And So It Begins. . .
But let me start off by introducing the women of RWKF. What do you get when you combine five romantic suspense authors from varied backgrounds and geographic locations? Why, you get the girls at Romance Worth Killing For! We’re pleased to introduce our two new partners-in-crime and thought we’d take this opportunity re-introduce ourselves in the process.
Elisa grew up near Salem, Massachusetts. A longtime lover of all things paranormal, she began her writing career with horror stories--but didn't dream of publication until years later, when she branched out into romance novels. Paranormal and paranormal suspense are her favorite genres, but she has also branched out into contemporary suspense, contemporary comedy, and women’s fiction. Now a full-time writer, Elisa lives on the New Hampshire border with her three children. Elisa has twenty-five published novels and stories available from Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, Changeling Press, Loose Id, and Cerridwen Press. She has several books scheduled for release in 2007, including two novellas in Red Sage’s Secrets line of books. To learn more about Elisa, visit her website: http://www.elisaadams.com/.
As an avid fan of The X-files and The Twilight Zone, it was hardly a surprise to Theresa to find the bizarre, not to mention unearthly invade her romantic suspense. A simple story involving a missing child? No such luck. Let’s bring him back and without aging him a day!! Psychics, witches, magical societies living within the borders of our own—these are the stories she wants to explore. Along with hot cops and tortured heroes! And love. There has to be love, otherwise—why bother? Her books are dark and gritty, or so they’ve been described. But at heart they are about second chances, surviving the dark, to flourish in the coming light. They are about holding on and slogging your way through the ugliness that life can dish out, because happiness is just around the corner. . .
Elisabeth is a full-time writer and mother of three. Between researching the perfect murder and crafting sultry scenes, she changes diapers, carts kids to and from sports and activities and herds two Dalmatians. Whenever she’s lacking in ideas, she calls on her eight-year experience as a junior high science teacher where drama reigned supreme and romance was new and exciting. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Dan, where she is an officer for her local RWA chapter and is eagerly awaiting the call from her agent. Visit the author’s website at: http://www.elisabethnaughton.com/
Joan Swan writes what she likes to read: romantic suspense. She enjoys putting her characters through hell and then dragging them back to face more conflict. But she rewards them handsomely in the end. Entertainment, escape and allowing her readers to live vicariously through her heroines are her prime objectives. Joan has been writing seriously for four years and has completed seven manuscripts. Her agent, Nahvae Frost of The McCarthy Agency in New York, is currently shopping two of Joan's manuscripts around the NY houses. On a personal level, Joan has been married sixteen years to her own personal hero, a firefighter now for 20+ years, and they have two beautiful daughters, 14 and 10. They live on the Central Coast of California in the heart of wine country. Joan is a 2006 RWA GH finalist in the romantic suspense category. Visit her website at http://www.joanswan.com/
How does a high school English teacher end up plotting murders? She becomes a writer of romantic suspense! To learn more about Linda Winfree, please visit http://www.lindawinfree.com/. Send an email to Linda at email@example.com or join her Yahoo! group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/linda_winfree) to join in the fun with other readers as well as Linda! Linda will have four releases from Samhain Publishing this year. Her debut novel, WHAT MATTERED MOST, is set to release February 27, 2007!
As I mentioned earlier, we’ve got quite a few irons in the flames. For one thing we’ll be offering a multitude of contests. This is your month to win, win, win! And it starts TODAY! In honor of our year anniversary, we're offering contests all month long. For our kick-off, Theresa has generously offered to give away two autographed copies of Karin Tabke's new release, Good Girl Gone Bad. What do you have to do to win these books? It’s simple—just comment. We’ll pick two lucky posters and mail them a copy of Good Girl Gone Bad.
Future prizes include hardcover and paperback books (some autographed) from authors like Janet Evanovich, Lisa Jackson, Christina Dodd, Debbie Macomber, Sharon Sala, Allison Brennan, Karin Tabke, Linda Howard and more! Some of our own authors are donating electronic versions of their books. Elisa Adams is offering Grave Silence and Lost in Suburbia. Linda Winfree is offering a copy of her fresh release What Mattered Most.On Valentine's Day we are offering special be-good-to-yourself prizes--a pair of darling snowman earrings created with Joan's handmade beads, one of her beautiful hand-knitted scarves, and - if you participate in the early contest posting for taglines (yesterday's post) - chocolate!Contests will run Tuesdays and Thursdays for the rest of the month - except for Valentine's week, when we'll have one contest on Wednesday the 14th.
