10 December 2012

Status and More

Life has been hectic with the holidays, NaNoWriMo, kids' activities and the like but I've kept with the writing. Here's the latest.

I won NaNoWriMo 2012. Here's the web badge to prove it. But, that doesn't mean that I finished the story. Eleven scenes still await my attention. My goal: finish the story by the end of the month. I would love to finish it all in a week, ala NaNoWriMo pacing, but with the holiday and kids' programs, I think taking the rest of the month is more realistic.

Last week, I listened to a free Writer's Digest webinar, Novel Revision: Craft a Story Readers Can't Put Down, by James Scott Bell. A high level overview of considerations/tips for the revision process. I was looking for tips on how to get through the process, given my hate/hate relationship with revision. I got enough out of the one hour event to tempt me into purchasing his Revision and Self Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel that Sells. His "death overhanging" concept, as in does the story have a death (be it physical, professional, or emotional) looming, helped me see the "what are the stakes?" in a new light. 
After I've read the book, I'll let you know what I thought and what I plan to add to my revision process.

Which brings me back to revision. After I finish "Winter's Tango," I'll get back to revising Angie's ID theft story. After that, I'll pick another story to revise. How to pick from the other stories that need so much help, I don't know.

Maybe, I'll spring for some professional help. (Ha, ha. I heard that.) I'm at that stage where I need some guidance ... a strengths and weaknesses assessment of my craft. And as I've still not looked for a critique group, I've been thinking of a particular writer/editor/consultant, Rosina Lippi, to give it to me straight. 

Because of the various writers' blogs and a book that a family member sent me, I've also thought about blogging-a-book. Jury is still out on that idea, but if I do, I'll use my time travel/romance story as my vehicle. Excerpts from that story can be found here. If your interested in more of Akeva's story, let me know in the comments.

Until next time, I'm off to a crippling ice age and looming death.

15 November 2012

Brief NaNoWriMo Update & an Excerpt

I've been quiet on the blog and social network front, busy with November life things and getting my NaNoWriMo word counts every day.

At the halfway point, I'm proud to say that I'm halfway to the 50k goal. On track. The story will be longer than 50k, as it's currently outlined to 60 scenes, and it seems that I've got lots to include since many of the scenes are longer than my usual 1000 words. I'm having fun getting the words down, even if some of them take longer than others, and happen way past my normal bedtime.

For fun, I thought I'd share the first scene of the story as it stands. Please forgive typos and glitches, this is a 1st draft with no editing performed on the scene.


Winter's Tango, Chapter 1 -- A Negotiation:

Jack glanced around the room, assessing. Aloud he asked himself, “Would this be enough?”

He’d assumed old-World grace, but how old? Medieval Old or just Renaissance Old? Unsure, he’d  picked this fourteenth century schloss. Old meets not so New. He’d arranged to have the whole to himself, no servants, no other guests.

Standing in the reception room, surrounded by centuries old artwork and artifacts, he remembered standing in just this spot before once before. He’d walked in from a particularly cold night. The icicles on his beard had melted from the fire, leaving cool spots on his hunting shirt. As they’d realized who he was, a hush had fallen from those waiting for the festivities to begin. Whispers had carried his name across the great hall. His chest had swell as some had watched him with fear, some with envy, others with lust, and most of them with respect.

The fire popped in the large fireplace tearing him from his memory.  Tonight was the next step to regaining the respect he deserved. His plan was simple: show them all that he’d do what must be done. They were already talking about the changes his plans had brought about, there was more to come. He’d show them that he deserved to be respected. The wind howled outside. 

Now, the fire cast a decent balance of light and shadow into the large room, the smoke adding just a hint of obscurity. He inhaled and a hint of a smile lifted the corners of his mouth. Had it been just himself to consider, every fireplace in the schloss would be roaring with fires of pine, hickory, and even that mesquite they love so much in the desert. He wondered briefly if in deference to his guest, if he should’ve burned peat.

Much weighted on this encounter.

Turning his attention back to the room, he checked off items on his mental list. Beeswax candles burned steady in the sconces and their own sweet scent. Glass and crystal surfaces made it seem as if fireflies hovered by.

It had to to be perfect. Not just because of who he was expecting, not that she wouldn’t appreciate his efforts, but because of who he was.

