Join my newsletter for info on upcoming books, classes, appearances, and discounts.Join Now!
Fun, sexy reads

Fun, sexy reads

Looking for fast-paced, sexy romantic suspense with military heroes? Blind Fury (#1) is a hot friends-to-lovers story in D.C. Blind Ambition (#2) is a sexy, second-chance romance on the run in the Caribbean.

Learn More

Scrivener Training for Everyone

Scrivener Training for Everyone

Need help with Scrivener? I provide Scrivener training to individuals and groups all over the world through online courses, in-person workshops, and private training sessions.

Learn More

Resources for Writers and Scrivener Users

Resources for Writers and Scrivener Users

A great reference for new and experienced Scrivener users, a guide to software and apps that help with productivity, and essays on every facet of writing from the Writer Unboxed contributors.

Learn More

Veteran’s Day reading list

To celebrate Veteran’s Day, I thought I’d mention some of my favorite authors who honor the men and women who serve–or have honorably served–in the armed forces by writing about them.

Suzanne Brockmann‘s Troubleshooters series is devoted mainly to Navy Seals, as well as heroes and heroines from military, law enforcement, or clandestine services. Her characters are complex, brave, imperfect, and irresistible. If you wish Flynn and Baldacci put more romance in their stories, Brockmann is for you. High passion and high stakes.

The High Risk series by JoAnn Ross features heroes from special forces (Navy SEALS, Air Force CCT), as well as some military heroines. While she has a similar style to Brockmann, her books are more focused on one main story at a time. Hot and fast-paced.

For a more light-hearted approach to Navy SEAL heroes (yes, they are popular right now), try any of Christina Skye‘s contemporary books. Still hot, with a dash of humor and spunky heroines. Fun reads.

I suppose the Special Ops types are more fun to write about, but I salute everyone who has served in our armed forces in any capacity. From Mission Support and Finance to Medical and Maintenance, no matter what your role, you are important and appreciated. Thanks!

The Daily Squirrel: a blade of grass

She plucked the blade of grass from the carpet of green along the soccer field, and ran her finger over the rough leaf. She remembered a time when she and Eddie lay in the grass, plucking dandelions and laughing at how silly teenagers were. Then one day, Eddie became a teenager himself, and left his little sister behind. It was as if he’d stepped through a doorway that she couldn’t enter, and closed the door.

The Daily Squirrel

squirrelYears ago, when I was in Toastmasters, we had a member, Ken, who was truly a remarkable speaker. Anytime we had an unfilled speaking slot, he would give an impromptu speech using a random topic from the audience. His most memorable speech was about gray squirrels. He gave a humorous, completely off-the-cuff, 7-minute speech about hunting squirrels as a kid. True? Who knows? Impressive? Absolutely.

In honor of Ken’s “squirrel speech”, I’ve started a (mostly) daily exercise that I call “The Daily Squirrel”. I think of a random topic (my squirrel), and then try to write a short scene around it. You can do this while brushing your teeth or waiting in line at the grocery store.

As an example, I chose a water bottle as my squirrel, and here’s what I came up with…

He reached for the water bottle tucked into the truck’s console, but it slipped from his grip as he lost the feeling in his fingers. The bottle fell to the floor with a thud, water pulsing out onto the dirty carpet. Every lost drop made him more desperate to quench the fire in his throat as his heart stopped beating and he gasped for his last breath.

Okay, morbid, but you get the idea… To force myself to practice, I’m planning to add a daily squirrel to the end of my (almost) daily blog posts.

Wanna try it? Share your own daily squirrel.

UPDATE 1/14/2010: The Squirrel has gone weekly as it became too time consuming. Look for it on Sundays. Click here to see all of the Sunday Squirrel installments.

No rest for the query

After a week of back-and-forth with my CP (thanks, C!), I finally got my agent query letter honed to a point that I’m satisfied with. Could it be better? Most likely. But, at some point, I just have to get it out there.

After reading articles about specific agents, trolling their blogs and websites, and talking to other writers, I picked out several agents that I think would be a good fit.

My main criteria:

  • Does she represent the subgenres I’m interested in writing?
  • Does she have a flexible approach to working with an author?
  • Is she interested in supporting an author through career changes and growth?
  • Does she take email submissions? (optional, but highly desirable for environmental and cost concerns)

So, today I took the next big step toward publication, and sent those letters (emails) out there in hopes of enticing an agent to ask for my MS. Exciting and scary.

So, the long wait begins. Now back to work!

RWA: Playgroup for romance writers

When my boys were toddlers, I eagerly looked forward to weekly playgroup time. It was great for keeping them entertained and wearing them out, but the biggest benefit was for the moms.

Your child is almost three and still not potty trained? No, that’s not weird. Others have been there. There’s a sense of relief in knowing that others parent like you and face similar struggles.

The same is true with writers. At the readers’ luncheon in Birmingham yesterday, I was reminded of why I joined my local chapter of RWA. Because writing is a solitary pursuit, and being around other writers assures you that you’re not alone, or (too) strange.

