Sunday, December 27, 2009

Jumping on the Bandwagon

I think I'll be taking a blog break too. My dad and brother, who I haven't seen in over two years, might be coming to my house soon so I'm really excited!

I'll probably still be visiting blogs on my free time. I am an addict, after all. *wink*

What family did you see this year? Was it stressful or fun? Are you ready to go back to the comfortable insanity of normal life?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Isaiah 9:6-7 (New King James Version)
6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Author Rachel Hauck on Agent/Author Relationships, Last Part

Here's the last part of Rachel's post! I hope you all find it helpful. You can find Rachel at her website, blog or at My Book Therapy.
Here she is:


Already have an agent?

1. Pray. Seriously, pray for your agent, the agency and the other clients.

2. Ask for a call once in awhile to keep communication open. If you’re not working on a project, or needing help, schedule a short call just to touch base. But make it brief.

3. When going into a contract negotiations, schedule a call with your agent to set expectations. Talk through all the possible ramifications of your deal. Ask for a marketing plan as part of the contract.

4. Ask for advice on marketing and promotions outside the publishers plan.

5. Ask your agent to be in the loop with your publisher on book covers, promotional plans, editorial ideas and issues.

6. If there are issues you believe your agent should’ve handled and did not, schedule a call. Don’t fester over it. And pray! Have an honest talk about your needs and expectations. Listen to your agent’s response. Sometimes expectations are not clear. Make sure they are.

Finding an agent is fun and interesting, frustrating and hard. But hang in there. It’s better to have no agent than a bad agent, or one who is wrong for you.
If you have an agent, be professional, pray for him or her, keep communication lines open.


Thank you so much Rachel! I really appreciate your advice.

Have any of you ever thought about praying for your agent? Do you find the agent search fun or grueling?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Official Kissing Day

This Mistletoe Day was thought up by Katie and Sherrinda. Thanks ladies!

Two of my favorite characters, kissing it up!

Later, Prue would blame her actions on her vulnerable state. She might even blame them on his vulnerable state, but in the second before she kissed him, she thought she might be in love.

She leaned forward, on tiptoes, and pressed her lips against his ferocious anger. At first he was unyielding, but she didn’t give up. She needed the contact, and if she was being too bold, she didn’t care.
Death did not wait, it came when it pleased, and she would have this kiss.
She wasn’t quite sure how to do it, but she moved her lips against his, needing him to respond. When he did, it was as though she’d unleashed something she couldn’t control. His mouth slanted over hers, warm and smooth. He pressed her against him, his hands spreading across her back, his fingers burning through her shirt to sear the skin beneath. He wasn’t gentle, but that did not shock her. She kissed him for herself, but also to soothe the monsters within him.


My favorite kissing scene is in an older episode of House, when Cameron finally kisses House. He's so reluctant, and then it's like he just can't resist her...

What kind of kissing scenes do you like? What's your favorite one of all time

Friday, December 18, 2009

Part 2: Author Rachel Hauck on the Agent/Author Relationship

To read part one, go here.
And now Rachel:


Here’s my advice on finding or working with an agent.

1. Ask God to direct you to the right agent. After talking with other writers, and watching the publishing world, it’s possible that some agents are wonderful for launching your career, but another agent will take you the rest of the way. I’m not sure how to recognize this with any particular agent, but go into your agent relationship with full confidence and faith that you’ll be together forever while keeping your ear to the heartbeat of Jesus. He will let you know if change is required. Pray for your relationship with your agent.

2. Be professional. Do your homework. Follow agent sites like Gardner’s and MacGregor’s. Thomas Nelson CEO, Michael Hyatt gives advice on how to find an agent. Meet with agents at conferences. Talk to other authors about agents or agencies. Look at agent or agency web sites.

3. Who does your potential agent represent? Look at their client list. Is this a good “field” for you? That’s not to say you don’t take a chance with a new agent. I did. But there was an organization around her. Nicolas Sparks was his agent's first client. Seems that worked out well. But do your research. Does he or she know the industry? Have connections? Publishing or editorial experience?

4. Pray. Be humble. Be teachable. Write a great proposal. Study the craft of fiction. Make sure when you query and/or submit to an agent, you’re just this side of ready-to-be published.

5. Attend conferences where you can meet agents. For me, being able to have some kind of rapport beyond business was important. I wanted an agent I felt like I could talk to honestly, sharing the successes as well as disappointments and tears without feeling like I was losing professional credibility. There are those HARD days and an agent can balance your perspective. Yet, it’s important to keep professional boundaries. Your agent is not your best friend. And it’s not bad to only have a business relationship with your agent, only communicating when a contract or other business is involved. But know you feel comfortable with this person. Your heart’s desire will be in their hands.

6. Don’t be afraid of hard words, of being told to go back and rework your proposal. Listen to the agent’s advice — if they are offering. Don’t fire back that they don’t know what they are talking about. Be polite and thank them for their time. If they invite you to resubmit. Do it! But first, revamp that proposal!

7. Ask any potential agent their philosophy on marketing and branding. Authors are required to do more and more social networking to boost sales, I think this behooves agents to be more marketing and promotions savvy.

Which of these tips do you think will be easy for you? Which ones seem more challenging? Do you have a list of Top Picks? What draws you to those particular agents?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Author Rachel Hauck on the Agent/Author Relationship Part 1

Author Rachel Hauck was kind enough to offer some advice about finding and working with literary agents. Thank you so much Rachel!

Here she is:



I wasn’t looking for an agent when an author and friend called after reading the opening chapter of my first chick lit. Enthusiastic, (don’t you love those calls?) she suggested I submit the work to her agent. After learning of the agent’s reputation and client list, I whole heartily agreed.
Up to this point, I wasn’t confident I was ready for an agent. I had one Heartsong published and wasn’t working on anything bigger, like a trade book. Then I started writing a chick lit in late ‘03.
There’s a tendency to get in a hurry. Seeing other authors pick up agents, sell trade books out of the gate, win awards. “What, am I wood? Am I standing still?” you may ask yourself.
Don’t be in a hurry.
My prayer has always been and remains, “Lord, You’re my editor, agent and promoter.”
I signed with my first agent in early ‘04. She really challenged me to go deeper in my writing and to keep reading and studying.
I sold my first chick lit six months later. I sold another one a year later. In between I wrote two more Heartsongs. I was on a roll.
Yet, by mid 2007, I felt I was losing some momentum. I knew I needed help on how to increase my brand and visibility. Speaking? Writing articles? Joining forces with… someone?
I began to pray about what to do, willing for God to end my writing season, when I came across an agency that seemed to be keen on marketing and branding.
Maybe that’s what I needed? Could they help with ideas, partnerships, other avenues of promotion? I prayed. Tried not to decide based on worry or jealousy of authors finding more success than me. Tried not to “force” something to happen.
In the meantime, God opened a door for me to write with country artist Sara Evans. And I changed agents. Closed my eyes, breathed in faith and jumped.
It was an interesting season. But a short one.
Through a series of interesting and fun events, the Lord led me to my next (and final) agent, Chip MacGregor.
I never set out to have more than one agent. I never wanted to agent shop or get disgruntled and change for change sake. An agent/client relationship is a living, breathing thing that must be maintained and treated like all relationships: with good communication.

Me: How are you with communication? Do you prefer to write e-mails or talk on the phone? What kind of communication would you prefer to engage in with your future agent?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snoop Dogg and Me

The other day I read a post by a fellow blogger and in it she mentioned Tupac and put up a video. I had never heard his songs but knew my husband used to listen to him all the time, so together we looked up some old videos.

As we sat and watched old videos, it became apparent to me that each of these big-time, famous rappers have a very unique voice. After watching only a few videos, I'm sure if I heard these rappers on the radio, I'd recognize their style.

Funny thing is that over ten years later, Hubby still knows the lyrics to Snoop Dogg, Tupac and Dr. Dre songs (and I was a little horrified his parents let him listen to them, lol.)

I'm still trying to sort through what this means for our writing.

What does it mean to have a unique voice? Will it get us published faster? Do you think the more you write the more your voice will shine through? Or do some people have it, and some people don't?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I've been tagged!

Jeannie tagged me!
Now for some info on my writerly habits, etc. :

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

I still have a short story I wrote on a little pad of paper when I was in seventh grade. It was a suspense with a happy ending. :-) The last thing I wrote were notes in my WIP about where I want the story to head next.

2. Write poetry?

Not really.

3. Angsty poetry?

I don't really know. What's angsty? Feel free to leave an example in the comments. LOL

4. Favorite genre of writing?

Historical and Contemporary romance; Romantic suspense

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?

My first heroine. I love her, but about half the people who read her (contests, critters, etc) hated her and said she was really annoying. Heh.

6. Best Plot you've ever created?

Not sure yet. :-) Maybe the one that sells? LOL

7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?

The hero is two people in the book, but the reader doesn't know that until the end.

8. How often do you get writer's block?

Several times during the course of my WIPs, but that's probably because I don't plot ahead of time.

9. Write fan fiction?

I never heard of it until entering the blog world.

10. Do you type or write by hand?

Type the story, write the ideas. You?

11. Do you save everything you write?

Pretty much.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?

I get ideas out of nowhere but if I don't write them down I totally forget them. I guess I could get an idea but if I can tell it doesn't have enough conflict/depth to make a book, I reject it.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?

I liked writing the scene where the hero tosses the stubborn heroine over his shoulder. It made me laugh. Yes, my own writing made me laugh. I don't even know if it will make others laugh, but it sure felt fun to write. :-)

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?

Bad Boy's Redemption. Only two people read it but they both said they loved it, which was balm to my writer's ego.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

I don't think I'll ever NOT write romance.

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?

I don't know if I have a favorite place/state, though I do catch myself wanting to use moonlight alot.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?

Just my fiction WIP.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?

Yes.

19. What are your five favorite words?

Hmmmm, interesting question. I really love the word persnickety. Besides that, I've been using the word Woot alot, because it's fun. :-)

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?

I think Katrina in The Bridegroom's Revenge is most like me in her weaknesses.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?

I don't know. But I'm thankful for them. :-)

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Never. It's intriguing and a little strange to me when people are able to have a dream and then create a plot out of it.

23. Do you favor happy endings?

If there's no satisfying ending, I won't read it. Romance is usually a must. I love The Color Purple. Sad, real book, yet it had a satisfying ending, right?

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

OH YES.

25. Does music help you write?

Not at all.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.

Nothing is popping into my head, because I don't usually remember what I've written, plus it gets changed a million times. Ha! Let me go look something up...

Okay, first line to my WIP:

On a fine day in May when hyacinths bloomed red and the spring-fed Manatee River glittered beneath a warm Florida sun, Pastor Joseph O’Reilly lost both his heart and his land within hours of each other.

It's omniscient POV, which means I'll probably have to change it. Any suggestions?

Now I tag Janna, Penny, and Sandie.

What's your favorite question on here? What are some of your answers?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Transitioning and Computer Hogging

I'm a little behind in reading posts because I've (horror of horrors) been having to share MY internet with Hubby. Back in the day, the computer was all mine. But now Hubbalicious has decided to create a fishing show, so my internet time has been limited.

Thanks to a friend, I was able to install a router for my laptop and now I'll be able to jump on and read blogs whenever I want. No more bowing to my ambitious, innovative and computer-hogging man. :-)

How do you handle computer time in your family? Ever find yourself trying to hog the internet?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Music and Characters

Many writers listen to music while writing. Although I never have, some songs do remind me of my stories and characters. This one, in particular, always made me think of one of my heroines.
Do you have a certain song that characterizes your WIP? Which artists do you find the most inspiring?



My dear friend Anita has a wonderful, heartwarming story up at Pix 'N Pens. If you have time, a comment on her story counts as a vote to be entered to win a box of books. (sorry, had the details wrong when I first posted)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Confrontational Dialogue

I'll admit, this is my favorite kind to write. It's in-your-face, don't-mess-with-me dialogue. It's what most of us are afraid to say in real life.

In a scene, this kind of dialogue can be refreshing and exciting. I also think this kind of dialogue often forces truths and hidden conflicts to the surface of the scene.

Stein gives an awesome example of this type of dialogue. On page 111 he shares an excerpt from a NYPD Blue scene. A cop just saw a killer let loose on a technicality. The cop makes a stink and the judge says, "We govern by law, not your whim."

Then the cop gets confrontational. He replies, "Don't tell me how you govern. I work your streets. I clean up after how you govern. The way you govern stinks."

I just found an interesting post about adversarial dialogue over at Novel Dog.

How are you with confrontations? Do you like to write them?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Stuck

Have you checked out my word meter?

NO???

Well, don't feel bad. It hasn't moved because I'm stuck. There are various reasons for this pause in my writing and as I mentally sludge my way through this WIP torture, I read. Mostly historical romances.

When you're stuck, what do you do? What's your favorite form of procrastination?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Puppy Love

Now that my oldest is five, I've been letting him watch a bunch of Disney movies, especially the older ones. The other day I was thinking about my favorite movies as a kid, and why I liked them.

I realized that the movies I loved all had something in common.

The hero.

Yes, my twistedness started young. Some of my favorite heroes were Charlie the ex-con dog (All Dogs Go To Heaven), Butch the street-smart dog (Lady and the Tramp) and Robin the saving-the-poor and antagonizing-the-rich fox (Robin Hood).

These characters are wild and flirtatious. Charmers.

What do your favorite childhood cartoon heroes say about you? Have your tastes matured? (unlike mine? Heehee.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Break

I wanted to do another post on dialogue, but family is in town and I have a feeling I'll be absent from the blogosphere.

That said, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday week and weekend, and I'll see you Monday! Or sooner, if my blog addiction can't be contained. LOL

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oblique Dialogue

Writing dialogue can be a lot of fun but it can also be tricky. Dialogue is not the same as conversation. It is not question/answer format.

Dialogue should lead to questions. It should entice the reader to turn the page. It should move the plot forward.

I've never heard dialogue called oblique before chapter eleven in Stein on Writing. According to Stein, this type of dialogue is indirect.

His example of oblique dialogue:

SHE: Hi, how are you?
HE: Oh, I didn't see you.

The man doesn't answer the question. He circles around it and says something else. That's oblique.

Have you ever heard of oblique dialogue? Or maybe you've heard it called indirect? For an exercise, here's some dialogue. Can you turn it into something oblique?

HE: Heard you had a party last night.
SHE: Yep.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gone Garage Saling

Today (for some reason I originally wrote tomorrow, lol) my mom and I are making the rounds!

