Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday's How She Does It - Keira Kohl

We all know there are six elements in writing fiction and often fact. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is the plot. What's your take on this?

For me I think it depends on the story. In most cases I know the what before I know the who. I think the first five elements are needed to know the how.

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

I figure out what they have to do in the story. Their goal. Then I figure out why they want that goal and why they can't have it. Or at least why they can't have it right away. Sometimes I will interview my characters. That really helps to get to know them.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

Most of the time my plot comes first. A scene or scenario will come to me and I'll fill it with characters that match the situation. I do a little of both sketching out the plot and letting the characters take over. I usually do a very loose scene by scene outline. Very vague one or two sentence prompts so then the characters can take over and do what they want.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

Sometimes I know before I start writing it how it will end. Other times the ending doesn't come to me until I've written a few chapters. When I know the ending usually I know the ending in a very general way.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

I usually set my stories in the city I live or cities I've been to. For houses I will either download house plans or go into my Sims 3 game and create a house so I can envision my characters walking through it.

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

I have a mix of both. It's mostly on-line. There are some great loops out there that can help writers when they have questions. But there's no substitute for doing research at the library. I always feel inspired when I go to the library to get research books.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

I am a total draft writer. I give myself permission to write crap so I can get the story out. I find the gems in the revisions process. I love editing!



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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday - A Step From The Usual by Janet Lane Walters

Since what I'm reading these days I can't talk about for a long time today is going to be abour my own news during the past week or so. There are two events in my writing life that need a little bit of plug.

Received the release date for A Surprising Seduction and that's to be September 7th. This is the fifth story in the Seduction series and there is just one more to go. This story pits Lauren Grant against Tony Carlin in the game of love. Here's a bit of the opening salvo of the story.

Bright morning sun glinted on the stained glass windows of the gray stone church. Lauren Grant left the memorial garden where the ashes of her sister and brother-in-law had been interred inside the stone wall near her parents’ site. She rubbed her arms to chase the chill of the autumn day.

Conversations flowed around her. She drew a deep breath to force back the tears ready to fall. Not yet. She had to leave. More words of sympathy might release the flood.

As she dashed past the stairs leading to the sanctuary, she saw him standing with the pastor, two of Jim’s colleagues and a teacher friend of Carrie’s.

Tony Carlin. Tall, broad-shouldered, dark hair. She felt sure his piercing blue eyes compelled witnesses to tell the truth when he questioned them on the stand. Jim’s brother and the man she had to share custody of their ten month old nephew troubled her. She wasn’t sure why, except sharing wasn’t part of his nature.

Then I received the contract for the fifth Katherine Miller mystery. Wish I had another fifth hanging around. For those who have followed Katherine's career as the woman who bodies find, this story has a bit of a twist. Katherine is marrying Lars an event that has been delayed for many years. The Midas Murders goes into the reasons why very clearly. Katherine leaped into action in Murder and Mint Tea when she found the body of her tenant on the front lawn. The action moved to the church where she had been the organist for years. The body this time was the new charismatic organist. Her next discovery took place in Santa Fe where she went to spend New Year's Eve with Lars, a far distance from her Hudson River village. Katherine then went undercover as a nurse in The Hudson House Murders to find the killer of a friend and uncover a convoluted scheme. With the Wedding plans set The Micro-manager Murder sees Katherine leaving her wedding reception when a friend is accused of murdering her partner.

That's the news from my Hudson River village and now it's back to work.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip ala Orson Scott Card - World Creation

There's much of interest in the bit I read about creating a world and I had to think about how it applied to other forms of fiction other than science fiction and fantasy. When having an idea for a story, one has to look at a lot of things Taking an idea from that small grain to become pages of words takes thought and planning.

The first thing is to look at the rules of the world you are creating. In a way, all works of fiction are fantasies since the writer's view of the world is what is shown. So what are the rules. In writing speculative fiction, the writer has to create these rules. In other genres, the rules are there but the writer has to decide which ones belong to the world they're creating. Take historicals there are certain conventions that apply to what the writer hooses to show. Customs change and there's nothing more troubling than to be reading a historical and have a modern kind of rule or convention creep in. Pulls the reader out of the story. The same goes for other genres. So the writer has to discover the rules. In contemporary fiction what does the law say about say wills, but is this the same in every state or country. Learning the rules via research is important.

Another important area is the scenery. Writing speculative fiction allows the writer to dream us worlds with more than one moon or with none. There are other areas where the writer can invent and explore. Scenery is an important ingredient of all fiction and the reader needs to be able to step into the scene and be there. Details are important and specifics rule. If you're writing about a hospital, a courtroom or any other setting be sure to bring in the senses so the reader will find familiar things in an unfamiliar setting.

So jotting down bits and pieces as you plan the story will add spice later whether the story takes place on a strange new world, the past or in the world where you live.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - C. J. Cherryh

I've been a fan of C. J. Cherryh for many years. This is one of the science fiction writers I really enjoy. I was pleased to come by a quote from her that sent me to the keyboard. I don't write science fiction but this quote struck home. Sure hope I follow her advice.

"It's perfectly okay to write garbage - as long as you edit brilliantly." C. J. Cherryh

I know when I start a new fictional work the words just flow and I don't try to stop them. Some scenes are fully written and others are sketched out. Once what ever's in my head is down on paper,comes the fun and different thought. There are times when I read a section and I shake my head. What is this monologue doing here? Where did this scene come from? This is garbage. Then I have to decide why I put that series of words in that particular place.

Do I edit brilliantly? That I can never be sure I've done but I hope I have. Taking a passage that bumbles along and turning it into a scene with meaning is part of the writing trade. I do envy people who get it right the first time but that's not the way I write. What I do is take that garbage and turn it into a story that pleases me and hopefully pleases one of my editors and the readers. Like those artists who look at junk they find along the side of the road or at the dump and turn then into works of art, writers often take a garbage of words and turn them into a story that sends people to buy their books.

What about you? Do you look at those words you wrote and shake your head. "This is garbage!" Do you then look at those words and begin the process of editing brilliantly?

Monday, August 27, 2012

27 August - Week Behind and Week Ahead by Janet Lane Walters

The start of another week and it's hard to believe another week has passed. I have reached the halfway point on Lines of Fire, as far as drafts go and have more than half the wordage I projected for the book. The story is taking shape very nicely. During the coming week I hope to move forward with the goal of finishing the book before the end of the year.

What I have to do this week is work on some promo, read more books for a contest. Sure hope they go better. Sometimes reading for contests is difficult expecially when you find books that you want to won and books you wish had never been entered. But mum's the word on likes and dislikes until the contest ends. I also need to email an editor to learn if she received the book sent over a month ago. And figure how to put my books up on a promo site.

