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.

Choosing a Port...

Here's the question I pose this week. When deciding where to set your story, do you fall back on real life places, imaginary places or a little of both? And if you go for a real place, do you attempt to write about a place you've never been?

If you write historical, I'm going to step out on a plank and say you probably write about many places you've never been. Many Historicals are set in London; however, I've read about authors who've written dozens of books set there but never stepped foot on English soil. And if your story is set in 1896 Kansas City or 1968 New Orleans – there's really no way to get there and have it be the same. This is where research can be a wonderful thing.

Now, if you write contemporary as I do, is it a good idea to write about a place you've never been? Even if you make up the town, you have to put it in some specific region of the country (or another country) and even that can be tricky. For instance, for my first WIP I attempted to set my story on the Eastern Shore in a real town. I'd never been there but it's only about a 90 minute car ride from my house so I figured I could go eventually. I did a little homework about the town on the internet and went from there.

But then I drove through the area and it didn't fit my story at all. It’s a beautiful place but my story needed more city-qualities (does that make sense?) and this place is very rural. Very "Agri Business Report" and "Shopping at the Feed Store". Not a bad thing, just not what I was looking for. So, I backed up and punted and took the easy way out – I made up a new town that doesn't exist. So I cheated – Pirate!

I have two more stories in the works and one is set in the Midwest somewhere (so far anyway) and the other on Ocracoke Island. I'm not sure what qualifies as Midwest these days but I'm thinking I've been close enough to wing it. The story is short and erotica which means little plot or scenery other than beds, counter tops, showers and walls anyway. I have been to Ocracoke Island and I'm looking forward to writing a story set there. When the story formed and the characters started telling me about themselves, the setting came as an integral part so that one was a no brainer. Basically, the characters didn't give me a choice. (BTW - the picture above is one I took on Ocracoke Island. Can't wait to write that beach scene. LOL!)

When I read Ain't She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, I was amazed how accurately she portrayed a small southern town. Then I found out she'd never lived in a small southern town. How she managed to get it so perfect, I don't know. Hopefully, I'll get to ask her someday. *g*

So, what do you do? Do you think you can do justice to a place you've never been? Do you set stories in places you've always wanted to visit just to give yourself the excuse (and the tax write off) to go? Do you spend hours in the library trying to recreate New York City in 1885? Or do you cop out and set all of your stories right there in your hometown?

IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog is not intended to out anyone in this writer's group nor to offend anyone about where they set their story. The words "cop out" are meant completely in jest. *g*
Friday, November 16, 2007

Beyond the Velvet Rope

Pirates define success as the amount of treasure they receive on a perfect haul. They seek the fastest ship, the swiftest sword, and of course, all the rum they can consume.

What do writers define as success?

Do you ever imagine your WIP on the shelves at Barnes and Noble? Do you envision the cover art, the color of the jacket, even the font for your name? Do you ever get an automatic high when you think about your first book signing?

Maybe you have envisioned your published work announced as Oprah Winfrey’s latest choice for her book club. Everyone knows that Oprah’s book club seal is a token promise of success.

Have you dreamed of being the guest writer on your favorite blog? Do you have an important message to convey in your story, and long for your voice to be heard? Would you like to be touted as the writer who achieved the perfect formula? Or, maybe you aspire to win a Rita, a Golden Quill, or NaNo *g*.

I think every writer at some point in time has these aspirations. For many writers all of these signify the culmination, or the defining moment of their success.

I have often thought about what I want out of my experience as a writer. What will actually define my success? My conclusion is far beyond people standing behind a velvet rope waiting for my signature. The most important thing is telling my story, and doing it well.

I have read thousands of books in my lifetime. I want to create in my writing what I love in my reading. I love the feeling of finishing a well-written book. I call it the awe moment. When I am a few pages from finishing the book and I want so much to read the last words, but I hesitate, because I never want it to end. Have you ever closed the cover of a book and become emotional from the beauty of the story?

I define success as the ability to write the awe factor.

I look forward to completing a story, not just any story, but my story. And when I finish I want to type the last words, roll my desk chair away from the computer, and know the sweet feeling of completion. I don’t care if it’s not the best story ever written, or even worthy of publishing. Finishing is my goal, and then the rewrites and quest for the awe factor will begin.

Maybe some would argue that I want to achieve the awe factor in order to have all the experiences I have mentioned. What they don’t understand is I view my reward as making a living doing something I love.

To me, book signings and cover art are icing on the cake, but the cake is the culmination, and what I crave the most.

Other than publishing, what defines your success as a writer?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Prepare the Public Leeching!

Not the ones that leech blood. I’m talking about the ones that leech your emotions.

I’ve felt particularly vulnerable this week. What’s that you say? Yes, yes, I know I’m a pirate and pirates aren’t supposed to be vulnerable. We’re tough, you tell me. I tell myself that too. However, some days when I sit at my computer and pour out my story, I feel exposed and exhausted, like someone just ran me through the emotional wringer and put me away wet. More like a dog straight from his bath than the blood-thirsty, take-no-prisoners piratess I know myself to be.

When people who don’t write talk to me about writing, I always feel like they don’t ‘get’ it. The way they describe it, it sounds like so much fun. Creating worlds from your imagination, making up people and having them do things that you only ever dreamed of. They envy my initiative and they express the idea that, if they only had the faith in their imagination and the time/energy/determination/inclination, they would try writing as well.

I smile and nod through these conversations, agreeing with them about these good aspects of writing, but feeling like something in their descriptions is missing. I feel my characters’ embarrassment, their pain, their joy, and their heartaches. It’s like walking around with “Days of Our Lives” spinning out of control in my head.

Then, after I get all of that angst out, I have to let other people read it and (in)validate it. Yes, that’s terrifying.

Yet, I have to keep going, because if I don’t, how will I know they turn out all right in the end? They are adrift in uncertainty and I am their lifeline. Just add that responsibility to the other responsibilities in my life and you can probably understand my vulnerability.

So, as a recap: angst + possible public embarrassment + fake people counting on me + real life responsibilities = potential emotional exhaustion.

How about you? How do you deal with the emotional ups and downs of writing? What keeps you going through this? And how to do you deal with well-meaning yet misunderstanding comments of some non-writers?
Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ahoy! Can You See the Shoreline Yet?

I’m going to do something a little different today. We’re nearing the halfway mark for NaNo, and for most of us it means that we’re running out of steam. Our creative juices are drying up, we’re tapping into our reserve of rum and chocolate and we’re fantasizing about a bed made of clouds and cabana boys clothed in not much at all. Nothing wrong with any of that. In fact, in order to know that you’re doing NaNo, you have to have a moment (or two) like this to give your experience writing in the NaNo flava. It’s the spice of life (or something like it), the ultimate experience for an inexperienced writer.

So to give you a boost in piracy, I’m going to give you some booty. Let’s play a game. I’m going to give you a starter, and you write a fun paragraph. Just a little something, nothing fancy, don’t get carried away, just write the first thing that comes to mind and see if that boosts your word output for the day. I mean, I wanna see those fingers flying like the wind (or Hellion's favorite, the bionic hand.)

Here we go. You ready?

“The look in his eyes”

Alright, come straight with it. What have you found to be the most difficult about the writing process so far? Even if you’re just getting started, you should have realized that it’s not as easy as it originally seemed. For me it tends to be finding the time to get the words down on the paper. Not for lack of conversations going on in my head…
Monday, November 12, 2007

Dreaming in Hollywood

When I write, I write like I’m trying to capture what I’m seeing on a movie screen. My characters usually are doing, what I like to think of as, a read-through, maybe even a final rehearsal. Sometimes the first brush through with my keyboard does capture the emotion sweeping through the scene; most times I have to go back and add something. But one thing is always the same: everyone looks like a movie star, however vaguely.

Frequently I’m mocked with my chapters as writing something that sounds like something I did the weekend before. It is a widely known fact I pirate the juiciest bits of my own life (or those around me) and embed them in my current manuscript. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so noticeable if I had a plot that swept a reader along so much that they forgot to comment on the “hey, table dancing in Tortuga? Wasn’t that Hellion’s last Port story?” I am ever optimistic there will come a day where I’m published and some reader, who’s never met or heard of me, buys my book and doesn’t realize half the funny stuff in it actually happened in some form.

In any case, when I am retelling these somewhat humorous anecdotes, I do so with a cast that would look good on the silver screen. Being an actress was my #2 dream job, right after writer. I knew at an early age I wrote better than I looked. It was just a fact. But fortunately this leaves me as director, producer, writer, and all those other jobs, and I get to cast who plays my lead.

This is fun. This is possibly the most fun of the writing experience really.

For instance, I’m writing my Adam & Eve story; and though I’ve never had a particular thing for blondes (Bo Duke notwithstanding), for some reason, Brad Pitt seems to make a very good casting of Adam Smith. He’s not too tall; he’s well-built; and when he’s scruffy and unshowered, it’s really hard to see his potential. Also, he’s from Missouri, so regardless if he was purely city or not, he’s a farm boy—and Adam is the original farm boy. It also helps he’s already played a Mr. Smith who is constantly one-upped by his wife.

Eve, however, is a sort of cross between Reese Witherspoon and Angelina Jolie, the beauty queen/feminist. Petite, but will stomp your ass with her dainty heels. Elle Woods meets Tomb Raider. Very high-concept.

Lucifer, although he’s a snake for the duration of this book—he’s got black hair and puppy dog eyes (green in color, but with pathetic appeal of the universal puppy dog.) Johnny Depp—all his best characters rolled up into one consummate player. Yes, Lucifer is my favorite character. Yes, Johnny Depp is my favorite actor. Yes, this is not a coincidence.

, redhaired and vivacious, is Kate Winslet. I may have hated Titanic for all the personal trauma, but she was a looker in that film. But Elizabeth is more sexually secure…a flirt, definitely, a bit of a seductress, but only for forces of good. Kate Winslet with Jane Russell’s attitude from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. [And Jane Russell’s romantic interest in that film has a puppy dog expression as well. “I tell her she has…lips like a red couch in an ivory palace, that I'm lonely and starved for affection. Then, I generally burst into tears. It seldom works.”]

Butterscotch, aka Scott, is…well, I’m not sure. Right now, he looks a bit like RuPaul and John Leguizamo…and maybe a bit of Angelina Jolie.

Bertie…I haven’t quite figured him out yet. He’s rather short though…not the looker that Butterscotch is, but very dignified and the consummate gentleman. Any suggestions?

When you picture your characters do you picture them from scratch, or do you get a little help here and there from Hollywood? Any particular person, or do you throw some Frankenstein artwork together and come up with an “original”? And I won't tell you who Ben was in GOGU. That'd just ruin it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Shore Leave Leads to Priceless Booty

There's something to be said for pulling into port every once in a while. This weekend I attended my second conference in less than two months. (My local chapter conference and it was great!) With each of these excursions into Romancelandia, I become more excited about pursuing the dream of publishing. I've worked in many fields (besides being a Pirate, of course) and I have to say authors are some of the most gracious, genuine and generous people.

As was pointed out Saturday, publishing is a competitive business with a large number of writers vying for a small number of slots. Publishers have thousands of manuscripts to choose from. It would be understandable for authors not to offer advice, not to help new aspiring authors who could eventually take their spot. But that's not what writers do. They help. They counsel. They support and encourage.

Also talked about was how getting published, like most anything else, can be a matter of luck. For instance, your manuscript may be the best one that showed up in an editor's office that day, but if it doesn't get to the right person or perhaps the manuscript two before yours caught the editor's eye and she stopped there, your talent as a writer had nothing to do with you not getting chosen. Being in the right place at the right time can make all the difference.

So, what does this babble all mean? One, understand the competitive nature of this business but never let it change how you treat people. As Sherrilyn Kenyon said during a speech at the New Jersey conference (and I'm paraphrasing here), get to know the person next to you because that person could be unpublished today but a number one best seller tomorrow. And you could be a number one best seller today, but never sell another book. In other words, treat people the way you want to be treated – always. I think that's a necessary philosophy for life in general but let's keep this on writing. *g*

Two, never pass up a chance to network, to talk to other authors or professionals in the industry, to learn about your craft. You may write five fantastic novels that could fly off the shelves and make everyone say "JK who?" but if no one ever sees them, they'll live for eternity under your bed with all those dust bunnies and that Playgirl magazine you shoved under there and forgot about. Take chances. Pitch and submit as often as possible. Get feedback whenever you can, take what works and ignore the rest. But most of all, don't expect an editor to show up at your door with a contract saying they smelled a best seller and tracked it to your address.

What have you learned since jumping on this roller coaster ride? Have you taken chances, put yourself and your work out there? If not, what are you waiting for? If you’re a reader, have you met your favorite authors and if so, what did you take away from the experience? Just to be fair – if it was bad, let's not name names. LOL!

PS: I have to say Cathy Maxwell is wonderful. I was fortunate enough to not only get to hear her speak this weekend but to hang out and talk with her. She's funny, warm and a font of information when it comes to writing. I only caught twenty minutes of her workshop before I had to attend to something else, but I still learned a lesson I desperately needed regarding conflict. I'll be sure to share that in another blog. *g*
Friday, November 9, 2007

A Wench With a View

On all pirate ships, the captain is always in charge. Every wench on board is aware of the captain’s point of view. If the captain wants to hear your side of the story, he’ll tell it…from his point of view. However, will there be a mutiny if the story is told from everyone’s point of view?

I have always written in first person. I like writing from the heroine’s point of view, and to be honest I find writing in third person very challenging. However in a story I am currently writing in first person, I regret my decision to tell the story from the hero‘s point of view. I feel limited, and from a writer’s perspective that is never good.

Writing in third person may be more difficult, but it adds so much more dimension to the story. It allows layering, not only of the plot, but also of the characters. In my current work I did well conveying the story from my hero’s point of view, but the climax of the plot was missing an integral piece. It lacked substance. Yes it’s possible to convey another character’s emotions through the eyes of your narrating character, but they can’t tell what they can’t see, and sometimes those are the most important details.

I’ve discussed first and third person writing with other writers. I’ve heard opinions from both sides of the coin. I have a friend who would never write from third person because she doesn’t enjoy reading a story written in third person. She finds the dialog and thoughts too confusing. Some other writers argue that first person writing is for beginning writers. To this, I have to say…have they read anything lately. Some of the best-known authors today write in first person and take it all the way to the bank.

With other writers, I have discussed the varying types of third person writing. Through discussion, I have decided that third person subjective would be my choice. The only thing that concerns me is losing control of my story. My muse and characters have always navigated my writing of their own free will. With more than one character telling the story I might find myself aboard a run away train headed straight for disaster.

Personally, I like to read stories written in third person. I don’t like second guessing character’s thoughts and actions. I like to know where they all stand, thus another reason to attempt third person. However from a writing standpoint I like to feel at one with my hero and heroine. For me third person gives a watered down impression of the emotional connection a writer conveys when using first person.

As Sin blogged earlier this week, I need to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. It’s a possibility I may never perfect a story in third person, but at this stage of the game what do I have to lose?

What point of view do you use when writing, and why? Does the author’s choice of first or third person narrative determine if you read their work?
Thursday, November 8, 2007

Signing the Pirate Code (or Why It's Easier Not to Go It Alone)

As the newest hand on deck, I wanted to give a hearty ahoy to my fellow wenches and the few lads who may also be lurking about.

I’ve been writing oh, forever. Like many other aspiring authors, my first stories were written in elementary school and I think I have wanted to write a romance novel since then. Yet, I didn’t start getting serious about it until Fanlit last year. And, while I only did Fanlit for a couple of weeks due to the imminent delivery of my little pirate, I walked away from the whole experience thinking, “You know, I’m not the only aspiring author out there wracked with anxiety about my writing.”

This epiphany led me to blog after blog, website after website. I ended up meeting the most extraordinary women (and the occasional fellow). These cronies are people who share my goals and dreams as well as my angst and struggles.

Somehow, writing feels easier knowing that they are doing it all with me.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. It isn’t REALLY easier. I still sit in front of my laptop feeling like I’m going cross-eyed, like there are no words left in my brain, and believing to the depths of my soul that I’m churning out complete garbage. But, then I come online and my fellow writing wenches tell me that I, in fact, will be able to see again tomorrow, that there really are words left inside me, and that only some of the stuff I’m writing is utter garbage and the rest only smells a little.

And it’s better. I believe them and I keep going.

Like the pirates of old, we wenches here aboard the RWR have agreed to a sort of Pirate Code for ourselves. However, unlike the Articles of Agreement of those days stipulating how booty be divided and how discipline and compensation for injury should be ferreted out, our code is to share our experiences of writing, ferret out encouragement liberally, and to scratch, kick, or crawl our way to publishing success. Of course, this is a strictly unwritten, without the threat of bodily harm, kind of code. Except when Cap’n’s in her cups then she gets a bit feisty with the local boys, but we won’t talk about that right now.

I think it feels better having safety in numbers as we conquer the rough seas of unpublished uncertainty together.

What makes you keep going, even when you feel like you’ve hit your limit, whether in writing or anything else? Who are your biggest supporters? What are the best things you’ve found about the writing community online? And finally, if you’re lurking out there, let your voice be heard! There’s plenty of room aboard the ship for others who accept the code.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Step Away From the Box.

You know that box. Yeah, that’s right. That box that you keep all nice and neat. You stay within the lines and never overstep your boundaries. Even you’re surprised how well kept it is. Stop stroking it. I’m not in this for the show!

Don’t shake your head at me. I swear it’s not the rum. Hellion hid the rum. Something about rationing and all that jazz. Oh la. So I started thinking about boxes and telling Hellion. All that talking about boxes and Hellion broke out the rum again. But I didn’t have any of it. Okay maybe just a drop but it gets me outside of the box and gets my seasick head a movin’. I’m a piratess, you can’t expect me to have standards.

Here’s the thing. I know you have one. It’s the one that you keep all those preconceive notions and perfect straight lines. It’s the one that when you come to a scene where you’re even the slightest bit uncomfortable with writing, you make sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Wenches it’s time to walk away from that box of expected scenes. It’s time to move out of your comfort zone and write something that makes your toes curl, your hair raise, or scare you into wetting yourself. (Though if you’re a pirate, like us, you’ll just reach for the rum bottle and drink yourself into the oblivion and skip that whole nasty wetting yourself step.)

Once when I was a wee writing pirate (almost two years ago now. WOW!) I wrote a scene to this day will cause me to cringe. Not to mention how red in the cheeks I get when I think of the countless people who’ve read it and thought to themselves, “This pirate has just a little problem with reality.” The scene was towards the end of my first fiction piece and it was rather brutal. More than rather brutal. It was a torture scene between my heroine and the super baddy guy. I stepped out of the box (really I didn’t know I had a box to step out of, but bear with me) and smudged the lines so that I could never climb back into it. Writing is about freedom. And if you’re afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, the box will be your foe in your journey as a writer. To this day, it might be some of my best writing, no matter how gutsy of a move it really was. I had no idea at the time that it was, I was just telling my story how I saw fit. And sometimes, stepping out of that box is just what a scene calls for.

As you know, this month is National Novel Writing Month (and if you didn’t know, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! Not on this blog that’s for sure! Landlubbers… Yeesh.) For the month of November I’ve promised to blog about NaNo to keep us all thinking about our writing and promising to make deadlines and meet goals. Speaking of goals, if you’re participating in NaNo, try writing something you normally wouldn’t write. Just to have some fun. NaNo is a lot of pressure, and all that writing can kill your writing spirit. So to keep your spirit high, mix it up. Step outside of that box. It’s okay to walk away from it and not look back. It’s a box. It will still be there when you return. It will be in the same spot.

When you step away from that box (Hellion, put that box down!), what kind of scene can you imagine writing that would be out of the ordinary for your writing style? Do you excel at writing sweet tender scenes and just once want to take a ride on the wild side? This is your time to shine with your bad self! Tell us all about your out of box experience that you've had or wish you could have!
Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Foreplay: It’s Not Just For Really Great Sex Anymore

Jeff Foxworthy has this routine about how women, while slow to “warm up”, once they “get going” can run a long, long, long time. He, bless his little redneck heart, is a huge proponent of foreplay. Because of this forward-thinking propaganda he has played on every comedy stage between Boston and Sacramento, we pirate wenches on the Romance Writer’s Revenge are awarding Mr. Foxworthy the “You Can Shiver Me Timbers Anytime” plaque and “We’ll Roger Him Jolly” coupon, which grants him one night of blissful sin with the lot of us.

Provided he gets his wife’s permission first, of course.

In the meantime of waiting for him to seize upon this ever-so-tempting and once-in-a-lifetime offer, we thought we’d take this opportunity to teach you how to use “foreplay” in your writing. The concepts are much the same.

For instance, the key of foreplay to sex is getting our brains into the gist of the thing. (This is where men and women are so different.) You read the articles all the time in Cosmo—well, more likely Redbook—about women’s most sexual organ is their brains. (I think in Cosmo, the biggest sex organ is the guy’s wallet, but I digress.)

The trick, they say, to “get going” faster is to start earlier. They don’t mean by allotting 3 hours to fooling around either, because what owner of a Redbook magazine has that sort of time to spare for sex? I doubt any of us could spare that sort of time for George Clooney, let alone our KBPs*. Therefore, you need to start thinking about sex much earlier in the day to get in the mood for it.

Start flirting earlier. Kiss your husband before you go to work—tell him you’re not wearing panties, whatever—and trot out the door. (Of course, this is a lie…but he won’t know that.) Then at noon, he’ll call to check on your panty status—and you’ll exchange some more suggestive banter before you have to run off to that all important meeting. 6 p.m. you walk in the door and your husband molests on the dinner table. He doesn’t ask “what’s for dinner?”—you both know what’s for dinner. Pizza.

Redbook offers this handy-dandy little tidbit because we’re multi-taskers with no time to spare. We’ve carved out X amount of time for this activity and we want to make the most of it. We certainly don’t want to be burdened by our own hang ups that keep us from our goal: getting it done and done right. (We Americans are extremely goal-oriented, or why bother, right?)

Writing can be like this.

You’ve carved out the hour between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. every night to write, because it’s the only feasible hour you have; and the infuriating part is that every time you do, you spend 20 minutes re-reading the last couple pages; 20 minutes thinking about what needs to be written next; then 20 minutes writing at most a page because every word seems a chore—but you’ll be damned if you turn off the computer before you write something. True, it is writing, but it’s not a lot of writing—and you end up going to sleep, not very satisfied with your results.

Frighteningly similar isn’t it?

Solution: you need to do your foreplay much earlier in the day, while your brain is still awake to appreciate it, while you can mull over the possibilities—so when the time comes, you can slam, bam, and thank you, Graham that writing time into some productive pages.

Over your morning cup of coffee, re-read the last couple pages of your story and/or notes of a scene you’re working on. Mull it over on the way to work. The more you think about your story, the earlier you think about your story—the more your story will work it out for you, even when you’re not actively thinking about it. You might be in an important meeting at 3 p.m. that drained you of all creativity, but at 5:20, when you’re sitting at the red light, your brain will pop up with the strangest of information: “This IS what happened” and you’ll argue, “But I wasn’t thinking of the story right now.”

You’ll get home—after spending some traffic time playing “What if?” to make sure your brain has worked out the obvious pitfalls. You’re almost too excited for supper, but who are we kidding? You eat. You might even skip that 7 p.m. NBC primetime show you should be skipping anyway—just so you can write earlier on your new development! You’ll write several pages, without having to re-read your last chapter or staring blankly at your computer screen.

The words will just be there, waiting for you to type them out. Like magic. But it’s not magic. It’s just foreplay.

And we owe it all to Jeff. Thank you, Jeff!

Next week: How and why Tivo can be written off as a business expense.

*Knocking Boots Pirates

Sunday, November 4, 2007

To Be Me or Not To Be Me...

…that is the question. I guess every pirate faces this at some point. Most of the great names are taken. Blackbeard. Peg Leg. MsHellion. How do I find something original that conveys what I want to convey. Intimidation. Intelligence. Incredible literary talent.

I've had to make this choice before. When I went on the air in radio I had to decide who I was going to be. It was sort of nice to have the opportunity to create a whole new identity. The chance to become someone completely new that no one knows. Funny thing is I chose to be me.

And I've made the same choice again. The name that will appear on my books should I ever be lucky enough to have one in print will be Terri Osburn. I have to admit that's sort of me. Terri is a nickname; one I've had since birth so it's me but not *officially* me. I made this decision a while ago and I'm totally fine with it so you might be wondering why I bring it up now. Well, I'll tell you.

Last week, something new developed. I got the idea for an erotica short story and plan on writing and submitting it for a summer anthology. Before last week I never thought I would write anything in the erotica genre but here I go. Never say never and all that malarkey. Now I have to make the decision again. Do I want to use *my* name on an erotica title. The answer this time is no.

And the name search begins. The first thing I came up with was using Burns for the last name. But what for the first? It has to be a name that suits me and nothing comes to mind. Then I had a dream. The initials TG kept popping up and eventually the name Terri Garrison appeared. I have no idea where this came from but I rarely get the strange crap in my dreams anyway. It doesn't really fit the genre and I don't even know if I like it so I'm asking you guys.

What do you think? Do you have a pen name picked out? Did you think about using your real name? Do you ever wonder where authors come up with their new names? And do you think I could fit Boatswain on a book cover?
Thursday, November 1, 2007

Buried Treasure

Many famous authors have credited writing talent in their early childhood. At ten years of age, Jane Austen wrote snippets of Sense and Sensibility in the form of letters and shared them with her family. She was one of the most influential and honored novelists in English Literature but published four of her novels anonymously. She had a tongue in cheek attitude about her talent, but how could one not win with an opening line like the one in the classic Pride and Prejudice.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

So my question is this. How did Jane discover her talent? Did she pick up a quill one day in an attempt to express her feelings or did she have thought provoking ideas for stories that needed to be told?

How did you discover your writing talent?

Did you discover it as I did in an American Literature class in high school? Or maybe you wrote in a diary as a child and have always used writing as a form of expression.

I enjoyed writing in high school. I credit my American Literature teacher for my desire to write. She complimented me about an essay I wrote about the miracles of nature. After writing that essay, my desire for writing changed. I discovered that words of praise and persuasion could foster a desire for further talent. But I was a typical high school teenager. At the time, I was more interested in extracurricular activities beyond the literary world. I didn’t take the desire seriously until I thought about a career. When I started applying to colleges I told my mom that I wanted to be a journalist and she laughed and said I needed to be a nurse. She explained the merits of job opportunities and salaries for nurses. I guess she couldn't envision me as a struggling writer. To make a long story short, I was a teen volunteer at the local hospital the summer of my senior year and I enjoyed it, so I took her advice. I don’t regret my career choice completely, because I believe you become the person you are because of life experiences. I like who I am so life has been good to me.

The next time I uncovered my desire to write was after reading The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I stumbled into the world of fan fiction. I never knew such writing existed. I read all that was out there in the Plum fan fiction world. It fueled a desire inside of me to write, and something transformed inside of me in the process. I realized that the more I wrote the more I wanted to write, and with that came more recognition from my peers. With that recognition, I started to believe in my talent, and that stoked a burning desire to write something I could call my own.

Three years ago when I discovered writing again, I would have never believed it would foster a WIP. It took me twenty-four years to find my way back to my buried treasure. But the time is not what is important to me, it is what I choose to do with the discovery that counts.

Cat-O-Nine Tip of the Day: The Sting of the Whip, The Joy of the Pain

Just a little S&M to start out your November, as many of our hearty and obviously mad pirates are embarking on that adventure: NaNoWriMo.

Being a pirate, of course, I cheated and wrote about 600 words last night. I'm going to need every advantage I can steal to make it. I plan on counting blogs and emails as part of my word count, by God.

Of course, if I do, I'll make the 50,000 mark by November 10th.

A quote to get you into the mood:

Writing a novel is like making love, but it's also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it's like making love while having a tooth pulled.

~Dean Koontz

Happy Teeth-pulling, Hair-pulling, Setting-the-WIP-on-Fire-in-a-Fit-of-Despair Month!