Sunday, February 25, 2007

Long time, No write

Have you ever dove so deeply that the frantic swim to resurface clenched your muscles in cramps and exerted vise-like pressure on your lungs? Metaphorically speaking, that's where I've been lately. That's why it's been a long time without any writing.

My dive wasn't into the water but into the all-consuming task of moving from one house to another. The house we moved back into is the house we've spent the better part of a year and a half renovating. We lived in it for a long time during renovations, but at some point, we said "enough" and moved out. What we moved back into was only 80% finished. I still have no closet or master bath. It's a work in progress that I frequently wonder if we'll ever finish.

It's alot like my MIP, which fluctuates between being 80% done and teetering on the edge of the trash bin.

Friday, I took a day off from the bill-paying job. I devoted my day to making sense of the mess I call home. I have to admit that I stood in the living room for a solid 15 minutes trying to decide if I should just sit down and cry or pick a point, any point, and dig in. Dozens of dust covered boxes filled the space. Haphazardly packed belongings littered a zone that smelled of paint fumes and sounded like power saws. Realizing there was no way out except to dive in and hope I was able to surface later, I grabbed the nearest box and said, "Ok, you're all going somewhere." I proceeded to unpack it and dozens like it. I rearranged furniture by sheer force of will, pushing and pulling across towels and sheets so that I didn't scratch the floor until I successfully found places for all the things I love. At times, I'd discover that where I'd put something wasn't quite right or that an arrangement just didn't work, so I'd redo it. I also chucked alot of stuff. I filled garbage bags with items that had outlived their usefulness, were never useful in the first place, or just plain didn't fit our lifestyle anymore. I still have more of that to do. I have more shopping to do, too, and empty spaces to fill with just the right find. Some of the things I need are big and some are small, but they all are necessary for the home I want to create. I'll likely continue to throw things away and shop, alternately, for several weeks to come. But... the bones are done, and I can see where I'm going.

It struck me that perhaps I needed this adventure (er, torture) to give me perspective on my MIP. I could easily have written the paragraph above about it. I really just need to grab hold of it and get started again. I need to unpack it, get rid of the parts that aren't needed, and add to it the good and beautiful stuff that will make it shine. I need to realize that, like this house, it is a work in progress. The fumes and noise and aggravation are still going to be there, but underneath, it is beauty and a sense of accomplishment and something worth doing and a product worth showing off.

I made it through the house thing. This week, I'm moving in again ... into my MIP this time. I'm gonna push up my sleeves and just get dirty. I'm going to purge and add and build and touch up. I'm going to get new things and let go of others. I'm going to rearrange and then do it again if needed until it's polished and presentable and amazing.

I guess this moving thing wasn't so bad afterall.


PS. When I find the camera, I'll post pictures.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Received recently via email:
I want to thank you for entering the 15th Annual Heart of the West Writers Contest, and congratulations on your First-Place finish with Cold Truth. We had many entries this year, and submitting your work for others to review takes courage. I commend you for your efforts and hope that you receive valuable feedback.

Attached are the pleminary round judged entries. You will receive the final round judged entry in the mail. Our final round judge this year for Mystery/Suspense was Allison Lyons of Harlequin Intrigue. She requested to see your project along with a synopsis and SASE for a reply. Congratulations on this request and good luck with the submission!

What to do? What to do?

I had originally planned to target Harlequin Intrigue. Then, I decided my story was ending up bigger than that, that it needed changing, needed more, needed to be single title. I started tearing it up, writing new POV's, adding depth to secondary characters. Then, I got this email.

What to do? What to do?

After much thought, quite a bit of stress, feelings of inadequacy, and some conversations with some pubbed writers, I've decided to refix it and send it to Harlequin Intrigue. (They did ask for it afterall.)

I reread parts today. I took a hard look at the first 20 pages. I added quite a bit. I tried to show the external conflict more clearly and quickly. I set up my heroine a bit differently. Why hadn't I seen her that way before? Anyway, I think it works better now.

I decided to look at the book in four acts instead of three. Wow! That helped, too. I see how I can rearrange a few big scenes to use a great scene I already have as the Supreme Ordeal (Hero's Journey). This scene will lead to the Supreme Romantic Ordeal. They will overcome their issues with each other long enough to act on that lust that's growing. No, they won't make love yet, but ....

