Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Change of Direction

I just deleted over two thousand words. It stings a little, but the story will be better for it. I got a better idea, which meant I had to toss the old stuff. Everything I wrote previously on Nano is now in the 'delected scenes' area, and I'm ready to move forward with this newer, better plan.

As much as I hate deleting, I love this new direction my book is taking. Love it, love it.

And now, back to work. :whipcrack:

(Yes, I know... I'm supposed to be editing on the weekends. I did a chapter of Manhunter - really I did - and then a whole new beginning for the WIP jumped out of nowhere, and I was off. For the record, I love that, too.)

Character Ethnicity

Okay, so I didn't get any new words in yesterday. In my defense, I did get the blurb for RTL rewritten (if anyone wants to see it, let me know) and I mowed the lawn. Doesn't sound like an overly taxing day, but since I hadn't mowed in two weeks and we got a lot of rain during those two weeks, it was like hacking my way through the Amazon. Not pretty. I also got a handful of splinters trying to move an old pallet out of my way. Lovely.

But enough needless whining... I still should've worked. I have the start of my next chapter in my head. I have my first dead body and I know where I'm going with it. (That didn't sound right.) I've done some in-depth research into my villain's background, and I know what has to be done.

Which brings me around to the subject of the day. Character ethnicity. My villain has to be from another country. It has to be a country wrought with civil unrest and senseless wholesale slaughter. But it also has to be a country where a brilliant mind could conceivably be raised, and from where that brilliant mind could escape to go to college in America. I finally settled on one of the many war-torn nations in Africa. (Yes, I could've gone eastern Europe, but you don't hear about the Bosnians or Serbians or whatever coming here to go to school.)

So, since I am not African, and I don't ever plan to travel to Africa, I have a lot of research to do. Hell, it took me almost an hour to figure out what the guy's name was. (Obviously Joe Smith wasn't going to work here.) Did you know they have different names for each little region, and then for the religious backgrounds of the people in those regions? Learning this lead to more research so I could pinpoint exactly where the guy was from and what his religious tendencies were just so I could find a first name for him. And surnames? Fuggetaboutit. I had to find actual people from that region and then borrow a last name that fit with the first name I'd picked (based on the meaning... I love name meanings... but I digress).

I know it's going to be a stretch for me. Write what you know isn't going to work here. If I stuck to what I knew, all my characters would be of German ancestry with a sprinkle of American Indian. Heinrich Dances-with-Sauerkraut doesn't quite do it. Although... the villain could be killing people with an overdose of fattening food... Ahem. Not. Besides, Die Hard nailed German villains, and plus it wouldn't really work for my purposes anyway. Germany hasn't had civil unrest since we kicked the crap out of that psycho back in the '40s and we got the damn wall torn down in the '80s.

Which means I'm stretching myself to write an African villain.

You know, sitting here thinking about it, I've never really cared what my characters ethnicity was. Oh sure, I have an hero of Irish ancestry in RTL, but that's more because I liked the name than because Ireland is in any way important to the piece. In my WIP, the heroine has Polish roots for the same reason. (Actually, for her, I borrowed the name from a customer I had back in Michigan. I don't think he'll mind. His name fits, and he's a cool guy.) I never really cared because usually it's not important. This time, I need him to be from where he's from.

So, I put it out to you. Does character ethnicity make a difference to a reader? As a writer, do you think about what the ancestry of your character is? Does it make any difference whatsoever?


Thursday, May 29, 2008

We Have A Winner

I think I got it figured out. Turns out the whole 'blurbing' idea wasn't as futile as I thought. While I watched Top Chef last night, I wrote out the two main ideas I have swimming in my head.

As I suspected, the heart idea isn't ready to be written yet. Too many questions left unanswered or unanswerable at the present time. Which is a bummer. I still love the premise, and the characters are so alive to me, but I'm not there with it yet. (If that makes any sense.)

On the other hand, the second and far more commercial idea came out last night. I don't have all the plot points nailed down yet, but I have a good grasp on the villain - his goal, motivation, conflict thingy-ma-bobber. I have some good ideas about the hero and the heroine. Now I just need to start writing and let the story work itself out.

So, I guess the winner is.... :drumroll:... Nano. (Working title, folks. For personal and entirely childish reasons, I can't market this book under that name. Long story.)

It's going to be a romantic suspense/borderline thriller. (With techno elements.) Think Allison Brennan meets Michael Crichton.

Of course, I still need to do the editing. The plan then is to go back to my old schedule - new words during the week, edit on the weekends. That should keep me writing without feeling guilty about not doing the work that needs to be done.

Now, you tell me... What's news in your world?


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Heart or Wallet?

Okay. I'm still trying to figure out which project to jump into next. (I got over the life-burp from yesterday.) I have several I could be working on right now, which leads me to the subject of today's post.

If you had a choice, would you write the book of your heart or the book of your wallet?

Now, if you're not catching my meaning here, the book of your heart is one you're not sure you could sell, but you love the idea of it. The book of your wallet is, of course, the idea you're pretty sure is going to make you some money. You may love the idea of this book, too, but that's not the point. (I guess you could have a book that fits both your heart and your wallet, but I'm not in that place right now.)

So, what I've got is a couple highly marketable ideas, and one book whose premise is totally off the wall. Eventually, I'm going to write them all, but which one should I do now?


One thing I decided to do was right a blurb for the heart book. I guess I figured if I could blurb it, it was ready to be written. Umm, yeah. It's not blurbing for me. (This may not mean anything, though. I know some authors who write the blurb or the synopsis first, but my writing synapses don't work that way.) I did spend about an hour, and got a fairly good outline of the beginning, but the rest is dragging its feet.

On the other hand, I already have a hefty chunk and an outline for one of the commercial novels. I have a pretty good idea for the premise of another (although that one keeps shifting between two alternate means of getting from point A to point B). Both of these could sell.

The other book? Not so much.

But it's been kicking around in my skull for a couple of years now, and frankly, it's becoming a bit of a pest in there.

I'm not usually this indecisive. Really. So, I'm asking you. Since I have some free time, and I'm not nailed to a contract or anything yet, which direction do you think I should go? Write one of the commercial novels or stick with the bizarre one that won't leave me alone?

Or should I give writing new words a break and just get some editing done? (Truth be told, I love writing new words and I love editing, I just love new words more. Maybe that'll be another post...)


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Derailed and Sundry Thoughts

Dontcha just hate when your train of thought (or of life) gets derailed? So, as much as yesterday I wanted to work , I don't want to work tonight.

In honor of not working, I'd like to give you some random thoughts:

Spam... More than being just an annoyance in our email boxes (or a tasty potted meat product), it can actually be useful. (I'm not just talking about the Viagra or the cheap 'Rolex' offers here.) You see, I've been getting a couple of spams a day in my gmail account, and I noticed something the other day. Spam is a great source for character names. This evening I got an email from 'Rupert Ricks'. Doesn't he just sound like the villain of a historical? Too bad I don't write historicals. If you do, feel free to use it.

On the subject of names have you ever met anyone with a really unfortunate name? My father supposedly went to school with a gal by the name of Lorna Lipschitz. That poor girl must've been teased to her wits' end. I've met some really poorly named people, but I'll refrain from mentioning them here. They know who they are, and really, why add to their suffering. How about people who should've had normal names but their parents couldn't spell? I one knew of a guy named 'Brain' and another named 'Adrain'. And who... who I say... decided that Simian was a good name for a baby? Simian Rice, the football player, immediately comes to mind. Did his parents not know that Simian means 'ape' or did they not care?

I wonder about these things sometimes.

