Thursday, June 30, 2011

Does Your Subconscious Foreshadow?

After giving my "Plotting for Non-Plotters" workshop last Sunday, I managed to motivate myself enough to dive into the new WIP again. It had stagnated for a bit, and until I heard myself speak, I wasn't really sure why it was giving me trouble.

Bottom line. I was worried about plot instead of just writing. After demonstrating the use of my "idea board" to the group, I figured I ought to get out the Post-its and update mine.

And, as a reminder, my "idea" board is full of more than just ideas for possible scenes or plot threads. It's also full of questions and reminders. I don't plot much, but I do recognize the importance of tracking.

For example, on my current board, I've made notes that my hero (who was injured in some yet-to-be-determined cop incident) was injured, and that it's his right arm and left leg. I can refer to that in case I forget and have him favoring the wrong leg or rubbing the wrong shoulder.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Look to Terry's Place

First – I've revamped my blog. I spent a good long time at my son's on Sunday. He may be a landscape/nature photographer first, but he agreed to take some new head shots for me. If you're one of my Facebook friends, you might have seen the ones I posted there. You know they say pictures don't lie. Well, forget that one! At least that adage doesn't hold true here, and for that, I'm very grateful! And daughter Jessica worked with a graphics artist friend of hers to create a new logo for me. With all that support, I figured I should update my blog. I've also changed my profile picture here and on my website. Any thoughts about the results?

Next: My Buy 1 Get 1 Free sale will be gone after the 4th of July. Don't wait too long. (Details under Deals & Steals)

As for a post: I'm visiting Carol Kilgore at her blog, Under the Tiki Hut. Carol's a frequent visitor here, and provided those gorgeous Galveston shots last Friday.

She has a clever slant on her guests. She provides everyone with the same "what if" setup, and has her guests create their responses. (She also has a tight work count, and anyone who knows me knows that was more of a challenge than dealing with her scenario!) This is her theme:

You brought your laptop to the Tiki Hut for some peace and quiet.
What drink do you order? Any snacks?
You're writing away when something catches your eye.
What is it? How do you stay focused on your writing?

If you want to see my interpretation, be sure to check out her blog. Carol posts at 7:15 AM Central time, so if you're an early bird here, wait a bit and then pop over. And comments welcome!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

That Second Paragraph

Today I welcome author Jacqui Jacobi to Terry's Place. With her trusted computerized day planner, Miguel, by her side, she is able to work in many aspects of the writing community: as an author and contributor to the Kiss of Death as well as RWR Magazine; as a chapter volunteer and contest judge, and as a workshop presenter, both live and online.

Every writer faces it. Every writer worries and dreads that it is going to arrive. You sit down to the computer, whether the project is a novel, an article or a blog entry, and there it will be: a blank document with a blinking cursors asking you to type.

We sit in our chairs, ready to write, the ideas in our head ready to pour onto that page, but we just can’t get it. We can’t get it to sound perfect, moving from our minds to our fingers, even when we think we know what to say.

“Why don’t you just start on the second paragraph,” Lucien Carr said when he at worked at the United Press International, no doubt kick starting a cub reporter at a type writer. And Carr was right. Sometimes leaving the beginning to fill in later and moving on to what comes next, is all it might take to get forward momentum.

Monday, June 27, 2011

More Hints for Public Speaking - Workshops

What I'm reading: Murder in the Mind, by L.L. Bartlett; Treachery in Death, by J.D. Robb

Yesterday, I gave a presentation to my local RWA chapter. This was a craft workshop, and there are different considerations when doing an informal chat, which is what I talked about last week.

For a workshop, you're going to need more preparation, of course. Here are a few more hints for a successful presentation.

1. Even if it's one you've given until you think you could do it in your sleep, REVIEW THE MATERIAL in advance. You don't want to have to stop to read your notes.

2. Work from notes, NOT a printout of your workshop. You'll put everyone to sleep, because "reading" isn't "talking." You don't want to sound like a boring professor.

3. Have handouts. People will be more attentive if they know they don't have to struggle to write down everything you're saying.

4. Touch base with the organizer to make sure any equipment you required will be available.

5. Arrive early to set up. Make sure everything works. Be prepared with plans B and C if everything doesn't work. Can you give your talk if there's no powerpoint projector, or if your computer won't communicate with it? While technology can make your talk lively and give your audience something to focus on other than you, it can break down, or not work the way you expected.

