Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

This is a week for firsts — first guest blog post, first three-minute-straight run (as part of the Couch to 5K program). I might as well add another one to the list: My first Six Sentence Sunday post.

In my WIP, “Diva in the Dugout,” Dave and Mel had one wild night together before she snuck out in the gray light of morning while he was still sleeping. Since she insisted she didn’t want to know his name, she had no way to let him know she ended up pregnant — until they bump into each other at Dave’s baseball game five years later. This is the moment Mel confirms Dave’s suspicions about his fatherhood.

Enjoy the six sentences below:

Her daughter’s father arched an eyebrow. “Cat’s got your tongue, eh?”

Get it together, Mel, this isn’t brain surgery. She offered him her widest, flirtiest smile. Maybe the charms he’d fallen for once before would soften the blow of the bomb she was about to drop. “Welcome back to Texas, Daddy.”

P.S. I just want to say, it’s a lot harder to pick out six sentences than I thought it’d be.

Long time no hear from me, eh? I might not be blogging very much these days, but I’m still writing, writing, writing my free time away.

All that hard work is starting to pay off, though. I have a completely revised/hopefully ready for submission version of “Operation Snag Mike Brad” out with two beta readers, now that my CP’s done with it.

I’m also headed to the Desert Dreams conference down in Phoenix tomorrow. It’s my first one, even though I’ve lived in northern Arizona since 1999. I’m looking forward to that experience — even if I haven’t quite finished my packing yet. I’d best get on that. I just wish it didn’t involve searching my car — in the pouring rain — for my sandals. Think I’ll move the car into the garage before I start the search.

Also on this morning’s too-exciting agenda before I head into the office for an 8+-hour day? A haircut, possibly a trip to Target for new sandals, and writing time at Starbucks. Yep. Still busy as all get-out.

I set a new deadline for myself: Finish a new, improved draft on “Diva in the Dugout” in time to submit it to Avon Impulse by May 30. Hey, if they’re looking for stories featuring ballplayers (among other things), I have the perfect story for them.

That vacation week I had to burn in May is starting to look more and more fortuitous. I’ve worked at the Daily Sun so long that I have four weeks of vacation time … and nowhere to go for all but one. So we just put me on the schedule for a random week in May.

Now I know how I’ll be spending that week of vacation!

It’s too quiet around here. What are you up to these days?

February 13, 2012

Musings, OSNB

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No doubt about it, writing is hard.

First off, it’s not easy to make the time to sit down in front of the computer. Life — in the form of work commitments and family time — so often gets in the way. Yet we do it week in and week out. Why? Because we love what we do, hard or not.

Getting the characters in your head to behave on paper can be even more of a challenge. My characters, at least, have a penchant for doing exactly what they want instead of what I’d like them to do. I implore, beg, plead and sometimes resort to trickery and still they take off in their own, often unexpected direction.

But the hardest part of writing, by far, is revising.

I know, I know. Plotters will argue that having a road map before writing would eliminate the need for so much rewriting. That may well be true. Alas, I am a pantster through and through. More than half the time, I start scenes with no clear idea where they’re going. They begin as a way to work in a particular line of dialogue or funny situation.

That’s how I wrote my first manuscript — and is no doubt why it’s giving me fits in this, its fourth revision. As I go back in to beef up the “scandal at the hero’s school” conflict (completely nonexistent in the first draft), I’m finding entire scenes that no longer have a point and will have to be excised. Good scenes … funny scenes … but they just don’t fit.

You know what they say: If it does not fit, you must —

Wait a minute. How’d OJ’s lawyer get in here?

But seriously, folks: A scene that doesn’t work anymore simply must go. On Saturday, while sitting at a table in Starbucks, I ended up hacking two scenes — about 2,000 words total. Hence the “ye-ouch” in the title of this post.

It’s painful — really and truly grueling, to strip moments I love from my story … to “kill the darlings,” as it were.

But if it strengthens the story and leads to a publishing contract, I’ll get over the hurt. (Don’t tell Brad and Erin, my hero and heroine, I said this, but it’s even kind of fun to torture them a little bit.)

January 27, 2012

Musings, OSNB

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I’m afflicted — cursed, if you will — with being that most heinous of attributes: Nice.

Too nice.

Some people — normal people — might think nice is a good thing. And that is, indeed, the case when you’re dealing with fellow human beings. A little kindness can go a long, long way.

But when you’re an author trying to make life difficult for your hero and heroine, a nice streak as wide as the mighty Mississippi just gets in the way.

Trust me, I know. That’s my CP’s main complaint with the MS she’s reading for me right now — and it was the main point of one of the agents who gave me detailed feedback on my 2011 Golden Heart finalist.

Obviously, it’s a problem for me.

I think it boils down to this: My characters are like old friends (some of them very old, having been knocking around my head since the mid-1990s). As I wrote in a guest post on the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood last spring, they’re folks I’d enjoy meeting for coffee or dinner.

And because I like these people, the last thing I want is to see them suffer.

But suffer they must. In the words of my CP, I need to  “Make them wiggle. Make them squirm. Make them unhappy. Uncomfortable. Put roadblocks in their way. Conflict is what drives a book and keeps the reader wondering how they will ever end up together.”

I can see her point. There’s not much keeping someone reading if they know the hero and heroine are meant for each other halfway through the story, is there?

That means I have to accept that torturing my characters — as much as I hate to do it — will make the story stronger in the end.

So I’m taking off the gloves. Now I just need to figure out how to channel the meanest person I know.