Monday, September 27

Wanna get lucky???

        Just 'cause I write romance doesn't mean my mind's always in the gutter!  Fact is I do want to get lucky with an agent, specifically Marisa Corvisiero of L. Perkins Agency during the Sixth "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest on Chuck Sambuchino's GLA blog.

        This month covers *gasp* Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy (adult and YA).  The top three winners all get a critique of the first 10 pages of their work by the agent judge and a free one-year subscription to

        Yes, it's right up my alley and, yes, I've sent my entries.  Well, it mentions: "no 'high fantasy' with dragons, elves or other planets please."  It was tough for me to decide whether to enter because my books involve another planet, but it's not high fantasy nor is it high sci-fi.  It doesn't read much different than a paranormal set on Earth.  The science fiction's a backdrop.

        Oh, well.  Too late 'cause the entries are off.  What's the worst that can happen?  Nothing?  Oh, I guess that's what's going on now anyway.  Can't get anywhere if you don't take a chance, right?

        Yet another contest I'm hoping to get lucky with is the Popular Fiction Contest at WD.  I have short stories ready to enter before the deadline of November 15, 2010.  Manuscript length is 4,000 words or less.  You can enter as many times as you like in all five categories:

  • Romance

  • Mystery/Crime Fiction

  • Science Fiction/Fantasy

  • Thriller/Suspense

  • Horror

  •         Anyone else entering these or any other amazing contests?  How about the Golden Heart???  How do you feel about submitting to contests?  I've heard some writers and agents say winning contests doesn't help an author get an agent or publisher.  Do you think it helps your chances, hurts them or makes no difference?

            Check out my Blogfests page if you want to get in on more of them next week.  They're a great way to get to know your fellow bloggers.  Next up are the Mash-up, They're People Too, and the Bad News Blogfests all scheduled for next week.  I might do one.  Maybe.  It was crazy this last week.  Oh what the hell.  I'll do one at least.  I'll flip a coin...

    Friday, September 24

    Creating Characters That Rock!

            The Great Blogging Experiment has arrived today with over 170 bloggers hitting the keyboards to tell you their methods for creating compelling characters.  This is a ginormous event brought to you by the fabulous Blogging Trifecta of Elana, Jen and Alex.  What an amazing turnout!
    Do you want your characters like this?  If so, just skip this post.
            Not that plot, setting, pace and other factors aren't important, but it will be the characters who push and pull a reader through your book--guaranteed.  But what is it about your characters that makes you care about them so much, whether they succeed or fail?  It comes to one all-important thing: making the character real. Think about what you love and hate, like and dislike, about people around you, in movies, in books, and then apply what works.

    Keep in mind:

    Real people are complex and have flaws as well as strengths.
    Readers want to like the characters but don't expect or want perfection, just believability.  They want to identify with the characters.  Even antagonists need both.  Most don't believe they're bad at all.
    Real people act, live their lives.  They don't wait around for things to just happen.
    Give them goals to work for and realistic conflict to overcome. 
    Real people are diverse with backgrounds and experiences to make them unique.
    Do they talk, act, dress, interact authentically given their background? Do you have too many characters all with different accents or peculiarities?  A little is good, but too much is unbelievable, unless it's relevant to the story you're writing.
    Real people are fairly consistent in how they talk and react to situations.
    Know your character inside and out.  What motivates him/her/it?  How does the character deal with obstacles?  What flavor would your character order at Baskin Robbins and why?  Paper or plastic?
    Real people are reflected in their surroundings.
    Physical attributes, body language, clothing, setting and even a name or nickname can reveal character.
    Real people grow as they learn and experience new things.
    Some don't change, but the ones that really rock do!
    Many writers suggest a character analysis or character interviews to get to know the character better.  One piece of advice above all others that helps me the most is to think about how your other characters would describe your character.  What makes him/her stand out from the others?  How well do your other characters know each other?  I hope something in this post will help someone in the blogosphere!  Thank you all for coming by my post.

    Thursday, September 23

    A Day for Feasting

            Welcome!  Pull up a seat at my table and enjoy the feast of bloggers who were kind enough to bring along a dish of their own.  There's sure to be variety, with something to suit everyone's tastes, so be sure to get a hefty helping from around the table.  Hey, could you please pass the dinner rolls???

            So my dish features Sen and Rainee, who have survived a crash.  They're seeking shelter to wait out the night.  Sen's an alien Kindred who doesn't really need food in the human sense of the word, but Rainee's human and needs to eat on a somewhat regular basis.

            She made no sound save her labored breathing as she clambered over boulders and downed trees. At least they were leaving the mountainous area for the easier terrain of the forest. Of course, the forest had its drawbacks, too—namely the Vamphyri. She didn’t relish the idea of ending her life as vamp fodder. The thought of food in general sparked pangs in the center of her stomach. Now was a bad time to remember she hadn’t eaten dinner before they left the docking bay. She promised herself to never skip meals again if only she could live through this.
            “What is it?” she asked as Sen stopped at last.
            “You need to eat and you need water.” The water had lasted about two hours, even with her conservative consumption and his lack of the need for water altogether. Her body had worked so hard, she’d lost much more than what was in the flask to begin with.
            “I’m fine.”
            “Of course. You’re always fine. Wait here and I’ll get you something to eat.”
            “No. Don’t leave me here.” He hesitated at her tone. “Please let’s just get somewhere first.”
            “Not much further.” She nodded. They’d hiked another half hour when Sen stopped again. He turned around and walked back a short distance.
            “What are you looking for?”
            “This.” He pulled back the vines along the steep embankment. She frowned at the yawning darkness behind the natural curtain.
            “Ugh. In there? Bugs, snakes and Ursula dogs. No thank you.”
            “This is it. Take it or leave it.”
            “You’re going to leave me here by myself?”
            He nodded. “It’s empty. Pretty much,” he added, smiling down at her.
            “Come on.” He led her inside, pulling out his illuminator. “Here. This is dappled moss. It loves caves and water, two things we needed right now. Feel it.” The stuff felt like a plush couch cushion. “Also good to sleep on.”
            “You should be a ranger.”
            “Perhaps, but that would waste my murderous nature.”
            “When I look at you, I don’t see a murderer.”
            “I was born to be one.”
            “Let me guess—'it’s what you do.'” He laughed, his flawless white teeth flashing in the dim light.
            “Stay put.”
            “You don’t need to worry about that. Hurry though.” So he did. He couldn’t have been gone longer than a half hour before he returned with a large cavy, shoving the cream-furred rodent's still-warm body into her hands.
            “Awww. I can’t eat this poor thing. It’s cute and fluffy.”
            “You’d prefer something scaly and slimy?” Her nose wrinkled. He tapped it with his fingertip.
            “Very well. I’ll dress it for you, Princess.” He ducked out of the cave, leaving her standing in wonder. He’d uttered a dreaded pet name. Where was her fury? Missing along with many of her other usual tendencies. His tone had been playful. Playful!
            What he brought back wasn’t much more appetizing, though he’d thoughtfully placed it on a wide, cut leaf. She pondered solemnly over the poor thing’s bleeding remains. At least it didn’t have its head, its pitiful eyes looking up at her as she bit into its flesh. Rainee shuddered. Sushi was difficult enough for her to consume. Years of social grace conditioning explained her ability to get that down. After all, a grand gathering wasn’t truly upper-class unless it served sushi and caviar. Ugh. Dead fishy flesh and unborn baby fish.
            “Can’t we cook it?” He ignored her, stretching out full-length on a thick pad of dappled moss, his fingers interlaced behind his head. It was probably a relief for him. Too tall for the cave, the colossus had been hunched over as he checked the perimeter and covered the entrance to their hideaway. It was a bad idea, she knew, to have any kind of fire. The smoke would draw the vamps right to their doorstep, the harsh scent powerful enough to travel miles on the night wind.
            “You’re thinking about it too much,” he said finally, his eyes still closed. “Just eat. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you act like such a baby.”
            Rainee bristled. “Some people around here aren’t barbarians.”
            “Cut strips from it and pretend it’s soft jerky.” She wanted to throw the thing at his head but admitted to herself he'd had a good idea. Besides, if she didn’t eat soon she’d shrink and wither away. Her stomach cramped like someone stabbed it, and she had the worst headache from not drinking anything.
            “Did you find water, Sen?”
            “In the flask. It’s full.”
            “What would I do without you?”
            “You’d be just fine.”
            Slicing the meat from the cavy, she did as he suggested. Tonight it was a lovely Carpaccio in a bloo—er, burgundy sauce. With her angry belly assuaged, her thoughts turned to their current circumstances. It never crossed her mind until then they might not be found, might not make it back to a settlement, and might not even survive this strange situation. Somehow the thought didn’t really bother her. It seemed so damned unlikely. Her life wasn’t over yet, and she knew it.

    Thanks everyone for coming by and reading!

    Wednesday, September 22

    It's like running...

    Today I feel like a runner hitting "the wall."  All I can say is it hurts a lot right in the center where my heart should be.  I was strong.  It took a while to hit it.  It wasn't even over a query.  It was over reaching out when you're nervous about it and then getting your hand slapped.  The worst thing is it's my own fault for not paying attention to detail.  And that is all I'll say about it.

    What picked me up a bit afterward was a very incredibly timely and thoughtful blogger award from  She sent me the Versatile Blogger Award.  Much appreciated, JC!


    1. Thank the person who sent the award and link back
    2. Post the award on your blog
    3. Nominate 15 other bloggers to pass the luv
    4. Let nominees know you awarded them

    I had a hard time picking bloggers for this list.  There are soooo many great people here, but I tried to choose those who I think haven't received this award before.  In no particular order:

    1.   Brad Jaeger - Aspiring Author
    2.   Damyanti @ Writing on writing : Amlokiblogs
    4.   Ellie Garratt
    8.   Justine Dell

    And don't forget The Blogfeast is TOMORROW!  I can't wait to see your posts.  If you haven't signed up yet... well, why haven't you???  Or you can swing by here tomorrow anyway and check out all the awesome bloggers and their appetite-stimulating (or appetite-supressing, mwahahaha) posts tomorrow.

    PS-About the wall... yeah, I know I'm supposed to keep running through it, and I suppose I will.

    Monday, September 20

    The Top 10 TV Show Blogfest

            What a challenge for me to come up with my favorite top ten tv shows!  This is all Alex J. Cavanaugh's fault.  He started this so head on over to his blog to see who else he tricked into this blogfest and find out what tv shows made the cut for the top ten.  Thanks for hosting another fun, interesting 'fest, Alex.

            So a little background: I grew up in the boonies, middle of nowhere surrounded by forestland, in the time of no satellite tv or cable that far away.  We got one channel pretty much, so my choices were limited.  Fast forward to now when I really don't watch tv.  Still I think my list is amazing and will bring back fond memories to those of us who've been around for a bit.  In no particular order (couldn't bring myself to rank them):

    1) "I wanna do bad things with you..."
    True Blood - Sep 7, 2008
    Created by Alan Ball
    2) "Oh my God, they killed Kenny..."

    South Park - Aug 13, 1997
    Created by Trey Parker & Matt Stone
    3) "Takes lives.  Seriously..."

    Dexter - Oct 1, 2006
    Created by James Manos, Jr.
    4) "Please pack your knives and go..."

    Top Chef - Mar 8, 2006
    Created by Magical Elves Productions
    5) "Suicide is painless..."

    M*A*S*H - Sep 17, 1972
    Created by H. Richard Hornberger
    6) "Domestic bliss was never like this..."

    Married...with Children - Apr 5, 1987
    Created by Michael G. Moye & Ron Leavitt
     7) "Making unwatchable movies essential viewing..."

    Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Nov 24, 1988
    Created by Joel Hodgson
    8) "No soup for you..."

    Seinfeld - Jul 5, 1989
    Created by Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld
    9) "Family.  Redefined..."

    The Sopranos - Jan 10, 1999
    Created by David Chase
    10) "Believe it or not, I'm walking on air..."

    The Greatest American Hero - Mar 18, 1981
    Created by Stephen J. Cannell
    Okay, I had to throw in a hero somewhere, but I couldn't decide.  I flipped coins.  Yep, cheated.  I watched a bunch of these shows as a kid and couldn't pick a fav: The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman, The Greatest American Hero, Isis (see if anyone remembers that one!), The Bionic Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man.  Well, let's just say I was addicted to the hero-type shows.

    Thanks everyone for checking out my list.  Be sure to make the rounds from Alex's blog!

    Saturday, September 18

    A Bastard of a Brownie...

            So my friend and co-worker, Graham, brought in some pretty darn superb brownies made from one of the greatest substances on earth--beer!  And of course, they were all gone by the time I found out he brought them.  Rly?  I am so thoroughly disappointed.  Graham will never hear the end of it until he brings more in and specifically has one available with my name on it. Don't these look luscious???

