Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Introvert or Extrovert?

I am currently surrounded by family. Right now, my husband's brother and wife and their five kids (five! can you believe it! I am barely surviving two!), sister and her daugher, and mother and father are all visiting from South Dakota. We live in Oregon, and don't see them very often, so it's wonderful to have them here. Still, I'll be honest--eleven is a lot of people to add to our little house. Surrounded doesn't begin to describe it.
Now for some of you, this may not seem like a lot. You may be like my husband--he's what I think of as a true extrovert. Meaning, when he's tired or bummed out, there's nothing he likes better than to surround himself with people. It gives him energy, all that interaction. Puts him in a better mood. When he's alone for too long he feels aimless, out of sorts. Depressed.
Now me, on the other hand, I'm the introvert of the family. (What? A writer AND an introvert? Surely you jest!) People drain me. I mean, I love 'em, but they make me tired. An entire evening of interaction with my own family can make me long for solitude and a little down time with my computer, let alone with this extended group. My favorite type of party is one I can host, so I can spend the night occupying myself with little tasks like serving food or cleaning the kitchen. Subtle ways to avoid sitting down and just plain TALKING to people all night long.
My assumption is that many of you writers are like me. But I wonder if that's true--is there something about writing that appeals to the introverts among us? Does it give us a way to interact without all the...er....people to have to interact with? Or am I wrong? Are there extroverts out there (Auntie Cindy perhaps?) who like nothing better than chatting the night away with a big crowd, and waking up in the morning ready for some more quality time?
What say you, Romance Bandits? Intro or extro?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Caren's LATE Wild Weekend Meme

Because I feel slightly sorry for myself, I am chiming in even though the weekend is well over. So there!

What was the last wild thing you did?

Wild, huh? Okay, it wasn't too wild, but I did a bit of Bono stalking when I was in NYC two weeks ago. My best friend has been in the U2 fan club since she was 13 (she's 38 now) and is wicked obsessed. So, here is one of the pictures I took of Bono's apartment on Central Park West. Bono and Alli live in the right-hand tower on the top two floors. How do I know this? Um, I mentioned the obsessed friend, right?

What is the next wild thing you're going to do?

Gah! We have to plan this stuff? What ever happened to spontaneity? Well, I suppose you could count the trip my husband, daughters and I are taking to Switzerland this June. We will be in the back of beyond in the Swiss Alps at the WAGGS World Heritage Site Our Chalet. No doubt it will be great fun, but those Swiss are pretty serious about the mountain climbing and hiking and whatnot. I am fully expected to rappel and do high ropes courses. I will, but I'm getting a bit long in the tooth for all that. Plus, my husband seriously needs to bench press something more than a box of Girl Scout cookies before this trip. I am, however, First Aid and CPR certified just in case. 'Nuff said.

Name the last three books you read.

The easy question! Susan Elizabeth Phillips' "It Had To Be You"; J.D. Robb's "Innocent In Death"; and, Susan Elizabeth Phillips' "Natural Born Charmer". I've gotten on an SEP tear since NBC. I may have to read her entire backlist!

Favorite first line of a novel.

Garp's mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater. "The World According to Garp" by John Irving

Famous last words/Most satisfying ending to a novel?

Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, really loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen

Bronte or Kinsale?

I am such a Bronte girl!


I have to choose? Well, since I'm on a major SEP kick, you know she wins!

Most boring read?

Anything issued by the federal government.

Most times you've read one novel?

I have no idea how many times I've read "Dragon Song", "Dragon Singer" and "Dragon Drums" by Anne McCaffrey, but it has to be at least ten each. I read them first when I was about 12. I don't think I've duplicated that level of devotion to any books since. A close second would be "The Forgotten Beasts of Eld" by Patricia McKillip. Read that one when I was 12, too.

The writer you'd most like to be and why.

Never thought of it. But, probably I would like to be any of the Bronte sisters. They were all so brilliant and intensely emotional. Exactly what I would love to bring to my books.

Paranormal Romance or Historical Romance?

Definitely historical. There are some wonderful paranormals and Heaven knows I cut my teeth on sf/fantasy! But I get so completely lost in a rich historical. Which is, of course, why I write contemporaries.

Linda Howard's Son of the Morning or Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code?

Linda Howard, of course. The Da Vinci Code was like a serial novel, only all slapped in one cover. You could practically hear the cliffhanger music at the end of each scene. Clever of him to trot that trick out, but the slapdash treatment of Christianity left me cold at the end of it. I give him lots of credit for achieving such acclaim, but I think it was more timing and razzle-dazzle than great writing. Feel free to throw things at me.

Sorry to be the lone tardy poster and break all packer rules. That and the Bono stalking will probably get me tossed off the blog. Be kind! No Bonos were harmed in the research for this blog post...

Golden Day again

A huge whohoooooooooooo happy dancing yell for all the Packers who finaled AGAIN in the Golden Heart!!! I'm so impressed with the talent of this group - and with the talent that shines in the Golden Heart and Rita contests.

And I'm even more impressed by the incredible support and happiness that everyone has for each other. I don't think there is another group out there that shows more caring and positive energy toward others than romance writers.

I'm proud -- so proud!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Wild Weekend Meme A La Aunty C

What was the last wild thing you did?
Would you believe, sitting in the ER letting the DH squeeze my hands while the doctor put four stitches in his face? This was Valentine's Day and he had been mugged. NO, not by me! Happily, he recovered nicely. But that is not something I want to repeat any time soon.

What is the next wild thing you're going to do?
Like Jeanne, I don't usually PLAN to do wild things. However, I have a feeling that the next wild thing will happen next month during my local RWA chapter's retreat... Stay tuned for updates!

Name the last three books you read
Last three would be: Sin by Sharon Page, a hot, Hot, HOT Regency;
Lord of the Silent by Elizabeth George; and
Sweaters to Crochet in a Weekend and I don't have the author in front of me, but obviously she crochets a LOT faster than I do, because that was three weekends ago, and my sweater is still not finished!

Favourite first line of a novel?
"In a hole in the ground lived a Hobbit."

Famous last words/Most satisfying ending to a novel?
...and they lived Happily Ever After! (What can I say? I'm a sucker for an HEA!)

Bronte or Kinsale?

JAK, but only when she's writing as Amanda Quick. If it's a contemporary, then SEP.

Most boring read?
State or federal Medicaid regulations! UGH! Had to read WAAAY too many of those in my previous life.

Most times you've read one novel?
Well, I've lost count of how many times I've read LOTR. Of course, I read it for the first time when I was 15 and that was... quite a number of years ago!

Also, I WORE OUT (literally, the hard cover was falling off) my copy of Black Beauty when I was a child.

The writer you'd most like to be and why.
As I've mentioned before, I'd like to be Phylis A. Whitney when I grow up. Ah, to be THAT prolific and continue to be popular decade after decade!

Paranormal Romance or Historical Romance?
Depends on the book! Okay, I know that's cheating. Overall historical, I've read way more of them, and I LOVE many many of them. Mind you, I've read some GREAT paranormals too (and can't wait to get my hands on our own Packer Pal Pam Palmer's The Dark Gate!), but I'm pretty much vampired out right now.

Linda Howard's Son of the Morning or Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code?
GASP! Would you believe I haven't read EITHER OF THEM?!?!

Okay, in all honesty, I REFUSE to read Da Vinci Code unless some one FORCES a copy into my hands. I figure Dan Brown does NOT need any more money, and especially not MY hard earned dollars! I did, however, read Angels and Demons and was TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY! (And yes, somebody loaned cheap-skate me a copy) I was working on my GH finalist Jewels of the Madonna at the time, which is set in Venice, and I told the DH, "If I ever write a book set in Rome, I want it to be HALF this good!"

And one final note: Since I have Irish ancestors on both sides of my family tree, then I probably AM related to an Irish Prince... or two!

The answer, my friends, is blowin' in the wind...

