Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Changed My Life

In my opinion, books have more power than people in this modern age give its credit. Books can still change your life in a way, I think movies and other forms of entertainment can't quiet accomplish. As with you, I have read tons of books. Some I hated, most I liked and a few I loved.  And it's those few that changed my life.

The first book to do that was Little Women. Much like every other girl. I know most girls swear they are Jo. Me, I'm Beth.  I wanted to be Jo. Strong and sure and fearless even if I burn the back of my dress. I have an older brother and no sisters and as an Air Force Brat, I never stayed in one place for very long.  All I had was my family and a father who did and could go off to war at a moments notice.   That wasn't the only lesson, Alcott taught me.  I learned about the difference of women, of the differences in one female. Me at different parts of my life, I think I've been an Amy, Meg or Jo. As I've grow older, I realized that in different parts I'm all those girls but still mostly, Beth.

The second book that changed my life was The End of the Affair. Growing up, church was attended on Sunday then Sunday school and when we moved to New York City, it was Catholic school. For me being religious was just a part of me. I believed in God even when I didn't bother with Him much. When I picked up that book, I discovered that my faith has never faltered though I'm not the greatest of followers. I guess that's why my faith hasn't faltered, it never had to be tested.

Another book to change my life too was See Jane Score (SJS) by Rachel Gibson. When I was younger, I always wrote but in college, I choose a major I could find employment after graduation and writing wasn't going to be it. Well, since I'm a PRO member of RWA you know how that turned out. Well, anyway, I was reading SJS and having so much fun that I never wanted the book to end. When I closed it, I knew I had to write. I wanted to give that fun, magical whirling sensation I had to others and to experience every sensation of writing such an exciting jaunt.  Now here I am. Plugging away even when I'm ready to stab myself in the eye with my pen. (would never do that but I'm sure you understand the feeling)

That's the power of books, to influence your life's path, make you discover who you are, or a trait about yourself you might have lost or never even questioned. Don't think for a minute that only these books changed me. No each word I've ever read whether an Edith Wharton, a Sandra Brown, or Christina Dodd or Terry Spear and everyone in between have each changed my life.  So, thank you. 

Now tell me which book changed your life?

Monday, November 28, 2011

True Wedding Story

“Dearly beloved...”

The radiant bride and nervous groom stand before the altar. The minister intones the marriage service. A congregation of family and friends witness the solemn, lifelong vows.

“If anyone shall have any reason why this man and this woman should not join in holy wedlock, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.”

The expected silence to the mere formality reverberates to the rafters of the old church.

A small hesitant voice rises from the hushed congregation.


I wonder if the baby in the third row will be a comedian when he grows up. Because he sure brought the house down at the wedding my son attended.

Do you have a funny wedding story to share? I’d love to hear it.

x-posted at joanleacott.ca

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My favorite time of year!

One of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving, is over.  I love getting together with friends and family, cooking too much, eating too much, and just simply being surrounded by people that I love and that love me.  And now everyone is moving on…preparing for the Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

In the past we’ve discussed Fairy Tales, and the fascination with re-telling them.  Now, we even have Grimm and Once Upon a Time to add to that list.  But, what about the holiday season, and the stories told at this time of year?

I have to admit, by now, I’m sure all of you know, I am a holiday junkie, and love all things Santa related!  But, what makes a great holiday movie.  I’ve written my first holiday short story, which will be available as part of a special holiday promotion with Red Rose Publishing.  In developing the story idea the elements I wanted included were:  Christmas magic, giving/charity, HFN/HEA, a little holiday love, and of course there had to be a little snow J

But, as I sit watching this season’s run of holiday shows, the same questions came to mind as when we’d discussed fairy tales.  Are there fresh ideas?  Every movie I’ve watched this season seemed to have an It’s a Wonderful Life meets A Christmas Carol meets “Here Comes Santa Claus” theme.  Nothing is wrong with that, but are we afraid of new ideas?  Do we stick with traditions so fiercely that if someone has a different view of the holidays, they can’t break through?  Is this why someone produced Jason X?

