Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Research and Pinterest

Researching books is one of the best time-sucks on the internet. I can get over-involved in finding the layout of a castle, information on medieval garb of Irish clans, and clan mottos. The list can be endless...but I've noticed the best one is the character search.

I have a strict limit on the character search - no more than 30 minutes per week. I'm not looking to cast my characters in a movie; rather, I'm trying to find a pair of eyes that match what's in my head, or the exact color of my heroine's hair when she's drying it by the fire. This is more difficult than one might think...matching up my mind with reality is sometimes incredibly frustrating.

This week, I've found two images. I was advised this weekend that a better way to gather all my images is to use Pinterest, instead of my hard drive...I'm going to try that out this week. It's one of those programs that I signed up for but never used; however, my Facebook feed is full of neat images (mostly food...my friends really love food) and ideas that I would never have thought of myself (but I'm pretty sure they'd eventually show up in my Martha Stewart Twitter feed).

Here are my two images. One of them is for the eyes of this guy, which isn't as grainy on my computer as it is here:

(I have no copyright information, but if anyone has some,
please send it along so I can post. It was from a Google search and the website no longer exists.)

It's not about the color...it's about the message they're conveying. Depends on your mood which message that is, so I'll let you play around with that one.

The second image is for my heroine's hair color. I have her hair portrayed as this:
(Copyright haircolors2013.us.)

And have the hair kind of looking the way this does - different colors, maybe a bit darker, though - when in firelight:
(Copyright haircolors2013.us.)

See how it still doesn't match up to my imagination? Frustrating. Do you use Pinterest? Does it help, or do you find it too distracting? Comment below!

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Writing World

In a perfect, artsy, creative dream world, I'd be sitting in a quaint cottage, overlooking the Cliffs of Moher (yeah, I know there aren't any cottages that overlook such a huge, touristy cliff site, but it's MY perfect world, so it's there, and it's quaint) and it would be lightly misting.  The sea would be a little bit churny (new word!); my husband would be playing in the garden (I KNOW you can't have a garden there, let it go already) with our children, who would be wearing brightly colored raincoats. And, of course, my dog situation would remain the same, as they would slumber peacefully by my feet. 

In this dream writing world, I would also have a personal chef, chauffeur  and two house cleaners (again...my world).

My real writing world is very different. Monday through Friday, I get the children off to school (about an hour), then blog (about half an hour), then work a full day (usually nine hours). Then it's dinner time, then bath and/or bedtime...and then I can sit down to write, starting at about 8:30 or 9:00 at night. Weekends are whenever I can fit it in, but the goal remains the same: I write a certain number of words instead of free-flowing creativity. I like the idea of a muse, but she rarely works my hours, so I'm on my own during the day. But sometimes, she wakes me in the middle of the night. 

It happens more often than I like to admit.

Some people think I'm crazy, but the fact is, I'm a writer, and have been from an early age. The characters I create are real in my head; their lives play out like a movie, and it's my job to write down their thoughts and action; if I don't, they become more insistent. When I was 10, I remember getting so angry with myself because it felt like I would append every thought I had with "she said" or "she exclaimed haughtily." I couldn't control it - much like, if I wake in the middle of the night with a sudden resolution to chapter 14, I have to get it down. I don't write as fast as I type, and my thoughts go really fast when I'm in the zone, so I type. Which means I have to leave my bed, flip the computer on, and go.

My favorite time to write would distract me. I'd daydream, lollygag, and procrastinate. My real writing world pushes me to focus, plan, and finish. So I'll keep my reality, enjoy every minute, and save my dream for vacation.

You never know...someone might build a quaint cottage directly on the Cliffs of Moher, put a (fenced) garden in, and rent it for a reasonable weekly rate. Stranger things have happened!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Every weekend should be a P&P weekend

This weekend, I've got another AWESOME conference coming up, and I'm pretty excited. I'm taking a class from one of my most favorite authors (one of the only ones who can make me laugh out loud while reading, causing weird looks from my family) and I'm meeting some agents and editors I respect (from their work and client list).

Excited is too mild of a term for it.

I also think it might be a good weekend to break out my favorite movie - Pride & Prejudice. (I've been listening to the soundtrack all week, and really, it's been about a month since I watched it last. It's time.) What are your plans for the weekend?

I'll report back with my top ten from this conference, too...so do check back!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

You asked for it...

