Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When You Need to Write

"And when I'm not working [writing], I'm not working at all, although during those periods of full stop I usually feel at loose ends with myself and have trouble sleeping." Stephen King

For the last month I've been letting a draft marinate while I focus on revisions and beta reading. This weekend I took time from all of it to celebrate my one year wedding anniversary. But my muse hasn't been idle...though sometimes it feels like it. I've been doing a lot of the things that stir my imagination and creativity: watching movies, reading, and listening to a ton of music.

As my time between new projects extends I find myself daydreaming more and more. At first the daydreams are disjointed, with no hint of what characters they belong to, if any, and little to indicate what plot they'd form. But then they grow more solid and I get an inkling on who is speaking to me and which book it belongs to.

Saturday night I literally dreamed about writing. It felt so good to be poised above the keyboard letting a story pour out my fingertips. I wish I could have seen what was on the screen. Unfortunately I was unable to do more than a blog post on Sunday due to my anniversary festivities. Then Monday, the kids came home...but I got as far as opening up the document and skimming through what I had. Today I'll hopefully be able to make some notes and maybe even begin a scene.

Does this happen to the rest of you when you go between projects? Is there a time where you clench your fists and say, "Damn it, I need to write!"?

What do you do to court your muse?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Don't Take The Writer Literally: A Rant. (Part 2)

Last post I brought up the issue of readers assuming a character is the writer. Today I shall talk about another thing that gripes my @$$: When readers assume a character is based on a real person... or even more irritating, when they ask you to put them in one of your stories.

First off, there's horrific legal implications to be considered. I don't know about you, but I don't feel like getting sued.

Second off, to truly put a real person in a fictional story is impossible. Hell, to put someone else's fictional person in your fictional story is also impossible. When I was 13 I had the hugest crush on Louis de Pointe du Lac, from Anne Rice's INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. I wrote a romance with him as the hero...and later with flaming cheeks, burned it.

My representation of Louis eventually evolved into Silas McNaught, a Scottish vampire tormented by psychic visions and guilt for using his preternatural abilities to slaughter hundreds of English soldiers in the sixteenth century. So, besides bearing a passing resemblance to Brad Pitt, they had little in common. The character became his own person.

The same happens with real people. Humans are too complex for one to truly capture another in words. You may think you know your best friend, but I'm certain you have no clue about certain aspects of her personality. My blue collar drinking buddies would be shocked to know that I actually do some "girlish" things like clothes shopping and crying during movies. My few girl friends would be equally shocked if they knew just how crude and "manly" I can be.

That said, I'm certain some characters do evolve from real people in the author's universe, but the finished product will always become its own entity. I believe this is even true for characters based on historical figures. The real Queen Elizabeth I would likely not recognize herself in either Philippa Gregory's or Virginia Henley's representations, despite years of careful research.

So when you're reading a friend's novel and wonder if the shoe-shopping addict side character is you, don't freak out. You are too unique for anyone to capture the real you.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Don't Take The Writer Literally: A Rant. (Part 1)

I don't often mention this in public, but here goes: I'm in counseling for grief from my mother's death and a few other things. The reason I bring this up is that my counselor (awesome lady ::waves::) has read some of my work. Next appointment, we're going to discuss a few details of my characters..which inspired the post, but not the rant.

Before I rant, I shall say, a few subjects she wants to bring up made me think...especially a side character who had maybe three lines of dialogue and little significance to me at all. But we've gotten to know each other over several months, so maybe there's something in there.

Then there's the opinions of total strangers....

Let the rant commence:

I know most of you following this blog are writers. How many times do random people automatically assume one of your main characters is you? And doesn't it get irritating?

One of my main characters is a cheerful, fearless rock star with supernatural powers.

Another is a timid psychic who wants to be a counselor.

Another is a cynical, foul mouthed, beer swilling mechanic.

Another is an emotionally beaten down historical romance author.

And the list goes on.

But every time I describe one of these or any other female character, (which I think is odd, I mean, I identify with Harry and Harold better in the movies, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY and HAROLD AND MAUDE...though Maude's my hero) ...anyway, someone always asks or states, "Is that you?"

NO! But...parts of me are. I always wanted to sing and play music. I used to be a mechanic. I worked as a caregiver for 5 years, and I am an author. I have been emotionally beaten down (who hasn't?). I can be fearless. I can be cheerful. I can be cynical.

As Stephen King said, (paraphrased) "there's a bit of me in every character," but none are me.
Really, I don't think it would be possible to write myself into a book anymore than to write someone else in one. People are too complex. I'll elaborate further in the next post.

Speaking of Stephen King... A friend told me she refused to read him anymore after reading MISERY. For those behind the times, it's about a famous author held hostage by a crazed fan demanding he write a sequel to a series in which the heroine died.

My friend took the story as an essay on how he felt about his fans. She thinks he hates us all. As a writer, I took it as the usual "What if" situation that comes to all writers.

Maybe Sai King started out with "What if," But in ON WRITING he bared his soul and told what he really meant: The crazed fan, Annie Wilkes, was actually a symbol for the torment of drug and alcohol addiction King was suffering at the time. "...and I was sick of being Annie's pet writer," he said.

Which goes to show you: The truth in fiction isn't usually what you think.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Author Bonnie R. Paulson's Awesome Editing Trick!

During one of our critique sessions, Carina Press author, Bonnie R. Paulson showed us the coolest trick! I'm pleased to have her here today to share it.

First I’d like to thank Brook for inviting me to her site today.  I look forward to having her on mine in the future.  Hugs, girl!

Without wasting any more of your time, let’s get started!

I’m a writer. At least, I like to think I am. Why is this important? Because writers write. Duh, right? But I’m a writer who writes once then rewrites, revises and edits 90 more times. Editing isn’t an inherent ability. Most of us have read books, taken courses, studied other writer’s work, all in all obsessed over the placement of that comma, the use of big words and the flow and tug of dialogue. (The last paragraph needs the following lesson!)

I am such a writer. Maybe I should call myself a “reworker”.

The most useful self-editing course I have taken comes from Angela James of Carina Press with Harlequin. She offers this workshop called “Before You Hit Send” A self-editing course. It is PHENOM-enal! Kid you not, if you get the chance search it out and attend. Well worth it.

Before I took the course I would print out my manuscript (MS) over 3 times. The first time to do search-and-destroy (coined the term from Rebecca Zanetti), the next to do developmental edits and the last for line edits.  Three times is a heckuva lot of wasted paper.

I wasn’t doing my work justice. The MS needed lots of work, but I was often blinded and didn’t see the weak words – my eyes would gloss over them in the never ending sea of black and white. Try searching for 300 words in an ocean of 80,000 and you will feel my pain.

Ms. James taught a cool trick. Highlight. I know, right? Not highlight with a marker – highlight with your comp. Thus cutting 2 printouts of the MS, saving trees and time. Ahh. Time = gold.

Dying to know how to highlight with your word processor? I’m going to tell you using Microsoft Word 2007 (2003 is VERY similar but I make no guarantees). I do not use Mac or any other type of computer, but the idea is comparable.

First, open your doc filled to the brim with your hard work.

In the right hand corner under the X to close the document you will see Find, Replace and Select. Click on Replace. A box titled Find and Replace opens. Mine is green.

The questions is Find what: and Replace with:

**Do you know what you’re doing?

Here is my tip. Look over the first few pages of your MS. What words jump out at you as weak or repetitive? To help get you started, here’s my initial list I used for Breathe Again.
·         -ly
·         that
·         so
·         there
·         this
·         it
·         like
·         as
·         was
·         were
·         have been
·         walk
·         look
·         glance
·         stood
·         nod
·         shook
·         up
·         down
·         said
·         laughed

These are my words. You’ll have your own.

Start with the first one “-ly”. In the Find what: box type ly without the hyphen. In the Replace with: box type the same thing BUT then click on the More>> button. This will bring up a bunch more options. Go to Format and select Highlight from the Drop Down menu. Then click Replace All.

A box will pop up telling you how many ly’s were replaced and this tells you how many words
you had in your MS. My friend had a TON, but then remembered her character’s name was Lily and we both breathed a sigh of relief. 

Before proceeding to the next word to find and replace, decide if you want all your words to be highlighted the same color or not. If you want to change the color, go to the highlight button in the font box of the Home tab. Click the box and a menu of sorts will drop down. Click on the next color – bright is best or you won’t be able to read the black letters inside the dark highlighter.
    What about for words like it, up, was that can be inside of other words? You don’t want those to highlight as well. It’s extra work, right? Work smarter, not harder.
            Let’s do “it”, an ambiguous word, if ever there was one. Do the same steps above that we used on ly but do not select Replace All. We have to add one more step. Do you see above the Format box? There’s a list of 5 options: Match Case, Find Whole Words Only, Use Wildcards, Sounds Like (English) and Find All Words Forms (English). For the word It (or any other word that may show up inside another word you don’t want to find) check the box in front of Find While Words Only. Okay, now hit Replace All.