Lately I've been reading on several of my published loops about people being concerned about receiving bad reviews. They agonize over the words someone says about their books. I guess I mostly ignore reviews both the good and the bad. Maybe this is because I've done reviews in the past and stopped doing that because I realized not every book hits me the same way. I also discovered that there were books I loved that others hated and books I hated that everyone loved. Yes, there are people out there that love to trash books, especially those with lots of great reviews. But to let this stop one from writing doesn't make sense to me. The person I have to please with my stories is myself and the editor who sends a contract. Guess this is my rant for the week. I also know nothing good ever comes from writing the reviewer.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday's Chapter = Creatures of the Night - Naomi Bellini

Maya mentally kicked herself. What had she been thinking coming out on a date? This is what people do on dates, they talk about themselves, and this is what she absolutely wished to avoid. She did not want to give information about herself to anyone, especially not to this handsome man. That was the main reason she agreed to go out with him. His good looks made her hot and breathless! Damn her lively libido.

His brown hair was just a little too long, like he’d missed a haircut, but didn’t really care. His eyes were deep brown, flecked with green and his body…that was really the deciding factor. He was tall enough to tower over her by a good foot, and a lot of that was leg––long, lean legs. Maya loved legs. She knew his were deliciously hairy, and she was fantasizing about a way to get him to wear shorts in the middle of autumn, when she saw by the look on his face, it was her turn to answer. She also realized she had shredded her napkin to little pieces.

Covering up the confetti with her hand, she cleared her throat. “I came here to get away from the hustle and bustle of…another town. I just wanted peace and quiet, and this is about as peaceful and quite as it gets. I’m a librarian, pretty dull. I’ve been here about two years, but hey! What about you? You’re from New York. Talk about hustle and bustle. Are you going to stay in Hollister much longer?”

Instead of reacting like most men and launching into a detailed history of his life, Kyle began to squirm.

“Oh, New York is, yeah, noisy, busy. I’m, uh, not sure what my plans are just yet; I’ve been, er, thinking about several things…” he trailed off.

Looking down at his fidgeting hands, Maya noticed he’d shredded his coaster, and she burst into laughter.

“What?” Kyle asked.

“I hope they don’t bring us anything on paper plates or they’ll have a real mess on their hands,” Maya said, pointing to the scraps of paper between them on the table.

Kyle laughed with her and Maya was entranced. He had an open, warm smile and his laughter rang out, fun and loose.

“Maybe we should talk about something besides ourselves,” Maya suggested. Apparently she wasn’t the only one with secrets to keep.

Friday, August 24, 2012

How She Does It - Namoi Bellina

Today's guest is Naomi Bellami talking about how she approaches her stories.

We all know there are six elements in writing fiction and often fact. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is the plot. What's your take on this?

That's a good way to describe it, Janet. The five W questions are important to the story to give it the start and inform readers of the basics. When we start asking How, the marvelous plot begins to unfold.

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

No specific process. I'm fortunate to have a day job that allows me time to let my mind wander occasionally. Great thoughts pop into my head when my hands are busy, which sometime means I'm scribbling furiously when I'm supposed to be working. Don't tell! Many fabulous ideas are hatched and fascinating characters are born at work.

Often, I'll meet someone and we'll be chatting away, and I'm sure they wonder why I'm staring at them so intently. Little do they know, they've just become part of a story.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

I usually start with a plot and setting and general idea of the characters, but we all know how that goes! As I'm writing, often another plot will develop, and new individuals will appear, or my original characters turn into someone else entirely. I might have my people doing one thing in my mind, but once I get writing, they turn around and do something else.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

Very seldom do I know the ending. How can I, when my characters keep changing my mind? I usually have a general idea for the ending when I begin, but a vague one. Often, I have to rack my brain (sometimes with really strong coffee or a vigorous yoga workout) to come up with an ending that ties everything together. When it happens, I get a little chill. It's a wonderful moment.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

A little of both. For my fantasy stories, it's great fun to make up a world, but I still use elements of places I've seen, either in person or pictures. For contemporary stories, I tend to stick with areas I've been to, so I can describe the place accurately. The smell and feel of a setting are important to me. Lately, I'm writing about autumn. Maybe because I'm good and ready for summer to end! Lately I've been playing on Pinterest. Boy is that fun to use, to put together pictures for my stories.

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

Isn't the Internet wonderful? I can do so much research there. Nothing beats a good book for illustrations, though, and I love browsing at the library. My current WIP takes place partly in Las Vegas, where I've been twice. I'm trying to talk my honey into a return trip. No luck, so far. My dream is to make enough money writing so I can travel for research, and write it off on my taxes.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

Oh, that's a tricky area for me. I'm trying to keep from over revising and just getting the draft down first. Here's what I've come up with lately, and so far it's working out well. When I sit down to write, I only allow myself to go over the last section that I wrote, and make minor edits. I resist the urge to start from the beginning and edit. I've found if I do that, by the time I get to the end of the previous day's work, my allotted time for writing is almost over, and there are no new words on the page. Writing and editing are two separate processes.

Thank you for having me as your guest, Janet, and thank you readers for allowing me to share a little of myself. I hope you enjoy the excerpt tomorrow.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Who I'm Reading - Charmaine Gordon by Janet Lane Walters

Lately I've been reading several books by a friend and critique partner, Charmaine Gordon. While I heard parts of these stories in the critique group I haven't read them all and was pleased and surprised by the changes she'd made in the stories. Reconstructing Charlie is one of my favorites and I remember the discussion about the first line. It's a real shocker. Am in the process of reading Sin of Omission which started out as a novella and the rest of the story needed to be told. Once I finish some have to reading I'll get back to reading about some fascinating characters and an older woman younger man story. You can find Charmaine's stories of survival and women facing life and coming up winners here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday's Writing Tip - Speculative Fiction - Orson Scott Card

Since I like to see what other writers say about writing and garner tips from their articles and books on writing, I came across How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card, a writer I've read a number of times. I also sometimes venture into this area, though I consider most of my writing as either fantasy or speculative fiction. Mr. Card  givea a nice overview of what comprises this type of fiction. I also believe one can learn about writing and improve by reading different genres and by hearing what other writers have to say about the craft of writing.  So here goes with the parameters of this genre.

A little aside, each of the major genres have many subgenres in their ranks and I know I've learned by looking at other genres.

What compromises speculative fiction.

1. Stories set in the future. Makes sense to look at these stories as being speculative.

2. Stories set in the past that contradict what is known about history. These are alternate Earth stories.

3. Stories set on other worlds.

4. Stories set on Earth but before recorded history.

5. All stories that contradict known or supposed laws of nature.

So if you want to write in this genre, you have a lot of room to experiment. I've written in several of the areas with 2 and 5 being my favorite places to let my imagination run free. What about you? Do you think about venturing into speculative fiction? Or are you looking to learn how to hone your own writing by seeing how writers in other genres create their stories?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - William Carlos Williams by janet lane walters

Many years ago, a critique partner gave me a little framed statement from William Carlos Williams, a poet, that struck me as very true. "I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it."

What does this mean to me? When I began writing the words were painfully put on paper. That was in the days of typewriters and carbon paper. Each year of writing, telling stories became easier and the writing flowed from page to page to page. My husband said my writing was an obsession he didn't want to cure. He's a psychiatrist so he might have some knowledge about curing obsessions.

