Saturday, January 31, 2009

But...But...But I Thought of It First

I was reading another author's blog and she hinted at the book she's currently writing. When I was finished reading her blog, I wanted to scream, "But I thought of it first!" LOL!

As anyone who's been writing for a while knows, there are not original ideas out there. It's all in the execution. So what I have to do is make sure mine's well written and has a lot of action with plenty of twists and turns to make it interesting enough for an editor to buy. That's how so many people can write the same type of hero and heroine along with the same plot and still be different.
Now back to work...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Heading For DC

Well, it's offical. I'm going to DC. When I first registered for the conference, I figured I would do so with the thought I would cancel if I don't get that special call, the GH one or THE CALL. Then several things fell into place and I believe I'll have a fun time there, no matter what happens. Though I'm keeping a positive attitude about it all.

When I went to my first and only national conference, I'd had major surgery only six weeks before and would tire so easily. So it probably colored a lot of what I felt about it. Plus I was so use to small conferences and how easy it was to talk with editors and agents. Hey, you're only competing with 75 to 200 people instead of 2000. Yeah, I know there's more editors and agents at National, but they also have clients/authors they're meeting with between workshops.

Okay. My first time to DC and I'm going to have FUN. See. Positive thinking.

2/1/09: Thanks to RWA for offering this conference!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

And The Winner Is?

Unlike most authors, I don't have a problem naming my books. Though on occasion I'll change them and that's usually because 1) too many people tell me they hate the title (THE FEMALE CHAUVINIST) or 2) it doesn't suit the feel of the book (BAD, BAD TO THE BONE).

My latest book started off with the title of A SPY STORY because I knew the type of book it would be but not the "feel" of it. As I kept writing I realized the heroine is a really bad woman. I mentioned that at the last writers' meeting and someone said so she's bad, bad to the bone, huh? I liked that. So I called it BAD, BAD TO THE BONE. I kept writing on it and realized that title really didn't do it justice. BBTHB makes it sound kind of like a Stephanie Bond book. Nothing wrong with that as she's a wonderful author, but I always think of a humorous heroine, and my heroine isn't funny at all. She's more deadly than droll.

That meant going back to the title board and figuring it out. Then it hit me. She was coming out of the shadows into the bright light and a new world order (that is for her). So the new title is OUT OF THE SHADOWS. Tada!

Yeah, yeah, I know. The editor will most likely change it, but at least when she sees the title for the first time, she'll get a feeling of what the book is about.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Banging My Head Against The Wall

I received contest results back and I couldn't help but laugh. Better than crying, isn't it? One judge said I had too much backstory. Out of 25 pages I had three sentences of backstory she'd highlighted. And then another judge asked for more information (backstory). Another asked a bunch of questions that are answered later in the story and if I had placed in the first 25 would've been information dump for real.

The one that got me tickled the most was the New Yorker (she told me) who said, "One word that caught my eye is 'teetotaler' whereas it's said 'tatteltailer'[sp] from my world." I know they have dictionaries up there. Teetotaler is a person who abstains from alcohol. Tattletale is a talebearer or informer, esp. among children per Though I knew what a tattletale was, I thought maybe I was unaware of an additional meaning. Not! If you're plan to point out a "misused" word, look it up in the dictionary first and make sure YOU'RE correct. LOL!

Plus once again another judge said the mother in my entry wouldn't say a certain dialogue. This judge didn't point out the same dialogue as the other judge had, but it was from the same character. Considering I'm a mother and I say things like so and so is sexy all the time in front of my daughters and my husband, YES, Virginia, she will and did say that. Geez! See, the judges (two) are not saying the character herself (who I know better than they do) wouldn't say it, they say A MOTHER wouldn't say it. Wrong! And this mother is very open spoken. So why wouldn't she?

Like I've said, contests are good to get a well-rounded idea (some love them, some hate them) of how you're doing in a book. But don't depend on them being right. Especially the judge that said I needed a question mark where the hero was giving his deputy a command. Geez Louise!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Answer The Freaking Door!

I know you're going to get tired of hearing me say this kind of crap, but what the hey, it's my blog and where else can I say it.

The most important person in your life must believe in you. Who’s that person? Not your better half, not your children, not your mom or dad, and not your best friend. It’s YOU. Bet you saw that coming. If you don’t believe you can get that promotion, that new car, that special vacation or that publishing contract, then you won’t.

Yes. I’m a firm believer if you think you can do or get something, anything, and then you can. It might not come when you want it. It might not come exactly the way you want it, but it will happen as long as you believe in yourself and what you want. Yes. WANT. Not need. That is one of the neat things about being human. We can want. Animals need food and water to survive. To an animal, everything is need, not want.

Let me give you an example of what happened to me when I didn’t believe in ME. I was working for another company, and at the time, I enjoyed my job because I felt confident about what I was doing. Every so often I would work a couple hours over and during those times, one of the VPs had an occasional habit of stopping by and chatting with me and a co-worker. Then one day it was just the two of us, he asked me if I knew of anyone who would want my old boss’s job? My boss had left the company a few days earlier.

Stupid me, thinking there’s no way they would hire a woman for the job (the company was old school and this was like fifteen years ago), especially one that didn’t graduate from college, and I said, “No. I sure don’t.” Well, about two weeks later, the announcement was made. A woman was promoted from another department to be my boss. I nicely questioned the VP about his decision and he said, “Carla, I had hoped you were interested and when you said you didn’t know anyone, I figured you didn’t want the job.” Why he didn’t ask me straight out? I have no idea. Maybe it was his way of testing my drive to move up in the company. Whatever.

Needless to say, I kicked my butt for a long time for not having the guts to stand up and say I wanted it. Lesson learned. If opportunity knocks, ANSWER THE FREAKING DOOR! Better to find out they knocked on the wrong door than not to answer and lose out on that golden opportunity.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Continuing That Thinking Positive Thang

In my promise to myself of thinking positive, I'm looking foward to the following happening this year.

1) Getting "The Call" and contract
2) Getting an awesome agent who loves my writing
3) Having my book go to auction
4) Having a generous advance
5) Winning the Golden Heart
6) Having a book final in the Golden Heart
7) My friend's (Christy Reece) book hit the NYT extended list with her debut book, and the following two hit it too.
8)My friends, Diane Richmond and JoAnn Weatherly, get "The Call" too.
9)And my other friends, Pat and Patricia, get "The Call."
10) Oh, shoot, I look forward to all my unpublished writing friends getting "The Call."

I just couldn't stand leaving anyone out and wanted to share in my good fortune this year. LOL!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Small Awards

Yesterday, at my writers' group meeting, our new Prez gave out little plastic/silk flowers for each accomplishment we did and then we tagged them with our names and placed them together as a bouquet. It was a big honking bouquet and I had four with my name on them! Talk about feeling good. It made me realize how much I was really doing toward becoming published.

She's a smart lady.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hmmm, Another Book Trailer

This one is more than pretty pictures and words. Acting not great, but hey what could we expect for two minutes worth. The guy is gorgeous though.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thankful Friday

If you read my post yesterday (the one with the celebrating potato, at least I think it's a potato), you know I finished adding the words I needed. Well, today, I finished fleshing out some scenes and clarifying some plot points I felt was missing. So I ended up with 750 more words than I needed. YEAH! So I'm thankful I'm finished and now the manuscript goes out to my readers -- these are sweet people who are not writers, just readers, and they'll willingly read it and let me know where I messed up.

I'm also thankful for my friend Diane Richmond. Hi, Diane! I enjoyed dinner tonight. It was so much fun talking about writing and seeing you again. Hugs. See you tomorrow at the meeting.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Words Left To Add To My Current WIP

The Taming of The Shrew

Like most writers I enjoy a hot alpha hero with a bad reputation and a badder attitude. But there’s a new boy in town. He’s the "good" boy that's gone wrong. He's a new type (or resurgence like some prefer to say) alpha hero popping up in books lately. He does all the right things, have parents who love each other, go to the right schools, have the right jobs and make some righteous money.

But along comes the new evolved alpha heroine. Yeah, you heard me. ALPHA HEROINE. She didn't have great parents, or go to the right schools. She might or might not sleep around. If she does, she chooses the guy and the time. Most times she has no need for a steady man and when one catches her eye, he has to own a bigger brass pair than she does. Some might call her a bitch but it's because she knows her mind and others don't know how to take her. She’s successful on her own terms.

When you have a good ol’ boy and the bad ol’ girl get-together, fireworks are certain. It’s a bit like the Taming of the Shrew. (Love that story – the most recent version is my favorite teen flick, Ten Things I Hate About You.)

Yeah, it’s a different world out there and we love writing all about it.

What are some of your favorite twists on character types?
And now for one of my favorite scenes from the movie and in remembrance of the man, we lost him a year ago today...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Southern Magic - Birmingham

Hey, if you're in the Birmingham area this weekend, come to the Homewood Public Library and join in our writers meeting. Southern Magic's meeting starts at 12 noon with a paperbag lunch (bring your own), followed by our general meeting. No speaker this time as we're planning the year's activities.