During Anne Stuart’s speech, she discussed why she likes being a writer. For example, she could lie down on the bed in the afternoon and tell her husband she’s working. I totally do that! Sometimes when I’m thinking about where I want to go next with the story, I just need to close my eyes and daydream.

And, it turns out that plenty of published authors are pantsers, just like me. During the luncheon, I sat with Lynn Rae Harris, an author for Harlequin Presents, and she assured me that the editors are used to working with pantsers. Whew!

The best thing about being around other authors is that everyone is supportive and willing to share their stories and advice. From novice to long-time-published authors, we support each other.

Just like being a mother, writing is more fun when you don’t have to go through it alone.

The traveling pantser

There’s this notion that every writer is one of two types: plotter, or pantser.

In the extreme, a plotter plans out the whole story from start to finish before she sits down to write. She knows how the story begins, what happens in the middle, and how the story ends, and probably has a detailed outline or synopsis written out before she starts the book. All she has to do is write the full scenes as she moves from A to B to C.

A pantser, on the other hand, sits down to a blank page–maybe with a ghost of an idea–types Chapter 1, and makes the story up as she goes along.

In reality, of course, most of us fit somewhere in between, but we usually lean in one direction or the other. Kind of like politics.

The most surprising thing for me is that in spite of my technical background, and my rather logical, organized approach to life in general, I lean much closer to the pantser end of the scale.

I know who my main characters are, how they meet, what the conflict is–though it’s subject to change :-)–and I even try to plan the major milestones along the way. But, in the end, I go where the story takes me as I write.

I like to compare it to a cross-country trip. If I’m on the west coast, and I want to get back east, I know my goal. How I get there is the adventure along the way. Do I take I-80, I-40, or I-10?

For each new book, I start with a general idea of where I’m starting, who’s going with me, and where we’re going, but only a vague notion of how we’re going to get there.

It’s not always the most efficient method, and I’m trying to instill more structure to prevent backtracking, but in the end, it’s the adventure along the way that I enjoy the most.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Does it surprise you?

POV or POS?

Be honest. Is your WIP GH-ready, or is it a POS? Not sure? Ask your CP for her POV about the GMC and SL in your MS.

If you’re thinking, “WTF?” then read on.

In the military a POV is your Personally Owned Vehicle, that is, your car. There’s an acronym for freakin’ everything in the military. Think Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam.

But, every industry has its jargon and acronyms, and writing is no different. So for my non-writing friends, here are some of the acronyms that I’ve learned this year that may start popping up in my blog from now on. Hey, I’m all about the shortcut.

CP – Critique Partner: The person who tells you if your work is a POS (yeah, I believe that one’s universal)

WIP – Work in Progress: Just like in the world of manufacturing, except the unfinished inventory is the manuscript

MS – Manuscript: Your book before it gets published, whether WIP or completed.

SL or s/l – Story Line: The plot. What happens to your characters between Chapter 1 and The End.

GMC – Goal, Motivation, & Conflict: This was the topic of my first blog. It’s what each major character in a story must have in order to have a great SL.

POV – Point of View: This has two parts. 1) Is it in 1st or 3rd person? Yes, you really should have paid attention in English class. 2) Whose head is the writer in during the scene? Which character’s experience is it?

GH – The Golden Heart: A contest for unpublished romance writers, sponsored by the Romance Writers of America. Being a finalist in the GH gets you noticed by agents and editors all over the country. Unpublished romance authors everywhere are tweaking and polishing their MS at this very moment, trying to get it perfect before the December 2nd submission deadline, yours truly included.

Did I miss any? Too bad, I have to go get caught up on SYTYCD.

UPDATE: Okay, I forgot a few…

HEA – Happily Ever After: To be a true romance novel, and not just a book with romantic elements, the reader must get a happy ending. The hero and heroine don’t have to get married in the book, but a monogamous future must be implied.

RWA – Romance Writers of America: The national organization for romance writers. There are almost 10,000 members, and hundreds of local chapters all over the country.

SM – Southern Magic: My local chapter of RWA which meets in a suburb of Birmingham.

MC – Main character

H/H – Hero and heroine: As in “For a book to be a romance, the H/H must get their HEA.”

ARC – Advanced Reading Copy: early copy of the book that’s given to reviewers, bookstores, and magazines several months before the book is published and formatted for mass distribution. Final copy edits may still be made before publication.

[tweetmeme source=”yourtwittername” only_single=false]

It’s. Her. Job.

Nora Roberts isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. Every time I see or read an interview with her, I’m impressed. Her recurring theme when asked how she manages to pump out five books per year, year after year, is, well…it’s her job.

Or, in typical writer-style emphasis: It’s. Her. Job.

She sits down 5-6 days a week for 6 or more hours and writes. Huh.

You just have to keep writing, even when everything you write sucks, because as she once said, “You can fix a bad page. You can’t fix a blank page.” (Love that quote!)

So, I’m aspiring to be like Nora Roberts. Yes, eventually, a sliver of her success, or more, would be great. But, for now, I’m focusing on being the type of writer she is. Consistent and prolific.

Canceling my Internet service might help.