Sunday, February 25, 2007

Timeless Love Stories

Several weeks ago, archeologists uncovered a couple in Italy buried in an eternal embrace. They believe the couple are Neolithic, which means they were buried 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. This finding stunned them because double burials were uncommon, but even more so for a couple to be hugging. Wouldn't you love to know the story of this couple? Read article here.

There are numerous love stories in the BIBLE. One is Jacob and Rachel (Genesis 29). He loved Rachel so much he was willing to labor for her father seven years to marry her. At the end of the seven years, he was forced to marry her older sister, Leah. But he loved her so much he was willing to labor another seven years to have Rachel as his wife. That is some strong devotion to a woman.

Then there's Ruth, who has her own book in the BIBLE. First, she will not leaver her mother-in-law, Naomi, after the deaths of their husbands. "And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me." (Ruth 1:16-17) So, Ruth follows Naomi and while gleaning grain, meets Boaz, a relative of Naomi's husband. Not only does he allow her to glean barley in his field, he instructs his men to let grain fall from their bundles purposely for her. Boaz must first allow a closer relative to redeem what belonged to their brother, but when he refuses, Boaz has the choice. Boaz marries Ruth and several begots later, David is born, which is the line of Joseph, who marries Mary, the mother of Christ.

In March my husband, David, and I will have been married 22 years. We must be doing something right. He's not the most romantic guy around, but he's always been supportive of my writing or anything else I wanted to do. He'll go almost anywhere I want. Which means a lot more than a few flowers.

Do you have a favorite nonfiction romance?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Confliction Addiction

I’m conflicted.

Or rather, I’m not.

I have no conflict, and I can’t figure it out. The characters in my WIP have met, gotten over their initial distrust, and are very happy. Each time I try to throw something at them, they shoot me annoyed looks and then go right back to what they were doing. Sometimes they even say “That’s just plain stupid.”

I know I have to have conflict. I’ve read The Writer’s Journey. I’ve read Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. I’ve read the Writing the Breakout Novel.

I know I have to have internal conflict and external conflict. I know!!

But when your characters won’t cooperate, is it time to type “The End” and move on to something else?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Clap-On, Clap-Off Writing

Oh the fickleness of light...

I read at least a hundred articles or more a month on writing. POV, knowing your character, endings, beginnings, middles, hooks, etc. Many of them, more than once. So why won't they stay in my head when I need them the most? Why can't I just take out the information I need when I need it, in order to fix my current wip problems?

Because I just discovered something... I have a clap-on, clap-off mentality when it comes to writing.

I can be struggling with a wip, unable to determine what's wrong with it, but knowing in my gut that it's just not right. Then, I'll read an article and suddenly, it's clap-on time. That light bulb moment when I get it. Angels are singing, marching bands are playing and all is right with the world. I mean I really GET IT! I understand what's wrong, why I'm struggling and then I fix that 'something'. Then what happens? Well, someone...I don't know who it is, but I'd sure like to smack them...claps and I've lost it again. I may even be able to keep the light on throughout a scene, a chapter or heck even an entire manuscript, but then, when I'm working on a new project...that light ain't shining no more.

I know learning to write well is an on-going process. People aren't born with everything they need to know to create that perfect manuscript. It takes time, effort and lots of practice before their craft is honed to perfection. But that beautiful, so elusive. Why can't it stay on longer?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I Want to answer Barb's question too!

Okay, okay, okay. I'm inspired from the great twists and turns of this season's big hit, HEROES. Here are my fellows. How can you resist?

And, of course, my favorite. You know how us women love funny guys...

In answer to Barb's question...

American Idol is always a source of inspiration for me.

Granted, not all these guys are exactly hotties. Some are hotter than others (*cough* Paul Kim *cough*). But AI is a fascinating writer's tool. Take 24 people and put them in a similar, very stressful situation. How do they react? Film these people crossing a long room to find out whether they've made it onto the show. How are they different from the others? Film them going up to the room in the elevator, and coming back down afterward. Heck, close them in the elevator with the person they just beat. How far can their nerves be stretched before the facade of politeness they've been taught begins to break down? And then there's the music. Love. IT!!!

In Need of Inspiration... that V-Day is over and I'm on sugar detox, I need a little inspiration to get my brain in gear. The best way to do this is to send out a little eye candy. ;-D

I'd thought I'd share a few pieces off of my inspirational board.

Is anyone else feeling motivated???
Who's on your wall of inspiration???

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Almost Valentine's Day

If you've been living in a hole and haven't noticed, it's almost Valentine's Day. TV and the internet is bombarded by the companies selling jewelry, candy, and flowers. But how did the day for lovers get started?

According to The History Channel's web page here the origin is murky. One story is a priest in third century Rome continued to marry couples when the emperor outlawed marriage. When Claudius discovered Valentine's acts, he ordered him killed.

