Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Writer's Holiday Hiatus

The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great

Writers are busy with deadlines, family and holidays. The combination can get hectic, but generally most are trying to infuse themselves with rebirth that comes with a new year and peace within--speaking from a writer's POV.

That peace within can be called, healing or going back to the "well". The creative well can be deep and offering new techniques or ideas for just where to put that special energy.

I like to step back for the holidays, once the bustle of family/friend gift-giving is settled. This year I did my usual baking (check out Barbara Samuel/Babara O'Neal and other writers who bake and those who sew).

The creative spirit transitions into many areas, which for writers gives time to process their next projects.

With all the tremendous changes in publishing, there's lots to think about while making cookies or sewing or traveling or playing games or decorating the tree.

In easing 2009 out and looking forward to 2010, writers are really considering their projects and how to spend holiday time.

I'm settling back a bit, calling friends, talking with family, but the writer part of me is very busy.

I want to finish a major writing project that is dear to me by Dec 31. That's number 1 on my list. Here's the rest of it:

2. Read Donald Maass's Fire in Fiction. I'd heard so much about this book since its publication in May 2009, and it's waited. So on those quiet evenings, I'm reading what seems so far to be a tremendous book. I've always loved Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer, which is a must, I believe.

3. Fiction reading.

4. See a couple of movies, i.e. Avatar, Inglorious Basterds, Sherlock Holmes, etc.

5. Start cleaning my bookselves. Earlier in the year, I donated learning tapes and writing books to local groups, but I've a way to go. I'm trying to downsize and that is not easy as each book brings memories of the time I was researching, etc. Writers love books. I am using a data base now for the "keepers", called AllMyBooks, a software program which so far has been pretty good.

6. I went through my contracts and made a list of what I need to do when business starts up in January. I usually make my daily business to-do lists in the previous evening, that way I can start out working in the a.m. I usually work first, then do necessary business/mail/email whatever.

7. I spend a lot of thinking time, which involves candles and quiet. This is stepping back mode. I've already made some resolves for the New Year. Let's see if I can keep them :) One is getting back to painting canvases. They've been waiting. One year I decided to start painting and found that my paint tubes were too old. I bought new. You can see some of my work at my website I'm planning seascapes. (Have you ever noticed how many trilogies, etc. are set oceanside? That nuance is a character in itself.)

8. Redoing my website. It needs a whole new look and direction. Since I do my own Internet work and am active in my 3 blogs, others blogs, Twitter and Facebook, my website has waited. I'm also behind on GoodReads, which I joined and never really got into.

9. Then, what is really necessary? I think writing and creative time needs to come first and Social Media time second. I'm balancing the time necessary for Facebook, etc. Facebook has literally swamped me. I enjoy Twitter's short droplets.

10. I'm considering just what writers' conferences, meetings are important to me and why. With our business changed, flipped over really, our modes so different, conferences are really going to have to lay it down to get attendance. Information is easily available online, and writers' checkbooks have flattened. While reclusive by nature, writers need "Face Time" to energize and group planners are going to have to deliver to draw attendees. Sometimes I go to see friends and sometimes because a program seems great. One aid to groups is to get their scheduling promo out there at the top of the year, because now writers are choosing very carefully where to spend their conference/meeting dollar.

It might not always be at a conference or group meeting. Sometimes a writers coffee group can really energize individuals. And some of that energy is keep hopping by a single writer taking their laptop to a coffee shop. Sometimes a writer with a busy family will take a motel break all by themselves. This is actually a good idea, to remove all distractions.

So this Holiday Hiatus is very important to the creative writers spirit: refreshing, going back to the well, planning next year, schedules and projects. I'm finding that most are planning a little step-back time for themselves, retaining energy to feed their creative spirits.

We're all in deep discussion now about what we're doing at the end of the year, so if you want to add your ideas for a writer's creative holiday hiatus, come on down!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Year Coming

  I'm doing Ye Old File Drawer organizing at the end of this year. After writing for several publishers with representation from several agents, several amendments to contracts, etc. needed better organization/consideration.

With new horizons popping up every day, I'm considering e-publishing several very early books and that calls for lots of contract reading. You'd be surprised what a mop-up operation this can be, certainly not small enough when sorting, to fit across a desk. There is also communication with agents and rights. Rights are very big now, and should have been much earlier.

 Right or wrong career decisions are at a writer's every turn. A good filing system is only so good, if it does not have all the correspondence/contracts in it, and I had to request one contract from a former agent.

Agents are usually great to deal with, even after leaving them. I need to prepare some correspondence to former agents, but that will have to wait until the new year.

  Right now, I'm putting the old year to bed, doing some tax set-up stuff (spreadsheets are great), but I'm also thinking of my New Year's schedule and possible travel. Writer scheduling is probably one of the most important facets of a career.

Publishing usually happens this way: A book is coming out, high energy needed for its "pub" date. Then: A book is due, plus all the articles, etc. and other obligations. Those two dates frequently occur together: Pub Date and Contract Manuscript Due Date. Holidays are really difficult when both dates fall within that time.

I'll be gifting advice about spreadsheets in January or so.
  One of the must-do items on my list for 2010 is getting a new PR photo. Or take my own. iStockPhoto has great advice on this.

One of the best tips I can give is to collect a freebie calendar booklet for tax mileage and keep it in the car. Do you realize that those freebies we used to see in every drugstore are scarce now? So get that 2010 calendar going, check out the conferences that will be of the most use to you.

Yep. Time to clean up the old year and lay out plans for the new one.

Since stress-free is my theme today for all three blogs, My Jam Jar and The Second Cup and this one, my today's writer's advice?

Work on your filing and business and scheduling in advance.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Writing vs Day Job and Family

  First of all, I object strenuously said the lawyer--no, really just me when it comes to the term "Day Job".

Day Job says writers work at night, which in most cases is true. But working for 6-8 hours whenever during the day and 7 days a week, is really a full time job, even with regular paycheck employment.

Writing is not regular paycheck employment. But instead of Day Job, I like the term, Regular Pay job.

Recently I was conversing with a friend, who had a friend (and a lot of writerly stuff goes like that) who wanted to write. But said the first friend, the writer-friend had a family and a job and didn't have time to write.

This lament is way too familiar: I have a day job and a family and I don't have time.

To the second party, my response is the best quote, gotten from a busy Regular-Paycheck person who said, "I write around the corners of my life." This says, he made time to hold a necessary insurance and benefits Regular Paycheck job, plus tend his family life AND write.

I'm impatient with this no-time to write excuse, based on my own experience. At one time, I did have a Regular Paycheck job, a family and two publishers. Two Publishers, so that said I was under contract to deliver manuscripts etc. at specific due dates. I did, so I know from experience that if a writer wants to write, he will make time, not find it.

Here we are in the busy season and still writing and dealing with necessary writerly business. Very difficult during the holidays. Or the summer. Or the spring, or fall. I'm writing full-time now and time and scheduling is still a challenge as business needs deepen as the career rises or changes. Now Facebook and Twitter and other promotional aspects take writing time, plus blogging, etc.

As for writing with a Regular Paycheck job and a family, watch for the next installment of Writers Survival Guide and I'll lay out my schedule. You may have some tips to share, too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Looking for Character Depth?


Characters are reflected in their actions and thoughts. But let's think around the box, the box being the inner workings of our character. Okay, let's dip into the box a little as we think about characterization.

Here's some think-fodder:
1. Clothing. Designer brands, thrift shop or frumpy. Colors--vibrant, prints, black. Shoes: Italian, hiking boots, worn joggers with knotted laces, flats, pumps, loafers, scuffed or highly polished, heels worn or not.

2. Jewelry: None or some or fully decked. Why? Gift from a loved one, a trinket given as a personal award, or worn as protection (there are many amulets in jewelry), or This Goes With This Outfit.

3. Cars or bikes: Mountain bikes or English Racers, girls or boys, discount brand or used or spiffy and personally fitted. Cars: budget, new, dented, worn seats, high brand, SUV or compact gas saver. Tires, worn, etc. You get the picture.

4. Speech Patterns: Regional traces, foreign language, hesitant, polished, terse or use of idioms, or unable to correctly state familiar sayings.

The previous three say much about the character's personal choices. About why they made those choices. So if they are choosing for looks, what do they see in their mirrors and what kind of mirrors do they prefer anyway?

All good stuff. But there's the peripheries that I love....

1. Those mirrors. Framed and ornate or plain budget and where do they hang. What does the character see when he/she inspects their morning reflection. It's Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror time. Being honest time when no one else is around, i.e. Who am I really? Delve deep into this mirror.

2. This leads us to Things, much like specially chosen jewelry above, for remembrances. A hand drifting across a smooth wood can lead the character into a loving thought of how it was fashioned with a grandfather's gnarled hands, beadwork by a mother now deceased. Anger for the drunk driver who took away her life, the firm promise that beadwork placed on her grave when the killer is caught.

But here's the big scoop...Moving Onward in the peripheries: How do other people react to the character. (See the dinosauer above? Almost friendly isn't he? But me thinks he grins too much.

What friends want to be near this person, or stay away and why. Do they touch or hug or do that male shoulder-punching thing, fist to fist whatever? Does their body language reflect tension or anger and coldness.

Animals: Great insights to characters. How do animals respond to the character? How does the character respond to animals?

Children: Some people automatically draw children and make them feel safe. Others don't.

SIDEKICKS: Subcharacters shore up the main characters and cannot say enough about Sidekicks or lack there of when it comes to characterization.

Think of characterization in the latter instances as the character in the center of a reflecting pattern of people, children, pets revolving around said character and physically demonstrating how they feel about that character.

"We are what friends we choose." How many times have you heard that? But in writing, what if we aren't?

Do consider the character reflection in the latter's reaction to the character.
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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Why, Oh Why?

  Yesterday, I attended a local writers' meeting. Naturally, 'tis the season discussion of the annual Christmas party came up. Limit set on gifts, all important, also a silent auction. Suitable items were discussed.

Well. To me, books are always good, used if the price isn't a match to the limit. Or something that writers could use, i.e. pens, paper and pads. Erasers, even. Magnifying glasses, sticky notes. All good necessary items that writers must have on supply.

So when did these various auctions turn into yard sale goods that do not apply to the purpose of what writers are supposed to be doing?

BTW, the photo of the big goggle-glasses days AND full set of owie BRACES was one illustrating Signed by Cait labels. I had more fun sticking these labels on backs of those who I knew would laugh. You realize there are people who do not enjoy themselves, don't you? :)

But onward into these auctions and gift-giving to writers at Christmas do's....

This morning, I let my stove-peculator perk too long, thinking about groups and behavior and why I may or might not fit into membership. For instance, there's a thrilling new RWA group, Women's Fiction with real pros headlining it. Their professional conduct should be a standard for all groups. I'm wishing this group well and they're headed off to a great start. Barbara O'Neal is acting Wise Woman, and she's a 5X RITA recipient as Ruth Wind and Barbara Samuels, I believe.

Now as for Christmas gifts for writers: I stock up during the year for Christmas, taking advantage of sales. But I also handcraft some items, if that's what you can call jam making, apple butter, breads, etc., plus some sewing you can see at my other blog, My Jam Jar.

With 2010 coming up, I also spend time at the end of the year making my New Year's To-Do. My list is lengthy, but right there is a writers' gift idea: A small holder big enough for index cards. Write out those To-Dos, date them and update them. Index cards are great gifts, so are notebooks and pens, printer paper, stationery, envelopes, whatever. In this economy, we are all watching our pennies, so why not give something useful to a writer?

Also VistaPrint offers a free membership newsletter which has freebies galore. So does their website. By stocking up on these freebies, you've got some nice gifts at Christmas time, and personalized if for family and friends.

I'm thinking of posting a whole load of URLs here for useful writers' tips as my gift to you. Meanwhile, do check my Writer's Survival Guide category.

Prominent on that list for writers would be Twitter and Facebook. This because of all the media work now, the ability to reach out and network. I am learning tremendous things from neat involved, business people like Lorelei King, voice actor, whose posts and followers led me on to discover other interesting people. (Love audiobooks, you know. After a day on my computer screen, it's a nice end of the day, or makes those long cross-country drives a little shorter.)
Plus agents/writers/publishers and agents are all so available. Recently on Twitter, agents answered questions and it was fascinating for hours on a Friday, I believe.

If you are not on either and you are a writer, you're missing good stuff.

I'll have to work on my Christmas list.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Writers Network

When writers choose an agent, is it whimsical? Are choices to query made by closing their eyes and pointing to a name on a list? Or choosing a rune stone with an agent's name on their lips?

Nah. Writers network intensively, especially with each other and it's essential to have a good friend-system. Word does get around in writertown.

Right now, there is a huge discussion blooming almost everywhere, probably due to the economy and publishing's tense mood, about agents. Agents Kristin Nelson and Janet Reid (FinePrintLit) have interesting blog posts, as do other agents. It's very interesting.

More on this later, but do check Twitter's Hashtag #allaboutagents on Friday night this. Agents are answering questions galore, and you get a real feel of their personalities and match to whatever the writer writes, their career. Most interesting. There are quite a few agents on Twitter and their responses give much insight to their work and sometimes lives. Facebook and MySpace also provide insights to agents.

But writers also scan agent blogs, read their websites, snag any interviews they've done, and check sites like AbsoluteWrite and Publishers Market Place, paid version. and etc. are really popular. At both, agents may visit to correct or update their own material.

This research is intense, and many groups offer help, i.e. a list of writers who have had this or that agent, and make e-mail questions to that writer possible.

Or through the vast Yahooville, or other places, a querying/researching writer will send up a post: Would anyone who has experience with AgentXYZ please contact me privately? That is probably the most useful networking tactic as it brings in new friends as well. I met a really good friend that way.

A writer serious about getting an appropriate agent for their work/career is busy, busy, busy, a regular bloodhound before choosing one to query.

And to leave an agent is very, very difficult as sometimes emotional likeability/attachment clashes with career necessity. This whole process is no easy matter, sometimes months of effort spent getting the right fit.

Someone suggested a Twitter Hashtag of following the editors. Now, that would be really interesting. :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Robot Seeks Publication

If you have a dark sense of humor, or not, you may enjoy the trail of Roland the Robot on his journey to publication. There will be more to this storyline, so please subscribe to it at Just search for Roland the Robot. Some fact, some fiction in Roland's experience. I just think it's funny and that the animation is super.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Seasons and Writers' Balance

Fall is beautiful in the Ozarks, and soon I'll be taking my cameras out for a full day of sunshine and color.

I enjoy the last roses of summer. Mine are struggling now with cool temperatures and supposed frost tonight. However, mums love fall.

Mums of every color are on display now. I usually wait until a little later for sale prices and then pick up a few. I'm enjoying these in my yard right now. I'm generally not a fan of smelly things, but the color is lovely this time of year.

I love my carefree day out, a couple of cameras, a thermos of coffee, a few snacks in the basket and nothing to do or worry about all day, except if there is enough gas in the car. That's it: gas in the car. I drive all over the Missouri and Arkansas rolling hills, taking photos of old buildings/unique trails/gorgeous trees etc. I can't wait to see the pictures on my screen.

As a writer, my mind also takes pictures and starts spinning those stories. Someone has a great saying that I'll paraphrase: You can't write about life by sitting behind a desk. Okay, we probably have some writers who can do just that. But writers need to experience life and color.

At The Second Cup, I wrote about moving too fast through the morning and mistakenly grabbing the vinegar bottle, in lieu of raspberry flavoring for my coffee. Take a sip of Good Morning Coffee, your first deep sip of the day, set to appreciate the taste and get vinegar--and you know you're moving too fast.

In today's fast-moving world, we all need some kind of balancing therapy. Fortunately, I like to do very many things to balance and I hope you do too. To see what else I do, click my other blogs at the top tabs.
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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Missouri Literary Festival

The Missouri Literacy Festival held last week was amazing. Held at Hammons Field and The Creamery Arts Center, speakers, poetry readings, panels on writing, and wordsmiths stretching across the arts participated in the three-day festival.

In conjunction for the National Endowment for the Arts, five organizations benefited from the proceeds of the festival. (They also worked very hard for two years to bring it about, chaired by Wm (Bucky) Bowman. Those organizations are The Springfield Regional Arts Council, Family Literacy Centers of the Ozarks, Ozarks Literacy Council, Springfield Public Schools Title 1 Program, and Writers Hall of Fame of America.

This year, The Big Read was Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. It was the featured literary work, complete with a free CD and a Reader's Guide. Handy dandy journals were labeled with the event, available from a large Borders booth. Cynthia from Borders did a great job, pulling double-duty as this is Borders' National Teacher Appreciation Week with activities at Springfield, MO's Borders store.

Events for Kids were ongoing as were the bands playing for the setup in front of Hammons Field, a ballpark. Go, Cardinals! Childrens Writers abounded.

In the general Hammons Field area, writers of everything participated, readings ongoing, bands playing. Writers lined up along the Grand Concourse.

Buddy, a gorgeous well-behaved golden retriever (I hope I got that right) attended as a celebrity for PALs (Pets As Listeners). On the Grand Concourse children read to Buddy, who also visits schools and other places. I'd seen something about PALs, and was so glad Buddy was there to give more information.

Western writer Dusty Richards and Missouri Cowboy Poets (a genre in itself, I guess) presented programs. I enjoyed the cowboy guitar and songs, too. (In general, I just had a good time.)

Known uniquely as "The Romance Writer" I spoke on Romance Fiction As It Is Today in the Cardinals Suite, and signed books, of course. Met some long-time Cait London readers and they truly made my day. Thanks Mary Jo, Pam et al. Never hurts a writer to be asked for an autograph. :) Suzann Ledbetter Ellingsworth spoke a little later on Writing To Get Paid versus Writing for Money in the All Star Suite. Suzann is always a powerful speaker and interesting, too. Poet Lee Ann Russell's works were also available.

Several universities also held readings and manned info-booths.

U.S. Poet Laureate Bill Collins drew quite the crowd as did other poets. Laura Shapiro, author of the biography "Julia Child", provided culinary insights and what looked like great food at the Creamery, which is actually a renovated creamery serving as the center for the Arts Council. If you can visit, this is a terrific building and hosts The Creamery Writers.

