Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"I Confess...I Did It..."

Mistakes. Everyone makes them. Mine happen to be switching POV in mid-scene "head hopping" it's called, and telling the reader what is going on, rather than showing the action. I got the first one from the books I grew up with; undoubtedly, that's where I got the latter one as well!

I once proofread a manuscript which literally gave me a headache every time I tried to work on it. No capitals; no punctuation. But surprisingly enough, the author had studied (and retained!) paragraph structure and quotation/dialogue! But words were consistantly misspelled and the wrong tense frequently used. My brain went numb after half a page, trying to compensate. I wasn't sure if it was my job to take the figurative 'red pen' to her work.

Honestly, if it hadn't been for the adult content, a 3rd grader would have done a better job.

Helping my kids with their English homework has helped me 'brush up' on the grammer rules, although I still have trouble with 'objects', 'direct objects', and 'articles'. But 'noun', 'verb', 'adjective', 'adverb', 'prepostions'...I'm pretty confident.

I'm also fond of complex sentances, and was stunned during my final year of colege when a professor told me I had a run-on sentance. ME? No WAY! I read the thing out loud three times before my roommate suggested where to cut in half!

Some people have said a good way to catch your mistakes is to read your work backwards. I read mine out loud, or print it out and reread it. I've also sent it to a fresh pair of eyes, a trusted friend who hasn't read it before.

And rest assured...I've caught mistakes in some of my favorite print authors. Not every publisher/editor catches them. Just read books #1-3 of WEB Griffin's 'Men in Blue' series. A prominent character's last name changes in book #2, only to return to the original spelling in book #3 and beyond.

My dad pointed out he's caught mistakes in Stephen King's work, but his all-time fav was when he attended Purdue. His professor wrote the textbook, and on the first day of class, handed out an equally thick supplimental, in which he corrected all of his mistakes!

And sometimes the mistakes are accidental. My alter-ego was furious when she discovered her memory was faulty when she wrote her first book, and had the space shuttle Challenger exploding in 1985. She looked up the info, in order to spell an astronaught's name right...and lo and behold...it actually exploded in 1986! She sent the corrections to the publisher, and when the books were published, the mistake was left in. And when the editor tried to contact her before it went to print, communication/'office hours' was a problem. So in her first book, the incident occurs twice.

I figure there are three types of people:
-Ones that catch it and vow never to read her work again, based on one tiny error;
-Those who read it and think, 'Wait...didn't that already happen?'
-Those who don't catch it.

Do I quit reading an author just because I catch a mistake? No. Unless, of course, it's an ongoing issue with every single book!

Oh, and the author with the basic grammer issues? We no longer communicate. She found a better crit partner, and I've even bought two of her books, although I'm not thrilled with her writing style. Occassionally, I see emails from her on the loops and she's having some success, so more power to her. I tried to reach out and help her; she refused. I guess she's found friends more to her liking.

So don't sweat it if you make a mistake. As I told Stephanie last week; 'Don't get it right; get it written!'

A good editor/friend will help with the rest.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"But I Don't Wanna..."

Dear Kenzie,

I would like to offer you a conditional contract; conditional meaning you expand the plot. It seems rushed...

What? Add more scenes? You didn't like it the way it's written?

Sigh...okay; you're the boss, and if I want to see this published, then I'd better add something to it....

Dear Kenzie,

I know you have a better ending in you than this....

(Throws mouse across the room) What? It has the HEA! They ride off into the sunset....okay, they're actually looking at it...so what the hell's wrong NOW? Here's an ending for you..."And they lived happily ever after." Take THAT!

(Light bulb going on) Hold it...(typing madly) Woo Hoo! How's this for an inspired ending?

Dear Kenzie,

LOL:) I love it! Good job!

You guessed it; how could anyone NOT love any words which pour from my fingertips? Okay; I'll admit it. Expanding the plot was a good idea; it made for a much better story. And yes, the (new) ending was brilliant, however temper-tantrum induced!

And yes, rewriting is not easy for me. I love the way I wrote the story, and only on occassion will I rip the entire thing apart and redo major chunks. Case in point: Molly's 3rd book, Forbidden Love. First I wrote the thing. Then I decided Kyle needed a voice, and inserted his POV in selected spots. Third, after feedback, I took the advice of others and cut the first six chapters. Last, I deleted the final four chapters, making some revisions to a beloved sex scene, and adding another scene. Am I happy with it? Sort of. I haven't screwed up the courage to send it off yet.

My Wild At Heart has had many negative comments. I did update the first chapter, and made some minor changes to Steve's prison charges. But as he doesn't become 'lovable' until chapter 3, no one wants to read past Ch. 1. And since I love the way I laid it out, it has been languising on my flash drive, stuck in limbo until Inspiration Strikes.

Maybe I need a ghost writer?

