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Elisabeth: Marked

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
33,126 / 95,000

Joan: Buried Secrets

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68,000 / 115,000

Linda: Facing It

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45,540 / 85,000

:~: Thursday, September 27, 2007 :~:

What Gets in the Way

That's the talk prompt over on the RWC list this week. It's timely, too, since I have done nothing writing-related since, um, Tuesday. I think. Possibly Wednesday. Hey, what day is it anyway?

Here's the deal: It's Homecoming week at school. I'm the SGA advisor. That means I'm planning the entire spirit week activities plus the dance. Oh, and I'm a senior sponsor, so I'm fearlessly leading the seniors through said activities. I'm taking care of my two Monsters, who must have spirit stuff for each day as needed. I've attended softball and cross country meets.

Did I mention my edits on Hold On To Me are due Monday?!

Luckily I planned ahead and worked steadily on said edits until I finished them earlier this week. I knew once Wednesday got here, that would be all she wrote! So one more read and tweak and I can probably send the manuscript to my editor with a happy heart.

What about you? Anything getting in the way? Or are you happy sailing, writing-wise?


:~: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 :~:

You Know You're a Writer When...

I've compiled these comments from various sources, including my own head. Are you a writer? How many of these do you do? Can you add to the list?

You know you're a writer when...
  • An idea strikes you while driving on the Los Angeles 405 freeway and you traverse 4 lanes of traffic to get to the side of the road to write it down so you don't lose it.

  • You spend more time with your characters than your family and friends.

  • You'd RATHER spend more time with your characters than your family and friends.

  • You have relationships with fellow writers you've met over the internet than you do with flesh and blood friends who've been around you for years.

  • You stop talking about writing subjects with non-writers because their level of misunderstanding and underestimation is painful to you.

  • You've given over an entire wall of your bedroom four your latest WIP storyboard.

  • When in public, you listen more to everyone around you than the person you're with.

  • You have a momentary reality lapse and mention your characters’ situation as a prayer request in Sunday school.

  • You find yourself punishing your characters for bad behavior -- "Well, if you're going to act like that, I'll go clean the bathroom. You won't get that love scene today."

  • You analyze the look, dress, mannerisms and speech of everyone you come in contact with.

  • When talking with others, you mentally edit their dialogue and compose tags and beats.

  • While observing, you constantly shake your head and mutter to yourself, "Truth is stranger than fiction. I could never get away with writing that in my book."

  • When you're "in the zone" you forget to pick up your kids from school/practice/friend's house.

  • A stint of not writing makes you harder to live with than the worst bout of PMS.

  • Your characters start altering your plans and changing your destinations in real life.

  • You start a fight with your husband just so you can study the body language of anger.

  • You know the research librarian’s office, cell, and home phone numbers but can’t remember your own.

What are some other signs that you're a writer?


:~: Monday, September 24, 2007 :~:

Shifting Gears

A more apropos title for this blog is Waiting Sucks, but I had a feeling that wouldn't be politically (or writingly?) correct, so I ditched it in favor of what I'm doing. Switching gears while I wait.

In the last two weeks I've finished a couple of big projects. Sent a full ms to my agent, which I've yet to hear back on, and finished a proposal I'm very excited about. I sent said proposal to my CPs and want to get their feedback before I zip it off to my agent. (*Ahem* No Pressure or anything girls. Not like I'm waiting with bated breath here or anything....) The problem? The proposal is in a genre I don't normally write, so I don't want to write the full until I get a nod from my agent as to whether or not she thinks it has a chance to sell. It would be a waste of my time. In addition to that, because I just sent her a full, the odds of having her get back to me right away on the proposal are pretty dismal. I'd love to say, "Hey! Read the proposal first and tell me if I should keep going with it!" But I'm not sure that would fly.

So in the meantime, I'm left in a quandary. Keep writing on the proposal and see where it takes me? I'm in that mindset. But what if the idea flops? Then I'm wasting my time. My other option is to totally switch gears and start a new proposal for an RS idea I have. But jumping from one idea/genre to another is messing with me right now, especially when all I want to do is keep working on the first.

This isn't an issue I've really had to deal with before, though I know it's something published authors do all the time. Write a proposal, send it off, wait to hear, work on something else. It's a new concept for me to work around. Just about the time a proposal is done I'm getting to know my characters so well all I want to do is keep writing their story.

How do you write? Do you write proposals or fulls? Do you wait to get a nod, yay or nay, before you move on, or do you not care? Have you ever written a full only to have a CP, agent or editor tell you, after the fact, it didn't work? And if you do write proposals and switch gears as you wait, any tips or tricks for jumping from one project to another so you don't go loco?


:~: Friday, September 21, 2007 :~:

It's All Nick's Fault

If I tell you what kind of reading glom I've been on lately, you'll never believe me.

M/M romance.

I'm blaming it on the Nick Carraway/Jay Gatsby discussion going on in my classroom constantly (hey, there are serious critics who argue that Nick is gay and secretly in love with Gatsby).

Actually, I picked up a handful of m/m romances from Samhain because a) they were summer short reads and b) I'd read reviews and comments about them (as well as excerpts on the Samhain Cafe loop).

Let me say that Nick Carraway and his unreliable narration and possible suppressed homosexuality aside, I've never read much gay/lesbian romance. (Does D. H. Lawrence's Women In Love count? There was the naked wrestling scene . . .) And I knew that most m/m romance is written by straight women for straight women.

So here's what I found:

1) Good writing is good writing. Doesn't matter if it's straight romance, romantic suspense, gay/lesbian romance . . . if the writer has mastered the craft, the reader is in for a great time.

2) It's really important, if you write men, gay or straight, to make your men sound like . . . men. Really.

3) In regular or gay romance . . . there has to be a strong conflict and a great plot. Sex scenes strung together do not a great read make.

4) Romance is romance. Good writing is good writing. Oh, wait, I already said that, didn't I? But it's true. Don't believe me? Go read KA Mitchell's Custom Ride. Her prose is to-die-for and the romance she crafts between the two male leads is incredible. She has all of the above -- 1, 2, and 3.

What about you? Are you a reader of gay romance? Or is outside your comfort zone?


:~: Wednesday, September 19, 2007 :~:

Musing on the Muse

Just back from a mini-conference over the weekend where I took a course called Mining the Muse from Mary Hershey.

Confession: I don't have a muse. I've never had a muse. I don't even understand the terminology or ideology or any other ology to it.

Okay, I actually do understand the mythology behind it because Mary explained that the word muse comes from Greek mythology and relates to a sisterhood of goddesses who embody the arts and inspire the creation process.

So, now I know where it comes from, but not much else. And I still don't have one -- not a solid depiction of one in my mind anyway. Evidently, most people have some sort of mental image of their muse--one that typically develops organically without much effort on the author's side.

Linda's muse is a Cheetos-eating, sweatpants-wearing...um, I'm not sure what it/he/she is actually. And I believe it/he/she changes depending on mood. (Lin, you'll obviously have to expand on this and fix my blunders.)

Elisabeth's muse is a cargo pant, army-boot clad woman who kicks ass and takes names. (E, you'll obviously have to expand on this and fix my blunders.)


Mary explained the muse-author relationship, where the author does the heavy lifting--creates and sticks to a schedule, honors the creative process, feeds him/her/it, while the muse kicks back with a glass of wine, spewing inspiration when the mood strikes. Mary also gave tips on how to cultivate your muse, then connect with it regularly.

I'm trying. Not seeing much in the way of results yet, but I'm still trying.

Do you have a muse? What does he/she/it look and act like? When does your muse come to you? How do you tap into it? Give us the scoop on your muse!


:~: Monday, September 17, 2007 :~:

Levels of Sensuality

J and I were chatting via IM today about our current WIPs. After she dumped me to go pay the bills (apparently bills are more interesting than I am), I sat down to work on my book. The scene I had planned in my head, however, didn't end up the way I'd envisioned.

This has happened to me before and I'm sure it's happened to you as well. You have a scene mapped out but when you start writing something happens and the scene goes in a whole new direction. This wasn't quite like that though. No, the scene went where I wanted it to go, it just did it in a very different way than I'd planned.

I consider myself a sexy writer. There's a high level of sensuality in my books, more so the more I write I'm finding out. This book, however, while I knew it was going to be more erotic than the rest, has totally surprised me. The scene I'd planned to be slightly sultry turned very hot, very fast. If someone had told me I was going to write this book this way, I'd have said they were crazy. But for some strange reason, it seems to fit the tone and characters, so I'll probably let it go and see what happens as I get deeper into it (no pun intended there).

It's funny. My CP sent me an older book I'd reworked recently and asked her to read. This morning I had that document open and was looking at her comments. I love this story. The romance is very deep and emotional. But there's only one love scene in the entire book and in all honesty, it's not that hot. But to be truthful, that book didn't need to be hot. The romance didn't call for it. I flipped to the WIP while I was looking at my CPs comments on the older book and choked a laugh. The book I'm working on now is a completely different level of sensuality and yet I love both books and both styles.

