Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm going overseas today!!!

My first time overseas....well, as close as I'll get for awhile LOL as I'm blogging with Rachel Brimble today!

Please come join me talk about my paranormal story, Shadows of Moonlight and how my Class of '85 story might actually count as a Halloween story.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Been in the revision cave for the past week--not pretty LOL--and not much progress.

I found that I'm more of a routine person than I thought. You see, my laptop had been out of commission getting a new fan put in (gotta love techi friends LOL) Not a problem I figured because we have the desktop plus I have a little netbook.

Still, the process just seemed to go so slooooooooowwwwww. I couldn't 'get into' the revisions like I needed to and couldn't figure out why. I was excited how the story was turning out--lots of stuff to add but the overall I knew would work but sentence by sentence was just....off.

Then I realized that I wasn't working on my laptop like normal. Something about the different laptop keyboard and that sort of 'in your face' screen really helps me get into the story I guess. That or I was just procrastinating, using it as an excuse not to delve into the hard stuff until I got it back LOL. I vote for the first because it sounds more 'artsy' LOL.

Either way, I now have my baby back and already have gotten more work done in the last two days--um, but of course it's everybody elses writing LOL.

If I can get through the pile on my desk this week, hopefully I can get back to my own stuff by next week!

Wish me luck!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Romances don't have commercials.

I had an epiphany last week but hadn't had time to write down my thoughts until now, though it's been at the forefront of them ever since.

Watching Castle last Monday night, there was a very small dedication at the end to Stephen J. Cannell. He died. That alone cause me great sadness.

You may not understand if you don't know who he is or ever saw any of his shows. But, I grew up on all his T.V. shows....The Rockford Files, A-Team, Riptide, Stingray, Hardcastle & McCormack, Hunter...the list goes on and on. I enjoy Castle because it had the same elements as those--handsome hero, funny, serious, romantic, adventurous etc. And he had even done a guest appearance as himself with other mystery writers on the show--a poker game of course LOL.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Stephen J. Cannell was a HUGE influence on my writing career. Perhaps even the catalyst to my being a writer....and I never knew until last Monday.

You see, I didn't actually start reading much until my twenties when I worked at a place that had a lot of down time between customers. I grabbed a few books off the retail rack and then followed with Harlequins etc. I guess just because by then I enjoyed reading and then the more I found other romance writers, like osmosis, I just figured I wrote romance because I read it like the other authors did....

But turns out, that wasn't true, because I was writing action romance LONG before I ever picked up my first romance book. I remember in my early teens, the first story I ever wrote was on a big black, old fashioned typewriter about a pair of detectives and the woman who came to them for help, about kidnapping and intrigue and amnesia LOL...okay, I never said it was good writing...but all were enhancements of the T.V. shows that I enjoyed. Even the ending of those shows had this little clip of Stephen J. Cannell typing on an old typewriter, and I thought that was cool--hence when I found one in the basement, I dug it out. I was just trying to learn from a mentor I didn't even realize was a mentor.

Now I understand why my stories run like movies in my head, why I am so focused on getting the details of physical placement, facial expression, punch lines etc, just right. Why one of my most favorite reviews was for my Wayback story, One Starlit Night, when the reviewer said, "I felt like I was watching a movie, the details, descriptions and facts were so vivid and real." That one sentence made me so proud, like I hit the bullseye of what I wanted to accomplish for my readers.

I also now understand a lot more about my writing and writing process. Why my first drafts read more like screen plays and why I have to then fight with the second draft to transition them to a more comprehensive, readable story format. And why I never let even my critique partners read the first or second draft, because they were such an odd jumble that only seemed to make sense to me.

Most important though, I discovered WHY it bothers me so much that I can't get what I see in my head on paper the same way--paper isn't film LOL. And of why I have issues transitioning from action to action, those times when other details need to be explained or those down times that stories need to get from one place to another.....because Romances don't have commercials. Nope, LOL, not a one. No commercials, no montages etc....that would make the transitions so much easier LOL. I'm just glad the final results always work!

So, in short, my recent, historic epiphany is that I never started writing because I enjoyed romance, I started writing because I enjoyed clever screen writing and bigger than life heroes--handsome men who whisked me away once a week on episodic adventures.

And to be honest, I'm still not sure how I feel about this epiphany. In one light, it explains so much, I sort of feel....together now. Does that make sense? Like I finally understand who I am as a writer, which I never really did before, always thinking myself a bit on the outside and loose cannon.

On the other hand, though, it still saddens me, because just when I discovered this new and exciting insight...my distant mentor is gone.

Just another example of how strangers can affect your life in funny little ways, and how you don't know how important or influential a person is to you until they are gone.

So, my epiphany is also my small tribute to an amazing writer: Stephen J. Cannell...

Friday, October 15, 2010

You won't want to hear this....

