Monday, December 6, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
In addition there are three more chances to win in 3 monthly drawings:
1. Click "like" on my Facebook Author Page.
2. Follow me on Twitter.
3. Sign up to receive my Newsletter! (You can do it on my website or here on the right margin of this blog.)
Good luck! I'll be drawing winners from Facebook, Twitter and my Newsletter list on December 1st!
Be sure to check back here to see if you're one of the daily winners! And please tell your reading friends about my Moving Party. Thanks!
Monday, November 22, 2010
My Moving Party is still marching on, so be sure to leave a comment over at my Mia blog for a chance to win a copy of one of my backlist.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
If you've clicked to follow me here as Emily, thanks so much. I hope you'll also follow my Mia Marlowe blog.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
"Be afraid. Be very afraid."
I had to laugh when I saw this pic, because the little dog looks so much like my Mack, who tries to be a little tough guy, but at heart is a little . . . . well, a pussy. Put on your thinking caps and help me think of some funny Halloween captions for the picture of the poor little stalked dog.
Do you have a pet you'll dress up in costume? Send me a pic (miamarlowe at hotmail dot com) and I'll post it on my Mia Marlowe Blog!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
However, I was very encouraged to find LOTS of Kensington Brava titles in the bookstore. When my first Mia Marlowe book comes out next May, it should be widely available in print and as an ebook simulaneously (and is already available for pre-order at Amazon, B & N and Borders!)
As you know I've been see-sawing between this blog and my Mia blog for a while. Since my career is turning in a new direction, I'll be moving exclusively to the Mia Marlowe blog starting November 3rd. We'll have a grand Moving Party with guests and give aways. I hope you'll join me and will click to follow that blog if you haven't done so already.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Also, you'll want to pop over to The Chatelaines to learn about a contest to win some really cool cloth covers for Jennifer Ashley's terrific new release!
Friday, October 22, 2010
But today, I just have to share some terrific news with you here as well. If you've been following Red Pencil Thursday, you remember Saranna De Wylde. She's been my victim/volunteer for an online critique a couple times. I'm thrilled to report that this talented lady has sold her HOW TO LOSE A DEMON IN 10 DAYS in a three book deal with Kensington! If you're on Facebook, be sure to send her a high 5!
Have a great weekend all.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
If you haven't clicked to follow my Mia blog, I hope you will. Plans are in the works for a "moving party" later next month as I shift everything to that blog. I've loved having you here. I love getting to know you and look forward to your comments. I thank you so much for being a part of my writing as Emily. I appreciate you for bearing with me as I make this transition. Hope you'll enjoy my Mia Marlowe books too.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Tired of the midterm elections? Join the ROMANCE PARTY! My blog guest at www.miamarlowe.blogspot.com wants to know which romance subgenre is your favorite. Historical, contemporary, romantic suspense, paranormal, YA, series or steampunk! Come on over and cast your vote!
Hope to see you there.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
What little I know about critiqueing I gleaned from a terrific group of women in Seattle. I learned more about writing from them in a few months than I had in the couple years of flailing on my own. Here's how the group worked:
We brought enough copies of our pages (usually around 10) for each person to have a copy. Then the author read the work aloud while the group marked up their copies. Each member shared what they noticed, which was terrific because each person brought a different focus to the table. One was a consummate grammarian. Another had an ear for dialogue. Another writer knew how to tighten prose till it squeaked. Each of them gave me new things to think about. I still miss them all.
It's a fearful thing to show your work to someone in unpolished form, but the trust we had in each other trumped fear. Tact was our watchword. That's not to say we weren't honest with each other, but we realized that ultimately the author of the work was the final arbiter of how it should go. One of the best gifts a critique partner can give is a fresh perspective that sends a writer's thoughts in a new direction.
A few weeks ago, I had a guest critiquer take a look at the opening of my novella from IMPROPER GENTLMEN (July 2011). Because of the comments, I reworked the beginning. Here's the new version:
Royal Navy Docks, Bermuda
The soles of half a dozen hessians slapped on the stone seawall overhead. Aidan Danaher peered up from the man-sized drain he’d scuttled through and extended the fingers of his right hand toward the nearest guard. He loosed a suggestion and immediately the man raised a spyglass to scan the waves for the moonlit sail Aidan planted in his mind. In another moment, the rest of the guards at Royal Dock followed suit. Unheeded, Aidan loped across the open exercise grounds and up the hill to the Commissioner’s House.
The return trip would be dicier, since the Knack worked best when used sparingly. He’d worry about that when the time came.
Scaling the masonry and iron of the Commissioner’s House was simple. He knew where every finger and toe hold was. He’d helped build the blasted thing, after all, and cursed every stone of it.
But not this night.
Aidan ducked from the wide second floor veranda into the tall open window, leaving the balmy Bermudian night behind. The Commissioner’s thick-walled house was kissed by a soft breeze, a far cry from airless convict ship tied up at the wharf that had been Aidan’s home for the past two years.
Rosalinde waited in the shadows, as she had promised. Now she stepped into the shaft of moonlight pooling on the hardwood. Her chestnut hair flowed over her virginal nightshift like a wanton mantle. Her bare toes peeped from beneath her lacy hem, curling with nervousness.
“We must be quiet,” she whispered, her eyes flaring wide in the silver light.
Fear, to be sure. But he also read so much trust in them, it made his chest ache. “Aye, lass. Quiet as ever we can.”
Ok, it's your turn. Do you have any questions about how to critique? Does your group do things differently? Have you had trouble with a critique partner? How did you resolve those issues?
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Writing is such a solitary occupation. Finding a critique partner means finding a friend who cares enough to tell you the truth. Priceless!
Ok, Ash, my blog is now yours.
Witch meant “wise woman” to our Pagan ancestors, as it does to me. I cannot think of any more appropriate term. Laurie Cabot (the official witch of Salem, MA) warned, “Do not teach this craft to fools.” I don’t think I hear that quite enough. There is great power, thus great responsibility, at our wand-tips. Those who are governed by knee-jerk reactions or vindictiveness have no business wielding magic as a weapon. For those who fear modern day Wicca, know that the number one fundamental lesson we are taught is “Harm none.”
A craft is something creative. It’s also something we practice. Authors create and practice their craft each time they write a story—Wiccans may draw a magic circle and put an intention out to the universe as part of practicing their craft. Because I wish to be a wise-woman, I never told a certain ex-friend that I was involved with the craft. She had a hair trigger temper and revenge was something she thought was good to get. Right after Hollywood released, “The Craft” she asked me if I knew where she could learn witchcraft. I told her she should probably realize that Hollywood wasn’t real. I went on to mention that Witches today were more like a bunch of earthy, peace-loving hippies. She quickly lost interest.
In my recent release Strange Neighbors, not only do I have a ghost haunting the apartment building, but an array of paranormal characters who live there. Among them are shapeshifters of various types, a vampire, and two witches who are roommates. The elder is teaching her sometimes foolish younger cousin the craft with an emphasis on responsibility. I had great fun with these characters. So much fun in fact that although they show up in each book, the third and final book in the series features the witches prominently.
Having just finished writing that manuscript, I had to say a bittersweet goodbye to these characters. Meanwhile, I’m delighted to share the fruits of my labors with the world. Book 1 Strange Neighbors is available now; Book 2 The Werewolf Upstairs is coming Feb 2011. And I hope to be talking up book 3 The Vampire Next Door at about this time next year. I’m delighted with my adorable book covers, and hope you like them too.
I’ll be signing Strange Neighbors at the New Jersey Romance Writers conference 10/23—just in time for Halloween. If you can’t make it to that but would like a signed bookplate (or 3) just let me know. I’ll be happy to mail them to you, your book club or bookstore customers. You can contact me via my website.
Buy it here!
When all-star pitcher and shapeshifter Jason Falco buys a small apartment building, he sees it not only as an investment but as a place to escape the demands of Major league baseball.
That is, until he meets his tenants—a sarcastic unemployed vigilante vampire; a wereraven with a morbid sense of humor; a super friendly salesman werewolf; and two witches with an owl familiar who work as phone sex actresses. Not to mention a ghost haunting the place and an all too human nurse he’d like to get to know better. But with all the hooting, howling and hollering going on, how’s an all American shapeshifter supposed to sweep a girl off her feet?
Thanks for sharing today, Ashlyn. As you all know I don't do reviews, but I will give recommendations. After living with this story since its infancy, I can heartily recommend STRANGE NEIGHBORS. Ash has filled her world (and her hero's brownstone!)with hysterical characters you're going to love.
If you have questions for Ashlyn, be sure to leave a comment. She's giving away a copy of STRANGE NEIGHBORS to one lucky commenter today!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
But one of the people writing about it is a literary blogger who downloaded it because she wanted to "make fun of a bodice ripper." She claims to be "unforgiveably picky" about what she reads and yet, she felt the need to go out of her way to search for something she expects to thoroughly despise.
Does that make sense to anyone?
I've had bad reviews before. That's ok. I always say it's a good thing we don't all like the same thing because if we did, you'd all be after my DH! Not everyone will like what I write. I'm usually pretty thick-skinned about it.
But I have to wonder what's going on in someone's head when the prospect of ripping something to shreds makes them nearly giddy. It reminds me of why I dislike reality shows. Bad behavior is magnified and rewarded. Review me all day long. I can take it. Use my work as a whipping boy for your own need to denigrate others and I'm less patient. She's not just planning to bash my work. She's slamming romance in general.
She hasn't posted a review yet, but she promised her readers one. Here are her final words: The chance to read it and laugh was just too good of an opportunity to pass by. Stay tuned on this one. Who needs presidential biographies when one has duchesses on the loose?
I suggest she try Carl Sandburg's LINCOLN instead. Those six volumes should help her think better thoughts.
Monday, October 11, 2010
My new publisher, Kensington, is sponsoring a writing contest for aspiring writers and it's down to the 10 finalists now. I'm hosting one of them today at www.miamarlowe.blogspot.com.
The grand prize in this contest is a publishing contract. Contest wins have been the path to publication for a number of authors, so if you're an aspiring writer, pop over to check this one out.
Hope to see you there! Oh, and if you haven't clicked to follow my Mia Marlowe blog, I hope you will. You'll be seeing more action there coming very soon.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
"Manuscript: something submitted in haste, and returned at leisure."
It's done. It's as good as you can make it. You've polished it within an inch of its life. You've walked around with these characters in your head for months, maybe years, and now finally, you've typed the two most beautiful words in the English language.
But it's not quite the end, is it? I mean, there it is, all 400 glorious pages of it. All your blood, sweat and tears reduced to ink on wood pulp and it's just sitting there waiting for you to do the thing that requires even more courage than writing in the first place.
You must submit it.
Where to start? Do your homework. Which publishing houses already publish works that are similar to yours? Check out their websites for submission guidelines. Are there any publisher sponsored contests you can enter?
Find a published author who writes in your sub-genre and check out her acknowledgements page or her website. Did she list her editor? Her agent? These are people who might also be interested in you.
If you're very trepidacious, dabble your toes in the water by entering a few contests. Target contests with editors as judges. Check the RWR for contests where the final judges are agents or editors you think would be a good match for your work.
If you want a writing career, you will want an agent at some point. Several major houses do not accept unagented submissions.
So ask for recommendations, check the websites, query some of their clients (most reputable agents list their clients on their websites) and if you like what you hear, follow the submission guidelines on their website to the letter and submit. This involves a query letter, probably a partial (first 3 chapters) and synopsis. If the agent accepts simultaneous submissions, let them know if you are submitting elsewhere. That's just good manners.
Expect to wait. For a long time. You may, after a few weeks, call or write or email to inquire whether your submission was received. Do not badger them into a decision because I promise it will be no. If an agent decides he/she loves your work (yes, I used the "L" word. You don't want an agent who's lukewarm about you) they will make an offer of representation. If you still want them to represent you, sign an agreement.
But a word of warning. You're getting into financial bed with this person. No agent is far better than the wrong agent. Be wary. Once a publisher pays your agent, their responsibility is fulfilled. All your writing income will be funneled through your agent. Make sure you've signed with someone whose financial house is in order and whose ethics are spotless.
If you receive an offer directly from a publisher, do not scream orgasmically, "Yes, oh, yes, I'll take anything." Calmly thank them and ask if you can have a few days to secure representation. They'll respect you for it. Then you can scream once you hang up. And call the agent of your dreams. While a reputable agent prefers to be involved in the projects they represent from its inception, you will get an agent with an offer on the table. Again, make sure it's the right one.
While you're waiting to sell, your job is to start the next project. Once you receive an offer, the publisher's 2nd question is always "What else have you got?" You want to have an answer ready.
I'd be happy to answer any questions about submissions and if I don't know I'll try to point you to someone who does.
I'm also blogging at Mia Marlowe's blog about The Road Not Taken today. Love to see you there too!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Here's the link: DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS
The widowed Duchess of Southwycke mistakes Her Majesty’s agent for her next figure model. Trevelyn Deveridge never expected to pose naked to serve Queen and country, but he's left with little choice.
As long as he's there, he may as well drive the duchess . . . to distraction!
I love this story. Fortunately, reviewers did too. AllAboutRomance called it "a keeper!" It was nominated for an RT Reviewer's Choice Best K.I.S.S. and was a Colorado RWA Award of Excellence Finalist.
If you haven't read it, here's your chance. Kobo provides free ereader software for your laptop, ereader, tablet or phone!
If you've already read and enjoyed DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS, I hope you'll send a link for this post to your friends using the little share squares at the end of this post to email, tweet or facebook the link to others. Thanks so much!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
But I haven't settled on a name yet. Please click over to Mia Marlowe's Blog to learn more and weigh in with your suggestion! Hope to see you there.
For those of you might have missed this, I'm now writing as Mia Marlowe! I hope you'll make room on your shelves for my new books from Kensington too.
Monday, October 4, 2010
So I put on my historical researcher hat and discovered Sarah's story for myself. What I learned was both fascinating and horrifying. I'm blogging about it at Brava Authors today. Kensington Brava is my new publishing home, where I'll be writing as Mia Marlowe. Hope you'll join me there!
Thursday, September 30, 2010
But that doesn't mean I'll go easy on Allison. A critique is only valid if you are honest. That said, my opinion is only one person's opinion and Allison is free to accept or ignore anything I say. The value of a critique is in sending a writer's thoughts in new directions. So that's what I hope to do today. And I hope something here might help you with your WIP as well.
My comments are in red, Allison's responses in purple. Please add yours in the comment section below! If you're reading this, consider yourself part of the Red Pencil Thursday inner circle. We want to hear from you!
Love, Sex and Karma
I like this title. Sets of three always seem to work.
His eyes were drawn to the hot pink halter top that illuminated not only her tight curves, but seemed to improve the lighting in the crowded dull bar. Based on how nicely the top revealed her curves, and a tantalizing bit of a healthy, tanned mid-drift, Levi was sure that his were not the only set of eyes focusing on the heat that bellowed from Miss Halter.
Ok, we're in Levi's POV, so it's time for a word about guy-speak. Unless he's particularly erudite, guys think in shorter sentences with fewer clauses. They tend to use specific nouns and active verbs, and not go so heavy on adjectives and adverbs. I italicised them so you'd see how many there were. Also, this is a private pet peeve of mine, but I don't like roaming body parts. His gaze was drawn, not his eyes. The use of bellow is fresh (brought to mind a bull bellowing at the cows in heat), but it stopped me for a bit here. I think you want a temperature related word, not a sound one. LOVE that he thinks of her as Miss Halter.
I definitely wasn’t focusing on guy-speak. I’ll be sure to make some changes and to watch my male POV in the future. Bellowed is the wrong word, I think I might play around with the image of a mirage.
When I first started writing, I didn't think about staying in tight POV for the narrative. I took a more "omniscient" view, but you don't draw a reader in without letting them into your character's unique thoughts and observations. This is not a concept for a novice, however I think you're up to the challenge, my dear.
Flecks of gold streaked through her lengthy dark blonde hair, which only assisted the barely-there straps of her top as they outlined her swan-like neck. Surrounded by a group of women she stood conversing at the bar. Beside her someone must have made a joke because her laugh vibrated from her core to her lips causing her breasts to quiver within that deep v-necked shirt. Levi’s Adam’s apple paused halfway down his throat causing him to choke on his gin. The way her breasts were so securely snuggled together, he’d bet that she wore nothing beneath.
Swan-like neck is not a guy type observation, but you nailed him on the quivering breasts. I like the physical reaction with the Adam's apple. A fresh detail.
Watching her from across the room gave him a dark sense of power. Like a tiger stalking its prey. She stood, unaware that her future was about to change. That he, Levi Henson was her future. He knew that she was the one he had been searching for.
Can you give me a sense of why he thinks so? Is he smitten with her on the strength of a glance? Looking to meet her because they have a blind date? The tiger stalking is a little menacing for a hero. Ditto for dark power. It makes me wonder if Levi is not the hero of the piece.
I am making him sound like the villain. Don’t want that. Thanks for catching it.
Having first spotted her, relief washed through him. Settling into the couch he inspected her from a distance, but as his scrutiny continued he became anxious to approach her.
Now it seems as if he was looking specifically for Miss Halter. Can you show me he's anxious instead of telling me? I'd also like a reason.
Levi thought that nothing could pry his eyes away from her, but after only a few minutes of silently perusing her body he was proven wrong by a hard elbow to his ribs. As he rubbed his side Levi didn’t doubt for a second that the elbow was the strongest point on the human body.
I think I'd cut the As he rubbed sentence so we can get to the dialogue quicker.
Zack, his newest business partner, had a glare to match his abusive elbow. With his eyes he motioned to the two women in front of them, “Angela asked you a question.” His lips turned upwards as he faced the women. Obviously getting laid was more important to Zack than Levi’s ribs.
Love the glare to match his abusive elbow! But the next sentence is a little awkward. Instead of With his eyes he motioned, how about his gaze flicked? You need a period after them and start Zack's dialogue as a new sentence.
I felt that something was wrong with that line. I like ‘His gaze flicked’ so much better.
If something feels off to you, it's a sure bet it will hit a reader the same way.
Levi turned his attention to the two equally stunning women before him, one dark haired and exotic; the other with a mane of red hair and freckles that Levi would guess covered far more of her body than just her nose. Now, if only he could remember which one was Angela.
He'd definitely wonder how far the freckles wander! Good detail.
He deliberately looked from one to the other before making an excuse for his ignorance, “Pardon me, the music is loud. What was your question?”
The red haired woman leaned forward displaying her cleavage for his wandering gaze, “I was wondering how long your um,” her eyes met his before dipping to his crotch, “boat is.”
Levi chuckled, “My,” he paused to continue the innuendo, “yacht is larger than any that you’ve ever seen.”
Hope he can back up that claim. She strikes me as the type to get out a tape measure!
She does seem like that type of woman.
The women looked at each other with greedy eyes, making Levi want to laugh at them. He was sure that with their cheaply applied make up and their
They were stunning and exotic a moment ago and now they have cheap make up. There's a disconnect in the description that might be confusing.
You’re right. That didn’t sit well with me either. I’ll be sure to change it when I introduce them.
You've got some really good elements going here, sharp characterization and fresh details. I'm sure Levi is going to hook up with Miss Halter eventually. I'd really like to have a few more hints about why he was looking for her.
Not wanting to give away too much of the plot, I left out why he feels this way. Does this create suspense or annoyance for the reader? Should I be dropping some more concrete hints?
Yes. Don't give us everything, but we need some hooks, tantalyzing little bits of info, that will tease us into reading more to find out what's up. Last spring I did a 4 part post titled "My Husband Married a Hooker" where I go into more detail about what writing hooks are and how and where to set them. Here's the link to the first one: http://emilybryan.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-husband-married-hooker-part-1.html
Thank you so much for having me on Red Pencil Thursday. You have given me a great deal to work and play with. I’m grateful to know what I can improve within this piece, and my writing in general. Thank you!
My pleasure, Allison. I love that you regard writing as something to play with, because it certainly is. Best of luck!
Allison Druery is an aspiring Canadian author, currently working towards a BA at the University of Toronto, studying English Literature and history. She is avidly working on multiple manuscripts, in a range of genres. When she isn’t studying, or writing she is actively trying to promote awareness and funds for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Connect with Allison at
Now it's your turn. What advice do you have for Allison?
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Thank you so much for hosting me during my Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour, which launches my contemporary romantic suspense, Lancelot's Lady.
When people ask me what I do, I like to say, "I kill people off for a living." It's amazing the responses I get. Sometimes, I'll get a nervous laugh, a snicker, widened eyes, shocked expressions or just looks of confusion.
I know what they're thinking.
Really? She kills people off? Is she joking? What does she mean by that?
