September 2009


I had the day off but did not spend it with the Boyfriend, which was a bummer for me, but great for the novel.

I headed to Starbucks, ordered some low-fat coffee cake and an unsweetened iced tea and set up camp near an outlet. A couple of hours later, I’d rewritten a couple of scenes, using suggestions from the critique I got last week. (She was definitely right. She didn’t tell me a whole lot that I hadn’t already started to suspect on my own.)

Already, I can feel an improvement. Brad is shaping up to be a lot less boring. And still I’m at about 58,000 words, which leaves me with plenty of room to rewrite the remainder.

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I spent some time this weekend looking through Debra Dixon’s infamous “Goal, Motivation and Conflict,” in case you couldn’t tell.

The goal, of course, is “what.” Motivation is the “why.” And conflict is the “why not.” Your character wants _______ because ______ but ________.

It seems so easy. Yet when I tried to put the principles to work in Brad & Erin’s story (my Golden Heart entry), it was short on both motivation and conflict.

Hmm. I’m back to that whole “polishing this thing for the GH is going to be more work than I thought” thing. It seems to be a recurring theme here.

I thought I was being smart by going with the already-finished manuscript instead of the one that still had 40,000 words to be completed. But by the time I fix it up, I’ll probably have done just as much work. I’m thinking I’ll have to take a week’s vacation right before the deadline to hole up somewhere and work on it. (Well, that’d be one way to burn one of the four weeks I get and have no idea what to do with — it’s not like I have the money to travel.)

Guess I’d better get to it. Poor Brad and Erin don’t have the  ability to fix themselves — and I’m not going to let my entry fee go to waste.

Got my critique back this afternoon, and I was right: The manuscript definitely needs some help.

I’m not going to lie: It was a bit unnerving to see all that “red ink” on my pages. But it was also edifying, because she said a lot of the same things I’ve been thinking.

Just the other day, I started to wonder if I spent too much of the first page and a half setting the scene … and sure enough, Shea suggested I cut the first page or so and start with more action.

She also pointed out that I need to keep the thread about the book Erin gets for her birthday going — and I’d noticed it’s not as strong a presence as I’d like.

As for Brad, she didn’t exactly call him boring … but she did point out that he’s, well, “bland” … and that’s just a nicer word for dull as dirt.

So it looks like I have my work cut out for me. Good thing I’m up for the challenge. I got an e-mail confirmation today from RWA that they’ve received my entry.

Your manuscript, Operation Snag Brad, has been entered in the Contemporary Series Romance Category of the 2010 Golden Heart Contest sponsored by Romance Writers of America, Inc.  Please send six copies of the partial manuscript, six synopses, and one full manuscript to (address)

Guess I won’t be getting back to Kari and Damien anytime soon. Fixing up Brad and Erin is going to take up all my free time between now and Dec. 2. 😀

But when I’m done, it should be a much stronger — and hopefully sell-able — story.

The next meeting of my RWA chapter, Northern Arizona Romance Writers of America, is on Saturday, and I can’t wait.

We’re going to have a guest speaker, Linda Style, talk to us about layering stories and subplots.

It should be interesting. It will pose a challenge for my diet, because restaurant meals always do. But I think I’m up for it.

Not much progress to report on the GH entry today. I shipped off my first 15 pages for the critique I won, and am now waiting for it.

I’m beginning to wonder if I get straight to the action quickly enough, though. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

No, I didn’t win the Golden Heart … Technically, I haven’t even submitted yet, although my check is in the mail to reserve my spot.

It really does say my name!

It really does say my name!

I did, however, win a critique of the first 15 pages of my entry from the gals over at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood. (They’re the 2009 GH finalists.) That’s a photo of the Web page, blurry as it is. Trust me, it’s my name there under “Day 2 Winner.”

That’s right: I’m finally the lucky one. (I rarely win anything. When I go to the casino, the Boyfriend wins a pile of cash and I lose as much as he wins …) I was so excited to see my name listed as the winner.

Then reality set in and I started thinking, “What if she says it sucks?” I don’t have time to completely revamp the thing before the contest deadline.

I’ve been assured that we all have those moments of doubt where we think we suck (thanks, Anne Marie!). And it is better to get some feedback now, when there’s still time to improve the entry. By this time tomorrow, those first 15 pages will be in my critiquer’s capable hands.

I can’t wait to get some feedback.

This time, the check for the Golden Heart contest really is in the mail. I dropped it in the mailbox this afternoon.

As I told the Boyfriend, that means I’m really committed. I must whip Brad & Erin’s story into shape. It needs to be the best story it can be, because if I’m going to spend all that money to enter a contest, I want a chance of winning.

It’s time to get to work.

Whipping my first manuscript into shape for the Golden Heart contest is turning out to be more work than I thought it’d be.

I thought it’d be easier to do a little editing on Brad and Erin’s story than it would to write another 40,000 words to finish my current WIP.

Ha! Was I wrong. Between Harlequin changing its length requirement (resulting in a 10,000+ word trim) and my unwelcome discovery that my hero is boring, I’m doing as much — if not more — than I’d have had to do to finish the other one.

In fact, my other characters are calling me back to them. Kari and Damien’s story wants to be finished … and soon.

Well, it’s just going to have to wait. I’m going to finish fixing my first baby up for the contest, and then I’ll get back to work on Kari and Damien’s story.

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