....but I'm in a Christmassy mood. Yep, I've got the tunes running through my head and screech with my sister when the word is mentioned.

Some stores now have Christmas items out and some are soooo cuuuuuutte!

But that's not the main reason. The main reason is because I'm working on the next story in my Noelle, Alberta series: Christmas in Noelle....where love and laughter are always at the top of Santa's list.

This is such a fun town to come back to. I'm on the second draft of the fifth story and I have to keep reminding myself to add in details like snow, christmas carols and even a jacket or two--that's the only thing about writing 'off season', you don't want the story to sound like it's in the tropics (unless of course it is a Christmas in the Tropics type story LOL)

But the more I work on it, the more I'm seeing red and green all around and in a merry mood. Yes, it helps that it is a romantic comedy. So, here I am, happy happy happy even though the scene I'm currently working on isn't working the way it should...and I have A LOT more to add than I initially thought.

Note to self: stop rushing through a first draft and adding cryptic notes that I can't figure out on the second go round. (What's worse is when I come to one of my notes that say, "Yuck, fix that.")

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pop on over!

I'm blogging with the cool Liz Arnold and she's got some great questions on board!

Pop over and visit with us!!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wow, what a great discussion on critique partners below! Thanks to all who participated and I hope those looking will get some good hints, cautions and enlightenment.

So, I'm sitting here sucking back a small handful of Wonka Nerds (one of my favorite vices) and totally putting off what needs to be done--the second draft of my next Noelle story. I guess I should start thinking of a blurb for it soon, just to give you an idea of the next event to happen in the eccentric town....a BIG but very little event at the same time *wink*

On the homefront....we discovered that our children can't float.

No, we didn't throw them in the lake and wait LOL, we enrolled them in swimming lessons. I guess they inherited their mother's heavy backend though LOL. It's quite an interesting experience watching a lesson. They love the water and have fun (which is the whole reason for the lessons for safety) but...well, they just don't float LOL. I think a few family lessons are in order to practice the basics.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Critique Partners

The best advice I can give to newer writers--other than to keep writing and keep studying--is to find a couple GOOD critique partners.

By GOOD, I don't mean multi-published authors or english professors, no I mean as in a GOOD FIT.

I like to think of finding a good critique partner as that of finding a good husband. Some are lucky and they meet their future prince early while others have to go through quite a few dates and relationships to find Mr. Right.

When I first started looking for a critique partner, I met up on an eharlequin loop with a couple. They were very nice and we talked and exchanged chapters etc, but something just wasn't right. Part of it was because we wrote very different genres and had very different styles. Now, this isn't necessarily an issue, but we also just didn't click. She didn't take kind but honest critisism well and relashed back for one thing. Chock it up to equalling a really bad date LOL.

This being another point--not that I did, I honestly was kind and encouraging, but you couldn't even mention a plot hole without an argument--not pretty. Yes, I was discouraged but knew I needed someone because no one in my family nor group of friends or community wrote...I was all alone. So, I persisted.

I think I went on about seven 'dates' before I found a small group of ladies who, even though we live all around the world, have become great friends who I can count on when I need them. Who are honest but encouraging and make me laugh all the time....even when the R's roll in--and they still do, not as often thank goodness, but they still do. To have others to help you through those times and to celebrate when a contract comes in is truly priceless!

And here's some tips for the type of critique partner you want to find and you want to be: You want a kind but HONEST critique partner, not to mention you want to be honest and KIND. Don't start pointing out every little comma, every missed modifier and horrible plot hole. You need to really listen, first to what they are looking for--if it is a final read proofing before submission then sure, help them with that modifier. But if it's their first draft and they are looking for overall or general comments, then start by giving them those. And second, find ways to point out the parts that stand out to you without being painful. It doesn't help them or yourself if you are praising what you know has holes, yet, at the same time, it does no one any good to be too brutal about it either. Take a paragraph or few pages and give examples, give praise but be honest, and especially let them know you are there for them whether to work things out, brainstorm, reread and reread again. Critique partners are there for support, a second set of eyes, and hopefully a lifelong friend with the same interest in writing as yourself.

So don't get discouraged, go on a few dates and feel them out. Like finding a husband, if you are lucky, you WILL eventually find the right person to help make your dreams come true!

A couple of us did meet on the eharlequin boards and joined our small band to two others. Eharl is a good site as well as a number of others like The Wild Rose Press and Romance Divas as two that come to the tip of my tongue at the moment.

For those with critique partners...how many 'dates' did you go on before you found them, and what keeps you working together? Any other advice for those looking?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Congratulations to....

...the winners of my Celebration Contest:

Tonya C.
Marion G.
Susan L.
Janinne G.

Each of them won a party loot bag full of author stuff from myself and my collegues plus a special little gift in there too!

Check out the contest link on this side to enter this month's contest.