have to say, 100 pages in this is the BEST one she's done. Delicately layered and deeply emotional, vibrating with life and passion and possibility...wait that's good. Better save that for the review :)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Setting & Character

I'm still plodding through Fiction Writers Workshop. You know, it's making me think I'm not cut out to take writing classes - seriously, I have my three hours a day to write and read and such, and I want to spend it actually producing something I like, rather than random musings on my childhood.

Setting was up first. The exercises were good at training how to attend to the world and recall things most people gloss over, but I always thought writers had that weird glitch anyway. Have you ever noticed the way a writer friend will tell a story has drops of color while another might tell the story in black and white, without smell or textures?

This section was a bit sad - most readers gloss over setting sections. Writers put so much detail in them. Setting is one of the things I consistently get dinged on by the CP - two pages into a scene and I get a note about 'who's driveway are they in?' I'm trying to drop three points of setting into the first page of every scene - a wall, the floor, a chair...whatever. I think that should be enough to let readers know, but not so much the skip. Hmmm. Maybe I ought to just put pictures of nekkid people on the walls. That's garner attention.

Character came next. This section gave me quite the epiphany. I start every story - novel or short - with a concept. Just One Spark was a song, Breaking His Rules a segment on CNN, Par For The Course a magazine article...you get the point. I start with an idea I wouldn't mind sharing head space with for a year or so, and then flip characters through until I find a few that stick.

Did you know there are methods of character generation?
ideal method - frm psychological texts, myth, imagination
biographical method - fusion of people you know
autobiographical method - fisson. projecting self
mixed medthod - a bit of biographical and ideal methods

Friday, May 19, 2006

FINALS AND TWEAKS

Cross your fingers y'all - Elvis isn't dead yet. I got a couple pages of 'tweaks' on Come For Dinner from my editor. I've decided tweaks is a editorial term for I like it, but you can make it better. Revisions is more like what you have to do to make the editor like it.

My real life is a bit sad at the moment, so I used the revisions as an escape. I really like the hero better now. I had him a bit to out of control I think. Real, but not as relateable and focused as he is now that I've had some suggestions.

AND Par For The Course finaled in the Great Beginnings contest!! I love the validation!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I Can Not Follow Instructions

To keep myself from writing until I hear back from the powers that publish, I've been reading writing craft books. Today I cracked open Fiction Writer's Workshop. The first section is Sources of Fiction, basically where to find your stories. So I try the first exercise. Write one page glimpse of a scene. One page.

I couldn't stop. I wrote a short story. Dang it, I can't even follow these directions.

Other exercises were to write your first three memories and try to make a story out of them. I don't have any early memories that I don't think were fed to me - retold over and over until they are stories, not memories.

I found this hard because I've programmed myself only to write things I can at least attempt to publish. Writing just a one paragraph description goes against that. Here's hoping I do better tomorrow with the lesson on Setting.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!!

Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday to me!
It is my birthday..
And I'm...twenty-nine, again.

Putting Astrology to the TEST!

I'm not an astrological nut. However, I do always know the sign of my characters and some common traits for those signs. I find it really helps round out the strangers living in my head. Anyway, as I'm doing Tisa & Joel's, I decided to look at mine. AstrologyZone says:

you may be worried about the health of a dear relative. - my uncle is sick, and my mom just went to stay with him for a few weeks.

Mars will give you exceptional stamina and will also help you generate good ideas. - I have been getting GREAT story ideas, TONS of them, but can't get too far beyond a blurb until I hear back from my editor. Want to make sure I know what she is looking for before I pitch her anything else.

With Mars cruising through your travel sector all month, you should have chances to get out of town.- I never leave my babes, and yet I took a night off for a bachelorette party two hours away, and have a bridal shower 5 hours a way at the end of the month.

doors that have been previously locked tight are about to swing open wide for you...you should be able to push your ideas through to the right people and get agreement in no time flat. Also at mid month, you may crystallize an important business agreement between you and a partner, agent, or other expert collaborator. It's an ideal time to do it, too, so move forward with confidence. A fat increase in salary is not only possible but also likely in May's last week, but it will be up to you to take full advantage of stellar star power. You may be ready to sign papers on or within four days of May 13. - I am waiting to hear on a book I revised, SO let's test Astrology, shall we? If I sell it by Wednesday, I'll be a believer.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Am I in your magazine?

