Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Second Chance Rose review


I'm out of town, and have very limited time or access to email, but I did get a very positive review for Second Chance Rose from Long and Short Reviews.

Read it here

And a reminder -- there's still a chance to make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (no cost to you) if you buy the short story, or any of my other ones. Details on my website

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Off to Colorado Springs


I'm off to the Pike's Peak Writer's Conference in Colorado Springs, with a little time on either end to say hi to family. This is a 'general' conference, not a romance or mystery geared event. Should be interesting to get a bigger picture of the industry. Back in a week.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Faded photographs

A quick 'drive by' posting today. I'm trying to finish line-edits for Hidden Fire, but was taking a break making blog rounds and found an interesting post at Romance Bandits about comic strips. I mentioned that Calvin and Hobbes had been such a favorite with my son that he carved a Halloween jack-o-lantern in Hobbes' image one year. I went through far too many boxes of "someday I'll sort these" photographs (this one was taken in 1987) and found the picture I'd snapped of his handiwork. Now I'll have to avoid looking at ALL the pictures in ALL the boxes. Digital cameras have probably kept us from having to add on at least three more rooms.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Names, Names, Names

What I'm reading: Forbidden and Freedom's Price, both by Suzanne Brockmann
(Finished reading all my contest entries.)

What I'm working on: Scoring my Daphne reads. Also, back to Fozzie's book. Feels good to be doing something 'new' after all the edits and revisions.

With all the books I've been reading lately, and especially, trying to read quickly but still give them the attention needed for scoring, I've been caught up in the Name Game. Naming characters is a challenge all writer's face. They've got to "fit" the character. However, readers bring their own expectations or inner visions. My mother in law's name is Lucy. She's going to be 90 in a couple of weeks. Somehow, a young, svelte, sexy character named Lucy means the author's going to have to work at getting a good description down from the get-go. And what do you 'see' when you read a character's name is Allenby? That was the name of our tour guide in South Africa, and believe me, he looked nothing like the man I envisioned. (His pictures is in this blog somewhere down in the South Africa travel posts from December)

Anyway, when I write, I create a spreadsheet of the letters of the alphabet. Two columns, with A-Z in each one. Then, as I come up with a name, I'll put the first name in one column and the last name in the other. This has nothing to do with who the characters are -- it's simply a way to track names to make sure they're not too similar. And, on the advice of author Jeremiah Healy, I do everything I can NOT to use the intials of my h/h -- first OR last -- for any other characters in the book. So, for Finding Sarah, Sarah Tucker, the heroine, would mean I wouldn't use any S or T names.

The importance of this came when I was writing a scene for Hidden Fire. I had three characters having lunch, talking about a 4th. As I started typing Langley, Lalone and Laughlin, I realized I needed to do some renaming.

In the books and manuscripts I've been reading, I came across one with an Alex, and Aaron and an Anna in the same book. Also a Sophie and a Sabrina. In another one, there were two major characters, one named Mike and one named Mack. One was a first name, one a last, but the frequent use of the last name kept stopping me to make sure I knew who I was reading about.

And I suppose that just like 'real' names go through popularity cycles, so do fictional ones. I've seen lots of "S" heroines lately. I had 2 Sophies, a Samantha and a Sarah in recent reads. And three Jacks (one was a Jackson, though, but nobody called him that).

How do you feel about character names when you read? Do you even have trouble remembering who's who? Do you care if you can't pronounce the name?






Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Finding Sarah and The Lories

What I'm reading: Needled to Death by Maggie Sefton

I was going to talk about character names today, since I've been reading so many contest entries on top of my own books, but I had this nice tidbit in my inbox this morning and I decided I'd take a 'bragging break.'

"It is with great pleasure I inform you that your novel, Finding Sarah,
has taken second place in the Romantic Suspense category of The Lories
Best Published Contest. We had a wonderful turnout for the Romantic
Suspense category this year, and you should be proud of your
accomplishment."

And proud I am. And not just for me, but for the increased credibility for e-publishers. The words in the print version are exactly the same ones in the e-book. Ego boosts are Good Things.

And the timing is perfect, with the release of Hidden Fire, the sequel to Finding Sarah just a few weeks away. Read more on my website.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Guest Blogging Today

I'm a guest at Jenyfer Matthew's blog today. I'm talking about writing series. What's the difference between a sequel and a spinoff. How do you feel about reading books out of order? What do you think about spoilers? As an author, writing connected books presents another set of challenges.

I hope you'll stop by and leave a comment -- either here or there.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Synopsis -- Done? Maybe

What I'm reading: Daphne #4

What I'm writing. Synopsis, blurbs and jacket copy.

I have the handouts Karen Kendall provided when I tackled my synopsis. My agent said send her a short one. How short is short, I asked. Three pages. That's a lot of compression of a 100,000+ word novel, especially a romance where the synopsis is supposed to cover two complete character arcs plus the story plot as well.

I looked at Karen's suggestions (which came via Stephanie Bond and Rita Herron) for the short romance synopsis. Points to include:

1. The set-up (external plot situation that will throw hero/heroine together)
2. The First Meet (first time h/h encounter each other)
3. Attraction but Denial of that Attraction
4. First Kiss (how, why, caused by what?)
5. Reaction to the Kiss
7. The First Love Scene and Emotional Reaction to it.
8. Further Complication of External Plot
9. Black Moment
10. Resolution and Happily Ever After.

A formula? Not really, but it covers what a reader expects when she picks up a romance. But that list was devised (I'm sure) for the short contemporary. In a single title romantic action-adventure, there's a lot more going on.

Things I tried to include were the character introductions posted earlier this week. Then there were the plot turning points. The romance turning points. Things like 'the kiss' and 'the sex' were mentioned almost in passing. I also (scary, scary) scrolled through many chapters of the manuscript without so much as a mention. Because it has to be SHORT, I told myself. Not because there was no reason for those chapters to be in the book. Three pages can't possibly cover all the plot threads, sub plots, or other brilliant scenes that reveal so much of the characters and their emotional growth. It seems the scenes that tugged on my heartstrings were the first relegated to the 'don't need that in the synopsis' pile.

I finished the draft Wednesday night. When I looked at it again this afternoon, I gritted my teeth and started the revisions. I'm sure I'll have more changes when I look at it again tomorrow. But that's my self-imposed deadline to get it to my agent.

Blurbs anyone? How about cover copy? The marketing side of this business never gets easier for me.

Tomorrow, I'll be over at Jenyfer Matthew's blog talking about sequels, spinoffs and spoilers. Please drop by and leave a comment.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The dreaded synopsis, continued.

What I'm reading: Payment in Kind by J.A. Jance (along with Daphne and Touch of Magic reads).

What I'm working on: A marketing plan (ugh) and the dreaded synopsis.

And check out today's post at The Graveyard Shift. Agent Janet Reid discusses blogging and promotion.


Yesterday we met Dalton. Miri's a little more troublesome. It must be because I tend to like my heroes a whole lot more than my heroines. Even though all of my early books began with the heroines, somehow, the books turned into "he" books. True, in a romance, they're usually almost equal--but there's usually one who's more equal than the other, and for me, it's become clear it's the hero. Must be why my next books begin with the hero front and center. Do you prefer "he" books or "she" books?

Anyway -- here's Miri. Suggestions? Comments? Leave you cold?

Street-smart Miri Chambers wants nothing more than to help everyone at the Galloway House shelter find a new and productive life. It's more than a job. Galloway House saved her and her sister years ago when they escaped an impoverished and abusive life in New Orleans. So when her sister begs Miri to crash a black-tie gala to make sure the secrets of their less-than-savory past remain buried, she accepts the challenge. To deny her sister would be like not breathing.

Although Miri's left her street days behind, some instincts won't go away. When she's snooping in the host's study, confronted by two men who obviously have no business being there either, she reflexively lifts one's wallet. In the darkened room, all she knows is the wallet's owner is Texan and smells delightfully like sandalwood. Old habits die hard, and a little insurance never hurts, even if you're not sure it's insurance when you take it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Proposals and Synopses

What I'm reading: Daphne #3, Touch of Magic entry #2

What I'm writing - synopsis, proposal package

Kill word of the day: 'had'

Karen Kendall spoke to us Saturday, and the timing couldn't have been better. I'm not at a point where I sell on synopsis, so I take the coward's way out and write it after I finish the book. Usually I procrastinate until the last possible moment, only writing it if I have to submit it. Since I sent the revised and edited manuscript to my agent last night, I guess it's time. And some of the pressure is off, because she's already agreed to try to sell the book.

Karen's advice and examples, however, sent me home with at least a spark of -- well, enthusiasm is a bit too strong -- but at least I didn't break out in a cold sweat when I opened a new document.

Since writing is all about the characters for me, I decided to start from there. It'll take time to work out the kinks, but with Karen's advice, I have a better idea of what needs to be in there. How's this for starters? Comments welcome.