Another thing we’re very excited to offer is an ongoing, interactive novel. What's better than a free read? How about getting to participate in a free read? We've all been there, reading a book, wanting the hero or heroine to do this or that . . . and then he or she does the opposite! Completely frustrating and makes you want to toss the book against the nearest wall.
Coming soon to Romance Worth Killing For, is a free, interactive read! We'll begin by posting pictures of the hero and heroine on Saturday, Feb 3rd. At that point you—our loyal readers—get to . . . well, characterize these characters. :lol: Name them, give them an occupation, build their back story and GMC. All your suggestion can be inputted into the comments section. Next Saturday Elisabeth will start the story with a scene in either the hero/heroine’s POV. At this point you can offer suggestions as to where the storyline should go, or what the characters should do. Next Sat, Joan will take the story up again, incorporating the suggestions from the week before. So use your imagination and jump on in—let us know what you’d like to see happen.
What else do we have in the works for the coming weeks? Bunches, believe me. We’ll be doing theme posts where each of us will blog on a particular theme. We’ll be offering writing related seminars and workshops. Industry tidbits, editor/agent guest blogs.
So stay tuned, because we’ve got plans.
Labels: Theresa's Posts
:~: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 :~:
Well, actually, let's consider it a business deal: I need a tagline - a new one--fresh, intruiging, and representative of my work. I can't think of one. I will pay you in chocolate for creating one for me.
How could you turn that down?
I'll choose a winner on Febuary 14th (in addition to our other great contests for that day) -- for a gift basket/box of chocolates--retail value $40. If I take pieces of two entries suggestions, I'll give out two prizes--retail value of $20 each.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm in a promotion class via authorMBA. One of the heavier, more elusive topics is Author Branding. A major component of author branding is, you guessed it, the author tagline.
Linda's got: Sultry southern suspense
Elisabeth's got: Spellbinding romantic suspense
Edie's got: If you believe, magic will happen
Stella Cameron's got: Mystery that chills – passion that thrills
Elizabeth Lowell's got: Hard edged suspense with a passionate twist
Jennifer Apodaca's got: Dangerously romantic reading
Natalie Collins' got: Suspense fiction - Breaking open the closed Mormon world
Karin Tabke's got: Hot cops, sizzling passion
Alison Kent's got: The heat is on
Here are a few kernals of direction from the class:
"...your brand expands outward to encompass what you write. Your genre, your character types, etc. For example someone who writes about redemption through love is not sticking to their brand when they say all relationships are painful during an interview. You are trying to point to the things that redemption brings: hope, trust, love, etc. and hopefully show how you support those things. When Christina Skye says to people "Life is an adventure" she's conveying not only support for the genre in which her books are slotted (romantic suspense), but also to the very core of her brand being about the need to discover the inner potential in all of us or, boiled down, discover sustains us. "
So, here are some parameters:
- I write romantic suspense -- about 50/50
- My heros are from law enforcement backgrounds
- My heroines are intelligent and strong with a soft core
- My plots involve murder (sometimes multiple murders)
- My theme always seems to involve trust as a core issue with one or both characters
- Messages I want to convey to my reader about my work: Unique, rich characters, deep intruigue, sexy sex, sexual tension, emotional, satisfying
- And, I'm planning on (someday over the rainbow) expanding my heros and heroines into firefighting careers
What do you think? Anyone game? I'm offering a nice goody from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. I can even customize it as sugar-free chocolate if you're so inclined. If not chocolate, there are gigantor caramel apples and a variety of fudges. Mouth watering yet? How about this...does this work?
Labels: Joan's posts
:~: Monday, January 29, 2007 :~:
Don't Miss Month
I'm proud to announce that starting Thursday, February 1, we are unveiling the new and improved Romance Worth Killing For Blog. Aren't you thrilled?!?!