I have a tip (herb bouquets) in Cuisine at Home and a recipe (Strawberry Fields Salad) in Sunset in their June 2006 editions.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sexy, sassy and sparkling, Just One Spark is a novel which will keep you riveted from beginning to end!

So cataromance rocks! I just got my best review EVER from them. Not only did the reviewer love my book, but the review was VERY well written. I am so geeked! Take a peek. Or here's my favorite take-aways:
  • Jenna Bayley Burke makes her Modern Romance Extra debut with Just One Spark, a romantic sizzler which is packed with passionate love scenes, delicious humour and exhilarating romance!
  • Written with plenty of style and attitude, Just One Spark is a fantastic debut novel featuring a gorgeous hero, a feisty heroine, a great cast of supporting characters, hot passion, tender romance and a dollop of mystery which will keep you turning the pages late into the night!

I think I am in love with Julie Bonello!!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

OPENING LINES

Nothing is more frightening than a blinking cursor on a blank page. Well, there is the blinking cursor 40,000 words in and you don’t know what happens next. But that is a special kind of terror.

I’m talking about the first page, where do I start, hurdle. Heck, the first line could be the difference between “interesting” and “HACK!” I’m in good company with struggling to begin. Unless inspired and writing in a fervor, most writers approach the starting line carefully, and with a large gulp.

That first line can catch the readers attention or set the town for the whole story – hopefully both. So to procrastinate starting (editor wants me to wait for the decision on the current mss) I looked back on the first lines of my stories:

JUST ONE SPARK - Scanning the line for the third time, Hannah crossed her legs tighter and tried to concentrate.
BREAKING HIS RULES – That’s what you get for opening you big mouth, David Strong said to himself as he pulled his baby blue Corvette Stingray in front of Working It Out.
STRIPPED - “I need to see it.” Kelly Nielson took a deep breath, hoping her voice didn’t shake.
THE GIRL SHE USED TO BE - Ben Cannon knew better than to take a midweek flight into North Bend.
IF YOU SAY SO - Tyler McNally’s heart stalled in his chest.
FOR KICKS - “You need to put some clothes on.”
COME FOR DINNER - The gunmetal gray sky outside his office window mocked him.

Reading friends – which do you prefer?
Writing friends – I showed you mine, now you show me yours :)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Flying Lessons - NEXT - Peggy Webb

Ever wanted to run away from home? Ditch the responisbilities and expectations and live in your own skin, instead of having your identity tethered to those you love? At 53, Beth Martin realizes she is not living the life she wants to. Her youngest daughter is spreading her wings and flying west to Arizona, her eldest is following Beth's example and keeping close to her own nest.

Amid the malaise Beth looks for something more, something that's been lost for a while, but suddenly she's missing it like crazy. She tries a vacation by herself, and manages to finish the symphony she's been putting off for two decades, and hopes things will be better when her husband arrives and asks her to come home. But back on familiar ground nothing has changed, and Beth leaves for good this time, retreating to her childhood home on the coast.

There Beth realizes she's put off composing because classical music no longer sings to her, and realizes she'd be happier if she listened to the jazzy blues of her heart. Her husband comes to a similar conclusion, realizing that things will never be as they were, because that was an illusion kept alive by busyness. He needs to slow down, focus on his wife and marriage if he has any hope of having one at all. Beth's eldest daughter is at first perplexed by her mother's changes, but it forcs her to reexamine her own life and ensure she won't resent settling, the way her mother now does.

Flying Lessons tells the story of a family learning to embrace life and happiness. Beth, looking for her self amid the wife, mother, neice, friend lables; her daughter Jenny, leaping into the wild blue yonder looking for direction; her daughter Kate, finding a compromise between being the perfect professionals wife and budding designer; and Beth's husband Howard, who finds that if you stifle your emotions, no one knows how you feel. This is an uplifting, insightful tale of recognizing who you are, and learning to be that person.

Sometimes we have to make the brave & scary choices to make things happen. - Beth

Monday, May 08, 2006

Slacker Mom, Slacker Wife...Slacker Writer?