I can't wait. Our last meeting was in October. We had our Romance Readers' Luncheon in November (this year it will be Anne Stuart!) and then our Christmas party at the Cheesecake Factory. But there's nothing like the meetings. We're all so excited to see each other. Everyone there understands what it's like for you to have voices in your head. LOL!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Love-Hate Relationship

I guess I'm like every writer. I love starting a book and love finishing it. The middle, not so much. But when it comes to editing. Sheez, it's slow going and by the time I'm finished, I hate the thing. Then wait another month after I've done all the editing, and it's love again. I guess you could call it a Love-Hate Relationship.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Writer's Prayer

Dear Lord,

Some days my fingers are sore and I lose faith in the ability you've given me. I wonder why I'm trying so hard to write a story instead of tending to my family. Then I read a book that lifts my heart and makes me forget my troubles. And I remember again why I want to write. The joy of showing the emotions of fictional characters, laughing at their antics and celebrating when they find the greatest of all gifts, love.

I thank you, Lord, and look forward to every day You allow me to write and type the musical words of love into my books.

In Sweet Jesus's name I pray,


Sunday, January 18, 2009

More Will

I couldn't resist. The way he sings this is so funny to me. Yeah, everyone has a fault and mine's called Will Ferrell. LOL!

Too Funny For Words

My all time favorite comedian is Will Ferrell. Watching him play an elf, a want to be gigolo, a stock car driver and so many other characters, you see a man enjoying the heck out of his career. He takes such delight in hearing people laugh at the things he says and does. I have no idea what type of person he is in his private life, but on the small and big screen I think he's an absolute hoot!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Good Cloudy Day

My hubby went to see family in North Alabama, and I stayed home. YEAH! First time in I don't know how long (April?) since I've been home without him. Love it! No TV blaring. No one looking over my shoulder asking me what I'm doing. and no "that doesn't look like you writing" and no I'm not "on the internet."

Now back to my writing, cleaning and reading without interruption.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thankful Friday

I take my writing seriously. It’s an important part of my life. (Like duh, huh?) But I’m thankful I don’t take everything about writing seriously. I read quite a variety of writing based blogs and some people are so silly. Going on and on about how longer books are better than shorter books. HA! It’s the writing, folks. One of the writers in my group had like a three paragraph story printed in a book with several other short-short stories. Those three paragraphs had more story, heart and humor in it than some 120,000 word novels. Just my humble opinion.

Oh, while I'm thinking about it. Here's a picture I have at the end of my sofa that's like the one on my buddy's blog. Love it! All the pictures and such in my living room are with a medieval theme.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Book Trailers

Once in a while, I like to check out what authors are doing in books trailers. Most are poorly done. Sometimes they miss because the words take too long to get on the screen or you can't read the fancy lettering, or the music is irritating. Anyway, working on keeping my blog a positive experience, here's one I enjoyed. And she's not an author I read, but this trailer has made me want to reconsider.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fun Words

There's certain words that are just fun to say like bullocks and buttocks. Hey, what did you expect? I am a romance writer. Then there are places that are fun to say like Walla Walla, Tonawanda, Chehalis and Butte. You knew the last one would be in there.

And then there's the word I avoid at all cost because for the life of me, I cannot pronounce it, and when I do, it's done Adrenaline. Don't know why I can't wrap my tongue around those syllables.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Adding Those Words

Well, I'm up to 70,144 computer count words. I still need 10,000 or more to go. What I can't help but wonder is, will I be taking more of them out later? Like when an editor buys it. See, I'm still working on being positive. I do have to say I've found several areas that needed further explanation by way of dialogue or action and where I skipped a couple key points that needed to be brought up earlier. So most of what I've added is needed. I think.

I'm half way through the manuscript and certain the ending needs some big time help. So hopefully will need a large section of about five thousand words.

Really, I'm not sure if I explain enough. The plot with a couple subplots thrown in are certainly enough to make the book possibly even longer. I know the story and the people in my head, but don't want to bore people with too much backstory of why they are like they are. Finding that balance between the two is the trick, isn't it? LOL!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Routine Time!

Well, it's time for me to get back into my routine. Write in the morning before paying job. Write in the evening after my non-paying job (cooking/cleaning). Find time to hit...not with fist, but with feet bouncing on the long black strip...the treadmill. Stop eating sweets at night. Bad, bad habit.

Routine good.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Dangers of Reading a Regency

I use to love reading Regencies. Barbara Cartland (Please don't comment that you've never heard of her. If you never heard of her, you're too young to read my blog anyway.) and Johanna Lindsey did it wonderfully. And there are a couple authors who write them that are still automatic buys for me (Hey, Lisa Kleypas! Hello, Victoria Dahl!)

Now the market has been flooded with them and there's so few other historical choices (Remember the Middle Ages!!! NO! Not my age, the era!! Sheez, children!), I'm rather tired of the prim and proper ladies and gentlemen.

But another reason I try to avoid most Regencies is I find myself talking like them, Or heaven forbid, if I work on my manuscript minutes after reading one, it leeches into my voice. And I can tell you, my sheriff better not sound like "of Nottingham" or my vampire like "his lordship."

Saturday, January 10, 2009


No, I'm not going deaf. I just wish I had some way of knowing when they'd changed requirements in formatting out in the publishing world.

When I first thought about writing a book, I bought several books on how to get published, and inside included sections on formatting. NO! I will not tell you when this was. And NO! I didn't use a chisel and stone tablet. ::sigh:: You're worst than my children. Anyway, the rule (yeah, one of the few rules out there in the writing world.) was to type in Courier 12 and each page with typing on it had an average of 250 words. Thus, a 400 page manuscript would be 100,000 words.

Well, then computers took over and now they say, the above was for typewriters and no longer valid, unless you still use a typewriter. Then I wish you luck with the White-Out and just as messy white strips. Hated those things. The agents and editors might think it to be charming that you typed it on an old fashioned typewriter. Problem is, they'll think how chaming it looks in their old fashioned trash can too.

Now, you have to use the word count in the word processor. For example, MS WORD (2007) can automatically count the words as you type and show them to you at the bottom of the page on the left. Cool. AND, they tell us NEW Courier 12 is a true sign you're a newbie. Times New Roman is the preferred font. But of course they also say anything that is easy on the eyes are acceptable too. Myself, I rather use TNR until my agent/editor tell me different. That is, when I get a agent or editor.
If you wonder who THEY are, the internet. I read about twenty different websites to get this information. The one I trust the most was AGENT QUERY.

Oddly, I've found in contests, when I submit a entry in Times New Roman, I normally have higher scores (good thing) than if I submit it in Courier (bad thing).

And don't get me started on where the chapter should begin on the page, or where my stupid address on the title page should be or where I should place my damn name in the header of the manuscript! ::deeper sigh:: I do need my little pink pills more some days than others.

The really sad thing is now I have to add 15 to 30 thousand more words to one of my finished books. Hmmm, I guess that means, technically, it isn't finished, is it?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Thankful Friday

It's Thankful Friday and I remembered to do it this time! LOL!

I'm thankful I can read and love doing it. I couldn't imagine looking at a word and not understand what the arrangement of letters meant. Reading books pushed me to all kinds of greater things, especially writing.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Come On Over

Today is my day to blog at Romance Magicians. Come over and comment about my History Tidbit.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Accepting Criticism

This is a follow up on my last two posts about being a judge, but from the contestant’s side.

When I receive my score sheets and entry back, I glance at the scores, of course, and then thumb through the manuscript pages for the comments. Wherever the judge showed I’d made a small mistake (the mentioned missing words, etc.), I quickly correct them if I hadn’t already. Then I look hard at any grammar problems and sentence structure. This doesn’t come up as often as it had at one time, but I then reword those sections or correct what I believe needs correcting. Then lastly, I look at what I call personal comments. Most times I ignore them as they sometimes show the judge was skimming the story or they were asking questions that would be answered further in the book. Every once in a while, the judge will point out an inconsistency or where I need to explain further because the scene fell flat. Those are always appreciated.

All of that above means the judge was polite and worded her comments accordingly. Now when I receive an entry back where the judge tells me what editors will accept and what they won’t, I usually ignore all her comments and go on to the next one. In one of the contests I was coordinator, I saw the manuscript with the fifth place first-round-score written in as first place by the editor. Judges don’t know. Or if the judge was rude in her comments, I ignore all her work. I don’t need the heartache. Oh, another comment I hate by judges though they mean well but come across as condescending is “Just work harder and you’ll get there.” So they know I just flung it together and hardly worked on it?

There’s been many times in the beginning I had to place the entry to the side and go back to read it again when I was at a better frame of mind. I know when I judge, I spend a minimum of two hours on each entry. And I’m always polite.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Judging Contests - Part 2

Continuing my blog from yesterday about judging contests, if you’re thinking about judging a contest for the first time, please keep in mind the following.

1) This is not an English assignment. I’ve even asked a multi-published author who was an English teacher in her former life, if manuscripts should be judged differently and she said, “Yes.” You can have fragments, passive is allowed and was can be useful. Just remember a little goes a long ways. A manuscript should reflect the genre and your voice. That’s not saying all grammar rules are out of the window, but if it makes sense and doesn’t stop you from reading, let it be. (See, dangling preposition – those are okay to dangle if you try correcting it and the phrase sounds archaic or stiff. Let be it.)

2) If you’re rewriting every other sentence, either the author has a widespread problem or you’re trying to change the author’s voice. Chances are it’s the latter. So stop it! If you see a wide range of problems, stick to the basics and the ones easily fixed. The author’s grammar may be atrocious (like mine) but you don’t need to correct every single sentence. Point out the first two or three and then write, “You might want to check your grammar on the rest of the entry.”

3) If you do not like to read paranormals or Regencies or etc., then please do not judge them. You will only irritate the author or give her a low score because of YOUR ignorance. Yes, Margaret, castles had wooden floors, just as they had stone ones. And yes, shape-shifters mean they can change into animals or even furniture.

4) And most important, watch how you phrase your critique. Do not use TSTL, no matter if it is true. Pretend your words can start a war if you’re not careful. So say something like, “I believe you need to reconsider the scene where the heroine attacks the armed robber. From what I’ve seen so far, she isn’t skilled in the martial arts.” An author is most likely to listen to your suggestions if you’re polite. You may never blink an eye when your critique partner calls your latest manuscript a piece of trash. That’s between you and your friend. But the entries you judge don’t know you from Jack. And a hundred smiley faces won’t make it better. Choose your words carefully.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Judging Writing Contest Part 1

During the holidays, I judged several entries for different contests. And there was one consistent thread throughout the entries with lower scores. They needed critique partners.

One entry had a beautiful, unique historical story I had to take off points for so many minor things. Now if the contest doesn’t have many historical entries she may still final, but historicals are usually like romantic suspense, overflowing with entries. So chances are she'll miss out. But I made sure to tell her how much I liked her story and pointed out the few areas she needed to work on and especially told her to get a critique partner. Someone who would appreciate her story and not bother her voice. She had a good voice.

I hate giving low scores and thankfully rarely do, but several of the entries had boatloads of simple errors: missing words, misspelled/mistyped words, and present tense versus past tense (like using is instead of was). All were errors a critique partner or even a reader-friend could’ve caught.

One thing is for sure, I understand more than anyone how easy it is to make those simple mistakes. Too often I’ll change a section in my manuscript before sending it to a contest and then realize later I had left out a word, used the wrong word (desert versus dessert), etc. By not letting someone look it over I’ve shot myself in the foot. Heavens, if you read my blog, you see me do stuff like that all the time.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

If You're Wondering

I try to change out "What I'm Reading Now..." but I have a bad habit of reading more than one book at a time. So sometimes I'll take a month to finish a book and other times, I've finished and just forget to change the picture.

Just figured you were wondering.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Twenties, Thirties and Forties

And that's not about what temperature it's outside. LOL!

I love movies set in the 20's, 30's, 40's and even those that were produced at that time. The hats--men's and women's--the dresses, gloves, the suits and the tough, tough men portrayed in the studio contracted movies.

Well, a new one is coming out in July. Johnny Depp will play John Dillinger in PUBLIC ENEMIES. Michael Mann directs! You probably remember him as the executive producer of Miami Vice, the TV series. Yes, he was the director of Miami Vice, the movie, but we won't hold it against him.

And, oh, Christian Bale will be in it too. Oh, oh, get this, another leading fellow, Channing Tatum, was born in Cullman, Alabama. How cool is that?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Holding a Finished Manuscript

Whenever I print out a full manuscript and hold it in my chubby little hands, I get such a thrill. The stacks of pages make me realize how much work I've done.

Just thinking about holding a published freaking-for-real book of mine in my hands would probably cause me to go into happiness overload.

***added 1/4/09 as usual I forgot to say what I'm thankful for. So here it is, the chance to hold another full manuscript of mine.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy Birthday To My Youngest

Today was my youngest daughter's birthday. Lots of presents. Family came to eat. And now I'm worn out (as you can probably tell by my writing). Going to bed now. Have to work in the morning. Talk to you tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, sweet Audie.