Off on the subject of kids. Yesterday I saw a little girl--she couldn't have been four--riding her bigwheel down the middle of the street. She rolled right into the intersection, without looking, and hung a Louie. No one went after her. No adults were visible. I watched for several minutes and no one went looking for her. I assume she decided to take her bigwheel for a spin around the block, because she never came back. I also didn't hear of her ending up as some idiot's hood ornament, thank goodness. (This is a small town. I would've heard.) When my daughter was that age, she wasn't allowed outside without my supervision, and she was never out of my sight even then. (And I had a fenced in yard.)

Onto other stuff, did anyone watch the Libertarian Presidential Debate and Election? It was on CSPAN this weekend. I'm not a Libertarian, but I wanted to see what they had to offer. It wasn't pretty. One candidate was a glad-handing, smarmy thing - stereotypical 'politician'. Plus, you know how the old adage is to watch out for people whose eyes are too close together? Well, this guy had one eye that was bigger than the other. It was truly bizarre. Another candidate had really really bad hairplugs. (Poor guy.) The only female candidate was for anything anyone else was for. She just wants everyone to get along. One of her most memorable statements was along the lines of 'People shouldn't make judgements.' And then she promptly made a few. One of the state reps looked like a cartoon mouse I remember from childhood. Another guy looked like a hippy version of Santa. Don't get me wrong. I see just as many loons when I watch the other political parties. I make my little observations all the time. My husband just laughs. He's awesome that way.

I'm an observer. I watch. I listen. Have you ever spent some time watching CSPAN? Some of those senators need personal shoppers. Seriously. Who buys their ties??? Some of the members of government are strange looking, too. One guy looks like he crawled out of a Dr. Seuss book. He scares me. Remember when we were kids and some classmate would tape the end of his nose to his forehead? That's what this guy looks like. I swear you can look right up the guy's nose. To borrow a often used word from my teen: "Gross".

Or have you ever spent some time reading the ticker on any news network (including ESPN)? The typos are killer, but sometimes the clarity of meaning truly stinks. I wish I could think of some examples, but they escape me right now. Watching those really gives one perspective on how NOT to write, though. I know I'm not perfect. I make mistakes, but I'm also not getting paid to write copy for CNN or MSNBC. I hope to someday get paid to write, so I try to keep my writing error-free. I don't, however, get paid to blog, so I don't watch myself as closely here. (And I don't proofread before I post - shame on me.)

I expect (hope?) that someday I will be on television somewhere talking about my books. Maybe someone watching will notice something odd about me, maybe point it out to their family and they'll all have a good laugh. Have fun, folks.

Oh, and just so you don't think I'm a total ass, I don't make fun of people with actual physical defects or disabilities. That's not fun, and those people can't help it. (I know the one senator can't help the way he looks. I don't joke about him. He scares me.)

In closing, I will leave with this final thought from Steven Wright: On the other hand... there are different fingers.

Good night, and don't forget to tip your waitress, folks. (Just remember to set her upright again before you leave.)


Monday, May 26, 2008

Keyboard Withdrawal

This is the third night I haven't written. Saturday night was a necessity--I was braindead. Last night was weird. Tonight, I'm beginning to suffer Keyboard Withdrawal. Every cell is telling me I should be sitting here writing. When eight o'clock hit, I actually got ready to write--until I remembered that I finished and I'm supposed to be taking a break. I meant to take a week off, but I don't think I'm going to last that long.

I want to write. I don't even have another book in the shute and ready to start, but I'm itching to work. *sigh* So much for a break. Eh, I'll take a break when I'm dead.

Sooooo, what now?

I don't want to touch Manhunter yet. It's needs time to simmer. If I jump into it now, I won't see the things that need to be fixed because I need the objectivity time brings. Not a whole lot of time, mind you. That's one of the great things about brain damage--a week is enough time for me to forget how married I am to a sentence. I'll probably take two, just to make sure though.

That leaves me with two... no, three... options.

1) Get back to work on the cute mystery novel that may or may not work into a series.
2) Edit the mystery I never quite finished because I fell out of love with it, even though it still deserves to be finished and published.
3) Hit on a whole new idea and get wrapped up in the first blush of new love again. (Except I'm not really feeling the attraction to anything in my idea file.)

Or, I could do something really odd and pick #4. Number four would be going back to one of the stories I barely started and see what I can make out of the pages I already have.

You see, I still love Redemption, even though I'm not quite sure how to make it work. I could probably sink my teeth into that one fairly easy and I loved writing it. I still have the hots for Nano, too. It's more a techno-thriller, and it's got teeth. Then I also have the one book where I wrote the beginning and the end, but never got around to the middle--the one that if I smushed the end into the beginning it would make an awesome short story. On the other hand, if I actually wrote the middle, it would stand as a novel. (I know that sounds weird, but you'll have to trust me on the fact that it would work. It's a different kind of story.)

And then there's the memoir I've been playing around with. Oh, plus the historical piece loosely based on my grandfather and his children in 1930s Detroit.

Ummm, yeah...

Time will tell what I'll do. All I know right now is I have to work soon before the DTs get me. If you ask my husband, I'm sure he'll tell you I'm already starting to get a little fruity.

And it's only been three nights.


Memorial Day.

I was going to write a big Memorial Day Post today, but in the gray light of morning, I'm just not up to the emotion of it. Suffice it to say, I love America and I'm proud to be an American, and I sincerely appreciate everything every member of the military--all the way back to before it was a country--has done to keep this country free.

Nuff said.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

First Draft Finished

Man am I tired. Over 7200 words today, which is like some kind of record. (At least for me it is. I don't know about anyone else.) And I got to type THE END.

Now for a brief musical interlude while my brain leaks out my ears...

I said that I would do it. I knew it, I knew it. I said that I would do it and indeed I did.

Have a good weekend everyone. I'm going to go collapse somewhere.

Head Down

Last night I figured it out. If I keep my head down and plough through, I can have the first draft of Manhunter done this weekend. (Maybe even today.)

So, that's what I'll be doing. I'll keep the meter updated, and I'll pop back in after I can safely type: THE END.

Until later.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Update and Other Stuff

First off, for those of you who've seen the news and know I live in Colorado, never fear. The tornadoes weren't here. Way west of here, actually. My heart goes out to everyone in Windsor. From the scuttlebutt I heard this morning (from someone who knows someone in Windsor), the city did away with their tornado sirens a couple years back, supposedly because they thought they didn't need them. While it's rare for those nasty suckers to hit more metropolitan areas, it does happen, and the sirens while not necessary 100% of the time, are absolutely necessary that small percentage. It only takes one tornado to wipe out a town. They're very lucky no one got killed. (I've haven't seen the news today, so if they found someone after last night, I'm very sorry to be wrong.) One person was killed west of Greeley, unfortunately. RVs are not the best place to hide from a tornado.

Now, with that out of the way, it occurs to me I don't really have anything else to update. If you've been reading along, you know I'm nearing the end of the first draft of Manhunter. I just have the climax and the denouement to write. I'm guessing the first draft will end up around 65-70K words, with the final product hitting 80-85K. I need to develop the characters better, and work on the romance between the MCs. I also need to address the two minor characters who could possibly end up with their own books and weave in a little more backstory to make the MCs more sympathetic. (Last night, I hit on the main thing driving the heroine, and now I need to lay a trail back through the rest of the book. I'm still working on what drives the hero, but I have a fair idea.)

Querying is going right along. Some partial requests, some rejections, some still hanging out there. It's all a waiting game. I played with the idea of reworking my query letter, but after re-reading it this morning, I still think it says what I want it to say, in the fewest words possible. Of course, the urge is always there to tweak things, but I've learned the more I give in to that urge, the more I obsess and end up changing things for the worse. So, I'll just leave it alone for now.

Like I said, if not this book, then the next one. I'll just keep writing them and submitting them until something breaks. (All the while hoping it's not me.) The other night my husband asked me: "So how many books is this now?" I said, "Six, if you count the one I never edited." He gave a good-natured little laugh. I don't remember the exact phrasing of his next question, but it was something along the lines of 'how many are you going to write?'

My answer is always: "As many as it takes."

So. What's going on in your world? Any good news to report?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What to Do?

As RTL floats out in the query sea, and Blink sits quietly (or not so quietly as the case may be) waiting for its turn, and Manhunter nears completion of its first draft, I've been wondering about something. How many books can you have in query mode at one time? If you can query more than one at a time, should you?

I write fast. (And before you worry that speed means lower quality, check out Allison Brennan's post today at Murder She Writes.) I can't help it. Sometimes the ideas just pour out of me. I write fast, but the industry moves slow. When it takes months (years?) to get from initial query letter to partial to full to eventual acceptance, sometimes I'm writing faster than the query process can bear. Which leaves me with a quandary.

Lately, I've been thinking about asking one of the many blogging agents about what they suggest for writers like me. This morning, I found my question had already been asked and kinda answered on agent Jonathan Lyons' blog. Unfortunately, the answers are coming from commenters, and not from the agent himself, so I'm still stuck in my quandary.

Let's backpedal a bit here. At the beginning of the year, I completed Blink. I love the book, and I think it will have an audience when (if?) it gets published. Around that same time, I finished the first draft of RTL. RTL is hot. To use an old phrase: "It's hip, it's happenin', it's now, it's wow." And unfortunately for Blink, it was a pushy story. After sending out five queries, I set Blink aside to work on RTL. Now RTL is done, and I'm querying for it. But I never really gave Blink a chance, and lately it's been popping into my head demanding I give it the submission attention it deserves. I keep telling it NO, but it keeps me awake at night, mentally writing query letters and blurbs and synopses in my head.

Frankly, it's driving me nuts.

And then there's Manhunter (working title only), which should be ready for submissions by the end of the summer. This book is very commercial, and I can imagine it sitting on the racks of my grocery store next to Allison Brennan and Roxanne St. Claire and that new Jordan Dane.

So here I am with potentially three books waiting for submission. They all deserve their shot, and they all could potentially win me an agent and then a publishing contract. The two that are ready now are both ready for publication.

I know, I know... Everyone should have such horrible problems to deal with.

Anyway, one suggestion was to pick the strongest work and focus on that. Ummm, yeah. Blink and RTL are both strong in their own ways. Blink is literary leaning toward commercial; RTL is commercial leaning toward literary. Both are speculative, both are suspenseful. They're completely different stories, of course, but each would help the other sell.

For now, I'll stick with RTL. Maybe while I'm waiting, I'll work on the submission materials for Blink - you know, just in case someone asks what else I have for them to look at. Meanwhile I'll keep my fingers crossed that something breaks before Manhunter is ready to jump into the fray.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever been in this situation, and if so, what did you do?


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No Writing Tonight

Storms have been rolling through on a regular basis, and a fresh nasty is on its way here, so writing is out for tonight. Don't want to be in the middle of a scene when the power goes out or worse. (Yes, I save regularly, but I don't want to chance it.) Damn weather.

On the bright side, I can curl up on the couch with Tempting Evil. I would've felt bad reading instead of writing, and now I don't have to.

Safe night all.

The TBR Blob

As I've said before, I'm a book addict. I love them. I love the smell, and the way the pages feel, and the crackle of a new book... I'd throw them on the floor and roll around on them if I didn't think I'd crease the covers.

Unfortunately, this results in what I'm now going to call The TBR Blob. You remember The Blob. It just grows and grows and grows, absorbing everything in its path. That's what my TBR pile has become. (Of course, it doesn't help that I sell old books online - to make money to buy more new books - and the local thrift store sells their paperbacks 3 for a quarter.) The store has grown to over 1400 books, and my own personal not-for-sale library easily has a few hundred. That means close to two thousand books to choose from when I need something to read. (Is it any wonder I don't check books out from the library?)

But that's not really my TBR pile, per se. If it was, it'd be like saying the library is my TBR pile. That'd just be silly. No, my TBR pile is much smaller, and yet it's so much bigger than anything one could consider manageable.

First, there are the older books I've been meaning to read. Things like Ivanhoe and The Three Musketeers and Gone With the Wind. I have a whole pile of Andre Nortons calling me. I still want to read some of those Edgar Rice Burroughs, too. There are so many books I've missed over the years. *sigh*

Plus the books I've read before that I want to read again. I found a copy of Phyllis Whitney's The Golden Unicorn, for instance, and last week I read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip. I need to re-read The Fountainhead to recharge my batteries. I want to re-read The World According to Garp and maybe The Stand. Good stuff that deserves to be read many many times.

Then there are all the new books calling to me. Those are the main place my TBR Blob is growing from. I have the new Gena Showalter calling me, and the new Jeaniene Frost. Additionally, my daughter has about a half dozen new books I want to read (which I can't remember the titles of, and since she's still sleeping, I can't go look.*)

Yesterday, Allison Brennan's latest book hit the shelves, and I had to have it. (NEEDED it. I'm a Brennan junkie.) It pushed all the other TBR books out of the way, including the aforementioned Phyllis Whitney I was halfway through.

All of these books demanding my attention... Ack. I still have to work and eat and teach and clean (you don't want to see the state my home is in currently) and blog. The TBR Blob is not only growing, it's getting angry.

If I ever disappear, you'll know it got me. One day my husband will come home to find the books have absorbed me.

So has your TBR pile become a TBR Blob? What books are in your Blob?

* She's awake and I raided her room. These are a few of her books I want to read:
- Dark Desires After Dusk by Kresley Cole
- Marked by P.C. & Kristin Cast
- Confessions of a Werewolf Supermodel by Ronda Thompson
- One Bite Stand by Nina Bangs
- Undead and Unwed by Mary Janice Davidson
- Dead Girls Are Easy by Terri Garey
(See a pattern here? She's into paranormals.)


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stall then Panic then Resolution

Last night I was plugging away on Manhunter. Everything was flying along nicely. People were dying. The MCs are getting one step closer to catching the villain. Birds were singing, bunnies were wiggling their noses ever-so cutely, and all was right with the world.

Then I hit the end of the chapter, and ran face-first into the brick wall hiding there. The birdies got laryngitis, the bunnies flipped me off, and the world tilted on its axis. I had no friggin' idea where I was supposed to go next.

Okay, I had a general idea, but the specifics wouldn't come. I knew I had to get from point A to point B, but I was clueless about how I was going to get there. So what did I do? I panicked. I did the mental equivalent of running around the house with my ass on fire. It wasn't pretty in my head, trust me. And I was on a roll, too. I had over 2K written for the evening, and I was headed for a record night (with this book, anyway). I mean, geez. It was only 8:30. I still had a good hour and a half to write.

I pushed. Nothing happened. I pulled. Nothing happened. Mulish damn book. In a total huff, I saved my work and flopped in front of the TV. I didn't know what was on, and I didn't care. I was in a funk. My husband was only semi-watching himself, mulling over his own work while almost kinda paying attention to some show or other.

So there we sat. Each of us in our own little private mental warehouse, sorting through boxes and trying to make something come out right.

Bedtime for my daughter came and went. The cat did her usual thing, which is to say she demanded to be let out onto our front foyer, and then demanded to be let back in. Occasionally he changed channels, and occasionally something caught my eye enough that I watched for a second or two.

Shortly after my darling child went to bed (I could still hear her up there, but I wasn't in the mood to push it), something clicked in my head and everything fell into place. I sprang from my chair (as much as I can spring these days) and raced over to my desk. I pulled out the scrap paper I keep under my keyboard for just such occasions, and began writing. (Screw the computer - it would've just gotten in the way.) I didn't write a word toward the actual book, but I got down a whole page worth of plotting. I now know what the general plot points are for the rest of the book.

They aren't anything I'd ever share with anyone. The notes themselves are chicken-scratched bullet points that probably wouldn't make sense to anyone but me. But they are done. The course is mapped, and I'm ready to get going. "Sailing for adventure on the big blue wet thing!" (If you haven't seen Muppet Treasure Island, run out and rent it. It's a hoot.)

After plotting out the rest of the book, I know I'm going to fall well short of my projected 80K first draft. Still, with the stuff I still have to go back and insert, plus the sections where I wrote nothing but dialogue for pages and pages, I'll probably end up at over 90K for the final draft. I think I projected the end of May for the first draft finish on this one, and I'm on target. (Provided I don't hit any more stalls.) I should have the final done by the end of the summer, at the latest.

And since I'm letting optimism take hold for a moment, look for this sucker to be published sometime in the next couple years.

Now, I need to go run errands. Weee. Have a great day, everyone!


Monday, May 19, 2008

The Balding Writer

This is a confusing business sometimes. In fact, I'd venture to say there's not another one like it. Every other business I've been in (and there've been quite a few) has had a clear set of rules for conducting said business. Whole acronyms have been created to show how clear these guidelines are. (Take ISO, for example - the International Standards of Operation, which isn't really a set of guidelines itself, but merely a designation given to companies who DO adhere to their own set of guidelines.)

There is no ISO for writing. Sure, each agency and/or publisher has their own set of guidelines for querying, submitting, editing, etc., but for the writing itself? And even the querying guidelines aren't set from one company to the next - sometimes not even close. And the rules that do exist are both bendable and breakable, depending on the circumstance.

Like I said, confusing.

For instance, I've heard repeatedly not to write prologues. They're a bad bad thing. Editors don't like them. Agents don't like them. And yet... I keep buying new books with prologues.

Another biggie is: Don't use rhetorical questions in your query letters. Agent Nathan Bransford hates 'em, and he's not the only one. (He's just the best example at this point.) Except when those agents do see one that works for them, and then the rule is chucked out the window.

Don't use adverbs - they're the lazy writer's tool. Don't use 'it is, there was, etc.' - again, it shows laziness. Don't use dream sequences, don't begin a book with the MC waking up. Do begin in the middle of the action. Don't start in the middle of the action because it throws the reader off. Send pages even when they don't ask for pages. Don't send pages unless they're asked for...

A girl could go bald, tearing her hair out trying to follow all the rules. Seriously*, I think I'm showing the early signs of female pattern baldness. At the very least, the gray hairs are starting to make a bid for majority status.

So what's a gal to do?

Whatever it takes to get the book sold, I guess. With the conflicting query information, you have to follow each agent's requests as you go along. Keep a database and make sure you follow every single little guideline the agent in question has. With the conflicting information on the writing itself, trust your instincts and write the best book you know how to write. If you trip over one of the amorphous unwritten guidelines, but it's the best way to write your book... :shrug: I still haven't figured that one out.

Spectacle starts out with the MC catching a glimpse of some strange and harried woman, only to find out she's looking at herself. I was told early to change this, because everyone knows you can't do that. But it does happen, and it's the perfect way to show the detached state of mind the MC is in at the beginning of the book. I tried cutting it out, and it took something away from the manuscript. I tried rewriting it, and I ended up telling instead of showing. So I put it back in, and left the advice where it belonged - in the circular file.

One rule I think should be above all the others is this: Write the story as it needs to be written. The rest will work itself out.

In the end, I guess I'll just do the best I can with the tools I have. Even if it means going bald in the process. Hey, I could be a pretty bald chick, like Sinead O'Connor or the gal from the first Star Trek movie. It could happen.

Your turn. What's some conflicting advice you've heard and what have you done about it?

*Okay, not seriously.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Stone Deaf and Stupid

It just occurred to me tonight. Forget GenZ (or whatever comes after Z), our nation is headed for generation 'Stone Deaf and Stupid'. Now, I can't take all the credit for coming to that realization. My neighbor helped me as she and all her friends stood around a vehicle with the windows rolled down and the stereo blaring loud enough for me to hear it over the ballgame. You see, they were having what must've been a very loud conversation and beside them were a couple of baby-filled strollers and a couple other children who were under the age of four.

Why wait until they're old to get them stone deaf? Ruin their hearing now. Saves time.

Yeah, yeah. I sound like an old fart. But even when I was a teen, I couldn't stomach loud music, and the older I get, the worse it gets. I've been to approximately five rock concerts in my life, and all of them were too loud. Seriously, though, how can anyone enjoy music when it's making their ears bleed?

My thought is that no one cares about enjoying the music any more. It's a excuse people use to cover up the true reason for loud music... It drowns out thought. If you can't hear yourself think, you don't need to worry, to wonder, to care about anything. You just let the music fill you up, and you can float away on a cushion of mega-bass.

Come to think of it, this theory about the reasoning behind the need for loud music is the same as the reasoning behind drug use and heavy drinking. To stop thought. If you can't think, your problems are always pushed aside. (And as anyone who's tried to drown their sorrows in a fifth of Black Velvet can tell you, the problems are never gone. They're waiting just around the corner to pounce when your brain is allowed to be active again.)

But let's forget about the adults for the moment. If they want to ruin their ears and their brains, that's their choice. Think about the kids this noise-philia culture is producing. Stone deaf and stupid - how could they be anything else after what they're being subjected to? Sure, parents aren't liquoring/drugging their kids up to stop them from thinking. (Okay, most aren't. Did you hear about the chick in CO who gave her baby meth? Sick. Just sick.) These parents are just building a different wall to the thinking process. A wall of sound.

And people wonder where this fresh rash of childhood syndromes comes from. It's not just one cause; it's many, and I think this sound overload is part of it.

Okay, since darkness has fallen and driven the gaggle of geese inside, I now have silence and can resume work. (I don't need complete silence, but the boom-boom-boom of someone else's stereo derails my train of thought.) Talk amongst yourselves...

Quietly, please.


...sometimes when this neighborhood gets too loud with all its rap and rock and salsa and various other bass beat nonsense, I get the urge to put opera in the ol' car stereo, crank it, and drive around with my windows rolled down. "Like it loud? Let's see how you like Madame Butterfly cranked on high? How's about some Wagner? Huh? Like that? Do ya?" LOL Then I remember, I like my hearing and the urge goes away.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Busy Weekend

The personal life is chock full this weekend, so the blog will suffer. Sorry about that, folks. (Even though my blog stats drop dramatically on the weekends, I still feel bad when I don't post.)

Anyway, I might be back tomorrow night, but I'm not promising anything.

At least, even if I'm not blogging, I'm getting the writing done.

Now, though, I'm too pooped to type another word. Must've been the homemade lasagna, or the chocolate cake... maybe the cinnamon rolls? Yes, I've fallen off my diet, and no, I'm not feeling the least bit guilty. (I'll leave the guilt for Monday.) It's a special weekend, and good food goes along with it. (Can't tell ya why. Nothing writing related, I assure you.)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Deranged and Lovin' It

Yesterday as I was going through my daily blogroll, I found an interesting link on Jennifer Jackson's blog (in case you don't know of her, she's an agent with Donald Maass Lit Agency) that lead to Other Writers Are Crazy on Justine Larbalestier's blog. As I read Ms. Larbalestier's funny and so true words, I found myself looking at the reality of the situation...

I'm one of those crazies.

Think about it for a second. If I wasn't deranged, would I be talking to myself and to the people in my head? And who else but a crazy person would sit day after day typing words no one else may ever read--ruining eyes, wrists and brain cells along the way (not to mention getting a flat butt and atrophied muscles)?

Justine also said we were masochists. This is also true, in a way. Writers put themselves out there expecting to be rejected. They open themselves up to the pain of bad reviews, red ink edits, hate mail... They lay their hearts bare for anyone to stomp on. And after it happens, they keep working on their next book to start the process all over again. (I said 'in a way' because while we do ask for the potential of pain over and over again, masochism implies we enjoy it, and I'm not sure many of us actually do enjoy it. We accept it, we take it like a man, and we wade back in to get more, but I don't believe we like it.)

So, I guess in the scheme of things, I'm deranged. *shrug* I've been called worse. I admit it. I'm nuts, wacko, fruity, bananas, stark-raving mad. Truth be told, though, I'm lovin' it. I can control whole worlds, I have lots of friends to talk to, and I can go places I've never been without ever leaving the comfort of my home. (And with gas prices the way they are, I'm better off this way.) I can not only meet new and interesting people every day, I can create them. Being crazy ain't so bad when you look at it that way.

Sure, my ass is flat on one side, and I've spent so much time at this computer lately, my eyes are fried. I'm beginning to wonder if my leg muscles resemble wet noodles. I talk to myself, and my characters. I phase out in conversations with real people to think about my imaginary ones. But I'm happy in my little world. And while it's true that I may be killing people in my head, I'm harmless to the outside world. No 'I love me'* jacket required. Despite all that's going on in my fictional world, I can move through the real world like a normal person. I can interact with human beings and no one ever knows.

I am deranged, but the men in the white jackets can go looking for someone else... for now.


*'I love me' jacket is another term for straightjacket. After all, if you're wearing one, you do spend all day every day hugging yourself. LOL


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Grammar on the Brain

Lately, I've had grammar on the brain. I've been helping my niece with her college papers, and doing school with my daughter, and of course, writing. Then this morning, BookEnds had a post (Change of Punctuation) on their blog where they answered a writer's question about grammar. To top it off, over at Query Shark, Ms. Reid critted a query where the writer didn't seem to have a grasp on the basics of grammar.

So, this morning, I'd like to talk about grammar.

Now, before I start, let me say I'm not the god of grammar*. I do my best, but sometimes I fail. Sometimes I put a comma in the wrong place, or leave one off entirely, but I like to think that, for the most part, I'm getting everything where it ought to be. (And sometimes I get typing so fast, my fingers put things where they don't belong. Stupid digits.)


Grammar... Like every other part of the English language, it has rules, and those rules are there because without them, we wouldn't be able to communicate with each other. It's the same reason we all spell words the same. (Although in the past, they didn't - but that's another story.) I think our profession should place more importance on the use of proper grammar than any other. After all, we're writers. The point of our occupation is to communicate our ideas, and we need grammar to do that. Therefore, it follows that we should do our damnest to learn the rules and follow them. (Or at least know when it's okay NOT to follow them.)

With regard to proper grammar, my own skills were seriously lacking after I left school. (Elementary didn't get it done. High school assumed elementary already taught it to me. College assumed I knew it all already. You get the picture.) One thing that helped me was homeschooling my daughter. I had to know the basics so I could teach her. (Or rather re-teach her, since public school had her for the first 7 grades... but that's a rant for my homeschooling blog.) Something that helped us both in that capacity was O.W.L. - Purdue's Online Writing Lab. Need to know how to use commas? It's there. Need to understand why a semicolon and a colon are not used in the same places? They've got it. And all of their materials are simple enough to understand that I had my daughter reading them when she was twelve.

As I've told my niece many times--so many, I think she's getting sick of hearing it--get thee over there and learn. (If you need it, that is. She does. You might. I don't know. Hell, I could probably use a refresher myself.) Print the pages off if you need to. After all, we're talking about your work here. If it's important to you, it's worth the time and the paper.

Once you have the rules down, of course, you can play with them a little. Use a sentence fragment, if the story calls for it. End a sentence with a preposition. Begin a sentence with a conjunction. Mix it up. But only after you know what the rules are, and can break them without sounding like an illiterate. (Unless you're writing a scene from the POV of an illiterate, and even then watch that you don't confuse your reader.)

*I'm not the god of grammar, but I have been called a 'spelling nazi'.

(Note: If you feel the need to correct any mistakes in this post, knock yourself out. I make mistakes, especially on this blog where it doesn't count as much. But remember, any time you take pointing out my mistakes takes away from time you could be writing, or learning about writing, or querying... and really, don't you have better things to do?)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Theory on My Writing

The other day in my post You Got Romance in my Suspense!, I mentioned how I don't read much romance because I have plenty of romance in my life. Well, I did say that was a whole nother post, so here it is.

Throughout a large portion of my life, there's been no romance. (And sometimes, the romance I had was piddlin' poor.) During these arid wastelands of romance, I inhaled romance novels. Harlequins, Silhouettes--all the big name houses--I was there and I was buried up to my eyeballs in romance. Looking back, the theory is I needed to read about it because I didn't have it. (I'm just talking about me here, so if your life is full of romance and you still read them by the dozens, good for you.) When I had romance in my life, I didn't have the urge to pick up those types of books.

Now my life has romance. I think I read one old romance last year, and I only picked that up because I wanted something short to read that wouldn't tax my brain too much. (Romantic suspense I read by the bushel, but only for the suspense parts.)

I think this is also why I've had problems writing the romantic scenes in my current book. The well-used phrase in writing is 'Write what you know', right? Well, for me, not in this case.

Back when I had no romance, I wrote romance. (I wasn't a writer yet, so they never got finished.) Not that I wasn't writing what I knew, but more a case of I knew what it was, I just didn't have it at the time. Trust me. And I wrote some pretty darn good stuff, if I do say so myself. I think those early attempts at writing filled a gap I had in my life.

No gap, no need to write about it.

On the other hand, right now my life is not exciting. (Interesting and on occasion irritating, but not exciting.) So what do I write about? Suspense. Excitement. The future. Oddly enough, I'm reading the same types of books.

Just postulating on a theory here. Well, rambling really. I'm wondering if perhaps the stories I write are somehow subconsciously driven by things that might be lacking in my life. *shrug*

Do you ever wonder what drives you to do the things you do? Why do you write what you write?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Confessions of a Coffee Addict

I need coffee. Tons and tons of coffee. Today especially. Stayed up too late; woke up way too early. And since my husband woke up before me, he made the coffee.

Now I love my husband, but his coffee is too weak for my tastes. Me? I need sludge. When we first got married, my usual strength of coffee floored the poor man. His usual strength made me wonder if he just whispered the word coffee over a cup of brown water. We found a balance (read as: I toned it down some), but on days like today, I need to add instant coffee to my coffee just to stay alive.

I credit it to too many years as a road warrior, when sludge in the morning was the only way to survive rush hour traffic between Flint and Detroit (or Flint and Ann Arbor, depending on where my sales calls were that day). A gal has to be alert in order to stay alive amongst drivers who are distracted making phone calls, applying makeup, doing their nails, and... yes... READING. Not traffic jam reading, but 75 miles an hour reading. Not maps and single sheet memos, but novels. (I saw it more than more once, and the thought of it still shocks me.)

Every morning, sludge at home, then gas station cappucino for the ride. In the afternoons, I'd switch over to Surge (which they don't make any more, but it was like Dew with attitude). If you've ever almost fallen asleep driving, you understand why I did this. When the road is scrolling underneath your car, and the trees are blurring by, and you've been looking at the back of the same semi for what feels like hours... zzzzzzzzz. Hence, the coffee.

