Wednesday, October 31, 2007


What fun! I'm all geared up to participate in this year's National Novel Writing Month and my computer is on the blink. It's so slow. But that's okay. I've plotted the first few chapters of a new idea. I'll be writing but I might not be posting too much.

Chris Baty is my hero this month. I've listened to a couple of radio interviews he has given and he sounds so . . . enthusiastic. His voice makes me want to sit down and produce something. This morning I read every word of his On Your Mark, Get Set . . . Dear NaNoWriMo participant and I like what he said: There is a door in your brain. That door has been there your entire life. ... Once you've stepped through that door into the vast reaches of your imagination, you'll be able to return there as often as you like. This is one of those quotes that find a special place on my computer so I can read it over and over and over again. :)

I'm a real sucker for contests and challenges such as this. I wrote a novel when I belonged to Survivor Writers, a Yahoo group. If we didn't produce seven pages per week, we got the ax. We'd have to sit out a week before we were invited back in. My group was actually the mini-group. The "big girls" had to produce fifteen pages a week. Whew!

My husband thinks I'm nuts when I do this sort of thing. He wonders why I have to have a carrot dangling in front of my nose to motivate me. I have no idea. I guess because . . . I like carrots. :-)

Am I the only person out there who requires a little something extra to get her going? I sure hope not!

Happy Noveling all you NaNoWriMo partipants. It should be real fun.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Talk To Me, David and Maddie!

Do you ever listen to people talk? Funny, huh?

Years ago I attended a great RWA workshop on dialogue. The editor who spoke to us was from LoveSwept, one of my favorite romance lines. Unfortunately, LoveSwept is no longer around. The editor shared a great tip with us. She said to watch the sitcom Moonlighting, pay attention to how Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis sparred with each other and we'd learn how to write dialogue.

But do you ever listen--really hear--the way real people talk?

I have a friend who ends every few sentences with the phrase, you know what I'm saying? I want to shout, "Of course, I know what you're saying, I'm not a complete idiot." I just grit my teeth and listen.

My husband ends every few sentences with the word right. No, I don't grit my teeth and listen. Sometimes I say Right! right back to him. Other times I say wrong just to get his attention about right. Once I even asked what I'm supposed to say when he says right. I haven't received a satisfactory answer.

My stepson ends his sentences with the word anyway. Something like, "We were driving over on I-10 and this car came out of nowhere and sideswiped the car in front of us. We thought they were going to crash but they didn't. Anyway. . ." And that's the end of his sentence.

In college I had a photography professor who used a word over and over again. It drove us crazy and by his own admission, drove him crazy too. One day he brought an empty bucket to class and told us to toss a coin in it every time he said that word. (Wish I could remember what it was--but too many years have passed.) Of course, you know what happened. We tossed our coins and he went home with coffee money. :) I wonder if he's still saying that annoying word and making money from it.

Before you decide I'm a meany for making fun of my family and friends, yes, I have a word I use too. It's not unlike how my stepson uses anyway. My word is . . . so . . ."I went to the ACFW conference and met my crit group there. We sat in one of the rooms and hate chocolate and discussed our plans to meet with editors and agents. I haven't really decided how I want to proceed from here. So . . . (shrug)" And then I'll look at you in a way that invites you to finish my sentence and tell me what to do. :-)

The point here is, we can't write our dialogue the way we talk in real life, but we can learn from those silly sitcoms. Try this: Sit with your eyes closed and listen. There's a rhythm to their interaction that you'll hear and feel. Listen to what they're saying and how they're saying it. Pretty soon, your dialogue will be just as snappy as your favorite TV characters.
Anyway. . .
So. . . (shrug)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hooking an Editor: You Tell Me - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
When you go to the book store, do you flip open one book after another to check out the first sentence or two? That's what I usually do. If the first paragraph grabs me, then I turn to the back cover to read the blurb. Then I thumb through to see if there's more narrative than dialogue. The book goes back on the shelf if I don't find a lot of dialogue on each page. Supposedly a good opening line is what will get an editor's attention.
Tricky, huh.

Read what a favorite editor wrote about opening lines.

Now in your opinion, what makes a good opening line? What grabs you?
And how do you know if your first paragraph has what it takes to hook an editor or an agent? I don't have a clue so if you have tips, leave them in the comment section.

Take a look at these first couple of sentences from published books:

1. Mary Alice flung her purse on my kitchen table, where it landed with a crash, pulled a stool over to the counter and perched on it. "Perched" may not be the right word since Mary Alice weighs two hundred and fifty pounds. Murder on a Girls' Night Out by Anne George

2. Chicago wasn't at its best on a snowy January day, but Allison Sayre had lived in Illinois's largest city all her life and she was accustomed to the capricious climate. The inclement weather hadn't caused her mournful face and melancholy mood. Heiress by Irene Brand

3. "I love you, Sarah. Will you marry me?"
Sarah Brannan sent the message mentally, then watched closely as the man sitting opposite her at the dining room table took another bite of chocolate meringue pie.
The Husband Hunt by Linda Lewis

4. So in the end, this was where a treasure hunter went when he died. It seemed anticlimactic--almost sad--considering the adventurous life he'd led. A Bride to Be by Kristin Morgan

5. Under normal circumstances, getting a Louisiana PI license is so routine as to be boring--you take a course, you pass a test, and you pay your money. Louisiana Bigshot by Julie Smith

6. "Miss McNeil, could I see you in my office right away, please?" The intercom speaker echoed with a loud click as the company's president hung up. At Arm's Length by Gail Sattler

7. About hundred yards below the house, to the south, the woods began, and it was here that Luisa said the devils lived. Some of them were shut up in the old well, now gone to salt and useless, and covered with a concrete slab. The Cannibal Heart by Margaret Millar

8. "Hey, Mom! Look at those women tearing the clothes off that guy!"
Erin pulled into the parking area beside a huge red and black tour bus, slamming her foot on the brake of her custom van just as two screaming females darted in front of her.
The Groom Wore Blue Suede Shoes by Jessica Travis

9. Frank Daggett sure hoped that was a town up ahead and not a mirage. he had been in the saddle so long he felt as if it were fused to the seat of his pants. Gerda's Lawman by Lena Nelson Dooley

I pulled each book off my shelves (and floor)at random. Which one of these openers make you want to buy the book? And why?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover's Soul

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketChicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover's Soul should have hit the stands today. What fun to be included in this book. I have to admit I've been trying for years to get accepted into a Chicken Soup book. Being the analyzer that I am, I've taken a hard look at my submissions that were rejected(ignored)and this one that was accepted and here's what I've come up with: my other submissions were painstakingly constructed. With this submission I sat down, whipped it out and sent it on its way. The difference I believe is that The Dud in White was written from the heart and with passion. Too bad I can't sit down and whip out my novels in one passionate moment.

Do you think we sometimes edit the passion out of our books and stories?

If you get a chance, pick up a copy of Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover's Soul and read my story.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I've been tagged by my new friend, Erica Vetsch. Erica and I met in Dallas at the ACFW conference. We share an agent. :) According to Erica, I'm supposed to tell where I was/what I was doing 10-20-30 years ago. My husband and I put our heads together this morning over breakfast and this is what we came up with.

10 years ago - I had put my writing aside to sell real estate. Big mistake. I'd rather live in front of the computer than in my car. Jim, Chaney and I were (and still are) living in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Chaney was a freshman at St. Louis Catholic High School. Jim worked about eight miles from home, and that doesn't happen very often. For awhile, we were living a normal life.

20 years ago - Four year-old Chaney and I were living in a tiny, white-frame house in Longview, Texas. We called it The Cracker Box. We'd just moved from New Iberia, LA and we were waiting for another job assignment. Jim was camping out in Houston with his sister and working out of the home office. Jim and I grew up in Longview and we prayed to go back there. God is a very good and wise God. He gave us what we wanted temporarily to show us that we didn't need to live in Longview again. He had other plans for us. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Leaving Longview, we went to Luling, Louisiana for three wonderful years. We made good friends at West St. Charles Baptist Church. I made a lot of great writer friends too. here's one of them: mystery writer Barbara Colley. I would move back to Luling in a heart beat!

30 years ago - I'm a late bloomer. At age 29 I'd gone back to college to finish my BA in English. At Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, I wrote my first novel in an Independent Studies class. My professor, Fred A. Rodewald was the greatest encourager I've ever had and we still keep in touch today.

Who can I tag? My friends and crit partners are super busy. Hope they don't hate me for this--here goes:

Elizabeth Ludwig
Janelle Mowery
Sandra Robbins
Marcia Gruver
Marilynn Griffith
Missy Tippens

Thursday, October 11, 2007

No Second Guessing Family :)

My husband is on vacation next week. He's the serious type so he'll have an entire list of things for us to accomplish. My daughter is coming home from The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for a week. We play a lot. (Probably too much.) I won't get any writing done, but that's okay. Family comes first. They rejuvenate me. Brainstorm with me. Encourage me. Next week will be great.

I hate second-guessing myself. When it comes to my next writing project, why would I want to write something that isn't fun to work on? I like to read books where the hero and heroine have serious problems-- realistic problems. But I also like slapstick romantic comedy that doesn't make a lick of sense. :) Remember the old Dr. Pepper commercial where the entire town danced through the streets singing, "I'm a Pepper, You're a Pepper." Describes my romantic comedies perfectly. I long to see couples, families, entire towns dancing in the streets for no good reason.
Trouble is. . . editors say there's "too much angst" in the serious works and "this could never happen" to the humorous.

And so comes the second-guessing: write to the market? write for myself? just write?
I've got a week to think about it.

sec·ond-guess (sknd-gs)
v. sec·ond-guessed, sec·ond-guess·ing, sec·ond-guess·es
1. To criticize or correct after an outcome is known.
a. To outguess.
b. To predict or anticipate: "She can second-guess indictments" Scott Turow.
To criticize a decision after its outcome is known.


second-guesser n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Never trust second thoughts. Next thing you know there’ll be a third and a fourth…you’ll be thinking forever. -Richard, Ally McBeal

Post-Conference Depression

I've started a new project. I sifted through all my partials and proposals, then decided to write something completely new.
A short romance.
No suspense.
No mystery.
And frankly, no excitement.
Honestly, I don't have a romantic bone in my body so why on earth I'm trying to write romance is totally beyond my comprehension.
I may not stick with this one very long.
I feel like my friend S.S. After 19 published books, she can't quite get a handle on what she wants to do next.
I know what my problem is.

If I could close my eyes and ears
refuse to listen to those around me
what they're writing
what they're selling
what they're saying
all they're doing
listen to my own muse
my gut
my rhythm and soul
hear my own words
I'd be better off
But I can't 'cause
I'm so easily distracted
and everyone knows
it takes a village
(or something akin to a small country)
to write

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Fun Happenings at Conference

Pitching our novels to agents and/or editors is probably the scariest thing we do at conference. Practicing our pitches is probably next to the scariest thing we do. I don't have the courage to practice with real live people--especially at conference. Look what happened to my friend Christa when she pitched to my crit partner, Sandra. Nothing like a genuine yawn to make a girl feel confident.

By now you know that Marcia got a three-book contract, but that isn't all she was excited about. Evidently someone sent her a new picture of her baby miniature dachshund,Ruby. See Lisa and Janelle oohhh and ahhhhh? Okay, sweet puppies and book contracts: what more can a girl ask for?
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Conference was a real high for me because I got to meet my agent, Les Stobbe. Sandra's playing it cool. How can I be cool in a "Suspect Everyone" t-shirt? The way I'm hanging on to his arm, he's probably thinking he'll never get rid of me.
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Ever been accused of looking like a celebrity? I've had several people at church tell me I look like Paula Deen. I didn't take them seriously, especially after I heard her accent. She's from Georgia and I'm a born and bred Texan living in Louisiana. I have no accent. :) When several ladies at conference told me I resembled Paula Deen, I came home, googled her and learned a little more. Okay... so we have a few things in common. She can cook . . . Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I can heat up!
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