Deadline Diaries

Five Romance writers tell all.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Terror Tales from Oklahoma


Posted by Christine



That would be me in the picture. Devoured by mice. Okay well. Actually, it’s Xerxes as rendered by the faboo Edward Gorey in his little alphabetical work of genius, The Gashlycrumb Tinies or: After the Outing. Twenty-six tots, one for each letter of the alphabet, all perishing in grisly ways…

“A is for Amy who fell down the stairs. B is for Basil, assaulted by bears…”

Mwahaha.

I love Halloween. I admit it. I love horror movies. Because…I love to be scared. Safely scared. I want to cringe and scream and cover my eyes…and then peek, of course.

And scream some more. All in the comfort of my theater seat. With a giant Diet Pepsi and a large popcorn. Extra butter flavoring, please.

When I was a kid, I loved Trick-or-Treating. I loved the having-my-mother-make-my-costume-to-order part. And I loved the actual walking around in said costume, ringing doorbells. Getting candy. The whole social thing. Kids in white sheets and black witch’s hats wandering up and down my neighborhood streets. I didn’t care that there was no trickery involved anymore. Just the treat part was fine with me.

My parents love to tell the story of my first Trick-or-Treat. They took me to the first house. I rang the bell. When the lady answered, I went in and sat on her couch. I thought it was a visit. A costumed visit. Hey. Why not?

And then when I was in kindergarten and had my first boyfriend, Johnny Garcia, (When it comes to love, start early. That would be my advice.) we went Trick-or-Treating together. I still remember him ringing one particular doorbell. From within, a woman’s voice called, “Who’s there?” And Johnny said, “Just me and my girlfriend.”

Oh, yeah. Nothin’ like Halloween and young love.

Nowadays, we don’t get a lot of Trick-or-Treaters. People don’t want their kids having all that candy. They worry about their kids’ safety in these troubled times. They take them to Halloween night gatherings at their churches or some public facility.

And my own kids are past the Trick-or-Treating years. Okay. I miss that. But I’ll be here at my house, with a big bowl of candy. Watching a horror flick, waiting for the doorbell to ring…

How about you? Halloween plans?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Kate Can't Make Up Her Mind

What to talk about today??

I’ve got two completely different--and totally fascinating, naturally--subjects I want to touch on today and I just couldn’t decide between them, so I’m going to talk about them both! Yes, I’ll try to keep it brief. It’s Monday and we’ve all got places to go and things to do.

The American Title contest

Yesterday, voting ending for round one of the contest, and the results were sent to the finalists this morning. I thought I’d be able to jump online and blog it to the rooftops, shouting, “Woohoo!! I’m a big fat loser!!” or “Oh hell, I made it to the next round!!”

But no, the rules state very firmly that we are not to announce the outcome of round one anywhere online for two weeks. We’ve got to keep it a secret so that RT can stir up excitement for the next round. I see their point, but hello? I’ve got a blog to write, people! And not a whole lot of subject matter to play with. And everyone wanted to know the result, right? You’re dying to know whether I made it to round two! Right? You guys? Hello?

Hmph.

Fine. Then we'll talk about something even more exciting!

My writing process!!

Yeah, you thought I was going to blather on and on about Johnny Depp or Russell Crowe or Hugh Jackman. Get real!

Kate Carlisle On Writing

Yeah, I stole Stephen King’s title because it makes me laugh when I say it. Kate Carlisle On Writing. Good one. So Kate, where do you get your story ideas?

Gosh, thanks for asking, but I have no idea. A few months ago, I was getting really fed up with the huge amount of vampire stories showing up in Publishers Marketplace, so just for fun, Maureen Child and I started brainstorming the silliest titles we could think of for a vampire book. Once we had what we considered the most absurd title, we brainstormed a story to match the title.

Yes, you guessed it. It was a really great idea. And that’s the story I’m working on right now, and it’s so cute and funny and I’m thinking it just might sell. And it came about because of a really goofy title.

A few years ago, I was washing dishes and a full-length mystery romance erupted in my brain. Truly, I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s like it appeared fully formed and ready to write. I knew I had to hurry and get it all down on paper before it faded from my mind like so many soap suds in the sink.

Ideas come from photographs and snippets of overheard conversations and stories in the news. Sometimes they come from sitting down and actually thinking of ideas. It’s like magic and hard work, all at the same time. You never know when something will smack you upside the head and say “Write me!” But it's so great when it happens.

It's just like magic.

Where did your last great idea come from? Did you buy it at Wal-Mart or was it delivered on the wind when you happened to open a window?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I do believe it's Saturday and you know what that means...

Posted by Christine


Believe it or not, his name is Rusty Joiner. No, Maureen. Not wet. But I'm sure he's thinking about being wet...

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Care and Feeding of UNJURED Men



No, this blog entry is not just a ploy to put up the cover of my last book. Really. Because I have the care and feeding of a particular injured man on my mind.

Surfer Guy is in the doldrums. He’s 6’5”, and has had back problems for a number of years. Seems no surprise, sorta like a giraffe getting a crick in its neck. Goes with the territory.

However, Surfer Guy had surgery for a herniated disc at the end of July and just found out Wednesday that it has ruptured again! He’s going to have a more drastic surgery to remove the entire disc next week. He’s already been lying around for a week hoping it would get better with rest, but now…now this means even more lying around.

Surfer Guy, unlike moi, is not happy with a stack of books. He needs action! Movement! Things happening!

He’s already bored with TV. The laptop computer is not much better. He borrowed Son 1’s Gameboy and is playing that make-you-mentally-younger game, BrainAge, on it. He’s thinking like a 20-year-old now. And 20-year-olds are not any better at being flat on their backs. The poor man is going nuts.

I, on the other hand, knowing we have several holiday parties we plan on hosting, have turned my attention to Surfer Guy’s usual chores. Last weekend I learned how to use the leaf sucker-upper as well as the gas-powered power washer. I had to fill it with gas and then yank on one of those cord thingies to get it started! I Am Woman, Hear My Tools Roar!

So, while my future looks busy with planning parties, cooking, as well as power-washing everything in sight, I still have to keep Surfer Guy sane.

Any ideas as to what can occupy a bedridden man for a couple of weeks? Ideas are welcome as long as no heavy lifting is required!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like...


Posted by Susan

I am plagued by indecision about the holidays this year. For the first time in 10, count ‘em, 10 years, I will be home on Christmas day. For the past 10 years, I have flown with the DH to Seattle to be with his family, including his son. For a series of reasons of no possible interest to anyone but me, I would fly in on Christmas Eve and then we head home after Christmas.

I haven’t decorated for the holidays in those ten years for an assortment of reasons. First, it seems silly if no one is around to enjoy the display. Second, my fear is that the cats will assume the tree is the South American jungle and party in it, thereby causing it to crash on them, possibly hurting them. However wonderful my cat sitter is, the cats will hide from her. I hate the thought of them being hurt with me gone. But this year I’m home for the holidays, so to speak, and decorating is required. Not only will I get to put out the stuff I have, I get to buy new stuff.

I’ve been all excited about the whole shopping thing. For the first time ever, I’m dying for the store displays to appear. I want to hear the holiday music and see the red and green M&Ms, see weird, scary Santa in the food court. I’m ready! Except, I’m kind of…not.

I’ve ordered a few things and some of them are totally cool and some aren’t. I want table top trees made out of small bulbs or glass or something in various shades of red. Can’t find those anywhere. I have a stuff bear collection that I’d like to add to, which should be easy enough. But what else?

The holiday stuff is starting to appear in the stores and I find myself a little immobilized. There’s so much out there and I’m not sure what I want. Do I do a theme? A color? Wreath or no wreath? Snowmen or reindeer? Do I put garland on the banister? And if I do, how on earth does it get attached and keep from sliding down? A second tree upstairs? Help!

So I’m looking for suggestions. Here’s the question. What do you do to decorate for the holidays? What is your favorite thing? Least favorite? What have you never done that you’d love to see?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Book Marches On.....


posted by Maureen

Copy edits on my paranormal/first person/comedy that’s coming out next June arrived a couple of weeks ago. And I’ve been going through the book while working on another book! Good times. If you like that whole ‘a-foot-in-two-universes’ feel.

For those of you who don’t know, a copy editor’s job is to go through your manuscript with a red pencil, changing things you love. (No, just kidding. Well, mostly.) Actually, her job is to catch all of your dangling participles, repetitive words and thank God, logic holes in my plot!! And I’ve got to say, my NAL copy editor was fabulous.

When we get the copy edits, we go through with a blue pencil changing back the things we love and writing ‘OK’ in a sheepish tone next to things we hadn’t noticed before! I’m the first to admit, a copy editor has really come through in a pinch a few times. But like every other writer I know, we grumble about some of the changes, too. My main complaint being, don’t touch my dialogue! LOL

For example, when they change something to make it grammatically correct, it sounds WRONG. People just don’t speak in grammatically correct terms in every day chats. For instance, my heroine says, “I felt like I was living in a movie.” The CE changes it to, “I felt as if I were living in a movie.” Correct? Yes. The way people speak? No.

But some of the copy editors I’ve had over the years have made some really amazing notations. One of my favorites? On a Western historical I wrote, a copy editor noted, “There is no sand in the desert. Only dirt.” Oh, okay. Sure. Someone tell the camels.

Another writer of Western historicals had a rabid coyote in one of her books. Of course, the term ‘rabid’ didn’t exist back in the day, so she referred to the coyote as ‘mad’. The copy editor went through the whole book and changed ‘mad’ to ‘angry’. Yes, folks, that’s right. The town was menaced by an angry coyote!

Ah, the world of writing is always a fun one. And one of these days, I’m going to write a whole blog about our favorite copy editor blunders. Won’t THAT make me popular??

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Don't You Tell Me He's Not Real...




Posted by Christine

So am I weird?

Don’t answer yet.

I fell in love for the first time when I was eleven. I mean totally. Passionately. Completely.

Over the moon and around the bend.

With a character in a novel. Oh, yeah!

The novel was Little Men by Louisa May Alcott and the character was Dan, a boy of “about fourteen.” (He wasn’t sure of his age; his parents were dead and he’d lived on the streets all his life—oh, be still, my beating heart!)

Dan is introduced in Chapter Six, which is titled, “A Firebrand.” Oh, yeah. Oh, my…

Alcott first describes him as, “a most unprepossessing boy, who slouched in and stood looking about him, with a half bold, half sullen look, which made Mrs. Bhaer say to herself, after one glance,–‘A bad specimen, I am afraid.’”

From that moment, when Dan slouched in, I was gone. I just couldn’t help myself. Sometimes love’s just that way, ya know?

I filled pages and pages of my diary with Dan. Dan, Dan, Dan. I made up a life with him. I loved him unconditionally. And it was through my undying love (Well, I mean, it lasted till I was twelve and read Gone with the Wind and met Rhett. That’s pretty “undying” for a preteen, I’d say) that Dan came to find his place in the world and his power as a man.

After Dan and Rhett, there were others. Each was forever. But you know, eventually, I’d read another book with a fabulous hero.

And that would be that. I’d be on to a new fantasy life with my new guy.

Interestingly enough, it was always the bad, slouchy boys I went for—in fiction and in whatever this thing is they call “real” life. As I remarked to my cousin, Gail, when I was thirteen, “Isn’t it strange how delinquent boys are so much more interesting than nice ones?”

When I got around to dating guys I hadn’t “met” in books, it was always the bad boys I went after. Sadly enough, I learned the hard way that “real” bad boys aren’t always quite so willing to be transformed by love.

Their loss. And eventually I met Hunky Mensa Man. It all worked out. He’s totally untamable—except in his love for me!

So am I weird? If so, feel free to tell me. OTOH, you could tell me which “fictional” heroes have stolen *your* heart. I’d just love to meet them…

Monday, October 23, 2006

Champagne, Anyone?

Um, pardon me, but would you mind popping open some virtual champagne?

Because I have some news to share. Good news.

Reeeeeallly good news.

I have an agent.

Yes. Last week I signed an Agency Agreement with a wonderful New York literary agency. The best agency ever. In the world. Probably in the universe.

And it's all I can do to keep from bursting into freakish happy dancing!! Because we all know how dangerous I can get when that happens. But let’s all pretend I'm dancing!! Gliding, laughing, shrieking, running through the halls jumping, clicking my heels! Wheeeeee!!!!

Oof. Falling down.

Nope, I’m okay. Don't worry, just a little limp.

But woohoo anyway!!!!!

Champagne for all my friends!!!

Because this is big fat happy news!!! In fact, considering the long, winding and ridiculous road I took to get here, you might say it's the best news ever! EVER!!

I suppose you want to hear the "call story," right? I always want to hear the call story.

