- I was a retail management genius. No seriously, I was darned good at keeping department stores in line, so much so that I still like to shop early in the morning so I can see the new freight roll out.
- I've been a pimp. That's what temporary staffing feels like. Even when you do it right.
- My girlfriends call me at all hours with their nursing dilemmas. I am a wealth of nursing knowledge.
- My 5 year old can play chess. OK. So this is not interesting about me, but I am quite proud of this. I am not so proud that I have yet to beat him at backgammon.
- I got married at 18, and I wasn't pregnant. Still married, as a matter of fact. That he is cute as can be does help, as does the fact that he does dishes and bathes the boys every night! Choosing who to marry is another skill I have...but like the nursing thing, I know longer have any use for it.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
There are millions of writing prompts out there, taunts and teases to get you writing something anything, in the hopes that starting writing will get your story flowing.
As much as I appreciate writing prompts, I can't stand to waste my writing time. Sure, finding different ways to describe grass gets words on my page, but at the end of the exercise I don't need to save my work and I find that depressing. So much so I was skipping writing prompts all together for a while.
Until I realized there were lots of little things I always meant to write down, tidbits worth saving and remembering. Jotting them down has the same purpose as traditional writing prompts - it gets you writing - but more than that it helps you say what you always meant to say, to those people you always meant to say it to.
Try these ideas on for size this month. When you sit down to write, warm up with one of these practical prompts...and if you dare...share it with someone you love.
1. A Child is Born. Write about the day your first child was born, from morning to night write down what you remember. Write about the first time you witnessed a birth, or about the time your sister practically ran out the door, your brother-in-law practically tossing their toddler at you as they raced to the hospital. Great for a baby book, or a funny letter to the person in the story.
2. Let me count the ways. Write the name of your favorite person/animal at the top of a page. List 100 words to describe him. Great to slip into 'thinking of you cards'. Scrapbookers do pages like this with a picture in the middle and write the words around the photo in different fonts.
3. Creme de le crumb. List your top te favorite foods...and why. Pair with the recipes for an easy holiday or wedding shower gift.
4. And What Do You Do? What was your first job? How did you get it and what did you make? Great to share with kids about to start their first job.
5-11. What was your most memorable Thanksgiving? Christmas/Hannukah? Easter/Passover? New Years? Valentines? April Fools? Halloween? These stories are great to tuck into cards...and also for local newspapers or magazines during the time of the holiday.
12. Graduation Day. Write about your graduation, or the graduation of your child. Preschool graduation stories are great for baby books, stories of your graduation can be tucked into congratulations graduate cards for years to come.
13. Drive Me Crazy. Is there a story behind your first car? Tell the tale, and pass it to a teen saving for their first car...with a few bucks.
14. Back in My Day...Write down those stories your grandparents told you. Go into as much detail as you can.
15-20. Good things come in threes. Brothers, Sisters, Neighbors, Parents, Cousins, Friends. List your three favorite memories of the best people in your lives. Save the lists and tuck them into birthday cards.
21. 15 minutes of fame. Were you ever in the paper? on the news?
22. Music of My Heart? Have you ever played an instrument? Sung in public? If you really need to stretch, what is your personal anthem and why?
23. Book Report. What was your favorite book this year? Write a letter to the author expressing your appreciation. Mail, or email it.
24-25. Take me away. Relive your favorite vaction from childhood, and adulthood.
26. How does your garden grow. Is your thumb green or brown? What grows ni your backyard?
27. Man's Best Friend. What is the story of your first pet?
28. Love Letters. These can be simple, or extremely difficult. don't put too much pressure on yourself. a cute note to tuck inside and unexpected lunch sack or folder will be much appreciated.