What about you? Do your books tend to stay on the same sensuality plane? Or do yours vary from one story to another depending on your characters and what the tone calls for?


:~: Friday, September 14, 2007 :~:

The Autobuy

Isn't it amazing how an author's work can vary in quality from piece to piece? I have an author who is basically an auto-buy -- I might not pick up the new titles immediately, but eventually, I buy everything this writer puts out.

The last two books I'd purchased had been rather disappointing -- a little so-so, more sex than story, almost like they'd been rushed to production.

But I bought the latest release anyway. And I'm so glad I did -- a rich plot, great characters, sizzling conflict. This book was every reason why I can't stay away from this author.

What about you? Any autobuy authors whose work you must have, even if sometimes it disappoints?


:~: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 :~:

Websites for Authors...Part II

Okay, I'm on my other computers where my bookmarks are, so I can point out some author sites I really like and tell you why I like them. Then you can give me your opinion -- on those or others.

(And, no, I don't know any of these authors. I found their sites by surfing.)

Lorie O'Clare

  • The color scheme is soothing yet intriguing
  • The design is sharp and clean
  • Dual navigation is nice
  • Book cover within sight right away--no scrolling needed
  • The popout menu is interactive and interesting w/o being annoying
  • Easy, direct link to more book info and purchansing direction

Claudia Dain

  • The color scheme is pleasing, the swirling designs romantic
  • Appreciate how the design is prominant at the top of the page but fades as more content comes in -- keeps the page crisp
  • Her author photo is professional and small
  • Her book covers fanned across the top tell us she's prolific, successful
  • The touch of Flash is just enough to be fun but not overwhelming or problematic for browser issues
  • Navigation is clear
  • Books (subsequent pages) are organized by genre
  • Love the little FYIs in the margins on various pages
  • Love that her photo album relates to her writing, not something completely out of the blue, like her pet hampster

Pamela Brittan

  • Talk about theme and branding -- this is an excellent example. She carries the NASCAR theme through in her color scheme, her style, her design elements, her navigation, even right down to her checkered shirt
  • Her navigation is idiot-proof
  • Her pages are clear, simple and crisp
  • And, damn, they load FAST

Those are it for now. I'll add a few more tomorrow.

Post links to your favorite sites in the comments and be sure to tell us what you like about them.


Websites for Authors

I’m creating a presentation for my local RWA on website design for authors, and I could use your input.

My life has been steeped in design from art in high school to a design major in college and a career as a designer after college before changing careers to the medical field. Then when I needed to indulge my artsy side once again, I trained in website design.

I worked as a web developer for four years with large corporations and many years, before and after, independently creating more freestyle sites for various companies and individuals.

So, while designing and implementing website style and content comes naturally to me, when I sit down to define the steps of the process so that someone without a technical background can grasp the big picture, I feel like I've slipped on a straight jacket.

Creating an author website is multi-faced, far more complex than creating a business website because while you're selling a product--your book--you're also communicating your personality, your genre, your brand. And I'm struggling to get that big picture and all there is to consider into a helpful snapshot for a 90 minute workshop.

Since those of you who visit here are web-savvy and so many of your either have your own website or blog, I'd love to get your input. If you can answer any of the questions I've listed, I'd appreciate it and will weave your information into my presentation. Once completed, I'll also post the presentation on my website for all to access.

What are some big DOs for an author website?
What are some big DON'Ts for an author website?
How did you create your website (yourself or hired help)?
If yourself, what program did you use and how did you learn it?
If you hired out, what service/company did you use?
If you hired out, what DOs and DON'Ts can you offer regarding the process?
Do you think agents/editors look at author's websites? Can you give examples?
Which author websites do you love? What do you love about them?

Please feel free to offer whatever other information, thoughts, opinions, examples you'd like on the subject.

I'll be adding links to some of my favorite sites and explaining why I feel they are effective in the comments section as well -- so check back for more info.

Thanks for your help!


:~: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 :~:


Don't tell. I'm stealing Elisa's day to post.

Because His Ordinary Life is now available and I want to shout about it.

I love Del. I love his story. I loved writing about his conflict and his love for his children and his love for the wife he believed didn't want him anymore.

I love marriage in jeopardy stories and after rewriting the book this summer, that's what this baby is.

I love, love, love it. And I want others to love it too.

Okay, I'll stop gushing now and post my blurb . . .

Reunited by their teenage son’s possible involvement in a murder . . . their new needs and old passions are destined to explode.

His Ordinary Life by Linda Winfree
Book Two of the Hearts of the South series.

