Sunday, November 8, 2009
One of the most important things David said during the documentary was that art is something that can only be learned by doing. You can only get so much from books and watching. The real knowledge comes from doing it: writing it, sculpting it, painting it, acting it, performing it. That is the only way to truly master a creative art form.
I loved the way David McCullough delved deeply into historical figures he wrote about by going where they went and doing things they did and learning what they learned. Though it sounds so simple, not all writers do this. In some cases, the residence of said historical figure is either far away or no longer exists, but in other cases, we just study as much as we can from books and go from there. But, there is something to be said for breathing the air in the same place as a character and seeing what they see (or saw).
The film made me think differently of myself as a creative artist/writer and about the kind of writer I want to be.
The second documentary featured Phillip Glass. It was about two and a half times as long as the first one and delved into Phil Glass' family life, composition, friends, and a bit of history surrounding his career. On the whole, this one wasn't as engaging as the David McCullough documentary, but there was something that I did learn while watching.
Early on in the film, Phil Glass says that sometimes he doesn't know what he's doing. He doesn't always have a plan for what the whole thing will be, he just writes it until it all comes together and sometimes, when the conductor and the musicians play it, he will make adjustments because the notes he writes down are not always the sound he heard in his head when the song first came to him. He talked about having to listen and that there are times when the music is faint in his mind and he has to concentrate to hear the music.
I think this is the experience of most creatives. You hear or see something and you attempt to write it down or paint it but what you heard or saw in your mind is fuller, deeper in context than what you can convey with your translation of it. I find that as I write I don't always know what the story will be. There are times when I stop and start, when I have to re-group and figure it all out. And, there are times when I start writing, not fully knowing the direction, and yet it all comes together so brilliantly that I can amaze yourself (those are the moments artists all treasure).
So, I leave you with the thought that we must all learn our art by doing, by practicing, by writing, composing, painting, crafting. And, that sometimes, you don't know when you begin where you are going or where it will end up, but that doesn't make the effort less valid.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
ESPAN elections will be at the beginning of November.
This past year, I have served on the Board of Los Angeles Romance Authors in the PR position. It has been a hectic year, but I've been very blessed to have made wonderful friends. Just this weekend, LARA had its annual Book Fair, featuring fourteen of our published authors. While I won't be staying on as Director of PR, I will stay an active part of the LARA membership.
I am very excited to see what 2010 will bring and hope I will be given the opportunity to serve on the Board of ESPAN. Wish me luck!
And, if you are an RWA member interested in learning about digital publishing, please consider joining ESPAN at: http://espan-rwa.com or follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/espanrwa.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Once a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate–just an writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site! or click on the banner above.
Here is an early draft from my paranormal work-in-progress, The Wicked on the Run.
“What’s your problem, Keeley?” Honora toyed with her fingernails. She painted them red and then stared at each finger until it turned gold again. She was bored.
Keeley turned to look at
“No problem, Hon.”
Her friend shook her golden curls. “Somethin’s up with you, babe. You’re never this moody. Well, not most of the time. Did somebody young die today?”
Yeah. Of course Honora wouldn’t ask her if somebody died today. It was always who died today.
“So what’s up?” Honora put her hand over Keeley’s. It was a warm, sunlit caress, heating her icy fingers.
“Nothing. I just need a friggin’ vacation.”
Yeah, a vacation from her life. From Death. Dying. Remorse. More death. Why couldn’t she have been a nymph or a brownie or something? This banshee gig bit a like big shark with its teeth in her ass.
“Do banshees get vacations?”
“I sure as hell have never heard of it.” Keeley’s job was to guard over a particular unit of the O’Neill clan. But, most of the time, guarding consisted of preventing death, warning about death, or helping the dead cross over. Only once in a while did she get to have any fun with it. Like last week, when she snapped a guy’s wrist who had gotten his knife a little too close to Katie Kilpatrick O’Neill’s heart.
Keeley generally didn’t kill, but she could maim. A smile crossed her face. But, even her revenge against stupid, strung-out theives and domestic violence abusers wasn’t fun anymore.
“Talk to Council.” This from Honora, the Golden One.
“No,” Keeley replied.
Unlike her best friend, Keeley didn’t have shimmery skin made of honey dipped in gold, didn’t have matching gold eyes that could turn a serial killer into a cherub, and she couldn’t even enthrall a gnome. Council listened to her about as much as Republicans listened to Democrats. Or, about as much as soldiers listened to ants.
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get, sugar,” Honora said.
She grimaced. “If I ask, I’d get a longer sentence.”
“Yeah, one thousand years and counting…”
She was going insane. Day by day.
“When was the last time you got a little some some?” Honora looked up from painting her toe nails. She looked closely at Keeley. “Wait. Don’t answer that.”
Keeley didn’t reply.
“Can you like…try like…to not talk like you’re a valley girl?”
Honora threw a pillow at her. It turned gold and heavy in her hand.
“Stop!” Keeley called out. “Can you two cool it? I’d like to keep my house in one piece. The last time you two got going, I had to spend $5,000 on new furniture!”
“Well, little miss pants on fire has a point.” Honora stood up. “You’ve got to get a little release honey. All that death and disaster has got to take a toll.”
Great. Just great. The last thing she needed was for them to start fishing for blind dates. The last time
“I just need a little excitement. You know, a challenge. Lately, the most danger my O’Neills get into is drunken bar fights. Other than that one stupid kid with the knife, I haven’t had any action in months.”
They looked around. Lightening flashed in the center of the room. Two missives flew out of the brilliant white light. They were sealed with gold ribbon and red wax.
As if this night couldn’t get any friggin’ better. A summons.
Looks like she'd have to confront Council tonight, after all.
“Well, you two kiddies have fun!”
Honora smiled. “Well, Keeley. You said you wanted a challenge.”
Monday, September 7, 2009
Last year, when she and some friends went out for Halloween in the craziness that is West Hollywood, some of them dressed as dominatrices. She said to me later, "You know, you'd look really good as a dominatrix." So, the little naughty seed was planted in my head.
I started looking at corsets. Leather. Vinyl. Satin. Always Black. Buying a black leather corset seems to be an experience. They are not cheap, but then again, these things look like they will last forever. I had trouble finding the right price and style for me. And, for the life of me, I couldn't find an easy sizing guide for corsets the first day I looked.
Then, I thought of dressing up as a saloon girl and looked up all kinds of costumes. I ended up being directed to Amazon for one of them and remembered that Amazon does sell lingerie and other apparel. I looked up corsets and found an array of leather, Victorian style corsets. Jackpot! They even had sizing instructions.
I will probably opt for one of the plain ones rather than the fetish beauties as I'd like to be able to use the corset for other costumes later, but here are some of the gems I found. Let me know if you have a favorite.
These are my top two right now:
This leather corset has buckles and would definitely work for the hard core dominatrix costume:
I love the studs on this one:
One tip I did learn from the main corset supplier on Amazon. To figure out your corset size, measure the smallest part of your waist and then add ten inches. This is your size.
A lingerie website I went to mistakenly compared corset size to bra size, so I was looking at 38's thinking that it was supposed to match the bra size, not the waist size! Thank God I waited.
Feel free to cast your vote for the best corset.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I figured I'd help her out by making a long list of names. We brainstormed for a couple of hours, but we did not find the name. Here's a sampling of what I came up with yesterday. It is not quite alphabetical. Please help us and add to this list!
Anne, Annette, Angeline, Alexandra, Babette, Bernice, Beatrice, Charlotte, Cora, Coraline, Caroline, Cassandra, Claire
Delphina, Daphne, Druscilla, Eugenia, Edith, Esmeralda, Emerald, Elspeth, Elaine, Elizabeth/Eliza/Liza, etc Evelyn, Frances, Francesca, Florence, Georgette, Georgina, Georgiana, Genevieve
Hannah, Harriet, Hermione, Honora, Iphegenia, Imogen, Josephine, Jaqueline, Lily, Madeleine, Margaret, Maude, Marion, Millicent, Muriel, Ophelia, Octavia, Olympia, Prudence, Phillipa, Pamela
Regina, Rebecc,a Rowena, (my friend's name is Rachel, so that's a no), Sabine, Sophia, Seraphina, Theodora, Zenia, Zora
This list is by no means exhaustive. I actually had a lot more names, but they were all French and we laughed hysterically over them because the only names I could think of were French names rather than English names.
If you have a list of names appropriate for the Georgian or Regency historical era, please share!
Sunday, August 2, 2009
At first, I couldn't decide between the Kindle 2 and the Sony Reader 505. I saw a few negative reviews of the Sony Reader 700, so I quickly eliminated that one. I liked the fact that you could fit 1,500 books in the Kindle 2, but I'd seen a lot of positive feedback about the ease of using the Sony Reader and the intuitive buttons. I also sympathized with some of the Amazon reviewers who expressed discontent that their ebooks could suddenly disappear from their Kindle because the title was no longer offered on Amazon. Once you download something into your Sony, it's in there until you choose to remove it (whether or not the book is discontinued on their website).
So, after a few hours of researching online, I opted for the Sony Reader and bought a 2 GB memory stick to expand the number of ebooks it would hold. Sony has the Reader on sale for $279 on their website, but since I am a bargain shopper, I hunted on ebay and other outlets. I did find two viable options on ebay--one preloaded with the Charlene Harris books and another pre-loaded with "100 romance and love related ebooks". I opted for the latter because it was cheaper and I figured 100 books wasn't bad to start with.
There were some mishaps related to the post office, but I finally got the reader on Friday and I really enjoy it. It's slimmer than I expected and while it's slightly longer than my ebookwise, the Sony Reader is actually lighter.
I was even able to re-download books I bought from Samhain (MBam) and Fictionwise, so I was thrilled that I didn't have to buy everything all over again. I did have to repurchase Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld Bundle, but since that was 4 books in one, I didn't mind.
Between the Sony ebook store and Fictionwise, there are a lot of books available and since Harlequin is also having their 60th anniversary, I picked up a few free ebooks on their website. So, my first weekend with the Sony has been great. It's so light I can carry it easily in a purse and it has multiple buttons for page turning, so if my right hand gets tired, I can page turn with my left. It also allows me to bookmark the page I'm on or I can just open the book to wherever I left off.
My "100 romance & love ebooks" turned out to be primarily public domain books, so I wasn't terribly excited over those, but there was some Shakespeare and Jane Austen in there, which was great. And, since Google books and Sony have a deal going on right now, you can easily download public domain books into your Sony Reader for free.
If you are thinking about getting an ebook reader, I highly recommend it. While you'll shell out $300 for a new one, if you are willing to be a little adventurous, you can find used ones or refurbished ones for cheaper. And, I heard a rumor today that Sony is coming out with a new model which will be $200.
It is really worth the investment if you read a lot of books and have limited storage capacity. Even without the memory stick I bought, the Sony Reader will hold 160 ebooks. Most readers are not as obsessive in their book buying as I am, so 160 ebooks is plenty and you can certainly store more in your ebook Library and change books out when you need to.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Even on the first official day (Wednesday) I was overwhelmed. Put 2,000-3,000 women in one hotel all obsessed with the same things and craziness is bound to happen.
I figured I'd give out a couple of conference highlights:
1. Spending every day with about 30 or 40 Romance Divas. These are some awesome ladies and it was great to match names and faces. I even got to pitch Romance Divas to several authors, including Susan Krinard, who was very nice! (Btw, she was writing vampires and werewolves long before they came back into fashion).