Anyone else trying to save some money on presents? Am I completely cheap to do this?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Controversial Changes

There are some changes in publishing.

First, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson is partnering with Author Solutions in a new venture called WestBow Press. This will be Thomas Nelson's self-publishing arm. You can read some details at Writer Beware!.

Now I've just found out that Harlequin is a part of a new press called Harlequin Horizons. There's some talk about whether it's a Vanity or Self-publisher. Lots of talk, actually. Check out Dear Author for a short post about this, and then in the comments a Harlequin representative answered some questions.

As a capitalist, I think these publishers are innovative and smart to do this. As a writer, I'm concerned. These are new territories and it'll be interesting to see where publishing heads.

What do you think about these traditional publishers using traditional names for their self-publishing ventures? How about agents receiving referral fees? Do you think these changes will really affect those of us who are aiming for traditional publishing?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Awards Banquet

Thank you to Steph, who inspired this banquet! :-)
There are so many of you who deserve an award. I could never name all of you, but I appreciate every single person who comments on this blog. I tried to match up the awards with blogs that I think embody the feel behind that award. Also, I didn't follow the rules for any of them. Sorry about that! And if you've already gotten the one I gave you, I'm sorry, and if you don't post it or play with it, that's totally fine with me.
So here they are!


Kathryn
Deb
Tabitha
Danyelle








Donna
Keli
Susan
Elana








Terri Tiffany
Tamika
Jeanette
Karen







Penny
Angie







Janna
Jody
MaryBeth







Dara
Sarah
Kristen








Wendy
Genny










Anita
Eileen








Katie
Sandie
Sherrinda


Have you received any awards? Which one is your favorite? Which one do you wish someone would give you? Do you even care?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Awards, Awards

I have more thank yous! And then, on Tuesday, I'm going to have an awards banquet (the idea was inspired by Steph In the City, so thanks!)In the meantime, I know I haven't played the rules for all of these, but that's because I forget what they are. I'm looking forward to passing these on verrrry soon. *grin*



Thank you, Julie! Julie's blog has been spotlighting her Nano experience. Interesting stuff for someone like me, who's never Nanoed.




Thank you, Stephanie! She has a new blog and always posts interesting, conversation-starting topics.




Thank you, Jennifer! Her blog always has a weird news report and it usually makes me laugh.




Thank you, Dara! Dara posts about some really cool Japanese myths, names and facts.




Thank you, Jeanette! Your friendship really has "hit the spot." :-)








Thank You Mary at Writer's Butt Doesn't Apply to Me (and boy, don't I wish that were true for me, LOL)




Thank you to Tara at the BloodCrossed Writer! I haven't explored this blog too much, but look forward to it later.


I hope you all have an awesome weekend!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Melodramatic Mother

Mom, this one's for you. *wink*

The other day we were on the phone and my mom was describing some of her ailments to me. She's normally a healthy person, but she does suffer from allergies and sinus issues. She's also a vivid person and this comes across in her language.
In this case, she told me her pain was skewering up through her nose.

Skewering.

She never finished the description because I laughed. What a perfect word! Strong, to the point, I had an exact (if somewhat gross) image of what was happening.

Do you have a vivid person in your life? Someone who thinks in ways you forget to? And in your WIP, are you using the strongest verb possible to convey EXACTLY what you mean?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Author Laurie Alice Eakes on having the Right Agent, Part 2

Thank you so much, Laurie Alice, for sharing your story. You can find her at her website or her blog, Seize the Chance.

Continued from Part One:

Then tragedy struck. My best friend found out she had four months to live. She told me to go back to writing, to pursue that dream and not let that lousy agent stop me. My friend believed in me. Several other life-changing events occurred, too, and I found myself with a renewed relationship with the Lord, glad my secular stuff had gone nowhere, joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and, by a pure miracle of the Lord, got an agent who believed in me.

I had done my research on her. She was new, so no former clients, but also that meant she was hungry. No, she didn’t have great contacts in the industry, but she was outgoing and warm and had a desire to succeed. She was also a writer, so knew people in the business. She was also working with an experienced agent. Frankly, I felt that I had nothing to lose at this point.

Ten years after that first agent told me I couldn’t write and my idea was terrible, I sold that terrible idea to Avalon Books. Family Guardian won the National Readers’ Choice Award for Best Regency the year it came out. And since then, I have sold twelve more books. Why? Yes, I suppose I have some talent and ability, and I also have an agent who believes in me, encourages me, sticks with me, tells me when something won’t work, but also tells me when something does. And an agent who always submits what she says she will.

These are the minimal points you should expect from your agent. Not all will hold your hand. If you want that, then seek one who will. If you want one who just submits and doesn’t care if your dog died and your heart is broken, so long as you meet your deadline, then make sure you know that ahead of time, too. I tend to need some encouragement, someone to call me up and say, Hello, look at that award on your desk when you think you can’t write. Look at those books with your name on the spine. This isn’t for everyone and not every agent will do this for you either. I have a friend whose agent gets her good deals, then disappears. I would hate that. Well, I’d like the deals, but I don’t want my agent to disappear.

Your agent should be honest with you about your work, but should also encourage you. She (or he) should keep you up on the market and pay attention to whom she is selling. If she’s never sold to publishing house X, she may not have a connection there or like the stuff those editors do, so she’s not a good fit.

Whole books are written on this subject, so I’m just summarizing as best I can. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Author Laurie Alice Eakes on having the Right Agent, Part 1

Thank you to Laurie Alice for sharing her agent journey with us.

Laurie Alice Eakes is the award-winning author of historical romantic fiction in both the sweet-secular and inspirational markets. After a slow start, her career took off this year with the sale of eleven books in nine months.
She lives in Texas with her husband and sundry animals.

Worse Than No Agent At All

A bad agent is worse than no agent. For me, I learned this aphorism the hard way. I was so thrilled to get an agent I said yes to her representation without getting all the scoop on her. In truth, she’d come recommended by someone I respected. Things looked good for the first three months.

This post is about what can happen if you jump at the first agent who offers to represent you, or if you submit to one without doing your research on her first, research such as finding clients who have left, as well as those who have stayed, what she represents, to whom she has sold, etc. And, because I am an unashamed believer in the happy ending, this post ends on a positive note.

When my agent and I met in person, we didn’t click. Why I won’t go into, but she exhibited some behavior that set off alarm bells in my head. Of course I ignored them. She was an agent in New York with a great address--the same building as St. Martin’s Press, and I was writing secular fiction.

During the next year, I worked hard on my writing. I finished a couple of manuscripts, something I hadn’t been very good at doing. I went to a couple of regional conferences and made contact with editors who liked my stories and said send away. After these conferences, I contacted my agent and told her to send the projects. Then I waited.

She called me once a month to tell me nothing had happened. Sigh. But things took a while. In July, I went to the RWA conference in New York city. Great things would happen there, right?

Wrong. My agent never remembered to bring the list of editors to whom she’d sent my stuff. She hated my next idea.

Discouraged, I went home and didn’t work so hard on my writing. In fact, I finished nothing. I still got the monthly calls, but nothing happened—still. Finally, at the advice of some new writing friends I’d made, I wrote her and asked to know to whom she’d sent manuscripts, as I was severing our relationship and needed to let the editors know.

Surprise. She hadn’t sent my stuff to any of them, not even the ones with whom I’d made contact over a year earlier. She said she didn’t think I was publishable and should move on.

