Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Permission to write crap

How many times can you start a chapter…how many times can you start a blog article…how many times can you close out a file, open up a new program, type a few lines and delete them…before you realize you’re just not going to get anything concrete accomplished?

It’s not that I have writer’s block per se – I just have first line block. There’s so much emphasis put on the first line of a story, a chapter, even an article. You have to open with a bang and when you can’t bang…ahem…you fizzle.

I know. I know. The mantra of a working writer is as follows: Write, write, write, then edit the heck out of it. At least get something on paper. I know.

I get like this sometimes though. I want every word I put down to be pure gold. There’s nothing wrong with writing crap and then rewriting it. But there are times I just don’t want to do that. I have so many ideas, that sometimes I can’t bear to waste the time writing badly only to have to rewrite – even though I’m a better rewriter than I am a writer. I should just get on with it. I need to give myself permission to write a crappy chapter, have my characters do something silly, say something insipid and weave some gut wrenchingly horrid narrative around it, all with the notion that it will be crossed out and rewritten later on when my brain is in a better state of mind.

It just kills me, though. The stories are all there, in my head, fully formed. I just can’t get them to come out smoothly on paper. I’m putting too much pressure on myself to produce and when that happens, my muse takes a holiday. Fortunately she doesn’t get holiday pay. Unfortunately, neither do I anymore.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Holiday Crush

Where did the year go? I know it’s not actually over yet, but it’s winding down. December starts on Thursday and that leaves just 31 short days left in 2005.

I hate to see it go. Not just because I have to cram all my November projects, two manuscripts, Christmas shopping, several holiday dinners and a trip to the dentist into the year before it expires, but because 2005 has been a banner year for me and I worry that I won’t be able to top it.

This year marked my first acceptance letter (okay, December 31st 2004, but still), my first signed publishing contract (January 1st) my first contest win, (February), my first cover art (March), my first release (Hunter’s Moon in April), my first print novel (May) my first royalty check (August), my first review, my first interview, my first writer’s conference, my first best seller list and my first foray into full time writership.

How can 2006 compare? I suppose if it brought my first NY contract, my first agent, my first book signing…maybe my first advance, or my first royalty check containing a comma somewhere to the left of the decimal point? I’ll wager 2006 will bring my first rejection. I’ve been too lucky so far – I know there’s an R on the horizon, but that’s okay. I can deal. If, in 2006 I can continue to live out my dream, and shape the life I’ve always wanted, it won’t matter if it doesn’t contain as my firsts as 2005. I’ll be happy and deliriously busy with new projects.

Of course I just have to get the old ones out of the way first, in addition to all the holiday prep and falderal. There are never enough hours in the day, but this year, I can say there were certainly enough firsts.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Fresh Blood

If you have a taste for vampires, check out Fresh Blood, just released at New Concepts. Here’s the blurb:

A desperate call from her missing sister sends Erica Talbot on a dangerous rescue mission. Determined to prevent her twin from becoming a feeder, Erica steps out of her quiet, lonely existence and into a dark underworld where vampires rule.

Maxwell Hart is a vampire investigator. Part of his job is to protect humans. The moment he lays eyes on Erica, he knows she doesn't belong in his world, but that doesn't stop him from wanting her there.

With Max as her guide, Erica descends into a world where humans willingly give up control to their vampire masters. Posing as Max's submissive feeder, Erica discovers a strange freedom in relinquishing her hard won self-control to Max.

After just one taste of Erica's blood, Max finds he hungers for no one else. How can he possess her when drawing her deeper into his dark world will change her forever?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Happy Day After Thanksgiving

You know what I like about the Day After Thanksgiving? It’s an unofficial holiday. Schools are closed, most businesses [well, except retail businesses] are also closed for the day. There is still mail delivery, banks are open and of course, you can go shopping anywhere.