Okay, okay, okay. So you're looking around thinking, not too much different, Elisabeth. Well, let me direct you to the changes. First and foremost, you'll notice we've added two new bloggers - Elisa Adams and Theresa Monsey. On Thursday you'll get to meet them both, but let me start by saying, they're a blast. Starting that day - Feb. 1 - we'll have regular posts, M-F, and special posts on Saturdays. Be sure to check back every day so you don't miss out.
In addition to the new bloggers, we're going to have some great guest bloggers in the future (trust me, you don't want to miss these!) and cool contests with fab prizes like books, jewelry, potions and lotions and lots more. We've added a Google Calendar on the side bar so you can see what's coming up, and a whole slew of new links we're all addicted to.
Oh, and in case I forgot to mention it, this Thursday - kickoff day - we're giving away an autographed copy of Karin Tabke's Good Girl Gone Bad, so don't miss the chance to own your very own hot cops!
Now, it's your chance. What do you love about your favorite blogs? What keeps you coming back for more?
Labels: Elisabeth's Posts
:~: Friday, January 26, 2007 :~:
That sound you just heard? Joan running screaming for the hills.
I have to admit I'm fascinated by her revision methods. I can't do it the way she does, and that's part of the allure.
My personal style of revising comes from the strategies I teach my students in Writers Workshop. I use something called "Picture Framing," which I adapted from Writing to Win by Dr. Warren Coombs. I have to do this with a hard copy of my manuscript, and it involves breaking the work into "frames" -- anywhere the picture changes. Then I go through and mark it with A for "add," D for "delete," R for "revise," M for "move" . . . along with minor notes on what changes I need to make. This method allows me to work on both big and minor level revisions at the same time.
I also revise by doing a "circle and add" technique (also borrowed from Coombs -- the man is a genius). I go through the hard copy and circle sentences where I need more detail. In that pass, that's all I do -- look for places to "circle and add."
I've tried highlighting, etc., but it simply doesn't work for me. But give me my frames and circles and I'm just fine.
What is your favorite revision technique?
Labels: Linda's Posts
:~: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 :~:
I usually don’t. I’m more of a cross-that-bridge-when-I-come-to-it kind of person. But, I have to admit, promotion is something I worry about.
Irrational – I haven’t sold anything. I haven’t had anyone say they were even thinking of buying something. I do have an agent. I do have two revised manuscripts circulating in the big houses. But, still…awful soon to be biting my nails over the topic.
It might be that my fellow bloggers and I have been brainstorming a fresh, new version of this blog. (Launch date February 1st, btw – great stuff coming.) It might also be that I’m taking an awesome class online via AuthorMBA, and we’re talking about getting the biggest bang for your buck, author branding, tag lines, themes, messages, impressions, media presence…the list goes on. And on.
It might also be that I’m a huge introvert. I can be extroverted when necessary, but it sucks every ounce of my energy. And, of course, promotion is all about putting yourself out there—book signings, radio interviews, newspaper clips, press releases, advertisements, guest speaker invites. If you’re like Allison Brennan, a natural extrovert who thrives on that stuff, I guess it would all sound thrilling. But, me…
My throat gets all thick and sticky just thinking about it. Way, way, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of my comfort zone.
How do you feel about promotion? About building a community prior to selling vs. waiting until you’ve sold? About the different aspects of marketing your book? What have you done that’s been successful? Or, not so much? What have you seen other authors do that has been successful? Or, not so much?
Labels: Joan's posts
:~: Monday, January 22, 2007 :~:
The Power Of Persuasion
Whatever. He happens to be highly competitive too, so either he's rubbed off on me over the years or our competitive personalities were attracted to each other right from the start.
I'm one of those people who works really well on a deadline or when she's competing for something. Not self-imposed deadlines though. There's a difference. If I set the deadline and there's nothing to work for (or against) I'll never strive to meet the goal. Oh, I'll work toward it, but if that deadline comes and goes, I really won't bat much more than an eyelash at it. Certainly won't make me bust my butt to finish a project because of it. However, if I know someone's waiting for that project - say an editor or my agent - then I'm in serious production mode, working until I finish.