I am flattered (and secretly a little thrilled) that I've had so many requests for more first-look content! After much thought, I think I can share one of my favorite scenes in Mists of Fate. Enjoy :)


     Slamming the solar door behind her, Brianagh threw her hands on her hips. "Might I remind you that you are not my keeper?" She took a step closer. "You offer me refuge, then abandon me to the walls of your castle. Then, because my teeth hurt, I search and search for you so I can fire your cook and get someone in here who knows what she's doing."

     "Teeth," he replied blankly. "Fire a cook?"

     "Don't play word games with me right now," she replied angrily. He blinked and took a step back; she closed the gap. Poking him in the chest, she continued, "You're ensuring that I live in absolute hell during this arrangement, and you think you can treat me like I'm one of your servants?" She glared at him, spitting fire and fury. "I have a newsflash, my laird. I am not your servant. You aren't making any effort to show your clan that we're anything but mortal enemies!"

     Nioclas was fascinated by the fullness of her bottom lip. Really, he shouldn't be; he was beyond furious when he'd learned Donovan had taken her from the castle walls with such inadequate protection. But her lips were there, and though she was spouting nonsense, her voice was familiar to him (even upset, as it were). Her tirade continued, each word accented by her small finger in his chest, and, without warning, Nioclas shoved his hands into her hair and covered her mouth with his. 

     It was as if he had come home. 

     Melting against him, the fight left her body as her arms lifted, settling on his shoulders as he continued his ruthless assault. He angled her head, deepening the kiss; she moaned into his mouth, and he felt a flare of triumph at her acquiescence.

     He smiled inwardly. She responded to him; it was enough to start with.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Favorite Authors, Favorite Books

Favorite authors are such a blessing. You know you're in good hands when you pick up a book by an author you love; there's such a feeling of comfort in that.

My absolute favorite author has a new book releasing this weekend (April 28 - Lynn Kurland - Roses in Moonlight). I've been waiting since LAST April to get my hands on it; she releases one every year, and I find that I devour her stories in mere hours.

It's a reality check.

Spending so much time, effort and energy with a manuscript, it's easy to forget that the end result provides precious few moments of escapism for a reader. What takes two hours to write takes minutes to read...That's why every word counts.

If you're good enough, your readers will hunger for more, and re-read your existing works while waiting for your next release. The escapism has potential to last much longer than the short hours a reader initially spends with a novel.

What's your favorite book? How many times have you read it? And why do you keep going back to it?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Gate Keepers...or Something More?

I've been following the publishing industry for a few years. I've seen some really popular agents fall off the radar, and other ones pop on. I've also watched as a couple have risen to near God-status (in the eyes of writers - not necessarily other agents!).

There are some truly approachable agents out there; really nice folks who are kind, funny, and entertaining. They offer intelligent conversation, a drink at the bar, tips on making a piece of writing better. They're up on the latest trend, can discuss the digital publishing copyright laws without sounding pretentious and have a handle on the lingo.

But when you ask some about their current clients or most-recent sales, they stop talking. The subject is changed - usually brought back to the writer. Tell me more about your story! Or, I'm really glad I bumped into you. You seem like a normal person, one I could really work with.

Many writers would fall all over themselves at this point, beyond excited that an agent - a real live gatekeeper-to-the-hallowed-publishing-house-halls - is interested in their work.

Newsflash: People aren't always what they seem. 

An agent is, first and foremost, a business partner. He must believe in your message (that's the book) and be willing to work with you to smooth that message out until it's crystal clear. She must be willing to mentor you, the new writer, in a rapidly-changing publishing world. He must be able to show a track record. She must be willing to tell you when something isn't going to sell, and to move on to the next book.

When an agent offers representation, I really believe that the only way it'll work out is if you have done your due diligence. Check out the sales - specifically, check out the book's acknowledgements. (If there is a gushing tribute to the agent, that's a pretty good sign the agent worked hard for the author, although no mention at all doesn't mean the opposite.) Talk with the agent - if possible, meet in person. See if you click, if he gets you, if she understands you. 

For some, agents are the gate-keepers to the publishing world. But for others, agents are the people who can handle the business side of writing while you concentrate on the creative side of it. 

Recently, I met an agent who was fantastic. I was so excited; I thought she would be a great person to represent me. I was pretty shocked to find out that even though she's been a full-time literary agent (according to her) for almost 10 years, she's only sold 4 books. Four in her entire career. And none of those four were to big-name publishers - small presses only (that's a red flag - small presses are great, but shouldn't be everything an agent submits to).

How does she make a living on one book every 2.5 years? And if she can't sell more than four books in a decade, how in the world is she going to sell my book in a tough market? When I asked her these questions, she - you guessed it - started to wax lyrical about my writing.