Wild Weekend Meme

What was the last wild thing you did?

Oh, isn't it sad? I can't remember.

What is the next wild thing you're going to do?

Um, clean the pool? Prune the roses? Note to self - GET A LIFE!!!

Name the last three books you read

Now this I can answer! Priceless by Kelly Hunter, a wonderful Sexy Sensation by this new Aussie author. Honestly, one of the best categories I've read for ages. Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers, revisiting a classic. Hmm, and this MARVELLOUS new historical that I got an advance copy of and I picked up to see whether it really did feature a psycho hero and then somehow I ended up reading the whole thing. Modesty forbids me to name this book! Snork!

Favourite first line of a novel?

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.

Famous last words/Most satisfying ending to a novel?

The ending of the Lymond series by Dorothy Dunnett. These are the most amazing books if you can get them - hang in there, they're worth persisting with.

Bronte or Kinsale?

Can't I have both, please? PLEASE??!!!


Definitely SEP.

Most boring read?

I've got a half-finished biography of the Duke of Wellington on the bookcase that is mind-numbingly dull. How could you make a man with such an interesting life dull? You talk about how he was obsessed with detail and then start to lay out the detail. I mean, I know it's important how many pairs of boots he ordered when he was looking after supplies for an army unit in India but I don't really care!

Most times you've read one novel?

Ooh, no idea. I'm slightly obsessive compulsive. So if I love something, I'll read it again and again. Lord of Scoundrels is probably the romance I've read most often. LOVE that book and still manage to pick up something every time.

The writer you'd most like to be and why.

I'd like to be Loretta Chase just because she's so fantastic at what she does.

Paranormal Romance or Historical Romance?

Definitely historical, although I've been on a paranormal kick lately.

Linda Howard's Son of the Morning or Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code?

Definitely Son of the Morning. What a fantastic book that is!

So Many Questions....

The most pressing of which is...is it 1:00 EST yet? No? Jeeeeeeeez.
Since I can't do anything about the passage of time, slow though it is I thought I'd blog with ya'll. Et Voila, Aunty C and Mme. C have given me the perfect thing to do instead of nail-biting. Answer questions and pontificate thereon. Ha.
Meanwhile, what about YOU? Life in general inspires me. Blue skies, great coffee. I get ideas at stoplights, like Aunty C said. Too many ideas, tooo little writing time....grins. Someone else's great story. Reading the HEA classics. Laughing w/ ya'll.
What inspires you (besides half-dressed hunky cabana boys)? The half-dressed hunky cabana boys only inspire me if they are indeed hunky, and not tooooo young. :> Music does, a lot of times. Fairy tales, both well-known and obscure. Ancient artifacts - I love museum trips, because I find myself wondering "who wore that? what were they like?" My children inspire me to be myself, and to push it to the limit so I set an example of being all you can be and Playing Full OUT.
Where do you find your story ideas? The same things that inspire me spark story ideas, most of the time. Sometimes though, its just a passing comment from a stranger or an overheard conversation, or watching an interaction between people who don't know they're being watched. An overheard arguement is usually good for a chapter or two. Heehee.
And are you sure you're not related to an Irish prince? Pretty damn sure. My dh may be, but if any royalty is in my blood, its Scots. :> But the Ferguson we've traced back to came off of the boat with 12 other John Fergusons, and 6 of them had wives named Nancy or Polly (which was a common nickname for Nancy back then, for some reason.) So our research on that line stops at the boat. Oh, that's another inspiration, BTW. Genealogy research is a hobby. Learning about how they lived and died, loved and lost often sparks a story.
What was the last wild thing you did?
The last push-the-envelope wild thing I did was a firewalk on 40 feet of fire, and a spirit-jump off a 30 foot telephone pole. (in a harness) Mildly wild? Hehe. Let's just say it involved a few cocktails, the fire in the outdoor fire pit, and a lot of giggling.
What is the next wild thing you're going to do? Crank up the firepit and make cocktails. Heehee. Hell, I don't know. I usually don't know I'm going to do something wild and crazy until I do it.
Name the last three books you read Mercedes Lackey's Fortune's Fool, JD Robb's latest, Amy Knupp's The Boy Next Door, and I just started a book by Leanne Banks.
Favourite first line of a novel? There are so many...one of my favorites is "The seller of lighting rods arrived just ahead of the storm..."from Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes
Famous last words/Most satisfying ending to a novel? Jane Eyre
Bronte or Kinsale? Bronte
Most boring read? A book I got in the Daphne Pubbed judging. It was self-pubbed and horribly in need of an editor. Even an musical idiot savant editor or a blind moronic copyeditor would have helped.
Most times you've read one novel? I've read Tarzan the Ape Man and Conan the Barbarian about 32 times each. I've read LOTR (Lord of the Rings for those of you who aren't fans) somewhere around 15 or 20 times. I've read Swiss Family Robinson around 25 or 30...should I go on? Heehee
The writer you'd most like to be and why. I want to be a better than Michael Crichton, HEA, sexy version of Michael Crichton, not because I want to switch genders anytime soon, but because he is a superb writer, incredibly prolific in multiple genres, writes for TV and movies, and some of his movies/movies from books have action figures. I want action figures. :> And multiple NYT listings. And to go to the premiere of a movie made from at least one of my books...don't think small, do I? Snork
Paranormal Romance or Historical Romance? Both, but Paranormal first.
Linda Howard's Son of the Morning or Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code? Oooh, tough call. Can I do a switcheroo and say Dan Brown's Angels and Demons? :>
Can't wait to read everyone else's lists! Okay, it's one...the waiting begins...

Wild Weekend Meme

What was the last wild thing you did?

What is the next wild thing you're going to do?

Name the last three books you read

Favourite first line of a novel?

Famous last words/Most satisfying ending to a novel?

Bronte or Kinsale?


Most boring read?

Most times you've read one novel?

The writer you'd most like to be and why.

Paranormal Romance or Historical Romance?

Linda Howard's Son of the Morning or Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ideas, Inspirations and Irish Royalty

There’s an old joke about two Irishmen engaged in a game of one-upmanship. Finally, one of them says, “Well, don’t ya know that I’m descended from an Irish prince?”

To which the other replies, “So who isn’t?”

Many times when I tell people that I write novels, I get one of two reactions. The person will ask where I get my ideas, or the person will gush, “Oh, I have the BEST idea for a story!”

When this happens, I’m tempted to answer like the second Irishman, “So who doesn’t?”
To the first person, I usually say, “Ideas are everywhere.” And no, I’m not kidding. Virtually anything and everything can inspire a story idea. I know, because I’ve had vast experience with strange and wonderful inspirations.

The idea for my 2006 Golden Heart final was inspired by a piece of music. I’d been out running errands and listening to my favorite classical station on the radio. Now, I listen to classical music a lot and have for a long time, so when an evocative piece of music came on that I didn’t recognize, I took notice. Then it ended and the announcer said, “That was incidental music to Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s opera ‘Jewels of the Madonna'.” I remember thinking, “Wow! Nice music and what a great title!” When I got home I went online and googled the composer and the opera. After reading a summary of the libretto, I started thinking, “What if…”

And VOILA! An idea for a GH finalist manuscript was conceived!

Would that it always worked that way.

Believe me, it doesn’t.

In fact, I haven’t been struck by exactly that kind of inspiration again. At least not yet.

The idea for my current WIP was a bit more ‘forced’, if you will. I knew I wanted to write something set in Ireland and I somehow wanted to incorporate something about the ancient Celts. Now Google is great but it only takes me so far, so I trotted down to the local library and checked out as many books on the Celts and Celtic Ireland as I could find on the shelves (one was a book on Celtic Art and Jewelry with wonderful pictures).

After three weeks of immersing myself in the history, stories and pictures, my characters and story line coalesced enough for me to jump in and start writing. I working on Chapter 13 as I type this. I’ll let you know how it all works out.

Meanwhile, what about YOU?

