Thursday, September 29, 2005


Howdy everyone!

As you know, I generally take a day to discuss me and my son. He's what you'd call a unique little boy. Sadly, this week he's fairly typical and has gotten a bitter taste of second grade.

Yes, the boy done caught a bug.

Then he brought it home to share.

A form of rotovirus, which means even if nothing goes in him, something is coming out. Violently. Thankfully, as I'm the only one who handles the boy when he's turned his fluids into a projectile, I have more antibodies than him and appear to be keeping most of my business to myself. But, I have the low grade fever and according to the doctor, we should both expect it to last a few weeks. The bonus is that most likely will lose weight. Ah well.

Anyhoo, so I mentioned that I would be posting some of Moo's fabulous feats. First off, this week we actually got him to attempt to eat a carrot. And took photos for posterity.

Carrot piece came out of his mouth in record time, but he actually bit into it!

Also here is some close ups of Moo's Kinnex plane. He tried to build the one in the booklet, but found it either too basic or simply too much a waste of his playtime. So, he stripped it down and redesigned himself a plane from scratch. The only pieces that anyone else designed were the four far corners of the wings. He wanted a cargo plane with some three-dimensional body and an undercarriage. It took him one month and three designs to come up with this one so that the tail had support. It's been intact since July 4th. Not bad for a seven year old, considering that Mommy and Daddy were not allowed to help and he's been known to sleep with it.


Crossed Wireds

Forgive this extra post, folks, if you could. Was having signal problems and found that when it posted, I didn't know aboutit and it included someone else's text.

Very, VERY weird.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The 1st Deadly Sin: Implausibility

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”--Tom Clancy

If you want to know what the most Deadly Sin in writing of any kind is, I want you to check out the trash can closest to your favorite reading area. Once you’ve located it, check the wall for scuffs and dents. These have probably been made by you throwing your book--as hard as you can--into the trash. What would cause that? Make you damage your own wall with satisfying dents and multicolored smears? The leading reason a book is rejected, my friends.


Sure, you can argue that the entire romance genre is “unlikely” at best. That gorgeous looking man who smells good, cleans his house and his feet, loves his dog, dreams of children and wants to be with down-to-earth us might not exist. That we’re creating fantasies and while we’re at it, we should dream for the stars.

But I’d still smack you down.

The best fantasies are the ones that seem real. Even the wildest dreams can be believable if the viewer is immersed in things they can accept along with things they cannot. It’s sort of like when your child cleans the house spotless, does their homework without being told and asks for extra veggie portions at dinner. That kid is either up to something or covering it up. You just don’t buy that you’ve got the greatest kid on the planet. Why would you expect readers to believe the same kind of thing?

Let’s begin with identifying what makes something implausible. How “neat” is your story? By this I mean, how many things tie themselves up into perfect little bows, like little presents of perfection? Life ain’t neat, pieces rarely tie together quickly or easily. The presentation should never be “perfect”. Take a look at these elements and see how your manuscript adds up.

Inciting incident: Do characters and situations just happen to come together? Is there a reason other than “fate” why they meet? Does your FBI heroine just feel like investigating in a certain area or is she sent there for a specific reason?

Characterization: Do your characters have all the same interests to explain why they like each other? Have you exposed any depths of them to the other to provide sexual tension, or is that created completely by physical reaction? When they claim to be in love, can they tell the other character why without mentioning a single body part?

Plot: No matter how complicated your plot needs to be--a romantic comedy or a single title mystery--you need to be sure that there are no magic wands involved. Your plot is the spine of your book, enabling it to stand and walk. If it hangs on information falling into the hands of the primary characters at just the right time, you’d better have something better than luck to explain it. Bad guys don’t have magical changes of heart. Heroes and heroines don’t just throw away the chances of a lifetime without some regrets, remorse or reasoning. How you build your plot is just as important as how you resolve it.

Situations: Remember the slasher films? Bubbly bodacious blonde bombshell in babydoll bumbles into basement...and evil, undead killer? Dozens of movies worked that in and dozens upon dozens of times you rolled your eyes. No woman in her right mind--and lets face it, how often are the stupid that brave?--is going to make such a moronic decision. Judge the decisions your characters make by the same stick. Is the situation cliché? Does it lead down a path you’ve read in dozens of books (ie: rugged and brilliant adventurer saves bookish heroine from sure death, leading her into a forest/jungle/vast wasteland of some sort where they can run for a few days, making sure to be uncomfy, tired, dirty, oh and don’t forget aroused. Generally sex occurs, leading reader on secret baby or heroine afraid of committing to dangerous man plotline.)? Do your characters NEED to be there or are you just putting it in because it sounds good?

Motivations: This is a killer almost every time. Why are your characters doing what they do? There are three options:

1) Internal Conflict: They are motivated by things that happened in their past.

2) External Conflict: They are motivated by someone manipulating them in the present.

3) Because that’s what it says in the script.

Best described as the issues that haunt your character and prevent them from moving forward with their relationships, IC is a cliché graveyard. One of these days, I’m going to write down the IC of each character in each of my keeper shelf books. Just to see how many have the same problems--Physical Abuse as a child or spouse; Mate cheated on them and they’ve lost respect/interest for the opposite sex, but might still be convinced in sleeping with them; Inability to commit because they had no good examples as parents and fear damaging partner & as yet invisible children.

IC is mental and extremely important to your character’s motivations. It dictates why they make certain decisions and run away like their hair is on fire (at least emotionally) in others. If you give your character a paper thin internal conflict--read as cliché--so that it’s easier for you to write or understand them, you will find their motivations will not be clear. They will overexplain why they are making decisions because the reader would question them otherwise. Big clue here: If the reader needs to be explained to in depth as to why a character is making a decision, it should ONLY be when the character is shifting and changing to a healthier mindset. If they still explain things that are in character for them to do based on their internal either need to add some beef to that conflict or trust your reader--and your own writing--to know without being bludgeoned.

External conflict is an unfriendly beast to many. EC is what is making your character’s life so hard right now. It is the situation they cannot escape. It is usually complicated by their internal conflicts. Hero is afraid of heights. He’s been ordered to work security in a gala affair at the Space the restaurant at the top. He’d prefer not to do this job, especially without explaining his phobia. Except his daughter is kidnapped and being held inside. He now has a serious external situation--the kidnapping--complicated by his internal conflict--admitting he has a fear.

The best way to handle EC is to really pour it on. Layer by layer, chapter by chapter, add to the tension by upping the stakes. Reveal that the hero cannot leave this situation to anyone else because.... Hammer him over the head with escalating opportunities to overcome his fear--jumping a gap high off the ground, placing the daughter within his reach if he can just get over himself--that he fails.