I should mention that 10 pages of my writing is not enough for anyone to wax lyrical.

Anyway, my point is this: Please don't get so caught up in a person's title that you risk your career. You've spent weeks, months, sometimes even years with your manuscript...why would you want to hand that over to someone without being 100% confident that person is the one who will rep your book as if it is his own?

You don't. I believe that when you query an agent, you're essentially asking for an opportunity to interview him. Once the agent is interested in your work and thinks you might be someone he can represent, then it's your turn. Ask a million questions. Follow @RubenAgency and @mushenska on Twitter to see the #askagent sessions they run (there's an #askagent session tonight, where you can ask questions and a literary agent will answer as best he can - this is a great way to get some great information about submissions, the author/agent relationship, and much more). 

So be careful, and if you get rejections from lit agents, keep querying. And keep interviewing. Good luck!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Writer's Block? No Thanks.

Maybe I'm just fortunate, or maybe it's mind-over-matter. Either way...writer's block doesn't affect me. It can't; I don't have time to waste with sitting in front of a blank screen.

I hate wasting time.

I don't wait for my muse. It's great when she visits - I get lots of great story ideas from her. But when she's off visiting others, or on a well-deserved vacation, it's up to me to get that story written. Two thousand words per day is something attainable for me. Sometimes I'll double it, and rarely will I miss it. But I always get something written if there's a blank page in front of me.

Writing is a joy, but I'm also trying to turn it into a career. I expect more of myself than ever before. I am the only one who can write these words, I am the only one trained in the workings of my mind. 

What about you? Have you ever experienced a form of writer's block? If so, how'd you get through it?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's All In The Words

Once upon a time...
It was a dark and stormy night.
The phone rang.

These beginnings are classic...and using them in a current novel is the kiss of death. I have read so many blogs, articles, books and tweets that advise against using any form of these. I've been to workshops that promise these lines will push a manuscript to the slush pile. And I keep wondering: Why, if these opening lines are so classic, wouldn't they be something you would use?

I think that almost every story, at its heart, has been told before. Recurring themes (think back to high school English class: good vs. evil; man vs. self, etc.) are present in every book out there; it must be identifiable to the reader if the author has any shot at reaching him (or her). The originality of the story lays in the characters, the plot, the setting.

Romance books follow a very specific set of guidelines. Ensure the characters are likable; ensure there are redeeming faults of both hero and heroine; give the happy ending. If all romance books are written with the same arc, why are they the top-selling adult fiction genre?

It's all in the words. 

Crafting a sentence for some is an absolute nightmare. Thinking of the subject, then the predicate; the direct objects, or should it be an indirect object; hyphen or ellipses points - it's easy to get bogged down in the grammatical details. 

I'm different. (Bite your tongue.) I love these things. I made it my goal in high school, then in college, to understand the intricacies of our language. I have an unwholesome love for grammar that, if I really told you how much I love it, I may frighten you. I enjoy commas and (my personal favorite) semicolons. I live to have spirited (yes, spirited!) discussions about the ways in which punctuation really can make a difference (Let's eat, Grandma! vs. Let's eat Grandma! is one of my most favorite Facebook pages). 

All this incredibly interesting stuff aside, at the heart of it, I love words on a page. Or a screen. Or spoken. Or, or, or - I love them all. Even swear words (hey, there's a time and place for all words). This love of words is what compels me to write every day. At work, I'm blessed to be able to do just that while expanding my mind in technical ways. At home, I can help my children write an essay or book report. And for me, I am more than blessed to have these characters develop in my head, then turn around and surprise me when I put them to paper. 

All those words must follow specific guidelines of my chosen genre, and they must be my own. They must reflect my voice, which must come through each line, loud and clear, without any undue influences.

 That's why those classic lines are a kiss of death for an emerging writer. They've been done numerous times before. You miss who the author is, or what the story was really about. All the voices were the same. 

After such hard work and dedication to my language and imagination, why would I want to use anyone else's words? I think that's the lesson all those blogs, articles, books, tweets and workshops ought to be teaching.

What is it that you love? Share in the comments below! But, full disclosure...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Good vs. Evil

Good triumphs over evil.

This isn't something that only happens in stories. It happens every day, all over the world. Why? Because (I believe) people are inherently good creatures. If we were inherently evil, wouldn't we have killed ourselves off by now?