Of course writing takes things other than being able to form sentences that follow the rules or don't depending on what you want the reader to discover. Writing takes imagination and imagination is the disease that can't be cured. When I write suddenly the idea takes shape and I'm off and running. Not exactly running but putting words on paper and finding characters, scenes and plot that draw me into their world.

What about you. Have you caught the writing disease? If you have remember it's for life.

Monday, August 20, 2012

20 August - Week Behind and Week Ahead by janet lane walters

It's always amazing to see something you wrote almost 40 years ago and realize with some cleanup this book could be sold. I'm slowly working on this book between drafts of my current WIP and perhaps this book will also find its way into publication. There are some beginning writer problems and some conventions that years ago were used that will need to be cleaned up but the story is there. For me that's the important thing.

Last week I began the Setting draft of Lines of Fire. There are general bits of setting in the manuscript but what this draft does it to put those bits into specifice. Trees will become specific trees Places will show the characters interacting with the setting and being acted upon. No more existing in a vacuum.

I hope to do at least 4 chapters and perhaps 5. Only time will tell what happens.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday's Chapter featuring Family Honor by Jamie Hill

Family Honor by Jamie Hill

Chapter One

The body was strategically placed in the alley, posed carefully in the same manner as the previous two victims. Knees bent to one side, arms crossed above her head, and her hands clutching a pair of cheap red pom poms. Her uniform skirt and matching vest had once been white and crisp, but were now yellowed from age and blood-soaked. Just like the others.

She might have looked retro chic, like something from the old American Graffiti movie, had it not been for the fact that the woman was fifty if she was a day. That, and the deep slash running from ear to ear, nearly decapitating her. Through the coagulated gore, the faint image of a small red bird was still visible on the vest.

"My high school mascot was a cardinal." Detective Melanie Curtis' gaze took in the scene and surroundings.

Her partner, Henry Stone, snapped pictures in quick succession as he circled the body. "I'll bet you were a cheerleader, too."

"No way. I was a pom pom girl, on the pep squad."

He paused long enough to shoot her a skeptical glance. "And how is that not the same thing?"

Mel shook her head in feigned disgust. "Not the same at all. We did dance routines to music." She saw his eyes light up and before he could spout off something dirty, she shut him down. "Focus, little dude. Get some pictures of her face. My guess is she's a hooker like the last two. We need to show these shots to Skinny Sheila and some of the other girls in Oldtown. If she turned tricks, someone there will recognize her."

"Damn," Stone muttered as he zoomed in on the woman's face. "She's old enough to be my mother. Think she's still hooking?"

"Your mother is, isn't she?" Mel stepped back to avoid the fake punch aimed at her, and grinned. "Just kidding. You know I love your Umma."

"That's right." Stone straightened his shoulders. "Besides, Korean women don't turn tricks." He seemed to rethink his statement and shrugged. "Not since the war ended, anyway. Nowadays they spend their time keeping alive the centuries-old tradition of making kimchee."

Mel screwed up her face. "Fermented cabbage. Remind me not to invite your mom for the holidays again this year."

"She'll be there, and she'll bring kimchee." He studied the body for a moment, then turned to Mel. "Our man is left-handed."

"What?" She blinked, her mind already fast-forwarding to another Christmas of her father bickering with Stone's mother, and celebrating with a bunch of cops that were the closest thing to extended family any of them had. I'm already dreading the holidays that are still months away.

"Left-handed." Stone drew her back to the present. "Our slasher. He's a lefty. See how the mark is deeper on that side of her neck? The knife went like this." He motioned from the right side of her neck to the left.

Mel thought about that as she walked around and stood behind the woman's head. "Unless he cut her from behind." She made the same motion Stone had, using her right hand.

He shook his head. "I don't think so. Write down lefty." He continued to snap photos.

"Whatever." Mel did as he asked. Her partner usually had a keen perception for that kind of stuff, but this time she wasn't so sure.

Commotion behind Stone livened up the sealed-off alley. "Wake up kids, the grown-ups are here."

Mel glanced up to see two crime scene investigators from the Wichita Police Department arrive with their fancy kits. She got along with most everybody in the cop shop, but the CSIs had been hard to live with since the occupation had landed its own television show. "Hey Martin. Hey Zybowski."

The taller of the two investigators towered over height-challenged Stone by nearly a foot. "You know we'll take pictures, Stone," he said derisively.

"I know I'll get my hands on them sooner if I take my own, Zybowski." Stone snapped a few more shots then stepped back. "But have at it. She's all yours."

Zybowski sneered at the woman. "Like we'd want any of that."

"Show some respect," Mel snapped. "Every victim is somebody's daughter. Maybe somebody's mother. Try to remember that."

"Yes, Detective." The investigator's tone remained snide. He knelt and opened his black bag.

She glanced at her watch. Nearly midnight. Too late to do any more tonight. They'd start fresh in the morning. "We'd appreciate your report as soon as you can get it to us tomorrow."

Zybowski snorted.

"Let's go, Stone." Mel turned and walked away, knowing her partner would follow. As an afterthought she looked back and added, "Check the direction of that slash mark, will you? See if you can tell if our guy was left or right-handed."

"How could we possibly tell that?" Martin frowned at her and got to work with his counterpart.

She turned around and kept walking. She rolled her eyes at Stone who had caught up to her. "Think he's that stupid, or just being an ass?"

"Yes to both. Man, if I was six-foot-something I'd give that moron Zybowski a piece of my mind."

She smiled at him. "If you were six-foot-anything you wouldn't be the man we all know and love."

"Says the woman who's nearly that tall herself. You don't remember what it's like to be five-six, do you? You probably passed right by that height in elementary school."

"I'm sure I did. Left it back there with size three clothes. Can't remember that long ago, little dude."

At the end of the alley he lowered the yellow crime scene tape and they stepped over it. "You know you're the only person who gets away with calling me ‘little dude’, right?"

"Right, and I promise not to do it in public unless you piss me off." She nodded to the uniformed officers who were keeping tabs on the alley and stepped up to her sporty black Murano. "You got your car?"

"Yep." He nodded to his small electric Volt.

Mel bit back a comment about the tiny powder-blue vehicle. Stone loved his eco-friendly car and as much as she enjoyed teasing him, she knew her limits. "See you bright and early."

He waved his camera. "We'll download these pictures and get started."

"Really looking forward to it." Mel sighed as she slid onto the leather seat and took a moment to inhale and slowly let it out. Ten years in Homicide had left her jaded, and hard to surprise. But with each dead body there was a moment when she let herself think about them—who they were, what they did, how they felt during their last moments on earth. Then she walled off her emotions and systematically solved the cases, one right after another, leaving more closed than open on the books.

Her father had taught her how to do that. Thirty years on the force gave him license to teach her plenty about the workings of the WPD. When he was injured in the line of duty and retired at the rank of captain, Gene Curtis was much beloved by most in the department. Now he tended bar at the local cop hangout, Morgan's, more to keep in touch with everyone than for the pay. And he never let much time go by without reminding his daughter, "Every victim is somebody's child. Maybe somebody's parent. Try to remember that."

"I remember, Cappie," she said to her father, or more accurately to the windshield as she drove. "I always remember."

It was a short drive to her house, a three-bedroom ranch in a pleasant, older neighborhood with lots of tall trees. Two blocks from her father, who still lived in Mel's childhood home, they lived mere minutes from the cop shop, a feature which appealed to them both. Mel pulled into her narrow garage and pushed the button to lower the door.

Inside the house, she tossed her keys on the buffet and secured her Glock 22 handgun in the top drawer. After leafing through the mail, a mixture of ads and credit card offers, she tossed the stack down and decided to deal with it later. She was suddenly very tired. A long day had become an even longer night. She glanced toward the kitchen where she'd been preparing some casserole meals to freeze into smaller portions for her and her dad when the call came in. She'd already refrigerated the food, everything else could wait. Tired. She headed down the hall.

Mel pulled the ponytail holder from her long, light brown hair and tossed it on the bathroom counter. She took a moment to scrub the light layer of makeup from her face and brush her teeth. She peeled out of her clothes on the way to the bed, grabbing the oversized t-shirt she slept in and slipping it over her head.

The last thing she noticed before turning out the light was the framed photo of her mom and dad on the nightstand. The poor victim's face from the alley flashed through her mind and she thought of her own mother, pictured in the photo as she liked to remember her—pretty and robust with dark brown hair worn in a shoulder-length bob. She'd lost her hair, most of her weight and all her energy when the pancreatic cancer zapped her. Cruel and efficient, the disease spread quickly and Frannie Curtis lived only three months after the initial diagnosis. It'd been a rough time for all of them, and even though it was eight years ago, Mel still thought of her mother daily. She knew her father did too. They talked about her often, and they were good memories now.

Mel yawned and drew the covers up to her neck. 'Night Mama.

* * * *

Shortly before seven-thirty the next morning, Mel entered the WPD building and rode the elevator to the homicide division on the sixth floor. A latte in each hand, she butted the door open and nodded to the receptionist who was chatting with another detective. Not one for small talk and even less for gossip, Mel kept walking. Everyone in the office knew she was barely civilized in the morning until she'd polished off a caffeinated beverage of one type or another. This morning something light seemed in order, and she'd texted Stone, "latte?".

His to the point reply "k" was all she needed. When he texted back "fried roll?" she replied "k." She hadn't heard her text notification buzz again but when she set the cups on her desk and pulled her phone from her pocket she saw the red light flashing. Mel worked the buttons and read the message as someone approached from the side.

"What, were they out of fried rolls?" She asked as she read his latest text message. "Feebs." She glanced up at him questioningly. "What?"

"Feebs are here," he replied in a hushed tone.

Mel pocketed her phone and reached for her drink, taking a sip before answering. "Henry, it's been a short night and I'm slightly sleep deprived. What the hell are you talking about?"

He nodded his head toward their boss's office.

Mel followed his motion and spotted a tall man in a black suit talking to their captain, Hank Reeder. "Feebs?" She raised her eyebrows at Stone.

"F-B-I." He waggled his brows.

She took another sip and set her cup down. "You do realize it took more letters for you to text 'feebs' than had you just entered F-B-I."

Stone reached for the other cup and punched the drinking spout in. "You're totally missing the point here. He's FBI and where there's one, there are sure to be others. You think they've been sent in to help with our cheerleader case?"

Mel wandered over to Stone's desk and pulled a greasy fried roll and a napkin out of the sack she'd spotted there. She took a bite, savored the fattening, sweet glaze, and wondered briefly how many bites she'd take before guilt got the best of her and she tossed the thing out.

"It has to be our case, there's nothing else much happening right now," Stone continued.

She eyed the dark headed stranger, what little she could see of him from across the room, and shrugged. "Dunno."

Stone's eyebrows continued to dance. "Wonder if he's got any cute, brunette special agents with him?"

Mel grinned. "Like Shemar Moore?"

He rolled his eyes. "I was actually thinking female, thank you very much."

The captain exited his office with the suited man in tow, headed in their direction.

Mel sputtered and wadded the rest of her roll into the napkin, tossing the whole mess in the trash can under her desk.

"Hey!" Stone protested.

"I'll pay you back." Mel turned away from the approaching men and checked her appearance in the small mirror she kept in her desk drawer. She bared her teeth and quickly scrubbed them with a finger before replacing the mirror and spinning around.

"You look fine," Stone assured her.

"Shut up," she muttered out the side of her mouth as her boss stopped in front of her.

"Curtis, Stone, apparently the chief thinks we can use some help on the cheerleader case. He placed a call to the FBI. This is Agent—" he glanced up at the man who had several inches on him. "What did you say your name was?"

The agent trained his gaze on Mel. "Supervisory Special Agent Nathan Willis. Nate." He extended his hand.

She shook his hand, startled by the strength of his grip and, at the same time, the smoothness of his skin. She stared into his bright brown eyes and for a moment, couldn't speak.

Stone cleared his throat and extended his hand. "This is Detective Melanie Curtis, and I'm Detective Henry Stone."

The agent seemed reluctant to withdraw his hand from Mel's but finally did, and turned to Stone. "Pleasure to meet you. I understand the two of you have been working the case. A third victim showed up last night?"

Mel found her voice. "Yeah. It was late, so I'm not sure we have the report yet. But I've got pictures and details from the first two vics here on my desk."

"I was just uploading the stuff from last night to my computer," Stone added.

Willis nodded. "Do you have a room we can use? A small conference room perhaps, with whiteboards or bulletin boards?"

"Sure." Reeder pointed a couple doors down from his office. "Make yourself at home. Let Curtis know if you need anything."

Mel watched her boss retreat, his gait waddling, bald head reflecting the overhead fluorescent lights.

"Let's take everything you have into the war room and get it organized." Willis looked at Stone. "If you could print out some pictures from last night that would be great. Do what you can, then bring them in." He turned to Mel. "Can I help you carry anything?"

Still slightly flustered, she looked at her desk. "Sure." Scooping up an armload of folders, she handed them over. She grabbed her latte and smiled at him apologetically. "Sorry, I didn't know you'd be here."

"No problem. I'm used to lousy coffee. The FBI doesn't make it any different than the police do."

Stone appeared shocked. "Whatchu talking 'bout Willis?"

Mel shook her head. "How long have you been waiting to say that?"

"Since the minute I heard his name." Stone grinned.

Willis stared at Stone coolly then finally let him off the hook and smiled. "I bet you think I've never heard that one before."

Mel paused for a moment to admire the perfect smile—straight, white teeth and lips that curled ever so slightly. I could definitely nibble on those lips. Horrified that she was thinking such a thing about a fellow officer and hoping desperately she wouldn't say something outrageous, she tried to clear her head but her mind felt murky. Get a grip, girl! Shaking off the fog, she leaned in to the agent. "Sorry about that. Please, don't let the lack of a pocket protector fool you. He's a founding member of the Nerd Society."

"And proud of it!" Stone nodded smugly. He nodded toward Mel. "And don't let the recently lightened blonde locks fool you—her nickname around here is 'Black Widow'. They say she kills after mating."

