Friday, December 31, 2010

Writing Goals for 2011

Tomorrow a new year begins. 2010 has been a great year for me and I hope 2011 will be even better. I made a few goals last year. In particular, I sold my first book! I didn't read all the books I had wanted to read, but to read or write one has to be in the mood.

Next year I would like to become focused again. Especially since the holidays make it hard to write.

So, let's see how 2010 went:

My goals for 2010:
  1. I will write 4 manuscripts in 2010.
    I finished 2 manuscripts. Not bad.
  2. I will sell my first manuscript in 2010. (Optimism = Yay)
    Hoarding Your Howls sold to Del Rey!
  3. I will complete 3 novellas. (I have two unfinished ones. *sigh*)
    I finished 1 novella. Not the best, but one is better than none.
  4. I will harness and understand my process of writing. (Yes, it took me a year to figure out I'm not the write everyday type of gal. I need to live with it.)
    I didn't stress too much over the days I didn't write. Quite easy to do.
  5. I will break my previous record of 8,000 Words in one day and will knock out 10K in a day.
    I was pleased as punch when I got this one accomplished!
So, onward to 2011... What will be my goals?
  1. Finish 4 manuscripts in 2011.
  2. Develop a fun promotional tool for my upcoming book.
  3. I will read 50 books this year...not 25, but 50! (I can do eeet!) And one of those books will be in a genre I don't normally read. Maybe middle-grade or something inspirational.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!

It's Christmas at my house! I just had a delicious dinner with turkey, ham, and all the fixings. Christmas Eve and Christmas have been a wonderful holiday for me--not only did I get a Sony Reader from my mother, but I got a fabulous letter from my agent. I got my signed contract from Random House. Woo hoo!

After all the work I've done, I've finally reached my goal of being a paid writer. Not a billionaire or anything, but at least I can contribute a few packs of gum or something.

Woo hoo! My signed contract. (Time to get to work...)

I've spent the holidays editing my manuscript. My super fast editor marked up my baby and now I'm adding in spices here and there to make the story spicier and tastier. A lot of fun with brainstorming and such.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hoarding Expensive Christmas Ornaments

As the holidays approach I can't help but channel the heroine from my book whenever I visit the store. So many Christmas lights, the cinnamony scent of pine cones in a bag, various holiday do-dads and knickknacks... Pure happiness in the holiday aisles. Personally, I do all my ornament shopping after the holidays. Especially since there's nothing more beautiful than a 75% off sign.

Now if I had much more money I would go nuts for these beauties:


For thirty five bucks you can have a piece of this shiny satisfaction. :D

That ornament was a warm up. This next one is so beautiful, and so beyond what I could afford to pay:



That lovely Dreidel on White is available for $320.00.

I browsed the site a bit more since I was already oogling the designs. This ostrich egg is divine:



The Pink Floral on Ostrich Egg is $400 bones. Yep, you get that one ornament for four hundred dollars. For that kind of money I'm thinking the box needs to be covered in gold.

If you have $400 to drop on an ornament, why not spend $100 grand?

Hallmark Jewelers created this insanely expensive Christmas ornament:



Were you able to count the diamonds on that puppy? That shiny bauble is made of 18 carat white gold with 1,578 diamonds. It's surrounded by two rings made of 188 rubies! If you're pulling out your check book now I would stop unless you have about $130,000 for a rainy day.

If Natalya had the money to buy these, I think she'd choose the Ostrich Egg. An ornament as expensive as the Hallmark one is just asking to be stolen. Although I know she'd take great care of it.

Am I missing any other companies with luxurious Christmas goodies for me to drool over?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Writing and Reading When Distracted

To say that I'm distracted right now would be an understatement. My daughter has been in the hospital since Sunday due to surgery. We hope to leave jail, I mean the hospital tomorrow. :D Over the past couple of days I've lived at the hospital and my brain has turned into a mush like material that doesn't resemble a brain. As a proactive writer who tries to write often and write a lot, this kind of distraction is a bit hard. I'm tired. I don't want to think deeply. Initially, I took my young adult WIP with me just in case the moment comes.

It hasn't.

Although, I have noticed that scenes and people from my stories do come to mind. It's rather neat to be sitting there wanting to resemble a petrified rock and have your characters come up to you to strike up a conversation. They tell me about their lives, what they ate for dinner, and other cool things I should remember to write down.