I first started drinking it when I was in high school. It wasn't peer pressure. I just needed a boost to get me through first period. (I don't remember what the class was now, but I remember it was boring.) In college, I didn't have a coffee maker of my own, so I switched to Dew, but I never forgot the lure of the java. I'd still sneak it when I could slip away - the cafeteria made something that was hot and brownish, but it never passed for coffee in my opinion, so my coffee intake was limited to when I could afford to buy it off campus.

I'm not particularly picky about brands. Folgers and Maxwell House for daily use. Fresh ground beans for special occasions. (Yes, I broke down and bought my own grinder.) During the cheap times, I've been known to buy off brand just to feed my addiction. I don't really care, as long as it tastes like coffee and it's strong. (Okay, amend that. The really really cheap coffee that tastes like the bottom of a factory worker's shoe? That's just gross. Even on my worst days, I can't stoop that low.)

To treat myself, I drive down to the gas station and get me some French Vanilla capp or some English Toffee. Hot, frothy goodness. Mmmmm. I can't make that stuff at home. I've bought instant capp, and it's just not the same.

What say you on the wonders of the coffee bean? Do you crave it? Do you need it? Can you live without it? Or should you be standing in front of a crowd saying...

"Hi. My name is... and I am a coffee addict." ;o)

(BTW, I just put a snipped scene from Spectacle over at Tabula Rasa, if any of you are interested.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Telling Stories

Sorry about last week. Life was intruding, I was getting way too little sleep, and just generally feeling bleh. Since I finally got a good night's sleep, I'm feeling way better today. Way.

Anyway, I was laying in bed last night and my brain was whirring like a supercomputer when I thought of the idea for today's blog post. (And I even remembered it this morning!) Before there was the printed word, man told each other stories. Oog made up a scary story and told it to his fellow neandrathals around the camp fire. Igg made up a sweet story and told it to her children before she tucked them under their mammoth skin blanket. Ubu thought up a funny story and told it to his hunting buddies while they were stalking through the underbrush (which unfortunately got him eaten when his friends' laughter woke up a sabertooth, but I digress).

Those are our occupational ancestors.

What writers do is make up stories to tell to other people. Sure, we do it on paper, or on a computer screen, but at the most basic level, we really aren't any different than those ancient storytellers. We have to go through a whole lot more to get our stories in front of people, to be sure, but the essence is still there.

When I was a child, I didn't have anybody to tell stories to. (Yes, I have a huge family, but I was the youngest, and who wants to listen to a baby when there are real books available.) Instead, I told stories to myself. I had a wildly imaginative and exciting fantasy life. I was the queen of a warrior tribe whose territory stretched the boundaries of my bedroom walls; I was a great explorer with whole nations to discover in my backyard. I was Oog and Igg and even Ubu, telling stories to my clan. (Me and my dog were the whole clan, but it worked for us.)

Looking at what I do now, it's pretty much the same. I'm still telling myself stories. They're nowhere near as weird as they were when I was a child, and they aren't based on someone else's world either. (Would I be too much of a geek to admit some of my own stories were based on MadMax and Battlestar Gallactica and Star Trek?) Now I'm telling stories that are entirely my own, and I'm telling them in the hopes that someday the rest of the world can know my stories, too.

Sure there are differences between what I do now and the storytellers of old. They never had to query, edit, or synopsize. But in all the essential ways, it's the same process. Oog had a goal to share his story with his people, to make them scream or jump or have nightmares. Igg wanted to share hers with her children so they would sleep and be happy. Ubu just wanted to make people laugh (though in hindsight, he probably should've waited until they were safe at home). Each of them perfected their stories to get the desired results (okay, Ubu maybe perfected too much).

In the end, isn't that what writers do?

So, as you sit down to tell your story, think of the storytellers who went before, and remember to tell yours in the best way possible for your audience. If you're unpublished like me, your audience is out there waiting to hear it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dry Spell

Sorry the blog posts have been sparse lately. Sorry, too, the blog commenting hasn't been up to its usual prolificness. I don't know what the deal is. For the past few days, I've had nothing to talk about.

The writing, on the other hand, is going well. And that's the most important part of all this, isn't it?

One of the reasons for blogging is to advance the PR part of the writing, and to network with other writers to improve the writing. (And let's face it, I like to talk about writing with other writers.) So if I'm not staying on top of the blog because I'm writing, I can live with that.

Bear with me. The dry spell will pass. It always does. I'll be my usual opinionated, mouthy, and I hope, insightful self soon.

In the meantime, tell me why you blog, or if you don't, why not?

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I took yesterday off from the blog, and writing. I wish I'd taken the day off from yardwork, too, but the lawn needed mowing. First mow of the year, and tonight they're predicting frost. Stupid weather. Gah.

Anyhoo, enough about that.

Tonight, I hit the halfway mark! I'm projecting a final product of around 80K, and I rolled over 40K just now. Yay me! I think the first draft is going to end up short of the 80K, but that's par for the course. Since Spectacle, my first drafts always run short. I stopped laboring over every word, you see, so now I just forge ahead, and fix it in the edits. Very liberating, let me tell ya.

So now that's done, I'm going to try and catch up on some of the sleep I missed this past week. (And rest my aching lawn-mowing legs.)

Hope all y'all are reaching your goals, or if not, at least trying to reach them. If you never try, you'll never succeed.

And with that ponderance, I'll bid you goodnight.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

You Got Romance in My Suspense!

Okay, let's try this again...

What I'd like to talk about this morning is romantic suspense, and how the romance mixes with the suspense to make a great read. Or doesn't.

Truth be told, I didn't even know what romantic suspense was until the last couple years. I'd never heard the phrase, and for me, there were romance novels and suspense novels. What I didn't know is that I've been reading romantic suspense for years. (Decades, now that I think about it.) I just always thought of those books as romance with suspense elements or suspense with romantic elements. (Would you believe: Thrillers with love thrown in for good measure?) *shrug*

Take Allison Brennan (one of my favorite authors, btw), for example. When I first picked up her books, I thought they were suspense novels. Imagine my surprise when I couldn't find her books in Borders by browsing through the 'mystery/suspense' section. Imagine my shock when I asked the gal at the customer service desk, and was pointed toward the 'romance' section. I never would've thought of Brennan's novels as romance. V-8 moment... :thunk:

Romantic suspense. Duh.

I think part of the problem with wrapping my brain around the 'romantic' part of romantic suspense is that I'm an impatient reader. When I'm reading books like Brennan's, I tend to skim the romance parts to get to the action. I'm looking for the payoff, and I don't really need a payoff in the romance area. I already know the characters are going to fall in love, get it on, and live HEA. What I don't know is how they're going to catch the bad guy, and how many more people have to die before that happens.

Don't get me wrong. I love romance novels. I used to gobble them down like potato chips. (You really can't read just one.) I don't read them much any more because I have romance in my life (and that's a whole nother post there), but I still love knowing they're out there when I want one.

It's like that old Reese's commercial... You got suspense in my romance! You got romance in my suspense! Tada, two great tastes that taste great together.

Except I'm the kinda gal who eats the chocolate outside first and then eats the peanut butter middle... but I digress.

Right now, I'm writing a romantic suspense of my own. Except, it's more suspense than romance, and no matter how hard I try to insert the romance, it doesn't seem to be melding together into a big yummy treat. At this point in the game, my MCs don't have time for love. She wants him, but she can't act on it because there's a killer on the loose. He wants her, but he can't go down that road because people are dying. I don't know if they'll have time until after the killer is caught, and then the book's over. Throwing in a final chapter of hot-n-heavy just because I want to label the book 'romantic suspense' wouldn't do justice to the story or its readers.

I think I'm just going to have the write the story as it needs to be written, and if that means the romance never culminates, I'm going to have to live with it. (Provided I don't write it in such a way to give the readers a literary case of sexual frustration. I hate that.)

Time for you to weigh in. What's your take on romantic suspense? Are you more inclined to read the romance and flip past the suspense, or vice versa? Or do you read every word and savor the entire experience? If you write romantic suspense, do you meld well?

Inquiring minds want to know.



Sorry if you were just reading a post called Romance and Suspense, but now it's gone. I didn't mean to post it yet. It'll be back later under a different title. (And much less rambly.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Weather? I'm under it.

I feel gross, so don't expect great things from me today.

Instead, check out:

Why Do You Blog? - where Jessica over at BookEnds, LLC. talks about why she blogs.

Some interesting, if a little old, information on agents at Literary Agent News.

And if you haven't seen it yet, agent Janet Reid is gracing the world with her knowledge of good query letters with her creation of a new endeavor: QueryShark. If you read all that and still can't write a good query letter, heaven help you. (I seriously don't know how she does everything she does, but thank goodness she does.)

If you have any good agent links or blogs to share, please leave them in the comments. That's all from me. I'm going to collapse on the couch and watch reruns of shows I've already seen a million times.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Celebrate Life

Six years ago today the world lost a great man. Oh, he wasn't famous. In fact, he wasn't a man who would be considered great by the majority of the population. But that doesn't make him any less of a great man.

He was born a sickly baby in a little house in a poor suburb of Detroit, where his mother kept him in a box by the stove to keep him warm. But his beginnings aren't the most important parts of his life, they are just his beginning.

His story was never about overcoming adversity, although he did in so many ways. It was about living your life the way you choose to live it, and ending it the same way. It was about thumbing your nose at hardship, and at what other people think of you. Mostly though, it was about hard work. Lots of hard work. And some hard play.

I could tell you all about the hardships, and the glories. For instance, he was a veteran of two wars, though he never saw action in either. He was politically active, though he never ran for anything other than the school board of his city. He and his wife raised five fine children to adulthood, and then like all good parents, let them go to lead their own lives.

In 1980, the sickly baby part of his past caught up with him. After all his years of life, and all the years in the military, they finally figured out the reason behind his childhood weaknesses. His heart was deformed.

Maybe the weakness of his physical heart was what made his mental heart that much stronger.

He survived that part of his life, too. Over the years, he survived too many other maladies to name. He shrugged and took each of them as they came. "Heaven won't have me, and hell is afraid I'll take over." - the phrase fit him to a tee, and tickled him when his spirits were low. He outlived all of his siblings, and many of his friends. And when the end came, he not only chose it, he welcomed it.

A well-deserved rest for a man who had endured so much, seen so much... lived so much.

So today, in honor of this man - my father - I encourage you all to celebrate life. One of the last things my father said to me was that he was looking forward to fishing with his own father. I can imagine him somewhere with the grandfather I never met, throwing back a few beers, swapping fish stories and drowning worms. Today, get out there... Have a drink. Catch a fish. Do whatever makes you happiest to celebrate being alive. Just like he always did.

Me? I write books, and sing songs, and enjoy the birds. I'm living my life in my own way. Just like my father would've wanted.

This one's for you, Dad. I wouldn't be here without you.


Monday, May 5, 2008

To Snail or E-query

That is the question.

Personally, I prefer the equery method. It saves time, and as much as we've moved in the last four years, it saves my SASEs from getting lost. (And as much as the USPS has changed rates, it saves the darned envelopes from being returned for insufficient postage. Bastages.)

However, some agents don't allow for equeries. There are a bunch of those I'd like to submit to, but I'm leery for the aforementioned reasons. *sigh* What to do, what to do? For now, I'll just have to hold my breath and hope for the best. My poor little SASEs will have to fly out into the great beyond and find their ways home when the time is right.

Of course, the same can be said for equeries. Since my e-mail program seems to be having problems delivering my replies to the appropriate people, I'm freaking out about whether my requested partial made it and whether emailing her to make sure it's not floating lost in cyberspace is a breach of etiquette. (Don't worry. If I don't hear from her after her typical 4-6 week lead time, I'll send her a polite note to check if the partial is indeed in her capable hands.) I'm fine with new mail, but replies are shooting off into the ether, never to be heard from again. First it was my CP, and now my niece. Gah!

So each method has its pitfalls. That's also why I put both my email addresses in my signature. I figure if they can't get my private email to me, they can catch me at my gmail address. That seems to be working fine. (If it weren't such a pain to compose mail there, I'd have sent everything out through that addy to begin with, but cutting and pasting into gmail changes the layout, and what a PITA. I'm all about ease of use.)

I really do understand why some folks don't accept e-mail queries. For one thing, they're too easy. No printing, no line at the post office, no paying the every-increasing postage rates. And too easy means anyone can shoot off a query without having to think about it too hard. Which also means even those people who really shouldn't be querying are sending out queries, flooding the poor agents with loads of poorly worded, misspelled and just basically unprofessional queries. I might quit accepting them, too, if I were faced with the flood. (It also makes it so much easier for rejected writers to reply with more vitriol than is either proper or necessary - like this letter some moron sent to a friend of agent Colleen Lindsay. Sheesh.)

However, some of us poor wretches need email. Sure, I'd like to own a house, have a concrete foundation underneath me for years at a time, but my life doesn't work that way right now. (Personally, I'd like about 100 acres with a lake and trees and cute furry critters that will learn to eat out of my hand, but wish in one hand, if you know what I mean.) No matter where I live, though, my email follows me around. If not my private addy, then my gmail is forever.

On the other hand, some agents who accept e-mail as well as snail have different guidelines for each. Often you can shoot more pages with a snail query than with an equery. More pages is always good, right? Of course it is. I'd love to print off fifty pages and send them out today to an agent who just informed me they stopped taking equeries and invited me to resubmit via snail*. But it isn't always prudent to do so. (See above reasons, and feel the fear of orphaned envelopes.)

*heavy sigh* I guess I'll just keeping doing it both ways, and hoping for the best. Right now, though, the equeries go out first, and the hardcopies will follow at a later date. As much as I love my computer, sometimes there are things it just can't do.

What's your mode of preference? Do you snail or e-query?

*Don't worry, I'm getting the packet together to send out tomorrow.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Letting Fear Drive You

Well, I finished Corpse Pose earlier, and started No One Left To Tell. I watched The Kentucky Derby (if you didn't watch it, it was both exciting and tragic) and the latest round of the National Heads-Up Poker Tournament.

During the tournament, poker legend Doyle Brunson made an interesting comment. I don't remember the exact wording but it was something to the effect of not letting fear drive the choices you make. This is my problem in poker. I let fear dictate the choices I make, and lately those choices have put me on the losing end.

I've been thinking about Doyle's statement ever since. Not just in relation to poker. I've been wondering if I let fear drive me in my writing choices, too. I don't really know the answer to that. I know I can't think about fear or it stalls my writing, but does fear enter into the other choices I make? Am I writing what needs to be written without fearing someone will get their undies in a bunch over the subject matter? Do my query letters stink of fear? Am I putting my best foot forward, or is fear making me torpedo myself?

This whole thing bears some serious consideration and deep introspection. I don't think fear invades my writing choices, but my subconscious could be doing an end-around I'm not really aware of. That's where the introspection comes in. (It's a really effective tool, but I'll save touting the wonders of introspection for another day.) So, I've got some thinking to do.

Meanwhile, I have some more writing to do tonight. I'm trying to hit 30K before I finish for the day, and since I'm about 700 short at the moment, I need to get back to work. If the meter over there -------> says 30K plus when you read this, I succeeded. If not, there's always tomorrow.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Night Off

I just decided that I'm going to take the night off. For one thing, I didn't get to sleep until almost one, and then I was up before six. Early mornings are fine, but not after a sleepless night. Yuck. The other pressing issue of the evening is that I'm wrapped up in Diana Killian's latest book Corpse Pose. I hope I can manage to put it down when I'm ready for bed. Two late nights in a row is beyond me these days. Unless, of course, I want to be a total toad tomorrow.

Writers write, but they also read. And I've been falling down on that particular job lately. So, in the spirit of doing the other part of my job, I bought No One Left to Tell by Jordan Dane. It came highly recommended (the quote at the top of the book is from the awesome Allison Brennan, so it has to be good). It's strictly for research purposes, of course.

Ahem, umm, yeah.

Plus, I still have a Roxanne St. Clair to read. (I won't mention the rest of my TBR pile. It would take too long.)

What are you reading right now, and what's in your TBR pile worth mentioning? Come on, share the titles and give a little PR boost to the writers. Feel the love.

Peace out.


One or the Other

Would you believe it's May 2nd and it's friggin' snowing? Mr. Gore, please take note. And none of that 'global warming causes it to snow'. There's a flaw in that logic a kindergartner could drive a Mack truck through. You know, when I was a kid, we were headed for the next ice age. (And no, I'm not that old.) I heard about the ice age thing on the news the other day, too. Make up your minds, folks, either we're going to die like the burger drippings caked on the bottom of your grill or we're going to die like the pint of pina colada ice cream that's been wedged in the back of the freezer for ten years because you thought it sounded good at the time, but it was just nasty.

It can't be both.

A long time ago I had the misfortune of being acquainted with a rather nasty person. In addition to her many mean qualities, she was the queen of flawed logic. My favorite little piece of information was that she was both diabetic and hypoglycemic. I tried to explain to her that diabetes means hyperglycemic and a person can't be both hyper (too much) and hypo (too little), but she wouldn't be budged. (I even did it nicely. Honest.) Needless to say, we never saw eye-to-eye on that issue or anything else.

It's like the government. Everyone wants lower taxes, but pretty much everyone wants all the goodies the government provides (if not for themselves, than for the underpriviledged). Lower taxes, though, means less money to pay for the goodies. One or the other, folks. You can't have both.

To reword a well-worn phrase: You can't live in your home, and make a bonfire with it, too. Or to dig back into the memory banks to a particular incident*... You can't have your computer and gripe about the evils of technology. (Well, you could, but that would be hypocritical.)

Now, it's true that with new information, one can make an rational change of their opinions. Hard data is usually best. You can think a certain way one day and think a completely different way the next. However, you can't think two different ways at the same time. (And flip-flopping between is generally frowned upon.)

I know, I know. What about the shades of gray? What about "There aren't just two sides to an issue"? Depends on the issue, if you ask me. Whether Sean Connery is hotter than Patrick Stewart? There's wiggle room there. (It's a tie, IMO.) Global warming versus global cooling? Not really room for a gray area there. (Global stasis? Where's the emergency in that?) The whole blood sugar thing has no gray area, unless there's some new disease I haven't heard about that makes a person's blood sugar yo-yo up and down. Taxes versus government bennies? In Star Trek, maybe. They have no need for money in the future, or something like that. Today, though... Money buys stuff, and no money means no stuff. (Unless you go into debt up to your wazoo, and even then someone is going to have to fork over the money at some point.)

What's any of this got to do with writing, you ask? Well, I didn't start this post with writing in mind, but if you think about it, there's something there. A writer can't do his work successfully and not grow. You can't expect to be a writer and never attempt to stretch, to learn, to expand your knowledge base. If you do, you'll stagnate and your writing will suffer. (Okay, so maybe this is a stretch, but I think you get what I'm saying.) Maybe a better way of putting it is: You can't sit on your ass and expect to succeed. You either work toward that success, or you sit on your ass. It doesn't work both ways.

Speaking of getting off one's ass, I'd better get off mine and get something accomplished - even if the tasks of the morning are just errands. Have to get the errands out of the way so I can work later.

And thus ends today's unscheduled rant. Have a nice day. ;o)

*Back when I lived in FL, I used to write letters to the editor on a regular basis. One week a friend of mine had a well-reasoned and rational Op-Ed published in the local paper which pointed out some flaws in the environmentalist movement, and I wrote a nice LTE in response. Shortly after my LTE was published, I got a nasty-gram via e-mail. The guy was positively venomous, called me a few choice names, and basically said mankind should give up the evils of technology because they were, in his opinion, killing Mother Earth. After I pointed out that using techology to write hate mail about techology was hypocritical, I never heard from him again. (Funny. My friend never got a nasty gram from this weiner. *shrug* Maybe I looked like an easier target. Feh.)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bwa Ha Ha

Oooo, this is too good. Problem fixed. Motivations adjusted. Everything is coming into sharper focus.

Did I ever mention how much I love being a writer???


Details, Details, Details

Laying in bed last night, I got to thinking about my book (as usual - I'm surprised I ever get to sleep). I realized I need to beef up the details.

No big surprise. My first drafts are always short on details. I usually have whole pages full of nothing but dialogue. Sometimes, though, I write the details because they're necessary to the story as I'm writing it.

As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.

For instance, I had a a problem last week. You see, part of the book is set in Racine, WI. Now, I've never been to Racine, but I used to rep a company based there, and my brother shoots over there maybe twice a year (so he can vet the description for me, if need be). The problem I ran across is I assumed Racine was way north in Wisconsin, and had written the details to reflect that. Then as I was wrapping the scene up, I had to figure out which major airport my characters would need to use, and out came the link for City-Data.com. I typed in Racine, WI. Right on Lake Michigan... Check. Scroll down... Crap. Racine is in southern WI. Midway between Milwaukee and Chicago. Double-crap. The first victim has to be from Racine, or it throws off the whole plot. (I thought about using Green Bay, but the city's too big for my purposes.) The tie-in to all the other bodies has to be in northern WI, or again, it throws off the whole plot. How to fix... How to fix...

After a while, the answer came to me, and everything dovetailed nicely together, but I got hung up in those details. I could've rewritten the whole thing to make it work, and trust me, I thought about it. Thank goodness I didn't do it. The answer really was very simple once I thought about it.

Now, as I was laying in bed last night, I realized the details I haven't yet written are going to hang me up a bit. Not badly, but it's there and I have to deal with it.

I may have mentioned before that I wasn't sure if this book was going to be straight suspense or romantic suspense. Early on, I couldn't see how this tough chick heroine with her hands-off attitude toward the male species could ever make time for romantic involvement. She's fairly well a self-contained individual who doesn't need a man to complete her life. Except that isn't the point of romance. Not needing a man to complete you doesn't mean you never need a man.

So, her romance crept up on her and hit her out of the blue. Hit us both, actually. I wasn't expecting this to happen either. (Funny. That's pretty much how I met my husband, but I digress.) She doesn't want or need a man in her life, but there he is.

Of course, this means I have some major re-writing to do with the first 100 pages, but it'll be worth the work. This, unlike Racine, can be fixed with minimal plot shifting. Not too much, mind you, because I want the reader to be as surprised by this turn of events as she is (and as I was).

I love the details. Sure, the devil's in there, making more work for me, but in the end, the story will be stronger for it.

Have you ever been tripped up by your own details? Have you ever read a book where the author got the details wrong, and how much did it irritate you?

Oh, and speaking of things thought up while laying in bed, I have a way to turn this into a three book series, if the situation arises. I haven't got the plots laid out yet, but I have the two secondary characters in place who could carry their own books.

PS. Speaking of Racine, if you've never had a Danish Kringle, they are the most delicious, to die for pastries ever.