Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

3 Days until NaNoWriMo

Just three more days before I start National Novel Writing Month! I'm so excited, and I'm busily trying to finish up stuff to clear the decks so I can write untrammeled and free from aggravation (other than my day job, housekeeping, and other unfortunate duties).

I'm judging a writing contest and have gotten through 4 out of the 5 entries, so I hope to finish that up before November 1. I try to read every entry at least twice and add which I hope are cogent comments. And I never take points off if it "just didn't appeal to me". But the scores are still lower than I usually give and that is making me a little nervous. I may go through one more time before I send them back just to make sure I'm not being overly harsh or critical.

The wonderful NaNoWriMo folks gave me a stupendous surprise gift on Monday. They somehow worked out a deal with CreativeSpace to let us get an actual printed paperback of the book we wrote last year for NaNoWriMo if you managed to win. Winning just requires you write 50,000 words.

So, I had an absolute BLAST putting together a cover for my book. And since I had been prepping it to send to a publisher, I had a good clean copy (as clean as I could make it, anyway, given that my brain often supplies what should be there, even if it isn't).

So...I just got my paperback in the mail! Here is the cover I created for it. I know it's not brilliant, but I rather like it. The book is not a brilliant masterpiece of insight into the human condition. It's a very light historical romance about a poetess who gets blasted by a critic and gives up writing. Eventually, she decides to move on with her life and marry. to her horror, she soon discovers that the man she decides to marry is the critic, himself.

Ah, well. What is a story without a little angst and consternation?

Anyway, it was so much fun to do this and such a nice surprise from the NaNoWriMo folks.

Now, I need to diligently get my bits of plot pieces together for my historical mystery (with a nice, light romantic sub-plot) called Twilight. I've already got some scenes burning in my brain and my fingers are itching to get to the keyboard, but I'm patiently waiting until Saturday, Nov 1, to get to work.

My little AlphaSmart keyboard is due for a real workout. My goal is to write 2,000 words (roughly 10 double-spaced pages) per day, for 30 days. It's definitely do-able as long as you don't worry about eating, sleeping or having a life outside of work.

You may ask: why the Alphie? Didn't you just buy an eeePC so you could write anywhere? Why, yes. I did. But you see the eeePC makes it attractive to *edit* while you write, which is deadly to NaNoWriMo productivity. While the Alphie makes it very hard to edit while you write since you can only see 4 lines of your writing at a time. So all you can do (effectively) is write fresh stuff on an AlphaSmart, as opposed to polishing and otherwise wasting time fussing with previously written material on an eeePC or PC or laptop device.

During the next four weeks, then, I will have only the briefest of blogs since my fingers will be worn to nubs typing new, mind-bogglingly brilliant prose. I will try to keep up-to-date, though, on my progress.

Then, when NaNoWriMo ends, my Christmas novella, Christmas Mishaps, will be out from Cerridwen press! That's due out Dec 3, so I'm pretty excited about that. I don't have a cover, yet, but I'm hoping to have one soon to plaster everywhere.

Hope everyone is doing well and exciting about Halloween and all the wonderful fall festivals. This is my absolute favorite time of the year. I love the cooler weather, fall foliage, and just basically feel GREAT!

Best wishes and have a spooky Halloween!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Almost NaNoWriMo Time!

Lots going on so of course I'm fighting back a cold.  At the moment, I'm barely holding my own, but I have the bad feeling the cold may win.  In any event, lots to do, places to go, people to see.

I really wish days were 36 hours instead of 24, though, because there are must not enough hours to get everything done.

Found a great quote for authors out there.  I'm constantly getting asked about the rules, like plotting, characterization, do's-and-don'ts, formatting manuscripts, writing query letters, writing a synopsis, and the like.  To my delight, I now have a great answer.

There are three rules for writing a novel.  Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.  W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)

Onward and upward.

The nice delivery guy left me a present today on my porch:  a box of print copies of my book I Bid One American.  It really gave me a boost.  Then, with all those lovely books in my hands, I got a wild hair (or is that "hare"--ouch!) up the you-know-where and entered the book in the RITA contest. 

For those of you who have never heard of the RITA (you're in good company, by the way) it is a contest sponsored by the Romance Writers of America. They pick the best book of the year in each of the different romance-related genres. I'm not sure I'd exactly classify I Bid One American as a romance, per se, so this was probably a dumb-blonde move, but what the heck.  All they can do is laugh at me and give me really low scores.

So what else is new?

Anyway, it's entered and may the best book (obviously, my book) win in the Regency historical genre!

Next on the agenda--well, I've just completed a rash of submissions (a rash to go with my cold--hahaha).  And like scattering wildflower seeds, I hope a few sprout.  Got one rejection back already, which is record time because they had the query less than 15 minutes (they wanted an e-mail query so they could beat the world's speed record for rejections). 

That's what I was busily doing last week, hence my deafening silence re: blogging, etc.

And...drum roll...I'm preparing for NaNoWriMo!  Yes, that's right, National Novel Writing Month.  Last year, I managed to win by writing about 60,000 words (you only need to write 50,000 to win) on a Regency romance manuscript called, Love, The Critic.  It is, unfortunately, not going anywhere but in a drawer, but it was fun. 

If I get another wild hair (or hare) I may chop it up and offer it as a serial from my web site.  Or something.  I sort of it like Love, The Critic--it's a cute little story about a poetess who unknowingly falls in love the man who wrote a scathing critique of her poems and pretty well demolished her career.

Poor things.  I'm tough on my characters.  But as I always remind my husband:  Life's a bitch and then you marry one.

Anyway, this year for NaNoWriMo, I'm intending to work on a historical mystery called:  Twilight.  Yep, you guessed it--it is indeed set in the Regency period.  For those of you who read I Bid One American, you may recall the hero, Nathaniel.  Well, his younger sister, Helen Archer, is the heroine in Twilight.  It's part of a "triple play" of stories about the Archer siblings who all have the misfortune--or luck, depending upon your perspective--of having the irrepressible conniver, John Archer, as their uncle.

In Twilight, Helen managed to lose the Peckham necklace the first time she wears it at a ball.  When she goes to retrieve it, she finds herself smack-dab in the middle of a murder investigation.  There is a lot of subterfuge going on, and Helen is going to find it a bit trickier to get that necklace and escape unscathed than she thinks.

Psst, keep this quiet because I don't want to jinx it, but I also just submitted a "prequel" to I Bid One American to my publisher.  The manuscript is called The Necklace and it features Nathaniel's older sister, Oriana Archer.  Oriana is the lady who manages to find The Peckham necklace after it is lost for years and years.  Unfortunately, she's almost murdered as a reward for her efforts.

The Peckham necklace has a very, very bad reputation.  =):o)

I'm hoping I can finish Twilight this fall, because with the new year, I want to start on a new historical mystery--although I'm not sure which one.  I've plotted out several, and my fingers are itching to start on all of them.  I'll just have to see how Twilight goes.

So wish me luck.  It seems like I blogged about a lot of nothing, but what the heck.  I can't be brilliant and insightful all the time.

Have a terrific evening and stay well!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bits of Good News

First the good news:  I only have a month to go before "I Bid One American" is released in paperback!  Whoopee!  Although for the impatient, it is out as an e-book from just about any e-book store you'd care to mention, including:

Fictionwise, Amazon's Kindle, and of course the publisher, The Wild Rose Press.  (Sorry about the lack of active links, but MySpace doesn't seem to want to cooperate with me tonight.)

And on December 3, my Christmas novella:  Christmas Mishaps, comes out from Cerridwen Press.  I just wish I had a cover to show you.  But I should get one soon.

I don't have a release date yet on my short story:  Outrageous Behavior, but it ought to be fairly soon.  We already finished the edits.  And during that process, I think my editor at The Wild Rose Press put some sort of brainwashing device into her e-mails because I went insane and gave them a second short story:  Rose Wars, to publish FOR FREE!

Yes, folks, another of my stories will soon be let loose upon the world and you won't even have to pay for it.  What the heck was I thinking?

Almost last, but not least: Writers and Readers of Distinctive Fiction are featuring me in their Spotlight feature this week--which is really, really nice of them.  (If you get the chance to visit their site it is at: .)  I always love to babble about myself and they gave me plenty of room to do so.  I just hope I didn't say anything terminally embarrassing.

Nearly forgot--I'm also featuring a new contest during the month of October: The Unluckiest Heroine contest.  The prize is a gorgeous, multi-strand carnelian necklace.  All you have to do to enter is visit my website at: to find the name of the poor heroine in "Christmas Mishaps" who just can't seem to stay out of trouble.  Then send an e-mail to with her name. 

Pretty easy, right?

Finally, I got three rejections--two of which were submissions I was really "counting on".  Nonetheless, I'm putting that in the "good news" category because it should complete the set of three.  Not that I'm superstitious or anything, but I need to make a little lemonade here because my office is overflowing with lemons.

Oh, I finally got my eeePC updated, and I can now reload my writing software (Writer's Cafe).  This has been a bit of a trial for me because every time I tried to update my eeePC, it would start misbehaving and gradually reach a point where it just stopped working.

The nice eeePC folks, though, let you restore it in "factory fresh" condition by pressing the F9 key when you turn it on.  I hate to do that because then I have to reconfigure everything to be the way I want it, but I really had no choice the first four times I did it.

However now it looks like I may have found the right combination of updates to do, so later tonight I shall reload Writer's Cafe and get back to work on The Necklace.  I really want to submit that to my publisher next week.  I actually hope to someday earn royalties on this one. :-)

As far as writerly things and news (not so good)...this last spate of rejections really nailed something for me.  If you write a book, but deep down inside you sort of feel "ho-hum" about the characters, then chances are good your readers--and more importantly your editors--will feel the same.  This problem often occurs if you're like me, and you really, really want to please some editor/publisher by writing to their guidelines.

Some of us don't fit in, follow the rules, or play well with others.  You'd think I'd know by now how to disguise that a little better.

Anyway, not a day goes by when I don't learn something new. 

And I like it that way.