2. My friend, Jeannie Lin, won the Golden Heart for Historical Romance!!!!!!! We cheered very loudly for her. She made us all cry with her acceptance speech. I cannot think of anyone who deserved it more. PLUS, she got her first sale to Harlequin Mills & Boon during the middle of our impromptu pilates class two days before the win. Jeannie is all kinds of awesome. And, you can get free excerpts on her blog.
3. Meeting Kresley Cole. She's my favorite paranormal romance author and cute as can be. She's very warm and friendly and I just loved her. One of the divas is as obsessed as I am and went to all of the Kresley signings and generally just found her around the hotel. She said, "I'm stalking Kresley Cole." We were talking about this as we both waited to have Kresley sign books for us and Kresley said, "She's not stalking me. I'm stalking her."
4. Kresley told me that my favorite character in the Immortals After Dark series is getting her own book!!!!!!!! I'd spill the beans, but I don't know if the information is out yet.
5. Seeing Gena Showalter and Kresley Cole together!! I'd stalked--I mean talked--to both of them at the signings, but Jax and I happened to catch them together in the hallway. She knows both of them--lucky Jax. I got so excited and said, "I wish I had a camera to take a picture!" I hope they weren't scared of me. LOL. Though, honestly, I can't see much phazing Kresley.
6. I feel I must say that Gena Showalter is beautiful. I mean gorgeous. Really.
7. Attending the Rogue Digital Conference with Angela James, from Samhain Publishing, Jane from Dear Author, and Sarah from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. I am not entirely sure of the spellings as there are many Ja(y)nes at Dear Author.
8. Anne Stuart's workshop on Writing Dark Love Stories. It was really good. Detailed, informative, funny, and useful.
9. Diva Karaoke, swimming with Divas, Diva pajama party after the Ritas
10. Riding the Elevator with the famous Nora Roberts twice.
11. The Harlequin Party. I now understand why it is the place to be. Even Nora got down. Fun, fun, fun! My friend Amanda Brice even got up and sang Summer Lovin' with the DJ. Much better than when I sang it at karaoke.
12. Rooming with Jax Cassidy & Eden Bradley. Though we missed our good friend Lilli Feisty who had to stay home due to illness. I already miss them and I've only been home for 14 hours.
I made so many good friends and deepened other friendships. It was awesome.
RWA National has been a wonderful surprise. There were a few bumps here and there, but overall it was an incredible experience. I'll never forget meeting the wonderful friends at Divas. I have officially adopted Christina, Sandy, MG (Michelle), Emily R-D, Jax, and I'm already joined at the hip with Eden Bradley. And, of course, I'll never forget my little odd moments with Kresley and meeting Gena.
This post has already gone on long enough, so I'll end it by saying I had a very good time!
Friday, July 10, 2009
It is that time again. Excerpt Monday. This is when a group of authors get together once a month and post something from a work in progress or a soon-to-be released book. You will find all kinds of goodies here. Historical, Paranormal, YA...and a few naughty bits as well. Scroll down to the bottom of the blog on MONDAY and you will see a set of links to other participants.
Here is an excerpt from A Hint of Scandal, a novella I wrote 11 years ago and have considered revising. I made minor edits to the intro a year ago. It's an erotic romance.
“Would you prefer a bed?” he teased. “I think that can certainly be arranged.”
“No.” she told him as she brushed her hands over the front of her dress. “I think we have been severely lucky that no one has ever happened upon us before now. Perhaps, we should reconsider this arrangement.”
“You want to end this?” He tilted his head and stared at her.
What was she doing? She had wanted this. Jeffrey was charming, handsome. Willing.
If only she was willing.
“I feel I must.”
“You all but opened your legs for me, Miranda. Thrice. What makes you so hesitant now? Are you a timid virgin? Afraid to finally couple with a man?”
Yes, that was it. Little did he know he would not have been her first. But, a man’s pride was a tender thing. She wouldn’t reveal it to him.
“Do you have another lover?”
“No.” Her heart skipped a beat.
“Well, I should think not. You could not do any better than me, anyway.” He smiled to himself as he shook out his jacket.
“Do not look so relieved you bastard.”
“My blood line runs cleaner than yours and you know it.”
“You arrogant, pompous rake!”
Shaking his head, he looked down at her. Then he patted her behind. “Run along now, Miss Howard. We would not want Mummy and Daddy finding out what a naughty girl you have been.”
Miranda glared at him and stormed off. What had she been thinking when she let Jeffrey kiss her? The man had the manners of a dog, for all his good breeding.
She was so angry and distracted that she didn’t see where she was walking. She rounded a hedge and ran straight into a solid body.
“Oh,” she exclaimed. “I am dreadfully sorry.” She looked up into the face of Lord Sheffield.
He was taller than Jeffrey and she had to angle her head up to look into his eyes. For a moment, she was tempted to run her fingers through his blond locks.
“Mi-Miss Howard.” He bowed slightly. “It was I who was not paying careful attention as to where I was going. Please forgive me if I have caused you any injury.”
They were still standing close together. If only she dared to reach out and touch him. Had she not been so startled a moment ago, she might have enjoyed bumping into the earl.
Under his gaze, her breast swelled and she could feel her nipples straining against the fabric. Hopefully her gown was still perfectly in place. The bodice was so low that she feared a nipple could poke out above the fabric.
For a moment, neither spoke. What was wrong with her? It was not as if she’d never spoken to Sheffield before. How many times had she teased and berated him as a child? But, things were different now. He was different.
And, lord help her, just being in close proximity to him sent a jolt of lightening through her thighs. This was not the man of her childhood. It was the man of her fantasies.
Ever since Sheffield had returned a month ago, things had not been the same. She could barely breathe when they were talking, which was not often enough as he seemed to find any excuse not to be alone in conversation with her.
“No, my lord. I am well. Forgive me for running into you.”
“There is nothing to forgive.”
His eyes bored into hers. That blue-green color appeared darker under the moonlight. Miranda felt paralyzed to the spot.