Yes, I'm a bit of a mind reader. But with this, it's not too difficult. Besides, I do it on purpose. I have a desire to shock people every now and then. Some may think it's a sadistic tendency; I just think it's kind of fun. And funny.
Most times, I'll clarify my answer. "I write suspense. I kill people off...fictitiously."
Their response. "Oh!" I'll hear a sigh of relief most times, then another laugh as they explain they weren't too sure about me.
I started saying this as a reply after my first thriller Divine Intervention was released back in 2004. As Cheryl Kaye Tardif, I've killed off someone in every novel. And not always people who deserve to die. I don't intentionally go looking for someone to write off; it just happens as a natural result of the direction the plot is going in.
So what about Cherish D'Angelo, my alter-ego who writes romantic suspense? Well, it seems even Cherish isn't immune to the need to write someone off--permanently. She tried to keep the victim alive. At least, in the second draft. But the victim, who wasn't a nice person at all, just begged to be killed. So I did this person in. Or, I should say, Cherish did.
Sure, Cherish may have the flowery name and she may write scintillating romance scenes and flowery descriptive prose, but she's also aware that once a character has fulfilled their destiny, we don't always need them around. And sometimes bad things happen to bad people.
In Lancelot's Lady, I can guarantee you one thing. There's a corpse. Now you just have to read it to find it. ;-)
Lancelot's Lady is available in ebook edition at KoboBooks, Amazon's Kindle Store, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. Help me celebrate by picking up a copy today and "Cherish the romance..."
Lancelot's Lady ~ A Bahamas holiday from dying billionaire JT Lance, a man with a dark secret, leads palliative nurse Rhianna McLeod to Jonathan, a man with his own troubled past, and Rhianna finds herself drawn to the handsome recluse, while unbeknownst to her, someone with a horrific plan is hunting her down.
You can learn more about Lancelot's Lady and Cherish D'Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif) at http://www.cherishdangelo.com/ and http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com/. Follow Cherish from September 27 to October 10 on her Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour and win prizes.
Leave a comment here, with email address, to be entered into the prize draws. You're guaranteed to receive at least 1 free ebook just for doing so. Plus you'll be entered to win a Kobo ereader. Winners will be announced after October 10th.
Thanks for being my guest today, Cherish. Best wishes for your new release!
Monday, September 27, 2010
Susan Fox, who also writes as Susan Lyons, is the award-winning author of sexy contemporary romance that’s passionate, heartwarming, and fun. She is published by Kensington Brava, Kensington Aphrodisia, Berkley Heat, Harlequin Spice Briefs, and The Wild Rose Press. A resident of both Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., Susan has degrees in law and psychology but would far rather be writing fiction than living in the real world. You can find more information about Susan and her books at http://www.susanlyons.ca./ Susan is also on Facebook.
I know you're going to love her. Take it away, Susan.
Thanks, Emily, for inviting me to visit. Isn’t it interesting, all the things that have happened in our writing careers since we both participated in that panel at the 2007 RT Booklovers Convention?
Today I’d like to talk about Eat, Pray, Love, because a girlfriend and I just went to the movie. I’d already read the book and enjoyed both. As an author, I have to wonder, when Elizabeth Gilbert wrote that book, whether she had the slightest clue how popular it would become. Personally, I doubt it.
After all, it’s not exactly an earthshaking book. A woman of a certain age realizes that she’s got some relationship problems, and she needs to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life—as an individual, not as part of a couple. How to find the answers? Take a year off and spend four months each in Italy, India, and Indonesia.
Why does this resonate with so many readers, particularly women? Because we have all, whatever our age, reached a point in our lives when certain aspects of our life don’t make a whole lot of sense any more. Maybe it’s a divorce, illness, a job loss, or even good stuff like a lottery win or new job. Something that triggers the realization, “I don’t really know who I am any more, or what’s important to me. And I really need to know.”
Or maybe the resonance is simply because we’d all love to have the wherewithal to explore the world for a year, discovering our own gusto, passion, and spirituality—not to mention, hooking up with a hot Brazilian!
Personally, I love the “finding yourself” theme. It’s at the core of all the stories I write. Of course that theme plays out in different ways in each story. The “finding” may be about how to respect your family but be independent, or how to balance career and personal life; it may be about regaining confidence after a break-up or looking at your opposite sex best friend in a whole different way.
Or it may, as in my October release, “Tattoos and Mistletoe” in the Brava holiday anthology The Naughty List, be about coming to terms with your past in order to move into a bright new future.
Why would you ever want to go home again, when the town treated you like trash? Yet Charlie Coltrane has to return to Whistler this Christmas and supervise renovations on her aunt’s B&B if she’s to inherit the money to open her own tattoo parlor in Toronto. What a surprise that the contractor in charge of the renos is LJ Jacoby, high school geek transformed into the town’s hottest bachelor. LJ’s about to teach Charlie that sometimes you have to confront your past to find your future—and that Christmas really can be the most romantic time of the year.
In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert had some hard truths to face and lessons to learn. So does Charlie Coltrane in “Tattoos and Mistletoe.” But that’s the thing about finding yourself: rarely does it come easily. But life is, or should be, about growth. We can all be better people and live fuller lives if we confront our own demons. And as the old expression says, “no pain, no gain.”
Books and movies can inspire us to find the courage to begin our own personal journeys. How many women have found strength to make hard decisions of their own after reading or seeing Eat, Pray, Love? Lots, I bet. And I hope some will after reading “Tattoos and Mistletoe” as well. Not, of course, that everyone has to get all angsty because, after all, Eat, Pray, Love and “Tattoos and Mistletoe” are first and foremost about entertainment. But it’s always very cool, as an author, to know that your story and characters have truly resonated with a reader and perhaps helped them in their own lives.
Today, I’d like to know your “finding yourself” stories. Do you have personal examples, or favorite books or movies on this theme that really touched your heart? Or is there another theme in romance novels and movies that really, really gets to you?
Emily popping in here: Be sure to leave a comment because Susan is giving away an autographed copy of The Naughty List to one lucky commenter!
The Naughty List (containing Susan’s “Tattoos and Mistletoe” plus novellas by Donna Kauffman and Cynthia Eden) releases tomorrow, September 28. Here are some purchase links:
Barnes and Noble
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
This is from the rough draft of my novella for IMPROPER GENTLEMEN, an anthology with Diane Whiteside and Maggie Robinson. Eliza Knight, who is a professional critiquer, has given this the once over for me. Her comments are in red and my responses are in purple. I'd love to hear what you think too, so please leave a comment!
IMPROPER GENTLEMEN ~ A Knack for Trouble
“We are such stuff as dreams are made on.”--Shakespeare, The Tempest
Royal Navy Docks, Bermuda
If ever there was a night to be blessed by the Knack, it was this one. Aidan Danaher didn’t use it often, but his gift of being able to misdirect a mind certainly came in handy as he stolen past one guard after another. No one saw him leave the ship or enter the British fortress through a dry man-sized drain in the sea wall.
