Saturday, March 31, 2007

Verbal Graffiti

I know I haven't been around much and there isn't anything wrong, I just couldn't think of anything to say. Admittedly, this is a hectic time around the ol' ranch with baseball, girl scouts, and the other bazillion activities my family is involved in. Plus the weather changes have been tough. I'm tired more than anything and have the mental agility of a radish right now.

Which brings me to my post. We were sitting at dinner the other night and Diva starts going on about nothing. It started to grate on my ears. She wasn't trying to say anything, just make us aware of her presence with her constant yapping. Anything to grab our focus and make sure it remains on her. If you watch professional sports, verbal grafitti prevails over insightful comments. Its bad enough that we usually use the mute button on the television.

Writers do it too. In some ways, I understand it, there are word counts to meet. But I also think we as writers become enchanted with our own writing. I do it myself. I will go on an on describing the deserted warehouse or the easy chair or the bridal gown, thrilled with the quality of my prose, impressed with myself, then I go back and read it. YAWN!!! Ah well, at least I got it out of my system and didn't let it leave my hard drive like that. Too often I think writers ignore their better sense in favor of their vanity. They don't realize what they are writing is drivel and boring. They create scenes and conflicts that make no sense only to celebrate their own brilliance. I'm sure they see it in a totally different light than I do, but in the end, its what the reader thinks and feels. If we want to publish, we need to satisfy the readers not our own vanity.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thirteen "Thursday Thirteens" You Will Never See Me Do

1. My Thirteen Favorite Vegetables. Maybe "Tuesday Two" but that's about it.
2. My Thirteen Favorite Tom Cruise Movies. He gives me the creeps.
3. Thirteen Rap Songs I Could Listen to Over and Over Again. I really don't have to explain, do I?
4. Thirteen Things I Love About Golf. Maybe its me, but geez, it seems boring.
5. Thirteen Recipes I Love with Velveeta. I go into convulsions just typing the word.
6. My Thirteen Favorite Danielle Steel Novels. Nuff said.
7. Thirteen Fashion Trends I Loved From the 1980's. Two words: Acid Wash.
8. Top Thirteen Episodes of "Full House." They play this show ad nauseum on Nick at Night. Like banging my head against a brick wall.
9. Thirteen Things I Love About School Mornings. I just spent 10 minutes helping Diva put an outfit together. She's only in 2nd grade. What is she going to be like in Jr. High?
10. Top Thirteen Household Chores. Does sitting on the couch eating bonbons count?
11. Thirteen Exercises I Enjoy. Does sitting on the couch eating bonbons count?
12. Thirteen Places I Enjoy Shopping With My Kids. I'm convinced I did something horrible in another life and am paying for it every time the whole family goes to Costco.
13. My Favorite Thirteen Pepsi Products. Don't care about red states and blue states. My world is divided between Coke and Pepsi.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Drooling with Envy

I've been getting Romantic Times off and on for more years than I care to admit. I usually get it for a year or two and forget to read them. I end up with a stack still encased in plastic then I quit getting it.

I recently got another subscription, justifying it as a "marketing tool" to see what the trends were, etc., etc. I did see where there were enough authors attending the convention I could easily become psycho stalker lady. But that's another post entirely.

I didn't really read the reviews. Truth be told, I don't really trust their reviews too much, no one seems to get a bad review. But that's okay, I like to see the synopsis and what's coming up.

But looking through those glossy pages at the little author bios and the advertisements for the books, I could feel myself drooling. I forget sometimes how badly I want to see my name on the cover of a book. Oh, I like to spout about how much its about the writing, how I love to write and am compelled to put words to screen. But like any starlet staring at the silver screen, I envision myself in those pages with my name scrawled across a book. I dream of giving some nonsensical interview where I spout bon mots about my creative process. And none of that has anything to do with the writing. Its the Hollywood red carpet stuff. I don't suppose I'm alone in the envy.

I usually don't talk much about my desires for publication because I try to downplay them myself. I try not let my dreams interfere with my reality. I try to live in the phase that I'm in and not look beyond. Right now, my agent is pitching and submitting my book to editors. That's as far as I can look. Hopefully soon I can look beyond this step. But for now, I will continue to look at my RT with the starry-eyed vision of a teenager reading "Tiger Beat."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thirteen Things I Hate About Living in California

Gotta take the bad with the good!

