Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Snippet: Nobody's Darling

Welcome to Sunday Snippet, where I'll post a small snippet from one of my pubbed books and maybe, wax eloquent on the scene: why I wrote it, how I thought of it, or some other commentary. Today, I'm looking at Nobody's Darling, Book I of the Nobody series, available now through Montlake Romance.

“Are you asking permission to kiss me again?”
Now he glanced at his shuffling feet. “Well, yeah. I guess I am. What do you say? May I kiss you?”
Should she let him? Did she dare?
A thrill of anticipation rippled through her bones. He’d asked permission. No one had ever asked permission to kiss her before. The originality of his proposal tempted her to give in. Yet, she held back.
What exactly did she feel for Jeff? It couldn’t be love; she’d only known him a few days. Love took longer to blossom. Heck, a tomato plant took longer to blossom.
Lust was probably closer to the truth.
April had some experience with lust--not in eighteen years or so--but she still remembered how her last surrender to that deadly sin affected the rest of her life. She’d always excused that mistake with the notion she was young and na├»ve when she fell for Peter’s clumsy declarations of eternal love on her parents’ couch.
But she was supposed to be older and wiser now. Too old and too wise to succumb to her body’s desire for a momentary passionate connection. 

I admit, I'm not a huge fan of the alpha male. I prefer a hero who knows when to be alpha and when to be beta. Just like I don't want a one-dimensional heroine, I don't want a one-dimensional hero. In this case, Jeff, my hero, knows that grabbing April by the hair and smashing his mouth against hers is *not* the way to win her heart. He's all about the slow, sexy campaign that will break down her defenses. And yowza, that man knows just how to chip away at her wall. From coffee in bed to sensual Scrabble to asking permission to kiss her, Jeff's strategies endear him to April, to me, and (I hope) to the reader.

Be sure to let me know if he succeeded in winning your heart, too! You can contact me through my website or, even better, post a review on Amazon, Shelfari, or Goodreads to share your opinion with me and all my readers.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Umm...Yeah. I'm Serious

While I was in Atlanta, one of my friends told me about a conversation she had with someone else (let's call this person Olivia) about me. Olivia commented that I was "really serious." When my friend assured her that I was actually a bit of a goof, Olivia replied, "No. I mean about writing."


I often say I'm like a crack addict when it comes to my writing, and I realize most people are, well, not. And that's okay. Not everyone has my passion, my drive, my commitment, my hangups. And again: that's okay.

Now I wasn't there for Olivia's side of the discussion, and I don't know the context of the conversation, but this whole "serious" comment got me thinking. I talk to people, I mentor writers, and I share my knowledge and experiences with anyone who asks. And I see the difference between "serious" writers and hobbyists. What, in my opinion, makes a writer "serious"?

If I've invited you to attend any of my classes, you've promised you're coming and then don't show (more than twice), you're not "serious."

If you still don't have a website, a blog, or some form of online presence and keep throwing up silly stumbling blocks about why when asked, you're not "serious."

If you don't read (in and out of your chosen genre), you're not "serious."

If you spend more time socializing or playing games on Facebook and tweeting pics of your food than you do with an open document, you're not "serious."

If you don't have the slightest interest in strengthening your writing weaknesses (spelling, punctuation, waffly POV, GMC, etc.) you're not "serious."

And umm...yeah. I'm "serious," and don't call me Shirley.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

The Aftereffects of Conference

Oh, sure. We're all still riding the high of new requests, new ideas, and new contacts. But I always come back with a few additional "souvenirs" I didn't anticipate. Last week's event in Atlanta is no exception. Most of them manifest the first full day back. How many are you suffering from?

1. My legs hurt. Too many hours of high heels with little to no letup have left me with cramps in my shins. Nowhere else, just my shins.

2. I have conference fog. I put my dress on inside-out today and didn't have a roommate to point that out to me.

3. My muse has ADD. We were steaming along fine on the current WIP before our time in Atlanta. Now, a few conversations with editors and author friends and...ooh! Shiny thing! My muse suddenly wants to switch projects.

4. My internal clock is amok. And I didn't even change time zones! For me, especially this year, the RWA Conference meant a chance to slow down from my normal hectic pace. Now I'm struggling to catch up on all my to-dos while racing the clock. And there's no one saving my seat at the bar! I mean, how am I expected to go back to routine?

5. I am staff-less. What happened to those sweet young men willing to drive me and my friends wherever we wish to go at a moment's notice? Who will tell me where I should have lunch? Why hasn't Joe, the adorable bartender, brought me another Oceanic cocktail yet? 

Reality sucks. But I'll suffer through a full year of torture for next year's stint in San Antonio.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Overheard in Atlanta, Part II

Yes, kids. I have more! Once again, sometimes I knew the context, other times I'm as clueless as you. But the possibilities are endless!

1. "She was a Georgia peach, all right. Sweet and juicy on the outside, hard and bitter inside."

2. "The good news about my publishing success is that now my kids won't ever put me in a nursing home. They want to keep a good, sharp eye on their retirement plans. Make sure 'she' doesn't go into a decline and stop producing."

3. "When you're riding in a pedi-cab, you can either look at the scenery or the backside of the guy pedaling you around. My driver had a butt that could crack walnuts so you know what I focused on."

4. "Nora Roberts said the reason she produces so much is because she's not on social media every day. I thought that was good advice so I posted it on Facebook, then wound up spending an hour and a half checking all my friends' statuses."

5. (At Security at the Atlanta airport Sunday morning) "I think I've been on this line since...Wednesday." 

I'm now seated in the airport, waiting for my flight. To all those who are traveling home today (like me), have a safe trip! Thanks to everyone who made me laugh, inspired me, helped me come to some decisions, and most of all, thank you to my roomies, Carolyn Esposito Hughey and Rebecca Boschee for making this week so memorable and so much fun!

Next year is San Antonio. I'll be there. Will you?

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Overheard in Atlanta

It's another balmy day in Georgia and the RWA Conference is in full swing around me. There've been lots of squealed greetings, lots of hugs, lots of writing talk. What makes a writing conference--no matter the genre--so incredible is the creative energy that hums in the air. There are also the bizarre snippets of conversation only heard when a group of writers get together. Toss in computer techs here for a Microsoft convention and you've got a true mix of vastly different mindsets. Here are some of the interesting statements I've heard in my time here:

1. (After seeing an Alaska Airlines plane on the tarmac) "Hey, look. That must be a plane out of Jamaica. They've got Bob Marley on the tail." 

2. "She told me my entire story revolved around the characters eating food. And it wasn't even interesting food."

3. "Did you ever hear someone's voice that you haven't met before and picture them in your head? I kept hoping she was fat."

4. "Do you want to go to the ballroom?"
"No, I just want to find my way to the ladies room without a Boy Scout and a compass."

5. "Her name is Kardasha. K,A,R, hyphen, A."

6. "I don't know how anyone gets around in this city. Every street is Peachtree Street."

7. (Conversation between romance author and Microsoft conference attendee.) "I don't read *those* books."
"Yeah, well, Windows 8 sucks."

8. "We had a great time last night. I wish I could remember it."

9. "You're making my head swell. Any minute now, my wig's gonna pop off."

10. "Oh my God. You made yourself a BDSM hamster bra!"

I admit, with some of these, I know exactly what the context was. Others, I have no idea. But they're fun to think about.

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

What's Taking So Long?

I'm still working on the sequel to Eternally Yours, titled, In Your Dreams. For the record, I might hit page 100 today if I push. I know, I know. My readers are wondering "What's taking so long?" Lots of things. 

I won't give excuses about life getting in the way or the day job or my other projects. The biggest impediment to writing this story is me.

To me, Eternally Yours, my love after death paranormal is my magnum opus: the best book I've ever written. I poured everything in my heart into that story. To dare to write a sequel is ambitious and a bit daunting. I don't want to write a pale copy. I don't want to disappoint myself or my readers. So every scene, every sentence, every word must be perfect. Is this my normal writing method? No. And that's part of the problem. I'm my own worst enemy in this case.

Knowing the problem, though, doesn't necessarily fix the problem. Would you just erect a standard doghouse next to the Eiffel Tower? Hang a stick figure drawing beside the Mona Lisa? Serve a Big Mac alongside lobster thermidor?

And sure, Eternally Yours probably won't go down in history as one of the epic novels of mankind. But it will always remain one of my epic novels. To pour all of myself into another story takes time.

So to my readers, I say, "Be patient with me. I know you're anxious. But I always want to give you the very best. You'll be glad you waited when you finally see it."

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What Dexter's Pending Demise Has Taught Me About Writing

It was time. The actors and crew all agreed. Dexter, that delightfully twisted serial killer on Showtime had run his course. Ultimately, there's nothing left for our favorite sociopath but death or capture. But don't underestimate the writers of this clever series. You never know what's coming up. This past Sunday premiered the first episode of the last season. I watched it twice to make sure I caught every subtle nuance.

Watching the series since the beginning, I've learned a lot about writing, but also, in a gruesome kind of way, about life too. Let's start with the writing lessons. 

1. You must torture the characters you love. Doakes, Lila, Rita, the briefly charming Mike Anderson, even Brian all made such an impact on Dexter and his viewers. Their deaths left us agasp. Stephen King is known to advise writers to "kill your darlings," but that goes for characters as well as lovely turns of phrase. Make them suffer.

2. When something's not working, twist it. Sure you can fit a square peg into a round hole. You just have to reshape it. Don't be afraid to try something new. Case in point: Lumen's abrupt departure. Whether you believed Dexter's relationship with Lumen was going somewhere or not, the loss of her "dark passenger" was  a twist--and Hannah the following season was in some ways, a near copy of Lumen. (Which ultimately meant, she'd have to go.)

3. Contrast reality. Dexter's not just a serial killer: he's a brother, a single dad, an employee of the Miami Metro Police Department, and a good friend. His personal life is rife with areas of conflict. By giving your characters more dimensions, you add more conflict to your story.

4. Secondary characters should have their own issues. In the series, Miami Metro is a hotbed of drama. Dexter and Doakes, LaGuerta and Angel, LaGuerta and Deb, LaGuerta and Matthews, LaGuerta and Dexter, Deb and Brian, Deb and Lundy, Deb and Quinn, Deb and Dexter. I could go on, but you get the idea. Real people have real issues with other people. Don't leave all the conflict to your protagonists.

5. Always leave your audience wanting more. Whether it's the end of a chapter, the end of the book, or the end of the series, don't become one of those writers going by rote.  When you find yourself bored with your story or sensing you've done all you can with your characters, it's time to wrap it up.

Later this week, I'll post life lessons learned from Dexter.