February 2011


I can’t remember the address of this website. All I know is, one night at the office, many years ago, one of my coworkers who no longer works there said, “Hey, here’s a website that tells you your p0rn star name.'” (Yeah, you’d be amazed what silly things happen during downtime in the newsroom.)

We entered our names, chuckled and went back to work. Except I entered a few extra names — those belonging to some of my heroes and heroines.

I tell you this because while I was decluttering my bedroom (a weeklong project), I discovered a Post-it note — no longer sticky, of course — with those names on it. It was buried under a pile of magazines and other crap on my dresser.

It was good for a laugh, for sure.

My fave hero of all time, Mike James, became “Adam Steele.” Dustin, the FBI agent, was “Kidd Gunn” — kind of like Kidd Video … but cooler, I hope. (Does anyone else remember “Kidd Video”? It was a Saturday morning cartoon-ish show, I think on NBC, after MTV got big).

Dustin’s heroine, Cassie Quinn, became Nikki Foxx. Her name didn’t get used, but I worked Dustin’s into the story. (He was talking with his buddy about the p0rn0graphy ring he helped break up, working undercover as … you guessed it … Kidd Gunn.)

My handwriting has gotten worse over the years, but even then, it was horrible. I had a name, Nick Carrington, written down for a character named, as best as I could make out, Gann.

Last night, I had no idea who “Gann” could be. I tried to make it into Brad (of Brad and Erin fame) and even Erin, though her p0rn star name was highly unlikely to be Nick Carrington.

This morning, it hit me: Gavin … as in Gavin Smythe, the foreign exchange student from the “High School Hell” collection I wrote with my roommate. He and Tarrah Ray hit it off by the end of those stories, and I picked up their story years later, after she followed him to London for university, abandoned him and went on to become a wildly successful writer. Gavin became a wildly successful hotel mogul, and their paths crossed again when her book was being made into a movie at one of his properties.

That’s a Harlequin Presents type of story, in case you couldn’t guess. It’s about two-thirds finished (that magic spot where I tend to lose interest and move on) — but what’s written is still pretty good.

Aw, jeez. Did I just commit to another project?

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My friends at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood just pointed out there are only 38 days until the Golden Heart calls go out.

Really? Thanks for that anxiety-inducing tidbit.

When I’m done hyperventilating over here, I need to get to query- and synopsis-polishing.

I can’t say this weekend has been perfect, but it’s close. Even though I was busy with the day job, I had a chance to get inspired again.

Last week was an “off week” for writing. I just wasn’t feeling it — not writing new words or editing already written ones … not any of it. I think I earned all of one point in the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival. I used the excuse of “decluttering” my bedroom to avoid feeling guilty for this lapse.

But this weekend, my drive was renewed. Thank goodness for that! I only have one uncluttered surface in my bedroom — dresser No. 2.

The creative juices started seeping back on Saturday, while I perused the latest issue of RWR as I stood in a slow-moving line at Chipotle (the first time I’ve seen the line move that slowly there). Then I attended a book-signing for one of my NARWA sisters. Glynna Kaye‘s new Love Inspired release, “Second Chance Courtship,” is new this month, and she had a signing in Flagstaff.

Home from work on Saturday night, I opened my WIP file for the first time in about a week. I read back through a few pages … but still found myself stuck. Those juices weren’t quite flowing yet.

Lucky for me, I still had plenty of other things to do when I met with our chapter president, Anne Marie Becker, Sunday morning for a write-in at Starbucks. We chatted a little, about NARWA business and “Only Fear,” the book she has coming out in September through Carina Press. Then we settled down to work — her on suggested edits from her editor, me on self-editing my NaNo story, “My Fair Fiancee.”

Juices running at full force by then, I also read through another of the GH entries I was sent to judge (just one more to go!) and reviewed my query letter for “Beauty and the Ballplayer,” the contest finalist.

Now, after I finish this blog post, I’ll transfer some of my Kenny & Kristi edits to the Word file. I was editing the old-fashioned way today … on the printed page.

Seems I catch more that way — especially when I go through each page with a highlighter to find all those pesky, unnecessary adverbs. Some pages had an embarrassing amount. I blame the NaNo mentality (more words, more, more, more!)

Of course, without that NaNo drive, I wouldn’t have another completed MS, now would I?

My writing output seems to drop in direct correlation to any increase in blog reading. That’s a problem, I know — but if I don’t take the time to read a few blogs, how can I expect anyone to read mine?

Besides, if I stopped reading, I’d miss out on gems like this one from Janice Hardy’s blog, The Other Side of the Story. She writes:

Choices that don’t cause trouble are wasted opportunity. The whole point of a book is to show someone overcoming adversity to win. If there’s nothing to overcome, there’s no point in the winning.”

What a way to put it!

It’s no secret that I struggle with conflict. (I blame it on being a Libra. Libras strive for fairness and avoid conflict.) Judges’ comments I got on my first completed MS — even after several new drafts — consistently said “not enough conflict to sustain the story.”

What? You mean a girl falling for one guy when she’s trying to “snag” another one altogether isn’t conflict?

Not according to Hardy. She writes, “A choice between two good things with no consequences for making that choice is probably not going to hold your reader’s interest.”

Well, I already knew Brad and Erin’s story needed help. I tried to remedy it in subsequent drafts by casting suspicion on him … I even hacked out their original “black moment” (such as it was. The “Battle of the Birth Control” was pretty silly when I look back at it with a more experienced eye.)

The key for me is to remember that my hero and heroine have to make choices. And those choices have to mean something. The potential for disaster should loom around every corner.

I think that is the case in my more recent stories. Bethany’s decision to talk Cody into applying for the TV show lands them in a heap of trouble. When Kenny asks Kristi to pretend to be his fiancee, things get out of hand quickly.

Hmm. All my blog reading must be teaching me something about the craft.