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Friday, June 3, 2011

My Gratitude Journal: Writing Friends

Today I'm expressing my appreciation to all my writer friends. I've learned so much from so many of you. I've enjoyed your books, benefited from your wisdom, learned from your friendship, and improved from your advice.

Debbie Macomber taught me how to write stories that touch the heart without worrying about editors' preference for high levels of sensuality.

Nora Roberts has taught me so much about work ethic and has shown me that a writer can be wildly prolific without repeating herself.

Elana Johnson has offered plentiful advice about the writing business. (And here's a great place to mention that her Y.A. dystopian novel, POSSESSION, will be available in just a few days!)

And these are just a few of the many whose wisdom has benefited me so much. Thanks to you all for all you've shared. May the muses be with you always.

Is there a writer who has inspired you? Please share.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Maggie's Take on Sexuality

As one of those old-fashioned people who believes that intimacy ought to be reserved, at the very least, for couples who have a history together of emotional intimacy and support, I sometimes have trouble with characters who don't necessarily agree with me.

From my work-in-progress MAGGIE RISING, here is Maggie's take on her brother's rather casual love life. In this case, she speaks for me.

“So what’s up, Brother mine? I thought you might be taking your latest lady friend to breakfast.”

“Nah. I was hoping you’d have something good already started, but it looks like you’ve failed me.” He paused, casting his eyes around my small kitchen space. “Wait, what’s this? Haskins Apple Special breakfast muffins? Wo! You’re living high these days, Sis. These things are better than sex!”

“I’ll have to take your word for it, Stud,” I said. Then, just to prove I’m snotty when awakened earlier than I like, I added, “Don’t you ever get tired of passing yourself around like a party favor?”

He grinned. “Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.”

“I’ll wait, thanks.” I grabbed the muffin out of his hand. “Don’t you ever ask before taking?”

He grinned harder. “Sure I do, and they always say yes.”

I rolled my eyes at him. “I meant the muffins, Merc. And yes, you may have one, but only this one that you’ve already mauled. Have some respect for others’ property.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he answered, but he didn’t look the least bit chastened.

How do you like to deal with sensuality in your own fiction writing? Or if you're sticking to reading for now, what level of sensuality do you prefer in the work you read? Write and share!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Interview Your Characters

Years ago I learned somewhere that one of the best ways to get to know your characters is to interview them. In today's tip from the web, I will refer you to author Susie Henderson's "How to Write a Novel" web site, where she covers precisely how she interviews her characters.

While I may not agree with Susie on all her approaches, I find she has done an admirable job of showing how to conduct an interview with a character who (until you publish that great book!) exists only in your imagination.

Whether you're still working on basic fiction writing skills or you're a multi-published novelist who can use a reminder, you might appreciate Susie's approach. Check her out!

Do you have any great ideas on how to work with the voices in your head? Please share them!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rain, Rain, Rain

As a native Arizonan who grew up in the desert with way too little water, and as a northern California who has seen too many years of drought, I'm grateful for the abundance of rain we've had this year, something like 190% of what we expect in normal, non-drought years.

Breaking the drought is good and I'm thankful! I can also appreciate that the folks along the Mississippi have real reasons to worry about more rain, whereas mine are miniscule by comparison.

With all of that said, let it be known that after three straight months with no more than a handful of non-rainy days, I am ready to see the sun again. I don't want the rain to go away -- not ever! -- but I could appreciate a little break.

Thanks, rain! Now can you bless someone else for a little while? Please?

Do you have anything to say to the weather? Share it here.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Learning the Business End of Writing

Let me over-simplify the whole publishing business here to say it has two major parts: the craft and the business end. Let’s further simplify by supposing that you have a manuscript (or a drawer full of manuscripts) ready to go. What’s next?

1. Revise and edit. I’ve heard most aspiring writers say this is the “dull” part. It’s interesting to note that most of the published authors I know call this the fun part. One colleague equated knocking out that first draft to dumping the clay on the wheel. The real skill comes in shaping, crafting and polishing.

If you aren’t up to doing that yourself, make certain someone does, since a poorly revised, little edited manuscript isn’t going to serve you well once it leaves your hands. Expect to pay well for professional services. Two companies I can recommend are Precision Editing and Eschler Editing

2. Learn to write a query letter. Young adult author Elana Johnson ( has some excellent tips and instruction on exactly how to do that. Check her out!

3. Learn about book proposals. Literary agent Rachelle Gardner gives you the basics.

4. Practice professional etiquette. Notorious stories have circulated about aspiring authors who follow an editor into the rest room and pass a manuscript under the stall. Folks who pull such brazen stunts can expect to flush their ambitions. Behave like a grown-up, remember the Golden Rule, and you should be fine.

There is so much more to learn! Think of tax rules, how to manage your queries and writing schedule, etc., etc., etc. My hope is these few tips will serve as good reminders for me and will help you get started.

Do you have a “business” tip to share? Please do!