                And you go through this for your entire list of words.

What do you do once you’ve highlighted your trouble darlings? Kill them. Plain and simple. Go through each and every page. Come upon a highlight? Rework the sentence so the color disappears. If you absolutely MUST keep that one, it’s not such a big deal to leave a couple on each page, but it sure tightens your MS if you get rid of as many as you can without forcing the words.

I love doing this. It makes my life so much easier as a writer. And let’s face it – writers have it tough!

I wish you tons of luck in this endeavor and if you have any suggestions for of your own on how to self-edit, please share! I’m always looking for more tips to add to my arsenal in this war of writing.


Inland Northwest bred, Bonnie R. Paulson has a degree in radiology technology as well as multiple experiences in the medical industry. Four children and a terrific husband ground her as they rev around the countryside on their dirt bikes. Faith, food, reading/writing romances and family make up just a small percentage of her favorite things.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book Covers and Blurbs

Maybe it's the artist in me, but I've always had a thing for good cover art on a book. It's the first thing I notice when browsing. And paranormal romance novels have some of the most kick-ass covers. I picked this one 'cuz not only is it a beautiful cover (I love purple), but it is an awesome series. I generally don't pick books that have yellow covers because that color offends me for some reason.

If the cover grabs me I read the blurb on the back to see if it does the same. Unless it's one of my favorites, author recommendations mean nothing to me. It's all about the back cover synopsis. If it's confusing or boring, I put it back. 

Unfortunately I can't name specific things that make me go, "YES!" But a few things that will turn me off are:

A.) love triangles. I think it's because I've been in one or two (Loooong ago) and the emotional baggage of them nauseates me.

B.) If the heroine/hero has a kid/kids. Harsh, I know. But as a mom, I read to escape. (One major exception is Rebecca Zanetti's DARK PROTECTOR series.)

C.) Getting back with an ex. This one's 50/50 for me. If it sounds like the back story will be told and it's interesting, I may give it a whirl. Because one of my favorite parts of a romance novel is reading about how the characters first meet.

Of course I can still be willing to read these types of romances if they come recommended by friends or are by a well-loved author.

How about you? What grabs you in a book's cover art and blurb. What things make you go, "meh," and put it back on the shelf?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Blog Award and Updates

I was awarded this by the lovely Allison over at THE ADVENTURES OF THE CAUTIONARY TALE THANKS, Allison! Now I must pass it on to 5 other bloggers and share 7 things about myself.
I pass The Versatile Blogger award to:

1.) Bonnie R. Paulson

2.) Shelley Martin

3.) Lynn Rush

4.) Damien Grintalis

5.) Renee Osbourne

A big W000000000T!! For these ladies!!!

Hmmm.... now seven things about me.

1.) I get freaked out in crowds.

2.) I don't really like flowers...unless they're lilacs.

3.) My favorite classic cars are MOPAR i.e Roadrunners, Barracudas, Darts, Dusters, etc.

4.) The movie THE PRINCESS and THE FROG made me cry. (The part with the firefly...::sob::)

5.) I hope to make a cheesy horror movie someday.

6.) I'm hopelessly addicted to Red Bull.

7.) I'm terrified of clowns and zealots.

Whew! Now onto my news. I hope to be finished with the 3rd draft of AN IRONIC SACRIFICE either tonight or tomorrow. Ooh, and next Monday (the 30th) is my one year wedding anniversary!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Writing...When You're Not

Between projects I often find myself doing nothing for a couple weeks. Well, I've been working on revisions, but I've also spent a lot of time away from the laptop. I've even been slacking on blogging and socializing with my online pals.

At first I felt really guilty about that...but now I'm starting to wonder. Maybe this is normal. Maybe you guys do this too.

When you're in the in-between zone and not writing....are you really NOT writing? I know that sounds all kinds of Mad-Hatter, but bear with me.

During my "down" time, I've been doing a lot of reading for pleasure, something I haven't been doing much of, watching movies, doing housework and listening to music more than usual.

As I do these non-writing things, my mind continues to wander. Certain songs get my characters speaking to me in my head. Certain lines have me going, "Ah-hah! So that's what 'so-and so' is going to do!" I've been having a lot of these revelations lately. Unfortunately, they are things that won't happen until book 6-or later, but isn't it still progress?

Then again...maybe I'm just getting Spring Fever and want to get out of the house. After all it is fishing and morel seasons.

What do you think? Do you still write when you're not really writing?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Memorial Post: Ronnie James Dio: July 10 1942- May 16 2010

I've always been inspired by music, but I didn't pay much attention to the people who made it until I studied heavy metal for my urban fantasy series, in which some main players are in a band. Although he'd been around for decades, I didn't become aware of Ronnie James Dio until my former husband introduced me to his music. Right away I was captivated by his powerful voice and entrancing themes. We planned on seeing him in concert when we heard the news exactly one year ago that he had died from stomach cancer. Celebrity deaths usually don't affect me, but this one made me cry...a lot. The world lost an amazing person, but I didn't realize just how amazing Dio was until I began my research.



Ronald James Padavona turned down a scholarship to Juilliard (because he wanted to rock) and  joined a band called THE VEGAS KINGS, at first playing the trumpet and singing backup. 
The band changed its name to RONNIE AND THE REDCAPS when he took over as lead singer. One of the first singles was: "An Angel is Missing" 


1960's:  Being that shortening one's name was popular back then, Ronnie changed his last name to "Dio" after an Italian mafia boss (NOT after the Italian word for "God" as many claim) & the band to RONNIE DIO AND THE PROPHETS. They did the best cover of "Love Potion #9 EVER!!!!

As bands like Led Zepplin and  Blue Oyster Cult came on the scene, the only thing to do was rock harder. The Prophets disbanded in 1967 and Dio & the guitarist formed the band, THE ELECTRIC ELVES, shortened it to THE ELVES, and finally to ELF.

They started out touring clubs and doing covers (Ironically they did a few Black Sabbath songs) while they built up their own repertoire and they gained fame when they became the opening act for DEEP PURPLE.


I dare you to listen to this & not get chills. :)

1970's:  DEEP PURPLE guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore had a falling out with the band and decided to form his own. Well aware of Dio's talent, he convinced Ronnie to join him in forming the band RAINBOW (allegedly he had to get him drunk). Dio agreed, on the condition that he also take the rest of the members of ELF.

With Ritchie's guitar genius and Dio's powerful vocals as well as their shared interest in Medieval history, RAINBOW was an explosion of awesome.

 Here's the song "Mistreated." Eat your heart out, American Idol

And here's Stargazer AKA mind-exploding glory.


1980's:   Eventually, Blackmore and Dio had a fallout. Ritchie wanted to move more towards pop music and love songs and Dio wanted to keep the mystical themes and heavy style, so Ronnie left RAINBOW (which sucked without him).

Coincidentally, Ozzy had just left Black Sabbath, so they needed a singer. Black Sabbath was a perfect spot for Dio and he revitalized the band with his inspiring lyrics, dedication, and refreshingly drug free lifestyle.

 Due to a misunderstanding caused by a drunken sound technician, Dio only remained with Sabbath for 2 1/2 albums before taking off with the drummer to form his own band, DIO.

He was most famous for the songs "Holy Diver" and "Rainbow in the Dark" but this one's a major favorite of mine.

The 80's were Dio's shining time and in between tons of incredible albums and endless touring he also somehow made time to organize various charity projects and participate in the "Rock against Drugs" campaign.

Due to the "Grunge" movement and the general increase of violence and political unrest in the world, Dio's music briefly got a little cynical. "Strange Highways" is not such a popular album but the title song really spoke to me. 

He also reunited with Black Sabbath long enough to record another album, but again miscommunication broke them up. Later, Sabbath had a brief reunion with Ozzy, which I was fortunate to see, though I would have preferred Dio.

2000's:  Dio returned to his well-loved mystical style and recorded 3 more awesome albums for our listening pleasure.

Here's the song "Losing My Insanity" from the album, MAGICA

He then again reunited with Black Sabbath under the name HEAVEN AND HELL presumably to avoid drama with Ozzy. :)

The band had a successful tour until they had to shut it down when Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer. :::Sob:: At first treatment seemed to be working, but then he passed away on May 16th, 2010

The Man: According to countless interviews and fan accounts worldwide, Dio was an incredibly nice guy. He once spent 3 hours out in the rain signing autographs and always treated his fans with utmost consideration. He never hesitated to give hugs or interviews or pose for pictures.                                                                           He didn't do drugs and, since his marriage to Wendy Dio in 1975, he never whored around like many of his counterparts. Instead, he loved to read, loved animals and collected frog figurines and antique furniture. He was also a good cook. Check out this interview on KNAC.COM for more awesomeness.

Great Works: Besides making music that continues to inspire each generation, Ronnie James Dio participated in many charity projects: The first is CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT, a program designed to get runaways off the streets and save them from prostitution. A portion of proceeds from album sales still goes to it. Another was the infamous HEARING AID project in which he gathered countless musicians from the Metal world to raise over 1 million dollars for Africa. Dio also participated in animal rescue programs.

So when people call this guy "evil" or "Satanic," naturally I get pissed. 

Dio's family set up the STAND UP AND SHOUT CANCER FUND, dedicated to providing low-income and uninsured people with cancer screenings. More info can be found on the official Dio Website.

I know this is a long post, but still it's not enough to cover the magnificence of Dio. Rest in peace, Dio, and I hope you are still rocking wherever you are.  If you want to learn more about this incredible person, there's a ton of interviews on YouTube, as well as a tour of his gorgeous house.

To quote the movie, THE SANDLOT, "Heroes get remembered, but Legends never die."

ant to repopulate the world with groupies -- and that’s not wham a thinking man. I’d like to be known f I want to be known for being a rock and roll animal. I live within that scope, but not nearly like others.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

On Queries and Researching Agents

I made a TON of mistakes while querying my first novel. I have since learned from them and the results of my submissions for my current novel have much improved. I figured I'd share what I learned. Get your paper n' pen & hold on. You'll need em even more after reading this.
An important thing I learned is that the internet is almost a must if you are an aspiring author. And not just because many agencies now only take e-queries)
Oh, and if your manuscript is not complete and polished to its very best, QUIT READING NOW AND GET BACK TO WORK!

First off, perfect your query letter. If you think it is perfect, you are probably wrong. There are multiple sites and blog posts on how to write a proper query letter. There are some that show examples of good and bad ones including comments about what an agent loved or hated about a query. QueryShark is a great one! You can find a lot of info when you just Google "query."

Find people to critique your query: The best site I've found for this is Querytracker.net. You have to join to be able to post your query on their forum for people to critique, but joining is well worth it, for there are multitudes of other great resources on that site, which I will mention soon.

While working on that, it is time to research agents. QueryTracker and other such sites have vast online databases in which you can look up agencies based on genre. But DON'T stop there. It is a big waste of time for you and the agent to just willy-nilly pick agents off these lists and go straight to the email address listed to send a query. These databases almost always include a link to the agent's website. That's because you're supposed to check that first!

Take some time to study the agent's website: Don't just skim through the submission guidelines and then jump into "compose mail" in your email program. Agent websites are filled with priceless gems, including more specific info about what they are looking for, links to their blogs and recent interviews, and articles about perfecting your submission.

Research a prospective agent's clients: Besides the fact that it is important to know if an agent HAS published clients, it is very useful to know how close the books they rep will fit in with yours. When an agent says they rep Romance, that doesn't tell you enough. For example: An agent expressed interest in my previous novel, which would fit in with novels like Sherrilyn Kenyon or JR Ward. I'm not querying her with this one because it is more along the lines of Judith McNaught-meets-Virginia Henley-meets-Maggie Shayne.

Enter contests! Contests are not only a great credential if you win, but they are also a great opportunity to receive agent feedback. Many blogs, such as QueryTracker and Miss Snark's First Victim have them regularly.

I entered Miss Snark's First Victim Secret Agent contest last year with my previous project. Not only did I get great feedback from the agent, but when she was revealed, I discovered that she sounded like an excellent fit for my current novel. Needless to say, after further research she was bumped to the top of my query list.
And last January QueryTracker hosted a contest for romance, and that very agent was the judge! And.......I WON THIRD PLACE!!!! She read my material not only gave me great feedback, she also recommended me to 2 other agents.

Follow agent blogs and follow them on twitter: You really get to know agents as people as well as get priceless information on their response times, their pet peeves (Many hate the .docx format because it's a pain in the rear for them to convert) and valuable tidbits on the publishing industry. Many agents get together often on twitter to host an "#AskAgent" session. You can ask them anything but questions about queries. Follow that hashtag! (That’s the # sign)
But remember, for the love of God, DON'T PITCH YOUR NOVEL TO THEM ON THESE SITES! They hate that, and for good reason. Agents tweet and blog in their rare personal time and get their chance to be people. They don't want it ruined by some schmuck who can't follow the rules.

Be professional, courteous, and patient in your query as well as everywhere else online. Agents receive 100's of submissions a day. They also have to work with their existing manuscripts, pitch to editors, and attend conventions and conferences. And they somehow have families and personal lives, which I have no idea how they pull that off. Don't bug them EVER about the status of your query and only nudge on partials and fulls if you have waited long past the agent's stated response time.
As for your online presence, i.e. facebook, twitter, blogs, etc. Remember: AGENTS DO THEIR HOMEWORK TOO. If they Google you and see that you are posting rants whining about rejections or waiting time, they will likely hesitate to work with you. And if you tweet "Dude, I was so WASTED last night!" EVERY day, well, a few might frown on that too. Still, don't be too scared to be yourself. Agents do want to know who you are. And if they dislike you for your political leanings, spiritual beliefs, or sexual orientation, then they likely wouldn't be a good fit anyway. Still, it would be best to keep your bedroom habits and other too-personal details to yourself.

Handle rejection gracefully: First off, don't publicly rant about them and DON'T SEND ANGRY HATE MAIL! This will not do you any favors and will damage your chances at a writing career. I can't believe how many agents still get regular nasty letters. This is why they don't give personal rejections most of the time.
Rejections are not only depressing, but they can also be infuriatingly mysterious. One of the main reasons for rejection is when the author did not follow submission guidelines. Typos are another one (one time I revised my query with a kick-butt closing sentence- and then sent it off with 2 mistakes! I still garnered a request, but the agent said I almost blew it and I should have known better.)
If you rack up a lot of rejections with very few requests, it is likely a sign that you need to revise your query and/or your manuscript. And be sure to double check your revisions as I learned earlier.
A scary theory on some rejections: I don't know about you, but I have book cravings. Sometimes I want something dark and deep. Sometimes I want light and cheerful, other times I want a tough heroine and blood n 'gore. Maybe agents also have cravings and your submission didn't fit that day's craving. Of course, maybe some cosmic force helps with that to ensure you get the right one =) I can dream, you can't stop me.

Anyway, there is a lot more info on agents and valuable resources at your fingertips, so go out, do your homework and do your damn best to be sure that your submission is in the cream of the slush pile. Good luck to you all!

Monday, May 9, 2011

More Awesome Cat Trivia

1.) Those little rough spines on a cat's tongue are called "Papillae" and are used for grooming and to scrape meat off of bones.

2.) Cats usually shed their whiskers and claws about twice a year. I say the whiskers are lucky. :)

3.) Ailurophobia is the fear of cats. Many dictator types were terrified of cats: Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, Adolph Hitler, Bennito Mussolini, etc. My theory is that they feared what they couldn't control, since cats aren't easy to boss around.

3.) Acetaminophen is fatally toxic to a cat.

4.) Cats hear better than humans or dogs. Quoted from Wikipedia: "Cats have excellent hearing and can detect an extremely broad range of frequencies. They can hear higher-pitched sounds than either dogs or humans, detecting frequencies from 55 Hertz up to 79 Kilohertz, a range of 10.5 octaves; while humans can only hear from 31 Hz up to 18 kHz, and dogs hear from 67 Hz to 44 kHz, which are both ranges of about 9 octaves"

5.) Cats don't have Circadian rhythms so not only are they active during both night and day, their body temperature does not vary. So they're always warm and cuddly.

6.) Cats walk like giraffes and camels in a "pacing gait" in which they move both legs on one side of the body before those of the other. However, when they break into a trot, they switch to a "diagonal gait" more common with other four legged mammals.

7.) Their canine teeth are perfectly spaced and designed to sever the spinal cord of their prey in one fatal bite. So when they leave a mouse or a bird alive, it is either to play or to educate a younger cat.

8.) A cat's kidneys are so high-functioning that they can survive on meat alone without water and are even able to drink seawater...though I don't think it'd be healthy.

9.) A female cat is known as a "queen" which sure beats being called a "bitch" or a "cow."

10.) Scientists say that cats lack the ability to taste sweetness, but I disagree. Many of my cats have had a sweet tooth. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

How Contemporaries Helped my Paranormals.

Now that I finished my contemporary romance, I'm working on revising the 1st two novels in my paranormal series and I gotta say, it's good to be back in that world. As much fun as I had with the contemporary, I really missed the magic, fangs, and otherworldly politics...not to mention the fictional worry free sex :) Seriously, you have no idea how frustrating it was to include condom use into the sensual flow.

But I gotta say I learned a lot from the experience. I made em into three "C"s because alliteration is sexy. :)

1.) Characterization: With no magic, fangs, or mystical chemistry, I really had to focus on not only making my characters unique, but also tapping deep into their psyches to make them real on the page.

2.) Conflict. Since there was no mystical prophecy involved, not to mention a lack of government conspiracies or crazy vampire cult leaders after the characters, I really focused on making every day problems affecting the romantic relationship.

3.) Communication: 1.) In my paranormals the characters can often communicate telepathically. One even speaks to a character through her dreams. In my contemporary the characters had to rely on phone and email. So to make things difficult I learned to add in believable 3rd party interference. i.e. The guy answering the phone at the recording studio says to the heroine, "Unless you're dying or giving birth to his baby, it's not an emergency."

2.) I did a lot of research on communication between men and women. THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES by Gary Chapman was awesome for this. I also talked with a counselor and one of the most useful things she said was "People often tend to 'assign' feelings to the other person." This was very useful. Hopefully I'll get a counselor to do a guest post on the subject.

Now that I'm back to work on AN IRONIC SACRIFICE, I'm seeing how all these things can make the story richer. I'm also realizing that it may be the best book I've written and I'm awed at how easy it's been so far to identify its problems and work out the solutions. I think my brief sojourn into another genre is responsible...as well as the priceless feedback from my awesome beta readers.

How many of you have dabbled in another genre? What did the experience teach you?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rejoining the World

After finishing a project, and leaving the fictional world I'd been living in for awhile, I always spend at least a week in a confused daze as I grow reacquainted with the real world. My emotions are on edge and I can go from giddy laughter to verging on tears in seconds. I am simultaneously mournful that my time with those characters has ended and excited to get to know new ones. On top of all, I am bracing myself to confront rewrites on previous projects.

Oh, and speaking of the real world, usually by this point, my friends and family are wanting my company, and I also must reunite with this wonderful online community. There are blog posts to write, catching up with my buds on twitter, and maintaining my usual Facebook shenanigans.

The problem? At this stage in my writing I have no desire to talk to anyone. I feel like I just got off the longest and craziest amusement park ride on the face of the planet. I am shell-shocked and all I want is time alone to find equilibrium. Needless to say, I managed a blog post Monday and a few conversations, but Tuesday I basically told the world to go to hell while I reread Jane Eyre. I traumatized my drinking buddies at the Powder River Saloon when I came in, sipped a hard cider in silence, and left. They probably think their resident chatterbox was abducted and assimilated into the Borg....or whatever it's called.

Today, I'm a little better. I feel more connected during this blog post than Monday's. As I gear up to tackle my BRIDES OF PROPHECY series, I think of you all and how grateful I am to you for sticking with me through this arduous writer's journey. It is because of you that I've become a better writer and because of you that I improve daily at my craft. Thank you!

How do you feel when finishing a project? How do you rejoin the world?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Between Drafts

If you'll kindly take a look at my progress bar, you'll see that I completed the rough draft of my contemporary romance: Solo Project For Two. W00000T!!!!

I follow Stephen King's advice to put a rough draft away for 4-6 weeks and work on something else. That something else shall be another round of revisions on the first two books in my paranormal series. I CAN'T WAIT to get back to my paranormals! This last was a contemporary but it wouldn't get out of my head so I had to write it.

I'll start with book 2 in AN IRONIC SACRIFICE since that progress bar has been sitting idle for months and I have pages of notes and tons of helpful beta crits to work with.

And speaking of crits, since I'll be in "editor mode" I'll be doing a few crits for some friends. I will also be catching up my social networking and hunting for paranormal guest posters. :) 

But this period won't be all work and no fun. I'm finally going to get to attack my giant TBR pile...and be lazy on the couch watching movies...and getting rowdy late at night on twitter. Oh, twitter, I've neglected you so. :( 

Then I'll get on rewriting the "Official" first draft and while that's off to the betas I'll work on rewriting book one. Then I get to do my research for book 3.

Hopefully by the time I finish the third draft of SOLO PROJECT FOR TWO, I'll get to begin the third book in my Brides of Prophecy series, already loosely titled: QUEEN OF PROPHECY.

What do you do between drafts?