Friday, December 30, 2005


As I sit here on my couch, having a rare sit down with hubby while we watch G4, the anime channel, I'm reflecting on how our year has gone. So much good, so much bad, so much just changing. But I'm grateful for all of it.

I'm also so excited for next year. There's so many possibilities ahead of us and good times ahead.

Here's wishing you and yours a great holiday and wonderful new year!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wookin' Pa' Twubul...

In my quest to return to daily blogging--and God help me, back to blog READING--I allowed myself a bit of time to go looking around the blogsphere. Usually, there's a ton of things to get riled about, but believe it or not, even the Blogsphere grows quiet for the holidays. Not many ranters out there--though, I have to admit, I may not know quite where to look. Basically, it was a good Christmas and most people are content.

Or too frickin drunk to post.

So, I'm going to leave you with today's Online Fortune Cookie (this thing is really cool, I highly recommend it for procrastinating measures):

Many recieve advice, but only the wise profit from it.

But I didn't feel that one really worked for me, so I tried again:

The time is right to make new friends.

Which I think takes me back to trolling blogs...but just for kicks, one more try:

Many recieve advice, but only the wise profit from it.

I'm not making that up, it actually came back. Hmmm...think the interverse is trying to tell me sumpin?


LOL, in more important, breaking news, my Belfry buddy and fellow hosty, Kris Starr just sold to Ellora's Cave!! Woohoo Kris!!! Giant congrats and all my best wishes for the future!!

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Promises, promises...

I keep making them, to myself and to others, thinking I have the slightest clue what I'm doing. I keep most of them. It's just the little ones that are driving me bonkers. Let's go to bed early...I'll copy that disc and get it right off to you...I just need five more minutes and I'll take care of that thing for you...I'll blog every day...I'm GOING to do my blog rounds today, definitely....

Is it the holidays? Or is it just me? Am I just tired of doing and want to sit for a bit? I often wonder if that's just too much to ask. But I have loads of laundry awaiting me and a full days work and I'm thinking, yeah, it probably is.

Is anyone else having trouble fitting their life into their day, and yet, when people ask what you're up to, do you find yourself saying, "Oh, nothing interesting." Or maybe it's just that I'm spending all my time trying to figure out HOW to do everything instead of just doing it.

And is anyone writing?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

TTT: The Four Horsemen Pt 3--The Long Synopsis

This is perhaps the fuzziest of all the synopses, because while it's the most specific, it's also the least trained. Generally, the long synopsis is the tool of the published author and thus not deeply needed for the submitting writer. So no one really gets into it the way they should. I'm not sure I'm about to get into it the way I should, but I do want to make this point perfectly clear: When you start advancing to revision/rejection and out of form letter status, you should consider learning not only this tool of the trade.

I find that with Long Synops, it's hardly ever what it is...but what it isn't, that sets it apart. Keep these points in mind whenever you get the urge to send one along.

What A Long Synop ISN'T:

• less than five pages
• single spaced
• short on details
• short on characterization, motivation or conclusion

You will be laying out your story, truncated, yes, but with plenty of information and plenty of pages. How many you use is often dictated by category. Because, you see, the Long Synop is your big gun. The ammo is expensive and hard to get, so the key to knowing when to use knowing when not to.

When NOT to use one:

• with your initial query letter
• without a specific request from an editor
• when giving a pitch of any kind

But how the hell do you write it, right?

The average long synop is 5-10 pages. This kind is utilized most often and it's the one I heartily recommend. There are authors who write as much as a 30 page long synop. I would not do this unless you've hashed it out with your editor exactly how much detail she would like. She will not welcome a book on your book without an invitation. Also, always double space your long synopsis. I can't say that loud enough. Unless you're dealing with someone who has given you specific instructions to single space, double should be your default. We whine about reading a lot, but no one reads more than an editor. Don't drive them to blindness.

If you've been following this series, you'll realize that you need the previous step to achieve the best results with your synopses. You've inserted voice and interest into the short synopsis--which should really never be more than two pages. My recommended route is to build from your short synopsis. All of your needed elements are already there, as is your story outline. All that is needed are the words we love to say: details.

This is not "padding". You aren't looking just to inflate your word count. You are "layering"--adding details of emotional response, sexual attraction, plot motivators, etc. Read each line of your current short synop and see where you can fill in more blanks. For example, long synopses are where editors get the skinny on your secondary characters--who are they, what role to they fill in your character's lives?--as well as learning more about any particular villain. This is not to say you should go buck wild and tell us their childhood food aversions, but finally, you are able to explain what their purpose is. (And if you can't find need to go back to that ms.) Keep in mind that you will still need to maintain your tone and much of your concise sentence structure and you should be fine.

Now, some authors actually use quotes from the ms to illustrate points of interest. If used sparingly--pretend it costs you a hundred dollars every time you do it--this is acceptable. However, the caveats are as follows:

• Be sure it's worth quoting--doesn't move the story forward, don't use it.
• If you have less than ten pages in your synop, don't use it. Believe it or not, you just don't have the space.

If you layer your short synopsis correctly, you should have a nice long synopsis that already contains all of your required elements along with the complete ending. Should you have an epilogue you didn't add into the short, this is the time to put it in. Double check for flow, tone and voice and get it out the door. Few things will ruin a synopsis faster than time to obsess. If you have a CP, run it past them. This should not be a 6 pass event. Once, maybe twice if drastic changes are needed (and if you had a complete short synop, they shouldn't be) is all that you need.

The final tip about synops: They are NEVER more important than the book. A selling tool, a skill to be desired, yes. But if you put as much time and energy into the synop as you do the book, you won't have a chance to sell it. Write it good, write it right, write it gone.

Then get onto the next project. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Well, Crap...

Okay, it's not happening today. This close to Christmas, I'm afraid that it's not coming off this week, either. WHINE.

Many apologies, but I owe y'all.


Delay Post

Hi Everyone!

First, thanks for helping me hit 5000 page views!! I'm really ridiculously happy about that one, lol!

Second, due to powers beyond my control, I have to be out of my house until tonight. They're doing work on my apartment. BUT, I'll post the final 4 Horsemen post tonight! Promise! To make it up to you, my friend sent me this and it's too damn funny to miss! You need Windows Media Viewer to see it, but trust me, it's TOTALLY worth it! Thanks Marcy!!

Wife Meets Girlfriend

Smooches all!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Monday Mooing

My Chargers! WAAAAH! They lose, to the Dolphins of all people. Granted, there's some sort of curse against the D's ever since beating them up in 1982, but come on. I blame one thing: The Offensive line just couldn't hold a drop of water. Not that I don't love them, but perhaps too many injuries and trading off of guys finally caught up. Not sure. I just hope this inspires them to beat Indy. I just don't know if they're still ahead in the wild card placement. I mean, come on, why couldn't Pittsburgh lose? Just for me. Don't they owe me? *nailbiting* (Just caught SportCenter...Pittsburgh just one upped us for the wildcard slot. Sorry Rae, have to hope them a few losses!)

Spent the weekend with some technical work and a surprise visit to my mother's yesterday. Moo got to hang out with his cousin--one of the only three boys in our family--which just made his lifetime. We finally got a few of the small presents wrapped and under the tree. The boy spent a good half hour under the tree trying to hug them all at once.

Big News:

1) My son is a smart ass. He's witty, but there's limitations to that because he doesn't quite have all the nuance that I fear he will in a few years. So, he's just been served a mini-pizza and it's hot like you wouldn't believe. He touches it, desperate to try it, but dropps it because, yes Mom, it really MIGHT still be on fire. I tell him to blow on it first. Puff. Puff. OW!!! So, I say, "Count to ten first." What does the fruit of my loins say? "Ok. One. To. Ten." Fingers were burned but pizza was good.

2) The boy ate a hamburger. A whole one. With a bun! I make a lot of effort not to have a reaction when he eats something he normally wouldn't touch with his life on the line. Plus, he ate apple. APPLE! Fresh one! He even chewed it! I'm in Mommy Heaven!!

Hope you all had as interesting a weekend as me!

(Sidenote: Coming up on the 5000th click on this blog! How's that for cool??)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Hmmmms from The Old Boss

Ever wonder about those people who spend $2.00 apiece on those little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backwards: NAIVE

Isn't making a smoking section in a restaurant like making a peeing section in a swimming pool?

OK.... so if the Jacksonville Jaguars are known as the "Jags" and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are known as the "Bucs," what does that make the Tennessee Titans?

If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea...does that mean that one enjoys it?

Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?

If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?

Why do croutons come in airtight packages? Aren't they just stale bread to begin with?

Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist but a person who drives a racecar is not called a racist?

Why isn't the number 11 pronounced onety one?

If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?

If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it FedUP?

Do Lipton Tea employees take coffee breaks?

What hair color do they put on the driver's licenses of bald men?

I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me.....they're cramming for their final exam.

I thought about how mothers feed their babies with tiny little spoons and forks, so I wondered what do Chinese mothers use? toothpicks?

Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office? What are we supposed to do, write to them? Why don't they just put their pictures on the postage stamps so the mailmen can look for them while they deliver the mail?

If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?

You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.

Ever wonder what the speed of lightning would be if it didn't zigzag?

If a cow laughed, would milk come out of her nose?

Whatever happened to Preparations A through G?

