Saturday, April 28, 2007


Well, I finally finished rewriting the first chapter of A Scandalous Liaison. Actually, what I wound up doing was writing the first chapter almost completely from scratch, then starting the second chapter with mostly new material that ties into end of the existing first scene. I made some minor edits to the scene that used to start the second chapter, and the whole thing will come in just under the 25-page limit for the Golden Claddagh, which is the contest I plan to enter it in to see if I've finally nailed it.

So, barring any major "Whoa, dude, this sucks!" emails from my CPs in the next day or two, I'm done with this revision of the front of the book. Which only leaves me with, um, 100,000 or so words left to revise.

Um, yeah, that's progress for ya!

So, how are your revisions coming along? Do tell!

Friday, April 27, 2007


Yes, this post is a day late. I forgot yesterday. Pretend it's Thursday. Hey, it's like getting an extra day this week!

I'm back to mining oldies this week. Maybe I love this particular song by The Who so much because it has a good Classical reference, but I'm sure that's not the only reason. Mostly, I think I love it because a) the tune is absolutely infectious and b) the lyrics are so simultaneously bizarre and poetic, they give me serious writer envy. And I do wonder if this song isn't the origin of the expression "the bomb" as in, "You're the bomb." Anyone?
The Who, copyright 1982

Athena, I had no idea how much I'd need her
In peaceful times I hold her close and I feed her
My heart starts palpitating when I think my guess was wrong
But I think I'll get along
She's just a girl - she's a bomb

Athena, all I ever want to do is please her
My life has been so settled and she's the reason
Just one word from her and my troubles are long gone
But I think I'll get along

She's just a girl - she's a bomb
Just a girl just a girl
Just a girl just a girl
Just a girl just a girl
She's just a girl

Athena, my heart felt like a shattered glass in an acid bath
I felt like one of those flattened ants you find on a crazy path
I'd of topped myself to give her time she didn't need to ask
Was I a suicidal psychopath?
She's just a girl - she's a bomb

Consumed, there was a beautiful white horse I saw on a dream stage
He had a snake the size of a sewer pipe living in his rib cage
I felt like a pickled priest who was being flambed
You got me requisitioned, blondie
She's just a girl - she's a bomb

I'm happy, I'm ecstatic
Just a girl just a girl
Just a girl just a girl
Just a girl just a girl
She's just a girl

Look into the face of a child
Measure how long you smiled
Before the memory claimed
How long would children remain
How long would children remain

Athena, you picked me up by my lapels and screamed "leave her"
It felt like waking up in heaven on an empty meter
And now you're stuck with a castrated leader
And I hate the creep, I didn't mean that
She's a bomb
I just said it
She's a bomb
I didn't mean it, please
She's a bomb

Athena, I had no idea how much I need her
My life has been so settled and she's the reason
Just one word from her and my troubles are long gone
But I get along
She's just a girl, she's a bomb
She's just a girl, she's a bomb

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Critical Importance of Stage Direction

I know, I know. Jacqueline Barbour, LAU.1 But I've still managed to get around to this post, however tardily!

To fully understand what I'm posting below, you have to read Lacey's post today. Don't worry, I'll wait.

So, Lacey's criticism of the nose wrinkling was absolutely valid. She'd hit on a spot on the scene where I was already uncertain/unhappy with the stage direction, so that wasn't really a surprise. What I found interesting was what she interpreted based on that poor stage direction. To wit, she thought Patrick's offer was a) insincere and b) unmotivated.

Now, I've never believed stage direction wasn't important to a scene. It's very important. But when you're struggling for the "right" action on the part of your characters, sometimes you do stick stuff in that ends up not working. In this case, though, it not only didn't work, it actually made parts of the "plot" implausible.

You see, I wanted to get the characters out of the stable to give my heroine time to regroup, but I didn't want it to be the heroine's idea. Primarily because I didn't want her to be giving the hero the impression that she is actually considering entertaining his proposal, and if she asked him to her office, that's exactly what she'd be doing. She doesn't trust him at this point, and for some logical reasons, so she shouldn't be offering to do business with him, even though he's offering to do business with her.

But when he suggests they find a better place to talk, he's giving her the opportunity to put herself at ease. A reason to trust him. And he needs to give her those reasons if he's going to sway her to accept his offer. I also needed a way to show the reader (from the heroine's POV) that the hero notices things about other people and acts in thoughtful ways based upon them.