So I did. I played with ideas and part of me still had the dream, but I essentially stopped writing, went to grad school for history, liked academic a little, but research more, and went back to my office job. A couple of times, I took out things I’d written, dusted them off, and reworked a chapter or two. I even submitted something which, fortunately, didn’t sell. It really was bad and I wouldn’t want it in print.

Then tragedy struck. My best friend found out she had four months to live. She told me to go back to writing, to pursue that dream and not let that lousy agent stop me. My friend believed in me. Several other life-changing events occurred, too, and I found myself with a renewed relationship with the Lord, glad my secular stuff had gone nowhere, joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and, by a pure miracle of the Lord, got an agent who believed in me.

On Wednesday I'll post the rest of Laurie Alice's story. She may be stopping by today, so feel free to ask questions.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Book Spotlights



I loved the main character of this book. Ray Quinn is a cross between House and Ollie Chandler. I was intrigued immediately. The writing was spectacular. Author Mark Mynheir outdid himself and I was hugely impressed, not to mention hooked. A great read, imo.






I've loved all of Lessman's books but this one topped them for me. While pushing the boundaries of sensuality for the CBA market, I also think it pushed the spirituality of today's Christian. The book overflowed with Godly principles and bible verses without ever becoming preachy. I loved it.






This was a great ABA thriller. I couldn't put it down and even though I guess the killer, it wasn't until the very end. If you like suspense, I highly recommend this one. Interestingly enough, Castillo wrote category for years and I believe this might be her "break-out" novel.






Jones is a new author for me. I sat by her at dinner one night at the conference. She was super nice, I'd heard great things about her books, so I bought one. It was SO good. Great writing. The dialogue blew me away. So smart, so funny. It was just a really, really good book that kept me hooked.

What are you reading? What do you like about it?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Family in Town

I might be absent from your blogs for a few days. Just depends on how much my adorable little nephews lure me away from the computer.
:-)

Can't wait to get back in the blogosphere. And so far I have one author willing to guest post about the writer/agent relationship! Woot!

This just in! Apparently Travis Erwin is doing a series of posts about how agents have enriched writer's lives. It looks great. Check it out if you have time.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Your Turn

While there are plenty of things to watch out in our Great Agent Search, I don't want to leave everyone on a wary note.

The thing is, a compatible, solid relationship with your agent can be the best choice you ever make for your career. Whether the relationship remains professional or turns into friendship, it can be wonderful.

We know the things to look out for, but I'd love to hear about any great experiences you've had with agents. If you have a great relationship with your agent and are interested in doing a guest post about it, e-mail me at jessica_nelson7590 AT yahoo Dot com. Or you can share in the comments section.

Here's a link to an encouraging and helpful post on picking an agent.

I'm looking forward to reading some awesome comments/posts!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Know Thy Self: Guest Post

A real-life vent from a dear friend of mine on the perils of "jumping into bed" with an agent. Thank you for sharing your story, Anonymous Guest. :-)

First, I’d like to thank my gracious blog host, Jessica, for letting me post this. It’s been therapeutic to vent in a “public” venue.

As for jumping into bed with an agent, I’m someone who’s in that bed right now, trying to decide whether to "suck it up” or toss the covers aside and find another mate.

It’s so easy to say: I’m going to research every agent inside and out, read their every blog entry and online interview, talk to their other clients, and ask all the right questions to turn down any agent who answers even one of them wrong. That still doesn’t mean the marriage will be perfect. Even more than knowing your agent (which is virtually impossible until you start working with them anyway), is know your own career path. That’s the only way to assure the partnership will be successful.

I’d been trying to get an agent to notice me for over three years. After writing four books and getting over a hundred rejections, I finally had a top agent call me, interested enough in my work to sign me even before I made the revisions we’d agreed upon. I was so happy, I couldn't see straight. Finally I had validation from the publishing world that my writing—all of those endless lonely hours and words—had been worth it. Everything was going to be perfect. My agent would love whatever I penned, and I would sell books left and right.

Not so. Because I didn’t yet know who I was as a writer.

I did research my agent. I had been reading her blog. As for interviewing her clients—after conferring with my published friends, they made the point that unless you can find an ex-client, you’re unlikely to hear anything negative. Most clients are just so relieved to be repped, they don’t want to diss their meal ticket and compromise that security. So they’re unlikely to spill any criticism, in fear it might get back to their agent (just like I didn’t put my name on this post for the same reason). The only exception is if one of the clients happens to be your personal friend or acquaintance.

Now, asking questions of the agent? That’s where I dropped the ball. Well, kind of. I did ask the legal questions—things that applied to the biz. But I didn’t touch on the more personal questions. Not only of my agent, but of myself.

Again. Validation—in any small dose—is so seductive it’s almost blinding. The one question I should’ve asked above all others, was: “Why didn’t you like my first MS?” A MS that my crit group and several friends had read and loved. A MS that I completely forgot about after hearing she liked the other one.

In my case, my agent signed me on the second MS she read. The first one didn’t appeal to her. But she loved the voice. She asked what else I was working on, and I sent my newly finished, never read paranormal love story her way. She loved it. Wanted it. And signed me.

Now I find out she doesn’t want my other three prior MSS because they’re fantasies which she doesn’t rep. I’ve written two books since signing with her, and they both have elements more conducive to mainstream romance than traditional or single title. I’m having a hard time satisfying her. And in trying to satisfy her, I’m not satisfied.

A little too late, I’m starting to understand the role that voice plays in guiding a writer’s career path. I never stopped to really evaluate my “genre” in regards to style. VOICE drives you to your genre. No matter how hard you try to write something else, voice will win over in the long run every time. I assumed my work was romance with some fantasy/complex elements because a love story was always woven throughout. But what I’ve come to see is that the romance is secondary to plot. There’s an actual formula to traditional romances, and it’s clear that the way my mind works and puts a story into play is mainstream / fantasy. And I can’t even pursue that side of my creativity, because I have an agent who doesn’t have the connections or know how for fantasy or mainstream. She’s a stranger to my genre, yet she’s representing me. Scary.

With the paranormal love story, I had to change a lot of stuff to make it conform to her liking. And to this day she admits it’s still not really a traditional romance. I suspect that might be why we’re having trouble placing my paranormal (been trying for a year), because despite that it’s not traditional, she’s hitting the same editors she would if it were one. On the other hand, an agent who repped mainstream / fantasy would know of editors that would like the more in-depth and complex story leanings and world building, and might’ve already sold the book.

Some of you might be saying, “So what. Now that you’ve got an agent, suck it up and hang in there. Learn to write for the market she’s in, build a readership, then branch out later.”

But should I really, if writing for my agent’s market means changing my style which could possibly pigeon hole me into a genre I’m not meant for, for the rest of my career (or at least a big portion of it)?

There’s something lost when you stop writing your heart’s song. There has to be a balance somewhere between marketability and staying true to your voice. I know that there’s a publishing house out there that will get me, even though my agent doesn’t. I truly believe I’m marketable … just not in her genres. Yes, compromises will have to be made on my MSS all along the way, but not at the expense of the voice that makes me and my writing unique—which ironically, is the very quality that my agent fell in love with to begin with. The quality that to this day she still believes in. So, so confusing.

My advice to anyone seeking an agent for the first time is not only to research your agent, etc… but be sure that you are writing what you’re meant to write. KNOW what genre that is so you can assure your chosen agent represents your dreams, not just a one time fluke, before signing any dotted lines.