I went on a reading blitz this weekend and picked up Muffy Mead-Ferro's Confessions of a Slacker Wife. I loved Confessions of a Slacker Mom and its realistic approach to parenting - basically you're not going to ruin your kids if they play outside in the dirt instead of with flashcards. Confessions of a Slacker Wife lets everyone off the hook in the marriage department too.

If creating a gourmet meal for 20 on a weeknight stresses you out...don't do it. Think about why you want to have the party - to enjoy your friends - and let anything that gets in the way of that go. I can't abide by some of her child rearing ideas - like only bathing yourself or the kids when you look dirty. My boys are boys, and odds are they have gunk in places I can't see. And they spread the gunk around.

Since I've read both Slacker books, I'm wondering if I ought to incorporate the concept into my writerly life. Scary, but it might make me less stressed out. If I volunteered for fewer online commitments I might gain some extra time, though I'd lose promotion for my book. If I focused on just one kind of writing - novel, category, short, flash, poetry, articles, recipes - I'd be more prolific and up my odds of having SOMETHING catch. That makes sense, but it's the variety that I find comforting. Ah well. Maybe the next self help tome will be my salvation. Or, my editor could simply call and offer me a two book deal. Yeah, the second thing.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Surviving Setbacks

May's RWR had a timely article by RWA's answer to Dr. Phil, Sheila Rabe, titled Surviving Setbacks. Now, as I am in the muddling middle of second book syndrome, I found it very appropriate. "Your editor hated the proposal for your option book...and the six others with which you followed up?" Close, but not quite. She thought the option was a Blaze, the sequel too. She liked the proposal of the next two...one was a revisions snafu and the other...? Waiting to hear. I must be paying my cosmic dues in arears.

Sheila suggests I ask myself a few questions to help get back on track. Without whining I am sure.

What put me here? In this rejection merry-go-round? Being over eager. My option book fit with Just One Spark, but now that I've read other books in the line I completely undstand why it didn't gel with MX. I'm on the spicy side of MX. Heck, I may be the MX ceiling of heat, and that story was...um...yeah. The same thing with the next rejection - I wrote the book while waiting to hear her thoughts on the synopsis and it was a Blaze too. The R on a proposal was fine, but Rs on completed books knock me to the ground.

What am I supposed to learn? To be patient. Patience is a virtue I do not possess. At least not with myself.

What am I going to do about it? Respect the process. And distract myself. I've been trying this with short stories (whish seems to only up my rejection total) and articles in between books so I don't focus so much on trying to have a book waiting 'in case' and take whatever comments I get on this one to heart before starting a new one. Gulp. I think I have enough to keep me busy. This is a hard one for me - Sheila says to look at your map and find new routes to your destination. I want an 'other books by' page in really tiny print to fit them all on. I want a congratulations on your 50th book RWR. I think I am on the right road, maybe I just need a new car.

How can I get around this? Reevaluate myself? I think I want to please so badly I may be trying too hard. I actually think my former editor may have recognized this when she assigned me to a new editor I won't be so in awe of. Not that I am not in awe of her, but I hated taking the time of the super busy executive editor. Crap. Digging a hole here, so I'll shut it. Remake myself? I think that's what I'm trying to do with the articles, and reading. Not that I'll ever try to write a Roman historical or a paranormal, but it is good to let my mind stretch that way and get a broader dose of reading.

That's the gist of the article. I went through the steps and answered the hard questions. And now I have to learn to...wait.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Can You Keep A Secret?

You don't have to. I put a deleted scene from Just One Spark on my website.

This helps...

WRITING A KICK-BUTT SYNOPSIS THAT SELLS by Heidi Betts

Julie found this, and it's a great bit. "simple five-step formula for every synopsis I write. Those steps include: 1.) blurb, 2.) what the hero wants, 3.) what the heroine wants 4.) what keeps them from getting what they want, and 5.) the conclusion. This formula can also help you plot your story, since those are the basic elements you need to focus on--conflict, motivation, etc.--when you write a romance novel."