As income tax time approaches, did you ever notice: When you put the two words "The" and "IRS" together it spells "THEIRS"

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Thursday Ramblings

Okay, so I have emptied out my apartment and I'm casually waiting for the carpet cleaners to arrive and erase more than a years worth of Moostomps and spills. I scrubbed most out, but let's face it, I've been lazy this year. Too much time on my back meant not enough on my knees. (Hmmm, if I had a dirty mind, that might sound bad...for hubby.)

Anyhow, I'm off to spend a few hours at the local coffee shop. I have managed to get my fat butt back on the bike. I'm taking it really easy at a max of 6 miles before I fall off and beg for death. Whatever baby I have someday is not going to want me to be unhealthier than I already am. And who knows, maybe the exercise won't trigger the agony when I'm off the pills. We'll see.

That about covers my whining today. Am hoping to schedule some time to write. The plan is to take the rejected Lonnigans and edit them upward to the 75k size for Blaze. I really think they could do well there--Frisky, unique and emotional. I'm still editing Vetta in EC hopes. And I'm pretty sure that Betting Hearts will need some working over prior to it's release date. I know it needs a bit more fleshing to the tune of 4k (I thought it was 60k, but it turns out it's a bit shy, but that's okay, there's room to polish.) So, my writing future is planned out. :)

Off until tomorrow!
And for those who need some tickled funny bones, here's a lil treat sent from my old boss:


Here are some real examples of airline attendants making an effort to make the in flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining.

1. On a Southwest flight (SW has no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"

2. On a Continental Flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."

3. On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's something we'd like to have.

4. "There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane"

5. "Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."

6. As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Ronald Reagan, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"

7. After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis, a flight attendant on a Northwest flight announced, "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."

8. From a Southwest Airlines employee: "Welcome aboard Southwest Flight 245 to Tampa. To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."

9. "In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite."

10. "Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines."

11. "Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and, in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."

12. "As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. But please do not leave children or spouses."

13. And from the pilot during his welcome message: "Delta Airlines is pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"

14. Heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City: The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump, and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."

15. Overheard on an American Airlines flight into Amarillo, TX, on a particularly windy and bumpy day when, during final approach, the Captain was really having to fight it. After an extrememly hard landing, the flight attendant said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate."

16. Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

17. An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the Passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline." He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?" "Why, no, Ma'am," said the pilot. "What is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we land, or were we shot down?"

18. After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Capt. Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we'll open ! the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal."

19. Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of US Airways."

20. Heard on a Southwest Airline flight. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing and if you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."

21. A plane was taking off from Kennedy Airport. After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, nonstop from New York to Los Angeles. The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax... OH, MY GOD!" Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier. While I was talking to you, the flight attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!" A passenger in Coach yelled, "That's nothing. You should see the back of mine!"

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

TTT: Four Horsemen Pt 2

Ahhhh, the Apocalypse continues.

The Third Horseman of our evil writing duties is the Short Synopsis. Now, if you remember our last two examples, you'll see how each grew from the previous by adding a bit more information. Your key ingredients of Hook, Character, Conflict must be present in all, and right from the get-go. But, where the logline is about the mainest character, the blurb should be a paragraph each about both core characters. Heroine is usually first because the editors know that readers need to relate to the heroine. (Courtesy of Brenda Chin: "The reader MUST relate to the heroine and fall in love with the hero." This is a golden rule of romance. Learn it. Live it. Love it. And just to keep this difficult, both of these things need to happen as early as possible. First chapter. No "Eventually we'll get to know her". No "We'll be in love with him at the end". This is part of your unspoken hook. If the reader doesn't connect with your characters immediately, they won't keep reading. Period.)

I'm going to give credit where credit is due and admit that I didn't come up with this next step. Your favorite naughty girl and mine Lyn Cash did it. I am admittedly not smart enough to have figured out how to make the jump from good blurb to good synop. I have sucked--without vacation--for 8 years at writing synops. Just could never get it together. She's the briliant one. I'm just the loud one.

Now, to start your short synop, you can pick up your blurb and call that the first two paragraphs. There are some rules, reportedly, to writing synops. I'm no great purveyor of rules. They blind you to your own instincts in my own opinion, but some of them are there for purely common sense purposes. We're going to include those here:

Things you need to know and put into your synnop:

1) What is the situation?: Let us know who your characters are at the start of the story and what they are into that's going to make their lives difficult and why they are willing to enter this adventure. "Candy store owner Elizabeth Clarke is in trouble, Bickner Chocolates is claiming she stole a formula from them and she can't prove she didn't."

2) Plot points: Create a list of the main plot twists: "Elizabeth goes undercover at Bickner to discover who is stealing her recipes; She's caught by security, who agrees to help her after hearing her plight; Elizabeth discovers the traitor and turns them in." No details. Simply the order in which the most important aspects of the situation happen. Make a separate list for both primary characters.

3) Turning Points: People define these differently. To me, a TP is the point that twists the relationship in a new direction. These are usually separate from the plot points, but can coincide. Make a list of them, you should have a minimum of four in any complete novel:

The Meet: Introducing the characters changes something for both of them--new course.

• 1st Change: When they discover something about one another that changes their original impression--he sees a moment of her humanity instead of her career driven desperation. she sees a kindness in him that is at odds with the hard ass schmuck he's been so far--OR overturning previous positive impression--she discovers he's friends with her enemy, he learns she's a vindictive cow.

• 2nd Change: Accepting that the other is not so bad because they are forced by their situation to deal with one another or simply accepting their sexual attraction and acting on it, despite believing the other person is less than stellar.

• 3rd Change: The Black Moment. The party is over. Faced once again with eachother's shortcomings--or percieved shortcomings--the pair will part and learn what life is like without the other. Mind you, they should definitely NOT enjoy this period. If they do, you're doing something wrong.

• 4th Change: Resolution. Having despised life alone, they come back together with acceptance and change from both parties. This is your happy ending.

There are multiple combinations of this list, The Meet and 1st Change often are combined, or 1st and 2nd Change are combined. Or, you can do all five. It's up to you, but you should have an exact list of what each point is for them as a couple.

Now, your job is to combine all of these events in a fast, subjective and punchy set of paragraphs (alternating who you're discussing by para) to create a page of synopsis.

Things to avoid putting in your short synopsis:

• Secondary and especially Tertiary Characters: Don't need em, don't want em. Leave em out. Trust me.

• Details: We don't even really need to know what city they live in. That includes what color hair, how tall, why they're pysically attracted to each other. Nada.

• Padding words: Though, but, and, actually, Then, So. You're adding word count and really, you don't have the room. One or two isn't a bad thing. But definitely try to keep them out of your sentence structures.

Now, how do we combine all of this crap I've dumped on you? You write sentences that cover a LOT of ground. You're not here to be fancy or flowy. You're here to get the story out concise and with a little bit of your voice. But the key word is PUNCHY. Nothing long, nothing artful. Get to the point and move on. Move from plot point to plot point, intersperse with turning points where they come in the course of the story. Add a little bit of the tone and remember to stay in present tense.

Here's an example:

Candy store owner Elizabeth Clarke is in trouble, Bickner Chocolates claims she stole a formula from them and she can't prove she didn't. Unable to decide which of her dedicated workers has sold her recipe to the chocolate mogul, Elizabeth decides to infiltrate the company herself--until she's caught by a security guard on overnight least, that's what he looks like.

Undercover agent Russ Stover's luck couldn't be worse. The night he's waited months for is being blown by a loopy candy cook with delusions of theivery. Rather than start all over, he takes her with him to uncover how the choco-magnate is secreting out drugs with their sweet treats. But how is a guy supposed to do his duty when there's a sugar coated redhead next to him, ready to eat?

Elizabeth refuses to be sidetracked by Russ's refusal to explain what he's up to. Getting away from him, she finds the research dept, unknowingly setting off alarms before finding proof that her dearest friend has betrayed her. Russ rescues her from the factory before they can be caught, but at the cost of his own case. Elizabeth's guilt compounds her hurt and she offers to do what she can to make it up to Russ. Whatever she can...

Taking advantage of Elizabeth's guilt isn't really what Russ wants to do, but neither is going to bed alone. Besides, Elizabeth's former employee is just the person he needs to get back into Bickner's illegal activities. What's wrong with mixing some business with sweet pleasure? The only problem is, the more tastes he gets of Elizabeth, the less interested he is in catching the bad guys. Until she finds out that she's little more than a means to an end. Then Russ is on his backside on her curb and sweetness is nothing more than a bitter memory.

Not liking to see how empty his life is without Elizabeth--or admit it was empty before her--Russ throws himself into his work. But Bickners isn't about to leave a loose end like Elizabeth alone and now the only way to protect her is to put them away. Making use of her former employee, Russ invades the factory once more and unearths the drug supply hidden within. The Bickner's venture is over. Elizabeth is safe. So why does he still want to see her?

Elizabeth's life hasn't been going so well. Missing Russ, having trouble trusting her new employee, she's none-too-thrilled when the press hoardes her to ask about the fall of Bickners. Learning the truth of the takedown--and Russ's part in it--Elizabeth rushes to his apartment to find him. He's surprised to see her, but he won't let her apologize. He admits he was wrong to hide his case from her and to let her think she meant nothing more to him. Elizabeth offers a second chance, for both of them. He still has his sweet tooth and she's sure she has a lifetime's worth of sugar to keep him satisfied. Russ is too busy sampling the goods to even think about arguing.

Now, I'm not callling it nobel peace prize winning, but it gets the story across in a single page. Sunny's rule of thumb, 1-100k book=1 page short synnop. If you go over that, you're going on too long. Keep it short, keep it sweet. You'll see better results.