Then stand firm. Having felt the warmth of validation, I know how hard it is to turn away an offer from an agent after waiting so long in the cold. But is it really any worse to stand your feet upon a freezing, hard floor, than it would be to keep them toasty warm in a bed where a stranger sleeps beside you, or where you become a stranger to yourself?

Before jumping into bed, know where you want to be when you wake up. That way, you will find your perfect mate. :-)

Are the agents you want to query a good fit for your future writings? Do you know yourself, or are you still discovering where you fit in the publishing spectrum?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Strange Bedfellows

Sometimes we hop into bed with an agent before thinking things through. Passion kicks in and oops, we're in "bed" with a stranger.

Just because an agent is reputable and nice doesn't mean they'll be the right fit. If you don't ask the right questions you might jump in with someone who:

Hogs the covers.

Takes up all the room on the mattress.

Huddles on the edge of mattress and you can barely reach him.

Snores in the middle of pillowtalk.

Have you thought about what to ask an agent before accepting an offer of representation? What things are you willing to overlook and what qualities are important to you?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pacing

I knew someone whose manuscript was rejected because of uneven pacing. It was the first time I'd heard of such a thing, and boy did it scare me.

Thinking about pacing, for me, is like thinking about calculus or trying to get home from the Orlando airport. I get lost. Easily. Frequently.

But I've managed to glean a few tidbits about pacing from different places (and since it's been a while I don't know who to thank--sorry!).

1. Pacing should slow when there's tension. I take that to mean we want the moment to stretch out wire-taut.

2. Pacing can be linked to conflict issues. So if your middle is sagging, your pacing might be off.

3. Pacing is the rhythm of the novel. Check out this excellent article by bestselling author Vicki Hinze.

What have you heard about pacing? How's the pacing in your manuscript? Your life? *grin*
Any good advice to share?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Writer's Angst and some Thank Yous


Thank You Jeanette!


Thank You Steph in the City!






Here's a cute video I found over at Miss Snark's First Victim. It's an advertisement for Authoress's Book Agent Demystified, but I still thought it was really funny and kind of true. At least for the beginning of most of our writing journeys.



Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You Reap What You Sow

I strongly believe in sowing and reaping. Some people might believe in karma, some in 'what goes around, comes around.'

The basic principle here is that everything has consequences.

I just loved a recent episode of House because it was about sowing and reaping. Balance, even. The dad sacrificed everything to save his son, and being the wonderful show it is, the son lived. Not only that, but the minor characters have made some choices that are now beginning to bear fruit (and add conflict).

Consequences.

Are you making sure your characters are suffering from their bad choices? Being rewarded for their good ones? It's the little choices at the beginning of the story that should affect the rest of the book. I think these seemingly inconsequential choices should weave together and create the plot.

What do you think about sowing and reaping? Is your MC making good choices or bad ones, and how does that affect your character's moral arc?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oh Toliet Brush, How I Do Love Thee

As I was cleaning my bathrooms yesterday, it struck me how thankul I am that I no longer have to use my hands to clean the toilet bowl. I remembered how as a kid I hated sticking my fingers into that cold, nasty water.

But now I have my trusty toilet brush. Swish, swish and I'm done. No mess, little effort.

Thanks to computers, writing is easier too. No more whiteout in the typewriter, just a beautiful delete button. Then there's control F. And most recently I discovered page breaks. I'm sure there's lots of other cool tools.

What's your favorite word processing tool? House-cleaning tool? What do you wish would be invented?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Conference Goodies!

On my last post Deb mentioned wanting to hear about the good stuff from the conference. So here we go:

1) Amazing networking. I met many of my blogger friends, plus new bloggers.

2) I met my wonderful and generous crit partner. Also roomed with her, which was awesome.

3) Books, books, and more books. They gave away a whole bunch too!

4) Seeing editors and agents and realizing many of them are my age. Kind of a funky feeling there, but good.

5) Delicious desserts

6) Tree Climbing

7) Being surrounded by other writers is one of the biggest supports I've ever felt. It's incredible.

So that's the good stuff from the conference. There's so much more I could write about, but others have covered it better than me. The links below are for fellow bloggers who did more detail on various aspects of the conference.

Katie's Post

Jody's Post

Krista's Post

Eileen's Post

Jeannie's Post

Any links you all want to add?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Conference Bloopers

I tried hard to keep my foot on the ground, but gravity didn't cooperate and my size ten got stuck in my mouth a few times.

The worse faux pas was when I saw an author whose name I recognized and since she was standing right next to me, I told her how much I liked her book. And then I paused, horror filling me as I realized that I couldn't remember which book of hers I'd read. And then I tried to fill up that awkward silence by saying I knew I'd read a book of hers, but I couldn't remember which...uh, yeah. Not quite the right thing to say. That was my worst thing, I think, especially because I didn't know whether I'd maybe hurt her feelings. The last thing I'd want to do was make an author feel like her book wasn't memorable.

The second blooper was less serious. I'd just met some fellow bloggers and we were talking and I threw out the word heroine in our conversation. The blogger (wasn't it you, Katie?) looked at me funny and it dawned on me that my entire mental life has been spent saying heroine the wrong way.

HERE-ROYNE.

Not too smart, but now I know the name sounds like the drug. Weird.

Any words you've been mispronouncing lately? Has your mouth ever moved faster than your brain and then you accidentally hurt someone's feelings?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

An Announcement and apology

From Kat at Tender Graces and Angie at Gumbo Writer:

You are cordially invited to attend an "open house" beginning Wednesday, October 14, in honor of the newly renovated Rose &Thorn Journal: http://www.roseandthornjournal.com

Drop by, sign up for the newsletter, check out the new digs (and blog!), follow us on Twitter and Facebook, leave us your comments/thoughts, and wish us well!

Rose &Thorn is a quarterly literary journal featuring the voices of emerging and established authors, poets and artists.

Now...go enjoy the open bar and appetizer spread!

Angie Ledbetter &Kathryn Magendie
Co-Editor/Publishers
Rose & Thorn Journal



As for an apology, I'm going to be really busy today so I might miss some of your blog posts. Just wanted to apologize and let you all know that I'm still following you and will be back in blogaholic mode by Friday. I hope you're able to check out the Rose & Thorn!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Consistent Characterization

Sometimes when I read a series of books where they are all tied into the same family or place, I notice that a main character from a previous book doesn't seem as real when put in a secondary role.
It's always disappointing to me that someone I loved becomes such a shadow, as though a secondary character can't be as strong as the current main character.

It's not consistent.

I just finished Julie Lessman's A Passion Denied. This is the third book in her Daughters of Boston series and the heroine is the third sister in the family. There's a scene where all three sisters from the book are together in the kitchen and it made me laugh several times.

Lessman did something I don't usually see. She managed to keep each character strong and original without taking the focus off the main sister of that particular book. Talk about consistency!

Faith was still more serious and prayerful. Charity, hot-headed and sensual. And the heroine a little of both.

Have you written a series? Are all your characters strong, or do you sense that you've weakened some? What's your favorite series of all and who do you think is the strongest character in that series?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Dead Don't Always Die

I wrote the following when I first started this blog. Totally forgot about it too, but since I'm feeling exhausted and my brain is on post-freeze, I thought I'd repost it. Wish I had the link because it was really an amazing story.