“Goodnight, Miss Howard,” he said kissing her hand. It was bare. Shivering, she realized that she must have left her glove in the grass. Damnation. She’d have to go back and retrieve it before her mother saw her without it.
“Goodnight, Lord Sheffield.”
Miranda turned and ran toward toward the spot where she had abandoned Jeffrey.
Unfortunately, she didn’t see the stone near her foot until it was too late. Her foot caught and she fell flat on her face.
To her utter mortification, Lord Sheffield called out to her. Unable to reveal her reddened face, she waited until he caught up with her. With gentle care, he lifted her up and helped her brush off the leaves and dirt that now adorned her dress.
Strong arms. Though Sheffield was somewhat slender, his arms were firm and muscled. If only she could run her hands over them and squeeze. It had been many years since she’d been held by him. And, back then, she was too daft to attach any importance to it.
Sighing, she looked into his face. The hard planes softened a bit as his eyes roamed over her, making sure she was well.
“Miss Howard. Lord Sheffield.”
She looked up to see Lady Stanley, their hostess. Warmth crept up Miranda’s cheeks. Almost choking on her words, she responded, “Lady Stanley.”
Isabella, Lady Stanley, nodded, though Miranda saw her eyes narrow. “Taking a walk in the gardens?”
Lord Sheffield murmered something and Miranda tried to cover up for them. “I wanted to get some fresh air. ‘Tis so stuffy inside.”
Their hostess nodded, though it was obvious that she didn’t believe a word of it. Miranda looked longingly at the house, praying for the moment when she could get back inside.
“Why, Miss Howard, are we starting a new fashion trend? It is really quite becoming.” Jeffrey. He appeared suddenly, carrying a stained white glove. She was about to grab it from him when she realized another couple was headed toward them.
All eyes were on her. She wondered why until she realized they were all looking at her chest. Miranda lowered her eyes and realized that her gown was not only ruined with grass stains and tiny tears, but two undeniably male hand prints were on the front of her gown. If Miranda had the stomach for it, she would have swooned. As it was, a heat was spreading over her cheeks and she knew that she resembled a tomato.
Everyone’s eyes continued to watch her, but she could not come up with a quick response.
Sheffield came to her rescue, putting his jacket over her shoulders and saying, “Miranda took a fall just now and I found her. Though she seems not to be injured, I am taking her to her father so that she can get home and lie down.”
Miranda was greatful when he put his arm around her and escorted her back into the house.
The next day, Miranda awoke with a headache. She’d had more than one glass of brandy before making it into bed. A pounding throbbed in her hears.
Oh, could she just lower her voice. Why did she have to yell like a banshee?
“Yes, Mother. What is it?”
“I have been knocking for ten minutes,” her mother said, entering the room. “As I told you last night, we must have a talk.”
She’d been in no mood to talk to her parents last night and she certainly wasn’t in the mood now. God, she needed coffee. Though her mother kept very little in the house, Miranda knew there was a small stash for guests. Maybe she could convince the housekeeper or the butler to let her have it.
“I need to get to the privy.”
“Oh, no you do not. Young lady, you will not avoid me.”
Miranda looked into her mothers eyes. The same shade of green as her own. She sighed.
Taking hold of her arms, Lady Wentworth continued, “Last night, you came in from the garden with stains on your clothes, a dazed expression, and Lord Sheffield’s jacket about your shoulders. Honestly, darling, have you any sense? The whole town is talking and you are in bed sleeping away. Lord Sheffield’s father is due within the hour and your father is raving. Well,” she said, taking a breath, “just what do you have to say for yourself?”
Dumbfounded, Miranda could only stare as her mother went about the room, opening curtains and setting out clothes for her to wear. She selected a coral colored gown and set it on the bed.
No words came out of her mouth. What could she say? Last night had been a disaster.
“You had better get up and wash yourself. Agnes will be in to help you dress. Hurry up, as we will not want to keep the Duke waiting.”
An instant later, Agnes came in. She pulled back the covers and started removing Miranda’s gown. Obediently, Miranda lifted her arms.
Biting her lip, she asked. “How bad is it? Mother looks fit to skin a bear. Is father raving as well?”
Agnes shook her head. “Real quiet like. Dinno if he’s that mad or in shock.”
Great. Miranda counted on her father’s support. Not that she deserved his help after the drama she’d caused last night.
Her voice dropped to a whisper as she took the wet towel that Agnes gave her. Wiping her face and underarms, she continued, “Did they say anything about the Duke and Duchess?”
“Not that I heard, Miss.”
Miranda finished washing up and let Agnes dress her. When Agnes smiled, she looked in the mirror. The coral was the perfect color on her. It matched her deep auburn hair.
“Did they say if Alistair is coming?”
Agnes didn’t respond as she dressed Miranda’s hair.
“Is Sheffield coming?” she repeated.
“I think so.”
Miranda bit her lip as her heart thumped in her chest. He was coming. It had been a while since Sheffield had been in their home. Too long. Why did it always have to been in awful circumstances?
He was angry. She could see it in his eyes. His cheeks were flushed and his eyes bored into hers.
“Well?” he demanded, once she’d been seated.
“Well, what, Father?”
“In a quarter of an hour, His Grace will be here to discuss the incident between you and his son. I think, perhaps, that it would be better if I heard all of the details first hand instead of through town gossip!”
“There is nothing to be said.” She tried to keep her voice level.
“Do not play the ninny with me, young lady, though now I doubt whether to address you as such.”
She turned away from him as she spoke. “I went into the garden. When I came back, I tripped and fell. Lord Sheffield aided me, then Lady Stanley arrived. That is all I have to tell.”
“And your dress?” He poured a glass of liquor. She was in real trouble.
“As I said, I tripped and fell. Then, Lord Sheffield helped me up.”
“Then, it was he who left the marks on your dress?”
Miranda had hoped that he didn’t know about that. “An accident.”
“An accident. Do you believe me foolish enough to accept that answer?”
“You will have to, Father, for it is the only one I have to give.”
The Full List of Excerpt Monday Participants:
(Links will be active on Monday. The list is organized by rating, so the saucy stuff is at the bottom, and the family friendly excerpts are at the top.)
Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG)
Caitlynn Lowe, Epic Fantasy (PG)
Dara Soren, Paranormal (PG)
Mel Berthier, Urban Fantasy (PG 13)
Christina DeLorenzo, YA (PG 13)
Nika Dixon, Romantic Suspense (PG 13)
Bryn Donovan, Paranormal Romance (PG13)
Kaige, Historic Romance (PG-13)
Julia Knight, Fantasy Romance (PG 13)
Adelle Laudan, Contemporary Romance (PG 13)
Jeannie Lin, Historical Romance (PG13)
RF Long, Paranormal (PG13)
Rebecca Savage, romantic suspense (PG 13)
Crista McHugh, Paranormal Romance (PG 13)
Leigh Royals, Historical Romance (PG 13)
Maya Doyle, Paranormal Romance (R)
Cate Hart, Paranormal (R)
Ali Katz, Historical Erotic Romance (R)
Inez Kelley, Romantic Comedy (R)
Aislinn Kerry, Paranormal Romance (R)
Elise Logan, Fantasy Romance (R)
Cherrie Lynn, Paranormal Romance (R)
Alina Morgan, Urban Fantasy (R)
Vivienne Westlake, Erotic Historical (R)
Monday, May 25, 2009
But reading this book is great. It's primarily a revision/editing book for writers who have no idea where to begin the process. Manuscript Makeover is also a craft manual. There are useful tidbits for expanding bare bones scenes through "riff writing" and processes for taking paragraphs or lines from your favorite books and learning how to emulate the technique. And, of course, there is the basic stuff on sentence structure, unnecessary words, and reading your manuscript aloud to catch awkward phrasing.
Though I'm only on chapter five, I'm already in love with this book. Manuscript Makeover is just what I needed. And, I haven't even gotten to part three on characterization.
What I love about this book is that it covers all the major aspects of revision/self-editing. It's not just a manual for how to clean up your sentences and eliminate "that", "was", "had", etc. It is not just a book about cutting word count for clarity. It teaches you techniques for writing and shows you how to emulate your favorite writers to learn from their description or their dialogue or characterization techniques. It has simple methods for you to re-read your own writing and listen as a reader would listen.
I highly recommend Manuscript Makeover. It is pure genius!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
One thing I can tell you that sets Jeannie Lin's romances apart is her use of setting. Her current manuscript, Butterfly Swords, is set in ancient China. Click on the title to get a sneak peek at the book.
Now, on to the juicy bits...
What inspired you to write historical romance?
JL: I like to be swept away and lose myself when I read and I found myself loving historical romances for their larger than life characters. I love how historical is almost fantasy. There's a genre of historical romantic fantasy in Asian literature called "wuxia" that I grew up on and that's really the main source of inspiration for my historicals.
What time periods are your favorite to read about or write about?
JL: I have a particular love for medieval time periods, regardless of the setting. I like to imagine a time of both honor and chivalry as well as ruthlessness all mixed in together. It makes for a good sense of drama. I have a particular liking for Asian settings but I love to read stories set in Europe and fantasy medieval settings as well.
How did you get the idea for Butterfly Swords?
JL: Butterfly Swords was my second finished manuscript. Ryam was the ne'er do well sidekick in the first one. He was the comic relief, the best friend who was always screwing up in a big way. Before I finished the first book, I had decided to write him as a hero and give him his chance for redemption. I became fixated with the idea of a likable vagabond who jumps into a single act of heroism out of impulse and it changes his life. I brainstormed to find the perfect woman for him and had several prototypes try out for the part, but finally I decided she had to be from the warrior class, be completely serious and believe in him more than he believes in himself. In order to make a soft, woman warrior believable I drew from my tiny bit of martial arts training and based her training on Wing Chun Kung Fu, which really is an ideal style for women. In Wing Chun, butterfly swords are used as extensions of your arms and it's quite an exciting visual when you see demonstrations.
What do you think makes a good historical hero? What makes a good historical heroine?
JL: Historical heroes have more freedom. They don't know a thing about being metrosexual so there's that rough edge on them that's so sexy. Throw in honor, the element of danger and that dark, brooding streak and it's a great fantasy. I like historical heroines who have a fiery streak, but also that softer side. I don't believe that women in the past were always meeker or necessarily more repressed, but they had to be smart with their strength and manifest it in different ways than men did. Yin and Yang and balance, you know? I have a whole write up to do about feminism in Tang dynasty China, but that's for another day. :)
How does it feel to get a Golden Heart nomination for your book?
Do you have any other historical projects in the work? Are they in the same setting or a different one?
JL: I'm revising the follow up novel which is also set in the Tang Dynasty. It features a former concubine and a warlord and explores the shadowy underworld of imperial China. I also have a contemporary paranormal that takes a small time slip into Storyville in the early 1900s, the New Orleans red light district.
Any advice you wish to share with other writers or is there anything else in general you'd like to share with us?
JL: Assume every rejection means your writing isn't good enough yet and keep on working at it.. That's the only thing you can worry about.
You can learn more about Jeannie Lin and her awesome book, Butterfly Swords, by going to: http://www.jeannielin.com/
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Today, we're going to go back in time. To a time of corsets, proper lords and ladies, subtle innuendos, manor homes, and a good Queen to rule them all. My novella, Secrets Uncovered, which may be turned into a novel, is set in the late Victorian period. Circa 1890.
To sum it up: American widow, Elena Montgomery, has discovered that her mother lied to her about her parentage. She accompanies her friend to England to search for a man who might be her biological father. But, along the way, she gets entangled with a gorgeous earl who has a very dirty reputation. Jamie Davenport, Earl of St. James, has every intention of making her his mistress, no matter what the cost. But, will he still be willing to pay the price once he discovers the secrets she's hiding?
The scene below is part of the first chapter. Elena and her friend have arrived at the country estate of Sir Charleston, the man she thinks may be her father, for a two-week party. While Elena and Melissa plot to find out Charleston's connection with her mother, Jamie corners Elena...
“You summoned me, Mrs. Montgomery?” St. James’s voice was thick and low, yet smooth. Certainly not the kind of voice that a man used in a crowded ballroom. It was the voice a man used from within the covers of a canopied bed.
He took her gloved hand and kissed it. Once those brilliant sapphire eyes looked into hers, she lost every ounce of her will. And this wasn’t the first time.
“No.” Breathe, Elena. Breathe. He cannot see you nervous.
That lazy smile was the downfall of so many women. Apparently, Elena was the next one on St. James’ list.
“Your eyes bid me to come.”
“They did no such thing.”
“Then why were you staring?” he challenged.
“As if you are not always staring,” she muttered. She couldn’t remember a time since they’d been introduced when St. James wasn’t attempting to seduce her with those eyes.
“Is it not natural to let your gaze linger on something exquisite?”
Despite herself, Elena felt heat creep up her cheeks. They must be red as beets.
She gave him a suspicious glance. “Am I the first one to hear that phrase or did you practice it on a few other widows before me?”
He smiled. “I reserve my best compliments for women who rise above the crowd.”
That devil. He felt he could charm any woman out of her pantaloons. He was mistaken.
“Such as those young ladies who are longing to drag you back into conversation?” Elena nodded in the direction of the three women he had just abandoned.
“They are merely to pass the time.”
He leaned in closer. “You are one to savor.” He spoke the word slowly as if he tasted on his tongue.
They could have been alone for all the intensity with which he gazed upon her. An intensity which made her stomach flutter. The air between them crackled with heat. She fell for his charm. Again.
Why couldn’t they have met under different circumstances? Though truth be told, she wasn’t sure if an affair with Lord St. James would be good under any circumstances.
“He has a reply to everything,” Elena said, addressing Melissa.
The girl smiled. “That he does.”
“Would you rather I stuttered and stammered in the face of your delectable beauty?”
She could feel the hammering of her heart beneath the corset. The temptation to lean in toward him burned within her.
Yet she could not give in so easily. “Perhaps I would rather you said something sincere.”
“Ah.” He paused for a moment. Thinking up a good line, no doubt. “Would it please you if I were to tell you that I have thought of little but you since I heard you had accepted the invitation to my aunt’s party?”
He smiled. “That is all I have to offer in the way of sincerity.”
Elena shook her head and laughed. “You will have to practice, my lord. That was hardly a confession of undying devotion.”
A dark look passed over his face. “I do not make those, madam.”
He was serious. The man never confessed love. She should know better. For all intents and purposes, Jamie Davenport bedded one woman after another. If gossip could be believed, he amused himself with a woman for three to six months and then moved on. No declarations. No marriage proposals. Just heated nights under the bedcovers.
“Just as well, my lord. I would never expect such from you.”
She turned from him to look at Melissa. “I think you have an admirer of your own.”
Across the room, St. James’ cousin, Lord Langdon Sterling, had his eyes on Melissa. Elena looked at him and wondered again how he and the rake could be so different. They were first cousins, but other than their curly hair, tall, lean physiques, and superb tailoring, they were totally unalike.
St. James exuded mystery and
What did it say of her that the angel did not tempt her in the slightest? It was the devil she craved. It was the Sin-James who made her awaken breathless and heated in the dead of the night.**************
To view more awesome excerpts, go to:
Melissa Aires, Paranormal Erotic Romance (PG)
Gina Ardito, Historical Paranormal (PG)
Jax Cassidy, Erotic Contemporary (R)
Ella Drake, Erotic Paranormal Romance (NC-17)
Kaige, Historical Romance (PG-13)
Jeannie Lin, Historical (PG)
Crista McHugh, Historical Paranormal Romance (PG-13)
Kirsten Saell, Erotic Romance/Fantasy (NC-17)
Kate Willoughby, Fantasy/Parnormal Erotic Romance (NC-17)
Thursday, April 30, 2009
The Scroll Thief from R.F. Long
Total Eclipse of the Heart by Crystal Jordan
Called by Blood and Dante's Inferno by Evie Byrne and Behind the Mask and Prince of Fire by Tawny Taylor
Thanks to my recent flu, I was able to read The Scroll Thief and half of Called by Blood. I already finished Total Eclipse of the Heart. But, I also have a few other print books in my To Be Read (TBR) pile:
A 21st Century Courtesan by Eden Bradley
O'Brien's Desk by Ona Russell, which I picked up at my LARA chapter meeting
The Reward by Beth Williamson (I'm very excited because I have a few of her books in ebook format, but I just ordered the first three books in print).
*While we're on the subject of Beth Williamson, if you enjoy westerns, pick up The Bounty. My favorite western romance right now, though I'll always love Only His by Elizabeth Lowell (the first romance novel I ever read).*
Did I also mention the HUGE pile of romance books that Eden Bradley gave me a few months ago just for fun. How am I going to get through all of these? There must be a good 15 books in the bag.
I love reading, don't get me wrong. But, I now see what editors and agents must feel when they open their mail and see 20 books to be read only to read 5 of these and then see 30 more books to be read.
How long is your TBR pile?
Sunday, April 12, 2009
This is one version of an opening to a Halloween story I started a couple of years ago. I couldn't decide exactly what I wanted to do with it so I never wrote the whole story, but I do like the heroine, Lisa. She's a bit of a clothes snob, but very funny.
This was getting ridiculous. It was past the point of fun ages ago. Whoever thought battling demons and vampires was cool ought to have their head shrunk.
Being covered in slimy, green goo that once was the blood of a Dendra demon was the last straw. Four hundred nineteen kills. That was how many demons Lisa had slain or banished since discovering her special calling as a White Witch of Gendron.
Lisa could care less about adding any more to her list of banished and decimated creatures. She wanted out. Or at least a long vacation. Starting tonight.
She walked away from the bloody body with the silver knife hanging from it’s chest. Lisa didn’t even pause to pick up the weapon. Why bother? This was it. The last time.
Halloween was only tomorrow night. Lisa thought it was appropriate to get away and start fresh at the Celtic New Year.
She’d devoted three years to this and it was time to do something else. Bethany and Max could have it: the long nights patrolling, the bruises and scratches, the heavy bag full of stakes and potions and silver daggers. Lisa had other things to do. Like homework.
After taking up demon hunting as a career, her grades sunk. While she’d managed to get into the MFA Creative Writing program at the university, she was behind in three classes.
What had happened to her life? At one time, she was a good writer with a witty sense of humor. She’d won awards in undergrad and had her pick of schools after college. It seemed like ages since she’d gotten an “A” on one of her stories.
Since Gram died, Bethany and Max expected Lisa to continue in Gram’s work. No one expected prim and proper Beth, Lisa’s sister, to carry daggers and mirrors out in the middle of the night looking for monsters with fangs. But crazy Lisa was perfect for it.
No one cared that Lisa had once had a life. Whatever she’d been up to was simply inconsequential compared to the work of the Gendron witches. Lisa wished she could slap the ancestor who decided to take up demon thrashing and pass the calling to her future relatives.
Lisa frowned as she made it to her doorstep. She closed the door without even turning the lights on. In the dark, she sprinted across the living room to the stairs. All she could think about was getting into the shower. Tomorrow, she’d burn the clothes or take them out to a dumpster far, far away.
As Lisa stepped out of the shower, wrapping a towel around her body and one around her wet, blond hair. She noticed the bags underneath her blue eyes as she spread on the moisturizer. Maybe now she could finally make it to bed before
She was distracted by the sound at the door. Knock. Knock. Knock.
“I’m in the shower,” Lisa called.
Her sister’s voice carried through the door. “No, you’re not. There’s no water running.”
Lisa turned the faucet on and turned back toward the mirror. She didn’t care if there was a dire emergency and the whole of
Frowning, Lisa yanked open the door.
Her sister was wearing one of her icky navy polyester suits that screamed cheap department store. And, those shoes, those “I’ll-never-meet-a-man-as-long-as-I-live” navy old lady pumps which should have been burned in 1989.
“We are being called to the witches’ council tomorrow. There will be a swearing in of the new head of the High Council.”
“Well, you can RSVP without me. I’m not going.” Lisa brusquely dried her hair with the towel.
“What do you mean you are not going? Are you patrolling?”
“Then what else could be so important?”
“My life.” Lisa gently pushed her sister out of the bathroom and took hold of the door. “I am not patrolling or going to the witches council ceremony. I am taking a vacation.” She closed the door. “An extended vacation, with any luck.”****End of Excerpt****
Just for fun, here's the very first draft opening paragraph. Similar to the above, but it amuses me. I love the way Lisa sizes everyone up by their clothes or lack thereof:
“Oh, Pu-leeze,” Lisa groaned. “Beth, you’re not serious. Can’t this wait until tom—um, until next year?”
A few of my friends also have excerpts up on their sites starting tomorrow, Monday, April 13, so check these out for some free reads. Many of these are erotic romance, so be advised before clicking!:
http://edenbradley.blogspot.com/ (My good friend Eden Bradley has a new book out. Read the excerpt for A 21st Century Courtesan. Hot stuff!)
http://jeannielin.com/blog/2009/04/13/exce...ay-his-or-hers/ (My friend Jeannie is a Golden Heart finalist this year! Yay!!!)
Kinsey W. Holley Excerpt Monday
Kirsten Saell, The Chancellor's Bride
Scenting Cinnamon by Ella Drake
Evie Byrne: Bound by Blood, Book 2 of the Faustin Bros. Trilogy
Emily Ryan-Davis: Changing Thumbelina, the Erotická Revue excerpt
here is the excerpt for Babette James
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Today, I signed up for Twitter and I totally love it. It's random frivolity that allows my scattered mind to be everywhere at once. You can connect with all kinds of people, but as much or as little as you want. It's incredibly addictive.
So, you can see my tweets at: http://twitter.com/vivwestlake
Friday, March 13, 2009
But, even though I do support the ebook market and think it will grow more and more, I find that I don't buy as many ebooks as I do print books. I do have the Gena Showalter books on my ebookwise and I have several Beth Williamson books on it also (I'd like to now buy those in print). And, I use the ebook reader for erotic novellas from Samhain, Loose Id, or Ellora's Cave.
I was really impressed by some articles I read last year on eliminating excess paper and streamlining your library and it really motivated me to buy/use the ebook reader. However, as time has gone on, I find myself still buying lots of print books. I suppose I'll never not buy print books (unless by some quirk of the future they don't exist anymore). But, I'm a little sad that I don't buy more ebooks considering that I have this e-reader and am not using it so much anymore.
I'm curious for those who read a lot of romance books and who own an e-reader if they buy more books in digital format or in print.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
At first, I was devastated. It hurt. After all of the editing, revising, reworking, rewriting, I was just tapped out of energy. I knew I wouldn't abandon this book, but I decided to take a break for a while and work on other novellas in the mean time.
Recently, I'd done a reading for myself. My godmother had bought me the I Ching for Writers book and I did a reading that suggested that I should focus on revisions. It was also around the time of Mercury Retrograde, so that seemed very appropriate. But, I didn't know which book I should work on. Should I work on Secrets Uncovered again or should I totally revise my current work-in-progress (since I'd recently come to the conclusion that the new book had started in the wrong place)?
I was led to go back to Secrets Uncovered. I sent the manuscript to a few friends for a beta read and I also brainstormed advice with other writer friends. Then, I decided to go back and look at the rejection letter. I re-read it and something magical had happened. I didn't see the pain and the hurt of the rejection anymore. I saw a reply from an editor who sincerely believed in the book's potential. So much so that more than one editor had read the book and they felt the need to give me a paragraph or so of constructive feedback. And, in the end, she said something to the effect of: "Just because we did not buy the book now does not mean that we would not in the future nor does it mean that we would not look at other work submitted by you." She also told me how much she enjoyed the first half of the book and that the end was just too rushed/underdeveloped. My impression was that she wanted a much longer story to fully develop the character arc and conflict.
In my new frame of mind, I decided to show the bulk of the letter to a couple of my published friends and one told me, "This looks more like a revise and resubmit to me." My critique partner, Belle Scarlett said, "Honey, this is the best rejection letter I've ever seen!" And she works not only as a fiction writer but a script story analyst.
So, I began to look at the situation in a new light. The book was stalled, but not dead. And, I'd often fantasized about it being a novel anyway. There are all of these extra characters floating in my head who never made it into the last draft I sent to the publishers. Writing a full-length book will give me a chance to let them tell their stories, too.
In the last month or so, I decided to extend my 30K novella to 60K-90K. If it makes 60K, I'll resubmit it to the editor who was enthusiastic about the book and if it makes it to 90K, I'll go the more traditional route of looking for a print publisher and an agent.
Sometimes, bad news is really good news in disguise.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Basically, I have to lead a group of about 30 women and 2 men in creating a writing goal for the week and then give them daily motivation to make their goal. Some goals are simple (writing 30 minutes per day or writing a synopsis) and other goals are lofty (writing 40,000 words). Everyone starts at the pace that is right for them.
My goal is to write 5 character interviews or do 5 character development exercises. I did complete one character interview where my hero Jamie interviews his cousin, Langdon. Then, I turned the tables and had Langdon interview him. I thought this would be more fun than the usual author/character interview since the two men can play off one another. Afterall, who knows you better than your best friend?
I have one co-moderator and one volunteer helping to organize this madness and keep everyone on track. My SPEWers are allowed to change their goal at any point during the week, but I've threatened them with SPEW monsters if they abandon their SPEW...
But, since I'm a softie, I told them that really, this is the true SPEW monster:
We also post man candy and shoe candy during SPEW. So, the first successful participant today got this prize:
And, since I did write one character interview this morning, I also got a prize:
Every day, my co-moderator and I have a man candy theme. Today's theme is Heroic Hotties. The men who rescue us from drudgery and inspire us to be better people.
Back to cracking the whip...!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Some of these changes are things I instigated--joining my local RWA board, turning my 30K novella into a full-length novel, doing the Romance Diva's mentorship program, and changing my eating habits to get back into shape. However, other changes are ones that have been thrust upon me--my company laid someone off and now I am being pushed into the new position and having to learn a lot of new tasks in a short time, my mom bought me a dog without consulting me, and there's health issue that I'm working to resolve.
So, the long and the short of it is, I'm busy. Busy. Busy. And, a little stressed. Stressed. Stressed.
I thought Five years were supposed to be fun! I'm looking forward to the FUN part.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I started reading Kresley Cole back in August, when I read Dark Needs at Night's Edge. From that point on, I was hooked. I read the first four books really fast. I've had Dark Deeds at Dusk (the 5th book) for a few months, but I was waiting to read it until Kiss of a Demon King was out. Which is NOW! Color me excited. The two books actually go together as they are about the Woede demon brothers, Cadeon and Rydstrom. Super hot with horns pretty much sums it up. I figured I wouldn't want to read one brother's story and not have the other one handy, so I've made myself wait. But, on Sunday, you can bet I'll be at B&N picking up this sexy gem:
My other anticipated read is Witch Heart, the third book in the Elemental Witch series. The Witch books are fun, sexy reads which feature a clan of witches fighting off evil demons and warlocks. Each of the witches has an affinity with an element: earth, air, fire, and water. Some of the powers are pretty cool--being able to use air/wind to hear conversations miles away, for example. The previous books were Witch Fire and Witch Blood.
After that, I don't know what I'll do with myself. Break out the Shakespeare?
Or, continue with my new Netflix addiction...
Friday, January 2, 2009
A few things I was able to do this year:
1.Finish a solid draft of Secrets Uncovered and send it out to 4 publishers.
2.Enter Secrets into several contests. I won 2nd Place in the Reveal Your Inner Vixen contest.
3.I joined my local RWA chapter (I'd been a national member, but hadn't joined my local group)
4.I volunteered for the 2009 Board of Directors for my chapter.
5.I entered the Romance Divas mentoring program last April and worked with Madelyne Ellis for three months to polish my manuscript & improve my writing.
This year, my goal is to sell a novella or novel. To that end, my next goal is to finish another story, preferably by the end of April. I'm planning to go to RT (Romantic Times conference) on April 22nd. My other personal goal is to move to a new apartment, hopefully in the same timeline.
I generally don't make New Year's resolutions because I find I generally don't keep them. I like to make goals for myself, but keep them a bit flexible.
One of my favorite quotes is this: "The greatest miracle is life itself. You are that miracle and you can create anything you want, which is another great miracle. There is no limit to what you can have, only what you can ask for, picture, and receive." Sanaya Roman & Duane Packer in Creating Money.
I wish you joy, contentment, creativity, prosperity, and love immeasurable.
As a side note, I created a section of Twilight and Romance Writing T-Shirts on Cafe Press to earn some extra cash toward my goals (moving and RT): http://www.cafepress.com/vromancewriter
There are tote bags, t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, and more. Most of them have a paranormal theme (Twilight, Buffy, Heroes), but I also have gifts for "Romance Writing Addicts".
Until next time...