Monday, May 26, 2008

Real life

Today was one of those lovely, pearlized light days. In between other tasks, I ventured out with the digital camera to capture some of spring's fleeting beauty. The picture is of clump of Siberian Iris--the cultivator is Flight of Butterflies. Perfectly named I think.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Writing Craft

All good writers are readers first. One of the perks of a writing career is that is legitimizes reading. Keeping up with the market, sampling other genres, reading the best of the best all important worthy and necessary.

On top of this, there is the joy of reading books about writing craft.

As with any profession there are tools, a computer, printer, word processing software, stamps, envelopes, email addresses, and reference books. What books do you really need?

Here’s my general list.

Dictionary, certainly probably more than one. Writers adore words.
Book of quotes,
And, of course, those necessary for your genre or a particular book, mythologies, geographies, histories, and science texts.

Then there are the craft books written for fiction writers. Each writer will compile a library of those titles, which speak to them in the clearest tones.

Here’s my specific list.

Webster’s New Word Book 30,000 Words--no definitions, a barebones dictionary for the impatient and spelling challenged.

Oxford English Dictionary--two volumes for when you want the definitions, origins, the full course menu, essential for literary snobs and rather like Google seldom fails me.

Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary--the indispensable member of this trio.

Roget’s Thesaurus--what else?

Bartlett’s Quotations--ditto

The Timetables of History-- great, but distracting.

Wikipedia and Google--have replaced my printed encyclopedia--a little sad, but handier and more current

The Chicago Manual of Style--the book your copy editor likely uses--may as well get it right to start with and save yourself lots of bother. Has yet to fail me when seeking obscure rules of correct English usage.

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White a slim indispensable volume worthy of re-reading. My copy is both old and shabby. A sign of usefulness in reference books.

Eats Shoots, and Leaves by Lynn Truss an entertaining treatment of the dull and confusing subject of English grammar

Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King--worth acquiring just for the dialogue section, though there’s much more inside this slim volume, including but not limited to discussion of show vs. tell, characterization, proportion, and point of view.

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell a book, which discusses the whys and wherefores of current story telling conventions. There are several books that fill this vital slot. Including Volger’s Writers Journey, and McKee’s Story. All of them are worth reading. My inclusion of Plot and Structure is a reflection of my preference for simplicity rather than a comment on the merits of one over the other.

Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon, not a title I’ve re-read lots. But, it had a huge light bulb moment impact on first reading.

Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger, an inspiring book with the distinction of having more post-its than any other in my collection.

The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines by Cowden, LaFever, Viders, a concise, clearly written over view of fiction’s master archetypes fantastic reference for character conflicts, natural parings, strengths, and weakness. Lots of stick-on notes in this one too.

Discovering Your Personality Type by Riso and Hudson the introduction to the Enneagram personality diagnostic system-- corresponds amazingly well with the master archetypes referenced in The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines, from a different slant and adding depth, including predictable reactions under stress by personality type, their hidden side, outer hallmarks, relationship issues, growth patterns, challenges. A thoroughly riveting look at human behavior patterns.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott a personal account of a professional writer translated to universal truth by the purity of her prose.

On Writing by Stephen King another personal account of professional writer, who transcends the challenges of non-fiction as well as he does fiction, offering the aspiring writer the gift of truth.

Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women, edited by Jayne Ann Krentz, a remarkable discussion of the romance genre by women who’ve been there and done that in their stilettos.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Dangerous Rescue (Book two in the Dangerous Series) sold earlier today to New Concepts Publishing. Such a nice bland announcement. My stomach is still fluttering.

When I started writing it was with the dream of writing dangerously sexy and thrilling stories, which were part of a series. Naturally, I wanted each story to stand alone. But, I also wanted to deepen the characterization and enrich the story world a little more with each release.

The Dangerous books have a very special place in my heart and I'm thrilled they've found a publisher and an audience.


Dangerous Surrender is available now as an e-book or in print

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Writing life

This last week, I polished up and sent off the latest project, which makes four stories out there in the small world of publishing. Each submission waiting, with much more patience than I, for a discriminating editor to offer a contract or to request revisions or to simply say no thank you.

In the meantime, I’m catching up on real life chores and doing something I should’ve thought of sooner, building an inventory of un-submitted stories. Actually, I'm pretty certain that this thought has occurred to me before. But then, real life interrupted my plans and it took me ages to get back on track.

Currently, the swamp monster bubbles up more ideas than I can execute. But there’s no guarantee this will always be the case. Plus, I’m slowly learning to be more discriminating, not all of the snippets arriving on the surface are equally worthy of development. The idea may sound good but either I lack the ability to execute it effectively or the swamp monster loses interest or she forgets to include some vital detail in the original concept.

When a story is contracted or revisions requested or both, the pressure is on. Stress short-circuits the creative process, in addition revising and creating are two entirely different mindsets.

All of these thoughts converged the other day as I considered my writing aspirations. After five years of writing for publication, submitting, getting editorial encouragement, and actually being published (Yahoo! Sorry--it’s still a thrill to see my name on a real cover) I’ve developed a realistic attitude toward rejection. It happens. I learn from it and keep going.

Failure, I’m prepared for. Success…I’m not nearly as experienced with. Here are the tiny little bits I’ve gleaned so far. Be prepared to follow up with another story of the same sub-genre immediately. Having a successful writing career is based on gaining readership. Don’t expect the publisher to do all the heavy lifting by themselves. Get your name out there, promote, but most of all write more exciting stories. It is hands down the best thing you can do.

The idea of an inventory of polished stories, ready to submit, is really for my comfort more than anything else. However, there is another plus to having a backlog, besides stress relief, and insurance against writer’s block, with each story written and polished the writing gets better. In the end, that is what counts. The absorbing story, the unforeseen twists of plot, the engaging characters these are the elements that sell, build readership, and reward the author far beyond royalty checks.

Here's another rather daunting reality, I have a backlog of stories. Completed and polished. But not up to my current standards. Will I be simply adding to that personal slush pile?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Writing Life

Still working on the latest project. It is a good thing that readers have such long memories and are so patient about waiting for new stories. Since, at least in my case, the writing doesn't go all that fast. Even after completing the tale, preparing the submission according to the publisher's specification, and sending it on its way there is no guarantee of acceptance.

Despite the poor odds for success, when it comes to submitting, I'm as brave and determined as one of my heroines. This definitely doesn't hold true for fighting bad guys, capturing terrorist, or taming aliens--those feats are left strictly to the fictional women, who star in my stories.

Here's the blurb for my latest heroine's adventure....

Dalila Theron arrives in orbit around Enyo with orders to conquer the hostile warriors by any means necessary. But, warriors shoot first and ask no questions. Blasted out the sky, her damaged ship plunges into a stormy sea. Rescued by intimidating twin brothers, she is stranded on a remote island. Her weapon training, hand to hand combat skills, and sketchy mind control instructions didn’t prepare her for dealing with the overwhelmingly male warriors. In desperation, she wields a dangerous new weapon, sex appeal.

The attraction between the three of them is a two-edged blade, slicing her as deeply as it does the men. She’s instantly drawn to Kelvar, who saved her from drowning. His raw male instincts, strength, and honor fail to hide his tender heart. His twin, Dexon secured her damaged spacecraft, incurring serious injury. When she tends his wound, she awakens a potent desire. Now, she’s caught between two men. Their law demands she chose. She has only three days to decide. One twin will be her mate for life. The other will die. But, how can she choose between the two fierce warriors, when both have captured her heart?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Writing life

Got my author copies of Dangerous Surrender over the weekend. There is something about holding your own book. Strangely, it feels more like a real book, but some how less mine. It is lovely to pet the cover.

It's labeled an erotic romantic suspense, which of course it is.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Writing--world building

The lusty little novella I'm feverishly polishing doesn't have room for a world-building prologue, alas. But, if it did then it would start like this....

Earth, 2346 post apocalypse

Two millennia after the Great War, civilization still teetered perilously close to the edge of destruction. Most of those who had survived the nuclear and biologic disasters fell during the subsequent centuries of pillaging, plagues, and famine. Human and animal populations were devastated. Along with so many deaths, much of mankind’s accomplishments were lost.

In the first of Earth’s darkest hours, the warriors, strongest of all the males, seized every viable space craft, escaping from the doomed planet with their mates.

The ever dwindling numbers of humans left behind were largely sterile. As the years passed, those rare men, still capable of viable sperm production, fathered only female offspring. There had been no reports of a male birth in more than century.

Some women toiled to carve out a meager agrigarian existence, some formed nomadic tribes, and others roamed the land alone or in small groups where the only law was survival.