But I don't bother.

The book isn't going anywhere, and I have a weekend to recover once we get home. I have the holidays to listen to Christmas music and a pile of books to enjoy. I just finished Melody Carlson's FORGOTTEN in one night and now I'm enjoying James Dashner's THE SCORCH TRIALS. All in all, it okay to be distracted. The important thing is that I plan to write after everything is over.

My characters will most likely continue to haunt me, although I have a feeling that my weird character with creepy eyes, who's flipping me off by the way, might not be back for another interview.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Get Your Edit On

I've been busy with life, with at least a little writing in between. My manuscript is pretty much in edit mode right now with pieces hovering with my betas. I feel like the darn thing resembles Frankenstein. I ripped out the innards and now I have to sew the poor guy back together. I'm actually taking my one book and dividing it into two! (Yes, you read that right.) Not impossible. Just messy surgery. LOL.

I failed NANOWRIMO. I was so determined to do it this year! I practically fell off the horse, the horse kicked me while I was down, and then it proceeded to ride into the sunset without me. (I did wave though since that's the polite thing to do.)

In the meantime since I didn't make it, but so many friends made it (Congratulations!!!), I created a list of my favorite editing tip spots. Every time I finish my work, I do a sweep. This sweep includes checking stuff I often find on these pages.

Hope these help. I also have a similar list on my website, but having it more than one place never hurts. :D

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day!

May your trousers support all the fowl, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, stuffing, mashed potatoes, ham, dinner rolls, corn on the cob, carrot cake, deviled eggs, baked macaroni and cheese, egg nog, apple cider, tossed salad, peach cobbler, candies yams, biscuits, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, turducken (whoa!), and if you have a turkey in a turkey (turturkeykey)--well that's just wrong.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Introducing the Book Royalties Calculator

Part of the process in learning about book deals is the madness of contract terms and book royalties. To be honest, I didn't know much about how it worked. Well, until I created this bad boy.

I whipped up this quickie application to learn more information about the book royalties process. I didn't want anything too complex. Just an application which showed me whether I would earn out or how many books I would need to earn out. I could have gone hardcore and developed an application to break down multiple royalties and sale types. (For example, a break down of hardcover with its percentage and amount, and then mass market with its percentage and amount of books sold.) But I somehow stuff the crazy urge back into the can and create a simple application to answer my questions.

In the application below you'll see I filled in the values to give you an idea of what you can put in there. You can also check Brenda Hiatt's Show Me the Money to get ideas on royalty rates and advance values you can enter in there.

Note: This is a tool for fun/estimate the values to earn out an advance. It does not factor in the fact that book costs can be discounted to bookstores or that the royalty rate may change base on the number of books sold.

I have other writer tools as well. Be sure to check them out.




Monday, November 8, 2010

What Would Your Heroine Do For a Klondike Bar

I'm writing today for Nanowrimo. Okay, I have the document open and I plan to use this blog post as a warm up.

My thought provoking question today: What would my heroine do for a Klondike bar?

In my book, my heroine, Natalya Stravinsky, is a werewolf with OCD. She is a normal person, to an extent of course since she's a werewolf, but she loves to eat delicious things like anyone else. But and there is a but. Based on her personality, she might love the taste, but she wouldn't be too happy with what happens to the Klondike bar as you eat it. Yep, if you've eaten one of those square ice cream treats you know those suckers break apart and melt pretty fast. My heroine would be horrified to the point of dumping the Klondike bar in a bowl and then eating it that way. (Hey, I'm sure you've had an ice cream cone that melted to the point where you had to put into bowl.)

I find it cool how a different perspective shapes how people approach things. Natalya would kick my butt for a Christmas ornament, while on the other hand I would love a bag of jelly beans right now. LOL It's those perceptions that shape our wants and needs and thus drives us to do certain things to fulfill those wants. Even if our needs border on the extreme.

Now for me, I would never do anything unscrupulous for such a wonderful, delicious, tasty, chocolate happiness like a Klondike bar. (Like pay extra money for it, avoid writing my manuscript to think about it...)

Can you tell I am easily distracted by the evil which is chocolate today? :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Great Book - Poison Study

For the longest time since I've had a chance to find Maria's V. Snyder's books, I've wanted to read her first book, Poison Study. I learned about her work when I encountered Inside Out. Her style of writing is smooth, action packed, and easy to fall into for a great read.