6. Try to be interactive with your audience. Ask for their ideas if your topic permits. You're probably not talking about something where you're the only person in the room who's had experience along those lines. (Hint: I offer chocolate to anyone who participates in any fashion. Ask a volunteer to hand it out.)


And, although I've never been invited to give a "featured presentation" at a conference, I found this on Bob Mayer's site yesterday and had to share. The tongue-in-cheek humor isn't really all that far off.And I urge you to check his site, because he has some excellent advice for going to a conference as a featured speaker. Some day, you might need it!

Tomorrow my guest is Jacqui Jacobi, who's talking about writing the Second Paragraph. Come back!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

And the Winner is ...

The winner of Ellis Vidler's giveaway, a download of Haunting Refrain, is

Urban Milkmaid!

Congratulations! Email Ellis at ellis (at) ellisvidler (dot) com to arrange to get your prize. And thanks to everyone who commented.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Field Trip - Galveston

Today's Friday Field Trip come courtesy of fellow writer, commenter, and blogger, Carol Kilgore. I'm sure some of you know her from her blog, Under the Tiki Hut. I hope more of you will step forward with photos to share. Thanks, Carol!

These photos were all taken sometime between April 14-19 this year on Galveston Island in Texas. Galveston has been around for a long time and has a rich and slightly dark history. The island was severely damaged by Hurricane Ike in September 2008 and is still recovering. Century-old live oaks were destroyed and sculptures designed from their trunks dot now the landscape where they once ruled their surroundings. I’ve included a lot of different sights so you can get a better feel for Galveston and its proud people. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rules? Why?

What I'm reading: Mystery, by Jonathan Kellerman

Remember,Ellis Vidler is giving away a book to one commenter, and you have until Friday to leave yours on her post. Scroll down to Tuesday.

There was a very interesting discussion at the Mystery Writers of America Yahoo group about when a dead body should show up in the book.

This puzzled the heck out of me. I know when I started writing romance, people told me I broke the "rules" because the first male character on scene wasn't the hero. Rules? I'd never read a romance, but the mystery I thought I was writing was, according to my daughters, turning into one, so I thought I should start reading them.

At first, looking at the short category romances (I tend to think of them as romance Garanimals because of the color and design coded covers), that seemed to be true. Now, I have no problem accepting conventions and reader expectations. If it's a romance, then there's going to have to be a hero and a heroine, and figuring out who's who is part of the reading experience. And in those very short books, I could understand why you had to get there early on.

Luckily, I had just about finished my first draft of my novel or I might have given up. I expanded my reading horizons and found there were very successful rule breakers out there. Allison Brennan even killed off a character that seemed to be set up as the hero. And Linda Castillo didn't bring her characters together into anything resembling a relationship until well into one of her books.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ask Yourself Why

What I'm reading: Hollywood Scandals by Gemma Halliday.

Thanks so much to Ellis Vidler, yesterday's guest, for her look at showing emotions. Remember, she's giving away a book to one commenter, and you have until Friday to leave yours. Scroll down.

Why is there a dog in DANGER IN DEER RIDGE? What's the most important question to consider when you're writing? That's what I'm talking about today at The Blood Red Pencil. Hope you'll drop by and say hello.

Meanwhile, please don't forget that I'm giving away copies of DANGER IN DEER RIDGE as part of my buy 1 get 1 free offer. Click the Deals & Steals tab for how to get yours. Remember, you can buy When Danger Calls from any of your favorite e-tailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks and Smashwords.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Aiming for the Heart

Today, help me welcome author Ellis Vidler to Terry's Place. She has a giveaway, so read through to see how to enter to win.

Do you ever shed tears as you write? Not from frustration when something doesn’t work or you realize you have to scrap fifty pages of blood and sweat, but because something you’ve written strikes a chord emotionally? Author Ellis Vidler laughs, cries, and double checks the locks when she writes. She identifies with her characters.

Remember the movie Romancing the Stone? In one of the first scenes, Kathleen Turner sits at her desk in her pajamas, clicking out the last chapter of her novel and weeping into an endless supply of tissues. She’s writing from the heart and feels every word. Turner’s tears may have been slightly exaggerated, but most of us have cried over books and movies or even a tragic or touching picture on the news. Ellis certainly has.