Outside the wind wound itself around the castle, whistling through gaps at the doors and windows. Choppy waves stirred the moat. Snowflakes began to accumulate along the window panes.
Perfect. Again, the details mattered.

His cell phone practically screamed in the silence. For the millionth time he cursed at the  contraption, a necessary evil needed for business. He pressed the button harder than required. “Tell me.”

As he listened to the update from his watcher, he heard a soft chuckle behind him. Without a word, he ended the call and turned around. He’d deal with the idiot on the phone later. With a smile, he said. “You’re early.”

At the door, she emerged from the darkness, yet not entering the light completely. She kept her gaze on him. “Is this to be a seduction?”

She hadn’t taken in the surroundings. Had the hag been watching him set the stage?

When had she last been entertained with sex? Would that be all he needed to give her? “Would you like it to be?” Not that he’d expected to perform in that arena, yet if it helped along his efforts …

A throaty laugh swam through the smoke. “Jack Frost between my legs,” the shadows still shrouded her face, yet he saw her lips parted with an almost inaudible sigh, “again.” She took another step towards the light. “I wonder if you would still have me.”

Jack smiled, hoping to hide his eagerness, his revulsion. “Why else would I invite you here?” He swept his hand around the room. He poured two glasses of the rare Irish whisky he’d procured just for her. “Join me for a drink.”

Holding out a glass to her, he waited. She kept her place. “You think me unaware of your plans? We are a gossipy lot. Not that don’t recognize your style,” she waved her hand behind her, indicating the gathering storm outside, “a hard cold with sharp edges.”

He set her drink on the glass-topped coffee table, then sipped his own. The amber liquid flowed down his throat. He preferred aquavit, or just about any one of the plethora of vodkas available, over whisky. But perfection was called for. “Plans?”

“I’m not to be toyed with, sprite.”

“Then let’s talk.” Jack set his glass down and turned to face her. “You know of my plans, and you still came as invited, then I assume you are interested. That leaves us with negotiating an 
agreement. Where would you like to start?”

“And what of Nieva?”

Jack raised his eyebrows. Nieva. Of course their negotiations would touch upon Nieva, but he hadn’t anticipated that she would be front and center of them.

As he formulated a response, the husky voice interrupted his thoughts. “What does she say of your plans,” she glanced around the room, “of your seduction of me.”

“Of my business, Nieva has yet—“

“Your business?” Her laugh, sharp and cold, echoed in the schloss. “This has always been her business, as well you ken.”

He nodded. “I suppose that used to be true.” Settling down onto the leather couch, he watched his former lover from across the room. “We both know that she’s not,” he paused, searching for the right word, “interested in managing it any longer.”

No matter his plans and aspirations, he wouldn’t tell anyone the truth about Nieva. Not that he owed her anything, yet …

“So, you’re acting on her behalf?”

“You’re here. I am here. We have lots to offer each other.” He moved over on the couch in invitation, and picked up the two glasses with their amber liquid. “Just two old friends—“

She took another step towards him, her eyes narrowed in assessment at him. “Lovers.”

Acknowledging her with a nod, he continued, “and lovers, simply conversing about working together. Nothing more, nothing less.”

He lifted her glass to her again. The wrap she held around her shifted slightly, loosening, but she didn’t move closer. 

Her strength would make this final phase of his plans easier. “You know where my interests lie.”

She snorted then. “You mean besides between your legs?”

“I am no longer ruled by just my sexual desires.” Memories of their time together came to him. 
She’d been a demanding teacher and he’d learned much from her. Yet, it had been some time since they’d been together. He’d had other teachers since then. She knew as much. Would she be a willing student?

“And at the moment?” She’d interrupted his thoughts again, and while he’d been reminiscing, she’d taken another step. Her wrap draped off her shoulders, as if trying to tempt him.

He shrugged a shoulder. “I didn’t say that I knew how to control those urges all the time.”

23 October 2012

NaNoWriMo, here I come.

Yep, I'm going to do it. So, I've been busy pre-planning my story.

Originally, I'd planned on individual posts on the tools that I'm using to prepare for my new story. But, with Life stuffing October with things to do and places to be, I've run out of time. So instead, I'll list a quick blurb about for my go-to tools.

  • Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. As I've mentioned before, this structure spoke to this "retired" engineer like nothing else.
  • 7 Point Story Structure as explained by Dan Wells. I just found his 5 video series on You Tube. These videos seemed like Cliff Notes version for the basics of Brooks Story Engineering. The link above takes you to the first video of the series.
  • I recently bought The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson, and I can already see how her visual plot tools and character building can help my stories. Her plot line structure is also broken into 4 sections, similar to Brooks's.
  • Holly Lisle's How to Think Sideways course has been my mainstay for how to develop stories that I want, and hopefully others, want to read.
  • NaNoWriMo.org has lots of tips, tricks and inspiration to browse through when stuck. If you want to Buddy me, AnneV is my handle.
  • Lynn Viehl will be blogging on various topics related NaNoWriMo.
  • I've created a Google+  circle for those on that network planning on participating in NaNoWriMo. Head over to my Google+ profile, I've just shared my circle.
  • Twitter. Many writers hang out on this social network, using hashtags like #amwriting and #nanowrimo. For specific tweets from NaNoWriMo directly, follow @nanowordsprints and @nanowrimo.
  • Pinterest. I created a board to house all photos that will help me hopefully create a realistic world of my story and characters.
  • Scrivener - for all my writing and digital project organizing needs. The company is a sponsor of NaNoWriMo and has special offers for participants.
Time to get back to outlining.

02 October 2012

Screen Setup

Still revising, slowly but surely. Not going to hit my targets for this month, so it's time to think about how to move forward with NaNoWriMo right around the corner. To NaNo, or not to NaNo. That is the question.

In the meantime, thought I'd share what my setup looked like today. On the big monitor, Scrivener is open with my current WIP along with Visual Thesaurus and iTunes. My laptop screen holds Chrome with my Trello story To-Do cards. Using iThoughts, a mindmapping app, on my iPad, I created a character's family tree. Yes, there is a scrap piece of paper and a pen too. Other notes and story outlines are in stacks just out of the photo on the desk and on a cookbook holder.

On a side note, something cool that I discovered today ... if using a Mac or Bonjour enabled Windows computer, a user can access/download iThoughts mindmaps via a browser if the iOS device and the computer are on the same wi-fi network.

07 September 2012

Links and Stuff

My wave of writing momentum broke, leaving me wading in the waters. Not that I'm not getting nothing done, I'm still moving towards shore. Just not very fast.

Rather than go on about my revision hell, I thought I'd link/share some posts that have entertained me, provided conversation fodder, and helped my writing process along recently.

  • Donald Maass tweets golden nuggets that writers can use to improve any story. Using Hootsuite, I email his tweets to myself, then copy and paste them into an Evernote note that I save just for his tweets. If I need an idea of how to make the story larger, I browse the list of his tweets. My favorite at the moment is #87 -- I'm so going to let it hurt. 
  • Pocket is a read-later service that I found via Lifehacker (another good site) that allows me to save articles and blogposts that I want to read for later. I was using Instapaper, even paid for the app, when I learned about Pocket, a free app. Both apps get the job done and make it easy to share the articles, but found Pocket's layout more visually appealing. I use Pocket to save recipes, writing articles, news pieces, and even links to videos, then dispo them to trash, Evernote, or email for final filing.
  • Lynn Viehl, one of my favorite authors and  bloggers, has a Get Back to Writing theme this week on her blog. One of her posts has my Muse waving her sword and spouting ideas for a few short stories.
  • Over at Photofocus, Scott Bourne always posts stunning photos as well as helpful photography related tips. Much of his advice is just as applicable to writing and life as to photography, like this one about scrubbing negativity from your creative space/life. (I still have the article in my Pocket queue to keep the message present for myself.)
Hope these links sparked inspiration, curiosity of sources/services available on the web, or just allowed you to take a break.

Me, I'm back to revising. Maybe, now that I have some pain to inflict character building to do, I'll have some fun.

14 August 2012

Resurfacing to Roll With It

Resurfacing. Finally.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, with my last post back in June, I didn't forget about my blog or my writing. I just let other things take precedence ... kids, summer vacation, trips, cleaning, laziness. After a summer off, I'm ready to get back to work. I've cleaned and rearranged my office. All three kids are in school. A new writing plan is in place. So now I can get busy writing/revising. As a matter of fact, I've already reconnected with a few writer comrades, revised two scenes, and written this blog post. And it's only Tuesday. Can you tell I'm rejuvenated, pumped, ready to get this revision behind me?

