Saturday, June 30, 2007

Black and white

I've been taking a hard look at story and characters this week. I've been trying to nail down in my head some themes in my writing. I want some universal concept/truth to stamp on my books.

I've made a few discoveries. My universal truths/themes don't necessarily have to be something with which everyone can agree. I don't even have to always agree with them. However, a recurring theme keeps popping up for me. It pops up in all my stories. Even back in March, I wrote an "I believe" list as part of Barbara Samuels Girls in the Basement class. In that list I said, " I believe that black and white are overrated, and the world is full of shades of gray."

Well, I'm going to embrace a slightly different version of this for my theme in most of my stories. The wounded characters that seem to populate my ideas are pleased.

Do you think we can find room on the back cover of my novels someday to put this tag line?

In a world where black is black, but sometimes white is gray .....

Thursday, June 28, 2007



I speak from experience. I’m reading my second book by her and inhaling it faster than I did the first – which was pretty damn fast. I’d been avoiding it for weeks. It just sat on my desk, and I mostly ignored it – even when I was sick for a week. I wrote, and I ignored it and all the other books in my to-be-read pile.

Then, yesterday, I felt well enough to start running again. The music in my iPod didn’t thrill me. I remembered I had the same SEP book that was on my desk on my iPod. I briefly thought that maybe I shouldn’t. It could be a distraction. Then with a few quick flicks of my fingers, I was hearing “This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips”.

One hour later of jogging/walking combination, I reluctantly came home and swore to myself that I would not “read” anymore until my next workout.

I promptly sat down at my computer – still covered in stinky sweat – to edit 5 scenes. But SEP called to me. She whispered my name (well -- her hero, Kevin, did) and I glanced at the actual paper book inches from my keyboard.

In my own defense, I really don’t have much of a vacation this summer. I’ve been to England, but it was a quick trip and we pushed ourselves to see a lot, so I didn’t come home rested. I’m going to RWA Nationals and staying for 3 extra days to see my family, but that’s still not vacation – not lay in the sun, sleep in, sip Margarita’s on the beach vacation. And if you aren’t getting the beach, shouldn’t you still get the beach reading?

So I grabbed the book. I opened it. I drowned.

I took a break for late dinner and a little conversation with Marcus, but then dove back in. I didn’t do the quick skimmy read – for some books that’s okay, but this is SEP, and frankly she’s a brilliant study in how to keep your readers hooked for hours. I’m about ½ way done now, and my fingers are itching to keep reading at work.

I mean, really, if I can’t be at the beach…….


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday Speculations and a Few Ravings

I'm back for Sunday Speculation. I missed a week. Now, I'm at it again. However, like Alyson, I think I must revise my still very new blog schedule. And, like Alyson, I can really only commit to two days a week for the summer. If I blog more, that's just a bonus. I'd like to commit to Sunday so we'll try to continue Sunday Speculations.

First, I'm going to rave and ramble a bit, then we'll get to the speculations.

I had a goal to write 50 pages this week, then I felt bad when others' goals for BIAW (book in a week) were higher, so I changed it to 60 pages. I'll probably only hit my original goal -- 50 pages -- which ought to teach me to listen to myself. I have a pretty good grip on my capabilities.

I think 50 pages is pretty good. I had a low total one day -- the worst day of my now 6-day old cold. Friday, I didn't write at all but devoted it to spending time with the hubby instead. Yesterday, I wrote periodically all day long, for my biggest day yet. And today.... not a damn word. Oh, I'm going to write after I post this blog, but I'm going to write 4 pages and call it a day.

Could I do more? Probably, but I need a day to recuperate from the work week, the writing week, and the lingering cold.

However, I think I'm going to try for 50 pages again next week. I wonder if I can make that a weekly goal.

Okay, speculations:
First, there is something therapeutic about wondering around a book store, looking at covers and reading back blurbs. I always feel better after that. I did that today. I hadn't done it in a long time, but I finally went to pre-order the final Harry Potter and just hung out to wonder around.

Second, I'll be visiting my mom this summer. My nieces will be visiting, too. My mom has decided to invite my dad over one afternoon -- the afternoon that we're going to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix -- to see my nieces and me. My parents been split up for 20 years. This ought to be interesting. My dad lives about 3 hours from her and I don't see him that often -- I think five times in 10 years. When she called to ask my opinion, I told her it was up to her. I'm going to see her after all. It's her time. She can choose how we spend it. What was her defense of her idea? Well, I think it would be good for both of you and that is the type of movie and book he always liked. Yep -- I come by my fantasy/paranormal/science fiction fixation honestly (er, maybe genetically). But it does seem fun to see the movie with him. After all, he bought me the Hobbit when I was pretty young and then kept buying me science fiction all the way through school.

Third, I don't dream up normal people for novels. They aren't all paranormal, but so far I have a CIA spy, a scientist/spy, a female drummer in an all male rock band, a photojournalist, an empath, a healer, a demon-hunter, a half demon, a powerful sorceress and her equally powerful arch enemy sorcerer. Not all in the same book, of course, but I've decided to just accept that I shouldn't write about the girl next door, unless of course she's the powerful priestess of an ancient extra-terrestrial tribe and she's been called to defend this world and the next against a powerful demon insurgence. Uh, but if she lives next door to you, you need to move.

Happy writing.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I missed my Sunday Speculation -- on the second week. Really, I'm much better at sticking with a plan than that. I probably won't blog much this week -- again, I'm not a quitter. I haven't quit my new plan to blog 3 times a week. It's just that this week is different.

This week I'm participating in a "Book in a Week challenge". My goal is 8. 5 pages per day -- everyday -- even the busy ones like tonight when we're taking a friend to dinner for her birthday. (Her husband is out of town and last night my husband called her husband on his business cell, but he'd accidently left it at home and taken his personal cell on the trip and she talked my husbands ear off about making soup and their dog and a mutual friend and her cousin --- get the idea --- for 30 minutes.) She's lonely. He's gone until July 8th. It was her birthday Monday. I can postpone writing a few hours to do something nice for a friend.

But.... the blog is all about me and writing. It can wait.

Therefore, until I get my ultimate end goal of 15k written this week, no more blog entries (except Saturday at AotP). BTW, 15K will be exactly 1/2 the novella I'm writing. (Then hopefully, my creativity will be restored and I'll be back to fix Kat and Cris with a vengence.)

Oh, and yes, I know I could pound out pages like this everyweek, but this week our daily totals are being posted on a huge loop for all to see. I just don't want to be DFL (dead f*&%$ng last).

Gotta go. Monday I did 7 pages. Yesterday 10. Today? None yet, so I better get started.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Colors and such

You can probably tell that I think Blogthings are fun. Those little memes can be surprisingly on target.

For example, the following one paints a pretty accurate picture of me.

You Are A Green Girl
You feel most at home in a world of ideas.You're curious and logical - and enjoy a good intellectual challenge.You're super cool, calm, and collected. Very little tries your patience.Your only fear? People not realizing how smart and able you are!

Of course, this one on thinking is me, too.

Your Dominant Thinking Style: Exploring
You thrive on the unknown and unpredictable. Novelty is your middle name.You are a challenger. You tend to challenge common assumptions and beliefs.
An expert inventor and problem solver, you approach everything from new angles.You show people how to question their models of the world.

Finally, I was checking out the Golden Compass website in eager anticipation of the movie based on one of my all-time favorite "thinking" books.

I have a daemon. I guess it's pretty much like me. Marcus think it's funny because he's a tiger.


Monday, June 11, 2007


As I scrolled through a ton of email from the loops to which I subscribe, I can came across some wisdom notes. The title of the post was “Comfort”.

My first reaction surprised me. Want to know what it was? (Too bad. I’m tellin’ ya anyway.)

“I don’t want comfort yet. I don’t ever want to be too comfortable.”

I wonder how many people feel that way.

I’ve been trying to listen to my intuition, to my first response to things. That first response is often the most honest. And, honestly, I don’t want to get too comfortable. If I get too comfortable, will I become lazy? Will I sit on my haunches and watch the world go by?

I can not think of anything worse.

Discomfort in moderation (as with everything else) is a good thing. It’s that thing that spurs us to alleviate the discomfort. It gets things done.

I’m uncomfortable with my writing in so many ways, but it spurs me to learn, to stay up late to “fix” something only to “unfix” or “refix” it tomorrow. I don’t want to forever call myself pre-pubbed, so I continue to work for a story that will alleviate that particular discomfort. I don’t want to be midlist forever, so I’ll always be working for that best-seller. I don’t want to just have all I imagine on the paper pages of a book, so I’ll strive to write something that would make a great movie.

Nope. I don’t want to be comfortable.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
--- Dylan Thomas ---

That’s me. I want to rage against the comfort that would keep me from pushing forward for one more achievement. I want to fight against where I am to get where I want to be.

So what did I do with that “comfort email”? I deleted it.



Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday speculations

I’m thinking that I should have some sort of a schedule for this blog. It’s unrealistic for me to blog everyday. I don’t want to hold my self to that tight a schedule. However, I do want to aim for a minimum of 3 times a week. One blog will be completely writing related. The other ---- Any ideas?

Sunday’s will be Sunday Speculations. That’s broad, isn’t it?

Here are today’s speculations.

First, a meme. This one is about whether you’re right brained or left brained. I’m a mixture leaning to the right brained side. I like that. It fits.

You Are 35% Left Brained, 65% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Second, some critique group speculation. At the CFRWA Saturday Blitz (3 mini-workshops), 2 members of a multi-pubbed crit group gave their takes on crit groups. I’ll probably share more in this week’s writing related post, but I have to say that I came away feeling GREAT about AotP. I think we’re going to be one of those groups that people look at someday and say, “Wow look at that group of multi-pubbed writers and they’re all such good friends. No wonder they write so well. Look at the group they are in.” But you know, we’re how those groups got started. They got together as beginners once and grew up together. Very, very cool.

Third speculation. I tend to postpone those things which make me most nervous. Currently, it’s my pitch for nationals. However, I’m going to write it this week as part of my writing time, and I’m going to post it to the AotP loop for critical review. Hold me accountable.

I think 3 speculations ought to be enough for Sunday.

See ya later this week.


Saturday, June 9, 2007

Rewards and gifts

Sometimes life gives you an unexpected gift. Perhaps it's karma. I don't know.

Most of the time the best rewards or gifts aren't those tangible things you can hold in your hands. Rather, they are those intangibles that reside in your heart.

I got one today -- an email. It went straight to my heart.

Some of you know that I teach -- under a different name of course. Whether it be writing or working with teens, the reason I do it is to make a difference. I hope my writing will someday provide that escape for readers that gets them through another day. I hope via teaching I will influence the teens in my life in a way that grounds them and makes them better people.

Anyway, the names of the college and the young man have been changed, but this email was the best gift I've had in a while.

Read on:

Hey XXXX (protecting my nom de teacher),

Sorry i've been so bad at keeping in touch this school year. It has gone by way too fast for me... I can't believe i only have one more year of college left. School is pretty hard but im doing well. I had my best track season ever this year and Jumped 16-4 (in the pole vault). I placed 6th in the ACC (which i found out is the hardest conference in the nation for the pole vault). If XXX-University was in the Big East I'd be in the running for a conference championship by now -- haha -- but oh well. I also got my first collegiate win this season which was so fun. It felt so great to be the only one left vaulting at the end of the meet...just like high school. And it gave me a lot of confidence and I placed high in the rest of my meets for the season. I heard about your new admin job and i'm very happy for you...Its good to know that the school will have a normal person in a high rank for a change. I miss you as my coach a lot...Having you as a coach really spoiled me for college -- haha. But I still use everything you taught me every time i train and am in a meet. I just wish i could train with you every day.

I miss you a lot coach and i hope this note finds you well.


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Home Sweet Home

I returned from the UK last night. I'm still not sure what continent I'm on. My body is very, very confused about when to eat and sleep. Being up for 21 straight hours didn't help, either. But I wouldn't have missed it!

I'm sure our holiday will be the subject of more than a few blogs, so sorry in advance if it gets old.

We roamed around the English country-side for a week. We spent some time in London. We stayed with friends that live near the North Sea, so we got to see England from a few different perspectives.

I made a few astute observations via these perspectives. Here are a few -- in no particular order.

1. I've been cursing like an Englishman since we've been home. "Bloody" to the English is like the F-word here. I love walking around calling everything a "bloody this" or "bloody that" and no one in the States realizing that I'm just having a juvenile good time with my new 6-letter word.

2. London is the most expensive place I've ever been. Five of us ate pizza. Each of us had one of those little indy pizzas and a soda or water. The bill? 50 pounds. Doesn't sound bad until you convert that at the $2.10 per pound conversion rate, making our pizza lunch over $100 dollars. We dropped $500 in London in one day. Can anyone say bloody hell?

3. We visited Westminster Abbey. Beautiful. In the Abbey, there is a Poet's Corner where Geoffrey Chaucer is burried. Other poets and writers are remembered there. I had to pause. Rudyard Kipling. He wrote "If" which is my favorite poem. See my previous post. Dylan Thomas. He wrote "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" -- another favorite. Lord Byron -- I have a lit snob friend. She's a huge Lord Byron fan. Charles Dickens. To name a few. Very cool area. I milled around. We talked books -- one of my favorite topics of discussion.

4. I acquired an illness there. It's called the travel bug. I'm afraid the only cure is another trip. Rome at Christmas (I couldn't be more excited about this since my little bro just moved there and I just read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert), Dallas for RWA, some island somewhere this summer for a weekend to celebrate Marcus's belated 41st b-day, hopefully a trip next summer to Iceland (one of the hubby's top 10 want-to-go places), and if I'm lucky a trip to South Africa to work with AIDS education with a group sponsored by my church from Thrive Africa. Yep. I think it's chronic. I'm going to need lots of treatments.

....and finally, astute observation #5. Perhaps these should have been random observations. I'm not sure any of them have been astute.

5. I arrived in London from the country on a train into King's Cross station. (Can you see my excitement? A few of you are getting excited, too. Those of you that aren't excited about King's Cross probably have no idea of the release date for the next Harry Potter, either.) Below is my picture at Platform 9 3/4. Now if only I could have managed to catch the Hogwart's Express. Bloody hell.