Inspirations:

  • It is said that good things come to those who wait. I believe that good things come to those who work. - Wilt Chamberlain
  • A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach
  • You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job. - Nora Roberts
  • Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. - Buddha
  • Luck is when an opportunity comes along and you're prepared for it. - Denzel Washington
  • I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying. - Michael Jordan

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Hope This Makes You Smile

Hi All!
This joke came across my e-mail and I found it so funny I had to share. (Maybe it's the nurse in me, but I think it has universal appeal.) I hope it makes you smile. Let me know what you think.
Wishing you a safe and happy new year!

So here goes: (And remember, this is a joke, not a pharmacology lesson.)

All drugs have two names, a trade name and generic name.

Example, the trade name is Tylenol and it's generic name is Acetaminophen.. Aleve is also called Naproxen.
Amoxil is also called Amoxicillin and Advil is also called Ibuprofen.

The FDA has been looking for a generic name for Viagra..

After careful consideration by a team of government experts, it recently announced that it has settled on the generic name of Mycoxafloppin.

Also considered were Mycoxafailin, Mydixadrupin, Mydixarizin, Dixafix, and of course, Ibepokin.

Pfizer Corp. announced today that Viagra will soon be available in liquid form, and will be marketed by Pepsi Cola as a power beverage suitable for use as a mixer..

It will now be possible for a man to literally pour himself a stiff one.

Obviously we can no longer call this a soft drink, and it gives new meaning to the names of 'cocktails', 'highballs' and just a good old-fashioned 'stiff drink'.

Pepsi will market the new concoction by the name of: MOUNT & DO.

Thought for the day: There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2020, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A New Inspiration

I am happy to report I've finished the first three chapters of book 2 and they are with my editor awaiting approval to proceed with the rest.

I found a great quote I will be adding to my inspirations, but wanted to share it here so you don't miss it:

It is said that good things come to those who wait. I believe that good things come to those who work. - Wilt Chamberlain

Happy, Healthy Holidays to all! I look forward to chatting with you in the New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My First Interview!

Hi All!
My writing friend Janet has posted an interview with me on her blog. There's an excerpt from my first book, When One Night Isn't Enough... if you'd like to take a look. Here's the link:
http://wwweclecticwriter.blogspot.com/ 

So, after reading the interview, I realize I need to take more time to make myself seem interesting and funny. (And limit my use of the word while.) I'm a work in progress.

My muse has seen the error of her ways and has returned to me. I am busy writing and am once again hopeful I will be able to meet my March 1st deadline for book 2.

Happy Healthy Holidays to you all. During this busy time of year, don't lose sight of what's important. Love. Family. Friends. Happiness. And taking the time to enjoy them.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Medical Romance Blog Party is On!

The Medical Romance Blog Party is on! Apparently 12/9 comes early in Australia....or late in the US, depending how you look at it! If you have a few minutes, I hope you'll stop by! Here's the link:
http://community.eharlequin.com/content/new-medical-authors

Happy Holidays!
Wendy

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Save the Date!

On Thursday, December 9th, I will be blogging over at eharlequin's medical authors group blog to celebrate three new medical romance authors. (One of them is me!) If you have some time, I hope you'll stop by. Here's the link: http://community.eharlequin.com/content/medical-authors-group-blog

Monday, November 22, 2010

Runaway Muse

My muse is on the lam. If you should happen to stumble upon her, please pack her up and ship her home. I will happily pay all necessary expenses!

An author recently told me, "The second book will be the hardest you'll ever write."

I hadn't been worried about book 2 until that moment.

Then, after I finished the final copy edits for book 1, I asked my editor, "What happens next?" She replied, "...it’s all about focusing on ensuring Kyle and Victoria’s story (book 2) is a suitably amazing follow-up!"

Yikes. No pressure there.

So here I am, under deadline, unable to get chapter 1 into the computer in any form I'm happy with. I know people say....just write down anything and move on. But I can't. I need to wrap my head around chapter 1 before I can move on. It's killing me.

I'm sure the craziness of life has something to do with my difficulties. I'm hosting Thanksgiving for 24 in 3 days, followed by Chanukah for my family and a special dinner for over 100 people the following week.

Is it silly to even try to write this time of year? Deadlines don't care about the holiday season mayhem. My life is in chaos. Somethings got to give. I'm afraid it's going to be blogging.

I'll be back in early December when I'll be joining the medical romance team for a blog party welcoming three new medical romance authors (one of whom is ME!) I'll post the information as soon as I have it. Hopefully you'll have time to stop by.

Until then, wishing you all stress-free days in which you accomplish everything on your to-do lists!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Report Card Rejections

My childrens' school system instituted a new program this year where I can get their grades via computer weeks before I receive a paper report card. I think it's great. Marking period ends on a Friday, grades available the following Wednesday. Problems identified earlier, threats made, plan of correction implemented immediately, not several weeks into the next marking period.

Numbered grades are accompanied by comments so you can see exactly how your child is doing and why. A pleasure to have in class. Satisfactory effort. Assigned work not complete. Homework quality must improve. Low test scores. Work improving. Late homework.

I'm proud to say my son (11th grade) missed straight A's by one point (an 89 in honors social studies). My daughter (8th grade) needs to work on French, social studies, and homework quality. Let the nagging begin!

What does this have to do with writing? I read so many posts from writers upset about receiving form rejection letters. Wouldn't it be great to get a report  card rejection. Something quick like: A: Better than most but still not there. B: Getting closer. C: Average - need to do something to make yourself stand out. D: Needs a lot of work. F: Didn't make it past the first page. And a few quick comments would help immensely: Voice is a pleasure to read. Satisfactory punctuation. Plot not complete. GMC (goals, motivation, conflict) must improve. Slow pacing. Saggy middle. Good story - no market. Take a writing class.

So what do you think? Are you all for an industry wide grading scale so you have some idea where you stand? Or have you had enough of report cards while you were in school? 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Creature of Habit

Hello Friends!

Wow it's been a busy week since I last posted. Which brings me to the topic at hand. I am a creature of habit. I eat the same thing for breakfast (maple brown sugar oatmeal with raisins, two Eggo Nutrigrain low fat waffles, and juice) most days of the week. I follow the same morning and nighttime rituals. When I drive somewhere I take the the route I'm comfortable with, regardless of whether it's the quickest.

I may sound boring...I'm not...only my comfort in the routine is.

And finally getting my new computer up and running has shot my work routine in the gut!

I knew this would happen, which is why I've put it off as long as I could. (My brand new Dell has been sitting in the box, unopened, since August.)

Yes, it boots up quicker, and I love my new keyboard, but so far, those are the only positives. My screen looks different, even though I'm using the same one I used with my old computer. For some reason the words look smaller and I had to increase the font size. As a result, my familiar websites and blogs seem narrower and a bit elongated, if that makes any sense, and it's reeking havoc with my temperamental eyes. I upgraded to Windows 7, and while it's similar to Windows XP, it's taking some time to get used to. Thank goodness my computer guru clued me into F1 (help).

Of all he times to be under deadline for my second book AND receive the line/copy edits for my first book. But I'm muddling through...at the expense of my blog time.

So what about you? Do you embrace change? Welcome it? Look forward to it? Or do you fight it like me? And any Windows 7 pros out there who can give me some helpful hints?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What I've Learned So Far

Since receiving 'the call' my life has been a whirlwind of activity. In an effort to help you all who are not yet published, but close, you know who you are - you're finaling in writing contests, agents/editors are requesting partials or fulls - I'd like to share what I've learned so far.

In the process of pursuing publication, writers spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for critique partners to get back to you, waiting for contest results, and waiting for a response to your numerous queries and submissions. How you spend that time can ease your transition to contracted/published author.

Within a few days of receiving my offer from Harlequin Mills and Boon, I needed to complete more revisions and submit a brief bio, a dedication page, and a Dear Reader letter for my book. Then there was the contract to review (thank goodness for my agent, Michelle Grajkowski), the promo picture to coordinate, and the website to design. Oh, and did I mention I have a deadline for my second book? 2/1/2011. That's in three months. A little stressful considering I worked at writing my first book for over a year and then revised for five months to get it where it needed to be for publication.

Anyway, my suggestions to you all who are close to publication:

1) When you visit author websites you enjoy, jot down what you like and make a note of the web designer (usually listed at the bottom).  This will help you when it's time to create your own website.

2) If you have some techno-savvy, which I do not, consider exploring do-it-yourself website options.

3) When you visit author/writer blogs and websites, note their promo pictures. Are they outdoors or indoors? Formal or informal? Note outfits, expressions. Figure out how you want to look in your promo picture. Maybe have a friend or family member play around with your digital camera. Although, in my very limited experience, while a professional portrait is not required by my publisher, it is highly recommended.

4) When you read books by your favorite authors, pay attention to the dedication pages, the bios and Dear Reader letters. Becoming familiar with these, maybe playing around with writing your own, will make it much easier when it's time to do it for real.

5) Join writers loops where you have access to published authors. Their suggestions and guidance are invaluable. For instance, I am a member of Heartbeat RWA, a special interest chapter of RWA for medical romance writers and writers who use medical scenes in their writing, as well as others. Once I posted news of my sale I was contacted by several of the published author members. I was invited to join a Medical Romance authors loop and I was invited to blog on the Medical Romance Authors Group Blog at eharlequin.com. All because I'd put in the effort to find special interest groups, specific to my writing, ahead of time.

6) KEEP WRITING! Toss around ideas for new stories. Create character profiles for book 2 or 3 or 4. So when an agent/editor asks, "What else have you got?" you have something to show them

So what do you think of my suggestions? Have you done some of these things? All of them? And if you have experience with do-it-yourself web design, would you please share it here? (While I've contracted with Novel Website Design to build my site, some of my visitors may be looking for info on how to do it themselves.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Got My Title!

On Tuesday I received the title of my book! Before I share it, let me say I am soooooo pleased that Harlequin Medical Romance has decided to 'try something a bit different' with my title.
 
And here it is: When One Night Isn't Enough...

I absolutely love it!

As if a wonderful title isn't enough, I was told my debut Medical Romance will be released first in the UK on 6/11/2011, as part of a 2in1 (two separate books bound together as one) paired with a book by none other than Janice Lynn! If you follow my blog regularly you know I am a HUGE fan of Janice Lynn, and her book Dr. Di Angelo's Baby Bombshell is the reason I set to work converting my work in progress into a medical romance.

So what do you think about the title of my book? Are you disappointed it's not more medical? Does it make you want to pick up a copy? I hope so!

Friday, October 22, 2010

How Soccer Relates to Writing

This time of year I spend a good chunk of my waking hours on the soccer field. Not playing, mind you. Spectating. And we spectators are a hardy bunch. Rain. Wind. Fog. Bees. Snow. We're out there. (Although I must admit, I have watched from the car a time or two!)

My son plays on two teams, one travel and the other his high school varsity team. My daughter plays on a modified travel team. They've both played since they were little so I've been spectating for years.

What does this have to do with writing? Participation in competitive sports (in this case soccer) teaches children valuable life lessons that can benefit us all:

1) You fall down, you get up. Fast.  
2) You miss the ball, you chase after it.
3) You get hurt, whenever possible, you shake if off and resume play.
4) You lose the ball, you do your best to get it back.
5) You elbow someone, you're going to get elbowed back. (Same applies for tripping/cleating/jersey pulling.)
6) Your coach tells you to do something, you do it, or you won't get to play.
7) You take a shot and miss, you keep shooting until you score. And then you shoot some more.
8) You win, you celebrate.
9) You lose, you practice harder, play better and put forth your very best effort to win the next time.
10) You never, ever give up...if you want to stay in the game.

Writing is hard work. It can be frustrating and lonely. But if you want to succeed, learn the lessons I mentioned above.

And consider this: A soccer team succeeds when one player is having a bad game so another picks up his/her level of play to compensate. When one player is down and his/her teammates pump them up. When the coach requests the impossible and the team unites in support of one another.

Become part of a team. Be they friends, family, or blog buddies. Find a supportive bunch of peers to accompany you on your journey toward publication. It makes the trip a little easier. (And a lot more enjoyable.)

Over the past year, since I seriously began to pursue publication, I joined my local RWA (Hudson Valley RWA) and GIAM (Goals in a month). Both have wonderful and supportive writers loops (thanks to Taryn Kincaid and Amy Atwell.) I've also connected with some terrific writers and blog friends who commiserate my disappointments, cheer my accomplishments, and encourage me to keep going. (As I try to do for them.)

So what do you think? Are you part of a supportive group or do you prefer to go it alone? If you're part of a group, please tell us about them. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Show Me the Money and an Update

Hi Blog Friends!

If you're one of those people who pay close attention to detail, like me, you'll notice I've added my middle initial to my name. Come to find out there is another Wendy Marcus who's an author so I've added my middle initial (S for Sue) to differentiate myself.

As much as I'd like to keep up my prior post (which received a record-breaking number of comments thank you very much) it is time to move on. For those of you who haven't heard, author Brenda Hiatt has recently updated the Show Me the Money page of her website. This contains valuable information on what romance publishers are paying. I encourage you all to take a look.

Are you a published author? In your experience, are the numbers accurate? Were you aware of Brenda's Show Me the Money page before you visited my blog?

I hope you found this information helpful.

For those of you interested in my journey, I've finished what I hope are the final final revisions to my contracted medical romance. I am in the process of creating character profiles for my second book and hope to have the synopsis finished next week. At the same time I am researching website designers. Can you think of any author websites that stand out from the rest? If so, what makes them so special? And would you be so kind as to give me the link?

Thank you!

Friday, October 8, 2010

My First Sale!

Hi All!

Just in case there's anyone out there who hasn't heard my good news, I spoke with my editor and my agent this morning, and Harlequin Mills and Boon offered me a contract for a two book deal. My first book should be in their publishing lineup in June or July of 2011.
I am absolutely thrilled.
I have some more revisions coming. Of course. I don't know what I would do with myself if I wasn't working on revisions. But, finally, there's an end in site.

I'm so glad you all have shared this journey with me. There's lots more to come so stick around, and keep writing. I can't wait to celebrate your good news soon.

And congratulations to my writing buddy Amy Strnad who sold her manuscript, also as part of a two book deal, to Harlequin Mills and Boon, Modern Heat. You rock! 

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Did It!

I Did It!

Sold my book? No. Not yet.

But I did get my oldest daughter, my first to leave the nest, settled into college seven hours away. And I'm proud to say I did it with a minimum of tears. (Although I lost it after I returned home and popped my head into her still messy room, which still smelled of her incense, and didn't see her lying in bed watching TV.) It was difficult seeing her so happy to be rid of me and hearing her say "Too much love. Too much love," when I hugged her goodbye (and had a bit of trouble getting myself to let go.) As much as I miss her, I'm so proud of the woman she's become, and excited for the journey she is about to take. (And yet I can't help but wonder how she'll manage without me there to nag remind her what needs to be done!)

On the writing front, in the midst of shopping, packing, and traveling, I finished my third rewrite/revision of my WIP and all 54,918 words are in my editor's mailbox waiting to be read. With all the contests Mills and Boon have been running lately, I don't anticipate an answer anytime soon.

Although I'm tempted to give myself a break, maybe read a few books (in between hourly e-mail checks and blogging), I have plenty to keep me busy while I wait. I'm working on a collaboration with three wonderful women, all romance writers, and now friends. I'm very excited about it. At the same time I will begin brainstorming another medical romance and maybe dabble in my military series which sadly has taken a backseat of late.

So what's new with you? Share your successes, I can't wait to read about them.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Humor, Heat, and Hooks Part 2

As promised, here is my second post from the Humor, Heat, and Hooks: The Building Blocks of a Page Turner workshop I attended at national. My apologies again to author Katy Madison, the presenter, as I am unable to access the link she provided and thus cannot transfer it on to all of you.

Humor is one of the quickest ways to endear a character and engage the reader's attention.

Using self-depreciation can let the reader know that:
-  Your character is not a whiner
-  Your character has a sense of humor and is likable
-  Your character is optimistic and not beaten

Even if you don't have a sense of humor, your characters can. But remember not everything is funny to everyone.

Ways to write humor:

Alliteration
Reverse
Unexpected
Series of three
Running joke
The ridiculous
Dogs and children
Fish our of water
Banter ---Not argument
Male vs. female differences
Slapstick ---Can be easily overdone.

Caveat: Never, never have your characters laugh at another character's jokes.

And tread lightly --- this is a place where less is more.

I like to write humor. I think most of you have heard about my beloved cactus scene. In my WIP I had a scene, one of my favorites, where, at the hospital's New Years Eve party, in the process of avoiding her ex and the hero, a nurse hides out in a dark office......and bumps into a cactus. Not just any cactus, a huge six footer that weighed several hundred pounds. I researched cacti. Learned about their spines and which ones were most likely to attach to clothing.

Did you know the San Pedro cactus is alleged to have aphrodisiac properties? But I digress.

The scene was funny...hysterical in my opinion. With lines like: The King Kong of Cacti and a cactus accoutrement.  My agent says it was so different, it's one of the reasons she signed me. I entered the scene in two contests and finaled in each with very positive feedback. I won the Medical Romance Pitch with that scene. And yet the editor I'm working with said something to the effect....it's a great scene, I just don't think the cactus adds anything to it. Doesn't add anything? It added humor. (My character: "Hello. Caught on a cactus here." Now that's something you don't say every day.)

And that's when I learned that humor, solely for the purpose of laughs, is not what my editor is looking for. In fact she mentioned the reader may be concerned for my character's safety, worried about her being injured by the sharp spines. That's not at all what I'd intended. So, after three attempts to get it past her and with much procrastination, I edited it out.

Do you write humor? Do you enjoy reading humor? Any humorous scenes that have taken root in your mind that you'd like to share?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Getting Your Picture to Show up on Blogs

Hello Blog Friends!

I'm writing a quick post to share some interesting information I've come across. It's always frustrated me that my picture only seems to show up when I post on certain blogs. Well, I recently learned of a site named  Gravatar and when you upload your signature picture it shows up on most blogs as long as you log in using the e-mail account attached to your Gravatar profile.

I tried it out tonight, and it worked!

Did you find this information helpful? I hope so.

Happy writing!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Building Blocks of a Page Turner

I've been a bit remiss about sharing some of what I learned at RWA national. So today I will post a bit of information from a workshop titled Humor, Heat and Hooks, The Building Blocks of a Page Turner by Author Katy Madison. My apologies to Ms. Madison as I was unable to access the website listed on her handouts and thus am unable to provide you with her link.

Elements of a Scene:

Business Elements:
1) Show the setting; time and place
2) Set the mood
3) Allude to all characters on scene
4) Foreshadowing; hinting of future events
5) Linking past details and reminding the reader of plot points
6) Backstory, only when necessary

Dramatic Elements:
1) Show character
2) Dialogue
3) Action
4) Introduce obstacles
5) Raise the stakes
6) Solve a problem
7) Sexual tension
8) Reinforce the conflict

Essential Elements:
1) Advance the plot
2) Character growth
3) Romantic development
4) Engage the reader's emotions
5) Entice the reader into the next scene


Hooks:

Opening Hooks:
-  Story question - Why? What will happen next?
-  Do not withhold valuable information from the reader. Tell them who, what, when, and where. The WHY comes later.
-  Present your characters in a scene where further action or a decision is required.

Types of Opening Hooks:
-  Setting - set mood
-  Protagonist is faced with an immediate choice or crisis
-  Protagonist is immersed in action
-  Witty dialogue
-  Problem to be solved
-  Character is faced with a dilemma

Ending Hooks:
-  Each and every scene should end on a question for the reader.
-  Except the last scene of the book - unless you have a sequel

Types of Ending Hooks:
-  Reinforcing the conflict
-  Why would the character do that?
-  What will they do next?
-  Cliffhangers
-  Breaking a love scene in the middle
-  Out of the frying pan into the fire
-  Emotional or physical danger to the character.

This workshop taught me that each scene needs to serve a purpose other than to simply entertain the reader. I knew all about an opening hook, something to grab your reader, to entice him/her buy your book. This workshop taught me the importance of ending hooks, to keep the reader reading, to make him/her turn page after page without being able to put the book down. (I'm still working to perfect it!)

What types of hook draw you into a story? Are you good at writing hooks? Did you know about ending hooks before you read this post?

Next week I'll go over the humor portion of the workshop. Hope you'll come back to read it!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Book Trailers

I'm pressed for time blog friends. But I wanted to share with you an awesome post on the blog of one of my new followers, Author Laura Kaye. On September 4th, Laura wrote a post titled Book Trailer How-Tos and Resources. It is chock full of great information including helpful hints and where to obtain stock images, stock video and stock music.

I encourage all of you to stop by and take a look. And if you're not quite ready to put together a book trailer, join Laura's blog or bookmark her site so you can easily find it when you need it.

Enjoy the last few days of summer.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I Really Should Stay Home and Write!

"I really should stay home and write." I utter these words time and time again when my husband takes my children to the local baseball stadium, the movies, or the mall. I'm always looking to carve out some alone time so I can sit at my computer, uninterrupted, and actually finish a thought. As a result, I miss out on doing some fun things.

Today (Sunday) my family was in charge of lunch preparation at The Lunch Box, a local facility that provides free meals to the poor and homeless of the area. I took the lead, making phone calls and sending e-mails to obtain the necessary food donations and kitchen help. My children love volunteering at The Lunch Box. I routinely donate food but to date have never worked a meal.

As of last night everything was confirmed. I coordinated a good crew, didn't really need to go. The house would be quiet from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. "I really should stay home and write."

But no. Not today. Today I wanted to join my family in a volunteer project that means a great deal to us. I wanted to show up, be present, and help. And I did. I lost a chunk of valuable writing time, but I gained togetherness with my family and a feeling I did a small part to make the day better for someone less fortunate.

As writers we need to be careful not to get so caught up in our characters' lives that we forget to live our own.

What pulls you from the computer when you really should stay home and write? And what are you willing to forgo for a few extra hours at the keyboard?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Facebook

Hi All!

As I look toward the future (and procrastinate in the present), I think about marketing my book. (You know, the one I am revising that has not yet been accepted for publication and may never be!)

Anyway, I came across this article Using Facebook to Amplify Your Reach (and Not Annoy People) that I think you may find helpful.

I have a Facebook account but don't visit all that often. Do you Facebook? Do you have a professional/business profile in addition to your private one? Do you spam your friends with advertisements for your books? (Or do you plan to once you have books published?)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Signs the Summer is Almost Over

Signs the summer is almost over:
- I did so much laundry today, the pump on my well shut off. (My youngest daughter is home from camp. Her clothes look like she's been working in a coal mine.)
- I am driving my son to daily soccer practices as he prepares to try out for his high school varsity team on Wed.
- I am shopping for my oldest daughter as she prepares to get ready to leave for college. (At the end of September.) (Oh, and I am trying to devise ways to spend every possible minute with her!)
- I received my childrens' school bus schedules. (My son's bus will be coming at 6:04 a.m.)
- I am once again receiving daily e-mails from the schools.
- I see signs for back to school sales everywhere I go.
- I am starting to stress over how busy the next few months will be.

I had big plans for my summer, lots I wanted to accomplish. My youngest daughter attended sleep away camp for two months this year, plenty of time for me to finish my revisions, plant the flowerbeds, clean her room, go through all the junk mail on the kitchen table, hire a painter to stain the deck, bring in a landscaper to pull out the overgrown, half-dead bushes around the front of my house, power wash the siding, spray the weeds, and paint the entryway from the garage, right?

WRONG !

Yet I've busy most every day, and not doing enjoyable summer stuff.

Where did all the time go? I'll sum it up in one word: REVISIONS. As my writer friends know, the process is torturous, and yet I've learned so much and feel my manuscript is so much better as a result. Will five + months (and counting) of revisions pay off in the long run? I've decided, yes. Whether my present work in progress is published, or the next one is. So after a weekend spent reading....I mean researching how published writers successfully convey emotion and motivation, and re-grouping after a mini-meltdown fraught with insecurity over whether I'll ever get it right, I am back to work tomorrow.

So how did you spend your summer? Did you get all your planned projects completed? Did you finish your manuscript? Your revisions? If not, don't despair. Technically, there are still a few weeks left!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Birthday

Yesterday (8/14) was my birthday. And yes, I am a Leo to the core. Anyone who has ever worked with me can attest to the fact. The reason I didn't post on my actual birthday (something like - It's my birthday and in celebration I'd love to reach 50 followers on my blog. Will you help?), is because I was a bit woebegone. (Not very Leo like, and not a word I typically associate with myself...or use for that matter.) Maybe it was because my husband and son are away for the weekend at a soccer tournament, my youngest daughter is at sleep away camp, and my oldest daughter had to work, leaving me with much too much alone time.

To me age has always been a number, not very important. 45 didn't bother me, but for some reason 46 isn't sitting well. And I fear the completion of every year closer to 50 will be the same.

"You're as old as you feel." Recently, I've started to feel old. To combat eye strain I am now wearing glasses (which really work, by the way!) My size six figure has expanded into double digits and now requires underwire and torturous 'shapeware' to be presentable at parties. My gray hair patrol is taking more time out of each day as I search out the kinky attackers, and I fear if I don't soon submit to the invasion, I will celebrate my 50th with a bald head! Some days my body feels like its been taken over by hormonal hijackers who are not willing to negotiate for a return to normalcy.

46 Dollars in my pocket - Great!
46 Peanut M&M's/Oreos - Par--Tee!
46 Years on this earth - Not so exciting. (Yes, I know, it beats the alternative.)

Is my life half over or has it only just begun? Whatever the answer, I still have goals for myself, things I'd like to achieve...publication being one. And as my children age and don't need me around as much, I can spend more time rekindling my relationships with others and doing volunteer work. However much time I have left, I plan to make the most of it.

How do you feel about aging? Grow old gracefully or hair dye and Botox? Let it all hang out or stuff it into Spanx? Wear your glasses or suffer with eyestrain?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Web Photos That Reveal Secrets, Like Where You Live

Hi All!

Wow, two posts in one week. But when I come upon helpful information, I like to share it. Today, someone in one of my writing groups shared a New York Times article: Web Photos That Reveal Secrets, Like Where You Live. Here's the link:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/12/technology/personaltech/12basics.html?_r=2&nl=&emc=aua21

Anyone who posts pictures on the Internet needs to read this article.

Here is a snippet: Security experts and privacy advocates have recently begun warning about the potential dangers of geotags, which are embedded in photos and videos taken with GPS-equipped smartphones and digital cameras. Because the location data is not visible to the casual viewer, the concern is that many people may not realize it is there; and they could be compromising their privacy, if not their safety, when they post geotagged media online.

How scary is that?

Do you take pictures with a GPS-equipped smartphone or digital camera and post them online? Do you even know if what you're using is a GPS-equipped smartphone or digital camera? Have you ever heard the word geotag before?

I hope you found this info. and the link helpful!
Stay safe!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Story Structure

Hi All!

On Friday, August 6th I visited Romance University and was introduced to author Larry Brooks who runs a very informative blog http://storyfix.com/. Today (August 10th) he has up a post about story structure and a link to a story structure poster that some of you may find helpful. I tried to copy the link but couldn't, so I highly recommend you visit Larry's blog and give a look.

I hope it helps!

Friday, August 6, 2010

What I Learned From Susan Elizabeth Phillips

While at the RWA (Romance Writers of America) National Conference, I attended a wonderful workshop given by author Susan Elizabeth Phillips. (Love her!!! Even more since meeting her in person!)

Her six magic words that lead to a bestseller: KEEP THE READER IN THE STORY.

What makes a bestseller? A compelling book written in a voice that captivates the reader.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips emphasized: Do not strive to write the perfect book, strive to write a compelling book.

What elements can make a book a bestseller?
*  Riveting plot
*  Care so much about characters we don't want to part from them
*  Author takes us into an unfamiliar world
*  Author's voice

Four tips to keeping a reader in the story:
1) Master good craft
2) Create dazzling characters
3) Write a fast moving plot
4) Write to your strengths not the market

One of her million dollar tips: Create chapter breaks that keep the reader in the story. End each chapter with a hook.

Hope this helps!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Back from RWA National Conference

Hi All!
I'm back from the RWA National Conference held in Orlando, Florida. What an amazing (and overwhelming) experience! Thousands of writers and industry professionals from all over the world gathered together in one place. (I had the nerve to complain about my flight in from New York to an author from Australia!!) Excitement and creativity buzzed through the crowd. At the two luncheons, Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz gave entertaining and motivating speeches. I attended workshops taught by Suzanne Brockman, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Linda Howard, Brenda Novak, Donald Maass, and many other talented presenters. I attended book signings (carried home 49 brand new books!) and met some wonderful people whose pictures I'd like to share. Sadly, I didn't take my camera out as frequently as I should have. Hi to Amy, Marie, Abbi, Yolanda, (Yolanda's mom), Jen, Michelle, Kelsey, Tracey, Adrienne, Beppie, and Janice and everyone else who made my conference so much fun!

Me with my agent Michelle Grajkowski


Me with my writing friend and blog follower Abbi Cantrell at the Heartbeat RWA luncheon.

Me with author Janice Lynn (Dr. DiAngelo's Baby Bombshell) at brunch with Mickey.

Me with author Diane Drake (Medical Romance) and Julie Rowe (Freelance Writer and educator).

 
Me (center) with author Jennifer Probst (r) and writer Yolanda Sly (l), both fellow HVRWA members.



Me with Minnie

My only regrets (aside from my camera flash being unreliable), I couldn't attend all the workshops, I didn't get to meet my writing friend and blog follower Christine, and I spent Saturday night in the Orlando airport instead of attending the GH/Rita Awards Dinner.  But all in all it was a very worthwhile trip. I am rejuvenated and eager to put everything I learned into practice. 

Over the next few days and weeks I'll be posting some of the things I learned at the workshops. I hope you'll stop by. 

Did you attend the RWA national conference? Any other writing conference? If so, what was your overall impression? If not, do you plan to attend an upcoming writing conference? I highly recommend you consider it.  

Friday, July 23, 2010

Eye Strain

After spending so many hours at the computer during my rewrite, I've developed a serious case of eyestrain, to the point even reading a book causes my eyes to ache. Along the lines of don't let this happen to you, here is a copy of a helpful article from Office Ergonomics Training on how to avoid eyestrain. If you have any other suggestions I'd love to hear them!!!

A Dozen Things You Should Know About Eye Strain
1. Eyestrain means different things to different people. It can be experienced as burning, tightness, sharp pains, dull pains, watering, blurring, double vision, headaches, and other sensations, depending on the person. If you have any eye discomfort caused by viewing something, you can call it eyestrain.

2. In VDT workstations, the principal factors affecting the ability to see well are:
glare
the luminance (brightness) difference between what is being looked at and its immediate environment
he amount of light
the distance between the eye and the screen and document
the readability of the screen and document
the worker's vision and his or her corrective lenses

3. Watch out for direct glare. Direct glare involves a light source shining directly into the eyes --- ceiling lights, task lights, or bright windows. To determine the degree of direct glare, you can temporarily shield your eyes with a hand and notice whether you feel immediate relief.

4. Reflected glare, such as on computer screens, sometimes causes eyestrain. But its worst effect may be causing you to change your posture to an uncomfortable one, in order to see well.

5. The most overlooked cause of eyestrain in offices is contrast --- usually, a dark screen surrounded by a bright background such as a window or a lit wall. The best solution is to find a way to darken the area around the screen. This problem occurs mainly on screens with light letters on a black background.

6. How much light is right? It depends on your age, the quality of the print you're reading, and other factors. There should be plenty of light for easy reading, but too much can, depending on the person, cause eyestrain.

7. Eyes are strained more by close viewing than by distant viewing. The "right" distance for computer monitors and documents depends entirely on how clearly they can be read at a given distance. The general rule is to keep viewed material as far away as possible, provided it can be read easily!!!

8. If you gaze at something too long, your eyes can tire. Eyes need to focus at different distances from time to time. It's a good idea to follow the "20/20 rule" --- every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds.

9. If two objects are only a couple of inches different in their distance from the eyes, the eyes actually do NOT have to refocus to look from one to another.

Greater distance differences, however, can overwork the eyes if you have to look from one object to another frequently - -- as when typing from printed copy and looking at the screen. In general, keep viewed objects at about the same distance if you have to look back and forth a lot.

10. Can computer work cause nearsightedness? Rarely, according to optometrists. It's more likely that computer work makes you realize that you need glasses.

11. Sometimes eyestrain is just a case of dry eyes. Lowering the monitor can help. Looking downward means more of the eye surface is covered by the eyelid, and two other things happen: the eyes unconsciously blink more, and they produce more lubrication.

Here's more information on why you should consider a low monitor position.

12. People who need bifocals should consider other options besides bifocals. Two good ones are:
Computer glasses that focus at the right distance for the computer screen.
Wearing contact lenses --- corrected for computer or reading distance in one eye, and for far distance (if needed) in the other eye.

13. Bifocal wearers often experience sore necks and shoulders because they have to tip their heads back to see the computer screen.
Lower the screen as much as possible --- if it sits on the CPU, move the CPU.
If necessary, remove the monitor's tilt-swivel base (consult a computer hardware person first) to gain a couple additional inches.
Lower the work surface that the monitor sits on.

I know, there are 13 and the title says a dozen. What can I tell you? Did you find the article helpful? Any eyestrain stories you'd like to share? Any specific things you do to avoid eyestrain?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Critique Partners

I sat out in the sun today for the first time this summer. Not long, but there is now a difference in color between my arms and my stomach (which has not seen direct sunlight since the birth of my first child back in 1991)! And why did I finally have time to sit out in the sun you ask? BECAUSE I FINALLY FINISHED MY SECOND REVISION/REWRITE!! I sent it off to my agent on Friday and plan for it to be in front of the editor at Harlequin Medical Romance no later then Friday 7/23....in time for me to head off to the RWA National Convention on 7/27 without having to worry about it.

So far I have resisted the urge to tinker because enough is enough.....and because after all the time I've spent at the computer these past four weeks, my eyes, hands, and back are demanding I take a break......so here I sit....updating my blog.

Onto my post.

I belong to a writing group where we post our productivity and goals every week. Sometimes I see posts similar to this: So and so (we post in third person) didn't get any writing done this week but she did two beta reads and critiqued four chapters for her critique partners.

Didn't get any writing done? Shouldn't focusing on our own work come first?

My opinion on this has recently changed. In a past post I mentioned my new critique partner Joanne. While I have never met her in person, we work well together. A week or two into our partnership, Joanne got a request for a full from Silhouette Special Edition. Even though I was working on my rewrite at the time, I dropped everything and spent two full days critiquing her entire manuscript. Her submission with the editor, she's been instrumental in reviewing my work (chapter by chapter) within twenty-four hours, often times quicker, and pointing out issues that, after corrected, have really improved the quality of my manuscript. (Thank you, Joanne!!!)

My new opinion: If you can find the right one, a critique partner, AKA an objective pair of eyes, is a necessity. The problem: Finding the person who is strong where you're weak, committed to making your work the best as it can be, and dedicated to getting your work back timely is very difficult. (It's taken me over two years!)

Now I'll ask you:

What's your take on critique partners? Do you have one? Several?
Do you love them/hate them?
Do you think they're a time suck or time well spent?
Are they nice to have or a necessity?

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm Still Here!

Hello Blog Friends!

To those of you who've stopped by over the past two weeks, sorry I haven't posted anything new. I haven't been around your blogs much either. I apologize. I've been buried under a massive rewrite which I hope to have finished by Friday. I just wanted to stop in and say, "I'm still here." Don't forget about me! I haven't forgotten about you!

Enjoy the beautiful weather for me! I hope to spend some time in the sun soon!

Monday, June 28, 2010

What Type of Writer are You?

I've done a lot of research on the craft of writing. Some things I learn are easier to assimilate into my writing technique than others. For instance, I've read several articles from well known, successful authors who recommend you write your manuscript, start to finish, without looking back until you've completed the entire first draft.

How is this possible? Not look back? I can't do it! I can't I tell you!

I know, I've heard the warning.....If you keep going back to perfect the first chapter, you'll never get past the first chapter. I'm proud to tell you I've conquered this problem, although it took a while.

The way I write now is, I get a scene/chapter into the computer. Usually I think it's nowhere close to as good as it was in my head, and I get frustrated. The next day, however, I come back, review it, add details, flush out setting/characterization, edit extraneous words, and I start to like it. It's usually not until the day after that, after I've edited/revised it a few more times, that I feel ready to move on. That's not to say it's perfect, because further changes are often needed when I do my final edit of the manuscript as a whole.

Another thing I like to do is, when I first sit down to write, I read over the chapter before the one I'm working on, to get myself back into my characters' heads. See...I don't know how to not look back!!!

So what about you? Do you write/revise, write/revise, write/revise until you're done? Or do you write the entire first draft, start to finish, before revising? And which way do you think is best?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Search and Destroy

I've been doing a lot of critiquing lately, of my work, my critique partner's work, and for another writer I hope will become my second critique partner. Since I am in an editing frame of mind, I decided to discuss repetitive words. You know, the ones that sneak into your sentences without you even realizing they're there.

Was.   That.  Seemed.   Felt.   Even.   Just.   And.   Then.   Ever.

My other problem words are there, their, and they're. I know what they all mean and when to use them, yet I routinely find I've used the incorrect form.

When I perform an edit, the above words are at the top of my search and destroy list.

What words or phrases do you tend to repeat in your writing?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Author Branding

Hi All!
I've been a bad blogger, and I apologize. But I've found a new critique partner Joanne who is awesome, and I'm getting a ton of work done! Tonight I e-mailed the revised first three chapters of my WIP to my agent to see if I'm heading in the right direction.

Now. On to my post for today. Author Branding. (And no, this does not have to do with getting your writing genre/subgenre tattooed on a visible body part for easy identification!)

According to Theresa Meyers, President of Blue Moon Communications, when we talk about an author brand we are talking about building an image, perception or identity that is used to create "emotional Velcro" first, a perception of higher quality second and that little "something special" that no one else can offer third.

According to an article by Edwin Colyer at brandchannel, "Authors become brands if they write a certain kind of book. They build up brand loyalty – you know what you're going to get when you read one of their books. By the nature of their craft you won't get something wildly different. You know what you are going to get."


I got the idea for this post while sitting in the audience of the CAROLE KING/JAMES TAYLOR concert this past weekend. First let me tell you....it was FANTABULOUS, and if you have the opportunity to see them, I highly recommend it.

Here are two singers/songwriters in their sixties, whose careers have spanned decades, still performing to sold out crowds. Why? Because they give the people what they want. They sing their songs the way people expect to hear them. Sure they changed things up, but I got what I paid for, and would happily have paid more for if I had to. Carole King and James Taylor have a brand. What comes to mind when you think of them? Ballads. Heartfelt lyrics. Quality. (As hard as it is finding the perfect words, imagine setting them to music. Yikes!)

So as writers, we should take a lesson from these iconic performers by finding our niche and giving our readers (aka customers) what they expect from us....our best work in a form they are familiar with.

What are your thoughts on author branding? (Or James Taylor and Carole King?!?!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Letdown That Follows 'The End'

Writing is a process that for some takes months, others years. The idea for a story can take shape from something as simple as driving a blind curve on a road, watching a young couple kiss, or reading a news story on the Internet. (At least for me.) With the implantation of that single seed every writer begins to think, to research and plot (at least to varying degrees) before getting down to the actual business of writing.

Planning the celebration to follow my youngest child's Bat Mitzvah was very similar. It started months ago with an idea for a candy theme. I thought about place cards, candy centerpieces and giveaways. I researched and found the perfect party planner, candy torah seating cards, personalized string backpacks, DJ, photographer, and photo favor company. I created a guest list then contracted, designed, and ordered what I needed.

The day of the Bat Mitzvah felt similar to when I finish a first draft. I felt a sense of excitement, accomplishment that it all came together the way I'd planned. My daughter was beautiful, poised, and dare I say perfect!!! No mother could have been prouder! The reception was fabulous, the food delicious, and the dancing....let's just say quite a few of my muscles and discs rebelled at the overzealous activities of the day!

When the party was over and I looked back at how it all went, it felt similar to the revision process. What would I have done differently, how could I have made things better? For one, I would have eaten more or at least asked that my salmon be packaged up for me to eat later. (As a result of this oversight we stopped at a local hamburger restaurant on the way home from the party....me....complete with my glow stick necklace!) Second, I would have worn a pair of the colorful ped socks we distributed to the kids instead of playing grownup and keeping my heels on the entire time. (An oversight I'm still feeling the effects of today!) Third, I would not have allowed my daughter to wear a strapless dress. (An oversight that had her tugging up her bodice throughout the day.) Unfortunately, a writer can go in and revise to fix the details to make them better. The mother of the Bat Mitzvah girl cannot. Luckily the problems were minor in comparison to all the fun we had!

And finally, the day after the party, just like when a manuscript's final final edits are complete and it's on its way to the agent/editor for review, I experienced the the letdown of 'The End'. Just like I miss the characters who have been a daily part of my life for months, I miss the planning and anticipation of my daughter's big day, which is now just another happy memory.

How do you feel when you've finally completed your manuscript and sent it off? Are you relieved? Sad? Do you obsess and wish you'd made a few more changes? Do you get right to work on your next project, or do you give yourself a much needed break?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A New Suit

Three days to my daughter's Bat Mitzvah and things in my world are bordering on out of control. Two weeks ago I decided I could no longer put off buying my son, age 16 and growing taller each day, a new suit. All I had to do was find a corresponding two hours of free time where we both were available to get to the store. As luck would have it, on a Thursday afternoon, torrential rain caused the town to close the soccer fields. YES! No soccer practice. So after school and track practice and a visit to the Hebrew tutor, we headed up to the suit store.

My son is on the cusp of men's sizes. The salesman informed me that out of the hundreds of suits in inventory, they had 3, yes I said 3, suits in my son's size. I'd anticipated difficulties outfitting my daughter and myself so we started shopping back in January. But my son? No way! How hard is it to buy a suit? I felt panic rising. It took an act of nature for me to find the time in our busy schedules to get to the store. I had to allow for alterations. How long would it take for our schedules to align again? And where would we go? The store we were at had the largest selection around.

I prayed one of the available suits would work. Unfortunately, my son flat out refused the first choice based on color. So he tried on the second of his three possibilities. It looked nice, came with two pairs of pants. I innocently asked, "How much?"

The salesman replied, "$450.00."

I laughed. That was a joke right? $450.00 for a suit a 16-year-old would probably wear once? Not on my  budget. The salesman didn't seem to appreciate my amusement. I stopped short of yelling at my son to hurry up and take the suit off before something happened and we were forced to buy it.

The next suit, the last of our three options, looked good and was, thankfully, more reasonably priced. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was getting late. My children were hungry and eager to get to Chili's (my bribe for them to cooperate!) The hard part over, with the salesman's assistance, I rushed to find the smallest dress shirt available in the perfect shade of blue and a matching tie. My husband showed up and took the children to the restaurant while I paid.

The salesman rang up my order, I handed over my credit card, and ran through the rain to my car. It wasn't until I arrived home and looked at my receipt that I realized I'd purchased my son an $85.00 dress shirt!

What does this have to do with writing? Even when we're stressed and under a deadline, we must pay attention to the details. Have you ever sent a manuscript to an agent/editor/contest only to realize later on that you made a stupid spelling error? That the hero's green eyes mentioned on page 1 changed to brown on page 21? If yes, please share your stories. If no, how do you manage the details while under pressure?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dr. Di Angelo's Baby Bombshell

Hi All!
I finished reading the medical romance novels sent to me by the editor at Harlequin Mills and Boon, and my favorite was Dr. Di Angelo's Baby Bombshell written by Janice Lynn. Okay, I know. If you're not a fan of category romance, the title might put you off. But wait! Don't stop reading. This story is too good to miss. Here's what the Mills and Boon website had to say:


Dr Di Angelo’s Baby Bombshell

Janice Lynn

Dr Darby Phillips never planned to get involved with playboy Blake Di Angelo, but she needs a temporary date fast and the delicious doctor is the perfect choice! Now their little charade has turned into romance for real, and Darby must tell Blake that he’ll soon be hearing the pitter-patter of tiny feet!




Here's what I have to say: Dr. Darby Phillips is a confident professional who hasn't quite gotten over the heartbreak caused by her high school crush, the embarrassment of her stint as the school mascot, or the horror of being voted most likely to die a virgin. Determined to show her classmates the new and improved Darby she's become, she convinces her hunky partner to pose as her enamored boyfriend at her high school reunion. Most likely to die a virgin, hah! As usual, things don't go as planned. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens! (And I highly recommend that you do!)

Janice Lynn's writing style appealed to me because it's similar to my own. I like humor interspersed with drama. I like to be entertained. And that's exactly what Janice Lynn did!

Now, with renewed motivation and a better understanding of what it takes to write a medical romance storyline, I will immerse myself in my next round of revisions. Between that, and my daughter's Bat Mitzvah in 11 days, I won't be blogging much until the second week of June. (If you're not familiar with what a Bat Mitzvah is, think planning a wedding for 130 guests with a temperamental preteen who has ideas of her own (like dying her hair black before the big day!) thrown into the mix!)

Until my next post, I hope all of your days are warm and sunny....oh....and productive!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

eReaders

To do my bit for the environment and to reduce my risk of paperback induced head trauma from the the ever-growing stacks of books teetering at the head of my bed, I, though technologically challenged, am in the market for an eReader. I'm hoping you all can help.

I've researched the Kindle (1&2), Sony, Nook, and of course the iPad. Borders is coming out with a Kobo. I don't know much about that. My friend Liz recently discussed a Vook on her blog Tao of Liz. I don't think I'm ready to Vook!

At my daughter's band concert the other night, I sat behind a man with an iPad. It was so big and the screen so bright and colorful, it drew me in like a moth in that darkened theater. It was all I could do not to reach for it and poke at the touch screen! I came dangerously close to breaching a stranger's personal space, and maybe breaking a law or two, so I kept my hands clutched tightly in my lap and peppered him with questions until he looked like he wanted to change seats. He loves his iPad, of course, but doesn't use it for reading books. WHAT? And he was sure to mention its huge price tag. Braggart!

So here's the deal. I'm looking for something so easy a two-year-old could use it independently. I think I'd like a larger screen, only because a small screen seems like you'd be scrolling down all the time. I'd like to be able to read it at night. Would I still need to keep a lamp on? And I'd like to be able to adjust the font.

I'm very interested to know if reading on an e-reader causes eye strain similar to long bouts on the computer.

I'm hoping you techno-savvy readers will share your experiences with me!

Thanks so much!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Social Networking

To Twitter or not to Twitter, that is my question.

Do you tweet? I don't. I know it's the rage, but quite honestly, I can't imagine having to overcome one more distraction in my day. As it is, if I visited every blog I follow, every day, I'd literally spend more time blogging than writing. And while I'd enjoy myself immensely, because I LOVE to blog, what is my overall goal? To get published. Therefore, I need ample time away from the Internet to brainstorm, plan, write, edit, write, re-work, write, revise, write, and prepare what I've written for submission.

And yet I need to network and get my name out there, too. So where do I draw the line? At Twitter.

Is this a wise course of action? I'm hoping maybe some of you can help me figure that out.

What is your experience with Twitter? Other than the social aspect of it, how do you feel it helps a new writer's career? And if you're not on Twitter all day, every day, is it worth being on it at all?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Deep POV

POV (Point of view) is difficult for new writers to master.
-  Use all of your POV character's senses not just sight.
-  What does he smell, hear, taste, and feel?
-  Don't jump from POV character to POV character (aka head hopping).
-  The POV character can't know what others feel, he can only observe reactions and facial expressions.

Then, just when you think you've finally got it down, someone throws the term 'Deep POV' at you. What the....?

So, during a recent trip to Romance University when I read a post by author Karin Harlow in which deep POV was mentioned, I took the opportunity to ask about it. And this is Karin's response:

Straight POV is where the character thinks and sees on the surface. i.e. It was raining, and she didn’t like the rain.


Deep POV is: The rain always brought back the haunting memories of her little sister, and the day she died. The scent of damp leaves, the feel of the accusing, cold rain digging into her skin, the rumbling thunder in the sky that somehow made its way into her heart, a constant reminder that Jenny would be alive today if she had just done her job.

Wow!

Deep POV is also referred to as Limited Third Person. It takes you deep inside your character, showing not only what he feels in response to a situation, but why he feels that way. It adds a depth of emotion to a scene. In order to achieve deep POV a writer must dig deep into their characters' personalities and motivations. In a sense they become the character, allowing the reader to view the inner workings of the POV character's mind and thus experience the scene as the POV character does. The reader does more than read a story they live it.

These are the types of stories I want to write!

What's your experience with deep POV? Do you write in it? Do you have examples of regular POV vs. deep POV you'd like to share? Can you recommend authors who excel at deep POV?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Great Beginnings Contest

Great news!

Today I found out my entry from my military story, Captivating the Captain, placed second in the contemporary category of the Utah RWA Great Beginnings Contest. Doing well in a contest always gives me a boost. And boy do I need it to fuel my mental preparation for what will hopefully be my last major revision of Love, Hospital Style.

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there! I hope your day is (or was) as special as you are!

Friday, May 7, 2010

More Revisions

Life has turned incredibly busy for me, and on top of everything, Harlequin Medical Romance requested another round of revisions to bring my manuscript up to their publication standard. I am thrilled Love, Hospital Style is still under consideration. Yet I am saddened to have to cut more of the secondary characters I love, and nervous about what it will take to replace more deleted scenes with even better ones.

While deciding how to proceed, I grappled with the question, "If I make all the changes the publisher is requesting, will I still be telling the story I want to tell?" After numerous conversations with myself, and my husband, I decided that as a writer it is my job to find a way to tell the story I want to tell, within the publishers guidelines. Unless, of course, I don't want to see my work in print, in which case I can write whatever drivel I want.

Since I do seek publication, and am lucky enough to have found an editor interested in my voice and willing to work with me, I'd be a fool not to take this opportunity to transform my story into one that both Harlequin Medical Romance and I can be proud of.

So it's back to work for me. I'll do my best to keep my blog updated so please stay in touch. Wishing you productive days filled with positive experiences.  

Monday, May 3, 2010

Articles on Writing Fiction

Over the years I've read a lot of articles on the craft of writing fiction. I'm sure the writers among you have done the same. For those of you not involved in trying to pen the next bestseller, writing a saleable novel takes much more than the simple act of filling a blank page with words. And as an editor (Theresa Stevens) recently told me, (after I made a comment that I wish I'd paid more attention in high school English) your high school English teacher wouldn't have taught you what you need to know to write fiction.

Show don't tell. Paint a picture for your reader. Write what you know. Write effective dialogue. Write complex characters. Each scene must move the story forward. Rely on characters to move the story forward, not external plot twists. Conflict. Conflict. Conflict. I could go on and on.

Two years ago I read an article about show don't tell that truly impacted my writing. I wish I could find it to give the author the credit she deserves, but I've spent a good hour searching the leaning tower of papers piled on my desk and filing cabinets, to no avail.

It went something like this:
A new writer knows she's turned the corner when instead of writing: He was mad so he put on his sneakers and went for a jog.

She writes: The blister on his right heel stung with each slap of his running shoe against the pavement. The midday sun burned his glistening shoulders, sweat trickled down his forehead, blurring his vision. And still he ran, faster, harder, her harsh words echoing in his head, driving him forward. He couldn't stop, wouldn't stop until he conquered the urge to hurt her as much as she'd hurt him, until he found peace in the utter exhaustion that followed a ten mile run.

Okay. So the above is my interpretation. I hope it had the same impact on you as the original article had on me.

Is there something you've read or advice you've been given that truly impacted your life as a writer, or life in general?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Successful Writers

I came across a wonderful article: How Successful Writers Maintain Confidence. I highly recommend you take a few minutes out of your day to read it. While the author's focus is on writers, many of his suggestions can be applied to life in general (at least in my opinion).

Please let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Revisions, Revisions, Revisions

Hi All! 

My first round of revisons are done and with my agent. (To be sent out 4/30/10) Since 4/21/10 I have:

1) Brainstormed with my agent.
2) Got approval for my planned revisions from Harlequin Medical Romance.
3) Deleted 16,000 words from my manuscript.
4) Added 8,000 words including three new scenes, a prologue and an epilogue
5) Moved the heroine finding out she was pregnant from chapter 3 to chapter chapter 11. (And what a nightmare that turned out to be because I needed to edit the pregnancy out of every chapter in between.)
6) I made the hero more lovable (at least tried to) and made his motivation and conflict clearer.
7) I deleted several characters and scenes that either did not move the romance forward or moved it forward via external plot twists.
8) I added more scenes with the hero and heroine together to show the developing romance.
9) I proof read, re-read, and read again until I thought my eyes would surely bleed. (They didn't.)
10) I typed, moved, deleted, and re-typed enough words for a complete second novel. (And if not, close to it!)

In the end, I am very happy with the result.

If I had more time, would I have made more changes? Definately yes, because it's my nature to tinker.

Would additional changes have improved the story? I'm not so sure. (I'm guessing the editor at Harlequin Medical Romance will tell me!)

Now I wait. And as much as I HATE WAITING, it's actually very exciting having a full manuscript being reviewed by an editor with an eye on publishing it. And it beats getting a rejection letter. Whatever happens, this has been a wonderful learning experience and has motivated me to get back to work on other projects, including the sequel to Love, Hospital Style. Because you never know.....

So what have you all been up to?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Put Up or Shut Up!

For months I've been talking about how I want to be a published author. I've been networking, taking online classes, and planning for the big day. Well, the time has come for me to put up or shut up. Today my agent sent over a list of recommended revisions I need to address before we submit my manuscript to Harlequin Medical Romance on April 30th. Of course, as luck would have it, today is also the day I got the middle finger of my right hand caught in a wrought iron railing and pulled off 2/3 of the nail. OUCH!

While a bulky bandage may slow me down, it will not stop me! For the next week, armed with Tylenol, extra gauze, and a positive attitude, I will be a revising machine. Unfortunatley, in order to focus fully on my task at hand, I plan to place significant limitations on my Internet activities.

Please come back for my next post at the end of the month.

Until then, may your days be productive and your nights filled with whatever makes you happy!  

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What Are The Odds?

For those of you who follow my blog, you'll remember my recent post about a guest at one of my parties falling ill, necessitating a frantic call to 911. (For you newcomers, welcome and please scroll down to my April 3, 2010 post titled It's Not From the Food! I Swear!)

What are the odds of another guest falling ill at my very next party, two short weeks later? If I were a gambling woman I'd go play Lotto.

Saturday afternoon my family and I hosted a party to celebrate my mother-in-law's 85th birthday. I've been a little under the weather, so my husband and oldest daughter did ALL the cooking. I swear. (And no, we did not serve pickles.) When only one couple remained I was alerted to a male guest suffering chest pain. "It's just gas," he insisted. "I've had it before." But his wife's distress set me into action.

My first thought (after assessing his skin color and respiratory status): This can't be happening again.
My second thought: Damn, why don't I keep Alka Seltzer on hand?
My third thought: I hope I don't need to dial 911 again.

I rubbed the gentleman's back, patted gently, then not so gently. If I could have thrown him over my shoulder and burped him like a babe I would have. (I hope I don't need to dial 911 again.)

He got up to walk around. I think he was afraid if he remained seated I'd try to beat that belch right out of him. (I hope I don't need to dial 911 again.)

He walked, I walked. He sat, I sat, clutching my cell phone. He stared at his wife, I stared at him.

After some seltzer he said he felt better. I think he lied so I'd stop asking if he felt any better. He and his wife decided to drive home, probably to get away from me. (Thank G-d I didn't need to dial 911 again.)

I'm happy to say, this morning he felt good as new...well as good as any of us middle-aged folk feels in the morning, I suppose.

I have to admit, I'm a little concerned. Two near misses. Do I risk a third? And what can I do to avoid it, require an MD note for medical clearance along with my invitees' RSVPs? Should I stop throwing parties? Befriend an EMT? Invest in an EKG/defibrilator? Any suggestions?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Words to Live By

I'm feeling philosophical today. Maybe it's the fever, or the pressure in my head. But before I climb back into bed, I wanted to share with you some of the words I've picked up over the years that have shaped me into the person I am today.

1)   Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. (I live this one daily.)
2)   Character is doing the right thing even when no one is around to see. (I instill this in my children constantly.)
3)   Praise often, and in public. Criticize in private. (I am good with praising others. I can, however, be rather critical of my family. (I am a perfectionist.) But I am trying to improve.)
4)   When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. (It usually takes me 24 hours to implement this one.)
5)   You never know until you try. (I started my business based on this one.)
6)   You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. (I think of this each time I send out my writing for someone else to review.)
7)   Love deeply. (I do.)
8)   Laugh out loud. (Every chance I get.)
9)   Those who row the boat don't have time to rock it. (Or: Stop complaining and get to work!)
10) To get to the top you have to get off your bottom. (Or: Stop talking about it and do it!)

What words and phrases do you incorporate into your daily life?

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's Official

It's official. After a few days of nail-biting and worrying that she may have changed her mind, I received the signed contract in the mail today. I am now represented by the wonderful Michelle Grajkowski at 3 Seas Literary Agency. http://www.threeseaslit.com/

This is a very exciting time, and I appreciate you all sharing it with me!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Someone Needs to Walk the Dog

John's comment on my last post, about not wanting to have to care for a dog, set me up nicely for this post. (Thanks, John!) http://thirdpersonltd.johnmbaron.com/

In my house, nothing clears a room faster than when I say, "Someone needs to walk the dog." I could yell, "Fire!" and my children wouldn't budge from in front of the TV/computer unless actual smoke and flames obstructed their view. However, when I yell, "Someone needs to walk the dog," they scatter like shrapnel after the big blast.

Of course I track them down, and then the bargaining begins. It typically goes something like this:
"If you walk the dog, I'll set the table."
"You have to wipe it, too. And clear."
"I'll wipe. You clear."
"I don't know. My foot hurts. Besides, I walked the dog yesterday, in the rain. I got soaked."
"Well the last time I walked the dog it was dark. And I had to pick up his poop. (A Marcus family requirement.)
"Last Thursday I walked him twice and he pooped both times."
"On Friday he almost broke my finger when he ran after a squirrel."
Me: "Dinner's getting cold. Someone needs to walk him."
"What about Becca?" (My oldest daughter. 18. Enough said.) "She never has to walk the dog."
"If you can get her to do it, fine. Daddy and I are going to start eating without you."
"Walk the dog," my son yells, because he's 16 and exists in a constant state of hunger.
"No. You do it," my youngest daughter counters, because she's 12 and likes to argue.
Me: "If I have to get up there will be consequences."
"Fine," my youngest daughter says, stomping off to get the leash. "But if my foot gets any worse I won't be able to participate in gym, and I'll get a bad grade, and it will be all your fault." (My fault. Not my son's.)
Me: "It's a risk I'm willing to take. Put on a jacket." (She doesn't.)

I'd like to point out that while my children think it's perfectly acceptable to lally-gag and or negotiate when I ask for something to be done, the same does not apply for them. So when my son needs new turf shoes for the indoor soccer tournament the next day I'm expected to hop in the car, pronto, so he can drive me to Dick's Sporting Goods. And when my daughter wants the new rubber animal bracelets that everyone at school has, I'm expected to swing by the dollar store, regardless of whatever else I had planned, pass her some cash, then sit in the car (while the groceries melt in the back) and act like I don't know her. (Unless she sees someone she's wants to avoid, in which case I am allowed to exit the vehicle to purchase the bracelets for her.)

I know people survive this parenting thing, but it amazes me how most manage to do it without developing a noticible twitch, or suffering a debilitating mental collapse, or winding up in prison.

I guess I manage like most other good parents, with a sense of humor! (Usually after the fact!)

For those of you with grown children, did you survive unscathed? For those parents still in the trenches, do you blame your gray hairs on your children? Or do you visit the salon? For those of you not yet blessed with children, please disregard this post!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Dog

I am not a dog lover, but I love my dog. A few weeks ago my son and I got into a discussion about how old our little, white Bichon Frise is. I figured he's three or four, my son insisted he's older. So I whipped out his doggie birth certificate to prove I was right. Only I wasn't. My pet is actually six years old. Six years! Where has the time gone?

I still remember when we bought him as a tiny puppy, from a less than reputable pet seller it turns out. He wouldn't eat, wouldn't drink, and wouldn't sleep (alone). Heartbroken and sleep-deprived, I called the vet who said to pamper my pooch with cooked chicken and rice and bottled water. A working mother of three, I rushed to the local superette and purchased what they had available. That night my puppy feasted on boiled Bell and Evans chicken breast (steroid, antibiotic, and hormone free and uber expensive) cut into tiny, easy to chew  morsels, basmati rice, and Poland Spring water. My children ate peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches!

It took all of 48 hours for that little white ball of fur to burrow into my heart. Today, I rarely take a step he doesn't follow. I'm the favorite, which suits me fine.....unless of course someone in the house is eating....then they become the temporary favorite. My pup is no longer little, which I blame, in part, on the vet. You see, after having a taste of table food at a young age, my dog has a very discriminating palate. He'll scrounge for people-food day and night, and won't touch his dry nuggets until he sees how he's made out at the dinner table. And boy does he love chicken! The vet says my dog has the biggest thighs he's ever seen on a bichon. It's because he spends as much time balanced on his hind legs begging as he does standing on all four.

For those of you who don't have a dog, there's nothing better than coming home to a bundle of energy who's bursting with joy at your arrival. (Even after a short walk to the mailbox!) Having a dog is a lot of work, but he works hard for us too: Protecting us from delivery people, alerting us to movement in the yard, notifying us that the garbage is full and needs scavenging   emptying. I love my dog, and can't imagine life without him.

Do you have a pet you'd like to write about? If so, I'd love to read about him/her.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's Not From The Food! I Swear!

This post is dedicated to one of my favorite cousins who I love dearly. (You know who you are!) The topic is finding humor in situations that aren't particularly funny. (Usually after the fact.)

I'll start by telling you all that my house is the party house. We have a huge deck, a screened in porch, and an oversized family room. Every year my family and I host all the major holiday gatherings. And even though, from time to time I complain about all the work involved, I wouldn't have it any other way. Now I'm not a great cook, but over the years I've perfected a few dishes....turkey, chicken soup with matzo balls, and matzo kugel. And these delectable treats were on the menu for my annual Passover seder held this past Tuesday.

So after hitting the seder highlights, my family, friends, and I partook of the festive meal I'd prepared. Afterwards, while I was doing the dishes, my cousin walked into the kitchen complaining she didn't feel well. She grabbed onto my arm for support, and I assisted her into the family room. I got her settled on my new couch, elevated her feet on my new coffee table, and got her a cold compress for her head. I ran for my mother-in-law, also a nurse, but didn't need anyone to tell me that my cousin did not look at all well.

Was it my food? I wondered. Had I purchased a diseased bird? Had I served my loved ones tainted turkey? I strained my brain to remember the signs and symptoms of food poisoning. Botulism. Listeria. There were so many possibilities. I considered a Google search, but after another quick glance at the gray color of my beloved cousin's skin, opted to speed dial 911 to get some trained professionals on site PDQ (pretty damn quick).

While on the line with the 911 operator, I did a quick head count to make sure no one else had succumbed to a foodborne illness. I started to feel nauseous. I considered telling the operator to send a fleet of ambulances because I had a potential  culinary catastrophe on my hands, with the possibility of mass casualties. (Well, fifteen total. But there was no way we could all squeeze into one ambulance.) I started to sweat.

I took a calming breath, surveyed the crowd once more, and decided not to overreact. The first responder arrived, lights flashing. I told him what happened. "After our Passover meal my cousin felt sick. It's not from the food. I swear. Look, everyone else is fine. I think it's her heart." Yeah. That's it. Because no way did I want to be responsible.

The EMTs arrived, lights flashing. I gave them the same schpeil...... "It's not from the food! I swear!"

The police arrived, lights flashing. I gave my account of what happened. "......It's not from the food! I swear!" The officer gave me his 'just the facts ma'am' look. I prattled on. He summarized, "So she fell ill after eating." I glared at him. He smirked. I made a mental note of his badge number.

Mobile Life arrived, lights flashing, bringing the total number of strangers in my family room up to about eight. By that time my cousin looked much better. And despite one paramedic taking her blood pressure while another attached EKG leads to her chest, that dear sweet woman came to my defense muttering through her oxygen mask, "It really wasn't from the food. The food was delicious."

I wanted to scream out , "See. I told you so!" I'd been vindicated. Whew! I was off the hook!

But still.... when the phone rang in the middle of it all, and I saw my neighbor's number on my caller ID, I picked up the phone and immediately said, "It's not from the food. I swear!"

Prior to my cousin leaving for the ER, she announced she'd eaten half a pickle and maybe that was the cause of her ailment. I made a mental note to remove pickles from the menu of all future parties.

Of course I've embellished a factoid here and there for effect. And at the time, my cousin's condition was anything but funny. But when I look back on it and think about my irrational fear that I was somehow responsible for her falling ill, and the measures I took to clear my good hostess name, I now get a bit of a chuckle.

I'm happy to say all turned out okay in the end. No one else reported feeling anything more than the satisfactory fullness that accompanies an EXCELLENT meal, and my cousin is doing well.

Does anyone have a holiday story you'd like to share? Or a serious situation that, after it was all over, tickled your funny bone?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lots of Good Things

On the heels of not finaling in RWA's Golden Heart Contest, I've received some pretty great news:

1) Harlequin Medical Romance liked the first three chapters of Love, Hospital Style. They requested the full......after I make some major revisions.

2) An agent e-mailed me that she'd like to discuss representation. I'm still waiting for her call, which feeds my fear that maybe she mistook me for someone else. But I'm enjoying the anticipation none the less.

3) I received notification that my entry finaled in the URWA Great Beginnings Contest!

I'm sharing this, not to gloat or stroke my ego, but so you all can see that good things can happen when you least expect them, so don't give up hope! And if nothing comes of any of it, now that I've had a taste of the positive, I'll work even harder for more.

Happy Passover and Easter to all! I'm off to spend some quality time with my family.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Romeo Romeo


Last week I read Romeo Romeo, written by Robin Kaye. It is a fast-paced, entertaining read that I enjoyed immensely, and think you will, too. With all the hoopla over the announcement of the Golden Heart finalists, I think it's interesting that Romeo Romeo won first place in the Golden Heart in the single title category back in 2007. It was published in 2008 and from what I can tell from Ms. Kaye's website, http://www.robinkayewrites.com/ it is her first published book. I can honestly say that if this is the caliber of manuscript that wins the Golden Heart, mine didn't deserve to final. (At least as it was at the time I submitted it.)

So there you go. Slowly but surely I am finding new authors to follow (as I've read most everything out there from my favorites). Ms. Kaye has two other books out, Breakfast in Bed and Too Hot to Handle, that I plan to pick up on my next trip to Borders.

Have you come across any new (or new to you) authors whose books you enjoy? If so, please share them with us, and be sure to specify genre.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

One Out of Two Ain't Bad

So, as stated in a prior post, this week had the potential to be a total bust. I'm happy to report, it was NOT.

I'll start with the negative, to get that out of the way. I did not final in RWA's Golden Heart Contest (for unpublished writers). For those of you unfamiliar with RWA, it stands for Romance Writers of America, and boasts a membership of over 10,000. If you follow this blog regularly, you may remember that I made a bunch of last-minute changes to my manuscript before sending it out, and was worried I'd made it worse rather than better. Turns out I was right. But since that time I've revised and edited and think my manuscript is much stronger. Which leads me to........

Last week I was chosen for a chat room pitch to Lucy Gilmour, an editor at Harlequin Medical Romance. The pitch took place on Tuesday of this week, and despite more nerves than I thought I'd have (which led to stiff, clammy fingers), it went great. Ms. Gilmour requested a copy of my synopsis and first three chapters, which I happily e-mailed out yesterday.

Also yesterday, I got beautiful, new furniture for my family room, which makes me happy every time I look at it. So all-in-all, not a bad week!

To all my writing friends, who like me didn't final in the Golden Heart, how did you deal with this minor setback? (For me it was a chocolate frosted donut from Dunkin Donuts and Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner!) To everyone else, what's your favorite method of dealing with disappointment?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Google Search

How many times have you Googled yourself? Come on, be honest. On one hand, I find it interesting how many women have the same name as me and how well they've done for themselves. On the other hand, why am I not coming up? Granted I haven't been published (yet), but I have this great blog. That should count for something.

Last week I learned two very important things about Google searches I'd like to share.

1) When you use quotation marks around your search criteria you get a more defined search. For instance, if I Google Wendy Marcus I may come up with Wendy Smith and Marcus Reid. If I Google "Wendy Marcus" I come up with Wendy Marcus's...dozens of them.

2) Generally, you have to submit your site to the search engines. Here are some links:
For Google: http://www.google.com/addurl/
For Yahoo: http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/submit
For Bing: http://www.bing.com/webmaster/SubmitSitePage.aspx

I added my link to all three of the above sites and now when I Google "Wendy Marcus" there I am, Must Have Romance, right smack in the center of the first page.

Did you know this already? If not, did you try it? Can you now find yourself in a Google search? If not, what interesting things come up when you Google your name?