The creators of the stories of my childhood and my parents’ childhood were great, but isn’t it our time to begin to create those same wonderfully written imagined places for the next generation?

What are the must have items for a great holiday story?  How many remakes of an old classic have you seen this holiday season?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Blog Tour for Dreaming of the Wolf--free copies of the book!

This is what I'm working on now, in edition to everything else. Blogs. Guest blogs. Interviews. And writing. And editing! Somewhere in there I've got to do some Christmas shopping!

Thanks to everyone for hosting me! And ahem, Jake Silver of course, because he's really the star of the show. And thanks to Sourcebooks and Danielle for setting these up and providing the free books for the contests, and to reviewers who had the opportunity to review the book. It's going to be a very busy month...before December!

So here's the schedule!

12-1 Preternatura
12-2 Over the Edge
12-5 Night Owl Reviews
Rom Fan Reviews
12-7 SOS Aloha
Fresh Fiction
12-9 Literary Escapism
Cindy’s Love of Books
Bitten by Paranormal Romance
USA TODAY'S Review and Interview: Happy Ever After
12-13 Love Romance Passion
12-14 The Long and Short of It
Debbie’s Book Bag
Paranormal Haven
12-19 Sia McKye's Thoughts over Coffee
Thoughts in Progress
12-21 Star-Crossed Romance
12-28 Fang-tastic Books
Book Lover and Procrastinator

I'm off to update my website, and even get a guest blog done before it's time to run to work. So have a super great Thursday!!

A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing edits are done!!! Finn's just too sexy for his own good. :)

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality."

Friday, November 25, 2011


Why are you reading this? Why aren't you eating more pie, more turkey, more ... whatever! If you're in the States, I'll bet you're either full of food or getting ready to be full of food.

Let's just take one small moment and truly give thanks. I blogged about this elsewhere so I won't repeat myself TOO much, but let's just say "thanks" that we live in this country. That we have food on our tables. That we are literate and have a chance to learn. That we are safe. It's not that way for so many people, so pause and thank Whoever for that.

Then heck, go ahead and have that second piece of pie. Everybody knows there are no calories on Thanksgiving day! And any that sneak on your thighs will be worked off on Black Friday when you tussle with the crowds.

So enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

I can pinpoint the moment I started my writing journey - my real writing journey. I'd been writing for years but until I joined RWA I had no idea what putting words to a page to create a story really meant.

I ran a fan club for country singing artist, Kevin Sharp. One of his fans wrote him a letter thanking him for helping her through the painful times with his beautiful voice and songs. I answered her letter and told her I was a writer and asked for advice. BOY oh boy did I get it - she told me to join RWA and get into a local chapter, attend national conferences and take all the classes I could. That was twelve years ago and we are now best of friends. I consider her my mentor and am so thankful for that letter she wrote to Kevin. He loves that I am writing, too, and when he wrote a story of his remarkable life surviving cancer, he asked me to write the introduction.

This proves to me that we can find gifts everywhere. I consider Karen Rose Smith to be one of my gifts and thank her for bringing me here to this place where I've found the greatest friendships, support, learned to write and become part of a great network. As far as I am concerned, writers are the best kind of friends to have. I am thankful for each of you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Discovered characters

Writers are always on the lookout for new material, whether a new premise or an unusual type of career. Here are two examples which piqued this romance writer’s imagination. One is remarkable line of work, the other one is what most of us would consider a fairly ordinary job.

I took my extended family to the Ojai Raptor Center. Working with birds of prey is definitely an extraordinary occupation. The staff rehabilitates rescued birds so they can be released back into the wild. However, some of these magnificent creatures cannot be set free.

I was enthralled watching a bald eagle perch on a skilled handler’s gloved arm. The man said it took a year to get this particular bird’s trust. Found on an Arkansas road, he ended up in California. Hitch’s injuries prevent him from surviving in the wild.

Other birds have been humanly imprinted. All raptors have sharp talons, not something you want to experience firsthand. A pair of young kestrels who fell from a nest were later released by some foolish people. One landed on a shocked shopper’s shoulder. I learned that even a few days in captivity, fed by humans, can disrupt a bird of prey’s ability to hunt for itself––or to fear humans.

As you see I’m fascinated with this line of work. Who wouldn’t be? The wheels are probably turning inside your head. Raptor handler as a protagonist? Definitely a strong character. One who would capture the reader’s empathy. Everyone admires those who lend a hand to the creatures in our world.

A few days later work trucks invaded our street. We’d received notification of a planned electrical shutdown. That morning three power poles were replaced along with extensive rewiring. Men at work. Gotta love them!

Women admire physically competent men, and one who works in a dangerous field—high up in a cherry picker or attached by his belt to a forty-foot pole¬––grabs your imagination. I developed a few scenarios around a team, multiple stories of their lives and the women who ultimately fall in love with each of them.

Story ideas and imaginary characters pummel us everywhere we look. I have a difficult time keeping them inside a folder once I jot down the initial idea. They resurface again and again. Staying focused on the hard work of completing my current story is a true challenge. It’s always easier to start a new one, isn’t it?

Happy Thanksgiving to our FTH members in the USA!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Entering a Contest

I just submitted the first chapter of my WIP to a contest, something I haven't felt brave enough to do in five years. Back then, the most helpful comments came from a judge who was encouraging. She said she could hear my voice, said my many technical flaws could be corrected.

Since then I've studied the craft of writing. I've presented my WIP to a critique loop and to a solo CP. I've judged contests, and read entries that run the gamut of storytelling skill.

I know contests are not the be-all and end-all of life. My entry may not resonate with one or more of the judges. But I'm hoping I'll score better than five years ago.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My New Contemporary Romance

For your Christmas shopping visit:

To buy bestsellers at $0.99 visit:

And now new at amazon for $0.99

Right Name, Wrong Man
What’s a future bride to do when she utters another man’s name in her fiancé’s arms–– a name she thought she had erased from her heart after one blissful night, years ago? Before setting a wedding date, Mary-Beth Drake must reassure herself she has outgrown her youthful infatuation for handsome surgeon Yves Malroux.

A trip to France and training with Yves would convince her she’s in control of her emotions. Except that sparks fly between them.

Will Mary-Beth ever realize who’s her right man?

“Love you, Yves.” Marie-Beth Drake purred and cuddled deeper against her lover’s broad chest.

Already half-asleep, Steve squeezed her to his side, with a faint “Hmm”. Soon, his light snores filled the air. Sated and relaxed, she stroked his silvery hair. “Love you—”

She froze.

What had she called him?

Oh God, oh God. Had she said Steve or… Yves?

Her fiancé grumbled in his sleep. She immediately yanked her hand away from his head. Her fingers flew to her lips and her stomach somersaulted. She couldn’t have whispered the loathsome name? She’d buried it long ago and forgotten the sexy French doctor and his charismatic smile.

Had Steve noticed the slip of her tongue?

Heart pounding, she studied his closed eyes and slightly gaping mouth. Not to worry. Her fiancé slept as peacefully as a man content with life—as he did every night.

Shivering with mortification, she slid out of his arms. Her throat ached with sudden dryness as she covered herself with a robe and rushed downstairs.

In the living room, she grabbed a bottle of Merlot from the bar, filled a glass and swallowed it, and poured a second one. Her mind in shambles, she settled on the sofa to organize her thoughts.

Hanging over the fireplace, her fiancé’s portrait focused a serious look at her. She blinked. “I don’t know how it happened. Honestly,” she groaned with an apologetic grimace.

Sultry images of the French surgeon obscured her vision. Yves smiling, his knuckles caressing her cheeks, his face reaching closer to hers. She snatched her head back and touched her lips, swollen from Steve’s kisses. And remembered Yves’s passionate embrace. “No, please.” Her world tilted on its axis.

Weary and confused, she emptied her glass. “You’re history. Gone, Dr. Malroux.” To think he’d left Boston the next day after the blissful night she’d spent in his arms, and never came back, never called the chubby medical student she’d been then. “No more crazy dreams or heartaches,” she scolded in a strangled groan.

