Showing posts from July, 2011

ROW80 Check In, Steampunk, Plot Bunnies and Murder Mysteries

antster or plotter?

As a dyed-in-the-woolwrite-by-the-seat-of-your-pants author, who's tried - and failed - to ever outline a story, I find it interesting that this past week has seen me try three new things:

1. starting a murder mystery short story (I've always wanted to write a mystery)

2. plotting a list of 5-10 scenes that are necessary for the story (including whodunit)

3. drafting the scenes linearly

Is it a full moon or have the planets aligned in syzygy or what?

The one thing I did do is stick to my current time period (Spain and Turkey, 1492-3). I had all these visions of leaping into a story involving characters from the Sparkly New Idea, set in 1930s Ontario and Quebec, but I resisted!

One the other hand, I keep getting assaulted by steampunk imagery, most recently at the Cirque du Soleil show Totem. I can't find a good photograph from that, so here's my favourite steampunk Dalek:

What to do, what to do?

Does it count as steampunk if there are plot bunnies i…

Lavender Fields and Book Reviews


Had a day off yesterday, from work and writing, and visited the fields of Bleu Lavande. I'm squinting into the sun in this photograph, otherwise there'd be a happy, relaxed smile on my face.

Did I mention I had the day off? I returned home late and instead of resting even further, dove back into editing. Finished entering all the changes I'd made on paper!

Still have a raft of square brackets to clear up, though. Unfortunately, these are the most difficult ones. They say things like "add tension", "what's hero doing?", "what's the worst that could happen?" and "throw rocks!", which derives from a recent post by Adam Heine.

My latest book reviews are up on the 100 Romances site:
Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye
Maybe This Time by Jannine Gallant

Speaking of which, Karen Gowan is creating a link list of book reviewers! If you feature reviews on your blog, send her your link.

Liz Fichera's Craving Perfect and Other Happy Links

y review of Liz Fichera's Craving Perfect is up on 100 Romances!

And another link - visit for literary news, reviews and interviews. One recent blog posts featured a review of the Steve Coogan (I mean Alan Partridge. I mean... Ah-ha!) and Rob Brydon film, The Trip.

Roni Loren's having an epic giveaway of lots of swag to celebrate her two year blogiversary!

Joanna Bourne is choosing banners for her updated website... Look for Black Hawk, Adrian's story, in a few months!

Porch Conversations, another gorgeous post over at From The House of Edward.

Denise has a detailed review of Ann Best's memoir In The Mirror. That book's at the top of my wishlist.

As for ROW80 - I've got 15 pages left in editing! I'm at the end of the novel! There are lots of gaping holes and repeated words and trite conversations! These are exclamation marks of panic that I'm sprinkling!

Need some comic relief:

Medeia and Adam's Contests and Remember Your Sucky First Drafts?

ill (that snowflake is to help us cool off during the heat wave) had a post recently wherein she shared a snip of an earlier draft, showing how her characters had changed.

Well, Jill, this one's for you: the first scene I ever wrote featuring Baha. I had no idea who he was yet. In this draft, he's much older, and largely undefined, beyond his faith. I had no idea about his family's background, or his own.

It all came about during a writer's exercise on the forum, set by Claire. She gave us a list of characters, conflicts and genres, and we were to choose one from each column and write a scene. I twisted it to fit my wip, and ended up discovering my hero, though I scarce knew that at the time. For one thing, I still thought I was writing YA...

"1. Inciting incident: Rose lands on the quay at Constantinople. She has no luggage beyond a pocketful of stuff. Her travelling companions, Arcturus the monk and Joseph the love interest (there's more to him than that, of …

The Summer of Skinny Dipping, The Fellowship of the Ring, Dumbledore, Outlander, Gilead (Which One's Not A Book Title?)

ost everyone has a To Read pile. Mine comprises about 10 stacks, half by my bed, the other half scattered about the library (and listed down the left hand side in the Books To Read Before 2015 list. I'd better get cracking). I've also got a wishlist on and on, as well as in my email. My LibraryThing catalogue is a few hundred books out of date.

So sometimes, books fall through the cracks. I get really excited about a book and buy it/find it/receive it as a gift, and then for one reason or another, don't begin reading it right away.

This is what happened with Amanda Howells' The Summer of Skinny Dipping, which Medeia Sharif reviewed and then sent to me.

But a few days ago, seeking something new, I maneuvered the piles around, and picked up this book - and couldn't put it down. If you're a fan of Norma Fox Mazer or Katherine Paterson, this book is for you. It's soft and warm and bittersweet and, even though I half-guessed at the ending th…

More ROW80 and Literary Resolutions Update

ow that all the films are over (and I've been rereading the books all this time) I have no reason to slip in Snape references, do I?

Thought not.

I do have one piece of happy #ROW80 news - all the editing I've been doing and I'm still in love with my characters and story! That has to be a good sign, right?

July's literary resolution was to "spend two hours a week working on one long piece. This could be a rescued piece discovered in May or something new."

I still have a rediscovered short story that I'd like to edit and try submitting somewhere, but all my energies have been going to editing Out of the Water to ready for querying.

Here's the blurb in its latest incarnation:

Exiled from her Spanish homeland by the Inquisition and separated from her family as they flee their home, 18 year old Rosa must place her life in the hands of a stranger from the Ottoman Empire. Baha, estranged from his own father and returning to his homeland after ten years, is h…

Working Really Hard!

ounds! It's nearly nighttime and I still haven't updated my ROW80 status. This time, I don't even have excuses - I've been working all weekend!

Finally cracked 140,000 words; I'm at 139,932 at the moment and hopefully going down. Only 50 pages left to go of square bracket and highlight clearing and then I'll have a clean manuscript to read.

A little daunting, actually.

Out of the 10 Reasons Why Writers Might Drink, number 6 is the most like me: "You're sure you've finished polishing your manuscript. Sure. Positively, absolutely sure. Then you see the phrase 'this writing sucks, this writing sucks' mid-way down page 53."

This is what I'm scared of; what if I go back to reread the whole story and find it's awful?

But no, no room for that sort of thinking. Must... keep... going... Butt in chair, right? That's the only way to finish a novel.

Hope everyone's had a great (writing) week! For inspiration:

Beedle the Bard's T…

Rereading While Waiting for the Film

reacher's Tale.

That's the chapter I'm on right now in my reread of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (can't see the film tonight, unfortunately; have to wait for my sister to come to town, so I'll be seeing it - I hope! - on Monday).

I remember reading an interview once where Rowling mentioned that the filmmakers had decided to cut Kreacher when making The Order of the Phoenix, and she said no! you're going to need him later on!

It boggles my mind to think that the directors and producers hadn't read the entire series before embarking on the project. Books are always better than the movie versions (99% of the time), and that's one of the main reasons why: authors are fully invested in the story and can see all the nuances at a glance. Filmmakers? Not so much, at least when their film is based on a novel or short story. But why don't they care?

Yet even Peter Jackson and The Lord of the Rings... Okay, I won't go there. How many times can we -…

Google, Neptune, Houseparty Wrapup and JC Martin's Great Contest

our and my favourite plus sign, Google, asks What Do You Love? A new way to search when you're looking for videos or maps or blogs or... instead of real research.

For instance, you could look up Neptune, which just completed its first orbit since it was discovered in 1846. If you lived there, you'd be celebrating your first birthday!

All houseparty all the time around here, I know. But it ties into A Round of Words in 80 Days, this time.

Not only was Ron Wodaski's Mall at the End of Time an amazing, exciting, unexpected location to hang out in (I churned out 39,180 words and some of it was backstory that's directly usable in the wip), this month marks the first anniversary of the Cherry Hill, Georgia houseparty, hosted by Zan Marie.

Which means... one year since I rediscovered my love of writing romance, one year since Rosa's affair with Lord Rochester, and one year since I started writing Rosa's story in earnest. Now I'm *gasp* 20 pages away from finishing…

ROW80, U2 and Lollygagging

on't know if this post will even come through - Blogger seems to be acting up again, not letting me leave comments.

Which is a shame, as everyone seems to be doing so well on their writing projects and A Round of Words in 80 Days goals and I'd like to sprinkle some congratulations confetti!

On the other hand, maybe it's a sign that I should stop lollygagging and get on with edits. If I buckle down, I think I can get another 20 pages of square brackets cleared up today. Then I've got a few linking scenes to type up. I've got no excuses, now that our houseparty is over.

Well, I do have one excuse. I've got mosquito bites all over my hands from being out on the balcony for an hour yesterday, listening to the outdoor U2 concert, which the wind carried over to us, starting with New Year's Day (link to very shaky video). I realised while listening that U2 involved a lot of firsts for me, including the fact that they were my first ever concert (in 1992) and the fi…

Award and 250 Followers!

m, yes, I know I've been blabbing about the writers' houseparty. It's winding down now; all we've got left to do is save the universe.

One of our contributors, Ron Wodaski, has a lovely poem over on his blog.

And hey, I just noticed - I'm at 250 followers! *pauses to catch a breath*
Wow. Thanks so much everyone. May the writing and blogging and fun continue for us all!

And thank you to Su for the cute award!

I've got to list five books/films/TV programmes I've experienced in the last 12 months. Being me, I'm going to mention five books, sort of:

Aww, I should have waited till 15 July, then I could have mentioned Harry Potter. But I did reread Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Tales of Beedle the Bard before the last movie.

Then there was the anthology Songs of Love & Death, which featured a new short story by Diana Gabaldon.

Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L Sayers. I love England in the 1920s!

I read some more Cat Who... books! I still haven…

ROW80, Flogometer, Vocabulary Quiz and Other Wordiness

heck in number one.

No editing on Out of the Water yet. I hope to visit all other ROW80ers sometime between now and Sunday, though!

Both projects have been derailed by the festival cum explosion cum drafting fest cum everybodydancenow that is the writers' houseparty at the Mall at the End of Time.

Here's a wee snip, featuring Rosa and Baha. Rosa's never seen a swing before, and they've just discovered one in the middle of the gardens on one side of the Mall:

"What should I be afraid of?"

He gave her a squeeze then pushed her off his lap. "Take a seat, Peri, and I'll swing you."

Glancing warily at him and then at the seat dangling from cold metal chains, she sat, tucking her skirts up underneath her. The cross bar the swing hung from was very high above her head.

"Extend your legs as you fly out, and tuck them under as you fall back," he told her, moving around behind her and placing his hands at her waist. "Ready?"

"Ye - …

Round 3 of A Round of Words in 80 Days

ound 3 of A Round of Words in 80 Days begins tomorrow!

Here's the long history and details of the project, but in short, ROW80 lets you set you own goal.

"You take whatever project you are working on, in whatever stage it is in, and you figure out a goal for it, share it with us in a blog post that you link to when the challenge begins, and you join our community of dedicated writers and fellow cheerleaders."But don't forget - this is the challenge that knows you have a life. So ROW80 allows you to change your goal should you need to. Easy, right? And you know every little bit of accountability helps you keep that butt in chair!

Click here to sign up for Round 3 of ROW80.

And oh yes, me. Here's what I've got going on and what I hope to accomplish with it:

First week of July - writers' houseparty on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community: I've thrown my two heroes in with one of my main villains and am trying to learn as much about their motivations a…

Severus Snape. That Is All.

everus Snape!

I have nothing original to say today, but yesterday, thanks to Theresa Milstein, I discovered these satirical Harry Potter film posters.

I re-posted a few of the Snape ones on my Facebook wall and Theresa called me on it (what she actually said was "I had no idea you had such a crush on Severus"), to which my reply, in writer-speak, was "he has the greatest character arc".

And it's true, he does. I'll never again recapture that moment when I first discovered, along with Harry, Snape's true motivations, but each reread makes me cry all over again.

For more Harry Potter fun, check out Laurel's Leaves on Wednesdays!