Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What comes first?

I've been slacking. *sigh* It's been hectic this past month or so. Although I've been busy, I've read a book a week. I make sure to. Most of the time I read on the bus and while I wait for the computer to boot up (because it's sooooooo slow). But I finished a book yesterday that I had to wonder just what made it so good that I finished it in two days. It wasn't the writing itself. That was quite... well, we won't get into that. lol. I mean it was good, but it just didn't have that spark and at times seemed a bit dramatic.

But the plot? OMG so good. I couldn't put the book down. It didn't matter that I wanted to smack a few characters around because they were so annoying. It didn't matter that there were some scenes I just wanted to skip. The idea behind the two chars and the plot itself, was great. And it had me flipping page after page with anticipation, wondering what would happen.

I can't say that this happens if the opposite occurs- that is, if the writing is fabulous but the plot is eh. I suppose there are some that hook me but for the most part, it doesn't grab me as much. Which is surprising because I am such a character driven writer/reader. I'm all for plot but it's the characters that I love or am more invested in. But for the most part, it's just not the same. I can think of a few books where the plot was horrid but the characters made me WANT to flip because they were soooo good, but I don't have many examples.

In one book for example, the character was tormented. He'd been through so much that you just WANTED him to find that HEA. He went through so much that although the story was a big disappointment, I could not put it down. I did, however, flip through the chapters that he wasn't in because they just didn't interest me. I wasn't there to read about the fluffy extras in the plot. I wanted to read about HIM and his heroine.

So what is the balance then? What comes first? Characters or Plot?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Organizational systems

Someone told me yesterday that she follows the 'the busier she is, the more she gets done' rule. This boggles me. I'm not sure I follow under that way of thinking. I have issues. I can juggle a fair share but I'm pretty much at my peak right now with the learning curve of the job and then editing/writing at the same time. My job is not a 8-4 kind of job. Yes, those are the hours in the office but it is not uncommon for work to be brought home. In fact, it's just part of the job. It's not something you can just shut off and walk away from because there are always files you can send yourself or synopsi to work on.

My friend has a family. Add that to the mix. I can't even fathom how she does it all. I honestly don't because her kids are doing so many interesting and great things.

I'm part of a group called the Accountability Goals (AC Goals) I suppose. Since I've joined, I've become a lot more productive than I was. I was a procrastinator (I still have my tendencies) and it took years to get anything done with my novel because it was always...'oh, I can do that tomorrow. I had a rough day'. And although that does happen where life does butt in and take over, most days, I'm getting more done. I have a daily writing goal (this week it's to work at least 30 mins a day on Fatal Temptations). Not too hard right? Definitely doable. I knew this week would be heavy at work so I adapted my goals. Some days it's to write 5 pages. Some days it's to edit. The second part is a daily writing life goal and blogging is one of those for the week, as well as write up queries and synopsi and crit. So many things fall under these categories.

I'm not a spreadsheet person. I've seen some very elaborate, very organized ones and I must say I am floored over those who can be THAT organized. My sense of organization or knowing what to do is more of writing up lists and going about things as what is the top priority and what isn't. I do lists... and I am usually fairly good at knowing what I need to do.

Granted, my brain doesn't always remember but 8 out of 10 times I'll remember something that needs to be done. We discussed this in AC at one point and some I remember set alarms... or reminders to come up on their computers. Others had the spreadsheets that just wowed me... or used calendars. It's hard because I don't HAVE a system. I do up lists and that's about the extent of my planning. But I'm always interested in finding new ways.

Do you have a certain system that helps you be productive? What makes you cross of things on your to-do list?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The many faces of a hero

My favourite heroes are not the easy kind. They aren't golden boys who get everything handed to them. My tastes in heroes run a bit dark. I'll admit that. I love a story with a tortured hero (I don't mean physically but there should be something that hardens him). Something unique that draws my attention. The most unique hero on tv right now is Dexter, a serial killer. Movies- I'll consider Severus Snape from Harry Potter here because I've always liked his character and although he's not the hero hero per say, he's still in my opinion one because of everything he's gone through. X-men: Wolverine. Supernatural: both Sam and Dean play a good tortured hero- one who has been to Hell and dealt with the horrors there, and the other who has to deal with being addicted to demon blood. Being addicted...brings me to House. How could one forget him?

They aren't neccessarily classical heroes... that knight in shining armor but they are more interesting because of all that they've gone through. And I really would not say no to being saved by Dean or Sam... just sayin'.

