Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why Should I Trust My Subconscious When It Won't Trust Me?

I’ve been staring at the current chapter of my WIP for weeks now, or more likely, ignoring it because it’s so blessedly bad that I don’t even want to bother figuring out what the issue is. I mean, I’m supposed to be in Adam’s POV. It’s HIS turn. He’s supposed to fail; Eve is supposed to empathize with him. Why isn’t it working, damnit? Why can’t I just vomit it out, get to the end, and revise all this crap later? That’s the goal!


So while I was doing my daily procrastination, reading the new Romance Writer Daily online newspaper, I saw this article: And it was a brilliant reminder of things I knew to be true, at least unconsciously. Only said better than me.


But the part that got to me was this line: “it leaves your subconscious writer telling your conscious writer that you made a mistake.” The reason it got me was because it says YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS WRITER. My subconscious is running the show here. Now, I’m not against the supernatural (not saying my subconscious is either super or natural, but you know what I’m talking about—the Woo-Woo stuff), but I rather resent the fact that my subconscious fully expects me to listen to him when he says, “You fucked up, dumbass. Figure it out and try again.” I’m supposed to trust this voice—and I admit it, I know I did something wrong—but the subconscious is not feeding me any information other than I’m wrong.


My subconscious fully expects me to trust him, but he doesn’t show me the same courtesy, and instead operates on a “need to know basis” where I apparently don’t need to know shit. Other than I’m wrong. Do you see why I’m so annoyed by this office procedure?


If my Director at work came in and said, “Hellie, I need you to fix the last thing you did. You know, clean it up.” And then gave no instruction about what he was actually looking for or the direction he actually wanted it to go or even specified the part he wanted me to fix, I would light him on fire. Oh, I’m not kidding. He’d be kicked out of my office so fast with his ears ringing, he wouldn’t return until he had specific instructions and an offer to buy my lunch for the rest of the week for the trouble he caused me.


Unfortunately I can’t do that with my subconscious: he just disappears, never apologizes for his vague and unhelpful remarks, and never ever buys me lunch. When I do figure out what the problem is he says things like, “That’ll do, pig.” That’s right. My subconscious sounds like James Cromwell.


How does anyone work like this? I know the saying about writing is like driving at night. The headlights only shine a few feet ahead of you, but you can make the whole journey that way. I mean, I know that, but it makes me insane. I want a little more information than that. If I have to trust my subconscious, then by God, I expect my subconscious to have a little trust in me and stop talking to me like some Buddha Yoda who wiggles his ears and says, “The bamboo stalks bends during monsoon season.” Come on!


There is a lot of trust involved in getting your book on the page, but the trust feels very one sided. I need to trust the process. I need to trust my subconscious. I need to trust my instinct. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. (Yes, my subconscious also sounds like Yul Brenner from the King & I.) I just want my subconscious to trust me a little and stop acting like sharing any information with me is breaking his pact with the CIA.


Does anyone stall out like this and realize you made a “mistake” and you fix it and move on? Is your subconscious more informative and trusting than mine? Do you have any tips for charming an untrusting subconscious? Anyone got any other Woo-Woo tips that help them write? (P.S. Bo’sun, if you tell me this is like the death conversation and I don’t need to know, I will mail you broccoli in revenge.)

P.S.S. I saw Crazy Stupid Love this weekend and it was BRILLIANT! Best rom-com I've watched in a long, long, long time. Hilarious and heartbreaking...and Ryan Gosling with his shirt off. Yummy. There were twists and turns I didn't see coming, hysterical.
Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Assassin Goes Back in Time and Doesn't Kill Anyone...

[caption id="attachment_4697" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="The Vigilante! By a very young Leslie Langtry"][/caption]

I know. You're disappointed. Sorry.
Today, I took my son to my uncle's comic book store for the first time since he was little. I don't know why it took me so long. I spent a lot of time in that place as a kid.

I come from a comic book family. My father and his baby brother, Tim, loved comic books since they were kids. My dad introduced me to Golden Age DC as a kid. Everyone in the family had their favorites. Mine, of course, was Wonder Woman. (Duh!)

We went every Saturday as a family. My job was selling the coney dogs in the back. I even indirectly met my husband through that place. It was awesome.

So today, I took my 11 year old to Tim's Corner. Uncle Tim talked to him about comics and Jack managed to relieve me of my oh-so-unwieldy money.

I, in turn, showed him the picture of Vigilante I drew for Uncle Tim in 1983, that he STILL had on the ceiling of his shop. That was so cool. He just shrugged. Sigh.

So I have this idea. We need a Pirate Chick comic book. I think this crew should come up with a pirate comic, featuring the crew of terrifying, hard-drinking, kraken-owning crew - sailing the seas and looking for rum, loot and smoking hot cabin boys. The order of these things is irrelevant.

I think it could be HUGE. We just need an illustrator who could draw us all with tiny waists, long legs and huge breasts...

What say you?

The Assassin

PS - the knitted praying mantis goes to Hellion. I'll start on the kraken once I finish Paris' book. Um, do we have ship colors?

Bo'sun adding Assassin's Kraken pics. (We have to get one of these!)











Are these the coolest things or what???
Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Where's the Sparkle?


