Thursday, July 31, 2008

Left Behind: With Revision

Yes, I'm moping. Big time. While it seems like everyone else is in San Francisco at the RWA national conference, I'm stuck at home and hating it.

Well, I'm hating the fact that I'm not with everyone else in San Fran. But I have to admit, I'm getting a hell of a lot of work done. I'm in the middle of revisions on the second book in a series that my agent is shopping and I have to say I think it's going well.

I actually love to work on revisions. When you move onto revisions, the seemingly hard part of writing the entire book is behind you. Now comes the fun part. Now is the time when you fine tune, when you add that extra something that takes your work from good to ready-to-go.

So what should you be looking for when you do revisions?

Since I write romance, one of the first things I study is the romantic relationship. Does it have enough conflict? Does every scene with the hero and heroine propel their relationship forward? Do their scenes heighten the sexual tension? Do they connect with each other and the reader? Do the love scenes do more than titilate? They should not only be a powerful moment for the couple, but these scenes should also show some growth in the romantic relationship.

Next, I take a look at the overall plot of the book. Does every scene give us useful information about the plot? You might have written the best scene with the hero and heroine trading extraordinary banter but if it tells you nothing about them or what they're doing, it's got to go.

How about secondary characters? Do they move the plot forward? Are they interesting? Are they too interesting and taking over the book?

Now, what about voice? Do I hear my characters when they talk? Is there a distinctive rhythm to my writing?

And finally, does it all come together in the end? Did I wrap up every loose end? If not, did I leave it hanging for a reason? Since I'm writing a series, I have to make sure I set up the next book properly.

Hope these questions help in your own revisions.

Excuse me while I go mope some more now.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Post-pregnancy cravings

When you are pregnant you have all sorts of cravings. The cravings most women know about are the strange food requests. You also crave sleep, non-binding clothes and, at the end, being able to see your feet and walk without getting winded.

Now my children are born. I have two wonderful sons and, to my knowledge, my pregnancy days are over.

And yet – I am still having cravings.
Strong cravings.
Gnawing needs.
Indulgent fantasies.

Want to know my biggest craving?

I want to eat a meal at the proper time.
At the proper temperature.
At the proper speed.
Without interruption.
Without having to share any of it with anyone.

Doesn’t that sound like heaven?

Post-pregnancy cravings, which no one warns you about, are in many ways worse than pregnancy cravings. During your pregnancy, cravings can be managed in two ways. First, you can indulge them. You can feel blameless about sending your husband out to the local convenience store for ice cream and chips at 10:00 at night. And while he’s gone, you can order a pizza to be delivered.

Second, you can wait them out. If you want something you can’t have - I craved sushi during my first pregnancy, margaritas during my second, neither of which I could treat myself to – you know that in a few months your precious bundle will arrive and someone can sneak you these goodies into the hospital if you can’t wait another moment.

But what about afterwards? What about the things we want after the hormones settle down? How do we manage those? And what do we do about the fact that there is not an obvious end to them?

Personally, I didn’t even notice these cravings sneaking up on me. I was so in love with my son after his arrival and so busy trying to balance my many new responsibilities that I didn’t realized that I was starting to have those gnawing sensations again.

Of course the first thing we all crave is sleep. That’s not surprising, but what I really craved was the ability to sleep without hearing every little noise in the house. I found I didn’t need a baby monitor at night because I was so easily alert to all the sounds around me. These included my husband, our cat, and, when we were living in an apartment, our neighbors. We moved my son into his own room six weeks after he was born because the little sounds he would make at night a half hour or so before he would actually wake up would have me practically bolt upright in bed.

But eventually ( and hopefully) the baby begins to sleep through the night and you been to as well. You think you’re out of the woods. Until the next craving arrives. For me that was

1. Less clutter – everyone tells you that the baby will need more stuff than you ever thought possible. I accepted that but I didn’t understand what that would mean for my living room. And the dining room. And the kitchen.

2. Safety for my things. I could measure how tall my son was getting by how far back I had to put things on my desk so that he couldn’t reach it.

And the scariest part about these cravings? There is no “due date.” They go on. And on. And when one gets satisfied, there is another to take its place.

My sons are older now. Some of the first cravings are gone. Some linger. I still would like to eat a meal without someone needing me to get them something. And uninterrupted quiet. I crave that, too.

How long before September?

May you find satisfaction for your cravings,

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Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm off!

Well, I'm headed off to San Francisco for a 5-day family vacation, followed by 4 days of The Romance Writer's of America annual conference. I get to meet my agent for the first time! And I love San Francisco...but....

Okay. I'm an introvert, and the idea of spending four days with over a thousand other romance writers and industry professionals is more than a little daunting. I'm worried I'll smell, or I'll get a big pimple, or I'll have foot-in-mouth disease (in front of my agent? or one of my publishers! aaaack!)... I'm not the kind of person to come up with off-the-cuff witty conversation, I'm more at home in sweats than pretty dresses and heels...and make-up? Don't get me started.

Sigh. I know it's going to be fun. I had a great time last year, and this year will only be better, because I know more people and get to do more fun things. So wish me luck & clear skin, and I'll see you all on August 4. Be good, everyone! ;-)


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fantasy Decorating

If I could wipe my home clean of everything and redecorate with no worry over cost or opinions of anyone else in the house (which would never, ever happen), I think... no, I KNOW, I would have such a weird house. But it would be cool.

I'd have dark colors on the walls and floors (so what if I ever wanted to sell the house I'd have to repaint in light colors to make the rooms look bigger? It's not like I'm going anywhere. If the house was perfect for ME, why would I leave?).

I'd have thick, sinfully thick, carpet upstairs.

I'd have artwork everywhere on the walls, not just over the couch.

Tons of pillows. Everywhere. All sizes, shapes, and colors.

I'm not sure how, but I know there would be faeries and dragons... I'd have Celtic designs mixed with Asian influences... Noise and sparkles and things hanging from the walls. Lots of cloth (yeah, I know, lots of dust. So what?)

I might even paint one whole wall in chalkboard paint, just because.

Hm. I'm in an odd mood. My husband better hide my Lowe's credit card just in case.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Money Money Money

Must be sunny....

Know how to silence an entire roomful of authors? Ask how much they made last year.

Money is one of those subjects sure to stop a conversation in its tracks and piss off the most easy-going person. I think that's because how much money you make is tied so closely to self-worth. It's a matter of pride. We all want to do well and money is the easiest way to gauge that.

We all want to be the best at what we do. And that's a good thing. It makes us strive to be better.

As a first-time author, you're so damn happy that someone is going to pay you for your book that you take what they're willing to give you. Been there, done that. And I'm as proud of those books as anything I have or will ever sell.

There's nothing like the thrill of that call or email to tell you someone loved your book enough to want to put their money behind you to publish it.

But what is a book, and its author, truly worth?

Touchy question, especially in these tough economic times. Jessica Faust's blog the other day was interesting for a whole lot of reasons, mostly because there are no easy answers.

Yes, I want to see my book in print. I want readers to fall in love with my characters as much as I have. Sure, I want to be paid bundles for my story...I'm not foolish enough to believe I will be.

But where is the middle ground? I don't have a clue.

I've been around the block long enough to know that being a writer is synonymous with being a glutton for punishment. Where else can you gather enough rejections to paper your bathroom and still prepare another 10 queries to send out the next day--while still dreaming about the publisher who wants to give you six-figures for your book?

WHAT'S IN A NAME? - Part 1

I know I’m not the only writer who spends a great deal of time thinking about the names of my characters. Names tell you a lot about the person you are about. There are two aspects to names. First are the names we choose and second is the characters we choose to name. I want to talk about this second set this week.

Last week while working on my current manuscript, I had two characters. Originally, one was referred to simply as “the stable boy” When I was doing some rewriting I decided to name the stable boy Finn. And suddenly… he wanted to TALK! He wanted to participate in the story. Doing the only thing I felt I could do at the time I said, “Sure,” and there he was babbling away as only a seven year old can do. He was rushing into rooms, interrupting the hero and heroine and now he is well on his way to being part of the climax.

The other character was “an older female servant” who became Ida, and once she was Ida, she, too, needed to be a more active part of the story. She’s turned into a surrogate mom for my heroine (who’s based on Cinderella) and is helping her to grow into her new role and to accept her love for the prince.

I adore both characters and there is no doubt that the book is better for them being in it. It was a wonderful surprise seeing them both come to life on the page and a memorable experience for me as a writer. Now I know – be careful who you name, because the story they change, may be your own!

May you have wonderful surprises in your world this week,

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Summer Solutions

I've had a hard time reconciling keeping the kids busy and entertained with me getting in Writing Time.

My computer is next to their computer. No matter what time I come up to work, one of the kids pops up here and wants to go on their computer. 

If I go downstairs with a notebook and a pen, the other one wants to watch TV, or read a book and ask 42 questions.

If I take them somewhere, it's hard to write. I mean, I can write while they bowl or play games at Chuck E Cheese's, but there are some scenes I just CAN'T WRITE while kids are running around. And there's no writing at the movies or the museum or the zoo.

My husband carries TWO laptops to work. No idea why. Finally this past week he left one of them home a few days. I logged in on the laptop and accessed my files from my computer and I got WORK DONE. Yes!

(hey! Surprise.... the little one just came up to find songs on iTunes... guess I better go.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Seduced in Shadow Releases Friday

The second book in my Magical Seduction series from Ellora's Cave, SEDUCED IN SHADOW, released tomorrow, and I'm so thrilled to be able to introduce Ellie and Antonin. Ellie is the sister of Justin from my first book, SEDUCED BY MAGIC.

Ellie is about to have her world turned upside down. And Antonin is the only man who can set it right when evil comes to take her away.

Here's their first meeting


Oh holy shit. This was it. This was what they warned women about in those running magazine articles.

How could she have been so stupid? Alone in the woods at six o’clock in the morning with no one around to hear her scream for help.

The man looked long and lean, a little over six foot tall she guessed. With those legs, he’d catch her easily if she ran. His arms bulged with muscle under the short-sleeved green t-shirt that clearly defined his broad shoulders and flat stomach, while his thighs filled out his worn jeans.
Despite her fear, she could appreciate the sheer masculine appeal of the man. He was gorgeous.
Straight, shaggy-cut black hair hung to his shoulders, long bangs off a side part nearly obscuring light-colored eyes…maybe gray. He wasn’t close enough for her to tell the exact color and, if she had her way, he wasn’t getting any closer.

His face was all angles—chiseled cheeks and chin and straight, pointed nose. Hell, she thought she even glimpsed pointy ears beneath that silky-looking hair. A slight smile turned up the corners of his wickedly sexy mouth, but it was the scattering of freckles on that nose that capped his appeal for her. Hell if she knew why.

The real question was why he was lurking in the woods, stalking innocent women. With his looks, he’d be able to seduce any woman he wanted.

Which made the situation all the more surreal.

Okay, play it cool. You can get out of this. “Wow. You scared the hell out of me. I wasn’t…expecting to see anyone out here this early.”

“You’re right.” His smile kicked in again and this time her breath caught in her throat at his pure masculinity. “There shouldn’t be anyone out here this early.”

Right. Maybe she was reading this situation completely wrong. What if this guy was a park ranger? She’d gladly take a ticket for trespassing instead of rape and murder any day.
Playing on her blonde, violet-eyed looks for all she was worth, Ellie fluttered her eyelashes at him and turned on the bright smile that had gotten her out of many high school scrapes.

“I am so sorry. I didn’t realize… I mean, the sun is up and I just wasn’t thinking. Am I in trouble?”

His smile widened and she felt heat that had nothing to do with the air temperature begin to pool low in her stomach.

How inappropriate was that? From terrified to horny in two minutes. She really must be losing her mind.

“No trouble from me,” he said. “I don’t work for the park service.”

Okay, there went that idea. She took another step back. He stayed where he was.

“So then what are you doing out here?” she asked.

Cocking his head to the side, he seemed to consider his answer.

In the horror films she’d loved to watch as a kid, the villain almost always said, “Why, I’m after you.” Which of course gave the ditzy heroine time to run into the forest, get hopelessly lost and manage to find the killer’s lair, making it easy for him to hang her on a meat hook.

Finally, when she thought for sure he was going to pull a machete from behind his back and slash her to bits, he shrugged. “Taking a walk. I’m an early riser.”

It sounded so plausible. Almost too plausible.

She tried her smile again. “Okay. Well, I’ve had my break. I’m just going to get moving then. Nice to meet you.”

He smiled again and nodded. “Nice to meet you too.” Then he turned and walked back into the forest, barely making a sound, as he appeared to melt into the trees.

Ellie took off down the hill, running all out. By the time she reached her car, she was gasping and cursing herself front, back and sideways for her stupidity.