My RWA group sets goals every month. What do you get if you meet your goal? You get part of the money pot (which usually only totals a couple bucks because we each toss in fifty cents when we set a goal). Do I win? Youbetcha. Almost every time. That's my competitive nature coming out. I'm working against someone else, toward a deadline that I didn't personally set. There's accountability if I don't make the goal I announced in front of the whole group. There's a prize (measly as it is, though I consider it a deposit into my coffee fund) and there's that internal feeling of achievement when I announce, "yep, I made my goal." Have I ever not met my goal? Yes. Once - in just over two years. And it bugged me to no end. It's really a silly little thing we do at our meetings, but for someone like me - extremely competitive - it works.
So what does all this have to do with persuasion? Well, that's easy. I've been trying to kick my butt in gear with the wip. To start churning out some major pages and get this thing done. Only my little self-imposed deadlines aren't spurring me on. I'll write 15 pgs one day, 12 the next, five the day after and then nothing for three to four days. And then it takes me another day or so to get back into the habit, to reconnect with the characters and start writing again. Sound familiar? Yeah, familiar and frustrating.
Last week (and here's the persuasion part), I was reading Karin Tabke's blog (for any of you who aren't following her first line contest, go check it out), and she was talking about a competition she's doing with her cp's - to write ten pages a day. Ten pages. Yikes. Sounds like a lot. But when you think about it, it really isn't. When I sit down to write, I generally pump out at least seven in a sitting. Many times, more. What if I push for ten instead of seven? What if I keep my butt in the chair until I get ten? I've never been a "write such and such pages per day" writer, but maybe it's the jumpstart I need to get this darn ms done.
I've roped Lisa into doing this with me. We're starting today. We still need to come up with our reward - but I'm leaning towards drinks and dinner with the girlfriends to celebrate our accomplishments, say, after a month. Sounds like a good reward to me.
So...anyone want to join us? Feel up to writing 10 pgs per day? And while you're at it, what things work to help motivate you?
Labels: Elisabeth's Posts
:~: Friday, January 19, 2007 :~:
Here's The Word
So . . . here's the result. I hope you enjoy!
Gossip zinged about Coney, Georgia like popcorn in a microwaveable bag. Everybody had to know everything, to talk about everything and everybody, and he was damn sick of it.
Dix Singleton closed his office door with a quiet click. He wanted to slam it, to sling everything off his desk in a soul-satisfying display of ire. No, that wasn’t right. What he wanted was to not give a dippity-do-da that Altee’s engagement was all over town.
He shouldn’t care, not after that absolutely luciferous last conversation, when she’d told him quite succinctly that he should give up, because she never intended to commit to any man. He’d been just another in a succession of her bedroom conquests. It should be a plaguy concept, not the source of absolute anger it was.
Enough of the schizothemia – he didn’t need the long reminiscence. He needed to get to work, to not let himself get caught up in the elliptic nature of his relationship – make that former relationship – with Agent Altee Price.
Enough of wondering what kind of man had altered Altee’s thinking about long-term commitment.
Seeking to shake off the sharp sense of malaise still dogging him, he picked up the topmost file from his desk and dropped into his chair. A sticky note from his head detective marked the top of the folder, a terse sentence relating a similarity between their murder case and one in Louisiana.
He flipped the manila folder open and spilled the glossy crime scene photos across his desk. In the first photo, the corpse lay along a drumlin created by river erosion, the same erosion which had revealed her shallow grave. The mud surrounding the victim had been mucid, with copious amounts of virescent algae. Advanced decomposition, the skull’s teeth already showing in a weird kind of lockjaw grin. He frowned, lifting another, closer photo of the head. Unique dental work – a bridge of some sort featuring a gusset. A fringe of pink and black hair, a punk skunk look, framed the remaining skin at the ear.
Who was she, this girl? If the timing had been right, he’d have been tempted to attribute her death to the serial killer who’d worked the area the summer before. Except the coroner insisted she’d been killed after the abscissin had started to flow in the trees around the river, the leaves drifting down to share her shallow grave. Her death seemed personal, though, not the act of a quaestuary hitman, someone into killing for profit. No, the damage inflicted on her body, evidenced by the slashes and blood on her black t-shirt with “dance” emblazoned on it in silver, had been some sick son of a bitch’s idea of fun.
Her body. Maybe they should be looking for a male missing person, since the epicene features of the body indicated a recent sex-change operation.
Voices filtered through his office door, his secretary’s shrill tones lifted in the familiar obloquy of her “he’s not to be disturbed” harangue. A grin quirked at his mouth. Shirley Maidenhair was a dragon, that was sure. He loved that about her.
“I said I didn’t care. Didn’t you get that?” The dulcet tones, admitted by his opening door, sent shivers down his spine.
Altee. Standing in the doorway to his office, a white take-out bag in hand, the scents of tomato sauce and oregano wafting in.
He stared. What the hell?
Shirley reached for the doorknob. “I’m sorry, Chief. I told her you didn’t want to be disturbed-”
“That’s okay.” He waved a hand at her. A disconnected part of his brain tried to prod him to stand up, but he couldn’t make his knees obey. Altee, here, with what smelled like his favorite meal from D’Angelo’s, and the diamond gone from her left hand as if a magician had waved a magic wand with a smirking “abracadabra.” “Thanks, Shirl.”
Ignoring Shirley’s glower, Altee swung the door shut behind the older woman. Still sitting, he let his gaze trail over her – the skinny sweater that skimmed her slender torso, the hip-hugging jeans that let just a little of her smooth pecan skin show.
She turned to him, silver earrings dancing against her turtleneck collar. “I feel like I should yell ollyollyoxenfree. Playing games with that woman is not fun.”
He looked at her, trying to read the expression in her big dark eyes.
Eyebrows lifted, she cocked a hip against the leather chair before his desk. “Cat got your tongue, Dixon? I bring you this supercalifragilistic surprise for lunch, and you have nothing to say?”
He narrowed his eyes. “What the hell are you up to, Altee?”
Labels: Linda's Posts
:~: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 :~:
I'm done with my revisions on Safe In Enemy Arms! Why is that great news for you, you ask? Because you don't have to listen to me bitch about it anymore, that's why!
But, I wanted to share a technique I used during one of the many moments I found myself "stuck" in the revision process. As I've mentioned in past posts, when you've read the same 400+ page manuscript 40+ times, it's pretty tough to keep everything in sharp focus. I found this put distance between me and my characters and kept my characterization and description details flatter than I would have liked.
After trying a myriad of different techniques that worked to various degrees, I hit a particularly rough patch. In desperation, I turned to an idea that I'd been thinking of for a while, but never got around to (a.k.a. laziness). And it really brought me back into intimate connection with my story.
I'm a very visual person, and I had been collecting pictures from magazines for months with the intention of putting together what I call a visual story board for all my manuscripts. I've heard more than one writer say they see their story in their head like a movie. I do too. But sometimes those clips can get fuzzy. The visual aid of a story board helped me. Maybe it will help you when you wander through those "out of focus" moments.
I actually had another 50 pictures I could have used if I let my compulsiveness win out over my laziness...but this was a quick and dirty try at the technique.
Does anyone else use this technique? Do you have other ideas to share?
Labels: Joan's posts
:~: Monday, January 15, 2007 :~:
Baby, It's Cold Outside
Now, on to the meat of the day...
It's cold today. Really cold. In the teens this morning. My windshield is totally iced over, and as luck would have it, I can't find the scraper anywhere. Which means if I plan to leave the house, I have to let the car warm up for at least twenty minutes before loading the Gremlins inside. Not so much fun, esp. when I'm (for some insane reason) paranoid about leaving the car running outside while I'm inside and can't see it. A smart person would fix this problem by parking their car in their garage, but alas, you haven't seen my garage. Let's just simply say - no room.
So as I sit here this morning, drinking my coffee, contemplating bundling myself up to go to the gym - which actually seems counterproductive on a morning like this - I got to thinking about my WIP and the pages I managed to squeak out last night. That of course led me to thinking about anything else on the planet because when it comes to this WIP, I am the queen of procrastination. So instead of opening the doc, I glanced out the window and saw...frost. Lots and lots of sparkling ice crystals and white-covered yards. And you know what I discovered? I'm nuts.
Here it is January, freezing temps, and I'm writing a book set in the snow. What was I thinking? Coincidence? You might say no, but actually it is considering I started this book back in Sept. and shelved it while I finished something else. September, remember, is a great time of year in the Pacific Northwest. Mild temps, lots of sun, great outdoor weather. When it's nice outside here, I often think about how romantic snowy weather is. But now that I'm smack dab in the middle of said freezing temps, I realize just how twisted my thinking has become.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love the snow and cold weather - when it happens and when it only lasts a brief amount of time. But when you set a book in the middle of a blizzard it kind of limits your characters' "outside time", unless that outside time consists of freezing their asses off and turning into popsicles. Not too sexy when you think about it. And when that book is an RS where characters are constantly in motion and things are happening happening happening? It severely limits how and what you write.
To fix this small corner I've written myself into, I wrote a scene last night that involved my villain. In a very warm, dry climate. Got my juices flowing. My hero and heroine are going to need to quickly get out of the snow, on a plane and headed somewhere warm if I'm going to get cracking on this thing. It works for the plot, but mostly - in the midst of my own winter blast - it works for my state of mind.
So procrastinate with me for a few minutes (you know you want to). Do the books you read or write correlate to the seasons? Are they similar or opposite to what you're experiencing where you live? And if you live in a temperate climate, please share the wealth. I want to hear about shorts and tank tops and the warmth of the sun on your bare skin. Seriously. I'm in need of something hot.
Labels: Elisabeth's Posts
:~: Friday, January 12, 2007 :~:
I've done this, kinda-sorta, with my students before in small groups, but never thought of using it as a blog post. The kids always have a blast . . .
And I couldn't resist doing it here!
Here's the deal:
Leave me a word (or words) in the comments. Really, I'd prefer PG-13 words, but I can handle a handful of R-rated words. I have to use all contributions in a story for next Friday's post.
So . . . the comments are open! Contribute away!
Labels: Linda's Posts
:~: Tuesday, January 09, 2007 :~:
Oh My God, I Did It Again!
She pulled his head back by the hair and kissed him hard. “All of you,” she rasped. “Now.”
She kissed him again, her tongue searching for his. She pulled her hips back and rocked into him, taking him completely. He slid easily, the firm, soft texture of her wet walls stealing what little sanity he’d retained thus far. Guilt fled, replaced by an intense wash of pleasure and power.
He’d never been wanted like this. He’d never wanted another like this. The need so powerful, so complete. Somewhere in his disabled mind the wild sting of fear shot through and just as quickly fizzled out.
He thrust into her on long, deep, desperate strokes, and her hips rose to meet every one.
“Yes.” One of her hands slipped out of his hair as she lost control. “God, Cole.”
“Bring it, baby.” He wasn’t sure if he got the words out, but they were screaming in his head. Bring it to me, baby. All of it. Right now.
Her body arched, pushing off the wall. She clenched and squeezed his shaft on a powerful orgasm. Excitement rippled up through his stomach and into his chest. He buried himself as deep as he could and let go. Heat and sensation burst in his groin, rocketed into his belly and chest, down his legs.
Then the rush slowed, the intensity softened, vibrations deepened until his body stopped shuddering, until every part of him had been stretched to its limit then released to absorb the ultimate pleasure.
This had to be what was so vividly referred to as a mind-blowing orgasm, because his brain was gone. Every last little gray cell.
There really isn't one innocuous passage in there. And I still can't help but wonder...
Labels: Joan's posts
:~: Monday, January 08, 2007 :~:
Fast forward to the holidays. My extended family descended on a rented beach house where we all hung out between Christmas and New Year's. My younger brother brought his new poker chips with him, and "the men" all decided it was time they taught "the women" how to play Texas Hold 'Em. Now, as far as table gambling goes, I'm more of a roulette fan, in fact, I don't think I've ever sat and played poker before, but being the good wife I am, I was willing to learn.