Del Calvert has spent his life in quiet desperation, trying to meet everyone’s expectations and feeling like he never quite measured up. From his teens, Barb was everything he wanted and needed, but knowing he wasn’t enough for her drove him out of the marriage.

Barbara Calvert is afraid to need anyone—especially the soon-to-be-ex husband she still loves. She’s reluctant to fall under his seductive spell of love and security once more.

But when their son’s secrets threaten his life, everything changes. Del must help his son as unseen and threatening forces move ever closer, putting the entire family at risk. And along the way, he hopes to convince Barbara to give him one more chance to win back the wonderful, ordinary life he didn’t appreciate until it was gone.

You can find an excerpt at the Samhain website here: http://www.samhainpublishing.com/romance/his-ordinary-life.

I'll leave you with a snippet of an excerpt . . .

Leaning up, Barbara covered his mouth with hers, cutting off his words, and he was lost, drowning in sensations he’d starved for the last few months.

She cradled his face, her lips teasing the corner of his. The clean essence of her surrounded him, a mingling of citrus, soap and woman. When she eased her tongue over his bottom lip, he hardened. A groan rumbled from deep in his throat.

“Barb,” he whispered, and as his mouth parted, she darted her tongue inside. At the taste of her, his knees threatened to give. He reached for her, gripping her waist and pulling her closer. Her body aligned with his, fit him with the same perfection as always. “God, I’ve missed you.”

He muttered the words into her mouth, sliding his hands lower to cup her bottom and lift her against him. She moaned and wound her legs around his thighs, the counter supporting her weight. Holding his shoulders, she urged him even closer and sucked his lower lip into her mouth, nipping him lightly. The sensation of pleasure-pain shot to his groin and he rocked into her.

With a rough laugh, he rested his palms on the counter on either side of her. Her head tilted back under his kisses, she tugged his shirt from his jeans. “Take it off.”

“Baby, you know where this is headed,” he murmured between kisses, her fingers leaving trails of fire on his skin. “Are you sure?”

“Take it off, Del.” She shoved the shirt up, helping him shrug out of it. Once it hit the floor, she fanned her hands over his chest, shaping the muscles, tracing the line of his ribcage. She ran a single finger along the scar bisecting his left pec, and he closed his eyes. Over the years, she’d done the same thing countless times, but this once, the simple caress brought tears to his eyes. She pressed a kiss there and he moaned, swaying closer. This wasn’t really happening. In a second, he’d wake up and find it was simply another dream.


:~: Monday, September 10, 2007 :~:

Theme Songs

I know a lot of writers who can't start a book until they have a title. Some can't write without knowing their characters first, middle and last names. Some can't even begin typing until they've got character sketches done in full. None of those are me.

There is one thing I have to have before I start writing though. A theme song.

Yeah, yeah, I know, call me weird, but with every book I write, there's one song that fits the story to a T. If you listen closely to the lyrics you will see my characters, their struggle and what they're going through. It's different than a playlist. It's one song that is "them". Sometimes I know that song before the story starts, sometimes it comes to me shortly thereafter.

The theme songs for my last few books have been:






So here I sit, starting a new book. I'm in the middle of chapter two and it's hit me. I don't have a theme song yet! I know before much longer, I'll be on the hunt.

Anyone else out there have theme songs or am I just totally weird? And if you do, share what your theme songs have been.


:~: Friday, September 07, 2007 :~:

I've Been Outed

In a really, really good way.

As I mentioned yesterday, What Mattered Most is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

I emailed my friend Mary, the school counselor.

Mary proceeded to send the link to everyone in her email address book. That included every teacher at school and God only knows who else (Mary has quite the connections!).

Want to guess how many times I've talked about my upcoming releases today?

It's been a little disconcerting, but at the same time, it's been so much fun to talk about John and Lanie with people and then to segue to my other books. Everyone is genuinely excited for me and interested in what I do. (And maybe I'll sell more books!)

I can see now I need a small collection of promo brochures or postcards with my title and release info on them to hand out in said conversations.

Being outed was a really neat way to top off a less-than-nice week.

So . . . have I told you about my books yet?


:~: Thursday, September 06, 2007 :~:

Shameless Promo (And Contest)

What Mattered Most is now available for pre-order through Amazon! I'm still grinning.

What Mattered Most, my first novel from Samhain, received Five Lips from Tara Renee at Two Lips Reviews. In part, Tara said, "I could not put this book down and I know that anyone who reads it will find it as magnificent as I do." You can read the rest of her comments here: http://www.twolipsreviews.com/content/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2142&Itemid=36.

Sandra Paquet at Gotta Write Network also recently reviewed John and Lanie's story and awarded it five out of five "ever afters". Here's part of what she had to say: "An emotionally charged plot, tortured characters who live and breathe on the page - what more could you want?" You can find her review here: http://www.gottawritenetwork.com/ReviewsBySandra2.html (you have to scroll down to each review).

You can find the blurb and excerpt for What Mattered Most here: http://www.samhainpublishing.com/romance/what-mattered-most.

Also, I'm really excited that His Ordinary Life is releasing in five days from Samhain! To celebrate, I'm throwing a contest.

Here's the contest deal:

The three prizes I'm giving away:

1) A $5.00 Samhain gift certificate (MBAM)
2) Ebook version of your choice -- What Mattered Most
3) Ebook version of your choice -- Truth and Consequences

How to Enter: Read through the two excerpts from His Ordinary Life found at my Yahoo group (in the files section) as well as the excerpt at the Samhain website. Find the answers to THREE of the contest questions below. Copy the questions you're answering into a blank email and provide the correct answer for each question. Send to linda_winfree at yahoo dot com (you know what to do) with SAMHAIN CONTEST in the subject line.

Contest runs through Monday night (9/10/07), 9:00 PM EST. At that time, I'll draw a winner for each prize from those providing the correct answers and post the winners here as as well as at my blog, lindawinfree.blogspot.com.

The Questions:

1) Where does Del have a scar? (Yahoo group excerpt)
2) How many children do Barb and Del have? (Yahoo group excerpt)
3) What did Del drive before the Porsche? (Yahoo group excerpt)
4) What is Del's brother's name? (Yahoo group excerpt)
5) In the Samhain website excerpt, what memory sends Del after Barbara for one more try?

Remeber, the questions and excerpts are posted in the files section of my newsletter group at Yahoo (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linda_winfree).

(And if you're a member of the Samhain Cafe, the Yahoo group excerpts are in the archived messages there from my last list mom day, Sept. 4).


:~: Wednesday, September 05, 2007 :~:

Pornography vs. Romance?

Picture the setting: Ninety five degrees, just starting to cool down with the sun setting, four couples (friends for many, many years) sitting around eating pizza and salad, all our kids, ranging in age from 18 to 8, in the pool.

There are about 3 different coversations going on at any one time, conversations that shift direction like the wind, drawing in different participants and tossing out others.

Something along the lines of..."That's great book material. Joan, you could write a story around...blah, blah, blah". Of course what always happens in this situation is that others piggyback onto the idea. "Oh, yeah, and then blah, blah, can blah, blah." Etc., etc.

Somewhere in the merry-go-round of ridiculous ideas my friend says, "blah, blah, like that porno scene in your first book, blah, blah...etc."

Whoa! I say, "Porno? I don't write porno. There is no porno in any of my books."

She laughs it off and says, "Well, pretty close."

And then the wind blows and the conversation shifts in a completely different direction.

Now, more than 24 hrs later, I'm still smarting from that completely unintentionally offensive comment. I know her, and I know it was just something that came out in relation to whatever bizzare, unimportant conversation we were having at the time in which nothing really mean anything. (Although I often wonder if "slips" like that mean more than not.)

And it got me thinking...I am rather descriptive in my love scenes. (I'm feeling the need for a little justification here -- is my insecurity showing?) Not more descriptive, mind you, than some of my peers. Definitely not more descriptive than some published RS authors I've read.

And that thought quickly digressed into, am I writing porno? When my friends read my books (when my books get published, of course) will they think it's porno? Will I be known around town as the woman who writes those porno suspense books? (That's going to be a new genre by the time I get published.)

I guess I never considered this topic because I don't write erotica -- and erotica novelists are typically the ones fighting the battle over perception of erotica vs. porn.

There's that typical argument among writers that "if the characters grow and change during a love scene, it has a purpose and is therefore not gatuitous sex (i.e. porn)". But what about a reader's perspective? They aren't pulling scenes apart and analyzing them for the character's emotional growth. They're seeing sex. They might think it's "meaningful" sex, but still...

I don't know. I'm a little confused on the topic.

What's your view? Have you ever had to justify the level of sexual content in your novels so you didn't look like some sex addict using writing as a hobby to fulfill your strange fantasies? Or is that something you've never even considered?


:~: Monday, September 03, 2007 :~:

Happy Labor Day!

Hope everyone had a fabulous end-of-summer bash today. So hard to believe summer is winding down. Where did the time go?

This is my favorite holiday. :) Because it means the kidlets go back to school this week!

Everyone all together now...


Funny how times have changed. When I was teaching it used to me my least-fav holiday because it meant my summer was over and I was heading back to work.

What's your favorite holiday and why?