June 2010


A box arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t full of new books from Amazon … or writing supplies (like I need any more notebooks and pens!).

It contained a very cool quilt — a quilt I won in a giveaway over at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog when one of the Rubies, Kelly Fitzpatrick, was celebrating the launch of her book, “Lilly in Wonderland.”

Kelly’s tagline is “Bad girls need love, too.” She promises:

  • No shrinking violets
  • No helpless damsels in distress
  • No doormats
  • No virgins (unless they sneak in while she’s not looking)

In keeping with that, the quilt features a fun, strong-woman motif.

You can read an excerpt from the book here. It hooked me. I’m definitely going to hunt it down.

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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.

Isn’t that what they call it when you’re doing a lot of thinking but not much writing? 😉

I’ve been mulling the plot of Bethany & Cody’s story (tentatively titled “Trouble in Paradise” … like that hasn’t been used before! Thank goodness titles aren’t copyrighted.). I need to get them out of Chicago and onto that island paradise, but I don’t want to do it too soon — I have 90,000 words to work with here!

I’ve also been thinking about Meg & Matt. If I’m going to enter it in the GH in the “category romance” category, I still have to rework the beginning to throw them together on Page 1 (not Page 6 or wherever they meet right now.

Yes, even though I still love my current first line, it’s time to think about chucking it. The next few pages are all backstory explaining how dear Meg finds herself pregnant and alone at 32.

Why so much thinking? Mainly, I’ve been trying not to think about the copies of “Blind Date Bride” floating around out there. I know I’m in for a long wait. These things move at the speed of Heinz ketchup pouring out of the bottle — only fair considering how long it took me to finish the story in the first place.

More thoughts floating around in my brain involve a couple of blog posts I want to write. They should be fun, so stay tuned.

Not that I’ve gotten a whole lot of writing done (maybe a couple thousand words) … but I’ve been on the hunt for an agent for “Blind Date Bride.”

Exciting stuff, that.

Yay, Starbucks!

I also got some good news from Starbucks: I’ve used my gift card enough times to become a Starbucks Gold card member … and that means more free stuff. With as much time as I spend at the Bux, I deserve it!

I really do get more writing done when I get out of the house and sit at the cafe. It doesn’t matter whether I’m at my house or the Boyfriend’s, I’d rather sit at Starbucks with my laptop than try to write at home.

Enough talking about writing. It’s time for me to actually DO some before bed.

No, I didn’t sell my MS … or even sign with an agent.

What I did do — no small accomplishment, let me tell you — is surpass my goal to write 100,000 words this year.

Yes, I said THIS YEAR — and it’s only June. Since NARWA’s word count challenge began in January, I’ve kept track of words written. My goal was to write 100,000 by our November meeting.

This afternoon, while sitting at Barnes & Noble, I hit 100,967. (I might not have been faithfully updating my “Word count countdown” widget in the sidebar, but I have been keeping track in my Excel spreadsheet.)

Thanks go out to Meg & Matt, Bethany & Cody, Bree & Mike and Cassie & Dustin, the characters that have helped me meet my goal. Thanks also go out to my NARWA sisters and the gals at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, all of whom have provided support and encouragement. I hope I can return the favor.

Of course, I’m not going to stop writing. Unofficially, I think I’ll push to write another 100K before the end of the year. With Bethany & Cody talking to me practically nonstop, it’s entirely do-able.

I was enjoying a nice, quiet get-to-know-you lunch with my characters when Bethany dropped a bombshell.

Even in “Blind Date Bride,” I knew that Beth was different. She’s the one who tried to get Kari to get in touch with her inner tramp, and who told Kari, “Keep a man happy in bed and he’ll keep you happy out of it.”

Yes, my Bethany LOVES sex. She’s been around the block so many times the sidewalk was named after her. (It bothers her a little that she’s had more partners than Cody, even though he’s 3 years older, but it bothers her more that he’s more content to cuddle than burn up the bedsheets.)

While I was jotting notes about their appearances and history, Beth revealed something surprising. Scratch that: It went beyond surprising and landed smack-dab in the middle of  astonishing land.

It turns out Bethany had her first sexual experience at 14 years old. Wait — that’s not the surprising part. At 16, her mom kicked her out of the house for trying to seduce her stepfather. (It didn’t happen … it was all in mom’s head, but it still left Bethany estranged from her mom and kid sister.)  She moved in with her aunt to finish high school, then went off to college, where she met Kari (and spent a lot of time on her back, staring at frat house ceilings).

I have no idea what to do with that tidbit. Where does it fit into the story? Will she reconnect with mom? Will she finally realize that there’s more to a good relationship than great sex? (I think she has to … and in the realization, sex with Cody will go beyond great to soul-shattering.)

Anyway, nothing Cody has come out with is all that surprising. It’s not that I find him boring … in fact, he’s shaping up to be one of my favorite heroes (right behind Mike James and Damien). But so far, he’s pretty tame. There is something in his past, alluded to in Kari and Damien’s story, but so far, he’s mum about what it is.

A counselor for at-risk teens, he’s working long hours (which concerns Beth because he’s sometimes — often — too tired to get busy) in part to save up for an engagement ring. He believes actions speak louder than words (and thinks spending the day shopping tells Beth he loves her). Above all, he likes being comfortable, which is why he’s often content to cuddle. Even in high school, he wasn’t one of those guys who was always trying to get some.

I probably need to get to the bottom of that before I get too far into the story.

Right now, I’m in Chapter 3. And, to borrow a catchphrase from McDonald’s, I’m lovin’ it … surprises and all.

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