I tend to be picky with books, so I was pleasantly surprised when I read and enjoyed Poison Study. The book is about Yelena, a nineteen year-old who had been convicted of murder. On the day she is to be executed she is offered a choice: either die or become the Commander of Ixia's food taster. (In essence either a quick death or a death that may come at any time from eating food.)

After she agrees to take the position, the second in command, a handsome man named Valek, gives her a poison to where she is forced to stay. Every day she must come back to him to receive the antidote. And that is just the beginning! Through Yelena's will to live she grows stronger as a character and learns to fight--as well as learn more about the magical abilities she possesses.

Throughout the story, Yelena also faces dangers from the father of the man she murdered to magicians with evil intent. The end of the story was a bit bittersweet, but all in all, I loved the story and I can't wait to read Magic Study, the next book in the series.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Publishers Marketplace Announcement!

Well, as of 11 pm last night my announcement went up! Glad to see things finalized! Next comes the contract and the edits.

Shawntelle Madison's novel, in which the heroine, a werewolf from New Jersey, is afflicted with a hoarding obsession and tormented by the sexy alpha male ex she still loves, to Tricia Pasternak at Random House, in a two-book deal, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (World). Rights: rkind@randomhouse.com

So excited!

Here is a screenshot:

PW Announcement

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Urban Fantasy Sold to Del Rey!

I am so stoked I can finally announce to the world my good news! Especially since I've been sitting on this since last week.

My Urban Fantasy, HOARDING YOUR HOWLS, will be published by Random House Del Rey Books in 2012 with Tricia Pasternak as the editor! (Thank you so much, Betsy Mitchell, editor-in-chief of Del Rey!) Woo hoo!

This book was born from an idea I got from one of my husband's physician magazines. (American Family Physician ) I saw an article on OCD and my mind started whirling about what I could do with it. What kind of adventures could a character go through if they were a werewolf with OCD? From that point, HOARDING YOUR HOWLS was born. I started the book last year, but I didn't wrap it up until around February 2010. After all the fun edits with my crit partners, I handed the book off to my agent Jim McCarthy and he helped me pull it through the wringer until that puppy shined. Now I can happily say all that work paid off! I have a two book deal! With a fabulous house where my inner geek can feel comfy and happy!

The shock has not worn off yet, and I am so grateful to my friends for their support on my journey. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Not to Write for Nano

As I sit here enjoying a healthy lunch (the bad lunches come when I'm writing), I thought about the horror stories from the publishing community based on the work that comes out from Nano. They dread Nanowrimo and what hot mess may come from the bowls of an author's head. I'll be honest, what I write when I sprint is not in the prettiest shape, but I know that I plan to edit the heck out of it when I'm done. I also plan ahead so that what I write is what I should be writing. A full month of writing madness should be done productively--well as much as possible anyway! :)

Once in a blue moon I do get a shiny idea that pops up out of nowhere. (Oh, shiny!) I gaze at it lovingly and wonder what I could do with it, what direction I could go and what awesome things could come from it. But then reality hits and I realize that my idea belongs in one of the following bins:
  • Alien Invasion Hard Sell Bin
  • College-Age Student Finding Themselves Hard Sell Bin
  • Sparkly Vampires and Three-Way Triangle Relationship Bin
  • High Fantasy With 20 Races Searching for the One Ring Hard Sell Bin
  • Boring Regency Where She Must Find Inheritance/Love Bin
  • Never-ending Space Opera With Sub Plots so Deep You Can't Figure it Out Bin
  • Medical Thriller Where I Need an MD Bin
  • Wizard School/Academy/Institution Where Must Learn Magic Hard Sell Bin
  • Werecats, Werebats, Wererats: Thundercats Ho! Bin
Do these bins apply to everyone? Nope. There are no hard rules in writing. But if I ever did plan to jump into one of those bins, my premise would have to be very strong. I can't be cookie cutter or my idea won't stand out. I'd also have to write a very clean manuscript to make sure I get great visibility with a potential agent/editor.

What I'm saying here is that before I invest hours and hours into Nano I plan to be ready with an idea that has potential in this market. I've pulled apart my idea using my GMC Wizard to make sure my heroine/hero isn't heading off to Neverland without a reason. (Even if they have enough Frequent Flyer Miles.) I've check Amazon to see if here is a similar title. I've run my idea over with my crit partners to get their feedback if this is a totally new idea. (Usually isn't...) So much time goes into a labor of love like a book. I just want my time where I could be doing something else to be worth it. :)

Only a few more days and counting! This Nano will rock!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Finish What You Start - Perseverance in Writing

Not too long ago, I was in the middle of convincing myself to finish a troublesome chapter and I thought about all the times I've finished other chapters. This lead to thinking about whole manuscripts I've tackled. I've created worlds and people who exist within them, but how did I start the whole process and then do it again and again? Not a simple question since writing a story is a constantly changing process. The goal I'd set when I wrote the words 'chapter 1' wasn't the same goal when I wrote the words 'THE END.' My overall goal was to complete a manuscript, but the process to reach the end was as tumultuous as the words within. I had to deal with:

* Family
* Life, Life, Life
* Illness
* Exhaustion
* Vacations
* Life, life, life

I think there is more to finishing a book than determination, (which sure helps), I believe it takes perseverance.

Perseverance: steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

You can be determined to finish the book, the chapter, or even a section. But that's not enough during the long term. You need to ride the rough waters and make it out to the other side. Even if your book takes months or even years. I've seen so many writers start books and then never finish them. I've done the same. But, and there is a but. I have to have a reason for the decision. Sometimes I have to focus on another book. Or I switch gears when the book isn't working. The plot might not be strong enough or the characters aren't working out. I can cut all the words all I want, but if the overall structure is flawed I should not waste my time trying to fix a broken manuscript.

Either way, even if I fall off the horse I still have to work on something and in the end complete something.

I asked a crit partner and Harlequin Special Edition author, Amanda S. Berry, about why she finishes a book. She told me the obvious: "It's not a story until it's complete. A chapter doesn't get you anywhere but closer to the end."

YA writer Sarah Bromley said, "There's the great feeling of completion. A lot of the time when I finish something its because the story has grabbed me. I feel obligated to finish it and see it through. Discipline and dedication is required."

There are various ways to look at writing. Some people do it for the joy of creating words. For me, I get the joy involved in the creative process, but I also see my work as a potential product that my agent can sell. In order for my agent to have something to pitch, I need to finish what I start. Even if my kids are running around screaming, dinner needs to be made, my house is a hot mess, the laundry is piled up--I still have to get through all that and come back to my work to finish it.

Lately, I've been plagued by headaches. They've knocked me down a few times. Enough to force me to not work on those particular days. But the day after I got hit hard, I jumped back on the bucking bronco again to get something done. I learned through writing manuscripts that I'm goal-oriented. I want the prize of a completed manuscript. I hunger for a completed manuscript. So I dangle that lovely carrot in front of myself and I chase after it whenever I hit the keyboard.

Writing is hard. Life is hard. But the rewards are worth it for those who are dedicated and put in the overtime to finish and edit the work. You can do it!

So are you ready to finish what you started? Are you ready to get up early before your family? Work late at night after a long day at work? Can you ignore the call of a great book to write YOUR book? Is writing a hobby for fun or a business decision where you want to submit to an agent or editor? Are you goal-oriented or at least goal-oriented when it comes to your writing?

Nanowrimo is coming! What do you want to do?

Preparing for Nanowrimo 2010

Well, I did Nano last year and failed. *sigh* These things happen. I've decided to do nano again this year, but like the last, I won't beat myself up if life jumps in the way again. I got a pretty good start last year and then fizzled. I tend to write in bursts but sustaining a big haul is difficult for me. I think in order to make this year work I'll have to stick to 3K a day to maintain by steam.

I have no idea what I will write this year. I may finish a book I've started or write a totally new one. I have plenty of books sitting in the bat cave waiting to come out. I plan to use Lynn Viehl's Novel Notebook again since I love using that thing. I need to find a way to use it electronically though since my printed copies tend to disappear with my other papers. Be sure to check out Lynn's Post today where she's talking about her prep.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fast Draft: Day 5 - 9

Okay, I'll admit it. I fell off the bus. I rolled off and the aftermath wasn't pretty. After Day 5 I had the Archon Conference here in St. Louis. (My birthday present for the weekend.) I had so much fun with my good friend and mentor Angie Fox as well as so many new and old friends! Each day I did write, but I didn't write close to what I should write. :( I tried to stay positive and kept reminding myself that I'd written a lot of words and made tremendous progress before I got sidetracked. (And hey, I think I could at least let myself off for my birthday.)

Unfortunately real life hit again with a series of bad headaches. I get them once in a while and they hit hard and make writing near to impossible. But today is a new day! My goal is to at least get 10 pages or more today. I usually can write 4K in a day when I get my mojo back! I have 5 days left to make things count. Here goes nothing!

Day 1: 15 pages
Day 2: 15 pages
Day 3: 20 pages
Day 4: 2 pages
Day 5: 3 pages
Day 6: 2 pages
Day 7: 1/2 page (Birthday!)
Day 8: 6 pages
Day 9: 1/2 page

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fast Draft Day 4

Sadly, Day 4 didn't go as well as my other days. I ran out of steam yesterday and I think the transition point I hit snagged my momentum. The story I'm writing spans over 9 months and well I can't give every day, every second. So the story needs to jump forward without looking like a hot mess after I jump. (Is it weird after I typed jumped forward my mind went to the Back to the Future scene where Marty sees his house in the future? Weird...)

Anyway, I only got 2 pages done. Not my best, but I do feel refreshed today and ready to work.

Day 1: 15 pages
Day 2: 15 pages
Day 3: 20 pages
Day 4: 2 pages

I did try to open the document a few times to get started. But nothing panned out. My writing process tends to go fast where I write in a blur. Perhaps my mojo will come back today and I'll knock out my goal again. :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fast Draft Day 3

Wow, I am exhausted. LOL

Day 3 resulted in success! I got my 20 pages. But right now I am empty. May need to recharge the mojo for a bit this morning before I can move forward with the story.

Day 1: 15 pages
Day 2: 15 pages
Day 3: 20 pages

Total: 50 pages

Right now I should be sitting at 60 pages, but life, kids, etc making doing fast draft very difficult. Last night's final round had to been a bunch of crap. I kind of scared to read it so I can do a bit of editing. After I write, I usually scan over it the next day to knock out fast and furious edits:

  • Misspellings
  • Missing Words
  • Sentences that make no damn sense

My weekend will be busy with my birthday on Sunday and the Archon conference all weekend. How the hell will I pull this off?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fast Draft - Day 2

Somehow I'd survived my second day. It wasn't easy. I'd written over the whole day.

Day 1: 15 pages
Day 2: 15 pages

Total: 30 pages

Not a bad start. Yesterday started well, but then ended poorly. I was in the middle of writing using the application Write or Die and then my machine went blue screen of death on me. Not only did it crash once, but it crash three times. In the end, I ended up disabling auto Windows Update, adding a Windows Debugger to scour through the Windows dump file (.dmp) for my materials, and then going to bed fuming...

Lesson learned? You bet. I usually work in applications that guarantee me a backup. Like Microsoft Word. The application can give me an auto backup whenever I create a new document. I can even have that backup stored on my remote server for safe keeping.

I'd foolishly assumed Write or Die saved files as well. It does mine you. In My Documents there is a folder for Write or Die files. But those files are created after you finish a session. Which means that you could have thousands of words in the session, but if your computer goes nuclear then you are screwed.

It's the next day and I'm trying to be positive. It's likely those words are meant to be gone. Perhaps in my sleepy haze I wrote shoddy work and now I can write something deeper and more beautiful. I'm at a scene between the hero and heroine so with this chance I need to make things better and edit what I would have wrote yesterday.

Onward and upward!

Fast Draft Day 1

I'm participating in a Fast Draft through the encouragement of Bria Quinlan. I'd already needed a kick in the butt to get some work done on my current work in progress so I happily joined in. Candace Havens began the Fast Draft program and now I'm a happy participant.

The Fast Draft works like this:

  • 20 pages per day for 2 weeks
  • No excuses
  • No internal editor
  • Just write, write and write

Of course, this is easier said than done. Yesterday was my first day and I only got 5K which equals around 15 pages. Not the 20 pages I meant to get, but close enough. I've had a 10K day before so I know I can get out 20 pages.

How did yesterday work out?

Three quick rounds in the morning and then three in the afternoon. My best sprints are over a 45 minute period where with Write or Die I can knock out at least 1500 words if I'm in the zone. The hardest thing about sprinting is that you have to have to story ready to go in your head. I'm about to head into part of my story where research would be nice. Under normal circumstances I would spend a few hours researching and looking things up. Instead, I simply add a bracket around a set of words. [Vegetarian dish here]. It was hard as hell not to use the almighty Google to find what I wanted, but I managed to do it.

