Sunday, May 30

Ooooooooooh shiiiiiny!

Ever have one of those days when your concentration flies out the window? Your mind follows every little detour from the path of what-you’re-supposed-to-be-doing-right-now? That’s me. Right now. For the past three hours. Okay, maybe six hours. I’ve accomplished nothing. I’m tired, and I must rise early to work tomorrow. Urgh! It’s tomorrow already.

But I’ve at least read a few blog posts, not as many as I’d hoped to get to, but the best I can expect with this lame monkey internet connection I must use lately. I came across a couple of posts with some suggestions on how to unblock your writing. These were posted by a writing coach whose audience mainly consists of comedians.  Pretty good stuff here:

Hurdle #1: Getting started
Hurdle #3: Making words flow

I also read this post by Jane Friedman on how to be a successful writer. This was both inspiring and discouraging to me somehow. Maybe you can see why after you read it. On one hand, I have these traits she mentions. But then, the 10+ year thing is just damned depressing. I know it’s not entirely accurate, but still… depressing.

While you're here, check out the new awesome blogfests in my sidebar. Blogfests are awesplendeliciously fun and quite addictive. I will some day soon, when I don’t have hamster-wheel driven internet, host a blogfest too. Jury’s still out on what the theme will be. Hmmmm...

I said in my earlier post that I’d be gone all week, which I was, but now I’m saying I’ll be gone another week. We're just in for the weekend. So as before, I’ll do my best to get on the blogs and see how everyone’s doing, but it may take me a while.

Now just briefly, someone please look at this condom site and tell me it’s a joke!

PS - Flags in, Shipmates and Brothers in Arms.  I will not forget.

Tuesday, May 25

Got to Get the Ball Rolling

And this is where I run into problems. Perhaps it’s because I write garbage (though my garbage isn’t too bad either) until I warm up, but I have the worst time with the beginning, just the first few pages. This is, of course, the WORST time to have a worst time. The first pages are where the hook must be. If it’s just not there, the reader will put the book down and not buy it. Likewise, the agent won’t request your full.

Here’s the prob: I have three versions (at least) of my first chapter. I keep changing it based on reader feedback. Well, now I’m getting feedback contradicting previous feedback (i.e., descriptions, history, exposition, name changes, etc). Yes, I’m tearing my hair out! My first page was posted on Dear Author on Saturday, and the critique was a little brutal, but honest. Much of the feedback there wanted me to put back stuff I’d already edited out on previous versions. Grrrrr! *frustration level rising*

My plan now? I’ll probably edit again, but this time I’ll just do what I want. I think I’ll just take the feedback I’m comfortable with. So how do you deal with conflicting advice? Do you get a lot of it to begin with? Where do you have the toughest time in your story? Any suggestions for first pages???

PS—I apologize in advance if I can’t get around to your blogs this week. I’ll try as best I can, but I’m out to sea and our bandwidth is teensy weensy on the satellite. It’s about a third the speed of dial-up, if that, and I usually can’t get the pages to load.

Wednesday, May 19

I'm in LOVE...

…with the characters! My favorite reads (and movies and TV shows, for that matter) all have that one big thing in common: remarkable characters. If I develop feelings for your characters, whether it’s love, sympathy, admiration, fear, hate, whatev, I’ll probably have a great time reading your story.

The Let’s Talk Blogfest yesterday got me thinking about the peeps in my novel, about where I found them and where their voices come from. Most of my characters were born from a single trait of the people around me that I work with every day. (They’re some silly characters themselves. Someday I’ll write about them as they are, but for now I borrow tidbits.) But beyond that, the characters take on a life of their own. They speak to me and through my fingertips.

I often talk about them as if they’re living, breathing people. I care about them. I can describe what they’re like as if I’d known them in person. I know their fears and hopes. I sometimes know them better than I know me. Creepy thought, hm? Anyway, when I write, their words pour out from some place I can’t quite identify. Maybe that’s why they don’t really sound like me. Sometimes I’m completely surprised by what they say or do, as if their actions didn’t come from me. Yes, logically I know I wrote all of it, but it often doesn’t feel that way to me.