Next week: The Long Synopsis

Monday, December 05, 2005

Brag Blog?

I got to wondering...what are we supposed to put in our blogs? I think we get it in our heads pretty frequently that we have to have to have something important to say before we blog. I know I do.

"I should teach!" or "I should say something really meaningful" or "I should inspire someone" and it really just occurred to me that that is a lot to ask of a body. I mean, hell, I'm barely inspired to get out of bed in the morning. It's too damn early. It's too damn COLD. You know what inspires me--and this is by no means a signal that I don't absolutely love my child--? I think of a whole 5 hours of uninterrupted thinking or doing. I don't have a particular desire to do or think on any one thing. Truthfully, I have to make lists everyday to make sure I think of the right things in the right order. I'm inspired by the lack of "Mommy" every two minutes. My son couldn't talk for the first 4 years of his life--he's catching up with a vengence.

I think about those great blogs where writers sound off about things that just piss them off. Sure, some of them are irrational blatherings of the easily spooked or the desirous of rage types, but to have that much energy to put in a blog? Wow. That's some big competition to deal with. It makes you want to do something with your blog. Something that's going to have everyone talking. Everyone up in arms. Everyone.

Truth is, I don't brush my hair until my hubby comes home at five. I only get dressed because the bus driver gives me weird looks and the homeless people shun me when I take the kid for his morning pick up. I work. Every day. I eke out writing time, not that you'd know it this year. And I raise a kid in my own exhausted fashion. Some days, I'm not too bad a mother. Other days, I'm the shittiest mother alive. I definitely don't have time to get real political. I certainly don't have the energy to be meaningful. So why the hell do I put myself through thinking I should be?

I'm really sure that at some time really soon, I might figure that out. For now, I'm working on being less meaningful and more present. At least, that's the plan. :)


Friday, December 02, 2005

Time Doesn't Fly....

It skyrockets like a bat out of hell.

So now it's Friday morning and as usual, I feel like I'm falling behind. Moo pulled up sick, the poor kid. He came home the day before yesterday lay on the floor and didn't get up for six hours. This is the kid I usually beg to sit still long enough to eat his dinner. I feel so bad to see him this way and he's a bear to medicate.

Now, I'm not complaining, but is it me or does the onset of December mean that there's suddenly so much more to do? Less time, less energy, less everything. Last night I had the hugest impulse to write...and by then I was falling asleep on the couch. My first real impulse in months! And all I could do was think about the things I hadn't done yet. HTML that wasn't completed. Links not finished. Items not built. Schedules not finalized. Shoot, I haven't even had tme to fix the broken screws on my bed and that'll take five minutes, tops. And that's not even my writing work.

Now, I know that it's often said I invent work for myself. I make things harder than it has to be. I want my work to look right and more importantly BE right. I don't think I have particularly high standards--if you saw the way I look around noon every day, you'd know...I don't have high standards--but I want to get all my bases covered. I think it's a quality that makes me a good writer, when I can incorporate it into my editing and plotting. But it probably makes me difficult to others. Clean the kitchen, you better wipe the counters. Build a discussion, make it worth the author's time to promote there. Write a story, make it complete.

Eh, I prolly just have the blahs. Hope your December is starting off with a better mood than mine. :)

PS--I toned down the white titles. Less eye-stinging? Or too hard to read?


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Going Through The Change....

Not quite the usual change, of course, but still a change for me. In honor of the redesigned Website, I've changed the blogface as well. Now, there's not as soft and leafy Dee as there is slightly edgy Dee. Not that I'm super edgy or anything, but I'm definitely not Nature Girl and I was thinking that the green look was misrepresenting that. If you get a chance to pop over there--it's not all complete, but certainly navagatable--you'll see I've got a new tagline and room to show my various writing sides. I'm hoping to have new excerpts and so on, but the writing stuff won't go away, I promise. It's all there. When the book comes out, I'm hoping to have it on my own domain, but better to practice a bit off the beaten path. :)

I wanted to take another minute to thank everyone for all the congratulations. I swear, whenever I feel over my head and totally out of my league, I'll be coming back to all of those posts to get me through. You're all so so good to me.

As for today, I'm off to the dentist. :) Final deep cleaning appt and then I'm back to business. I haven't had blogs over the holidays before, so I'm not sure how much I'm going to get done here through December. Hopefully a lot. I'll keep trying if you keep reading. :)

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Brand New Week

I had a lovely Thanksgiving. Various family, various dishes...WAAAAAAY too much food. Particularly going down my throat. Oh GOD I ate sooooo much. But, I reasoned, this is the first year when I sold a book. I deserve the fruit salad. And the pumpkin pie. And the whipped cream. And...well, I won't even go into the other rewards (but the did do quite a bit to off set all the food!)

So, as I prepare to go to bed so I can wake up early and throw the kid on his bus--please,God, I miss school--I try to think of things I need to do tomorrow. Work, of course. I did a lot of prep work and tons of that just needs to be posted, but I'm also thinking of the future. I work in PR, so, I know that to make my book a success, I have to sell it. And, I have to look forward and show what I can do. The first step to that is to rework my website. Which, thankfully, I enjoy doing. The trick is to do it secondarily. It means reworking my schedule, as well.

Oy, this is going to take some thinking.

But hey, what a great reason to fire up the braincells!

Happy Monday to all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Um...I sold

I always pictured I'd jump up and down, scream a lot and freak out.

Instead I stared at my computer. And stared. And stared. And stared some more.

Then I ran to my husband and uttered the two words I wondered if I'd ever get to say. "Um...I sold."

Since he was in mid-step out of the bathroom, he turned his head, blinked twice and said..."What?"

ROFL, and thus, I suppose, begins my professional career, lol.

I don't have a lot of details and my hands are shaking, so here's the run-down, folks. :)

The book is "Betting Hearts", a comedy so damn close to the inside of me I couldn't even bear to rework it for Harlequin when they felt the heroine wasn't up to snuff. So I hid it and told myself not to try to work on it again. But I took a chance and sent it to Samhain Publishing and the editor there saw the possibilities, I suppose, because she offered me a contract.

God, 8 years of hoping to sell and I have not a clue where to start my thanking, but I know I must start with these three:

Rae--I know you said I can't make you cry anymore, but just one more time, I promise. I have to thank you first, because you've listened to me whine the longest. Thank you SO much, for being there at every turn, no matter how bad it got or how wrong I could ever be. I would have given up a long time ago without you, on so many different things. You are the truest of friends and I don't get to tell you that enough.

X--You've read nearly every book, every horrible line, every paragraph of every thing I write. And you still like me. LOL! Thank you for not being afraid to punch me in the teeth. For being the best damn CP anyone could ever want. God, you're the other part of my brain most days. You're who I look to when the words won't work and the rejections make me feel petty. I cannot begin to thank you, but please know, I try. :)

Marcy--For being an eternal wellspring of kindness and hope. You are the most caring person on the planet and for some reason I've not yet figured out, you share both of those beautiful attributes with me. :) My heart thanks you, my soul thanks you and everything in me just wants to tell you how I appreciate all that you do, for so many people, every day that you are here. Love you much, doll.

Okay, I know there's so many more, but I'm so stunned I don't want to mess it up. Thank you to EVERYONE who has ever been part of this journey. There's too many people and not enough time. But I truly appreciate the support of everyone who ever said I had a shot and didn't mind me holding a gun. :)

All my love,

Monday, November 21, 2005

Monday Meanderings

Well, it's holiday week, gang. I seriously doubt I'll be doing more than a cursory post. Tomorrow is a dental appointment--and I get to take the kid, lol--then it's baking and cooking on Wed for a morning Turkey Day on Thursday. Then it's Family, family, family. But I'll do my best to get you a funny once or twice this week.

Happy Holidays to All!


Sunday, November 20, 2005

European Conquest At An End...

Hi everyone!

Well, with my 6 month mark on my Modern Extras (new Temptation) submission signals the end of my ms consideration in Richmond. They decided to pass on my two book series. They felt that there were problems with luring the reader to the second book--due to the story and the character who takes lead. On the flip side, they felt I'm a competent writer who's done my research on the genre, but since my humor is much more like early Temptation--a humor that apparently isn't very global and doesn't translate well outside of the US--they don't think revision for resubmission is something they want to see.

Being compared to early Temptation ain't a bad thing. Those are the books I fell in love with. Viva La Vicki! LOL!

As for my humor not doing well overseas, they would certainly know. I'll hold off on arguing it until I have some overseas sales, :)--so it could be a while, lol. But, I've decided that my humor is who I am and while I'm all right with being a titch mercenary in selling my work, I won't be changing my voice to suit a line to that extent. I can go dark, I can go moody. But it's not in me to sacrifice my voice for the sale. I've tried that once, changing it all to suit an editor, and it nearly destroyed my ability to write. It certainly cost me more than a year. So, I think it's safe to say I won't be resubmitting to MX anytime soon. But that's okay. :) There's many places open to me at this time. :)

I've sent in a submission to the new SamHain Publishing (See Shannon! I did it! I get to keep my f'n ass now, yes?) and I'm prepping a second one for December. I've subbed to EC as promised and I'll be checking on my Cerridwen submission Dec. 1st, it's 6-month mark. I think it's a lot easier to handle a rejection when you know there's other places to send it. So far, it's not the worst rejection I've ever had. I'll probably be able to calm my ego with a serving of yogurt and call it a day.

Hope you all are having a great weekend and that your upcoming holiday isn't stressing anyone out. :)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Thank You Smart Bitches!