Mel felt the blood drain from her face. How could he say such a thing? Didn't he sense the sexual tension between her and the FBI hunk? She faced Stone and the brotherly expression on his face answered her question. No, he did not.

Sweet, sometimes naive, oblivious Stone. He didn't get caught up in the games people played, she wasn't even sure he understood them. But his investigative skills were top notch and she couldn't think of anyone she'd rather have watching her back. Letting him off the hook, she nudged his arm. "Moron."

Stone's self-satisfied grin widened.

Willis laughed. "Kills after mating, huh?" He shifted the load of folders in his arms and turned toward the conference room. "I'll keep that in mind," he told Stone, and winked at Mel before he walked off.

Mel knew her face flushed bright red, but there was nothing she could do about it. He was gone, anyway. For the moment. As he retreated she couldn't help thinking of the line "hate to see him go, but love to watch him leave". His trim physique looked damned fine in a suit. She wondered how he'd look in a pair of tight jeans. Oh, I think I know. Once again, she had to shake her head to clear it.

"Shoot!" Stone sat at his desk and fired up his computer. "I forgot to ask him if any more of his team are here."

She watched Willis turn the light on in the conference room and begin arranging the furniture. "He didn't go very far. You can still ask."

Stone nodded absently. "You know, he might not be so bad after all."

Mel sipped her latte. "Smells like trouble to me."

"Think so?" He inserted the memory card from his camera into the machine, and began uploading photos.

No, he smells like Aramis or some other musky cologne I can never resist. Mel sighed, and headed into the conference room.

© Copyright 2012 Jamie Hill

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday - How She Does It - Jamie Hill

Today's guest is Jamie Hill, talking about How She Does It.

We all know there are six elements in writing fiction and often fact. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is the plot. What's your take on this?

I've never really thought about it in this manner. I'd originally intended to major in Journalism and worked on both my high school and college newspapers, so I'm very familiar with the 5 W's and How. Applying them to fiction is a new twist for me. But it's very logical, and on closer examination I do answer all these questions when I lay out the rough draft for my novels. It's all part of the planning process.

1.How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

My characters start with appearance. I picture how they look in my mind. As aspects of their personalities come out, I make notes. I'm not strict about this because they change as the story flows, but it's how I start. Usually I have characteristics in mind but sometimes the characters change as I write, which is interesting.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

Characters definitely come before plot, but I have to admit I have an idea in mind when the characters are formed. A one sentence "tag line", if you will, which describes the plot in brief. When I was starting out, I had some publishers who required a synopsis of a story before accepting it. I hated writing those. It seemed to boil my story down to two or three lifeless pages, the bare bones without the good stuff. These days I don't write a synopsis but an outline of basic plot points is sometimes helpful.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

I do know, but only in a general way. As I write my stories often take twists and turns, so sometimes the ending changes. I always have happy endings, so that part's a given. But with my romantic suspense, I like to throw red herrings out right up until the end to keep the reader guessing.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

I usually choose a setting I know but many of my short stories are set in big cities, and I just fudge the details. If something is important I'll research it, of course, but I don’t sweat the little stuff. I've also found using a fictional town makes it so much easier, then I can create street names and businesses and don't have to worry about accuracy!

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

Online tools are wonderful. I remember the days when we had to visit the library for research, and my family owned a set of encyclopedias which stopped just before Kennedy was assassinated. (Good for some purposes, not so great for others!) I find everything I need online these days. I've also asked people I know who live in different places for details that helped me with settings.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

I can't stand to write drafts. I revise as I go along, so much so that my first draft is always very clean. It's just what works best for me.

Thanks so much for hosting me today! Readers are invited to visit my website at I'm also one half of the publishing team behind Books We Love:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Who I'm Reading - Jamie Hill's books by Janet Lane Walters

I'll have to admit I've not read them all but she has some really great cop romances up for people to read. I have read several other of her stories and found they're great as far as tension both sexual and also between people with secrets and problems. You can find a complete listing of her books here.

Of the three Cop In the Family series, I believe my favorite was Family Secrets but the others are also treats to read. So if you like Cop stories and romantic suspense pick up her books and then start to explore the other parts of her writing like Secrets and Lies.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip from Elements of the Novel ala Eileen Charbonneau by janet lane walters

Today the adventure with Eileen Charbonneau's Elements of the Novel ends. This has been a fun book and some very vital clues to writing the novel have been touched upon. Market is the theme of this final chapter except for the Afterword that you'll need to read the book if you want that final bit of advice.

Marketing one's book is the final step to go from writer to author. If the book is put in a drawer and never sent out the only thing a writer can say is that they have finished the book. Even when the book is handed over to friends or relatives to read, this is marketing. Can you really trust these people? On one level you can but often those closest to you don't want to hurt your feelings.

The next step would be to find a critique group. These are fellow writers who are striving to reach the same goal as you are. I've been a member of a group that started sometime in the 1990s but I may be the only original member left. People have moved, found other groups, gone on to great success or given up on writing. Finding the right critique group can spur you on to greater success. The wrong one can burst your bubble.

Depending on what kind of stories you write, there are organizations for many genres of fiction writing. Finding one of these can put you on to the path you want to tread.

The last bit of advice is to study the market and find which publisher produces the kind of book you have written. Then learn their rules for submitting and send the story off to face the professional eyes of a publisher.

The last word here is "finish the book and send it flying into the world." Good luck.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration ala Colette by Janet Lane Walters

"Put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity and destroy most of it." Colette

I don't know about you but this quote really struck me. Have I destroyed scened and even chapters in a work in progress? There have been many times when this has been done while I'm writing. Sometimes a story takes a turn that leads to a dead end and I know I have to go back and find the place where those words I put down have to go. Does this hurt? You bet it does. I used to call this slash and burn but that was in the days of typewriters and carbon paper. Now there's the cut function. This is frequently used at least in the first one or two drafts of the story I'm working on.

There are times when I'm reading something written by someone else and I scratch my head because the scene doesn't fit the book. Just what does this mean? Perhaps this is one of those sections that should have been destroyed.

What Colette is saying here is don't be afraid to destroy words that you've written and replace them with ones that make the story sing. How about you? Do you often read what you've written and wonder why you wrote that scene, that paragraph, that description? Do you leave it or do you black out those words and press the cut button?

Monday, August 13, 2012

13 August - Week Behind and Week Ahead by janet lane walters

Been a lot of talk on various places I visit about judging writing contests, especially those for published books. Many of these contests are changing and there are a lot of opinionated people out there. I do judge these kind of contests and for those who have score sheets that want you to evaluate various aspects of the writing, I always ignore them when I'm reading the book. I am not an editor or a publisher. Yes, I am a writer and I do have my won style, but when reading other people's works I must put my tastes and my own style away and read the book forwhat I call the "blew me away" factor. Some of the books I read don't reach this peak but the ones that do get high marks in all the categories. Then there are the almost and they get lower scores. Occasionally there are ones that totally do not "blow me awy." Those books will be scored lower and lower. So I don't sweat the various categories of scoring until I finish the book. I am reading these books and hope the writer will make me want to read more of what they write.