Available at amazon.com for only $0.99

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You all know that I had a big book-signing venture on 11.11.11.  Despite the rainy weather, my golf friends and neighbors came to my Writing and Art event…and I sold 40 books.  I was pleased with the event and want to recreate it (without the rain) next year.

Book signing is more difficult than I thought.  I’m trying to make conversation with the book buyer and attempting to write something special on the title page at the same time.  What’s more, I’m hoping I spell all the words (especially the name of the buyer!) correctly and use fairly legible handwriting.  Most important, I want to personalize my comment.  Is this all too much to attempt at a book signing?  Should I write a boilerplate comment?

I’m dying to know how you all handle book signings.  To start off the conversation, I’ll give you one ‘signature’ I’ve been using in hopes you’ll share one of yours. 

____________(name goes here)
I hope this thriller keeps you up all night…in a good way!  Happy reading, Rolynn

Monday, November 14, 2011

Writers Helping Writers

I must start off by apologizing, as I missed posting my blog last month. We had a bit of an upheaval late September with my husband having a stroke. He is just about fully recovered, but needless to say my writing was put on a hold for a bit.

With that said, I am excited about CRASHING HEARTS coming out in January. As I have been looking into different ways of promoting this, it come up time and time again how writers help writers.

I have recently just started putting together a blog tour to promote CRASHING HEARTS. In the process I have opened up my blog for guest bloggers to promote their own works. It’s an exciting process to reach out to other writers and invite them to guest on my blog. It’s open a whole new way to meet new authors.

So starting December 30th, my blog tour kicks off as a guest of Cynthia Woolf. Keep posted for other dates as they are filling in.

NaNoWriMo - Status report

And so once more my friends I have delved headfirst into the writing insanity known as NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. In thirty days I intend to write 50K words of a new novel, starting November 1st and ending on November 30. This includes the four days usually devoted to Thanksgiving, also known as the great black hole of not writing. In short, I am a complete loon for dedicating myself to this task but I have a good reason.

This is the one month when I actually get a lot of writing done and it is all because it is expected of me to write this month. I say "I'm doing NaNo" and my friends and family tend to stay out of the way of my getting to my keyboard.

It is marvelous.

So anyway here is my current progress:

As you can see there were some good days, some okay days, and one very bad RED day where I went whale watching without taking Dramamine first and spent the rest of the day feeling really, really sick.

However I see some whales before I threw up so it wasn't all bad.

So I'm going to be brief in this update because I have very nearly made up for that red Sunday and I hope by the time you all see this I will be very, very close if not over the 25K words I need to have by the 15th of the month to stay on target.

Happy writing everyone, particularly those also doing NaNo.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why Writing A Novel Is Like Thanksgiving Dinner

Have you ever thought about the similarities between writing a novel and Thanksgiving dinner?  No? Well, stop and think for a moment. I think we can draw a lot of correlations between the two.

Let's start with our hero – the one who perfectly carves a turkey without tearing a single piece apart. Right. Who likes a perfect hero? Let's give him a few flaws. He can carve the turkey, but he routinely forgets to charge the electric knife. 

Our heroine can set a perfect table but she is usually too busy yelling at the game to remember to get everything out on time so you have to wait for halftime to eat.

Conflict is what happens when your hero's family and heroine's family meet for the first time. In your book, this is the reason they want to stay apart. The holiday is the reason they can't. Great conflict occurs when you put them into a pushmi/pullyu situation.

You can add external conflict as well. What family gathering is complete without at least one uninvited relative who is always cheering on the wrong team?

The whole family relates to your cast of secondary characters. Uncle Joe who eats the last piece of pie while his wife criticizes the use of new china instead of Great Aunt Nonnie's best. 

There’s the big black moment when you realize that nothing you do will ever be enough for some family members while others wouldn't have noticed if you'd bought a rotisserie chicken at the market. Your story comes crashing down around your hero and heroine at this point.
Then, just like at Thanksgiving, you realize that the whole reason for writing the book and making the dinner was to feed yourself. Your dreams of writing are what are important and not the criticisms of others. As with every good story, or meal, there’s triumph and tears and everything in-between.