29. Year in Review. Write your holiday letter a few months early. Tuck it into holiday cards at the end of the year.
30. Aspirations for next year. Pretend your are a reporter, and write teh article of your accomplishments for the year to come.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
COOKING UP A STORM
The gunmetal gray sky outside his office window mocked him. Cameron Price reminded himself that the Internet claimed it rained more in New York than here in Seattle, but that little tidbit hadn’t kept the leaden sky from unloading its fury each time he stepped outside.
He’s a fish out of water. He doesn’t want to be in Seattle, so why is he?
He needed to like it here. Maybe if he focused on the good. In the summer it would be beautiful, but he had to get through November without going mad. And the coffee tasted better, though he couldn’t decipher the way people ordered it. At least he got to drive a great car and live in a big house. But the car was a gas-guzzler and the house as white and cold as a hospital.
He’s trying to see the bright side, but is a pragmatist. Hopefully the reader identifies with this feeling.
He grunted in frustration and sat up straighter in the leather desk chair. The party tonight had him riled, and he needed to get over it. Which was why he’d driven into the city, to get a vision of the office in its Saturday relaxed attitude. Everyone expected him to show up on Monday, but he wanted to get a bead on the inner workings before he started meeting people at the party.
He’s always thinking, trying to do the unexpected to keep one step ahead of everyone else.
HER CINDERELLA COMPLEX (the book I JUST finished)
Absolute perfection. The most spectacular wedding Weed, California and its three thousand inhabitants had ever seen. The exact wedding Heather Tindall dreamed of while she waited eighteen long years for her chance to escape the tiny Northern California town.
Small town girl in the perfect wedding. How did she manage that?
The wedding details read like a who’s who of bridal magazines. Vera Wang designed the white wedding gown; Amsale did the petal pink bridesmaids dresses; the cake came from the bakery famous for bringing chocolate tiers en vogue; the florist had two books out; and the photographer already sold exclusive rights to the photos to People magazine. It didn’t look like she’d planned it all in two months. Why did she only have two months to plan it? And where did she get the money to fund such an occasion?
So why did she feel like a tsunami was about to hit? Her doubts begin to swirl.
No one knew none of it was real. No one would ever know. Sure, everyone had been surprised by how quickly things happened, but never doubted the story she fed them. No one, not even her three sisters already marching down the aisle realized Curtis Frye thought of her only as his personal assistant. Curtis Frye, one of People magazine’s most eligible bachelors for three years running, stood at the altar in the Kenneth Cole black tuxedo she’d ordered. He’d suggested wearing the Ralph Lauren he wore to most functions, but a simple reminder he’d allowed her carte blanche in planning the wedding and she’d scheduled him for a fitting. The same day she signed the contract. She's signed a contract to marry her boss, and everyone bought their story. Yet, in spite of the perfection, she doesn't seem happy.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Except every minute Jack spends with Paige he’s remembering exactly why he fell so hard in high school. By the time Paige is responding to his advances, all thought of revenge are out the window. He’s forgotten all about his plan, until Paige learns his original intent.
With one liners like “Um, there’s a chicken in your pool” and “time for this swimsuit to walk the plank” Getting Hot in Hawaii will keep a smile on your face the whole way through. Kerri Leroy does a splendid job of incorporating all five senses so the reader feels in the scene. The flora and fauna of Hawaii are beautifully showcased, and the story delicately written.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
To get your NaNo drafted in November a few things will have to be set aside so you have the time to write. For me, the first thing to go is the internet. I refuse to let myself on the internet until I have met my daily word count goal.
- Make a list, and check it twice. To keep myself from logging on periodically, I make a list of things I need to check on the net. Before I get online, I double check to make sure I really need to know the price of summer-themed scrapbook paper today. If it can wait until December, or getting ahead on my word count, it does.
- Junk it. Set your junk email filter on high. Mail from family and friends still comes through. Only check the junk folder if you have time.
- Garbage Day. Empty your recycle bin and temporary internet files to make your computer run faster.
- Put away the surfboard. Blog surfing, forum haunting, message boards and the like are on restriction. Just like kids don’t get to watch television without doing their homework, no internet candy for you until you’ve got your words in.
- Reward Yourself. On days you make your word count goal. Do more than give yourself a pat on the back. Indulge in your favorite guilty pleasure.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
BUT I don’t know what NaNo is! During the month of November, NaNoWriMo hosts a pleasure cruise for every aspiring writer’s internal editor, the part of your mind that demands perfection on the first try. November one, kiss your darling internal editor goodbye and promise to write everyday. Promise a huge mess for the internal editor to clean up when she returns with a tan and a tattoo December one. The open a blank document and get to work! You have thirty days to purge the story of your heart, or at least the first fifty thousand words of it, from your brain. GO!
BUT I don’t know the first thing about grammar.
BUT punctuation makes me go cross-eyed.
BUT I’m not sure what active voice is, or how to cultivate it.
BUT I don’t know how to write a chapter hook.
All the better. Because to get over that first draft hurdle, the one that separates the hobbyists from the novelists, you must find that part of you with the big BUTs, and squelch it. Those doubts are your internal editor talking, and if you can’t bear to live without her while writing your first novel the very least you can do is stuff her mouth full of marshmallows to muffle the fears. While the internal editor is busy trying to chop the air and sugar, hang the framework of your story.
BUT I don’t know how. Unless you’ve never read a novel, you may be right. But if you’ve laid a book down and knew you could do it just as well, if not better, you do know how. Ever gossiped? Lied? You’re well on your way. A reader wants to be told a story, and that one floating up in the recessed of your mind will do.
BUT I don’t have the time. GOTCHA! I drafted my NaNo novel in ninety minutes a day. I stole a half hour before the kidlets woke up, and stayed up an hour after they crashed. Yes, I lost some sleep. But I wanted it and so I made the time.
BUT I don’t know which story to write. A lot of writers have so many ideas they get lost in trying to pick the perfect one. Roll a dice if you have to. Write the kind of romance you would like to read. Sensual, suspense, fantasy, historical, or some all new combination.
BUT I don’t know how to plot a novel. Neither do I. I’m a pantster. The fun of writing for me is to let the characters tell their own story. Maybe your preconceived notions about plotting are getting in your way. If you really want to plot, take advantage of the BIAY (Book In A Year) instruction and the eHarlequin Q&As.
BUT I don’t have a title. Borrow one from a favorite book or song. Your book will reveal its title in due time, and then when it sells your editor will think of a better one.
BUT I don’t have an opening hook. Even if you did, you’d tweak it later. Start your story where you need to and worry about it in the edit.BUT what if I get stuck? The answer is in your question. Play what if. So your thirty-five thousand word in and the characters have been eating dinner for a thousand words. What if a car crashes into the restaurant? One of them gets food poisoning? The fairy king levels a chocolate tax? Whatever it takes to move them along.
No one is born a novelist. They earn that title with dry eyes staring into space for the perfect word and fingers cramped from typing or holding a pen. Whether the story you write this National Novel Writers Month is kept as a humble reminder of where you started, or polished to publishable perfection, it is one step in your journey from writer to author.
My apologies to those who remember this article from last year. I'm going to do some motivation every day , and need to recycle.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Writers finish. That is where National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo) came in for me. I’d started to write dozens of stories, but learned form this class, that group, a critique partner or four that there was a fatal flaw in chapter two and gave up the story. Well, I usually gave up because I got a new, exciting idea, but the writing flaws made for a good excuse to quit that story. NaNoWriMo taught me a valuable lesson. Writers finish. All the way to THE END and back a dozen times during the process.
Writers get rejected. Lots. Go ahead and double gulp, gasp, cry. But part of writing, finishing, and submitting is being rejected. Some people never finish because they don’t think they can handle rejection. I’m not going to lie, it stings. But it makes you a writer. So, if your goal is to be published, don’t let the fear of impending rejection stand in your way. It happens, often, and it is part of the process.
Writers make time. It’s amazing, but in the month you set aside for NaNoWriMo the dust bunnies will not stage a revolt, sunlight will still spill through your windows, someone else will manage the PTA fundraiser, you’ll wonder why no one ever told you about Bertolli frozen meals before, scrapbooking can really wait until January, and your to-be-read pile will get deeper. But in December you’ll have a drafted novel, and everyone you tell will wonder how you found the time. You don’t find it. You make it.
Writers start in the middle. It is important that you know your characters, but the reader wants to know what happens in THIS story, not the history of your heroine’s life in chapter one. Pepper in the backstory as you go, it adds suspense and keeps you interested, looking for places to wedge character depth into your scenes.
Writers don’t give up. This isn’t an easy business, but when your are writing, it is fun. But the hard parts – the rejection or tricky scenes or not wanting to write today – can make you want to throw in the towel. Don’t. Not until you finish at least one story. That high at finishing, even though you know it will take some work to edit and revise, is a bliss like no other. Writing is a solitary thing, and so is the sense of accomplishment. You deserve to soak that in. All writers do.
Friday, October 20, 2006
I will start being writerly & professional, posting NaNo tidbits as behooves my NaNo cheerleader self. But I must say, I'll miss being flippant an free with my thoughts.
I still have no idea what my NaNo novel will be, and know I am facing a month of non-stop writing (November) and then a month of non-stop revising and editing (December). Which makes me think of resolutions.
Not New Years resolutions, but NaNo resolutions.
- 10 minute morning email, tops!
- No TV unless word count is complete.
- No internet until word count is complete
- No working on other projects before word count is complete.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
I'm talking about writing that dark moment. This is esspecially hard when you are panstering a novel, or writing without a plan. This blow-up between my characters is so dark and so deep...really, can I pull them back from this? And the words will just tear at my heroine, who had become a real person to me. She's going to cry (she's a big crier, this one) and I don't want her to. I want her to stand her ground. Not sure how she'll pull that off. Or how he's going to see a way back...
Which scares me. If I can't get them back together, I have no book. Egad.
There are so many hurdles that writers block throws at you. This isn't a true block...just a need for a solid chunk of time so I can write the black moment and let it flow into the resolution without going crazy and losing sleep. Truly, I can't sleep after I break my characters up unless I know how they'll get back. Just like I can't stop reading a book at that point, I can't stop writing it either!
Wish me luck on finding a chunk of time...parent teacher conferences mean no school today...and a family filled weekend. Joy?
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
My copies of COOKING UP A STORM!! I stopped everything and read it. I love Lauren, the heroine. She's fantastic and should make me dinner.
And...they did a fantastic job with the back cover blurb. Truly, these people who write them should give writers a class. Get this:
Millionaire on the menu... (have you ever! That's do delish.)
When it comes to relationships, sexy venture capitalist Cameron Price sticks firmly to casual flings. But when relocation takes him to Seattle, his boss insists that finding a girlfriend will be a smart career move.
Still content with snacks rather than a full banquet, (oh, that's golden) Cameron makes a deal with caterer Lauren Brody - she will pretend to be his girlfriend, and in return he will hire her to cook at all his corporate events!
But their first kiss is incredibly tasty! Soon, the chemistry between Cameron and Lauren is electric, and their shared passion is threatening to boil over - which isn't part of Cameron's plan!
I'm loving it. That is brilliant stuff, and I got a red-haired heroine for the cover, so I am happy.
Monday, October 16, 2006
After a morning spent chatting with the agent (which actually went well, but still no immediate prospects) and sitting in a specialists office being prodded and told to come back in 90 days for more...I am not in the best mood. Truly. So it is no surprise I am feeling...hopeless. My hope was sucked away into the black hole of jealousy.
To cheer myself up after said doctor prodding, I went to the bookstore sans my babes, still happily at home with grandma. This is a true no-no, I was to come home and relieve her, but I was so upset that the doctor had no thrilling news, I needed a buffer. The bookstore usually give me joy. But today...
Ever see everything the wrong way? I need to fill up my glass, big time. Frustration, envy, jealousy, panic, despondency...they are conspiring to give me a black aura today. I swear, if a rejection comes today...I may be forced to do something drastic...like bleach my hair. Blondes have more fun, right?
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Saturday, October 14, 2006
On February 1, 2007, Freya's Bower will be releasing a charity anthology to benefit a battered woman's shelter. The anthology will be available as an ebook, paperback and hardback. So, be on the lookout for Dreams and Desires, with contibutions by Sasha White, Susan Lyons, Gemma Halliday, Lois Winston, Candace Havens, Richelle Mead, Jackie Kessler, Jenna Bayley-Burke, and many more.
Some stories are erotic, some romantic (mine) and some are a nice combination of the two.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
So that makes...4 rejections on fulls, 1 on partial, and 3 on synopsis. Anyone care to take this most rejected by Modern Extra crown from me?
Eh, I wouldn't want it either.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
I want to know why my heroine is being so defensive. She doesn't want to be on the island with him, and yet it is the only place she wants to be. I feel her soul being torn in two...and it makes for some confusing writing. She's in love with a man she knows is incapable of loving her, and yet she can't bring herself to break away. She left him at the altar, yet still made love with him that night. Motivation, motivation, motivation.
The problem is, I know women in these situations - heck I've been in these situtions. Not stranded on an island with a sexy millionaire unfortunately, but wanting something you know isn't good for you in the long run, but feels amazing in the moment. Geesh, I hope I am getting this right in the story.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Now this is funny...on eHarleqiun I'm co-hosting a Q&A about plotting. Yes, I do recall that I have written books without any idea as to plot whatsoever. But, I have gone the other way as well. Stripped was a Snowflake. Breaking His Rules an outline. If You Say So a Fast Draft. Cooking Up A Storm a First Draft in 30 Days. And then there is my favorite, the WriMo method, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo or how For Kicks and Just One Spark were born.
Come join in the Q&A...or just follow these links to plot for fun and profit:
Other fun procrastination methods...I mean...plotting devices.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Step One. Open up a word document and brain dump ALL you know about your story. If it is a mystery and you know you'll have 3 clues as most do. Type clue clue clue payoff. That simple.
Step Two. Raid your friendly neighborhood office supply store for Post-its in ever color you can imagine, and a large poster board. The different colors correspond to different elements. Greens are location, Orange is danger/humor/inspy element, Purple & lavendar are your villian, magenta is love scenes, yellows are secondary characters, dark pink and light pink are your heroine, blue and light blue your hero, and white is the point of every scene. Dark Purple/blue/pink is POV the scene will be in. Lights are backstory.
Step Three. Make a grid on the poster board where each box represents a chapter.
Step Four. Think about the overall flow of your story. start with one element at a time (Cherry reccomends the green, orange, magenta, purples, yellow, blues, pinks, white progression). Cut out and attach bit you know about your story to the post-its and start filling out your grid.
Step Five. Stand back. Is your story frontloaded with backstory? Will 3 clues be enough?
Step Six. Because you know the point of every scene (the white post-its) it is easy to write a synopsis at this point - says Cherry who hates them too. Describe your characters and the point you are getting at.
Step Seven. Write the book. (I've removed the expletives and cute accent )
The Romance Divas comandeered our own table, largely so Shawn could make dirty jokes. An agent was brave enough to sit with us, making us all wonder if she is indeed Miss Snark. Hey, she got Shawn's jokes. OK. Mine too.