This was a nice opening hook, I’m definitely intrigued! I want to know what the Knack is! One thought though, I was under the impression since we’re at the docks that the Knack was a ship, and then after we realize he has gift for mind manipulation, I realized it meant his power. “Stolen” should be “stole” or have the he before it “he’d stolen”.
Oh! I hadn't thought about the possible confusion with a ship name for the Knack. I need to be more clear. Would it help for it not to capitalized? The stolen happened when I Xed the 'd and didn't alter my verb. I need to be careful when I make changes that everything in the sentence still works. Good catch!
It had been a simple matter to climb up the masonry and iron of the Commissioner’s House. He knew where every finger and toe hold was. He’d helped build the blasted thing, after all, and cursed every stone of it.
I wonder if you’d consider starting this paragraph with a stronger word? Maybe: “Climbing up the masonry and iron of the Commissioner’s House had been a simple matter.” I know starting with an “ing” is not necessary strong, but it is stronger than “It had been.”
Hmmm... let me think about that. I try to avoid "ing" when I can.
But not this night.
Because something exciting is happening!
Aidan ducked from the wide second floor veranda into the tall open window, leaving the balmy Bermudian night behind. The thick-walled house was cool and kissed by a soft breeze. A far cry from the airless convict ship tied up down at the wharf.
So he’s a bad boy? Intriguing! This is also a great way to show us our scenery, I feel like I can see it, feel the air on my skin. I wonder, is there a candle lit or a fire? Or a sliver or full moon? What is the lighting like?
Good idea and it shouldn't take more than a sentence. With a novella, my challenge is always to keep the manscript trim enough to fit into the 30-35K word count restraints. Descriptions seem like a logical place to go lean, but I also don't want to shortchange my reader's experience. It's a delicate balance.
Rosalinde was there, waiting just inside her window as she promised she’d be. She was just as he’d dreamed, her long chestnut hair unbound, flowing over her virginal nightshift like a wanton mantle. Her bare toes peeped from beneath her lacy hem, curling with nervousness.
I like the contrast of wanton and virginal—and we can see she is more virginal, with the curling of her toes. “was there, waiting” is passive, suggest saying something a little more active like, “Rosalinde stood just inside her window as she’d promised.” Also, since “just” was used in the previous sentence, try to get rid of it. “She was exactly as he’d dreamed…”
Once I get the manuscript finished, I hit the "find" function to look for my bugaboos: just, almost, even, very, still--little filler words that become my writer's tick. Thanks for catching these.
“We must be quiet,” she whispered.
Do their gazes met? Show us their longing for each other.
Oh, yes! I need to establish a stronger connection here.
Aidan caught both her fidgety hands and brought them to his lips for a kiss. “Aye, lass. Quiet as ever we can.”
I like their dialogue, its sensual and filled with promise.
He wasn’t keen on being strung up by His Majesty’s Royal Navy for this night’s work. But one look at her wide eyes and trembling mouth convinced him she just might be worth it.
Aidan bent to kiss her, tasting her lips with gentleness, careful not to spook her.
I like seeing his gentle side.
Fair warning, it doesn't last long. Their passion ignites white-hot in another page.
For months, they’d danced around this moment. As elected leader of the Irish convicts building the public works at Royal Dock, he’d been ushered in weekly to see the commissioner, Rosalinde’s father, to air grievances or suggest improvements that would speed the work. Commissioner Burke had warmed to him, thanks to the Knack, and when Rosalinde needed a groom for her new Thoroughbred gelding, Aidan was taken off the grueling chain gang hauling stone and put to work in the stables.
Previously, the Knack had both words underlined, I would keep it consistent. Also, this last sentence is pretty long—and has a passive “had”. I think you could break it up, maybe like this: “Commissioner Burke warmed to him, thanks to the Knack. When Rosalinde needed a groom for her new Thoroughbred gelding…”
The way the manuscript is formatted, I have to underline the words I want italicized for the typesetter. I think I should go just with the Knack itself italicized without the "the." But either way, you're right. It has to be uniform. Oh, yes, I tend to have sentences that waffle on from one clause to the next, blossoming into virtual paragraphs on their own. I always have to go back and chop them up later.
He had as easy a way with horseflesh as he did with people, so it was a simple matter to convince Rosalinde he could help her refine her dressage technique. She never realized the wicked beast’s princely manners were due more to Aidan’s Knack than to her improved riding skills.
I like this, it gives us little more information about his power.
The beginning of a story is such a tricky time. There's so much groundwork to lay in such an short amount of space. I'm hoping to tease my readers a bit here so they'll wonder what Aidan can actually do with the Knack.
He stole a kiss from Rose within a few days. In a few weeks, she allowed him to caress her breasts through her stiff riding habit. They drove each other mad by inches, a little more daring each day. Always in danger of discovery, always with only moments to savor their sweet wickedness.
Did she kiss him back and allow this because she wanted him, or did he use his gift on her? Show us, maybe with even just one sentence, that they liked each other for more than just physical pleasure also—gives us motivation for an upscale virginal girl in her time to give her body to him. You're right. Even though we're in his POV, I need to make her motivations clear. It's not enough to tell the reader having him in her room was her idea, we need to know why. And no, he didn't "knack" her, though she tempts him sorely. Aidan's smart enough to know love isn't love if it isn't freely given.
This night was her idea, but a lady might change her mind at the last moment.
I liked this here for emphasis.
I find separating something out like this does work. The trick is not to do it too often.
Her lips were sweet.
And now we're at our 500 word limit.
Thanks for letting me swap places with you, Emily! (Mia for this story, please!) I can’t wait to read the rest of this story when it comes out! You have a great premise here and a unique a fresh hook—convict in love with the Commissioner’s daughter! Love it! There is bound to be ALL sorts of conflict to try and keep these two apart. I’m excited to see how you pull them through it all.
Thank you for your thoughtful critique, Eliza. It's hard to overestimate the value of a second (or third!) pair of eyes.
Mia's bio: Well, it's pretty much the same as Emily's except that Mia is the one who'll be writing for Kensington Brava, adding a dash of paranormal elements to her historicals. Watch for her debut in May 2011 with TOUCH OF A THIEF, followed by IMPROPER GENTLEMEN in July 2011. To find out more about Mia, please visit
Mia on Facebook
Mia on Twitter
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Still, the whole fam was together and we were determined not to let a little setback ruin our day. We strolled the sea wall in Gloucester for a while. Fresh air and a bracing harbor view always lifts my spirits. Then we figured a place as rich in maritime history as Gloucester must have a decent museum someplace. And sure enough we discovered the Marine Heritage Center/Aquarium.
It was totally underwhelming.
Plastic, canned exhibits you might see in any museum with very few real artifacts from the area. And the "aquarium" is a scummy joke. Their brochure indicates that MIT is a major contributor. If so, the university is not getting much bang for their buck.
Then we wandered around to the back side of a the building and tucked into two cramped rooms, discovered an absolute treasure--Mr. Paul Harling. The first thing he did was get our daughter fitted into one of the brass diving helmets and acquaint us with some of the particulars about the early diving equipment and techniques. He brought to mind Clive Cussler's fictional naval historian, the bon vivant St. Julien Perlmutter. Whenever there's a need for information planting, Cussler pulls in this character to fill in the pertinent details.
But Paul Harling is a real fellow and, though he wouldn't have said so, I suspect a man of great personal courage. Well, he'd have to be if he began hard hat diving back in 1949 in homemade equipment. His personal collection of dive equipment and memorabilia is extensive and there's a story connected with each piece. We got to actually handle copper spikes forged by Paul Revere that Paul Harling salvaged from a wreck.
He told us about some of the early diving missteps, like when some genius decided an electrically heated wet suit would be the ticket to combat the bone-chilling cold of the deep. Yeah... right. Fortunately, the system was never used, but the helmet still had the plug built into it.
We could have spent hours in those cramped little rooms filled with the oddments of a life long passion with the sea. If ever I need any maritime information, I will contact Mr. Harling.
And like all good adventures, our day in Gloucester did NOT go as planned. Isn't it always better that way?
Have you ever had a day turned upside down for the better?
Friday, September 17, 2010
For all of you Luddites like me, here's your chance to break out of the anti-techno rut. For FREE! You can download ebooks by USA Today Bestsellers Jennifer Ashley and Joy Nash to your computer. Check out the details at http://www.miamarlowe.blogspot.com/
September 19th is the Official International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I am not making this up. There's a website and everything! So to get us into the spirit of this parody of a holiday, I thought I'd offer up some pirate pick-up lines.
1. Wanna shiver me timbers?
2. What's a nice wench like ye doing in a smarmy lagoon like this?
3. That's some treasure chest.
4. Avast, me proud beauty. Care to make my Roger Jolly?
5. Prepare to be boarded!
All right, what they lack in finesse, they make up for in impudence. But how might a lady pirate communicate her interest, or lack thereof?
1. So tell me, why do they call ye Cap'n Jellyfish?
2. That's quite a cutlass ye have there.
3. Me mother warned me about sailing men. Wouldn't want to make the poor old dear a liar, would ye?
4. No, I'm not seeing Mad Dog McGee anymore. Besides, he's found a terrific new therapist and hasn't cut anything off anyone for . . . oh, three weeks at least.
5. Wanna come up to my place? I just had me mattress deloused.
For the ultimate pick up, pick up your copy of PLEASURING THE PIRATE! At fine bookstores and online now! If you'd like to learn some more pirate lingo, check out my pirate lexicon at http://www.thechatelaines.blogspot.com .
Your turn! Have you got a great pirate pick-up line?
Thursday, September 16, 2010
The distant clang of metal on metal hung in the sky like music, before reaching Michael’s ears. His blood surged with power and lust for a good fight. He’d traveled nearly a month to reach this location. Shouts of pain and triumph floated in the air. He smiled.
I love this opening. You use a sense other than visual to show us something special about our hero's goal. Very fresh.
Thank you, Emily! That is very nice to hear.
England—home, from now on.
How long had he yearned to return to the place of his birth? Nearly twenty years. He couldn’t believe it had been that long, and yet at the same time the wait was unbearable. Although he’d called Ireland home for that long, he’d dreamt of returning. His goal since childhood had been to set foot permanently on English soil. Excitement filled his veins, his muscles flexed and un-flexed with his need to work them out. He took a deep breath. The air was different, dryer. There always seemed to be a mist in the air of Wexford.
I think I'd ditch the question and just state he'd longed to return for 20 years. And speaking of long, looks like you've got an echo here. Sometimes a word gets stuck in a writer's head and flows out our fingers multiple times. There's a mini echo with air in the last two sentences as well.
Lol, yes Michael does like the word long and air doesn’t he? It’s always great to have someone else read your work, since I’ve been over this passage 100 times and never caught that! Thanks! If I read my work aloud, the echoes ping a little louder and I can catch them.
Michael sighed, and gazed up at the sky. It was early in the morning. A few clouds hovered above, but other than that, it appeared the sun would shine for him today.
“Sir?” one of his squires, Colin, inquired.
Yay, Michael has someone to interact with! A canvas too empty of characters is a frequent problem I see in beginnings here on Red Pencil Thursday.
I too like the characters to interact with other people. I think it’s a great way to get some action, dialogue and more than just inner thoughts in there.
Internal thoughts and character ruminations are death to a scene.
“Prepare the tent,” he ordered. He turned toward the fields. “I’m going to the lists. Fletch, come with me.”
Blood pumping and his heart beating a battle tune, Michael urged his mount forward, his lead squire following. Nothing sent a thrill spiraling through him like a tournament. Although the real tourney games had yet to commence, the list fields were abuzz with knights training, squires running here and there. Roars of laughter could be heard from the crowds that watched all manners of entertainment. Bear-baiting, cock-fighting and boxing had all begun.
Multiple squires lets us know Michael is a man of pretty high rank. You've provided good details in setting this festive scene for us. Be careful not to use passive voice. Roars of laughter could be heard is weaker than The crowd roared with laughter.
Good point and great example!!! One of things I find often with my work is I have to go over passages two or three times to pick up on the passive stuff. I think my voice is naturally passive, so I have to work that much harder to make it active.
“My master, Sir Michael Devereux, wishes to join the list,” Fletch said.
“Devereux, eh? Son of Sir Lucas Devereux?” the balding older man asked. Grease stained the front of his tunic. His beard held the remainders of what looked like more than one meal. Was that a hunk of moldy cheese woven between the snarls? Red rimmed the man’s eyes, and his cheeks were ruddier than pig’s flesh. Dark crescent shaped shadows were smeared beneath his eyes. His sidekick, just as old, but not bald, didn’t fair much better, in fact he looked ready to keel over.
Vibrant description and very fresh. I've never seen ruddier than pig's flesh anywhere else. We read to be surprised and delighted. You're off to a great start. Sidekick tickles my ear as too modern for a medieval. Sure enough. When I checked my online etymology source, it tagged this word as a 1906 invention.
Ruddier than pigs flesh is pretty good huh? It came to me actually from that movie, Babe, while watching it with my daughter, one the characters who kind of looked like a pig had very ruddy skin, more so than her little piggy!
Thanks for the tip on sidekick. I looked up other words, and cohort, was established around 1475… I could use it since it was close enough, or just go with companion…
Michael suppressed the urge to sneer at their disheveled appearances. Apparently the men were enjoying this tourney quite a bit already. Normally, Michael would cheer them on, but his mood was soured as the reason for his being here came to the forefront of his mind.
Watch how often you use -ly words. Here we have two sentences beginning adverbs. Specific nouns and descriptive verbs make for stronger prose.
“ly” words are my enemy!
Repeat after me: "Adverbs are of the devil."
It's been a while since the men asked Michael a question. You might think about having his answer refer back to it. "Aye, Sir Lucas is my sire."
I’m glad you pointed this out, because it was actually something I had thought of, and now that you’re saying it, you’ve confirmed my thoughts!
He bit back a retort. He was no fledgling. Michael twisted his neck from side to side, trying to ease the tension that made his muscles stiffen. “I understand.”
“Today is the joust, tomorrow—” The man actually swayed in his chair and had to grip the table to catch his bearings. His partner laughed aloud, causing himself to almost topple over.
I really like this beginning. The contrast between your hero and the people he meets is stark. We like Michael for his seriousness of purpose and yet, I get the sense that jousting is not going to satisfy him long. Thanks for letting me take a look at it, Eliza!
Thank you so much Emily for your critique, advice and suggestions, and for allowing me to come on Red Pencil Thursday! This was a lot of fun! Everything you’ve said will really help to make the opening of my story much stronger, and I can use your suggestions for the rest of the manuscript as well!
Eliza Knight is the author of several historical romance and time travel erotic romance novellas. She is also a professional critiquer and presents workshops to writers on craft, research and history. Coming soon--Eliza writes historical fiction under the name Michelle Brandon. Visit Eliza at http://www.elizaknight.com/, http://www.historyundressed.blogspot.com/ or http://www.authormichellebrandon.com/.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Zoe and I sat down over a cup of cyber-joe recently. Here's your chance to listen in:
Emily: Zoe,you hold an MFA in writing. How do you think your academic achievements have contributed to your publishing success?
Zoe: Though it wasn’t easy to get an agent, mentioning my MFA in my query letter definitely helped open some doors. Of course, once the door is open, it’s the quality of the writing that ultimately lands you representation, so I can’t say that the degree made it possible. The MFA program I attended is extremely competitive, and to come from that kind of environment, where writers begrudge someone else’s success, to the world of romance fiction, where the writers are genuinely supportive was a big shock. A welcome shock, but it still amazes me how truly pleased romance writers are for each other when they succeed. At the Golden Heart ceremony at this year’s RWA, people were sobbing—myself included—as the winners came up and wept with joy. You would very seldom find that kind of camaraderie in other genres.
Emily: I know exactly what you mean. Romance writers are the most supportive people in the world. I think it's because we write about love. You've written a wide variety of romance genres since your historical debut in 2006. How did you get from the sedate England of Love in a Bottle to Zombies?
Zoe: Seriously, though, I always knew that I could never write the more traditional historical romance. Even my so-called straight historicals were kind of out there. I reached kind of a crisis point in writing romance, and I decided to go for broke, and write the kind of romance that I’d always wanted to read but had never found on the shelf. Thus, the Blades of the Rose were born.
Emily: Tell us more about your Blades of the Rose series.
Zoe: The books are set between 1874 and 1875. The British Empire is growing larger and stronger, and there are brutal men calling themselves the Heirs of Albion, who will stop at nothing to ensure Britain’s global supremacy. Unbeknownst to most people, actual magic exists in the world, concentrated in physical objects known as Sources. The Heirs seek out and enslave this magic to help the cause of empire building. Enter the Blades of the Rose, a global secret organization comprised of men and women who protect Sources from exploitation. The odds against the Blades are great, but that never stops them from fighting for their noble cause.
It was wonderful to write the Blades books. For one thing, I was able to set them in some really unique locations: the Mongolian steppes and Gobi desert, the Aegean Sea and the islands in it, the Canadian Rockies, and locations in England not often seen in historical romance (as well as a special location that I can’t reveal yet!). I honored the classic adventure narratives, and added mythology from all around the world. Plus, I threw in a touch of steampunk. The books are also very, very sexy, and that’s a good thing!
Emily: Wow! That's what we call "high concept!" And I love that you're taking us on adventures in some really unusual places. I can't wait to read WARRIOR now! Speaking of very sexy, what will we love about your hero?
Zoe: Captain Gabriel Huntley is utterly delicious. First of all, picture him as a cross between Sean Bean and Daniel Craig. Give him the rough accent of John Thornton from North & South. Then make him a thirteen-year veteran of the British Army, an enlisted man more comfortable with action than words. He hates unfair fights and always sticks up for the underdog. He’s uncomfortable around delicate English ladies, preferring to use his sharpshooting and tracking skills rather than engage in tea table chatter. When WARRIOR opens, Gabriel is returning to England for the first time in over a decade of foreign service. He thinks he wants to settle down and lead a quiet, ordinary life, but when given the opportunity to travel to the other side of the world and have a dangerous adventure, he leaps at the chance—little knowing he will find his perfect woman in the middle of this adventure.
Emily: Yummy! Please describe your writing process.
Zoe: I always start out with a fairly detailed outline. Writers are supposedly divided into plotter and pantser camps. I am definitely a plotter. With complex adventure stories, it’s really important for me to know where I am heading and what needs to happen. There’s room for change, and I have certainly diverged from the outline when necessary, but I never sit down to write actual pages without the outline. I write in 3-chapter blocks, then give the chapters to my critique partner (who is, incidentally, my husband! He’s also a writer.), then revise, give him the whole manuscript when it’s done, get another round of notes, then send it to my agent for her notes. It’s a thorough, deliberate process. Nothing capricious or whimsical about it. I mean business!
Emily: You inspire me to try plotting again. What's next for you?
Zoe: I just sold a new 3-book paranormal historical romance series to Kensington called THE HELLRAISERS. It’s about a group of wild 18th-century rakes who inadvertently free the Devil from his prison and literally raise hell. It’s going to be dark and sexy and I can’t wait to get started on it! Of course, if the Blades books take off, I’m perfectly willing to write four more. *wink*
Emily: I'm perfectly willing to buy every word you write, my dear!
Bio: Zoe Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there’s nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master’s degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. Her BLADES OF THE ROSE series—featuring dashing men and fearless women—will be released Fall 2010. Zoe and her husband live in Los Angeles.
Here’s the link to the Warrior excerpt: http://www.zoearcherbooks.com/Warrior_Excerpt.html
Learn more about Zoe here:
Buy links for Warrior:
Barnes and Noble
Zoe is giving away a signed copy of Warrior to a random commenter so be sure to leave a question or comment for this very talented lady!
Friday, September 10, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Darcy and I are used to tough love from each other and she knows that this is a smorgasbord. She'll take what she likes and leave the rest. My comments on Darcy's paranormal are in red. Her responses are in purple. Please add yours at the end. ;-)
ALL ABOUT MAGIC
I like this title because it fits the story well. Since Darcy's been my crit partner, I know a little more about where it's going. Her heroine is a witch sent by a magic policing organization to investigate the hero, who may or may not be dabbling in weather magic. It's an inventive premise and sets Darcy's characters in conflict even as they are drawn to each other.
Was he causing this terrible storm?
I'd love to see a stronger first sentence. Asking a direct question is a gamble because the reader doesn't know enough to care about the answer yet. We don't yet know who he is or why he thinks he might be powerful enough to cause a storm. Maybe a little involuntary dialogue from the hero when lightning strikes near him?
I like the idea of internal dialogue. Maybe something along the lines of: He hated his weather WynnCasts. They might be accurate predications, but he couldn’t control them.
I didn't mean internal. I meant involuntary, like Brax swearing at the weather or something.
The answer frightened Braxton Wynn, lead meteorologist for KIDU TV on Channel 3.
Yesterday on the evening news, when he’d delivered his WynnCast predicting torrential rainfall, Brax had known they didn’t always hold true. But the compulsion to forecast always proved so overwhelming, he couldn’t resist. He never could.
Ok, I've said several times not to start with the weather unless the hero is a meteorologist, but by golly, that's what Darcy has here. So in this case, a weather beginning can work. You've given us a hint that he has a special skill when it comes to weather by mentioning the compulsion he feels when he forecasts. However, I really don't want the first thing I learn about my hero to be that he's afraid. Could he feel something else?
I’ve heard the ‘rule’ not to start with weather, but wasn’t sure how to overcome that problem. At least I didn’t start with ‘It was a dark and stormy night’. I agree about the ‘afraid’ bit. Deep down Brax is probably angry that it has happened again.
Since your hero is a meterologist, you have a free pass on the no weather beginning rule! ;-)
And the rains came.
Now, another urge—stranger, stronger, more compelling—rose within him as he listened to the breaking news of serious flooding south of Seattle. He had to see the damage with his own eyes.
I know sometimes people are looky-loos when it comes to disasters, but I've never thought it seemed like a smart thing to do. Can we give him a better motivation than curiosity? Maybe if he thought he caused it, he might be able to stop it? That would be walking the hero's path.
Dang, Emily, you hit the nail on the head here. My little pea brain didn’t follow through. He drove to Orting to see if he could stop the storm by being in the middle of it.
Three-quarters of an hour later, he turned his truck off the interstate toward Orting, a little town tucked beneath the shadow of Mt. Rainer. For several miles, he followed signs for the designated lahar evacuation route, in case the mountain erupted and a lava or mud flow inundated the valley. At last he reached Orting where the worst of the flooding was being reported.
What's lahar? Is it something most people know that I don't? We've got a bit of a problem because Brax is by himself with no one to talk to. Could he have the radio on and hear a recording of his own voice giving his WynnCast? And then maybe tell himself to shut up or something? I'd like to see dialogue of some kind here. Listening to someone talk is a great to get to know them and we want to know Brax.
A lahar is an Indian word and is actually printed on the evacuation signs. I do like the idea of the radio being on. And I need dialogue much sooner than I currently have. That will solve the problem.
When we were in Seattle, we lived right downtown. We didn't drive all that much then, so I guess I missed those signs. Is the word capitalized on them?
Clouds gave way as he drove the two blocks to the end of town before realizing he’d missed his turn. He pulled a U-turn and looked at the sky that had been behind him; pockets of blue sky taunted him from above. Within minutes the storm had vanished, leaving a soggy disaster in its wake.
Pockets of blue sky. Very fresh. So did he actually cause the storm to dissipate? Or think he may have? It would be ok to let us have a peek inside his head here.
Actually we are in the eye of the storm, but you don’t learn that until later through the heroine’s POV.
Driving over a two-lane bridge, he glanced out the truck’s window at the Puyallup River, filled with raging water, dirty foam, and uprooted trees.
Very clear imagery.
Yeah, I got something right!
You get a lot right, Darcy!
A dorsal fin split the torrent. That couldn’t be a dolphin.
Braxton shook his head to clear his vision. The image didn’t change. A sleek, gray, bullet-shaped animal dipped and swam in the strong current.
Impossible. River dolphins didn’t exist in Washington.
I know what the dolphin signifies because I've seen parts of this story before. I'm trying to read it as if I don't know and this passage comes across as a little confusing. A reader wouldn't be able to puzzle out why it's there or what it means. I'd drop it for now.
Not sure I agree with you on this, Emily. Gotta think about it.
That's ok. This is what I mean when I say RPT is a smorgasbord. What I share is only one person's opinion. The author is the only one who can tell her story, and ultimately is the only one who can decide how it should be told.
He felt that strange compulsion again, that same impulse to drive here. At the far end of bridge he pulled over and parked on the shoulder. Even as he watched, water spilled over an elevated levy and began to surround an old white house nestled next to the bridge, just below him.
Can his compulsion have a physical manifestation? A twinge in his shoulder or a tingle of some sort? Maybe a soft humming when he gets where he's supposed to be? If he's being led by magic of some sort, I'd like it to have a magical feel.
Oh, I like this suggestion, especially the humming that reminds him of a chant.
Brax spotted a lone woman in a bright yellow rain jacket, looking like a Gloucester fisherman, running along the jagged top of the levy. One of her rubber boots stuck in the gooey muck between the rocks. He jumped out of his truck just as she lost her balance on the slick rocks, her arms flailing like a windmill. With a sharp scream that carried over the thunder of millions of gallons of debris-filled water, she fell and disappeared from sight.
Ok, this is where it gets exciting. We've got another person for Brax to interact with. This needs to come sooner. If you start the story with him already in the truck driving through the slanting rain, he could get here much quicker.
A quick word about tightening your prose. Angela James, editor for Carina Press says not every noun deserves an adjective. Jacket has 8 words to support it in your text.
Brax spotted a lone woman in a bright yellow rain jacket, looking like a Gloucester fisherman, running along the jagged top of the levy.
Brax spotted a woman in a Gloucester fisherman jacket running along the top of the levy.
When action is high, word count should be low. Shorter sentences read faster and communicate urgency.
“Hang on,” he cried. Could she even hear him?
I'd cut Could she even hear him? It's not necessary.
Great editing, Emily. Wish I had thought of this myself.
Racing down the driveway, he leaped a toppled lawn chair and double-timed between scattered trash cans. Pale hands clung to the boulders as unrelenting water twisted and pulled her body. He snagged the hapless woman below the wrist.
Love the action here, especially double-timed. The author's goal is always to surprise and delight our readers with our word choices. A fresh way to express what's happening will keep readers reading.
I agree with you about word choices. Sometimes the words are something we hear everyday and sometimes they just pop into our heads.
“Wynn?” cried Katrina Bishop, KIDU’s newest assistant producer.
Since he knows her, instead of giving us her name in a dialogue tag, why not have it explode out Brax's mouth? That way you show us he's shocked to find her here instead of telling us.
Good point. And an easy fix.
“In the flesh.” He was shocked to find a co-worker here, and how cold and wet her skin felt. His hand began to slip and he lost his grip. Scrambling, he caught her again.
If there's a way to move this action to the beginning of the story, I think you'll have a stronger start. The hero's trying to do something heroic and we like him for it.
I agree wholeheartedly with you, Emily.
It's been a while since I saw any of MAGIC. Thanks for letting me take a crack at it, my friend.
Darcy's bio---Darcy Carson is published in romantic comedy. She founded RWA's Eastside Romance Writers and is on the the board of Pacific Northwest Writers Association where she chairs the annual literary contest. She writes high fantasy with dragons trying to re-establish themselves on a planet where they'd been destroyed thousands of years before and paranormal contemporary with witches who work for the magic police.
Now it's your turn to add your voice to the critique group. What suggestions or encouragements do you have for Darcy?