Now that I’ve had time to synthesize my score sheets from the last contest I entered, I’m pleased to say I’m on the right track.

No, I did not final. The max score was a 161; mine was 130-something.

That being said, I wasn’t displeased with the results. That was my gut reaction when I read through the score sheets the first time; it didn’t change when I reread them a couple of days later.

I got at least a 3 (average) in every category. I also got plenty of 4s and even a few 5s.

I think I can safely say I’m on the right track. The judges liked the concept and at least one said they liked my writing style.

Now, all I have to do is revise, using the feedback to make the story even better. (Since it’s going to be a GH entry, I want it to be as perfect as possible … and the comments should help.)

Maybe I ought to take the hard copy of the MS with me on vacation so I can get started …

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.

Five queries. Two same-day rejections. I appreciate the prompt replies.

I am a little discouraged, but not giving up. I believe in “Blind Date Bride.” And, as “they” say … Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’m going to find an agent who loves “Blind Date Bride” and wants to represent it (and me).

I just hope it doesn’t take forever …

Forgive me for not blogging lately … It’s not that I haven’t been working, let me assure you.

Most of my long weekend was spent on my new WIP, which is now in Chapter 3. Did I mention that there might be something to writing a synopsis first? 😉 I thought a lot about my plot before I started and came up with a summary of about three pages.

I also took some time to perfect my query letter and synopsis. This morning, I sent out a handful of queries … including one to my Dream Agent. I just wish that “I want to puke” feeling would go away. I always feel that way when I’m sending out queries: excited, but slightly nauseous.

Anyone else feel the same way?

On another note, I need to get busy writing a synopsis for “Beauty and the Ballplayer.” That was the other goal I said I’d accomplish before the next NARWA meeting — and since it talks so long for me to do one of those things after the fact, I’d better get started.

A new heroine and hero have been talking to me lately, and I think their story has to be told.

They’re Bethany and Cody, the best friends of my hero/heroine in “Blind Date Bride” … the ones who enter poor Kari and Damien into the contest they think will ruin their lives. As secondary characters, they’re dating throughout “Blind Date Bride.”

I don’t know a whole lot about them yet. Laid-back, surfer-type Cody works with at-risk teens and is a recreational pilot. Bethany is a flighty, artistic wild-child that Kari has been trying to get to settle down for years. (I think the fact that she’s had more sex partners than he has will be a sore point between them.)

In preparation to start their story, I’m reviewing the element of storytelling that always gives me fits: Conflict.

In my defense, I’m a Libra. We Libras like balance in all things … the struggles throw me. Of course, we can’t have our characters happily bopping from date to date for 300 pages. Even I would get bored with that! 😉

Since I struggle with conflict, I read a lot about it. One tip I read while taking my online synopsis-writing class back in March really helped me put it in perspective:

It’s only conflict if it creates an internal or external war for your character. … Without the push/pull it’s just a situation. Maybe an uncomfortable situation — a situation the character would like to change — but still just situation.

— Sherry Lewis, “The Selling Synopsis,” Lesson 3: Layering Conflicts

When I read that, I realized that I’m the queen of putting my characters in uncomfortable situations (Bree running into Mike at the strip club — while he’s onstage … Dustin sneezing on Cassie on the dance floor …) But these things don’t really create an internal war for anyone.

Well, maybe Bree, the virgin, is a little put off by it. But does it set off a war? Probably not.

Other definitions of conflict, from Debra Dixon’s “GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict:”

  1. Conflict is a struggle against someone or something in which the outcome is in doubt.
  2. Conflict is bad things happening to good people.
  3. Conflict is bad things happening to bad people.
  4. Conflict is friction, tension, opposition.

I guess some of the things I’ve come up with could be “bad things happening to good people.”

Anyway, I’m going to try to come up with some strong conflicts for Bethany and Cody before I even start writing. Usually, I tend to be more of a “pantster,” but maybe I’ll write faster if I plot a little beforehand.

After reading my last blog entry, one of my friends from college messaged me with this bit of inspiration about giving characters reasons to love one another:

Love isn’t only about the hot sex – it’s about friendship. Cuz when the hot sex goes away (old age, car accident, ED), there must still be something there between them.”

Thanks to the part about ED, it cracked me up … but it also rang true.

I think, for the most part, my characters ARE friends first (well, except for Cassie and Dustin. They hate — and annoy — each other at first sight … and even when they’re totally in love, they still want to kill each other).

Brad and Erin start (before my book begins) as reporter-source; Bree and Mike are friends/coworkers (even though she’s supremely hot for his supremely HOT bod).

As for Kari and Damien, they start out as strangers who are trying to become friends (and lovers) despite the fact that they find themselves hitched.

I’m looking forward to my NARWA meeting Saturday (really later today, I guess — I really need to get some sleep). We’re doing synopsis-writing and characterization. The timing couldn’t be better, since I’m at a point where I’m thinking about the synopsis for “Blind Date Bride.”

Sadly, not much writing has happened since Wednesday (and that writing didn’t count toward my Word Count Countdown, because it wasn’t actually writing on any of my WIPs).

This type of limbo is much more fun!

I’m at a certain point: Finished MS but no query or synopsis — and since our NARWA meeting next Saturday is on the dreaded synopsis, I’m kind of trying to hold out before working on one of those.

The query and synopsis on “Blind Date Bride” are mostly finished, but I’m still a little scared to send that one out there. I did get a rave review from one of my NARWA sisters, who described it as “delicious.”

With a review like that, why am I not sure? It’s probably plain old fear of rejection — again. I’ve already gotten tons of rejections on Brad & Erin’s story, so why would I expect this one to do better?

Well, it was written much later. Brad & Erin’s MS was my first, and even though I’ve edited it so much that parts hardly resemble the original draft, it could be that it’s just not good enough. Pat said she can tell a huge difference between that one and “Blind Date Bride,” that my writing has grown and changed.

So maybe it’s time to bite the bullet, finish the query/synopsis and send it out there. It’ll immediately expand my agent pool, since this one’s a single title instead of category.

The hits just keep on coming!

That’s right. About 30 minutes ago, I put the finishing touches on the expanded draft of Bree & Mike’s story. It’s 56,000 words (on the shorter side of category romance, but still within the bounds) and will probably grow as I edit.

Of course, with Bree and Mike somewhat settled, I’m back to being at loose ends. What shall I do next?

The task that looms large is synopsis writing … but I think I’ll hold off on that until after our next NARWA meeting on May 15. That’s the topic our guest speaker, Cathy McDavid, will be covering.

Maybe I should go back to editing Kari & Damien’s story, “Blind Date Bride.” It’s my only single-title novel, and my writer friend Pat (who has read both it and Brad & Erin’s story) thinks it’s by far and away the better one.

Since Brad & Erin has been getting agent rejections left and right, I’m starting to think Pat may be right.

Query letter, here I come! Ugh. That sucks nearly as much as a synopsis.

Now that I’ve submitted a new batch of queries on “Operation Snag Mike Brad,” the goals I set to reach before my next NARWA meeting are complete.

That’s right: I finished the rough draft on Meg & Matt, wrote a synopsis for Kari & Damien and sent not two but FIVE queries on Brad & Erin. (You might remember the goal I set forth was two.)

Talk about being an overachiever — we don’t meet until mid-May! But when I’m on a roll, I want to keep up the momentum.

What’s next on my agenda? I’m preparing an entry for a contest with an April 10 deadline. Like the Golden Heart, it judges the first 50 or so pages plus synopsis (55 total) — and you get feedback from the judges. I’m going to enter my next GH entry to get tips that I can use to improve it so I have a better chance of finaling next year.

Aside from that, I’m a little torn. Do I go back to editing and expanding Cassie & Dustin’s story (next in line after Brad & Erin in my “Women of Willow’s Grove” series)? Work on finishing a first draft of Drew & Lainy’s story? Try rewrites on Meg & Matt? Do something to Kari & Damien?

I need to figure it out soon, because I have a week of vacation coming up. I want to use my time off work wisely.

In an effort to get over the disappointment of not finaling in the Golden Heart, I’ve been a busy, busy writer. 😀

No giving up for me, no sir.

I spent the weekend working on a synopsis for “Blind Date Bride” and reworking the ending on my losing GH entry. (I’m getting rid of their silly argument for a meatier one. There’s probably still not enough conflict, but I think it’s getting closer.)

I also discovered I may be eligible for PRO status with RWA. I’m going to look into that.