One small band of females, known as the Society of Belle Amity, quietly worked, protecting and advancing the knowledge of mankind. Though life on Earth remained harsh, through rigorous training and ruthless discipline the sisters of Belle Amity progressed and even prospered. Their clever scientists synthesizing what they could not cultivate or manufacture. Except for sperm. The supply declined steadily. This critical shortage forced them to restrict allocation of the precious seeds of life to proven breeders.

When the last man on the planet died, the sisterhood faced their own extinction. Having run out of options, they planned a hazardous gambit, seeking the warriors, who’d abandoned Earth centuries ago, in a desperate bid to replenish their sperm bank.

The twelve-year intergalactic trip meant a risky transition into stasis and an even more risky reanimation procedure for the pilot in addition to the dangers inherent in any space flight. Despite the long odds for success, and the many challenges to be overcome, the sisters of Belle Amity proceeded.

Indeed, with the survival of their kind at risk, there was little choice. They carefully honed their most elegant weapon, Dalila Theron, for this critical mission.

Artificially conceived, fostered by the sisterhood, trained in weapons, self-defense, and hastily instructed in the secret arts of mind control, the disciple, Dalila accepted her sacred quest and was launched into space with instructions to invade and conquer the warriors of Enyo by any means necessary.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Writing life

Still working on the novella--second draft! Yea!

But, it is spring and sometimes the siren call of the garden is irresistible. Here's a corner from my (primarily) red border featuring the tulipa Queen of the Night in all her murky glory.

For those who like the details-- it's a Hino Crimson azalea to the far right, rising daylilie foilage in right foreground, Siberian Iris foilage, a lacy red Japanese maple in the upper quarter of the frame and some emerging bronze fennel and a few tender new leaves from rosa Don Juan blurred in the foreground.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Dangerous Surrender now in print!

For all those who prefer paper, now you can have Dangerous Surrender in your favorite format. Just click on the cover to the right of the blog--it's an actual button ad! Or stop by . My baby is on the front page.

This announcement has been brought to you by another giddy moment of blatant self-promotion from a first time author....

PS They take credit cards, paypal, and electronic checks. No excuses!

Sunday, May 04, 2008


The internet is a small place for all the hundreds of millions of users. How do I know this? A year of two back I blogged everyday. Since I’m one of those OCD types, I had a writing craft day, a reading report day, a writing life day, a sample day--you get the idea.

The reading report day was always fraught with danger. What good is a literary review that isn’t honest? And yet, I’m keenly aware that personal taste plays heavily into judging the perceived merit, or lack of, in a novel. So I decided to stick to books that had some redeeming features and to concentrate of what I liked about the story rather than dwelling on its defects.

There are a great many popular authors I don’t care to read. They’re doing fine without my support. So I don’t feel any compunction to add my less than enthusiastic praise to the pages of reviews that already exist for their work.

The books I reviewed, for the most part, are those lesser know gems that appealed to me. One of those books, The Good Son by Craig Nova reminded me how small the world wide web really is.

A couple of years after the review I received a gracious comment from Mr. Nova. Proving that even brilliant novelists sometimes surf.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Random thoughts

Erotic romances are chick porn. Yeah, yeah, I know everyone says they’re not, but the issue bothered me so I did a little investigating.

Porn is hot button word and yes, I’m using it partially to be provocative and in part to incite a little outside of the box thinking about what kind of romance stories qualify as pornography.

Here is the dictionary definition of pornography. Sexually explicit material: films, magazines, writings, photographs, or other materials that are sexually explicit and intended to cause sexual arousal.

Frankly, the dictionary’s description surprised me. It was not nearly as nasty as the ideas the word triggers in my head. The word pornography brings up images of deviant sex acts, explicit photos, and plot-less movies.

According to the dictionary there’s nothing in the definition of pornography, which precludes fine literature, compelling plots, elegant writing, or vibrant characterization. Nor did it hint at what percentage of the material must be explicit for the work to be considered pornographic. Ten percent? A single word? More than fifty percent? Slippery business trying to measure art with numbers.

I suspect pornography, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The more popular term for sensual women’s fiction is erotica. Don’t go getting all comfortable.

Here’s what the dictionary says about erotica. Sexually explicit material: films, magazines, writings, photographs, or other materials that are sexually explicit and intended to cause sexual arousal. Same thing as pornography. Exactly the same.

How about erotic romance? Dictionary didn’t help with this one. By cobbling together the definitions of erotica and the RWA’s definition of romance, I arrived at a working definition.
A love story which includes sexually explicit material intended to cause sexual arousal, which contains both a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending.

Am I the only one who obsesses about this kind of thing?
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