Monday, December 31, 2007

Captain Jack Sparrow’s Guidelines to Having a Prosperous and Happy New Year

‘Ello me hearty wenches, it is good of fair Captain Hellion to invite me today to give the first blog of the New Year. Now I know we’ve had a wonderful, fun, and strangely unmemorable 2007 (does anyone know where the rum has gone? No? I really need to start marking that stuff down. It’s getting disturbing)—but it is a new year and we should start things off right with, well, some resolutions, or well, guidelines in getting back on track with the whole pirate gig.

It’s not easy being a pirate. Everybody wants to be one, wave the sword, bust up a couple of ships, capture the cursed Aztec gold—but it takes practice, patience, and pres…prese…prese-prese—and it takes rum. Worry not, me hearties, I’ve written down a few of the guidelines…and I think even that young Turner could manage to become a pirate with these beauties:

1.) Remind yourself you are a pirate. It’s easy to forget, especially after a holiday in port, eating, drinking, and making merry. People stealing your ship. Whatever, there are a lot of distractions. Now you have to clean up, organize, get back on task—and you suddenly wonder: Am I really a pirate? I’m not a very good pirate. Maybe I’m just faking. Calm down. You are a pirate. You’re just out of practice.

2.) Go pirating. This is the important second step. I mean, it’s probably been so long since you’ve pirated more than a shilling or two, but the trick is not to give up because you don’t think the treasure is there. The treasure is there. You just have to go looking for it, mate. But you’re not going to find any treasure, if you don’t get your feculent maggoty arse on your ship and start sailing in a northerly…or southerly direction. Whichever. Get behind the wheel already and stop making excuses.

3.) Create Opportune Moments. Go to pirate conventions and network with other pirates. They might know where treasure is—they might even sell you a map that might help you look. Attending conferences with Pirate Kings creates opportunities for you to show off your treasure…and possibly get more treasure. Savvy?

4.) Seize the Opportune Moment. Another important Jack-task. If a Pirate King asks for your treasure, for God’s sake, send it to him. Don’t dither. I can’t emphasize this one enough. If someone opens the door, walk in out of the cold.

5.) Eat more limes. For God’s sake, we know as pirates, rum, is ever so important to great pirating; however, we don’t want to get scurvy and drop dead before we become a great pirate like me, Captain Jack Sparrow, or that Captain Nora Roberts fellow…so work in a few limes. (No, not to mix with your margaritas, you bunch of lushes.) Help a body out and ingest some green vegetables, a few less fried crumpets, and do a couple laps around the prow of the ship, or swing from the mizzenmast. Exercise and healthy eating is good for you…in moderation, of course. I mean, don’t let it get in the way of pirating, but you don’t need to eat the third éclair whilst steering the ship.

6.) Get a treasure map, acquire some navigational charts. Sailing around without any idea where you’re going or how to get there will not find you remarkable treasure. You’ll usually just run out of supplies and your crew will mutiny against you, leaving marooned on a deserted island with a single shot. Not anyone’s idea of a vacation, mate. Find a book, sketch something on a napkin—whatever—you’re going to do a whole lot better at this pirate thing if you at least look like you know what you’re doing.

7.) Practice pirating every day. Pirating is like exercise, nasty vile habit…I don’t like that one. Okay, pirating is like drinking rum. You can’t really hold a lot of rum at first and it takes practice…you should, therefore, drink every day to build a tolerance for it. Same goes for pirating. If you don’t pirate every day, you won’t improve and snag the really impressive treasure.

8.) There is always a crisis on the High Seas. I can’t tell you the number of fledging pirates who tell me they don’t have time to pirate. Hurricanes, they wail; East India Trading Company…my God, the cannibals. Those sorts of things will never go away, so if you don’t learn to juggle them, pirating is going to be a hard business for you succeed at. Captain Nora Roberts freaks out at hurricanes every day—but she still pirates, every day. Realize there is always going to be a reason not to pirate. You are therefore pirating for your own self-enjoyment and worth—and the slight, though still possible prospect of eventual treasure.

9.) Don’t seek treasure that’s already been plundered. This should be a given, but it’s amazing the number of newbies who hunt for treasure that’s already been exhumed. If you want to get rich, mates, find new treasure. Blaze new trails, lead and don’t follow. Imitation is never as good as the original.

Do Not Adjust Your Blog...

…the lack of resolution is not a mistake. There will be no resolutions, goal setting, revisiting the year or sappy bits of gratitude in this blog. Everyone in the blogisphere has more than covered these topics already and I even did the sappy bits of gratitude on my other blog here.

Today is about trying something new. Now, I don't mean because it's a new year lets say what new thing we are going to do this time around. What I mean is trying something new in writing. I've spent my weekend venturing way outside my comfort zone. A couple months ago an idea for a short story erotic romance popped into my head. It was brought on by the news that Samhain Publishing sent out an open submissions call for several anthologies planned for next year. The deadline is January 10 and as usual, I've put things off until the last minute.

But with the help of our trusty Captain, I made it past a block at the end of last week and the story took over during the weekend. I spent nearly eight hours writing something I had never written before – SEX. That's right, technically, I have never written a sex scene and now I've written two and a half. Yes, I left the poor souls in the middle of *it* so I could write this blog and get to bed. I'm one of the unfortunate ones who have to work today.

I posted a snippet of my first sex scene for some writer friends and the feedback has been pretty positive. Very positive in fact. They could just be shooting smoke up my ass, for which I am highly grateful, but I think I might be pretty good at this. Not great but pretty good.

This is one of the aspects I love about writing. Everytime I learn something new or write something I never thought I could pull off, it's like a high. It's a rush and it makes me want to write more. Call it momentum or delusions of grandeur but whatever it is, I like it.

What have you written that took you completely by surprise? What do you think you write best? What do you think you could never write in a million years? Tell us about a scene you wrote that made you sit back and say, "Oh yeah, that's good." And don't say that's never happened. Even if you hated the scene the next day, there was a time, maybe just a matter of minutes, when you loved it.

For fun, lets see if we have any brave souls who will take a stab at writing that thing they don't think they could ever do. Any takers? Come on, Pirates love a challenge!
Saturday, December 22, 2007

Twas the Night...and to All a Merry Christmas from RWR!

Twas the night before Christmas and all aboard the Revenge,
Not a crewmember stirred, following their rum-drinking binge.
The booty bags hung by their hammocks with care,
In hopes that Jack Sparrow would soon be there.

The crew were all nestled snug tight in their 'mocks,
Smelling faintly of grog as they clung tight to their crocks.
And whilst with me book, I lay with a pistol in hand,
Thinking a nip of Bailey's and chocolate would be grand.

When out on the dock there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my Captain's bed to see what was the matter!
Away to the top, I flew like a flash,
Scarcely having time to tighten my sash.

And there in the crow's nest, I saw such a sight,
Lit by the moon, which was full on this night.
A bold, handsome pirate swung from the rope to the floor:
"I'm here, lass, for Christmas, could you want anything more?"

Well, truth be told, I'd been such a good lass—
Not a bit of wickedness and only a touch of sass.
I was quite deserving of a pirate for my very own keep.
I hope he was well rested for he wasn't getting any sleep.

From his fierce blazing look that could freeze a girl's very marrow,
I knew in an instant this must be the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow.
Quick as cannon fire, he called for his men to make way:
"Come, Will, come Ranger, we haven't got all day."

From the sides of the ship climbed these brawn men drawing swords,
Their proud countenances as fierce as any romance's brooding lord's.
"Where's Sin?" said the dark one, who I knew to be Carlos—
When it came to Christmas, he'd be the present she'd want most.

I pointed to the staircase with the tip of my gun.
"Be careful of the fifth stair, it's a squeaky one."
He grinned to let me know he would never be heard.
As I turned back to the others, Jack grasped me, a man of his word.

"Which way to your quarters?" he asked with a most roguish grin,
"I don't think it's only my quartermaster who should be getting into some Sin."
"But the others," I squeaked, as Will swashed to the decks down below.
"Worry not, Capt'n, handling three lasses is something I well know."

"Three lasses to one," Jack said, "you know that hardly seems fair."
"Don't I know it? Not one of those wantons likes to share.
Course, neither do I, so don't get any male-minded plans.
When you're in bed with Hellion, you'll have very full hands."

Then over the railing, climbed a lagging pair double-quick—
Russell Crowe in commander rig and a vampire named Mick.
"Ah, well," said Jack, "I suppose that takes care of the others—
Honestly, with you in the bedroom, I wouldn't want in another's"

He grinned wickedly as he followed me to my bed,
Confirming all the boasts he and I so tossingly said.
His eyes were like onyx, his mouth like a dream;
I ran my fingers through his locks, preparing for his every scheme.

Clothes melted off with unseemly haste as he laid me back—
His intent, it appeared, to make me a post-midnight snack.
From the tips of my Clairol red hair to my toenail paint chipped toes,
He did delicious things that a modest girl like me couldn't prose.

On Christmas day when I woke with my very wide sinful grin,
I turned over to pounce him so we might sin again.
And sin we did, again and again, before we crawled to the galley.
We needed some sustenance before we went forth another rally.

