Saturday, November 29, 2008

In Hot Pursuit

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. :-)
Now I have a story that ties into our writing.

My four year old Matthew has a crush. It's the cutest thing, but was also sad because Savannah told him that they weren't friends. So he admitted to me that he followed her sometimes across the playground. Pursued her, if you will. (Don't worry, I told him to stop. lol)
Now, suddenly, this fickle four year old girl is his friend. So he came home and told me how he and another boy chased her and another girl. Who did Matthew like chasing the best? Savannah. Even though she finally agreed to befriend him, he still pursues her.

This started me thinking about romance. In my opinion, there should be a pursuit. One character should desperately want the other. It spices things up. There's nothing more boring to me than reading about happy couples, usually because there's no sizzle.
Now in life, I'm very happy with my relationship with my husband. We get along great with another differences to keep things interesting and we rarely fight.

But in a romance, there needs to be tension, conflict.

Clashing desires.

And hot pursuit.

Some of my favorite romances are by Victoria Holt and Nora Roberts because there's usually one character in love with another, which leads to a delicious, emotional rollercoaster ride of a chase.

What are your fav romances? Why?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stuffing Break

Turkey's not my thing, but boy can I eat me some stuffing.

Woohoo!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I'll be back on Friday or Saturday. I hope you all have a great holiday.

The Canadians (you know who you are), I hope you have a nice weekend.

Later!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Common Errors Pt. 2

Ha! As if we didn't make enough mistakes, there's more on my list.
Hehee!

6. Its and It's: This is a special case of the use and non-use of the apostrophe. It's is ALWAYS a contraction for "It is." Its, when used as a possessive, NEVER has an apostrophe.

7. Punctuation marks like commas and periods fall INSIDE the quotation marks. The outside way is British. If you're subbing to American publishers, it's probably best to stay inside the quotes.

8. Virgules (doubletake here! Someone pull out Balderdash! Ahem, back to the list.) So, ah, virgules are used to indicate alternatives, as in "and/or." A usage like "secretary/treasurer" suggests this person is either a secretary or a treasure, but not both. "Secretary-Treasurer" is the correct form. Most every usage of virgule you see today is incorrect. Professional writers know the difference between correct usage and incorrect usage. (ouch mr. editor! *snort*) When I posted this I took my editor's word for it but because of the comments I decided to look it up. Now I'm not sure my cheat sheet is write. Hmmm. Just thought I'd let y'all know. :-)

And the postscript of my cheat sheet which my wonderfully sweet former editor gave to me is just too funny to not share. For your viewing pleasure only, his last words to naive, first-time freelancer Jessica Nelson.

"If you leave too many errors for him [mr. editor] to correct, he may just decide that you really don't know what you are doing, and really start doing some aggressive editing, figuring 1), your work probably needs it; and 2), you'll never know the difference."



*He really was a nice editor. I wasn't being sarcastic. Just so you know, since you can't hear my tone. :-)*

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Common Errors Pt. 1

Once upon a time, I wrote for my city newspaper. The day I went into this amazing place called the Star-Banner I was super young. Nineteen, in fact. And so, so excited.
My new editor showed me around then took me back to the office and explained things. Then he handed me a sheet of paper with common errors correspondents make.

I thought I'd share them.

1. A person should be referred to as a "who," not a "that." A "that" is an inanimate object. A "who" is a person. (LOL Just fixed a few of these in my manuscript)

2. Why is every "majority" a vast majority? Are there no longer any simple majorities?

3. Erstwhile, discreet, discrete, fame, infamy, compliment, complement, principal, principle: Make sure you know what the words you are using mean. *input from me> Watch out with the thesaurus. It shows words that are similar but they don't always mean the same thing. A dictionary is a great tool.*

4. "As follows" is, in most cases, empty verbiage.
Poor: The new officers are as follows: John Smith, president; Jane Doe...
Better: The new officers are: John Smith, president; Jane Doe...

5. Desert, Dessert- I'll bet I've read about literally hundreds of functions where hot, dry sand was served after the main course (LOL, I can totally hear my editor's dry humor here)

This wraps up lesson 1. I studied this paper many times during the beginning of my writer days.
Have you ever made any of these boo-boos? Do you have a cheat sheet like me? What's it say?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Growing Pains

As I revise an older manuscript for the Golden Heart, I am amazed at the plethora of "that" and "was" in my first chapters.
This manuscript has been pounded and twisted and scrunched so many times that to find more work of this magnitude is a bit overwhelming.
I love this story, however, so I press on.