It's because I took the summer off. Rather than carry the guilt and frustration of not keeping my writing schedule with the kids out of school, I gave up trying to shoehorn everything into my days and rolled with it. Yup, me. I rolled with it.

A memory from Arthur's Seat
I may have mentioned before that I can be stringent regarding my schedule, so this was a hard concept for me. As my family can attest, I get very cranky if things don't go just as I've planned. But being cranky, guilty, and frustrated got in the way of being with my husband and kids. Rather than ruin a perfectly good summer with my rigidness, I figured writing would come with the new school year. Besides, being there for the kids and creating life-lasting memories with my family are things I'd rather carry with me.

And really, my number one priority is my family. I chose writing as something to work on because I could fit the activity in the interstices of our schedules and lives, and hopefully earn a little something along the way. I forget that fact from time to time in wanting something for myself and to maintain my writing momentum. I'll keep forging time for my writing, but work on being flexible and appreciative of what I accomplish.

Which brings me to what I hope to work on for the rest of the year.

  1. Finish revising Angie's story and start the query process by mid-October.
  2. By the first of November, complete a story outline that I started in June, so I can participate in NaNoWriMo.
  3. In December, pick up where I left off on revising Akeva's story.
  4. Work on story prompts throughout the year to hone the craft and keep my writing fresh.
Ambitious, I know, but something to roll with.

PS - Rolling with it worked extremely well on our big vacation to Scotland ... left to my own devices we wouldn't have seen half the things we did or gotten some excellent story fodder along the way.

23 May 2012

Time, Writing, & Possibility

When I signed up for the writing workshop, I knew that I would be busy. After all I had iCal'd all the events that this May hosted: the climaxes of most of my volunteer activities; the end of school for a Preschooler, a 3rd grader, and a 5th grader with its various music programs and parties; an Irish Dance competition for our 3rd grader; and my husband's various business trips. I thought I could fit in a small writing workshop

Wrong. While I kept up with all the family activities up to now, not a single word was written over the weekend.

What did I learn? Two key things ...

  1. Schedule my time wisely, taking on projects and activities that support the family and myself without much sleep sacrifice. (How many times do I "counsel" my husband about that? Gonna hear from him about that for a while. Ouch.)
  2. Develop my own writing schedule with challenging goals that don't kill me. (10 pages a day is killer, what made me think I'd get 20 with everything going on?)

Barbara O'Neal, I love all her books, posted about respecting your natural rhythm. After my harried May, her post provided me food for thought. And with summer break coming up, I'll be figuring out how to balance house stuff, kids, and writing that doesn't leave me like a meltdown waiting to happen but leaves me and the family empowered. The complete opposite of this month.

Coincidentally, as if coincidences really happened, over the weekend I met up with an old friend that I'd taken a personal development course with a few years ago. We got to talking and she reminded me that "... but, it won't ..." closes doors, whereas " ... and I could ..." leaves possibility waiting to happen. (Thanks, Pam!) Like a rose bud, particularly one called Pink Promise.

So my plan going forward... 
  1. Participate in the remaining three weeks of the writing workshop, writing what and when I can, gleaning tips and tricks to draft and revise fast. 
  2. Remember this month as a learning experience to manage my time wisely.
  3. Develop a summer schedule for writing and fun.
  4. Make possibility happen.
Now, off to make snack happen for the little ones.

09 May 2012

A Revision Aversion Toast

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I HATE the revision process.

As a "new" and unpublished writer, I'm still learning what works and what doesn't. With alpha and beta readers, I'm getting a handle on the what works on that aspect of the writing process, but revising and what works for me? Let's just say I'm as motivated to sit and revise as I am to scrub powder cleaner in toilets with my bare hands. With motivation that low, no wonder it's taken me over a year to not finish even one revision.

I can only complain so much. Right? Right. So, I'm finally doing something about it. Beside moan and grit my teeth when I sit down to revise.

I signed up for Fast Draft, Revision Hell, an online writing workshop with Candace Havens. Her short description of the class ... "Fast Draft uses tools and psychology so that you can write a first draft in only two weeks. A rough draft. Revision Hell teaches you how to take that draft and turn it into something golden in an equally fast way."

While drafting hasn't been an issue for me as I usually draft during NaNoWriMo, I'll be glad to pick up tips and tricks in that area. It's the Revision Hell side of things that I'm interested in. I'm under no illusions that I'll finish a revision in two weeks with family and summer right around the corner, but wouldn't that be heaven? However anything is better than my current rate.

In the workshop chat loop, introductions have begun; one author lives in Australia while most of us are scattered throughout the US, there are a few published authors as well. Work starts in earnest on 14 May, right near the culmination of our school year and some of my volunteer activities, so I'll be busy.

Until then, I will be developing a protagonist with a deep need, an antagonist that stands in her way, and hopefully, a way for the protagonsit to achieve what she needs. My planning worksheets are all printed and primed.

So, here's a toast, or a couple, to finally doing something to address my revision aversion. Let's hope this works!

17 April 2012

A Few Words of Thanks

Last week I received a call from my dad. A surprise in of itself as we don't really talk much, and most of that on major holidays and visits. Even more surprising was the reason he called.

I'd sent him a revision draft of the story I'm working on, you know ... where computer specialist and financially broke Angie must take a contract to catch an identity thief that requires her to work with the love-of-her life that she left, tentatively titled "Broken Identity."

Before I get too far, you need to know that my Dad reads just about any sort of science fiction and fantasy you give him. (He actually introduced me to the fantasy genre long ago, to my mother's chagrin as I'd lie in bed and read and read.) The story I'd sent him has ZERO elements from those genres, unless you count the fact that people are in it.

Knowing that I'm a voracious reader with a writing habit, he'd inquire from time to time how my writing was going, give me suggestions for issues I was having, and ask when he could read one of my stories. When he got a Kindle Fire this past Christmas, I told him I'd send him something. So I sent him an mobi version of what I'd revised on "Broken Identity" to his Kindle Documents email. (BTW, Scrivener does a great job converting to mobi and ePub.)

So, back to his call...

He said he was mad at me. That he'd read what I'd sent him and he was disappointed when he got to the last page of the revision (maybe just eight scenes) and realized he didn't have the rest of the story, just when he was really getting into it, there wasn't anymore.

For a long time after his call, I couldn't stop smiling. That he would like my story, knowing it wasn't his ususal type of fiction, was just so ... thrilling. On so many levels.

A love of reading, and by extension my writing, are a few things that my Dad and I have in common. He's the only one of my family (besides my husband and children) that shows an interest in my writing, taking the time to ask about it and actually read it. And he doesn't tell me ideas are strange like others have, if anything he helps me see new ways of strange, suggesting other authors to read for even more ideas.

I know that creating something is not supposed to be all about the reactions of others, but anyone that creates something, be it photography, art, music, or writing, and puts not a small bit of their heart and soul into it, knows the joy that comes when someone says they enjoyed that art. When that someone encourages the craft and is a parent, that happiness warms the creator's heart. Or at least this creator's heart.

Now I have this gift in my writer's toolbox for those days when the words don't flow as easily, a memory of those few words of enjoyment and encouragement.

So, Dad, I hope you enjoy the rest of the story. And Thanks for the call!

02 April 2012

Stuff and Revision

It's been quiet around here, as in here on the blog not here in my life. Life has kept me busy with family stuff, kids' school stuff, and general life stuff. My 3rd grader, as well as her teacher, would gasp in horror if they saw all the times I used the word stuff rather than descriptive wording. But sometimes you just gotta use those words.

But not in writing a novel. No, not in a novel. Or at least not often.

Now that I've finished mashing my outlines for my novel, I'm back to revising. (One day, I'll finish this dang story. Honest.) I've gone back to the start of the story, making sure that the story fits with this new outline, changing the plot as needed. In doing so, I've realized that I've minimized the stuff in the story. If I wrote a detail in, it's because gives a clue to the story, to the characters and their outlook.

I've been thinking how I use detail and stuff for the past few days. My husband started to read one of my favorite books, and commented that the author spends more time developing her characters than I do. While I strive to deliver a story that sticks to readers like hers do, I'm not sure that I want to write like her. She likes detail. Me, I'm not such a detail person, I'd rather read/write dialogue or action. When I said as much to my husband, he shot me a wry glance; between the two of us, I'm definitely the detail person. So maybe, that's an avenue for me to consider: adding more details.

My gut reaction is to ignore that consideration. But it's really not about me, is it? It's about the story's need. It certainly doesn't need details for the sake of bloat, but to make the story colorful and lively, to keep the reader from putting the story down, to leave the reader wanting more.

So, I'll keep my gut reaction in check, and add a sticky note to my laundry list of things to watch for while revising, and see how it goes. And, hopefully comments from the beta readers will help me gauge how well I've managed that balance.

02 March 2012

#FridayFlash - A Mother's Nature

Living in Tucson, I enjoy the warm winter weather as compared to the "East," everywhere is else is east of here, but this winter we're not the only ones with warmer than usual weather. During a discussion with my husband about the unusual weather pattern, my Muse pokes me with that sword of hers with a story idea. Below is the result of the poke.


She stretched out in the warm bed, her feet poked out from under the duvet. It was too early to get up. Why couldn’t she just stay in bed? She sighed, it wasn’t in her job description to relax, and these days no one was catching a break, least of all her.

Fatigue still clung to her as she swung her legs off the bed. A snore and shuffling behind her made the corner of her mouth twitch. A glance over her shoulder and she saw him relax back into his pillow. He could sleep through anything. If only she had that ability.

Too many nights of listening for her kids. When they were young, she couldn’t sleep as she would make sure that they breathed in their bassinets, and they didn’t even know about Back to Sleep back then. As the children grew, she would listen for cries for help from the Boogie Man. Then, she remembered too vividly, those times when the children were ill. Many a night she’d sing them back to sleep, only to find that the night had passed with little rest for herself. Then, before they kids moved out, she always had an ear out for the ones that defied curfew. It seemed like eons since those days. To be a mother.

Sunlight streamed into the bedroom making everything entirely too bright, the walls appeared more tan than the chamoisee she’d painted them. Thanks the Stars she hadn’t settled on that wheat color, otherwise she’d be blinded right now.

How late was it? With the angle and strength of the light, coupled with the warmth of the room, she figured it must be late morning. At that thought, her adrenaline spiked, and she jumped out of bed. With long strides, she padded across the mossy carpet to the kitchen.

After the late night work session, she needed to infuse with caffeine. She smirked. Maybe not needed, but certainly wanted. At least science had confirmed what she’d always known, caffeine helped brain function. Not that she needed the added boost, but back in her days of raising children, she’d incorporated the ritual into her day as something to do for herself.

Her bare feet registered the warmth emanating from wooden floor in the kitchen. The sunlight had been working its magic in here as well. Floor to ceiling windows had many benefits, letting the Sun do its job on her floors was one of them. And as soon as she had a cup of her morning elixir in her hand, she’d stand in front of the window basking in the sunlight.

The coffee maker stood waiting for her on the marble counter top. But in order to get to it, she’d have to walk past her laptop. Even though she had a list a mile long to get done today, she wasn’t touching the evil thing until after her routine. Ignoring the whir of the computer as it backed itself, she set about making her morning brew.

Tamping down her grounds, she wondered at all her gadgets. Technology for the sake of technology was an ok thing, heck, she couldn’t live without her espresso maker. But that computer, with it’s ability to crunch numbers was going to drive her crazy. Even thinking about all the data entry they’d done lately made her head pound, and they hadn’t even started to analyze it. No use letting it get to me. There would be plenty of number crunching today, although she should follow up on her normal tasks. Some things, and people, shouldn’t be left to their own devices too long.

With her milk frothed, she stood tapping her fingertips on the counter as the espresso aroma wrapped itself around her. When the percolating finally stopped, she poured the dark liquid into her favorite cup, the chipped one that had been a gift from one of the children, Summer. Not that she had favorites, but Summer warmed her heart in ways the others couldn’t.

Cup in hand, she glided to the window, careful to not spill her brown gold.

Outside, the sunlight filtered through the trees. Tiny buds promised a rainbow of blossoms. Even her raised garden beds showed signs of life.

Through the windows, she heard the chittering of the animals. She chuckled as she watched birds dance from branch to branch and into the sky, luring, flirting. Even the squirrels and chipmunks were busy wooing. She sipped her beverage, reminiscing about her days of courtship with her own sky flirt.

Arms slipped around her, warm against her skin. A mouth nipped at the hollow near her collar bone.

She laughed. “How did you know I was thinking of you?”

His husky chortle blew his warm breath down her breast. “How could I not know? Not even your coffee could mask your scent.” He pulled her closer to him. “You are as beautiful and alluring as always.” His own arousal firm against her back.

As much as she wanted to give in, she said, “Later. We’ve got time to indulge later.”

He pulled her tighter. “My argument exactly. We’ve got time to indulge now.”

She sighed. To indulge now? Or later? There was so much data to go over, so much to set right. Too much was changing, and too fast.

He must’ve heard her thoughts, he could always do that, “Fine. At least let me enjoy Spring’s day with you for just a few moments before you run off to your fixing-the-planet duties.”

In answer, she rested her head against his shoulder. But something he’d said bothered her. “What day is it?”

He shrugged. “The last day of January.”

She clenched her jaw. “They’re at it again.” Stepping out of his embrace, she slammed the coffee cup on the counter, where it sloshed out and puddled. “Damn.

“Isn’t it bad enough that I have to fix everyone else’s mistakes, I shouldn’t have to deal with their mischief as well.”

Her children, while fickle at times, were usually responsible and did their jobs. But sometimes, they got lazy or pulled their power plays over each other. When would a Mother’s work ever be done? Apparently never.

With her sternest voice, she called out, “Spring. Winter.” She might as do an attitude adjustment for all. “You too, Summer and Autumn.”

Mere seconds passed as her children appeared. “You called us, Mother Nature?”

28 February 2012

Misc writing activities b/c Life stepped in.

I haven't posted much, Life decided to give me some other issues to address, which also means my writing time had to be reallocated to take care of those Life issues. But that doesn't mean that I've not kept up with writing related things, I'll share a couple of them with you.

  • I love Lynn Viehl's blog. From sub ops, humor, links to other creative venues, her blog is a place I visit everyday. Her latest post, about Polyvore's editor, has lead me to another place to build  characters. Just playing around this morning, this is what I created, I think she is another character that is parlaying with the Muse. We'll see if the Muse takes to her.
  • If you are looking for an agent, be sure to check out Writer's Digest. Chuck Sambuchino highlights new agents looking for clients. I keep Writer's Digest in my RSS reader so I can be alerted to these potential agents. The latest notice can be found here.
  • I'm a big fan of George R. R. Martin's book series "A Song of Ice and Fire." I've yet to watch the HBO series as we don't have this service, but I love the trailers. So great to see the characters conniving and suffering. The latest trailer for the 2nd season can be found here at GRRM's site.
  • Pinterest. Need I say more? While I spend entirely too much time browsing the various pins, I have found it to be a good source for potential story settings and characters. Here are the boards I've created to keep track of these photos: characters and settings. The idea to use Pinterest in this way came from Shiloh Walker, I follow all her boards.
  • Books Read: Velocity by Alan Jacobson, Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clark (audiobook), Metatropolis: Cascadia by various writers (audiobook), Her Royal Spyness - #1 -  by Ryhs Bowen (audiobook)
  • Books Started: Calculus Diaries by Jennifer Oullette, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (audiobook)
Just a smattering of what I've been doing between illnesses, road trips, dance competitions, and other things Life has thrown my way, interrupting my writing schedule.

So, now that all the kids are in their respective classrooms, the latte made, it's time to wrestle my writing time back from Life.

03 February 2012

Beta Readers, Here we go!

Yep. I've done it!

What you ask? Well, I've sent out the story I'm revising/editing to a Beta reader that has never read my stuff. Well, at least not since high school, we probably swapped essays during our high school English classes, but I'm not counting those. I've also asked someone who had expressed an interest in reading my work if she would be interested in helping out.

My Alpha readers will transform into Beta readers. (I'm not sure if that's the right terminology, but I like it, and I'm using it.) Alpha #1, my hubby, has already started this draft. Next, I'll compile my story for my Alpha #2 reader and send it off to her. She'd read the 1st draft and liked it, I wonder what she'll think about the changes I've made.

So here goes! Maybe, I'll actually get to the query phase.

20 January 2012

What do you think about iBook and iBook Author?

When I first read the snippet about Apple's announcement, I thought it sounded great for non-fiction authors, especially for how-to authors, history ... to add photos, links, and videos to enrich your narrative. Who wouldn't want that? As for textbook market, I thought it would bring the subject material to life. If I'd had books like those while I took physics classes, I probably wouldn't still have a chip on my shoulder about Mr. Newton.

But as I'm focused on the fiction side of books, I've been thinking of ways a fiction author could use photos and music to set the mood for their written word. Does the storytelling medium change from written word to something closer to a movie? How much do I as an author want to set the stage and how much do I want to leave for the reader? Will adding these new elements make the reader more engaged or less? Tricky questions.

Already other authors are sharing their views. On the internet today are two different reactions, one from a non-fiction author, the other a fiction writer.
  • Joseph Linaschke, a professional photographer, posted on one of his blogs a few experimental pages of a photobook centered around his trip to Vietnam. Joseph's early-adopter actions lead me to think he's excited about the idea. (If you can, download and read his experimental book if not for the interactive book experience, for the photographs.)
  • Holly Lisle, a published fiction writer and writing teacher, has pulled all her books from the iBookstore because of changes in the EULA. She posted her reasoning here.
On the textbook side ... On yesterday's Tech News Today, a guest raised concerns about iPad availability and cost for students and how to manage hardware and books in the primary education environment. Additionally, she suggested that interactions with such a textbook could include a larger social aspect than with just an individual student, allowing for entire class group discussions.

This is just what popped up in my limited view in Facebook, email, and podcasts. I'm sure many other folks are weighing in on the news with varied opinions.

What do you think? What will ultimately happen? Let me know in the comments section.

As for me, I don't know how things will shake out. I suspect other companies will release a program similar to iBook Author that would let anyone, on any computer platform, create and sell their content on multiple computer platforms and devices, with less egregious terms and conditions

It will be interesting to watch the book writing and publishing industry, already undergoing transition, react to this further democratization of creating and publishing content. Who knows what other changes will be catalyzed?

What I know for sure is that I'll be keeping a close eye on it all.

13 January 2012

Mission Statment for Writing?

Christina Katz, in her latest book, The Writer's Workout, encourages every writer, regardless of genre, to create a mission for their writing. Really, a mission for my writing? When I read that, I groaned. "Another thing to do?"

My Old Badge Mission Card
But then, I gave it some thought.

Corporations have mission statements. As a matter of fact, I still have my badge companion from Intel that the company gave to every employee so we would carry a copy of the mission everywhere we went. So, I pulled it out and read it again, surprised to find it was from 2000. (Had it really been that long ago?) I remember how I worked to embody that mission. It wasn't too hard as integrity and discipline figured heavily in my own upbringing. What stuck with me was how that mission provided a foundation from which to conduct business with internal and external customers.
My Old Mission Statement

Shortly after I joined the company, I took a course called 7 Habits for Highly Successful People, in which mission statements came up again. I had to write a personal mission statement for my life. I balked at that, but as it was homework, I wrote one, and maybe not so coincidentally it was very similar to Intel's corporate mission. When I reincorporated a paper weekly planner in my life last year, I found that handwritten mission tucked into my old planner. Eleven years after leaving Intel, thirteen years of marriage, and three kids later, that mission still fit, even if it was too detailed for my tastes today. It was just a statement of how I wanted to present myself to the world.

A foundation to work from. How I want to present my work to the world. Maybe having a writing mission statement isn't that crazy.
My Writing Statement : TBD
So now, I'm committed to developing a mission centered on my writing. But what will my writing mission be? A good question that leads to other ones like: How will I present my writing to the world? What experience do I want an audience to get from my stories? I'm still figuring out the type of story to write ... romance, paranormal, fantasty, so I'll have to create one that encompasses my interests and aspirations. A tall order, but one I'm now prepared and ready to tackle.

Once I have one that speaks to me, I'll share it here on my blog.

04 January 2012

A TBR Books Quickie

Two of the gifts I received this holiday season were books. One by new-to-me author, Catherine Coulter and the other by not-new-to-me-author, Christina Katz. One historical-fiction, the other non-fiction. And I'm looking forward to both.

Why? Well, as for the Coulter book, I'm always looking for new stories to devour, to discover new places even if they are old, and to see how other authors craft their stories. Which leads me to why I'm excited for Katz's book: to improve my writing and develop a sustainable approach to this not-a-day-job-yet activity.

Any new books that you are excited to read? Let me know in the comments.

In case you were curious, the two books are ... 

Catherine Coulter's "The Valcourt Heiress"
Christina Katz's "The Writer's Workout"