Below around the table lined Will, Russ, Ranger, and Mick,
All looking haggard—my crew had worn them all slick!
We all ate omelets and sausages and chocolate filled croissants—
Then we returned to our beds to fulfill our other wants.

This was definitely for the merriest Christmas—this men and rum binge,
And we're definitely all thankful on the Romance Writer's Revenge.
And Jack was heard to shout as he and crew swaggered off out of sight.
"Merry Christmas, my fair wenches, and to all a good night!"

Friday, December 21, 2007

Holiday Romance

In a few days, the ship will pull into port and the pirate wenches will go inland to enjoy holiday festivities with family and friends. The rum, food, loot and good cheer will be shared like no other time of the year.

At holidays, emotions and glad tidings are shared, and memories are made and preserved. For those of us who have significant others we may spend a little alone time under the mistletoe, making some romantic memories to carry us through until Valentine’s Day.

With the magic feel of the holidays in the air, it makes perfect sense that so many romance authors pen holiday novels or novellas.

I just finished Eloisa James new release An Affair Before Christmas. What a lovely Christmas read. The dialog and descriptions were breath taking and the heroine and hero were strong charismatic characters that were endearing from the start. The storyline was fresh and real with just the right amount of holiday sparkle to keep me spellbound. Eloisa was masterful at weaving a story within a story. The subplot of the supporting characters was as enthralling as the main storyline. I highly recommend the book, and congratulate Eloisa on a wonderfully written piece of work

Over the years, I’ve read several holiday romance novels. There’s just something special about reading romance in a Christmas setting. The love seems more poignant, the black moments more angst filled, and the ending more happy when holiday spirit is woven throughout the storyline. Readers can relate to characters that experience the joy they want at Christmas. Holiday romances make perfect gifts, and function as excellent stress busters.

So many scenarios are appropriate for love at Christmas. It’s no wonder that the entire display shelf in the front of your local bookstore is home to the newly released holiday romances. Pick one up today, maybe it will entice you to do some future holiday romance writing of your own or at least leave you with a case of the warm and fuzzies.

If I could imagine the perfect afternoon it would include a cup of hot mulled cider, a holiday romance novel, a warm throw over my lap, and me, myself and I.

Have you ever written a holiday story? Do you have any holiday reading recommendations?
Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rockin' the Boat!

I enjoy music, but I wouldn’t consider myself the type of person who needs to be inundated with music all day long. You definitely wouldn't see me going about my life's business, an IPod headphone perpetually in my ear like all the teenagers. (Boy, I sound old). To date myself further, I don't even own an IPod. I listen in the car, I listen if I need some auditory stimulation, but besides that, I can take it or leave it.

However, as I’m plotting out my new contemporary, I find that it is more musically charged than the Regency I’ve lost interest in (for now). Different plot aspects get me humming some song or another and making thematic parallels to music.

I find this a little disconcerting because it did NOT happen while I was working on my last WIP. And I’m wondering if that isn’t why my last WIP started feeling so stiff and dead as I worked into the dreaded middle of it. It lacked that emotion, the feeling that I know, from my experience as a reader, that other readers want.

It isn’t just any song that I think of when I’m working my new WIP. I realized my earlier statement sounded like every time I opened the lid on my computer that I was swallowed into the Sound of Music or something. No, that isn’t it. Instead, there are a few songs that I think of when I’m writing. I think of them as the soundtrack of this book.

So far, there are three songs clanking around in my brain when I work on this novel: “Forgive” by Rebecca Lynn Howard, “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon, and “I Apologize” by One Republic. Amazingly, anytime I find myself stuck for an idea, I just have to listen to one of these songs and I’m immediately back into my WIP, full of the emotions I want to encapsulate, and ready to get to work again.

Does your work have a soundtrack? And if so, what songs can you find on it? Does music play a role in your writing and if so, what role?

As an aside, I attempted to load a couple of those songs in here, but I'm video upload incompetent. Apologies. But, they're all on YouTube, if you're interested.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Only in My Dreams

I dream the weirdest, most wicked, sinful stuff.

I always dream in color. Don’t know what’s up with that, but that’s just how it is. More vivid, I suppose. Helps me remember when I wake up. Dreamland for me is a chance to work out all those things during the day I didn’t get to, mostly writing. I dream about my characters often. Scenes and conversations. I always play a lead character too. Which is strange because my heroine isn’t me by any means. Maybe it’s because I voice her. But it helps me write her better when I wake up.

I think about writing while I’m in the shower in the morning, conversations between my two main characters flowing like the water from the showerhead. Dreams are what give me ideas, thoughts, conversations, pieces to carry over into fiction land. It’s like acting out a scene before writing it down. One of those poetry in motion thingys. And for me, it’s perfect. I’ve always been very hands on, sticking my nose into everything. I’ve gotta see it done first before I can write it. So if I can’t see the scene, it can’t be written the way I want it and I’m stuck. But with dreams, anything can happen. Anything in your wildest dreams. And opportunity and imagination are the two best things you can have as a writer. With a strong compass to guide you and a closet full of hats to put on *grin*

So, my question to you today is: Ever have those dreams that just stick with you? The ones that when you wake up in the morning and have you thinking about your plot and characters and setting? Do you use them as a guide?

PS. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! This is my last chance to say it before next Tuesday. If you're out there last minute shopping, preparing to host 20+ people, coordinating multiple dinners and get togethers- take a deep breath. It’s almost over.

Hats and more hats

I had a different log written and planned for today, but as with many things on the ship, I realized as I climbed into bed, tucked my pistol under my pillow, and settled down for a much-needed snooze that this instead needed to be said. Especially so soon before Christmas and New Year's, a time of year where we think of everyone but ourselves.

Don your Just For Me hat.

We're expected everyday to wear so many different hats. Our pirate's hat; our wife hat; our mother's hat; our bitch's hat; our writer's hat; our 9-to-5 hat; our counselor's hat; our friend hat; our professor's hat; our housekeeping hat; our Martha Stewart hat; our Budget Queen hat; our Harry Potter Making Magic from Nothing hat....

I myself like a good hat. A lovely plume, a certain richness in the fabric as it folds up into the tricorn...but with all these hats and expectations of our time, we don't have time to ever wear our Just For Me hat. Worse, we believe, inherently, we also do not have money for such a selfish act...and frankly, just who do we think we are that we deserve a hat that serves no function than other than to be for ourselves?

This is faulty thinking--because despite the title of the Harry Potter hat, you really can't make something out of nothing. You're giving up a little bit of yourself with each hat you whip on and off with flair and haste, seamlessly moving from one role to the other, without any regard to why you are doing it, only that it is an important job to be done and SOMEBODY has to do it.

It is little wonder then that at the end of the day, when all is said and done, why any of us would have the energy, desire, or need to even put a string of words on the page. What's left to fill the blank white space when everything has been sapped by things that needed to be taken care of first--but in which the most important thing, YOU, had not been taken care of at all?

Who in their right minds would want to empty themselves on a page when there is nothing left to give?

You have to fill yourself first before you can put something on the page. And in order to do that, you have to remember you're worth the consideration of doing something Just for Me. And I'm sure if you turned off the Internal Critic who reminds you that the credit card bill is due, the kids need to get to practice on time, and supper needs to be fixed (since Redbook pointed out that tragically we don't get home-cooked meals near as often as we get fast food) that you would realize you too deserve just as much attention and time as you give to everyone else.

So go wild. Take a soak in the bathtub and read an extra chapter. Or go wilder, and get an hour massage, followed by a pedicure. Get your hair done. Buy a book you've had your eye on. Pop in your yoga tape and do some Half-Moon poses and breathe deeply, enjoying this time you've taken just for yourself.

Doing this you may find your Muse is more willing to hang out with you again...and offer you more to empty on your blank pages.
Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Pirate Reflects...

Life is made up of a sequence of moments. Some of them great, some of them not so great. But I'm one of those "Life is all about the journey not the destination" people and I think all of the moments are important. They make us who we are. and often change our lives irrevocably.

For some reason, a memory came back to me last week one morning while I was drying my hair. In my former life as a disc jockey, I had the honor of serving as announcer for a Relay for Life event. I didn't know until I arrived what that entailed. I had to read the names. That's right, THE names. The stands were filled with family and friends of the people on that list. People who had been taken much too soon by cancer. I can't tell you how important it was for me to get those names exactly right nor how difficult it was to keep a level voice. There were so many names. Too many names. But I have rarely felt as blessed or as humbled as I did that night.

Another moment we all remember is 9/11. I had to be on the air that day. We discontinued the music and ran straight news but we did break in from time to time to bring the local connection to the stories. I have no idea how I got through that day but it is another of those moments that changed me. Formed me. Informed me.

These stories we write are the same. The characters are on a journey and the moments, or scenes, we put together make those characters who they are. I have found that it's not until I have written quite a bit of back story and several encounters between my main characters and others that I have a real understanding of who they are. Much of that back story never sees the light of day but it forms my characters by informing me.

Are you a person who takes the time to enjoy the journey? Can you pinpoint a specific moment when you learned something new, became someone new? I'm sure for many of us women we would say when we gave birth. Every moment since that Wednesday morning in July has been better and brighter for me. Tell us about your favorite moment you've written or one of the most amazing moments you've had in this wonderful journey.

Hopefully, someday, we'll all get to include the moment we sold our first book!
Friday, December 14, 2007

Writing Under the Influence

A familiar tool found in any sea worthy pirate’s pocket is a trusty compass. It helps chart a destination, and keeps the ship on a desired course for the next keg of rum. A writer is not unlike a pirate. We have goals, and outlines we follow in order to meet a desired destination.

Internally I carry a compass of my own. It has been internalized in me since I was a small child. I have a moral compass, and more often than not, it guides me in daily decisions as well as what I choose to write.

I‘m not morally perfect, and I‘m not trying to blog a sermon, but I want to raise the question of morality in writing.

I have found that the more I write and work toward a goal of completing a WIP, the more concerned I become about what I write. I find that more often times than not, my writing self becomes at odds with my moral compass. I find freedom in writing, and to put restraints or limits on writing can remove all liberty of expression. Although I am writing to please me, what I write has the possibility of influencing a great number of readers. I want the freedom to write, but I want to convey the right message. I feel as a writer that I have a certain responsibility to represent who I am in the words and scenarios I choose to write.

Writers display certain morals in the characters they create. As writers, we have discussed creating characters that we dislike, or we allow our characters to do and say things that we normally would never convey in our own lives. The freedom to create our visions is the joy of writing. However, character creation is only a small portion of our influential writing potential. We can also influence readers through dialog, violence, and sexuality. We cannot censor what age groups have access to our work, and maybe that is not an issue to most writers, but we are responsible as individuals for what we write. Romance novels are not found next to self-help books, and religious philosophy at Barnes and Noble. We are not writing romance to save the world from moral corruption, but even a love story has the ability to influence potential readers.

Do you write with a moral compass, or does morality even play a factor in your writing style?
Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Bought My "Bitch" Hat at Office Max

Generally, I’m the easy-going type. I get along with most other people and I generally don’t get into any sort of confrontation. This is due to my tendency to apologize immediately if I feel like I’ve accidentally insulted someone. Like most women, I probably apologize too much. But, I don’t like people not to like me. I’m sort of a “can’t we all just get along” type. That is, in my real life.

In the fictional world I create on paper (read: Word doc), I am the bitchiest of pirates. I break people up, just to get them back together. I wield my sharp sword (read: pen, er… read: keys on my keyboard) and slice happy families apart. I wreak havoc among perfectly laid plans, messing up perfectly comfortable lives, all in the name of telling a great story.

The bitch hat (it's a figurative hat, of course) is my greatest writerly supply. Because, that part of me is what helps me tell good stories.

If I sat at my computer and happily allowed my perfectly contented characters to move about in their perfectly comfortable lives (or even their not-so-perfectly comfortable lives), then what kind of story would that be? It’d be the perfectly boring story that no one would want to read. We live to see people overcome obstacles. It’s what keeps us reading, so we can see how it all works out.

But, sometimes being this bitch hurts the sweet, can’t-we-all-get-along part of me that wants everyone to like me. At times like that, I have to ignore the characters in my head calling me names (“You big meanie!”) and pull my bitch hat down over my ears so that I can continue to slice and hack away at their lives.

It’s hard for me. My heart hurts for them. However, I know it will all work out in the end. I know that when the time comes, I’ll be able to hang my bitch hat next to my computer and let the romantic part of me that is dying for everyone to be happy write everything perfect again.

Thank God for my bitch hat. My computer, my post-it notes, they pale in comparison to how important it is to my writing. I’m not sure how I could have the tough love to do what I need to do to these fictional people without it.

I always wonder about writers who don’t let their characters get their happy endings because they never get to take off their bitch hats.

I’ve read all sorts of stuff in my English major/English teacher lifetime. I swore that American authors, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries, wouldn’t have known a happy ending if they fell in one. People who write horror, like Stephen King and Dean Koontz, never get the satisfaction of HEA, at least not the way I write it. I picture them writing “the end” and then going off to therapy or to their priests, complaining about the darkness of the world.

I’m so glad I get to spread a little light.

If you’re a writer, how do you feel about causing turmoil in your characters’ lives? Are you of the yay, free therapy school or are you (like me) of the “when can I get to the HEA” school? How do you approach writing conflict in your stories, as I’m certain my “bitch hat” method isn’t the only one out there?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Courage- The Pirate Way.

How does one follow the great Anna Campbell? By requesting another round of rum in her honor… Of course!

After a wonderful blog and response yesterday, I thought about everything she talked about. One thing that stuck with me was courage. Anna’s first novel “Claiming the Courtesan” was about a woman who under extreme circumstances always had courage. She kept her head held high. No matter what happened she kept putting one foot in front of the other. She did what she had to do and suffered the consequences (severe ones). And eventually she persevered (with a wonderful HEA at the end, might I add). Anna Campbell’s heroine, Verity/Soraya, not only had the courage but the determination that made the reader fall in love with a character. But to write a character like that, the writer must have the same type of courage. The same infallible characteristic to take risks and go ahead no matter what anyone says to you. And I admire that in characters and in writers.

Writer’s take chances every day while they are writing. For me it’s the ability to get a rush from doing something in fiction I can’t do in everyday life. It’s the ability to wield a gun and chase down the bad guys. The ability to be in a high speed car chase and come out without a scratch. And it’s the ability to have the courage to have my main character do the things that would take extreme amounts of courage to even consider doing, but in her personality it’s just something she does and thinks about later. But it takes courage to put thoughts and words on paper (or a Word document) and it takes even more courage to let that baby fly and hand it off for someone else’s eyes. It takes courage to write scenes that are considered taboo and stand your ground when asked to change it for the sake of reader sensibilities. And it takes courage to stand by your written word no matter what the outcome. And that’s what I love about writers. The passion for what they are doing. Writing is a constant learning process where no matter how close you get to perfection, you’re still not there. It takes courage to face up to that day after day, time after time; and grin and bear it through the rough times and keep believing that the sunshine is just around the corner.

There have been times when I’m writing a particular scene and thought to myself, I would’ve never been able to do this myself. I could’ve never told him that I loved him. I could’ve never told him not to go and I’ll worry about the consequences in dawn’s early light. Never could’ve watched him walk out that door and not even look back. Or held the tears back as I walked back inside and pretended like my world wasn’t falling apart.

So my question to you is, have you written a scene where you felt that real life emotion come back to haunt you? Righted a past wrong by fictionalizing it? And if you haven’t, have you ever thought about it?
Monday, December 10, 2007

The Pirates of PEN-zance! Or perhaps the Pirates of PUN-zance?

Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. I don’t even know if Gilbert and Sullivan operettas are popular in the US. They sure still are over here in Australia but then we kept a lot of our British ways like tea drinking and the use of the word ‘bloody’.

Anyway, enough waffling! Avast, me hearties! Arrrrrrrrrrrrr! Shiver me timbers! Walk the plank, ye landlubbers!

Yes, we’re about to celebrate the writer as pirate! And I’m waving my cutlass in excitement (hmm, perhaps that’s what my heroes do instead?) at this incredible honor of being the first captain from a rival vessel to board the good ship YO HO, A WRITER’S LIFE FOR ME! Land ho! Well, publication ho, anyway!!!!

Firstly, good luck to your enterprise and may she sail the seven seas for a long, long time to come. I’ve been lurking for a while and I think it’s fantastic. You’re all doing wonderful jobs of filling out the captain’s log…uh, blog. An extra measure of grog to you all! But be careful when you climb the mizzenmast! We don’t want you coming to grief on a sagging middle and falling flat on the decks, now, do we?

I love the idea of a writer as a pirate. We’re all pirates, setting out as outlaws to seize the gold bullion from the Spanish galleons plying the main. Um, that is grab fantastic publishing contracts and share our wildest fantasies with a breathlessly waiting public.

The qualities of a good pirate are definitely the qualities a writer needs. Courage! Chutzpah! A certain amount of arrogance because if you don’t believe in your stuff, nobody else will! You also need those navigational skills so you don’t come to grief on the reefs and shoals of writing life.

You need to know how to pick a great crew to accompany you on your adventures – clearly, that’s something I don’t need to tell you pirate lasses about! You need to know how to hold your nerve when you get becalmed in the doldrums. You need to weather storms and lash yourself to that bucking helm when the huge waves threaten to swamp you! Above all you need dash and daring. And that’s something you girls have in spades. Or perhaps in bailing buckets!

So thank you for inviting me to toast the fortunes of the Good Ship Yo Ho! May all your parrots be housetrained. May termites stay clear of your wooden legs! May you fill your big leather boots with pride and not with sand! Ugh, hate sand in my shoes almost as much as I hate sand in my underwear. Hmm, do pirates even WEAR underwear? And no, please don’t answer that!

May you rescue Johnny Depp from a tropical island… Oh, right, that’s my task. You girls go off and find someone else to rescue!

Long may your ship sail and a keelhauling to any landlubber who says me nay!!! It’s Davy Jones’s locker for anyone who tries to scuttle this grand privateer!