I was watching Dexter the other day and wondering why exactly he's so compelling. I mean, he kills people. Granted, bad people but still. It's bloody and cold and... some of his lines are just chilling. If I met someone like him on the street you bet that I'd turn tail and run. But on screen it doesn't take away from my liking him. Yes he kills. Yes, he doesn't feel. But he grows and changes and those transformations are fun to watch.

This doesn't mean I don't like the classical hero. I'd rank Ramses from the Anita Peabody here. Same with Roarke in the JD Robb, In Death series. Yes, they've gone through so much to get to where they are, but they are still a classical hero. This doesn't take anything from their appeal however and they are examples of those who don't need that twist to be compelling.

I don't necessarily think it's the Bad Boy Syndrome either. I could do without that kind of attitude. So what about you? What kind of hero do you like? And what does it take to chase you away from a "hero"? When does a character cross the line from hero into villain or jerk?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thursday Thirteen

Monday the 14th is Excerpt Monday so I hope you don't mind a bit of pimping. This thursday 13 I want to talk a bit about EM.

1. Showcase your writing. EM is a great opportunity to:

2. Share with other writers.

3. Get new readership. Last month alone we had 40 participants. This doesn't include those who don't participate but are simply readers.

4. Network and get traffic to your blog/site.

5. Have a burning question about whether something works? Ask! I'm sure readers would be more than willing to tell you what they think.

6. Who can do EM? Anyone. Are you pubbed? Unpubbed? Aspiring? Do you have a new release coming out? Want to try out something new to get a feel of how your readers will take this change? Seriously, anyone can do this. We accept all ratings. We simply ask that you give us the rating of your entire site since we do have some PG writers out there and we wouldn't want their readership going to a NC17 by mistake. This is mostly why we rate the whole site, and not just the excerpt. Excerpts may be PG but if you have other posts or even images that aren't... it safest to rate the whole site for everyone.

7. What can you post? Anything. Fiction. Poetry. Be creative but the main thing is that you have fun. Seriously.

8. How long do you need to post? Really it doesn't matter. We've had people post a paragraph whereas others have put up pages. It all depends on how much you want to share with readers.

9. We've streamlined it to make it more user friendly. Like anything, things take time to learn and buld and figure out. There are learning curves to everything and this is no exception. We've stumbled a bit along the way but we're determined because Bria and I love this concept.

10. Soon to come we plan on showcasing our regular authors, hosting themed weeks, and a page for serial reads etc.

11. What do we need to set you up? Your penname, genre, site rating and the specific link where your excerpt will be posted. Excerpts should be posted 8:30am EST. Bria and I will then be going through links to make sure they are working and fix those that aren't. At 9:00 am EST Excerpt Monday goes live to readers.

12. Want to read a success story? Check out Jeannie Lin's story about her first participation in EM in which she received a particularly exciting comment from a stranger about her excerpt.

13. If you're interested and want to join us this month, please visit our site by clicking on the banner and checking out our guidelines.

Excerpt Monday Logo


I realized the other day that I never did update about how I did on the Secret Agent contest. Not only did I get in, but I got some fabulous advice. Some, like anything, I'll take with a grain of salt, others, were more helpful. Although mine wasn't one that was chosen by the Secret Agent, I learned a lot (which is the main thing) and had a great time reading the entries of others. Will I do it again? You betcha. Why? Because there's no better way to get the thoughts of so many people all at once. Everyone has their likes and dislikes. There's another contest going on right now so if you're curious, please, check out the site.

Also in other news, Excerpt Monday is kicking off once again Monday the 14th so if you are wanting a chance to showcase your writing with friends, please do send us an email at by Sunday the 13th. Bria Quinlan and I are always excited to come across new writers. Who can join? Anyone! Doesn't matter if you're published or non-published. Doesn't even matter if you write poetry or whatever. Guidelines have changed a bit so please check out the guidelines. The main point: have fun!

Monday, September 7, 2009


I have an addiction.

There. I said it. I have an addiction and I'm not entirely sure where it started. You see, I have a problem with adventure style games like Final Fantasy or Age of Empires. It's one of those mindless games. Ok I'm sure others would disagree quite heartily but yeah, I can sit and just build the castle up and create troops... I started a game the other day. It's online and therefore free. I've joined an alliance and my castle is doing quite well.

Have I done much writing-wise? No, not really. I'll admit I've let that fall off the map a bit. I did however finish a scene today for Fatal Temptations. I'm quite happy about how it turns out, even if the characters aren't. Why? Because now I have more room and it sets the stage for more and I couldn't do that when they were all over each other. I needed a reason to separate them.