What inspires you (besides half-dressed hunky cabana boys)?

Where do you find your story ideas?

And are you sure you're not related to an Irish prince?

A Wild Weekend! What good snorking fun!

SNORK! (It was there, I had to do it) Just got back from a party and had a liiiiiiitle too much wine. Not enough to make me jump in the pool naked - it happend and there is just NOT enough wine for that, for me - but enough to make me totally soppy and sentimental when reading Jo's post. Sigh.
As I've no doubt mentioned ad nauseum, I was in a plotting workshop with four pubbed authors from Washington Romance Writers this time last year. I got the GH Call and couldn't plot for S**T for the rest of the two-day get together. One of said authors reminded me of that today at said party. She commented, "Boy, you sure were out of it." All I remember is that I kept thinking, gosh, I'm usually so good at plotting, where has my brain gone? (This is your brain on Golden Heart - naaaaaah-naaaaaaaah, OMG-OMG, Naaaaaa-naaaaaah, OMG, OMG) They took loving pity on me, being former GHers and Rita nominees themselves.
Just think, there are a whole crop of unsuspecting people out there - 65 or more - who have no idea how much their lives are going to change with one little phone call. I hope they DO know to make the MOST of their GH year, and I hope they get blessed with as wonderful a group as the Packers. Of course, I want to get a call tomorrow too, so that I can float and giggle and grin again for about four weeks. BTW, as you all know, this grin is totally unexplainable to anyone who isn't an aspiring writer and member of RWA. Even if I don't get the call, I'm going to be happy-dancing for my fellow Packers who DO. I can't wait for the news, so POST IMMEDIATELY to the loop if you get called. I'm also SO looking forward to who will be the next to post that they got THE Call - the REAL Call that says "I want to buy your book." I wish that call for all of us, even more than I wish for the 2007 GH call. :> So tonight, we can all take our walk down the runway before passing the crown to next year's crew.
Better yet, let's lurch drunkenly from side to side, stumbling down the virtual street, our crowns askew, arm in virtual arm, laughing like loons at how much punning, giggling, male-anatomy-discussing, snorking fun we've had (and will most assuredly CONTINUE to have) for this year and all the years to come! Long Live the 2006Packers.
Jeanne, AKA The Duchesse

Aghhhh....the angst!

Ok, Aunt Cindy said to come on over and get wild.

I'm going crazy, crazy I tell ya, at the idea that I have to go work 12 hours at the hospital on the day the calls get made! It's not fair, I tell ya. I want to be at home...staring at the phone, having a heart attack whenever it rings. IF I get a call I want to run to my crit partners house and jump up and down with her and her dog Buckarudi and just sit and grin all day and drink Sangria all day in celebration.

If I DON'T get a call I want to go over and let her talk me out of the notion that last year was just a fluke. and drink whatever she has :-)

I've developed a sudden fear that I'll forget to forward my phone to my cell. That I won't feel it vibrate (:-0) in my pocket. That cell reception will suck in the hosptial or that I'll get a sudden rash of telemarketers calling.

Ok. Deep breath.

Thanks for listening


PS My local chapter had a field trip to a museum here in Louisville called the Frazier Arms Museum. Weapons on loan from Britian's Royal Armory from 1000's to America's Wild West. Instead of The Louisville Romance Writers coming, our docent thought he would be guiding The Louisville Roman Fighters (a sign? LOL). Then he made the mistake of saying someone had corrected him that we were a group of "older ladies". We bared our teeth at him and he saw fighters allright.

The Last Writes

The last day of summer. The last day of school. The last child you'll ever have.

The last day of being the most recent Golden Heart finalists and winners.

When my husband and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary, we had six children, the oldest nine and the youngest a two-year old toddler. Exhaustion was our watchcry and irritation a byword. We didn't buy gifts, we didn't go to dinner, and we didn't celebrate that May 21. We were too tired to contemplate the enormity of getting a sitter, getting dressed up, getting out the door.

I flopped into bed around 7:30, right after the baby hit the sack.

I tossed, turned, and twisted. Shards of guilt hacked away at my peace. A decade, that ought to be good for something. I jumped up, penned a quick poem -- very hackneyed and highly reminiscent of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I taped it to the shower wall where I knew my husband would find it in the morning.

"I could not love you more if it were ten times ten that we two as one had been ... " You get the idea. What can I say? I was young and got high on internal rhyme in those days.

The point is that it was not the last day of our marriage, our love, or our passion; rather, it was a benchmark on the road to a mutually satisfying union. I didn't need to create an immutable artifact for that day.

Today is the last day of our reign as Golden Heart finalists and I feel that same sense of urgent commemoration. Where are the drums? The cymbals? The apocalyptic heralding of . . . something.

I want a farewell party. A de-initiation. A disembarkation from the mother ship. An assurance and a guide to the perilous and often treacherous sojourn into the world of published writing.

To celebrate, I sit here in my writing space sending bangles and bubbles and baubles your way, fellow Six Packers. I'm thrilled to be part of such an elite group. One that never will -- and never can -- pass this way again. But one that, like a strong relationship forged in fire, can be stronger than ever. Love you, guys.

jo, the sentimental fool

Friday, March 23, 2007

Talking about Education

First off, GREAT cover Donna! Isn't it so cool to see your name on a book!

I haven't experienced that....yet but fully anticipate doing so in the future.

Christine posed the question "What was the best thing about being a GH finalist". I would echo her sentiment of discovering a new group of friends. Friends who KNOW what it is like to receive the honor of having their manuscripts recognized on a national level.

From the moment I received the call 1 year ago today, I began learning. Learning how this credential can open a doors a bit more. Can get your work considered maybe a wee bit faster. Can stroke your ego when someone congratulates you at National. (I never will forget Caren, sitting across from you at the President's Retreat lunch and you reading my name and saying "Joan Kayse! I read THE PATRICIAN'S DESIRE and loved it." At that moment I loved you too :-)

My education continued (not nearly as exciting as Ms Brimly's....DRAT) when I had to learn to endure professional jealousy from very close friends. (et tu Bruti).

But through it all were you ladies of the '06 Packers. I've looked, I've listened and I've learned. Thank you

Joan who now is going back to revising!

Place in the Sun

I'm Australian, so while Aunty Cindy's spring has sprung, I'm holding on to the last dregs of summer, season of beach holidays and falling asleep watching the cricket, even though officially, summer ended almost a month ago. I guess it's a bit like our current Golden Heart finalist status--soon to slip away through our grasping fingers like the pure white sand on that pristine beach.
But we've taken away something more important than split ends and tan lines from this experience. A few of us have sold our books and others are nervously swigging their pink cocktails, awaiting this year's 'call', but we've also made lasting friendships among our fellow finalists, something you need on this crazy journey to publication. Plus, we have so much fun together! That's why we decided to take it to a blog.
Soon, we'll be popping the pink champagne to congratulate the new crop of GH finalists. So I'd like to ask the others of the '06 Pack, what was the best thing about your GH experience?

When bad work turns worse

OK, Packers!!! I need your help!! I'm currently in the horrible middle section of my wip in progress (the Regency noir Affair to Remember story). And it seems to me the biggest load of codswallop that has ever graced a computer screen. I'm trying to tell myself that it's only mid-book blues and that I always do foul first drafts but the "Get along there, Nelly," approach is wearing thin. Any ideas as to what I can do to reawaken my fire for this story? Anyone else go through this horrible, horrible miasma in the middle of a book? Or is it just me? I think it's a good concept. I just think my execution is what's at fault! Hailp!!!!


Not only that, but the 2007 Golden Heart Finalists will be announced on Sunday. That means the '06 Packers' Reign as "Current GH Finalists" is about to end.

What better reasons do we need to PARTY DOWN?!?!
So bring out the party hats and masks!
Head on over to the BAAAA!
Or better yet, bring on the hunky cabana boys with the giant drinks and tiny paper umbrellas!
I am hereby launching the Packers' First Official Wild Weekend!

