Thursday, April 29, 2010

My New Book Cover!

Whoo hoo! I'm so excited. I just received the cover for my new book, CALL OF THE WILDS. It will be released from Siren in June but I couldn't wait to share. I think cover artist, Jinger Heaston, did a fantastic job.

Here's a brief description of the story.

Veterinarian Karin Stone leaves the crime-ridden city for a job in the Pennsylvania Wilds, working with the only wildlife she can trust—the four-footed kind. But when she loses her heart to a hot-blooded alpha, she becomes the target of a jealous she-wolf.

I'd love to know what you think.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Talking About Anger

The edits for Call of the Wilds are finished and now it's back to revising the first draft of Mating Season. I'm on chapter five and so far it's going well. You'll see the word count on my progress meter increasing as I add in sex and setting.

My heroine is a cranky she-wolf who loves to bait the hero. She angers him in a hundred different ways and I love showing her actions and his reactions. Sometimes I just want to say, "she angered him." Last night I came up with a list of verbs I can substitute for anger. There's quite a few, each with their own subtle meaning.

aggravate, agitate, anger, annoy, bait, bother, chafe, devil, disturb, enrage, exasperate, frustrate, gall, harass, hassle, heckle, infuriate, incense, irk, madden, mock, needle, nettle, pester, pick, provoke, rag, rib, ride, ridicule, rile, taunt, tease, torment, vex...

I took it a step further. She's half animal, so how about using animal names to show her human traits. She badgers him, dogs him, outfoxes him...

If you can think of more, let me know.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Trying to Get My Acts Together With the Weekend Novelist

Part I of The Weekend Novelist starts out talking about change. Ray says - "the writing world has changed but plotting stays the same." Plot is what happens in your story. It has a Beginning, a Middle and an End. It can be thought of as three acts. Our first assignment was to make a sketch for a linear plot.

I'm a pantser. Linear is not in my vocabulary. But I plunged ahead, determined to learn how to make plotting easier. I was relieved when Ray compared the exercise to building a bridge – the engineer starts with a sketch and it blossoms into a blueprint that charts the rest of the course. I know blueprints. I was a draftsperson in my previous life. I could do this. But things aren't that cut and dry in the literary world.

This is the skeleton sketch – a rising line that represents action rising to a climax. Next step - add character names, objects, weapons, landscape, and action verbs. Don't worry about being messy. It's part of the creative process. Start searching for the bones of a novel. I expected ideas to flower and a plot to take shape. It did, but it left me more confused than ever. I started with a bare bones idea for an urban fantasy that takes place in a city. I looked at that line for a long time, jotted down a few things and suddenly it didn't feel right. My heroine wasn't in a city, at least not one on Earth. I wavered, I crossed out, I rewrote. My sketch was unintelligible. Is it supposed to work this way? Maybe my heroine isn't on a linear quest. Maybe I should wait for next weekend – plotting on a curve. I'll let this percolate for a bit and fool with the above sketch again. Hopefully after next weekend I'll have my acts together.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pumping Up My Verbs

So, last night I went over some pages from the first draft of Mating Season and tried to get them in shape for critiques tomorrow. I looked for grammar and punctuation mistakes, overused words, weak verbs...

Oops! There's one on the first page.

Jude forcefully pulled the pillow from his arms.
Forcefully pulled. Yech!! An adverb and a weak verb = boring. I racked my brain and pulled out The Synonym Finder.


Each one has a slightly different meaning and creates a different picture. If you can think of more, I'd love to hear them. I'll keep a list on the sidebar for reference.

By the way, I decided to go with yanked. Much better.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Starting My Journey With The Weekend Novelist

This past weekend the Rose's Colored Glasses loop started The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray and Bret Norris. We're using the revised second edition to guide us through the development of a new novel - writing on weekends. I wish I had this book when I was working the day job because it's perfect for writers who are struggling to find time to write while holding down a full-time job.

First assignment - read through the introduction and get geared up. The intro is filled with good stuff like:
                      Structuring your writing sessions
                      Finding your workspace and writing time
                      Collecting your writing tools
                      Adding useful books
                      Warming Up
                      and much more.

I'm psyched. The WIP is going to be an urban fantasy - a tough heroine, pitted against an evil adversary. And of course there will be blood. I'll be posting updates on Mondays as we go through the book. I hope you'll take this year long journey with me.

If you don't have the book, check out the website The Weekend Novelist.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Does anyone remember Marjorie Morningstar?

Does anyone remember Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk? I was going through email this morning and my newsletter from had a reference to the book, a love story published in 1955. Boy did it bring back memories. I read that book so many times I literally destroyed it.

Marjorie is a seventeen-year-old girl who leaves her middle class Jewish family to pursue her ambitions of working in the theater. She finds the love of her life in Noel, a brilliant writer and entertainment director at a summer stock camp known as Southwind. I became totally caught up in her dreams of becoming a Broadway star and Noel's wife.

The timeline is the 1930's to the 1950's and accurately portrays the era. It's a timeless classic, a real coming of age story with unforgettable characters - her conservative Jewish parents, a comical uncle and her best friend, Wally. The end is bittersweet and I won't reveal it in case you want to read the book.

In 1958, it was made into a movie with Natalie Wood and Gene Kelly. The movie is good, the book is better. In fact, I'm going to look for a used copy online right now.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Much Maligned Wolf

I love animals and I love writing about animals - especially wolves. I've been fascinated by fangs and fur since the first time I watched Lon Chaney, Jr. transform into "The Wolfman." I always sympathized with the werewolf. Chaney had the ability to make me feel his anguish and suffering. When he transformed I knew he was still inside the hairy beast and deserving of sympathy.

