Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I'm Reading!

While working through my latest tome and redoing my house, I thoroughly enjoyed A Kiss of Shadows, by Laurel K. Hamilton, reprint 2006. It was not a fast read as the thoughts are deep sometimes, and enjoyable. I'll read more about Meredith, her 5 men, and the fantasy underbelly of the real word. Faeries, gnomes, etc. have been favorites since childhood, altho, not as Hamilton writes them. :)
What I read depends on my mood. Sometimes I like a fast clean read, straight through, Nora, etc. usually in one night, a Presents in less. But Hamilton's wasn't that, more circles within circles, great descriptions and layers. I love last lines at the end of each chapter. The defection and envy of Meredith's friend, Kreelin/gnome was a great twist. The setting in the ancient Cahokia mounds near St. Louis, Hamilton's home, is real, so is the atmospheric fall of the Midwest.
I was impressed.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I'm thoroughly enjoying UGLY BETTY. How refreshing!

With the emphasis on beauty is a professional necessity in some industries, UGLY BETTY just may be the predecessor of like entertainment. This show is far apart from the makeover shows surrounding it. UGLY BETTY places emphasis on the personality and intelligence of the individual, her family and business friendships, stressing her base supportive and honorable qualities. Selma Hayek has done a wonderful job in producing this fresh show. Keep up the good work, Selma.

DANCING WITH THE STARS is gathering top ratings. I happen to love dancing of all kinds, perhaps favoring more the Latin American. For years I've watched ballroom dancing competition on television, which is great. Dancing is good exercise and I'm glad to see a return to more structured movements. Robert Duval reportedly has a tango studio set up in his barn and is an excellent tango dancer. But as for the individuals that have been on the show, I'm perhaps enjoying Emmitt Smith the most. This professional football player/businessman has come so far and seems to be enjoying himself the most. Last night he was at his best, but his partner -- a professional -- is also very good and has worked well with him. I love watching the professional dancers and the stars expressions, not only while they are dancing but when they are being judged and interviewed.

I hope both new trends developed into other shows. I am thoroughly tired of reality shows.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


In a romance, spark between the hero and heroine is bottom-line essential. Dialogue, tension, sensuality and characterization are other basic tools. But hark, there is more than the plot line, too. It’s called Texture.

The composition of a novel is much like painting on canvas. The artist first prepares the background of the painting, then the highlights are added. If the finished painting is ALL highlights, nothing stands out. This is true when writing scenes, and we want our hero/heroine to really come to the forefront.

In writing the novel, all of the story elements mentioned above can be one-dimensional, without depth and interest -- if not layered or placed within a setting. Setting could be the description of a physical place -- outside or inside, and weather. A novel's storyline also needs color, such as comparing the green of the heroine’s eyes to a highland meadow, the hero’s gray eyes to the color of steel or ice. Without these textures the story can be perfectly executed, but unexciting/blah, blah, blah.

Without setting in a story, the characters can be no more than "talking heads." The storyline can wind along, lots of action with these talking heads. But without the setting and color, the reader may never enter the story . For example, one perfect setting for a suspense might be an isolated lighthouse, the sound of the ocean crashing against the rocks, a storm brewing in the gray sky, the air moist foretelling rain.

Think of the movie "Jaws." When that particular music occurred, the viewer knew that danger was impending. The writer does not have music, but he can create nuance by using storms, rain slashing the window's glass, sunlight and wind, shadows and pounding heartbeats.

Don't forget the little things, either, like the chip in the rim of a cup, how a person deep in thought may circle it.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Working With a Copy Edit

Copy edits are so important and save time for everyone, if the author takes time to work with them. A copy edit occurs after the author has sent in a manuscript to the editor; the editor works on it and if acceptable, turns it into the production department. The production department assigns a copy editor to go over it and clear in a details that are mismatched, punctuation, etc. The finished copy edit is then sent to the author to correct problems, either with the storyline, or the work of the copy editor, such as punctuation.

