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Showing posts from September, 2008

To Kiss or Not To Kiss

*Thank you to Courtney Milan for the idea and the link.*

This is how you build romantic tension between your characters. Sometimes an "almost kiss" does more to keep your reader engaged than the real thing ever could.

Seek And You Shall Find

Today, I thought I'd share two quick tricks you can use to strengthen your manuscript. (And by strengthen, I mean move your writing from ho-hum to WOW!)

To do this, you'll need the following:

*An arsenal of active verbs at your disposal

*The "edit" tab in your Word document.


Here's what you do:

1. Go under "edit" to "find."

2. Initiate a "find" for the word "that."

3. Remove most of them. The rule of thumb is this: If the sentence is complete without "that", take it out.

4. Go back to "edit" and "find."

5. Initiate a "find" for the word "was."

6. Evaluate carefully whether the "was" (which often indicates passive voice and always indicates the weaker "to be" verb structure) is absolutely necessary. If you can rearrange your sentence to insert an action verb in its place, do so.

That's it. It takes some time to comb through your manuscript, especially if you'…

She's Gonna Blow!

1. I'm late with my usual Monday post but I have an excellent excuse.

2. I had a job interview.

3. Actually, it was more of a "Sit There And Let Me Tell You How Great This Company Is" interview that lasted all of 16 minutes. And that was with ME asking most of the questions when I realized the interviewer had no real interest in asking ME anything of value (he did want to know about Pepperdine, but that's it).

4. I'll know in two weeks or more. In the mean time, still looking.

5. Katy and I discussed our offices/writing spaces at Swords & Stilettos today. Feel free to go share what works for you (and upload a pic if you want!)

6. Here's a video of a volcano birthday cake my hubby made last week:



7. Yes, those piles of leftover cake were wrapped up and waiting for me when I got home.

8. No, they don't tempt me any longer.

9. My week is full of revisions, critiques if I can get to them, and setting up interviews with some authors for this blog.

10. Also, I wil…

Lol

Tricksy Hobbitses

Currently on my iTunes: "Sober" by Kelly Clarkson

1. I'm having a hard time believing that it's already Friday.

2. Actually, I'm having a hard time believing the date on the calendar. Where does the time go?

3. I've been silent on my progress in Shadowing Fate here but there's a good reason.

4. I was SO CLOSE to finishing when I realized I had an incredible idea to deepen the plot, make the villain so much scarier, and thoroughly mess with my reader's heads because they won't be able to see how Alexa can avoid the fate the villain has chosen for her.

5. This is doing incredible things to my plot and my characters, but it also asks for a very intensive rewrite of the middle of the book. Last night I rewrote a chapter and kept ONE SENTENCE from the original version.

6. But, what a sentence. :D

7. So, I'm pushing hard this weekend to get through that re-write so I can deliver my Holy Crap ending and get this into the hands of the four agents waiting for…

But...why??

Pop Quiz:

1. Why did Captain Jack Sparrow refuse to sail into open sea in The Deadman's Chest?

2. Why did Dumbledore leave the infant Harry Potter with the Dursleys?

3. Why did Shakespeare's Hamlet fake insanity?

4. Why did your main character do whatever it is she did in chapter one of your WIP?

Can't answer #4? You've got a problem.

Every action your character takes, every word she speaks is because of something. If you don't understand the because, your character will be nothing but a flat, one-dimensional cliche.

Motivation leads to choices. Choices lead to action. Those actions lead to more choices which lead to more action. Without the initial motivation driving a character's choices, all you have on your page is a string of loosely associated actions that don't resonate with the reader because your character has no emotional stake in any of it.

Let's look at my pop quiz.

#1. Because Jack Sparrow was afraid of the Crakken, Davy Jones' pet sea monste…

Boo!

I've had several "blonde" moments recently. My hubby has taken to just clamping his lips shut and swallowing any number of interesting reactions (for some reason, he thinks calling me on my obvious DUH moment might jeopardize his personal safety).

Take yesterday, for example. My hubby was watching the Ryder Cup (the annual golf tournament between America and Europe). I was sitting in the living room with him, writing. My iPod was in my ears, the soundtrack to Equilibrium was turned up loud enough to block all outside noise, and I only occasionally glanced at the tv as my hubby exclaimed over a particularly interesting...an unusually riveting...oh, never mind. How can you use the words "interesting" and "riveting" to describe watching golf?

I digress.

Anyway, I was glancing at the screen and noticed that two men had on very similar shirts. Now, it is golf and therefore the fashion options are limited. Still, I felt a twinge of sympathy for the two men who…

Looking For Erin

Hey Erin! I can't answer your email due to snafus and shenanigans beyond both of our control. Can you please call me instead? I don't have your phone number (mine's on my card) and my computer won't talk to yours. =)

Argh, Matey!

1. Starshine discovered that this past weekend was National Talk Like A Pirate weekend.

2. Since he lives in his imagination anyway, he was quick to get into the spirit of things.

3. The two of us were home alone Sunday morning and the conversation went like this:

Starshine: Argh, matey! Man the hatches!

Me: Okay.

Starshine: There's no "okay" on a pirate ship! Argh! Swab the poop decks.

Me: I've swabbed enough poop decks to last me a lifetime.

Starshine: What?

Me: Nevermind. Swabbing, sir!

Starshine: Don't call me sir, matey! You'll walk the plank and be fed to the skeletons.

Me: Aye, captain!

Starshine: We'll fire the cannons!

Me: Aye, captain!

Starshine: We'll sail under the Jolly Roger!

Me: Aye, captain!

Starshine: We'll never brush our teeth again!

Me: Hold it, mister.

And Starshine discovered that, while I'm a fan of all things pirate, my penchant for excellent dental hygiene trumps all.

4. Tom Cruise joined facebook, set up a fan site for himself (which …

Take A Look

Hey, fellow writers! Here's a blog worth checking out. Keli is one of my fellow GH finalists, one of my valued critique partners, and a trusted friend. Her latest blog posts are well-researched gems on the subject of getting started on the road to publication.

Happy reading! (PLUS, Keli always has these really cool drawings for those who leave comments!)

Death to the Botulistic Boa!

Okay, so it's been a light blogging week for me. I left Dick Van Dyke in charge of bolstering your spirits while I was away but now I'm back and, while I'm hardly as flexible as DVD (Is anyone? It's like he has rubber bands for joints.), I'm just as entertaining after a sip or two.

Where have I been? Well, I could tell you that I've been working extra hours, pounding the pavement looking for a day job, taking care of sick kids, getting sick myself, cleaning house, and trying to understand why we have a Hitchcock-like infestation of black birds every evening at twilight, but that would be a lie.

The truth is, I'm trying to join the Society of Super Superheroes and this week was my physical test. (I, of course, passed the written exam with flying colors. Need someone who can take "superfluous," "carbonated," and "dichotomy" and use them in the same sentence? I'm your girl!)

I can't go into all the details (And truly, sparing…

What's It Worth To You?

Yesterday, Starshine went to the eye doctor because A) he is far-sighted, like me, and B) his glasses were crushed the other day at school by an errant back pack. When asked how his glasses came to be sitting on the floor in the general vicinity of the back packs in the first place, he was quite vague.

The dr. ran through various tests and then came to the point where he was figuring out Starshine's prescription by having him look through lenses and read rows of fine print.

He toggled the lenses, put them up to Starshine's face, held out a card and said, "Please read the bottom line."

To which Starshine responded, "Sure! For five bucks."

"Five bucks?"

"Yes. I want five bucks. Otherwise, I don't read the line."

"I don't have five bucks," said the dr.

"Well, what do you have?"

"Gumballs."

"I'll take five gumballs."

"Deal," the dr. said.

Starshine flawlessly read the line, pocketed his gumb…

Leave Your Brains At Home

1. I'd like to note, as an avid Jack Sparrow fan, the title of this post has nothing to do with the pic.

2. It has everything to do with my new job search.

3. Because we've had unexpected medical expenses out the wazoo the last few months and gas is eating us alive, and because people don't come out to eat and leave good tips when they need that money for their gas tank, I'm not bringing in enough from my current job.

4. Instead of working extra night shifts and making sure my family never sees me, I'm looking for a day job. Part time. Receptionist.

5. Given that I have a college degree, experience in running my own business, and 16 years of customer service under my belt, I'm over-qualified for that position but I want a job where I can depend on the hours and the check and leave it at the door when I go home.

6. I need all my mental energy for writing.

7. I was explaining my job search to the Scientist and he asked what a receptionist does.

8. I told him.

9. His re…

Wow

I've avoided politics on this blog and, for the most part, will continue to do so because the main purpose of this blog is to entertain and provide insight into the writer's life. I'm posting this, however, because I am a HUGE supporter of those who serve in our military and when someone who has served recently takes the time to give their perspective, it's worth a listen.

It's only 1 1/2 minutes. I was moved most by the last ten seconds. Wow.

'Tis Merely A Flesh Wound!

1. A BIG thank you to nomadicdragon (who beat Peter von Brown to the punch by mere minutes) for recommending the Finding Neverland soundtrack.

2. I'm listening to it as I type this, and I'm completely in love with this music.

3. I'll get to the other recommendations soon.

4. Hubby is making a cake this weekend for someone who loves the movie Airplane.

5. He's mimicking the pic of the airplane tied in a knot at the middle.

6. I'll try to get a pic of it to post here for you. Should be amazing.

7. I'm going to resume Writing Process posts soon so hit me in the comments trail with questions/suggestions for what you'd like covered.

8. I think I have four new scenes to add to SF and then it's done.

9. Each scene is 4000-5000 words.

10. The guy who sexually harassed me at work is now long gone.

11. I realize that sentence is open to many interpretations.

12. I really can't explain more without incurring the wrath of my lawyers.

13. Did you know you can buy hot, pickl…

Random Googleness (Yes, that's a word.)

This week, we welcome the new readers who used the following search terms to find this blog:

1. King Pigeon Benefits: By this, I assume you mean benefits to the yoga position called King Pigeon, and I have to tell you, the benefits are a bit sketchy. Yes, yes, there's the whole "do this long enough and you'll lengthen your spine and become more flexible" thing, but there comes a point where avoiding ridiculousness and the high probability that one will break one's neck while contorting oneself into pretzel-like positions offsets any nebulous offering of greater bendiness.

And yes, that's a word. I'm a writer. I can make them up.

2. Sculpting 101: I'm really not sure how that phrase brought up this blog. Bet you aren't either.

3. September Wordtrick: What does this even mean?? You want a wordtrick (which, unlike bendiness, is soooo not a real word) for the month of September? Zooweemama. Win Scrabble and impress your friends. (And yes, it's a re…

Here's Something New

Harper Collins has a new site up that invites self-published or unpublished authors to post portions of a completed manuscript, along with a blurb about their book. Registered site users rate the pages and the top five authors each month get to submit their ms. directly to a HC editor.

It's an interesting way to find new talent. =)

*Thanks to Peter Von Brown for giving me the link.*

Like A Good Neighbor

Last night, during dinner, I went around the table asking each child to tell us the most interesting part of their day. It's a dinnertime tradition here, and I've found that phrasing the usual "How was your day?" question as "What was the most interesting thing that happened to you today?" gets much better results from my boys.

Usually.

Of course, now and then you run into Daredevil's sly sense of humor and his refusal to have his interesting moment overshadowed by anyone else's. Last night, Starshine's most interesting moment was that his caterpillar entered a cocoon (apparently each child has one they are supposed to observe during this particular science unit.). The Scientist was thrilled with the use of microscopes during science class.

It was Daredevil's turn. He took a deep breath, looked at all of us, and said, in utmost seriousness, "I switched insurance agents today."

Without missing a beat, Starshine's eyes lit up and he …

Monday: Running From My "To Do" List

1. Do I think romance novels bring world peace?

2. Read this to find out. (It's my day to post on S & S.)

3. My "To Do" list is eating me alive today.

4. Of course, that's often the case, but I haven't slept well in days so it feels worse today.

5. I'm tempted to ignore the whole thing in favor of a good book.

6. Speaking of a good book, The Lost Duke of Wyndham is a definite must read for anyone who enjoys a strong heroine, a smart-mouthed hero who makes you laugh outloud, and a plot that keeps you turning the pages.

7. I have to say that while the South has many wonderful culinary options, okra is not one of them.

8. When I express that opinion to a true, born-on-a-tractor southerner, I get the knee-jerk "Well, you have to try it fried" response.

9. First of all, if you have to deep fry something to disguise its inherent nastiness, then it doesn't qualify as edible.

10. Secondly, I have tried fried okra.

11. Once you bite past the thin, breadcrumb …

Weekend, Here I Come!

1. This was a long week.

2. Yes, I realize every week has the exact same number of days but still...this was a long week for me.

3. Since most of it is hardly entertaining, I won't bore you with it.

4. Gingerbread poop labels.

5. Yes, you read that right.

6. That's the latest search phrase used to locate this blog.

7. One could spend one's time wondering why anyone needed to label gingerbread poop or, indeed, could speculate on the amazing circumstance of finding one other person in the ether who makes poop out of gingerbread (Missed that one? Here it is.) but instead, I'll just say "Welcome. You must have boys."

8. Since women are busting through the "glass ceiling" of politics, I've been assessing the validity of running a grassroots campaign four years from now. C.J. Redwine for President. Or Vice President. Or Secretary of Wardrobe Consultations and Really Interesting Non-Sequiturs Interrupting Perfectly Normal Conversations.

9. I could totally roc…

Nary A Heaving Bosum In Sight

Here's a well-written article from a journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle who braved the estrogen-filled halls of the SF Marriott during RWA nationals to discover what it really looks like to be a romance author.

I particularly enjoy the smashing of stereotypes and dismissing of rigid rule sets. =)

Also, I enjoyed the reference to heaving bosums.

Monday's List

1. So, I may have lost my mind.

2. Stop laughing.

3. I'm serious.

4. I just invited the Uber-Workout-Drill-Sergeant, otherwise known as my friend Paul, to hold me accountable to an hour-long workout schedule three times a week.

5. I did this because if I know I have to report my actions, I'm much more likely to push myself as hard as possible so I don't look like a wimp...have I mentioned my mile-wide competitive streak?

6. Plus, he takes responsibility seriously and won't let up on me once. Not once.

7. Not even if I pull off an incredibly convincing performance of dragging my last sweet breath into my tortured lungs, hanging by a fingernail on the slim precipice between this life and the next...he'll just glare at me and tell me to stop whining and do another sit-up.

8. And the fact that I'll be reporting my results via email instead of in person doesn't make a bit of difference because I KNOW he'd glare and tell me to stop whining so I'd do TWO more sit…