Come join in the fun! You might be surprised at what you can accomplish!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Great Book - The Chosen One

It's been a while since I've done a review. I've been a busy bee working on my next book. My crit partner Cole Gibsen had a talk a few weekends ago and she talked about a YA book with a great opening. The book was The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams. I'm so glad she told the audience about the book. The opening is spectacular. Matter of fact, the whole book has great pacing and by the end I was like wow, I won't forget this book.

What I loved about this book was how the plot propelled me forward. I cared about and wanted to know what happened to the heroine, a thirteen year-old girl named Kyra. Kyra lives on Compound with her father and his three wives. The Compound is the home of a conservative, polygamist community where girls are married off at a young age and they often become a wife to an older man with multiple wives. During the story, Kyra is told that she has to marry her sixty year-old uncle and become one of his many wives. The idea of doing such sickens her. Especially since she has given her heart to one of the young men in the Compound. She also longs for the things the community had before their zealous leader instituted more stringent rules. No more books. Young girls were to be married to the men the leader chose. Even if they didn't want to marry them, they would be either beaten or killed.

The story is full of shocking moments where I cringed and covered my mouth. It's these shocking moments that make the story rich and forces the reader to think about what might be out there in the world. Are there people who think and treat children in this type of manner. I won't spoil the story to tell you what happens to Kyra, especially since I want you to read it, but I highly recommend this book.

When I enjoy a book I read it quickly and this one took me a day or two. Definitely worth your time. I'd give this book a solid grade of an A.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Newbie's Guide to Literary Terms

Every writer has to start somewhere, and writing fiction can be intimidating enough with fellow writers tossing around literary terms like candy on Halloween. Sometimes you can see what's in the wrapping, while most of the time you have no idea what's within. Let's delve into a few of these terms:




■ Narrative
■ Exposition
■ Introspection
■ Plot Device
■ Deus Ex Machina

I retrieved a few of my terms from the Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary. The first term we'll look at is the narrative. That one relates to the whole picture. It's defined as:

narrative: "an account, story, or tale"

When you write a story, you create a narrative. The narrative is an account of the journey your protagonists (hero/heroine) and antagonists (villain, death, etc) undertake.

Let's look at the term exposition. This relates to how you convey your information. Your voice conveys to the reader what's in the narrative. Of course, like the narrative, you can mess up the exposition as well. Have you ever given so much back story that a crit partner knew the color of your character's underwear? Well, they might've said you gave an information dump or an exposition dump.

Formally, exposition is defined in the dictionary as: "the act of presenting, explaining, or expounding facts or ideas."

As authors, the exposition for us is the dialogue, description through imagery, etc. that gives the audience the background of the characters and the present situation.

So anytime someone says there's a problem with your exposition, you can elegantly extend your pinky finger in the air and tell them you'll correct it no problem. (Just make sure to ask for a specific page and paragraph since you'll likely have a lot to crawl through.)

Our exposition can go too far. Have you ever read a book where you got bored, couldn't wait to put it down? Perhaps the author included too much description. Or they had a never ending flashback or talked about every dog the character had since childhood. Details are nice, but like the next topic below, it should be used enough to convey the story and advance the plot.

Our next topic is introspection. Via our dictionary, introspection is defined as:

introspection: "The observation and analysis of one's own mental processes and
emotional states."

In essence, introspection is when your character reacts or thinks about something that has occurred. It's important when using introspection to not give too much or too little. For example, if your villain just left your heroine in the middle of the nowhere with no ride, I doubt she will have one line or two of introspection. There will likely be some dialogue (cursing), a visceral reaction (anger), and then some introspection on what has occurred and how she feels. Introspection is a valuable tool for romance writers.

Now we come to the plot device. Have you ever been told by a crit partner that you used something in your story as plot device? Perhaps you pulled a Deus Ex Machina out of thin air? How about we define these two terms together?

plot device: a character or object in the story that is only used to advance the plot.

deus ex machina: a plot device where the story's conflict is resolved through something that is not related to the story in any way. Also known as the "hand of God."

Based on the definitions given above, you can see these should be avoided in your manuscript. It's far too easy to use these our plots. For example, it would be too easy to let the heroine I described above find a car running and ready a few feet away from where the villain ditched her.
The car is a smaller form of Deus Ex Machina. A larger example would be if our heroine confronted the villain at his house. While in a knife fight, we might learn that the hero hid at the house the whole time and he comes bounding out of the attic to fight the villain and save the day. Way too easy! Why not have the heroine save herself in a battle to the death?

How do you avoid plot devices? If something is critical to making your story work, it should be fully ingrained in your plot. If you have a magical necklace that saves the day, give the necklace a history. Foreshadow it. Make the object a more active part of your story. There are ways to surprise the reader in the end without giving them the "cringe effect."

Cringe Effect: When a crit partner reads your work, cringes, and moans, "Oh, c'mon that came out of nowhere!"

Here are some great articles/blog posts on the topic I discussed above:


Any other terms you can think of when you started writing?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Meet the Synopsis Wizard!

Okay, after a busy Labor Day weekend I've emerged from the mad scientist's lair with another toy! The Synopsis Wizard. If you are like me, you hate writing a synopsis. You hate thinking about them, plotting out what needs to be written, and then having to write them down. I hope this little tool will at least make it less painful. This doesn't magically make the words in your head come out. You'll have to do the work and add in the elements for your synopsis.

Once you add in all the "pieces" your synopsis will be generated in a new window. Copy and paste into your preferred word processing application and then you are done!




The wizard is hosted on my website since it needs more space than this little window! If you have any questions or spot any bugs let me know!

Introductory Video:


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

RWA Conference 2010: Final Two Days

I ran out of steam on Friday and Saturday. Wowsa! The last days of the conference went by in a blur as well. Friday went well. I left the room early to eat the yummy continental breakfast with other authors. After that I headed down to the Editor/Agents Appointments area where I had the fun job of volunteering! At first I stood around waiting to work, but in the end I got to be the lady who watched the clocks. In my best professional voice, if one could call it that, I announced, "2 Minutes" and then the evil, "Time's Up." It was fun actually. I had a chance to chit-chat with literary agent Donna Bagdasarian (she's a sweetheart) as well as many other agents and editors. One thing I immediately noticed was the inspirational editors from Harlequin didn't get many folks. (So if you're an inspirational author go to RWA Nationals! You have a great chance to pitch your book!)

Yes, I'm missing many photos from Friday and Saturday during the day. Perhaps due to the fact I went zombie those days! The RWA Conference can be an exhausting experience. I highly recommend taking the Monday off after the conference to recharge. I'm also happy I took a later flight on Sunday. I got to spend the morning on Sunday slowly packing and working on edits for my agent. (It's amazing what a quiet hotel room can do!)

I had so much fun at the dinner and on Friday when I went to FF&P chapter's dinner, The Gathering. They had a steampunk themed dinner with a costume contest! So much fun. I kinda wished I would have brought a costume. :)

Overall, I had a blast at RWA. I can't wait to see everyone again in New York! (I think I need to start saving up now since it will be at the Marriott Marquis.)


Ritas and Golden Hearts Awards Dinner (Last year we didn't have a dinner. This year, instead of a lunch we got dinner. I like this format much better.)


Socializing After Dinner (I see a few Romance Divas!)


Megan Kelly and Jennifer Jakes


Amanda Berry, Keri Ford, and Jeannie Lin


Julie Opdyke and Megan Kelly


Jeannie Line, Karen Davidson, and Kate Pearce


Kristi Lea and Amanda Berry


Bria Quinlan, Amanda Berry and Jeannie Lin


Brian Quinlan and Gwen Hayes


Me and Michelle Rowen


Bria Quinlan, Gwen Hayes, and Jeannie Lin


Rachel Jameson, Sabrina Darby, and Jeannie Lin


Jeannie Lin, MG Braden, and Amanda Berry


2010 YA Rita Winner - Simon Elkeles for PERFECT CHEMISTRY


Kimberly Killion and Kristi Lea


Me and C.L. Wilson


YA Authors Jennifer Echols and Rosemary Clement-Moore



I did take a quick video shot of the fountain outside in the Dolphin Hotel where I stayed. So pretty! The MORWA folks were getting ready to have lunch for the last time before got on our flight.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

RWA Conference Day #3: Thrilling Thursday

By Thursday I'd recovered from Disney and could finally enjoy the workshops. I'd only stayed up until 1 or so for Diva Karaoke. (I distinctly remember strolling out singing Like a Virgin... Or was I dancing out to Material Girl...? Eh, either way it was some Madonna song.) I was beat, but I had fun waiting in the Swan hotel: the YARWA Breakfast gathering. I took a moment after I got there to snag a seat and then snap some pictures. I got a chance to talk with so many folks including Tera Lynn Childs, Sophie Jordan (be sure to check out her YA debut of Firelight -- the cover is the BOMB), and the outgoing President of YARWA the fabulous Rosemary Clement-Moore. I made so many friends. I hope to get things going for YARWA and get my plans in place for the website and things.

After the breakfast I walked with Tera and Sophie to the Goodie Room. From there I hung out until the first workshop I attended: Pansters, Plotter, and Plotsers. OMG, the presenters were so much fun. (By the way, I confirmed I'm a Plotser. And thus a hybrid model.) After that I went to the next workshop which I loved, loved, loved. How to Mend a Broken Scene by Roxanne St. Claire. The room was packed--I mean we had authors sitting on the floor in the back, me included. I managed to snag the coveted handout and boy was this workshop worth it. She broke her scene down and then showed us how she added back in the missing elements. I had my "ah-ha" moment when thinking about my own materials. (The ah-ha resulted in a 50 page edit, but hey, books are made to be edited, right?) After that workshop I had planned to go to the Shitty First Drafts one, but I met up with some Divas and we headed on over the Paranormals workshop with Kelley Armstrong, Jeaniene Frost, Terri Garey, Colleen Gleason, Juliana Stone, and Cheryl Wilson. Not too bad. A few of the questions left me scratching my head but overall a decent workshop.

Thursday is a busy night at the conference. Many chapters have events as well as different publishing houses. On that particular night I had the YARWA general meeting and I was Amanda S. Berry's date for the Finally a Bride awards ceremony. Amanda won first place last year for the Paranormal category (yay Amanda!) I hung out with her for a while. I even had a chance to see Michelle Rowen again as well as a chit chat with Romance Divas Rachel Jameson and Sabrina Darby.

Eventually like Cinderella I had to ditch my date and head to the YARWA meeting. I snapped many photos as you can see and had a blast listening to Tera Lynn Childs and Rosemary Clement-Moore give their talk. I rubbed elbows with the members and afterwards I thought the evening was over. Yeah right! I meet up with some Divas including Jeannie Lin, Gwen Hayes, December Gephart, and Bria Quinlan to head to some room parties. At our first stop we had some wine and donuts. I had a chance to meet Ann Aguire (she even has a YA coming out!) Victoria Dahl and several others.) After that shindig, we bounced to Courtney Milan's suite. She's a really sweet HQN author who writes Regency. By that point I had lost my shoes and had a chance to chill. While there I met Regency Romance author Tessa Dare, YA author Jennifer Echols, and even managed to talk to Lindsey Faber, the Managing Editor at Samhain Publishing. Whoa, what a night. No wonder I'm writing this several days later. I stayed up way too late that week!



YARWA Breakfast Get Together


Another Breakfast shot. (I tried to make sure folks didn't have their mouths open with food.)


YARWA Breakfast (I see Tera Lynn Childs and Laurel Wenrow there...)


YARWA Breakfast


YARWA Breakfast


Our Keynote Luncheon With Nora Roberts - Great Speech. But also the beginning of the chickenfest at the conference.


Post Luncheon Pic with MORWA Authors


YARWA General Meeting


YARWA General Meeting - The new Treasurer Micki Gibsen and President Jennifer Hilt


YARWA General Meeting - Folks lining up for goodies


YARWA General Meeting


YARWA General Meeting


YARWA General Meeting


YARWA General Meeting


YARWA General Meeting - Jennifer Hilt and Rosemary Clement-Moore


Me and YA Author Gwen Hayes


Tera Lynn Childs and Rosemary Clement-Moore give their talk.


Tera Lynn Childs and Rosemary Clement-Moore give their talk. (Another angle!)


Wine and Donuts in a hotel room party. I wish I could remember what made Bria laugh... That's Jeannie Lin and Keri Ford across from her. And then I spy Rachel Jameson as well.


Gwen Hayes and Decemeber Gephart


Ann Aguire and Gwen Hayes


Ann Aguire and I


Why yes, that is Gwen Hayes, Courtney Milan, and Bria Quilan playing Operation at the hotel suite party.


I wonder who will trigger the buzzer first?