As to my own writing. Last week I came within one chapter of finishing the Plot draft. For me this is the important one. While I am finding and plugging the holes in the plot I find the characters are growing and changing. I now have a real idea of what they want and how they are going to either reach their goal or fail. In this case one must discover who of the villains will be around for the second book of the trilogy and where the third book will take up. Though this draft takes longer to write than most others I'm becoming one with my charaters and the place where they exist.

Coming up this week will be finishing this draft and allowing the material to sit fallow for a week or so. This I hate because I always want to rush ahead and finish the book. I do have something to work on that has intrigued me. A story I wrote perhaps 30 years ago and I think might be salvagable and be another to add to my J. L. Walters group of stories that hopefully will be five whenever I can get the rights back to the other stories. Only 2 to go and 1 will be available by the first of the year. That will be wonderful. It's already August. I'd like to get book numero 3 from them and perhaps that will happen.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday's Chapter - The Hollow King - Lyncee Hillard

Chapter 1 from the Hollow King

When Taraly looked down, she tried not gasp at the sight of the body stretched out on the bed. The battle hard face of her father bore deep ugly red claw marks disfiguring the left side. Empty holes stared at her where brown eyes filled with love had once had been. She bit her lip to keep from screaming, she touched the cold skin around his mouth. It sagged making him appear like a fool in his death.

“Don’t look at that broken carcass,” King Hichel commanded. “It gave me many good years but now it’s time to move on. I’m only sorry I leave you at such a dark period in our history and alone.”

His lips never moved. The king was dead. She scanned the chamber and located her father’s spirit sitting in the far right corner of the bed. This time she did gasp. What she assumed was a young image of her father sat on top of the coverlet. Brilliant red hair, full and wavy framed a handsome youthful face. One free of the scars earned during countless years fighting the Vertivile. She looked at the man her mother had fallen so passionately in love with.

“Don’t you mean you wish you had a son to pass the legacy on to?” Taraly spat. Remorse for her words made her cringe. She had no desire to be hurtful with her father’s spirit, but she feared losing the battle to control the emotional turmoil raging through her. Showing weakness would not make her father proud in his last moments. She felt like a skirt on wash day, beaten against the rocks than twisted until no water remained.

The spirit chuckled. “Never. I thanked the gods repeatedly for the spitfire daughter they blessed me with. The beauty of her mother and the warrior temper of her father. Do not stay mad at Kevath. His words weren’t meant to hurt.” He paused. “He was never blessed with a daughter and views you as his. The words were meant to say if he could spare you the heartache he would.” The king looked to his left. “I hear your mother calling to me. My time grows short. Listen closely for not only is the future of your kingdom at stake but the lives all those who occupy this place of the living.”

Tears burned Taraly cheeks. She swiped them with embarrassment. The king mere seconds before praised her strength and now she wept like baby seeking its mother for comfort.

“Never be ashamed of tears spent.” Her father’s ghost drew closer. A wide grin formed a deep dimple in his right cheek, she’d never noticed before. “Only a person of compassion is capable of shedding them. It does my heart proud to know I leave this kingdom in such a person’s hands.” The king sighed. “Kevath will give you my sword, and sadly, you’ll find a greater need for it than I. My greatest enemy up until my final battle were merely men of opposite thought and the Vertivile. You, my daughter, will need to slay a vile creatures older than these stone walls. Ones of no heart or soul. You have been chosen to block the path of evil.”

She shuddered at the evil he mentioned. The castle rumbled with gossip of beasts from the darkest of times once again roaming the land. Hunters reported finding large pits filled with bones and half eaten animals. Many disregarded the tales as nothing more than fireside stories to scare children or those of a weak mind. Yet, her father died from injuries inflicted by a beast of legend.

Doubt whispered lightly in her ear, asking who she was to carry a king’s sword? A mere woman? One of mixed breeding. “I will wear your sword with honor.” Taraly lifted her chin defying the imaginary voice. “To the best of my ability, I will seek to make your spirit proud.”

“You already have, daughter. Listen now. Heed Kevath’s words for they will be ones of wisdom. He has had many winters to your eighteen. I have instructed him to take you to seek Grandmother June. Sadly, I lack the knowledge on how to fight these beasts. As the Keeper of the Lore, she will know what needs to be done. Do as she commands.”

“Good bye father,” Taraly whispered as the king’s spirit shimmered. A broad smile pulled her father’s lips wide. She knew her mother’s spirit approached. His eyes twinkled and again he looked happy for the first time since Evelyn’s illness.

The fire popped, showering the room with the flickering shadows of dancing flames.

Her mother’s spirit appeared. “Daughter, you are beautiful.”

“She has your looks.” Hichel pulled his wife close. Long black hair free of braids hung to Evelyn’s waist. Full lips as red as holly berries smiled up at her father.

“Good thing,” her mother chuckled. She turned to Taraly, eyes a bright green. “My time is short, daughter. Your destiny is one of hardship. Trust your shree. It will lead you in love.”

“Love isn’t what I need.” Taraly choked out the words. Her mother cradled a small baby, her brother. Her family sat before and yet she was alone. “An ancient evil stalks our land.”

Tears broke their restraining walls and freely ran down her cheeks.

“It is through love you will conquer the ancient beasts of hatred.”

From The Hollow King – Book 1 of The Night of the Gryphon

The Warrior Queen – Book 2 Available now also

The Prince of Light – Book 3 Available September 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday How She Does It - Lyncee Hillard

Today Lyncee Hillars is talking about how she writes her stories.

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

I love creating characters. They are the heart of my writing. When I'm creating my hero(s)/heroine(s), I make a list of weakness and strengths. Also do this for my major secondary characters so I have pages of character sheets before the writing even begins.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

I'm definitely a character driven writer and create plots for them to fit into. I have a direction that the characters are going in. For The Night Of The Gryphon trilogy I just finished, I knew where I wanted everyone to end up and which of their strengths and weakness would get them there.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

Depends on the story. For my trilogy, I knew where each of the books would end as far as character growth but wasn't sure of the event until I had written them.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

Again this depends on my story. For my romance suspense I do mix places I know with those I've researched. One of my recent releases was set in the Amazon jungle – never been there but read tons of articles and looked at the amazing pictures.

My trilogy however is a fantasy so I created everything! It was a blast to makeup the animals, the races, and the landscape.

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

Both. I have a subscription to a travel magazine that is wonderful for jump starting where I may want a story to take place. Once I've decided on the location then I surf the Internet then if I feel I still need more detail on specifics I'll look for books.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

I'm a draft writer basically because I'm a pantser…trying to transform into a plotter. But I really struggle with 'shiny object' disorder so I'm having trouble keeping the excitement of a project going after I'm done plotting. It's like – oh, I know what's behind every tree why bother.