Friday, May 05, 2006

Another Great Review For JUST ONE SPARK

The review from Coffee Time Romance has been posted:

"Just One Spark keeps you reading until the very end. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning finishing it. This book is a poignant, sweet romance, showing tenderness and love can rebuild trust. Along with some intensely hot sex scenes, it also has humor. Finding out what Hannah’s nickname is for her vibrator and what it means had me laughing aloud."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

May Workshops and Q&As

I don't see many this month.

ROMANCE DIVAS
May 1-5: Q&A: Targeting Category Romance with Jenna Bayley-Burke & Fiona Lowe.
May 9th: Chat with HQN/HQ executive editor Tracy Farrell at 9pm.
May 10, 11, 12th: EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CHARACTERS AND SHOULD ASK! workshop with Ronda Thomson

Do you find yourself jumping feet first into a manuscript and getting to chapter two or three then suddenly coming up against a blank wall? Part of your problem may be that you don’t know your characters well enough to proceed. Join me for the May online workshop at Romance Divas to learn how to profile your characters before you ever begin your story. A great plotline will make your novel memorable, but great characters will make it unforgettable.

May 19-21 Q&A with Freya's Bower editors in Steamy

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Brenda Novak's 2006 JDRF Auction

Author Brenda Novak is about to launch her second on-line auction to raise money for diabetes research. (Brenda has a son with Type 1 diabetes.)

At her auction: you can bid on reads by editors and agents, critiques by a number of authors, PR packages, autographed books, gift baskets, and other amazing experiences like lunch with a published author and her agent in Atlanta this summer or tea with bestselling author Debbie Macomber. Check out the auction!

I'm looking at:
  • An American Flag to be flown over the nation’s capitol commemorating the event of your choice donated by Congressman John T. Doolittle.
  • The design of a brand new website
  • Kate Duffy of Kensington Books is donating FIVE reads.
  • Beth de Guzman, Editorial Director Mass Market, Warner Books is donating the read of a fiction proposal
  • Senior Editor Shauna Summers with Bantam Doubleday Dell is donating the read of a fiction proposal.
    Senior Editor Laura Cifelli with New American Library (Penguin Putnam Group) is donating the read of a fiction proposal.
  • Jennifer Enderlin, Associate Publisher Mass Market & Executive Editor for St. Martin's Press is donating the read of a fiction proposal.
  • Editor Lauren McKenna, Editor for Pocket books, is donating the read of a fiction manuscript
  • Harlequin Executive Editor Tracy Farrell is donating the read of a proposal targeted to HQN.
  • Harlequin Associate Senior Editor Brenda Chin is donating the read of a proposal targeted to Harlequin Blaze.
  • the complete Leslie Kelly Library
  • Editorial Director Kate Duffy of Kensington Books is donating a 1-year's subscription of BRAVA books and a 6-months' subscription of BRAVA ARCs.
  • Vicki Lewis Thompson nerdy backpack

I know...it's a big list. But it's quite whittled down from the hundreds of things Brenda has arranged to be donated. I wonder how long until things go out of my price range :)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Targeting Category Romance Q&A

May 1st-4th come to the Romance Divas Classroom and ask the questions you need to know to target category romance.

* How did authors decide which line fit their voice/story?
* How do authors study their line(s)?
* What hints do they have for new writers?
* Where do they see the line going?

Scheduled to attend:

Modern Extra - Jenna Bayley-Burke
Medical - Fiona Lowe
Presents - Melanie Milburne
Blaze - Mia Zachary, Shannon Hollis & Karen Kendall & Jill Monroe
Intrigue - BJ Daniels & Dana Marton
Nocturne - Caridad PiƱeiro Scordato
Desire - Kristi Gold
SuperRomance - Terry McLaughlin & Carrie Weaver
Romance - Nicola Marsh
NEXT - Peggy Webb
Historical - Michele Styles

(get this! I made the series name a link to the Q&A thread. now I ma feeling pleased with my internet prowess. it'll last 2 minutes, but now I'm flyin'!)

Lucy Monroe blogged ME!!


Check out Lucy's blog! I'm so geeked. We've met online and I went to a signing she did...and then we met in person at the Readers Luncheon. I really admire her because of her belief in herself. She writes what she believes in - category, single title, historical, and paranormal.