What we have done, especially as Americans in our post-9/11 world, is triumph over evil. This is a recurring theme in books, movies, folklore, and fairy tales for a reason. We want to live in a happy, peaceful place. We want to know the children of the world are safe. We want good to win Every. Single. Time.

It may not happen overnight. But it will - and does - happen. This is a long war, that started at the dawn of time and shall continue until its dusk. For all those touched by evil, outshine it with your good. Today, secretly, do something kind for someone else. No recognition, no glory, no gold...just because you are inherently good.

Good. It's a great word.

Monday, April 15, 2013

What is sexy to you?

When writing, it's sometimes difficult to tell what makes a hero so sexy. Really, there are two types of heroes:

Some women love the alpha type - the strong, capable, in-charge, take-no-prisoners type, in the form of warriors, law enforcement, or other protective roles. Usually, these men are leaders, and can sometimes be a bit hard-headed or set in their ways. These are great in stories where you want to see the alpha man fall from his perch and admit that he really, truly, 100% cannot live without the love of his (one and only) woman.

My example of a well-known alpha male is Booth (David Boreanaz) from the TV show Bones. (You're welcome.)

Others like the beta type - kind, gentle souls, sometimes in the form of pediatricians or teachers. They help kids with homework, volunteer with the Big Brother program, change tires on the side of the road...these types are great when the woman is the one who needs a bonk on the head; it's gratifying to see a heroine take that fall. Especially if she's convinced herself that men like that don't exist anymore...and is presented with it at almost every turn.

My example of a well-known beta male is Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfayden) from Pride & Prejudice. (Again...my pleasure.)

Some books can successfully combine the two. Those are the hardest to write (in my opinion) because the alpha bit of the character can easily overtake the beta bit. And really...for a successful crossover character, you really needs to have all the bits in equality. Again, because I'm in a pictorial mood (and you're loving this post)...Thank whatever agent discovered this man - the quintessential alpha/beta mix. (No character name necessary. *fanning myself surreptitiously*)

(I know. I'm a giver.)

Show your love in the comments below - what's YOUR idea of sexy?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fight...or Flight?

Fear is a double-edged sword. 

Some people say to face it - that it's the only way to overcome such an emotion. If you don't overcome it, it will overcome you. You don't really want to be overcome, right?

Others say to listen to it - a fear of something is your intuition letting you know that something is desperately wrong, and the fight-or-flight instinct kicks in. You don't really want to risk your life, right?

Personally, I'm in the camp of whatever works for the situation. So, when a centipede comes crawling across my wall, I'm confident that the flight instinct is the one to go with, at least until I track down the husband and point/screech/"Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod" at it until he calmly disposes of it.

Conversely, when an editor requests my manuscript, I'm squarely in the face it camp. So today, fellow campers...I'm sending my manuscript to an editor, at her request. (Yes,that makes a difference. :) )

What camp are you in? Comment below!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's Your Kind of Love?

Romance is a tricky thing. It's different for everyone, right? What I find romantic might be completely opposite of your idea. 

For example, my honeymoon was on the sunny, tropical island of St. Lucia. Palm trees, drinks on the beach, waterfalls, horseback riding.

One of my sisters' honeymoon was on the snowy, breath-takingly beautiful Alaskan tundra. Camping, helicopter rides, nature and wilderness.

For me, camping is one of my nightmares. I'm not outdoorsy, unless you count lounging poolside overlooking the ocean as such. I like to sleep on soft things - sleeping bags, no matter how much fleece is used in its creation, does not compare to a plush mattress at a five-star hotel. And cooking over an open fire...well, I'm not a fan of char-broiled, no matter how it comes to my plate.

All that being said, when you're in love, it really doesn't matter what you do. If my husband took me camping on our honeymoon, I would've loved it, because it was with him. (Thank goodness he knows me better than I know myself. I would've loved it at the time, but probably held it against him in the future in order to extort tropical vacations on a yearly basis "to make up for it." He's a smart one.)

The point is, when you're in love, it doesn't matter where, and - in the case of my stories - it ends up not mattering when, either. Because love - that initial passion, and the resulting comfort of a lifelong best friend (with benefits!) combined with that passion, is something that people tend to want.

If you could honeymoon with the love of your life (real or otherwise!), where would you want to go? And, perhaps more importantly...when in history would you like to go there?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Path We Walk

As a writer, at some point during your writing path, you think about that moment when you're asked to submit your work. You sleep, eat, breathe and live that moment for months, sometimes years.

That was me about 8 years ago - before deployments, children, moves, career changes...real life. Before reality poked through my bubble and encouraged me to see what was most important - my family, myself, and my relationships. 

This is what shapes me as a writer.

There are some incredibly talented kids out there (Christopher Paolini, anyone?) who are wonderful writers, who perhaps don't need this kind of perspective, and that's wonderful for them. I used to think I was one of them...but as I found out, I clearly was not. I can freely admit that I could write better than most others - grammar and I were very close from an early age (I remember editing my Babysitters Club books, then the Sweet Valley High ones) - but I needed perspective. I needed to read thousands more books. 

That was only the start of my journey, and I believe it's going to be a long and fulfilling one.

All that said, I have to finish revising another 50 pages by Thursday to get this stuff to all the people who requested it, and an editor who shows the kind of enthusiasm about my book that I myself feel. I must do this while balancing work and family, and not passing over one for the other in any of these.

Elation is a good word for my moment. But now, the overwhelming feeling is rushed. 

Yeah...after eight years, I can see the irony in it.

The hiking trail to the Cliffs of Moher
(photographer Carly Wray)

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Top Ten Things I Learned at my First Writers Conference

This conference was even better than I thought it was going to be. It's such a huge investment - the cost was almost $500. I almost didn't do it - I mean, people scoff at writers who aren't yet published all the time. That mindset didn't influence my decision, but it certainly crossed my mind - and that in doing this, it would put me into a new category of writer: That of a serious one. Romance books are not usually serious, but the writer behind them certainly is...and it's when I fully realized this that I went ahead and, with much support from my husband and family, signed up.

I am so thankful I did.

This brings me to my Top Ten Things I Learned at the Writer's Digest Conference East list  (in reverse order, because I like to build suspense. Don't skip to the end, then read it 1-10! I know who you are, you last-page-of-the-book reader standing next to me in Barnes and Noble...)

  1. Revisions are a necessary evil.
  2. Agents are real people, too. 
  3. The are some CRAZY people out there who use the guise of writing/art to enhance their craziness.
  4. There are some AMAZING writers out there who can make a sentence of six words evoke more emotion than you thought possible.
  5. When you are yourself, people respond well to that. (Disclaimer: See number 8.)
  6. When you believe in yourself, others will, too.
  7. I have always had everything I need to succeed. 
  8. I might need to find a new name for my hero - Nioclas looks good on paper, but saying "Nee-klaws" trips up the tongue. Not so awesome when you're talking about your book.
  9. There are some mean folks in the publishing world - but I do not have to take their word as the last and final word on being a writer. (I will, however, take what I can from their criticisms - really helpful stuff. And it helps to thicken the skin.)
  10. Investing in myself gave me the permission I thought I needed to be proud of my work. And you know what? To get to where I am today, from where I was on Friday...I'd pay double. Because writing - and making people feel something through my writing - is pretty darn invaluable.

Friday, April 5, 2013

First-look Friday 4/5/13

Today's excerpt is from Mists of Time (Aidan and Emma's story).  Comments are so appreciated - don't be shy, be verbose!


     His smile was slow and seductive. “First, there’s never reason to be afraid when you’re with me. Second, I don’t know anyone – man or woman – who would have dealt with your situation with as much grace; your entire world has been turned around, yet here you are, the consummate professional, going into the most anticipated auction with the world’s wealthy elite, as if you've been doing it your whole life. After being sacked, then ransacked...here you are. Funny, witty, refreshingly direct...beautiful, poised, and confident.” He sat back, the lines of his tux outlining his powerful arms, sex appeal radiating from him in waves. He raised an eyebrow at her. “That’s the Emma Perkins I see.”

     Emma simply stared at him, transfixed. His face was deadly serious, and she had the distinct impression that he wasn't giving her lip service. A delicate shudder ran up her spine...and she was lost.


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Thursday, April 4, 2013

E-books or Paperbacks?

A few years ago, I wanted nothing to do with e-books. I wanted my trusty paperback - the weight of it was a comfort to me. The new-book smell (you know what I'm talking about!), the ink, folding the pages, bending the spine....Treasured ritual! Part of the experience!

In my life, the downsides of physical books are plentiful. Hundreds of books weigh a lot, and - being that we move around the country so frequently - that starts to add up in box count (and price). Books can tear, or - if you drop it in the tub - become unreadable. If you lend the book out, be prepared for it never to return. The dog can eat it. (True story...Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, in billions of shreds, all over my bedroom.) 

The downsides of ebooks are much less for me. One pound device (or whatever my Kindle  Touch or Fire weighs) holds millions of pounds of boxed books. It won't tear. If I drop it in the tub, I'm hoping that whole stick-it-in-a-bag-of-rice thing works, but if not, I can still access my books on the other Kindle, my computer, or phone while I'm waiting for the replacement to arrive. :) The dog won't eat it. (He's much older now, and has no interest in electronics.)

The instant gratification I can have with ebooks is frightening, though - I see a book, read an excerpt, then click that handy "Click to buy!" link. Five minutes after I've first discovered a book, I'm reading it...no trekking to the bookstore (although that is fun), no gas used, and I'm happily stirring my tea as my eyes are glued to the screen.

I don't get headaches (unless the story is that bad) and I don't get eyestrain (thank you Kindle for making the e-ink). But I do have an enormous library of books at my fingertips, which means if I'm sitting up in bed and finish one book, I can simply open another when I'm finished without getting out from the cozy covers. Lazy? Not really. I'd do it if I wanted to read a book I have in paperback...but the uninterrupted continuity I can have (reading happy endings, as it were) with my Kindle makes my "me" time that much better.

And as far as signed books go - I have many signed paperback (and hard cover) books and a couple of digitally-signed ones. First thought -  anyone could have typed up the "digital" message. But then again, anyone could have signed my hard copies, too, right? 

It's a draw for me. I love both equally. 

What do you prefer? Paperbacks or e-books?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Things We Do For Love...

It definitely pays to be married to a creative person with a Type-A personality...

Recently, I was asked about copyright for images. While I do have them, I need something more for my website. My first thought was, What better image to have than the brooch that sets Brianagh on her journey, thus setting off the entire Time Passage series?!

I have lots of great first thoughts. Sometimes I'll come up with a second thought, but usually this is a waste of time, as I tend to stick with the first. I don't really know why; it's -- never mind, this isn't important for this post. Back to what I was trying to tell you before I interrupted myself.

So - brooch - great idea, right?! Now, if I only knew how to draw (anything)...

My incredibly talented husband worked all afternoon and night on things for my books - a redesign of my webpage (he's getting to be quite the whiz at web design!) and drawing this brooch. He's got mad illustrator skills (can I use that terminology if I'm over 18?) - check out his BLOG! - and his art hangs all over our house. I have full confidence in everything he creates - he really is that good.

But what he's creating this time is a bit different...it's something from my head, that came to me in a dream about 9 years ago. I've always been able to see it clearly in my mind - however, I can't draw a stick figure to save my life. I still don't know what colors make purple, and I certainly don't know what colors "go" together. I rely on him for these bits of knowledge.

After a bumbling explanation of what I imagined this brooch to be (seriously, there were many "kinda like"s and "actually, it's more like"s in that discussion than were strictly necessary), he sat down with a sketch pad (it was actually some sort of cool sheer-ish paper with a small pencil and crazy good eraser) and I went off to put more words on paper. A few minutes later (OK, it could have been a lot longer, I usually lose track of time when writing), he called me out and I stared at what he created.

It was just about perfect.

And, the thing is...it wasn't what I described. Well, it was, but it was so much better. He took my original idea (which he clearly understood; he read the whole first book a few years back when I first wrote it, and again today when I was prepping it for submission to an agent - more on that later) and recreated it into a beautiful rendering of what I would have imagined, had I been capable of imagining something that awesome.

It'll be splashed all over my website in the coming weeks, so you'll get to see it firsthand. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Girlfriends make the world go 'round

I love sitting around a table with girlfriends. The non-stop laughter is something everyone needs in life, and when I'm having a particularly tough day, there isn't anything better than a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) and a couple of girlfriends to chat with. I love my family more than life itself, but it's all about the ladies when it comes to simply unwinding. I don't even have to watch my tongue (I can say the S word - that's stupid, equivalent to the F word in a house with a 6 yr old in it).

This morning, I read a great article about two contemporary romance authors who happen to be best friends, as well - Jill Shalvis and Kristan Higgans. I had never read their books until I started reading their blogs, which are equal parts hysterical, poignant, or fantastic to look at. I'm not talking about the web design (they are great sites, though). I'm talking more about their "research." You'll have to check them out to see what I mean.

Today, there is an article posted on USA Today about these two, and reading it, I connected. I saw that these two are laughing, teasing, and having just a good time with each other, and with life. 

I think that makes a better writer. Many of my girlfriend chat sessions end up in books in some shape - it's real, sometimes it's funny, and it's always relatable. If you don't have a girlfriend to while away an hour with....get thee one immediately. It's not that hard - just smile, start a conversation, and you're off and running.