Thanks so much for having me! Please visit my blog at

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thursday - Who I'm Reading - A. M. Westerling

I must admit that I'm a sucker for a well-written Regency historical. I've just finished A. M. Westerling's Her Perfect Scoundrel and thoroughly enjoyed my visit into this Regency with a bit of difference. The characters drew me in and I found being away from London in the story added a new dimmension. The writer had one other story out at the present time The Countess' Lucky Charm. I'll be reading this soon. Too many books to read. What I love about Regency historicals is triggered by my one attempt to write one of these and I really appreciate the effort it takes to produce a book people want to read given all the research that must be done.

So if you love Regency historicals try this writer. I just hope she will be writing more.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wednesday's Writers' Tip - Prologue and Epilogues - Eileen Charbonneau

Once again Elements of the Novel by Eileen Charbonneau is being features for some information on Prologues and Epilogues. I have been accused of hating both of these. That's strictly not the case. What I don't like is when the Prologue has nothing to do with the story. Or when the Epilogue is so long the words could have formed a chapter on its own. I've seen Prologues that are spot on. Ones that give me information needed to show something from the past that's important to the character. Or one that sets up the world I'm going to enter. So if you're going to write a prologue, make it important.

Now speaking of Epilogues. The ones that turn me off are the ones that begin 3 months later or six months or a year. Ones that show the reader what's happening with the characters. Often found in romances, they bother me. I always feel that if the last chapter doesn't make me feel these people will be happy ever after the Epilogue isn't going to do it. An Epilogue that grabs me is one that makes me want to read the next book in the series. That is a clever use of the afterword.

So if you're tempted to write either of these, make sure the Epilogue or the Prologue is necessary to the story.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Ray Bradbury

"First find what your hero wants, then follow him." Ray Bradbury

When I read this quote, thoughts collected. What does the hero want can extend to what every character in a book wants, especially if you write books with a number of main characters. Ensemble books bring more than one character to the fore of the story. And each of these characters wants something. Sometimes these desires mesh and sometimes they act in opposition. But I've found the characters desires often drive my stories in new and interesting ways.

But I've found what really drives the stories is what the characters want. Sometimes my characters tell me they want something but it turns out that isn't exactly what they want. Often discovering their real want takes several drafts or more to realize what the character really wants. Atleast it's that way for me. There are some writers who know this from the beginning and I kind of envy them but that's not my way of doing things.

In my current WIP, the hero starts out wanting to remain as a Defender and he faces being banished. But he has made promises to his dying father. Is that what he really wants? I'm still not sure. Also the heroine starts out wanting to escape duels. She wants to be a healer. As the story progresses her goals are changing. One day her real want will come into view and the story will completely click.

I never have problems with the goals of the villains. Their desire is always to win. Often the bad guys in my stories come alive sooner than the other characters. This doesn't mean they're one dimensional but what they want is simpler.

What about you? Do your heros, heroines and villains know exactly what they want when you start the story? Do you have to spend time with them before you really know what they want?

Monday, August 6, 2012

6 August - Week Behind and Week Ahead

Found an entire novel I'd written years ago and shoved in a file cabinet. Began looking it over and I can see why it was nearly discovered. The writing isn't completely wonderful but there are many moments where the story comes alive. Now what to do. This story is probably 80,000 words in length and is a carbon copy done on yellow paper. Part of me wants to jump in and start working on it immediately but I do have a current WIP to move ahead on. I will figure this out in time. This is another YA kind of story so I will start to work on it slowly and surely but I will continue with my current WIP. Impatience will get me nowhere.

Last week I went over the halfway point on the Plot Draft of Lines of Fire. The story is shaping up and so far I've managed to shrink the plot holes from ocean liner size to perhaps rowboat size. I'll soom be finished with this draft and then it will be time to continue. Last week I forgot to remind the Friday Saturday blogger about her material.

This week I'll manage to nearly finish the Plot draft of current WIP. I'll be doing a bit of promotion and there will be a critique group Tuesday evening. Could be a steller meeting. Haven't heard from 3 of the regular group but some respond slower than others. Looking forward to hearing what they're doing with their stories.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

How She Does It Rochelle Weber plus excerpt Red Rage

Today, Rochelle Weber is telling us how she writes her stories. With glitches from blog maven and guest both Friday and Saturday's blogs are combined.

Hi and thank you so much for hosting me on your blog. I hope my answers are helpful.

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

Of the two books I’ve published, one was somewhat autobiographic, and the other started as back-story for a couple of the secondary characters. They sort of took over and became their own book, which I ended up publishing first. My current WIP is also rather autobiographic. I majored in creative writing in college and I asked one of my professors if we wrote from our experience how we differentiated between memoirs and fiction. He said, “Write it the way you wish it was.” So, that’s what I do.

My ex-husband worked outages at various nuclear power plants around the country. I gave up a good job, dropped out of college and we followed him on the road to try to keep our family together. When my oldest daughter started fourth grade, she was enrolling in her eighth, ninth, tenth school? I’d begged him to settle in one place and stop moving. He dumped me in a town I’d never heard of 750 miles from home because he “couldn’t stand my mood swings.” Later, I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. In Rock Crazy, Katie’s husband takes her to the Moon and dumps her. Katie knows she’s bi-polar and there’s a doctor there who can cure her. Scott stays close by hoping she’ll have the surgery, planning to ask her to come back to him when she does. I wish my ex had taken me to get help instead of just dumping me. I wish there was a cure—a chip they could implant.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

I guess the characters come first. Certainly in the case of Rock Bound, they did. I started working on Rock Crazy and then decided I wanted to write a couple of paragraphs about the political prisoners who originally settled the Moon. Katie looks down on them until she realizes the people helping her when she finds herself stranded after Scott dumps her were prisoners. So I started a paragraph or two about Annie and Jake Johnsrud and the next thing I knew, I had a whole book about how they were arrested and what they faced when they arrived on the Moon.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

Usually I have a beginning and an end before I start a book. It’s the middle that bogs me down sometimes. I’m a pantser and I sometimes get lost on the way from point A to point B.

3. 4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

The settings are pretty much in my head. I designed my Moon base with curved walls because I thought they would need to follow the curve of the walls of the shuttles transporting them. The heroine’s apartment in Crystal Lady, my WIP resembles the apartment I lived in when I started losing weight. The rock star she meets in treatment lives in my dream house—the floor plan I’ve envisioned for “someday when I’m on all of the best-seller lists or I win the lottery.”

4. 5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

Google is my friend! I can find anything I need without leaving my desk. The only thing I use a book for is grammar. I have two style books—the Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk & White. Everything else comes from on-line sources. When I have a question, I just look it up and go back to writing.

5. 6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

I’m a compulsive reviser. I guess it comes from having majored in creative writing in college. Our professors said the most important part of writing is rewriting, so of course we were required to do a lot of rewrites. We also would write in class, then type it up at home and bring it into the next class. Needless to say, what I wrote in class or on the El on the way home never made it back to class in its original wording. It always got revised when I typed it out. I also went through the days of working from typewriter to computer without a scanner. Things changed then, too. I wish I could say I write every day, but there are days when I have doctors’ appointments and I don’t get any writing done. If I skip a day, I re-read what I wrote the last time I worked and end up revising. I guess I’m just a revising fool. ;-)

This is the beginning of Rock Crazy.

Abandoned, pregnant and bi-polar, Katie McGown’s going crazy on that God-forsaken rock the Moon!

Red Rage

Champaign, Illinois

September, 2065

They were on Earth, at a bar near Champaign, Illinois, part of the Chicago metropolis, which had sprawled across the Midwest and even down to Cairo, Illinois, where it merged with the equally sprawling Greater Memphis Area. They were there to sing karaoke, and Katie McGowan was ‘sober,’ as usual. She was on too many medications to mess with alcohol.

She didn’t remember, later, what the woman said that triggered her. She didn’t remember deciding to react. She just remembered the hot, red rage. And the split. She watched herself do it as The Voice kicked in.

“You can’t do this,” it said. “This is inappropriate behavior.”

Katie tried to stop herself, but she couldn’t. Her arm rose, as if of its own accord, and poured the pop on the woman’s bleach-blonde, over-processed head. The woman came off the stool and shoved Katie. She flew across the room, seemingly in slow motion. Of course she threw her right arm out to break the fall, and she still hit her head on the floor. But the pain in her wrist was worse than the headache.

“I told you not to do it,” The Voice said. “Now, at least stay down. Don’t try to fight her. You’ve already lost.”

Katie lay there gasping for breath, smelling the old, stale, spilled booze and beer that had seeped into the floor. Someone helped her up. It was Scott, her husband, and she was wrapped in his arms while holding her wrist. The woman wanted to come after her again, but people restrained her.

The screaming started. Katie cowered in Scott’s arms screaming and screaming and screaming, while The Voice told her to stop acting this way, and people tried to restrain the angry woman, pop dripping from her soggy bangs.

“Get her out of here!” the manager demanded.

“Looks like her temper matches her red hair.” She heard someone comment.

Scott half-carried her outside. She was hysterical and still screaming. The other woman followed them out to the car.

“What the fuck’s wrong with you, you crazy bitch?”

Katie couldn’t answer. All she could do was scream. Just scream. No words, just that high-pitched wail that was a good octave above any note she ever managed to reach when she sang.

“Now why can’t you reach this pitch when you sing?” The Voice asked. “Stop it or you won’t be able to sing at all. Ever again.”

She threw herself across the hood of the sky-car, feeling its warmth. She kept screaming, and the pain flared in her wrist again. Her throat was sore, and her voice was going…gone. The screaming subsided, and she began sobbing, hoarsely. Damn it. Her physical voice really was gone! The Voice was merging into the background, but now her mother was there. Linda Snodgrass had been dead for over five years, but she still appeared and yelled at Katie.

“You stupid bitch! I told you ladies don’t fight. What the hell did you think you were doing?”

“I don’t know why I did it, Mama. I think I broke my wrist,” she mumbled.

“Serves you right.”

“I’m sorry, Mama. I’m sorry.”

“Quit whining, or I’ll give you something to be sorry for.”

Her mother faded away, and she started hearing what was going on around her again.

Scott was there, and the manager, and the woman who had shoved her, and several bystanders, but all she could do was cry and say, “I’m sorry,” over and over.

“Who’s she talking to?” the woman asked. “She really is fucking crazy!”

“Katie’s bi-polar.” She heard Scott explain.

“Get her out of here!” the manager yelled.

“I’m so sorrrrrreeeeeee,” Katie wailed hoarsely. Someone stayed with her while Scott went back inside to get her sweater and his keys. She was powerless to stop this stage, as well. The sobbing and apologizing would go on for another hour or so. It was part of the pattern. She would apologize to everyone she met. And she would cry until she dehydrated herself and ran out of tears.

Scott came out of the bar and handed her sweater to her. She reached for it with her right hand and dropped it. He picked it up and put it across her shoulders. Then he unlocked the sky-car and helped her into it.

“Your wrist’s swelling up fast, baby. I brought you some ice from inside.” He handed her a bag of ice wrapped in a bar towel. “Your eyes look more red than green right now, and you’re so pale your freckles really stand out on your nose.”

“I’m sorry, Scott. I’m really sorry.”

He was oddly supportive this time. “I know you’re taking your meds. I’ve been giving them to you myself. And you still went off.”

“W-why?” Katie sobbed. “W-why? I’m s-sorry. I’m s-so s-sorrrrreeeee!”

“I don’t know. I don’t think the meds’re working,” he said. He reached over to pat her hand, but she was holding her right wrist, trying to cushion it and keep the bag of ice steady

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday - Missing Guest for How She Does It- so a bit of my stuff

Since I haven't heard from the guest I expected for today and tomorrow, I'll put up a bit about my latest release the final story in the Affinities Series. Last night when I spoke to grandchildren in Florida I mentioned to a grandson that I had the paper copies of Confrontations. The child went will and begged for me to send it. The interesting thing he told me was that he will re-read the other three books. This is a child after my own heart. Re-readers units.

Confrontations and the Affinities series is loosely based on my grandchildren. Their names are changed slightly and parts of their personalities are a bit different. This si because of their Astrological signs. Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Their birthdays fall one in each of the signs. Since I began the books I've gained three more grandchildren and have worked them into the story as they appeared.

The series has been a fun one to write and I'm waiting to hear my grandson's take on the entire series.

If my guest who didn't come arrives, I'll post both of her things tomorrow but if not there will be a chapter from Confrontations.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday - Who I'm Reading - Liz Matis

If you like a spicy read with a lot of humor, pick up one of Liz Matis's books. Playing for Keeps shows a a football star and a reporter finding love with a lot of heat. Then there's Love By Design giving us a TV hostess and her new co-star, a sexy Aussie with lots of humor and hot sex. I have her third on my reader and will read it soon. Going For It. You can find her books here.  So if you choose love spiked with humon, look up her books.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Tell and Show - Elements of the Novel - Eileen Charbonneau

We're probably all been told to show not tell. I know I have at least a dozen times. But there's nothing wrong with using some tell in your story. Our early days of reading or being read to gave us a lot of tell in the stories. What Eileen Charbonneau has done in this chapter from Elements of Fiction is to tell us what the element of show in our stories can add to the depth.

Telling can be static but it can be dynamic so don't take out all the tell in your story, One place is moving characters from one scene to another. You could say John left the house and went to Megan's. Or you could add a little touch that gives a hint of why he's going or what he's feeling. Tell is giving the facts. I once critiqued a story where the entire first chapter was in the tell mode with the character leaving his home and giving in detail everything he saw along the way. After a time I wanted to know what was happening here. That's where show could have helped.

Why does a writer need show in his stories. The first reason is to engage the reader by giving them a picture of the character's nature. Show can have the character interacting with the setting and giving a focus to the story. Show can trigger a memory and produce a hopefully short flash into the past. Show really is what brings a story to life and helps with the pacing.

I often look at my rough drafts and realize most of what I've written is in the tell mode. I have been known to make what will become a scene and express it in a single sentence. There's a fight scene here. They make love. When I'm working on the other drafts I have to go through and show what is happening in these scenes.