Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

Yes, I'm tooting my own horn. Very unhumble, right? LOL

When I was a child, I often felt older, like I knew everything I needed to know. That wonderful self-assuredness carried me through high school. Then I got married and entered a new phase of my life as a wife. I still felt like a teen though. Last year I felt the first rumblings of some new thing. The suspicion that I was leaving the scene of young womanhood and entering into some new and vast territory.

Today I am twenty-six. Still a wife and a mother. No longer a teenager or a young woman. Not yet a middle-aged woman.

I have regrets. Looking back, I hope to not repeat the hurts of my youth, but have to wonder if mistakes are inevitable. Either way, I'm curious at to what I'll encounter in this new place of my life.

Today I am a woman, and I'm not quite sure what that means, only that it is different.

How do you define woman?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On Being Evocative

Don't break out the lingerie quite yet. I'm really referring to our writing.

There's a reason why we're told to "show and not tell". Telling does not usually evoke emotions in a reader. It's simply a tool to share with the reader a fact about a character, situation or setting.

Showing uses the five senses. It plunks the reader into the scene and says, watch this, feel this, smell this.

Showing evokes emotion from a reader. It makes the reader forget they're reading.

Telling has it's place. I'm not one of those who thinks we can use absolutely no telling. No, it can be used, but it should be balanced carefully with the showing. Save the telling for things the reader must know but doesn't necessarily need to feel.

Think about the last book that made you cry. That made you laugh. How did the author create a scene so real that you forgot to think?

What book has touched you recently and how do you try to make your writing more evocative?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tabula Rasa

That's what my brain is right now. A blank slate.

I was supposed to post Sunday but could not think of a single thing to say that you might find interesting. LOL Still not sure this is interesting.

So, are you ever a blank slate with your writing?

As a newbie (about 20 pages into the first manuscript I never finished), I used to peruse the shelves of my bookstore. Seeing all the different stories, names, covers always inspired me. I'd look at them and know deep inside, that's what I want to do. I want to create an engrossing read that takes someone away, that shows truth through fiction and possibly even changes how someone thinks about himself, others and the world.

After being in the bookstore, I'd rush home and write. Revitalized.

What perks you up? Jumpstarts your writing?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Weekend Linkage

Obluquy: Abusively detractive language; calumny. Or the condition of disgrace suffered as a result of abuse or vilification. I did a drawing and Anita is the winner. :-)

Ever wonder about voice? Camille Cannon Eide wrote a post and you wouldn't believe who showed up to share their opinions in the comments section. Check it out to read publishing professionals' advice on Voice.

Yesterday Agent Rachelle Gardner cracked us up with some super funny analogies.

And finally, more laughter to take you through the weekend. The fun starts at a minute and a half, so if you're short on time just move the bar forward on the video. :-)

You all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Great Expectations can really ruin a Good Book

I picked up Mulberry Park by Judy Duarte and since I've never read her books before, I started out not knowing to expect. Soon I was in to the story. She does a great job with emotional intensity and she writes well. The way she weaves God into the lives of her characters, their questions about Him and how they relate to Him, it was very real and touching.


Then came the changing, where the characters begin to believe that God might be real after all, that He might care about them.


My expectations that had been steadily rising poofed into nothing.


Why? Because I like Jesus in my Christianity. And He wasn't in that book.


It was amazing how I'd zipped through, then when these people convert and there's no mention of Jesus (the main guy of Christianity), suddenly I didn't want to finish. The book is published by Kensington, an ABA publisher. I didn't realize this until later. If I'd known it ahead of time, then I woudn't have expected what I did.


Have you ever been really into a book, and then something subjective happens, and you're out?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Plotting in a Circle

Some people are organized, detailed and methodical with plotting out their stories.

Others, like me, are not.

That's why I found this plotting tool so very helpful. It allows freedom for the story to take different turns and twists, all while keeping a strong structure. I found this on Karen Harbaugh's site a long time ago (the article about story structure).

Basically, there should be four major decisions that happen in your book. The first two lead up to the third, which brings about the black moment (or the climax). The fourth decision leads to the resolution (or the HEA).

I actually draw a circle, just like Karen recommends, and mark the four points and what my character's projected decisions may be. Karen's article is great and I really encourage you to read it, especially if the middle of your book seems to fall flat or get boring.

How do you outline your stories?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thank You and A Book

I just want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to pop over and read my interview. Wow. I am both honored and humbled by the kind comments you gave. You guys are awesome and I hope I can make you feel as special as you all made me feel.

:-)

Recently I won a book from the Seekers called 100 Words Every Writer Should Know. It's pretty cool.

Here's a word for you: Obluquy.

Any guesses as to the meaning? (No looking it up; think Balderdash!)

Person closest to the truth wins a toddler-(lightly)marked-with-pen-on-the-cover-but-still-in-good-condition Diamond Duo, Marcia Gruver's debut historical.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Surprisingly

Surprisingly, Keli Gwyn thinks I'm interesting enough to interview over at her blog Romance Writers on the Journey.

I'd love for some of you to stop by and say hello! :-) Also, commenters are entered to win a prize.

So, no blog today! Hope to see you all over there.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Plot Big

Sometimes I think new writers go to two different extremes.

1. Boring things happen in their stories
2. Unbelievable things happen in their stories

Remember that captain who just recently landed his plane on the Hudson? Writer pal John did a great post about it one day, and the whole thing got me thinking.

Who would have guessed a plane could land on a river? Not me. And yet it happened.

Incredible things occur all the time in life. Strange things. Coincidences. Don't be afraid to let them happen in your book. Make it credible (the captain had tons of experience).

The best books and movies don't get started until something happens to the main character, something the character must then react to, oftentimes in unprecedented ways.

In Twilight, the new girl falls in love with a vampire. In The Thirteenth Tale, a loner is summoned to write the biography of an eccentric bestselling author. In Armageddon, an oil drilling company is asked by the government to stop an astroid. This is how these stories start.

Don't be afraid to explore the full scope of your story and what could happen.

Plot BIG!

So, do you have any cool things surprising your characters?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Writing Update

Thought you all might be interested in knowing that two of my manuscripts bombed in a contest. Okay, I don't know how they did yet, only that they didn't final. In the words of my dear writer pal who shall remain nameless, "Wah!"
But don't worry. My skin is thick and I'm well aware of how subjective a contest can be.
Thus, armed with that practical knowledge, I press on with revising Bad Boy's Redemption.

And guess what?

I've gotta do some research! Exciting stuff too. Since my heroine is a PI, I have a few questions for someone in that career. One lucky (or unlucky) detective will be getting a call Monday morning from an aspiring novelist.

Have you ever needed to talk to a professional about a subject/character in your book? What was the most exciting research you've ever done?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Don't Keep It Too Real

I think we all know what we qualities we like to see in our story hero, but do you ever think about what you don't like? I'll bet you do, but it's probably moral values or character traits, right?

Recently I was actually able to go on a date with my husband. Yay! Anyways, dear Hubby was so sweet and solicitous. I had a great time. I also had a lightbulb moment.

There are certain things, no matter how realistic, that I never want to read about a hero doing/feeling in a romance. Please, keep me cocooned in my unrealistic bubble.

Book Heroes shouldn't:

1. Fart
2. Burp
3. Scratch himself in public (y'all know what I mean)
4. Spit
5. Pick his nose

Alright ladies! No doubt you've encountered at least one of these things with your real life hero, but tell me, what do you never want to see a story hero doing? (no matter how "real" it may be)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kiss by Healy and Dekker

As you all know, I just received and have now read Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy. I believe this is Healy's first book, but not Dekker's.


The first novel I ever read of Dekker's was When Heaven Weeps. What a powerful, beautiful story of God's passionate love for us. This is one of my absolutely favorite books of all time! The depth and insight of that book propelled me to buy more of Dekker's books.


Lately his books have seemed more action-packed, less insightful. I miss the deep conflicts between good and evil, the prominent spiritual truths, and the memorable characters found in his earlier works.


With that said, I enjoyed the fast pace of Kiss, the twists in the plot, and the happy ending. It was a page turner and from the first page begged me to discover the answers to all of the questions posed. The story does deal with the pain of mistakes, wounds and how we deal with them. I enjoyed those parts of the story as well.



Overall, Dekker and Healy did a great job of constructing a suspenseful story with some cool supernatural elements.


Have any of you read Ted Dekker before? What do you like about his plots?

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Beauty of Subtext

I recently watched a movie in which I expected entertainment. I got it. I expected humor. The story delivered. Romance. Check that.


What I didn't expect was to, weeks later, still be thinking about the characters. I didn't expect to remember the last lines of the movie. Who remembers those? And yet, the subtext in that dialogue left an indelible impression on me.



*SPOILERS ALERT*


The ending to this movie was just incredible. After stewing on the why for a few days, I realized that the depth and allure of that final scene and its dialogue could be traced back to subtext.


Let me set it up.

Through extraordinary circumstances, loner dentist meets wounded heroine. The heroine has a sore tooth that the dentist hero offers to take a look at. They become friends. He makes her laugh (which is an awesome part of the storyline) and she helps him to see how he hides from the world. Their relationship grows into something lovely and believable, but then secrets are exposed and because of the heroine's past, she no longer feels she can trust the hero.
In the end, after some eye-opening situations, the heroine shows up at the hero's work. Things are awkward at first because you can feel the pain between them.

So the heroine shows up and after airing some things out, looks at the hero (who happens to be working on a patient) and says, "It hurts when I smile."

The hero turns to her and pauses, then he says, "I can fix that."

Wow! On the surface she could be talking about her teeth and since he's a dentist, obviously he can fix the problem.

But beneath the surface?

Smiling without him hurts. She misses him. She is in pain without him. And he is the fix to her wounds.

Very romantic.

This is the beauty of subtext. It allows the reader to draw their own conclusions and to experience their own feelings about the subject. You don't tell the reader how to feel. You don't tell the reader how the characters feel. Instead, using subtlety and subtext, you allow the reader to intuit the emotions on their own.

In my opinion, it adds depth and more power to a scene when the audience experiences the emotions rather than thinks about them.

Do you have any great examples of subtext that you've seen? How about an example from your own work?