Then Cherry Adair closed the show. Cherry's manta is startlingly similar to my own...everyone should stop talking about writing a book and just do it. Cherry's involves expletives and a South African accent. Anyway, last year she encouraged everyone to set their own deadline, put it in an envelope, and make it happen. So, she unwrapped her collection of envelopes, known as Hope in a Box, and we all applauded those who made it happen. (Including AT2 winner Gerri Russell). They got a certificate, our accolades...and then Cherry stole the show.
From those who completed their book, she drew names and awarded 3 of them conference fees paid for next year. HUGE! But then it got better. She awarded another person RWA national conference fees, hotel, and airfare. OMG, right! Even sweeter, she drew the name of my friend Shelli Stevens, a Diva, who worked her booty off at the conference with raffle baskets, a single-mom who had no way to pay for RWA this year. Warms your heart, doesn't it?
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Up last night was Pitchfest to get me ready to present my books today. I did a few pitches, and they helped me select the strongest pitch - Little White Lies/If You Say So...my virgin hero story. It was helpfup to get a dry run from such a supportive audience.
Then came The Fragrant Mind; using your sense of smell to add depth to your writing. We did a smell test of different essential oils...oh my! Some things are stinky!
Today started with Cycles in the Romance Market. It was interesting to see how generational charactaristics flow...but I am not sure how to incorporate the information.
Wanted: Dead or Alive - Romantic Comedy was fun...watching TV is the best way to find out what is hot in the comedy market...NEXT has gone to 2 books a month....and Desire is open to comedic voices. Who knew?
Now that the pitch pressure is off...I can really enjoy my workshops tomorrow. If only I can decide which ones to take...there are so many good options!
Friday, October 06, 2006
Emma Riley hasn't seen Colin Davis since he gave her her first kiss, and walked out of her life. But since they were only fourteen and his family moved across the country, he can't really be blamed. Can fate, first love, and a warm hand convince her kismet does exist?
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Why am I so frazzled. Well, lets look at my to-do list:
- Find enough clothes that fit to cover my body for the weekend.
- Pack (clothes & computer)
- Research the editors attending - ok. So there are only 2. But, I do not know which one I'll meet with.
- Work up a pitch for each editor.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
CHARITY FUNDRAISER, OCTOBER 4-14
National Bestselling Author Julie Kenner (Carpe Demon) organizing a fundraiser for Love Without Boundaries (http://www.lovewithoutboundaries.com), which provides medical care to orphans in China.
- Julie Kenner, Author(Carpe Demon CD audiobooks, signed)
- JoAnn Rock, Author (signed complete seven book set of her hard to find "Single in South Beach" books)
- Karen Kendall, Author(signed copies of entire backlist plus bath goodies!)
- Cindi Myers, Author (twelve signed books and tote bag)
- Julie Leto, Author (Complete signed set of Julie's seven 2006 releases!)
- Leah Hultenschmidt, Editor(Critique of query letter, synopsis and first 3 chapters)
- Lauren McKenna, Editor(Critique of first chapter and synop)
- Jenny Bent, Agent(Critique of first 15 pages)
- Writerspace, promotion services
The huge need for medical care for the millions of orphans in China hit home for us as we started our adoption journey and found our daughter on our agencies waiting child list. We investigated not only her particular need (cleft lip and palate), but also learned so much about so many challenges faced by these precious children. So many whose lives can be changed by just a few thousand dollars, some even just a few hundred! Five hundred dollars can repair a cleft palate. Five thousand can save a heart baby.
When I put the call out to friends and colleagues, I was humbled -- though not surprised -- by the generosity of all who are donating. We have a range of great items to bid on, from signed books, to Hollywood memorabilia, to critiques of your book or screenplay by editors, agents, and managers.
The auction will go live next week on October 4, 2006 and remain active for 10 days.
For more information, go to http://www.juliekenner.com/ -- and please, bid generously!
Julie Kenner-- http://www.juliekenner.com
National Bestselling Author of
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
• Plotters vs. Pantsers -- The Face Off! with Julie Cohen and Jenna Bayley-Burke October 9-13