When I look at the wolf, I see past the predator to the grace, beauty and spirit inside the animal. They're devoted to their families - hunting, playing and protecting each other. We can learn a lot from them. So why are they so hated?

I picked up the March issue of National Geographic and read a great article by Douglas Chadwick:
Wolf Wars: Once Protected, Now Hunted.
Telling both sides of the story, he writes about the reintroduction of wolves, how they have a positive influence on the ecosystem and at the same time cause fear and resentment in people who lose their livestock to wolf depredation. So the fight goes on as we try to find a way to live in harmony with the much maligned wolf.
You can read the article and see the photographs on the National Geographic website.

For updates on the aerial killing of wolves and bears in Alaska visit:
Defenders of Wildlife

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blogging - Time Well Spent!

This past week was a busy one. When I wasn't working on edits for CALL OF THE WILDS, I was tackling the three B's - babysitting, book reviews and blogging. It got me thinking - why do I blog?

Keeping a blog eats up a lot more time than maintaining a web site because a blog is really an online diary - a journal that has to be updated constantly or you'll lose readers. I have two blogs. Camp Swampy is where I post book reviews. I try to post several times a week on each blog. Sometimes it feels like a lot of work for little return. So why do it?

Some people make money from their blogs by having space for advertising and banners. Others may sell products - their own or for another company. But what about the rest of us who aren't looking for financial gain?

First and foremost, I like connecting with people who share the same interests. Sure, there are social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. They're great ways to connect but they're meant for short messages. A blog is where you can really expound. I use the other sites to let people know when I post something new on my blogs.

Second, a blog helps build credibility. It's a way to let people know I'm serious about what I'm doing.

Third, I like the idea that what I write might help or entertain someone else. I've gotten a lot from other blogs and I hope I can pass that on.

Fourth, I believe blogging improves writing. It's no secret that the more you write the better you get. Practice makes perfect, after all. I've been blogging on Camp Swampy for years. I look back at some old posts and cringe. I've come a long way.

And last but not least - It's fun!

So that's why I blog. I'd love to hear your reasons.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Another Step Closer to Publication

Tuesday morning I received the edited manuscript for CALL OF THE WILDS. I did the happy dance and then put it aside to babysit my grandsons. The boys are cute as can be and when I'm with them it's all about them. Believe it or not, I didn't turn on my son or dil's computer once. (Why can't I use that willpower to stop biting my nails?) Anyway, we colored, played cars and made pretend cakes in the sandbox. When I came home, there were 279 emails waiting and two Savvy Author workshops to catch up with:
Ten Ugly and Unfair Truths about Publishers, Publishing, and Promotion
Story Structure for Romance Novelists by Larry Brooks.
Then I checked my crops in Farmville and settled in front of the TV for a full night of Dancing with the Stars, Lost and V.

It's a huge thrill to see your story fine-tuned by your editor and it's really hard not to dive right in but I wanted to start fresh so I waited until this morning. I made a pot of coffee and went through the manuscript to get an idea of how much work was involved. It was less than I expected and more than I hoped for. I've just finished working on the second chapter and it's incredibly exciting to see how even the smallest changes can take your story to the next level. So I'm sending a big thank-you to my editor at Siren and getting right back to work. No TV tonight.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Conquering the Wimpy Green-Eyed Monster

In April of 2009 I reviewed "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" for EzineArticles. Last week I reviewed the movie. You can read it at the end of this post.

When I read the book, I had one of those jealous writer moments. It happens when I read something so good, I say to myself Damn, I wish I wrote that. While watching the movie the green-eyed monster reared its ugly head once again. It's not that the money and fame. Well, maybe a little. But Kinney did a great thing. He gets kids to read, lots of kids, even those who rarely pick up a book. And isn't that what we all want as writers? To inspire, inform or entertain.

I have to remind myself that behind every success story is years of hard work. That we each have our own unique talents to offer. I turn that negative energy to a positive by writing a great review and wishing the author well. Then I focus on my own manuscript, plant myself in front of the computer and get to work.

Movie Review:
Jeff Kinney is a hero in our house. My granddaughter goes through his books like a house afire and anyone who can get kids to read is A-OK in my eyes. I reviewed his first book in April of 2009 so I'm familiar with the series. They're written in the style of a child's journal and interspersed with hilarious hand drawn pictures. Curious to see how this would be adapted to the big screen, I made plans to take my granddaughters. We set off with high expectations, a nine year old, an almost five year old and me, an over twenty-one year old. Diary of a Wimpy Kid lived up to its promise and then some.

We go through a year of middle school with middle child, Greg Heffley, whose clueless parents never seem to catch his older brother terrorizing him. Greg wants to be popular but best friend, Rowley, embarrasses him at every turn. It's ironic that Greg's own actions help Rowley become more popular than him. Greg tries to ride his coattails but ends up testing their friendship.

The live action film is perfectly cast with Zachary Gordon playing Greg. Some of the cartoon stick figures from the books are interspersed throughout. The movie is fast-paced and funny with typical pre-teen humor, including booger jokes that grossed out the girls - they loved it. In fact, we all loved the movie and afterwards we made a trip to Barnes & Noble and bought a copy of "The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary." The hardcover book is written in the same style as the others and it's the perfect companion to the movie. It takes you behind the scenes, including photos, and shows you how the movie was made. The girls were fascinated, especially the younger one, who couldn't believe they didn't use real cheese in the "cheese-touch" sequence. You gotta see it.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is 94 minutes long and rated PG for some rude humor and language.

Article Source: