The IHeartPresents competition winners have been announced! So a HUGE congratulations to Susanna Carr, Gill Glegg, Maggie Marr and Joanne Pibworth.
But it’s not over yet my friends, there's still feedback to be dished out! Seven more days of nail biting fun :D You may have missed placing by the skin of your teeth so keep those positive thoughts flowing!
Congrats to everyone who entered, that in itself is an incredible achievement!
Here I was thinking I might get through an entire year without killing a computer.. who did I think I was kidding?
My desktop computer - the love of my life - has passed and I'm in mourning. Windows 7 has not been my friend and I can't load my Cannon printer or scanner even with the driver downloads (although I'm not sure I have the right ones as they don't give you any detail - thanks for that Cannon). The shiny new monitor that came with the new computer had to be taken back to the shop today because of its tendency to throw tantrums. I don't find the back of my comptuer desk or the plugging and unplugging of equipment partiuclalry thrilling to tell you the truth and I'd like it to stop sometime soon.
All this means that change is bad for your health and I vote for a global ban.
NaNo is coming to an end and there's no way I'm going to reach that 50,000 mark this year. It was always a bit iffy and a sane person would know her limitations. The computer issues certainly didn't help. I'm hovering around the 10,000 mark, which a lot slower than my average pace, darn computer gremlins. That's right, I take no responsibility :P.
Here's to all of you NaNoers who have finished, you disgustingly talented and dedicated people :D.
I know you are eagerly awaiting the results of the IHeartPresents competition and I'm biting my nails with you. I'm hoping for an early December announcement because I have the patience of a two year old.
Heidi Rice’s Hot-Shot Tycoon, Indecent Proposal (a fabulous read by the way – go on, go, go get!) is where you will meet Daisy. Daisy has a penchant for climbing fences to rescue her landlady’s cat. Sadly Daisy’s fence climbing is very familiar to me… TOO familiar :) and I was thrilled to be able to confirm for Heidi that yes, there are women out there crazy enough to scale fences for the good of furry creatures everywhere - her editor doubted it. I honestly didn’t see it as strange until I looked at it from said editor’s point of view… hmm…
In my case I was rescuing a dog, and I feel a little ripped off about the lack of a half naked hero in my story. Clearly, I’m climbing the wrong fences…
I regularly find myself in strange situations and so I enjoy reading about people who are a little more extreme.
Enter the beaver suit.
I’m thrilled to inform you all that you don’t have to wait to read the beaver suit idea. A best selling author has already captured it far better than I ever could which brings me to Susan Elizabeth Phillips. If you like quirky, her work is for you. I get a kick out of just reading the “All About Me” section on her website.
This is one of my favorite first chapters and first lines (I’ll admit I collect them, but only to you :D ). Natural Born Charmer is the title of “the beaver suit” book, the full excerpt is here, but here’s a peek including the infamous suit:
It wasn't every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of a road, not even in Dean Robillard's larger than life world. "Son of a" Dean slammed on the brakes of his brand new Aston Martin Vanquish and pulled over in front of her.
The beaver marched right past, her big flat tail bouncing in the gravel, and her small, sharp nose stuck up in the air. Way up. The beaver looked highly pissed.
She was definitely a girl beaver because her beaver head was missing, revealing sweaty, dark hair pulled into a scraggly ponytail. He'd been praying for a little distraction from his own depressing company, so he threw open the door and stepped out onto the shoulder of the Colorado road. His newest pair of Dolce & Gabbana boots emerged first, followed by the rest of him, all six feet three inches of steely muscle, razor-sharp reflexes, and unsurpassed gorgeousness or at least that's what his press agent liked to say. Still, it was pretty much true, although Dean didn't have nearly as much personal vanity as he let people believe. Even as a kid, he'd figured out that looks didn't take you far, but emphasizing the superficial was a good way to keep people from getting any closer than he wanted them to be.
"Uh, ma'am" You need some help?"
Her paws didn't break rhythm. "You got a gun?"
"Not with me."
"Then I've got no use for you."
On she marched.
Aren’t you grateful you live in a world where you can stick your heroines in a beaver suit?
Stressed off my scone is one of my favorites. It’s completely random and brings to mind a very English woman incapable of taking on an itty bitty scone.