You see, the more important the mission you character is on, the more at risk and the less availability for escape, the more likely they will be willing to change. Leave them options for getting out of it and they would--like anyone else--take them. Your reader will not believe your hero would rush into the building he fears so deeply if there are dozens of better trained professionals nearby to do the job. He’s risking his daughter’s life for pride? Would you cheer that kind of man on? No. But if there is a singular, all-important reason for him to go in despite his lack of the best skills...then you’ve got a story your reader might be interested in turning the page to.

That third reason? It’s a quote of my father’s for when that bodacious blonde arrives on the scene. It’s what is called “lazy writing”. You want the story to go a certain way and that’s all that matters to you. You must be able to provide a physical drive or an emotional reaction that dictates the decisions of your characters. If you cannot, it’s because it’s in the script. If that’s the case, rejection is in the script as well.

Now, all your elements are passing muster. Your characters have begun their adventure for a reason that makes sense. They go places that have reasonable merit to whatever it is they are trying to achieve. They make their decisions based on emotional reaction dicatated by their internal concerns as well as those of the situation they are trying to find a way out of. You’re doing well. The final hurdle is before you.

What do your characters say?

Dialogue: A great plot and brilliant characterizations can be utterly destroyed by the wrong word choices. Stilted dialogue will make a page turner into a wall banger in ten seconds flat. The ultimate killer is dialogue changes. The absolute worst thing a writer can do is change the way a character speaks, simply because his situation has been resolved. I call this the “My Darling” disease. It’s heinous and evil and yes, if I find out you did it, I will beat you with unsanded sticks.

The “My Darling” disease usually occurs at the end of a book, in most cases. The hero and heroine have survived the rigors of gaining their relationship, perhaps overcome the lies of others, miscues and mortal peril and the hero will take her into his arms, press his lips to her forehead and in all shades of desperation proclaim, “My darling.”

He generally says something after that, but I never find out what because the book is across the room. Preferably in half.

Rule of thumb: If your character wouldn’t use endearments normally, they won’t use them at all--not even for post-coital bliss.

Characters who use the phrase, “Darling” will use it at other points in their lives. It should crop up somewhere in their language prior to the final page. There are plenty of people who use it; I’m told it’s the endearment of choice for Europeans. But it’s not for everyone. “My Darling” isn’t the only bookstopper of that kind. Insert the endearment of your choice. All that matters is if they wouldn’t use one on page 3, they sure shouldn’t use one on page 240.

Another dialogue crime is using dialogue for info-dumping. For exposition, yes; have at it. Have characters discuss their situation and in conversation look for resolution. Use dialogue for plot resolution or emotional catharsis; of course. With my blessings. But do not, for the love all that is holy, have them use it to provide incidental details. A character who waxes on and on about how people know each other, are related, enjoy basket weaving and will bore your reader to death. They may even beat their own heads in with your book.

Do you have your character walk down halls, down stairs, through the lobby, to the car, down the road, turn left, turn right, wait for the green and finally come to a rest at the house of their hero or heroine? Nope, you’re a smart writer. You don’t need those transitions if nothing is happening in them. You have the character leave work in one line, the next, they pull up at the house. Don’t do the same thing in dialogue. Stick with pertinent facts, slide clues and red herrings in along with voice and personality. The less you overcrowd your dialogue, the more believable it becomes.

That is the final aspect of this Sin. Decide the most pertinent information you need to deliver to your reader. Include that--via each of the above elements--first. Then elaborate with style and texture. Be sure in your editing to refrain from stripping the meat off the bones, leaving only the fluff. Meat is what delivers the nutrients, the proteins, the building blocks of believability to your story. Take them out, spread them too thinly, and your books will not satisfy your reader because the fantasy never becomes real. Master reality and everything else will come together beneath it.

Thanks for spending the last seven weeks with me, I hope this series has given you some insights and possibly helps clear the path on your road to publication.

Best of luck to us all!

Monday, September 26, 2005

New Leaves

As promised in my RTB column this month, I am turning over a new leaf. My Writing Anniversary comes up Oct 1st and I'd like to have a correct mindset going into Year Eight. Something positive, since I've been in a funk since July and good lord, y'all must be bored of that.

So, I'm going to set myself some goals, having spoken this weekend with some of my writing buddies, Belfrites ThisChristine and Sunny Lyn. And, I've also heard from several authors that setting goals--provided they are goals that YOU can achieve, not ones that require someone else to make your dreams come true *cougheditorscough*--is a smart way to keep your chin up and your muse healthy. So, to that end, I'm coming up with 5 Goals for myself in the 2005/06 (September-July) season.

Submit to EC: I've been impressed with the growth of Ellora's Cave/Cerridwen Press. I also write fairly frisky, so this might be a fit that I've been overlooking. I currently have an ms in at Cerridwen and hope to hear something soon. Also, should my Lonnigan Series not pass muster at M&B (it's been there for some time already), I have a feeling that EC would be well suited to it.

Submit Articles: I'm still slightly nervous about this one, but I do believe that it is a good step to take myself. My CPs and I regularly discuss if I have credentials or not. They argue that my time as a submitting writer and my time working with Harlequin are definitely professional credentials. My thinking is that I need to provide specific publishing credentials. All of us would like this discussion to stop, lol. I have never attempted to sell non-fic, but I think this might be a good step in a new and healthy direction. Topics will be Writing Techniques and Parenting of Special Needs Children.

Complete Edits On All Unfinished Projects: I have four projects that require editing:

Vetta must have a complete edit, as that one is being submitted to EC by end of September.

The Lonnigans--the edits are written for the First Book, but not imputted, that MUST be done by end of first week of October. Second book should have a read through completed and imputted by final week of October.

Betting Hearts must be edited by Thanksgiving.

Begin A New MS: Pin down which project I intend to tackle first and make a firm decision as to where I'm targetting. I need to make an order of attack for my submissions, subject only to which Publishing House might take me on. Currently, my submitting cycle is Harlequin, Cerridwen/Ellora's Cave. Should one house pass, I can test it with other houses. I'm also to spend at least one hour of each week researching various publishing houses so that I have a better grasp on what they are looking for and can widen my submitting circle. Should I find success at any given publishing house, I will submit to them first and review which order of houses to submit to should they pass on it.

Settle The Agent Question: I am something of a versatile author and have several idea pages for multiple genres, which leads my CPs and close writing friends to believe that perhaps an agent is a good choice for me. Since I primarily write category size manuscripts, I may have wrongfully thought that an agent was unnecessary. I'm also exceedingly cheap and I have trouble with the prospect of giving someone up to 15% of my earnings for submitting to places I can submit without them. However, it has become painfully clear that outside of Harlequin and a few other ePubs, I am woefully underinformed as to the market and there are many doors closed to me because of a lack of agent representation. (Or persoanl affiliation with RWA, so I have no access to the services they provide to members)

I have also been under the impresion that I'd be wasting an agent's time because I have not completed a Single Title sized manuscript to send them. Personally, I fear the 100k mark. I've written to that length before, but it was quite some time ago and I can be pretty sure that it was primarily crap on a stick, not to mention padded like cotton candy. The ideas will keep coming and I'm constantly looking to better my plotting skills, but I still shake in my boots at the prospect. For a book that large, the plot must be substantial and the writing needs to be damn, damn good. I will challenge myself not to shy away from completing a full size ST. Should I finish this undertaking--it will remain a side project for the time being--I will definitely need to take on an agent, so that the book can be properly submitted.

