Sunday, November 23, 2008

National Writing Challenge: Week 4


Looking for my NaNo contest link? GO HERE

Warning: Some excerpts may contain adult language and situations.

11/30 OMG This is it!! I can't believe another NaNoWriMo has come and gone. One novella done, another almost. AND NOW....

WEEK FOUR BEST NANOWRIMO LINE CONTEST WINNER:
He smiled at her warmly, let go of her hand, then he turned and jumped out the window.
--Written by happy-go-lucky

HONORABLE MENTION:

...the circus was serene, until a booming scream tore through the silence.
--Written by mijahu

AND THE GRAND PRIZE WINNER: WEEK 1, .harmony. Congratulations!!

Today's total: 1166. GRAND TOTAL, NaNoWriMo 08:52621

Today's Favorite Line Written: Ironic, how one journalist had posted a mostly flattering article while fucking Evan's woman, whereas Evan's woman planned to post a decidedly unflattering article while fucking him.

By the way, my personal Favorite Line written for NaNo was this:

All Evan found himself able to think at present was of the grinding need to be Desiree's sexual CPR kit...and to resuscitate her as many times as she would let him for the rest of the night.--from Kata Sutra, written 11/22



11/29 The family did our Christmas decorating in the morning, then I had work the rest of the day. I was pretty tired by the time I got home, so only got a page written...plus I'm still scratching my head over some key plot points I need to tie together. Maybe I'll dream program for an answer tonight.

Today's total: 302. To date: 51455

Today's Favorite Line Written: The very truth she'd been so desperate to discover about him until last night had suddenly become the one she least wanted to discuss.



11/28 YEAH, Baby!! Somewhere in wee hours of 2am this morning, typing alone in dark silence, I crossed the fifty thousand word mark and won the challenge. Kata Sutra still has some finishing up work, however, so I'll keep plugging away while other fellow NaNoers hit the mark and download their award certificates. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL....and don't forget, I'm still looking for Best Line winners for this final week, so get those entries in before the deadline!

Today's total: 1306. To date: 51153

Today's Favorite Line Written: A future Evan knew he wanted with a desperation as great as the need to draw breath, regardless of what kind of article Desiree had written about his dojo...or whether she loved Mak more than she cared for him.


11/27 Happy Thanksgiving to all! I ended up working at the "day job" on turkey day today, once again falling short on word count. I wonder if I'm just trying to draw out the anticipation of crossing the mark?

Today's total: 1611. To date: 49847

Today's Favorite Line Written (okay, so a couple together this time): The truth was, they'd never been friends. They'd shared a common need within the walls of the dojo—several needs, as it turned out—but Evan had never truly been Makoto Chinen's friend. He'd been an opportunity.


11/26 Fell short on word count and plans to attend the final local write-in, bummer. But still moving on forward, and hoping to hit the big 50k in the next day or so!

Today's total: 1436. To date: 48236

Today's Favorite Line Written: “listen to yourself--you're paranoid, jealous, and so far down the path to the wrong conclusion that I can't even Mapquest you out.”


11/25 Got a good stride going today, approaching the neighborhood of an ending for KATA SUTRA. Good conflict/argument scenes today, so those fingers started flying!

Today's total: 3445. To date: 46800

Today's Favorite Line Written: “I never slept with either of you because of the story...I fell for you in spite of it.”


11/24 Hit a little over average word count today, setting up a crucial conflict scene but still not sure what will become of the three-way love triangle in Kata Sutra.

Today's total: 1695. To date: 43355
Today's Favorite Line Written: The rest of that night, conversation was reduced to the way Evan's body spoke to Desiree's, and her cries in response.


11/23 Kind of lazy day today, and even though I'm still feeling a bit lackluster I made up for some of yesterday's lackluster word count.

Today's total: 3450. To date: 41660

Today's Favorite Line Written: Proof yet again that when Mak least expected pain, life scheduled him for a root canal.

Monday, November 17, 2008

National Writing Challenge: Week 3

Looking for my NaNo contest link? GO HERE

Warning: Some excerpts may contain adult language and situations.

11/22 WEEK 3 WINNERS, BEST NANOWRIMO LINE WRITTEN!!!

WINNER:"I don't know what happened the last few months... but when I woke up this morning, I had a bottle of gin in one hand, and an accounting degree in the other."---Written by Hugo_Jawfaln

RUNNERS UP: Mother didn't struggle much when I killed her.--Written by fthsquared

There is nothing more satisfying than playing tic-tac-toe in the margins of the Book of Life.--Written by Xuxilbara

Congrats to all, and Hugo_Jawfaln advances to the finals for the chance at the Starbuck's Gift Card!!

As for me...held a yard sale this morning, sat through the Twilight movie twice, and still not feeling the greatest. But I did manage to write another scene.

Today's total: 1149. To date: 38210

Today's Favorite Line Written: All Evan found himself able to think at present was of the grinding need to be Desiree's sexual CPR kit...and to resuscitate her as many times as she would let him for the rest of the night.

11/21 Called off work, feeling pretty blechy today. Barely managed 1/4 of today's word count.

Today's total: 460. To date: 37061

Today's Favorite Line Written: Some of the words she'd begun to understand, the rest needed no translation--hearing Mak speak his native tongue burned through her like an erotic firestorm.


11/20 Edited Immoral Magic all morning, figuring I'd write late after work...which almost backfired when a headache and flu-like feelings just about sabotaged me for the night. Then my characters had so much to say and do to one another that the muse took over and I got my daily count in--plus some.

Today's total: 2657. To date: 36601

Today's Favorite Line Written: When had Desiree stopped being a mere distraction--just a fiery sexual convenience--and become the dream of a future he never knew he wanted?


11/19 The ranks really thinned out--only three of us showed up for this week's local NaNo write-in. Am still sailing along above the total goal, even though today's count was a bit shy.

Today's total: 1549. To date: 33944

Today's Favorite Line Written: Tossing the key down on a warped round table, Mak turned to face the woman who had become a deer in the headlights of harm's way tonight, thanks to his profoundly fucked up life.


11/18 Pounded out the rest of an alleyway fight scene for Kata Sutra today, a bit short of daily word count, but I'm still ahead of the game overall. Now I just have to decide whether to forge ahead in the writing, or fall back to fill in where I jumped ahead to get to this "juicy" part!

Today's total: 1633. To date: 32395

Today's Favorite Line Written: She obeyed Mak—a curious recurring theme with her tonight—and slid in beside him.


11/17 Spent the main part of the day with more editing and query follow up, but around ten PM I was at work and finally got a flash of a scene from Kata Sutra I wanted to write. So the muse has spoken--Kata Sutra it is!

Today's total: 1922. To date: 30762

Today's Favorite Line Written: “There's nothing you need to know,” Mak leaned in to press the remaining words against her lips, “that this doesn't tell you.”


11/16 Adrift without a ship today, since I finished my NaNo book! I couldn't decide which in-progress book to work on to pick up my word count, so instead I entered an excerpt of this year's NaNo in Reading Writer's Romantic Encounters contest. Then pulled out LAST year's NaNo, which was recently turned down by the first place I subbed to, to polish it a bit before sending it back out. Oh, and I sent a status inquiry in on SUITE SEDUCTION, which has been under consideration for a whopping seventeen months now. And in my personal reading-for-enjoyment today, I ran across some interesting research I may well use in my upcoming ANGELIC SEDUCTION. So no word count, but a busy writer day nonetheless!

Today's total: 0. To date: 28829

Today's Favorite Line EDITED!!: Isn't there a law against plaid flannel on the West Coast?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

National Writing Challenge: Week 2

Looking for my NaNo contest link? GO HERE


Warning: Some excerpts may contain adult language and situations.

11/15 IT IS FINISHED!!! I completed BUILDING SEDUCTION today, exactly halfway through the challenge! Since the novella is shorter than the 50k suggested word count, I'll continue participating by working on other in-progress stories. And NOW...**WEEK 2 CONTEST WINNER!!**

The number of entries may have dropped off this week, but certainly not the quality!! After careful deliberation, I had to give a winning nod to this line:

"Oh aye, because nothing says 'I love you' like a good storm off."--Written by Morgans-Spiced, submitted to the nanowrimo.org forum

And close behind were these runners up:

What job besides stripper requires fishnet stockings?
--Written by Hulagirl10, submitted to the nanowrimo.org forum

AND

"If it gets to the point where I start making sense to you, I would say that it would be about time to drug you again, wouldn’t you agree?”
--Written by DeniseB, submitted to the nanowrimo.org forum

Excellent job, everyone! And Morgans-Spiced advances to the final round to vie for the Starbuck's gift card.


Today's total: 2758. To date: 28829

Today's Favorite Line Written: She didn't want him, which had made every moment spent toiling over this little side project burn like a jagged sliver shoved up his love life.


11/14Woke up this morning all excited to start writing, since I'm about to reach the big climax scene. Took one look at my precious little girl's face, realized I have to work 6 out of the next 7 days, and pushed my laptop aside. Took a day off from NaNo so we could hang out at the museum, rent some movies, and go swimming. My characters are in limbo waiting for their big moment, but THIS moment was even bigger. I know they understand.

Today's total: 0. To date: 26071


11/13Today I was a little late to work because I just couldn't stop writing until one of the characters got to say a line I'd been really looking forward to! As this series is novella length, I'm actually closing in on the end of this book, so I may begin another in the series or do some pickup work on some other in-progress pieces to make the 50k goal for NaNo.

Today's total: 2531. To date: 26071

Today's Favorite Line Written: The kiss was suffused with an ageless, almost fatal passion; a living entity that existed apart from the two lovers, yet bound them together the way a thread joins two fabrics while retaining an identity of its own.


11/12Tonight was another local NaNo write-in, so I didn't pen a word until hitting the coffee house. Managed to get 800 words in between rounds of witty banter. Came home all fueled up on Chai Lattes and zinged up another 1800 words. Gotta love writing by the light of a full moon...and a caffeine buzz!

Today's total: 2529. To date: 23540

Today's Favorite Line Written: There was no doubt about it; if she wanted to make trouble for him, David's breezy island flower could very well turn out to be a category five hurricane.


11/11 Stayed up til 3am finishing word count, then up at 9am to tackle more. I find I type faster when I'm writing conflict/argument scenes. Anyone else find their adrenaline gets going then, too?

Today's total: 2090. To date: 21011

Today's Favorite Line Written: You think you're so smart, she willed him to hear her thoughts...but you're still flunking Gina 101.


11/10 MONDAYS!! Gak. I'll leave it at that, other than to say I dug in my heels and made my word count plus some...though it took until well past midnight to do it.

Today's total: 1843. To date: 18921

Today's Favorite Line Written: Dark clouds sailed in over the perfect morning, and David wondered what could have gone on between the last time she'd clung to him in passion and now to warrant her harbinger-of-doom attitude.


11/9 Made my word count with only an hour and a half to spare in the day...waited until evening to finish the love scene since Sunday beckoned me with the promise of a fun family day.

Today's total: 1881. To date: 17078

Today's Favorite Line Written: Flashes of the earliest human ancestors flicked through her mind, from a time when tribal drums and soaring bonfires were still insignificant next to the pounding, insatiable beat of a man yearning to mate with his female.


11/8 Week 2 got off to a HOT and smoldering start for my characters. Alas, there's nothing like having to stop writing when you're smack in the panting midst of a crucial love scene...because your kid has to go meet "Barbie" for a photo op and free tote bag. But that's where today found me, and hey, this was like BARBIE, man, serious stuff. so off we went!

Today's total: 1245. To date: 15197

Today's Favorite Line Written: The atmosphere around them seemed to thicken, as if molecules of their overabundant pheromones and lust spilled out and hung in the air like tropical mist.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

National Writing Challenge: Week 1

Looking for my NaNo contest link? GO HERE


11/7 ***WEEK ONE CONTEST WINNER DAY!!!*** Today was one of those days I knew was going to get away from me as soon as I forced open exhausted eyes. Didn't make quota, but my 1 week total is still in the running.

Okay, enough about ME...onto the CONTEST! WOW, I was impressed with the eighty entries I received (here, the NaNo forum, and MySpace), and what a tough job to choose ONE winner! With no further ado...

**THE WINNER, WEEK 1:**

And somewhere between imitating the president and saying completely blasphemous things about organized religion, Alice fell in love.
Written by ".harmony," submitted on nanowrimo.org.

RUNNERS-UP:

It was as commonplace as talking about the weather now - sunny skies, and also a slight chance of serial killings, taking an umbrella advised.
Written by "Lynndenial," submitted on nanowrimo.org

She supposed one could flip a pancake with a flounder, but it would depend heavily on the state of the flounder in question.
Written by "chelonia," submitted here on the blog

The problem with living in Death's waiting room, Tammy always thought, was that no one was ever in a hurry to meet their appointment.
Written by "Johanna Ransom," submitted here on the blog

CONGRATULATIONS to all four of you, and our first place winner .harmony moves into the next round for a chance to win the Starbuck's gift card. Good luck!!

Excellent job to all...but it's not over yet!! There are three whole weeks left to have YOUR chance to shine with a Best Line Written...so keep 'em coming!

Today's total: 1096. To date: 13952

Today's Favorite Line Written (by me, heh): Their lips met before David even realized he'd reached for her, and the room around them imploded until the only reality left was the utter perfection of their joining.


11/6 Slept in a bit to make up for last night's late hours, but got right to writing upon waking. Despite time out to clean the house and work on my daughter's new learn-to-read program, I barely managed to squeak out my daily quota in time to post this and head to work. Whew!

Today's total: 1684. To date: 12856

Today's Favorite Line Written: The monstrous bed sat there staring, and couldn't have been more obvious or insistent if she'd trained spotlights on the beckoning mattress.


11/5 Instead of writing on auto pilot upon waking, I delayed until nighttime in order to join fellow NaNoers at a local write-in. While there we had so much fun gabbing, joking, and discussing our stories that I barely managed a scant 500 words...so I had to pick up the slack at home.

Today's total: 2383. To date: 11172

Today's Favorite Line Written: David wasn't supposed to be spending this island excursion rutting like a Wild Kingdom episode...though as plans were made and they disappeared behind their respective doors, he couldn't for the life of him remember why.


11/4 Hitting the polls to vote split my writing time today, and I fell a bit short of my desired word count...but rocking the vote made up for it!

Today's total: 1501. To date: 8789

Today's Favorite Line Written: In all Gina's studies to date, none had fascinated and stymied her as much as the realization that humans needed to know they were not alone in the universe...and at the same time hoped that they were.


11/3 I was dressed and ready to go to the first local NaNo Write-in when my husband announced he had to run errands and hit the gym. That left me on munchkin duty, but I got my word count in, and a fun little sequence to boot!

Today's total: 1914. To date: 7288

Today's Favorite Line Written: Her nonchalance made it clear she was oblivious to the blood-churning effect she was having on him—much to his relief—and that he had no similar effect on her—much to his disappointment.


11/2 Almost two full scenes today, with some interesting hints shaping up as to what troubles are coming the characters' way!

Today's total: 3036. To date: 5374

Today's Favorite Line Written: In entranced wonder Gina watched the ocean sigh back onto itself and bellow forth, shooting sprays of foam skyward as the glittering sea hurled itself against a jetty reaching out like the resort's right hand.


11/1 Up Up and Away! I barely chose a male lead yesterday, and while I wanted to start writing at midnight, Halloween plans meant no time to give any thought to his big entrance. So when the clock struck twelve, all I managed was a two-sentence note on how the lovers meet. This morning, however, I pounded keys until the first scene was done.

Winner of my FIND ME A HUNK contest: Katherine Weber with this short, sweet prompt: "He owns a construction company and has been hired to build something for the resort." There were several people who had variations of this theme (architects, construction guys going on vacation, etc.), but hers fit the bill to perfection. Congratulations...and thank you for introducing me to Mr. Right-for-this-book!

Today's Total: 2338 words

Today's Favorite Line Written: Her eyes slid away from his, back to the swimsuit she was no doubt wondering whether she could will onto her body without having to uncross her arms.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

NaNoFavLiWriMo Contest!!

Warning: Today's posted excerpt contains adult language and themes

That's right, it's almost November, aka National Novel Writing Month! (For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is an annual challenge to try and write a novel during November. My 2nd novel, A Grand Seduction, was a past NaNo winner.)

This year I've taken the liberty of adding a couple extra syllables to the NaNoWriMo acronym...because I'm including a National Novel Favorite Line Writing contest as well! During November I'll be blogging daily about this crazy experience, and will bring back my popular Favorite Line Written feature with one important difference! I will showcase my Favorite Line Written by a FELLOW NaNoer each week ...one of whom will receive a special prize!

HOW TO ENTER THE BEST NANOWRIMO LINE CONTEST:

During November, select the best line you write each day and post it in the comments here. Post only ONE line daily, but there is no limit to how many days in November you post! (In other words, you can have up to 30 entries.) You may post any genre, any heat level.

Every week (on the 7th, 15th, 22nd, and 30th) I will choose my favorite line to showcase on my blogs, website, and NaNo site. At the conclusion of NaNo I will review these weekly winners and select ONE grand prize winner...who will receive a Starbucks Gift Card!

Rules:
By entering you confirm that the lines submitted are your own original work, and that you are writing them as part of 2008's NaNoWriMo challenge. No past work--NaNo projects or otherwise--accepted for this contest, sorry.

Here is a recent FAVORITE LINE WRITTEN: It is a rather ugly and perverted telling in our lore that vampires engage in nothing more than a fuck-and-suck mass murder lifestyle, sharks on dry land who move and feed and mate with mindless machinations. --Immortal Wine


If you have questions, you can post them here as well. Good luck...and happy writing!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Anatomy of a Love Writer

GO TO SEXUPURPROFILE.COM
As a matter of fact yes, I was an anatomy major in college...though I bet my professors couldn't have guessed what my biological education ended up being used for.

With National November Novel Writing Month just around the corner, I've been doing some thinking about what makes us "love writers" tick. Is it that we just love a good story with a happy ending? Or perhaps we just can't get enough of rubbing elbows (and other parts) with those sexy alpha hunks. Maybe we're simply addicted to the thrill of new love--that pivotal moment where boy meets girl with enough heat to place any nearby fireworks factory in serious jeopardy. Or perhaps it's a combination of all these things.

Any way you slice it, I was a good college student on the fast track to a nursing degree, one of the top students in my class. Invited by the college to study advanced microbiology. Awarded scholarships in the field. And encouraged by teachers with pats on the back that were no more than thinly disguised pushes toward the door of Registered Nursing 101.

Then somewhere along that path, I detoured into the steaming jungle of romantic and erotic studies...and I've never looked back. The romance bug had bitten, and it proved to be an illness which no nursing education could ever hope to cure me of. So I never saw what was behind the door to Nursing 101, but I've visited many strange and exotic lands.

One of the things that brings me back to romance is the surprise element--a statement that knits the brows of many. "What surprise?" they say. "Romance is always the same: they meet, they fall, they fight, they get back together." Perhaps the traditional arc hits these markers, yes, but it's the wiggly path that drags the characters--often most unwillingly--from A to Z that keeps me turning those pages. The surprise of love finding people in the most unlikely of circumstances, and forging them together. And nowadays when I write, I find that I want to experience just as much suprise during the process as if I were reading a brand new book.

It's for that reason I decided to write this year's book for national novel month with no starting plot or characters--and to let readers suggest the alpha hunk that will get the ball rolling. In this way I will be introduced to him with no preconceived notion of who he is or what he is supposed to do--he will surprise me when he crosses my path just as much as the heroine he is fated to find love with. With just one difference--I know someone special is coming, someone to steal my breath and speed my pulse. Anticipation is a sweet thing, and waiting for the November 1 kickoff to meet this latest hero has my toes and points north tingling. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Back in the Saddle & Crackin' the Whip!

Image courtesy of Stock Exchange

After a summer-long break, September blew into a dark, mischievous part of my mind and the writing has again begun. Not just any writing, either. Last night I tapped keys until first light to draft the first in my upcoming series of erotic betime video tales, under the tutelage of a most intriguing and sensual character.

Andre is a vampire unlike any who have paid my muse a call, arriving only partly bidden in my mind as I sat at a very not-busy work yesterday. Into my ear he whispered, explaining in complex layers why a vampire sits alone in a darkened theater and how he can sense, attract, and forge an immortal, sexual union with a woman completely undetected and at her own bidding. Relentless was this dark creature, revealing himself until I couldn't wait to get home and let his tale unfold.

And ah, unfold it did. For those readers who have ever had a fantasy involving a movie theater or a seductive vampire, Immortal Wine has it all and more. After revision and voice acting is complete, this piece will be "immortalized" for a true bedtime delight. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Spotlight on Samantha Storm


image courtesy of SamanthaStorm.com

I'm pleased to welcome SAMANTHA STORM to join me for an interview today. Samantha is the second of two winners who tied for first place in my recent WORST QUERY LETTER EVER contest. Her winning entry was short and sour:


Dear Berkley Editor,

I have this great idea for a book. I don’t have the time to write it, but it’s such a fantastic idea I know it will make a zillion dollars. So I was thinking you could give me a three book contract and then I could take the advance money and hire a ghost writer to write the actual book.

Please get back to me right away since this idea is sure to make us both a ton of money.

Look forward to that contract. You won’t be sorry you took a chance on me.

Jane Doe



Yeah, I'm sure Berkley will be getting RIGHT on that. Ha ha. And now, for a bit about Samantha...


LL: Can you tell me about your latest books? Just how "para" is your normal romance? :)



SS:
I tend to shy away from vampires because honestly I get queasy at the sight of blood. My paranormals run more towards demon killers and psychics. I am particularly fond of action divas.


Shadow Vision is about a demon killer Friday Maxwell who really doesn’t have much experience yet killing demons. She suddenly finds herself in the midst of battle trying to stay alive. And just when she thinks all is lost a hunky stranger appears and helps her out.


Eye of the Storm is set a few years in the future. A subculture of “Talents” have quite a few mental abilities they hide from the general population. Katlin, our heroine, suddenly finds herself on the run. Her head is filled with information that the bad guys are desperate to get their hands on. She finds herself being protected by retired body guard Ryker—a man tore between his growing desire for Katlin and his quest for revenge.


I have eight free reads on the group now. A few of them are collaboration with writing friends. Most of the stories have paranormal elements, but there are a few that are strictly contemporary.


LL: Right now these are free reads. What's the address of the group where readers can find them?


SS: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SamanthaStorm/ It’s an over 18 announcement only group. I plan to add more free reads as I get them done.


LL: What's your current project?


SS: I am currently working on something completely different. I started working on a story to entertain my sixteen year old niece. It’s my first time working on a Young Adult story. It’s challenging, but at the same time I’m having a lot of fun.


LL: What has been your greatest joy as a writer, and your greatest challenge?


SS: I have been writing stories since I was ten years old. I have always dreamed of being a writer. And now I am writing stories and people are actually reading them. It’s pretty mind blowing.


The hardest thing is writing on those days when you don’t feel like it. Sometimes the writing just flows and those days are easy. Actually those days are bliss. It’s the other days, when you are going along convinced every word you write is utter garbage. Those days are pure hell. And the challenge is to force yourself on those days to keep going. The funny thing is sometimes the best stuff comes from those challenging days. When you go back and edit the work you realize it’s actually some of your best stuff.


LL: You recently ran a rather interesting contest. Care to tell us a bit about it?


SS: I found myself in a position where I was having problems with my epublisher New Concepts Publishing. I tried to see if the situation could be worked out internally, but when I was suddenly booted from the Authors loop I felt I had no choice but to bring the situation public. I figured I might as well run a contest to see what other people would do in my situation. You can read about my troubles with NCP publishing and what went on down –http://www.romancejunkies.com/rjblog/?p=235


LL: When you're not frantically typing out your latest romance, what do you do? Job? Hobbies? Family?


SS: I am a freelance webdesigner. I am also the Owner/ Operator of Romance Junkies the Review site. My husband is a rural Fire Chief. We live in an old mining town in Arizona . We have three cats, one dog and a bird. Hmm, hobbies. I love to swim, read and mess about on the computer.



LL:
Where all can people find you on the web? MySpace? Twitter? Etc.


SS: Samantha Storm is also Chaoscat, owner of Romance Junkies: http://www.romancejunkies.com

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Spotlight on Dave Levin

image courtesy of Stock Exchange

I'm pleased to welcome DAVE LEVIN to join me for an interview today. Dave is one of the co-winners of my recent WORST QUERY LETTER EVER contest. His hilarious entry:

To Whom It May Concern:

I have like a totally great book idea that I’m positive will be a bustblocker. I know this for sure because my mother-in-law said so and she’s such a good writer that at the supermarket where she works the boss always asks her to do the signs that say tomato’s on sale and stuff like that.

But before I spill the beers, I want to know if your one of those sleazeball publishers because if you are I don’t want you to make lots of money and me not.

Assuming you’re legit, my story is kind of a combination of the best parts of The Godmother Part L and The Even Couple. I can’t tell you more because it’s not written yet. But all I need to write this fantastic book is for you to get me a laptop, a room at a nice hotel with a pool because I do my best thinking when my head’s underwater, and a full-time personal assistant so that I can devote a full four hours a day to the book. And it would be nice if the assistant was attractive so that I’m not bored the rest of the time.

You need to replay right away because I can easily find someone else to publish it if you’re to dumb too.

Sincerely,
David H. Levin

p.s. - This is the first query letter I’ve written. I hope it lowers the bar.


Ugh, just leaves a horrid taste in your mouth, doesn't it? Thanks, Dave, and I have just a few questions for you.

LL: You write in a rather interesting and unique "genre." Care to tell us a bit about your books?

DL: Sure. The first two titles, dealing with chess, were written and self-published during my self-financed sabbatical from the telecommunications industry, where I worked as a systems engineer. During that three-year break, I pursued chess pretty seriously--doing the books, giving lessons, playing in tournaments, and writing a column for the monthly publication of the NJ State Chess Federation. In retrospect, I'm very glad to have done this, else I might never have gotten it out of my system!

The first book, Position and Pawn Tension in Chess, is an instructional work on the middlegame, intended for tournament players of above-average strength. Its basic message is that the way the pawns are arranged dictates what a player should be trying to accomplish. Where the pawns give you more territory than the opponent, you should exploit that by placing your pieces optimally (which a territorial advantage usually allows you to do more effectively than the opponent) and then exchanging at least one pair of pawns to open things up so that your pieces can dominate. Conversely, where the pawns give the opponent a territorial advantage, you should resist the opponent's efforts to open lines and penetrate your position.

I feel that properly approached, chess really isn't that hard to understand. But based on my experience watching tournament play, only a relative handful of players seem to understand what I tried to convey in my book, which is what possessed me to write it.

The second book, Chess Puzzles for Children, came about because of my technique of resolving squabbles in one of the chess classes I taught. I would separate the two players, send them to neutral corners (or at least different desks), and give each a chess puzzle that I'd composed basically on the spot. One of those students happened to suggest that I should do a book of those puzzles, and I realized that was a fine idea.

LL: You have a rather impressive list of achievements in chess, including National and World Chess Federation Master. How long have you been playing, and are you still actively competing?

DL: Thank you. I started playing in tournaments in 1972, at age 13. I became earnest about studying the game at age 12 as a direct result of a relative and her husband giving me a Bar Mitzvah present of membership in the US Chess Federation, two instructional works, and a magnetic set. You can imagine the impact on a 12-year-old to discover that organized chess exists. Before then, I wasn't especially interested in the game, although I first learned the moves at around age 8 and occasionally played with friends and grandparents.

I haven't played much in the last dozen years, mainly because I reached the point where the biggest thing inhibiting me from realizing my potential in chess (or at least what I believe it to be) was inadequate opening preparation. Here's some background: For about the last 150 years, various ways of playing the early phase of a chess game (i.e., the "opening") have been gathered from tournament games, cataloged, and evaluated, to where this body of published knowledge encompasses probably millions of positions.

Although a player need master only a fraction of this knowledge in order to reach the highest levels, it's still a lot of stuff. Moreover, it becomes important to be familiar with the repertoire of likely opponents, because if you can find a weakness or hole, you can try to exploit it if that position happens to arise when you are playing against an unsuspecting opponent. The availability of inexpensive commercial databases that contain oodles of master games makes proper preparation even more of a challenge.

As a result, I became more interested in bridge, where I feel a competitor can go further before being limited by the unwillingness to spend copious time on preparation. But I haven't played much bridge lately either, mainly because I'm at least two hours from the standard of competition I like. This didn't impede me for the first few years after moving to western NC in 1999, but it's become more problematic for various reasons.

LL: How did you get started with writing about games?

DL:
I started my chess website around 2003, mainly because I had several opening "novelties" that I wanted to share. Given that my participation in tournaments was already tapering off, I realized that the odds of getting to spring those ideas on opponents was not very great, thus publishing them wouldn't be putting me at a disadvantage in tournaments.

LL: What's the biggest challenge you've faced in your career, and your greatest joy?

DL: I'd say that the first book would qualify as both. When I started, I didn't know anything about the publishing industry, the PC operating system I was using, or how to design layout of books. I did know chess and how to write clearly, but the set of unknowns in self-publishing a book was staggering. I had to keep telling myself that surely people less able than I had self-published successfully and that there was no reason I couldn't also. But realizing this intellectually is a far cry from being internally convinced of it. So, when I finished the book after about a year's toil, it felt ineffably empowering.

LL: What else do you do when you're not whipping up your latest book? Hobbies? Job? Family?

DL:
Shortly after my last systems engineering gig ended in late 2003, I did my third book, Bridge Puzzles for Children, which is designed for youngsters to go through without any outside help. After that was wrapped up in mid-2004, I started a freelance editing practice, which continues. I do nonfiction only, as that's where all of my writing experience lies. I got the idea because around 1990, a work associate said only in partial jest that I should charge for the feedback I provide on drafts my colleagues have written. I feel lucky to have this way of supporting myself while living out in the country and not having to commute.

LL: If you could change one thing about the publishing industry right now, what would it be?

DL: I find disturbing how the industry has become dominated by a very small number of players. For example, I read that amazon had been trying to coerce publishers into using its manufacturing arm, which I find beyond outrageous. Enforcement of the antitrust laws seems to have become a lost art.

LL: Where all can folks find you on the web? MySpace? Twitter? etc.

DL: I built a website, www.davidlevinchess.com, where I add material very occasionally. But I often post at the Freelance Forum of writersweekly.com, which is where I learned of the contest at the Romance Junkies blog. I also frequent the "Openings for Amateurs" chess site that's run by Pete Tamburro, whom I often saw at tournaments when I lived in NJ.

You may be wondering why I never built a website for publicizing my editing service. That makes two of us. 8^) Actually, I decided on other methods for that, and they seem to have worked reasonably well.

LL: Thank you for joining me in my Wildest Dreams.

DL: It's been a pleasure, thank you.

There you have it...the words of a master chess player AND worst query writer. If the puzzle market ever runs dry, Dave can no doubt enjoy a lucrative career as a humorist.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Phonies, Balonies, and Oversized Cajones

image courtesy of Stock Exchange

"Why does SHE have to go?"

These six words, combined with some recent discussions, form the basis of today's blog: the importance of filtering words and actions when building an artistic persona.

Those of us involved in the arts--writing, music, acting, etc.--are told that to promote our work, what we must truly promote is ourselves. If we make our name recognizable in tandem with quality work and warm fuzzy feelings, we gain a base audience who will seek out future (and past) work. This "name branding" is a vital part of any artistic career, and much like a prize show pony, a great deal of time and effort must be spent grooming it to perfection.

As hard as artists work to create and maintain their name brand image, one would assume the investment would be carefully and jealously guarded. Yet I see "own worst enemy" scenarios every day, taking the form of online flame wars, rude or presumptive behavior, and two-faced acquaintances. Just a few recent examples:

1. One of my groups recently broke out in a long, multi-player assault thread featuring spectacularly petty and rude behavior. No hope of the moderator squashing things, either--they were one of the key flame throwers. Well, two weeks of this childish prattle nearly cost them a paying market, since I publish a webzine in the group's genre and came quite close to unsubbing. Though I relented, there are a few names I will remember...as individuals who don't maintain a calm, professional manner when dealing with simple issues.

Who knows how many other publishers/agents/readers/etc. sit on the sidelines clucking their tongues when such flame wars break out? How many take note of the troublemakers and blacklist them...or flat out leave? A sobering thought.

2. Another lip-curler was a rather unflattering Amazon guide that made the rounds recently. Created by a reader, the "guide" consisted of a detailed list of authors NOT to buy books from....not because of the quality or nature of the writing, but because of the authors' alleged rude behavior on the Internet. The guide has since been pulled, but while it was up the message made quite a splash. Yes, Virgina, there are consumers who won't purchase work--no matter how good--from someone they view as a bad-doer.

3. Then there's the opening line to my blog, a fun little slap in the face that happened last night. My husband is an actor/filmmaker with a variety of friends in the biz. One is a bit player hard at work building his "star" reputation, someone with a Eddie Haskell approach who has been in my home many times. While planning an out of town appearance this week with this actor "friend," my husband learned the guy's girlfriend inserted herself on the trip. Among other things, she gets so ragefully jealous when her man's "in character" that she recently kicked out a windshield. (FYI, they're going in OUR car.) That said, my husband mentioned I'd be going, too.

The "pal" who is trying so hard to win fans and influence people turned utterly nasty and incredulous. "WHAT? Why does SHE have to go?" Several uglier variations followed, and bottom line I was not welcome in my own car with my own husband driving...yet eliminating Psycho Sideshow Girlfriend was emphatically "not an option."

Needless to say, this flew like a lead balloon and he's been cut from several cross-promotions and future projects. Yeah, he'll survive, but why on Earth would someone trying so desperately to widen their horizons narrow their prospects instead?

That got me to thinking about how fragile reputation is, and how easily we can undermine our own efforts. It takes years to create a positive, recognizable image, and minutes to tear it down. So while I'm a firm believer in having minds and opinions of our own, it's vitally important to weigh the benefits and risks before opening ones' mouth in public and inserting a muddy boot.

Do YOU have a story about a time when the actions of a celebrity, author, etc. were so wonderful--or terrible--that it influenced the decision of whether to buy that person's work? Please share here!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Making a Scene

Photo of extra/production assistant Aaron Curtis

Here are the first photos from my recent film shoot! The commercial is still in post production editing, but I'll be doing a "making of" page on my web site to show just how much work goes into a thirty-second live action shot...as well as to thank all the talented folk who have pitched in to help make my latest Wildest Dream come true. This is my favorite shot of the day...a lucky praying mantis was sitting on the "clapper" during this take! A positive omen for a charmed breeze of a film shoot.


And for good measure, here's Yours Truly clowing around off set by blending two costumed looks in one photo.

More to come...stay tuned!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

World Record Wardrobe!!


With a mere four days to go before principal photography on my upcoming commercial, it occurred to me that we're about to set a record--maybe two!

For one thing, I believe this may be the first live action commercial to promote ebook reading in existence. Even more astonishing, however, is the sheer amount of WARDROBE required for one thirty-second spot.

Part of a thousand pre-production preparations for this promo has been selecting, fitting, and test shooting said wardrobe, by which time I was reeling in both shock and exhaustion. There is a rack full of clothing now assembled and waiting for this commercial--FOR ME ALONE.

Why? I will be undergoing an astonishing SIX costume changes--each requiring different makeup, jewelry, hairstyle--and oh yeah, location set. If that weren't enough, my hunky male lead will have three wardrobe overhauls of his own. That's NINE costume changes and six different sets for a thirty-second spot...all of which is being shot in a single day. And here I'm lucky if I can remember to bring a scrub top along when I walk to work in a sports tank.

Surely this is enough to secure a spot in every world record book they can toss at me...or reserved seating in the nut house.

Goes to show that sometimes, turning ones' dreams into reality can be a dodgy prospect. After all, dreams involve instantaneous venue and costume shifts, and never feature the ghastly amounts of time involved to whip my hair and face into a state fit for public consumption, let alone the camera.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

My Big Fat Green Commercial

image courtesy of Stock Exchange










Lights...Camera...ACTION!



That's right, I'm doing a commercial to promote my books...and the eco-friendly fun of ebook reading as well. How did this come about? Well, it's not often that commercial advertisements play in My Wildest Dreams, but one morning I woke up with one playing in surround sound...and I knew I had to do it real-life.

This web commercial (hopefully also going to offline venues) features Yours Truly in some exciting fantasy moments, while reading a variety of ebooks. I'm hoping this will serve a threefold purpose: Promote "green" writing, promote "ebooks" in general, and promoting ME would be great, too! heh heh.

Scripting, storyboarding, and location shots are complete; cast and crew are being finalized for shooting hopefully sometime later this month. So Yes, Mr. Demille, I'm Ready For My Closeup!

Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Character's "Tail" Wags this Dog



**Warning: Today's Blurb Contains Adult Themes**

Okay, it took a sound smack to the head--or rather, my rearmost--by one of my characters in order for this message to truly leave an...impression, but that it has.

In deference to the genius of my character, Mak, I am required to issue the following statement:

::ahem::

My Characters are Wise. My Characters are Always Right. My Characters Are KING.

Last week I posted about Makoto Chinen, the secretive Asian patron of lust who refused to bare his soul (though he readily bares other wonders) so I could add his POV to my current book, Kata Sutra. After what amounted to turning me over his knee in the dojo where he dominates, I had to rethink my strategy. Granted, my post asking how other writers got their clammed-up characters to spill DID garner some interesting and provocative suggestions--everthing from threatening to withhold sex scenes to getting out the whip myself. Yes, many tips were thrust into my writer's hands by sympathetic blog readers. But something was missing.

I knew that somehow, the lesson I was meant to learn from my "schooling" in the dojo was not that I needed to take a firmer hold of Mak's...reins, but rather not to be afraid--or frustrated--when a particularly strong character wishes to take hold of ME and ride the story harder. Mak is powerful and cocksure and ready to take on a challenge--and his latest was convincing this author that Daddy Knows Best. And so he has.

Mak wasn't trying to pose a battle of wills and prove me under-equipped; he was trying to tell me the story itself. I wasn't meant to sit offsides, scratching my head and wondering what his motivations are and where he goes when he's finished getting all hot and sweaty in the dojo--and oh yeah, training martial arts, too. His love interest is meant to do so--on stage.

With a nod and sly wink of agreement, Mak backed off and let me tell the tale his way--with his secret life woven in as essential to his plot line. Let his reporter-slash-bombshell lover drive herself insane with curiosity over what her guy's deal is when they aren't bound up in a tangle of limbs. Better her than me...for everyone concerned.

Thanks, Mak. Feel free to take me in hand anytime. :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Today's Favorite Line Written: His tongue probed hers as he pushed her against the hallway wall, hands running over damp, cooling flesh until she melted against him with a moan and he felt her skin reignite.
Then he pulled away, and after dressing at triple speed bid the duo a nod of farewell and slipped into the night...alone.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Spanked Hard...by My Character!

photo courtesy of Stock Exchange

Well, HERE'S a fine mess I've gotten myself into! My odyssey into the mysteries of POV spurred dozens of comments, here on the blog and various loops I post to. I was most grateful for the insight, and the message was rapid and profound: Multiple POV is where it's at.

That settled, I waggled my fingers and set out to add the third POV "leg" to Kata Sutra's menage/triangle, Asian karate virtuoso Makoto Chinen. Mak is rocked and charming, a bit of a bad boy with discipline in martial arts and a ninth degree black belt in erotic ones...and a complete, utter mystery outside the dojo where he trains and indulges after-hours sexual sparring.

I stared at the story for days, willing this Japanese god to open up to the writer. No go. I pulled all my tricks out of the writer's hat and a few from others. All good, but none effective. Took a break for several days, then returned. Nothing. In the dojo he's all out, right in the fray, open to scene after scene of powerful fighting and dangerous loving. But once he saunters out of the studio in snakeskin boots and tight-fitting jeans, he rides off on his motorcycle and leaves me in the dust. Granted, my characters don't reveal their deep darks right at the off...but I can't even glimpse his house, job, nothing. Whatever his secrets are, they weigh heavily...and just outside the Dakota Dragon dojo where he rules as top student.

This morning I tried an all-out visualization...a direct meeting of the minds. We sat Lotus-style, face to face in the dojo where he readily appears, and there I made my appeal.

I learned two valuable lessons.

1.Add Ya Laters really aren't keen on being such.
2.Venturing alone into a dojo where the quarry is an almost black belt and you never passed orange leaves one at something of a disadvantage.

By the time we parted, a sly grin on his sultry lips, I'd been laid bare and spanked soundly for my crimes--in various interpretations I'll leave to your imagination. Bottom line...he has my number, but I still don't have his.

Now that I've been left red, er, faced and empty-handed, I ponder my next move. I've always believed characters tell the story, not me, but Mak is taking the "Who's Your Master?" approach to a whole new level. I could walk away again, let things cool. But I admit he's got me right where he wants me...hopelessly entranced and dying to know more. He's got me, well, acting like an enthralled reader who is stuck at a crucial moment...with her hands cuffed behind her so she can't turn the page. Touche, Mak. Now let's dance!

Have YOU ever faced off with a character who simply wouldn't reveal themselves? Challenged you at every turn? Punished you for crimes real and imagined? Hell, answered, "No Comment" to simple matters like "Smoking or non?" "Paper or plastic?" "Dress right or left?" What did you do to lure him or her out of hiding?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Recent Favorite Line Written...Evan half knelt over Mak, cocking back a fist in a show of setting up a finishing blow. “And maybe a young man like you has a few things to learn before earning his black belt...here or in Desiree's bed.”

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I'm Totally P.O.(v)'d

Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange

**Warning: Today's Favorite Line contains adult content**





That's right, I said it out loud...I'm PO'd about POV. (That's Point of View for the uninitiated, or the viewpoint from which a story is told.)

When I was new to fiction, there was plenty said about POV do's and dont's. The rules were simple: stick to one or two unless you're Stephen King, which you ain't (nyah nyah). Don't get POV's mixed up, don't change them like underwear, and don't use second person...because it's apparently just too freakin' weird.

Simple, however, is not always easy. Once I abandoned my single-POV short fiction for romance, I automatically sought the his & hers approach...then found myself plagued with guilt whenever I left the other character alone too long, as though they'd feel slighted and misbehave when it finally came around to their turn. Admittedly, I was also quite curious to know what the other one was up to, so I simply HAD to check in and see what I'd "missed." Tennis-match style head-hopping followed, probably enough to get me sued for whiplash. Fortunately, time, patience, and a good lashing from one of my editors allowed me to retire my tennis racket and delay POV changes, fermenting anticipation like fine wine.

Since then I've written over half a dozen romantic tales, and by now one would assume I'm quite secure in handling perspective. So I was...until Kata Sutra, my new WIP this week. In this latest red-hot, I envisioned a triangle or menage scenario and was wondering how to handle the POV. The main M/F had stories to tell that required two POVs, but I hardly wanted to toss in a whole other tamale just for the sex. To fix this awkward third wheel issue I went to the Big Authority, Google, to scare up some other erotic writers and their thoughts on the subject.

Just my luck to discover that apparently, his/her POV ain't where it's at. According to several sources, big pubbers like Harlequin (and supposedly, readers) are most interested in single female POV.

Doth mine eyes deceive me? No heroes unless they are within their intended's eye line? Sacrilege! Of course, I never write hero POV just to "see what he thinks about the romance." They have subplot demons of their own that must be sorted out by the end. But should they? My research this week was enough to give me pause, especially about my more erotic work. Should I go feminist and dump male POV? This would solve my immediate dilemma with Kata Sutra, but then huky martial arts instructor Evan Dakota won't have his issues aired in public. Drat the luck.

So now I turn to YOU, dear Readers-o-the-Blog, for insight on the mysteries of red-hot POV. What do you prefer in your spicy reads? Solid immersion within the feminine POV throughout, leaving all of the inner workings of the hero shrouded in mystery until she peels back the layers? Or a tale where the man has his own dragons to slay after the heroine has retired to her bedchamber to dream of true love? Do tell! I confess that while I enjoy both, I prefer the latter...no doubt why I write it. In real life romance I've only got my viewpoint, so for fantasy I appreciate a peek at the other side.


Today's Favorite Line Written (tragically bound for the Delete key should I have to dump male POV): A short, almost feral growl sought escape at the very thought of the seemingly innocent, blond goddess who had blindsided Evan the week before. Hair like an angel, curves like a demoness, she was enough to bring any man to full attention...as attested to now by the perceptible twitch against the mat beneath him as the memory of round, full lips and firm breasts sent a fair percent of his circulation shooting south.

Friday, May 23, 2008

May: Novella in a Month Challenge! Week 4

The end is in sight! CataUniversity's May novella challenge continues as I post my final updates. Off we go!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 25

Some days, it's all I can do to open a manuscript file and get a single word typed. Others, it's all I can do to manage anything else. The Big Bang was today, folks; the day when the entire story exploded, fell together, and landed at the inevitable feet of two simple words...The End.

It Is Finished! In a final push to find out what happens to Steve and Jessamine, I pounded out 4,240 words to beat the challenge and find myself with a finished draft. 27,139 words in 25 days...not bad for a plotless writer. Salud. :)

But stick around...I'm not finished with challenge updates! Stay tuned for more notes, a surprise, and an interview with Deidre Durance, whose prize winning suggestion formed the basis for the hero of Island Seduction.

Today's Favorite Line Written...gives away too much of the ending. Here's a runner-up: "You could have talked about your little...adventure, but you didn't.”
“Maybe I've been busy.”
“And maybe you know the same thing I know.” Mr. Rose moved to stand behind Jessamine's seat. “The general populace is in no way prepared to know their common myths are all...real.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 24

I've noticed an interesting fact about my writing. The more trouble my characters get themselves into, the harder and faster I type. And where they've wound up today, I'm typing about three hundred words per minute. My Big Bang Theory is coming...

Word count: 988; Total to date: 22,899

Today's Favorite Line Written: “A fun little bonus, blissful ignorance. Consider it a free gift with purchase."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 23

What I lacked in yesterday's anemic word count I made up for with today's whopper...having to leave to go to my "other job" was a tough prospect when all I wanted to do was let my hero have his hair-blowing, triumphant moment. For now, his hair is still experiencing the effects of island humidity, and he's surrounded by trouble.

Word count: 1924; Total to date: 21,911

Today's Favorite Line Written: "Look, it's obvious I'm interested in her. But that interest is purely sexual, not professional."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 22--The end is seriously nigh!

...with both the challenge and my story. My characters are about to hit their most dire of straits, and my fingers are pounding furiously to get them out.

Word count: 422; Total to date: 20,409

Today's Favorite Line Written: “So, that's what you think? We can just go our separate ways, you'll make your client happy, and then never mention the...unusual things you saw to another living soul?”
“Excellent idea. Must be why you've got the big office.”

Friday, May 16, 2008

May: Novella in a Month Challenge! Week 3

CataUniversity's May novella challenge continues, and while I'll be posting updates daily, they are grouped by week rather than in thirty separate posts. Off we go!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 21--Week 3 ends with a bang

All Is Lost with my story.

Sounds dire, doesn't it? A dread moment when a writer throws up their hands and scratches the whole piece, maybe even considers giving up writing altogether. Not so! In fact, it's one of my favorite points in a story.

I reached that moment today where my characters lose everything, with no hope of regaining it. Will they succumb to a turn in the tides...or rally to beat the odds? Stay tuned!

Word count: 735; Total to date: 19,987

Today's Favorite Line Written: The only man she'd ever met who could make tropical resort wear look good--no, downright corporate--strolled to the wide window overlooking his villa and private strip of beach.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 20

Caught in the act! Well, not entirely *that* act, but there was a bit of a surprise for my characters today. While writing this scene I realized I am known to throw a bucket of cold water or two on the more...heated moments in stories. A phone will ring, an argument will ensue, a startling moment of clarity will dawn...something to interruptus the in flagrante.

Such distractions draw out the inevitable, building even more sweet tension and torture than a simple parade of private interludes can. Plus, they're fun to write!

Word count: 1,034; Total to date: 19,252

Today's Favorite Line Written: What the hell was going on here? Who was Steve...really?
A mocking whisper answered. "If he's a man you picked, you can bet you're not being summoned to the office for that long-overdue Employee of the Month badge."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 19

Conflict. We try to avoid it like the plague in life, but live for it in our fiction. Go figure! I love to write conflict--not just dire, life-threatening climax, but the minor niggles, the subtle tension between characters that leaves you with that feel of an itch lingering just out of reach, one that desperately needs to be scratched. Conflict keeps our fingers flipping the pages of a good book, keeps us looking for the stick so we can reach that itchy spot and satisfy it.

Here's to itchy writing!


Word count: 1,083; Total to date: 18,218

Today's Favorite Line Written: "You came, you saw, you conquered...not necessarily in that order. Now go away.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 18

Magical Moments Week continues with something I like to call Rules Can Be Fun. No, I wasn't one of those kids who lived to be named Hall Monitor...I'm talking about establishing rules for characters and worlds in fantasy/paranormal settings.

Thus far this week I've begun sculpting the physical realm of the resort's ninth floor portal, the fact that guests on the upper floors (and occasionally below) are not always human, and that some of those otherworldly entities include angels, vampires, and even gods.

When creating a story using fantasy characters, a writer has to establish rules for them to function under. Do angels really fly? Are they as cherubic and pure as lore portrays? Do they interact romantically--or outright erotically--with mortals? Do vampires in this world fit the usual lore, or are they variants? How do they coexist among other races--and humans--in a resort setting? On and on the questions go...and it's a real kid-in-a-chocolate-shop ride to get to establish these rules and the minutiae that branches off each one.

Few things in writing are cooler than this, but one of them is the fact that if there's anything MORE fun and intriguing than Rule Making, it's getting to stretch and play around in that universe once the game plan is set! So as great as Magical Moments has been thus far, there's nowhere to go from here but up!
(Did I mention how much I LOVE being a fiction writer?)

Word count: 1,008; Total to date: 17,135

Today's Favorite Line Written: Sometimes life paid you back in pennies; other, gold doubloons...and tonight he was Steve, Pirate Captain of the High Seas.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 17

Boy, what a fun day. My hero--and I--got our first look at the mysterious ninth floor of the Amante del Mar resort...a floor that defies the very fabric of physics, reality, and paranormal romance!

Have you ever seen a film that opens onto a jaw-dropping, panoramic sight? The first glimpse of the monstrous spaceship in the opening of Star Wars, the first look at Hogwart's castle in Harry Potter...or the magical all-candy room inside Willy Wonka's chocolate factory? Characters stare in jaw-dropping wonder, dramatic music swells to a crescendo...there are moments in writing that feel just like that.

Today was one.

Word count: 984; Total to date: 16,127

Today's Favorite Line Written:The first thing Steve did when stepping out onto the ninth floor was to do a quick mental calculation of just how many alcoholic beverages he'd consumed that night. Once certain he wasn't raging drunk, he glanced at Chuck and decided to rename him Toto.

Not only were they not in Kansas anymore, this wasn't even Oz.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 16
**warning: today's blurb contains adult content**

My education in the ways of Lust continued today as I finished writing the sizzling confrontation between the demigod servant of Eros and heroine Jessamine. He seems to have proven a naughty influence on me, since my guest blog over on Eternal Press Authors today talks about What Makes Erotica Erotic.

Today's word count and favorite line is brought to you by...Dr. Pepper.
Day 16 count: 888 words. Total to date: 15143

Day 16 Favorite Line: "You've reached the moment of overstaying your welcome...unless you desire a lesson in how a fiery tongue might be of better use to your gods.”
Jessamine drew back, distancing her flesh from supernaturally fortified chemistry until the tingle of hardening nipples ceased. “They're not my gods.”
Lust's eyes missed nothing. “Indeed?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 15
**warning: today's blurb contains adult content**

Also known as Day 3 of "My muse is a caffeine freak," which I blogged about over on Bragging Rites!

Introducing Lust, demigod servant of Eros whose supernaturally gorgeous looks are capable of bringing women to their knees...and whose obsession to prove that his powers exceed demigod Love's prompts some red hot and devious interference in the lives of visitors to the Amante del Mar resort.

Now that I've finally put him onstage, Lust is even hotter and more driven by his own lascivious powers than I envisioned! I can't wait to see what he'll conjure up next...and to write a planned episode featuring Lust in a romantic subplot of his own.

Today's count: 1231; total to date: 14255

Day 15 Favorite Line: Brows arched over Lust's feral gaze. “You presume to know the mind of a god? Rather daring to come alone with such an accusation." He shifted in his seat, forcing Jessamine to avert her gaze from the dangerous bulge rising in his trousers. “I'm not sure whether to be aroused in anger...or desire.”

Saturday, May 10, 2008

May: Novella in a Month Challenge! Week 2

CataUniversity's May novella challenge continues, and while I'll be posting updates daily, they are grouped by week rather than in thirty separate posts. Off we go!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 14
**warning: today's blurb contains adult themes**

Well! Today I woke up inspired enough to dash off another scene first thing, can of Coke in hand (no coffee filters). So, my theory proves right...my muse is a caffeine-a-holic. Perhaps an intervention is in order.

Meanwhile, I'm excited that today's scene writes me right up to a much-deliberated and awaited cliffhanger moment in my series: the introduction of Love and Lust. Characters in all senses of the word, the ongoing rivalry between these demigod servants of Athena and Eros over whose powers are greater leads to some rather inspired spying--and fierce meddling--in the affairs of my main characters. I can't wait to see what they have to say for themselves when my heroine confronts them...tomorrow. If I can wait that long.

Today's count: 830; total to date: 13024

Day 14 Favorite Line: Since when had Jessamine Sinclair lost her wit over rippling muscles, no matter how artfully arranged? Yet she'd let a man love her senseless inside a closet, for God's sake—and while on duty to boot. Maybe she was delirious, gripped in the fever of some rare, tropical disease.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 13

My funktacular mood continued in force...mind is exhausted, body not far behind. Finally started reviving at, of all places, WORK, and several hours into my shift I took a break and cranked out a whopping 1,469 on my word count.

In a moment of sheer genius, I think I figured out the big mystery.
More caffeine=more word count. Zero caffeine=funktacularness.

Total to date: 12,194

Day 13 Favorite Line: No doubt some high-end money was draining out to afford penthouse floor accommodations; money spent sticking it to some trashy broad instead of treasuring his wife. Steve stifled the urge to introduce Chuck to a little beauty he liked to call his Right Hell-Hook.

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Day 12

Well, my Mother's Day reprieve was apparently a temporary one; today I did absolutely no writing. In fact, I pretty much embargoed the computer altogether and recharged by snuggling on the couch watching movies with my daughter. I've been so busy between the recent release of A Grand Seduction, my Green Writing Challenge campaigning, and my job/life that I imagine my brain is somewhat rejecting the idea of adding One More Thing. Today's day off left me in something of a funk--I do miss it when I'm not writing and think I should be--but was definitely needed.

Word Count: Still stands at 10,725

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Day 11
**warning: today's blurb contains adult situations**

This ostrich is trying to pull her head out of the sand of procrastination, so I buckled down to some serious business and wrote my characters out of the closet today. They'd been giving the silent treatment in protest over my leaving them hanging for a couple days, but for Mother's Day they apparently decided to give me a break.

I hope your Mother's Day was as festive and productive as mine! Gotta love making your quota, fresh vegetable cheese omelettes, luscious ripe fruit, and bunches of flowers...followed by a family stroll to the ice cream shop to honor our household's other official holiday: Ice Cream Sunday!

Word count: 928 words today, total 10,725

Day 11 Favorite Line: “I didn't let you drag me here for wild sex.” Her sultry whisper turned his stomach sideways until a fresh wave of desire twitched. “But that doesn't mean I'm not properly thankful for it.”

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Day 10
**warning: today's blurb contains some language**

Well, after some head scratching, glaring at the screen, abandoning the laptop for a trip to the local fresh fruit stand, and other productive writer's tricks, I managed to get 1000 words today. Still not feeling back "in the flow" with this story, but I'm headed in the right direction.

Total word count: 9797

Day 10 Favorite Line: "Don't worry," he said, squeezing her hand as he lowered it back down to her side. "I'm the Good Guy in this story. But I am a guy. And you're so damned beautiful."
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Day 9

Okay, I'm really off my game! Yesterday's hiatus to take care of business turned into the better part of two. For the very prinicple of the thing, however, I squeaked out a pathetic 354 words by burning some 2 a.m. oil. Hmmm, and tomorrow I'm planning a shoppapalooza with my preschooler, Sunday's Mother's Day...I'll definitely have my quota makeup work cut out for me!

Total word count: 8248

Day 2 Favorite Line: The night he'd made his play for a table—and possibly, her—she would never have pegged him for an Upper Levels guest. He came off strictly second floor—maybe third.

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Day 8: Week 2 Begins with a...fizzle

WELL, after a strong showing in Week 1, the brakes screeched to a halt today. A publisher contacted me wanting to see one of my manuscripts, so I spent my "free time" today getting it formatted and Ready For Prime Time. I'm a bit afraid to open that dark supply closet where I left my half-naked characters! They're going to be really ticked that I left 'em hanging!

Today's count= a big squat! Total to date: 7894

Thursday, May 01, 2008

May: Novella in a Month Challenge! Week 1

I'm taking part in CataUniversity's May novella challenge! I'll be posting updates here on my blog throughout the month, but rather than post thirty short separate posts on the topic I'll group them weekly. Off we go!

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Day 7!! 1 week down!

Today I wound up leaving my characters in the dark...literally! It can drive me nuts to walk away from writing a scene right in the middle of a particularly juicy, scary, or suspenseful moment, but sometimes I have no choice. Getting back into "that" precise flow after I've given it distance can be tough, too, which slows down the writing overall. Other times, that bit of space allows me to come back with a fresh angle that makes the piece even stronger.

Which will be the case when I go back tomorrow and find my half-naked characters in a supply closet? Day 1 of Week 2 will tell the tale!

Day 7 Favorite Line: Draining off the foam in the dim cacophony, his eyes took in fifty scandalous sights at once—including one or two that would be permanently burned into his retinas. But no sign of the Chuckster.

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Day 6
**warning: today's favorite line contains adult themes**

Finally did what I've been wanting and got straight to writing first thing (well, after breakfast). This paid off! Hit 1462 words and could easily have kept going...baby, I was on a roll. Alas, the dreaded Other Things in Life didn't care about my roll, nor that I was leaving my character in the midst of a rather shocking discovery. Ah well. Total to date: 6951.

Day 6 Favorite Line: Though of course, were he the Highlander from his sleazy novel he could have climbed a sheer, craggy cliff to a castle turret, fought fifty bad guys off at the top with a sword heavier than his last girlfriend, then boffed the rescued maiden for hours on end afterward before maybe breaking a sweat.

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Day 5
**warning: today's favorite line contains a little language**

Do days ever run away from you so fast you're sure you'll never catch up? Today I had two editing projects, promotion for A Grand Seduction, a new Squidoo lens to promote, the usual assortment of Email, and oh yeah, a house to clean, daughter's hair to braid, dolls to help her dress,alphabet letters to drill, meals to make, and a job to go to. I just knew TODAY was the day I'd fail to write a single word on Island Seduction, let along hit the challenge goal. So what happened?

969 words today; total 5489. I did it!! How?

As soon as I took care of the MUSTS (dolls, hair, meal, some editing--work is later today), I dropped everything and started pounding keys. I could just have easily reversed that process--not allowed myself the fun of writing until I'd gotten my necessaries finished--but in my life, the necessaries are on endless parade. If I don't make writing one of my very TOP priorities, I'll never get around to it. So my characters were alive and kickin' today!

Day 5 Favorite Line:
During one of his baste-and-turn sessions on the deck above the beach (less irritating sand to contend with—his ass was not an oyster and he had no desire to have to pluck pearls out of it) he'd spotted an interesting anomaly about the hotel's structure—it stood several stories higher than the number of floors available from the main elevators.

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Day 4
**warning: today's favorite line contains adult themes**

Broke a major rule today! I did advance the plot, but decided the opening lacked the heat of the first book. Went back and lit a can of Sterno under the characters to make 'em simmer more...and simmer they did! Still haven't hit my stride of writing on awakening, but got an early enough start to hit 200 over goal by 11:30. 1032 words today, for a total of 4520.

On a humorous side note titled, "I love to torment characters," not only is Steve sandophobic on an island, he's stuck reading ROMANCE NOVELS to while away long hours of surveillance. HA!

Day 4 Favorite Line: How did women read this stuff? Nymphs with flowing hair, nipples that hardened into giant pencil erasers with a mere glance at a man, spreading their legs in pornographic delight by the second chapter...whoever wrote this junk never met any of the women HE'D ever dated, that was for damn sure. And he hadn't exactly grown up in a monastery.

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Day 3

Introducing Steve Detroit, my hunky alpha P.I. He's turning into quite the character--humorous, smooth, sexy, and determined to let nothing get between him and the truth about his cheating brother-in-law...though the seductive Jessamine may undermine this plan.

I love when my characters take some free reign in how they develop. It’s an exciting part of the writing process. So much so that today I did 1486 words, for a total to date of 3488. Too bad I have to go to work, or else I’d probably try to hit the frozen yogurt shop again. (I do try not to let my calorie count exceed word counts!)

Day 3 Favorite Line: He should probably be grateful he hadn't been sent to a nudist colony. Not that he was prude—not by a long shot. But the one such beach he'd seen didn't exactly attract supermodels and fitness buffs...and he wasn't keen on all the exotic places sand liked to wedge into afterward.

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Day 2
Work was so nutty yesterday that I was too blown to give even a wisp of thought to my male lead or the story. Then I had a fun guest blog stint scheduled for this morning, a spouse who needed errands run, and a 4-year-old who had apparently made some major Mommy 'n Me plans. I didn't even start on the challenge until this afternoon, with constant interruptions.

Nevertheless, I somehow made 50 words over goal! Not quite as far ahead as yesterday, but I'll take it. Of course I had to celebrate by immediately abandoning the laptop to take my daughter for frozen yogurt!

Day 2 Favorite Line: Jessmine turned to find her boss in his usual stance, hands behind his back and a pasted-on smile that had the unsettling ability to say, "Here to serve" to customers and, "Watch your ass" to employees at the same time.

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Day 1
I bit my nails all the way through last night, as I had no plot or even a male lead! Not how I begin a writing project, to say the least. To kick my muse in the butt I held an 11th hour contest on NovelSisterhood, and got a great suggestion from winner Deidre Durance for a P.I. alpha male that I'm going to "hunk up."

Despite the worry I managed exceed the daily goal of 830 words and did 1122! I opened with the female lead, who I know more about, ending with the intro of Mr. Hunk. The rest of today I'll hand him over to my muse to think on in prep for Day 2.

Day 1 Favorite Line:
Angel wings and Bermuda shorts definitely did not mix—for a number of reasons, she grumbled—and the manager had to be called in to reaffirm the resort policy on certain types of...mingling before human diners caught a feathery glimpse.
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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Tax Stimulus"...Stimulate CHANGE!

They're here! News has it that the IRS has begun depositing tax stimulus rebate checks even sooner than expected, as part of President Bush's plan to hopefully inject funds into a sagging consumer economy. People I've talked to have mentally spent the money several times over, and I'll admit I was one there for a bit. Granted, even the maximum amount doesn't exactly add up to a winfall, but who couldn't think of a few things they could buy with it? Assuming it isn't gobbled by gasoline and food prices that conveniently rose just prior to this bonus.

But wait! "Money talks," the saying goes, and these dollars in particular are some bits o' green the government is most interested in hearing from. So I thought to myself, since we have the White House's rapt attention on the matter, just what would we have our dollars say?

WWND?

What Would Nature Do? With so many average Joe taxpayers about to be on the one-time dole, why not send a loud message that what Americans truly want most--what they're willing to invest these dollars in to see happen--is NOT a glut of here today, trash tomorrow consumer goods,but rather a sustainable future?

What better use of the money our government could be spending on the environmental crisis than to do so ourselves? Shout loud and clear that we are willing to take action with the funds they place in our hands...as they should do themselves.

Some ideas for things we can acquire to send this message AND help our cause at the same time:

Low flush toilets
Water saver shower heads
Solar rechargers
CFL lightbulbs for every fixture in the house
Locally grown produce
Trees
Vegetable/fruit seeds and plants
Native plants/vegetation to replace that "All American Lawn"
Permaculture supplies
Reusable totes for groceries
Composting kits
Water filters (to replace bottled water)
Join an organic food co-op (like organic.meetup.com)
Donate to environmental causes
"Vintage" clothing and goods
Energy Star model refrigerator/dishwasher to replace older models
Bicycles
Eco-friendly household detergent and cleaners
Solar lighting for outdoors
...and so on. And instead of seeking the Cheapo Deal from the Big Boxes, why not make as many of these purchases from local Mom and Pops?

Ever watch the news when disaster is impending or has just hit? People flock in a panic to stock up on supplies of water,canned goods, batteries, flashlights...anything they need to prepare for the siege ahead. Well, the environment is in a state of disaster, and we are under siege.

What might our government do if they see its citizens using these leisure funds to "panic buy" conservation and sustainability, rather than a glut of here-today, trash-tomorrow impulse goods?

Such action could speak louder than dozens of global warming films or tens of thousands of activists.

So why not use this IRS green to GO green? Let the Almighty Dollar shout from the solar-paneled rooftops that WE WANT CHANGE...and we "consumers" must have it NOW. Supply and demand.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Dream of Green

It's been nine months since I first dreamed up the Green Writing Challenge, and with Earth Day coming April 22 I've been reflecting on changes I've made to reduce the impact of my love of reading and writing--and what needs improvement.
My Green commitment for the first year was as follows:
1. Submit only electronic queries/manuscripts.
2. Keep lights off at night.
3. Publish eBook only for 1 year.
4. Read more eBooks.
5. Do a walking book tour to promote green living in the book community.
6. Limit the amount of snail mail promotions and correspondence.

Thus far I have kept these commitments,except the walking book tour. Since I also committed to publish eBook only, I did not know how best to do a live tour without print books in hand. I could tout my 2007 print release, VISIONS, but that would involve ordering a run of books up front and the fuel to ship them to my house...with the likelihood of either wasteful over-ordering (not that my publisher would find that a waste!) or running out before the tour is finished and then what? I'm very proud that VISIONS uses POD technology, a more eco-friendly method than mass market. But my goal for the walking tour is to be even lower impact. So, I'm still conceptualizing the best way to adapt a traditional signing tour for this.

As for keeping lights off at night...I admit that's been a bit tougher than I'd hoped as well. I do a good deal of writing work late at night, and it strains my eyes to squint at a bright computer screen with the rest of the room shrouded in darkness. I experimented with candles and a battery-operated camping lantern, but wound up switching over to the new spiral energy-saving bulbs and simply keeping nighttime lights to a minimum. Progress, one step at a time!

In addition to minimizing the paper, energy, and fuel use of snail mailing, I'm also seeking ways to reduce energy consumption on electronic communication devices. I'm purchasing a solar recharger to power my cell phone, PDA, and music player; eventually I'd like to upgrade to a unit capable of powering laptop and desktop as well. We use solar lighting on our patio, which makes for a nice spot to sit with the laptop while working on a book or promoting.

Naturally, my dream of green extends far beyond the pages of the books I love, and my household is gradually switching to sustainable forms of living like recycling, reducing vehicle use, growing food, buying more local goods, etc. Many good resources are out there for home conservation, but I found none when looking for eco-friendly reading and writing. So I started the Green Writing Challenge to show that everything we do likely has a greener alternative.

Whether you are a reader, writer, or publisher, consider celebrating Earth Day this year by signing up for the Green Writing Challenge to show your support for green living...in all aspects of life.