That’s what writers do--aim for the heart. Elmore Leonard said that. If a scene touches someone, it will stick with the reader. Strong emotions create strong memories. That’s why we read, isn’t it? To experience something outside ourselves. The purpose of fiction is to evoke emotion.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hints for Public Speaking

On Saturday, I was at a local library speaking to a book club about writing. Speaking in public isn't a major problem for me. I was a teacher for many years and am used to talking to groups. But I know there are some who dread having to address others.

What I've found helpful.

1. Have an idea of your audience. Since the person who invited me to speak is an aspiring writer, it was quite possible that there would be both readers and writers in the group, even though it was a book club. If you think you'll have a mixed group, try to have some brief words to cover both contingencies. I have two basic "programs" – one geared to readers, and one geared to aspiring writers. Neither is particularly in depth, but they each provide talking points. Readers made up the majority of my audience, but I talked about my 'beginning writer' handout as well, explaining that as readers, they might not be aware of what's 'behind the scenes' on the page, but they might like to watch for some of these points as they read.

2. Get there early so you know what kind of space they've allotted for you. Depending on the size of the group, you may be seated at the front of rows of chairs, or they may have a podium set up. Or a microphone. If that's the case, you'll have to remember to speak into it so your voice doesn't fade in and out. Also, greet people as they arrive. Don't hide until you're introduced. The idea is to be a "real" person, not someone who's too important to mingle.

3. Have handouts. I had bookmarks, business cards, a sheet of paper with a brief bio and covers of all my books, and CHOCOLATE.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Field Trip - Mountain Springtime

Spring seems to arrive late up here in the mountains. However, when it arrives, it arrives FAST.

I took these shots of the aspen trees from our deck each morning, starting May 29th. You can almost watch them leaf out.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Numbers and Time Sucks

What I'm reading: My Sunshine, by Catherine Anderson

Don't forget my buy 1 get 1 free sale. Check the Deals and Steals tab for details.

I was talking about sales figures yesterday, and numbers and stats are stuck in my brain. A while back, I did a post on Time Management, and I illustrated it with the image you see here.

About two or three weeks ago, I noticed my blog site hits had doubled. A little digging seemed to indicate that there was a link to that blog page when people searched Google images. So I had a lot of hits, but they were simply clicking onto that page and then out again. Were they doing me any good. Not really, other than boosting my visibility on search engines for a while.

During that time, I noticed that my "Klout" score and my "Technorati authority" jumped significantly. But what do those numbers mean? I have no clue whatsoever. Nobody rang my bell, or called, or even emailed me congratulating me on having better numbers. Nobody said, "Hey, I saw your Klout and so I'm going to follow your blog, read your books, shout it from the rooftops."

And now that whatever that phenomenon was, someone else quite likely used that same image and now their blog is getting all the action. My numbers are back where they were before. Should I be depressed? Or care?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Publishing: It's About Marketing

What I'm reading: Dirty, by Debra Webb.

Also, I'm revisiting my post on romantic moments over at Ellis Vidler's blog, the Unpredictable Muse today.

Thanks to Paty for sharing her reasons for going indie with her older books. I'm in a similar situation, and understand exactly what she's talking about. In addition to publishing my back list titles, I've also taken the plunge into indie-publishing a new book. And in case you missed it, I'm offering a Buy 1, Get 1 Free sale. And, unlike the normal retailers, I'm not restricting the free book to the cheaper one. Nope. Buy the 99 cent book (When Danger Calls) and I'll give you the $2.99 book (Danger in Deer Ridge) free.

Why? Because if you're someone starting in e-publishing, people are more likely to take a chance if you've got an established name. I don't. One of the ways to get noticed is for your books to rise in the rankings at the e-stores, and the only way to get them up there is for people to buy them or review them. So, in the hope that if I gave away books, mine would move higher up the ladder, which in turn would generate more sales, I'm willing to eat the cost of giving away books. After all, any business must have an advertising budget.

So, if you've been considering reading my Blackthorne, Inc. e-books, this would be a great time to take that next step.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Recycling My Books

Today I welcome Paty Jager to Terry's Place. Paty uses her love of the old west and ranch life to bring the characters in her historical and contemporary westerns to life. Growing up in a rural area books were her crystal ball to the world outside the secluded Wallowa valley. Her characters portray her feelings on life and love and her joy of reading.

Terry, Thank you for hosting me on your blog today.

I'd like to share with you today how I’m extending the longevity of my books and making them even more accessible to readers.

When I started writing I just wanted to put the characters in my head on paper and enjoy the process of bringing them to life on the pages. Along the way, my husband thought I should see dollars for my efforts and my friends who enjoyed the stories thought more people should enjoy them. That brought me to learning to better my craft and eventually start sending my stories to agents, editors, and contests.

I did well in most contests, usually becoming a finalist, and the rejection letters stopped being photocopied letters and said, "We like this, but…". I became frustrated that while they "liked it but", was nice, it wasn't putting my stories in front of readers.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Is Your Hero Mr. Perfect?

What I'm reading: Buried Prey, by John Sandford

First – stop reading right now and click the Deals & Steals tab. I've got an offer too good to pass up. Buy a book for 99 cents and get a $2.99 book FREE. No, I didn't get it backward. Click for details.

And one more "housekeeping" item. I've had people mention that although they've been reading my blog for a while, they didn't realize that only a short piece of the post shows up on this main page. Almost all my posts have a "keep reading" prompt. I do this because I prefer to have more posts visible on my home page, but I didn't realize some people might have missed it If you're one of them, I hope you'll start clicking through to the rest of the posts.

Today's post is targeted at readers more than writers, although I don't think you can really isolate one from the other. I'd appreciate feedback from both sides.

Recently, I've read a few "straight" romance novels by best-selling, many, many books to their name authors. Maybe the reason they didn't resonate for me is because I usually read either straight mystery or romantic suspense, but I had some trouble caring about the characters—in these cases, the hero. And I wondered if I'm the only one.

We all know that writing a "TSTL" character (Too Stupid to Live) is a story killer. And, I'm assuming that even though that caveat usually comes with descriptions of heroines, I'm thinking it should also carry over to the hero. Men can be stupid, too.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

And the Winners Are

The winner of Phoebe Conn's download is ... KAREN.
Karen, email Phoebe at phoebeconn (at) earthlink (dot) net so she can get your download to you.

And for those who came to the Romance Studio Release Party: My winners of downloads of WHEN DANGER CALLS are: Alyna, Cathy, Jean, Stacie, Lisa and Darcy.

Happy reading everyone!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Field Trip: A Classic Car Show

First - don't forget to leave a comment on Phoebe Conn's Tuesday post. Today's the last day to enter. I'll announce the winner this weekend.

Next - last week, Jason wanted to know if we'd like to drive up to Loveland, Colorado for a national classic car show. Mostly, he wanted me to be a pair of eyes and hands for our grandson, but I agreed as long as he'd share his pictures. (OK, having a day with our grandson was enough, but I couldn't make it too easy.) And, for those who've come by on my Friday Field Trips, you know that Jason's going to do more than just take pictures of cars. I hope you enjoy his interpretation. And how many of these do you recognize? Or remember? Did you own any of them?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Don't Lose your Characters

What I'm reading: Damaged, by Debra Webb

Don’t forget – there’s plenty of time to leave a comment on Phoebe Conn’s Tuesday post to be entered in her drawing. I’ll wait while you scroll down.

Meanwhile, I’m over at The Romance Studio at a release party today. I’ll be in and out all day. If you’re so inclined, pop on over. I’m talking about WHERE DANGER HIDES, and I’m giving away a download of WHEN DANGER CALLS.

When writing series or connected books, there are some extra considerations, such as handling back story and keeping track of characters. And sometimes, it can get you into trouble.

For example, in WHEN DANGER CALLS, I needed Ryan to be able to get into the Blackthorne’s fancy computer system, even though he’d technically quit. It made no sense for a company like Blackthorne to have conveniently forgotten to shut down his access. (that would have been one of those handy “coincidences” I talked about in an earlier post) So, I simply gave Ryan a throwaway line:

“I sort of borrowed a login from a buddy. His fault—I kept telling Grinch to pick a smarter password than his kid's name and birthday."

So, when it became time to write Grinch’s story, I was stuck with the child. And due to other plot considerations, I gave him a dog as well. While it’s one thing to have a throwaway line, once a character is on the page, be it human or animal, it becomes your responsibility.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

It's About Conflict and Tension 3

Thanks to Phoebe for sharing her thoughts on brainstorming. I could use a good brainstorming partner right now as I'm dealing with a new WIP. And remember: leave a comment on her post for a chance at her giveaway. You have until Friday.

Conflict: the word conjures up images of people fighting. But, as I pointed out in last week's posts on microtension, conflict encompasses a much broader scope.

When Jay Boyar of Orlando magazine reviewed 4 romance novels, including my FINDING SARAH, he pointed out that in my book, unlike the others, “Sarah and Randy don’t, for some strange reason, immediately hate each other.”

Having hero and heroine not like each other definitely increases conflict and tension. But it’s not necessary to take that approach. (Confession: when I started writing FINDING SARAH, I’d never read a romance, so I didn’t know about this “hate each other” convention.) Hero and heroine can have a common goal, but with different motivations, and conflict can grow from that.

Example: In FINDING SARAH, both Randy & Sarah want to solve the crime, “Who robbed Sarah’s shop?” Randy wants to do it because he’s a cop, and that’s what he does. Also, the robber seems to be someone he failed to catch on another spree, so his professional pride is at stake. For Sarah, it’s a matter of saving her business—her livelihood. As the case progresses, Randy has a new problem: he’s violating his own code by taking a personal interest in Sarah. And Sarah is violating her internal promise to be independent and not rely on anyone. But there’s no real reason for them to dislike each other.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Why I Love Brainstorming

Today my guest is author Phoebe Conn. She began her writing career with Kensington in the 1980s, when historical romances were hugely popular, twice as long as they are now, and half the price! She also wrote several contemporary books with them, and futuristic books as Phoebe Conn and as Cinnamon Burke for Leisure. Phoebe is also having a giveaway to one commenter, so make sure you read through the post.

Thank you so much, Terry, for inviting me to blog.

Whenever I say I’m a writer, I’m always asked where I get my ideas. Each book has it’s own story of how it came to be, but my June Samhain romantic suspense release, WHERE DREAMS BEGIN started with a brainstorming session with a poet. On weekends, we’d often leave Los Angeles and drive up to Santa Barbara or Ojai. Resort towns are wonderful places to sit in an outdoor cafe, relax and observe people walking by. The poet looked for intriguing characters for his poems, while I made notes of people’s quirks for possible use in my books. A waitress whose ponytail sprouted from the top of her head like a volcano, for example, appears in PARADISE, a book set in Ojai. A waiter who mumbled became a pirate whose orders were unintelligible in my futuristic romance, LADY ROGUE.

We’d also spend time generating plot ideas. The park-like setting of the University of California at Riverside is perfect for brainstorming. One afternoon, we made notes for a story beginning with the protagonist at a crossroads. She’s a young widow and can’t go back to the life she loved, but what if any choice she makes creates more trouble than she’s already in? These were such fun sessions because brainstorming has only one rule: don’t evaluate ideas, simply let them flow.

Every book needs an opening that makes an emotional connection with the reader and swiftly draws them into the story. It needs tension that builds with every word to a dramatic and satisfying finish. We brainstormed dynamite openings some days. Other days, we’d work on developing one of our openings to a full story. In one possible book, we had the hero escape the men after him in a diaper service van. It was a great scene, even if it was never used. Now few people use a diaper service, so the scene wouldn’t be as easily believed.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Just Because it’s True…

What I’m reading: Chasing Fire, by Nora Roberts

Have you checked the Deals & Steals tab lately? Some deals expire soon. Don't miss out.

Back when I was just starting to learn the craft of writing, I had a live critique group (The Pregnant Pigs—don’t ask how the name came into being, as all of us were beyond child-bearing years). The others in the group were going back to school as part of a local college program for adults looking to change direction in life. These wonderful women were all studying writing. I hooked up with one through my volunteer training for the Adult Literacy League, and she invited me to join the group. I felt as though I was getting a free education as they were quick to share what they had learned (especially when critiquing my chapters).

At any rate, one of their professors used to say, "Just because it's true doesn't make it good." They would throw this in my face when I'd try to justify something I'd written with, "but it really happened."

One of the things I'm teaching in my dialogue class right now is that although dialogue has to sound like real speech, it isn't really "real" speech. Transcribing actual conversations won't work for writing.

Another place where "real" doesn't necessarily work is coincidences. They do happen, but they're problematic when plotting your story.

Saturday, June 04, 2011


With the release of DANGER IN DEER RIDGE, I've lowered the price of the first Blackthorne, Inc. book, WHEN DANGER CALLS, to 99 cents. Check the Deals and Steals page for purchase information.

