Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Writer As Reader and Other Humbling Experiences

I read Dare To Love by Carly Phillips yesterday. I had received a copy in exchange for a review.  I posted my reviews but I also wanted to talk a bit about the book here. I'll sum it up in one simple word. Wow!  Whenever I read something like Dare To Love (or The Other Soldier by Kathy Altman or The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake or Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas) it humbles me since I'm not anywhere near their levels as a writer yet. But, it also makes me want this even more. I want to work harder and learn everything I can so that someday a reader will say that about my writing. I want to make readers laugh and cry and fall in love.

Maybe that's why I get stuck as I am now in the middle of my current ms. My inner critic says I can't possibly be good enough yet to be mentioned in the same breath as any of the above. But, I refuse to give up. I will keep writing until I am good enough!

Here's my review that I posted on Goodreads and Amazon.

I am a Carly Phillips fan. I love her Serendipity series. And if Dare To Love is a taste of what’s to come in her Dare series, count me in! Yes, Dare To Love may be more “graphic” than the Serendipity ones but in no way is it gratuitous sex. Both Ian and Riley are well-drawn, complex characters that you get to know and love just as they learn about each other and fall in love. The conflicts are true to life and grow out of the characters themselves, making the reader root for these two as they try to work through their differences to a happily ever after.

Ian’s past family drama has turned him into a man who has to be in control of every aspect of his life, including the people in it. After growing up with a controlling and abusive father, Riley refuses to give up control of her life to anyone.

The chemistry between the Ian and Riley is explosive from the moment they meet, but sex alone isn’t enough to sustain a lasting, loving relationship. They must resolve their trust and control issues or risk damaging their fledgling relationship beyond repair.

Once I started Dare To Love, I couldn’t put it down. I became so emotionally invested in these characters I had to see what would happen next. And now I can’t wait for the rest of the Dare siblings to get their own stories!

NaNo Update

Okay, I admit it, I slacked off a bit (okay a lot!!) on NaNo. I have written about 14k but an now stuck in the middle. Writing so fast made me feel like I had lost touch with my characters and their story. So, taking the advice of others to go back to the characters when stuck, I have been using The Positive Trait Thesaurus & The Negative Trait Thesaurus (both by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi) to dig deeper into my characters and strengthen the goal, motivation and conflict aspects.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

More NaNo Updates

I haven't been as productive the past few days. I had a really big break through on the heroine's internal conflict and it's as if my brain says it gave me that now it needs to rest.

Here's yesterday's stats. I'm still hoping to do more today so I'm not posting them just yet.

Tomorrow we leave for vacation so I probably won't get as much accomplished, if anything. Will try to post if I do.

Day 8

Favorite Lines: “Because if you were, then I’d have to add another thing to the list of things you need to know about me. I already told you I always finish what I start, I am thorough in everything I do and…” (Hero)
“And?” (Heroine)
“I always rise to a challenge.”

Total Daily Words: 919

Total NaNo Words: 8,792

Thursday, November 7, 2013

NaNoWriMo Updates

In the Writer's Circle forum, we're posting our NaNo updates and fave lines for the day. So I thought I'd post some in here too.

Day 1 word count: 1,085

Favorite line: He definitely needed to get out of this damn swamp, get away from here before he did something really stupid, like trust Savannah Guidry and her hot pink toes.

Day 2 word count: 1,465

Favorite lines:
He filed that knowledge away for further use. Yeah, he knew that made him a b*st*rd, but he’d been one for the past ten of his thirty-two years so he had it down pat by now

Day 3 word count 1,293

Favorite lines:
(Heroine) “Is that your polite way of telling me I smell like eau de swamp?”
 (Hero) “Whatever gave you the idea I was polite?”

Day 4 word count 1,003

Favorite lines:
“You’ll need to undo your pants to give me better access to the wound.” (Heroine)
“Are you sure that’s all you want access to?” (Hero)
“Your wound is probably infected and that’s what you’re thinking about?”
“Thinking? H*ll, no. The blood left my brain the minute you said undo your pants.”

Day 5 word count: 672 

Favorite lines: Hero’s knife wound is infected and he’s fading fast so heroine is trying to get him in bed before he passes out.
She touched his arm. As she feared, he was burning up. “C’mon, let’s get you in bed.”
He opened one eye. “Does this mean we’re dispensing with the preliminaries?”

Day 6 word count: 1,210

Favorite line: Heroine is nursing the wounded hero who has a raging fever from an infected abdominal wound and she trying to cool him down with cool compresses plus check on the infected wound. This is one of her inner thoughts.

Quit gawking. It’s not as if you’ll need to describe it to a sketch artist or pick it out of a line-up.

Now, I'm off to get today's writing done.

Won Another 1,000 Word Challenge!

Sorry for not keeping up with posting on here but between the mad dash to finish my full for the SYTYCW Contest and then starting NaNoWriMo, I've been busy writing.

But not too busy to enter the most recent challenge. Here's my winning entry. After I finish my NaNo story, tentatively titled Swamp Heat, I am hoping to use these characters for a full length ms. At this point Rescuing Riley will be a straight up romance instead of romantic suspense.

Here's the winning entry:

And let me just preface with an FYI for anyone unfamiliar with the name Niamh it's pronounced Neev. I tried to get her to change it but she refused. 

Rescuing Riley
Word Count: 1, 000

When his cell phone vibrated, Riley Cooper placed the unopened bottle of Jack Daniels next to his sock feet on the coffee table. He grabbed the remote, muting the baseball game. His gaze never left the bottle as he dug into his pocket.

Before hitting ignore, he noticed it was Niamh’s brother Liam. He hesitated, glanced at the bottle of Jack, then pictured Niamh’s coffee brown eyes. “ Lee, what’s up?”

“Hey, Coop, could you meet me at the Westerly Burying Ground as soon a possible?”

Riley leaned back against the sofa and sighed. He had planned on opening that bottle and drinking until he passed out. Maybe then that tight fist that clawed at his chest would relax its grip. Not that he deserved relief. His decisions had caused a man his life and no amount of booze would change cold, hard facts. 

“Coop, buddy, you still there?”

“Yeah, look, if you were expecting a Jeremy Renner ‘whose car we taking’ response, you’re SOL.”

“Niamh needs help.”

Riley straightened and dropped his feet to the floor with a thud. He wouldn’t have thought it possible but the vise around his chest tightened. “Wh-why would she need my help?”

“Might be best not to discuss it over the phone. Can you meet us?” 

Tilting his head to the side, Riley cradled the phone between his ear and shoulder as he shoved his feet into black jump boots. “Give me fifteen minutes.”

Riley let the phone drop onto his lap as tied the laces. His gaze fell longingly on the bottle of Jack, instead he stood up and stuffed the phone into the front pocket of his jeans. 

His breath came out in a hiss. Looked like facing PFC Alex Trejo’s grieving parents wouldn’t be the hardest thing he did today. Ding, ding, ding and the survey says number one answer is seeing Niamh. He turned away from the bottle and scrubbed an unsteady hand over his face and went in search of his keys. 

# # #

“You called Riley Cooper?” Niamh forced the words through clenched teeth as she glared at her brother. The harrowing experience at the bank had been frightening, but the prospect of facing Riley had her almost nostalgic for those gunmen. 

“What’s wrong, Mommy?” 

In as normal a tone as possible, Niamh glanced at her five-year-old daughter and said, “Nothing’s wrong, sweetie. You know how Uncle Liam likes to tease.”

“Likes when he pulls my hair’n calls me Bug?”

Liam reached out and tugged on one of the girl’s blond pigtails. “Hey, Bug, I’m not deaf like your Grampa Mac.” In an exaggerated whisper, he continued, “I can hear every word you’re saying.”

The little girl brought her hand to her mouth and dissolved into a fit of giggles, her blond pigtails bouncing like marionettes.

Over her child’s head, Niamh mouthed a “thanks” to Liam. Leaning closer, she warned him. “But you’re still in deep doo-doo for calling Riley.”

“Who’s Riley?” Fiona looked expectantly from one to the other.

“Nobody, sweetie.”

Liam chuckled. “You say that now but that’s not how you used to feel.”

“Yeah, well I used to be in love with Justin Timberlake too, but I grew up.”

“And took down all those lovely posters.” Liam reached over and yanked none too gently on her ponytail. “I’d believe you, sis, except for the fact you’ve seen all his movies.” 

Before Niamh could punch the annoying clod, Riley’s Ford F-150 pickup pulled up. Blowing her breath out through her mouth, she rubbed her hands down the front of her jeans. Stay calm. You got this. She survived having a gun pointed at her during a bank robbery without falling to pieces. She’d survive seeing Riley again.

Watching him strut across the grass of the historic cemetery, Niamh felt a jolt. Riley was no longer that young man from six years ago. No, this Riley kicked *ss and took down names. As handsome as ever, the Hollywood stubble just added to his new bad boy persona. But it was the way his wide shoulders and muscular chest stretched the fabric of his t-shirt that had her stomach doing somersaults.

Liam stepped forward and shook hands. “Great to see you again, man. I’m glad you made it back in one piece.”

Riley nodded. “Good to be back.”

Niamh shoved her hands into her pockets. She didn’t care if he was a decorated war hero. Starting immediately she was instituting a hands-off policy. Absolutely no touching.

Riley’s gaze locked on hers as he hitched his chin toward her. “Niamh.”

Not trusting her voice, she only nodded in response, digging her fingernails into her palms. Remember he cut out your heart and didn’t look back. Remember crying yourself to sleep…night after night.

Before Niamh could prevent it, Fiona stepped forward, shaking her head as she looked up at Riley. “Mommy, you was wrong. He’s not nobody.”

Riley shot Niamh a curious glance before squatting on his heels until his face was even with Fiona’s. “My name’s Riley. What’s yours?”

“I’m Fee-OH-nah like the princess.” She planted one foot out in front of the other in a deliberate movement. “My mommy bought me new sneakers. They’re pink. My old ones pinched me. These ones have lights. Grampa Mac says I don’t need no lights on my shoes ‘cuz everyone hears me coming.”

Riley was silent for a moment before he said, “Well, Fee-OH-nah like the princess, it’s a pleasure to meet you and your pretty pink sneakers.” He glanced up at Niamh. “She looks just like you.”

Liam snorted. “Yeah, it’s like having to grow up with Niamh all over again.”

Riley straightened up to his full height.

Fiona balanced on her tiptoes, looking up. “Does you know my mommy?” 

He may have been answering Fiona, but his intense gaze was locked on Niamh. “I thought I did.”

The dull ache of foreboding washed over her as her gaze darted from Riley’s captivating gray eyes to Fiona’s identical ones.

The End

Thursday, October 24, 2013

UPDATE!!!! I was on the reserve list and a spot opened up!!

Last week I thought I hadn't made the top 50 in SYTYCW2013. Well, actually I hadn't but I must have been on the reserve list because I'm on it now!

Got the email this week and scurried around finishing and polishing. Wrote my synopsis (YUCK!) and got it all formatted. During formatting, the power went out and took a few years off my life. But I was able to recover everything and finished it up.

I sent it in today! Submissions were due by tomorrow but I was afraid to cut it that close. Good thinking as evidenced by the power outage.

So it's out of my hands now. My critique partners were clamoring for the complete since they hadn't read the to the end so I sent to them also. With a strong caution. Do not tell me about all the glaring errors!!! :)

I'm already having second thoughts wondering what plot threads I dropped, etc.

Oh well, I chose this life so now I have to live with all these doubts and second guesses.

Here's the link again in case you missed it the first time: