Friday, November 30, 2007

Well, Maybe Not

Yeah, that exit I thought I found out of the box didn't pan out. Oh well. I'm looking at it this way. My AWESOME new characters have given me three excellent book beginnings so far. And none of them fits. BUT a combination does fit AND leaves me with room to travel onto the next chapter.

I have a tendency to write over-the-top action scenes. Great action scenes, but with no logical motivation. In the last few years, I've learned to identify this problem (with the help of an editor) and work through it (by writing the contemps which made me focus more on goal, motivation and conflict). As great as those three scenes were as single pieces of writing, I knew they wouldn't work as book beginnings. So I stepped back, thought logically (those of you who know me stop laughing!) and I'm excited to spend a good chunk of my weekend with the new combined and carefully planned opening scene. My goal is to get the editor and the reader sucked into my story. For this to happen, I've got to pull out all the stops starting on page one!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Rule of 10

My first chapter for the new suspense is AWESOME! I love it. I'm still fleshing it out to make it even better, but it's almost lived up to the vision of it in my head. But now I've written myself into a box. I don't know where to take it from here. Hhmmm. Not good. BUT I may have a solution. I'm going to write down all the possibilities I can think of, as close to 10 of them as I can come up with. (Or is it supposed to be 20???) Surely SOMETHING will pop out at me. Right? Well, I'll let you know how it goes...

Not but a few minutes later...
I'm sitting here listening to The Bourne Ultimatum soundtrack and my computer screen went black for a few seconds. THEN a huge lightbulb popped into my head and I think I may have found my way out of the box by thinking a bit outside of it!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Power Of The Internet

I was playing around with Google and my blog and look at what I came across! Seriously, look here. Now I know some of you are computer experts out there in blog land and this is no big deal, but for me this is HUGE. I forget how big the Internet is and how many kazillion people traverse the net daily. It always amazes me when I find my blog linked to something new. I wonder how it got linked and I wonder how many people will reach me through that link. And let's face it. The best part is my name being mentioned alongside Matt Damon's in a web address!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Well, Look At That!

When I started serious work on the suspense over Thanksgiving break, I hadn't done much writing for 2 weeks. (I kept up with my 100 words a day simply because I still have kids in the challenge with me.) During that 2 weeks, I didn't think about my contemporaries. I didn't worry over my new suspense hero and heroine's GMCs. I worked on school related assignments and I read.

When I sat down on Saturday (2 days ago) ready for some excellent words and phrases to find their way to my paper, I received a gift. Then yesterday, the gift carried over and I spent another day writing. On Sunday I managed about 8 handwritten pages. Then I typed all those pages up, printed them out and worked on expanding the awesome scenes I had. When I got tired, I put it all away. No pressure to finish one little section or to get one more page done. I'd done well and I deserved the time off, which brings me to my point.

Don't work yourself to death! When I went through my burn-out scenario 2 weeks ago, I'd been working for about 10 months straight on writing. This last week, I learned 2 lessons.

#1: I have to take a week off here, a week off there. If I don't, I'll sink into a depression, lose my confidence and find myself overwhelmed with my characters, plots and the industry in general. Writing, I must remember, is a job and everyone needs a vacation from their job. Just because I don't get paid to write yet doesn't make it less of a job.

#2: I need to read. Yes, I know. It seems obvious, doesn't it? But I didn't realize how important it is for me to read other people's work while working on my own. Reading always keeps my creative juices flowing. The more I read, the more I want to read. The more I want to read, the more I want to write. Then I get excited again about someday having my own book in my hands and watching other people take it off the shelves. So I'm trying to work myself into a schedule which allows me to read at least a chapter a night of a book. More when I have the time or inclination, but at least a chapter a night. I know this works for me. It has in the past. It will again.

So here I am on Monday night. I'm excited to work on my chapter. I'm interested in reading Lisa Jackson's tale. My author confidence is back up, and Caitlin and I are collaborating again. I guess it does pay to take a break!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'm Back!

At least I think I am. I ended up writing 12 pages yesterday. At times I got stuck and walked away. Then I analyzed why I was walking away. Was the direction of the scene boring or was it just not well thought out? Did it need to be in someone else's point of view? Regardless of the answers, I went back to the drawing board and just wrote whatever came to mind.

I think the biggest help to me was allowing myself to write crap and to toss it in the garbage later if it truly didn't work. Given that freedom, I was able to explore the scene from various angles , see what works best and then run with it.

All in all my Scene-In-A-Day philosophy worked for me. Hhhhmmm, maybe this is a new writing tactic for Caitlin and me. I'm off to run with it and see where my muse takes me today!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Insanity Revisited...With A Smile

I've read 2 books in 3 days. I've got 2 more days of Thanksgiving vacation left. It's time to get writing.

My goal/ plan/ decision is to spend all of Saturday writing. One day. I'm not sure if I'm ready for a Book-In-A-Week and I know I couldn't have handled that NaNoWriMo. But surely I can handle one day. One 24 hour period (less, actually if you think about it. I've got to eat, sleep, shower.) So later today, Saturday, November 24, I'm going to write the first draft of my first scene for the new suspense. Yes, I've been toying with different ideas for it for a few days now, but today I'm going to throw caution to the wind and give my new characters a chance to show me what they've got. If the writing is too difficult, too stilted and I get too frustrated, then I'll know that I still need more of a break. If the words fly onto the page (like I'm kind of feeling they might), then I'll know I'm ready to take the reins of my career again. Caitlin and I will be back in business!

Wish me luck and I'll keep you posted!

UPDATE: 11:30 a.m. Well, I didn't sleep as much or as well as I thought I would. And I didn't start writing as soon as I thought I would. BUT it's going very well! I've probably only been writing for about an hour and I already have 3 pages PLUS lots of ideas floating! I'm just taking a hot chocolate break before getting back to it. Catch you later!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gobble, Gobble

To all of us in the States and to all the Americans overseas, Happy Thanksgiving! Have a safe, relaxing and tasty holiday!

I am thankful for:
my family and friends, even though they're all a bit strange.
my health. It can be taken away so quickly.
my blog friends. Sometimes your comments keep me going.
my students and work community. There are wonderful people and adults in the making there!
my writing talent that God gave me. (I promise not to squander it!)
the soldiers who work hard every day so that I am free to speak my mind, read what I want, and live the way I want.

Everybody, enjoy good food, good fun and good times!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Truth, Reality, Revelation

I am a writer. Whether I choose to write or not doesn't matter. Refusing to write doesn't make me less of a writer. It just makes me a writer who's given up.

You'll recall I stopped stressing out about my writing and allowed myself to take a break back on 11/7/07. Since then, there have been subtle reminders for me of what I love and the burning desire I have within me to tell stories. I'm at a point now where the people around me no longer doubt that I will be published one day. For them, it's just a matter of me sticking with it and eventually my time will come.

Today I'm humbled by the faith others have in me, the talent I do have and the journey I began so many years ago. Today I recognize I can't give up the fight (not that I really planned to give up entirely). I have to be strong. I have to give myself the chance to take mental vacations while I chase those dreams.

Today I also demand that I acknowledge the negative feelings I've had, but then I MUST leave them behind. The bottom line is I want to be published. I want my name on books and I want those book flying off the shelves. These things will NOT happen if I don't get over myself and get back to work. I owe it to my characters. I owe it to my readers. I even owe it to the people who have supported my from the beginning in this endeavor. But most importantly, I owe it to myself.

Giving up in any form is not an option. Difficulty isn't an excuse. I am a writer. Whether I choose to write or not doesn't matter. If I want to be a successful writer, I have to put the pen back on the paper, put the words back in order. I must persevere.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I'm out! I'm free! I have no teacher responsibilities for the next FIVE days!