I am still very undecided if an agent is something I need to investigate at this stage of my writing and would love some imput from other writers as to when is a good time in your career to consider an agent and a few suggestions of where to look would not be unwelcome. :) What should a person look for when researching them? What is the most important aspect of an agent to you?

Many thanks and Happy Monday!

Friday, September 23, 2005

"Wishes Are Like Children"

I was recently asked a not so unusual question...which is why it probably put me into a paroxysm of indecision. At first, I was sure I knew the answer. But then...then the doubts arose and I wondered why I was so sure.

You see, someone asked me which of my manuscripts is my favorite, most publishable, piece of work.

My mind immediately ran to the last ms I wrote, which is hands down my favorite. I loved the characters, they had strong conflicts, they were utter smart-alecks and they were crafty. There's just something about intelligent characters that can really get a writer hopped up. For the first time, the book seems to have everything--characters, motivations, conflicts, depth and the real miracle...PLOT.

But is it my favorite because it's the last thing I wrote? The last complete thing?

Is it my favorite because the writing elements seem to have come together for the first time in my life? Is that more important than the characters inside?

What about the story with the virgin out to drive the town wild? Or the tomboy cum hot chick out to get her best friend? Didn't I love those? Don't I still? Are mss really like our children and we love them equally? Or is that another lie our mother's tell us "for our own good"?

How do you go about picking your favorite piece of work to pitch or just to answer a simple question from a friend?

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Howdy everyone!

Today's my first article as a Romancing The Blog Columnist! So, in the immortal words of Jack Black:

"That's all you get for free, Beotches!"
To read Dee, Click the button below!

Hope you like it, I reached to the bottom of my cookie sheet depth for this one. :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


LOL, so, nothing exciting is going on in my life today that I'm real interested in sharing. I have a work meeting and I'm still avoiding my edits, though I really don't know why. And as I tried to think up something blogworthy, I realized, there's a lot of news out there that I'm all right with seeing and checking in on, but I don't want to hammer it into anyone's brain. I'm not a politcal speaker, so there goes that. How about something fun for people who are depressed enough and will be depressed more in the near future?

So, I thought I'd do the Horoscope Wheel of Fortune and share with you what the "stars" (in various places) are telling me to expect today:

From Yahoo (supplied by

Quickie) Are you prepared for romance? You'd better be, because one is headed your way.

Response: Actually I'm married. Ten years in November. We're pretty much always in romance. (We make people sick, actually.) Unless this is actually a warning that I'll be writing again soon. Dammit, and I was doing so well at laying here doing nothing!

Nobody, but nobody, does earthy sensuality as well as you do it. Play up your romantic self, with the luxurious (yet practical) twist that only you can bring to the whole enterprise. Maybe it's time for a class on massage techniques?

Response: Yes, well, that's true. (Snort) When they say "play up" do they mean put on something that is NOT a pair of sweats and perhaps some make up? Luxurious yet practical...sorry, I'm not getting it. HAHAHAHA @ massage techniques. Did I NOT mention I'm married? I've been giving neck rubs and foot rubs for years. My KID now comes up to me with the lotion bottle and chirps, "Mommy, Wub?" No way is anyone dragging me to a class for it.

Daily Extended Forecast for September 21, 2005)

You've still got it, but then again, did you ever doubt that? Actually, you might have been doing just that -- a recent situation has been leaving you with the feeling that your charisma meter had a busted tube or something. Thankfully, you can dump that attitude right where it belongs and get back to business as usual. The stars are pumping your charm back up where it belongs -- and even higher. This baby goes all the way up to 11!

Response: Well, all right, they get points for this one. I was afraid that I had lost it. I just wasn't sure what IT was. I don't know about charisma, though. If you could see my hair today--picture Frankenstein's wife for kink value--and I think we'd both agree that charisma is not on my list of attributes.


Activities based at home are likely to be more fun than social entertainment. Go easy with credit use and avoid money disputes. Share feelings, plans and POV's this morning; you will be fully accepted.

Response: Oh, thank God! Since I have no plans to leave home today and my credit cards weigh about 50lbs, I should be safe! Talk about good timing! Money disputes...sadly, the only disputes I have about money are with the folks who want it from me. I guess the work meeting will go all right, though...provided I don't talk about money. I wonder if the Boss wrote this one? Hmmmm..... LOL!

From :

Someone may be trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Start making things or reusing rather than buying ready made. You may get drawn into a personal situation that will not be to your liking.

Response: I'm the HELL do you get THAT from stargazing? Did Saturn do a pantomine that NASA miraculously missed?

From :

Don't let emotional matters escalate. Stay calm; don't believe everything you hear. Don't make a decision based on half-truths and innuendos. Focus on your own advancement.

Response: Hmmm, I'm beginning to see why people think New Agers are flaky. They're not spacey, folks, they're just getting confusing messages from the heavens. So far, I've been told not to talk about money, but to talk about my feelings, that someone is trying to screw me over, so don't buy anything and maybe I should be careful about expressing my feelings because I'll get into a personal situation that will suck, oh, and don't be emotional about the person trying to screw me with this sucky situation, I could be WRONG (how can I be wrong when three horoscopes are POSITIVE that they're trying to screw me?), so don't make any decisions...and while I'm at it, see if I can get something good out of my boss concerning my job...but don't ask for money. Do people really get paid to write these things? Why am I not in THAT field?

Final Daily from :

AdZe's Fortune Cookie) The power of your personality will make the difference now.

Response: As opposed to yesterday, when it didn't mean shit.

Current Influence of the Inner Planets (Each influence lasts from a day to several weeks.) ) You are ready for the new and unusual. Expect non-conformity and excitement. Offer something better, faster, cheaper, or more efficient.... Go with the flow. Be creative and sexy. Enjoy top notch professional entertainment.... Communication flows well. Organization and negotiation brings favorable agreements.... To get more love, develop your grace, charm and sense of values.... Develop your stamina and physique.

Response: "Be creative and sexy...enjoy top notch professional entertainment..." I'm confused, does this mean BECOME a stripper or just go see one? I'm thinking it means become one, especially after the advice to develop my stamina and physique. What? I could strip in my current state. For all they know, I'm nekkid right now, the insulting bastids.

Current Influence of the Outer Planets (Each influence lasts from a day to several weeks.) ) Get more power by vowing to become a "master."... Improved self-expression is dramatic and subtle. Unique new opportunities bring pleasant surprises. Your best ideas are ready for television.... You are challenged to be charismatic. Express your fantasies. Steer clear of hypersensitive folks.

Response: These are some kinky folks! Apparently, my future is being a dominatrix! I see it now. That would explain the attempts to screw me, above. "Dramatic and subtle" Is that like stripping, but not being a hooker? If I take up this particular new opportunity, I'm sure someone will be pleasantly surprised. Still, I'd like a little practice before I hit TV to express my fantasies. Steering clear of hypersensitive folks should be easy, don't imagine they'd be watching that channel anyway. just pull this off without ruining my new romance or asking for money.... Or will becoming a volunteer, unpaid stripper intern who falls in love with her boss while dancing my expressed fantasies and points of view be too confusing and lead to that personal situation with the person who wants to screw me that I don't want to be in. Will I make the wrong decision based on half-truths and innuendo, believing our love will never last and ask for a raise, thereby ruining my karma AND increasing the size of my out of shape ass? Is it me, or do y'alll think I could write that and make it a best selling erotica novel? Hey, maybe daily astrolgy WORKS!!

Smooches all!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The 2nd Deadly Sin: Phraseology

Phra·se·ol·o·gy  (frz-l-j)
n. pl. phra·se·ol·o·gies
1. The way in which words and phrases are used in speech or writing; style.

The Second Deadly Sin is placed here because despite how far you’ve come and gone with your writing, this one sneaks past you every time because you never see it coming. It’s internal to your mind and personality and it’s far more costly than the previous sins--it can effect your readership in advancing stages of your career, particularly after you’ve sold.

Much like Repetition, Phraseology is about word choices. Poor word choices. Remember, a writer’s voice is most often discovered in the strength of their sentences and in how often they use them, as well as to what effect. If the writer relies too heavily on their Voice to flavor the book, they can oversaturate it and leave the reader in search of less intrusive writing.

But how can you tell if your phraseology has gone from flavor and become an impediment?

Let’s begin with characters reflected in word choice. How your characters talk is a major part of how the reader connects with them, decides who they are and if they like them. Their dialogue must make them unique, original. True to who they are and where they come from.

This is not license to go ballistic with ill-placed apostrophes to create dialect--any punctuation used in this manner should be applied with a light hand and very infrequently. It’s a prop and not a good one.

What I mean by being true to who characters are and where they come from is this: look at the depth of your character. A strong willed man who has worked his way from the bottom of the heap will not have indecisive dialogue. He won’t be buried in ellipses, nor will he have many questions to his speech. Some, but not many because he knows what he wants and he’s not--by character--likely to be too interested in the opinions of others. That might change with his story arc, but that would be the choice of the writer and it would be done specifically to show the character’s change. That would be a phraseology choice...and in my opinion a good one.

Similar to reflecting characters in dialogue, you will find that showing who they are through introspection is just as important. You are able to reveal more of them from their own minds, how they think and what they think about. Many authors use these opportunities to show duplicity in their character; a man who would risk all for his own gain...or a man who suffers inside as he sacrifices all to protect those he loves.

The most important aspect of both these types of writing and why they apply to this particular sin is that you use them both to create individual identity for your characters. Don’t muddy the waters by giving them all the same words and phrases to think with.

A favorite writer of mine loves the phrase, “Not a chance.” This works great for decisive heroes. But about the thirteenth book, I realized many characters were using it, and not in the cute inside joke kind of way. Heroines weren’t quoting the heroes to get their goats. They were simply using the same words as he would because that is the phraseology the author speaks and thinks with. Be sure to separate who YOU are from who THEY are, and even more importantly, separate who THEY are from EACH OTHER.

By allowing the writer’s mind to lead each character’s dialogue or introspection and internal monologue, you take the reader out of the story. The book becomes simply a book again. It’s not an adventure, it’s not an escape. The reader is plainly aware of where they are and who they are and can very easily step away from the book or the author. And never return. Why spend money on a book you never connect and you never fully believe? Succinctly? You don’t.

Once you have mastered picking yourself out of the story--but leaving enough of yourself for it to remain alive--you will want to concentrate on whether or not you can strengthen your sentences with stronger verbs. This will help remove you from the ranks of “passive voice” abuser. Make your sentences pop and lock by avoiding adverbs--again, no need to become a Nazi, genocide on any word or structure only weakens your writing; learn to master them and use them properly--and looking for verb choices that concisely express the tension, tone and action you’re trying to convey.


Jenny ran across the field, desperate to reach the other end.

Better: Jenny raced to the other end of the field.

Always look for the strongest word combinations to convey emotion, physicality, sensory and setting. Even the most boring soul will express response. It’s not what they’re doing or how it’s done that dictates word choice--it’s how you want the character--and thus your reader--to feel about them. Something that should be rule of thumb for all parts of writing.

Next Week: The Deadliest Sin: Implausibility

Monday, September 19, 2005

Fruit Loops: The Adventures of Fat Mom and Round Boy Continue...

For a kid who doesn't speak with the most fluency, my son is fully capable of making promises he won't keep. This weekend's vow of most solemnency was, "Yes, Daddy, I will eat the Fruit Loops."

Now, you have to understand that in many ways, despite his briliance with things he shouldn't understand (you know, physics, aeronautics, three dimensional space, etc), my boy is a bit behind in some of the kidly enterprises. At age three, he finally began to speak. At age five, he said "I love you" for the very first time. At age six, he discovered what Christmas was on an annual scale. Age seven, he finally recognized that his birthday was Christmas all over again (and there was much rejoicing.). And now, still age seven, but SOOOOO much more boy has become subject to commercial brain washing.

He parrots "Five bucks. Circle Round the Good Stuff!". He insists that "GEOX" shoes are for him. (They sell only at Nordstom, so I informed him they most likely will never be for him, but I digress.) He begs for Push pops (blue!) and he's gone on a waffle craze you wouldn't believe. He's being allowed to pick his food, in an effort to get him to try new things. (I keep praying for an onslaught of broccoli commercials, but I don't think The WB will oblige.) And he IS trying them. So, it was only a matter of time before the boy arrived in the cereal aisle and requested a box of cereal.

Lest I berate you with more inane backstory, the kid doesn't drink milk. He was violently allergic, it seemed, as a small baby and since I'm pretty sure his memory is clear all the way back to inception, he has always rejected it on principle. He recently--thanks to Oreo cookie ads--requested a glass to dunk his cookie into. I'm pretty sure the taste was horrid--considering the look on his face--but he ate said cookie and requested never again. But this weekend, my son hugged his blessed box of Fruit Loops and begged his father for them. I was assured that he VOWED to eat them and with a sigh, alllowed them into the cart.

Boy was all a twitter. Fruit Loops! His soulmate, at long last, was found! There were no impatient noises from the back seat. Not until the car stopped with the tiny chirp of, "Fruit Loops?" In an effort not to beat him, because he made up for lost time while the car unloaded and we trudged up the stairs, I poured him a bowl of dry cereal. I did ask about milk, but he rejected with the expression I've come to recognize as the child version of "Are you HIGH??". And so, the boy sat in front of his bowl with a smile that could change the world.

Then he tasted one.

Sadly, I believe my child has bought into the thinking that if it's on TV, it's true. Or worthwhile. He really DOES think that Fruit Loops are part of a good breakfast. He's positive that some where out there, Jackie Chan Adventures really are taking place. He KNOWS that if he checks every bush and tree and pool of water, he will find a pokemon he can crack on the head and make his own.

That first bite of Fruit Loop was perhaps flavored with the vile taste of disappointment. Just what the HELL had his mother done to his wonderful Fruit Loops?? SHE had taken them from obviously delicious to frighteningly dry and hard. He knew it. As if to test this theory on the FL Poisoning, he offered me one. I ate it. Shoot, I ate two, I was hungry. And that, my friends, is when he knew. The commercials had lied. He'd been swindled. And now, he was stuck with a promise he couldn't keep.

So, he put on his brave face and stirred his spoon in crinkling kiddie kibble. But not a loop was eaten.

Does this mean I have a bad kid? Nah. But I do have one who is probably going to rethink his promises a little more before he makes them. As for me, I ate that bowl and hiked my rather large back end onto my exercise bike. I have failed in my quest to manage Resistance 2. So, I switched it back to 1 and set my goals at 10 miles a day. This is doable. :) And hopefully, the back end might fit on the seat some day.

PS: The next day, my valiant boy requested another bowl of gruel. So, I poured the tinkly circles into the bowl and offered to eat one if he did. It took some work--I think his plan is to ask for them, let them go stale and have to be thrown away until the box is empty--but he managed to chew through a loop. He surprised himself. In fact, while his expression was that of a boy licking the underside of horse hooves, he proclaimed the Fruit Loops "GOOD" and proceeded to eat a few spoonfuls. I'm calling it progress. :)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Paper or Plastic?

Once, a long time ago, I wrote all my stories long hand. Had no choice, it was either that or tie someone up so they could listen to them.

Then, I bought a computer. (This would be the crappy little PC that is still alive in parts at my sister's house...having spread it's evil to my mother's house first. Only the monitor lives, which really does make me think the Midevals were onto something about drawing and quartering their enemies.) At work, I still wrote long hand, then came home and typed things in with mild editing--you know, cause I didn't need more than that. (snort). I really thought that was the way I had to write. It was my process...even if I had horrific tendonitis and even worse handwriting, meaning some days even I couldn't read what I wrote.

We got a newer computer and I kept up my habit. Then, since I was a Stay At Home Mom, I realized I was doubling my time and started typing in directly. This revolutionized my life, even if it was a hard transition. But, since I did have a kid, I still printed out to do my editing. It was a great help, actually, to see it on paper. Things you didn't see on the screen were suddenly so glaringly clear on the page. (Especially those mysterious indent tabs you thought you deleted out.) I could take the whole manuscript with me places and edit in the car, on the couch, at the dinner table. (It's not rude, conversation while we eat becomes dangerous at our house. Hubby bites his tongue or his lip and I gesture broadly...when you have a steak knife, that's just asking for trouble.)

Then we got the laptop. I love my lappy. It fits in my bag and goes everywhere. It's not as ugly as a battered notebook and it's silent typing. Why, I can even bring it to bed while hubby is sleeping and write til I pass out!

But what about editing?

Are print outs still necessary? Am I clinging to the old ways the same way I did with writing longhand? Are the benefits of printing out to edit made obsolete by the lightweight laptop that can be just as versatile as paper,if not more? Is the value of seeing your story on the page worth the cost of ink?

What do you think? How do y'all edit? Do you use paper? Or Plastic encased technology?


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thursday Thoughts

I would like to make Thursday a regular thinking day, but that might be asking a bit much of the old braincells. But they're kind of awake today, so I thought I'd just ramble on about what I've been doing this week.

First of all, I am sensing an awakening. My muse is starting to come to from the powerhouse sucker punch she took from my son. (Who knew the chit would have a glass jaw?) I finished the edits on one of my last mss. This is good because I've been attempting to work on it all summer and had to all but rewrite the end. So enamored was I, apparently, of my next book I pretty much wrote crib notes for the last two chapters of this one and had called it a day. I hereby tattoo myself "Moron" and vow never to do that again.

Yeah, I don't buy it either, but I'll give it a good shot.

Also, my beloved Chargers talked themselves out of beating Bill Parcells and the Cowboys. I don't want to say that it was because we didn't have our Tight End who held out and got suspended for Game 1. It's because they forgot that 7 yards to the endzone in 47 seconds is completely possible with a rusher. Especially LaDanian Tomlinson. Run the frick'n ball, Marty. It ain't against the law. But, ultimately, I blame Jammer, our Safety. Hands off, honey, should have learned that in high school when the gals started slapping you.

Other than that, I've been noticing that I'm slowly but sure scraping off my bitterness. It's a thick crust, most likely born of industry stagnation, aggrivated health problems, multiple long ms waits, irritation with editing and the long, long LONG summer of mommies. My son is now roughly shaped like an Oompa Loompa because I couldn't do very much physically and he spent the summer like a veal in front of the tv. The evil plan is to get him a bike when we can afford it and drag both our lazy, fat asses outside for some exercise. I'll keep y'all posted on that one, since hubby outright refuses to just buy a bike from WalMart until we look around and he has no time to look around. (Why do men think that kind of attitude makes any sense? The child is turning into a ball. Seriously, at what point can he just admit he's not going to do it and let me do what can be done quickly and easily? Of course...I've been wrong before. It's gonna be a bitter pill if he's right on this one. I'll keep y'all posted.)

So, I was thinking as well, that I have to somehow find a way to set up a schedule for my house that allows me to clean it, write, feed the family and do my job. I want to earn more than I earn, but I'm lame and can't really take on another job. I keep hoping the phone will ring and I'll be able claim I've sold--but so far, that's not paying the rent. It's a lot like relying on lottery tickets to survive. You can do your best writing, do everything you need to to the best of your ability, and still not sell. I'm not bitter about that--much--but I admit, it's hard not to be resentful at times. Eight years is a long time to work at something and not have the payoff you're aiming for. At the least, it's hard to remain upbeat. Perhaps it's just that at this time of year, I'm reminded that I've completed another year and have little to show for it, careerwise. I've made great friends and have learned so much, so I can't discount the time as wasted. I just still hope for something more. Which is probably what keeps me writing.

That's probably enough prattle for y'all--provided you've kept reading this far down. :) I don't blame you if you quit. :) There's a reason I only try to think from time to time. It's scary in my head. :)

Hope y'all are having a great day!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

All Quiet On The Western Front?

Is it me...or is no one out there blogging much? Are we all too busy? Or have we discovered that we’re really boring? LOL!

I do the rounds of the blogs I’ve been reading and if they are blogging, I’m not really in a “commenting” kind of mood.