Yep, writing a novel is a lot like Thanksgiving dinner. When it goes well, there’s a happy ending. Your team wins, your pie crust doesn’t burn and your turkey is a gorgeous golden brown. All of your side dishes are perfect, made from old family recipes. Everyone gets along for the duration of the meal and a little while afterwards. There’s a happy ending for dinner and for your novel.

So, at this time of year, let’s give thanks for novels and for our traditions. Even if your family isn’t perfect or your turkey gets burned or if you forget the cranberry sauce in the fridge. There’s always room for a happy ending.

From our families to yours, happy holidays! Cai and Arwen aka Marilu Mann.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Astrology: When East meets West

It's my birthday!!!! How cool a date is it today: 11-11-11. There's got to be something special on the astral plane that goes with this. Just sayin'. Hope somebody out there in the universe is listening. :-D

I'm a Scorpio. I have to admit I'm not into insects and technically speaking, a scorpion is an arachnid (7th grade biology to the rescue), but I've always loved the fact that by it's very image, Scorpio screams "Don't mess with me unless you want to get stung." Found this awesome site that tells me what it means to be born on November 11th and it's pretty spot on as it applies to me. This in particular resonated:

November 11 Scorpios are the world's true mystics. Unable to live life on a strictly material level, they depend upon knowledge and experience to take them where they wish to go. They have marvelous creative powers. They are natural storytellers. An interest in all facets of human experience is an illuminating influence in their lives.

In Japan, though, I discovered a new facet to astrology: the Chinese calendar or zodiac. Every year, post cards are sent out at New Year's with an image of the zodiac sign for that year. Already cards with images of a dragon are popping up in the stores. Every zodiac sign has a meaning to it just as our astrological signs do. There are twelve signs in total. Mine happens to be a snake.

Think about that for a minute. I'm a Scorpio and a snake. Doesn't that strike you as rather deadly? I'm such a gentle creature, truly!

People born in the year of the Snake often have a good temper and a skill at communicating...They are determined to accomplished their goals [and] hate to fail. Women under the sign of the snake do well in housework but are irritable.

Okay, the last is so not true, except the irritable part, which is how I feel whenever I have to do housework. This came from www.travelchinaguide.com. Have to say reading through the strengths and weaknesses I didn't connect with a lot of it. Maybe I'm just a poor snake. Now there's a thought!

But interestingly enough, what Japanese really consider is a person's blood type. Yup, you heard me right--Blood Type. As in A, B, O or AB. And no, we're not talking closet vampires. Japanese people are very likely to know little about their astrological sign, slightly more about their zodiac sign and quite a bit about their blood type. I've lived here long enough that I don't find it odd anymore. I'm type O and my husband is type B. So what does this mean?

Well an O type is pretty much interested in the big picture, details just don't matter all that much. That is soooo me. Os are very "about" in what they do, which is something else I excel at. Drives my husband crazy.

This is from askville.amazon.com

Type O:
Type O's are outgoing, and very social. They are initiators, although they don't always finish what they start. Creative and popular, they love to be the center of attention and appear very self confident.

Oh, yes, I'm all those things...well maybe not popular, but I'm working on it. :-D

So what's your sign or your blood type? Let me know and I'll see if I can tell you what it means.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Joanne--Dave Barry and Barbie and Ken

Hi Everyone,
It's the 8th of the month, and I'm sharing a Dave Barry post about Barbie and Ken.

Enjoy and have a chuckle!

"I'm not sure how I feel about the Barbie and Ken split. On the one hand, I can see why Barbie would not be satisfied with Ken. I have a young daughter, so our house has a thriving, teeming Barbie colony. This colony is serviced by one lone Ken, and frankly he is not up to the task."

Me again: Is Ken really up to the task of servicing all those Barbie dolls? :)

Dancing in the Mist

Mist dissipating over the Potomac River at McCoy's Ferry

Several weekends ago, I went camping along the Potomac River in western Maryland with my husband. Each morning we woke to a heavy mist. I loved it.

Well, that's sort of what I experience when I get into a writing groove. My muse takes the form of mist. I feel as if my mind is surrounded with a swirling haze filled with creative thoughts that come as fast as my fingers fly over the keyboard.

At other times, the mist lingers in the back of my mind where a seed of an idea takes shape and grows at a slower pace, often popping to the forefront just as I'm laying down for the night. Thus the need for a notebook beside the bed.

How do you describe the flow of ideas when you write, paint, compose music?

Thanks for stopping by. I expect to be off-grid for a few days and will respond to comments when I have access to the internet again.


Dawn Marie Hamilton writes Scottish inspired time travel romance with fantasy and paranormal elements. DawnMarieHamilton.com You can also visit Dawn Marie at Castles & Guns on Tuesday November 8 & 22. Twitter: @DawnM_Hamilton

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Clichés can be a real kick in the pants, huh?  They seem to pop up as easy as pie.  Proliferate our writing and we never think twice about it.  When I realized I used them way too much, I had to go back and try to get rid of those nasty little buggers.  That's when I realized I had to start working my brain muscles a bit harder to get the same idea across. 

When I went to check out some files I needed to download for a class I'm taking, I found this little gem in the files section and thought I'd share it with you.  http://www.suspense.net/whitefish/cliche.htm  I don't think the list is complete, not by a long shot but it's a good start.  Then I went to Google and found this one.  http://www.clichesite.com/ 

If you have a word and want to find a cliché that uses that word, try this site.  http://www.westegg.com/cliche/

Have you ever noticed that commercials tend to use quite a few clichés.  For example, the commercial for Binder & Binder comes to mind.  They use "not by a long shot" for their social security disability commercial.

Sometimes those clichés say it best.  So, do we use them when they fit the scene?  I think occasionally a character can use them in dialogue.  Clichés can be that character's identifying trait but even so, you don't want to beat your reader over the head with them.  Using them in narrative?  I don't think that is a good idea at all.  What do you think?

I've seen them used in blurbs and synopses.  When I see them in the blurb for a book, I won't buy the book.  Really, I won't.  It tells me that author threw out the book with very little thought.  Do I want to read a book full of clichés?  No, I want something new, something different.  Sure, it can tell me the same thing as a tried and true cliché but it will be told to me in a new, different way.  

Now, I've read books that twist the clichés.  Futuristic books that don't use them correctly.  Or time travel books where the person is from out time and uses a cliché.  The person hearing it will say something that makes the cliché seem like an odd statement.  For example, "you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar."  The reply is "why would you want to catch flies?"  I've read that particular scene in a book.  Can't remember which one but I think it may have been one by Sandra Hill.  Or you have a character who is trying to use clichés but can't quite get them right.  NCIS uses this technique with Ziva's character.

I think using clichés is a form of plagiarism.  Afterall, they are someone else's words, even if we don't know exactly whose words they are.

Anyone notice how many clichés I used in this post?  <g>  Any other uses of clichés in any way that you can tell us about?  Are they one of your weaknesses when you write?  Do you use them often in your every day speech?  Are there any that are regional?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Riding The Stereotype Bus

I will admit that sometimes I pull my secondary characters out of the stereotype bag. Maybe I underestimate my readers and think they need to have a huge sign to let them know the limits of the secondary character. My trash-talking waitress seems a lot like Flo from the old Alice show. Ever wonder how accurate stereotypes really are?

Recently, we were on the bus from Disney with several British families. Now my view of British families from PBS miniseries is that they keep their emotions to themselves, voices low, and a stiff upper lip. A tired family consisting of a mom, dad, and two children collapsed into their seats. The older brother started tormented the already cranky younger sister causing mother to explode. She separated the two of them grumbling about Disney needed to have a jail for bad kids so the parents could drop them off and have a good time. Hmmm, that sounded like something I may have told my kids to solicit good behavior.

The boy in question darted off the bus just about the time it was ready to leave. British Mom darted after him yelling that he would be left. My goodness she sounded almost American with an accent. She clomped back to the bus and begged the bus driver to wait while her son returned from his emergency restroom break. It just goes to show how wrong I was the typical British persona.

On the same bus was another British family, a quiet spoken mother and teenage daughter. They discussed everything in hushed, lovely-accented tones. At one point, the mother worried that she might get off at the wrong hotel. She walked quietly up to the driver and softly asked if she was at the right hotel. She was not, but she did fit the stereotype of my average British woman. Sometimes stereotypes do fit, but usually not.

One of the best romance novels I ever read was a woman torn between two men. They were both good, decent men and she was genuinely baffled which one to pick. The fact that one didn’t have some hidden evil past make the story compelling. The heroine had to have genuine reasons preferring one man over the other. The author cleverly did this while not turning the rejected guy into a jerk. Not using the stereotype was more work, but made for a more compelling read.

As writers, we have to decide what stereotypes no longer fit or even serve a purpose. Tell me which stereotype you’ve recently deleted from your character bag.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNo Nudges

National Novel Writing Month, known to us all as NaNoWriMo, began yesterday. Many are participating, hoping this will inspire them to write
that novel that's been rattling around in their minds. Some are hoping to create something different. A few, like me, are using it as a kick in the bum to finish a lagging project.

Whatever the reason, the month-long challenge involves a strong degree of sacrifice--and determination.

But isn't that what writing entails year long? We sacrifice time with family and friends to devote time to writing about the inhabitants of our minds. For those with outside jobs and children, you sacrifice sleep to dole out an hour of daily writing time--and oh how I respect those who do. I didn't begin writing fulltime until I retired. Writers must also be determined year long, too. Determined to write their best. Determined to finish the project we love, no matter what comments we hear about our efforts.

So, what is so special about NaNo? Why all the hype? The low rumble of excitement and the flurry of encouraging emails? Could it be the collective community of writers worldwide, striving to achieve the same thing? A collective energy force, as it were?

To those of you participating in NaNo this year: Yay, you! Keep at it. On days you fail to reach your quota--and let's face it, life happens--don't give up. Strive to make up your word count on better days. Keep the vision and write forward. You'll be amazed at what you achieve. I'm working on a romantic suspense, the second in a series. This one is entitled "Rain is a Love Song" and is set in Paris and Budapest. I was a shade over 35,000 words when NaNo started, so I'm hoping to finish the rough draft this month. Wish me luck. My agent has it on her reading calendar for the second week of December, so...I have to finish this puppy. To all of you--WRITE ON!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Falling Skies vs. The Walking Dead

Falling Skies vs. The Walking Dead

Why The Walking Dead is so much better than Falling Skies? I have 3 words for you: The Hero's Journey. I watch both of these shows but until I rewatched The Walking Dead Season 1 I couldn't figure out what was wrong with Falling Skies. Looking over my craft of writing books, I discovered it. There is an excellent book for writers, The Hero's Journey by Joseph Campbell. It uses the 12 stages of the hero's journey. The first stage when using the Hero's Journey for writing a novel is The Ordinary World.

This stage is vivid in The Walking Dead. We see Rick Grimes as a deputy sheriff, doing his job. Talking to his buddy, we can see his love for his wife, his child, and his duty. When he is shot pursuing a bad guy his first action is to tell his buddy to not tell his wife about his injury. His first thought is to not worry her. This tells us all we need to know about Rick Grimes and his relationships around him.

The loss of this stage in Falling Skies is glaringly clear. The action opens with an older man and a young man on the run. We learn later that one is the dad. They are running from aliens. The aliens kill grown-ups and capture and enslave young kids. All this is great action but we don't know these people. We don't care they are in danger.

Later we learn Noah Wylie's character was a college professor before the aliens arrived and now he is with the army. The show missed an opportunity to show me this character as a professor. What was the character arc of the nerdy, bookish professor becoming a rebel, resistance fighter? Show me the loss of his middle son to show me his love for his youngest and his oldest. Show me losing his wife. What did that do to him? Was that the moment that drove him to the army to fight the invaders? We don't know. There has been no flashbacks, no dreams of what was, how life used to be.

Falling Skies dropped the ball. The Walking Dead grabbed it and scored a touchdown.

Jill James