1. The weather. About the end of August through September we hit triple digit temperatures. I get real tired of it. Also, we don't have any distinctive change of seasons. Fall loses some of its charm when you are wearing shorts and tee shirts.
2. Theoretically, I can get to Disneyland in 30 minutes...If I leave at 2 a.m. and take the carpool lane. It's more like an hour with the glut of traffic. It takes forever to get anywhere.
3. Same for the beach. It's even worse because most of the traffic is on the last 5 miles. Very frusterating.
4. Gas prices. I filled up my car the other day and it cost me $88. So it really doesn't matter how far places are, I can't afford to drive there anyway.
5. Fires. Every year around October we go up in flames. I've already been evacuated once in the three years I've lived in this particular house and I expect it will happen again. And the air is unbearable.
6. Smog. We've actually improved greatly over the last 20 years, but it is still nasty.
7. Housing prices. A newlywed searching for your first home? "Starter" homes will run you about $350,000-and that's for a fixer upper.
8. Southern California Edison. This company is run by the minions of Satan, I'm convinced. We have decreased our power usage by over a third over the last 2 years. How have we been rewarded? They jacked up our rates.
9. Earthquakes. I live about 10-15 miles from the San Andreas fault so I'm expecting the Big One. I just hope it doesn't screw up my DirecTv and my Internet.
10. Water. Drought is always an issue and again, my water company takes full advantage. We have constant rate hikes no matter what our water table measures.
11. Feb. 5, 2008. California has had its primary election in November, so by the time it roles around, most of the candidates have dropped off. Now we are going to be a part of Super Tuesday and with our numbers, the candidates are going to come in droves. Like I don't have enough trouble with vermin.
12. The Lakers. A 35-32 record? Embarrasing.
13. Celebreties. I live in the land of Lohan, Spears and Hilton. Enough to give you the creeps.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I just started watching "House" this season and I'm really hooked. I bought the first two seasons on DVD and my husband and I have been watching them. Hubby has a thing for Drs. Cameron and Cuddy. I'm amazed with the characters and the writing. House is uncompromising as a character. He is so full of qualities we don't admire and yet we can't help watching him. He is an awesome anti-hero. And he doesn't just have quirks, he has full-blown issues. Big, ugly issues we should dislike him for, yet we root for him everytime. The writers have included a great ensemble to surround him, all of them with big issues as well, all of them flawed. House doesn't tiptoe around them either, he is like the proverbial salt in the wound. I love it. My mother loves the show although House himself makes her uncomfortable, particularly the Vicodin addiction. She doesn't like it, but she watches anyway.

I want to write like that. I want to create characters which make people cringe. Its tough, though. Our natural tendency is to create characters who are sympathetic and particularly if you are writing romance, its even tougher. A compelling character is rarely a likeable character. How many times have you seen a movie and come away more interested in the villain than the hero? Goodness is boring.

I think the balance for us that write romance or most genre fiction is to create a good guy with flaws deep enough to create uncomfortable conflicts. I try to start out with a character with an issue so deep it seems unsurmountable then create a story which takes this character up and down a roller coaster of redemption.

What do you do to make your character compelling? How far are you willing to go to make that character difficult?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cleaning the Closet

Its official, there is nothing to motivate me to exercise and lose weight.

I cleaned out my closet (again) and discovered how many cute clothes I have but can't wear because I've gained to much weight. You think that would motivate me to get out there and lose weight. It doesn't.

My gym is less than a mile from my house. Babysitting is included in my exorbitant monthly fee. They have great facilities and I always see someone I know and like. I should be motivated to go, but I'm not.

Kelly talks about training for some running races she wants to participate in. She is eager to push herself physically and is looking forward to the challenge. I am green with envy. I wish I enjoyed physical activity.

To be honest, I'd rather sit on my butt. The only walking I really want to do is shopping. Not only do I not care for exercise, I love to eat. I am definitely one of those people who lives to eat. And I particularly enjoy things that are bad for me.

My family history is loaded with heart disease. My mother has been on high blood pressure medication forever and my dad has had a stroke. My blood pressure is very good but my cholesterol is very bad. Yet I'm still not motivated.

I'm heading to the gym today and I'm going be watching every bite I eat. Please pass the veggies *shudder*. This is so much harder than writing.

So what do you do to motivate yourself for diet and exercise? Any tips?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thirteen Things I Love About Living in California

1. The weather. It's going to be 79 degrees today. And its March.
2. I can get to Disneyland in less than 30 minutes.
3. I can get to the mountains in less than 20 minutes.
4. I can get to the beach in less than an hour.
5. Wine.
6. Concert venues. Not so much anymore, but when I was a young singleton I went to concerts practically every weekend.
7. Proximity to Vegas. I don't go all that often, but knowing I can get there by car in less than 4 hours gives me an odd sense of comfort.
8. BPAL. This is for Gypsy. I can go to a brick and mortar sale if I want. They also sell their scents in some of the stores in Hollywood.
9. Did I mention the weather? Bears repeating.
10. Cars. I love cars and we have lots of them. Its like people watching for me.
11. People watching. I love watching people. They fascinate me and we have all kinds here.
12. Museums. While this isn't unique to California, I put it down to remind myself to go this summer.
13. Celebrities. I'm as shallow of a stargazer as they come. Its so cool when you can say "wasn't that so-and-so?" and know it probably was.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Secret Identity

Chrys wrote a wonderful post yesterday about "owning it." Writer's tend to be reticent about admitting they are writers. But really, is there any reason we should not be declaring to the world what we are? What are we afraid of?

I'm one of the worse. I don't tell anyone I'm a writer. I'm not embarrassed or anything, I just don't like the questions. Most people I know don't read the genre I write it. Most of them lean more towards the Jodi Picoult style of book. They wouldn't appreciate what I write and that's fine. However, I realized that I'm a few steps closer to publishing. I have an agent, the book is in front of editors, it maybe more of a question of "when" rather than "if." So if I sell and publish am I going to suddenly announce to the world I'm a writer? I can only imagine the weird looks I'm going to get with that one. So after reading Chrys' post, I felt empowered. I decided I wouldn't be shy about admitting my "secret" identity.

Until my MIL came over last night.

"So when is your book coming out?"

Okay, I know I have explained this whole process to her before and now I remember why I don't tell people about my writing. The process of getting published is one people seem not to grasp. I don't think non-writers realize how very difficult it is to get published, particularly these days. Last night, I really didn't want to re-explain what was going on. I didn't want to talk about how a couple of editors have already passed on the project and how there has been no news from the others.

Writing is a personal profession. We invest ourselves into our writing and rejection stings. Yeah, its nothing personal from the other end, but we can't help thinking it is a reflection on us and our talent. For me, writing is too important, being a writer is a facet of my character, one I like to protect and for others to treat it callously is painful. They truly don't mean any harm, but it hurts none the less. How can they be so casual about something so important to me?

Because they have no idea how important it is to me. Because I haven't "owned it" in their presence. I'm certainly not reticent about other things. I'm not sure why I am with writing. Anyway, I can't expect people to appreciate my being a writer until I appreciate it myself.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Accepting Your Voice

Three Cheers for Daylight Savings Time......

I'm waiting....

I'm not loving it myself. It is so dark in the morning! Ugh.

So I didn't do any writing this weekend. Granted, it was busy, cookie sales are still in the forefront and baseball has kicked into high gear. However, I did have time and I did have motivation but I had no inspiration.

I'm in an odd position. The book that is out with editors is a new genre for me but one that obviously flows well with my voice. Great. I have enough of the second book to create a proposal and I like it very much. Awesome. Now what do I do?

My inclination was to do something completely different, like a historical, but now I feel perhaps this is something that needs to move to the back burner. As much as I like to write the genre, perhaps I'm pushing my voice in a way it doesn't want to go.

I've always enjoyed writing a variety of things but I think I need to start focusing on what I'm good at. It might be time to let go of those ideas which probably don't fit with my voice. In some instances, it isn't difficult. I had this romance story idea which revolved around the first female general manager of a Major League Baseball team. Would have been fun, but, well, out in left field for me. I like to write erotica, but I really have no desire to take it all the way. There are a lot of erotica writers out there and most of them probably do it better me.

Its tough for unpubs because we basically have a big wide world of ideas open to us. We don't have the pressure to satisfy an editor or a publisher or even a reading public, we can indulge in our fancies. But I think we all reach a point where we realize we would be better writers if we narrowed our focus.

I'll probably keep trying to write the great historical, but I have to acknowledge it isn't going to be my bread and butter for writing. More like a hobby.

Anyway, have you ever felt this way? Is there a genre you'd love to write but know it isn't likely to happen?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Thirteen Things I'm Looking Forward To This Year

1. Casino Royale. The dvd is released next Tuesday. I will be able to watch Daniel Craig jog through the water frame by frame by frame.

2. "For A Few Demons More". The latest by Kim Harrison is released later this month.

3. "All Together Dead". The latest Sookie novel by Charlaine Harris.

4. "True Blood". HBO's series based on the Sookie Stackhouse books. Anna Paquin has signed on to play Sookie and will be bleaching her hair blonde.

5. My kitchen is getting remodeled. I have the world's ugliest kitchen. Remember harvest gold? That is the color of my kitchen right now.

6. Thing goes to kindergarten. I registered Thing for school. She is my last and final kid. I can't imagine not having a child at home.