And as a presenter, I visited the Cards real live Bull Pen :) And a real highlight for me was to learn more about Music Therapy. I wish we had it in all our schools. PALS and Music Therapy, two really good healing/nurturing offerings.

Please visit the Missouri Literary Festival and check out all the events and people who provided such a great offering in Springfield, MO.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Multi-Cover Bookmark

I just received my order for bookmarks and am quite happy with it. This bookmark was printed on a postcard format twice. That is, I placed 2 of these, side by side, and used VistaPrint postcard services. I only needed a few, so I'll take the postcard doubles to a local printer, who will slice them in two.

I only needed a few, because I'm doing a program that explains the different subgenres of romance as it is today. I speak Sunday, Oct 4 at noon at the Missouri Literary Festival.

To create the first bookmark/format, use a graphic program. You'll need measurements to match the printers specs for a postcard. Lay out a background and then add new layers for each cover/photo. That way, they are moveable/adjustable, until you flatten.

I usually leave the original unflattened. That way, if I want to make changes later, I just assign a new name for the update and flatten that one. The backside has two parts to match the front bookmarks. It lists my E-mail, Twitter, Website, etc.

Notice that some of my covers go right to edge of the cut. That is called full bleed. You may want full bleed, or to use the inside cutting margin and draw a rectangle inside to create a border.

This pattern was used first as a .jpg for my Twitter page. But I changed the dpi to 300 and it worked well for 4-color printing. Not advised though.

I wasn't quite certain how these would turn out. But I'm happy with them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review Happy Today

  Stuck On You (Feature Anthology)

It's a good day when an older book is lovingly reviewed and that was today. Detra Fitch, alias Huntress, is a long-time respected reviewer. She's just posted 5 stars on my Taking Her Time novella in STUCK ON YOU, a Harlequin anthology. "Brilliant" she wrote in her view of my story. Her review is even written in French!

She hasn't gotten the other stories yet, Carolyn Zane's and Wendy Rosnau's but I'd say they'd rate a "brilliant", too.

Novellas are particularly difficult for me as I am a "long" writer, so this review means much to me.

Thank you, Huntress Reviews
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Ode to Exploding Cigars

For the last couple years or so, I've enjoyed Love is an Exploding Cigar blog with tremendous authors and guests. Cigars Regulars are: authors Karen Foley, Lynn Raye Harris, Ellen Hartman, Diana Holquist, Samantha Hunter, Shirley Jump, Dee Tenorio and
Jeannie Watt. As a guest, I really enjoyed everyone and the comments.

Now "Cigars" has decided to close, the authors really busy with careers. I understand fully. We're in hugging mode over at Cigars, so please drop in and visit.

Here's one of my guest author posts, modified a bit for this format:
VIBES by Cait London
So I was talking to Wilson this morning about my dining experience with two psychics. Wilson was his usual stoic self, but then large pumpkins don’t often have a lot to say.

I’ve become somewhat attached to Wilson, named after Tom Hank’s Wilson. My Wilson is not pretty, the usual dull tan of a “cowfield” pumpkin. I bought him last October; I knew his kind made great pies, especially when mixed with molasses. But writing heavily, I didn’t have time to deal with Wilson and he remained in the cool basement until late February. It was time to visit my daughter and family and help with their newborn. (Yes, I’m a grandmother.) And that is how Wilson became my traveling companion and quite the conversationalist. As I drove through snow and ice on my way to Lexington, KY, this from MO, Wilson sat happily in my large bread bowl. Again, I was too busy to deal with Wilson, and he returned home with me.

This morning, he sat in his bread bowl on the couch (I hadn’t unpacked yet), and while the conversation was silent, I’m certain he understands about psychic vibes.

There I was, sitting between two psychics after lunch. One gave me a tarot reading, while the other conveyed her “spirit guides” conversation to me. Both readings were possible, sometimes true, and equally hair-raising.

In preparation of writing my romantic suspense Aisling Psychic Triplets trilogy, I’d previously interviewed psychics and understood something of their personalities and experiences. Generally, there’s some trauma in their pasts, just as with my triplets—Claire, Tempest, and Leona.

As I sat between these two psychics, tarot cards and lunch leavings on the table, I felt their vibes mixing around me. I came to wonder if the readings were actually mine. Did I have psychic ability? Okay, reportedly my family has touches of the abilities and sometimes do connect with each other, though miles apart.

With three daughters, I understand the family dynamics of the Aislings, and how the familial position affects their personalities. My middle daughter is a really good character study and Tempest in A STRANGER'S TOUCH was created from her personality. Likewise Claire, the youngest in AT THE EDGE, derived from my youngest, and Leona, the fighter, the most fierce and powerful emerged from my eldest daughter’s traits. (Leona in FOR HER EYES ONLY was a 10/08 release.)

Explaining psychic vibes can get a little chancy, because the whole field is a bog of uncertainties and nonrealities. I’m certain that when psychics of any kind are near each other, their vibes mix, much the same as my triplets’ emotions and thoughts mixed, when in close proximity. That is why the Aislings, contemporary women descended from a Celtic seer and a Viking chieftain, must live a distance from each other. No way would you to romance a hunk, such as Marcus Greystone with your sisters and mother understanding what’s going on. Which is why Tempest Storm, the middle-born, and heroine of the 2nd book in the trilogy, stays away from water, a universal transport for psychic sensations/thoughts, when in Marcus’s arms.

  Wilson, sitting in his bowl with the Hawaiian leis I’d placed around him (after all, he’d been through several states, but never Hawaii), understands Marcus perfectly, probably a male-to-male thingie. After a one-night stand, Marcus isn’t happy with the woman who left his bed, without saying good-bye. He wants a rematch with Tempest, this time without her protective gloves, and he also wants her psychometry ability to solve a cold-case murder. Tempest is psychic-hand endowed, able to feel the history of an object, and the person who held it. To save her family, she’s after an ancient brooch, which is in Marcus’s firm grip and she’ll do anything to get it.

A STRANGER'S TOUCH is set on the shores of Lake Michigan. Wilson’s vibes seemed to shudder when I told him that, but then pumpkins float, so he’d be safe.

Wilson is safe … for now. He understands how very different each book in the triplets’ trilogy is, how very individual the characters are, and how unique they fit within the story arc of all three books.

I think that all writers have their own individual vibes or use those given off by others as we create our stories. We’re probably sucking vibes from each other right now, so watch out.

Or that’s what I told Wilson.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Gunsmoke, A Character Study

Gunsmoke - 50th Anniversary Collection, Volumes 1 & 2

My stepfather never missed Gunsmoke on TV. I suspect my mother watched it for a different reason. Matt Dillon does have a nice behind. In my opinion now, his rates with Tom Selleck's.

I appreciate the lead view of Matt's behind, but as a writer, I appreciate the reruns for the wealth of characters and how they revolve around each other. I'm seeing more aspects of their relationships in each show.

I've written a few western romances under the Cait Logan pseudonym, and I still love them. A native westerner of Washington State's inland sage and sand, I already had some background, but I loved researching my novels on site and drove many of the NW trails, visiting the forts. I went on to write contemporary romances and romantic suspense, usually with a small town western flavor.

There's the setting, a character in itself. Then the cast, specifically in Gunsmoke, Doc, Festus, Kitty and their underlying stories, i.e. the segment when Festus gambles a race with his mule and then finds the terrain too daunting. Kitty, faced with an old boyfriend, who is now on the wrong side of the law, which means her allegiance to Matt is challenged. Doc, faced with his professional ethics against a wealth of burdens.

Matt is a constant, the characters revolving around him. Subcharacters, and many actors got their start in Gunsmoke, have various romances, struggles, crimes.

Emotional conflicts abound, but one of the characters that is almost overlooked, but yet plays an important part in how the others treat him, is the town gossip. Cannot place his character name, but this person is always amid everything, running to Festus and Matt, carrying tales. He's usually excitable, ready to lay some great problem on them.

How they handle this gossip speaks of their character.

If you're looking for good character studies in a specific setting, the characters each with a part to play within the whole, study Gunsmoke.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Novel Interuptus

Unable to do much live conferencing/networking this year, I've compensated by using the Net and phone.

Twitter and Blogs are my favorite scrounging fields for industry news and there are some good ones out there.

Luckily, I've collected quite a good batch of friends, agents and editors through the years and those kinships are serving me well now.

There are just times in a writer's life, when nose-to-grindstone suits the need. Sometimes that need is family and life. I label the times I absolutely cannot write as Novel Interuptus. In NI, I just try to hug the story and keep it warm. That Nesting thing, you know.

Usually summer is prime Novel Interruptus time and this one was. I managed to continue keeping two stories warm, write half a book and develop proposals for my Toy Box's backburner. PageFour Outliner is super for writing up those story nuggets that might be developed later.

As for Networking on the quick and easy, Facebook is great. With various mailboxes and filters to sort friends/family, business, etc. communication and networking on that level is also serving.

So I'm set for a day of networking, and while doing so, one heroine's occupation slid onto the pages :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fan of the Fae


Where have I been? I wondered as I listened to Karen Marie Moning's podcast novel, Darkfever.

I'm a fan of iPod/iTunes or MP3 players, but especially my trusty iPod, small and old, but familiar to the touch, in its red case. I've been listening to writerly podcasts, interviews from Pen on Fire and other stuff, dismissing music.

But recently, while hunting for some suitable YA-boy travel podcasts, I found Karen's great podcast novel, Darkfever. Listening to "Mac's" urban fantasy, set in Dublin was addictive. The female voice actor soaked southern accent into the story....

Sometimes I listen from the sound dock and finished Moning's podcast/novel at home. But I purchased book 2, Bloodfever and found it just as good. With a long trip and by myself this time, I attached my iPod into the car's stereo. Mac and Moning did not disappoint, but instead led me to Faefever, book 3.
Faefever I ordered it as soon as I returned home and am listening to it on my sound dock.

Okay, I'm behind. Bloodfever and Faefever are my first purchased audio books.

The point here, writers, is that podcast novels, such as Moning's first are great PR. But more than anything, the voice actor was excellent, the sound great. Can't wait for book 4, out next.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

My Writing Clinic


Last week was not super; life-stuff did not flow well. A friend labels July as The If It Will Happen, It Will Go Wrong in July.

Now none of the life-stuff was illness or a disaster, but coping with what has to be done, car maintenance/home appliances (not happy about energy saver refrigerators at this point), etc. But every day was packed and planned to the max.

The best thing, and I felt very good about this, was my pop-up free writing clinic.

Pop-up, because my car needed a half-days work. Free writing clinic, because I wanted to do something to help those writers who cannot travel to conferences and/or cannot afford them.

A free library room, good coffee, and 4 hours flew by in a basic Q&A session. I came away feeling very good.

In my current schedule, I am not planning future events, but writing heavily and doing some life-stuff. See my other blog, The Second Cup and My Jam Jar to see more about those things.

But I'm back to writing now and still feeling good about what I could do in those 4 hours. Positive feedback was really satisfying.

I wonder how many realize that writing is a profession, a storyteller talent, a love, but also a hand-me-down craft. Writers usually give back somehow and while I was not a member of RWA or any writing group until after I'd published maybe 5 books, there were published writers along the way who helped.

IMHO, Q&As are of the most benefit, so I led with a few basics and questions followed. It was a good exercise and I'd worked very hard on the handout, so I hope they are using that now :)
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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Terminator Conflict

Terminator: Salvation [Theatrical Release]
Not a usual fan of sci-fi, I was tremendously impressed by Terminator Salvation.

Christian Bale headlines the cast. But I was more impressed by Sam Worthington, an actor from Oz/Australia. He's set for more film releases.

The plot on this is great, from a writer's point of view. Enemies or unlikely candidates, in this case, Christian and Sam, are pitted against each other initially. Christian's role never varied, never had that many internal conflicts, but Sam's character did.

Without giving away the twist in Sam's role, his conflict creates more characterization, in my opinion. He has to make choices right along about how he is going to react to any situation.

Christian's character knows what he will do, he has a single goal, the survival of humanity.

But at each turn, Sam Worthington's character must decide what he will do and in my opinion, his role creates the better hero and a better character.

Inner conflict, the choices one makes, is a defining quality.

As for acting, Sam Worthington's facial reactions, especially his eyes relay where he is in his current conflict.

Good movie for writers to watch, comparing conflicts and what makes a real hero. Well, I guess saving the world from a nuclear devastation created by machines might be the standard hero.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Hiatus Well

Every once in awhile, writers drop out of everything. Sometimes they're working on contracts, or some times they're "going back to the well". Sometimes, they're just working on life-interferes projects.

Since self-promotion sucks up a high percentage of writers' time, it's often difficult to make time (repeat: MAKE time, not FIND time). Now, this is going to get deep, so please stick with me....

While necessary, conferences can suck time and energy, before and after. (Before a major conference, I used to spend about a week before and one after, devoted to preparation and recovery, respectively.) Sometimes writers need to get out of their caves and circulate with other like species. Sometimes, they need to stay away from other writers and just focus on their own work and career. Many top sellers are now circulating less and writing more. According to one survey I read, submissions to agents are up now, writers seeming to be more productive.

In today's economy, conferences had better have the good stuff to get attendees. That means the professional line-up of speakers, agents, editors whatever needs to be outstanding. Else, why would a writer leave their keyboard and possibly their own means for a paycheck?

If an agent says she is going on hiatus to clean up her workload and meet client obligations. I respect that agent.

The Creative Well is deep and dark and diving into it isn't easy. To brew a truly unique story, one that the writer can create and write themselves, is exhausting mental work.