The first night we played for no money. "The men" took pity on us and taught us the game. I was still learning, and man, I realized I had a lot to learn. I had a list of what-beats-what written on a paper towel at my right hand, and still I had trouble remember what the heck I was doing. My older brother ended up cleaning house. (And gloated up one side and down the other until I was ready to throw my measly-remaining chips at him to shut him up.) So the next day when everyone sat to play, I opted out. Too much work, not my thing, and since this time they were playing for real money, I didn't feel confident enough to contribute. I ended up reading - which is fine and dandy with me, and I had a great time.
But I should have known my reprieve would be short-lived, because later that night they started up again, and I was dragged into the game against my will. I paid my $5 (reluctantly) and sat in my seat, sure I'd be the first one out.
An hour passed. And then two.
My younger brother went out.
My eyes widened with surprise.
My older brother (the sarcastic, gloating one) went out.
I smiled and tried to hide my shock.
The blinds went up.
My DH went out.
My eyes got bigger.
The blinds went up again.
One sister-in-law went out (the only one of the women to know how to play), and I thought for sure the planets were misaligned and that a tsunami was obviously headed our way. Balance in the world had to be off.
It was finally down to three - the three newbies, if you will - and all "the men" yelled, "Beginner's luck."
Then the other sister-in-law went out, and we were down to two.
And guess who won?
No one could have been more shocked. I went all in on the last hand - on a bluff, if you believe that. Part of me wanted to just finish the darn game as it was after midnight already and I was tired. Part of me was sure the other player (my mother of all people) had worse cards than I did. Turns out, trusting my gut was a good thing, and not nearly as scary as I'd thought before.
Now, now, you might be saying, yeah, that was a fluke. But, the next night when we played again, I ended up second. Lost only to my DH, who told me later he didn't like playing me because I was unpredictable. (Yeah, baby!)
But what, Elisabeth, does all this have to do with writing? Easy, let me tell you. Later, as I reflected on my stellar win (because that's what it was), I realized that part of the reason I don't like to gamble is because I don't like to take risks. If I'm good at something, if I already know I can do it, I'm there. I'm willing to jump in feet-first and do what has to be done. But stick me in a new situation, give me a new task I don't know how to complete, and my confidence goes right out the window. The book I'm working on now is a little like that. Is it unique enough? Is it different? Are the characters likeable? Will it ultimately sell? All unknowns, and jumping feet first into it is hard to do, especially when I'm not entirely sure how I'll come out on the other side once this thing is done. But you know what? Every time I sit down with a new idea, it's a risk. A risk, as a writer, I either decide to take, or walk away from.
Last week, Josie Brown had a great article at Buzz, Balls & Hype about trusting your gut in 2007. I would advise you each to go read it. She has advice for booksellers and editors (which I particularly liked) but also for writers. Bottom line: Trust that the story you have come up with is a sound idea, and then write it. Take risks. Be aggressive. And when you get to the point where you don't know what to do, try going all in.
Labels: Elisabeth's Posts
:~: Friday, January 05, 2007 :~:
One Last (Well, Maybe) Word on Goals
Labels: Linda's Posts
:~: Wednesday, January 03, 2007 :~:
Random Musings on Character...
It might be the less-than-pleasant holiday I had this year, but I've been noticing for a while now that whatever little...habits...a person has, intensifies with age. I've also noticed that people rarely change.
But on the lighter side...I've been doing a lot of people watching, and thought I'd share some general observations I've made that you might be able to incorporate your characters to give them that "real" feel.
Kids never hold still. Never. Boys are especially jittery. All kids play with whatever is close at hand. If nothing is close, they search things out. They pop their gum, crunch their water bottles and twirl the tops. They tap their feet, drum their fingers, hum to themselves, squirm in their chairs. I know, because it drives me insane. Makes me crawl out of my skin. That's one of those little quirks of mine that has gotten worse with age--I'm easily irritated.
Old people love to talk. Oh, man, do they love to talk. And most of them are very, very sweet. Even the arnery ones soften right up when you actually listen to them and ask them about their lives and their family. And they worry a lot. About their kids, their grandkids, and their health. I've never had anyone over 65 talk to me in concern about their careers, even if they still have one. Lends something to the addage that in the end your gravestone won't comment about how many hours you spent at the office.