If someone asks single mother Frankie Castor to clear a room, she'll smile and find a vacuum cleaner. Ryan Harper uses a gun. Can they work together when their lives depend on it?

Frankie’s returned to her childhood home in Montana to help care for her mother. Her biggest worries are balancing the budget and the upkeep of an aging home. When she offers a man a ride home from the hospital, she never imagines she’ll end up having to choose between her daughter’s life and matters of national security that could cost the lives of millions.

Ryan returns to his family home to find a way to prove he didn’t leak vital information on a covert ops mission gone south. As he searches for the meaning of a file he’s kept hidden from the mission, he has no idea that international mercenaries have been searching for it—and him. When the mercenaries come after Ryan, he’s torn. Fighting for his country wars with fighting to rescue people he loves.

Set against a Montana mountain backdrop, When Danger Calls is a story filled with action, adventure, and romance, where the stakes keep getting higher and higher.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Friday Field Trip: Mollie Kathleen 2

As promised last week, here's what the area around the Mollie Kathleen mine in Cripple Creek looks like.

And it's my day at the Author Expressions blog, where I'll be talking about setting.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

It's About Conflict and Tension 2

What I'm reading: Sweet Nothings, by Catherine Anderson

Yesterday, I showed how I attempted to keep the reader interested in my first scene of DANGER IN DEER RIDGE. I'm continuing that today with some analysis of the second scene, where we get to go inside Grinch's head. By having 2 POV characters, you have more opportunities for tension, as the reader begins to see more than either character can. I normally limit myself to only 2 POV characters, but in this book I actually added a third--the villain, which can also increase tension as neither hero or heroine knows what's going on in his head.

In this section, rather than snip and just leave the paragraphs I explained, I decided to leave everything there so you can follow the flow of the scene.

Grinch peeked through the passenger window of his pickup, reassuring himself that Dylan would stay asleep for the few moments it would take to get the gas flowing. The bumpy ride down the steep, pothole-filled driveway would have woken him up for sure. Besides, Chester was with him, and nobody would approach the truck with that mutt standing guard. He gave the window a soft pat, then headed toward the house. We can't have TSTL heroes. This paragraph shows Grinch dealing with his immediate conflict—getting the gas turned on for Elizabeth while his young son is with him. (And in order to make it work, I had to stick in the dog, which became yet another character to keep track of! But it turned out he was a welcome addition.)

It had been obvious that he'd frightened the Parker woman, and not by showing up unannounced. She had that trapped-animal demeanor. What's her story? He wandered around her car. Layers of road dirt. California plates. Tires in decent shape, but if this was her only vehicle, she was going to have some trouble once the snows hit. Sooner if she didn't get the driveway repaired and graded. Glimpse into Grinch's character. He cares about people.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

It's About Conflict and Tension

Thanks to Lilian Stewart Carl for sharing all that information about kilts yesterday. I learned a lot. If you didn't read her post, you definitely need to scroll down.

When I wrote Monday's post, on why I decided to go indie with DANGER IN DEER RIDGE, I had several people email me asking me why I didn't put up more about the book itself.

Interesting question. First, although I definitely want people to buy my books, I've kind of had this "no self-promotion" rule about this blog. I did include links to my website for blurb and first chapter, as well as buy links, so that the information was available for those who wanted to look. And if you missed it, you can find it here.

More in keeping with the focus of this blog, I thought I'd provide a little more of a behind the scenes peek at the writing process. Donald Maass suggests there be tension on every page, and microtension in every paragraph. Characters have to want something, and there need to be reasons why they can't have it. There needs to be conflict.

Under the broad umbrella of all romance sub-genres, one critical element is the first meet between hero and heroine. So, I thought I'd share some of the first meet scene from DANGER IN DEER RIDGE with you, and mark it up with how I tried to create tension and conflict. In this scene, the heroine has a clear goal: start her new life. She's just arrived at her new home with her eight-year-old son. Making sure he's safe is her top priority.

She filled the pot with water, then set it on the burner. Checking the unfamiliar gas range, she matched the knob with the appropriate burner and twisted it. Nothing. She waited. Tried again. Was she supposed to light the burner with a match? Where was the instruction book? She yanked open drawers hoping to find one. Nothing. Conflict: without gas, she can't cook.