Mental work needs physical balance, which also takes time and often writers neglect this. Samantha Hunter is a writer I respect because of how she balances her life and creativity, which actually fosters even more story creativity. Other writers garden, ride motorcycles, and I especially like to do just about anything creative, plus driving on open road. Most writers are creative creatures by nature, either prior to or during their careers. Barbara Samuel's blog post about her process in bread baking reveals much introspection, and I like to bake, etc., too as you can see on my other blog. I'm also into many, many other activities as yet another of my blogs lists.

I've been in my Hiatus Well now for a short time now, keeping up whatever business necessary, and creating something I love and hope editors also love--well, readers, too, but first you have to go thru an agent, to an editor, and then to a reader. That's simplifying the journey.

Today, I've been surprised by the progress in a new project, more pages than I expected. To wrap myself around this new idea, embrace it, took more time than usual--because it wasn't my usual.

Uh-huh, pleasantly surprised by this project developed while in the Hiatus Well for only a short time. It's been a real stretch, exhausting at times, but so far I'm pleased. Writers have to nestle into projects and this one took a lot of feeling around to settle in for the long ride.

Nice Ride.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tallchief Fans

Another Tallchief fan has just written me about more in this Desire series, the Tallchiefs. In particular, Emily, the adopted daughter of Duncan Tallchief is most requested, which is what she wanted.

Native Americans in kilts. How much better can it get? :)

At the present, there are no more Tallchiefs in production, though I would truly like to write more, one of Harlequins top sellers according to the editor there. I'd like to top off that series with one particular story and Emily does need to "age" a bit for her love.

Writers can sometimes input to cover art, and I did for Tallchief Celebration. That's my 3 garnet ring on the cover :).

You can read more about the Tallchief series at my website. Deep into other stories, I do love to hear from readers, on all my books and try to answer each letter.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Interview of Psychic Triplets' Mother

Greer Aisling, the mother of my psychic triplets, has a lot to say in her interview.

Many of you are excited about Greer and asking when she's having her own book. So far there are no plans for it, but you can get a glimpse of what a psychic mother, a professional psychic herself, deals with her children.

I had a lot of fun writing this interview as Greer. I hope you enjoy it and will comment on her lovely children :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Writer/Editor Marriage

The Pendragon Virus (SD #611 - Dec 90) was just reviewed by Va Book Lover at eHarlequin on April 27th, 2009, 2:22pm. Just how old is this book? Count 'em: 18 years, going on 19 in Dec. Every Girl's Guide To... was just reissued and it was a 12-year old book. So apparently oldies but goodies. :)

The Pendragon Virus pits a working mother standing up to a tough boss for employment amenities. A wager is on: He'll live her life, including being Mr. Mom to see just how difficult it is to be a working mother. (Mm. With today's benefits shrinking by the hour, maybe this book is more appropriate than I thought.) How neat that Va Book Lover would actually be brave enough to review an 18-year-old Desire. This was during my Melissa Senate as editor period. We worked together for about 10-years and I loved her light touch.

Those 10 years were sheer magic for me. A writer and editor can work in harmony. Or not. My feeling is that the writer, while able to ingest and contemplate suggestions from an editor, the basic book belongs to the mother, which is that writer.

Melissa went on to do other things and is now an author herself. You can find her at her website, or at Facebook, etc. Her first Red Dress Inc., See Jane Date, became a Lifetime movie.

Once a bookseller said of me, "She isn't going anywhere". Now that scared me, until she explained that I would probably have long shelf life. Oh, thank you, thank you.

Highly talented Melissa is going to be around for a long, long time, too.

A Super Interview: Writer's Slant

Silence the Whispers

BookstoreDeb has posted an interview with me. Naturally, I'm tossing out lots of writer-advice, if you want to drop over. (If so, please post a comment? Thanks.:))

Deb provides a nice interview, very thoughtful, so all that is necessary is to either talk in the answers with Dragon, or write them.

I met Deb at Lori Foster and Diane Casteel's Reader and Writer Event 2008, which I enjoyed so much. A real highly of the year. She does a nice job of presenting my Psychic Triplet Trilogy. I have more interviews coming up, so watch for them. In one, I'll play a character, the mother of the triplets, Greer Aisling. More fun.

As for Deb's interview, everyone has different experiences, but writers are a sharing lot, and some of the craft is hand-me-down. Naturally, this gets diluted a lot, but Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer is still tops with me.
Techniques of the Selling Writer

I met this grand old gentleman, now passed, and gave him a copy of my first book, a catagory for Berkley Second Chance at Love. He sent a postcard that means more to me than most awards and it read something like, "You write a romance as it should be written".

I'm in spring office cleaning mode and looking at a laundry basket full of articles and awards, and hoping I find that postcard. How nice of Swain to take the time to send it. How lovely.