Anyway (I go off on'll notice that I'm sure, if you haven't already), part of the reason I like these games... it's because it allows me to daydream and "plot" in the loose sense of the word. I'm sure I've told this story before but that's how I got my first novel idea, through playing Final Fantasy and Medal of Honour.

So here I sit waiting for my level 5 warehouse to be built (another half hour) and for my gold levels to get higher before I can upgrade my wall to a level 6. And what is popping up in my head? Oh yes, little plot bunnies... I want to write a medieval. Paranormal preferably. Time to slot that down in the ideas folder.

What about you? What addictions do you have?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Thursday 13

I'm a how-to nut. I'll admit that. As a writer, because I don't know everything, I'll often google. I was in the wiki-how to the other day and thought I'd share some of their articles.

13 how-to articles

1. I'm actually surprised there are so many 'how to kiss, how to remove a hickey, how to know if a guy/girl likes you' articles
2. Get rid of fruit flies. I'll admit I searched this one. I got swarmed with them when I got back from vacation.
3. Hack a coke machine... just because never know when it'll eat your money.
4. Pick a lock and with household items. I suppose cracking a combination lock would also fall under this one. I've also checked this one out before when a character needed to break into a place.
5.Pass a drug test... another thing I looked up for a scene
6. Cheat a lie detector test
7. How to calculate PI by throwing frozen hot dogs (ok this one just amused me)
8. Ok this one also amused me: do nothing. Um... you need an article to know how to do nothing?
9. How to calculate your age by chocolate (ROFL!)
10. Start a fire with sticks (cause my chars are out in the middle of nowhere without matches or lighter)
11. How to tell if it's a two-way mirror
12. Because one of my chars does this... build a fish tank out of an old tv
13. Escape from handcuffs. Just cause... you never know when you may be in such situations... like two of my chars who are handcuffed together and are on the run from trackers in the isolated mountains...

What do you write?

I'm a rule breaker.

I don't like being held in rigid confines. I'll admit that and when told I can't do something for instance because I haven't done it before, it well frankly, brings out the stubborn streak in me. I wanted to talk a bit about genres today. I am a prolific reader. I'll read romantic suspense, mystery, thrillers, paranormal romance, urban fantasy and even some sci-fi/fantasy. I started out reading thrillers and horror but they are just not for me.

Not anymore at least. I like being scared... and I don't like being scared at the same time. It's a thin line that I always walk. I'm the one who will watch paranormal episodes late at night in a pitch black room and then once it's done, get freaked out and thinking something is 'there' and will want the tv or something on for a source of light. I remember reading these horror books in public school. A couple stories have stuck with me over the years and I remember them... so there are things like the basement (because there's no door to go down there) that I'll just wonder if there's something down there, staring up into the kitchen... or I remember vividly a story where this teen was showering late at night and some creature broke through the bathroom window and went off with her. Um...yeah. Those stories are still in my head. So could I write horror? I probably could. I have the imagination for it. But it's not for me.

Sci-fi/fantasy I read a bit of. Not a whole lot. I enjoy it at times but could I write it? No. There's too much worldbuilding even for me to create and there's too much freedom there. I don't like rules to box me in but at the same time, I need some kind of invisible lines to keep me in check. I love though that almost anything goes and you can create new worlds.

Mystery I also like reading. And I'm thinking about the Anita Peabody series here. LOVE that series to bits. Elizabeth Peters weaves a story that captures my attention every time. Could I write a mystery like that? No. I don't even fool myself into thinking that I could. The amount of detail that has to go into it... and the plot twists, not possible for me. I'd love to, but I know my limits and there are only so much I can keep track of. I also think that any forensic thrillers and historicals fall under this as well. I'd love to write it, but I couldn't.

Romantic suspense... now that's something I love and do plan to write. I have the stories. They're all bottled up in my mind, but at the moment, they aren't exactly on the priority to do list. I love the tension... how some of the great authors can build up the tension slowly and have it all spiral at the end and completely hooks me.

No, as a writer, I know what category I fall under. And I belong in the paranormal romance/urban fantasy realm. There are just enough rules to keep me on track, and enough freedom to do what I want. I love the what ifs... where else can you write shifters or psychics and even vampires? I may not write vampires, but at least there is the ability to be able to write them should I want to.

What about you? Do you fall under a certain category? if so why/why not?