Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Dog ate My WIP and Other Lame Excuses

I have an excuse for everything.  Well, not everything, but definitely for my lack of writing.  And most of the time I believe them.  

Myth: It’s the holidays, I’m too damn busy to write
Truth: I have time to read all the blogs and play computer games plus most of my shopping is done.

Myth: I have writer’s block
Truth: I’m writing this, aren’t I?  Plus I just finished a workshop over at Romance Central's Forums.  I can write anything I want, there is no block.

Myth:  I’m unmotivated.
Truth: Motivation is self-created.  We make our own motivation, it is not like the weather for which we have no control.

Myth: The kids are driving me crazy.
Truth:  Well, this is true, but it has been true for the last 5 years, so it really doesn’t play into my writing.

Truth: I am more concerned about the chance of my work selling and whether or not an editor is going to bother reading it.
Myth: It should dictate everything I write.

When I first started writing, I didn’t worry about the market.  I didn’t worry about whether I had a story that could sell or characters that fit the ideal of an editor or agent.  I wrote the story of my heart as it were.  I wrote what gave me pleasure.  Now that I’ve started submitting, I find much of the joy has left my writing.  I try too hard.  Does this story have the right hook?  Does it have the elements required to sell a novel?  I really resent this way of thinking.  I long for the days when I sat down and wrote for the pure pleasure of it.  I think back fondly to the time when I didn’t have a clue what a “guideline” was.  Sadly enough, I can never return to that place.  I need to find the balance between what my mind and heart want, forcing them to work together to create a book I can be proud of and enjoy writing.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Psycho Turkey Man

We cooked another turkey today.  My husband a.k.a. Psycho Turkey Man, had six straight meals of turkey.  Yes, that includes breakfast.  So last night I ran to the grocery store and bought another turkey.  Of course there weren’t any of the deals like there were last week, but this was a CRISIS and we needed that turkey.  Hubby deep fried it, so it cooked in less than an hour.  This finished up the rest of the leftovers.  With my family, leftovers don’t last long.  Personally, I’m glad to see it go.

I didn’t go shopping Friday.  Going through the ads, I didn’t see anything I couldn’t live without.  I thought about going just for the rush, but I was so wiped out from the preceding week, I rolled over when the alarm went off.  I really don’t have much to buy, I ended up picking up a couple of things at Costco on Wednesday (yes, I went to Costco the day before Thanksgiving and yes, it was as bad as you would think).  A trip to Toys R Us this week will probably do it.

We have a new addition to the family.  Last Tuesday I was driving down the road to pick up the kids from school.  I swerved to miss something and as I passed I realized it was a turtle.  I stopped and picked it up to discover it was a baby desert tortoise.  I have no idea where she came from.  There are several houses on the street and there is some new development bordering the road.  My thought is that she lived in the field and the crew disturbed her burrow.  I’ve been keeping my eye out for signs.  I really don’t want to post signs about her because everyone and there dog will claim her. Nothing so far.  A workman was outside near where the tortoise was so he said if anyone asked him, he’d tell them to put up a sign and I would contact them.  Katie has named her Julia.  I need to take Julia to the vet and make sure she is okay to hibernate.  I also need to have her checked for contagious diseases since I don’t want my other tortoise to catch anything.  I figure she is about four or five years old which means she will definitely become my children’s problem when I’m gone.

I’ve been too busy to think about writing although an idea popped in my head over the weekend.  I usually do a Christmas story as well just for fun so I might work on that.  I’m very glad Thanksgiving is over.  We picked out a Christmas tree today at the tree farm around the corner.  It is very cool to walk over to pick out your tree.  I’m not sure when we will bring it home since the monsters are guaranteed to tear it apart.  I’ll be very glad to see the darlings go off to school tomorrow.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Turkey Day! While I am thankful for the usual stuff: family, health, etc., etc. I am very thankful I live in California. This picture was taken today and yes, Allison is wearing a swimsuit. I don't know why, but she likes it and the weather is in the mid-70's.

Don't eat too much: tomorrow is Black Friday, one of my favorite days of the year!

Enjoy your loved ones and bask in the start of the holidays. Peace be with you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Here is Allison modeling one of her birthday gifts. Birthday week is over thank goodness. I only had one major meltdown. Everything went smoothly. The biggest glitch was on Saturday when I was at the soccer party and I fell, landing on my knee. I was in pain for most of the weekend but the knee feels okay now, so it wasn't anything serious. The party turned out really cute and everyone had a great time. Bouncers are definitely worth the money.

I'm posting about the field trip I took with Katie's class over at the Age of Enlightenment blog. Suffice it to say it was fun and the kids had a great time. I brought home a 5 pound apple pie for a souvenir.

I think the most significant thing I realized, however, is how much I missed blogging and reading blogs. Talk about feeling out of the loop. I haven't had a chance to do more than glance at my email for the last few days. My habit of starting my morning with coffee and blogs is so ingrained, I can't believe how much I missed it. Of course the writing bug hit too but I just didn't have time to dive into it. I did manage to get my RWA renewal in, so I'm back in their good graces.

Well, I'm off to begin catching up on everyone's news. Thanks for stopping by and wishing the little princess "Happy Birthday." If I posted her picture on my blog everyday, she'd be thrilled. Girl's got an ego the size of Texas.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Birthday Princess

Yesterday was the big birthday. Katie turned 6. We started the morning with her getting her hair cut. The stylist French braided it and put beads in it. She also painted her nails. The outfit was complete with a birthday tiara and a big red birthday button. I brought my 4 dozen "homemade" cupcakes (courtesy the grocery store). After school her grandmother picked her up and took her to a birthday tea and gave her presents. Later she went to soccer practice and everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to her. She picked pizza for dinner (Yeah! Mom doesn't have to cook) and opened the presents from us which included a set of golf clubs. Some of the presents I gave her I bought in July...of 2004. I had them at my MIL's and forgot they were there.

Birthday week isn't over. Family is coming over Saturday to celebrate her sister's birthday and bringing some presents for her as well then Sunday is her kid party. Life's rough when you are a princess.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Is it January yet?

Thus begins my busy season.  Both of my daughters are celebrating birthdays this week.  Katie turns 6 on Wednesday and Allison turns 3 on Saturday.  Daniel has a major school assignment due this Wednesday.  He has to create a board game based on minerals found in California.  Of course he didn’t start working on it until yesterday.  Katie brings snack to school on Wednesday.  Her class combos with another on Wednesdays so I have to have enough cupcakes for 40 kids.  They also have a project going that morning that I volunteered to help with.  On Thursday her class is going to this place and I volunteered to go with them.  Katie’s last soccer game is on Saturday and we are having the team party right after.  I’m doing the goodie bags and taking care of the pizza.  Saturday night is the party for Allison.  We are only doing cake and ice cream with family.  Sunday is the big kid party for Katie.  I’m doing a goodie bag craft project with the kids and I ordered a bouncer.

I’m not trying to write.  It seems a pointless exercise to even try this week.   But next week I’m hoping to get some writing done.  It should be a calm week.  Oh wait, it’s Thanksgiving and I’m hosting.  Sigh….

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Slap at Cinderella

I started a new WIP the other day.  Sometimes these things just hit and I have to go with them.  In telling Melissa about it, I realized I have a theme that runs through my writing.  My heroines are forced into a journey of self-discovery.  In order to gain an HEA, they must learn and understand their own power and be able to stand on their own two feet.  That means if the hero turns out to be a dud, she can walk away without relying on him for her happiness.  

My daughters got the “Cinderella” dvd and have been watching it ad nauseum.  They watch it in the car so I am subjected to the sound.  After the 300th viewing, I started to realize what a truly horrible story it is and what a terrible example it sets for my girls.  By being a pretty little doormat, Cinderella’s dreams came true. She learned nothing about herself, only that if she is wimpy enough, some old lady with a wand will make everything right.  

I suppose there is a certain attraction to the whole idea.  Wouldn’t it be great to be whisked away by Prince Charming without putting any effort into it?  But it isn’t a very satisfying story.  As a writer, I am attracted to change in my characters.  And not just the reformed rake man or the ugly duckling heroine.  I want to make them going through the gauntlet and come out a better, stronger person, particularly my women.  The same goes for the hero, but I must admit a need to see my females grow more.  

Perhaps it is a byproduct of being from the generation I was raised in.  I am woman, hear me roar.  Perhaps it was watching friends go through boyfriends, then husbands looking for self-esteem in the validation of another’s love.  I don’t know, but in everything I have written, the heroine must come to a realization about herself and be ready to accept the consequences.  Because I am a romance writer, she will always get her man, but he is not the embodiment of her happiness, rather a compliment.  If he falls off the face of the earth, she will be broken-hearted but not destroyed.

How about you?  Do you have a theme that you see in your writing?  Does if focus on the characters or is it a plot line?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Hubris=excessive ambition: the excessive pride and ambition that usually leads to the downfall of a hero in classical tragedy

I have taken overweening  pride in the fact my teeth are near-perfect.  No cavities, no braces, good gums.  So according to the concept of hubris, I was destined for a fall.  Sure enough, my last dental appointment the dentist decided the slight cavity should be taken care of.  Yesterday I got my first filling.  It wasn’t particularly painful except the dentist said my mouth was too small (HA!) and my jaw hurt from the manipulations they did to get to the tooth.   But I have been deflated.  My arrogance in my dental health has a big hole punched in it.  

Anyway, that’s just an example about how hubris can play a part in our lives.  But it is a useful tool in character development.  When I’m developing my hero and heroines, I love to sneak in some hubris.  And the downfall for my characters is the black moment.  The result of their excessive pride directly relates to the losses they suffer.  I want it clear to them that if they had not been so prideful, they would have been able to achieve their goals and lived happily ever after.  But because I am a romance writer, my characters get to redeem themselves and gain that which they’ve lost, a far cry from the classical and Shakespearean heroes we read about.

If you are stuck with character development, reach back into those high school English classes and pick up on the classics.  The concepts can be a good guide to writing a compelling character.  

Saturday, November 05, 2005

RWA Membership

I let my RWA membership lapse again.  Despite the notices, I totally forgot to renew.  They don’t seem to have a grace period or anything so I have to pretty much re-do the form etc.

Last night I got an email saying I’d been unsubscribed from the RWA email lists.  And this is a bad thing?  I’ve gone either no mail or digest on all of them.  For the most part the posts are pretty much drivel.  I used to justify my membership because of the RWR, but I’ve noticed the last few months I just kind of skim it and throw it away.  Conference?  If I’m honest with myself, I have to admit my chances of going to conference over the next few years are pretty slim.  With three kids, its tough to get away and also, our vacations are few and far between these days.  I’m more apt to go away with the family than go to conference.

The downside is the chapters.  I belong to two chapters.  I really enjoy both.  But, my opportunities to go to my meetings for the one are rare.  My kids are in sports and the meetings are on Saturday.  They are about 30 minutes away, which is no big deal, but it takes planning on my part.  I like their newsletters as well.  

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do.  The series of fiascos the last year did leave me a little disenchanted with the organization.  However I really didn’t question whether I would renew or not.  What does everyone else think?  How high do you value your membership?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Meme Tag

Finally, I rememberd to answer a tag. Melissa got me the other day so here are my answers.

Three screen names that you've had: Renered1, Reneredk, Renered2 (yes, I am that boring).

Three things you like about yourself: Witty, generous, intelligent

Three things you don't like about yourself: My weight, quick temper, tendency towards depression

Three parts of your heritage: French, Danish, Irish

Three things that scare you: Fire, clowns, wasps

Three of your everyday essentials: coffee, Diet Coke, and checking my email

Three things you are wearing right now: sweat pants, tee shirt, slippers

Three of your favorite songs: My Immortal by Evenescence, The End by the Doors, Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, 1st movement by Bach

Three things you want in a relationship: love, respect, humor

Two truths and a lie: I drive too fast, eat too much and stand 5’10”

Three things you can't live without: coffee, books, iPod

Three places you want to go on vacation: England, Italy, Ireland

Three things you just can't do: play the piano, sing, knit (although I am trying)

Three kids' names: Katie, Allison, Daniel

Three things you want to do before you die: Publish a book, drive an Aston-Martin, have grandkids

Three celeb crushes: Johnny Depp, Hugh Jackman, Colin Firth

Three of your favourite musicians: Natalie Merchant, Gwen Stefani, The Doors

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeals to you: Eyes, hair, lips

Three of your favourite hobbies: writing, needlework, cooking

Three things you really want to do badly right now: write, shop, watch a television program geared towards someone over 4

Three careers you're considering/you've considered: writer, lawyer, city manager

Three ways that you are stereotypically a boy: love sports, swear, love cars

Three ways that you are stereotypically a girl: love pink, love shoes, squeal at cute boys

Three people that I would like to see post this meme: Lory, Dana, and Olivia

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Keep it Simple

My biggest problem when it comes to writing is the plot.  Not that I can’t think of one, but it becomes so complex.  Subplots leak in. Secondary characters bring their own devilment.  Space aliens invade.  Everything but the kitchen sink finds a spot in the WIP.  I have to stop myself and remember that I’m writing a romance.  The core of my story is the hero and heroine.  The rest is just window dressing.  

I think the reason I fall into the over-plotting trap is because developing good characters with solid conflicts and motivation is hard work.  It is much easier to understand how the heroine feels when a Martian is about to gobble up her beloved hero.  It is tougher to understand how she feels when he’s a jerk but she likes him anyway.  Getting to the heart of the matter when your characters’ conflicts are based on their own personalities is hard, but it is the cream filling of your romance.

In my head, I let the complex play out and I find how dissatisfying I find it.  As the plot gets more and more ridiculous, I notice how lost my characters become.  So once I’ve seen how totally out in left field I went, I start over.  Keeping my attention on the characters at all times, I look for plot points that are going to showcase character development.

Lots of plot is okay.  I certainly didn’t read Tom Clancy for the depth of his characterizations.  But romance is a genre whose lifeblood is the love between a couple.   It is a rather simple equation.  “Keep It Simple, Stupid” is now my mantra.


If you want a chance to win signed copies of Susan Squires’ The Companion and The Hunger, the first two books in her historical vampire series, stop by Haunted Tales and enter.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Oh, The Carnage!

So yesterday was the first of the BIG DAYS in my children's lives. In two weeks the two girls have their birthdays (they are 3 years, 3 days apart) then Thanksgiving then my son's birthday (Dec. 23) and then the ultimate big day, Christmas. So of course they are wired for the next couple of months. The sugar haul from yesterday will help drive this frenzy of obnoxious behavior. We went trick or treating in our downtown. This is a picture of the little monsters in front of the city hall (I bet you guessed that from the picture ). Katie is a fairy from Winx Club (a Saturday morning cartoon), Allison is a dinosaur. I made this costume for my son years ago and each child has worn it. Daniel is a nerd. A big stretch for him. He actually liked the look and wants to dress like this for school. He is very odd.

So we did the candy thing there and they brought home a big haul. We moved on to my folks' house and trick or treated in their neighborhood and had dinner. My mom made a pot roast she bought at Costco. She microwaved it for 8 minutes and it was done. I was surprised how good it was. Heads up for a quick meal during this busy season. Dinner finished with Mom's home made pies. The apple pies were made from apples from her trees. Hmmmm, very, very good.

We have enough candy to make a dentist smile. I threw away all the other candy from the last year and am starting fresh.