This is a very important stage, creating the best possible set of galleys, or proofs, depending on the language used. Intense consentration is needed, and frequent breaks to refresh are necessary. I process a copy edit from my publisher in three stages:

1. When I first get a manuscript back from a copy editor (the editor's notes are also included), I make one pass to absorb his/hers style and major problems. At this point, I arrange my working area to include a pencil in a different color from what the editor and the copy editor have used, a sharpener for that pencil, a sticky pad, a dictionary/thesaurus, and in the notes I may have made to myself about the manuscript when it would be returned to me. (These notes are often ideas that occur after the manuscript has been sent to the editor for the first time. I save these in the same folder as the manuscript's chapters.)

I make a very careful, slow pass this first time. The sticky notes serve as flags that there is a problem needing attention, or notes to myself. Major problems are marked by a sticky note placed at the top of the page.

2. The second pass deals with catching anything not caught in the first one. It also utilizes what I have learned about the copy editor' s style. At times, copy editors miss punctuation errors, etc. that they may have caught in other places. It is important to standardize all. And they do make errors, just like anyone else. The second pass corrects even more.

3. This brings us down to finalizing corrections in the copy edit. If my sticky notes are still left at that point, it is usually something that requires and insert. It inserts are usually done by adding an extra page and labeling it with A, B., C., etc. This extra page would be inserted behind the original, such as Page 12 and Page 12 A. For example, Page 12 should contain a marker at line 10 that says Insert. Page 12 A should say Page 12, line 10. This is when you generally sit down at your keyboard and go to work, carefully making the insertions into the copy edit.

When sent to production, the copy edit should include author's notes on anything that might affect galley setting, such as All font is not uniform, please watch.

The production department then assigns a galley setter. The author will also have a chance to correct any errors in the galleys. However, these errors must be minimal because of the time and expense involved in changing errors. That is why the copy edit must be given intense attention, to minimize errors. If the errors are the cause of the author's inattention to detail, then there is the possibility of a percentage charged to the author for the problems.

Personally, I believe that when an editor and a copy editor have worked so hard on a manuscript to present it in the best way possible, that the author should comment appreciation and thank you for a job well done. If however, the copy edit is intrusive and ignores the author's style, then that should be noted to the editor. This may avoid future work with this copy editor. Or, it may serve to educate a new copy editor to be more considerate of an author's style. This is all within the control of the editor, and the publisher's production department, matching the author with a suitable copy editor.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Western Romances

Within the space of one day, I've been asked by two pro authors for a copy of my out of print, western romances.

I'm currently writing a contemporary romantic suspense trilogy, but I did love reading and writing western romances. Pop fads are already faded, and the return of the western may be looming near. I hear this so much from readers, too, who love them, but also my contemporary western miniseries done for Silhouette Desire some years ago. Readers write me consistently about when I'm writing more. They remember the Tallchiefs, the Blaylocks, Freedom Valley and more.

There are also more requests for the Langtrys, written as contemporaries for Avon, which bring history forward, a Civil War veteran saves/marries chieftain's daughter, starts a dynasty that is written in the contemporary West.

But hey, I've got enough on my scheduled plate right now and working hard.:)

Dell did a wonderful gilt cover and replica insert by Elaine Durillo on The Wedding Gamble

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Encyclopedia Defunctitis

While trying to find more space in my office, I considered the set of encyclopedias that my daughters had used while growing up. They're grown now, in their own homes, and I rarely use this set. They're gorgeous, really they are, and I remember those payments per month.

But I never use them. I haven't used them for years. The newer members of our family don't use them either, and space is scarce. While I have an extensive library of research books on particular topics, the set of encyclopedias has remained unused. Wikipedia and other online resources have changed the way we researched for years.

Changing times have also dictated how we research. Sadly, my beautiful encyclopedias may be destined to leave my office.

When was the last time you used your set of encyclopedias? I'm interested to know.