One legend is that an imprisoned man named Valentine sent the first valentine from his cell. Supposedly, he wrote a girl he loved a letter before his death and signed it "From your Valentine".

According to one website, the first commercial valentine was sent in the 1800s. According to the Greeting Card Association, one billion valentines are sent each year and it's the second biggest card-sending holiday after Christmas.

These days we keep Valentine's very low key, especially now that we're retired and living on a fixed income. I personally think how you're treated every day throughout the year is more important than an expensive gift on Valentine's. The day hasn't really changed since I started writing romance.

So, how do you and your spouse/significant other celebrate the day? Has the day changed for you since you started writing romance?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Happy Resource Day!

One of my favorite things about Valentine’s Day (besides the chocolate and flowers) is that bookstores haul out all kinds of fun books about love and sex—a treasure trove of resource material for romance authors! In my local Barnes & Noble, the display includes everything from steamy books such as The Cosmo Kama Sutra: 77 Mind-Blowing Sex Positions to the sweet The Art of Kissing. As a writer--and a fan--of traditional romance, I tend to gravitate toward the books about kissing. This year, I couldn’t resist picking up Kiss Like a Star: Smooching Secrets from the Silver Screen. Author William Kane, who is known as “the kissing doctor,” has taken kissing scenes from more than 60 movies and analyzed the smooches. What fun! The good doctor gives us lots of great examples, such as The Hollywood Kiss (Gone With The Wind), The Sliding Kiss (Dirty Dancing), Kissing at Sea (Dr. No), and The Reassuring Kiss (Proof).

Makes you want to pucker up, doesn’t it?

Have you found any great resource books on the Valentine’s Day displays?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Going From A Major Stab Wound To Minor Bruising

Recently, I've noticed that rejections have started hurting less and that worried me a little. What did that mean? Was my writing career meaning less to me? Did I not want to be a published author as much as I had before? Had I come to the end of hope? I even stopped wanting to eat chocolate after each one. Oh no!

Was it time to end the dream?

It didn't take me long to answer back with a resounding NO! Yes, I still love to write and my career still means the world to me. Yes, I still want to be a published, actually a multi-published author. And there is still plenty of hope. Oh, and I still love chocolate.

So why does it hurt less? Why did what used to feel like a stab to my heart now only result in minor bruising? One word...Growth. I've grown up these past few years and my skin...while not rhinoceros no longer as fragile as it once was. I've been writing long enough and experienced enough rejection, that I'm no longer shocked when it happens.

My first rejections came as a shock...did yours? I just assumed everyone would immediately see what a literary genius I am. Uh, far as I know, no one has.

Now, when I submit, I don't necessarily expect rejection, but I'm no longer floored when it happens. Personal taste, the market, my writing style, the storyline and a whole host of other things can bring a rejection. That took me a while to understand, but realizing that, it's become much easier.

Will my next rejection hurt? Of course it will. I'm still human. However, I'll go through my little grieving process, which may or may not include chocolate. Then I'll carry on. Why? Because it's what I's what I am.

How about you? Are rejections, whether you're published or not, easier than they used to be?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Last Word

We’ve talked about the beginning sentences that hook the reader, but what about those last words? You know. The ones that ended the book and left that special “ahhh” lasting impression.

How often have you read a great book that ended with a whimper? Or the book you begin to lose interest and you turn to the back page to see how it ends, and the ending encourages you to keep trying?

I know you’ve seen where other blogs have asked you to comment on your favorite hooks or to go to a certain page and type in the second sentence or something like that.

This time I’m asking you to do the big no-no and go to the end of the romance you’re currently reading and tell me the last short paragraph or last sentence. Give us the name of the book and the author. Let’s see how they handled that crucial final remembrance of the love story.

Mine is ETERNAL HUNGER by Cameron Dean. I walked to the front door, pulled it open, stepped out onto the walk. And then I flung the blossoms as hard and high as I could. High enough to reach the stars.

I won’t ruin the ending for you as the series is unique and interesting enough for me to buy all three books at the same time. But I will say the author better write number four or I will be pissed. LOL!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Fork in the Road

Do you ever think back to a certain decision, a certain moment in time, and wonder—what if I’d gone the other route? Do you ever wonder about that in the books you're writing or reading?

I’m currently watching my oldest son go through this dilemma. He’s in his final semester of high school and had three universities in mind for college. He applied for scholarships at all three, and as of last Saturday, has received scholarships for all three (yea for him, and yea for my pocketbook ;)

When the last scholarship letter came in, his face practically radiated with excitement. He’d wanted to go to one of three schools, and now he simply had to choose. And when THAT hit him, the excitement faded, and the dread set in. Seriously, I watched it transpire on that face in a matter of ten minutes. “Now I have to choose,” he said. Of course, trying to throw a positive spin on this, I said, “Now you GET to choose.”

Then this young man, eighteen this year, proceeds to discuss how this decision could impact the rest of his life, what job offers he receives after school, what girl he may meet and marry, what friends he will make in college that will potentially be his friends for life.

Oy! So…no decisions have been made yet. Time will tell. But, his dilemma got me thinking that in books, there are often times when a character makes a decision where you know they’re choosing the correct path, or the wrong one, depending on the situation. However, most of the time you don’t learn definitely what would have happened if the other choice was taken. You may assume you know, but really—how can you?

That got me to thinking about a couple of books and movies that did show me how the alternate choice would have affected that character’s life. I mean, can’t you just see James Stewart as George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life when Clarence tells him, “Your brother, Harry Bailey, broke through the ice and was drowned at the age of nine.” George Bailey saw how all of the decisions he’d made in life had affected an entire town, and even Harry’s life itself.

A book that I ADORE that did this very well with three heroines is Jude Devereaux’s The Summerhouse. If you haven’t read it, do! These three women live their lives, but then get a chance (and I won’t spoil the plot by telling you how) to go back and re-do their lives from one certain moment, the day they all met, when they were twenty-one. You watch all of the different decisions these intriguing women make that change each of their lives, and at the end, they can keep the new version of their life (with the understanding that they won’t remember the original version) OR they can stick with the first time around. Very intriguing premise, and I cheered with the way Ms. Devereaux defined the three characters. Loved it!

So—tell me about books and movies that you’ve read or seen that show the alternatives. Those that answer the question “But what if…” And yes, I’m asking for selfish reasons. I want to read those books and watch those movies!

Happy Reading and Writing!

Monday, February 05, 2007

The yellowjacket test

Last week a couple of Southern Magic members (who shall remain nameless) told me they weren't planning to attend the RWA National Conference because they'd attended conferences before and they still hadn't gotten The Call. As one of them said, "What's the point?"

I feel this way too some days, like I'm just spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. At my Superbowl party last night, some friends asked me about my books. I told them I'm working on X, my agent has an appointment this week about Y, and I'm still waiting to hear about Z. And I realized I'd told these friends exactly the same thing when I saw them at Christmas, except the X, Y, and Z were different.

But when I start to get down about the slow progress of my writing career, I always think back to a certain day in November 2004. I went to the mailbox and found a letter from an agent I'd had high hopes of working with! But it wasn't a letter saying she wanted to work with me. It was a revise-and-resubmit letter. And I disagreed with everything she said about my manuscript. And then a yellowjacket flew out of the mailbox, zoomed down my pants, and stung me on the butt.

Since then, I've sold two novels. I have a wonderful agent and a wonderful editor. So I'm writing and writing and waiting to hear about a million different things and never getting closure. Is it as bad as getting stung on the butt? No it is not.

If you've reached a boiling point of frustration, feeling your career is going nowhere, I encourage you to think back to a time last year when you were disppointed about your writing. Then think about how much you've done and learned since then. Even if you haven't gotten The Call, you have gotten closer to that goal. You've made new contacts, learned more about the industry, and gained more experience writing. Don't give up, friends! Keep going to the mailbox. Just take the Raid with you, and a washrag full of ice.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Magic of Mentors

Mentors are so important, no matter what your calling is in life. When I was fifteen I began volunteering at my local public library after school and in the summer. It’s a small library in a small town about 30 minutes south of Birmingham. At the time, there were two full time librarians and myself. We all shared the same small office so we got to know each other very well. The director and I quickly bonded and she began to teach me everything she knew about the library world. I soon learned that there was a lot more to working at a library then just babysitting books.

Over a ten-year span, as I gradually worked from volunteer, to part-time then to full time employee, the director taught me about working with people, managing money, speaking skills and much more. She helped me through both undergrad and graduate schools and it was really hard to move on from that job. I am now the manager of my own department in a public library that’s about three times as big as the small town library. I am confident in my job, partly because of this mentor and the time she took to teach me the skills that they don’t teach you in library science classes. I still see her when I go home and also at conferences and workshops. She now, on occasion, wants my advice on issues and it’s nice that I can help her the way she helped me.

Another part of my life is writing and the mentors that I have are amazing. If you are reading this post, then you are one of them. J The support I have received in just the few months that I have been back with SM has been enormous help with my craft. For me to meet face to face with some of the best writers helps me know that, with guidance, I can be where they are in a few years.

Who are some of the mentors in your life? How have they helped you with your writing?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Doubting Thomas

Well, we didn't wake up to a white wonderland. It's just wet and cold, though I still have sleet on my car trunk and top. It's been so long since I've seen snow I was hoping for a little. Of course, that may be because I don't have to get out in it.

I'm finishing up my WIP. I added a couple of scenes so the ending wouldn't be so rushed. But in editing, it sounds like dreck. Most writers seem to go through this feeling from time-to-time, but how do you deal with it? Enquiring minds want to know.

Do you have any tricks to deal with the doubt you sometimes feel? Do you just trudge on knowing you'll feel differently at a later time?