She’d let her imagination get away from her…again. Just as she had in Philadelphia when she’d left her job. Fear had been part of the reason she’d run all the way home to Berks County four months ago. Fear that she was losing herself in her job, that she wasn’t cut out for a high-paced career in public relations.

Today she’d just run to the car. It seemed she was always running away from something.

She was such a freaking coward.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

I refuse!

I refuse to get older! I knew it was bad when I suddenly got sleepy during Leno. After all, I spent most of my youth angry that I wasn't allowed to stay up and watch Carson.

Now if I don't get sleep, I am exhausted the next day and I need a nap. I'm sure I used to protest naps. Now I protest when I can't have one.

Yesterday I got back from 4th of July at the beach and decided to go running to counteract my food indulgence while I was gone.

Did a little sprint halfway through my 3 miles and strained a hip flexor. Hobbled back home. Hobbled around the house. Hissed with every twinge.

Finally today I pulled out an old yoga dvd and did the hip and thigh section. I feel better (two days worth of Advil later), but I can't help but hope this isn't a precursor of more to come.

Running is the only thing that seems to work for me, as far as exercise goes. Lately I bounce from one injury to another. Not good. Maybe if I could suspend myself in mid-air and run with no footfalls, I'd stay healthy?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July

To all my fellow Americans, happy fourth. It seems like the 2000s so far have been full of challenges for all, so I'm taking a moment today to think about some of the beautiful freedoms we Americans have (and supplying a tiny bit of eye candy while I'm at it).

Have a great, great day, everyone. Hugs,

Thursday, July 3, 2008

SEDUCED with an Excerpt

SEDUCED IN SHADOW, the second book in my Magical Seduction series from Ellora's Cave, will be released July 11.
Blurb: Etruscan linchetto Antonin de Feo has been tasked with the job of keeping Fiorella Johannson's luscious body safe from harm. But when someone tries to kidnap the beauty with a secret, Antonin has the perfect place to keep her safe: in his bed.
Here's a little taste to whet your appetite and be sure to stop back next Thursday for another bite.
Antonin de Feo watched the scene unfold from behind a large oak.
He’d been tailing Ellie since she’d left her home this morning. A bit over a week ago, her brother Justin had contracted the security firm owned by Antonin and his two brothers to provide protective surveillance for his sister.
Because Ellie Johannson was no regular mortal. She was the half-human daughter of Selvans, the Etruscan God of the Woods.
For years, her father had kept her under guard—secretly of course—rotating a new man into guard duty every few months to keep them sharp.
For the past week, Antonin and his oldest brother Camillus had shared her protection, following her every move, and she’d been none the wiser, never showing any sign that she felt their presence.
But now, today, she’d acted as though she’d sensed someone following her.
Interesting but not unremarkable. His brother Cam was damn near impossible to detect but some humans could pick up on Antonin’s proximity, even if they never saw him. Since Ellie was Selvans’ child, she probably had better senses than an etera, a regular human.
But this… Justin hadn’t told him about this.
His mouth curved in a smile. He’d been told she didn’t know what she was, what her father really was.
If that was true, then how to explain what had just happened? How did she explain the fact that she could talk to animals?
Well, he supposed “understand” would be a better way to describe the communication he’d just overheard. Ellie had spoken English and the doe had spoken deer but the females had understood each other just fine.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

997...998...999.. 1,000!

My writing goal each day is to add 1,000 words to the total word count of my current manuscript. But I have to say, there are days when I feel like I'm back in school counting every single word and adding an adjective or two just to get closer.

In the original Broadway production of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown", there's a song called "Book Report" where the characters have to write a book report on Peter Rabbit. Throughout the song, Lucy (always my favorite character) can be heard counting as she painfully works her way through the report. She ends with "And they were very very very very very very happy to be home." Can you sympathize?

Somedays are like that. Everytime I hit word count, I've moved... 50 words. When I'm sure I've written 200, it's half that. Yes, it's one of those days when the muse does doesn't let the words flow. I wonder at these days. I get no warning one way or the other until my hands are frozen above the keyboard and my mind is wandering to laundry. Other days I sit and... whoosh! The story flies onto the page and I wonder why I was struggling the day before.

Yesterday was a good one. I added 1,300 words - the last half of which seemed to almost magically appear (I say almost, because I know how much work it really took). Today... well, let's say that the reason I'm posting late is because those were some of the longest 1,000 words I've added.

But they're there. And tomorrow, I'll be back in front of the page - and hoping for a flying day.

May you words soar,

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