I'll have to add a few early scenes. I need my heroine to share what she knows -- well some of it -- with the hero. She is a secret keeping kind of girl, afterall. Then I need to flip-flop some scenes. Then I need to get those new ones written.

Then what? How does one get a manuscript ready for that submission process? Do you hire a proofreader? Do you do it yourself? Yikes. Yikes. Yikes.

Ah.... After a month of feeling bad about my MIP (that's MASTERPIECE in progress, hehe), I feel good about it again. Why? I'm back to my original vision for it. I originally planned it to be a series romance. I'm keeping it that way, at least for now. If Intrigue says "no", then I may tear it apart and see how it looks as single title, but who knows.

I do have that other story -- the one I've been thinking about for longer than I've been writing this one -- that I'd like to tackle. That one will be single title.

For now... I'm closing the MIP for tonight. I'll tackle the next 30 pages tomorrow. However, I've got to go read an Intrigue book now and prepare an email for a local writer for that line. Whatever she can tell me will be helpful.


Friday, February 9, 2007


I love brilliance. I always have. I’m amazed when I see it and I always wonder what happened to make that particular person or thing brilliant.

Brilliance isn’t perfection. The two are very different. One is attainable, while the other is not. I used to seek perfection, but the journey towards it was difficult, the goal unattainable. Now I seek brilliance – a moment of it, a work called it, a life full of it.

Brilliant people exist everywhere and in every field and of every color and flavor on Earth. Sometimes, it is what they say or do that is brilliant. Sometimes, it is their ideas or creations.

In this blog, I want to talk about works of brilliance, more specifically books of brilliance. Most specifically, my most recent discovery of brilliance.

While I've been more cognizant of brilliant books since I began writing, I didn’t just begin noticing brilliance recently. I have always been fascinated by the brilliant play of words on a page. A book can be brilliant in one area, but not another. However, those books that stay with us are either brilliant works or they speak to us in brilliant and illuminating ways. Otherwise, they provide moments of pleasure but not profound impacts.

What books have you deemed brilliant?

My list goes back to childhood.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I loved in particular The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Great title, btw. When my step-daughter was assigned to read it for school years ago, we trekked to the local bookstore to buy it. While she looked at other books, I stood at the rack on which it was displayed and read the whole thing again just standing there. And once again, always, when I got to the part where Aslan offers himself in Lucy’s place, I cried. Brilliant writing. Brilliant.

Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinle in Time is another. Tesseracts, mitochondria, and a brilliant young girl named Meg.

J.K. Rowling’s incredible imaginary world seems so real that we’re willing to pay for a book months before it’s released, dress up like characters from it, and visit bookstores at midnight (bookstores!!). It’s not just me. It’s legions of fans.

Richard Preston’s non-fiction work A Demon in the Freezer. His recounting of our war against small pox reads like great fiction and scares the hell out of you as only truth can.

As I’ve mentioned in other blogs -- Johnathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.

Ender’s Game and even better – Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card.

There are so many more, including the book I’m currently devouring: Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty. What a brilliant cast of characters! What deft internal conflicts they all face! How their true heart’s desires, spoken as they form their Order, resonate with the internal conflict each of them experiences. As I read, I’m drawn back to my teenage years and the heartache and yearning that are universal at that age. Brilliant. The four girls at the center of the story have brilliant GMC’s (goal, motivation, conflict). Ordinary Ann wants to be beautiful and noticed and to feel. Pippa wants true love, but must lie about her true self because she is tainted so that no one would want her if they knew. Felicity feels powerless against the blows of life, and wants her own power most of all. And Gemma, the book’s protagonist, wants to know – who she is, why she has these visions, why …

The book is full of brilliant lines:
“I don’t know yet what power feels like. But this is surely what it looks like, and I think I’m beginning to understand why those ancient woman had to hide in caves. Why our parents and teachers and suitors want us to behave properly and predictably. It’s not that they want to protect us; it’s that they fear us.”


“Their sin was that they believed. Believed they could be different. Special. They believed they could change what they were – damaged, unloved …. So life took them, led them, and they went along you see? They faded before their own eyes, till they were nothing more than living ghosts, haunting each other with what could be. What can’t be.”

Read the lines in context. Better yet, buy the book on CD, too, and listen to the words. I replayed and reread them several times. It was worth every penny to read and hear such brilliance. To witness the spirit of being sixteen so aptly captured. To read the hopes and fears and universal truths of coming of age.

I hope to write that brilliantly. I say to myself everyday that I am a brilliant and prolific writer. I am. At least, I will be.

Books like Libba Bray’s are beacons in the tunnel of brilliance, lighting the way for those who seek it.

I seek. Show me.


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Goal review

I've decided to do a monthly goal review. Roxanne St. Claire suggested this during the goal setting workshop she gave for CFRWA. Great idea. It will keep me on track for the big picture which is getting my PRO status and ultimately getting a publishing contract.

I've made some modifications based on the review of my goals.

I'm not changing my goals, other than the dates by which I want to accomplish them. However, for this month (Feb.), I've changed my focus. Here are the goals I'm aiming for this month.

Goal: Really find out where this story is going.
Objective: Get to know all my POV characters.... very, very well.
1) Determine just which secondary character POV's we'll see.
2) Complete a character worksheet for each POV character (The hero and heroine are done).
3) Do a character interview for each character. I have 3 pages each for the hero, heroine, and the villian, but I'd like to have more. Maybe 10 pages, but I don't want to put a page minimum or maximum on it. I just want to see what they have to say.
4) Figure out the GMC for each POV character.

Objective: Figure out the major plot points (By knowing my characters better, some points have already changed. I need to hammer this out.)
1) Spend time working on the suspense plot points. What are my 2 pinches in the middle and what is my supreme ordeal?
2) Work on the romance plot, keeping in mind to use each of the 12 stages of intimacy, albeit perhaps not in order. What will be the Romantic Supreme Ordeal? Will there be a reward or setback afterward?
3) Work on character arcs for the story, specifically understanding the hero and heroine's, which will braid through the romance and suspense plots.

I will count all words I write this week and throughout February toward my weekly total. I want to keep up with a challenge of writing a certain number of words per week, so that it becomes habit.

If I do that for the past week, I have 2800 as of this moment. Not bad, considering I have some more writing planned today. (My writing and goal week always ends on Sunday.) I hope to still reach 3500 by midnight.

Wish me well.

Talk to you tomorrow at Affairs of the Pen.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Getting the Call

Have you ever checked out the Books, Boys, Buzz … blog? You should. The last three posts are the stories of “getting the call”. My favorite: Warning: Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery When Selling Your First Book .

I love reading the stories of first sales – whether I read them on websites or blogs or the little snippets in the RWR. I love it. Why? Because I’m pretty darn sure it’s going to be me someday. I can’t wait to have a sell-story to tell, even if it’s as boring as hell.

If the Laws of Attraction work and you get what you think about, if your thoughts determine your destiny, then I’m not just going to have a first sale, but a second, third, and thirtieth. Move over Nora. Step down J.K. There really is a new girl in town.

I don’t know when I first thought that I wanted to write books and publish. I do know when I stopped just thinking about it and starting moving towards it. November 2005.

Boy, have I learned alot since then! Baby steps all the way. Isn’t that how it all starts though? When I pause to look down the ladder at where I was, it gives me hope. I'm well on my way. Where is that bottom rung anyway? I can't see it anymore.

My scribblings led me to a creativity class, which led to a class on Romance writing at BNU, which introduced me to Leigh Michaels and her class at Gotham, which led to another class at Gotham, which led to the best darn crit group a girl could have, which led to more workshops, which provided me enough bravery to join CFRWA, which led me to meet some great authors, which led to Barbara’s Girls class, which led to affirmations and thoughts of abundance. There really are enough agents and editors and publishing houses to publish my books. And those of my crit group and anyone else who really wants and believes it.

I am a brilliant and prolific writer. I know well my amazing characters who are hiding so much and have so much to lose. I write fast-paced, page-turning plots filled with fabulous prose, snappy dialogue, and heart-pounding action. My MIP (that's MASTERPIECE In Progress, not manuscript in progress) is a brilliant page-turner that will keep you up all night to find out what happens. My name will fill a shelf in B&N someday. One book isn’t enough.

What are your affirmations? What are you attracting?