I don't do a lot of "writer's journey" blogs, probably because my journey has been wa-a-ay too long and twisted with lots of ups and downs and missed opportunities and...well, seriously, who cares anymore? Or so I thought. Turns out, most of us are always dying to hear about the foibles and stumblings of others traveling this often insane, always neurotic road to publication.

So okay, here's my story. I’ll make it quick because I’m not getting any younger and I’ve gotta go write some more books.

Ultimately, I owe it all to the divine Susan Mallery, who invited me along to her agency party at the RWA conference in Atlanta and introduced me to her agency’s fabulous agents. It was a wonderful party, an afternoon tea, and when I wasn’t being introduced to her agency’s lovely agents, I was staring in awe and excitement at her agency’s fabulous clients – including the divine Susan, of course.

(And okay, yes, jeez, I was also drooling over all those miniature pecan pies and yummy desserts. The whole affair was pretty wonderful.)

The next day, I had an appointment to pitch to the very same lovely and brilliant Ms. Agent I’d met at the party the day before and she invited me to send two partials to her. Later, she asked for the full manuscripts, and then another full manuscript of another book, and then a partial of another book…

And then I missed her call.

But okay, eventually, we talked, we emailed, we signed, and woohoo!!!

Pass some more of that champagne, will ya? I'm getting a little parched.

So yes, I’m still spinning from the news! (Carefully, with both hands holding onto the arms of my chair.) And yes, I know how lucky I am. Let’s face it, we’re all waiting for the planets to align before the right project hits the right agent’s desk who happens to have the right editor in mind and...it’s exhausting to think about, isn’t it?

And in the end, I know my writing was good enough that my fabulous agent was willing to represent me, but it certainly didn’t hurt to have a little “divine” intervention in the form of my friend Susan Mallery. The fact is, I have a lot of truly divine friends in this business. I know I wouldn't be here today if I didn't.

In fact, I don’t know anyone luckier than me! Woohoo!!!!!


So now I want to hear your stories. That first call from an agent, how did you feel? How did you celebrate? Or if you’re still waiting for the call, I’ll bet you’ve got a plan about how you’ll celebrate the moment, right? (I’ll admit, I had a special bottle of champagne reserved for the moment!)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Maureen's Nocturne is Out!!!

Posted by Fan Girl

Eternally, by our own Maureen Child, is available now!!! Check out this fabulicious cover -- and the story inside is even more dark and delicious!! It's the first book in her new Guardian series and trust me, you've never met a man like Kieran McIntyre before. Fan Girl gives it three thumbs up! (Yes, Fan Girl's super powers include three thumbs, along with a lovely set of pom poms.)

Here's the back cover copy, just to get you revved...

He was a Guardian. An immortal fighter of evil.

The sexy, sword-wielding stranger standing before Julie Carpenter claimed he was out to destroy a demon and that she was its next target. As he whisked her away to his fortresslike mansion high in the Hollywood hills, she could only hope Kieran was not the true danger.

For centuries Kieran had heard the legend of Destined Mates…but he never believed until now. He could read Julie's thoughts, sense her deepest desires. And he knew she wanted him just as he knew joining with her would make him strong enough to defeat any demon from hell. But the cost might be losing the woman who was his true salvation.

Oh, yeah! And if that's not enough to entice you, you can go here and print out a coupon to save a dollar off the price! So what are you waiting for?? Fan Girl says Check It Out!!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hugh, too...


Posted by Christine
(at the request of Madame Maureenie)

Saturday Hunk



Posted by Christine

In honor of The Prestige opening this weekend, I give you...

Christian Bale.

Just be nice and share....





Friday, October 20, 2006

Lovin' the Love Thing



Romance has been getting press this week, what with Dear Abby addressing her earlier denigration of our novels after hearing from many authors and readers (http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/?uc_full_date=20061019) and the Texas politician who is criticizing his opponent for publishing one "pornographic" (his word) Kismet romance in 1990 (http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20060731-121646-7908r). And not to forget (don't forget!) our reminders that it's time to vote for our own Kate in the American Title III contest at(http://www.romantictimes.com/news_amtitle.php) In the wake of this publicity, once again the stats have been highlighted, proving the popularity of our genre.

So I got to thinking, why do I (and so many others) love romance so much?

I read a lot, and within different genres, but I always, always come back to romance after my forays into other kinds of fiction (and non-fiction). And any kind of book that I read I find better when it has even a mere thread of romance running through it—from a Harlan Coben thriller to a Jodi Picoult women’s fiction novel to The DaVinci Code. Are we all hard-wired to find satisfaction in the emotional arc of a happy-ending love story or did I develop a love for our genre because of a lucky intersection of my reading hobby, my developing interest in boys, and that one special book?

I devoured the volumes in the children’s section at my local library from an early age. First my mom would drive me, then I began riding my bike with the big basket, carting home as many books as I could. I was getting close to exhausting everything available in that kids’ section when I came across Mara, Daughter of the Nile. Oh! How many times I read that book. And far from portraying the wrong things about women, men, and love (as Abby originally—and ignorantly—posited) this romance featured a heroic young woman who stands up for herself and finds happiness too.

So is Mara (and author Eloise Jarvis McGraw) responsible for my love of romance? Shortly after reading and rereading that one special book I moved on to the adult section in the library and started buying Harlequin romances with my spending money. Well, I say thank you Mara and Ms. McGraw. From there I found hours and hours of pleasure as well as emotional satisfaction in writing my own stories.

So what was the title of the first romance you ever read, or the one that cemented your love of love stories?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My name is Susan and I drink lattes...


Posted by Susan

I come before you this morning with a heavy heart. I am ashamed to admit…I have an addiction. It’s sad, truly sad and while I am not yet destroying my family and threatening my livelihood, that potential seems far too close. Although, despite my pain, I have voted for Kate in the American Title 3 contest...have you?

My addiction started innocently enough, as all these things do. We had recently moved to Seattle and surrounded by so many coffee places I decided that I, too, should drink coffee. It’s practically the state beverage. I confess I was feeling a little left out. Perhaps even a little pressure to join in. So, so dangerous.

I’d never been a coffee drinker. I thought it was nasty. I did tea and diet drinks. Water, of course. Wine…always wine. But never coffee. Not even mocha flavored stuff. Then I mentioned my dilemma to someone I thought of as a friend. That I wanted to be a regular Seattle-type person and go to Starbucks. Maybe even stop at one of the coffee huts. That “friend” said to try a latte.