So yes, I AM capable of rewrites. Especially when publication is looming. And as my editor can attest, my tantrums don't last long...hell, he doesn't even know about half of them! Don't tell him; he thinks I'm easy to work with! Which I am...just don't come around me when I'm in the middle of the rewrite. It ain't pretty.

Now I'm waiting for that elusive email again...

Dear Kenzie,

We would be pleased to offer you a contract for Teacher's Pet....

Crossing my fingers it arrives soon!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I've finally felt the sting of betrayal.

The first time I ever finished a book and felt 'WTF...???', I simply decided to read the author's next work and give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, the excerpt certainly caught my attention!

But no...book 2 had me shaking my head and wondering why they felt the need to write the story? And why did the publisher feel the need to publish it?

But maybe it was just me. And for the record, I doubt I'll ever read any of that author's work again.

But now I've come up against another one. And this time while I like the story, I'm scratching my head over the way it is being published.

Again, I'm not going to mention names. I've read this author's other work and enjoyed it. The books weren't my favorites, but I kept them around. And really looked forward to her new series. But here's my issue: They are not what I would call 'books'; they are more like single chapters being marketed as books. Remember the continuing stories in magazines/newspapers? You'd read a scene or a chapter one day and then find out what happens next when the new issue was out? This is what this feels like.

Only...I don't know about you, but I've certainly proved I can knock out 8-10 pages a week while the story's 'hot' in my brain. So why is it taking so long for the author to get these out? From what I've read so far, the heroine has to endure several 'stages' of sexual encounters in order for a certain ceremony to be 'complete'. In the first 'chapter', she was introduced to three men and instructed to learn self-control (which she did, and was 'rewarded' at the end). In the second 'chapter', she had been allowed a resting period, before being returned to the men and this time she witnessed a sex act while being 'stimulated'. 'Chapter' ended with the appearance of a fourth being.

So....I have it on good authority that the 3rd and 4th 'installments' are going to be published soon. Let me guess....the mysterious being will either have sex with her or let one or more men 'enjoy' her while he watches. Will she actually have sex with one of the men? Will she form a connection with the one whose cock she will finally take inside her body? Will she be part of a threesome?

Where is the romance? Is it still to come (ha ha...)? Why wasn't this written 'all at once', instead of dragging this out?

Therein lies the betrayal. I was expecting one thing and got something totally different. The ONLY reason I'll keep reading is to see how far this drags out. But I think I'm done with this author.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Daily Life and Fighting for Writing Time...

"Mom, can I check my MySpace?"

"Can I talk to you? I'm tired of looking at the back of your head!"

"Mom, I need the computer for homework..."

It used to be so easy. I'd fire up the computer (and let it 'warm up' for about five minutes while it loaded...I'd finish watching the news or drink another cup of coffee, or even do the dishes! Remember those days?) and bring up my MS Works document. Or WordPad. And turn on some music and let the words flow.

And then we got internet. Suddenly, I check my email and read everything my friends sent me. I'd write for a while, and check it again, wincing if an IM popped up (I finally learned how to 'be invisible' on the AOL IM!)

Total 'goof-off' time: 30 minutes, tops.

And...the phone wouldn't ring, because the internet was tied to my landline. My friends knew I was home because of the continuous busy signal.

Fast-forward six years.

The computer now takes about six seconds to load; I get on, I check my email. I delete quite a bit, thanks to certain SPAM, or a few friends who still insist on sending certain forwards I recognize. Others I briefly skim before hitting the delete button, or, if it particularly funny, I'll pass it on to a few choice friends on my list.

Next I move onto my blog. It usually takes me half an hour or so to post. Then I'll grab another cup of coffee and start reading my favorite ones, in order to see what my friends are doing. If there's a new release, I'll make a note of it. If I think of a comment, I do so and move on.

If I have something to post on 'my day' here, I'll post it afterwards. And then it's on to FaceBook.

I'll scroll down, reading and commenting on any new status updates, and write my own. Then I copy and paste my blog entry(ies).

One more email to check in with, and oh yes...this is my publisher's forum month, so I log in and check to see if anyone's visited any of the threads. I'll comment, or as was the case today, post a new entry. If there's been an interesting thread on any chat loop digest, I'll pop over and chime in.

Total 'goof-off' time: 2-3 hours. But wait...this is part of my job, so it doesn't count! It's the business side of my job, to connect with readers, get advice, and stay in touch with friends!

I get up to stretch, take a break. The floors could really use a vacuum cleaner; the pets need water. Sometimes I'll start the laundry. Put away the coffee maker, decide what to fix for dinner. Oh, it's noon? Time to fix myself some lunch.

While I'm eating, I'll plug in my e-book flash drive and read a few chapters of the book I'm reading.

Afterwards, I'll eject it and pop in my 'document' flash. I'll read over what I've written the previous day and get to work for about an hour.

Okay...now it's after 1? Let's check in with the blogs, email, and FaceBook again....and go back to the wip. At 2:15 I go get in the car to go pick up my youngest from school. I can work for another forty-five minutes before the teens get home, and the above arguements are expressed.

Sometimes after dinner I'll get lucky again and no one will be on the computer. I check the email, blogs, and yes, sometimes FB again, before the flash is plugged in and I might write a few more sentences.

So you be the judge...am I goofing off too much, or is anywhere from 600-1500 words a good average? If the words are flowing, I can knock out a book in about 4-5 weeks. If they aren't coming, sometimes it will be years.

And darn it...where are the housecleaning Brownies? I'm working!

Sigh...off to clean the floors...I can't tell what color the carpet is anymore, and even the dog is complaining! (Just kidding!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No Man Is An Island...

(Head slap...) I totally forgot to mention I was interviewed yesterday on Ashley Ladd's blog! If you get a chance, stop by (scroll down to Sept 8th) and say hi?

I'm also posting in the Reader's Retreat over at Coffee Time Romance with my fellow Freya's Bower authors. Here's the link:
http://www.coffeeti meromance. com/board/ forumdisplay. php?f=14 we'll be there until the 20th:)

Life would get pretty dull if we had no one to talk to, right?

Remember the movie Castaway? Tom Hanks ends up painting a face on a volleyball and talking to him, even crying when 'Wilson' floats away after he's gotten over the reef in attempt to be rescued.

Humans are social creatures. And in order to write an interesting book, we have to have our main characters, but in order to understand them a little better, we need to see them interacting with friends and family. Enemies. People you pass on the street.

Secondary characters add depth to your story, and yes, even provide comic relief. I loooooooove Kelly Kirch's Puck character in Marriage Plot, and wish she would write another story around him. He was funny; he pursued his woman in the background, and was loyal to his friend Nicholas.

I was thrilled to learn two of my fellow authors actually bought and read All She Ever Wanted, and emailed me privately, asking for a sequel. Seems they were intrigued by one of the characters, mentioned late in the story, and want to see why he's the way he is.

You may get your wish; I was beginning to write a story, based on an idea I had thrown at me by a former classmate, and wrote a few scenes. But it didn't really come together until I received the email. I went back, changed the main character's name....and suddenly, I can't seem to stop writing!

But honestly, can you imagine Harry Potter without Neville or Luna? How about Scarlett without Prissy or Mammy? Mystic Valley without Tyger, Lyon, or any of the rest of Jade's children? Or even Came-A-Lot without Pansy the Tooth Fairy? Emery Hall without Bonnie, the Resident Assistant? Eureka's Cafe Diem without the customers?

Okay...bear with me...I feel a PBS flashback...'who are the people in your neighborhood...'

Everyone around you adds to your lives, whether you're conscious of it or not. Why should it be any different in the lives of the characters we're creating?

Who are some of YOUR favorite secondary characters? Think about that the next time you fall in love with a book.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Someday My Prince Will Come" or "Love is a Battlefield"?

Which one of those songs describes your favorite heroine?

Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, and older romance book heroines were the 'damsels in distress', waiting for their heroes to rescue them. Today's heroines are more like Lara Croft. They strike back at the bad guys; act as if they don't need the knight in shining armor; and aren't afraid to go after what they want.

Yesterday's romance females tended to be big-breasted, always had torn bodices, and were always getting themselves into predicaments. Sometimes you wanted to slap them silly for the choices they make, and in some cases, wonder why the hero would even bother with a 'TSTL' female?

But thankfully, times have changed. Today's romance leads are strong women who (sometimes) know what they seek and go after it. Sometimes what they want is right in front of them and they don't discover it until the end of the book, but hey...sometimes it happens.

Since I gave you a description of a hero last week, here's the heroine:

Physical Attributes:
Then: Heaving bosoms, slender, beauty-queen looks
Now: Average, not-so-slim, and is beautiful to the hero. She may or may not be aware of her looks.

Character Development:
Flawed judgement, especially in family matters or their perceptions of the situation. May not want a man, but find themselves undeniably attracted to one particular man, many times entering into a 'love/hate' situation: I hate to love you, and hate it when my body betrays myself and I fall into your arms against my will...and I can't believe we just slept together even though I've sworn to never fall for your kind ever again!

Disney is catching on to today's heroines, starting with Belle, Pochohontas, and Mulan.

And I've even found myself head over heels for someone I've sworn to 'never go out with', yet ended up in a long-term, satisfying friendship with this person. Okay; two persons. Based on one disastrous childhood 'trauma', I swore to never date a jock. Well guess what? In high school, I ended up being best friends with the Number One Basketball Player. And I ended up marrying a football player who at one time was being seriously considered by the Houston Oilers. Love works in mysterious ways, doesn't it?

Never say never. It will come back to haunt you.