Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Beta Males: Hidden Gems?

Pop on over to Romance University to see my latest post on Beta males.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Subtext: Adding Hidden Layers to Your Story

Have a lull in the action? Tired of opening presents? Jump over to Romance University to read my article about subtext. I promise it's not as boring as it sounds.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Winter Wonderland in Chicago

Welcome to Chicago. The land of high humidity, dead grass, plunging temperatures, mounds of snow, and ice. Lots of ice today.

The road crews have done an amazing job keeping up with the inch of ice piled on top of three inches of snow. It's beautiful and treacherous. And my boxer/husky mix is wondering what kind of nasty trick we're playing on him as he does the Bambi dance outside our backdoor.

Take a look at these photos...
You can really tell what direction the wind was coming from.

These river birch are straining against the weight

Beautiful, isn't it?

Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Romance University Blog

After months of long-distance brainstorming and ironing out the multitude of details, we're one month away (May 18) from launching our new group blog, Romance University.

Who's the "we," you ask? Fellow writers (aka Faculty Members) Adrienne Giordano, Kelsey Browning, and yours truly, that's who.

We started with a kernal of an idea, which blossomed into an exciting, breath-taking project. RU is dedicated to helping writers establish and advance their careers, introducing readers to a variety of authors, and delving into the ever-inscrutable male mind.

Quite an undertaking, don't you think? Well, we're going to have a wee bit of help from a multitude of authors, agents, editors, and whatever insanely caveman-like guy we can pick up off the street.

Here's the class schedule:

Mondays: Crafting Your Career (Covers the business of writing)

Wednesdays: Anatomy of the Male Mind (Any number of crazy topics can come up)

Fridays: Chaos Theory of Writing (Focuses on the elements of manuscript writing)

Check out our new logo and "alumni" stamp for Visiting Professors (guest bloggers) to put on their web sites, or put in their recycling bin--whichever works best for them. :)

We were fortunate enough to work with the amazing Jeannie Ruesch for an image that reflected romance and learning, but one that wasn't genre-specific (i.e., romantic suspense, romantic comedy, historical). We wanted something with clean, simple lines. I think we succeeded.

Please stop by on May 18. We're working on a great line-up of visiting professors. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Me

Last Saturday, I attended Susan Elizabeth Phillips' (SEP) one and only book signing for her re-release, Glitter Baby, and her new release, What I Did For Love. Her wit and gracious attitude held over 100 fans' rapt attention for almost an hour.

SEP generously introduced her Windy City RWA sisters, and joked with her forum regulars. While SEP read hilarious passages and challenged the crowd to name the book, her husband tossed Starbursts to the lucky winners without poking any eyes out. Amazing.

Some technical genius streamed the whole program live on the Web, and SEP answered questions from the audience as well as folks writing in from the Web. Isn't technology wonderful?

At the end of the hour, she signed a ton of books and smiled for fan photos. It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Year, New Book, New Read

I never make resolutions. Of course I tried many years ago, but after a few weeks all my good intentions would fade away as February came into view. What I did do this year was create a set of writing goals, which I shared here. Goals I know how to deal with. I'm an HR professional, after all. Resolutions don't seem to carry the same weight in my mind. There isn't enough guilt attached to a resolution. Guilt is a super motivator for me.

So, one of my goals was to begin a new book. The first book in a series of four. I've never written a series before. In order to organize my thoughts, I developed detailed character profiles for the first and fourth book and summary profiles for the second and third books. Unlike my first two manuscripts, I feel like I know my hero and heroine better this time around. I have to imagine that this will create depth and richness to my characters early on in the books. We'll see.

Starting a new book is both exciting and terrifying. I love starting a new project. It rejuvenates my spirit, stimulates my mental juices, and gives me something new to look forward to - The End.

So, after several weeks of research, I can sit down today and begin writing again. Why so much research, you ask? Well, I stepped away from the Regency era and tiptoed into Victoria's reign. New words, new costumes, new technologies. But I'm ready now to begin, especially after a writer friend of mind reminded me not to get bogged down by the research. You can always go back for the little details, she said.

Another goal of mine is to read more. Between my full-time job, a new house, a new puppy, a neglected husband, and writing part-time, I had little time for one of my greatest loves - reading. Where I used to read 3 books a week, I'm now scrambling to read one book a month. Nonsense, I say!!

I'm starting out the year strong, though. I just finished one book and now I'm moving on to another. I'm really enjoying Kresley Cole's newest release Kiss of a Demon King. Kresley's heroine is so evil. Love it!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The "G" in GMC

Yep, I'm talking goals again. Not the annual kind, though. Nope, I'm interested in one of the three building blocks of good story.

Debra Dixon in her book, GMC Goal, Motivation & Conflict, states that readers expect a book to answer four simple questions:
  1. Who = character

  2. What = goal

  3. Why = motivation

  4. Why not = conflict

Sounds easy, right? Not for every writer.

Let's break it down a bit more. A character's goal is what she wants above all else in the story. A husband. Independence. To find her brother's murderer. A good goal will be something she doesn't have yet.

Debra Dixon says the best goals are the ones that are important and urgent. Ones that drives a character to act against her own best interest and endure hardship to obtain it. Something unpleasant will happen if she doesn't reach her goal. Amp up the volume of your story by making the goal urgent. Something that needs action NOW.

A character is much more interesting to a reader if she has both external and internal goals. Having both, creates an intriguing, multi-layered character. And it forces your character to make lots of decisions. Some will be good and some will be bad. The bad decisions create conflict. Readers love conflict.

Stay tuned for more on GMC!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Goals for 2009

Today's topic is near and dear to me, being a Human Resources Manager. Every year, I strong arm my agency's department heads into setting annual goals not only for themselves, but for all their employees, too. Just three goals. That's all I ask for them to complete in 12 months time.

Like all humans, my organization's employees operate at different gears. Some accomplish all their goals and then some. Others are lucky if they accomplish one. Of course, there are many factors that arise in a year's time that can prevent us from meeting our established goals. When obstacles are thrown our way, changing our priorities, we either magically adapt to the new situation and move forward, or we sit idle in our misery. Those who do not adjust to change are invariably the ones whose performance ratings are lower, which affects their merit percentage. Those are the employees that break my heart. The ones that resist the inevitable, the logical, the progressive. I simply want to shake them into action, but alas, I do not. I shake my head instead and hope they'll eventually come around.

Oddly enough, as a writer, I've never sat down and written out a list of goals I'd like to accomplish for the year. Granted, I've only been at this a few years, and during my short stint as a writer, I've been mostly interested in seeing if I could complete an entire manuscript. Well, I've done that. Twice. And, although I thought I was serious about writing, I realize now that I stepped into this career only halfheartedly. I didn't have a PLAN.

Not so this year. I'm still focused on completing a manuscript, but this year, I'm determined to knock out a brilliant piece of writing. Plus, I'm going to begin building my career--step by little step.

So, without further ado, here are my 2009 goals. Wish me luck in accomplishing all of them.

1. Land an agent
2. Finish writing/editing Turn Back Time (short story) by February 2009; Submit to Publisher XYZ by April 2009
3. Enter Dangerous Expectations into 2-3 contests based on agent/editor participation
4. Wait to hear back on agent submissions for Dangerous Expectations—if no takers, submit to a few select editors before shelving
5. Finish research on Warrior series by February 2009
6. Write a rough outline for each book in the series by March 2009
7. Begin writing first book in the Warrior series by February 2009; Finish first draft by July 2009; Begin querying by October 2009; Enter in Golden Heart
8. Finish brainstorming and decide on group blog
9. Attend Lori Foster’s Get Together in June 2009; introduce myself to at least one agent and one editor
10. Attend RWA National in DC—hang out with my wonderful CPs (A&K); introduce myself to at least one agent and one editor
11. Support my CPs in any way the need
12. Participate in Writing GiamX4 weekly
13. Post 2 entries a month on my personal blog
14. Critique 3 chapters a month for HHCritters
15. Read one book a month for pleasure (Working full-time, writing part-time and spending quality time with my husband makes this an incredibly difficult goal to accomplish, but I shall persevere!)
16. Develop a 5-year career plan

Have you set your 2009 writing goals yet?