Am I alone in the blogsphere?

LOL, I know I’m not, but it just seems so quiet everywhere. It’s got a sort of Twillight Zone feeling. Maybe everyone is just out writing.


All right, well, here’s hoping y’all are having more fun than me. I’ve increased the resistance on my stationary bike and consider that all the excitement I can handle for one week.

Hugs to all!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The 3rd Deadly Sin: Repetition

I have to admit, this Sin is my personal favorite. Not because I like it, but because so many people try to get away with it. Primarily the more famous authors I once loved...who have either forgotten that they can write a great book or remember too well and try to write it over and over again with sometimes slightly differently named characters. It is the one of the most dissappointing sins because it’s so often overlooked for earning capability or because the author has written over fifty books and apparently, they’ve written every possible romance out there and need to start over.

No matter how much you write, no matter how long, if you love your readers--hell, if you love writing--try to avoid this sin.

It is the sin of Repetition. And it’s evil.

There are two basic types of repetition. The first, Regional Repetition, is the most insiduous, because it seeps into your writing without you really noticing. At it’s most simple level, it’s the overuse of a word. Beyond the required repeated words (said, is, and), there are a whole host of words writers come to favor that can--and should--be edited out--the most common being that, even, although, very, really. While some will argue that these words add Voice, one should remember that Voice is the spice to your writing. Overuse it and it’s inedible. Train yourself to avoid overusing any particular word. Rule of thumb--if you see the same word used more than twice in a paragraph (with exception to required is and saids), look for a way to rearrange it.

The second general type is Global Repetition. That means you will have the same character types, jobs, actions, events, places, schemes or plot from one book to the next. This is where those above authors were sucked into the evil--and in my opinion, reader-insulting--repetition sin.

Take for example, the very talented Jude Deveraux. I love her writing. She’s witty, she has a sweeping vision of historicals. Brilliant woman, really, and she had me going for so long. Remember the individuality of the James River Trilogy? The emotion of Twin of Fire/ Twin of Ice?

The Montgomerys were great...but something started happening. They were perfect. All right, we’ve seen that. Their names started repeating. Okaaaay, that happens in families. Then they all started taking on the same characteristics. I’ve lost count of the number of Kanes she’s written. Or twins. But, I could live with that. Let’s count how many times the heroine was tall, thin, pale blonde with a small chest and showgirl legs. Most of them are storytellers with smart mouths. And if they miraculously are not either of those things, they inform people that they’d be amazed what she can do with a wild rabit, herbs and a few veggies on a spit.

The worst crime is overstepping that fine line between an inside joke with the reader to simply creating a shortcut to happily ever after. Deveraux’s shortcuts of choice are “The Kiss”--strangers meet, bump into each other, and inexplicably embark on a public, body twisting kiss that would become public, body twisting sex if not reminded that they’re on a street just in time, then they decide to hate each other for the nearly violent attraction.-- and “The Family Saying”--The Taggerts are known for overpopulating the planet with identical twins, so their saying is “Marry the one who can tell the twins apart”. In her stories, a man will give up his business, spend thousands and do everything he possibly can to win the woman who thinks he’s got longer eyelashes and less body fat than his twin. (Come to think of it, I might marry a man who thinks I have less body fat...can’t blame her for that one, I guess.). These things both started off endearing...but then they started crossing continuities and that’s when I finally stopped buying her books. I’m tempted when I see her name on the shelf, but she lost my trust and I’ll probably never pick up another. She’s not the only author I won’t buy or even pick up free, for this reason.

That, in a big, fat nutshell, is why Repetition is such a sin. You break the trust of your reader. An author’s singular responsibility is to provide their reader with an enjoyable escape for the rock bottom prices of about six bucks a book (or around fifteen for trade size and twenty-two or so if you sell hardcover). To rip them off by annoying them with repeated words, taking chunks of previous books and combining them for a “new” book or worse, just writing the same book over and over again...that makes you less a creative being and more of a thief.

Readers don’t like to be robbed and very quickly, they will lose their trust in you to provide them with anything they want to pay for. Bottom line, if repetition doesn’t cost you the sale, eventually, it will cost you your reader base. How long do you think you’ll sustain a career after that?

So how do you spot it in your writing now?

Look in these crucial places:

Sentence Structure: Are you using the same constructs too often? Take a look at your paragraphs, do you have more than one sentence in a row or even a paragraph that are punctuated the same?


ANDS: “Jenny ran to the closet, pushed past the heavy jackets to the back and opened the safe. She quickly pulled out the jewels, closed the door and ran.”

EM DASHES: “Peter--the man she loved, the man she hated--was the only thing between her and freedom. He blocked the door, determined and angry--where was the man who’s made love to her so sweetly only hours ago?”

Check also that your sentences are not all the same length. Part of the joy and ease of reading is to have variety in length. If the writer uses streams of long sentences, a reader is tempted to skip to get to something less dense. When you create a rhythm (short, long, short, short, long), try to keep in mind that you don’t use the same rhythm over and over again.

White Space Structure: What makes up the background of your worlds? Many authors use the same city, which can be acceptable if your characters are not all going to the same places (outside of series or contiuinties).

Does everyone live in the same fabulous house? How do you decorate them? Are you using the same things in separate homes that don’t have to do specifically with your plot?

Thematic Structure: Do you find that your characters in multiple books have the same conflicts or realizations? Does everyone come to the same conclusion that love conquers all? Are unimpressed future in-laws behind every crime to the couple? Is it always the little rich girl and the bad boy with the heart of gold? Each book should have something different to say to the reader. There’s more than one story or one goal in you, find it, or you’re short-changing the reader as well as yourself.

Event Structures: This one has a few places to look out for.

First, be aware that your characters aren’t doing the same thing in multiple books--even series--either literally or figuratively. I realized once that, somehow, in three books I had characters going to a cave for some reason or another. Considering I don’t like dirt or caves, this was just lazy-braining it. Another bad one was that multiple books had love scenes in a shower (thus the unfortunate nickname of “The Porceline Queen”.) I lost a sale on an otherwise not-so-bad book because the editor felt there were too many unplanned pregancies in the series. (She was right, by the way.) It won’t matter if the event has different specifics, the editors--and the readers--won’t put up with it.

A particularly painful reading experience is when there are pages are recaps...especially if it’s a recap of a recap. Be sure you’re not over-informing your reader, trying to jam a clue or information down their throats.

Character Structure: Do your characters all look alike? Act alike? Say the same things? Have the same habits? In the same or different books? Do your heroes have the same type of job? Inspect your characters for likenesses of any kind. Make your mantra: Be an Individual. Even related books should have characters with different looks, thoughts, histories, drives, motivations, dreams and desires. No matter how closely linked your characters might be from book to book, how they grew up or where, keeping them unique keeps your stories real instead of rejected.

Next Week: The 2nd Deadly Sin: Phraseology

Friday, September 09, 2005

Five Friday Tidbits

Okay, lets start with the obvious:

1) The Boy Is Back In School!!! Thank you, God! I even had cramp reduction. I'm now looking into seeing if there's a way to train my body into having all bathroom requirements made while he's gone.

2) I know that I've been blathering on about my website, but I can now officially (damn PCs, included) upgrade it from "craptastic" to "marginally professional"! Changed the color scheme, discovered the power of CSS and even have all my excerpts properly formatted. Now to write DECENT crap to put in it!

3) I'm not sick. Pet is. And while she denies it's bronchitis, not one of us here has gotten more than a sniffle. (Since no one can dare call me healthy, this is miraculous.)

4) I finally connected emotionally with the heroine of the book I'm editing. I see her. *makes gesture of my eye to her eye* She's not getting away from ME again! HA! Suddenly, it all looks like it's going to get done. QUICKLY! Woohoo!

5) Little sister is pregnant. She's happy about it. (I asked, prior to congratulating.) I must admit, I had a brief flash of jealousy--I'm human. I had a less brief bout of irritation when she chose the announcement time to remind me that it's much smarter to have your children close together, so they aren't lonely. (If I got preggers tonight, Moo would still be 8 by the time the kid came out.) But, she's happy and more importantly, I didn't kill her. Maybe the hormone wave is receding? WooHOO!

Oh, and gang, if you go through a little Dee-pression, you'll find my Belfry Blog up tomorrow morning! (Click on the sidebar link to take you right to it!)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Can you hear them? Listen to them sing!

The boy is off to school!

The beloved bus even came early! Moo woke up and was prepared to give me typical vampiric, "Who dares wake me from my sleep?" look when I asked, "Wanna go to school?" The child got up so fast I nearly got knocked over.

It's nice to know our love is mutual.

So, now begins my mental restoration period. I was fully at wits, body's, everyone's end yesterday. And I had tried taking a look at something I wanted to edit. It wasn't the worst thing I ever read...but it was total crap and not in the good way. I looked at the latest book and realized, hey, that's crap too. I was absolutely sure that I had discovered the reason why I haven't sold yet.

I can't wirte.


I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I mean, sure, I study craft. But do I put it all in my writing as I work. I thought I did. I really did. But I think I'm wrong. I started thinking about how many elements there are for us to remember and work with. I even dragged X, my CP, into it--poor woman--and we both agreed. There's too much stuff. The biggies are easy to rattle off, much harder to use. Then there's The Layers. And that's where the list goes on and on and on. So, I'm setting a challenge. I'll list what I've come up with--listed randomly. Would love to see what others think of too.

So here we go:

The Biggies:


The Layers:

• Appropriate Use Of Dialogue Tags
• Remembering to use different voices/speech for different characters
• Making sure dialogue is useful
• Point Of View used to best advantage
• Graduating levels of sexual tension
• Adding to the conflict by making things worse for characters as romance proceeds, level by level.
• Sentence stuctures used varyingly to create pace: short, long, short, short, long, long, short.
• Verifying that sentence structures are not repeated in same paragraph: em-dashes, colons, semi-colons, ands and commas.
• Double checking that commas are used correctly instead of genocided.
• Setting: How much white space to fill in before you become Steinbeck
• Characterization and Arcs: Where are they headed, have you guided the way?
• Voice: Will the reader know it's you?
• Scene & Sequel: Making each scene move the story forward
• Secondaries and not overusing them/overmaking quantities
• Avoid repetition on singular word/global levels
• Using Pace to increase plot tension/sexual tension
• Writing descriptive but not gross or boring sex
• Breaking up the dialogue or exposition so that you don't have too much white space or full space on page.
• Deciding if something is passive voice and whether to eliminate it
• Reduction of Adverbs
• Removal of commonly used words: Very, really, be-verbs, unnecessary words like Actually, meanwhile & although

Okay, that's what I do to myself while I write and revise. Anyone else have anything they remind themselves to do? Come on, the crickets are good at home. Crickets not so fun on blogs. Tell me what you think. :)


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The 4th Deadly Sin: Inaccuracy

Welcome to the next Deadly Sin! This week we take a look at a much graver sin, Inaccuracy. A duel sin, Inaccuracy is more than a lack of research,--although that is definitely a strong reason why manuscripts are returned--rather it is a lack of verity in either your facts OR your emotion.

For some beginners out there, they approach Romance as a “simpler” opportunity to break into publishing. They see a surface list of elements to writing it--introduction, sex, break up, happy ending--and most important to them, they don’t think that very much research is required to make a book believable. They take the “write what you know” rule to generous extremes, and either write literally about their own lives hidden in a character or write about things they “sort of” know about. Looking up a word or two to make sure you’ve got it “right” happens frequently.

However, as anyone knows, any time you write about something you’ve not precisely experienced, your prose will lack certain depths of reality. Granted, authors don’t go flinging themselves into war zones to find out how to be a war hero, but that’s where the research comes in. Romance is like any other genre and depending on what you write, research serves as lifeblood. Historical authors can often double has historians or librarians. Military authors might not be able to actually fly a plane or take a gun apart in twenty seconds, but they know how it needs to be done and what order is involved. Contemporary authors often conduct interviews with people in the field they’d like for their characters and do exhaustive internet research on the cities they use as well as the demands of a job.

Knowing your topic--and your characters--is paramount in Romance. You will need to have a solid understanding of what they do, the world they inhabit, the social circles they swim in. And when you understand it--via interview, internet or book reading--you also need to be able to represent that in more than a factual way. You need to include emotion.

First off, let’s take a look at what constitutes a lack of truthful emotion. People in general are emotional creatures. Even a character who is resolute and stoic will feel and be motivated by those feelings. A lack of truthful emotion would be allowing our characters to become two-dimensional and not find a way to express those emotions. That same stoic character, when hurt, might walk with a stiffer gait. Might completely blank his face and turn away rather than deal. Or his composure might crumble under a staggering loss, filling him with shame and resentment. It is our job to be accurate about how our plot decisions effect our characters and how they would react to them.

All this beggars the question, how can you tell if something isn’t ringing true? There is a litmus test or two.

Initial Logic: When you re-read the description or dialogue, weigh the strength of emotions one would expect against the time spent dealing with it. Would a hero who just lost his wife only think about her for a few moments. Claim to miss her in one paragraph and never mention her again? How important is what they feel to the reasoning behind their decisions? How much space have you used expressing that? While word count is always a priority, where you choose to spend your words is a higher one. Never be a spendthrift when it comes to revealing the emotion of you characters.

Reading Aloud: If the emotion is urgency, you would most likely see short sentences and brief descriptions. Pain or guilt may well be expressed with longer, slower lines, as a character grinds themselved into the mortar for their believed crimes. Listen to yourself as you read these and try to sense if tone throughout the scene matches the emotion you want to be felt (Does the POV character’s sense of setting change as their mood does? Is the dialogue stilted? Would it be formal or broken, depending on the emotion you need to convey?) If at anytime the emotion you require the reader to connect to is simply told to them in one line or two, it doesn’t ring true. All emotion needs to resonate through the scene, or you won’t reach your reader.