People have Day After Thanksgiving rituals and traditions like they do for official holidays. There are those leftover turkey sandwiches [the best!] and at my house, it’s Christmas Tree Day. I just spent a couple of hours decorating the tree, baking cinnamon swirl bread and assembling a set of German candle chimes. Some people put up their outside decorations and others gather at the break of dawn to mount an all out assault on the mall. I wouldn’t mind spending all day hunting bargains, if 40 million other people weren’t doing the same thing, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

So Happy Day After Thanksgiving, the year’s only unofficial holiday. Kudos to whoever decided Thanksgiving should be held on a Thursday so that the next day would make a logical choice for a day off as well. Nice going.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Amber Heat Wave

To coincide with Amber Quill Press’s promotion of the upcoming Amber Heat Wave Contest for 2006, many of the Heat Wave authors are posting excerpts and anecdotes about their contest winning stories.

Renna’s Sacrifice [originally titled, The Sacrifice when it was submitted] was my entry in the 2006 Amber Heat Wave Contest. It was only the second steamy sci-fi story I’d written and I had no expectations whatsoever that it would be chosen as one of nineteen winners by Amber Quill’s editorial staff.

Renna’s has a shock-your-socks-off cover and hopefully a surprise ending [at least it surprised me when I wrote it.]

Here’s a short excerpt to commemorate the Heat Wave 2006 kickoff and hopefully encourage other writers out there to strut their stuff to Amber Quill Press:

He shook his head. "You shouldn't be here."

"Neither should you."

He smirked at her quick response. "What brings you out here each night?" he asked.

"At first it was to escape the rules of the Refuge for a while. Now, I come to look for you."

"It's the same with me," he said. "Are you a Priestess?"

"No. A ward. They took me in as a child and I live their life, but I'm not one of them. Are you a disciple of the Sun God?"

He nodded.

"What is this place? I never knew it was here."

"This is a sacred pool," he said. "On certain nights, if you stare into the reflection in the water, you may see visions."

Renna's eyes widened. She'd never known someone who saw visions. "What visions have you seen?"


Renna gasped. His voice sent shivers down her spine. Beneath her shift, her flesh pebbled at his revelation. She let her cautious glance skim down his body and back up to his handsome face. "You saw me?"

"Many times, even before you found this place. I've wondered when I would meet you."

Renna crossed her arms over her breasts to combat the ache she felt there when he looked at her. "Why would I be in your visions?" She cocked one eyebrow at him and grinned.

"I don't know. I suppose over time, I will find out."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Courage to Fly

A post at Romancing the Blog made me think. At what point does doing what you want to do in life change from being irresponsible to being courageous?

All our lives we’re told to tow the line, do what’s expected of us, be safe rather than sorry. We’re taught at a young age not to take chances and to fear the consequences of our mistakes. Granted, there’s merit in being cautious and developing a healthy sense of self preservation, but oftentimes our mentors, parents, teachers etc, go beyond giving us the wisdom to keep our hands off the hot stove and instill in us a fear of working without a net. They make us unable to walk in the rain without an umbrella.

Having a fall back plan is great in life, but living your fall back plan first is dismal. I went to college and got a business degree in the mid-90’s not because I loved business administration, but because it was a safe thing to major in. You will always be able to get a job, I was told by family, friends and co-workers. They were right. I can work in any office. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked in some nice places and I enjoy the challenge of composing a good business letter, creating a kick-ass filing system and being the go-to girl for computer questions. But none of that compares to finishing a novel, crafting a powerfully emotional love scene or receiving a publishing contract.

The author of the blog entry mentions finally quitting her job and venturing out as a full-time writer. I congratulated her on her courage and commiserated that such a decision has to be met with skepticism from the people in her life. Every day we take chances, some days we win the gamble and some days we lose, but we keep trying.

Here’s to all of us out there who have discovered the courage to fly and are still wondering if it isn’t just a phase we’re going through or a reversion to our irresponsible youth. Keep flapping your wings and ignore the turkeys who want to keep reminding you that you may fail. Remember they can’t fly and they’re more afraid of seeing you succeed and being left in the dust, than watching you fail and having to pick up the pieces.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Friendly Spam

Warning…Warning. The following blog post contains controversial opinions that some individuals may find offensive.

Like friendly fire, friendly spam comes from an unexpected source-someone you think is on your side in the war on unwanted or nonsense e-mails that clog your in-box and waste your time. I’m not talking about the ridiculous ads for Viagraag, Ceealiss, or other wondrous products that will make it looonger and increa$e your enjoiment [misspelling intentional of course to get through your spam filters.] I’m talking about the endless stream of wasted bandwidth sent by friends, acquaintances and co-workers with titles like: For A Wonderful Friend, To All the Sexy Ladies I Know, A Mother’s Prayer, A Funny Story, etc.

I’m sorry. I really am, but these things annoy me even more so than the trash spam because they come from people who I’d like to hear more from than a reconstituted, regurgitated, forwarded, forwarded, forward piece of pablum designed to brighten my day or uplift my spirits. I don’t need to read the latest joke, sob story, plea for my signature on an Internet petition or the infamous little ditty that starts out with a canned message about how wonderful I am and ends with an entreaty to forward the message to 10 more people in the next 12 minutes if I don’t want something bad to happen to me in the next 8 hours. Give me a break.

While some people who think they are ‘keeping in touch’ by forwarding this stuff may be offended, I have to say please spare me. I beg you. I’d much rather get one paragraph from you written specifically to me, about how you are, what’s new in your life, even your views on religion and politics if you’re so inclined to share them, than a two page sob story about a missing girl in Springfield and can I help find her by forwarding this worthless e-mail to everyone I know? Or better yet, would I like to participate in a cool experiment whereby I add my name to a four-page list of names, cross off the three on top, add three to the bottom and then wait patiently for fourteen weeks until my name comes back up to the top and something truly amazing happens. Or maybe I could use a good cry so here’s the following heartfelt essay on the glory of friendship, the joys of motherhood, the peace of Christ, etc. Maybe I’d like to help them get a free gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or help Bill Gates test his new e-mail tracking software [wouldn’t it be cool if this were true? We could all earn a living doing nothing but forwarding e-mails to people who don’t want them!] It goes on and on.

Yada yada. Again, I apologize, but I’d rather know you cared enough to ask me how I am, and tell me how you are, than know you had 10 seconds to add my e-mail address to your forwarding list and send me crap that I delete unread. Our greatest strength, our greatest treasure is our ability to communicate with one another. We can share ideas, forge friendships and learn so much from one another – but only if we communicate new and unique information , not by endlessly forwarding timewasters around the Internet and thinking we’re keeping in touch in a valuable way.

End of controversial message. Sensitive individuals may continue reading from this point forward.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

‘Tis the Season…for Catalogs

Quite a few years ago when my children were very little, I decided it would be a lot easier to do holiday shopping from catalogs rather than battle the crowds at any of the various metropolitan malls around here.

I thought I was so smart. I sat curled on my couch, pen in hand, circling gifts for friends and family, then I went on the Internet or the telephone and placed my orders. A few weeks later, boxes started arriving and lo and behold, I was ready to start wrapping.

The downside of catalog shopping hit me about two years ago when one August afternoon I came back from the mail box with my arms loaded – catalog after Christmas catalog began arriving, sometimes 6 or 7 a day. By Halloween I had piles of unread catalogs on my desk, and piles of catalogs with pages dogeared to things I wanted to order.

My name had gotten around. I get catalogs from places I’ve never heard of, from places warning me that if I don’t place an order soon, I’ll never see another one of their catalogs again {like that’s a threat!} I know the truth, if I don’t place an order today, I’ll get another catalog from them in 10-14 days with the same warning on the outside and the same stuff on the inside. They can’t scare me. I won’t miss out on their next sale because they can’t bear to strike my name from their mailing list. I get coupons, promises of nearly inexhaustible credit, offers of interest free purchases, free delivery if I order right now, and guaranteed arrival by December 23rd. They’ll do almost anything to get me to order.

And I do. That’s why it all never stops. I like the convenience of ordering on line or over the phone. I like things being delivered to my door. I hate battling traffic and long check out lines and carrying heavy shopping bags. Am I saving money? I don’t know. But I’m saving myself aggravation and that may be worth a lot more. I just hope my mail carrier will forgive me. His bag gets heavier every year.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


I consider how good a book is by how long it takes me to read it. If I labor over something for three or four weeks and read other books in between, it’s probably not a keeper. If I measure time spent on a book in hours, it means I couldn’t put it down.

It took me less than 48 hours to read Jenna Peterson’s Scandalous. The fact that I’m not normally a fan of regency era historicals is important to note.

From the first page, the characters drew me in. The story is intricate and compelling. The language flows, making for an easy, enjoyable read. While I’m well aware of the hard work that goes into writing a complete novel, Ms. Peterson manages to make it look effortless.

What I learned from Scandalous is the necessity to layer the details into a story and construct characters with deep motivations and intricate backgrounds. Divulging those important details piece by piece keeps the reader turning pages and keeps them invested in the outcome of the story. The balance lies in not inundating the reader with tedious info dumps. I have a hard time with putting in enough information for fear of that oversaturation and Scandalous provides a good example of how much is just enough.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Name Game

Here I go again, ranting about character names. Honestly, I find naming characters to be one of the hardest parts of writing.

The hero in my current WIP has what I consider to be a cool name. It’s not outrageous or otherworldly, not hard to spell or to pronounce. It’s a name that any average, red-blooded American male might have and probably does…or rather, definitely does.

Last evening I happened to be in one of the local high schools where I work occasionally proctoring professional service tests. While standing in the hallway handing out test booklets, I glanced up at a row of team photos hanging above the lockers. The photo immediately in front of me caught my attention. It was one of those detailed pencil sketches that the local newspaper does to highlight young athletes. Well, guess what? The name under the photo was the same as my hero’s.

Coincidence? Yes. Unfortunate happenstance or an encouraging sign from the Powers That Be reminding me to think about my hero and give him a little more background detail, like perhaps a high school athletic career?

I don’t know. Maybe it’s the universe’s way of saying, pick another name, this one is too common.

Maybe I’m just hypersensitive. It’s not like anyone on earth has a completely unique name, but I tend to view things like this as signs. Everything is a clue – the secret lies in knowing how to interpret those clues. Good sign or bad sign? I’m clueless.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Contemplative Vistas: My new wallpaper

Here’s my new wallpaper for my home computer. Kewl, huh? I’d like to say I took this in Nepal just before beginning my assault on Everest, but it was taken from a walkway outside of the Tarzan Rocks pavilion in the Animal Kingdom at Disney World. It’s the mountain from Blizzard Beach, which happened to be closed for renovation that day.

In a previous shot, there was a construction crane off to the right side of the frame, which totally ruined the illusion, but this one came out perfect. It reminds me of the front cover of Northern Lights.

I hope you find it inspiring even though it’s a not a real mountain.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Crimson City

I just finished Liz Maverick’s Crimson City. First in a series, it introduces a number of characters I’m sure will be recurring in upcoming books. It’s an edgy vampire adventure romance. Lots of action, and an unusual worldview that’s skewed toward vampires being the elite of society with humans in the middle and werewolves at the bottom.

I learned about world building from Crimson City. Ms. Maverick, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at NJRW, created a functional universe where the world seems to have gone a little mad. The story doesn’t assume the fantastical elements are fantastical but that they are commonplace. This is a world where the inhabitants accept that werewolves and vampires and mechanized humans exist and they don’t question it. It just is, so by the end of the book the reader doesn’t question it either. It just is.

That’s something I strive to attain in my writing. I want to build worlds that the readers accept as real. Of course, suspension of disbelief in the eyes of the beholder. I know a number of readers who refuse to pick up sci-fi or paranormal books because they refuse to believe, even for the sake of the story, that aliens or vampires or magick exist and they can’t invest in a story about something they believe could never really happen. That’s exactly what I LIKE about sci-fi, paranormal and fantasy. We get a 24/7 dose of reality and it isn’t always pretty. Who wants stark realism in their fiction? I even like my contemporary stories a little bit out there – I like to dream.

I don’t know if I’ll pick up the rest of the books in the series – I honestly have so much else to read, but this one was worth checking out.

Monday, November 14, 2005

It's 10:13

Does this happen to anyone else? Have you ever noticed that you tend to look at the clock around the same time every day? I don’t mean just when it’s getting near the end of the work day, or a few minutes before the kids are due home from school or whenever it’s five minutes to Wapner…I mean when you just happen to be strolling through the house doing whatever it is you’re doing and just casually happen to notice the time and it’s 10:13 or maybe 9:11 or some other significant number. Am I the only one this happens to?

This has been going on for a long time and it used to bug me, but now I sort of look at it as one of those universal guideposts, like a light house beacon that tells you you’re going in the right direction.

Watch out, philosophy attack coming on. I’ve been noticing 10:13 for years now. It all started when I was an X-Files fan. The X-Files was produced by a company called Ten-Thirteen and it was one of those little sound bytes that stuck in my head, “It’s Ten Thirteen.” Like “Bad Robot” after an episode of Alias or “Grr-Arrgh!” after an episode of Buffy.

Ten-thirteen stuck with me and I ended up noticing every time the clock hit 10:13. I haven’t watched the X-Files in years and likely never will again, but 10:13 is my guidepost. When I see it I think, “Ah, it’s 10:13, I must be on the right track.” It’s a little Matrix-like – as though I know I’m in the right spot in my program whenever my little reminder numbers show up.

Maybe I’ve just conditioned myself to know when it’s 10:13 or maybe I’m just nuts. There are after all 1,440 minutes in a day – 720 combinations of numbers can show up on a digital clock. What are the odds of noticing any one of those times more often than any other – especially a time you’re not specifically waiting for like 3:15 when the final bell rings, or 5:00 pm when you can safely leave your desk and not annoy the boss? I guess the odds are 720 to 1. Too bad the lottery doesn’t have odds like that, I’d win at least once a day.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Black holes and vorpal dust bunnies

There is a black hole somewhere in my house. It’s a free floating quantum singularity that randomly sucks up objects for days at a time and then deposits them somewhere else. I’ve never seen the black hole, but I know where it’s been. I never know where it will strike next.

Most recently the black hole has been responsible for a number of missing objects starting with my bedroom slippers. They disappear regularly and I end up trekking all over the house trying to find them. They invariably turn up in a room I’ve visited at least twice during my search. Earlier this week the thermometer disappeared. My daughter had been under the weather when we got back from vacation and I took her temperature with one of those little heat sensitive plastic strips. I love it and I’ve had it for years. It may not be as accurate as the new digital ones, but when the kids were little it was the easiest way to tell if they had a fever. The dern thing disappeared for three days. I looked everywhere. Gone. I finally went to the drug store and bought another one for $3.49. The next day the black hole deposited the missing one back in the dresser drawer where I’d looked four times. [It belongs in the medicine cabinet.]

Yesterday my cheese grater disappeared. You may laugh, but I find this frustrating enough to blog about. I have two cheese graters – a good one and a not so good one. Of course the good one is missing. I’ve looked everywhere. Not too many people in my house have cause to grate cheese. Mostly, since I’m the chief cook – and the chief dish washer, it’s my domain. So you’d think I’d be able to find it. It’s not like a lot of other people around here do dishes or – gasp – put anything away!

I’m confident it will turn up. The black hole always returns the things it steals. It returned that pot lid that had been missing for a week. And it finally returned the pair of scissors that went missing during Christmas morning gift unwrapping last December. They turned up only after I bought a set of five new scissors to replace them figuring I’d have four to go before I needed to buy scissors again.

I’d like to get rid of the black hole. Though I’m afraid that may violate the laws of physics. I’d settle for training it to suck up things I’d really like to get rid of like the dust bunnies that show up behind the bedroom doors or inside the closets. The black hole never touches them. I think, like me, it’s afraid of them because they never move but they just keep growing.

Maybe next time something is missing, I’ll break open a dust bunny and look inside. If I find the cheese grater in there – I’m afraid I’ll probably have to throw it out and get a new one anyway.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The view from my desk

This is my bulletin board. It was the best $20 I ever spent in connection with my writing space simply because it reminds me every day, and every time I sit down at my desk, that I’m a writer.

Here’s a quick tour: The blue bordered oval on top center contains my inspirational motto. The bumper sticker to the left of it says “Republicans for Voldemort” – a gift from my DH. [Not to fire up a political debate, but no, I’m not a republican and I certainly wouldn’t vote for Voldemort if I was.] I have some coupons tacked up, because I’d forget to use them if I didn’t keep them in sight, and some more inspirational quotes from other writers in the bottom right. That thing with the curly antennae is a lady bug that my daughter made for me out of wax strings. The big white list at the top right, is my Release Calendar. It’s nice to look up every day and see the titles of my books. I’m hoping that list will one day be too long to hang from my board. Then I’ll give it its own wall somewhere.

Amid all the other notes and reminders of deadlines etc, is a copy of the NCP Best Seller List at Fictionwise from October 17, 2005 wherein Hunter’s Moon was listed at #1! Talk about inspiration. Seeing something I wrote on a best seller list is incentive enough to keep at it, but seeing it at #1 is just indescribable. [Currently, Hunter’s Moon hovers at #2 and can also be found on the overall best selling e-book list at Fictionwise at #15]. Was this a shameless plug? Well, sort of. It’s also a piece of advice to other writers – celebrate your accomplishments and keep them in view so you don’t forget that all the hard work does have its rewards.

Friday, November 11, 2005

You may be right…I may be crazy

…but it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for…Or so the song goes. Something a fellow writer said to me today made me think about why we write – or why I write, anyway. Chaste Foxxe said, We all must be crazy.

Crazy to keep at it after we get rejection notices. Crazy to stay up way past bed time when the muse strikes us, or get up in the middle of the night to finish a scene. Crazy because when the voices talk, we not only listen, we take notes.

Mostly, crazy because, as I replied to Chaste, we muddle our way through a business where we have no guideposts. Sure there are tons of how-to manuals on writing. There are support groups, classes, conferences, seminars – but there’s no formula for success. What works for one author will not work for another. There are authors out there who have broken every rule and still succeeded and there are authors out there who have suffered for minor infractions of those same rules. It’s a wheel of fortune and we just keep spinning.

I write because I can’t not write. I go crazy when I don’t. The scenes pile up in my head when they have nowhere to go. Sometimes they don’t make it to paper as quickly and completely as I’d like them to, but that doesn’t stop me. I’m easily distracted – oh look, a bunny! I procrastinate with my WIP because that’s what we writers do. But I never stop. I keep writing because there’s so much to tell.

Is it a form of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results – by clinical definition, yes. We’re crazy, but we love it…and we’re not alone in our craziness so that makes it okay.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The eyes have it…or maybe it’s the hair?

Here’s a question that’s been plaguing me for a while and I should probably take it up with the gang at Romance Divas to get some input.

How important is a detailed physical description of a character? As with all writing rules, I’ve read the gamut of suggestions. Most authors like to include the basics: hair color, eye color and maybe a brief detail about a character’s appearance such as a hero’s impressive height or bodybuilding physique or the heroine’s brilliant smile or perky turned up nose. [Impressive and perky can also describe other attributes if you’re, let’s say, an erotica writer, but let’s not go there right now. LOL.]

I question how important these details are. Not that I would consider writing a story where I offered no physical description of the characters, BUT I will say that as a reader I very rarely, if ever, take into account what an author tells me a character looks like. If the characters appear on the cover, I’m sure I’m influenced by the artist’s rendition of them, which is supposed to be based on suggestions made by the author, [but not always]. I’d have to confess that 99% of the time, my mental image of a character is shaped by their NAME rather than any detailed accounting of their height, weight, eye or hair color, mode of dress, etc.

This goes back to my post on names and why I would not name a hero Eugene for instance. [Although, the only Eugene I ever met was a rather attractive geology major I went to college with…but let’s not go there either.] Not only the character’s name, but his or her voice, occupation, situation etc, also shape their appearance in my mind. I have no doubt that if an author wrote a book that contained absolutely no character description, I would not be seeing faceless mannequins in my mind as a read. I would assign those characters faces and voices no matter how little the author gave me to go on.

So, in a nutshell, how important is physical description? Have you ever read a character description and then gone on to read the book with a totally different picture in your head? I have. And I will continue to do so. But alas, I won’t stop describing my characters in my own stories, or fretting over exactly what they look like. Yet.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Gift of Gab…or Wow, I can Blog

Last month I had the privilege of having dinner with two published authors during the NRJW Conference. Liddy Midnight, Jenna Peterson and I had a wonderful time discussing lots of things writer related and the subject of blogs came up.

Blogging is one of those double edged swords for writers. Most writers I know have them now and update them frequently. It’s a great tool to exercise the writing muscles every day even when the WIP is stalled, your characters are gaping like guppies because they have no coherent dialogue and they’re floating around in blank space because you’re at a loss as to how to describe their surroundings. What’s the solution? Blog about it.

My greatest concern before starting a blog was that I would have nothing interesting to say. I didn’t want a blog that detailed the joys of walking the dog or polishing the silverware [neither of which I actually do, btw]. I wanted a blog that said something interesting and that helped me stretch my writing skills a little bit. Having to come up with a pertinent paragraph or two every day is actually therapeutic more than it’s distracting. That was another concern. Would I spend all day thinking about my blog entry and ignore my WIP? With a mild sigh of relief, I can say no. I’ve so far managed to handle both and find that blogging is forcing me to think analytically about my chosen profession, and with any luck at all, make others think about it as well.

So I’ve answered that age old question, To Blog or Not to Blog and I think I’ve made the right choice. Now back to my WIP…

Monday, November 07, 2005

Contemplative vistas

I’m a daydreamer from way back. I’ve always loved to stare off over the horizon and imagine what’s out there, look up at the stars and think about what someone in some distant galaxy might be thinking, or gaze at a gorgeous landscape and populate it with characters from a story.

I don’t get to do much photography lately, but now and then I take an interesting shot or two and I thought I’d post them here and call them my Contemplative Vistas Collection. Perhaps they’ll inspire a fellow author to create a scene or even an entire novel – that’s all it takes sometimes is a snapshot, a snippet of dialogue perhaps – to launch an entire book. If any of my vistas inspire, let me know, I’d be thrilled.

This first one is a scenic view of Tom Sawyer’s Island in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. It makes me think of fairytale, maybe a princess who can spin straw into gold, or an idyllic cottage where an innkeeper and his wife raise a passel of feisty daughters. How about you?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Out of the old rut and into the new?

I’m back from vacation and eager to get to work on all three of my WIPs. After a solid week of no writing and barely any reading, I feel like I’ve been under water. Rather than clearing my head and giving me a new perspective on things, the week off put some unwanted distance between me and my characters. I spent some time today getting back into their heads and trying to reconnect with them. Like people you haven’t seen in a long time, there’s a period of breaking the ice and falling back into a comfortable relationship.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed my time off. Didn’t have to cook or make beds for a week, no dish washing or laundry folding. But there was also no quiet reflective time either. As a writer, I’m used to living in my head most of the time, thinking, plotting, holding conversations with my characters. I didn’t have time for that this week. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s disconcerting to suddenly have the voices in your head go mute. I’ve wondered what that would be like, and wished for it now and again. A little psychic silence is nice, but rather than having that insistent radio turned back on full blast with a new repertoire, I’m getting muffled bits and pieces of the program. I need to retune.

My new routine starts tomorrow…and the unique thing about it is it won’t actually be a routine. For the next few weeks each day will be a different schedule, and that’s a good thing. I don’t want my new routine to be a rut. I want the freedom to schedule my time creatively so I can maximize my potential. How’s that for doublespeak? All in all, I’ll be happy just to maximize my writing time before the walls of my new rut-een get too deep. We’ll see how things go.