OK, so do you have any pirate questions I can help with? Something about anchors or blunderbusses or, shock, horror, actual writing? Why do you think you need to be a pirate to be a writer? Clearly you agree with me about this! And honestly, is there any way to make ship’s biscuit palatable? Or would you rather I brought over some good Aussie chocolate when I come for my next visit?

And there’s pirate plunder! Terri who invited me gets to choose a commenter at random and they get a signed copy of what’s currently keeping Good Ship Anna Campbell afloat on the briny waves. My latest release UNTOUCHED! I’d love someone to show that mad marquess a good time on the ocean! He definitely needs to get out more!

Good luck, me hearties! Another serve of rum all round! ARRRRRRRR!

Now that Anna is Queen Pirate for the Day (and perhaps hit the rum a little too hard already) it's your turn to pillage from her all the writing knowledge you can. And she's full of it. Wait, that doesn't sound right. Argh! You know what I mean. Lets talk Mad Marquesses, Uber-Alphas, and chasing that publishing dream undaunted or just tell Anna how sweet and generous and wonderful she is! Don't forget, one lucky commenter will win their own copy of Untouched.

Pre-conceived Notions of a Writing Pirate

I’ve always thought of myself as open minded. I realize this is rather open minded of me considering the source but stay with me. I’ve lived in a few different regions of the U.S. and have been an avid reader since childhood. I would think this gives me some insight to other people, cultures, experiences. But maybe it doesn’t. Maybe my pre-conceived notions cloud all of this to the point that I interpret it through a narrow lens.

The expansion of my virtual life and my voyages upon this pirate ship have brought me friends from all over the world. I’m not one to think everyone should agree with me or that everyone should think alike but I’m finding there are schools of thought I don’t understand at all. And as much as it must frustrate my friends to try to explain their views to me, it frustrates me that they don’t see things the way I do. It’s perfectly clear to me! LOL!

So, is it safe to assume we (yes, I’m including all of you now) carry these pre-conceived notions into our writing. If there is something we absolutely would never do, can we write a character who does? One of my own quirks is that I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings but often you have to make your heroine or hero say something to the other that not only hurts their feelings but breaks their heart. That is going to be so hard for me.

If I write a character raised with no religious or faith based foundation as I was, can I write that character without bringing my perceptions into it? For a topical example, could I, a Catholic woman raised in the United States, write the story of an Arab woman raised in Palestine? Or a woman living in 19th century England for that matter?

I’m finding this fascinating as one of my greatest struggles is to create independent, well-rounded characters and then keep their choices and behaviors consistent with who they are. I rarely base my characters on anyone I know and definitely not on myself so how can I make them real and understand the way they think?

How do you get into your characters’ heads and do you find it difficult to separate your own experiences and perceptions from theirs? Do your characters ever do anything you find morally or fundamentally wrong? If you’re a reader, does it bother you to read characters who do things you find horribly wrong?
Friday, December 7, 2007

Getting Your Fill

I like high seas drama, and sitting a top my cannon aiming for the next ship that dares to set course into this pirate wench’s path. I don’t enjoy long days at sea, whiling away my time doing menial tasks when I could be pillaging for treasure, and drinking me rum.

If a pirate’s journey only included pillaging, drinking and cavorting with pirates of the opposite sex, we would be so lucky. However, the journey includes much planning to keep the ship set on its course for adventure.

If writing a story included only writing the beginning, the climax, and the end, I would be one happy pirate. We all know that writing requires elements that help the story flow, and polishes the rough edges. The story requires filler, and unfortunately, I’m not talking the white creamy, sweet variety found in the middle of an Oreo cookie. I’m talking about the mortar of the story.

We bridge parts of our story together with information that may not be awe inspiring, but necessary. Heroes and heroines can be charismatic adventure seekers, but in order to keep them real you must give them a background to shadow. Descriptive details can make them appear as three-dimensional individuals instead of paper doll cut outs on a page.

Filler may include non-essential information to the over all plot but it allows the scenes to flow without dead space. It helps build the characters personality or history. It can take something in the story, which appears abstract, and make it an essential element by the end.

Another thing I count as filler is attention to detail in writing, take for example writing a historical romance. It is important to include the proper fashion for the period, and correct landmarks and historical events. Although this information is not detrimental to the overall plot, it is essential in making the story genuine.

Personally, I dislike writing filler. When filler is necessary I find myself becoming distracted, and losing interest in my writing. I try to beef up filler with humor, or something similar to events or conversations from my own life so I can relate to my writing and maintain an edge. However, more often times than not I become bored, and find my mind wondering to the filler of the sugar variety.

How important do you consider filler to the over all story? How do you break up the monotony of writing filler?
Thursday, December 6, 2007

Romancing the Romance Novelist

We wenches here on the RWR talk about stereotypes a lot. We talk about stereotypical romance characters; we talk about stereotypical romance plots. Being the pirates we are, we bash our heads against expectations in our writing and attempt to bend stereotypes in order to write a fresh book. And though we find these stereotypes frustrating, some of the stereotypes I find most frustrating are the ones out there about romance novelists.

I was watching “Romancing the Stone” this past week. For those of you unfamiliar with this movie, it stars Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. The plot of the movie revolves around romance writer Joan Wilder, played by Kathleen Turner, who travels to Colombia to find her kidnapped sister. She falls in love with a mercenary and the two become romantically involved as they search for a precious stone which the kidnappers want.

I have a love/hate relationship with this movie. It’s an entertaining flick with lots of chemistry between Turner and Douglas. There are plenty of action-packed plot twists and it satisfies my romantic nature, what with the whole HEA.

However, I hate the stereotypes it plays in to about romance writers. In the beginning of the movie Joan Wilder is frumpy, nearly anti-social, and has virtually no sex appeal. She's a cautious mouse living her exciting life through her books. Worse, she is what I always think the public expects romance novelists to be: a bunch of sex-starved, out-of-touch-with-reality ninnies.

She does change as a result of her relationship with Douglas' character. However, her transformation brings up so many feminist/post-feminist arguments that I will save that for someone else's blog.

But, my main issue with how the "romance novelist" is portrayed is that it doesn’t jive with the romance writers I know. We’re an intellectual lot, I think, with plenty of degrees, and advanced degrees, among us. The majority of us are busy with our real lives while we try to carve a niche for ourselves in the industry. We’re doctors, lawyers, teachers, secretaries, librarians, and pirates. We’re wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, and goddesses. With all the nametags and hats we all wear, some of us even wearing multiple nametags/hats at the same time, it's insulting to try to define us so narrowly.

Yet, I know a lot of us write “in the closet” because we don’t want to deal with all the stuff people believe about us.

So, tell us what stereotypes you think exist for romance writers. Which ones do you think are valid and which ones do you think are ridiculous and, if you write in secret, which of them, if any, keep you silent? Also, can you think of any other pop cultural portrayals of romance novelists? Perhaps some that make us out to be the super-writers we are? If so, do tell!
Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What Makes the Writer? The Heart or the Content.

I was writing today (and not the massive long soapbox emails I’ve been doing lately, Lis) and it got me to thinking about what motivates me to write. I don’t get many breaks from real life (And I can hear the Capt’n play the world’s smallest fiddle for me). I’m pressed for time from before 6am until about midnight every night and in order for me to get my personal time in, I have to plan for it accordingly. Which really means in lament terms, I have to multi-task.

If you remember last week, I spoke about procrastination. And if you were getting your daily dose of the wenches (which shame on you if you weren’t!) you’ll remember that the Boatswain, Terrio, says that she calls her procrastination the daily multi-tasking. I do so much multi-tasking; I have to multi-task my multi-tasking. I think about writing while I’m in the shower. I think about writing while I’m on my drive both to and from. I think about writing while I’m logging in my daily run. I constantly think about writing. And I think that’s what makes me what kind of writer I am.

I’m a fly by the night, fingers moving like the wind, totally zoned in, type of writer. I don’t plot. I don’t outline. I don’t character build. I don’t do anything ahead of my fingers. I make up a name. I make up a shell of this person in my mind, and I go for it. I’ve heard Capt’n call this the Pantser (okay, which makes me giggle), and it really makes me sound very unprofessional, but I can’t outline. As soon as I outline a story, it’s gone. This might seem silly to you, you little outliner you, but I assure you, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing the written word finally on the screen for the first time. To let your imagination go where it will with no written boundaries. Freedom. This is where I get my freedom. Everyday I’m in the grind, but when I write, I’m finally free. No obligations. No worries. Just me and my brain writing whatever flows out of me. Working out the plot as we go along. Letting the story unfold right in front of my eyes. It’s the best feeling ever.

There are some drawbacks to the way that I write. There is a lot of angst in my stories, and as the Capt’n blogged yesterday, you need that in your story to keep your reader tsking you and turning the page. But I write what I like to read. I like the story to pull at me emotionally. I like to connect on a deeper emotional level to the character and for me to do that as the writer, is to write what I know. For that, it’s my heart in every word. It’s not just the content your reading when you open my pages, you’re reading actually what’s in my heart. It’s not just the content on the pages,

You have to have heart to be a writer. Being a writer is a tough and challenging world. But the content is what the reader bases the book on. Is there a difference to you? I know that you want both (you greedy little wench) but if you could have one or the other, which would you choose…? The emotion of each word, making your heart hurt and feel like you’re right there in the scene. Or do you want the content, an unfailing plot, the best subplot, great character development.

If you’re like me, you know that they come hand in hand. But we’re playing devil’s advocate today. Humor me.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It's the End of the World as We Know It

Last week, my Gunner totally pirated my blog’s theme with her awesome flippin’ blog about character—but I’m not going to punish her or anything for readin’ my mind and one-uppin’ me at every turn. I’m merely going to hold a grudge. The wench. But I’m not going to re-write my blog after I spent all this time being brilliant about it. You’re just going to have to suffer through a second dose of “why character is important”—which is ironic that we pirates spend so much time talking about just that topic. You know, because pirates don’t have char…never mind.

So I’ve been reading this writing book called “Emotional Structure” (by Peter Dunne), which is a screenwriting book, but I’ve found it quite handy already for my novel-writing. One of the first things he points out is that all books (movies) have both a Plot and a Story. The Plot is WHAT happens; and the Story is WHO it happens to.

Now here’s the kicker. Your Plot can be rather bad. It can be unrealistic, unbelievable, maybe even a bit boring—but your Story, if it’s good enough, will make your audience not care. The Story is the piece of magic the illusionist performs to wrap you so far into the scheme, you don’t even care that the coin was in his shirt sleeve the entire time.

Your Story must be kick-ass. People care about people, not plot. Readers usually won’t remember WHAT happened exactly in a book, but they’ll remember WHO it happened to. For example, Captain Jack Sparrow. They killed him off in the second--and had to locate him for the third! People (especially Jack) matter.

I’d say the other key to making your book work is Make Bad Things Happen To Your People All The Time. All the time. Don’t cut them any slack; don’t pull your punches; throw them a bomb and make them react. This works in conjunction to “Write People We Care About.” How people react to adversity is why we care about the people to begin with. We want to root for the underdog and watch him succeed. Plus, making bad things happen to your people all the time also insures your plot is not boring. So long as the bad things are BAD for your hero, it can be something as simply devastating as the girl he finally has the guts to woo is now dating someone else and she turns down his offer, after he’s made a fool of himself to impress her. We will be riveted.

Here’s the example.


Now one would think that any movie with Bruce Willis is going to be good regardless of the Plot or the Story, but I have two words for you: Twelve Monkeys. (No one gave a rat’s ass about that movie, Bruce or no Bruce.) PLUS, Bruce also had to work with Ben Affleck, Mr. Gigli himself, who although I adore, I understand his idea of stretching as an actor is not sleeping with all the women he meets. It also features Billy Bob Thornton, who is an incredible actor, if you can get around the fact he carried around a vial of blood on a necklace in the name of love. (He’s a little creepy in real life. I’m sorry.)

Now think a moment about this movie. It’s about an asteroid that’s going to hit the earth and decimate all of mankind. That’s the urgency-plot factor every last writing article will tell you to have. Where’s the emergency? But how are our people going to react is actually the more important factor for the long haul.

So we have Bruce, our underdog OIL DRILLER, who’s been asked by the US Government to save the world by drilling a hole in the asteroid (once they LAND on it) and dropping a nuclear warhead into the bottom of it.

Yeah, that’s believable.

So he and his oil drilling buddies are given a crash course in NASA and launched into space. Two ships go up; but one immediately crashes (and is presumably lost). Bruce presses on with his team (since he was in the ship that didn’t crash and burn) and starts drilling. They burn through all their drill bits AND a transmission, but they’re still about 200 feet from their goal. Time is ticking. The President gives the order to start the bomb without putting it in the hole…or even caring if the guys remaining make it off the asteroid before the bomb explodes. More drama, more goofy-unbelievable-weirdo bad things occur, and still you’re on the edge of your seat.

Will the underdog get his chance to save the world? Will he make it back home to his daughter, Liv Tyler, who loves him? Will we all die?

Dark moment #1: 200 feet from goal and we’re all going to die! It’s been announced—and then lo and behold, a miracle happens, Ben the young swashbuckler (or the young Bruce), who was on the lost ship, shows up with another transmission and bit. They drill and voila!—they’ve made goal—with a couple of character growths where Ben is begging Bruce to trust him, even though it is a chance that may cost Ben’s life and a drill bit. Oh, and the end of the world obviously.

Dark moment #2: the nuclear warhead won’t go off unless someone stays behind to detonate it. Nice. Ben draws the short straw—and you could just die for him, since he was dating Bruce's daughter and all and you were hoping they'd work out.

Dark moment #3: Bruce being Bruce, he escorts Ben to the place below, rips the oxygen, and forces himself to be the sacrifice. (By now I’m already crying. After all, if you have to kill somebody, why can’t it be that stupid “genius” jerkoff who was humping the nuke warhead 20 minutes prior in the film?) Bruce does a bittersweet goodbye to his daughter, Liv, and she says one back, her hand touching the screen where his face was—but disappears.

Then Bruce, as he’s done countless times before, saves the world. Ben is reunited with Liv; Billy is given a NASA patch from Bruce—and we all cry into our Kleenex as the credits roll, relieved the world has managed not to be decimated by a piece of rock but very sad that a great man like Bruce had to die to do it.

The power of Story, crew. That has to be what it is—at one point during the flick, they say the asteroid is now spinning on all three axis, and even I went: OH, COME ON!—but I didn’t care because I wanted to know if Bruce won. And I cried like a Daddy’s girl when he said goodbye to his baby…and when he closed his eyes (after pushing the button) and when he saw Liv playing on a swing, growing up, walking down the aisle. *sob*

With characters like that, I’ll believe any plot you give me.

What movies/books have you seen that the plot was way out there but the story (people) was so incredible, it didn’t matter?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Writing is Writing is Writing

I'm going to put a disclaimer on here right away and say I just finished writing my Politics class term paper (which I put off until the very last minute – see procrastination blog from last week) and I'm exhausted. But I just remembered Monday is my day so if this goes totally incoherent, you'll know why.

So as aspiring romance authors we write fiction. Grant it some people around here like to throw in lots of non-fiction but they shall remain nameless. For the most part we focus on creative writing, telling a story, creating a world. But what about other kinds of writing?

In my lifetime I've written letters, short stories, screenplays, commercial copy, news copy, articles, term papers, blogs and now romance. The way I see it, a writer is a writer. You may be better at one of these areas than another but when it comes down to it, if you're a writer you can write anything.

Let me ask you – who is going to write the cute little biography about yourself on your website? You know once you start selling books (before really) you'll need to have a website. Who is going to write all those blogs that you'll be asked to do when you sell that first book? A blog isn't really fiction after all. It's something else entirely.

Do you ever stop to think about all the different things you write in the course of a day? Blogs, emails, bulletin board/forum posts, ads, letters, special sentiments, recipes, directions. We're always writing something and my theory is a writer is a writer is a writer. What is your theory?
Saturday, December 1, 2007

Party on the Revenge!

This is a disclaimer from TerriO - I am posting this blog but this is all the Captain's doing. I might have had a tiny bit to do with it but really, it was all her. So kick her ass, not mine. *g*

Guess What?

One of our Crew Members—I can't say who, I've been sworn to secrecy (It's Sin—but don't tell her I told you, she'll kill me) –is having a birthday today.


Oops, I said her name again! Blast!

So drink up the grog and wish our merry Sin a wonderful and laughter-filled birthday!

Now—everyone join together to sing.

*blows a little pitch pipe in the key of C*

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Yes, this is embarrassing,
But that's what Crews do!

*big kazoo solo*

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
You look like a slutty pirate,
And curse like one too!

Incidentally, this is also National Pie Day. So do it for Sin—help yourself to an extra piece today!

Wish from TerriO:
May your Birthday be sweet and your pie well eaten….errr……you know what I mean. *w* Happy Birthday, Babe.
Friday, November 30, 2007

Once Upon a Time...

We’ve heard from our fearless Captain that she envisions a happy ending for the wenches aboard her vessel, not only in a real life sense, but in a literary sense as well. A well-written ending for the characters in a story can make all the difference to the reader, as well as give credit to the characters. However, just as important to the story, is the beginning.

The beginning can make or break a story. I have a short attention span; the author has to pull me in with the first sentence or I lose interest. My favorite beginning is one of an emotional nature, which makes perfect sense because I am an emotional writer. I want my character’s feelings to be palpable. As a reader, I want to connect emotionally to the characters. It entices me to turn the next page.

The greatest credit you can give your characters is to place them in a well-described scene and have them react in the most human way possible. I don’t want to tell the reader what is happening I want to create what is happening. I want to begin the story as if the reader is interacting in the scene with the characters.

Excellent description is the key to enticing a reader. I also favor what I call a drop in beginning. The author drops you in a scene that’s already in motion, tension is high, you’re on the edge of your seat, and turning pages as fast as you can to find the results. We all know that the first paragraph of a story can be the most crucial, not only to the reader, but to literary agents, and publishers as well. It’s hard to market a book that has a flat beginning. It takes a number of ingredients to make a good beginning. Take a poignant well-described scene containing strong characters and it’s hard to miss. It’s easy to name the ingredients, but using them to perfect the right recipe determines the ability of the cook.

Are you a word reader or an image reader? Do you read the book as words on a page? Or do the words process from the page to an image in your mind? Well-articulated words should evoke an image automatically.

Have you ever sang The National Anthem and envisioned the words? I clearly see the night sky light up as the bombs explode. I see men falling on the battlefield, and most importantly, I see the battered flag waving in the air. Francis Scott Key wrote simple words that when sang, evoke not only emotion, but also a profound image. I am sure at the time he wrote The Star Spangled Banner he had no idea of the vast importance and greatness of his work.

Words are our tools. Use them well, and it may only be the beginning for you.

What type of scene sets up the beginning of your WIP? Do you know of any authors who have perfected first scenes like no other?
Thursday, November 29, 2007

Plunder Their Depths

Characters drive our stories. Readers will stop reading if they don’t like who they read about. Plot can take you so far but many an amazingly plotted story has fallen flat when the characters can’t shoulder it.

We’ve been talking about movies some this week. Just think of a movie that had a decent plot, but was only a so-so movie or plain outright stunk because either the characters had no depth or the actor(s) didn’t portray the character’s depth. Did anyone see The Lake House? Kind of an interesting premise, if you ignore the chronological difficulties and suspend belief a bit, but wow… Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves just stank those characters right up, worse than a bunch of smelly pirates away at sea too long with nothing but rum for bathing.

Now, I know that some of the responsibilities in movies fall on the shoulders of directors/producers etc. However, let’s keep this simple for my analogy. (Hey, I’m a pirate, what I say goes. Do I hear mutiny? Simmer down, wenches.)

Is our job as writer any different than the job of an actor? We have a person (or people technically) in mind that we have to express and if we don’t do our job correctly, the reader won’t really “know” that person. Or worse, they won’t care about them, just like we don’t care about movies with poorly acted characters.

After yesterday’s writing exercise and how much fun we had with it, I thought we could continue to stretch our writing muscles again today.

Think about a character you’re currently writing. Then answer these questions about them.
1. How does your character take their coffee? Why?
2. Name one smell that your character can't stand and why?
3. What is one object your character would never part with and why?
4. What is your character’s greatest fear? Explain.

Here’s my example….
1. Cory, my heroine, would take her coffee with no cream but a lot of sugar. She’s no nonsense, but secretly sweet.
2. Smell: Cory hates the smell of lavender. She thinks it’s a strong, fussy smelling flower.
3. Cory would never part with her manuscripts. She’s translating Pindar’s Odes from Greek.
4. Cory’s greatest fear is that love really is the most important thing in a marriage. Because if that is true, in order to be happy she will need to turn over a bit of control of her life to someone else.

Dig in! If you’re not a writer, or you don’t have the time today, or you just aren’t ready to tackle your characters’ idiosyncrasies yet, let’s talk about characters in books or movies that just fell flat and therefore made the whole experience painful. Why do you think they stunk so badly?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What was I going to do next…. Oh Yeah, Write a Blog.


Hellion is going to kill me.

So in my quest to think about something to blog about today (because let’s face it, not *only* am I a pirate wench, I’m a HUGE procrastinator as well. And also see my blog from last week, it’s harder than hell to blog after Hellion when she’s on a roll), I thought that we’d have a little fun along with learning a little something from ourselves. Not in those self-help ways. Really who buys a $500 program from an infomercial at 4am and uses it to become a huge success… Okay, maybe you but not me. I think it all circles back to the procrastination thing again.

See procrastinating. I’m procrastinating in my own blog. I need a self-help group.

Yikes. There’s that self-help crap again. I’m losing it here.

*reciting* Onward, Sin. Move onward.

Moving on.

I procrastinate like there is no tomorrow. I even think of ways I can procrastinate procrastinating. It’s not hard to do. You just talk yourself in circles until you give up trying to do what you originally set out to do in the first place.

Now you see why I’m a good procrastinator, right?

Procrastinating doesn’t serve me well as a writer. As a writer, I need to be focused and driven. I need to be able to sit down for hours at a time and bang out *insert snicker* about 20,000 words in a day. Except, when I’m writing and feeling the urge to procrastinate, I think up different characters in funny little circumstances. Like the porn star and the Amish bumpkin in yesterday’s comment section. I can totally see it written. But am I going to write it? NOPE. That goes against my inner and exterior procrastinator. Yup. I know what you’re thinking. How did she get TWO procrastinators?

I’m a writer. Deal with it. I can write whatever I want. And if I want two procrastinating wenches as my personality, then so be it.

But then I’d have to write. Hm, Houston we’ve got a problem.

So today’s exercise of the day, how to deal with the inner procrastinator stomping around in your head, burning all your wonderful mental notes and purposely causing ants in your pants so that you can’t sit still for longer than two seconds.

Take two deep breaths. Think of your two main characters. Concentrate on their personalities. Think of a conversation the two of them might have.

Got it? Good.

If not, I suggest you think about it for a minute.

And no I’m not procrastinating.


For today’s exercise in training the inner procrastinator, gimme a conversation piece. Just a quick one-two punch. Nothing that you’ve written before because that would be cheating. And even though I’m a pirate, and sometimes on occasion as a pirate that is acceptable. But. Not. This. Time.

Example: From the main characters in my WIP, Double Vision. Sadie, a booted out FBI agent and her undercover watchdog, Ash. If I were to make up a conversation between them, it would go something like this-


I watched him walk out of the shadows. He had that swagger that warned good girls he wasn’t in it to walk them down the aisle. He was trouble. Plain and simple. Something I didn’t need right now.
“I can’t work with you.” I said, matter-of-fact. “Call your superior. Tell him I changed my mind.”
“Sadie,” His voice was low, vibrating through me. “Afraid you can’t handle it?” His eyes caught mine, the moonlight shining brightly on his perfect white teeth. There was a spark in his eyes I recognized. This was the Ash I knew and once loved. And I was in deep shit.


Now, sit your butt down. Stop reading all those blogs (except for this one because you know how much you love your daily dose of pirate wenches). And prepare yourself to do some writing. Brace yourself for the conversation of a lifetime… Hey! I’m writing for you! You little procrastinator! Sit and write. Write a tiny little conversation. That is your job for the day. To think of a way to spur your writing onward and beat down that evil procrastinator inside of you.

Show me what you can do. Even if it’s a, “Hey, how yooou doin’?” “I’m good. I just got done doing an Amish bumpkin in the back of her wagon.” conversation.
(Courtesy of the Porn Star and the Amish girl tale.)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

SuperWriter: (W)riting Wrongs & HEAs

I need Happily Ever Afters in my stories.

It’s my biggest failure as an English major, I admit, this dreadful need for a commercial sweet ending, but who cares? I’ve been rewriting the ends to literary stories for years now, at least in my mind.

Romeo & Juliet is a definite beef of mine, especially since it’s proof of why teenagers should wait until they’re 25 before they’re allowed to date. (Idiots.) Admittedly, my interpretation of the story when I was a teenager was actually more romantic-minded, back when I thought there is only one soul-mate, one true love for any one person. Back then, I rewrote the ending for a school project, thus alerting Ms. Yount even then of my intent to write trashy novels.

I’ve been rewriting endings ever since really.

Anyone see the movie Sommersby? Richard Gere and Jodie Foster fall in love in this post-Civil War era flick. I watched it one Christmas Eve, totally a lamb led to slaughter as I bonded with this couple, only to watch Richard hanged at the end. Hanged. I leaped out of my chair, screaming at the television—which went over well in a household that was asleep at 1 a.m.

Shakespeare in Love. Another wonderful flick (one I actually own)—and our couple is cruelly separated at the end, and she has to go off and live with Colin Firth. Oh, the pitiless injustice of it all! (In all fairness, he’s not nearly as dashing or charming as he was as Darcy, but it is Colin Firth after all.)

Titanic. *pauses for the obvious jokes that will abound here* That rat bastard of a fiancée makes it, but poor Jack drowns for his sweet Rose. Mike was completely inconsolable for weeks!

Over the summer, a supposed comedy called The Breakup had an ending where the couple didn’t end up together. It is possibly the only non-together ending where I wouldn’t rewrite it to have them get together. These two were so wholly unlikeable, they didn’t deserve a happy ending. (I still want my $8 back.)

Well, there is a point to this. I’m not the only one who likes to rewrite endings to unhappily ended romances and give the sigh we were all waiting to exhale. Over the weekend, I read an erotica novel by Colette Gale called Unmasqued, which tells a new version of The Phantom of the Opera. Well, well-done. Highly recommend, and I got to thinking about beloved stories in which I wished the ending had been a bit different. And it got me to thinking of story ideas in which I could rewrite the ending to…oh, The Flying Dutchman. Or maybe a modern day Romeo & Juliet, fifteen years after the supposed suicide maybe.

Maybe that’s how I’ll make the world a better place—one HEA at a time. Just call me...SuperWriter.

What stories have you wished for a different ending? How would you have made it different?

Monday, November 26, 2007

All Cannons at the Ready!

Today's topic is defending your words. Anyone who knows me can tell you I love a good debate. I like to think I'm semi-intelligent and what I don't know I can bullshit. Once I get my teeth into an issue I refuse to let go; therefore, a debate with me could last for years. Now, this does not mean I refuse to concede a point to my opponent, but I'll do so while pointing out another aspect that proves me right.

This debating I do is best done in person but that's not always the circumstance. These days I'm finding myself debating online as I'm taking online courses. Yes, we have internet on this ship! And a very good advancing education program. This week I found myself under attack where I wasn't even trying to provoke anyone. I wrote my opinion and was soundly fired upon. So, I did what every writing pirate worth her salt would do, I told him in a pretty way to shove it up his as….well, I might have been more tactful than that. But he was smart enough NOT to try for a snappy comeback.

So, it made me think, we all have to deal with turning our work, our words, over to another for their opinion, reaction or even (God forbid) approval. How far will you go to defend your words? I have been told my story will never sell, to change a character's occupation, to change another character's name and even had entirely new plots thrown my way. I admit to making minor changes in response to all of this but most of it I ignored. I'm stubborn, I could never deny that, but I also have to believe in my story. This is MY story. If it never sells so be it, but by golly the finished product will be mine and I'll stand beside it and fight them all.

How far will you go to defend your words? Will you draw your sword and fight to the death or turn tale and run? Have you faced any of these battles as I have? And how badly do you want to know what I said to that little land lubbing, snot-nosed pain in the ass?
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We've Pulled into Port for Holiday Leave!

Per the Capt'n, I shall post this message or be punished *grin* which we all know I don't want that.

We have pulled into port for some much needed frivolity and private time with naughty male pirates, whose roguish ways have stolen our fun loving hearts! We will set sail again at dawn on Monday morning. Be prepared to bear witness to our very detailed endeavours and enjoy the spoils of our pillaging!

PS. Have a great Thanksgiving and if you're our friends from across the sea, have a great Thursday!

Wading Through the Sea of Thanksgiving Blessings

So sometimes one must ask themselves when blogging after Hellion… How does one compete with a mind like hers?

I mean sure, *making the universal hand signal for crazy* she’s a little cuckoo but when you’re on a ship like this one, it’s granted that we’re all going to be a crazy from the lack of men. *sad head shake, muttering* She remembers the rum, but not the men.

This is another story for another day.

So today, instead of trying to compete with Capt’n Hellion’s brilliance, I’ve decided that I will do the complete opposite of her brilliance and wallow in childlike happiness of the things I’m grateful this holiday season.


Sin’s Top Ten Reasons She Has a Smile on Her Face
(Or, Reasons for the Season.)
Whichever suits your delicate sensibilities better… landlubbers… *shaking head* Y’all need a dose of a solid, hearty sword… *hears Capt’n clear her throat* or something of the sort.

10. I’m officially on holiday from the taskmaster, who makes me slave away in front to the computer all day long and not to write… but to code and email disgruntled doctors who didn’t get their way over the weekend, and do paperwork.

9. All my grocery shopping is done. So there is no reason for me to get in a fist fight over that last 15lb turkey that Villers just wants to put baby oil on.

8. Tis the season for Christmas songs. And I love Christmas songs. They put me in a mood; like The-Mary-Poppins-of-Christmas- singing mood. And for those of you who don’t know me, the MP of Christmas is quite a stretch from my normal non-holiday self.

7. This year, I don’t have to clean like a mad woman on a mission. I don’t have to stay up until 3am trying to make beer rolls to impress anyone (which is a far cry from what actually happened. Anyone familiar with how a breakdown works at 3am? Gone was a fifth of vodka. And I felt instantly better. And the rolls looked better too!) And I don’t have to slave away cleaning up every slob that dragged his ass over to my house to eat all my food.

6. I finally have an excuse to shop like fiend for the next four weeks. “It’s for Christmas!” is my new slogan.

5. The first snow is upon us. And unless fate is a cruel bitch, there won’t be 16 inches of snow on the ground for the first snow. It will be a pretty dusting that sticks to all the trees and reminds you of all the good holiday memories that you have. Not those memories that get repeated over and over again until you realize that your drunk uncle is stuck on repeat and needs to be kicked in the shin.

4. Hot, fictional men. Anywhere I can get a hold of some eye candy and drool over them for minutes *ahem* hours at a time, I’ll gladly sacrifice my time to do so. I’m grateful for Ranger (one of my lead fantasy men) and all the great little ideas he whispers into my ear. And I’m grateful for the batcave homepage *high five Lis* because without Lis dedicated work- which is truly a hardship- fifty of the best babes out there would be without new eye candy on the daily. Lissa is an eye candy pimp. Just ask her about it. It’s her cross to bear.

3. Holiday time off. ‘Nuff said. Christmas parties. Girls’ Night Out. Margaritas at the El Maguey’s where the young Ranger look alike works. Movie dates with girlfriends. Spa parties for the very wickedly stressed out. Good food. Great fun. Things to help you remember that the holidays are not all stress and no fun.(I never said it would be ten things. Huhzah! The Pirate has struck!)

2. Writing. In the past year, I’ve done a lot of things that I’d set out to do, but one thing got shoved to the side to make way for everything else on my to-do list. I’ve struggled. I’ve wavered on what I want to write. I’ve changed my mind. I’ve written and deleted. I’ve been frustrated. Aggravated. Pissed off. And ready to give up. But writing is not something that you can just walk away from. And there is a huge reason why.

1. Which brings me to my number one. Girlfriends. I’m thankful for all the great women I’ve met this year, bonded with, laughed with, cried with, drank with, stayed up all night with (or felt like all night when you’d been up for days at a time!), brainstormed with, critiqued with, NaNo’ed with, challenge wrote with, co-conspired with and generally all of those women that blessed me with friendship. I’m grateful for all the great ladies in my life that, no matter what, won’t let you jump ship. Won’t let you take a flying leap from the plank. And won’t let you have all the rum even when you really think you need it.

In your haste to get last minute things ready for tomorrow, spare me a couple of sentences of what you’re most grateful for this holiday season. It could be the turkey on the table or the fine looking eye candy you have as your laptop background. I’m not here to judge. (But if you do have hottie eye candy on the background, I might have to confiscate it.)
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rake & Bake: The End

FELTON: …no, they would never do that. They would kick the ball. The two-point conversion is too risky. These Americans don’t know anything about risk.

ARDMORE: Why are we learning about this pansy game anyway? I thought we were cooking a Thanksgiving dinner?

GRYFFYN: That’s right! Come now, Felton, this is a defeatist attitude. *holding up the trifle bowl* We still have the trifle! It’s like a little bit of Thanksgiving in every bite.

VILLIERS: Well, it probably would be if that were turkey and dressing rather than roast beef and carrots, but who’s quibbling? I’m sure it’s divine.

GRYFFYN: Would you like some?

VILLIERS: God, no. *clicking the cap off and on to the baby oil*

HOLBROOK: Stop doing that. You’re giving me a headache. What are you doing with the oil anyway?

VILLIERS: In case the nuns arrive. I like to be prepared.

FELTON: Oh, for God’s sake, Villiers, there are no nuns! There is no turkey! There will be no Thanksgiving!

MAYNE: You mean, you don’t believe in the Thanksgiving miracle? *tsking* Oh, ye of little faith…

FELTON: I have always thought you were an idiot. *pointing back at the picture and gaining ARDMORE’s attention* Now if they don’t complete the yardage they need to make a down….

GODWIN: *stumbling from a back room* I think I’ve finally managed a song for us to sing while we work. How much time before we’re required to have the meal done?

FELTON: *checking timepiece drolly* Approximately 3 ½ minutes.

GODWIN: Oh, we have scads of time then. You’d be amazed at all the time I have leftover when I’m given 3 ½ minutes. *passing out sheets* Here, we’ll each have a part to sing…

MAYNE: Isn’t this Ode to Joy? You didn’t write this…Look, it says right there in the corner…

GODWIN: *looking frazzled* I was a bit pressed for time! A Thanksgiving feast in an hour. *throwing the papers into the air angrily* What did you expect? A symphony?

VOICEOVER: There is only one minute left. Have the men managed to scrabble something together for their guests, the Prime Minister William Pitt and the Prince Regent, both duct taped to prevent unpleasant sniping…

*door opens, and the men panic, fearing the Prime Minister and Regent have arrived early*

MAYNE: *bashing around pots and pans* Just a minute, we almost… *words die on lips as a group of nuns trot through the door*

VILLIERS: *throwing arms wide and brandishing the baby oil* Ladies! I knew you’d come to save us.

FELTON: It’s…it’s….

GODWIN: A Thanksgiving miracle! *looks inspired* Ooh! I’ve just thought of a melody. Excuse me, ladies, gentlemen. I have to write this down. *disappears again*

DARBY: *handing FELTON his lace handkerchief* Here you go, Felton, take it. Never in all the time I’ve known you have I known you to carry a handkerchief, and yet I’ve never known another to need one more.

FELTON: *weeping quietly into the lace* There really is a Thanksgiving miracle.

NUN#1: *pulling off habit and revealing a lace teddy* I hear there was a problem in the kitchen?

VILLIERS: *clutching said nun and smiling for the camera* I know what I’m thankful for! God bless us, everyone!

*zoom out*

Rake & Bake: Part 2

VOICEOVER: Welcome back to Rake & Bake: Thanksgiving Special Ed…

MAYNE (interrupting): Mother of God, Ardmore, what the hell did you stuff in this turkey? I thought….

FELTON: What? Something is stuffed in the turkey? *wrinkling nose* Come to think of it, what did you oil the turkey with?

ARDMORE: It’s how we make roast bird in Scotland. We make a stuffing of oats and onions…

HOLBROOK: *wrinkling brow* Isn’t that the primary ingredient for haggis?

VILLIERS: Big haggis eater, are you? Well, takes all kinds I suppose. Live and let live, I say.

ARDMORE: That’s a Scottish proverb, actually…and the oats are really good, I assure you.

FELTON: This isn’t Thanksgiving for the National Heart’s Association. We just wanted a simple turkey. *waving hands in a general motion as if he’d rather strangle ARDMORE with them, attention is now focused on counter* Is that BABY OIL?

VILLIERS: *snorting in laughter* Well, you did say oil the bird, Felton, and I must say I’ve oiled many a bird myself with baby oil…to spectacular effect.

FELTON: *looking stupefied, sliding down the counter* There’s no way. We’ve lost. We’re going to have to watch American football.

DARBY: *pressing his handkerchief to his nose, looking quite put out* You must be jesting! Come now, Felton. Buck up, my good man, I’ve seen you….

FELTON: *reaching out and gripping DARBY’s jacket, crushing the bright velvet and shaking him* It’s impossible! It would take a Thanksgiving Miracle!

GRYFFYN: Okay, I’m finally done with the trifle! *carrying in a large crystal bowl with many colored layers* Everything a good British trifle needs. Gingerbread, custard, apples and pecans…

ARDMORE: Hey, that sounds rather promising. Come on, Felton…look… *quizzical look* What layer is that, Gryffyn? The gingerbread or the custard?

GRYFFYN: Hmm? Oh, that’s the roast beef and carrots…

HOLBROOK: That’s handy. Saves you the trouble of mixing it all on your plate, don’t you think?

FELTON: *slowly thunking his head against the counter, blank expression*

ARDMORE: You know what would have made the trifle perfect. *dramatic pause* Oats.

VOICEOVER: Will Felton receive his Thanksgiving miracle? Will anyone eat Gryffyn’s trifle? Will Ardmore become a convert to American football? Stay tuned for the final part of Rake & Bake: Special Edition. *sotto* What will the men do when Villiers starts using the baby oil inappropriately on the kitchen counter? More when we return….

Monday, November 19, 2007

Rake & Bake: A Thanksgiving Special Edition

*zoom in on a tiny kitchen set where VILLIERS, GRYFFYN, MAYNE, HOLBROOK, SIMON DARBY, GODWIN, LUCIUS FELTON, and ARDMORE are all trying to stand without touching each other*

VOICEOVER: *trilling like Julia Child* Welcome to a special holiday episode of RAKE & BAKE.

MAYNE: *cursing* Blast it! I thought we finally got away from this Rake and Reality TV crap!

DARBY: *picking at the corner of his lace cuff* Oh, I don’t know. The Rake My Ride series got very good reviews. That Jesse James fellows seemed quite….

MAYNE: Well, that series was dignified, but this! This is designed to make us look ridiculous!

VILLIERS: You mean we haven’t been invited to a special taping of French Nuns Gone Wild? *undertone* Though I’m not sure why I thought I needed to see a taping of that. The French Nuns I’ve gotten wild with…well, let’s just say, I don’t need to see a taping to verify that after the habits come off…

GRYFFYN: As fascinating as your love life is, Villiers, I don’t think now is the time.

VOICEOVER: …The Luscious Libertines of London will have 1 hour to create a Thanksgiving menu for eight, or they will be forced to do that most horrific of all pastimes: watch an American football game

ARDMORE: You mean like our football? Manly sports where if you’re bleedin’ by the end of the game, you know you fought the good fight?

VOICEOVER: No, not British football. This. *a clip of the Colts and the Chiefs plays for thirty seconds, causing the men to wince and moan in despair* Minimum of three hour play.

FELTON: Three hours? I’d rather go shoe shopping with my wife! Are you mad?

ARDMORE: That namby-pamby bunch of wrestling? That’s not football. That’s *bleeeeeeep*…and *BLEEP* *BLEEP* *BLEEEEEP*. I’d sooner suck *BLEEP* and *BLEEEP* a sheep.

VILLIERS: Ah, so a regular Saturday night for you, eh, Scotsman?

ARDMORE: You puffed up coxcomb! *leaping across DARBY to strike at VILLIERS*

FELTON: *sticking fingers in his mouth and whistling loudly* Gentlemen, we have 57 minutes to feed a Thanksgiving meal for a setting of eight. I’ll be damned if I’m watching that cockamamie notion of a sports activity. *sniffing* I have made a list.

HOLBROOK: *groaning* I need a drink

FELTON: We will need mashed potatoes, stuffing, a vegetable, another side, a dessert, and of course, the turkey.

GRYFFYN: I’ve always been fond a good trifle, myself. You know the layers of cake with the pudding and the fruit. Do you think…?

FELTON: Gryffyn, you’re in charge of the dessert. Ardmore, I need you to prepare the turkey…. *indicating a raw bird laying on the stage counter next to a horde of other food supplies*

GODWIN: I will write us a song to make our work lighter. An Ode to Thanksgiving…. *pulls a piece of paper from his jacket and starts humming to himself*

MAYNE: *frowning* He always does that. Why are we even doing a Thanksgiving dinner anyway? We don’t even celebrate Thanksgiving.

FELTON: *marking things off his list* Mayne, you’re talking again. Do you really want to watch an American football game?

MAYNE: They can’t make me watch a game.

FELTON: And they can’t make us go to an island either and reform Captain Jack Sparrow either.

MAYNE: *rolling up his shirt sleeves* Give me the potatoes. I’ll start peeling.

DARBY: Why am I always given the onions to chop? *sniffing, chopping on a board at one end of the counter* I don’t even like onions, you know. *all stop to look at DARBY wiping at his eyes with a lacey bit of cloth*

FELTON: *droll look* I don't know. It must be Aristocratic Profiling. Holbrook, how is the vegetable coming?

HOLBROOK: *holding up the Brussels sprouts and frowning* Who eats these things? *trimming the edges and chopping in quarters* Tell me we’re at least sousing them in a bit of sherry.

VILLIERS: *wrinkling his nose* I assure you all the sherry in the world will not help those things. Isn’t there such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen? Maybe I should politely withdraw and leave this to the experts? *makes a leg*

FELTON: Don’t even think it. *pointing with a knife* You can peel the carrots. *thumps a huge bag of carrots and a vegetable peeler in front of him* Knock yourself out. 51 minutes, people. Get cracking!

ARDMORE: *picking up greased turkey and promptly dropping the slick bird on the floor; picks it up* Oops, hate it when that happens.

VOICEOVER: *still like Julia Child* Don’t worry, dearie, happens to the best of us!

MAYNE: Granted, I’m not a chef by any means, but I am pretty sure a turkey takes longer to cook than 50 minutes.

FELTON: Why don’t you dice the potatoes, Mayne, and leave the heavy thinking to me, thank you. *stares at the bird, then Ardmore* Then again, he’s right. The recipe here says to cook the bird for three hours at 350 degrees. I imagine if we just turn the oven up a bit, it will cook in at least half the time.

ARDMORE: So…450?

FELTON: Better make it 500. *plops a pan in front of Mayne* Peel a little faster. You wouldn’t believe how much these Americans love their potatoes. Of course, I think the majority of them are of Irish descent, so no surprises there. *frowning at the food* I can’t believe how much all this stuff costs. Did you see the receipt? Must have been over 50 pounds….

ARDMORE: *thumping pan into oven and shutting it* You jest? For a meal? Why didn’t they just serve a good haggis…

*rest of group groans and pulls faces*

ARDMORE: Haggis is good! Have you even had it?

FELTON: I am a frugal man, Ardmore, but you Scotsmen truly take it to the limit. *pausing* What’s that smell?

*groups turns to frown at oven which is already pouring out black smoke*

ARDMORE: Bloody hell! *opens oven and removes turkey, which is flaming* What the devil… *flapping a towel which only makes the flames shoot higher; there is a sudden rushing sound and Ardmore is covered in white foam, as is the turkey*

DARBY: *brandishing a fire extinguisher* Sorry, old man, but I couldn’t take a chance on my velvet getting ruined this time.

ARDMORE: *wiping foam away with his towel, glowering* No problem, Darby. Appreciate the help.

FELTON: *frowning* Truly, I wouldn’t think it’d have time to catch on fire like that. What did you rub on the turkey, Ardmore? Kerosene?

VOICEOVER (ARDMORE’S BLEEPING): Stay tuned for our second half of Rake & Bake. Can this turkey be saved? Will they end up with more than a trifle? Will the men be reduced to watching bad American namby-pamby football? You be the judge…when we return.