We had our annual Thanksgiving feast today and my schedule is set up so I have very little teaching time on Tuesday mornings. So I had a very easy day. Once the meal was done, the kids were mostly gone and the cafeteria was cleaned, I went back to my classroom and...worked. Yep, I debated for a little while whether I wanted to stay or go in on Sunday. As much as I didn't want to stay today, I knew I'd NEVER drag my butt in on Sunday. So I stayed and took care of some stuff for next week. I brought a bit home, but very little. I truly want to enjoy this break.

From work, I stopped at the bookstore because it's been a couple of weeks since I went. Maybe longer. I love Christmas themed stories, so I have to get them while I can, right? The last couple of years I've bought a few Christmas stories, didn't finish all of them so I packed the unread ones up for the next year. It's like an early Christmas present!

I only bought 2 books this time. (I'm being good, aren't I?) A Harlequin Intrigue that sounded cool and a Christmas story. Okay, the Intrigue (Colby Rebuilt by Debra Webb) has nothing to do with Christmas, but I like the author, the story sounds interesting and it's a suspense. So technically, it could be research. Right?

The other book (A Spirit of Christmas by Margot Early) is a Christmas story and it's supposed to be another version of A Christmas Carol. That is my FAVORITE story so I jump at any chance to read, watch and analyze any version. How about you? Are you the type to read and really enjoy Christmas stories?

There are no big plans for the rest of the day. Finish reading Lisa Gardner's The Killing Hour, write my 100 words for the day, watch TV (Yes, I might even watch a few Cash moments!) and plan my next few days off!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Not much to tell. I'm over my immediate frustration of not enough Cash (Scott Elrod) time. For now I just rewind the scenes he's in and play them over and over.

I've spent a couple hours so far (with a couple more coming up) getting caught up on grading. I'm planning a couple more to start getting myself a bit ahead. My goal is to have everything I can done by Tuesday night so that I can truly enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. (We have a half day on Tuesday and right now I'm planning to stay for a full day and finish up a bunch of things-progress reports, lesson plans for the last few weeks before Christmas, letters home.

I'm still reading Lisa Gardner's The Killing Hour. It's good and I love reading it. I just don't have the time to sit for hours and do nothing but read yet. (Wednesday I will, though!) I admire those of you who can read 2 or 3 books at once. I tried it. I can't. I have to read one book and finish it before I start another. (Come to think of it, I'm like that in many aspects of my life. Hhhmm, what does that say about me?)

If you're bored and looking for an educational way to procrastinate, Michelle Willingham (awesome historical writer) has a link on her blog today to a vocabulary game. It's very addictive!

I'm critiquing a manuscript by my writing buddy Cat Schield. She's been winning and finaling in contests left and right lately. It's very good, but again I don't have the hours I'd like to just sit here and read.

My friend Monika is new to the blogging world and could use some encouragement to keep updating. Check her out!

I'm still doing my 100 words a day. I still haven't missed a day. Elisabeth Naughton, who got me into this challenge (I caved to the peer pressure!), is still working on her version of the challenge too.

Have a good rest of the weekend! I'm off to check on my Patriots.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Friendly Letter

November 16, 2007

Dear Men In Trees people,

I love your show. It has me laughing each week and crying on occasions. It's a feel good hour of television I can't miss.

I do have one complaint. There is not enough Cash time. I need my Cash fix each week. Call me an addict, I don't care. I'm a writer, see. I write romance and right now Cash is my inspiration. Sure I can go to your ABC website and drool over the pictures of Cash that are there. But I need him living, breathing, talking and being cute. I just started a new manuscript and he is my inspiration for my tough but vulnerable hero. So see, this is a professional request. In order for me to create the award-winning manuscripts that publishers want to buy and put on bookshelves for the public to read, I NEED MORE CASH!!!

Thank you for your time. Thank you also for considering my request.

Lexi Connor

P.S. I also write suspense. If this request is not seriously considered, I can easily write a book where TV people are hunted and killed in freak accidents that might not be accidents. Or by fanatical fans. Or wild animals. Think about it. I have a very creative mind!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Prizes Continued

Several people have weighed in on whether I should send an old manuscript or my new one to the writer who offered to critique it. I think I'm still leaning to sending the current work, although it'll be a while before a full chapter is ready to go. But she did say she'd remember.

Actually, I'm toying with the idea of writing over the Thanksgiving break and seeing if I can whip out a killer 1st chapter and more. Kind of like a mini book in a week. Of course, I have to finish plotting first, which I hope I can do this weekend. Then next week, we have 1 full day of school, a 1/2 day on Tuesday and our annual Thanksgiving feast. Then I'm officially off until Monday, November 26. Yes, there's Thanksgiving, but I don't cook and I go to my step-brother's house. Then there is the Texas- A & M football game the day after Thanksgiving, but that's about all I have planned. Oh well. I don't want to stress myself out. For now I'll just play it by ear.

Oh, the books I kept out of my winning raffle basket are Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard and Suzanne Brockmann's Stand-in Groom and Time Enough For Love. I'm psyched about both! Now if I can only finish reading this Lisa Gardner book. Which is what I think I'll go work on now.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Yay Me!

I managed to get to my Austin RWA meeting last night after a very full day at work. We usually have a raffle each month for some goodies. Last night we had 3 raffles and I won 2 of them! I got to choose a basket that had some chocolate and a bunch of books. I gave away several of the books I knew I wouldn't read, including a western-type historical, a vampire book, and a few others. I kept the hard cover Linda Howard and the 2 in 1 Suz Brockmann. I LOVE them, and well, they write suspense. (I'll let you know when I get home tonight what the titles are.)

My other prize was a first chapter critique by our guest speaker Jordan Dane. Now, I kind of feel like this is fate jumping in on my toes here because this woman is a suspense writer and I'm back to working on suspense. My CP suggests I send a 1st chapter from a manuscript that's already done the rounds of contests, agents and a couple editors. Her thinking is I might be able to get some insight into why it didn't work for anyone. Then I can eventually rework it and try again. I was thinking of sending the 1st chapter of my newest suspense for some initial feedback (when it's ready). My thinking is that the one my CP is suggesting is one I finished 2 years ago. I feel I've learned a lot since then and I'm a stronger writer now. What do you think?

Monday, November 12, 2007

There's Evil Around Me

And danger in my head. Um, well, danger for my characters in my head. No, my characters are in my head and they're facing danger. Yeah, that works.

I've been playing around with my suspense ideas, and I'm having a LOT of fun with them. I'm relaxed and feeling no pressure. When I start to think about the contemps or about other suspenses that are floating around in my mind, I remind myself to concentrate on one story at a time. Nothing else matters right now except the one I'm working on.

So, yeah, all is going well in the new suspense. The heroine is terrified, the hero's trying to figure out what's going on and they're both trying to accept the death they're sure will be confirmed soon.

I think part of my success has to do with my current inspiration. I know that Kelly Boyce has a thing for Christian Bale and she puts pictures of him on her blog whenever she can. My best friend has a Vin Diesel fettish. (I admit, I like Vin Diesel too, but for me it goes in cycles with him.) Lately for me it's been 2 actors. One is Scott Elrod who plays Cash on Men In Trees. I LOVE him!! My other one, who actually started me on this suspense path a while back, is Matt Damon. And not the Ocean's Matt Damon or the Good Will Hunting Matt Damon. For me, it's the Jason Bourne Matt Damon. I've always been a fan of Damon, but my favorite role of his is Bourne without a doubt. I think when The Bourne Ultimatum came out is when the seeds of this new suspense were planted.

So, do any of you have actor inspirations for your characters that you'd like to share?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans' Day

Here in the States today is Veterans' Day. Wherever you are and whatever you're doing today, take a moment or two to think about the men and women who sacrifice so much for our freedoms, our safety and our way of life. Keep in mind those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives so that we may be free to speak our minds, read what we want and do all the things we enjoy. Thanks to the soldiers! We appreciate you! You'll all be in my thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Can I Just Say...?

You guys are the BEST! Thanks to those of you who left uplifting comments on my last post, my post about breaking away from my current Scottish contemporary. I expected some support, but not as much as I got! So, THANKS!

Life has been good these past few days. I'm still doing the 100 words a day challenge and always writing more than 100. I finished one book and started reading another. I've allowed my inner child to play. As I've begun playing around more seriously with my suspense ideas, I've worked hard to include all the pieces to the puzzle that I need in the beginning: a good hook, a hot hero, a not-too-stupid-to-live heroine, clearly defined internal and external conflicts. One sentence at a time. One page at a time. I'm having fun with it for now. We'll see where it goes. For now, this one is called Dance Away, Danger.

I spent the day tailgating for the final home game of my Texas Longhorns. (They won!) Now I'm off to write my words, maybe watch a little TV and then continue reading. Tomorrow I have to go in to work for a few hours. I could probably get away with NOT going in, but I'm thinking a couple serious hours grading papers, planning and organizing might make life easier over the next couple of weeks.

Have a good rest of the weekend!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Withdrawal...And A Reentry Of Sorts

I've been dreading this post for the last 2 days, but it's time I share my news with you. After some sobering words from my CP about my current WIP, I withdrew from the RWA Golden Heart Contest. I know, I know. Some people probably think I should've tried to revise in time, but I'm just not motivated right now. There are too many things in my outside life vying for my attention and I don't have the heart for revising right now.

My CP was worried about me being upset or angry with her, but truthfully I'm grateful for her. I need someone I trust, someone I know wants the best for me, to be that brutally honest with me. Her comments had to do with the story being in my head and not clearly on the page. She's right. I've lived with these characters and in this Scottish village for 2 years now. I know so much about these people that I forget the reader has not listened in on all my conversations with them. Also, my CP commented that I have some big leaps in scenes (like I've forgotten to put a scene in between because she felt like she missed something). Again, that stems from me living in this world for so long.

I have no doubt I'm capable of fixing the holes and bringing the story to its clear, concise, intended ending, but I don't have the enthusiasm it would take to whip it into shape in time for GH. Why submit something to the GH that I don't feel excited about? Plus, I've been writing long enough to know I can't force it.

If I had my way, I'd take a vacation from writing from here until the start of 2008. I've literally been working on the Scottish contemporaries for about 20 months now with very little time off. The ONLY thing keeping me writing is the fact that I have this 100 words a day for 100 days challenge with my students. 7 of them are going the distance with me. I feel I can't let them down. And besides, how hard is it to write 100 words?

Which leads me to the reentry part of this post. I'm playing around with a suspense. Again. (Still?) I'm putting no pressure on myself, no deadlines or anything like that. For the rest of these challenge days, I'll do what I can and what I want. If it's good enough to keep, I'll use it in 2008. If it's trash, I'll toss it in the recycle bin.

Don't worry about me. I'm not depressed, frustrated or angry. I'm calm, relaxed and I feel this is the right (and healthy) decision for my craft. I am a writer. I will always be a writer because the stories need to be told and I can't imagine a life without this creativity. But Caitlin and I have to find our way back to the writing well.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I'm Back!

Hey there! The trip was awesome! Good food, good fun, good company and most excellent scenery. I just got in tonight and 6 a.m. comes early, so I'm off to bed. I promise to give you a full account ASAP.

I'll leave you with this...I'm switching planes in Philadelphia and what am I searching for? A TV to check the score on the Patriots/ Indianapolis game. (Woohoo Patriots!!!!!!!!!) Oh, and at the wedding yesterday, I'm standing at the back of the hall, by the bar (with a beer in my hands) watching the TV to find the Texas football score.

Have a good Monday. I'm looking forward to catching up with you!