Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Samantha Saxon

Hey! Just want to let everyone know to check out writerspace.com on Thursday (June 2) for a chat with several Berkley authors, including a wonderful new Berkley Sensation author, Samantha Saxon! The chat's at 8 p.m. (central time). Samantha is an awesome historical writer, who happens to belong to my local RWA group. Her debut novel, THE LADY LIES, hits the shelves on June 7. Be sure to pick up a copy and be sure to stop by the chat on Thursday to cheer her on!


GGGRRR! It is Tuesday. Four days since I damaged my old body on the moonwalk. Since the moment of humiliation, my knee has been a kaleidoscope of colors but pain free. A little stiff, maybe. But no pain. UNTIL TODAY!!! Why, why, why?? I'm limping. I don't want to move my leg. Not even to go get aspirin. But of course, I have plans this afternoon which force me to get out of this chair. I can't even say I'm suffering for my craft! I'm just suffering due to my own STUPIDITY!!!

Awesome Read

I've just read the first 11 chapters of a friend's historical novel, which she is polishing up for an editor. Can I just say WOW? This woman has GOT to be so close to being published. It will be a sin if this editor does not sign her! I got so involved in the story that when I got to the last page she sent me I was literally cursing her for leaving me hanging! I'm telling you. Memorize this woman's name. JENNA STUART. I'm sure her "Call" will be coming soon!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Gifts For Ethan And Me

Here I sit just after 1 a.m. on Monday morning. I am amazed at my characters and their lives. The struggles they share with me and the tender moments they allow me to write for them. I've been stressing for weeks about what Grace (my heroine) ends up getting Ethan (my hero) for Christmas. Saturday, Nancy (best friend) reminded me to back off and let the characters tell me what to write.

In remembering to do that, I have come so far in the last two days with this manuscript. Ethan and Grace are both talking to me again and happily sharing the ins and outs of their relationship and their dealings with the suspects in this attempted murder case. He's unlocking the secrets of his motivation to me and Grace even whispered to me what she ends up buying him for a Christmas present!

Some authors talk about planning and plotting ahead of time. Some talk about giving their characters events, trial and tribulations. I am not one of these authors. I am not creating the story. I am allowing the characters to tell their story through me. I can't plot and plan what I want to happen at any point in the manuscript. When I get selfish and try to do that, my characters walk away from me and I spend fruitless hours or weeks (and, in some cases, months) in writer's block.

To me, the best manuscripts I've written have been about characters that I love, would love to befriend, would want in my corner in a crisis. Yes, I loved all my characters when I was working on telling their stories, but when I can't even remember what they look like a year or two after writing the book, then there's something missing and it always shows in the manuscript. I believe what is missing are the characters' voices.

When Nancy told me to just let the characters tell me what happens I was a little ...annoyed, shall we say, because it's harder than it sounds. But, she was right. (Damn, I hate when that happens!) Thanks, Nancy!

So, I must go back to the basics and remember that the characters tell the story. They control what happens every step of the way. What I want doesn't matter. I am merely the scribe, if you will. The exhilaration I get when things are flowing and sections are being connected and when I finish a manuscript isn't because I've created a wonderful tale. It's because I've successfully retold the tale of my characters, people I could (and often do) talk about like they were my best friends.

I realize some of this may sound like rambling, but hey, it's late! My best way to describe this experience for anyone who doesn't get it is to tell you about an event that happened during a manuscript I wrote somewhere around 2001 (I think). I sat there typing away. I was completely immersed in the story and completely in love with the characters. (Yes, I still remember every detail about them now!) My fingers flew across the keyboard for quite a while. Then I stopped, gasped and shouted, "I can't believe he just said that to her!" Until that point, I thought I knew that hero well. Because I was allowing him to relay the story to me, I learned more about him and truly enjoyed the writing process. I've had many moments like that since and I'm sure I'll have many more.

Just as long as I remember to listen...

Sunday, May 29, 2005


Okay, so I got tagged. Here's the info.

Total Number Books I Own: Couldn't tell you. I've got bookshelves in the house and a bunch of books boxed in my storage unit. (oh, and then there's the stack of my own books in my classroom.)

Last Book Read: Countdown by Ruth Wind

Book Sitting On My Coffee Table I'm Planning To Read: Target by Cindy Dees. I'm actually halfway through it. But Hawken's Heart by Suzanne Brockmann is calling to me from the bookshelf!

Five Books That Mean A Lot to Me:

1. To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee
2. AKA Goddess- Evelyn Vaughn
3. The Giver- Lois Lowry
4. Night Watch- Suzanne Brockmann
5. Outlander- Diana Gabaldon

And finally...my tags:
1. Nancy Wales
2. Brenda Bradshaw
3. Shari Owens
4. Michelle Willingham
5. Randy Jean

***A side note: This is actually my second tag, but I never posted the first because it required me to come up with a poem and poetry and I DO NOT get along!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

I'm Back, It's Over and Now...Back to Work

I survived the West Texas field trip (and the 7 hour drive each way) and I can actually say I had fun. The kids were great. I managed to get out of taking my 6th graders on a hike Wednesday morning since we had enough chaperones and so I stayed behind and wrote six pages on the end of the book. That night we had a campfire which scared the hell out of most of the kids and some of the adults! Then the kids in my room (egged on by the other teacher in the room) decided to scare some of the boys. It was beautiful!

So, yesterday was our last day of school, which was a half-day field day. Then the teachers got together for a happy hour (or in our case, a happy few hours!) and then we had our last middle school dance. At the end of the night, I was exhausted and emotional. Some of the kids have been with our school since we opened 4 years ago. I decided that I don't like change unless I'm the one instituting it. Who gave these kids the right to grow up in front of my eyes, lodge themselves in my heart and then rip it out when they have to move to a new school?! But alas, what doesn't kill me makes me stronger, right?

Speaking of killing me...during our field day I decided to forget my age and weight and I joined a bunch of kids inside the moonwalk. Quickly I fell down and in such a way that almost pulled the whole structure down. It was not pretty. I banged my knee. Even after ice and asprin, it is swollen, all sorts of colors and stiff. At the time, I was more humiliated than hurt...until I actually got up to walk away. But, the cute thing? A bunch of 1st and 2nd grade boys were grabbing my hands and arms trying to pull me up. It was so sweet! As I sat in the boss's office with my ice pack, I told her I just couldn't let the year end without some more drama. (Those of you who know me or have been reading this blog for a while will remember the broken finger incident.)

I guess, in the end, the injury doesn't really matter because it's the perfect reason for me to stay seated at the computer working on the last 60 pages of my rough draft of the manuscript FROM HELL! (I mean that in the most loving way a writer can mean it when speaking of a manuscript with a story I love and characters who have become like my best friends.) My goal is still to have this puppy done before I go home to RI for my vacation. So, I'll close now and get back to work so I can make that happen.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Evil Surrounds Me

So, I did manage to get some more written last night. Then I was wide awake until 1 trying to plot the ending. Today I'm tired, but I'd planned to do a whole bunch of writing so I could send off a chunk of chapters to my critique partners.

BUT, there was an evil force lurking about. The dark side called to me. No, it wasn't Darth Vader stopping by to tell me he was my father. It was my best friend, Nancy, and this wonderful invention called AOL Instant Messenger. I installed it over the weekend and today was the first time I used it. Nancy and I chatted for about an hour. It was almost like the good old days of sitting at her house, me with my hot tea and Nancy with her iced tea, and the two of us just talking about whatever came into our minds. I can't wait to see you, Nancy!

So, needless to say, I haven't done much work. Sure we only chatted for an hour, but that threw my whole schedule off. I had to eat, and then clean out my car. Now I'm waiting for laundry to dry so I can pack for my wonderful field trip with the 5th, 6th and 7th grades (Tuesday through Thursday). So why don't I get back to work now, you say? I don't know. I guess I gotta be in the right mood. Plus, I need a whole chunk of time to write and I really don't have much more than an hour or two to get everything done. Maybe I'll jot some stuff down. Maybe I'll handwrite some pages over the next three days, although I don't imagine I'll have a lot of alone time. (In that respect, this could be a nightmare! I'm used to my own company and quite enjoy the silence that surrounds me when I leave work. How will I survive without that?)

Okay. Enough rambling. I'm off to balance my checkbook (a colossal nightmare if there ever was one!), finish my packing and relax. Have a wonderful few days and I'll post at the end of the week.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The end is near!

Wahoo! I'm so excited! I just finished my very last academic assignment for the school year. I've been grading and averaging grades since about 10 this morning. BUT, I'm done! No more papers to grade until August! No more lesson plans to create! No more wondering if I lost an assignment or if the kid just didn't turn it in. So, all I have this week is copying grades into the report cards tomorrow, along with cleaning the room and collecting books. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I'll be on a field trip to West Texas with 5th, 6th and 7th grade. Then Friday is half day/ field day! Oh, and the middle school end of the year dance is on Friday too. BUT, the best news is that now I can concentrate on finishing the book!

Speaking of the book, I had a wonderful day yesterday. I spent the entire day plotting and writing. I ended up adding 13 pages to the manuscript and jotting more ideas down for the very end battle scene. I've got a good feeling about this! So, once I do a few things around the house and have some dinner, I'll be jumping back into the manuscript.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

More Links

Haven't started writing today even though I woke up at 7:30. Been reading TARGET. It's good, but there's so much action and the whole thing takes place in a 24-hour period. I'm on page 110 and I'm exhausted!

I figured I'd add a couple more links to my list on the right. I already check out Brenda's blog daily for updates and over the last week or so I've been checking Amy and Nic's blogs as well. I figured I might as well just add them to the list!

Amy is another writer, awesome I might add, who is also just on the edge between being published and unpublished. She writes paranormals. Now, I'm not much of a paranormal reader, but she even got me interested in reading her work! Check it out. She won the Thunder and Roses First Chapter contest in January of this year and you can read her first chapter. Sorry, I don't know how to set this up so I can put a direct link in this post, so you'll just have to click on the link to her blog and go from there!

Nic, as I've said before, is an AWESOME editor. Okay, so she's not doing that for a living (although I STILL think she should be). She was the critique partner who helped me get my manuscript REBEL HART ready for the editor two years ago. Now, after SOOOOO long, she's actually working with me on the current manuscript as well. She's an aspiring writer herself who can write great sex scenes and sexual tension! Her blog is not geared specifically for writing, but it's an interesting and fun site to visit!

Okay, I'm really going to get back to the novel. No, really. The grading can wait. I have 2 days to get that done. I'll work on the book for a few hours.

Right after I get another cup of tea.

Friday, May 20, 2005

It's Friday!!!

I haven't been able to do too much writing-related work since the end of the school year is only 1 week away! I finished reading another Bombshell, The MIDAS TRAP by Sharron McClellan, and just started another one, TARGET by Cindy Dees. I've heard wonderful things about Cindy Dees' work but I don't remember if I've ever read any of her books before. I do plan to get a good night's sleep and then tackle the rest of my grading and report card stuff tomorrow so that I can concentrate Sunday (and anytime tomorrow after grades are recorded) on my book.

What I wanted to share tonight is a website. I just checked in on the Celtic Hearts forums and found this link: http://www.worldoflongmire.com/features/romance_novels/ I thought this was hilarious. Now, a lot of romance authors today will gripe about the bodice ripper covers and just plain stupid covers. This site basically makes jokes about some of the cover art of romance books. Nothing against the writer. After all, they seldom have any say over the cover of their books. Just the same, I thought these were funny and thought you might need a good laugh at the end of a long week. (Although, the guy at the top of the page kinda creeps me out!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Light Bulb Moment!

Wow! This is going to sound crazy, but this is truly awesome! I just found out the attempted murderer of my heroine isn't the person I thought! The real attempted murderer is someone who's been hiding out on the outer edges of the novel and who hadn't even made an appearance until today! I'm so thrilled and excited. This is the type of writing moment that I absolutely love and can't imagine living without. It almost makes all the other aggravation worth it. Now, with this character's identity officially revealed to me, I'm confident that the last 80 pages or so will flow easier and continue coming together to make this one kick-ass story! Wahoo!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Out of the Ashes...

So, here we are. Sunday evening. I've been writing most of the day. Things are slowly getting back on track. I've done some serious soul-searching over the last few days about my friend, her death, this story, and about where I want to go with my books.

I have decided that I may not be writing romantic suspense after all. I may be more "suspense with romantic elements" than anything else. Now, I know some people who read that will say, "What's the difference?" For me, I think it's more a state of mind than anything else. As an ARWA colleague told me last year at Nationals, I like to read romance, but I don't necessarily like to write it. Yes, I have to have some kind of romance in my stories, but it can truly be very little. I'm much more fascinated and intrigued by the suspense, the danger, the crimes.

As a writer, I've also figured out where my "dream house" is. Bottom line, I would LOVE to be a Silhouette Bombshell author. Since these books aren't your average romances, I think my stories would fit perfectly into this line. It's as if this line was created especially for me as a reader and a writer. So, I will continue to create the best stories I can and target Bombshell. I can't tell you what a wonderful feeling that is to know exactly where I want to be!

As for the story, I changed the beginning. Instead of starting it off in the traditional "get hero & heroine together asap" fashion, I decided to add in a murder scene to show right off the bat that this is not your ordinary romance. I'm so much happier with it and I think it's safe to say I can move forward with it!

Now, the only trouble is, I keep flipping back and forth between two different titles. Under Cover of Darkness or Amazing Grace. I like them both for different reasons. Any opinions?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


As a writer, I expect to use my knowledge and experiences for my books. I didn't realize my baggage would get in the way of me finishing a book. This is one of the things I learned from my fellow Austin RWA members last night at our meeting.

I was talking about all the trouble I've been having writing this book and how I used to be able to write a book in 4 months. The first 100 pages of this manuscript were handwritten last summer. I explained that this latest heroine is based on a woman who used to be a friend of mine who mysteriously died. Through our discussion last night (over a few after-meeting drinks), I realized that I still have unresolved issues with her death.

She and I had vowed to stay in touch when she left the job we were in, and she tried, but I was the one to let the friendship fall apart. Often over the next couple of years I thought about her and about contacting her, but then thought too much time had gone by. After I'd moved to Texas, another friend e-mailed me with the news of this woman's death. I took it hard. It's been two years and I'm just realizing I'm still taking it hard.

I started this book with her in mind. I'd planned to dedicate it to her memory and I wanted to give her the happy ending she so deserved. She was a kind woman and a good friend. Perhaps I'm afraid I won't be able to do her justice. Perhaps her story needs to be told in a different way than I'd planned. Whatever it is, I need to unpack the baggage before I'll be able to complete the book.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


I won't say how long I wrote today. Actually, I can't say how long I wrote. However, I can say that I wrote eight pages and started rearranging some of the main events to where they should be in the book. I don't want to jinx myself again and say I'm back to the level of enthusiasm I had before (when I first started working on it) because...well, I don't know that for sure. All I know is it's almost 12:10 on Sunday morning and I want to keep working! Maybe I will for a bit longer! Hopefully tomorrow I'll have even more success.

Friday, May 06, 2005

...Later That Same Night...

It's almost 10:30. I'm exhausted. I'll start being a professional tomorrow.

No More Excuses

Okay, so I'm sitting there last night watching ER because I can't find the energy to write OR read and I had a revelation...

Dr. Lewis was yelling at Carter because he got tenure and she didn't when she clearly feels she deserves it and he only got it because he's rich and gives money to the hospital. Well, she's telling him that his job basically has always been something for him to do. It isn't his passion and he's always had his family's money to lean back on if he chose not to be a doctor. She, on the other hand, apparently feels this is all she's ever wanted. Being a doctor means the world to her, it's her passion and she can't think of doing anything else. WELL....

I realized that I love teaching, but if I could make a living as a full-time writer I would give up teaching in a heartbeat. IN A HEARTBEAT! My passion has always been and I'm thinking always will be writing. SOOOOO...

If I really feel that way, then I have to get off my ass and get to work. I can no longer whine and moan that I'm just not motivated. I can't allow two or three weeks to go by without a word written just because I can't figure out what happens next. If I want to be a successful writer, then I have to write. Sounds simple. But the important thing to remember is even when I don't want to write, I must write. When I become published I'll have deadlines and I can't say to my editor, "Oh, I'm just not in the mood" or "I really just want to read for a few weeks" or "Gee, I've got so much stuff going on at school I can't finish that book this month."

As my friend Steph says, this is a business and I must remember to treat it as such. I must be a professional. I must do the job I've been hired to do.

So, here it goes. Here is my pledge. I pledge to accelerate my mind, control my actions...no, that's the school pledge! I pledge to commit myself to my second job. I pledge to spend at least 20 hours a week on my writing- whether revising, brainstorming, studying my craft, or drafting letters, synopses or manuscripts. This writing time may also include preparing packages for editors or agents and critiquing other people's work. I will not allow my lack of creativity to stop my work. After all, I want that paycheck and I can't get that if I don't do any work!

So, now that it is May 6th, I pledge to have my current manuscript ready for submission by June 6th. I don't have a choice. It must be done by then. Besides, what if Silhouette buys SURVIVAL and wants the next book? Or what if the agent comes back with a request for a full manuscript?

Now, here is YOUR part. You must pledge to help me reach that goal. You must hound me, harrass me and annoy me (in a constructive manner, of course!) into keeping to my schedule. I'm counting on you!

First thing on my schedule tonight? Dinner! However, I do promise to get back to work tonight for...three hours. I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

And Still No Writing...

So, I'm bored and should be doing something else, right? What do I do? I check out my blog and click on all the links just to make sure no news has been added to anyone else's site. I check out Sandra Moore's blog, 'cause I just finished ORCHID HUNTER (Different kind of story, but well worth reading!) over the weekend. I've been checking Emily's but there's no new news. Of course, I check Brenda's and she hasn't added to it yet today. Evelyn Vaughn, Ingrid Weaver...you get the point. I checked them all out.

Well, I get to Suz Brockmann's website and I'm immediately lost in the information. (Have I mentioned how much I absolutely LOVE Suz Brockmann???) I'm reading about all the books I have read and all the ones I need to read still. I'm reading about her appearances and about the excerpts she puts in the backs of her books. AND...it got me thinking about my own book and that I may have a reason for not being able to finish.

I have specific scenes that I expect to be in the end of the book. I think they should be there and they go good with the rest of the story. BUT, I'm starting to think just maybe they don't belong! Maybe this not wanting to write thing goes back to not letting my characters tell their own story. So, just maybe I have to write, let them tell the story and let the Bombshell heroine I've unmasked do her work!

Ultimately, I know I have to keep writing because when I do finally get the call, they'll probably want more books. Oh, Sandra Moore helped too, because I read her excerpt about her "Call". Like her, I started targeting Silhouette Intimate Moments, but my heart (and my writing) has always leaned toward the action and suspense stories rather than dwelling on the romance. I firmly believe that (among other things) is why I haven't been able to get my own "Call" yet.

Hopefully things will change...soon...but only if I get back to writing!