So am I just nuts (I can live with that, I suppose)? Or is this a writerly thing? Do your characters’ voices take over when you write them? Where do you get your characters from and how well do you know them?

Oh, PS—I must share this news!!! I bit the bullet this morning. Bit it hard. I registered for NaNoWriMo. Yep, my cherry will be gone at the end of November. Who else is brave enough to take on the challenge? Have you done this before? If so, how do you prepare before the big DAY ONE???

Yeah, I know. So many questions today…

Tuesday, May 18

My Let's Talk Blogfest Excerpt!

Thank you, Roni @ Fictiongroupie for this fun, awesome blogfest.  Yay!  This is my first blogfest entry, and I can't wait to see the excerpts everyone else posts today.  Everyone should check out the list.  It's huge.  There are over 90 entries.  This 'fest is all about the dialogue...

Here's my clip.  Setup: My MC, Emma, speaks to her close friends after she learns that Gabriel (our Hero) is irreversibly bonded to her.

“That's the weirdest thing I've ever heard,” Vi mused. “Makes sense why he didn't want to tell anyone. He was protecting you, if you ask me.”

“I'm not asking you,” Emma huffed. Violet raised both eyebrows in feigned surprise.

“Could have fooled me. Have you talked to Daniel about this yet?”

“Are you kidding? Gabriel's his golden child lately. It would crush him.”

“Well, Gabe suffering in silence until he dies in front of us won't sit too well with him either.”

“What am I supposed to do? Should I give up my life for his life?”

“You know that's not what I'm saying, Em,” Vi snapped, “but maybe we can find some other solution. Dan can do some research...” Both lost in thought, silence stretched between the two.

“I'm terrified of him, Vi.”

“Oh, really? Is that what you tell yourself?”

“What do you mean?” Emma asked as Dave entered the suite he shared with Vi.

“What up, people?” he asked jovially. His smile died as he encountered their sober faces.

“I mean, Emelia,” Vi said sternly, “that there's more between you and Gabe than plain ol' fear."

“Oh, yeah,” Dave agreed. “When you're in the room, he's like a super magnet. You can't keep your eyes off him. Anyone who knows you well can see that. Well, except Dan 'cause he's Dan and only sees you as his little girl.”

“Well, that's ridiculous,” Em said, her voice rising.

“Uh-uh,” Vi shook her head. “If you feel fear, it's not fear of him, Baby Girl.”

“Yep. I'm pretty sure you can slap him around and call him Brenda, and all he'd do is look at you with goo-goo eyes,” Dave laughed.

Emma grunted at him. “Sometimes you are so dumb!”

“Well, enlighten me, then. What's all this about you and Gabe?”

“Oh, Lord! Do I have to go through all this again?”

“No. If you go talk to Dan, I'll catch up the curly-haired midget.”

“Hey now!” Dave scowled. Violet shot him a look so loving it could melt snow. He smiled at her. Emma felt a familiar jab of envy.

“Alright, I'll try to talk to Granddad. That's all I'm promising.”

“Don't give him a heart attack. Be gentle,” Dave quipped.

“And Em, Gabe's a very, very good friend, not just to me, but to all of the team. Yes, even Ray now,” Vi said earnestly, then added softly. “We can't let him die. He's given us too much, saved our happy asses too many times, and he did it all even when we were so cruel to him. In some crazy way, after what you've told me, I suppose he did all this for you.”

Emma left the suite with her head spinning. She could tell her grandfather about the true situation, but he'd be hurt to know either Gabriel would die or his precious Emelia would suffer for him to live. He couldn't even stand for her to associate with the Aegis, as much they meant to him, preferring nice boys for her to date. She honestly didn't know how she could get up the nerve to discuss it with him anyway. It had taken her three days to work up to Vi and Dave. In the meantime, she'd steered clear of any place she could run into Gabriel.

Monday, May 17

What Hunk of Circuitry Do You Read With? (...and Dear Author's posting my page!)

My first page will post on Dear Author this Saturday to be reviewed by the general public.  I will be utterly stripped naked to be macerated in the public eye.  I'm so nervous about it, I could hurl! (**biting fingernails**)  Someone tell me what I was thinking when I submitted myself to this?  I do realize truly that I did it for genuine feedback from other authors/readers, and I knew it could only challenge me to improve my manuscript.  But geez, my insides are twisting like a virgin's on prom night.

Anyway, enough about my upcoming roast and on to something I'm personally curious about.  If you've read my previous posts, you may know I'm not too techno-advanced (odd fact given that I'm an electronics technician).  I tend to read books the old-fashioned way with novel in hand, turning paper pages and dog-earing to mark my place (I know it's a sin, but they're my books, darn it; I do what I want).  I didn't even know what a Kindle was until recently.

I found some posts about the electronic reader technology.  I found the post on Dear Author to be pretty informative, but I'm still iffy on what to try out.  With all this mishmash of choices and features, I may just find it easiest to stick with my trusty old-fashioned, paper-lovin' ways.

So maybe you could help me decide what to try.  What reader do you use, if any?  Why is it the best choice for you?  How often do you choose it over a traditional print book?  What was it like to make the switch from print to ebook?

Wednesday, May 12

Are You Pushing Yourself Too Hard?

Yes, darnit, I know I posted already today, but I read this article at The Huffington Post, and I had to share it with everyone.  I see this every day in my job.  I see this all around me, even in our personal lives.  Do we drive ourselves to burnout?  Is our push for efficiency actually resulting in loss of productivity?  I think yes.  In my opinion, we should all take a little more time to enjoy the one life we get to live, and then maybe the time we spend working will result in higher quality of work. 

I almost never get enough sleep.  Rarely more than five or six hours.  My coworkers and I all work 70-90 hours per week, and I'm not talking sitting at a desk work (though that can be just as tiring and often more mentally stressful).  This doesn't count any work we have on the side.  How can anyone expect productivity in this situation?

I'm interested to hear everyone else's take on this.  Are you overworked, overstressed and underslept?  What do you do to rest and reenergize before heading back to the grindstone?

Bite of the Week: The Lure

*Quick note:  I was planning on posting a battle scene next, but my BFF (one of my Alpha readers) requested a scene with romantic tension, but not a love scene.  So Tori, here's a lil' tension (at least I hope it's what you meant :)) for you.

“Where were you?” she whispered, trying not to disturb the self-absorbed creatures by the cliff.  He gestured with his head, her eyes following, to the top of the craggy peak.

“Wait here,” he commanded coldly.  Wide-eyed, she grabbed his arm as he started to rise.

“Don't leave me!”

“I won't,” he said, not looking at her.  When her grip tightened, he turned back to her.  “I'm not going anywhere, Emma.  I'm coming right back. You can let go.”  She released him and watched him stride away to collect his sword and strap it back onto his shoulders.  He walked down the line of Kindred, placing his hand on each one's shoulder for just a moment.  They didn't appear to acknowledge him.

When Gabriel returned, he knelt next to her, removing her armor, and touched her right shoulder.  She jerked away in pain, her cry echoing off the cliff.  It had to be broken.  She couldn't move or lift it at all, as if it belonged to someone else.

Gabriel's hands framed her small face.  “I can help you with this.”  She nodded.  He pulled up his sleeve and offered her his forearm.

“What are you doing?”

“Take what you need.  I'll tell you when it's enough.”

“You want me to--no, I can't.”

“You can or you'll suffer the break until it heals at your pace.”

“Then, I suppose I'll suffer,” she said stubbornly.

“Have it your way.”  He lifted her swiftly and easily into his arms, heading back across the clearing.  She yelled out again.  “Keep quiet unless you want a horde of Kindred all over us tonight,” he said, his voice flinty.

“You stop hurting me then,” she said, pinching his arm with her working hand.  Gabriel looked down at the indignant expression she used to mask her agony.  He just grunted at her.  His eyes went back to scanning the brush for hazards as he amazingly made the thirty minute trip in fifteen.  Each bump, dip, and rise had Emma clenching her teeth.  Her face was damp with sweat and silent tears by the time he stopped to put her down on the grass next to the little shuttle, hitting the code for the door to open and cast light on them.

He stood next to her until she looked up.  Crouching by her again and catching her eyes, he brought his wrist to his lips and bit his fangs into it, slicing the skin open.  His blood flowing freely from the wound, he pushed it toward her lips.  Emma turned her head away, her stomach slightly nauseous at the sight.

“Emma, you have to hurry.  It's closing.”  Sure enough, the wound was beginning to seal.  He put his left hand at the back of her head and pressed his wrist to her lips.  She reluctantly parted them.  At first, she fought a wave of revulsion, but then a strange tickling flowed through her.  It felt vivid, vigorous, and her pain began to ease little by little.  She didn't even taste the blood except for that first moment.  As soon as the blood stopped flowing, the wound completely sealed once more, the strange feeling went away.

“What was that?” she asked quietly.

“I told you we can help each other.”

“Does it work with others?”


“It still hurts a little, and I can barely move it.”

“It'll pass in a minute.”

“I came to find you, Gabriel.”

“Obviously,” he said flatly.

“You didn't tell me you were leaving,” she accused.

“You wanted me to go.”

“Did I?” she said, her eyebrow arched.  “And you know this because...”

“There's nothing you can do for me.  You've already said as much.  Why would I go back?  No amount of poking and prodding will change the way things are.  I am what I am, Emma, and I'm all wrong.”


“I know you're trying to find a way to stop this,” he interrupted, “but your guilt is killing me.  Just let me go.”

“No, I won't,” she said.  “I can’t, Gabe.  I'm not ready to.  I need more time.”

“That's one thing I don't have the power to give you.”  She started to argue, but he held up his hand.  “Stop.  Just stop.  You don't know what you're doing to me right now,” he said, his voice rough.


He shook his head, and rose to his feet.  “You should go.”

Emma scowled.  She didn't come all this way, hijacking the Zenith and facing deadly Kindred, just to have him reject her.  He looked down at her and shook his head again.

“You don't like to be told 'no' do you?” he asked.  “Daniel spoils you too much.  Mule-headed.”

Emma stood up, knowing this was her last chance to get him to come back with her.  She stepped close to him, looking up into his face, and curved her arms around his waist, pulling him close against her.  Biting her lip, she watched his eyes darken, heard his breath quicken.

“Emma,” he said thickly, “what are you doing?”

“Nothing,” she whispered, sliding her arms up his chest to his shoulders.

“Don't,” he mumbled, half-hearted.  She pushed up on her toes to press her lips uncertainly against his throat.

Tuesday, May 11

Contest Update: Stuff for freeeeeee!

Yes, I’m signing on for most of these contests, so I don’t know why in the world I’d try to drum up more competition for myself, but I can be crazy like that sometimes.  I like to share the goods, I suppose…

First off, go nuts with this Story by Comment contest posted by Krista V.  You just need to continue the story from the previous comment in 100 words or less.  She has lots of great prizes to choose from.  Contest ends May 17.

You can win DECEPTION by Lee Nichols from Suzie Townsend.  Swing by her blog and click to follow.  Contest ends May 30.  Suzie is an agent with Fineprint Literary Agency and posts valuable writerly info.  You must take a look at the query stats she posted on Saturday.

Briana posted a contest here with a huge prize pack of four books by HarperTeen:
  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  • The Heart is Not a Size by Beth Kephart
  • The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
  • Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn
Swing by her blog and follow to enter.  Her deadline is May 16.

Miss Snark has posted info for the May Secret Agent contest. This time, she’s opening two 25-entry submission windows to accommodate those in distant time zones.  Submissions will be accepted on Monday, May 17.  Check the post for times and rules.  The mystery agent wants full ms in children’s lit: Chapter, MG, YA.  Good luck to all of you and may you have fast fingers to get your ms in.

Candyland is celebrating her 100 Follower mark with TWO giveaways.  Win a query or first chapter critique.  Candace, you're going to have the most fun with me (well, your pic will)!  Deadline is May 20, noon ESD.

The Alliterative Allomorph is hosting an Internal Conflict Blogfest tomorrow.  Click here to sign up.  Post your blog up to 1000 words tomorrow(12 May).  I can’t wait to see the conflict flying around the web!

CHOCOLATE!  Okay, got your attention.  Yes, you can win chocolate, a copy of WD’s Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (enough ‘s in there?), or a copy of Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List by Janette Rallison over at Janet Sumner Johnson’s fresh new blog.  Hurry for this one!  It ends midnight EDT, Wed, May 12.

Speaking of Janet and her new blog, I came across her post about her decision to split.  This was rather timely because I just started blogging, and I quickly noticed some frustrating limitations with my current blog service.  Now that I’ve checked out Blogger, I’m sold on moving my blog.  My current service doesn’t allow me to change my CSS without paying for an upgrade.  Me (single-wage earner) + five children + husband going to college = no upgrade.

However, I just about flipped somersaults when I learned Blogger lets you put in your own code without charging you.  Plus I can now use Google Friend Connect, which Wordpress won’t allow (guess it makes sense; they are competitors).  Well, WP, it was nice while it lasted, but you’ve lost me.  My Blogger site is currently under construction, but I’ll post when I’m ready to move.  Hopefully, this will make it easier for all you peeps in the blogosphere to find and follow me.

Google is awesome.  Interesting post here by Eric at Pimp My Novel on Google Editions, Google’s answer to Amazon and Apple.  What do you think about having over 4 million ebooks at your fingertips?

Friday, May 7

Oh, To Want What You Don't Want

I am not a social creature.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know a lot of people, and these people actually like me, but butterfly I am not (that’s you, Iyanna).

I bring this up because first I read Elana’s post the other day.  I’m still amazed at her ability to take those bleh feelings and turn them into some positive encouragement.

I’d definitely been reading a lot of blogs lately addressing the hard work and dedication and love of the craft of writing involved in making it into a career.  It seems most writers have gone through those questioning moments of self-doubt.

Then I read this post today on Candyland’s blog.  It’s true we write for ourselves first before others, and I’m glad to be reminded of it.  I also read several posts on success stories, including this post announcing Frankie Diane Mallis’ signing with an agent.

The combination of all these posts beset me with some strange, mixed up feelings, and it was suddenly clear to me that I am a little terrified.

Yes, I worry a bit that I won’t get an agent, won’t get published, and won’t get good reviews, but I just began my journey.  I have time.  I was surprised, however, at my gut-wrenching reaction to the idea of getting what I want.

What if I got an agent?  What if I get published?  What if I was successful?  Then what?  People will see me.  There will be expectations to meet, obligations and responsibilities beyond what I’ve experienced, and that’s where my self-doubt lies.

I would love to offer a tidbit of encouragement, but as I haven’t yet achieved that level of wild success, I suppose I will just have to learn about what happens next in the steps to publication.  That way my fear will be battled, slain and finally put to rest by the time I eventually get there.

Anyone have tips for conquering the fear of success?  Any insights on why someone would be afraid in the first place?

Wednesday, May 5

Bite of the Week: The Captive

“So this is what we've been fighting all this time,” she sighed.  “He just looks like a man.  Men can be reasoned with sometimes.  Not you, of course.”  She tossed him a sly look.

“Appearances are on the surface, my dear.  He's very different from us.  Very deadly to us.  It's important to remember that when you deal with him, especially now.  I am hopeful, though, we may yet keep him alive long enough to reason with him.”

“How long before he wakes up again?”

“Should be another two hours or so.”

“So I'll be okay in here by myself for a little while.  Long enough for you to get his labs?”

“Emelia, you promised.”

“I know.  Just asking.”  He let out an exaggerated sigh and finally nodded, sending a mock salute as he left the room.  She turned back, looking again at the vamp's tattoos, wondering if they had some meaning or if they were just body art.  Perhaps he was different from the other vamps because they have different classes of people or like human men and women were different.  Still they'd encountered the same results with autopsies of the females, all black-eyed, single-heart, etc.

“Gabriel,” she whispered, trying out his name.  His eyes opened at the soft sound.  Emma's feet rooted to the ground.  She wanted to back away, but her body wouldn't obey, her heart a hummingbird beating against her chest.

Several moments passed before Emma finally took a deep, unsteady breath and saw he just studied her curiously with those silver eyes, no growls or snarls, no bared fangs.

“You can't hurt me right now,” she said more to reassure herself.  “You're strapped to this table, so you can't hurt me again.”

His gaze roamed over her, lingering over her full rosy lips, deep emerald eyes and heart-shaped face.  He said nothing.

“Can you understand me?”  No response.  “Do you know where you are?”

She saw no fear, not even a little.  The irony struck her that she'd been so terrified of him earlier when he was the one kidnapped, maliciously wounded and strapped on a table in an empty white chamber to be drugged and stabbed with needles and waking to a strange woman staring at him.  Something about the situation pulled at her in an odd way

New Design!

I've updated the design of my blog, and I really think I'm liking it quite a lot.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  Unfortunately, I can't get it to display properly at work, but it helps when you don't run a fossil of a browser like IE 6!!!  It's just lovely on my Firefox portable.

Well, a couple more additions to my blog:  I decided I'd add a page about the books I'm working on.  You must check out the page because the pic is delish(!)  and very creative on the part of Mr. Lluesma, who has artistically removed the real man's actual tattoo (a line of text) from his ribs and added the gorgeously done new ones.  The amazing fact is I described Gabriel's tattoos before I ever saw Javier's photomanipulation that pretty much dead on matched what I envisioned.

Oh, yeah.  Almost forgot.  I will also post little clips from the book each week.  Yes, my family & friends, this is for you because it's the only way you'll ever read any of it, you darn non-paranormal, non-romance readers!  No offense to the few who have read for me.  Alas, my kids are too young to read the adult content.

Anyone else have troubles getting loved ones to beta read for you???

Sunday, May 2

Sunny Side Up Today

Whew!  What a crazy last couple of weeks it’s been, thus why I’ve been blogone lately.  I’ve decided early this morning that the mood of the day shall be “optimistic.”  Why?  Because I need a little of it to keep my sanity!  And truly, if I don’t make myself look at the bright side every once in a while, I’ll spiral down into a deep pit in which I only write horror where the good guys all die at the end and the demons inherit the earth.

First on my optimism agenda, I had to address my job.  It’s only natural considering I live where I work.  I have to admit it can be pretty awesome.  Just check out the pic.  We shot over 220 rounds from our 5” gun the week we went out to sea.  Makes me proud--*tear* love you Combat Systems/Weps!  You’ll have to check out my Facebook photos for last year’s missile shoot, and any true patriot will have even the hairs at the nape of their neck saluting at that sight.  Sometimes I’m so busy complaining, I forget to remember I could never have lasted thirteen years of this without being strongly patriotic. ‘Nuff said here.

Next, my home-purchasing endeavors are beginning to pay off.  Didn't get the house we first offered on, but the second was a winner.  I am more than happy to run with it as I realized last week that it had been my #1 pick from the listings my husband sent me.  Now, if only I could actually see the home before I buy it...  Nope, not likely.  But I did see lots of great pics--5brm/3ba with a tree swing, playhouse, garden area, fire pit.  Yep, definitely something to be optimistic about.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts about perseverance and optimism when it comes to writing, and I’m really glad I’ve come across these posts because trying to become a published author is a somewhat discouraging business by nature.  The authors write from a personal place and therefore take rejection personally at times.  I really needed to see how much work is involved in crafting and marketing a worthy piece of literature.

And after much research, I’ve also concluded that agents, editors and publishers are not truly evil, but are actually on our side.  They are the buffer between the writers and the cold, hard truth of economics and technology.  They do the best they can with the resources they have.  And in return, we’ll spill our blood and guts to write as close to perfection as a writer can call it (since we all know we’re never done with our work).  Maybe, just maybe, if I learn all this at the front end, it won’t take me three years to get an agent, and that, my friends, is optimism!

So I’ve shared what I’m optimistic about.  Now, where has the optimism bug bitten you?