Hiding behind the public fa├žade of San Francisco-based Blackthorne, Incorporated's high-profile private investigation and security firm is a low profile—think subterranean—division of elite covert operations field agents who go where Uncle Sam can't.

Dalton (Just Dalton—nobody dares call him Ambrose), is one of Blackthorne's elite. A charming Texan, he prides himself on blending in anywhere, and there's nothing he can't scam. But his obsession with putting Colombian drug lord Rafael out of the picture threatens to endanger his life and the lives of his teammates. The fact that he nearly blew a simple undercover assignment at a fundraising gala, getting his wallet lifted in the process, convinces his boss to yank him out of the field and tether him with a safe assignment that will keep him stateside.

I've got a long way to go yet, but at least I've started.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Do you remember the Partridge Family?

What I'm reading: Daphne #2

Last night's library presentation was great fun. The Fruitland Park library staff pulled out all the stops with a dessert buffet (yes, there was chocolate), aqua and pink table decorations, and lots of friendly faces. I presented with Sandra Madden and I think we drove home the point there's no 'right' way to write. She's a plotter; I'm a pantser. She's always wanted to write; I fell into it by accident. She's well-established; I'm a newbie. But one thing I didn't know at all -- she just 'ghosted' a memoir for her husband Dave Madden, who played Reuben Kincaid on the Partridge Family show years ago, and has had a very colorful life and career. He joined us in answering questions, and I think a good time was had by all. At least nobody got up early and left.


Thanks to my husband for tagging along (and there were a good number of men also tagging). The library is about 53 miles away, and in a remote area. We found it fine, but I don't drive at night well at all, especially in unfamiliar territory, AND just as we were packing up, a huge thunderstorm hit. We're talking major deluge. Road flooding. Of course, nothing made it all the way to our neighborhood, which could use the rain, but that also meant we only had to drive halfway home in the rain.

Tomorrow, Karen Kendall is speaking at our RWA chapter. I'm looking forward to that.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

After the First

What I'm reading: A Thousand Bones, by P.J. Parrish

What I'm working on: Fruitland Park Library presentation

Crutch word of the day: Now.

Yesterday was April Fool's Day. When you work alone and don't have to leave the house on a daily basis, days of the week become meaningless, much less days of the month. It usually takes me three or four days to remember to flip the calendar on the kitchen wall, so I wasn't operating with any 'hoax' radar yesterday.

I found a notice that I'd won a gift card from the Wet Noodle Posse blog, and only when there was a post there mentioning the date did I realize it could have been in jest. Turns out it wasn't, so I'm delighted.

I will admit to be totally taken in by my agent's phone call that real-life demands meant she could no longer work as an agent. I'm sure she had a great day calling all her clients so she could tell them she was really kidding. But at 8 PM, when she called, my day was 'over' and the idea of a joke didn't occur to me. She got me.

I did send her the scenes she wanted added to my manuscript. Once she gives me her feedback, it'll be time to send the complete manuscript and try to forget about it while I work on a new book.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Men and

What I'm reading: Speed Bumps by Ken Casper

What I'm working on: Edits again. Look look. Look and see. Look at Dalton. Look at Dalton looking at Miri. Yep -- a new crutch word -- about 250 of them initially.

Yesterday I mentioned Tracy Montoya's workshop. She discussed Robin Lakoff's power theory and Deborah Tannen's connection theory.

I found some of Tracy's examples intriguing. Little girls want to fit in. Little boys like to be the boss. As women, we grow up wanting to be part of the group and don't like to make waves, whereas for men, it's about the hierarchy. Girls share secrets, like to connect. Boys want to be higher up the ladder and use language to one-up each other. If that doesn't work, they may resort to physical means.

Which is why men don't ask for directions -- it puts them 'one step under' the person they're asking for help. And it helps explain why men don't apologize. That also puts them in a subservient role. Or if they do, it's more like, "I'm sorry if you feel that way..."

These observations are built around our culture and our language, and are broad generalizations. Patterns, not rules. Regional background, age, and birth order also play a part.

But I loved her example of how little boys play the game. Three little boys in a car. One says, "We're going to Disneyland for four days." Boy #2 says, "We're going to Disneyland for FIVE days." Boy #3 says, "We're MOVING to Disneyland." The driver was the father of Boy #3. Deborah Tannen was in the car as well. He was about to step in and admonish his son for lying, but she stopped him. She explained that they'd just established the pecking order, and his son came out on top. The boys all knew it was a verbal battle, and they knew nobody was moving to Disneyland.

Fascinating subject, and it's a great tool if you're trying to make your characters sound real.