Boy, you don't get to say THAT everyday!

So, I was treating myself to some fun blog hopping. It's been a while since I've been so overwhelmed, and as I lay here trying to ignore slight cramping, I thought...what the hell. Read some blogs! You've worked hard all week. You deserve it!

And when I landed on The Smart Bitches page, lol, they had the best picker-upper of the day. I give name, lol!

LOL, that's weekend making, right there!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


It's the kind of announcement that requires capital letters.


I've been waiting five years to get to scream that into the phone and wow, was it sweet. It's even better in print. Lemme do it again.


I got to be lucky enough to be a CP for her over the years. I got to be even luckier to be there when she came up with the idea in New York while we walked around avoiding Meg Ryan stalkers. But the best part is that I got to be lucky enough to be her friend for every up and down on this crazy journey.

Congratulations Rae, no one deserves it more.

So, if y'all would please, head on over to Raecy's Place and congratulate her.


Monday, November 14, 2005

Lil Black Rain Cloud

My CP likes to call me this. Mainly because when it rains, it pours. And I pour regularly. I don't mean to, honest. I guess I like to do everything at once, good stuff and bad. Writing news comes in multiples and so do health things.

Apparently, I have a tooth problem now. Honestly, I've probably had it for awhile but it most likely got masked by the pain killers I've been taking for months. So, since I stopped taking them, I've discovered that a toothache can really knock the snot out of you. So, I've not got a somewhat-emergency dental appointment. They may or may not need to rip out the tooth. Wish me luck, folks.

In other news, I've fixed the focal point of my book. It turns didn't have one before. In all this editing I have discovered that my characters had no conflict BETWEEN them. So, you've got two people who's biggest problem is whether or not he loves her. That needs fixing. My heroine is too perfect, too flawless, the cow. So, along with creating her something of a lie and a dilemma...I'm also adding saddlebags and a very saggy ass. Take that, flawless cow!

So, while I have been doing tons of work on it...we're at about 80 pages still. BUT, it's 80 pages with a point! WOOHOO!

PS--Depending on tooth-pullage, there may or may not be a TTT day tomorrow. Just a heads up!

Friday, November 11, 2005


It's a nice enough sounding word. I like it. But way easier to say than do.

On your computer, recovery is finding something you accidentally deleted or lost.

In your manuscript, it's deep diving to find some aspect of your work that's useable.

In your body it's letting yourself rest to restore it's health.

And every now and then, you have to do all three.

Let me tell ya, folks, it's not easy.

I thought I was innocently killing a gnat. I took a tumble and landed flat on my back. I will never again laugh at the old woman saying, "I've fallen and I can't get up." At the time, it was funny. Stupid even. Now, with my whole body sore, I'm feeling a little more empathetic to old people with low muscle tone and brittle bones.

I've been revising a book--when time and my non-supportive body allows me--that I thought would be fairly easy to put together...recovery in that case is rediscovery of my brain. I love this story, but it needed help. So far, I've removed almost as much as I've kept. So, while I'm on page 80, I've actually sorted through 150 pages. Hoping to achieve a lot more this weekend.

On my computer...I haven't lost or deleted anything. But oddly enough, I can never find what I'm looking for. At least, not until I don't need it anymore.

So, am I losing my mind or is this what happens when you get close to 30?


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

TTT: The Four Horsemen part 1

You'd think it'd be easy to write explanations of your own book. But it's not. It's a pain. You have to fit an entire story into a few lines or pages. But what do you put in? How do you know if you've done it right? What belongs in the little things and what do you have to take out of the big things. First off, you need to know what each one is. I like to think of them as The Four Horsemen...because submitting often feels like trying to survive the Apocalypse

Now, commonly, people think a blurb is what goes on the back of a book. It sort of is. It's both more and less. There are four things a writer must master to have a successful career: The LogLine, The Blurb, The Short Synopsis & The Long Synopsis. Each one is a nightmare unto itself, but thankfully, if done in the right order, you can do one and expand it into the next. The key three things to include in ALL of them is this: Hooks, Characters, Conflict. The more room you have, the more you can expand into motivation, plan to solve problem, etc. But if you don't have those three things at even the shortest level, your logline, blurb, SS or LS is incomplete and will likely fail. Today we will cover the first two.

The Logline is a one or two line sentence that conveys the hooks of your story, the characters and the conflict, usually into a compelling statement or question that draws the editor (readers don't see these too often) into wanting more. Loglines are used at the top of a query letter and most effectively in an editor pitch, where you have to describe your book in 25 words or less. They maximize your time and the editors interest.

ex) "Girl next door Jenna McCain's lifelong plan to marry rancher Cord Erikson would have gone off without a hitch, but how was she to expect his ex-wife to interfere...and bring a baby along?"

Hooks: Girl Next Door, Rancher, Secret Baby
Characters, Jenna and Cord (includes villain, ex-wife)
Conflict: she's loved him forever, he has a past, can she get in the way of that and live with herself?

Now that you have those elements in a sentence, you can use them to stay concise while you enlarge The Logline into The Blurb.

The Blurb causes trouble because it's much larger, roughly 30-200 words. It is the length of the back of the book and it, too, must contain the three elements listed above. If you do a one paragraph blurb--my personal favorite--you discuss both main characters in the same paragraph. You START with your hook and your character. Move next to your alternate character's problem (conflict). Then wrap it up with what needs to be done to solve the problem. If you choose the two paragraph type (the 200 word version), then you will need a paragraph for each character that states their individual hooks, character, conflict and plan to solve their issues.

To help you do this, I've created a way to build a paragraph blurb using three simple questions:

1) HOOK: Why do people want to read this book? Because "Girl Next Door Jenny McCain is finally marrying the man of her dreams."

2) CHARACTER & CONFLICT: Why is this important? She's spent her life in love with Cord Erikson, despite heartbreak and loss, and now their day is finally here. Or, it would be, if Cord's ex-wife hadn't materialized on his doorstep, holding a baby she claims is his.

3) PLAN TO SOLVE PROBLEM: What do they need to do to solve their problem?With the wedding just around the corner, Jenny knows that Cord has an impossible decision to make. Can she finally stand up for their love, even if it means raising another woman's child?

Then, when you have those sentences, combine them in a para:

"Girl Next Door Jenny McCain is finally marrying the man of her dreams.She's spent her life in love with Cord Erikson, despite heartbreak and loss, and now their day is finally here. Or, it would be, if Cord's ex-wife hadn't materialized on his doorstep, holding a baby she claims is his. With the wedding just around the corner, Jenny knows that Cord has an impossible decision to make. Can she finally stand up for their love, even if it means raising another woman's child?"

Since this is a completely made up story so far, an exercise for you might be to try to write a paragraph for Cord using this process.

Remember, editing is always a writer's best friend. Things to look for when going over your finished blurb, is where you can remove to make it more stream-lined. Connective words can be a real word-cutter: but, that, and, and whatever possessive pronouns you don't strictly need. Particularly with blurbs, you want to avoid buts, ands and especially thats. They can drag a sentence into the ground. Keep the pace quick and direct. That'll grab people every time. 

Monday, November 07, 2005

What Makes For Good Pacing?

I've been laying here wondering as I edit my submission, is this book slow? Is the infomation pertinent? Does it really have to be here?

When I'm editing, I usually look for flow, characterization, placement, dialogue and of course, is this scene necessary? It certainly feels necessary. It's transitionary, but there's no action. It's emotional...but doesn't move the story very far forward. There are few things I hate more than cutting a good scene because it doesn't move the story. On the one hand, I'm kicking myself for wasting the good writing on something so ineffective. On the other, I hate throwing it away. But writing requires ruthlessness. Sometimes the scenes just have to go.

Which brings me to my current dilemma. I'm editing for an ePub, which I'm told requires a bit faster of a pace. The chapters are shorter and the story needs to be more concise. All right, this isn't a bad idea. I just hadn't realized how long I've meandered on. I'm in chp six and so far the only ones without a well-developed relationship are the hero and the heroine. He gets along with her kid. She's friends with her mother in law. He's got a friendship with his doctor. She's playing mediator with MIL's boyfriend.... I just need to cut this crap out.

Have any of you found something in your writing that is driving you bonkers? Can you fix it?

Editing update: Edited through page 65.
Pages Left: 170

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Ahhh, if she didn't have pain killers, I'd smack ya Rae, lol! I've been tagged.

But first, a little up to dateness:

I went to the doctor to see what he could give me for dealing with the endometriosis pain. His answer...shutting down my ovaries with a temporary chemical menopause. He says narcotics will handle the pain, but they're addictive and do not treat the condition, which will advance and I'll need more and more. Or I could try Motrin instead of Aleve--which is like saying I can rub my belly and see if that fixes it. Or I can try to get pregnant.

Now, before y'all imagine I might have jumped the gun, I did research the drug he prescribed. That is some scary crap. It's a nasal spray, taken twice a day, that turns off your ovaries, meaning no hormonal output. You have to take birth control pills to provide some hormone, but anything in your body that works via hormone is going to quit. You have to take calcium supplements because the stuff causes bone loss--which you're supposed to probablyget back within a year. Or so. That says nothing about the side effect of Auto-Immune Difficiency.

It probably goes without saying that I've wanted another child for years. Many years. And though hubby and I agreed that having one would be great, the desire couldn't be justified against our financial situation. If I got preggers on accident, great. If not, that's how it had to be. But the truth is, this may well be my last chance to try to have a child as the dr assured me that even pregnancy can only push back the endometriosis. Nothing will cure it. At least this way, I'll have a chance, so we're taking it. :) The only downside is that without my b/c pills, there's no regulation of the condition at all. That can lead to heavy bleeding and as I'm trying to get pregnant, I can't take anything but Tylenol for pain. So, this path isn't without detriment. But it'll be worth it in so many ways. So...I'll keep you updated on if the quest is successful.

And now...The Meme!

Three screen names that you've had: Tien1050, Deelicious & Deelicious_92123

Three things you like about yourself: I'm a fast reader, I'm analytical and I can bake

Three things you don't like about yourself: My facial flaw, my weight and my ability to procrastinate

Three parts of your heritage: Sorry, there's only two parts: Mexican and Native American

Three things that scare you: Horror Movies, bankruptcy and car accidents

Three of your everyday essentials: Computer, Kid and Food

Three things you are wearing right now: My socks, hubby's sweat pants and a tank top.

Three of your favorite songs: Never Too Far, Crazy In Love & At Last

Three things you want in a relationship: Truth, Trust and Passion

Two truths and a lie: I'm right handed, I'm a moderate cook and I'm athletic

Three things you can't live without: My husband, my son and something to stimulate my mind.

Three places you want to go on vacation: Hawaii, Disney World and Japan

Three things you just can't do: Stop flinching at cars approaching from the side, talking and leave my son in tears

Three kids names: Becky, Jack and Jenny

Three things you want to do before you die: Publish, make a lot of money and finish all my projects

Three celeb crushes: Dean Cain, Eddie Cibrian & Gerard Butler

Three of your favorite musicians: Beyonce, Classic Mariah & Kelly Clarkson

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeals to you: Masculine hands, a nice ass and sharp eyes

Three of your favorite hobbies: Drawing, quilting and movie watching

Three things you really want to do badly right now: Eat, sleep and write

Three careers you're considering/you've considered: Writing, reviewing, interior design

Three ways that you are stereotypically a boy: I LOVE Football, I can play all sports if needed and I do not see the value of a 500 dollar purse. Ever.

Three ways that you are stereotypically a girl: I love to bake, I sew and I check my reflection often so I don't embarass my companions.

How's that, Rae? :)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Honest, I planned to NaNo. I really, really did. Then I got a request which requires some polishing. So, will be edit-no-ing instead. Have two weeks to get the ms out. Barring annoying medical problems...holidays...kiddie attention requirements and medications...I should be able to do it.

Current editing completed: 0
Needed to Complete: 240pgs

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Le Bat! Too sweet! So chic!

Okay, bad song reference, but a VERY happy Kid!

To view all the project pics in slideshow form or one at a time to read the captions, click HERE!

But the two most important pics are these:

The complete suit--with working Batbelt (actual pockets!)--and the complete boy, with happy smile!

Monday, October 31, 2005


Howdy everyone!

Happy Halloween!!

As I'll be frantically finishing the Batman costume, lol, here's wishing you and yours a safe holiday! Since it's RTB Day, I'll just ask that you head on over there (To read, click the button below!) and see my deep thought for the month!


Sunday, October 30, 2005

One a those weeks...

All right, when I left you Wed, I was anticipating several things to happen.

1) That my body would right itself and I'd feel somewhat normal.

2) That I'd finish the Batman costume and be Supermom. didn't quite work out the way I planned. BUT, some great things have happened in the interrim.

• I got a call about one of my submitted mss. The editor enjoyed it, but since she couldn't see fitting it into her line without ruining it (I love that she said that), she's forwarding it to another line, where she thinks it will be a much better fit for my voice and my style. This is something that has never happened before in my many years of submitting, so I think I came across as vaguely professional. Speechlessness has the effect of making me sound composed. LOL!

• So inspired, I actually managed to work out Chp 4 of the Vetta project and let me just say...DAYUM!

• The majority of the Bat was constructed. The gauntlets, the cape, the cowl was connected. It was an all-day Mommy attack! Double-dayum! Can't wait to show the pics!


• Went to dinner with BIL & SIL and MIL. Interestingly, upon seeing my BIL, Moo pointed and started waving wildly, calling to him, "Uncul! Uncul!" Moo doesn't really identify people by their title. Of course, since we usually go to "Popeye's chicken" for biscuits, he immediately launched into a demand for them, earning BIL the new nickname of "Uncle Biscuits". I have the bad feeling that one will stick, lol.


• I got my hair cut and colored. Mind you, the last time I did this, it was April. I now look and feel less like the red-headed yeti stepdaughter. Four inches of roots at the top and an inch of fried on the bottom...gone. Ahhhhh!

• I had a gangload of books from RWA that didn't quite work for me. I just haven't been in a reading mood and several of them just didn't quite work for me. Went to my bookstore and traded in for nearly 100 dollars in credit. Then, I went in and found some work from some of my favorite authors to inspire me again, as I really need it. So, thanks MUCH to Vicki Lewis Thompson & Stephanie Bond. Devoured "Fool For Love" and I feel better already!


• Chargers won! I'd say more, but y'all would shoot me. Suffice it to say, this is highly exciting and pleasing to me. (Sadly, I missed most of the third quarter because I resorted to the Tylenol with codiene and promptly passed out, but the boys held up in fine style!)

• I found an interesting email in my inbox. An editor found my work--she read my blurbs and samples on my site--and is interested in finding out more about them. Don't worry, she's not from the vanity presses or anything bad. From a reputable pub, though I won't say who at this stage. It could be nothing...but I'm feeling optimistic. (I know, don't pass out or anything.) Will keep you updated.

Now to just get started on the right foot in November.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Project Updates

DRUGS: Okay, the sickies got a good grip on the ole ovaries this week. Thankfullly, fever stayed low grade and pain is abating. Sadly, this means sticking to the seemingly useless naproxen. It helps in the long run, but seriously, I feel like I'm dialating in the meantime. It's like losing days of battle so you can win the war. For you men out there, imagine if your nuts turning into bolts--hard, cramped and screeching over each other. To say nothing of the lovely feelings it sends out to your toitoi. :) LOL! At any rate, hopefully it's almost over and I can look forward to the next bout near to Thanksgiving. Whine.

BATMAN: The cowl is made. Just the cape and the gauntlets to work on. Sounds easy, right...yeah....right. Hoping to work on those today.

WRITING: Well, the sisters spoke a little. The next one is starting to whisper. And, of course, the unfinished edits on Vetta are whining. I need some better lithium.

WORK: Still working on the Open House, tracking emails and building January schedule. I can probably finish January today and hopefully get another 50 emails out today. Crossing fingers. Oh yeah, and rounds.

DINNER: Okay, for the last three nights, something has been slightly off with all my cooking. Granted, I felt like crap while doing it for the first couple of days, but last night I was able to stand and not need to curl up on the floor several times. Still, didn't have enough sauce and there are few cooking errors as bad as not having enough sauce. What to make tonight....? Hubby might go for a nice baked mac & cheese, right? Never tried that before. It's always been instant here in Cali but I hear that people make it somewhat fancy in other places. I can put the hot sausage in it, maybe....

Okay, off to see what I can do to get all this done today.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

TTT: General Targeting

Well, it's Tuesday again folks and for the first time, I don't really have a topic to babble on about. So, I hauled out my notebook of questions and thought it might be a good time to cover a more general topic--targetting.

It sounds like it should be easy. You like a line, your story has characters of the kind they print and they have some adventure of a like type as well. BINGO!

Not even close.

It took me roughly four years to learn how to target properly. And that was to one line. I've now expanded my approach to three. We'll see how it goes.

It's most difficult to know where to begin.

If you ask a lot of writers--particularly the Unpubs--they will tell you to write the story of your heart, find a place for it later. I used to feel this was true, but I have to say, I think it's only half-true. I read somewhere where an author asked, "If it's not the book of your heart, why are you writing it?" I laughed good and hard at that because that question certainly puts it into perspective. "Write what you know" is an equally unhelpful instruction. The reason I don't recommend either one of these as first steps to targeting is that they are misleading. A writer should only invest time in a story they care about--a book of their heart. If it comes from anywhere else, you won't like writing it and no one will like reading it. Don't waste your time. Writing what you know is vague and difficult. Have you ever tried to catalog how much you know? You'd be surprised. (I sure was.) But in list form, it's boring as hell. Write what INTERESTS you. If you're interested in the theme, the topic, the internal's a book of your heart. In any event, if you plan on building a career with your writing, you must accept that it's a business. No one wants to pay taxes, but if you plan to make that business last, you need to know how to take care of setting the money aside. Likewise, if you want to write with any longevity, you'll need to learn to aim your writing not just for what you like most, but also where the market heads and for your line's specific needs. Otherwise, they find authors who can.

If you ask any editor, the first step is to read the line. That what you like to read might be what you like to write. But I'm going to have to disagree with that one, too. What you eat is not necessarily what you are. I love to read regencies...I was not meant to write them. Add to that, not every person is a born writer and that has to be taken into consideration.

What you need to think about first is YOU.

If you have always written, you have a style, a voice; however undefined or untrained. What kind of stories do you naturally come up with? Romantic comedy? A murder mystery? Do you like dark and foggy tales or smart, wicked quick plots? Did you keep pairing couples up? Or repeatedly come up with ways to kill someone? Do you write in concise sentences, staccato in rythym? Or do you find your writing has always been descriptive, every sentence designed to be evocative of a particular atmosphere? These are important aspects of writing to consider when choosing a line or imprint to approach. All writers train to write for a line, but if you force yourself to write against your grain, you'll end up with bumpy, choppy flow and you'll be unhappy writing it. To be sucessful, your heart must be in the story, no matter how commercially you come up with it, and you have to respect your own process. No one writes the same or "the right way". A better writer is the one who knows where they flourish. Remember, there's a reason plants turn towards the sun.

If you have never written a word before, or have always daydreamed stories but never attempted to write, things are much more difficult for you. You're approaching writing having abandoned the spectators chair. You're well aware of what you like to read, but writing comes from an internal place. Your first job will need to be finding that. Begin with what you enjoy reading most. Or an author you enjoy reading. Emulate. This doesn't mean copy. It means ask yourself what you like and why. Take those things--"I like how her hero's do this.." or "Her heroines never take any crap!"--and try to come up with a short scene or two that incorporates one at a time. When you feel you've mastered that, try to combine elements. Keep doing that until you have a short story. Then look at what you've done and ask yourself the questions posed above to the experienced writer.

Now that you have a genre, narrow things down by looking for a line there that appeals to you. Then read up on it. I had a mad passion for Harlequin Superromances. It was a large story for a decent cost and given how much and how fast I read, it was the best deal. When I finally considered sending an ms in, I immediately gravitated to Supers. I spent several years banging my head on the wrong wall, reshaping my stories to fit their tone and erasing my own. It took me further and further from publication. Finally, a wonderful ed there told me that I had to choose between a serious tone and the comedic tone underlying every page. It was a gentle way of telling me I was writing against the grain. I was targetting unclearly. It was time to see if the comedy aspect of my writing could lead anywhere--low and behold, I found a niche I fit into at Temptation. Writing for your voice is just as important as knowing what is out there. One tends to lead to the other.

Next, you'll find that several people tell you disect the books you like. To my mind, this is a lot like disecting your pet. Please don't do that. I'd suggest picking up books you've never read to disect them. This will teach you to separate your reading mind from your writing one and give your various approaches to the same line. It's important to be able to retain your ability to taste apart from your own cooking. I saw a french movie once where a man cooks for a chef. She asks him if he used a particular brand of sugar. He says, "There's no way you can tell which kind of sugar I used." Her reply? "No, but I can tell what kind you did not." You will hopefully become this adept with a line, but not if you stick with the things you enjoy. Taste to find what you do not and learn to avoid adding it.

Once you have factored in your natural voice and then researched lines to which that voice might lead you, you're all set to plot. Pantser or plotter, you still need a general idea of what you're going to write and who you will write about. Targetting involves lining your writing elements up in a certain order. Tone, action, characterization and language must all match, like suits of cards. You CAN create a straight flush with unmatching suits, but something will be off about the compilation to the reader's eye. An example would be a smart-mouthed, one-lining detective in a serial murder case that isn't remotely a comedy. It could be a great plot, a brilliant mystery...but that off-suit characterization will unbalance the entire thing and leave it discordant. If the elements harmonize, you give the editor a better reason to believe this is a story they want.

If you'll forgive one more metaphor, targeting your writing is much the way a lawyer puts a case together. The editor is your judge. The burden of proof is on you to provide evidence that you know what you're doing. If you aim your elements, your story and your writing in a particular direction, you build the case word by word. Leave something important out, add something that doesn't belong, and the ruling goes against you. Conscious targeting--at any stage--makes you a better writer and takes you several steps closer to selling. could always do what I did and spend years knocking on the wrong door.

Whatever works for you.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Fun With Dee & Pain

I am a writer. What I am not is a chooser.

One of hubby's pet peeves is that I don't have a food drive. Most people have an idea what they want to eat. Particularly when they're starving. I can be verging on complete collapse (hypoglycemic) and not have a bloody, blinkin' clue. I, like my poor kid, am a product of advertising. I see a billboard and go, "Oh, I'll eat that!" Comercials never fail with me. I am one of those pathetic souls who probably COULD be hypnotized into clucking in public. I am, not to put too fine a point on it, a Suggestion Slut.

So, when it comes to choosing a new project, I am overwhelmed with confusion. Add to this that I have multi-genre ideas and I'm flat out screwed. My last three projects were chosen by an editor and I was quite happy with that. But she's not going to be interested in choosing for another line and she's already got her plate chock full of stuff from me. Which means I need to do this on my own.

And you SOOOOO know that's not going to happen. So, here's the deal: Y'all get to choose for me.

Oh yes, I'm going to give you the briefest logline and genre and whatever wins the vote--provided more than three people make a vote--I'll work on next. The choices are:

Erotica/Comedy: When an unhappily oversheltered woman learns that her brother thinks he can arrange a marriage for her, she goes out for a little revenge.

Erotic/Comedy: He thinks she's morally corupt. She thinks he's a highhanded schmuck with cement up his crack. And yet, they keep falling in bed together. Which wouldn't be a problem if they'd managed not to get caught...

Single Title/Thriller: When the only clue to why someone is trying to kill you is the beautiful assasin you've caught in the act, how far can you trust her to lead you to the truth?

Single Title/Paranormal: Four sisters, one gift that effects them all. Can they hide from the magic in their blood? Or will their fate be the same as those doomed before them?

Okay, closing my eyes and hoping for the best,

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sunny Lyn Saves The Day!

Now, she's way too nice to put it into print that she was helping me. But I admit it. I know a lot of writing tips, but it's more likely that I'd be able to give up sex, hugs and pie than it was that I'd be able to write an even slightly interesting or effective synopsis. I suck at them. I write stories, dammit. If I could tell them concisely do you really think I'd be a novelist??

At any rate, I finished my synop and gave it to my CP to crit. I won't be sitting for the next few days and I couldn't even argue with her. She was right. (Savor the flavor, X, I don't say that too often.) So, this morning I sat down and knocked on poor Lyn's door with my pathetic tale of woe. "Sunny, I'm lame...I'm LLLLLAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMME!"

Thankfully, she's seen this before and responded accordingly. Somehow or another, in a few hours, she got me to write a 1 page synopsis...before you fall down in shock, it not only makes sense and tells the whole's INTERESTING! Blow me down. (Any way you wanna take that, folks!)

So, I've met one of my goals, I have submitted to EC. Sadly, that means I must update my website, lol, which I was happily avoiding this month. So, I guess that means I have to finish my edits on this story and prepare myself for NaNoWriMo next month.

I'm a moron, aren't I? LOL!
That's okay, too happy with having submitted to feel bad about it.

Holiday Gear Ups

I saw something odd yesterday. A Canadian friend was touting herself "In the Season". She thinks it's the Christmas season. I think she's slightly out of her mind. I'm still trying to get past Halloween without overeagerly making a turkey to practice Thanksgiving. I LOVE Thanksgiving. But I'm not ready for it.

Is it me or does the year start to speed up right about now. Months fly by, stuff doesn't get done and money just pours out of the hands. It gets harder and harder to focus and whining prevails. I'm working on avoiding the whining, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I was you.

Speaking of...I finished my Synop. Which is to say, I completed a totally useless work of words. My CP said that you can tell I wasn't having fun writing it. My dillema is this. Editors say, make it interesting. Tell us what happpens, but don't just give us a "this happened, then this happened, then this happened" account. Show some voice.

Then the accomplished Syn writers say to be sure to inform of the GMC and the hooks. Good points, both. Include turning points and plot points. Sounds good too. Be concise. Uh... Be unique, stand out. Whimper!

Well, my CP got to ream me and chew me up and spit me out. And she's right to. But I think it's goiing to take something of a miracle for me to do all these things and be interesting as well as show voice. And seriously, what sadist decided to make them in present tense? Geez.

(PS--CYNTHIA: I found you some gloves for your Cinderella costume. Cheap! Check out the comments on the last post, left you a link.)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Momma and the Machine

Sadly, there's nothing erotica in THIS post.

Okay, so, Moo wants to be Batman. I found a pile of black leatherette for five bucks. Suuuuure, I can make the Cape and Cowl!

What was I thinking??

Well, It took all day--and some of this morning, but the cowl is all but built. The tricky part? Well, currently, it's the ears...who knew those bat ears were so hard to get right? But interestingly, it's been getting the size of Moo's head right. I had it set to be a seamless looking head shaping cowl. Well, the boy's head is somewhat round. Particularly to the back. The curves--already evil when sewing--proved to be most difficult. The pattern I designed would work for an adult, but proved way too large for the boy. So, in taking it down, I discovered to cup his head, my curves had to be completely different. I've taken pictures just about every step of the way. When the costume is complete, I plan to post them all here so you can see the journey from pile of fabric to happy kid on Halloween. I hope.

Now how to attach that cape....

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

TTT: External Conflict: The War Room

An Addendum to last TTT, for another angle at Internal Conflict that I didn't cover--but boy, do I wish I'd gone into that particular specific--take a look at Julie Cohen's Blog. She discusses IC as a state of mind--self-esteem, etc--that is not brought upon by singular incidents. I still hold that ultimately, IC is an inability to trust, either in one-self or in others, but Julie has great insight here and it's worth your time to check it out.

And now, onto External Conflict.

If Internal Conflict is the battlefield, EC is most assuredly the War Room of your particular book. In military terms, the War Room is where people decide if you live or die, where decisions are made for the soldiers, either against them or for them to carry out. As a writer, the War Room is your tool to make those decisions that will effect the overall war your characters are having with themselves. Don't fool yourself, if your character is not at war morally, physically or emotionally with themselves and others in the course of your book, you're not writing a complete story and that's going to cost you.

The essence of EC is my very favorite catchphrase in writing. "Trample, Trample, Trample". Have you ever gone to a party and someone says something horribly crass or accidentally mentions the ex in front of the new wife? The afflicted will blanch, their mouth will tighten incrementally and they'll try to smile it off, but you know that they were effected. That, my friends, is trampling. In real life, you feel really bad when you do it. In romance, it's the stuff that awards are made from.

An External Conflict is a situation that puts your character in an untenable position. Every decision will have a cost that your character is in someway unwilling to pay. The trick to making EC work for your book is to offset the Internal Conflict of your characters with it and use it to poke, stab and punch their issues. EC is their problem, IC is their weakness. Your job as the writer is to make your characters as uncomfortable as you possibly can so that they will face their inner demons to achieve their goals. If you have a character who hates to fly, stuff them into a plane. If you have a character who hates dogs, drop them into a warehouse full of them on guard duty. Say it with me, "Trample, Trample, Trample".

Depending on what line you're writing for, EC has differing levels of importance. Sometimes, it's cliché; nothing more than a veiled prop to set your characters in action. Hero cannot acquire fortune unless he proves he is capable by living without money for a month. Or, heroine will earn grant for her dream business if she agrees to spy on her boss for his investors. A very light conflict that can be overcome by simply telling the truth--if you're willing to sacrifice the things you want for the value of love. This is a great romance staple and there's nothing wrong with it.

But if you want external conflict that is going to last you the length of a full size novel or anything over 55,000 words, you will need EC that has depth, has teeth and taps into your characters weaknesses. Find their weakest point and put them in a situation that attacks it. Then make it worse. Do not give them the ability to balk from it or escape it; but feel free to let them try. More importantly, don't ask the reader to believe that their inner heroism is what forces them into the choices they make. They won't buy it.

People are heroic when they need to be, usually by instinct. No one runs into a burning building just because it's on fire. They run in because they know someone in there can be saved. Or should be. That's the difference between being heroic and being stupid. Stupid characters deserve to burn; heroic ones deserve to come out alive. It's the one time in life when you get to be Justice. Choose wisely.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Late To The Party...

Well, it appears I've caught up to my committments, for the most part. My house is clean, my kid has been diagnosed (shockaroo, folks, he's autistic! *GASP!*--actually, the dr was quite nice and agrees that Moo has come incredibly far--, and the bigger surprise, the laundry is done. I've even managed to get back on track with work. Now the only thing I'm behind on?

Writing, of course.

I simply have to redefine my daily schedule. I'm a morning writer. That's just the way it is. Hubby, kid, yes, even the sibling, get in the way at night. I can multi-task, but writing takes full bore focus. Even editing. Maybe especially editing. But if I write in the morning, my blog time shifts to nights. Which brings me to today's subject.

Do you ever feel that you blog too late in the day? Or, by the time you get to the blogs you want to read, they've been commented like mad and you feel like you're only saying what's already been said? What time is too late to blog hop? Is there a such thing?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

We need more fun around here...

So, here's an interesting contest Tanya found and I'm outright stealing because I got such a good score, lol.

You Have Your PhD in Men

You understand men almost better than anyone.
You accept that guys are very different, and you read signals well.
Work what you know about men, and your relationships will be blissful.

Try it out!

We Knew It Was Going To Happen Sometime...

We all knew I was gonna drop a ball sometime. I just packed a few too many things into my week and BAM...there goes the schedule.

The Author Day--which went great!--took a big chunk of the day. Plus regular Harlequin work. Then the upcoming Winter Open House plans...all of which could have knocked me off, but then we added a few things.

Moo has a neurology appt this week--still have to fill out the paperwork--to grant him an official Autism medical rating. Oh, and he has the day off school--Why, God? WHY??--so the boy starts his Whimper. Add to the fact that no one will be looking for the TTT this late in the week and I'm thinking we'll just have to come back to it next Tuesday.

Sorry to disappoint!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Both Tanya and X tagged me and has finally proven with utmost judiciousness...that I'm the most boring soul in the blogsphere.

I've been given the Meme challenge, which goes as follows:

1. Delve into your blog archive.

2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. Ponder it for meaning, subtext or hidden agendas…

5. Tag five people to do the same.

My 23rd blog entry was the Introduction To The Seven Deadly Sins

Fifth sentence?: "Then, once I came up with the outline, I realized it had to be seven completely separate articles, each one concentrating and detailing the most serious mistakes that universally contribute to rejections and returned manuscripts."

It couldn't have been the Poo with the lights on post, could it? Nope. Cause that would imply something interesting, lol. No mysteries there, or hidden meanings. Whimper.

Worse, I can't tag anyone--all my buddies with blogs have done it. LOL!


Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Hi Everyone!

In honor of today's Belfry Collective Author Day, the Tuesday Teach Day will be postponed until tomorrow. :) But please, be sure to check out the day's festivities! (You'll be joining the Author Day's Yahoo group and getting a whole host of excerpts and prizes!)

World Clock Configuration: (In order for us to coordinate the Aussie & American contingents:)
6 am New York (EST) = 8 pm Canberra, Australia

6 am-7 am– Sweet Romance & Confessions, Highlighting Gerrie Shepard

7 am-8 am Women’s Fiction & Christmas Stories. Hosted by Gerrie Shepard
Authors highlighted in this hour are, Bobby Cole, Gerrie Shepard, and Merry Stahel

8 am-9 am Time Travel, Mystery, & Intrigue Hosted by Merry Stahel
Authors highlighted in this hour are, Merry Stahel, Donica Covey, and Liz Wolfe

9 am-10 am Erotic Romance Hosted by Lyn Cash
Authors highlighted in this hour are, Lyn Cash and Ann Wesley Hardin

10 am-11 am Romantic Suspense and Thriller Hosted by author, Liz Wolfe
Authors highlighted in this hour are, Liz Wolfe, and Bronwyn Parry

11 am–Noon Mainstream and Suspense. Hosted by author Merry Stahel
Authors highlighted in this hour are, Bobby Cole, Donica Covey and Shara Jones

12 pm-1 pm Suspense and Mainstream cont. Hosted by author Shara Jones
Authors highlighted in this hour are, Shara Jones, Sheila Holloway

1 pm-2 pm Hen lit and Chick lit Mysteries. Hosted by author Liz Wolfe
Authors highlighted in this hour are, Liz Wolfe and Bobby Cole

2 pm-3 pm Romance, Mystery, & Mayhem. Hosted by author Shara Jones
Authors highlighted in this hour are, Heather Rae Scott, Liz Wolfe and Lyn Cash

3 pm-4 pm Another hour of Erotic Romance. Hosted by author Lyn Cash
Authors highlighted in this hour are, Ann Wesley Hardin, Lyn Cash, and Alexis Fleming

4 pm-5 pm An hour with an Aussie flavor. Hosted by authors Alexis Fleming and Bronwyn Parry
Authors highlighted in this hour are, Alexis Fleming, and Bronwyn Parry.

5 pm-6 pm = Erotic and Sexy Romance. Hosted by Christine Zubko
Authors highlighted in this hour are, Dee Tenorio, Kris Starr, and Christine Zubko

6 pm-7 pm Contemporary Romance. Hosted by Christine Zubko
Authors highlighted in this hour are, Dee Tenorio, Donica Covey, and Christine Zubko

Monday, October 10, 2005

Belfry Day!

I know, I've neglected y'all this weekend. I'll be better, promise.

But, today's blog will be posted on The Belfry Collective Blog!

Pop on over and give me what-fer!


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bad Dreams, Big Headaches

Sorry for the late post, folks. Believe it or not, I was up early. REAL early. 2:30 am, to be exact.

I've always had a problem with nightmares. I blame my sister, who enjoyed making "Jason" sounds around my bed in the dark while we were growing up. She's ever so slightly sadistic. But, she also ran right into a pole and gave herself a goose-egg that left a permanent curve to her forehead she wasn't born with while we were playing tag. So, I'm calling it even.

So, there I am, in the dark, fairly sure there's something standing in my bathroom that shouldn't be there and afraid not to look, in case it moves. These are the idiot things I do when I wake up in the middle of the night. My one burst of courage was to reach past hubby to turn the light on to it's lowest setting. He didn't stir, which meant I'd have to purposely wake him up. Since he gets to sleep four hours a week, even I couldn't justify waking him up for a dream that didn't involve a gut reaction to imagined infidelity. So, I turned to my other laptop.

We have a great relationship, my other lover and I. It sleeps next to my bed, waiting for my loving attention. You can watch the little sleep light brighten and dim like it's sleeping, honest. I turned to it, then, of all things, I went to work. Yup, I did message boards rounds. Startled the Aussies, who were pretty sure I'd never be there at that hour. Then, and this is how you know I'm a sick puppy...I started writing.

Something about waking up from nightmares and writing always makes me feel like Mary Shelley.

Of course, she wrote a massive piece of classic work that remains a cornerstone of literature. I wrote about a couple freaking out after unexpected sex. Still, I bet Mary wished she had my laptop, so again, we're even.

If you're wondering where I'm going with this post, so am I. I have a headache three miles wide, I don't really intend to make a lot of sense but it's nice to know that no matter how afraid of the dark I am, how out of my head...I still can see that little sleeping light and know I can hide in someone else's world. And if they're having good sex while I'm there, well all the better. :)


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

TTT: Internal Conflict: The First Battleground

My CP mentioned that if she struggles with anything in her writing, it's internal conflict. There were some specific questions presented and she asked if I could possibly come up with some answers for her. I figured it was a fairly good Tuesday Teach Day topic and so, here we go.

1) What the hell is it?
2) What are we supposed to do with it?
3) How do you know if your IC is strong enough?

Now, some of you might be giggling, but you'd be surprised how something like Internal Conflict can mess with people's minds. I've found in some reading around that IC, while a huge element we all need to get a good handhold on, that many people have somewhat different definitions. I find that problematic for the studying writer. The reason that comes about is that different authors want to include shades of what IC can do for your characters in their definitions.

I like to keep things simple: Internal Conflict is, definitively, a single character's mental obstacle that disables their trust.

That does not mean that IC doesn't serve several purposes. But, if you want a definition that is clean and concise, that's what you need. One character. One main personal obstacle to contend with. Each of your central characters should have an internal conflict, preferably with some meat to it. Secondaries are welcome to have one as well, but it's not as important to the story. Don't get hung up on them.

Let's look at the common IC types. There are two major categories: Old Wounds and New Fears.

Old Wounds: These are both the most likely and the most often clichéd aspects of romance. Old Wounds are things that happen to your character in the distant past, usually childhood. Second most common is the Old Wound acquired in a previous marriage (which, reportedly, is ravagingly scarring). This type of internal conflict usually has something to do with the inability to trust others for whatever reason.

Childhood wounds are deeply ingrained in your character. When you use this kind of IC, think of it as a stain. It goes deep into the wood, into the flesh, of your character. You can use all the polish you want to cover it, paint to hide it, but if the wood has a warp, nothing you do to it will take it out. Every decision is weighed by them through that stain, through that warp. A character can choose to look past the automated stain filter, but it's a choice to be rational. The knee jerk reaction will always come first.

For example, abused children who grow into heroes and heroines will view people with a certain level of suspicion until it's proved they are "safe". More so if you have a sexually abused character. This is how they trained to survive at a formative level. Love will change them, but the older your wound, the less likely it is that they will magically become trusting and open. Love HEALS. It doesn't turn back time.

New Fears: This kind of IC is best used with characters in the midst of a personal crisis. They knew who they were and they are currently facing a drastic change that makes them question everything they know. In this case, the internal conflict is the inability to trust themselves.

New Fears can involve characters such as athletes that are suddenly paralyzed or forced into retirement. Intelligent professionals who find themselves unable to recall entire blocks of time or are coming to realizations as to the consequences of their previous choices. (This is particularly good for the surprised father of a secret baby.) Reconciling husbands and wives often face this kind of IC, leaving them to wonder what their responsibility for previous failures might be. New Fears is entirely about uncertainty.

Just like Old Wounds, New Fears creates a stain on the character, however this is generally more of a surface stain. It does not go bone deep and is surmountable. The inner core of the character will out. They have an ingrained sense of self that has been shaken, not destroyed. The challenge for a character with this type of IC is to realize that. Love will often see them through. It will strengthen their courage to face their new fears. Beware of putting your characters in a position where they do not face their new fear internally. It's a great temptation to use the new love as a crutch. The character must regain their faith in themselves as they overcome their New Fear or the IC is not resolved.

Now that we know just what the hell it is, let's discuss how to use it.

Thankfully, this is far easier to explain. IC is the pair of sunglasses your character sees through. It will color their reasoning for their decisions. Many times, a character will go the long way around rather than face their IC head on.

I know plenty of people will argue with me, but IC needs to be seen as part of a character's motivation. It is WHY they are willing or unwilling to do something. The other side of motivation is the External Conflict--a situation that puts the character in a position where they MUST do something. These two, for the purposes of your story, need to work intrinsically to move your character across the story canvas. Just like driving a stick, you've got your foot on the clutch and on the gas. As one pedal rises, the other will be pushed down. Hit them both and the car stalls. Apply one too much and the other not enough, and the car stalls. Apply pressure in a yin-yang equation and you've got a car that gets you somewhere.

For example, you'll need to establish the internal conflict--hero was an abused child, he fears being as dangerous to children as his parents were to him--then present the external conflict--former lover dies, leaving him to raise the child he didn't know they had. The hero has a viable concern about the child's safety, but he bears responsibility for the child. Apply pressure to the IC--kid is a baby and screams all night long. Pull back on the EC--he's been told that if he can watch the child for one night, a social worker can see him in the morning about placing the child elsewhere, providing relief. Switch. Man manages to get the kid to sleep without throttling it, he's exhausted but feels he's passed a test. Until he discovers that the social worker cannot take the child until a suitable home is found...that she'll be checking on him and the child daily in the interrim, but that it could take a few weeks. The relief is gone, the stakes are now higher. Repeat.

At every stage of increasing the stakes, the tension is higher for the character, forcing him to face his ingrained wound in both a situational and emotional level. Remember, because no one wants to face their fears, your character is going to fail to overcome, which will tighten the noose of the IC on them, especially as the stakes keep rising. And failure needs to have consequences equal to the level of failure. For our example hero, losing his temper with the child might have him break something the child sees, or slam a door or yell at the child directly--proof to himself that he's no better than his parents--and he might even leave the child in someone else's care so that he can escape the pressure. Upon his return, however, the social worker would have seen the ample evidence of his failure and applied more pressure and/or guilt by either upping the stakes with an ultimatum (taking the kid away, which is suddenly a frightening thought instead of a blessing) or reminding him that his responsibility is to the child, not himself. Laws of physics apply to literature: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

My CP did mention a particular concern in how to apply IC--can it be derrived from the External Conflict or the situation they are in? Sadly, the answer is no. An Internal Conflict must come from INSIDE the character. Whether the situation exists or not, your character will have this ISSUE. They are IMBUED with it. I capitalize these words so that you can use them as keys to remember what Intenal Conflict is.

A woman who has had her trust in her husband damaged will have that trust issue with him no matter if he is gone, part of her life or reemerging into it. The story is, for that character, the way they face their issue, how it colors their decisions and how they overcome it. At least, that's why people are reading it.

So, how do you know if your character's IC is strong enough?

Sadly, there's no litmus test that will tell you if the IC is ripe and ready to sell. But ask yourself these core questions. If you can't answer one or the answer strikes you as something you'd smack your friend for thinking because it's lame reasons to justify poor decisions, then you might want to tighten it up.

1) What kind of IC does my character have?
2) Have I shown it--at least to the reader--prior to presenting the situation (EC)?
3) Does my character have established reasons for this IC?
4) Do I show where the IC effects which choices they make?
5) Do I challenge the IC anywhere in my MS? Does my character fail to overcome it prior to the plot climax? Are the consequences equal and opposite?
6) When my character struggles with his IC, is it melodramatic or effective? Does he ever make progress and lose ground?
7) When my character does overcome, have I made it a permanent change to his nature? Does that seem believable considering the amount of time my character has had his IC?

With any luck, you'll now have a better understanding of your characters IC and how to apply it. Go out and torment.

Next week: External Conflict: The War Room

Monday, October 03, 2005

Walkin' The Walk

Hubby and I were talking yesterday, one of our rare walking and talking kind of evenings when neither of us was umbilically connected to our computers, and I brought him up to speed with my evil plot to become an erotica author.

Hubby, to say the least, is amused.

It's not that he doesn't find me sexy--I'm hot, dammit!

It's not that I'm not at least decently creative in our bedroom--double joints, baby.

What it is--oddly enough--is that he's not sure I can pull off the Skank Factor.

See, before any heads go blowing off (no pun intended--though there probably should be, might lose a point for that), to be an Erotica author, I'm discovering you have to be somewhat fearless. You've got to be comfortable using language that will scare your mother. You have to be at peace with describing sexual positions in graphic terms and make it good enough that your reader needs a cigarette and/or a man. Immediately. I'll have to not blush with my sexual innuendo. Not lower my voice when I use the gutsy phrases. And, most importantly, I have to have a pair of big brassy balls that enable me to get down an dirty. I have to develop a Skank Factor.

Now, I've listed that I'm pragmatic. I'm a mother of an autistic child. If I value my sanity, I wear a lot of knits, sweats and easy wash, who cares about the stain products. I'm allergic to most chemicals, so I rarely wear make-up. I have hair that needs to be ironed to look like anything other than a rat's nest. (Contrary to all that, I can still work up the occasional HOT status) But I have to admit to quite a bit of naiveté. I try to reason out fetishes (Will someone PLEASE explain why Furries exist??), I have to have diagrams to figure out a complicated position and I'm usually the person that goes, "Ohhhhh!" about fifteen minutes after a sexual reference in a movie. Hubby is probably right to wonder if I can do this. He questions that I have the natural impulse to consider or imagine something outside my comfort zone.

However, Hubby doesn't totally know the deviousness of my mind. And no woman ever divulges all her personal thoughts, desires and fantasies. For all he knows, I have an undying desire to run the Great Wall of China stark nekid to a sea of men at the other end. (Not likely, but I COULD!) So, I'd say I have a fifty/fifty shot--provided I do my research and toss off my inhibitions on the page and maybe a little bit in real life.

To that end--and this I think y'all might get a kick out of--hubby and I are keeping score.

All actions, impulses and remarks I make are now being judged for Skank Factor, lol. Points are lost for nervous giggling or blushing. So, when I make a dirty joke, I gotta do it like a pro. Have earned about 3 Skank Points this weekend.

I'm thinking if I can hit 100 in a day at some point, lol, I'll be Uber-Skeeze and worthy of some Skanky Respect. (I wonder if I'll get dinner with that?)