7. Vacation. We're trying for Hawaii again although hubby wants to go to Bermuda.

8. Summer. Usually I detest summer, but I've had so many obligations this year, I look forward to dumping them all.

9. My 40th birthday. This probably seems odd, but my 30's were devoted to raising babies. My kids were born when I was 28, 32 & 35, so I spent most of the last decade changing diapers and breastfeeding.

10. My last car payment on my Expedition. I have to be careful with this one. Last time I got down this point with an SUV's payments, I found out I was pregnant.

11. My convertible Mustang will be paid off. It was a 10th anniversary present from hubby to the both of us. We got a really good deal on it and he has been paying over the payment trying to get it paid off.

12. Did I mention Thing is going to kindergarten? Yes, its worth mentioning twice. Some of the other schools in our district are offering full day kindergarten. Boy, was I tempted.

13. I'm optimistic. So many good things have been going on this year, I feel good about the rest.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

But What's My Motivation?

As writers we spend a lot of time talking about getting motivated to right. What sparks our motivation? How do we stay motivated? Well, you're familiar with the questions.

What other profession asks these questions?

Lawyer: I'm sorry, I can't try your case today, I just don't feel motivated. The litigation muse isn't speaking to me.

Doctor: Uh oh, I've lost my motivation in the middle of this heart transplant, darn it.

Burger flipper: I'm not motivated to put pickles on this whopper, how about lettuce instead?

Mother: I'm not motivated to get up and take care of the kids. There's a box of cookies in the pantry for breakfast, I'm going back to bed. Okay, so maybe that one does happen.

Anyway, as unpublished writers we have the luxury of saying we don't feel motivated to write. Our muse has skipped town for a weekend in Vegas. Okay, but what happens when we sign a contract? Are we going to tell an editor we missed our deadline because we weren't motivated to write? I'm sure they will be real understanding.

Lack of motivation is a pretty excuse writers like to use because other writers can commiserate. I use it all the time, but I think it is also a poisonous excuse, it grows, spreads, changes our brain chemicals, whatever. I think when we say we don't have any motivation to write, we are saying something else. I'm too tired to write. I don't feel like writing, I'd rather watch "American Idol." There is too much going on emotionally for me to focus on my writing. Motivation is the will and desire to write. If we lacked that, we wouldn't be writers at all. I think we have the motivation but it is blocked by many other things. The will and desire to write is interrupted by the things around us or our own displeasure with what we are writing.

If you truly lack the motivation to write, then you need to really look closely at what you're doing. Is the project you're working on really the right one for you? I find that's my biggest problem, my reason for no motivation. Or you are expecting too much. Maybe you've set a goal for so many words a day or pages a week and it is too daunting. That could kill your motivation to write.

But if the project is one you like and feel good about, then motivation isn't the issue, its something else and it is okay to admit it. You may quit writing for an hour, a day, a week, a month, but recognize your reasons for what they are. If you look at what is behind your lack of motivation, you might be able to resolve them and get back to writing.

Here's my usual. I don't feel motivated to write. I also don't feel motivated to clean house either. However, I would feel motivated to write if I had a clean house. So I should clean the house. I don't want to clean the house, but I can't write unless the house is clean. Its a circle and sometimes the housecleaning gets done and I write, everything is in balance again. Sometimes my lack of interest in cleaning house wins and no writing gets done. My lack of motivation to write is actually my lack of interest in cleaning up my house. I have two choices at that moment, either get over the write-in-a-clean-house issue or clean the damn house.

Next time you think perhaps you aren't motivated to write, take a closer look and see if there might be something else going on.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Wii-sy Come, Wii-sy Go

I got the kids a Wii this weekend. The heavens opened up, choirs of angels broke into song, the earth stopped its rotation for just a moment all in response to the momentuous occasion.

And now its gone.

Here is the dark truth to why parents buy their kids video game consoles. Its so we can take them away. Unfortunately, my family rarely reflects what you see on a sitcom. My kids aren't like those "Cosby" kids or the "Full House" crowd, they don't learn a Very Important Lesson in the span of a half-hour. I wish they did, although those t.v. kids were always kind of dull.

Being a parent is like living in a war zone. A gentle one most of the time, but there are battles that must be fought, lines drawn, etc. etc. For my family, there is a major battle that has been waging for years. My kids won't clean up after themselves. Can't just say "go clean your room." Doesn't work. So I am constantly looking for more leverage.

The Wii is our latest weapon. We let them play with it for a couple of days, got them hooked then went and inspected their rooms and the other areas upstairs. BAM! The Wii is gone now and they don't get it back for a week, even if they get the upstairs looking like a model home. They have this afternoon to do some cleaning, and if it hasn't improved, something else gets taken away.

I don't enjoy taking things from my kids. Mainly because if I take everything away, they are downstairs bugging me. Also, they will win this one if we get too far. For the most part, you could put one of my kids in an empty room with a piece of paper and they could entertain themselves, I was the same way, drove my mom crazy.

Now to put a writing spin on it. Ummm....okay, conflict. I've noticed that my writing is darker, more conflicted since having kids. I'm surrounded by conflict and really, conflict is all the same in that it brings out the same emotions whether its trying to get my kids to clean their room or a heroine trying to convince the faeries court that the great horned demons are going to attack. The frusterations are similar. The horror of seeing how my kids' bedrooms are destroyed is similar to the horror my heroine feels when she sees her apartment ravaged by goblins looking for the lost amulet of Paicoma. You get the picture.

I'm going to drag my youngest upstairs and battle with her over cleaning up the barbies. It will be a battle of titans, two monsters engaging in a fierce fight, blood and tissue flying with grusome abandon, at least that's how it will show up in one of my books.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Writing in Series

I am so tired of this green blog, its driving me nuts. But I really don't have time to change it. If I have time to change it, then I have time to do a million other things, so I keep that in mind when I'm tempted to open up the ol' html and start playing around.

Writing time is precious right now. Baseball season has started and we have two games a week plus a practice. My remodel is supposed to start in a week. I have not begun to pack up my stuff yet. I really wanted a concrete date before I went to work. We are in the peak of the cookie season right now and much of my time is being taken up by cookie business.

Of course, now my urge to write has emerged and is demanding my attention.

So I'm working on a new WIP and I'm pleased so far. But with the genre I write in, I have to keep in mind the idea that it will become a series. Series dominate the urban fantasy market so I have to make sure I have a protagonist which can grow through multiple books. Some authors are very good at this and we watch as their heroine/hero develops over the course of a series. Others aren't quite so good.
I think there is a temptation for an author to try and one-up themselves in a series. Rather than letting the changes in their protagonist be progressive, they jump ahead and add something fantastical. It might be flashy, but it short-changes the character and therefore the reader. What keeps a series alive is a reader's interest in the characters. Sometimes a writer drags it out too long. How many series have the heroine torn between lovers? How long can that conflict last before the reader finally gets bored? For me, a few books and that's it. When you get into double digits, I'm done.

It isn't easy and I'm not sure how some of these writers can do it after 9 or 10 books. I really don't think I could, but I'd certainly love the opportunity to try :)

I look at it like a ladder. My heroine starts out on the bottom and in order to move up, she has to make a change in her character or something has to affect her to a degree she feels it deeply and changes because of it. By the end of the book, she's made her change and moves up, but there is another ladder rung up ahead and the process starts over. For me, when there is a logical end to the ladder is the time to end the series.

Hopefully I will be a wise enough writer to see the end before it becomes rote and I'm the topic of hate blog posts.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Goal, Motivation & Logic...and Cookies

So I have considerably less cookies in my house now, thank goodness. Boy, was that a load of work. After this weekend I should be about nil. The remodel on my house is supposed to start a week from Monday, so I've said no more cookies after that, I have no place to put them. I'll do the leg work, but no storage. I'd never tasted a tagalong. Wow, wish I hadn't. Those are tasty, but my loyalty will always be with the thin mint. I like trefoils too. They are really good dipped in hot chocolate, coffee, red wine, a shot of Jack Daniels....

I haven't been writing. I'm struggling finding a story that will hold my interest through the end. I had one idea and started writing, but I couldn't answer the questions. Writers talk about GMC (goals, motivation, conflict) but I struggle with GML (goals, motivation, logic). How many times have you read a book and thought "wow, that heroine/hero was absolute moron?" There is the TSTL characters (too stupid to live) which drag a book down. It isn't that the author is purposely being dense, its that they are thinking strictly in GMC. I saw this a lot in the Golden Heart entries I judged. The writer answered the goal, motivation and conflict just fine, but in the end, it wasn't logical and made the character look like an idiot. It also turned the story into a muddled, confusing mess.

My story I was working on was another urban fantasy (in first person POV, I'm leaving the 3rd person alone for awhile). But I had a core question whose answer would negate the entire book. Sure, I could write around it, pretend the answer didn't exist, but in my head I couldn't do it. I think when plotting out a conflict, a writer needs to look at the question and try to answer it as many ways as possible. How many times have you read a book where a conflict would get resolved with one conversation? I think that's why the Big Mis has really annoyed readers.

Anyway, I've moved onto a story which is a world I've got more control over. I havent' started the writing yet since I need to make sure I can answer the questions with logic.

Do you think through all the questions before you write?