Thank goodness for Control F. That thing'll be worn out by the time I'm done with it.

It is a nice thing to see that I am growing in the craft, however painful it may be. After all, when I last looked at this manuscript only months ago, these passive extras never stood out to me. Someday, when I'm published, growing will still be important to me. Learning new things, discovering better ways.

This is an important lesson for us all, both in life and in writing, that we never think we're finished. We are all works of art, continually being molded by our choices and beliefs.

Have you discovered any recent areas where you've changed? For the better or for the worse?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Surprise Me

SPOILER ALERT****FOR THE NEW INDIANA JONES MOVIE******
DON'T READ ANY MORE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO FIND OUT A SECRET!
:-)

Hubby and I watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull the other night. I really liked it, especially when the younger guy came on the scene. At first I wondered if he was Indiana's son.
But the movie set up enough info for me to conclude he was not Indiana's son.

Or so I thought.

That's what I love about these surprises. Turns out he is the son but I was pleasantly surprised because I no longer expected it. From there on out there was some interesting friction that I enjoyed.

I love a good surprise in a story but it has to be set up well. Enough clues for me to think I know the answer but when the truth is finally unveiled the clues have to be strong enough for me to think, Oh yeah. This could totally work. The clues led me down the wrong path but they could've led me down the right one too.

Is this a coherent post? It's pretty early so tell me if this makes no sense.

So, in your manuscripts do you try to set up a surprise with clues early on?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hiatus

Today is a break from any kind of helpful blog post. :-)

Instead, I am very busy trying to ready a manuscript for the Golden Heart. Not the rejected one, but an older (probably worse) one. What can I say? I'm a masochist.

Okay, not really, only with writing. I just have to try. I have to know. And last year I promised myself I'd enter this year.

Ever do anything like that? Stick yourself out there, hoping, hoping, hoping but 99% sure nothing will come of your fantasies?

Maybe that percentage is a bit on the high side. I have to keep some faith in my work. You know Alicia Keys, her song "I Keep Falling In and Out of Love?"

That's me with my writing. How about you?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Playing Tag

Eileen wants to play, and she chose me to be in on the game! Here's the rules:



1. I've read very few classics, but the ones I enjoyed the most were Dracula by Bram Stoker and Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. (but I didn't like the ending)

2. I only read one book at a time.

3. I can finish a book in a day.

4. In high school, I had few friends. Probably because I carried a book with me everywhere and often hid it in my lap while the teacher was talking. Amazingly, I still managed to have a high GPA. Go figure.

5. I'm an accomplished walking-while-reading type of person and have been known to read while driving. Don't freak out though. Now that I have kids, I no longer indulge in this dangerous activity. LOL

6. If things had gone differently, I'd love to be an editor or agent because I like to read more than I like to write.

7. I'm all about the alpha male. My sister hated the alpha in my first manuscript and fell inlove with a beta male I'd never even considered as a possible hero. Yikes! Bring on the Alpha, and ONLY the alpha. *snort* (yes, I picked up the horrible snorting habit from Anita. Goes to show, bad company corrupts good character.) *double snort* Or should I snicker? Hahaha

So, who do I tag? How about everyone on my sidebar? I'm pressed for time so if you all don't mind, just glance to the right, scroll down a little, and you'll see a list of people's names. They all have wonderful blogs so I hope they'll join in the fun.

Okay, except the agents. They're exempt. And the Seekers, 'cause that's a group. The rest of you, I'll be stopping by. :-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Haughty Spirit ... Goes Before A Fall

Yep, I fell.

A manuscript of mine was very nicely rejected by a choice editor. Sure, everybody gets rejected. That's part of the business. But when I read the letter, I had to wonder- Did my pride get in the way?

Not to say I feel prideful about my writing. It's what it is. Not great, not horrible. No, I'm referring to something else.A few weeks ago I won a book called Getting Into Character by bestselling author Brandilyn Collins.

I never got past the first chapter. Not because of the book, but because I thought, I'll do it later. I want to write instead.Well, I wrote and in the editor's rejection she mentioned the characters were underdeveloped.

Yikes!

Maybe, if I would have sat down and studied, I might not have heard those stinging words. (Written nicely, btw, but ouchy still)

What's on your shelves? Have you ever put something to the side because A) you thought you didn't need it or B) you were too busy? And then regretted it?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Places To Learn

Though writing is a solitary endeavor, learning is not so much. There are tons of places on the web for a writer to learn the craft and network with other writers. If you've been feeling lonely or like you're off somehow in your writing, check out these valuable resources.

Romance Writer's of America: An invaluable organization, worth every penny of membership. It's good for getting to know other writers, contests, and learning the craft and the industry. If you don't write romance, RWA may still be a great place for you because of all the groups and chapters it has.

American Christian Fiction Writers: Like RWA, this organization is full of valuable info geared to writer of inspirational fiction.

Yahoo Groups: There's a ton of them for writers and readers. I recently joined Romance Junkies, Book Lovers, and JustWriteIt. The first two are good for talking books and promoting yourself. JustWriteIt was formed by Shirley Jump, a bestselling author. It has a lot of helpful writer talk. So does MyBookTherapy, a group recommended by Susan.

Romance Divas: recommended by the Divalicious Kristen Painter. Though I'm not a member, I have perused the very helpful articles on this site.

RWC: Formed by Charlotte Dillon, there's several groups here. One for critiqueing, another for networking. And more, though I don't belong to them.

Just thought I'd share some of the places I lurk, learning and meeting people. If you've been feeling out of the loop, then I hope you'll find some of these places and hook up with some other writers. It does take time, but it's time well-spent, both emotionally and professionally.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Procrastinating

It's what I'm doing right now. Blogging instead of writing. Why?

The story is in a great spot. Anything could happen. A kiss. A fight. And yet I resist the urge to open my laptop and continue the story. What is the cause of procrastination? I have heard fear and I think it may be true.

The thought that I might sit down and spend an hour to write what I'll only discover later is junk, is very scary. But if I don't force myself to do it, then I won't have anything to fix later. And the fact of the matter is, I always fix stuff. It doesn't have to be perfect the first or even second time around.

It WON'T be perfect.

This realization is what inevitably draws me back into my story.

Do you procrastinate with your writing? How do you inspire yourself to move forward?

On a side note, my four year old threw up on the way to T-ball today. It made for a stinky ride. (Yes, I went home and cleaned him up, but the seatbelt still stunk) I think I'm going to blame Kristen for spreading the germs via the comment window. LOL

Thursday, November 6, 2008

HodgePodge

The good news: I actually wrote about a thousand words in my wip. It's literally been weeks but it feels great to be progressing again.
On to my hodgepodge of links:

Ever wondered what a manuscript has to go through before being published? Check out Anita's rundown and let me know what you think. LOL I was definitely intimidated.

Is it wrong to be jealous of a high schooler?

Though this is a writing blog, for the most part, I'm going to mention politics. Only to say that there are so many changes possibly coming that I can't help but wonder what they will add to or detract from the world of publishing. We shall see.

As these are trying times, for the weary soul, here is one of my favorite songs, best listened to in a quiet room. (click on the youtube video to hear it)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Optimum Potential

Recently, I visited Margie Lawson's website and was reminded of a term I heard months ago in my online crit group, RWC.

Backloading.

When I first heard of it, I thought, wow, this sounds complicated. But now I'm ready to give it a try. I'm ready to stop being lazy, which was the only thing stopping me before.

Backloading is basically ending your sentences on an emotionally powerful word. This technique gives your sentence a stronger, deeper impact on the reader.

Ex:
Okay > Jane shuddered when John set his greasy palms on her shoulders.
Better> John set his greasy palms on Jane's shoulders, and she shuddered.

The second sentence ends on the word shuddered. This action can imply fear. The hope is to have the reader leave that sentence feeling Jane's alarm.

Have you ever heard of backloading? Leave some examples, if you want, in the comments section. :-)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

And I thought I was a genius...

It happened again.

Someone copied my work.

Twenty years ago.


That's right. Some of my favorite phrases in an unpublished manuscript of mine were plagiarized twenty years ago.

Ack, I'm kidding!

Here's what happened. I was reading an older romance when I stumbled across phrasing almost identical to the phrasing in my manuscript. It was weird.

And humbling.

Here I thought I came up with this deep and lovely prose, and another author already used it. One of my so-called original phrases include the term "her eyes silver pools of sorrow". BEEP. That's been used. Grrrrr.....

Has this happened to you or am I just crazy (and unoriginal, lol)?