Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stalker Love Letter Blogfest!

So my Stalker Love Letter contribution is a debut for a couple of characters from a book in the research and development stage. Somehow, the leading man seemed like he could stalk my heroine if so inclined. It's a medieval mystery with a lot of creepiness going on and it just fit the theme.

Please stop by World of My Own to read the other entries and post comments. Enjoy!


Sir Edric to Philippa,

I know this letter will come as a shock to you. I've never revealed my feelings; in fact, I've purposely concealed them. But I can no longer contain all the things I've felt for you. I've watched you carefully since we first met. Originally, out of curiosity about the things I'd heard, but then out of a genuine desire to know you better. I only wanted to observe at first. But meer observation no longer satiates me. I know your wanderings and the sway of your hips as you haunt the hallways after dark. I long to know your thoughts and what must haunt you as you walk. I imagine reaching out for you from the shadows and reeling you in to my embrace. The taste of your lips, the feathery softness of your cheek against mine. So many things I wish to say and hear said. I must know your feelings though I expect nothing. Please share your thoughts, I beg of you.



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Blogfests!

I'm participating in three exciting blogfests over the next few weeks. Join in the writing mania if you haven't already!

Also, feel free to mention any blogfests you've joined that are upcoming. Let it begin!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One Idea Leads to Another

I experienced the domino effect with ideas this week. I have a fantabulous short story idea and I know the trail that led to it. This is how it went:

  • I read "Change" by Greg Schwartz on A Fly in Amber the other day while surfing markets for another story. Seed planted.
  • Then I did a writing prompt with my sister ('unrequested love'). Nothing wonderful came of it, but my mind got jogged for new concepts. Seed watered.
  • That night I met a friend for dinner and she said something completely innocent about the gas stations near her new apartment. Seed sprouted.
  • Yesterday afternoon, while getting ready to go out, the concept took full form. Now I don't have just a seed, but a plant.

Now to make time this week to draft it. What trails have led to some of your stories?

Monday, July 26, 2010

How Important Are Emotional Connections With Characters?

Along with so many other layers to a novel, giving your characters a strong emotional draw is so important. I'm working on adding more into my WIP so my readers will have a stronger personal connection to my characters. Thinking back to books I've read, some lacked emotional pull though strong in other areas and lost me, while other books may have lacked in other departments but had such strong emotional angles that I couldn't stop reading.

When it comes to the former, A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander instantly comes to mind. I loved the premise, loved the setting, but could not for the life of me care a lick about the main characters! I actually felt more for the minor characters Jeremy and Cecile than the protagonist and her boyfriend (whose names I've now forgotten). I regret that because the plot was intriguing and fairly well-executed. But I've never felt a desire to read more of the series.

As to the latter, I think the Kathryn Swinbrooke mysteries by C.L. Grace are a good example. Not the best writing ever or even necessarily the best mysteries, though the plots were always interesting. But I still devoured the series because I wanted to know what happened to Kathryn and Colum (and had to know if they ever got together). I still recommend those books, if you're fortunate and find them in your library or buy them used, because the main characters are delightful. And I was invested in their story beginning to end.

To some extent, I feel like creating an emotional connection between reader and character is more important than technical execution. It's all important, of course, but I'm quicker to forgive an author for some technical issues if I'm emotionally invested in the characters. I'll read on just to find out what happens to them, regardless of the plot or actual writing. Maybe that's just me, but the more I pay attention to what readers say, it's hitting me how important it is to infuse heart into your stories instead of just technical know-how.

What novel(s) would you cite as a great example for emotional investment? What book(s) failed in that department despite other things that were right? And, to top it off, how do you feel about the importance of emotional connections and characters?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Follies of Excessive Editing

Do you ever get out of control when you edit or revise? I get so excited about revisions sometimes that I can turn into an editing fanatic and cut things that don't deserve it. Then I end up either writing new material to flesh out what's left after the massacre or put old material back in.

I think part of my problem is I read a lot about what to chop from a novel but not so much about what to leave in. A story is more than bones; it's muscles and skin and freckles. So if you chop, chop, chop until all you have is the skeleton, it's not going to be a very exciting read (or long one). There needs to be a balance. Just because details or information aren't necessary from a plot perspective does not always mean they should go. Books are only interesting if you have enough time and details to know the people involved in the story too. And that takes words.

I've talked about cutting extraneous information from novels, which is also necessary. But you can go to the other extreme too. And I have. So I really believe there needs to be a balance. Don't write a novel full of pointless scenes or dialogue, but don't cut out everything just because it's not related to the main thrust of the story. I've decided this is an art in itself and one that I'm still learning.

How do you decide what to leave in and what to edit? Do you ever get a little cuckoo and cut too much?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogfest of Death Story!

Here is my contribution to the Blogfest of Death! While it's not in Dead Locked, this is a side story I wrote related to the backstory of my novel. I had planned to post it later on after my book came out, but it was too perfect for this challenge. I'll just have to write another story for later on. Enjoy!



Off the coast of Rhode Island
17 August, 1720

Horizontal rain cut across Captain Isaac Crewe's face like razor blades. In the gray light, he watched the ship's wheel spin at dizzying speeds. He and his crew had gotten caught in a tropical storm that was throwing the double masted sloop back and forth like a child's ragdoll. Some still clung to lines though they had lost control of the ship a long time ago. Ten foot waves lifted them into the air and then bottomed out. Crewe closed his eyes as they crashed, the water turned into rock beneath them. He pictured the hull snapping in half. Amazingly, when he opened his eyes, the ship was still in one piece.

Crewe gripped the side of the ship, looking out in time to see land bright and clear as they collided with it. Screams blew away with the wind as jagged points impaled the ship's starboard side, splintering the thick beams like twigs. Crewe rolled to the port side, knocking his head into the beams. He faded out for a moment and when he awoke, sea water poured into his lungs, burning his insides. He flailed, pushing to the surface, spluttering and coughing, then inhaling precious air. He could barely see through the salt and rain, but he swore he could see land right in front of him.

Crewe fought the waves and currents now trying to control him. His arms burned but he was no closer. Suddenly, a rogue wave lifted him up from behind, hurling his body toward the sand. He flailed, getting sucked under, water swirling him upside down and around. He surfaced, pushing harder despite every muscle begging him to give up. Another swell carried him closer, dashing his legs against rocks on the bottom. He dropped to his knees, crawling toward the beach. His hands sunk into sand, and he dropped onto his belly, gasping and spluttering salt water.

His eyes closed and he imagined a voice calling him from far away. He fought to open his lids and saw a figure in white running toward him against the rain and wind. His time was coming. Justice was being meted out. Isaac Crewe's days of pirating were over.


Georgiana Cooke kneeled over the bedraggled figure in his blue woolen coat, now shredded around his back. His hands were wrapped around the earth like claws, his brown hair matted around his face in clumps. Georgiana shivered, her lips already blue from running the distance from her family's home on the breakwater to the beach. Her brown hair blew crossways in front of her eyes and she struggled to stay in one spot.

"Isaac!" She said, but even she couldn't hear it.

She gripped Crewe's back, leaning toward his face and said his name again. She stroked his hair, wishing she had a way to get him back to her home. She could not go back and tell her father. He would bring Isaac back all right. He would bring him back and see him hung as a pirate - and his daughter's lover. Georgiana felt tears fall from her eyes but they were indistinguishable from the rain. She shook Isaac, and lifted up an eyelid. It was dawn. Her family would soon be about the house. She had to go back before they knew she was gone.

Georgiana pushed Isaac over onto his back, feeling for a heartbeat. She put her ear up to his mouth, but could hear and feel only rain and wind. He still didn't respond. She clasped his bearded face in her hands and kissed his mouth. She followed the gold chain stuck to his neck down to an oval locket the size of the center of her palm. She ripped it off, gripping it in her hand so it wouldn't blow away. With sand and salt chafing her cheeks, she dragged Isaac's body, already stiffening, back to the water. Waves crashed on top of the beach as she dragged and then pushed him into them.

Standing back, she watched as white peaks rose and folded over, engulfing her beloved Isaac. He disappeared from view and when she felt sure they had taken him to rest, Georgiana Cooke turned into the wind and rain. Gripping the locket, she looked back one last time at the sea before dashing up the wooded path back to her home.


Friday, July 16, 2010

TV and Bribes for Great Writing

I know this will sound weird, but I've found watching TV while I write can actually help. Sometimes that little bit of distraction frees me to write without inhibition. I think it works similarly to music, which can occupy your nitpicky Editor and free the Writer to do her thing.

I had this experience last night for the second time with my novel. I rewrote the climax after getting an idea I thought was more exciting than the original. With a movie playing in the background, I flew through the scene without pausing to think too much or complain about word usage (I swear I used the word "swerve" a hundred times). Normally, that would drive me nuts. But last night it was all about the creativity. I let loose and had fun and that's usually when things really come together.

Now to the second point of my title: bribes! Yes, people, bribes work just as well with yourself as with anyone else. I don't always employ this trick but with a future project competing for attention with my WIP, I decided a little bribery could speed things along. So I made a deal with myself a day ago. Get this round of revisions done within a week, and you can take a day and work on the next project.

Guess what? I got all my revisions except for the last scene or two done, including writing four new scenes, in about 5 1/2 hours last night. I couldn't believe it. And it was a night of beautiful, pain free writing. So except for a few minor additions, what I expected to finish by the end of next week will be done this weekend. I'm telling you, bribes work! Try it!

How do you keep your Editor at bay while the Writer works? What would you bribe yourself with to double work efforts?

As a reminder, Sunday is the Blogfest of Death hosted by the delightful Tessa's Blurb. Tune in for the best death scenes ever! Happy weekend everyone!

Photo by Frankie Roberto

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Use Your Skills

We all have an assortment of skills we've acquired from birth. Some have stuck, others may get rusty. We can't focus on everything all the time so some skills may be on the back burner right now. But have you thought about how some of those skills could help your writing or writing career? Do you make use of what you know how to do?

I say this because I had an epiphany a few weeks ago. I had been mulling over how to find a book cover designer and I'd come up with a few different approaches. I was also debating whether to hire out for the book trailer or do it myself. While driving (so good for ideas by the way), it hit me: you have a design background. Why can't you design the book cover and trailer? I'd been so focused on the writing I'd almost forgotten what other skills I had! And yes, I'm primarily a writer, but that doesn't mean I can't do anything else.

I can't tell you how empowered I felt taking matters into my own hands. I can't do everything and some things I wouldn't attempt. But a do-it-yourself attitude can be quite liberating. And no one is going to care as much about what you do as, well, you.

My question for you today is this: what skills do you put to good use on behalf of your writing career? And I don't just mean tangible skills. People skills count too.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Hunt for Book Trailer Photos

A couple of weeks ago, I did a (very) rough book trailer for Dead Locked using whatever photos I had on my computer. The last several days, I've hunted for photos that are striking and appropriate. It's a visual medium so the more captivating the photos, the better.

So where can you find photos you are allowed to use for this sort of thing? My personal favorite is Creative Commons. You can search for public domain photos on both Google and Flickr, and filter for commercial use and right to alter the photo. Other than the fact that it's free, there is also some great content. You can find almost anything you're looking for.

Do you have a favorite photo resource for book trailers, blogs, or other purposes?

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Movie Rant

This is different for me but it's on my mind so I'm just going to let it out. How do you usually feel about movies made using sources like books and TV shows? Do you generally feel happy about the results or disappointed (or worse)?

For me, it's dangerous to go from the original story, in whatever form, to the movie version. In my eyes, 9 times out of 10 they slaughter it. I understand that movies are different from books and TV shows. I have no problem that they must change certain things to make it work as a movie. What I don't understand is completely changing the storyline or characters. If you don't want to use the original material, write an original screenplay instead! Don't take a perfectly good story with perfectly good characters and destroy it!


It's my constant pet peeve that most movies stink anyway. Most are not well-written or executed (except for special effects and action scenes) anyway. But it's more horrifying when they're working from something decent. Despite having low expectations, I was still irritated over The Last Airbender (and still am apparently!). I love the show and the characters made it so good. But the movie went like this: Settings - perfect! Special effects - perfect! Storyline - incomplete. Characters - horrible. Shouldn't it have been the other way around? I would take well-developed characters and a complete storyline over phenomenal graphics any day.

I'll stop now before I go overboard. Let's just say, I'm getting sick of shelling out $12 for an inferior product. How about you? What's your take on moves in general or books/TV series made into movies?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fun Writing-Related Activities

Do you find it hard to stay focused on your WIP during the summer months? I certainly do. This summer has been crazy so far and I've accepted the fact that I will need a little extra discipline to not let everything slide. Of course, there's nothing wrong with taking a break. In fact, summer can be a good time to do some different activities related to writing and reading. Here are a few things I came up with:

  • Go to a writing or book festival
  • Visit the home of a famous author in your area or vacation destination
  • Write out-of-doors at the beach or park for instance
  • Plan a trip to the setting of a favorite book
  • Do some hands-on research by traveling or visiting settings from your WIP (take photos!)
  • Try an activity one of your characters loves (if it's not your thing already)
  • Take on some physical challenges to refresh your mind and gear it up for writing later

What are your suggestions?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Reignite the Love of Your WIP

A new idea can be like crushing on someone. You're all excited and can't wait to round every bend in the journey. Then the initial thrill fades. Eventually, you may get to a point where it feels like just work. You're trudging through page after page, but the excitement you had at first is completely gone.

I had this experience with Dead Locked. For a time, I lost all interest and considered moving on to another project. As you can probably tell, I managed to not only get back on track, but get that first rush of excitement all over again. What can you do if a project feels like it's sapping the life out of you?

Take a short break to get perspective. Sometimes even a day or two away can reignite your desire to finish. I regularly walk away for a short time (emphasis on short) to refresh my creativity and see things in a new light. Word of caution: don't walk away for too long or you may not go back to it!

Reevaluate the direction of the story. If you don't like where the story is going, or you feel like you're shoving a square peg into a round hole, you won't want to write. I had this problem with my current novel. Somewhere in the process, I lost track of what I like and went off on a tangent I didn't feel passionate about. Stick to ideas that you love, and you won't lose motivation.

Get an objective opinion. I got pretty discouraged at one point when my book seemed to be spiraling downwards and I ended up just telling my sister everything I felt about it. Her outsider insight jolted me awake to the problem. Don't be afraid to confide in someone if you feel down about how things are going. They may say something that sparks new desire to push forward.

The important thing is that you don't give up on your story. You've worked too hard to throw it away!

Have you had this experience with a story? What did you do to keep moving forward? How did you get excited about the project again?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Peek, Peak, and Pique

Do you ever get confused about which spelling of a word you need? The English language is full of words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings. I always get confused between "peek" and "peak." Don't ask me why. So before posting the "sneak peek" of my novel on Tuesday, I looked it up to make sure I had the right spelling. Of course, I didn't. Turns out, I am not the only person with this problem. In fact, there is confusion between the words "peek," "peak," and "pique." So here is a quick rundown of the meanings for each:

Peek means a quick glance as in "peek through the window." A synonym is "peep."

Peak has a few meanings but in general refers to the highest point of something like a mountain.

Pique is all about emotion, from irritation to curiosity. For example, to "pique someone's interest."

What words do you tend to confuse?
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