Women, in general, still (even in 2007, decades after the femininst movement) are the real shoulders of a family. They still work, do the majority of the housework, taxi the kids, do homework with the kids, discipline the kids, pay the bills (or at least worry about them)...need I go on? And I believe this holds true even when women have great guys who pitch in.
Okay, a few other funny little things I've observed (on other people--I, in no way, shape or form resemble any of the remarks listed below...a hem):
Most people are better talkers than listeners and would rather tell you about their life than hear about yours.
Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason--those "types" of people do exist.
People repeat themselves...A LOT.
People are creatures of habit, ritual and comfort.
Few people enjoy taking risks.
Many people have creative complexes--that is they don't think they're the creative type...whatever that is.
People don't usually say what they mean directly. They also often lose their train of thought.
A lot of people talk to themselves.
Most people have lousy posture.
Everyone has some habit, for men it's often a gross one. Some of those habits that occur on a cross-gender basis (I'll spare you the gross ones, you probably all know them anyway) are scratching their head, rubbing their chin, nose, eyes, picking their nails, pushing their glasses up, whistling, jiggling their knee, licking their lips, talking with their hands, looking away when they talk.
There are one hell of a lot of lousy parents out there. In fact, I've seen my share of verbally and/or physically abusive parents just during regular day-to-day observation. On the flip side, are the parents who are such noodles when it comes to discipline or follow-through, their kids run them.
Oh, this has to be my favorite...people often criticize others for things they themselves do. Very few people look at themselves objectively, critically in an effort to better themselves.
Well...those are my observations for the moment. I'm sure others will come to me, especially as you all post your observations.
In some future book I'm going to create a Monk-like fireman -- that will be fun. I can see him now, counting hoses, adjusting knobs just so, making the other guys in the house crazy with it. And in another, and OCD victim with an anxiety disorder -- talk about internal havoc.
Share your observations of people of this world and share how you have or plan to incorporate their traits into your characters.
Labels: Joan's posts
:~: Monday, January 01, 2007 :~:
So Long 2006, Hello 2007
I love this cartoon. Ah....if only it were that easy. Unfortunately, it's not, but instead of dwelling on that fact, I'm simply going to say...
Wow, that just looks so strange. Seems like only yesterday we were all wondering what would happen with the dawning of the new millennium, and here we are in 2007 already.
As you start this new year, I hope you are well-rested, got everything you dreamed for Christmas, had a wonderful holiday season and are - as I type - stuffed from too much food and drink and that never-ending family bliss (and hopefully thrilled your team won its bowl game - mine did!!!).
I'm not big on resolutions. I tend to subscribe to the whole - if I'm going to make a change way of thinking, then I'll make it anytime during the year, not just on January 1. But as 2006 draws to a close, I do realize it's inevitable not to look back at the year and consider what we each accomplished, if we met those self-imposed goals (or resolutions) and how we alter those plans in the coming year.
2006 was good to me. No, I didn't sell, but I came close - very close - and the optimism from that near-sale is enough to spur me on in 2007. Persistence, patience and the belief I will reach my goal is where my focus now lies. In 2006 I won my first writing contest and received a paid RWA conference registration as the grand prize winner. I finished a book I'm very proud of and hope to someday see in print. I pitched (again!) and didn't die in the process. I went to Nationals in Atlanta, schmoozed, put myself out there, and met some really great people. And I signed with my agent (whom I love). I found a new critique partner who's had some great suggestions, I stumbled across a wonderful friendship with my Nationals roommate (you know who you are!) and now can't imagine my life without her in it, and I cultivated other relationships with chapter members who I now consider some of my closest friends. I went on two writer's retreats and loved every minute of it, I stayed active in my local chapter and have networked myself silly.
Of course, there are things I wish I would have done differently, goals I didn't meet, but in the end, when I look back at 2006, it's done with a smile. I have new goals for 2007 - goals I can control and some I can't - and though I might not reach them all, I know every step I take is one more in my ultimate goal of a long and prosperous career in the writing business.
So how was 2006 for you? I'd love to hear about your accomplishments and what heights you hope to reach in 2007.
Labels: Elisabeth's Posts