Yesterday I logged onto Yahoo and got the shock of a lifetime. Okay, not really, but it was a surprise. A man who'd been pronounced brain dead by doctors suddenly, on the day of the plug-pulling, moved. Yes, he moved, then woke up, and forty-eight hours later went home. How incredible is that? How awesome! So I was in a really good mood and decided that maybe I don't want Dear Hubby to pull the plug on me if I'm ever brain dead. 'Cause obviously the doctors were wrong.
And then my mind started thinking about books, which is a common ailment of mine. The thinking about books thingy, that is.
There was a time historicals were considered dead. And now everyone's saying, NO More Chick-Lit! And guess what? Historicals are back in a big way.
The experts said they were dead. The experts were wrong.
My purpose in this is to encourage writers to never give up what they love to write, even if the market doesn't seem to be swinging that way. The market is always changing and nothing is ever really dead. It only morphs into something new.
Isn't that some kind of scientific law? Probably could be said for spiritual things as well.
Back to the point of this: Write what God has placed on your heart to write.

What do you write? Is it popular? Have you heard any cool stories like this?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Bitter Root

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many


Grace is a beautiful thing. We all need it.

Bitterness is ugly. Most of us have it.

When I think about bitterness, I think of a vine growing around our hearts and choking us. I'm not trying to preach to anyone today, but I did think it's worth noting how easy it is to become bitter in a business like publishing.

This is a subjective business, one that doesn't necessarily conform to rules. We want rules. We come up with formulas and plotting strategies and one-sheets. We revise and edit, revise and edit, shooting for perfection.

And then we face rejection.

It's the subjectivity that's the toughest, because in this business, you can't measure success by publishing. Getting a contract means a lot of people like your book. Rejection doesn't mean people DON'T like your book.

The business of publishing isn't a formula. There are things we can do to draw closer to our goals, but they're still no guarantee of a contract. All these gray areas leave room for big dreams and big disappointments. They leave room for bitterness.

I guess I just want to encourage everyone. Bitterness is easy to give into, but hard to escape. Even worse, it's contagious.

Grace is a good cure for bitterness.

Has there ever been anything you've been bitter about? How did that bitterness feel? Were you able to escape its tentacles? What does grace mean to you?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sin + Virtue = Bestseller

I took this class at ACFW. Agent Natasha Kern was the speaker and she kept me hooked.

Basically, she taught us that what makes a novel great is this simple formula. I wondered what her class would be like HERE. Now I know.

Our main character must have a great desire, one main thing that comes from their strongest virtue. This virtue must drive the main character. Conflict comes through the form of the character's biggest weakness, or sin. The character must be tempted away from their goals (something heroic deriving from their virtue) by their very own sins/lusts/flaws.

She used the example of Scarlett O'Hara, who loves her home Tara and wants to protect it at any cost. She does horrible things but the reader forgives her because we understand her driving need is heroic. Even her love for Rhett is a conflict, because it clashes with her virtuous passion to save her beloved Tara.

Another example was Julie Lessman's character Faith, in A Passion Most Pure. Faith desires to be Godly above all else, but she's also in love with her sister's boyfriend. Talk about major conflict.

What do you think? Does your conflict pull at the moral fibers of your main character? Have you pitted the MC's sins agains his or her main Moral goal? What's your favorite story and how does this formula play out in it?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New Word and True Heroism

Here's a link to One Very Brave Heroic boy who I think is completely awesome!

Here's a link to the new word on the block (and it cracks me up). Shug.

If you were going to combine two words to make a new one, what would they be? Do you think you could do what that boy did? Why or why not?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Jessica Nelson, Super Spy

I'm guilty.

Guilty of reading my sisters' diaries. Guilty of listening to strangers' conversations. Guilting of putting my ear to a wall and trying to hear what's happening in the next room.

My heart galloped in my chest when, in my high school years, I discovered I could listen in on my mom's phone conversations via the radio. Yep. Turned it to the right channel with the antenna pointed just so, and I could hear every word.

But my curiosity always battled my conscience. Now, instead of eavesdropping on others, I write characters who do it.

Have you ever eavesdropped? Heard something you shouldn't have? Did you regret it or enjoy it?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Male POV

At the conference I was able to attend part of a class called Male POV, hosted by Randy Ingermanson. (The author who developed the snowflake method)

The class was awesome and I wish I could share my notes with all of you. The biggest lesson I learned from this class was about the male ego.

Yes, apparently this is one of the most important factors in a man's thought processes.

He's sensitive and his ego is tied to his self-respect.

I can think of a whole bunch of different ways to start incorporating this into my manuscripts. How about you? What do you think of a man's ego? His need for self-respect? Do you think it's different than a woman?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Grumpy Professionals at the Conference

If there's one thing that hammered home some reality for me at the conference, it was hearing horror stories about agents or editors. And what reality smacked me upside the head, you ask?

They're human.

Yep. Fallible, exhausted, excitable, annoyed, happy humans.

At a conference it can be easy to get caught up in the rush of meeting someone who can make one of our dreams come true that sometimes editors and agents tend to take on celebrity status.

I was shocked when I heard the first story of rudeness, but then I took notice of my surroundings and slowly, slowly drifted back to Earth.

Pitch appointments were all day long for these professionals. About five sit in a big room at different tables and in fifteen minute increments they listen to us pitch, they read our work and they (hopefully) give their opinion. One agent whose class I attended could barely speak in the evening, her voice was so hoarse.

Lesson learned? They're at the conference for work, not play (well, not too much play, LOL) I decided I wanted to look everyone in the eye as a person (a fellow dog lover, a fellow bookaholic, a friend), and not as a stepping stone to success.

Have you ever met a celebrity? How did you react? Is it easy for you to see beyond someone's profession?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Who Tagged Me? plus Thanks and a Video

OKAY, SOMEONE TAGGED ME TO ANSWER TEN THINGS (OR SOMETHING) AND I CAN'T FIND THE POST OR REMEMBER WHO DID IT!! I'm super sorry, but could you remind me who you are? *cringing and feeling bad, but still wanting to play*

Also, Thank you to Character Therapist Jeannie for the Lemonade Stand Award!
The Lemonade Award is a feel good award that shows gratitude or a great attitude


Also, thank you to author Nancy Parra who gave me the Superior Scribbler Award.


Thanks also to Tabitha for giving me the Panda award! Very cute. :-)

Everyone who's given me an award, you've made me feel very special. :) I haven't given out any but I hope to in a separate post soon!



Stand By Me: I love this song and thought the video was pretty cool.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sore Feet, Happy Heart

The biggest, most wonderful part of the conference was meeting all my writing friends. My feet still hurt from walking in heels and my heart is still happy from bonding with these lovely women.
It was cool to see who these ladies are, and hear their voices, outside the cyber world.



Left to Right:
Eileen, Jeannie, Jaime, Me, Katie, Jody








Done anything lately that was somewhat painful but you didn't care because you were so happy? Ever met other writers? Or someone who had a similar passion to yours? How'd it go?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monkey Business During a Conference

What happens when Krista (and her poor, unsuspecting husband...)and I get together for dinner?









You can see more pics from our dinner on Krista's post.

Would you climb a tree while dressed business casual? When was the last time you laughed like a child?

Friday, September 18, 2009

I'm at the Conference

I'm not sure when I'll be able to post but if I'm able to, this might get updated with pics. :-)

Hope you're having an awesome week/weekend.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This Made Me Weep

Thank you Wendy for sharing this.





I know what this video means to me, but what does it mean to you?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Guest Blogger Candi Wall on Promotion!

I'd like to introduce one of the first writer's I ever "met" back in my RWC critiquing days, Candi Wall. She's a very talented writer who writes super hunky heroes. Not only that, but she's a genuinely kind person whom I'm honored to have on here.



Hi, Jessica!

Thanks for having me.

In true ‘Booking It’ form, I’m going to try to keep this thought provoking…

Hello, my name is Candi Wall, and I’m an aspiring author.
I’ve been aspiring 365 days a year for 16 years and every day is a battle.
Being an aspiring author has made me do things I never thought I’d do but I find I can’t give it up. >grin<

My novel STAY is entered in the Next Best Celler Contest at TextNovel.com
(Which means I write my novel in increments of approx. 500 words at a time, post them in mini chapters and hope to get enough votes to keep myself in the top twenty. The top twenty are then whittled down to ten, and out of the ten, Dorchester Editors will pick a winner who will receive a publishing contract. Yikes!)

Not something I’d typically do, but I’m enjoying the ride and hope that this little snippet will encourage all your readers to try something new.

In the ever-expanding,
dirt-under-your-nails-digging,
do-anything-to-get-pubbed,
here’s-my-first-born,
can-I-give-an-ovary-for-an-agent-contract,
game of getting your name out there promo bonanza, I’ve found that there are some really great, old-fashioned ways, of getting the word spread.

This contest has made me be more social, more outgoing, more extroverted than I ever thought possible. Trust me when I tell you I sat outside of my local bookstore for close to an hour trying to calm my rolling stomach enough to walk in and ask if they’d feature me as a local talent trying to win a publishing contract.

I sucked it up, took my business cards, one sheet explanations, and plowed ahead like I was the most educated, well prepared, beautifully written, aspiring author that lived on the coast of Maine. HA!

Thank goodness the owners were a kind couple who’d run the gamut of the publishing world for years before I even thought about putting pencil to paper. They poured a cup of tea, sat me down and we talked promo ‘old style’ for close to an hour.

Goodness knows, there are still some amazing people in this world. You just have to have the courage to go find them. So now I get a phone call when my cards or one sheets are gone, and one of my cards goes into each and every bag that leaves their store.

You better believe that lovely couple will be one of the first to receive a signed copy if I’m ever published. Heck, I’ll sit for Q&A and tea if they want. Gotta love the people who still realize there are some dreams worth working for.

People can be so fantastic!

So - ever done anything out of your own character? What were the results? Share!


Candi Wall
www.textnovel.com / ‘STAY’
www.musetracks.wordpress.com

You can vote for Candi by registering at TextNovel.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Writing Conference Preparation

I didn't get my teeth as white as I wanted, but I've been working on other things.

Here's what every writer needs to have in their arsenal when heading to a conference (if they've completed a manscript):

Fiction Proposal: Harder sounding than it actually is. The toughest part for me is the comparable books section

One-Sheet: Kind of fun to make, actually. Here's some examples.

Pitch: Blech. You know how I feel about this.

Flash Drive: Just in case anything weird happens, like my beautiful papers get soaked, or an editor wants to read the full, ASAP. (lol)

Folder: Buying one at Wal-Mart on Sunday, to hold all my stuff in.

Business Cards: Not sure who will keep them but from what I gather, they're a good idea.


Maybe you've gone to a conference, maybe you haven't, but have you needed any of the above? Created any? What's the hardest part for you?

On Monday the fourteenth, I have a guest posting about a new, very cool writing opportunity!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Crucible

I've been reading Stein on Writing for the last two years. It's an excellent book and I picked it up yesterday to read a chapter. The chapter I'd read last caught my attention though, and I reread it.

Says Stein "A Crucible is an environment, emotional or physical, that bonds two people. It can be a scene or a series of scenes, but more often the crucible is an entire book. The crucible is a relationship, often one influenced by locale."

He cites some examples, including Lolita, because the hero is in love with a young woman, really, a child. The Count of Monte Cristo is a story that immediately came to my mind. First, the hero is in a prison in the sea from which no one ever returns. Then he escapes and his crucible becomes his desire for revenge, which keeps him from the only woman he has ever loved.

Have you ever heard this term before? Is there a crucible in your manuscript? Can you think of any books or movies with a definite and strong crucible?

*I'M ADDING THIS LINK MY FRIEND FOUND. UNBEKNOWNST TO ME, CAMY TANG WROTE AN ARTICLE ON THE CRUCIBLE. IT'S VERY HELPFUL.*

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Every Book is Different

I've been inhaling the backlist of a favorite author and to my surprise, I realized some of her books were just okay.

Not awesome, like I'd expected.

It's a relief to know that every book doesn't have to be bestselling wonderful in order to get published.

Are some of your manuscripts better than the others? Does your favorite author have books that seem to vary in awesomeness?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Where I'm At

First, I hope all of you have a wonderful, relaxing Labor Day!

For this post, I just thought I'd share a run-down of where I'm at in my writing.

I have a proposal for an older manuscript with an agent, but she's had it a long time so I'm not sure if the interest is there. Hoping though, and still very excited that it's under consideration. :-)

I'm almost done editing this WIP and then I'm going to give it to a few people to read over. This is also the WIP I'm planning to pitch at the conference in two weeks.

Not only that, but I just got some contest results back on this WIP.

*cringe*

I'm smarting still, but mostly at my own stupidity. I forgot to change my synopsis to reflect the changes in my WIP. Therefore, my motivations didn't line up and both the judges caught discrepancies between what the plot was supposed to be and what the chapters were showing. There were also some other excellent suggestions, but overall my scores were low so that wasn't the best e-mail for me to open before trying to do edits.

But I'll bounce back. That's what writers do. We suck up the good comments, second-guess them but still LUV them, and we shudder at the bad (aka necessary) ones and plow forward with them to guide us.

What do you do when something doesn't go how you expected? Where are you with your writing? On a lighter note, any fun plans for Labor Day?

Friday, September 4, 2009

We All Got to Learn to Do It Sometime

*grossness alert*


We all have to learn to deal with doo-doo eventually.

Consider me a newbie mom, but it never occurred to me that my son should be wiping himself until about a month before kindergarten. And then the flashbulb went on and I scrambled to teach him.

One problem.

He didn't want to. He's fastidious and doesn't like to make mistakes, so the thought of taking care of this daily chore literally reduced him to screaming and crying on the toilet.

Basically, he didn't trust himself. He was afraid. Scared to get his hands dirty. Afraid he'd miss something.

This is probably weird, but it made me think of us as writers. There comes a point where we have to "grow up" and trust ourselves.

We can't always rely on a crit group, agent, or editor to wipe up our mess.

I think this should be a part of maturation for every writer, that we can look at our work and be confident in our ability to clean it up. Not saying we'll make it perfect or that we won't miss something, or even worse, that we'll create a mess and spread the crap farther than it needs to go.

Just saying this is a part of growing up. As a writer and as a person.

In life, have you ever tried to clean up a mess and made it worse? Have you ever, trembling, stepped forward and made things better?
Do you think any writer can ever get to that place of confidence? Do you think there's a fine line between confidence and arrogance?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Oh Vanity of vanities....

In preparation for the conference I'm going to put my body through some painful things. Eyebrow pluckings, teeth whitening and mustache removal.