So, after much discussion and gnashing of teeth, I came up with this:

“Aye.” He looked around the stable, pausing to give Cato a passing caress. When his gaze traveled back to her, he studied her and she realized she had been rubbing her hands over her sleeves in an unconscious effort to warm them. He nodded in the direction of the open stable door. “Perhaps we could find someplace warmer and you will permit me to explain?”

For the first time since she had seen Mr. O’Brien’s horse, she registered how cold she was and how damp her habit had become in the course of her visits to her tenants. The roaring fire and hot tea that likely awaited her in her study would not come amiss.

I think this is much better than before. It shows us he's noticing her chill--before she does. And acting upon it.

Question for today: What do you do when you're stuck for a stage direction? Tired of people nodding and smiling and frowning and cocking their heads to one side? How do you come up with meaningful gestures and actions for your character that show rather than tell what they're thinking? Inquiring minds want to know.

1Late As Usual, a mock title my high school US Government teacher once gave to a member of Congress who regularly appeared late for scheduled appearances.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sex and the Thinking Blogger

Now that I have your attention...

Seriously, I know I got off my usual posting schedule last week, and I assure you, I angsted over it all weekend. (I know that makes you feel better *g!) However, I fell off the wagon for good reasons:

  1. I was writing. For me, I wrote like a fiend. (Actually, like a sex fiend if you want to get technical, but maybe we shouldn't go there on the blog.)
  2. Erica nominated this post of mine for a Thinking Blogger Award, and between Lacey and Annie, I had half my nominations stolen from me before mid-morning on Friday. So I been workin' on mine since Wednesday.

For those who are as yet unfamiliar with the Thinking Blogger , the rules are:

  • If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
  • Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
  • Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote

Here's my pretty award icon (because hey, if you got it, flaunt it, right?):

Now, for the hard part: my nominations. This was a tough call, my friends! In alphabetical order (because I can and because I'm just a tiny bit anal retentive), here they are:

  • Beverley
    Beverley's a FanLit friend, and I will be eternally envious of her because she completed one full manuscript in less time than it takes me to shower and dry my hair. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. This post, however, which isn't even writing-related, is especially thought-provoking and lovely.
  • Lainey Bancroft
    I think I identify with Lainey in large part because we seem to have such similar lives: husband, kids, etc. This post, about how hard (nay, impossible) it is to make one's family understand this whole writing thing, however, struck a major chord with me.
  • Maggie Robinson
    Maggie writes almost as mean a blog as a FanLit entry. Her posts are nearly always thought-provoking, but this one in particular, about her parents' romance, truly touched and inspired me
  • Meankitty
    Meankitty's blog was an obvious choice. Because it's just so damned funny, but also because I love the insights I get into a cat's way of thinking as a result of Typing Slave's efforts. This post, in particular, sparked by my tag of Typing Slave in another meme some time ago, was especially amusing. And, hey, it's also totally not writing-related.
  • Pam Skochinski
    Pam actually has a blog under her Ericka Scott pen name as well, but the specific post I wanted to nominate lives here. Back in January and February, Pam posted a series of very short stories on Fictional Friday. Now, I do not have a knack for writing short but it's a skill I'd love to cultivate, so Pam's stories, complete in just a few hundred words, really impressed me. This one, a riff on Cinderella, was my favorite. (Pam, feel free to post your thinking blogger response on either of your blogs! Makes no nevermind to me!)

So, that's that. Whew, now I can get back to writing like a (sex) fiend!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Writing Sluts

So, the topic of this post presented itself during a chat session I had this afternoon with Erica and Darcy. (All the Manuscript Mavens are supposed to chat once a week, but we rarely manage to confine ourselves to that! In fact, I still have a chat window open, just in case someone should come back and want to talk.)

The thing is, I've been reading Annie Dean's Average Girl's Guide to Getting Laid (which I purchased hot off the presses yesterday) and feeling woefully inadequate in the hot love scene department. (Ladies and gentlemen, this book is smokin' hot. And I'm not sure that even comes close to describing it! And yes, this is a rec, peeps. Go buy!) And since I left off yesterday at a moment in Going Greek that wasn't as scorching as I'd like and came back into Lady Libertine this morning at a supposed-to-be racy moment, the last thing I needed was another kick in the inadequacy department, but I got one anyway when Lacey sent out her incredibly hot, emotionally textured, totally kick-ass love scene from If You Asked the Devil to Dance. Yow, having her own place to hunker down and write has turned up her mojo big time!

/Me considers wisdom of running away from home and decides against. Drat!

Now, Darcy and Erica were quick to reassure me that my love scenes are plenty steamy and I don't need any help in that department, but once you're bitten by that bug of doubt, the drug seeps through your veins, whether it's about your love scenes or any other part of your manuscript.

But Lacey, bless her, had some great advice, which I should have remembered from writing Carnally Ever After, which was (I paraphrase) let your inhibitions go when you write a love scene. Get whatever's in your head out on the paper and worry about whether people are going to think you're a freak later. And I definitely didn't think Lacey was a freak after reading her scene and apparently, no one who read Carnally Ever After thought I was a freak (or if they did, they thought I was a hot freak, which is okay), so it's obviously the right way to fly.

But what does all this have to do with the title of this post, you ask?

Well, we started discussing the relative ease or difficulty of letting all those inhibitions go and one thing that we all agreed makes it harder is when you're writing a heroine who's a virgin. Which, let's face it, is the pretty typical setup in a historical, and we've all at one time or another written a historical. Lacey's love scene came from her hero's point of view, so that made it a bit easier, but her heroine is also pretty atypical (she's a Shawano warrier transplanted into England) and therefore has a lot fewer inhibitions than your average upper class English rose.

As you know, the heroine of Lady Libertine is also atypical in this regard. To put it bluntly, she's a slut *g. (And what's wrong with that?) But I've realized it does make it easier to let go and write her sex scenes. She has the vocabulary. She has the experience. She knows where she's going and what she wants. Erica's been writing paranormal contemporaries lately, so she isn't experiencing the virginal heroine problem. Darcy, on the other hand, has nothing but virgins. We all agreed, she needs a slut. But where to find one for her? Write if you have suggestions!

Today's question: What helps you let go and write a steamy love scene? Do you love writing them or hate it with the fire of a thousand suns? Or a little of both? (I vote for the a little of both. Maybe I'll blog about that some other day!)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Drumroll, Please!

I've been trying to get around to posting all day, just to reassure you all that five days without Internet didn't kill me.

Actually, technically, I wasn't completely without Internet the entire weekend (Lacey was right about that *g!). We did stay at a hotel that had a terminal in the lobby, which was a good thing, as I needed to log in a few times to check information about various places we wanted to visit and make a hotel reservation for Saturday night after we changed our plans. But I certainly didn't have time to read email or blogs or chat with anyone.

But what finally motivated me to post was the phone call I got five minutes ago. The first ten pages of Lady Libertine finalled in the Wisconsin RWA's Fab Five Contest. Does that rock or what? I'm soooooo pleased. Mainly because the heroine of that book is very non-traditional for a historical (she really is a libertine and she has done plenty of sleeping around before the story commences), so I wasn't sure how she would play to judges. So yay Amelia!

I'd love to share all the gory vacation details with ya'll, so I'm sure you'll be terribly sorry to hear I have to go to the grocery store to prevent us all from starving to death. (Five days away leaves bare cupboards. Whatever you still have is pretty much spoiled by the time you get back!)

So, I'm glad to be home but still trying to get my groove back. (I did, however, write 1,500 words this morning. Not bad!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Lest There Be Rumors of My Demise...

When Annie didn't post to her blog for several days this week, numerous commenters expressed concern that she might have met some hideous fate. As it turned out, it was just spring break.

Now, I'm not nearly as popular as Annie, but I wouldn't want anyone to wonder if I've fallen under a bus, so I hereby announce that I shall be on vacation from tomorrow through Sunday.

I will not be posting to this blog or reading/commenting on anyone else's. I will not be emailing. I will not be writing.

Okay, maybe the rumors of my demise will not be exaggerated. All three of those put together may well kill me.

But if they don't, I'll be seeing you all next Monday!

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Muse Takes Over

I know, I haven't posted since Thursday. Very unlike me. Erica has complained that she's tired of Jimmy Olsen and would I please post something.

But, you see, the muse has been running rampant. Well, actually, that's not entirely true. I'd been writing great gangbusters when my CPs smacked me upside the head with a cluestick and told me a couple of my initial story points pretty much sucked. So then I had about two days of major anxiety and stomach pains before I found a way to fix what was wrong and move on. I didn't completely buy my CPs' suggestions that I come up with a completely different conflict and plot, but I did find a way to overcome most of their issues without raping the story.

Of course, this weekend was Easter, which means it was a total loss, writing wise. But I was able to pick up where I left off today and write about 1,500 words, which is about three times my typical output. And that's despite several hours' worth of frantic IM'ing with Erica and Darcy about their plot problems. So I'm a happy camper.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Jimmy Olsen's Blues

This just happened to be the song that came up on the iPod on shuffle just now, and I always get a kick out of the lyrics. I love twists on familiar pop culture. Plus, I have to admit that I almost never sympathize with the superhero.
Jimmy Olsen's Blues
by Spin Doctors, copyright 1991

I don't think I can handle this
A cloudy day in Metropolis
I think I'll talk to my analyst
I got it so bad for this little journalist
It drives me up the wall and through the roof
Lois and Clark in a telephone booth
I think I'm going out of my brain
I got it so bad for little miss Lois Lane

Oh, Lois Lane, please put me in your plan
Yeah, Lois Lane, you don't need no Superman
Come on downtown and stay with me tonight
I got a pocket full of kryptonite

He's leaping buildings in a single bound
And I'm reading Shakespeare in my place downtown
Come on downtown and make love to me
I'm Jimmy Olsen, not a titan, you see
He's faster than a bullet, stronger than a train
He's the one who got lucky - got a cape around miss Lois Lane
I can't believe my dilemma is realI'm competing with the man of steel


I don't think I can handle this
A cloudy day in Metropolis
I think I'll talk to my analyst
I got it so bad for this little journalist


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Speed Post

I'm normally more garrulous on Wednesdays, but I'm saving my words for my books instead of my blog. You see, I'm kind of on a roll.

After chatting with my CPs this week, I've had a major breakthrough on Going Greek, my chook-lit (as Cara Maena called it) story. Turns out, there's a blog in it. The blog will work its way through the entire story and plays a major role in the plot. And it's so topical. I really love the idea and it's motivated me to write more and faster.

So, that's what I'm doing today and I hope, tomorrow, and the next day. Along with continuing to work on the new first chapter of A Scandalous Liaison, which has taken the book in a direction I'm very happy with as well.

All in all, a good week thus far, despite the (nearly interminable) interruptions associated with having kids at home for spring break. I should be just about ready for that vacation by the time it rolls around next Wednesday.

Today's question: What drives you crazy when your muse is really singing? And how do you keep the muse on topic ('specially if, like me, you try to blog regularly)?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Good Tidings of Great Joy

I love Monday mornings. Unlike most people, I look forward to Monday because it means the beginning of my writing week.

But this Monday is especially good because I got word yesterday from Leigh Dennis, one of my critique partners, that her manuscript, The Unbound Heart, is a finalist for the Colorado Romance Writers' Heart of the Rockies contest. And since she doesn't have her own blog, I have the distinct honor of announcing her feat to the world. This is her first final, so naturally, she's ecstactic and I couldn't be more pleased for her. Natasha Kern of the Natasha Kern Literary Agency is the final round judge. Let's all wish her luck in the final round!

In other "good" news, I finished the familial taxes (or as much as I need to finish to file for an extension) and it looks like I actually got the withholding allowances right for a change. We owe, but just a little, which is exactly the way I like it. I got a blurb for Going Greek written and posted on my website. I'm still looking for a log line for the book, but I'm hoping something will come to me. I completed and sent in my RWA PRO application thanks to Lacey's speedy burning and mailing of my CD. I even went shopping and bought a couple of nice but comfortable outfits I'm pretty sure I'll be wearing at National in July.

And finally, though I can't take any of the credit myself, the first coat of paint in the dining room is finished. My husband got it all done on Saturday. I'm so pleased with the base color. Bright, springy, and cheerful.

And then, just because I feel like it, here's a photo of my daughter petting a baby alligator at an animal show at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Discovery Center's opening event last weekend. She's the one in the bright yellow shirt. And she says alligators feel like rubbery plastic.