Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

OK, it’s not a disaster on the same plane as the Gulf oil spill … but it is a major annoyance.

I’ve been editing “Beauty and the Ballplayer.” When I swapped my alternate beginning,  I noticed the word count dipped below 50K. I thought that was weird, because I didn’t think it was that close to the line … but I didn’t think that much about it.

Until today. I edited through most of my MS and discovered that the last 30 or so pages aren’t there. They’re not in the version on my desktop or on my flash drive … or even the “backup” folder on my desktop, the one next to the regular folder I keep the MS in.

Thank goodness I have a printout. I’ll be spending some time this holiday weekend re-typing (and editing) my ending. Hopefully I won’t add in more mistakes than were in there to begin with.

July 1, 2010

Musings, Stories

2 comments

A couple of weeks ago, the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog (one of my faves) was host to a sometimes heated discussion on safe sex in romance novels.

The author of the post, Kelly Fitzpatrick (who you might recognize from yesterday’s post), started the discussion by asking a few questions: “I ask myself, do I write to empower women or am I writing to entertain? Are we obligated to write responsibly? Or does the law of what happens in romanceland, stays in romanceland rule?”

There seems to be no consensus on the subject, at least among the Rubies and their readers.

Since reading that blog post — and the informative and entertaining comments that followed, I’ve been kicking this post around in my mind. It’s one of those things on my “I’ll do it when I get around to it” list.

Of course I believe in safe sex. In this day and age, when sex with the wrong person can end up killing you, is there anyone who doesn’t?

But do my characters practice safe sex? Umm … as they say in “The Wizard of Oz,” that’s a horse of a different color.

I have one set of characters (Brad and Erin) who just use a condom without any fuss or fanfare. I haven’t read through Cassie and Dustin’s story lately, but I believe they, too, just do it (condom use).

Then there’s Bree and Mike, the virgin and the pseudo-playboy. They’re both drunk when they make love for the first time, and their lack of protection doesn’t occur to either of them until weeks later. (First she realizes it, then he overhears her talking with her friends and thinks she’s pregnant.) It’s a huge part of the plot, because when he thinks she’s pregnant, he starts trying to get back in her good graces … after refusing to marry her just because she was a virgin.

When Kari and Damien, from “Blind Date Bride,” have sex for the first time, they’re already married, so no safe sex for them (even though they haven’t yet decided to stay married).

It hasn’t been an issue for Bethany and Cody either, since they’re already in a committed relationship when the story begins. I do know that Bethany has always been Ms. Safety in the past (and she does have quite the past), and Cody also believes in safe sex … but they’ve been dating for nine months and he’s thinking about marriage. Maybe I can handle the issue with a flashback to their first night together.

Meg’s already pregnant (by another guy) when she has sex with Matt, so condoms aren’t an issue for them, either.

She does question her judgment the morning after, when she wakes up alone because Matt had to leave her to go to practice. She wonders if she’s made a “monumental” mistake by sleeping with an almost-stranger. But she decides, “Nothing could be a bigger mistake than ending up pregnant and alone at her advanced age. And since she’d already done that, anything that came after had to be a step in the right direction.”

Drew and Lainy haven’t had sex yet, but they are teachers, so when the time comes, they should set a good example. (They’ve already set a bad example in other ways, though, so who knows?)

My stories are romantic comedies. And while the Rubies have some ideas about treating safe sex humorously, I don’t want to draw too much attention to the unfunny, unsexy side of my characters’ lives. Nothing ruins the mood faster than a red, flashing stoplight: “No glove, no love, buster!”

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: My characters “romance responsibly” when the plot calls for it … and when it doesn’t, they don’t. If that makes them irresponsible in the eyes of some, so be it. (I’ll just have to hope those some aren’t editors and agents who refuse to publish the story because of it.)

Again, I say, just because I haven’t been blogging doesn’t mean I’ve been slacking.

No, I’ve been busy. I had to trim a five-page synopsis to a single page for the Harlequin American Editor Pitch contest. (Amazing what becomes important and what you suddenly realize can be left out when you have to tell the story in one tiny page.) The deadline was Monday and I shipped it off late Sunday night — or early Monday morning, depending on where you live.

We had our NARWA board meeting last Friday, then plot group on Saturday. As usual, plot group was inspiring. Of course, I had to head to to day job when it was over, so I lost that charge of momentum our meetings always provide.

After work Saturday night, I stayed up reading through Bree & Mike’s story until daylight started to seep through the blinds. (Then I slept until 3:30 p.m. Sunday, so I didn’t get to put in any writing time at BN before heading to work.)

When Monday rolled around, it hit me: The NARWA newsletter had to be done. So I stayed up into the wee hours putting it together, suddenly thankful the only Diet Dr Pepper in the office vending machine was super-sized. (This was about an hour after I used my Facebook status to complain that no one needed 20 ounces of caffeine at 9 p.m.)

So even though I haven’t been doing much blogging, I’ve been a busy little writer. Today, I finished a rough draft of a query letter for “Beauty and the Ballplayer.” I also spent some time tweaking the beginning — yes, I finally settled on ditching my opening line in favor of putting Meg and Matt in the same room on Page 1.

Now that I’ve brought you up to date, I’m going to get back to Meg & Matt. After I whacked out the first two scenes, it suddenly became 500 words too short to be an American Romance. That must be fixed.

Thanks to one of my NARWA sisters, I found another contest to enter … a chance to win a pitch with a Harlequin American editor. Since I’ve long envisioned “Operation Snag Mike Brad” as an American Romance, I decided to go for it.

I can’t say I always envisioned it in that line. When I first wrote it, I had the Love and Laughter or Silhouette Yours Truly lines in mind. But since those are both defunct (sadly, if you ask me), I switched to AR.

The entry requires a one-page synopsis — something I’m getting better at writing, I think — and a logline.

Having never heard of a logline before, I did a little poking around at eharlequin.com. Apparently it’s also known as a “concept line” and is designed to give the editor a broad picture of your story.

One way to write one is to start with a well-known storyline, then reveal the twist that makes your story stand out. You can also use a familiar book or movie as your starting point, so you come up with something like “Elle Woods meets the Terminator” or “Beauty & the Beast set in outer space.”

The advice is straightforward enough, but I’m finding myself confused. Maybe it’s just because my MS is a big, confused mess.

I hope not.

Anyway, here’s the logline I’ve come up with so far:

“Operation Snag Mike Brad” blends “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” and “Some Kind of Wonderful” — but in reverse.

In “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” you have a reporter working on a story and using outrageous advice to get dumped. (Erin is a reporter following a book’s outrageous advice to snag “the man of her dreams” while she’s chasing a big story that’ll get her out of small-town Indiana once and for all.)

In “Some Kind of Wonderful,” you have a guy who thinks he’s in love with one girl but ends up realizing he’s in love with his best friend. (Erin thinks she’s in love with Mike but ends up realizing he’s more like her best friend and she’s really in love with with Brad instead.)

So both flicks apply — at least loosely. The “reverse” part is the whole using the book to snag the guy (not lose him) and the fact that it’s the girl, not the guy doing the falling.

I’m still not wild about it. At least I have a few more days to play.