I’m in the dreaded middle of my book.  I’ve got 55K words in my Word document right now.  It goes up or down according to what I cut or put back in on any given week.   But it hovers somewhere around there and has for a while.

Part of my problem is that I’m revising stuff I wrote over a year ago.  It still works, theoretically, because the plot has remained the same.  But in reality, most of it isn’t working.  The characters have changed so much that I spend a huge chunk of time tweaking and reworking their behavior.  Most of the time I wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to write it from scratch.   Sometimes I do.

What makes something “not work” though?   I’ve been asking myself this

question repeatedly the past two months.  I’ll read stuff that I wrote a while ago and I’ll think to myself, “Nope, that’s just not right.”

Not right.

I can’t always tell why it isn’t right but I’ll know that it isn’t.  It just doesn’t have that WOW factor.

You know what I mean.  We’ve all read those books that do everything right.  The plot has the requisite amount of conflict, ends with a HEA.  The characters move through the motions of the romance.  There are no plot holes and the author’s turns of phrase are interesting.  Perhaps there are even chunks of well constructed description.  But the book is just good.  Or, afterwards we go, “meh” and put it down, promptly forgetting what it was about a week later.

It wasn’t that it wasn’t a good book, but it just didn’t sparkle.

When I read my stuff, sometimes I see stuff that feels right.  It’s not as often as I’d like.  In fact, finding stuff that feels right happens much less often than finding stuff that feels just wrong.

Therefore, while I can’t always see if it’s right, I can usually tell if it’s wrong.

But why is it wrong?  Part of it, I think, is that I fight the constant desire to write the boring parts.  One of the cardinal writing rules (*ahem*) is that we shouldn’t write the boring parts.  Apparently I struggle with a lifelong tendency to be boring.

What else makes a story go wrong, though?  What do you think makes a story just go "meh" at the end?   What do you think gives a story “sparkle?”  Is it characters, not enough action?  Lack of description?  A stilted voice?  Maybe starting in the wrong spot?

Pour some glittery hoohas, girls!  We’re talking sparkle today.
Sunday, July 24, 2011

Will They Or Won't They

I’m not sure how many Castle fans we have here, but I for one am very excited about the new season. But I’m also worried. In last season’s finale, Kate was shot and Castle told her he loved her as she lost consciousness. My theory is she was wearing a Kevlar vest, so she’s fine, but she’s either going to pretend she didn’t hear him or she won’t remember what he said. I could be totally wrong, but that’s what I’m going with.


Chance is also a fan of this show and adamant that you can put these two into a real relationship and still maintain the show. I have my doubts. I was worried when they put Bones and Booth together. Still waiting to see how that new season goes. Not a fan of how last season ended at all. It was as if the writers got to that last week and said, “Shit, we need a cliffhanger.” And someone went, “Okay, let’s knock up the most intelligent character as if she doesn’t know how to prevent pregnancy.”


Yeah. They’ll have to win me back after that.


Anywho, the reason I’m not a fan of putting these kinds of characters together is because from that point on, the only real kink (heh) you can throw into their relationship is to break them up again. I don’t like the spinning wheel of together/not together/back together/apart again. Not that people in real life don’t get together and break up all the time, I just don’t see it handled well on television very often. Putting the characters together killed off both Moonlighting and Remington Steele, two shows I adored. And I know those are ancient history, but I'm old so deal with it.


This got me thinking about Romance novels. We all know a book has to have conflict and if it’s a Romance, then it not only needs some external conflict to drive the plot, it needs internal conflict to drive the relationship. In Historicals, class, family, and societal rules often stand between the love interests. In Contemporaries, it’s more the characters’ histories and experiences that taint their beliefs, perceptions, and even their self-esteem.


But in the end, we readers must believe that couple is together forever and nothing is going to pull them apart. I once read two connecting books by Dorothy Garlock, WITH HEART and AFTER THE PARADE, both of which are about the same couple. The setting of the first is pre-WWII Oklahoma. Tough times by any standard, but this couple faced obstacles that include her being an outsider moving into town and him being part Native American. In the end, they found their HEA and I loved that book.


AFTER THE PARADE picks up after WWII and the couple are now separated. I read these books long ago. Long before I contemplated writing one of these things and having all sorts of rules thrust in my direction. I’m pretty sure breaking up characters to whom you already gave a HEA would not only be frowned upon, but lead some to think the writer was nuts for undoing what she’d created for her readers.


However, this second book, to this day, is one of my favorites. I have rarely cried as hard as I cried reading this book. The couple deals with the loss of a baby, who was born deformed. The personal blame they each take on results in pushing the other away. Their journey to forgive each other, themselves, and find love again will stay with me for many more years to come.


But would you read something like this today? Would you tolerate spending 400 pages of two people overcoming prejudice, doubts, misunderstandings, and external meddling to reach a satisfying HEA and then dive back in for another 400 in which that HEA is completely undone? Do you hope for your favorite characters to get together or do you prefer that sexual tension keep simmering to a boil?

PS: Ms. Garlock is an amazing writer and I urge you to seek out her books if you haven't already. Her career spans more than 30 years and her books range from the great frontier to the mid-20th Century mid-west.
Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fan Letters From the Grave, Or Not!