It seemed so innocent. I went to my local coffee place and waited my turn. Then I uttered the words that would change my life forever…”Grande, nonfat, no-foam latte.”

It was delicious. It was warm and comforting, but with a little zip. About a half hour later, the double shot of espresso kicked in and the world looked brighter. I was alive and full of energy. I was healed!

I found myself making excuses to drive by Starbucks. I got decafe in the afternoon, telling myself all that milk provided me with calcium. I got a Starbucks gift card and didn’t tell the DH how much money I put on it. I changed grocery stores to the one that had a Starbucks inside. I began driving to get coffee every morning, despite the fact that the DH had bought me a fabulous machine that made lattes at home. I needed to place the order, to utter the words, then grasp my take-out container between my hands and breath in the scent. I wanted that first sip as I walked to my car. I wanted the “experience.”

I’m not sure where this will end. Can I overcome my need and go on to live a better life? Will I be one of those people hovering by the entrance, begging for $3.27 so I can have my latte? Will I really put more money on my Starbucks card? I just don’t know.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Amazing Maureenie...


I just finished reading the galleys for my February Nocturne book, NEVERMORE and gotta say, I really like the book a lot.

But I couldn’t help thinking about one of my hero’s ‘powers’. Mind reading. Now, every woman alive knows that she wouldn’t want a mind reading hero in real life. Not one of us would want a husband to know everything we’re thinking! That’s a dark and ugly road that leads only to divorce court.

But in theory, mind reading would be a handy talent to have. For example, if I could tune into the minds of everyone reading this blog today, I’d know which of you have already voted for Kate and which of you I still have to remind!

And, I would have known what was going on with my kids without the sneaky, super-spy interrogation techniques I was forced to use. The CIA has nothing on a mom who needs to know. We have talents those Federal amateurs would never understand. And mind reading would come in handy in business meetings. Not to mention parties—knowing just what to say and when to say it. Plus, I could know in advance what the other DDers were going to blog about and beat them to it! (Not that I would ever do that, you guys. Honest.)

But, since I can’t read minds (even my own, most days), I’m forced to do things the old fashioned way. I ramble at parties, trick my children into spilling their secrets, bumble with my editor and blindly come up with blogs I hope won’t bore you to tears.

Then I find sites like this one. I’ve tried this little ‘mind reading’ thing a dozen times now and it's never wrong! Gotta admit, it's really creeping me out. So if one of you can explain to me how they did it, I’d really be grateful!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Women of Power




Posted by Christine

Okay, I don’t really mean Cat Woman. Though I do love that black patent leather outfit. That dominatrix thing. Gets me every time.

Yes. It’s true. You do not want to be here inside my mind. Mwahaha.

And while I’ve got my whip out, don’t forget to check out Kate’s entry at American Title III. And vote on the best first line. *ker-snap* Oh, yeah. That is the sound of my whip cracking…

Where was I? There is always altogether too much digression in my posts…

Ahem. Women of Power…

Actually, I was thinking about my grandmother. She was born in the 1890’s and she didn’t look a thing like Halle Berry. She never in her life wore black patent leather. Well, maybe patent leather shoes at some point. Though not that I remember.

She was downright amazing. No other word for her. Born a Philadelphia Quaker, she finished normal school and, at age sixteen, headed to the Alaska gold fields to take a job as a teacher. She met my grandfather there, in the goldfields. He was over a decade her senior, a gold miner, as taciturn as she was talkative. They married and headed for the mountains of Northern California where he’d been born and raised.

She brought up three kids during the depression, including my mother, the youngest, born at home, midwived by my grandmother’s mother-in-law. My grandmother taught school well into her seventies. Her small house was always full of books. Walls full of them. She loved double-crostics and Scrabble.

Boy, could she slaughter the unwary at Scrabble. I swear she cheated. But every time I’d challenge her on some obscure word, there it would be in her Webster’s International Dictionary, a tome so enormous, she had to keep it on a special stand.

She played the mandolin. Badly. She always kept a garden and she fed all of us from it. An organic garden, which required a compost heap. A big one, up in the corner of the yard…

And her power? It was in her belief. She believed in God. And she believed in the power of goodness. In the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

In me. My Granny believed in me. She always told me I would be a writer. Eventually. I wanted to be an actress for years and pursued that dream passionately. My Granny would say, “Well, when you get this theater bug out of your system, you can settle down and be the writer you were meant to be.”

She died sixteen years ago. But her spirit is so strong, I still feel her with me. Supporting me. Believing in me.

That’s a woman of power.

All that to say…

I don’t know, really. Just that it makes me feel powerful to remember her, makes me newly aware of how much I love my job, reminds me what romance is all about: Women of power who know what they want and then go out and get it against all odds.

I'll raise my cosmo to that!

Monday, October 16, 2006

American Title III Contest – Voting is Open!!

Posted by Kate

"Crotchless panties?"

Yes, that's the first line of my book, THE KAMA SUTRA CHRONICLES. And it’s time to vote for that first line!

Huh? Excuse me? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Okay, well…in case you haven't heard, here are the details!

My manuscript, THE KAMA SUTRA CHRONICLES, was chosen among hundreds of entries to be a finalist in the American Title III contest sponsored by Romantic Times Book Review magazine (“RT”) and Dorchester Publishing.

What’s the big deal, you ask? A publishing contract with Dorchester, that’s what!

The contest works like the television show, American Idol. There are ten finalists and our books are “on stage.” So each month for the next five months, RT will post a portion of our books on their website, then three delightful judges will comment (ala Randy, Paula and Simon), and the final decision is in your hands!

Two finalists are eliminated each month. Scary? Oh yes, my friends!

If I receive enough votes, I move to the next round and we all vote again! Here’s the Voting Schedule:

- Best First Line (voting October 16 – 29)
- Best Hero/Heroine Description (voting November 13 – 26)
- Best Story Summary (voting December 18 – 31)
- Best Dialogue Scene (voting January 22 – February 4)
- Best Romantic Scene (voting February 19 –March 4)

Voting is done by e-mail – ONE VOTE PER PERSON. That’s why it’s important to tell everyone you know to VOTE!

So you’re ready to vote, right? Okay! There are two ways you can do it:

--The Easy Way: Click webmaster@romantictimes.com, Type in the Subject line THE KAMA SUTRA CHRONICLES, then Hit “SEND!”

-- The Other Way: Go to www.romantictimes.com, find the link to American Title Contest, read all the entries, then vote for your favorite!

That's it. It's easy! So go vote!

Meanwhile, here's a partial view of what comes after the infamous first line of THE KAMA SUTRA CHRONICLES...

“Crotchless panties?”

“Yes.”

“And he fell asleep?”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Oh, my God.”

“Exactly.” Graciella Sinclair glanced miserably from one girlfriend to the other, then stared into her lemon-drop martini. “That’s when I broke up with him.”

“It’s about damn time.” Annabel Blake, tall and dazzling as usual in a sexy black cocktail dress, gave Gracie a tight hug. “Hubert’s a jerk and he doesn’t deserve you.”

“She’s right, Gracie,” Callie McAllister said. She dabbed her fingers on a cocktail napkin, having just polished off a lobster-stuffed blini she’d nabbed from a passing waiter’s tray. “You’re better off without him.”

“I know you’re both absolutely right,” Gracie said, then frowned. “But I can’t help thinking something’s wrong with me. I mean, when a man doesn’t...”

“There is nothing wrong with you, Gracie,” Annabel stated firmly. “Well, except for your taste in men.”


Oops, that's all I can show you for now! Thanks so much for your support!

It's funny, it’s sexy, it’s suspenseful! Vote for THE KAMA SUTRA CHRONICLES in the American Title Contest at http://www.romantictimes.com

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday Fun Site!

For all of us who sometimes envy celebrity and fashion, check out this site that skewers both celebrities and their poor fashion choices.

http://gofugyourself.typepad.com/

Note that on the left you can click to see a gallery of your fave star in her/his not-so-attractive public moments.

Last night I stayed home and watched two Lifetime movies in a row, wearing my cropped jeans from Target (they're my favorite!), a cute thermal T-shirt, and my Ugg loafers that are lined with sheepskin (natch). No red carpets, no designer duds, no snapping flashbulbs. But I think I'm happy with my life. No one has a site devoted to my sartorial blunders! (The thermal T-shirt is probably not as cute as I think it is.)

C'mon, confess who you checked out. I looked at all the Fergie (from The Black Eyed Peas) photos because I still can't get over that terrible music video about her London bridges (britches?) falling down.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Saturday Hunk

Posted by Christine

Okay, I have this thing for Eric Bana...





Friday, October 13, 2006

Reading This Can Save You Money



Yes, reading this can save you money

Really.

Here’s the deal. I have been reading a lot lately and been making headway in my TBR stack. Oh, what fun it’s been! I have a lot of books in my pile (well, they’re in book bags in my office) and I just blindly picked one to read last Saturday afternoon.

I’d been to the gym, I’d showered, Surfer Guy and Son 1 and Son 2 were around doing their thing, but not needing me. So I had my corner chair, my chubby paperback, and complete peace…or so I thought.

Thirty pages into the book I was reading, I had to get up. I had to get up and go to my bathroom mirror. I had to get up and go to my bathroom mirror and from my make-up drawer I had to pull out a lipstick. I then carefully and critically applied said cosmetic to my lips. That’s right. I had to get up from reading a book to put on lipstick!

I wasn’t reading a romance. Instead, this was a thick woman-y tome about someone who takes Pilates (like I do) and is a writer (like I am) and who loves her children (ditto) and who really is an all-around great person yet still is dumped by…take a guess…the numbskull she shares a bed with who is having a mid-life crisis.

If it had been after five, it might have driven me to drink. Instead, I’m suddenly slapping on the lip plumper and wielding the mascara wand because the author’s made me doubt marriage and true love and has totally ruined my Saturday afternoon. I pulled out hairspray. Tweezers. Wondered if I should run out to find some horribly uncomfortable teddy instead of the soft tee that I prefer to sleep in.

And then it really hit me. A romance novel never makes me run to the mirror. A romance novel doesn’t make me doubt that I can maintain a romantic relationship with a partner (or that a romantic relationship with the male of the species is worth having at all, because believe me, after reading thirty pages of this book, I was thinking of moving to a cottage where I would live alone with cats). A romance novel makes me smile, not snarl.

I finished the woman-y tome and I wore make-up the rest of the weekend. But you can bet the next book I picked wasn’t a blind choice. I’m reading a delicious historical romance right now and all’s right with my world. So forget the dash to Sephora or Victoria’s Secret. You don’t need to spend bucks to feel beautiful and believe in true love. Go to your To Be Read pile, pick out a romance. Or if you have to spend money, take that trek to your local bookstore. But if you’re having a bad day, or a bad week, or just need a reminder of what it’s like to “Multiply life by the power of two,”* pick up a romance. You’ll feel pretty while you read it, I promise.

I’m ready to replenish my TBR stack, so help. What are you reading right now?

*From a song that captures the best parts of a long-term romantic relationship, “The Power of Two” by the Indigo Girls, on their CD 1200 Curfews.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What is your reality?

Posted by Susan

As I’ve mentioned more than once, I get hooked on reality shows. Lately it’s Project Runway. I’m feeling a little confused about the whole thing because I’m watching season 3 on Bravo and season 1 on DVD, so the designers are getting twisted in my head.

I love the creative nature of the show. I love watching the designers sketch and shop and then lay out their fabric and trim. There’s nothing there. Nothing I can see. Then they begin to cut and sew. In two days, their time, or ten minutes, my time, an outfit is born.

I don’t know how they do it. I don’t know how they see something in their minds and then create something beautiful from that vision. Being able to sew probably helps.

I used to do crafts. I did needlepoint and in high school I actually sewed most of my own clothes. Except for zippers. I could never do zippers, so I would collect three or four things and take them to a friend’s house where her mother would put in the zippers for me in about fifteen seconds.

I don’t really do that sort of stuff anymore. I’m not sure if I don’t have the patience or if all my creativity is used up in the writing. Although I know many writers who do crafts.

I am in awe of those who can take nothing and create something beautiful. The writing isn’t like that. My goal isn’t beauty, but emotion.

There are writers who are such exquisite wordsmiths that I want weep when I read their words. That and throw my computer out the window because I simply don’t write like that. No one is ever going to pause and admire the pure beauty of my writing. Which is okay. That’s not my goal. Instead my goal is to grab your attention and your emotions and not let either go until the very last word of the book. I want to make you laugh and cry and laugh again. I want to make you impatient, turning the pages frantically because you have to find out what happens next.

People complain about the blank screen, but for me the screen is rarely blank. The story is there, in my head. I might have built it or have had it appear fully formed in my mind. Either way, it is waiting for me to release it.

I suppose I do have something in common with the designers. We both have a vision of what we want in the end. There are times when we have to make a mess, when the final result seems impossible and things get worse before they get better. The designers face a runway show and critics. Writers face an editor and reviewers. Then, ultimately, it is the public who decides who is in and who is out by whether or not they buy—the book, the garment. Those of us who create have no control over that part of the outcome.

Are we all living our own reality show? What would you call yours?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Displacement Activities

posted by Maureen

Yes, this is what we call all those things we do instead of writing when we should be writing. Doesn’t it sound official?

Mostly, my favorite displacement activity is reading. ANYTHING, actually. I love to re-read my favorite books, which are legion. When I get a new book I’ve been waiting for, I just rush through it, inhaling every word. Then, I go back to the beginning, read it again and savor every word. Weird, probably. But I’m okay with that. J

Still, there are other things...just yesterday, Chris mentioned the mall. Always a favorite. But, you actually have to leave your house to do that. Which means, washing and blow drying your hair, applying makeup (trust me, this is necessary), and wearing actual shoes. None of which appeal to me on a daily basis.

So...watch QVC. Susan hooked me on this and it’s diabolical. It’s amazing how many things they have that I need. Things I’d never heard of before but now seem essential. And don’t even get me started on the Sterling Silver Days. Dangerous times for me. Why today alone, they had a quartz crystal heart necklace, a monogrammed front door mat and...are you ready? A set of 4 Decorative Odor Absorbing Gel Fragrances. Who can turn this stuff down?

Or, infomercials. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. But where else can you find a knife that not only slices tomatoes thin enough to read through (see above, reading) and also slice through cinder block??? I don’t know about you, but having a kitchen implement that can slice vegetables AND help me build a wall is just too good to pass up.

I like to lay out in the backyard and look up at the clouds, too. I’m a big cloud person. And trees. Love trees, too, just staring and watching the shifting shadows as the wind moves through the leaves. It’s a kind of hypnotism, I guess, but it sort of frees up the mind for creative thinking. (That’s what I tell my dh anyway).

Oh, and blogs. Yes, I read them as well as write them and sometimes, they give me MORE great ideas for displacement activities. Such as this one from Brava authors. Jamie Denton posted this site, but our own Kate Carlisle sent it to me. This fun link, will take you to this site where you can find out who you are as a Super Hero!! (Just call me Lightning Snake). Well, that was yesterday. Today, I’m Madame Dancer. I like the Snake better!

I read Jill Shalvis’s blog every day because her life is just too funny! (Sorry Jill, but you know it is!) And then I hit the rest of my friends’ blogs just to keep up and also to annoy them if there’s nothing new for me to read.

Because, if they don’t blog, that means I have to write! Is that fair?

So what do you do when you should be doing something else?



Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Passion and My Platinum Card

Posted by Christine

Being an author, as any other author will gladly tell you—at length and even if you beg them not to—is a lonely business. We spend our working days solo, at our keyboards, opening veins, digging deep in search of…the right word, the right scene, the right title, the right name for each character. We struggle to hit our daily page goals, to make our deadlines. And yeah, I know. Haven’t you heard all this before?

I'm sure you have. But there’s more…

All of us on DD write popular fiction, which drags along with it a whole other set of challenges. As authors of popular fiction, we not only have to do the heavy lifting of getting it all just right—but we also have to make it look effortless. There has to be depth and texture, but it must never be allowed to get in the way of our story’s forward motion. Because we know if we can’t keep our readers turning those pages, they might very well just yawn and put that book we sweated blood over aside. And never pick it up again. (violins here, please)

I’m tellin’ y'all, it’s hell. A daily battle. You oughtta see my scars...

All this to say, hey. At the end of a grueling, lonely workday (violins swelling here), I need fun. I need distractions. I need my passions.

And I have them. Passions. I like to lose myself in uplifting, spiritually improving activities like…shopping.

And let us not forget…going out to eat.

It’s true. I’m not the deepest fork in the drawer…er, fish in the sea. (?) I love a good shoe sale. Great shoes make me happy. I love to wander the racks at Dillard’s. I especially love to find a bargain. A gorgeous coat at half the price, a cute little t for a song…

The bald truth is, it doesn’t even matter if I actually buy anything. How odd is that? I just like the feeling of promise, of limitless possibility, I get strolling the displays in a department store.

And about eating out. Oh, be still my beating heart. I love…walking into a restaurant, hearing that cute girl behind the reservation podium ask me, “Table for…?” I love to be led to my table, to see the snowy-white napkins folded into triangles, propped on the plate, pure as sleeping doves. I love a well-made Cosmo (fresh lime and real cranberry juice, please) to sip before dinner. I love a pretty menu, all those choices in a great-looking font, listed and described in mouth-watering detail for my dining pleasure. I love that the food comes and I eat it—and the dirty plate is swept away.

Oh, yeah. The best, the richest, the most decadent part of eating out is not having to clean up after myself.

After a little shopping and a great dinner out, I’m ready to face that blank computer screen again and open another vein.

How about you? What passions do you indulge to fill your well, to get you revved and ready for the next day’s work?

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Casting Couch

Posted by Kate

Even though voting starts one week from today, I wouldn’t dream of blatantly promoting the fact that I’m a finalist in the American Title Contest with my book, THE KAMA SUTRA CHRONICLES! It would be wa-a-ay too transparent and painfully obvious that I was trying to get you to vote for me starting next Monday, October 16 at the Romantic Times magazine website.

That would be wrong. I would never do that. Never, never, never!

Instead, I want to play the casting call game! So...who would I cast as the hero and heroine in THE KAMA SUTRA CHRONICLES? My heroine is Gracie, a studious, strait-laced librarian and book curator. Sure, she loves books, but she’d love to meet a man, too, especially since she found a rare edition of the Kama Sutra in a second-hand shop and her fantasies started working overtime. I love the character of Ursula in George of The Jungle. She’s got a touch of Gracie in her, but she’s also a bit too much of a damsel in distress. (Blogger won't let me post the picture I picked out but suffice to say the photo I chose was all about Brendan Fraser and not so much Ursula!)

My Gracie is smart and self-reliant and is teaching herself Tae Kwon Do. So I’ve decided to go with Helen Hunt, a fabulous actress who has the ability to appear both self-reliant and vulnerable. These are great shots of her, aren't they?




And now for my hero. Cane Winslow is a secret agent, a man on a mission. He has no time for love or commitment. He’s a no-nonsense tough guy who’s not here to fool around. That’s his story, anyway, and he’s sticking to it. Gosh, who else could play that role but…James Bond! But which one? Sean? Pierce? The new guy? Nope. My hero's got dark hair. Sean? Pierce? Sean? Pierce? It's the age-old question.

Or...what about...oh yeah!















Hey, it's my fantasy!! Get your own!!

So who do you have in mind to play your favorite hero and heroine? Do you ever play the casting couch--er, casting call game? Do you like to use photos of real people in order to develop your characters?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Nikki, possibly the world's cutest dog


In response to the dozens of e-mail requests, here, at last, is a picture of Nikki, possibly the world's cutest dog.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Saturday hunk. Hellooo, Raoul...


Posted by Christine

Love those eyes...

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Name Game



I’m at the beginning of a new writing project and recently had to come up with names for my characters. This can be as difficult as finding that great opening line (see Maureen’s post and Kate’s post from this week). I’ve been known to write a proposal of a book with one name and then change it as I start writing. It has to feel right.

In my upcoming December book, I named the heroine Bailey, after George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life because her family is really into Christmas (they own a Christmas shop). That worked great. The hero is Finn. A writer buddy of mine has a young son named Finn and I just wanted to use that name.

It’s one of the best parts of writing—like having a large family where you get to choose names for your many kids (without having to check all that homework!). Especially fun for me, who has only boys. So I’ve used some of my favorite girl names: Zoe, Emma, Francesca, Hannah. I have heroes named Bram, Dylan, Brett, and Yeager. I wrote a story about an ex-pro surfer hero nicknamed Trick (short for T. Richard which was actually Thelonious Richard—hero’s mother was a piano teacher). Everyone warned that book would not fly with publishers as cutesy nicknames and sports heroes were forbidden. It was my first sale! (And I didn’t think the nickname was that cutesy anyway, since it involved a famous 20th century jazz pianist, so there).

In a recent journey of procrastination through the blogosphere, not for the first time I read a dig at the names used for heroes and heroines throughout Romancelandia. I’m sure my Yeagers and Tricks and Finns would qualify for that category belonging only to romance heroes. And this is a bad thing? I’m surrounded in my life with Mikes and Steves. My dad is Bill, my stepdad is Bill. How many Bobs do you know? I like the men in romance fiction to have names that take me outside the Robert, John, and James beltway.

Not to mention that names of younger men are much more adventurous these days. My kids’ names are not of the biblical variety. They go to school with Hayden and Jeremy and Elijah and Bryce (and Blake and Austin and…I could go on).

Last, while I have nothing against a hero named Joe or Sam or Jack, what’s wrong with Gabriel or Quinn? If we can accept a shiver-inducing, sexy bloodsucking vamp, I think we can accept that his name is Wrath or Rhage* (or Aidan or Connor or Gideon).

So let’s name names. What are some of the favorite names you’ve come across in your reading?

* Wrath and Rhage are hero names from J.R. Ward’s Brotherhood series

Thursday, October 05, 2006

In my free time I...


Posted by Susan

I’ve decided I need a hobby. Now it’s not that I don’t have enough to do in a day. Honestly, I’m swamped and not getting everything done I should be. (In case any editors are reading, I’m not getting stuff like the laundry done. My pages flow quickly and creatively every single morning. I am a writing machine.)

Anyway, my to-do list stretches on endlessly, but nothing on it is especially fun. While Nikki, possibly the world’s cutest dog, sees our morning walk as the highlight of her day, I don’t share her narrow view. So I need more fun in my life and I’m thinking I can find that with a hobby.

For a while I thought maybe Nikki and I could get involved in agility training. She’s athletic and really smart. We even signed up for an obedience class. But I don’t know. She’s a sweetie, but not really interested in commands, unless there is food involved. And the instructor was very clear. Do not give them treats. Which meant trying to teach her to heel involves me bending over and planting her butt on the ground with my hand. I’m 5’8”. She’s a 6 pound toy poodle. By the end of the first day of training, I’d twisted my back so badly I couldn’t walk for two days.

I tried one of those painting kits once. The kind where you load the flat brush a certain way and then swirl it onto a vase or a plate or something, creating perfect flowers and trims. But I could never really get it right. My stuff ended up looking blobby.

Maureen taught me how to make granny squares one year at plot group. I had big plans to make blankets. I’m not sure for who. But it was tough to have yarn around with two cats and then we got Nikki and all bets were off.

I took a cake decorating class as research for one of my books—Falling for Gracie—where the heroine is a wedding cake maker. I was so awful at the decorating thing, the instructor took me aside and *begged* me not to take the intermediate class. Which is too bad. I sort of liked the cake decorating.

I was talking to Bruce, our landscaping professional, today and mentioned that the dh and I had talked about a greenhouse out back. Nothing fancy—just a heated structure to grow stuff. You know, plants. I was thinking maybe some citrus, a dwarf avocado, maybe some flowers or something. Bruce mentioned it would give me a chance to get a jump start on my hanging pots. I assume he means the plants that go in the pots. I’m pretty sure the pots themselves don’t grow. I mentioned I’d never managed to keep a hanging plant alive longer than two weeks. He mentioned they have to be watered from time to time. Who knew??

So maybe a greenhouse. Or yoga. I downloaded some information on a yoga center in Bellevue. I could learn to breathe and find my zen center. Of course I could also snap a bone.

So I’m open to suggestions. What are you hobbies? What do you love to do for fun?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

In The Beginning


posted by Maureen

Okay, that picture is cute, but it’s not MY monitor. Mine is usually glaring at me. Not that I mind, I’m usually glaring right back. Especially when starting a book. Now isn’t THAT a great segue into my blog???

Starting a book is the hardest part of writing. Sometimes it can take me a week or more to get going on the new manuscript. You have to learn who your characters are. You have to figure out their voices, their personalities. But the biggest hurdle to pass?

The Opening Line.

Yes, it belongs in capital letters. It’s that important. Because that opening line sets the tone for the rest of the book. It sets the tone for the reader who’s picking that book up in the bookstore, trying to decide if she wants to spend her hard earned money on your baby. You’d better have a great opening. Not just to help you move forward on the work, but to capture that elusive reader once the book is in the store.

So, I’ve got a few favorites to quote here, and hey, can I help it if a few of them are MINE?

Tracy Hill died in a freak bowling accident. That’s the opener from my book THIS TIME FOR KEEPS. And trust me, it set just the right tone for that funny, quirky book.

The body was found sprawled across Nicole Kidman’s star on Hollywood Boulevard. From my first Silhouette Nocturne, a dark paranormal called ETERNALLY, opens with that line and you immediately know that this is going to be a darker read.

"Crotchless panties?" That's the opener from Kate Carlisle's soon to be sold manuscript, THE KAMA SUTRA CHRONICLES, now a finalist in the American Title III contest! I don't know about you, but I would want to know what comes next!


When I was twelve I accidentally substituted salt for sugar in a cake recipe. That’s Janet Evanovich in TWELVE SHARP, the latest Stephanie Plum novel. And right away, you know who Steph is and identify with her.

If Darcy Jensen had known she was going to be kidnapped, she would have worn better shoes. That line is from THE MARCELLI BRIDE, by our own Susan Mallery. Instantly, you like Darcy and you’re rooting for her.

The air was raw with February the morning Bobby Lee Fuller found the first body. Nora Roberts’ novel CARNAL INNOCENCE, probably the all time greatest romantic suspense ever. I read it at least twice a year and now my daughter Sarah does the same thing.

Amazingly enough, Nora had TWO great opening lines in that book. The one above was for the prologue. This one opens Chapter One and absolutely haunts me. This line I can quote from memory. Summer, that vicious green bitch, flexed her sweaty muscles and flattened Innocence, Mississippi. Right away, you know this is a deep, dark suspense and that the atmosphere will be playing as heavy a role in the book as the characters.

Each of those opening lines is a barometer for the book that follows. As soon as you read them, you know what you’re going to get. Humor. Drama. Suspense. You get a feel for the characters before they even have their first line of dialogue.

You know, as the reader, as the writer, which road you’ll be taking on this journey. You know how you’ll be spending your time and you can’t wait to get started.

And remember...
A good beginning makes a good end—English proverb

Not to mention...
Even if you’re on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there—Will Rogers

Got a favorite opening line you’d like to share?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Vampires and Werewolves and Witches...oh, my!

Posted by Christine













Yes, it’s true. I love the supernatural. I adore paranormals, especially the dark ones. I don’t mind a little humor—as long as it’s suitably dry and bleak and dripping type O.

I’ve loved the supernatural pretty much all my reading—and viewing life. Grew up watching Dark Shadows and Thriller and Twilight Zone. And I wasn’t even born at the time. ;)

I remember the first time I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The evil vampire sisters, the sight of Dracula crawling up that castle wall, sticking to it like a spider…I shiver still—in delight—at the memory of devouring those passages.

I have a first edition of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. Read a review of it in the L.A. Times and knew I had to have it.

Though Hunky Mensa Man is not a paranormal fan, second son, the J, is. I’ll never forget watching the whole cannon of Buffy reruns on the WB at five-thirty in the morning—one show a day over breakfast—before I would drive the J to band practice at the crack of dawn. By the time he was old enough to drive himself, we’d seen every installment of every season. Yes, it’s true. Buffy not only guarded the Hellmouth, she helped me bond with my younger son.

As to what’s out there now for your paranormal reading pleasure. Lately, I’ve read and adored…

The Turning by Jennifer Armintrout
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
The first four Women of the Otherworld books by Kelley Armstrong

Looking forward to reading…
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
The JR Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood books.
Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

How about you? What’s your reading pleasure? Got a great book to recommend? If it’s fantastic, it doesn’t even have to be paranormal. I want to know what books I can’t miss…

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Art of Craft

Posted by Kate

Writers write about writing a lot, have you noticed? I think it’s part of the process of trying to figure out what in the world is going on inside our scary brains.

I’m in “Start-A-New-Book” mode which, strangely enough, doesn’t mean I’ve started writing a new book. It means I’ve started reading about writing a new book. As impatient as I am to get going on the story, I first need to immerse myself in the craft of writing. I need to remind myself that I know how to do this. Maybe, oh God, maybe I’ve simply forgotten how to write! There’s always that fear and it only goes away—sort of—when I start the book. Anyway, I’m currently compelled to spend my time studying the art of craft.

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

- Re-read 250 pages of emails and notes from Susan Mallery’s fabulous Brainstorming class she gave online earlier this year.

- Scanned Donald Maass’s workbook on “Writing the Breakout Novel.”

- Re- read the Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines.

- Researched a number of esoteric topics that apply to my story.

- Spent all day Saturday attending Christopher Vogler’s workshop on The Writer’s Journey put on by the Orange County chapter of RWA. The Writer’s Journey is Vogler’s landmark book on craft that he based on the work of Joseph Campbell and The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

- Bought two new books on craft and can’t wait to read them!

Procrastination? Probably. Fun—definitely. I never enjoyed school much but I love this study and research process. And this time around, I’ve got my notes from Susan’s Brainstorming class to work with. The notes remind me that there was some discussion about whether it's better to start a book by working out plot or whether it's better to start with a character. The character people protested that they couldn’t discuss plot points right off the bat without first nailing down the main characters. I mean seriously nailing down the characters, writing out extensive character biographies and applying the whole Myers Briggs treatment.

Myers Briggs. It’s that famous psychological questionnaire that determines whether you’re an ISTJ or an ENFP or fourteen other possible combinations of characteristics such as introverted or extroverted, thinking or feeling, etc. I like Myers Briggs well enough, but I can’t go there until I’ve got a plot worked out in my head. It’s just my way and I can’t seem to change it.

Susan’s class was fascinating—for the students, anyway. Susan probably ran screaming from her computer on a regular basis but that’s a topic for another day! Anyway, luckily for me, my book was one of the ones we brainstormed. And I needed lots of help on the plot, so that’s what we concentrated on, despite the grumblings of the character-comes-first folks. Can't blame them really, because that's their process.

But good news for them! After the class finished my book, we brainstormed Gail Barrett’s new book. And Gail starts a new book by developing her characters first. Sure enough, out came the Myers Briggs lingo along with lots of other great character development tricks. The character people were in their glory and the process was mind blowing and amazing to watch. (By the way, Gail Barrett won the Best Book Award from Orange County RWA chapter’s Booksellers Best Contest this year, so anyone who’s considering the “best” way to start a new book might take that little fact away with them! *g*)

So, given that there’s no “right” way to start a new book, how does the process work for you? Do you sit right down and start typing or do you read and study and research first? Do you make charts? Pray the rosary? Chant? Are you a Plotter or a Pantser? Which one’s better? Don’t answer that. Just figure out what works for you and do it.

Finally, do you have some favorite books on Craft you can recommend? I need all the help I can get!