Aunty Cindy
Queen of the exclamation marks

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Last, but not least!

Yes, I've finally managed to join my wonderful Packer buddies on this blog. Assuming I can make this technology work!

I'm the Brit in the group (although I currently live in New Jersey). I've been writing off and on for years - though seriously since 2003. I write light-hearted contemporary romances with an English twist. My dream is to be published by Silhouette Special Edition.

My current book, Bad Boy Good Man, features one of my great loves - hockey. It's been great fun doing the research - especially as my favourite team the New Jersey Devils have been extremely helpful. In a future post I'll tell you about what it was like to meet the player who inspired my hero.

In the meantime, it's back to work on Chapter 10. Things are heating up quite nicely between my hero and heroine! Where are you in your writing?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fifth Person Point of View

Today I was helping my grandson with his homework. He's writing a fictional story about a teacher whose students think he's a lemonade-drinking gnome. I can't actually confirm whether Preston invented this story or borrowed it, as nine-year olds are wont to do.

At any rate, Preston's teacher required that her students identify the point of view in the story they're writing. Mind you, I'm very, very old and have taught high school English many, many years, and POV can be confusing to the best of us.

The interesting thing is that Preston's story is written in the FIFTH PERSON POINT OF VIEW, an impossible task at first blush.However, the idea got me thinking. Who made up this POV stuff? I know for a fact that it's younger than dirt and older than God.

First person -- use of the pronoun "I," narrator telling the story. Second person -- never used, the purists say, because its usage causes the writer to direct address the reader. Apparently that's a bad idea unless you're (oops) Sarah Orne Jewett writing about a white heron. Third -- yeah, yeah, yeah, we all know that one. That's easy.

But fifth? I'm intrigued by the idea. My characters certainly try to run amok, take flight in some -- dare I say it? -- parallel universe, some FIFTH dimension.But what if there were a fifth person POV? Whose POV would it be? The protagonist's The antagonist's? The author's?

Or maybe that other voice, the one that slithers through our subconscious minds, quiet little devil most of the time, until she pops up and demands to be heard. You know the one. She takes us down a path we NEVER intended to go, to heights and depths we NEVER intended. Is she the one who takes us down that divergent road Frost talked about? You know, the one less travelled?

Finally I broke down and asked Preston why he chose fifth person POV. Simple, he said, there are five characters in his story. Like I said, that POV is a damned tricky thing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Setting Goals

Hi Packers!

Well, I mentioned I've been swamped lately, and part is work related, and part is...well...self-inflicted. I decided a few days ago to begin training for a triathlon in June. Over to the right is a pic from the last tri I did, in July 2005.
I'd love for you all to think this is very impressive, but the truth is, I'm about the slowest thing on wheels (literally--I ride an old cruiser for the bike part). I do the "sprint" length triathlon, which is approx. 1/2 mile swim, 13 miles bike, and 3 mile swim. This is VERY different from the Olympic level (double all those distances) or the Ironman (which includes a marathon for the run). It's a great goal to set, but very "doable" as these things go.
Which is not the point. The real point is setting (and achieving) the goal. I'm one of those folks who love setting goals. They give me purpose, something to strive for, and a fabulous sense of achievement when I get to the finish line.
I need this when it comes to writing, too. If I don't have something to strive for, I'll waddle around in a fog. Or worse, I'll keep working, but lose that sense of joy. It all becomes hum-drum. I could accomplish the exact same thing, but somehow reducing it to a tangible GOAL makes it all the more satisfying.
Anyway, I just wanted to share my new goal. I'm going to keep editing my current WIP, but not start on the new one for a little bit (perhaps until after the tri, though I'm not sure I can wait that long!!).
Anyone else a goal setter? Love the challenge of aiming high and then achieving it? Would love to hear about it.
See you at the finish line!! --Inara

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Does This Blog Make Me Look Fat?

From Kate Carlisle
Hi, Packers!
Not sure if it's too late to add an entry but I thought I'd give it a shot, along with a photo.
Since I'm currently buried in the writing process referred to in question 3, I'm just dashing in to say hello and check out the blog and post my first entry.
Can't wait to get blogging with everyone!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Anthea slides in just as the door begins to swing shut!

A bit breathless from that last dash across the street of Endless Commitments, but glad to say I've made it onto the Packer Blogbus. The engine seems to be revving nicely and I can see we're gearing up for a fun ride!

Answers to the intro questions and more general silliness coming this way soon!


Thursday, March 8, 2007

I'm a blog-posting virgin!

Here I am, blogging for the first time! And here's a little about me.

When did I become a writer?

In the fourth grade, I won an essay contest and decided writing was the coolest thing in the world -- it was no work at all and you got cool stuff for it. That was enough for me to go to journalism school, and I'm now the executive editor of a weekly newspaper in northeastern Kentucky and a columnist for its sister daily. And I have discovered it's a lot more work and the money's not as great as I thought as a kid -- but I love getting paid to write.

I started writing romance fiction back in the early '90s, quit when I changed newspapers and started again in 1997 or 1998. It took me some time to get back in the groove, but I'll never quit again.

What books/authors have influenced me?

My mother was a teacher and librarian, so it might be easier to answer which ones haven't! I was very lucky in that my mother encouraged my sisters and me to read, and we read everything we could get our hands on, from historical to science fiction to Reader's Digest condensed books. Which is pretty much the way I read today, come to think of it.

Ah, my writing process ...

I'm such a creature of routine. I try to write for at least an hour every night before I go to bed, and I usually fall asleep plotting out what comes next. I'm a linear writer, going from start to finish. Some books I heavily plot before I begin, allowing myself to veer off as the muse demands. Sometimes, though, I just sit down and let it flow. Once I've got the first draft done, I rewrite, then edit on-screen, then print the darn thing out and do it on paper.

What am I working on now?

I've got a couple of WIPs underway. One is the third book in the vampire series my agent is trying to sell, and the other is a humorous paranormal that is a sort of antidote to the heavy vampire books. It's called "Dead Man Stalking" and the cast of characters includes our radio newsperson heroine, a three-legged farting dog she inherited, the exa-boyfriend ghost attached to the dog and our police investigator hero. All in all, it's been great fun writing it.

Advice and personal observations

Don't give up! A couple of years ago, I decided to just quit and go back to freelancing non-fiction. A good writing friend talked me out of it and I'm so glad. Since then I had the GH final, got a great agent and have been turning out much better stuff. And by golly, it's a whole lot more fun that writing magazine pieces.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

By George - I think I found it!

1) When did you start writing? Or if you've been writing all your life, then when and how did you decide to pursue publication?
I believe I've always wanted to be a writer. I was the child who wrote long thank you notes without prompting :) I started college with the intent to major in journalism, but my scholarship died two years into the program and my academic endeavors came to an end - or took a hiatus. I married, moved, and discovered my new employer would pay my tuition if I majored in business - which is why I graduated with an accounting degree. Life, work, kids...yada, yada, yada - suddenly I'm in my mid-40s. Can't say I ever really read romance, or at least I didn't know I was reading romance. Business executives don't do that - you know :) Then I picked up Diana Gabaldon's Outlander and loved it. When I saw all the romance awards it had won, I figured I had been a real fool for not reading this stuff earlier. The next book I read, another romance, was very disappointing - especially as it was from a NYT Bestselling author. I decided to try my hand at this writing stuff and worked on my first manuscript while waiting for the kids to finish their karate, art, thespian, soccer, football lessons. One of my clients saw an article in the local paper about a writing group. That's how I discovered my local chapter of RWA and my writing aspirations truly took off.

2) What books/authors have influenced you?
I did say I was an accountant - right? That means very left-brained to the point of being rather anal about research. Once I decided I wanted to write romance, I bought Katherine Falk's How-to book and worked my way through 90% of the suggested list of romance titles in the back. Each left an impression on my writing consciousness. There were far too many authors to mention, but God Bless them all :)

3) Describe your writing process.
I think Stephen King said that stories are all around us and our job is simply to unearth them. That's what happens to me. I'm walking around, a normal person during a normal day, then out-of-nowhere I'm hit with an idea. Crazy, huh? I start visualizing the concept like a movie trailer and work out the basic conflict. Then I create characters that will add to the conflict by virtue of their natures. From there I keep a mental image of the W plot and write scenes based on my progress along the W. My first draft is mostly dialogue and action, then I go back and add settings, stage directions, and smooth out the rough spots.

4) Tell us about your current Work In Progress and what is next for you?
My first book which comes out in November is a witty historical about a Victorian innocent learning and teaching bedroom etiquette. I had thought I could develop a series of books following the students of her unique curriculum, when I got hit with a fabulous idea for a paranormal. That's what I'm writing now - a witty historical with paranormal elements :) It has opportunities for sequels as well. I'm thinking my third book will be a sequel to one of these earlier books - but who knows - when the idea strikes, I'm off and running.

5) Any advice for others or personal observations? I have two words of advice. First is perseverence. This is a tough business. In my case, I had been writing for ten years before receiving the call. Although I don't think I would have actually quit, there were times during those ten years that I came very close. Second piece of advice - experiment, change genres, mix it up. I started off writing romantic suspense. I have two complete suspense novels under the bed. I thought I was a suspense writer albeit a humorous one, but that's what I knew. I had an opportunity to write a paranormal short story for publication and gave it a whirl. That turned out all right and suggested I didn't have to limit myself to suspense. I was in the midst of writing a time travel when I was struck with the idea for Mrs. Brimley. In order to tell the story properly, it had to be a historical. The prospect of research had me shaking and quivering --but it had to be done. Lo and behold - I discovered I have a bit of a historical voice -- probably because I'm old :) Now I love to write historicals, but may have never discovered that if I hadn't been willing to experiment.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Musings on being a Writing Duchesse...

This is so much fun! I love writing in color...heehee. Thank you, Aunty Cindy for starting this!

1) When did you start writing? Or if you've been writing all your life, then
when and how did you decide to pursue publication?
This is one of those questions that makes me scratch my head and say, "you mean other people don't DO this?" Ha! I've been reading since I was about 4. My Dad's a librarian, my Mom was an English Teacher. I was doomed from the start. I started writing as soon as I could, so I could (as someone else said) rewrite the endings or middles that didn't please me. I didn't decide to pursue publication until I divorced my first husband and got therapy. Yeah, I know, we usually need therapy because of the voices in our heads, I just had to get his voice - the "you can't do it" voice - out of my head and I was off like a shot. That being said, my knees knocked hard enough to give me bruises the first time I wrote something and read it in a writing group. (Circa 1995)

2) What books/authors have influenced you?
Almost every book I've ever read has influenced me, in some way. Even if it was just to say, "Gosh, that was awful!" I loved the Swiss Family Robinson, anything by Andre Norton, the swashbuckling books like Ivanhoe and Captain Blood, and all the Anne of Green Gables books. Fast forward to modern times...Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, Dan Brown, David Eddings, Jennifer Cruisie and everyone of you in the Packers. You've influenced me a TON!

3) Describe your writing process.
I loved what Trish said about being a Plot-zer. That's me. No color coded cards, but I do outline. A little bit. Okay, so I'm more of a Pantzer w/ an Outline than a Plotter. :> Sometimes a character who's key does something so stupid they have to die. Then I have to figure out who's going to do all the rest of the stuff that character was supposed to do...It would be so much easier if I plotted. But, like Caren said, I had to learn to be true to my process - a lot harder than it sounds! - and pantzing w/ an outline works for me.

4) Tell us about your current Work In Progress and what is next for you?
I'm a good, schizophrenic writer. :> I have two WIPs going on in addition to the revisions I'm working on for an editor. (Please cross your fingers that she's interested...) The first WIP is a paranormal w/ pixies and gnomes. Heroine sees them and works with them as she rehaps old buildings in Chicago. Hero owns a rival construction company. Both are targeted by an arsonist and have to band together to figure out why they're targeted and stay alive. Second WIP is RS w/ a woman who inherits a funeral home business, winds up with two attractive men courting her just in time to have someone shot in one of the locked visitations rooms while another service is in progress. :> As to what's next, a contract, of course! Yeah! And hopefully to final again in GH.

5) Any advice for others or personal observations?
Advice? I'm full of it. Snork. I'd second Caren's observation about following your process. I tried everyone else's method for writing - cards, story boards, character letters, diagrams (not to be confused w/ diaphrams) All of it stymied my writing, instead of speeding it. I'm a dyed in the wool pantzer (with an outline!) but learning all of those skills helped too, to define that for me, so I can't regret it. :> Be true to your story, even if it languishes under the bed for a while. Take heart from examples like Sherrilyn Kenyon, and our own Stacey and Foanna. NO market is ever "dead." Not westerns, not historicals, not vampires. (Okay, so the vampires are UNdead.) And last but not least as Mercedes Lackey told me several years ago, just don't forget to write, write, write.
Oh, and be lucky enough to final in the GH and get friends like the ones I'm privileged to have in the 06 Packers!

Fits, Starts and Finishing the Book

1) When did you start writing? Or if you've been writing all your life, then when and how did you decide to pursue publication?

I figured out I could really write in 6th grade. We had a literature textbook with color plates of famous paintings every so many pages. We had to pick a painting and write a story about it. It was the first time I felt the "flow"--it felt like someone was writing through me and I was just the channel. The teacher looked up from grading my paper later that day and said "how did you do this?" Not that I can do that regularly, but I learned then, at age 11, that it exists, and I've been a believer ever since. I started writing romance seriously (though not attempting publication seriously) maybe fifteen years ago when I had a nightmare that was the seed of a plot. I'd been reading series romance and about a week later I threw the latest read down and said "I can do this. I can do BETTER than this." Three weeks later I had a manuscript. A bad manuscript, but a manuscript nonetheless.

2) What books/authors have influenced you?
Every book I've ever read has taught me something. Suzanne Brockman was the one who made me believe I could write romantic suspense, which was my natural bent with the high body counts in my manuscripts, because she got the weapons and action right. I was married to a former Special Forces soldier, and I couldn't stomach the poorly written action scenes and fluff I'd been reading that masqueraded as research. When she got it right, I realized that maybe I could write this stuff and not embarrass myself, although I have no dream of doing it as well as she does. At present, Susan Elizabeth Phillips is influencing (read intimidating) me beyond all belief. I live on a constant roller coaster of "I really want to do this" highs juxtaposed against "God I'll never be able to do this" lows.

3) Describe your writing process.

My process is strange. I learned to trust it in journalism school. Four years in a crack journalism program taught me that if I have a story due in three weeks, I may not sit down to actually write until two days (or one day) before it's due. And that's how I get the best stories because even though I'm not physically writing, my subconscious is doing its job. I think about it constantly. My mind is setting up the approach and how I'll "wrap" the story into a neat package and evoke emotion in the reader. I learned to trust that process, and to some extent, it's still viable in fiction writing. Unfortunately when it's a 400 page manuscript, that method has its drawbacks. I am a pantzer in that I learn about my characters as I start writing, but my plots are so big and involved that I have to work them out ahead of time. Most of it is working out the character motivations and the motivation for the plot. Rewriting a book manuscript eight or ten times to fix the holes is no way to work. It's pure hell. It's a way to go insane. I did it with the manuscript that finaled in the GH last year. And I never want to do it again so I've learned to plot a bit more and the other manuscripts have come easier thus far. But I am proof that you can indeed learn to write fiction by rewriting the same freaking book over and over and over and.....

4) Tell us about your current Work In Progress and what is next for you?

I have three or four in various stages. I think I have five manuscripts total, but not that are ready to show. I'm working most right now on a sequel to my GH finalist. It's called The Resurrection and stars a couple of secondary characters from The Ritual. All of my fiction is dark and angsty and has a lot of religious undertones in the themes. I didn't realize that until I started creating titles for the books.

5) Any advice for others or personal observations?

I look at this business and think I'm such a poser. I hate to write. I LOVE having written. It's the truth and I admit it. But I can't not do it because I need, desperately, to "have written." And like Stephen King says "If God gives you something you can do, why in the world wouldn't you do it?" Then Auntie Cindy reminds me that I finaled in the Golden Heart. And then I look around at every human being I meet who says "I always wanted to write a book." But they didn't. And I did. And I'm working on more books. And I'm capable of finishing those books. So even if it's in fits and starts, I guess that makes me a writer. I just need Auntie Cindy and my friends to remind me that I am one. That's the best part of being a writer. Other writers.

Sneaking in a bit late

1) When did you start writing? Or if you've been writing all your life, then when and how did you decide to pursue publication?

Even though I spent my entire life making up stories in my head and loved nothing more than curling up with a good book, I didn't decide to become a writer until after I had my first child. Unfortunately, I kept putting it off until my kids were 'older' and didn't start writing until my youngest started kindergarten in 2002.

2) What books/authors have influenced you?

So many, including Johanna Lindsey, Julie Garwood, Nora Roberts, Suzanne Brockmann, Virginia Kantra and Meg Cabot (both her adult and YA books).

3) Describe your writing process.

I'm a blend of plotter and pantser. I always know my characters first and then from there I'll start seeing scenes or hearing lines of dialogue. I usually have the opening, a few turning point scenes and the black moment. I take a week or so and write an outline which helps me get to know my characters even better and come up with ways to (hopefully) keep the middle from sagging. I consider this my first draft and will sometimes wait a few days while the story solidifies in my head before starting on the second draft. I revise as I go so the third time through the story is more editing/polishing than rewriting.

4) Tell us about your current Work In Progress and what is next for you?

I'm currently working on requested revisions of Nothing But Trouble (one of my GH finaling ms) for Silhouette Romantic Suspense. NBT is about a single father/small town police chief intent on solving a murder and a reformed trouble-maker heroine who happens to be the prime suspect's sister.

Once the revisions for NBT are done, I'll get back to The Ties That Bind, a single title RS about a female carpenter, her big Italian family, and a horror author hero who has come back to his hometown to face his inner demons. Which is easier said than done when he's linked to a series of brutal murders.

5) Any advice for others or personal observations?

Learn your own writing process, never give up, and make the time to write -- even if it's only an hour a day. You deserve a chance to go after your dreams so make your writing a priority :-)

I finally made it!

It’s scary getting older and feeling like a technology idiot when my 14 year old can do any of this. It took me 3 days to get this blog-thing figured out and post something. The worst part? I spent 17 years of my life working in software development. But I made it! Anyway, here are my answers to the get to know you questions:

1) When did you start writing? Or if you've been writing all your life, then when and how did you decide to pursue publication?

I’d secretly always wanted to write. Fear and a full time job left me with no imagination or time to even think about writing. When my husband and I moved to Maryland from Delaware I was able to strike a deal with my manager to work three days a week from home. The other two days I had my 3 yr old home with me. This was in 1999, just before all the Y2K panic in the technology sector. From October until Feb 2000, we weren’t allowed to put any new jobs into our production environment. We could only work on emergency problems. Lucky for me, I worked on a very stable system. Suddenly, I had nothing to do while at work. I’d call up to my co-workers and they’d say they were just surfing the net. Inspiration struck! It was time to start writing. I joined RWA and started writing a western historical. Within a year I learned that westerns weren’t selling and started a regency set historical, which is where I’ve been ever since.

2) What books/authors have influenced you?

Time to fess up here. I can’t remember a title to save my life. Instead, I’ll give you a few of my favorite authors. Jane Austin, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey, and Julie Garwood.

3) Describe your writing process.

Am I supposed to have a writing process? Just kidding. I’m more of a pantser, but I usually have a clear idea where the plot is going when I start the book. I usually have a feel for who the character is, what they want and why, but they tend to grow on me as I start writing. I don’t have a problem when my hero or heroine finally tell me the reason for why they’re acting like they are as long as it’s not a huge edit to make. I tend to do only minor editing as I’m writing my first draft. I go back and do a couple of full edits after the draft is complete.

4) Tell us about your current Work In Progress and what is next for you?

My agent is currently sending out my Golden Heart finalist book so I’m on tenderhooks waiting for comments. I had started to get in a funk last year about writing. I attempted to write the sequel to the GH book but only made it half-way through, which is very unusual for me. In January of this year, I decided to try something completely different and write a contemporary paranormal. It really got my muse going. I’m almost half-way through the first draft and even as I write this I’m thinking, I should be working on my ms. After over a year of not writing much, I’m loving this!

5) Any advice for others or personal observations?

As another of our bloggers mentioned, writing is not for the faint of heart. It can make you crazy. You hear voices in your head and those voices will keep you awake at night, they’ll make you zone out during “normal” conversations and they don’t stop until you write their story. Then again, I’m never lonely. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me if I went to college for this. I don’t think college can teach you how to become a storyteller. College can teach you how to put your commas in the right place (something I still struggle with) and how to write a sentence. But a true writer is a storyteller. The road to publication may be filled with rejection but for me it makes you a stronger person.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

View from the Back Row

I wanted to write long before I wanted to teach or be a mother (my two other passions). College Honors English sort of beat the desire out of me, however, so I really began writing in earnest after I retired early from teaching high school English students two and a half years ago. Seems like a long time to me, but very short when I read the stories of other writers.

I'm such a pantser that I keep getting my knickers in a knot! Makes for very hard work during revision. I write the scenes that "make the young girls cry" first whenever they pop into my brain. I string them together and hope they make sense in the end. Actually, that's just a dorky way of saying the overall umbrella of my story hovers around my brain and I just pluck parts of it out at the time I feel ready to write them. Again, Revision Hell!

Okay, here's my dirty little secret. Unlike many of you, I never read romance novels. When I was 32 I got a series of shots to travel to the middle east and became very sick, so my good friend brought a paper bag of Harlequins over for me to read, must've been about 20 of them. I read them all and thought, what was God thinking letting this kind of stuff get published? After three days, I couldn't tell one book from another. It was a long time before I picked up another romance. Luckily, when I did, it was a regency, very articulate and classy, a book where the characters weren't cardboard interchangeables! My favorite writer is Margaret Atwood, but I know I'll NEVER be able to come close to writing like her. I'd be satisfied with writing smart, literate, romances where the heroes use brains along with brawn and the heroines are feisty and clever.

The Watcher was my first "real" book, the first thing at all worthy of anyone looking seriously at. That's done, and so far, no one seems to want to give it a home. The second book The Warrior, also is/was finished, but after talking with an HQN editor and my agent, I'm doing some major revisions on that, about half way through. The third book, sadly untitled, is marinating at about 130 pages while I'm rewriting Warrior. They're all mainstream suspense with romantic elements, serial killers with unique pathologies that drive their murders. I like getting in the heads of the bad guys and figuring out how they got to be that way. Kate Duffy says, "sympathetic killers."

And finally, honey, if I could give good advice, I put myself on the couch and figure out how to survive in this quirky business. But really, PERSERVERE, PERSEVERE, PERSERVERE! Gads, did I spell that word wrong? Three times?

I loved reading all your posts. What an eclectic group! Go Packers!


Just Checkin' the Luggage!

Hi Yall!

Yeesh--I posted a little something before I saw the questions. I didn't realize we were going to actually take this seriously! Whoops! :-) So here's a little about me.

I'll try to be serious. I promise.
1) When did you start writing?

About two years ago. I'm an attorney, and I was trapped in a hotel in Anchorage in the midst of a two week trial. I picked up a Julie Garwood book from the hotel gift shop and remembered how much I loved historical romance, which I hadn't read for years. When I got home, I decided to write one.

I should say that I wrote a very very very bad historical romance when I was in high school. But we don't need to go there.

The book I started as a result of my hotel stay was my 2006 GH finalist, More Than a Lady.

2) What books/authors have influenced you?

My all time fav author is Johanna Lindsey. I've also lately developed an absolute passion for Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I wish I could say I was influenced by some incredible work of literary fiction, but the truth is, I never really liked literary fiction. I didn't take English classes in college. All I liked to read were romances.

In the name of craft I've been trying to stretch myself and read "good books." But it's a stretch.

3) Describe your writing process.

I'm a few pegs shy of obsessed with writing. I usually get up around 5:15 so I can get in an hour or so before the kids (I have two) get up and I have to get them ready for school and get myself ready for work. I also write after they go to bed. And obsessively whenever I get the chance on the weekends. I often get up at 5 on Saturdays and write until 8 or so.

The process other than that is still evolving. My first ms was a seat of the pants sort of thing. I was writing at the same time I was trying to learn about the craft. I researched as I went. Book two was more plotted in advance. I tried hard to use all sorts of fancy plotting techniques for my YA, and still changed my mind about everything as I went.

I did everything wrong with my most recent ms and realized after I had most of a draft that my poor heroine didn't have a serious GOAL. Ooops. Heehee.

4) Tell us about your current Work In Progress and what is next for you?

I have a draft done of a ms I'm targeting for Blaze. I'm letting that sit while a couple of critique partners take a look, and then I'll get back to revising it. Meanwhile, I've got another really fun contemporary perking. I'm starting to research it, and I'll probably start putting together an outline over the next few weeks while I wait for the other ms to be reviewed.

Meanwhile, I have a lot of fantastic books on craft that I'm working through.

5) Any advice for others or personal observations?

Goodness, I have no idea!! I haven't "succeeded" in the sense that I haven't figured out how to get published. On the other hand, I've written a lot and feel like I'm "almost there" (and will probably be for the next few years, but still!). I think you've got to really want it and make it a priority.

And have a small amount of OCD. That helps, too.


Getting To Know Caren!

1) When did you start writing? Or if you've been writing all your life, then when and how did you decide to pursue publication?

I started writing, with absolutely no idea what I was doing, in 2000. I did it to escape the mind-numbing tedium of my work as an electrical engineer. I was inspired by a girl at work whom I didn't know well, but who was a real character. I wrote a completely fictional story about her (that was, I'm ashamed to admit, a bit mean-spirited but completely hilarious) and shared it with my good friends. One friend had been a member of RWA and my local chapter, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, and she suggested that I join.

I realize now that she saw a spark (quite a small one) in my writing and meant to encourage me. Like many, I thought my writing was brilliant at the time, but later discovered it needed lots of work! I'm blessed with wonderful - and tactful - friends.

2) What books/authors have influenced you?

Since joining RWA, I have been influenced by the groundwork many brilliant authors have laid. From an educational and mentoring standpoint, I owe huge debts of gratitude to my dear friends Sabrina Jeffries, Claudia Dain, Liz Carlyle, Virginia Kantra and Deb Marlowe.

From an inspirational standpoint, I owe debts to Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jennifer Crusie. Why? Because they are both pantzers and slow writers like me! I know if they can do it and enjoy success, I can too. You can't buy that sort of inspiration.

3) Describe your writing process.

There's a process? Oh, yes, I recall other people have one of those. As mentioned above, I am a pantzer. Not by design, but because I can't teach my brain a better way. My books are almost completely character driven and that is what always comes to me first: the people. Once I have these wonderful people, I have to figure out a situation to put them in that will highlight where they need to grow and enable them to do that. Easier said than done!

This thing they call "plotting" usually involves many fits and starts, followed by long periods of "marination". The marination time, like with all good recipes, varies each time I need it. Unfortunately, I have learned enough and become disciplined enough to continue working even when my story isn't. Because of that, I started my last book 3 times and got about 1/2 to 2/3 written each time before I figured out why it wasn't quite right (though both discarded stories were good) and how to fix it. My dream is to get to the point in my career where this is no longer necessary and I can write more than one book a year. Hey, I said it was a dream.

And please, nobody mention color-coded index cards or detailed, scene-by-scene outlines or my head will explode!

4) Tell us about your current Work In Progress and what is next for you?

The book is about a chef, Sarah, and a building contractor, Luke. They are great characters and I know oodles and gobs about them, their histories, their heartbreaks, their families and the town they live in (Laurel Mountain, North Carolina). What I don't know is exactly what happens in their book. It's marinating.

5) Any advice for others or personal observations?

The best advice I can give anyone is: respect your process. Even if, like me, you don't really have one. I have put myself through untold traumas trying to follow other writers' recipes (including color-coded index cards and detailed, scene-by-scene outlines). None of them worked for me.

Why not? Well, everyone's brain is wired a certain way. It's quite difficult to force your brain to operate in another fashion. I was quite successful, for instance, in filling out color-coded index cards and in coming up with detailed, scene-by-scene outlines. Did they help my books? Not at all. That is because my characters don't come alive on index cards or outlines. They come alive when I write. So, until I start writing, I have no idea how they will react to people or situations. In other words, I have no idea what the "plot" will be. I don't really need to. I simply need to know how they should feel toward their situation and those around them when the book ends. How they get there ends up being an organic extension of who they are.

Plus, the marinade fills in the blanks! Anyone else find plot to be the last thing you know about your book?

Tiptoeing in...

1) When did you start writing? Or if you've been writing all your life, then when and how did you decide to pursue publication?
I've always loved reading romance, but never considered that I could write it until after my last child was born. I mentioned what a dream it would be to my husband and he immediately told me to get to work. I read a few books on writing, cruised websites and 'how-to's' like Alica Rasley's - thats when I learned about RWA. I joined RWA and started my first story in March of 2002.

2) What books/authors have influenced you?
I've been a longtime fan of Nora Roberts, Vicki Lewis Thompson and Jennifer Crusie. I love everything they've all written. Some of my favorite authors write for Harlequin Blaze (too many to list) and I've learned alot reading their work -especially in being true to voice and how different voices can really make a line come alive.

3) Describe your writing process.
Stare at screen, pound head on desk, repeat. ;-) Kidding... I am a plotter. I usually work with a plotting group to take a premise I've come up with and turn it into a solid story idea that has enough conflict to carry it. Then I brainstrorm with my CP, bounce around ideas and sketch out a rough map of how to get my characters from Inciting Incident to Dark Moment. The details are light, but the general direction is solidly plotted before I start writing. Because of the pre-writing, I tend to write final draft - so when I get to THE END, I'm finished except for editing in critiques.

4) Tell us about your current Work In Progress and what is next for you?
I just turned in my second contracted Harlequin Blaze, DOES SHE DARE?, and am starting my third. Its tentatively titled RISQUE BUSINESS and will be a part of a makeover series. Its a fun story about a brainy literary reviewer with confidence in everything but her looks (and hence, her appeal to men) who goes through a makeover in more ways than one - the hero is an erotic suspsense author who challenges her to prove her pet theory, or admit that good sex has nothing to do with emotions... its all about being turned on.

5) Any advice for others or personal observations?
NEVER EVER EVER give up!!!! Thats the best advice I ever received and the best I can give. Other than that, I'd have to say be true to your voice and don't ever sell yourself short ;-)

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Getting to Know You...

1) When did you start writing? Or if you've been writing all your life, then when and how did you decide to pursue publication?

I had been writing stories and poems and plays since I was very young, but I was so much in awe of real authors who wrote real books, I didn't aspire to be published. It wasn't until I was working as a lawyer that I set out to write a full-length novel and even then I didn't think it would sell. I took the advice to write what you love and wrote a Regency romance. Not much romance is published in Australia, where I live, so I didn't think about selling it, I just wrote it for pleasure. Later, I found there was a market for Regencies in the United States but the more I learned about romance writing, the more I realized my first novel was absolutely awful! Once I knew there was a market for Regency-set historicals I was determined to learn the craft and get published.

2) What books/authors have influenced you?

I'd have to say my first influence was Georgette Heyer, but since then I've moved away from the mannered, traditional style of romance and I'd say my influences now are more authors like Mary Balogh, Laura Kinsale and Loretta Chase. Not that I would ever pretend to write as well as they do!

3) Describe your writing process.

Oh, dear. It's a muddle. I'm a pantser, so I don't plan a novel, beyond the premise and certain milestones I know I have to hit on the way, or great scenes that keep playing like a movie in my head. That's a very fluid thing and I try not to tie myself down because when the time comes, the wonderful scene I visualized might not work any more. Character interviews and profiles and so forth are wasted on me. I never know who the character is until he or she walks onto the page and starts talking. My characters aren't a composite of characteristics and likes and dislikes. They just are. I seem to know things about them when I need to, and often a throw-away line in chapter one will become very significant to the plot later on. I love it when that happens! I do write in a linear fashion, though. I have to go from start to finish because everything in the story builds on what went before it. So, if you can call it a process, that's mine.

4) Tell us about your current Work In Progress and what is next for you?

My next book is about Alistair Brooke, who appears in my first novel, SCANDAL'S DAUGHTER. I'll talk about it more as the book takes shape, but for the moment I'll just say it's VERY sexy and there's a suspense plot woven around the romance, which has been fun to write.

5) Any advice for others or personal observations?

Oh, boy, where do I start? I think the most important thing is to get the words on the page and let most other things take care of themselves. I have a coffee mug that says: 'Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.' I look at it whenever I'm procrastinating. Don't put off writing while you search for that magical advice that will get you published. The best thing you can do to improve your chances of publication is to write. Write a lot, write from the heart. Never think your experience or view of the world won't resonate with others. If you dig deep enough, you will strike a chord.

I, the writer!

1) When did You start writing?

The year was 1993. We'd just purchased our first PC. I was working nights, and often in the middle of the night nothing is going on at the hospital. I'd finished the book I'd been reading. Since I don't drink coffee I read to stay awake. So I decided to write a scene for a book. For years I'd been toying with the idea of writing a romance novel and had several discarded pieces.

This scene just seemed to fly onto the paper. A mail order bride, 8 months pregnant flees the clutches of a killer by riding up into the Colorado Mountains. Good story! So I took the pages home the next morning, typed them into the computer, and OMG! I had an entire 10 page chapter. Problem was, the scene was in the middle of the book! Needless to say, I was hooked.

2) What books/authors have influenced you?

By far, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey, Julie Garwood (my all time favorite!), Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Iris Johansen, Lorraine Heath, Jodi Thomas, Linda Howard, Sandy Blair.

3) Describe your writing process.

Complete pantser! Usually I can visualize a scene in my head, hear what the characters are saying, and then "we're off!". Sometimes it's like a day at the races, and other times it's like an archeological dig. Often there are things that get tweaked throughout the story and I'm not afraid of rewrites, but in the end, when the hero and heroine get their emotionally satisfying ending, I'm thrilled with the end product.

A friend always tells me she "sees the book like a movie reel". I don't. The funny thing is, I "hear" the cadence of the story, the rhythm, the dialogue, each character's unique story line. Weird, isn't it?

4) Tell us about your current Work In Progress and what is next for you?

Which one? I kid you not, I'm not happy unless I have two or more projects in the works.
WIP "A"--206 pages into a small town romance with a sexy reluctant sheriff hero, a novice teacher-turned-PI heroine, a town full of well-meaning crazies, and oh yeah at least one murderer on the lose.

WIP "B"--60 pages into the third in a romantic suspense trilogy about the Edgars family. KIDNAPPED, my 06GH finalist is the first in the series and features Sami Edgars and Jake Carlisle. HUNTED, also an 06GH finalist is the second in the series featuring Matt Edgars and Katie Myers. The third book, MISSING, features the youngest brother and charmer, Luke Edgars, and a six foot tall computer-geek desk agent, Abby Whitson.

WIP "C" 20 pages into a Regency-era historical about a wounded soldier who returns to England a war-hero only to find himself the guardian of two school-room age sisters and their independent minded governess.

*see all too tempting not to work on!*

5) Any advice for others or personal observations?

If you look at a blank page and have the urge to fill it with words, want to describe the interaction of characters and tell their stories, then you are a writer. This isn't for the faint of heart. Rejections come quickly and acceptance is rare, but once the bug bites you, beware, you can do nothing but write to make you happy!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Who am I? 24601!!! Hmm, Les Mis tragic moment emerging there

Sorry, Cindy and everyone, I'll come back and read everything soon! Got some contest judging to do this afternoon.

1) When did you start writing? Or if you've been writing all your life, then when and how did you decide to pursue publication?

As I've said quite often lately - sorry if it's becoming repetitious - I decided to become a writer as soon as I realised what a book was and that I, Karen Schwartz, could write one! My journey to publication then took the rest of my life. Clearly I'm a slow learner!

2) What books/authors have influenced you?

Oh, too many to mention. I was a book kid and I'm slightly obsessive so put the two together and you get quite a graphic picture. Enid Blyton, Barbara Cartland, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Dorothy Dunnett, Loretta Chase, Laura Kinsale, Anne Stuart.

3) Describe your writing process.

Definite pantser! Wish I wasn't. Isn't the most efficient way to proceed.

4) Tell us about your current Work In Progress and what is next for you?5) Any advice for others or personal observations?

Current work in progress is third book for Avon (I hope). I'm pitching it as a Regency noir Affair to Remember. It's another courtesan book although these characters are much older and more cynical than any of the others I've written. They're people who've done everything and seen everything and felt nothing and falling in love is the greatest risk they can take. What do you think? That's my byline when I tell people about it!

5) Any advice for others or personal observations?

Write from your gut. Unless it's hurting, it's not working. Oh, dear, that sounds like I write BDSM books!

Aunty Cindy, you're a marvel and thank you for letting me be involved in this!!!

Intro to moi

1) When did you start writing? Or if you've been writing all your life, then when and how did you decide to pursue publication?

I've been writing something for eons, it seems. I actually have the first "book" I wrote in 5th grade. Here's a shocker -- it was a romance. I started writing my first real book while I was in college, but schoolwork kept getting in the way. I kept piddling with that book after I graduated and started work as a newspaper reporter. I got really serious and started submitting after my local RWA chapter was formed in 1996.

2) What books/authors have influenced you?

When I was young, I loved things like the Little House books, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Robinson Crusoe, The Swiss Family Robinson. A friend and her mom introduced me to romance novels by Kathleen Woodiwiss when I was in high school. Today, I really admire the writing of people like J.R. Ward, Stephenie Meyer, Pamela Morsi, Meg Cabot and many others -- including lots of my friends who've gotten published. I'm also inspired by good TV writing for programs like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, Jericho, LOST and Heroes. I'm a big fan of teen dramas, and my current obsession is catching up with back seasons of Smallville.

3) Describe your writing process.

I'm a hybrid between plotter and pantser -- what I like to call a plotser. I like to have some character work and backstory done as well as notes on a few scenes before I start, and I usually write a rough synopsis before writing the actual manuscript. But I can't do extensive plotting work or the story just dies.

4) Tell us about your current Work In Progress and what is next for you?

I recently finished revisions on a paranormal YA project that my agent is shopping. The last thing I wrote? My PRO Liaison Report for the RWA board meeting next week. :) Next up will be another set of revisions for a book that is going to Harlequin American.

5) Any advice for others or personal observations?

As Nike says, "Just do it!" Don't make excuses. If you want this bad enough, you'll put in the hours of work and make the sacrifices necessary to make the dream a reality.