Okay, I know we hash this out over and over, but I want to take off a bit on something the Bo’sun covered a few weeks ago. Extrapolating on something I realized during her blog…

Of all the authors you read, as far back as the first books…which of them do you wish you could impress? Dead or living, no reservations. Who would you like to read you and write a favorable review? Or write you a personal fan letter, debating some aspect of what you wrote. Or better yet, admitting they wished they’d thought of that!

I mean, I recently dug into some of my old mass market paperbacks to unearth a bunch I realized were the inspiration for what I write. And I thought, “Man, wouldn’t it be great if I impressed this guy?”

Then I realized he was dead, so unless he’s reading in heaven, or nirvana or wherever his spirit went to, that wasn’t going to happen…

Yet…if I could write the ultimate dedication on who inspired me, his name would be right there, on that list.

Who would you like to read your books and give you a wink? (And my apologies to begin with. I will be at a big motorcycle race most of today and won't be checking in very often...sorry! I'll do my best! Please, the bar is open, entertain yourself!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Fabulous Capt. Jack Sparrow Gets Schooled By Miranda Neville

Welcome to yet another Fantabulous Interview with the Fabulous Captain Jack Sparrow. Today we welcome back one of our most favorite guests. A woman in possession of a lovely accent, amazing talent, and some of the hottest heroes to ever grace a Regency setting. Sexy men with not only a passion for women, but a passion for books. My Pirate friends, I give you Ms. Miranda Neville.


*loud applause fills the air as lights come up to reveal Capt. Jack and a lovely Brit holding a dainty tea cup*


CJS: Thank you, my dears. I missed you all as well.


Bo’sun: They’re applauding for Ms. Neville, Jack.


CJS: Don’t be silly. My public adores me. *blows kisses about and silence falls*


Bo’sun: Here are your cards. *glances over to Miranda* Thank you once again for joining us. I can’t tell you how much I love-


CJS: *cutting Bo’sun off with a sweep of his arm* Fangirls. What are you going to do?


Miranda: I also adore you, CJ, right down to each mascara-ed lash, but I was invited here today by Bo’sun to talk about my new book.


CJS: Right. Books. *sighs* Let’s get right to it then, shall we? *glances at first card* This says you were recently at a big shindig held in New York City. Something that looks like *squints* Rum Warehouse of the Americas.


Miranda: One of my favorite places, but I believe that’s located in New Orleans. I attended a conference held by the Romance Writers of America. But frankly it might as well be at the Rum Warehouse for all the drinking that goes on.


[caption id="attachment_4663" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Meredith Duran, Kate Noble, and Ms. Neville with said Pomatini"][/caption]

CJS: Writers. Of course. I don’t know what I was thinking. Though Romance is always better with Rum if you ask me.


Miranda: I’m not going to argue with you. Or wine, or margaritas, or pomatinis. Writers know how to have a good time when unleashed from their laptops.


CJS: Unleashed. I like that. *winks* Next card says you’ve created something called The Burgundy Club. Now that, my lovelies, sounds like fun. Lots of red velvet, dark lighting and really good rum?


Miranda: Actually it’s a club – a very exclusive club – for collectors of rare books. The premises don’t run to velvet (that’s only for brothels and Lady Jane’s Salon) but a good deal of red wine is consumed in the pursuit of literature.


CJS: Books. Again. Doesn’t this crew ever think about anything else?


Bo’sun: You and Hellie have broken three hammocks this month alone, Jack. I think you know the answer to that one. *turns and refills Ms. Neville’s tea cup, curtsies and stumbles back to the wings*


CJS: How silly of me. Thank you, Bo’sun, for the reminder. *winks to Hellie tucked behind the camera* So, Ms. Neville, do these heroes of yours think of anything other than books? Surely they have heroines to play with. Tell me about the ladies in question. This card mentions a Ms. Celia Seaton looking for an education.


Miranda: Actually Celia was trying, rather ineptly, to educate four boys. But she’s been fired from her governess job for Moral Turpitude (quite undeserved, I may add) then kidnapped and locked up in the attic of a Yorkshire cottage, stripped to her shift. An enterprising young lady, she escapes and trips over the unconscious body of a half naked man. Turns out he’s Tarquin Compton (one of the Burgundy Club guys) and he’s suffering from amnesia. Since Celia blames the snooty dandy for ruining her London season, she claims they are engaged and, because she can’t resist a tiny bit of revenge, tells him his name is Terence Fish.


CJS: *looking as if he smells something rotten* Dreadful name. Revenge? Sticky business there, but a popular subject on this ship, being in the name and all. Where does the education part come into play? I understand there’s a book within the book.


Miranda: That’s where the book part comes in. Since there isn’t much scope for book collecting on the Yorkshire moors, I had Tarquin bring a novel with him. A bawdy novel. OK, if we want to be frank it’s quite pornographic. And since I don’t write erotica, I used an actual book, printed in 1796, that I found in the British Library. Celia finds it educational. Plus Tarquin is quite up to filling in any practical gaps in her knowledge.


CJS: *scooting his wooden stool closer to his guest* You’re not the innocent you appear to be, are you Ms. Neville? I think we should take this interview someplace more priv- *jumps back from a flick of his nose* I don’t see how that was necessary. *Bo’sun points to the cards* Fine. This says you’ve written one stand alone and then a series. What can we expect next from your talented pen?


Miranda: I’ve got one more book in this series, featuring Minerva Montrose, sister of Diana, the heroine of The Dangerous Viscount. You’ll like her. She’s very pretty, also very smart, and wants to rule the world. Her ambitions are derailed when she’s discovered in a Compromising Position at a ball. CONFESSIONS FROM AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE will appear in April of 2012.


CJS: Bawdy books and now compromising positions. It’s obvious why you’re a favorite among this crew. *leans in closer* Though if you really want to sell lots of books, I highly recommend including a Pirate Captain hero.


Miranda: Salt water is notoriously bad for books. However, now that I’m moving on, I may consider adventures on the high seas, just as long as I don’t have to experience them myself. I tend to get sea sick.


CJS: I have a nice cottage not far from this pier. I could help with the research. Make it very authentic and thorough. *Hellie coughs* Yes, right. Time to turn things over to the crew, but before we do, is there something you’d like to ask the wenches?


Miranda: I always have great discussions with you pirates, usually about sex. This time I’d like to suggest we discuss the introduction of real people or events (or books) into our novels. (And if it gets boring we can always relapse and talk about sex instead). So, how much reality – whether we’re talking about Lady Gaga or Lady Jersey – do you include?  And let me suggest right off the bat that one of you contemporary types ought to write a book in which Richard Armitage appears in a wet shirt. I would definitely buy it and so would others!


Bo’sun: I’m already on that Richard Armitage idea! (I had a head start on this blog. It’s a perk.) Ms. Neville has been generous enough to offer up some booty for today. One lucky commenter will win a copy of THE AMOROUS EDUCATION OF CELIA SEATON!
Sunday, July 17, 2011

Falling Hard with J.K. Coi and Captain Jack Sparrow

We kick off this week with yet ANOTHER FANTABULOUS INTERVIEW with the Fabulous Captain Jack Sparrow. We’re talking Rock Star hero today, so tease up that hair, dig out your tattered jeans, and slap on the blue eye shadow. Your groupie fantasies are about to be fulfilled. Joining us to celebrate her debut release from Carina Press, it’s the powerhouse herself, J.K. Coi!


*much girlish screaming ensues*


CJS: *notices various lacy bras flying onto the stage and glances to Bo’sun* Not that I don’t appreciate the additions to my wardrobe *ahem* but since when have the wenches taken to throwing their under things around the ship? For that matter, when did they start wearing under things?


Bo’sun: They’re for Ms. Coi’s hero. He’s a Rock Star in her new book FALLING HARD. Sort of a modern day pirate. You’d like him.


CJS: Another hero aboard the ship. *curls lip* Is that really necessary? The place is already littered with those damn hotties.


Bo’sun: This hero came with his hottie author who I happen to know has been dying to meet you, Jack. Now take these cards and try to do this without me having to interject every few seconds. What say you?


CJS: I’ve been doing these for years. When are you going to loosen up those breeches of yours, Bo’sun.


Bo’sun: When you bathe. Now here she comes. Behave!


CJS: *smiling at the beautiful brunette headed his way* Ah, my lady, Bo’sun did not do you justice. Do come sit on my lap.




CJS: Yes, yes, we don’t want to wrinkle that tantalizing dress. Yet. Do have a seat here and tell me about yourself, Ms. Coi. *glances down to cards* Bo’sun has “Queen of Hookers” here. Is that true?


Bo’sun” *slaps forehead*


J.K. Coi: Hey, I love when people use “Fantabulous” and my name in connection with each other! I could also really get used to the “hottie author” part, but I’m not quite sure about the “Queen of Hookers”. It could be fun. I can already picture a gothic-looking townhouse decorated with lots of purple velvet where I rule the boys (Yep, my floozies would be high quality man-flesh) with a firm but affectionate hand.


Hmm…where were we? Oh, I suppose the hooker thing could actually have something do with Terri’s fondness for saying I have a knack for writing high concept.


CJS: Well, if anyone can appreciate the concept of being high, it is I, Captain Jack. I understand this lovely display of undergarments is for your latest hero. We might as well get him out of the way first. Literally. Tell us about this modern day pirate, as Bo’sun calls him.


J.K.: Gabriel. Oh, Gabriel.…Oh, sorry. I was drifting again.

Gabriel is everything you love to hate in a celebrity. He’s a rock star. A hard-living, selfish musician whose music causes radio stations to go crazy with the bleeping, whose dirty jeans and Strokes t-shirt becomes immediate high fashion with misguided teenagers, and whose self-destructive behaviour makes everyone else shake their head.


CJS: And the ladies love this? *more screaming ensues* Yes, right. But I want to know more about this angel. I admit a fondness for a woman brandishing a sword.


J.K.: Oh, not just any sword. Amelia’s sword is the sword of the Avenger. As Gabriel says, she is the “Archangels’ perfect answer to rebellion and descent” and has been doing their dirty work for thousands of years. Right now, her dirty job is…Gabriel.


CJS: Ah, my kind of woman. Perhaps she’d like to join us. We could…compare swords.


J.K.: I don’t know, Jack. I think Amelia’s kind of out of your league. There’s only one match for her. But even at that, Gabriel and Amelia have a pretty rough road and happiness is far from certain.


CJS: Whoa. Sounds a mite ominous for my tastes. In that case, we’ll move on. This next card says your last book was a short story while this is a full length novel. Is it difficult to switch from the shorter work to plotting a longer book? And which do you prefer? Or what Bo’sun really wants to ask. Does size matter?


J.K.: Oh, actually it is pretty difficult. I didn’t think it would be. I started writing a few shorts early in the year as a way of trying my hand at something new (and I’m really happy I did because exciting things are happening with them, as it turns out), but the consequence is that I’m now running behind on my next Warring Angels Book because it’s been hard to switch gears again. I know, I know, the HORROR!


CJS: So the answer is yet. I’ve always suspected that was so. This next card just says HUGE BIG NEW HAPPENINGS COMING! I hope you know what this means because I have no idea.


J.K.: *chuckle* You’re a very knowledgeable interviewer, Jack. Has anyone ever told you that? I think Terri means my upcoming releases for the balance of 2011. Besides Falling Hard this month, I also just had my story, The Morning After, come out in a print anthology called DON'T ASK, NEVER TELL, and in December I’ll have two more releases. My holiday Steampunk FAR FROM BROKEN is being released in an anthology by Carina Press and CAGED is coming out in the Agony/Ecstasy Anthology edited by Jane Litte of Dear Author fame.


CJS: You’re a busy little pirate, aren’t you? So after you get all of these done, what will you dazzle us with next?


J.K.: Well, I’m finally working on Angel Book 2, which is Cass’s story. And if you don’t know who the Angel Cassiel is, you’ll have to read Falling Hard! (*shameless plug*)


CJS: Lovely! Time to turn you over to these heartless…err…adventurous wenches. Drinks first, as everyone gets a Rum Rocker, especially in your honor, so you’d better ask them a question now before they’re too far gone to be coherent. If they aren’t already.


J.K.: Oh, rum! That’s the only reason I came. Haha. Just kidding. Um, really. So, what do I ask the pirate crew? Well, how about the most important question. Do you believe a Rock Star can find a HEA? And just for fun, we’ll pass Bo’sun’s question on as well. Does size matter? (In book length, of course. *G*) One lucky commenter will win a (digital) copy of FALLING HARD!



After a life filled with tragedy, rocker Gabriel Gunn thinks he's finally getting the better of his personal demons. Then he's attacked after a concert—and rescued by a warrior goddess brandishing a sword and white wings. As hard as it is to believe in an angelic bodyguard, Gabriel must face an even more impossible truth: he carries the devil's soul within him.


Amelia has been watching over Gabriel for years, using her angelic powers to prevent Lucifer's return. Now she must also protect him from warring angel factions with their own agendas. Amelia would do anything to avert another angelic war, even sacrifice her own emotions to avoid temptation. Yet with Gabriel she feels things she no longer wants to deny, and pleasure she never imagined.


But the closer Gabriel and Amelia get, the stronger Lucifer becomes. Will Amelia be forced to kill the man she's come to love to stop the war she's always feared?

J.K. Coi’s Website:
Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wait for It…





Chance sat, staring up at the sails. She’d turn her head and study the clouds, then the waves, then back to the sails. She was waiting. A storm was coming, she could feel it in her bones. But would it be a gentle storm, just enough to send the Revenge on a sweet ride? Or would it be a hard storm, challenge them all to keep the sails taut, make the blood rush to the head, contain a frisson of fear… 

Sin eyed her with some worry. She’d been a moody bartender of late.

 Hellion kept her hands on the wheel, wondering what made the normally congenial woman so fidgety.

 The Bo’sun marched to her, determined to use some common sense arguments to shake her out of the mood.

 But Chance knew, in her bones, that things were set to change. And she wasn’t sure if she liked it the idea or not.

Change. Life is all about change and lord knows, we write about it constantly. It’s the one constant the writer lives by. Be a very boring book to just write one day followed the other and nothing happened.

 (I’ve read books like that. One even won a bunch of awards. Color me perplexed!)

 I like to talk about change as a great thing. But the reality is that I find it terribly intimidating, in the short run. I can focus beyond tomorrow and long for change. For some shaking up of my life, but upset my day to day stuff and I get cranky.

 And I do wait for change with some trepidation. Is it going to be a hard storm? Is it going to be a nice soft rain? Will the next port be pleasant, full of inexpensive drinks, stores that carry my size and flirtatious cabana boys? Or will it be sorority sisters, Diamonds International and $12 glasses of sangria?

 In real life, it’s usually a mix of the two. And change is coming, whether we want it or not. It can be the new edits (I’m going crazy waiting for new edits) or it can be they funny noise the car is making, or the budget ax, or the massive shift taking place in publishing right now… (This is driving me a bit bonkers. Chatted with my agent earlier this week and the e-publishing world is in such a flux! Hard to set goals for the next few months, let alone next year!)

 I don’t know what I’m sensing at present, but my eyes are on the sails and I’m paying attention to the air on the back of my neck.

 I’d an exciting time, it’s a frightening time, it’s a time to feel alive and be aware. I mean, what if you woke up and two odd things were sharing the bed with you?

You'll see what I mean if you follow this link...

As for a question of the day? What changes excite you when it comes to being published? Or reading?


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Add Description Here

Musical Influence(s) this week:  Ephemeral by Gemiinii Riisiing



Wow. Long time no blog pirates. Thanks to the new line-up I've enjoyed a nice long break from over thinking.


Since I've not been blogging, I've been writing. Somewhat. I struggle from week to week on which story to work on. My adventure/suspense heroine, Kiki and her “hero” Dex have been quite talkative lately. So has the heroine's BFF, Tory. So I've been working on that story. While in the midst of writing, I started to think about how my writing processes have changed since I started writing 5 years ago.


I've always just winged it. If I didn't know something, I did research right then and there on the spot to incorporate it into what I was working on. If I didn't know the proper terminology, I made it up. If I was unsure on a characterization portrayal, I worked with what I could do and edited it later. I've always written from chapter to chapter. Edited from chapter to chapter. Writing continuously feels...




But I also feel like I've lost my enthusiasm and spirit for writing. Don't get me wrong. There are days I stand on top of my desk with my fist clenched in the air swearing I will writing until my fingers fall off. But I get caught up in all these rules floating around in my head when I sit down. The rules beat down my spirit and my lackluster attempts to sparkle fall short. So I decided I'd do something I never do. Reread some of my old writing to recapture the feeling I had in the beginning when writing was still shiny and new. Let me tell you, it was quite the eye-opener.


While I've always known my beginning attempts at writing fiction were a bit jumbled and plagued with mistakes, even reading just a couple of paragraphs made the writer I am now sad. I'm a different person now. I'm a different writer. What I really mourn is my ability to write descriptions. Write the scene detail by detail until you feel like you're standing in the middle of it all. I miss that. I need to recapture that. So I want to do an exercise today. Take one of the pictures below and describe it to me as if I'm unable to see it. Write a short paragraph about it. 












































I've been doing this on my own and it's helped me get some of the missing link back into my writing. Good description is work, but it's good work and it gives our readers a sense of belonging in the story. (Or at least for me, as the reader, it does.)


And if you don't want to describe the picture, tell us what's changed about your writing style since you got started- the good and bad. Good luck everyone! And have some fun.
Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pulling A Blog From My Hat

So…it’s 7 minutes before 11 the night before this is supposed to go live. And I JUST remembered it’s my turn. Nice. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? Right. So I’m stealing….err….liberating (and expanding on) one of Chance’s topics.

 Who do you write for?

 Stay with me. This will not be a rerun. Promise.

 A couple months ago, I entered a contest. I’m not typically a fan of contests so when I do enter one, I like to have a good reason. In this case, finaling would have put my work in front of an industry professional with whom I’d like to work. And winning would at least get me my entry money back, so it seemed like a worthwhile endeavor.

 Since this blog didn’t start off as a celebration, you may have figured out I didn’t final. But I did finish respectively. Fifth place out of 17 entries isn’t bad. Two judges read my entry and the first one loved it. The maximum a judge could award was 100 points and this judge gave me a 99. I so need to send that judge a thank you note.

 But the second judge was less enthusiastic. She didn’t get any GMC for my characters, and since this entry did not require a synopsis attached, she took a guess at what the rest of the book might entail. She was WAY off. Now, I could say she just didn’t read what I had on the page. The other judge clearly got it. But I’m going to take the blame on this one and say the reason she didn’t get it is because I didn’t have it in the work. And I’ll send her a thank you note too.

 I’ve seen the phrase over and over lately that we should write the story we want to read. And I’ve taken part in the grumbling (on the ship especially) that recent offerings in the Historical genre aren’t living up to what I want to read. If I put these two ideas together, then the story I want to read is a well plotted, plausible, engaging Historical with substance. (NOT that I can’t find this on the shelves right this moment. I’m going for an example. Stay with me.)

 Here’s the problem, I don’t want to write an Historical. Ever. At least not in any future I can imagine. Does that mean I’m not following this advice and writing for myself?

 Then there are the readers. Both in the industry and in the general public.

 Follow any editor/agent panel, be it in person or online, and the question of “trends” will come up. Writers ask editors what kinds of stories they’d like to see. either hoping she’ll want exactly what they already have or planning to dive in and fulfill the editor’s wish.

 And there are countless review sites run by readers who aren’t shy about telling us what they like and don’t like in their books. Goodness knows readers are more than willing to share on Amazon. The good and the bad.

 So who do we write for? Do we write for contest judges? (Which is essentially writing for other writers.)

 Or do we write for ourselves and say screw everyone else? Forget the trends? Buck the establishment? Ignore the market?

 OR do we write for the people we want to eventually buy our books? Follow the trends? Embrace the establishment? Chase the market?

 As usual, I don’t have a firm answer. In fact, I’m starting to think we can’t win no matter which way we go. All I know for sure is characters show up in my brain and slowly (very slowly) tell me their story. I do my best to dictate the story onto the page and hope someone will want to read it.

 Who are you really writing for? Do you have a genre/line you want to target and form a plot that will fit? Do you follow all the rules so you can impress judges and earn some credentials for your writing resume? Or do you tune out all the white noise and just write for yourself?

 For an added twist, is it possible to do all of the above?

PS: Four years ago I was told no one wanted a Contemporary starring ordinary people in a small town. Good thing I didn't listen to them as that's exactly what editors are calling for right now. :)
Thursday, July 7, 2011

Romance Trading Cards – The Fun Way


Okay, so my agent and publicist have been after me to put together some romance trading cards for my books…and I’ve been putting it off. Mainly because, let’s face it, I’m never going to find a picture of a hot looking 65 year old pirate to represent Captain Silvestri, let alone a 53 year old short plump pirate woman to stand if for Emily.

The world just isn’t stocked full of photos like these.

I can’t imagine why.


Now, I could have worked on some RTC for my shorts. But…really bodacious women with bright blue short hair are in short supply. As are nice hunky guys with tourmaline hair.

(What is it about me that envisions the totally non-standard H/H?)

Now, I could just go with my covers…and in fact, my publicist is working on a set for me that will use the covers while I debate buying a manipulate-a-photo bit of software so I can ‘create’ what I want.

I mean, I didn’t want to use stock photos that would misrepresent my characters. Don’t need frothing mad readers coming after me for that! (Already have a few a bit nonplussed by my use of cursing already!)

 Really, are romance trading cards just a passing fancy? Or will they be around for a while? I have no idea. But I do love what the author Dakota Cassidy did. She put together an author card that is wondrous. She has a great front of a cartoon Cassidy and on the back, her standard smoking/drinking/tiara wearing/smeared mascara self. On the back? Lies. Many wonderful lies that she admits to even as he makes them. If you click on the image you can see the lettering better and read the it! ;-)

I want to make an author card. I’ve already been badgering Robert Quill regarding the coloration of the one he did of me as my bartender self, asking for permission to make an author card with it. And am considering the many lies I want to tell on the back of it.

Dakota lies about her age, her weight, etc.

I want to lie about other things. Thought I’d make up some wonderful awards, ala the Tortuga Seal of Excellence for Pirate Perfection…The Kraken Prize for the use of tentacles to promote peace… Maybe a Grammy for Emily’s Cursing Sea Chanty…

So…what lies would you like to portray on your RTC/author style? It’s Friday, I’m gonna be in and out all day, let’s play!
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Leigh Michaels and Just One Season in London

*Captain Jack Sparrow saunters onto the darkened set of Hero Hot Seat, glancing around* Where did everyone go?

DRD: Shhh, don't say anything! Maybe he'll go away.

Captain Jack: I heard that!

DRD: *stands up* We're not doing a show today, Captain, so you can take a long walk off a short pier. Shoo. Nothing to see here.

*Captain Jack saunters over and notices DRD's got company* Helloooo, lovelies!

DRD: Ignore him and he'll eventually go cause harm to a hero—Wait. We don't have a hero today. Maybe if I do the intros he can go cause destruction somewhere else. Captain, this is author Leigh Michaels.

Captain Jack: Enchanted. *lifts Leigh's hand toward his lips, smiling seductively*

DRD: I believe you were on shore leave the last time Leigh visited us. How's that rash doing, by the way, Captain?

*Leigh yanks her hand back from Captain Jack's grasp*

DRD: And this is Lady Stone, who plays a very important role in Leigh's newest book Just One Season in London, which was released July 1.

Captain Jack: A lady, you say? *wets a fingertip and smoothes it across his eyebrow*

Lady Stone: Are you spoken for, young man? *gives Captain Jack an appraising look* Because if not, I've got someone who would be perfect for you—

Captain Jack: *leans in, very interested* Does she have her own ship?

Lady Stone: *chortles* Oh no! You won't have time for a ship with this woman. You'll be staying in port all the time. In fact, we'll need to get you cleaned up--chop off those silly braids, and wipe off whatever you've got smeared around your eyes. We will have you presentable and respectable in no time--

*Captain Jack races offstage, screeching and setting a new land speed record*

DRD: Thanks, Lady Stone. That was brilliant. *raises hand to high five* *thinks better of it and motions to nearby chairs instead* This is even better than a Hero Hot Seat episode, since it gives us a chance for some fun girl chat. Leigh, maybe you could start by telling us a little bit about your latest book.

Leigh: Just One Season in London features the Ryecroft family -- Viscount Ryecroft, his beautiful sister Sophie, and their mother, the still-young Miranda. If Rye could find an heiress to wed, he could not only save the family estate, but also send Sophie to London for her first season. If Sophie could just land a proposal from a wealthy man, she could afford to help her brother out of his financial straits. Their mother would do anything to financially secure her children’s futures, even entertain an unconventional offer from an old friend. But to do that, they need Just One Season in London – which Lady Stone helps them to achieve. The three stories, and three romances, are interwoven in a comedy of errors as the Ryecrofts realize how devilishly difficult it can be to marry for money.

DRD: And Lady Stone, you figure quite prominently in this story. I know you are considered a secondary character—

Lady Stone: *sniffs* Secondary? That's hardly accurate. *glares at DRD and Leigh*

DRD:  *gulps* Well, when I said "secondary", I meant of course "second to none".  "The character that holds the entire story together". *holds up teapot* Would you care for a refill, Lady Stone?

Lady Stone: Why yes, thank you. *puts hand to forehead* Although I'm feeling a little dizzy all of a sudden.

DRD: *winks at Leigh* This "pirate tea" affects some people that way. It's like getting your sea legs, though. You'll be used to it in no time. *sneaks a little more rum into Lady Stone's teacup* Maybe you can tell us more about your part in this story. There were several storylines to keep you busy.

Lady Stone: I'd love to, but I might need to lie down for just a moment.

*Captain Jack pops up next to Lady Stone's chair* You are very welcome to share my quarters. It will give us a chance to talk about other potential females you have in mind for me. Ones with really large. . .ships.

DRD: *yanks Captain Jack's collar until they are nose to nose* No funny business, okay? They haven't signed a release yet.

Captain Jack: *frowns* It's as if you don't know me.

DRD: *watches Captain Jack lead Lady Stone offstage* *turns to Leigh* Maybe you could tell us a little more about Lady Stone's role, in both books.

Leigh: Lady Stone made her first appearance in my first historical, The Mistress’ House, where she was a gossipy friend of the family. She also appears in a Regency-period short story I wrote called Wedding Daze.  She likes to be at the center of the action, where she’s usually tugging at a string just to see what she can unravel. Or in this case, what she can pull together.  She offers to host the Ryecrofts for the season, introducing Rye to heiresses and making it possible for Sophie the beauty to meet eligible men – to the dismay of Lady Stone’s faithful companion, who’s actually the one who gets stuck with the work.

DRD: Did you plan this? Or did she take over, as some characters can do?

Leigh: A little of both! Lady Stone is fun to write because she’s old enough and wealthy enough to say exactly what she thinks and do exactly as she likes. She’s abrasive and cynical and funny, but I didn’t realize for a while that she’s also a romantic at heart. So she came to life on the page. She’ll also make an appearance in my next historical, The Wedding Affair, which comes out in September…

*Scuffling noises can be heard offstage* *Stage curtain billows several times*

DRD: Not again. *drops head in hands*

*Lady Stone stalks across stage, her fingers firmly gripped on Captain Jack's earlobe, dragging him towards the chairs*

*Captain Jack attempts his most winsome smile, hands clasped prayerfully*

DRD: Okay, while I try to figure out exactly what happened here. . . Pirates, what questions do you have for Lady Stone? I know Leigh is likely to have lots of writing treasures to share with us, just like last time, so feel free to ask all kinds of questions! And one lucky commenter will receive a free copy of Just One Season in London (U.S. only, no PO Boxes).


Leigh Michaels ( is the award-winning author of 83 romance novels, including sweet traditional contemporaries and spicy historicals. With more than 35 million copies in print in 25 languages, she is a six-time RITA finalist and received two Reviewers Choice awards from Romantic Times magazine. She is the author of On Writing Romance, which has been called the definitive guide to writing romance novels, and teaches romance writing at Gotham Writers Workshop ( Her latest book, a July release from Sourcebooks, is Just One Season in London, which RT Reviews gave four stars and called “a veritable feast.”
Sunday, July 3, 2011


July is shaping up to be my month. Let me list the reasons why:


1.)  I am taking this awesome class at Lowcountry RWA called M&Ms for Characters: It. Is. Going. To. Be. Epic. I just know it. Besides I do the worst motivations for my characters. Pretty much any advice is going to help me.

2.)  Harry Potter is coming out on July 15

3.)  I’ve taken some vacation days for myself, just because, in July, mostly around that Harry Potter stuff, but no matter: TIME TO MYSELF.

4.)  Independence Day is the coolest American holiday ever—even better than Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is about carbs, football, and poultry, but Independence Day is about baseball, fireworks, and beef. I’m an Independence kind of girl. Eat a hamburger, watch Pujols hit a homer, and smile as the fireworks light up the sky. (Okay, so Pujols hurt his hand. Shut up.)

5.)  Rumor has it that editors are looking for contemporaries.


So for these reasons and others, I’m titling this month: FREEDOM TO WRITE in honor of our Founding Fathers who wrote down all those brave and very important things we have in America. Freedom of speech. Freedom to assemble. Freedom to pursue happiness.


I challenge you this month to plop your happy ass down at your computer (with your hamburger—lean beef is great protein) and start following your bliss. It’s constitutional, baby. And as we all know,  those who don’t use their freedoms, lose their freedoms.


It is my right to sit at this computer and write a love story about two flawed but wonderful people and announce to the world that I believe in Happily Ever Afters…and I believe in love. July is the month to pursue your bliss, and if writing is your happiness, you should too.


So what are your plans for July? Any e-courses you’ve taken lately you’d recommend?  Favorite topping on a hamburger? What do you plan to do to celebrate FREEDOM TO WRITE?

P.S. To all those serving in the military and are protecting my liberties and my pursuit of happiness, I thank you. HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY.