Friday, July 31, 2009

The Book That Didn't Work For Me

I finished a suspense story last night and I didn't like it. But I kept reading it because I wanted to figure out why I didn't like it. I'm not going to announce the author or the book, BUT let me be clear it was NOT the BJ Daniels book on the side. (I've read a couple books since Big Sky Dynasty. I just haven't been able to change the picture on the sidebar of the blog. So the following information DOES NOT have to do with BJ Daniels' book. I actually liked that one!)

In analyzing this suspense that I didn't like, the author's word choices felt way over-the-top. Every sentence felt like it was over-exposed with description. Events, some even minor, had elaborate, dire need type descriptions. And cliches. All of these things left me feeling...immune? When it came time for a "dire-need" scene, I didn't feel the "dire-need" danger of it.

The romance. Why were these people together? Why were they soulmates? What kept them apart from each other emotionally? I could identify the reasons, but I couldn't buy into the romance. The romance wasn't well motivated. Frankly, the characters got on my nerves with their unmotivated attraction. (And some of the attraction scenes left me feeling skeevy, like I needed to take a shower! On more than one occasion I found myself saying, "Eeewww!")

The last thing that got to me was that I didn't feel part of the action or the story. I like stories where I feel I'm actually in the street with the people or listening to them argue or running with them as they escape certain death. I miss that deep POV.

The point of bringing all this up is simple. Analyzing why a story works for you or doesn't work for you can make you a better writer. For me, this book shows me what I have to be sure to do in my own writing. All in all, it was worth spending the hours I spent reading the book. Research. Lessons. What not to do. As I read, I thought of Danger and asked myself if I'd motivated my characters well enough for the reader to buy into the romance and to cheer the characters on toward justice and their Happily-Ever-After.

Speaking of Danger, I'm going back to my revisions.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm Workin'!

Got the house to myself.

Got The Bourne Identity soundtrack in the CD player.

Got Danger on the laptop.

Got some good mojo from Caitlin!

Woohoo! I'm running with it while I can!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Not a slacker anymore. In truth, I think I was feeling guilty since I still have 2 weeks before I go back to TX and there's absolutely no reason I shouldn't be done in that time. My original goal (after my pitches) was to finish Danger revisions and send it off to the CPs again by the time I left for home. So I opened the document today and just started reading, fixing a few things here and there. Then I reorganized my revisions plan and jumped in with both feet! I'll keep you updated.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Still a slacker....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Swift Kick Needed

Conference ended Saturday. I checked out of the hotel Sunday. I stayed with an old friend until Wednesday and I've done...NOTHING! I keep claiming I'm relaxing because I'm SOOOOOO exhausted. But am I just procrastinating? Tomorrow I'll get to work. No, I mean it. I promise.

Monday, July 20, 2009

End Of Conference

Another RWA National Conference has ended it and was good. I'm exhausted. I've got too many books. I had to add another carry-on for all the goodies I got at the CIA, FBI, Postal Inspectors, and the RWA Goody Room. I ended up with a wonderful editor appointment and a request for Fractured Paradise, along with some ideas to tighten up the conflict. I'm sad the people I wanted to win in the Golden Heart and Rita Contests didn't win. I got to spend some time with some wonderful people and I'm so thankful!

Now I'm visiting an old friend for a few days and we'll be relaxing. (Yess!) I'm giving myself today to return to the land of the living (since I've been so tired and on the run) and then tomorrow I'll continue working on my revisions. When I get to RI and get my film developed, I'll share pictures with you. (Did I already say that????)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Here I Am!

Hi, hi!  We had an Internet snafu so I haven't been able to get on much.  But I'll give you the short version of what I've been up to.  Tuesday's tours to the State Department and the US Postal Inspector's were great!  I got lots of information from the State Department about embassies and consulates and what their jobs are.  Then the postal inspectors were absolutely wonderful.  They had snacks for us, goody bags, name tags that said "Welcome to Mystery Writers' Day" and they were so forthcoming with what they do.  

Wednesday we went to the CIA.  It, of course, was AWESOME!  Although, I didn't see David Webb AKA Jason Bourne.  We had a briefing with a couple of female analysts who told us how the organization is structured and what the departments do.  Then we had a tour of the museum.  Then we had lunch where we had CIA officers sitting at each table answering questions.  It was all very eye-opening!  Then I spent way too much money at the gift shop.  

That night, I met my dear friend Cat who is rooming with me here in DC.  We've been online friends for a couple years and this is the first time we've met in person.  

I also had the booksigning, where I was well behaved and didn't spend too much money.  Then I ran to the Celtic Hearts Annual General Meeting, which was more like a party.  Not too many people came, but it was fun with the ones who did.  I got to meet Eliza Knight, who is the President (I'm VP) and more people I've been chatting with for a while!  Eliza's awesome, BTW!

Yesterday was Linda Howard's side-splitting and inspirational speech during lunch.  She talked about her dysfunctional family and how if she can keep writing with all the nuts around her, then we should be able to do it too.

Today I had my first pitch.  This one was with an agent and it went very well.  I got a request for Danger.  (Gee, guess I really better get my butt in gear after Nationals and get to work!)

I'm off in a few minutes to some more workshops and booksignings.  More later.  

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Shot A Glock!

Our Kiss of Death tour to the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA was AWESOME!!! The people there were great. They gave us fantastic information and answered all our questions. (Well, all the ones they could without giving away classified intel.) And did you know that the FBI Academy shares space in Quantico with the Marines? The property actually belongs to the Marines. The FBI and the DEA just use some of the property.

We went to the shooting range and had a chance to shoot three different weapons- a Glock, a shotgun and I'm sorry I can't remember the last one! I only shot the Glock because, quite honestly, it was all a bit unnerving for me. Until today I'd only held a gun when a friend was giving me a lesson on guns and gun safety. Listening to the shots being fired had me flinching at first, but then it wasn't so unnerving. I won't say I got used to it because I didn't- not in one morning session. I admit the feeling (of power?) was addictive and today's experience has made me interested in learning more and checking out the local firing range for more lessons. It also gave me a deeper respect for the men and women in law enforcement and the military and all they do for us on a daily basis. They carry guns so that people like me don't have to.

Another cool aspect of being a shooting virgin today was that I feel like I have a new understanding of my heroine in Dance Away, Danger. I feel closer to her and her experiences or at least to her feelings during her experiences. I can't wait to toss that into my revisions!

We also got to go to the training place to watch a simulation of the agents arresting someone. Someone commented it was like being on a movie set, watching the actors and waiting for someone to yell "Action!" I kept waiting to see my favorite FBI agents Don Eppes, Colby Grainger and David Sinclair, but none of them showed up! (They must've been listening to Charlie, Amita and Larry explain some math somewhere.)

Then we had a working lunch where we heard a man who was Saddam Hussein's interrogator for 8 months. He was inspirational to hear and the stories of his time with Hussein were moving. In the afternoon we heard from a couple more agents who spoke of espionage and undercover operations. The last part of the day was a short tour around more of the facility (including the Hall of Honor dedicated to agents who lost their lives in the line of duty) and then a trip to the gift shop. Of course I bought a T-shirt, but I'm guessing I shouldn't wear that to the CIA tour on Wednesday!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Back Home To The USA

I'm in Washington DC for RWA Nationals now! Got here today and (Yippee!) I can get online. Travel back to the States, as usual, was eventful. Yesterday I had the metro close down on my way back to the hotel from Heathrow Airport. So instead of taking me 30 minutes to get back, it took me 3 1/2 hours because the city had "planned ahead and organized bus service" for us between metro stops. Oh yeah, and my suitcase fell apart on the way too. Today on my flight across the pond, we had such bad turbulance at one point that I spilled half of my warm tea on my hand and the tray table. The people around me were tossing me napkins. LOVELY!

But I'm here now and gearing up to go from tourist mode to writer mode. I'm jet-lagged now (since it's 12:30 AM in England now), but I'll be hitting the sack soon enough. My first Kiss of Death tour leaves the hotel at 6 tomorrow morning. This one's to the FBI! I can't wait!

Since I'm able to get online during Conference, I'll share details of this week's happenings with you via blog posts. Once I get to the next leg of my summer journey, I'll start sharing pictures and details of my European vacation.

Hope you're doing well! Drop me a message and let me know what's new with you since I've been away. And if you're coming to Nationals, make sure to look for me!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Still In England

Hiya! I'm still in Northern England and will be for another couple of days. I'm having loads of fun with the relatives and seeing some sites as well. The weather has started this week to be more like what we expect of England- cloudy, drizzly and a bit cool. Tomorrow I'm heading up to Edinburgh for the day with some friends. Should be fun! Saturday we head back to London and Sunday I fly straight to DC for RWA Nationals! Busy, busy! I'm not still reading the same book. I just can't change it. I'm on my 4th book on the trip. This one is Dianne Emley's The First Cut. I've been slacking on my writing lately, but I've been focusing more on getting ready for Nationals, where I will meet with an agent and an editor. Well, I'm off to guessed it, a pint! Talk to you later!