Pace Matching: Pace is a very important tool of showing truthful emotion. If you want your characters emotions to show, take a look at your sentence length and structure. How long is their dialogue? Does it match the scene you’re depicting? What about their thoughts? What might be important description to you might feel like filler to your reader if placed improperly.

For example, are your characters running for their lives...while making mental notations to themselves at the exotic beauty of the gardens through which they speed? Are they in a hospital ward, waiting with tension as the long minutes and hours go by, speaking desperately--if not perhaps melodramtically--in stacatto beats. Perhaps this long period might be better filled with a characters fears being thought out in their minds or hearts while they wait for relief that is seemingly not coming. Whether the time the scene takes is long or short for them...use that pace to express what your character is going through.

Elements can be hard to layer together, we all understand. But once you’re able to identify where your emotion and your research can strengthen your writing, you’ll find that your stories have a richer sense of depth and can be taken far more seriously by a reading editor.

Next Week: The Third Deadly Sin: Repetition

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Five Friday Tidbits

Okay, okay, it's Saturday. I'm late. Sorry! But I'll admit, I was having a family day with hubby and kid and that kinda superceded everything. It's also first on my Friday list of things to be grateful for.

1) Hubby took a day off. Normally, this isn't recommended, but the man has been slaving for months. He needed some down time and believe it or not, he wanted it with me and Moo. :) (I know, signs of serious strain! LOL) We didn't go anywhere special. We walked at the mall. He got a CD. We went to the grocery store. We came home and watched movies together. It was just a really nice time. SO grateful that we get to do that every now and then because, sweet lord, how I love that man.

2) My website is fixed! Okay, here's the skinny. It's no secret I don't particularly like PCs. I'm a Mac user. I like the simplicity. I like the clean lines. I REALLY like having all of my hair at the end of the day. I don't mention this lightly. I had a PC, nearly 10 years ago. I nearly smashed it on the ground, I've never wanted anything to die so badly. But, I digress. So, I have been happily making the website, getting really pleased at the table skills and such, only to discover that PCs weren't only not able to see the tables...just about every inch of the site looked like someone took a jigsaw to it if you viewed it with a PC. I had two professional webdesigners look at it for me and they said the code was right, it should have worked...but it wasn't and they couldn't say for sure why. Turns out that Geocities reads one thing wrong--the comment links. In HTML, you can label parts of your table without it showing or messing up the code. Geocities saw those labels as reason to completely blind out the tables. (Insert much screaming here.) Then, the header image wouldn't fit right on a PC--some weird white border around the image no matter what I did. Cracked that one last night! (Marginwidth is your friend.) So, my PC friends, if you were to click on my site now, it is actually a functional site! WOOHOO!

3) Labor Day weekend. I am SO thrilled. We'll prolly go to a BBQ at the in-laws, but mostly, it's going to be the laziest darn weekend and I'm totally okay with that. :) I could use some laze.

4) I picked up my MS again. The one that requires another 6500 words. I was able to see better where there's places to layer. Scenes can be fixed. The god-awful speedy ending needs to be slowed down. It can be fixed and I'm not freaking out about it.

5) I begin the countdown til Moo goes back to school. Oh, beloved school, I have missed you so! That's right, boy has six days until he can go back. Which means, he will stop pointing at all the Back-To-School commercials with tears in his eyes and begging for school. (Hey, I feed, clothe and mother him. I never claimed to be Chuckie Cheese.) Soon, Moo and I will be back in love, since I'll be able to write (Glory Hallelujah!) and he'll be able to play with other kids and learn stuff again! Oh, sweet schedule, return to me! :) So, for the next couple of days, you will see a countdown on the bottom of each blog post until Sept 8th.

Extra thanks that my friend Larissa and her family are safe. Please be sure to check out the auction--I'll post a link when it's live--to help her out, as she has lost her home and pretty much all of her belongings. Sending out all my hopes for those struggling from Katrina.

Much love to all,

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Am I Wrong To Be Disappointed?

Okay, I'm not a fallout victim from Katrina--people whom my heart really goes out to--so I really shouldn't be complaining about anything. I have my hands, my eyes, my feet and my body, irrational though it may be. Some would even argue I have my mind. For those things, I really am grateful.

But what I also have is a growing sense of dissatisfaction.

Something is wrong and I can't quite put my finger on it. Work is good. No one is rampaging for my blood and I'm miraculously meeting the majority of my deadlines. Blogging is going well. I'll gotten my new blogging dates, you'll be able to find me discussing writing life on Romancing The Blog on Sept 22nd and on the 10th & 23rd, I'll be prattling on in the Belfry Collective. These are very good things.

And yet, like that kitchen grease that deposits on your fridge and floors and walls, something is staining me.

I don't know when it started, but I really noticed it at Nationals. I was...less than thrilled about the conference. Oh, don't get me wrong. Seeing my CPs and best friends for the five days a year we get to be around each other always makes my summer. Seeing author buddies and talking face to face with an editor is always great. But there was no...excitement about the event. I looked at the session list and had to stretch for classes I really wanted to take.

I'm not about to badmouth RWA, they don't need it and really, I think it goes without saying that I couldn't mention anything new about them. But...couldn't they make some of the sessions a little more...I don't know, challenging? I mean, I know that for some, this is their first year to Nationals and there needs to be beginner classes...but it's not everyone's first year.

Why is it that the session topics seemed lackluster?

Is it me?

Do we fear getting specific? Primarily, we found a lot of generic lessons. The sessions that were specific were sessions I could have attended--or listened to the CDs of--last year. Or the year before. Where is the nitty gritty? Where's the meat that invigorates the writing soul? Where is the inspiration?

I know it's been months, but all summer, the feeling has grown. Where is the burning desire to write? Why is everyone talking writing politics instead of writing skills? Is it that I don't time to write...or that the writing climate has frozen up?

The longer the months go on, the less I see of people talking about what they love in writing. It's what they don't like, wish they didn't have to see. Was RWA boring as hell when it came to the Awards Ceremony? Of course it was. There's no arguing that, though just about everyone has tried to look for enough to scrape together and fight about. But my concern is how boring it was for a writer looking to fill the well...and possibly finding it dry. Will RWA be correcting this next year too?

What is the answer? Perhaps having each session with a rating system from beginner to advanced? Should we develop a system of what we consider writing basics and layer from there? I could be just asking for more buracracy (sp?), but deep down, I'm just looking for some more meat. Something not just to cut my teeth on but to sink them into.

Challenge me. Don't tell me how to make writing easy. Talk to me about why it's hard--and why that's not a bad thing.

Or, as I said, is it just me?