Sunday, November 21, 2010

First Round with my New Mentor

This is my first blog week since I had the awesome huge news that THE SOLDIER won romantic suspense writer Brenda Novak's mentoring contest. She's published forty novels - many, many bestsellers - and she's going to read mine, three chapters at a time, and guide me through the fixes. Last night Miss Bossy Boots and I read stories with fairy godmother-equivalents from Germany, China, and Russia. It seems like I've found a real one from Sacramento.

I've had one wonderful phone call already and received Brenda's initial feedback to incorporate into my Golden Heart entry. For lots of people Thanksgiving means turkey, cranberry and relatives. For unpublished romance writers, it also means hurry and mail that entry to Texas. Run to Kinko's, check the collating of each packet, put on those clippies, count everything one more time, and then hit the FedEx desk.

Brenda suggested including more internal thought, especially from my hero, which is extremely hard for me. I'm not a very introspective person in my own life, so pulling thoughts out of the deep hearts of my characters is a big reach. Also, she hopes for a stronger sense of place because I've nailed the Army stuff but I should pump up the Afghanistan setting. On rereading my pages, I completely agree. Fifty pages with one reference to heat, two to mountains, and one to dust. Realistically dust should be on every page. Dust should fall out of the manuscript into readers' laps, Afghanistan as a 4-D Imax movie. But I'll look for a happy medium with respect to sand and dust. Third, Brenda suggested I be more specific about the passage of time between or during scenes. Right again. The challenge for me is to add specificity without constantly writing "Three hours later" or "The next day." When I have a challenge like that, I randomly pull a bunch of books off the shelf and look at chapter and scene transitions and try to learn from the greats.

I can do this. I am doing this, last night and tonight as soon as I finish this blog. (Legal stuff: Photo of Marines in Afghanistan by Lance Cpl Brian D. Jones. See more great photos at this Flickr photostream.) Side note: It is snowing in Seattle! Right now, out my window. Talk about distraction!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Let It Ride

Do you like to gamble? Do you live your life from one Vegas vacation to the next? I confess, I’m not much of a gambler. I know how to play all the games, I know the odds (I’m a math nerd, it’s in my DNA), but when it comes time to throw your money on the table and let it ride… I just don’t. It’s not that I’m afraid to. It’s just that I like being in control. I like taking risks in ways where the resulting success or failure depends on my skill or, more often, on my skill and luck.

Pinochle, hearts, poker – those are my kinds of games. But those are all the games where you are pitting your skill (and luck) against someone else’s rather than against The Fates.

I feel like the appeal of craps and roulette and those games which depend entirely on the roll of dice or the plunking of a little ball is in throwing yourself into the hands of the Universe and letting it do what it will with you. I haven’t ever done that, but maybe I’m missing out.

(Is anyone else humming Luck Be a Lady to yourself right now or is that just me?)

In my new release, The Naked Detective, my heroine Ciara has been cautious for years, never taking a chance. Then she takes one and it works out for her so… well, she throws herself into the hands of the Universe and lets it ride. Ciara becomes an instant gambling junky, high on the thrill of her first win. And when she keeps on winning…. Oh yeah, we know how dangerous that is. She spins right out of control, but is that so terrible when the last thing you want is caution?

It’s an adventure to give up control of your life, throw yourself into the hands of Fate and let go – and if you aren’t feeling quite that daring yourself, you can live vicariously through Ciara. ;)

Are you a risk taker? Does gambling make your heart race or your stomach drop? What’s your favorite way to throw caution to the wind?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Finally... a Series!

This just in, from Julia Quinn's website:

On Sale Now

The Smythe-Smith girls finally get their heroes.

Look for Book #1 in the Smythe-Smith Quartet
early summer 2011.

Is anyone else RIDICULOUSLY thrilled by this news? I still remember mowing through the Bridgerton series one rainy weekend in college. My gal pal and I were reading different books in the series, but we kept laughing in tandem over the Smith-Smythe musicales. Always something to look forward to, those musicales...

One can only hope that Lady Danbury makes a triumphant return in the quartet. LOVE that sassy old dame!