            I got an uber-ton (*loves inventing words*) of work done on my revisions.  My first WIP has exploded from around 73,000 originally for my first draft to over 83,000 now and still growing.  Note to self and any others peeps in revision:  make sure your revisions don't contradict anything later in the novel.  Yep, I added a scene that I love but I just realized it changes something down the road.  Hm, decisions, decisions.  Must fix this!

    ***In other news, I've moved my contests and blogfests off my home page to give them the space and dedication they deserve.  I try to update these frequently, so check the pages often.

    ***Next big blogfest coming up is the Top Ten TV Shows Blogfest on Sep 20 hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, so if you haven't signed up yet now's your chance.

    ***And as always, don't forget my blogfest of feast, the Blogfeast, on Sep 23.

    ***Following her Blogging Trifecta Explosion, Elana Johnson got the ball rolling on a Great Blogging Experiment scheduled for Sep 24.  This is getting to be ginormous, guaranteed to have some info new and fresh to you.  Topic for this experiment is "Creating Compelling Characters" so sign up now if you'd like to share your insight for other writers.

    ***Lastly (only to give it emphasis), Lenny Lee at Lenny's World isn't feeling too good, so please swing by and send him some get well wishes.  He truly values the blogosphere love, so send a bunch to him.  For those who don't know Lenny, check out his blog and you can read about him on Candyland's blog.  You'll fall in love--guaranteed!

    Wednesday, September 15

    Book Review: CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh

    CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh
    October 19, 2010 Science fiction/adventure/space opera
    ISBN 9780981621067 Dancing Lemur Press LLC

            When I received my ARC of Alex's novel, CassaStar, my first impression was of how beautiful the book is.  I love the cover art.  Well yes, you see it in the picture above but it's even better in person, quality artwork on a 6x9 trade paperback that feels good in your hand.  Here's the back cover blurb:

            They say "no man is an island," but young fighter-pilot-in-training Byron is putting that theory to the test.  He arrives on the Guaard moon base for his final phase of Cosbolt pilot training with a cocky attitude and an underlying need to prove himself and immediately falls under the watchful eye of the decorated senior instructor, Bassa.

            At first, Bassa sees in Byron an uncanny likeness to his own deceased younger brother, another brash, rebellious pilot, and he's determined not to let this skilled young pilot meet the same fate.  After discovering a rare hidden talent (not to be spoiled here!) giving Byron's already ace piloting skills an edge, Bassa takes Byron's training under his wing.

            But the last thing Byron wants is Bassa's attention.  Though he yearns for recognition, he also clings to his solitude, finding it hard enough to link telepathically with his friend and navigator, Trindel.  When Trindel decides he no longer wishes to be a navigator, Byron feels betrayed.  He has to choose now to open himself up to a new navigator or lose what he'd worked for all this time.  Ultimately, he completes the training driven by his desire for accomplishment.

            When he arrives at his prestigious first new command, his jets are cooled by the discovery that Bassa has secured orders as his new navigator.  He resents the man's presence, seeing it as intrusive and controlling.  Their relationship is rough, but to survive the rigors of combat and work well as the skilled team they are, they have no other choice than to rely on each other.  With war against a deadly foe brewing, Bassa must trust Byron's judgment and Byron must open his mind to true communication and trust in their friendship.

            Byron expects the worst from people but learns that others can and will surprise you.  Assuming Bassa's interest in him is fed by guilt over his younger brother's death, Byron is stunned to discover the man's genuine affection for him.  Bassa might have initially seen Byron as he saw his brother, but I believe he later saw a reflection of himself, another soul like him having trouble making real connections with others.

            This friendship is at the heart of CassaStar.  The story drives home that to experience true acceptance and friendship, you have to open up and share yourself, to even be vulnerable, but you'll become a stronger person for it. This character-driven story will widely appeal to even those who don't read sci-fi.  The descriptions give the readers a picture to color in with their own imaginations, not overly-detailed like many sci-fi novels and the action scenes are edge-of-your-seat.  I'd recommend CassaStar not only to adults but also to fans of YA.

            It took a few pages to get to know Byron, but the more I learned about him, the harder it was for me to put the book down.  Byron's a great guy who came from a hard life and grew his defenses well, but still managed to stay out of trouble and always perform at his very best.  I really identify with his fear of opening up.  Who hasn't been there before?  Now when's the sequel coming, Alex?

    Saturday, September 11

    Remembering 9/11

    After the fall...
            That day nine years ago, it was late at night for me.  I was on deployment half a world away on the aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, just a couple hours from entering the Persian Gulf.  When I saw the scenes unfold on CNN, I remember thinking it couldn't be real.  As bad as I am with my memory, I still have no trouble recalling all those mixed feelings I had on that first night.  The confusion, the fear, the anger, the sorrow.  So many innocent people's lives ended or torn apart in one day.  But we knew it was real when we were ordered away from the Gulf to head toward the North Arabian Sea.  The word hadn't come down at the time, but we were at the front line of the war to come.
            We spent weeks cut off from our families, from any communication, so when the orders finally came to bomb away, it was almost a relief.  I later found out my husband and children were scared for my well-being, but I never felt like I wasn't safe.  I was worried for them.  In my mind, after seeing the attacks, they were a likelier target than my battle group armed more heavily than most countries on Earth. 
            What I took away most from all of it afterward was an unshakable confidence.  Despite any horrible events we may face, I know our strength as a country comes from all of us together.  You could hit our Pentagon, our major economic centers, even our White House or all of Capitol Hill, but that's not where the heart of America is at.  We wouldn't crumble, and we wouldn't weaken.  We mourn, and then we rebuild...

    ...we start anew.

    Saturday, September 4

    The Dog Ate It and other s*** happens

           In my case last night, the dog happened to be my not-so-trusty thumb drive. It must have been planning this for a while 'cause I’ve had the thing for four years, and it’s never failed me before. So what happened was (ya know something bad or weird’s gonna happen when the story starts out with this) I finally started rewriting my Chapter 6 after putting it off for about three weeks.

            After much agony, I spent two and a half hours of blood, sweat and tears to pump out 2500 words. I saved it after each paragraph because I’m anal about preserving my work. I was about to upload it to my Dropbox and hit Ctrl+S one more time and my document crashed.  Yep, crashed. Irretrievable. My heart deflated in my chest and I felt like crying and throwing up all at the same time.

            Why couldn’t it have crashed the other document I had open, my entire manuscript? At least that was on Dropbox, all safe and sound. Well, after trying to recoup it for about half an hour, I started rewriting the chapter all over again, uploading to Dropbox every two minutes in a fit of paranoia. On the bright side, it was only a chapter rewrite and I have a tendency to read back over and over again as I progress, so I remembered about 90% of what I’d written. I still mourn for the lost 10%.

            My thought process about this as I walked back to my ship feeling crushed and dejected was ‘why does this crap happen to me?’ I had to remind myself shit happens. I pulled out my own words I’d offered to a coworker, a shipmate, who was young, getting a divorce, having financial and roommate problems, and having Mom’s boyfriend conflicts.

            It seemed pretty rough, but I looked back at the rough times in my life and everyone else around me and it wasn’t any rougher. She asked when it would ever end and just settle down. I said it won’t. It’s LIFE. It’s like this for everyone. There’s always a challenge or an obstacle. Whether it crushes you or not depends on how you deal with it. Can you accept the challenge, handle it, and move ahead?

            I dealt with my obstacle last night by rewriting the chapter all over again before it wasn’t fresh in my head any longer. So what if I was up until 3 AM doing it? I feel so much better now that it’s done that the initial loss doesn’t hurt so much any more. I had to work at it instead of throwing my hands in the air and giving up.

            Some obstacles are harder than others, obviously, but when it comes to the day to day grind, you have to pick your fights. I won’t be crushed by anything as small as the dog eating my work. I’ll save my breakdown for something big.

            So how do you deal with life’s challenges? What carries you through? What advice do you give to those who are struggling? And how long should you have a thumb drive anyway before you replace it with something new that won’t eat your manuscript???

    PS, off the subject, head over to Alex J. Cavanaugh’s blog and join his Top Ten TV Shows Blogfest! And don’t forget to sign up for my Blogfeast on Sep 23.  I've also updated my "Books" page to better reflect what books I'm working on.  You can check that out in the upper left corner.  Yep, waaaay up there.  Have a great holiday weekend!