Anyone else interested in adding to my confession of vanity?

Have you ever gone through a painful experience in order to look good? What's the craziest thing you've ever done to yourself?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Freaking Out, Just a Little Bit

You all may know that I and several other bloggers are going to the ACFW conference in three weeks.

In preparation, I've been working on my pitch.

There's a little problem though.

I can write it fine, but when it comes to talking....my tongue messes up. When I'm nervous, I talk too fast, I talk too quiet, I use the wrong words or I *gasp* stutter over my syllables. Or worse, come off sounding as nervous as I am, maybe even arrogant. *cringe*

Have you ever verbally pitched someone? Does trying your pitch out on friends/family help? My hair feels like it may turn gray (I know the day is coming, blech). Any advice for this pitching newbie?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

No One's Perfect

We all have flaws, but our characters especially should have some, because what fun is there in reading about someone's perfect life? *grin*

Since our MC's have a defining virtue, should they also have a defining weakness? What if their weakness is what causes some of the main conflict in the story? What if the weakness is in direct opposition to the MC's virtue? The characters must have something to struggle against, a temptation or a sin, as well as an outer conflict.

What's your MC's biggest weakness? How does it define him or her? Does it propell the story? Do your characters ever fight the same kind of vices you do?




After reading the Seekerville post on Moral Premise, I signed up for Natasha Kern's ACFW conference class, Vice and Virtue. Wondering what she'll talk about is turning the wheels in my head and give me some blog fodder.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Winner and a Little Sniffle

Okay, the winner of Ted Dekker's book Saint is Eileen! Congrats, girl!

Keli Gwyn is the writer who just finaled in another contest, so congrats to her! But many of you picked Eileen or Jody because they finaled in the Genesis recently. Woohoo! Lots of finalists here. :-) I can't wait to see what happens in your lives.

On a different note, today is my eldest's first day of kindergarten. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The years just slipped by and now he's school age and I'm so excited and sad it's not even funny.

Well, I guess you can laugh. Most of you have gone through this, right? LOL

I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thank You for Awards, and a Contest!

Thank you T. Anne for the Humane Award!


And thank you Jill and Elana for the Kreativ Blogger Award!


Now, I'm supposed to list seven things about myself so here they are:
1. Eat chocolate every day
2. Have three different men I consider my dad
3. Married two days after high school
4. Can walk and read, can drive and read *wink*
5. Always have a book I'm reading
6. My tongue doesn't work when I'm nervous
7. I don't have any special talents (not saying I'm not special y'all. I mean there's no specific, physical thing I'm really good at. :-) Although I used to be able to play the piano by ear a little bit.)

Okay, now for a mini contest!!!

One of the bloggers on my followers list just finaled in a contest! Woohoo! If you can guess who she is, I'll enter you in a drawing to win a gently used copy of Ted Dekker's book Saint. You can guess up to three bloggers.

*****HINT***** This follower is on the very first page of followers, or is it the last? You just keep hitting next and she's on the last one.:-) *******

Have a great weekend! :-)

Friday, August 21, 2009

G'Me Some of That Sweet Fruit!

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, self-control."

After thinking about moral premise for a bit, I decided that it has much less to do with the theme of a story, and more to do with the characters. Now I haven't taken the class or read any books on this, just Kern's post, so this is my own interpretation.

Part of moral premise is the virtue that absolutely defines your characters. Now, in reality many people are a little blurry when it comes to their own morality. Not to say we don't feel strongly about certain, and often different, morals but what I'm saying is that few of us are guided by one specific trait.

I think our characters should be though, and this is one of the things that will drive the story.

In my opinion, a main character should have a defining virtue. Does she thirst for justice in everything? Is he gentle to all? The list above is a great tool to pick out a single virtue to absolutely define and drive your character.

So, what virtue defines your main character? Have you ever met someone who seemed to be the epitome of patience? Do you know someone who always seems to have a kind word? How can we use a single virtue to create a rounded character and influence every aspect of the MC's life?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Solid Heroine

I recently rewatched the movie Red Eye and was struck by how much I liked the heroine (Rachel McAdams). In fact, she came to mind during my pastor's sermon on meekness.

He said meekness is strength and courage under control, coupled with kindness.

That's exactly how the heroine is in this movie. She's not brassy or opinionated in a loud way. She's not someone who would catch another's eye. She's understated, quiet, gentle.

And really, really awesome. Only we don't know just how strong and courageous she is until she's forced to act.

Do you like heroines like that? Or do you like the bold, saucy ones (and I like those too)? Who's your favorite character and/or actress? Why?

Monday, August 17, 2009

He Said, Said He

After a fellow blogger kindly critiqued a few chapters for me, I realized there was another thing for me to learn.

Dialogue tag subject order.

In other words, after the quotes, do I put John said, or is it said John? I googled it and couldn't find anything to help, picked up books on my shelf but had the hardest time finding dialogue tags in the novels I looked at. Despite my lack of findings, I agree with Eileen that the subject sounds better coming first.

But is there an industry rule about the order? What have you been taught about this?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Moral Premise

I heard about this on the Seekerville blog. Agent Natasha Kern posted on this fascinating subject.

Honestly, I hadn't considered the moral premise of my stories. Theme, yes. Values, yes. But not the moral premise.

This post is worth reading, though a little long. Also, The Moral Premise blog looks like an interesting place.

How do you treat morality in your stories? Is the moral fiber of your MC the driving force behind the character's decisions, and thus their story? Do you think theme and moral premise are the same? (Susan did an interesting post on this, though I couldn't find it in her archives. Maybe she can tell us.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Play or "Die"

I've been tagged by Penny Lane! If I don't play I've been threatened with "Death", *wink* so here goes...

1. Do you have a "secret" author, genre, book, or magazine you read but rarely fess up to?(give an example) Okay, I'll admit it. I love Linda Howard's books, most of them at least. They're graphic and have language, but I love the deep emotional pull of her romances, and the cool suspense.

2. What genre of movies is your favorite? What about movies you wouldn't normally fess up to liking? I like romantic comedies. Normally, I wouldn't confess to liking Napoleon Dynamite...but I do! LOL

3. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be and why do you like it? I think we all know the answer to this! Heehee

4. If you could change something about your personality, what would it be? When confronted with an emotionally charged atmosphere I tend to freeze up and not know how to react. I guess I wish I'd get a backbone.

5. What character from any film matches your personality and traits most accurately? And why? I have no clue. Really. Are there any characters that are shy romantics with their head stuck in a book? That might be me. Then again, I'm pretty practical and scheduled with my kiddos.

6. If you had to go on any reality TV show which one would you choose? America's Next Top Model, 'cause I'm skinny and tall. Ha! That, American Idol and Top Chef are the only ones I really know about, and I can't cook at all, nor sing.

7. What is the worse outfit you have ever worn? Honestly, did you think you looked good at the time? I've never cared too much about clothes so if I wore a terrible outfit I probably didn't know it or didn't care. :-)

8. If you had to have one animal part attached to your body permanently (e.g. rabbit ears, a cat's tail, bird's wings) what would you choose? I would really love to have wings. When I was a little girl I daydreamed about flying a lot! Tried it too, but I never could. LOL

Now it's your turn! If you decide to play on your blog, let me know, otherwise I'd love to see your answers to one or more of these questions!

Thanks Pen Pen, for exposing all my secrets!