Children tend to pick up on the sayings of their parents without realizing it. I once repeated a phrase so commonly said in our family unit that I didn’t even know I’d said it and was completely put out when my friend started laughing hysterically.
I believe these little sayings make a character more human, more relatable, more real. A cardboard cut out wouldn’t be stressed off its scone.
I love a completely deranged character, the more flawed a hero and heroine the more I want to read. Give me a woman who’s accidentally tazered her boss or who’s marched down a highway in a beaver suit and you’ll have a hard time getting rid of me.
What do you do to make your characters more real to you?
My favourite thing about getting sick is its timing. I’ve yet to manage to contract any kind of disease when it would be convenient to sprawl my prone body across the couch and moan at passers by. I tend to get sick just before an exam, interview, wedding... and spectators will see me stumble around the house or find me asleep on my keyboard.
Has anyone else been bugged? Come whine with me :D
Have you signed up for NaNoWriMo yet? I’ll be away for two weeks out of the month but I’ve got my name down anyway – it appeals the insane part of my personality and I predict lots of chocolate will be eaten and I may as well buy shares in Cadbury now.
For those of you not yet convinced, it’s a great fun. You’re looking at a daily average word count of 1667 to meet the 50K goal. You have permission not to wash the dishes, feed your family or sweep the floor and at the end of it you have a fabulous rough draft completed and waiting to be polished to perfection! It’ll give your writing productivity for the year a boost and generally make you feel great, especially when it’s ready to leave home for your publisher of choice!
To those of you entering the Harlequin Presents Writing Competition 2009 congrats! I confess that although my competition entry was completed long ago, I won’t be entering now (full ms request :D) but that’s not going to stop me harping on about it!
For any entrants shoveling M&Ms into their mouths as they teeter on the edge of hitting that send button, do it! Just press that mouse button, hit that enter key! Fear is a great excuse to eat chocolate but it won’t get you out of submitting if you live anywhere on planet Earth. No excuses! You’ll be amazed at how supportive the other entrants are. It really is a lot of fun!
I can’t wait to see who wins and I’m sure I’ll be checking the page as obsessively as anyone else. Let’s hope we don’t all crash the server.
I think we’ve all had a point during out writing when the NBI (next big idea) pops into our head and we want to abandon ship for a newer, sexier model. While I’m proud to say that the discipline beaten into me as a child won’t allow me to do that (I make up for this remarkable trait with many, MANY bad habits) Janet Evanovich has a solution that just tickled me:
"Q: I’m all over the place. I start a book, but then I get ideas for another and yet another; and then I begin those with the intent of coming back and finishing the first ones, which of course never happens. Do you have words of wisdom for a dreamer like me?
JANET EVANOVICH: How about this – you start a book and every time you veer off in another direction, you imagine me standing behind you giving you a good hard smack on the head. "
Yes, Janet slapping me upside the head would just about do it I think.
“Don’t fall into the trap of rewriting chapter one until it’s perfect. And don’t discard everything you write halfway through because you’re sure it sucks. Writing stuff that sucks is part of the learning process!”
-- Janet Evanovich
From what I can gather from our best selling authors if your rough draft doesn’t suck, you’re not doing it right!
Celebrate the horror of poorly constructed sentences, unnecessary scenes and character names that all sound the same with a glass of champagne (or maybe a few if you think you’re really going to need your senses dulled for the first read through) because you’re on your way to being the next Nora Roberts!
To do or not to do NanoWriMo? I signed up for a course in November and now I’m wondering whether I should have signed myself into a mental hospital instead because I’m considering doing NaNo as well.
Does anyone want to volunteer to scrape me off the floor when I collapse?
Secrets, Kiss and Baby Wishes has a full manuscript request and as its mother I am very proud.
This is my first full request and I have to say it’s thrilling to know that my writing isn’t all that bad after all ;).
I am looking for a wee bit of advice though on the cover letter (pernickety aren’t I?). I have come across a couple of arguments, one being that it suffices to simply introduce your manuscript and provide contact details, the other advice suggests an approach similar to the query letter encompassing your writing history etc however I do feel like I’m repeating myself and my aim isn’t to irritate.
I have to admit I was feeling a little smug on my choice of locale when this dust storm swept across our cities…
…until it reached us 24 hours later.
Good one God.
That is the Opera House in the background, in case you were wondering.
I got up this morning to this headline: “Is the dust radioactive?”
My joy is indescribable.
The fuss is over a uranium mine which is near the site the storm originated from. Of course the dust is very likely not radioactive and I’m not running around screaming (as fun as that sounds). But it’s not exactly what you want to see on a Saturday morning.
The dust has made life… interesting, and now I’m about to get super friendly with my vacuum, which will likely have a name of it’s own by the end of the day… I’m thinking Vaughn. What say you?
I meant to post this for you a couple of weeks ago. It’s an interview with Diana Palmer talking about her own journey to publication (she’s a crafty one) and the two boxes (that’s right TWO BOXES!!) of rejections that she has received. I’m quite fond of my rejections too, all things considered :)
I’ve never actually seen a pear tree come to think of it…
Did you miss me? Did you notice my absence?
Probably not, but for politeness sake you’ll pretend you did and I appreciate your acting skills, really I do.
Where have I been? To a wedding, among other things. A wedding where I was reminding that yes, even on top of a building, grass and high heels do not mix. I was lucky enough to be wearing a dress that didn’t blow up like Marilyn Monroe’s every time gust of wind came, so for that I was thankful, even if my two inch heels sent me plummeting downwards when I put the slightest bit of weight on them.
One day men shall have to wear them and we’ll see who’s laughing then!
Precisely one week after said gorgeous wedding I found myself at the races and once again grass and high heels – not a good mix. I’ve never had a sudden urge to perch a bunch of feathers on my head and stand in the sun for hours on end but I had a lovely time actually and would even consider doing it again just for the sake of wearing a pair of my favourite shoes (yes my weakness) and a new dress (did someone say shopping?)
Aside from that all housework, work, tax (yes I like to leave it until the last minute and live dangerously) and life have gone by the wayside and I am now desperately trying to catch back up.
That’s also my way of confessing to doing very little writing, by the way.
My competition entry took on a life of its own and switched into external conflict mode, bad manuscript. While in keeping with Desire guidelines I’m sure it would send Harlequin Presents editors reaching for the red pen (and alcohol). That’s the problem with writing for more than one line, occasionally the other sneaks in when you’re tired.
Honestly I don’t think the ms and I are talking at the moment. I’m not impressed at all because I didn’t exactly notice at first so there’s a couple of thousand words about to go bye bye.
I’ve been trying to remember whether Lynn Raye Harris or Lucy Roberts had completed manuscripts or if they concentrated on the first chapter and synopsis only for their entries. Does anyone know?
Does everyone feel a little better now? Not so suicidal?
The writing is not going so well and I can honestly say that it’s got nothing to do with the story and everything to do with how stressed I am with the rest of my life. I’m pretty sure that has shut my creative side down and while I have the luxury of working only to suit myself my own deadlines are looming I get crabby when it looks like I won’t meet them. But I haven’t failed yet so we’ll see how I go after I’ve finished having a whine.
Now I’ve been on YouTube, not doing my work – naughty Lacey – and I wanted to share an interview with the lovely Nora because the woman’s got a sense of humor and a half and it’s not like you all have a trillion other things to do ;)
Lately I’ve been struggling with my passive voice. I just can’t convince it to take a sick day. It pops up when I least expect it and some days I wish I could have it surgically removed.
What on Jupiter am I going on about?
Passive and active voices.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with these it all comes down to sentence structure and verb choice. Get that wrong and your readers going to take a nap right in the middle of Chapter 2.
Passive voice, where it doesn’t belong, can be recognized as an awkward sentence that will jerk you right out of the story.
A simple comparison of active and passive voices:
Active: Lucas kissed Teresa Passive: Teresa was kissed by Lucas.
As you can see the verbs used in an active voice are more dynamic because they are more direct and emphasize the agent or doer of the action. But don’t misunderstand, just because the active voice makes for forceful writing doesn’t mean we’re trying to stamp out the passive voice altogether (no matter how tempting that might be). A passive voice is useful when the receiver of the action is more important than the agent and so we aim to minimize its usage (which you can do by violently hitting your delete key).
Often the difference between a powerful piece of writing and something guaranteed to put you to sleep is the use of your passive and active voices – made all the more difficult to achieve if yours has gone rogue like mine has.
Who said editing wasn’t fun?
How do you catch a passive aggressive takeover from voice land?
The lovely gaelikkaa has tagged me and I’ve accepted the challenge to describe myself in seven words. Pfftt seven’s a small number right? Too easy! Then you get to number five… That’s when you start wondering if you need to take a personality quiz. Yes, I’m an idiot. Shall we start with that as my first descriptive word?
Honestly, it’s harder than it sounds. Pick the wrong words and you’ll have the government’s special forces knocking on your door.
I have no idea how this happened… perhaps it’s more like a title, you know, like “Queen”.
Did you know that this is now recognized as a real addiction by specialists?
Worrier Need someone to worry about your house spontaneously combusting? I’m your girl ;)
Determined Diana Palmer had TWO whole boxes of rejections before she was published. I’ll let you know when I can beat that ;)
Numerophobic I don’t actually HAVE a fear of numbers but I’m only allowed one word and “mathematically challenged” is two (I can actually count – yes my mother is very proud). I do, however, HATE maths, hence my passing on a career in finance or banking.
Bookaholic The books have almost an entire room to themselves. A normal person would probably sell them or throw them out *gasp* but the strange thing is that while I can’t remember where I put my keys I can usually remember a book just by skimming its blurb.
To the point where I’m fascinated by people who aren’t. You DON’T want the shiny trophy? Seriously?
Now I can’t remember who has been tagged and who hasn’t (perhaps I should have said forgetful up there somewhere). So if you would like to take on the Magnificent Seven consider yourself challenged and remember your dueling pistols.
I leave you with this question: if you had to describe yourself (not what you do that’s cheating ;) ) in ONE word what would it be?
Yes. No. What in the name of cucumber sandwiches am I talking about now?
I’m sure you’ve all come across the great Pantser vs Plotter debate by now but what about those of us who are left floating somewhere in between? Some days I’m in plotter mode to the point that I scare myself, other days those neat little note cards, that fifteen page powerpoint presentation or that excel document bite the dust as chapter four is completely rewritten which of course results in the add-on effect and bam! Different book completely.
Yes the original, plotted black moment would have my heroine in tears and anyone else in the vicinity but it had to go (and if I’m honest I don’t miss it because I honestly believe it wouldn’t fit anyway). Why does this happen? I blame my characters (because I can). If, for once, they did as they were told I’d probably get someone to do a psych evaluation of me.
So if I’m not sticking to my plot, I must be a pantser right?
Yes, that’s what I thought too but the fact is that I need an outline to start a book. I need to know where it goes for those moments when I hit a wall and wonder when my brain went on vacation and why it hasn’t changed the message on its answering machine.
The point is I switch. My brain can’t decide what it is. It starts of plotter, switches to pantser and then flips back and forth a couple of times just to make my writing complete and utter rubbish or interesting… (it depends on how you look at it) ;) If you’re like me it might be handy to know WE ARE NOT ALONE! Lucy Monroe joins us in our quirkiness! Personally I think there’s something wrong with the rest of you… ;)
Unfortunately I’m not kidding and this is not an uncommon occurrence. I was a little accident prone growing up and I’ve broken two toes but one twice and every time it gets cold (and by the way I live in the tropics so what I think is cold would be hilarious to most) that toe goes completely numb in the same way your foot does when it’s gone to sleep before the pins and needles come – my point is it’s not pleasant and I’m thinking of having it removed ;)
The lovely Trish Wylie has taken pity on all of us not conferencing our little hinnies off and is conducting a “Not At Nationals” virtual mini-workshop on her blog which I’m loving and I think you all will too, so get over there soldiers ;) Part one HERE.
I’m having trouble focusing my writing at the moment I’m a little all over the shop which I hate and basically results in zero productivity. I’m torn between a couple of stories and I can’t quite settle on two and life keeps getting in the way (I know, excuses, excuses… right?) I really need to spend some time in a Focus Machine (anyone got one?).
Since I have nothing helpful to contribute to the writing community I leave you with this:
"Every time I hear writers talk about 'the muse,' I just want to bitch-slap them. It's a job. Do your job."