Thursday, September 28, 2006

A P.S. to POV

I also discovered today that it matters WHERE you set scenes. I set one in the hospital. Like a hospital, it was cold and sterile. I hope by moving it OUT to somewhere else, it worked better.

But chapter eight has been a PITA. No doubt about it.

Point of View (POV)

I started a new chapter yesterday. But something wasn't ringing true with me. It just didn't feel right, and something was missing. I couldn't put my finger on it. I thought maybe I just wasn't in the "zone". But last night after I went to bed, it hit me what was wrong.

I was in the wrong POV.

I left it in the heroine's POV. Since we need to relate mostly to the heroine, her POV is the dominant one. But sometimes we need the hero's perspective. And this is one of those times.

We know how she felt the "morning after". We know how she's dreading what's coming next. So leaving it in her POV is just drawing that out and the pacing fell off. It was lacklustre. But putting it in my hero's POV...now that's different. We don't know how he feels about having slept with the heroine. And since I can't show the actual act (due to line requirements), we only have my heroine's word for it. We need HIS perspective.

Plus, with what's coming, it sets things up better.

So today is going back, rewriting that section in HIS pov, and seeing how it works. POV is not something random that you say, "Gee, I think I should use his now," or "I'll just leave it in hers," indiscriminately. Picking the most effective POV can make a real difference in the execution of your story!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What to do when characters don't cooperate

The honeymoon couldn't last forever.

Up to this point, my characters have been very obliging. My hero's been tough, tender, and delicious, at least to me. My heroine has been spunky, down on her luck, and helplessly attracted to the hero. But now, she wants to do something I never planned on her doing.

She wants to have sex with the hero. I mean she always did, but she wants to go through with it. So now I have a choice to make.

Do I listen to her? Or do I ignore her and beat her into submission?

My cp says to remember I AM GOD. I could get drunk with power and let all that go to my head. But the point is, I am writing this story, so ultimately I craft it the way I want. The question is, do I want to weild that power, or do I listen to what my heroine is saying to me?

The key to letting them do it is making sure all the motivations are there. It has to make sense. It can't be arbitrary or a "get it out of my system" thing. It has to be for the right reasons. And it has to complicate things rather than resolve them. Sometimes the sex all of a sudden takes the tension out of the book. They've done it - now what?

My heroine is a careful character. She's played it safe. She knows it's wrong to pursue anything serious with the hero. So what prompts her to do this has to be mighty big...and it is.

As you can tell I want to do it. I think it can really add a whole other dimension to the story, and can deepen the conflict rather than resolve it. So this once I'm going to listen to her, give her what she wants, but on MY terms. If it works, fabulous. If it doesn't, then that's what the delete button is for and I will have learned something new.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Girl Most Likely gets its first review!!!

I have received my first review for The Girl Most Likely!

Once Upon a Romance gave it a 4.0 rating!

I read it and my first thought was, IT DIDN'T SUCK. LOL Actually she had some great things to say about it. Including bits like:

"...a story of with all human elements. The need to be loved, the fear of failure and being scared to put yourself out there in case of rejection. But it’s also about keeping faith and seeing people for who they really are. Anyone reading this story can identify with that."

"...it is like real life, as how many times have you wondered why the some people just didn’t get together and stop the insanity? It’s readable for the fact alone."

See the whole review HERE.

Buckling Down

After a less than stellar production week last week, I need to buckle down.

It is quite possible that I needed the break to get some things straight in my mind with regards to the story. I got chapter six back from my critique partner and am left with not so much ERRORS but with having to shift and tweak. I did something that I don't like in other writers- I did a backstory dump. The information had to be there but I didn't do it the right way. So bits of it will be cut, moved, restructured and put into chapters 4 and 5. It will fill them out like they needed. Not a fun job, mind you...but necessary and one that will make the pace and structure of the story much more unified. This is why I LOVE her. I can say without hesitation that having Michelle as a critique partner is probably the most important writing relationship I have with the possible exception of my editor (who has the power, LOL). I know for a fact that if not for her taking me on over 2 years ago, I would not have progressed to the point where I am now.

She is also very disciplined, and that too is very good for me, because I have to focus big time to get this ms finished.

On the agenda today - finish up chapters 4-6, and start chapter seven. Seven and eight must be finished this week.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Mood Music

Yesterday Kris really got into the whole music thing. Honestly, give her one song and she runs wild. She came up with a top ten list of songs for "doin' it". My list is a little different, and since I write to a soundtrack and I've written something like over 10 novels now, it's also quite varied. I have personal favorites that run from the raunchy to the sweet emotional type songs.


Figured You Out by Nickelback…who can resist dirty lyrics like “ I like your pants around your feet And I like the dirt that's on your knees And I like the way you still say please While you're looking up at me” ???

Harder to Breathe by Maroon Five. I find it hard to breathe just listening to it.

The Blower’s Daughter By Damian Rice - I saw Sale and Pelletier skate to this and it was like sex on ice.

Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

Turn Me On, by Norah Jones

And how could you NOT include The Principles of Lust by Enigma?

For one character I used "My Confession" by Josh Groban.

You Can Leave Your Hat On. That's got to be one of the absolute best. A total stripper song.

My mind's a blank for any more...either it's too early or there are just too many.

I have so much to do over the next few days it's scary, so I'll be back on Monday with my vat of coffee to post on either "OMG how am I ever going to meet my deadline", "What to do when characters don't cooperate", or "Beginnings". LOL

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Myspace

I now have a myspace. For the first few days, I had a public profile, but it scared me. LOL I got a few weird e-mails. So now my profile is private and I have an extreme lack of "friends".

But most of you who read my blog on a regular basis I know, so if you have a myspace account, please feel free to request to friend me.

Even if you don't have a myspace account, you can see what I've got up there at www.myspace.com/dalward.

In other news, my current WIP is now due October 20, so I have to get my butt in gear and get it finished up. A month should be lots of time.

Tomorrow is the AMBA lunch in London. I wish I could be there. Rumour has it there shall be champagne and cake. All I ask is that my friends that ARE going have some cake and bubbly for me and give me all the details when they get back home! And if things go well, maybe next year I'll be able to join them.

Have a great Thursday, everyone.

P.S. I have done it again. I am either improving or turning into a total sap. But I made myself cry while writing this morning. I take it as a positive sign - I cried during the last ms too. LOL

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Research and alternate realities

Trish and I really ARE on the same wavelength. After she finished with setting, and I blogged about it, I mentioned research would probably be next...lo and behold, her part 4 is indeed about getting the details right.

The nice thing about writing novels is that you can immerse yourself in an alternate reality. If there's something you wanted to do, you can have your characters do it. It's quite fun, actually!

For my previous books most of my research has been done by either personal knowledge and a few questions answered by acquaintances or family, or by GOOGLE. Google is, as Trish puts it, a writer's best friend. A source of infinite information at your fingertips. In TGML, I looked up what I'd need for permits to start a restaurant in Calgary. In Almost a Family, I honestly didn't have to research much. It is set in my home town and my hero is a veterinarian, so whatever I needed I asked my sister...which honestly wasn't much as I hung around the clinic since I was about 14 anyway. (She and her husband are both vets). For Hired By The Cowboy I researched Mad Cow disease and ranch information.

One of the great things about writing for the line that I am is that the focus is so much on the hero and heroine that oftentimes research is not overwhelming. And inevitably you will know more than will ever make it into the manuscript. The focus is always on the hero and heroine. For MCM, the sequel to Hired By the Cowboy, I refreshed my memory as to the area and a few weeks ago, drove up to Sundre Alberta, visited the museum, and just drove around. I got an idea for a whole other book too...as I went down this dirt road, suddenly I came upon a paved driveway, with iron gates and video surveillance. The house and other buildings were set down on the slope, so I could only see the roof. I wonder who could possibly live there...in their own little fortress.

ANYWAY, back to the topic at hand. For FhF, the next book, I am researching my little heart out. There are two reasons for this. The military is a culture on to its own and one I don't know much about, despite having a weakness for military tv shows. Since my hero is a former sniper, but he's wounded, I have to make sure what I do with him is plausible from a military standpoint. The other reason for this is that I truly believe that our men and women in the forces deserve for me to get this right. Which is a topic for another day.

I read a book on peacekeeping and I'm currently reading Friendly Fire by Michael Friscolanti. It is wonderful for painting a picture about what it is like serving in Afghanistan. But I needed more. And this is where a network comes in handy.

I posted on e-harlequin, asking for information on the Canadian Military. I had e-mails within an hour. One source I've heard back from already. It is so exciting! My source is ex-special forces, with sniper qualifications, so when I get an answer to a question, it's a good one!

I will only use about 10% of what I will learn within the book. But the thing is, I can really make the most of what I do reveal by being well informed. I was very happy to learn that what I wanted to do with my hero is plausible. I have information about everything from sniping to what an every day uniform is called (combats).

Now, I'm thinking once you have your characters, setting, and research done...the next thing is one of the hardest....finding the right starting point!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

PREMIERE NIGHT

I am in a horrible rush this morning but am posting a very quick note because I AM SO EXCITED that tonight is premiere night for my fave tv shows. Well, 2 of them anyway.

NCIS goes at 9 and THE UNIT at 10 on CBS. I can't wait to see THE UNIT especially. I got some research questions back today and the whole thing is just keeping me SO pumped!

I'm off... but the Unit cadence theme is in my head. Yeah boy.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Setting

Write a Book with Trish is in part 3. And now that we've done up our character sheets, and the casting (which oh my was SO much fun), her next topic is setting.

I've known WHERE this was going to be set for some time.

I needed a military base close by, so I picked Base Gagetown in New Brunswick, just outside my hometown. A more detailed setting is deciding where your scenes will take place. Many of them will happen at my heroine's house. She lives there with their daughter, and it is a real home. My hero hasn't had a home like that in some time, and so the atmosphere and tone of it really matters. In juxtaposition to that is HIS home. He will be renting, his apartment will be functional and sparse. It will be a reflection of his military life. And a reflection of his life...functional, but devoid of joy. Other scenes will take place around the area...which leads me to a linked subject being TIMING.

WHEN is the story going to happen? What season? And this is important. The book I'm writing now (MCM) is taking place in the fall. I love the fall. It's my favourite season of the year. It woos me. And my characters are being wooed into falling for each other, even though they've known each other for years. It's a time of harvest and completion and nesting. Both things that are important thematically in this book. I can't say more without giving away huge conflict points away, but fall just WORKS for this book.

But the new book, (FhF)will take place in the summer I think. While the hero is burdened, I really feel like the heroine and her daughter have to represent the fun, light-hearted feel of summer. Lemonade and swimming pools and the smell of cut grass. LIFE. And that's something that the hero finds he's lost sight of. Besides, the Saint John River is stunning in the summer, beautiful, with the lush green grass and towering trees along the banks.


So, now I have setting and my season set for my book....I wonder what Trish's next stage will be? I'm not sure... but I'm relatively sure that later this week I'll be blogging about RESEARCH. Because I'm doing lots of it for this particular project.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Funny thing, marriage

Marriage does funny things to people. You finish each other's sentences. Sometimes you even know what the other is going to say without them saying a word. Take what happened at our house last night.

I'm in the tub, enjoying bubbles. I hear dh's footsteps coming down the hall. He opens the door and before he can say a word, I say, "Sure."

He pauses, a little taken aback I think. I'm grinning behind the glass doors. I knew EXACTLY what he was going to ask. So he thinks he'll be smart and says, "What?"

I answer, "It needs to breathe anyway."

He says: "My God, that's scary." Shuts the door. Next thing I hear is the kitchen drawer as he gets out the corkscrew to open my bottle of red.

Managed to squeeze in some work this morning, but I've GOT to shut down and clean the house. :-)

Friday, September 15, 2006

A WONDERFUL End to the week

I just wanted to post a quick p.s. to today's post...to congratulate a writer who's busted her butt to get published.

Congratulations to Michelle Willingham, who sold to Mills and Boon Historicals today! Pop over to her blog at www.michellewillingham.com/blog and offer your congratulations.

WTG babe. YOU DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!

D

A Cast-mate for Scotty

I've cast my hero for FhF - as you can tell. LOL But poor Mr. Foley was getting all lonely with only his rifle/rocket launcher for company, so I found him a heroine.

I have to thank Trish and Natasha for it. I mentioned not being able to find the right face and Trish sent me to Natasha's blog, and there she was. I hope you don't mind me borrowing her, Natasha. :-)

Now, don't they look cute together?





Otherwise, I'm happy to report chapter four did NOT suck, it just needed some tweaks, which I've done. So now to keep up with Trish's "Book with Trish" assignments, I'm off to do my character sheets for FhF.

Have a good weekend, everyone. Oh, and buy my book.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Write A Book and the Chapter 4 slump

One of my cp's and friends, Trish Wylie, is doing something cool on her blog. She's starting her new ms for Modern Extra, and she's holding a "Write A Book with Trish" workshop.

I'm not exactly at the beginning of my book but that's ok. I can tinker with the "assignments" as they come, working them in to where I am in my own projects. If nothing else it's renewed motivation to get cracking with both my mss. I managed nearly 1800 words yesterday which is a good day. My goal is 1000 - 1500. Any time I get more than that...without them rushing out and needing serious revision...is a bonus.

Right now I'm on chapters 4 and 5. I do not, as a rule, like these chapters as far as writing them. I always get a sense of completion after chapter 3 and then chapter 4 feels like starting over again, if that makes sense. In chapters 4 and 5, pacing is critical. You have to take the set up from chapters 1-3 and now use it to build on both the conflict and the attraction. For me, these two chapters have a tendency to go flat. So I have to watch this very closely. I'm sure when I send them off to be critiqued, there will be a number of comments. That's ok. I am resigned to the fact that I must, can and will, fix them.

I did realize yesterday that I'd started chapter four in the wrong place, so I went back. And the slump has nothing to do with my characters, thank goodness. I still love them as much as ever. But pacing, conflict, emotion...those are the key things I need to keep going. Once I get past the next few chapters, things tend to take care of themselves as the pitch rises through the second half of the book.

Maybe Trish's workshop will help me with that, too.

In other news, I've just been in contact with a Canadian Military research source, which is very cool. I wouldn't mind having my hero be a former sniper. So in honour of that....I told you I had lots of pics....



Booyah.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Two More Pics

I couldn't resist. I went to www.maxmartini.com and found another pic. AND, I laughed at a comment posted by none other than Scott Foley on Max's blog. What a couple of clowns.

SO...because I said my hero Mike is into horses....






And because I have SO many of Scott I can't resist posting one...I could probably do one a day for the rest of the month...

Hero Pic-Fest

I'm working on two books at once. Now, I AM focusing on one and diddling with the other when I have time or if I get stuck on the WIP and need to change things up a bit. And I'm doing planning in my head which usually ends up benefiting the writing - it tends to come out more smoothly.

THe other benefit is having two men on a string at the same time. LOL I have two heroes clamoring for attention, and I love it. Googling pictures is a difficult chore, but I've done it.

First up we have my hero from my WIP. In my book he's Mike Gardner, in the Unit he's Mack Gerhardt, and in real life he's Max Martini. In my ms, he's an ex-rodeo rider who's finally stopped running and goes into business with his best friend, my hero from Hired By The Cowboy. Now he's raising quarterhorses.

He's the toughest hero I've written. He's overprotective of the heroine, which drives her crazy. He's stubborn and quite often says one thing when he really means another. I think he's infuriatingly charming, and frequently just infuriating. :-)




There is a definite dearth of pics of Mr. Martini available for me...but I have 2 that I like. The first is a pretty good idea of what I picture my hero to look like, and the second is the exact look he's gonna have on his face when he "saves" my heroine from a pervy patron at the local watering hole.



Now we're on to hero number two. I have TONS of pics of my hero Jonas. Otherwise known as Bob Brown on The Unit,(and what a lovely show to be so obliging to pick such a great cast) or in real life, Scott Foley. Yes, Jennifer Garner's ex.

Scott Foley has the most beautiful eyes, perhaps the coolest on the planet. They even change colour. But they are golden-y green and stunning.

In THAT ms, he's a Canadian soldier come home after being wounded in Afghanistan. So, he has a permanent limp. AND, he arrives home to find that the woman he loved years before has been keeping a secret - he has a five year-old daughter.

Before I get carried away, I'll just post the pics. :-)





I was surprised at how few there are of him in uniform, but you get the idea. I even have a great one up on my pc as my wallpaper.

Gotta love heroes.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wrap Up

Thanks everyone who popped by today and who posted comments. It's been a cool day, sort of a monumental thing for me.

Come back tomorrow, as the plan is to post oodles and scads of pictures of my current heroes. Ah, research is SO demanding. I don't know how I do it, really.

CONTEST WINNERS!!!!!!!!!!



CONGRATULATIONS to the two winners!

Cheryl Strange and Jana Hill!!!!!!!!!

I'll be e-mailing you both to get some more information, but congrats on winning! I hope you like the book!

Donna

A quick link

You can view another excerpt on Samhain's site here. It's a KISSY one. :-)

The Writing of The Girl Most Likely

Every writer out there hears the words at one time or another - where do you get your ideas?

Stories grow from characters. And usually for me the hero hits me first. He's got to be someone I can fall in love with. But in this case, the book started with the heroine.

I'd finished a project and was coming up with ideas and what hit me first was a healthy choices restaurant. The thing with writing novels is that we can create alternate realities for ourselves, things that we think it would be cool to do but hey, there's only so much you can cram into a lifetime, and besides, who has enough money to do THAT? One of the things I've often thought was how I'd love to run a restaurant that served healthy food that still tasted like home cooked yummies. And so the idea of the Pick and Choose was born - and so was Katie Buick.

Katie's out to prove herself...and escape the label that has followed her since High School. Who better to get under her skin than the guy she rejected back then, who HAS shed his geeky past and is now hot, successful and rich. I liked the "turned tables" thing. And what the book does, I hope, is show how if you look beyond those labels to the person inside, it doesn't matter.

Now...to pick a short excerpt....


Yet now, at this moment, it didn’t seem to matter to her and he was done fighting. “I’ll leave you alone to your precious business. Call me when you need a cheque.”

He tried to shoulder past her but she shot out her hand, staying his departure with a grip on his arm. “What do you want from me, Ric? I told you from the beginning…”

He spun to face her. He clenched his jaw, feeling his frustration with her bubble up until he opened his mouth and it came pouring out.

“What do I want? I want you to see me. Me!” he shouted. He saw her eyes grow wide at his outburst but didn’t care. “That’s all I ever wanted, Katie! I’m not the high school nerd who changed his appearance and became a success. I’m not a chequebook, there to fund your precious project! I’m not that anymore than you’re the party girl who never took anything seriously. I have feelings, hopes, dreams. I thought you understood that I saw that in you too. And me, being the fool that I am, expected the same from you. I thought you understood a bit of who I am. But I was way off base there!” He spread his hands wide, then dropped them. “There is more to me than what I am. I thought you knew that.”


One hour and thirty minutes until draw time! Don't forget!

The Girl Most Likely - Excerpt #1

Here it is - excerpt number one!

I'll be back later with a shorter excerpt, and a bit about how The Girl Most Likely came to be.

Ric sat on the sofa, an ankle crossed over a knee. She winced inwardly; he was sitting on the right side, which was the one with the wonky spring. If it weren’t sticking in his butt right now, she’d be a monkey’s uncle. But he said nothing as she handed him the mug. He’d moved the cream and sugar to the oak veneer coffee table and, showing a level of comfort she envied, picked up a spoon and fixed his brew the way he preferred.

She followed his lead, sat back on the opposite side of the couch, and silence fell, full and awkward.

After a few minutes that seemed to Katie to take forever, he spoke.

“About my proposition,” he began, and Katie half turned so she could see his face.
“I’ll put up the money for start-up. Rent, equipment, supplies, permits, whatever’s required.”

“What are you terms?” Thankfully, interest rates at the moment were reasonable and Katie sucked in a breath. “How about prime plus one percent?”

“That’s not acceptable.”

Katie put down her coffee and folded her hands in her lap. She’d lowballed him on purpose. “Okay. What’s your idea of a fair repayment plan?”

He took a nonchalant sip, and countered, “No repayment plan.”

“I beg your pardon?” He couldn’t possibly mean he was giving her the money. Thousands of dollars. People didn’t just give that away. Confused, she lifted her chin and saw his lips set grimly.

“What I’m proposing, Katie, is a partnership.”

Her heart fell. No, no, no! This was not what she wanted. Turning away, she remarkably kept a tight rein on her emotions. The control of the business must remain with her, and she had to keep her distance from Ric as well. He was too alluring by far. Commanding her iciest tone, she replied, “I’m sorry, but those terms are not acceptable to me.”

“What?”

His mug hit the table and she winced.

“Katie, be reasonable. You’ve never run a business before. I can help. I can deal with all those pesky business chores you’re worried about. I can take care of those things so you can run the restaurant.”

She rose from the sofa and paced to the balcony doors. She looked out, tears of frustration burning against her eyelids, further fuelling her anger. Why, oh why, would no one believe she could do this? Not only the bankers, but her own family merely smiled indulgently at her. Even her dad had reluctantly said, “If you’re not ready to give up on this yet, go see Richard Emerson. He might just be crazy enough to back you.”

They meant well, she was sure. But faith in her? None. She blinked back the tears and steeled her backbone. She could not show Ric how emotional she was; it would only serve to reinforce the opinion he must have of her…a dilettante. He hadn’t seen her for ten years. How was he to know she’d changed? It was up to her to show him.

“If I wanted to be a restaurant manager, I’d get a job as one. No deal.”

He sighed, holding out his hands as she turned to face him. “You’re not looking at this rationally. I know about starting a business. I can save you a lot of headache.”

And what exactly would that prove? Katie sighed. She needed to show everyone, hell, show even herself, that she was a grown up. She could stand on her own two feet. She didn’t want to go through life holding someone’s hand for safety.

“Maybe I don’t want to be saved. Did you think of that?” She stepped towards him and all her control dissolved as she stared into his incredulous face. “I didn’t come to your office looking for a business partner. I came looking for a loan. One I intend to repay on reasonable terms. Not this!” Her arm swept wide in a curt gesture.

His brow furrowed with confusion. “Why not? I don’t understand. I thought you’d be a little resistant, but Katie, you’re downright hostile. It’s a good offer. A beneficial one.”

His voice was calmly rational and it only served to infuriate her more. Of course he would think she couldn’t do it on her own. That seemed to be the general consensus among her family and friends. She swept a hand over her hair in exasperation. She couldn’t blame them; sometimes she felt that way herself.

She’d look in the mirror and still see the girl labeled “The Girl Most Likely to…Have Fun”. She’d been given that distinction in twelfth grade and it had stuck. General consensus in the halls was that she wasn’t smart enough for greatness, but if you wanted a good time, if you wanted to kick back and relax without worrying about the future, Katie was your girl.

She’d earned the label, she admitted. She’d been a bit of a party girl, more concerned with clothes and hair and boys than studying. But she’d outgrown it. For the few years after high school, her lack of direction had kept her in dead end jobs with no bright prospects for the future. It wasn’t long before she realized the good times hadn’t been worth it. After a couple of years working as a supervisor in a local eatery, she knew how restaurants worked, and not only the service end. She’d watched, and listened, and learned. She stopped partying and bought a computer, using spare time to do research and put together a business plan. This was how she wanted to redeem herself, but it seemed like everywhere she turned, roadblocks popped up. And she was getting damned tired of taking detours. She had realized something surprising during the initial concept and planning of the restaurant. She was smart. And she was stronger than most gave her credit for.

Each time a roadblock had been thrown in her way, she’d found a way around it. Now, when it was so close she could see the open sign, Ric threw up the one block she wasn’t sure she could outmaneuver. She had to do this on her own. It was the only way to validate herself.

No one else seemed to realize it, though, and she could clearly see Ric concurred that this project was beyond her capabilities.

“Why do you want to do this, Ric?” She fisted her hands on her hips. “I mean, you have your own business now. What could possibly entice you to go into partnership with me? You remember what it said under my yearbook picture, don’t you? Most Likely to Have Fun?”

She remembered the look of hurt betrayal she’d seen on his face when she’d turned him down for the prom. She’d actually said “You can’t be serious!” to him. Immediately she’d regretted the words, but the “girls” had been standing not ten feet away, listening to every word. If she hadn’t forgotten that terrible moment, he hadn’t either. He sat rigidly on the sofa, saying nothing and it only added to her vitriol.

Frustration bubbled out as she implored him with her hands. “What is it? You want to show me how superior you are now? A little revenge for previous humiliations?”

His mouth fell open and a line of guilt snuck along her spine, but she was too caught up in her own emotions to stop. “You’re not alone in thinking I can’t do this. Apparently everyone on the face of the planet agrees with you.”

“I never said that.” He stood now too, and faced her. His lips pressed together, a thin line of annoyance. His shoulders were stiff and his hands rested on his hips. “You haven’t even heard me out. This isn’t personal. It makes good business sense.”

Now, apparently, she didn’t have business sense either. “I’ve heard enough.” She squared off against him, feeling small next to his six-foot frame. The little voice in her head that said she wasn’t good enough for anything more was now shouting. No one, not even her own family, believed in her. They patted her on the head and loved her dearly, but didn’t believe her when she said she could take this dream and run with it; make it a reality.

“This restaurant will be mine, and mine alone. I’ll do the work and I’ll damn well take the credit. Whoever is smart enough to back me will get their money back along with a reasonable rate of interest for their trouble. But I will not hand the reins over to someone who thinks they know better than I do.” She caught her breath, lowering her tone. “Now, if you’re done, I’ll ask you to leave.”

Her stomach lurched as she heard the words come out of her mouth, much stronger than she felt them. She was letting the one chance she had go. But the last thing she wanted was a partner taking over, which was exactly what would happen. And he’d be around a lot. Too much. Before they knew it, he’d be running everything and she’d be following, rather than leading.

And she knew herself well enough to know that to put Ric Emerson in close proximity for any length of time, she’d screw that up too. She’d let it become personal and lose her perspective—something she couldn’t afford to do. She’d hurt him once before, and wouldn’t do it again.

His face dropped into a mask of incredulity and he stepped back, shoving his hands into his pockets. “You’re kicking me out?”

“You bet your sweet chequebook.”

Two distinct lines of disapproval wrinkled between his brows as quiet settled, heavy and uncomfortable. “I see,” he said quietly. “Well, good luck finding a backer, Katie. You’re going to need it.”

She didn’t miss the arrogant note in his voice. As she shut the door behind him, she had the sinking feeling she’d just ruined everything.


So there you have it...of course, if you want to read more, you can always buy it at Samhain Publishing. LOL

Let's Get this Party Started!

Welcome to Launch day for The Girl Most Likely!



To get things started, here's the blurb from the book, out TODAY from Samhain Publishing:

Katie Buick has something to prove—and she can’t decide if Ric Emerson is her salvation or the cause of all her troubles!


Ric Emerson is surprised when Katie Buick comes to him for help in starting her own business. Since high school, he’s transformed himself from math geek to suave businessman, and he takes the opportunity to show her what he’s become. But has he really changed underneath the successful image--enough to keep her attention this time?

Katie is shocked to find a hunky entrepreneur in place of the Ric she knew in high school. She’s putting everything on the line to start her own business and her only goal is to prove to herself--and everyone else--that she’s no longer the Girl Most Likely To Have Fun.

When Ric demands a partnership instead of investment, she reluctantly agrees. But when attraction starts getting in the way, she has a choice to make…give up her dream of success or give up the man she realizes she may have loved all along.


Stay tuned this morning for excerpts, snippets of how this book ended up getting published, and most importantly, the contest winner of copies of TGML! I'm going to leave it until noon local time, which is 2 p.m. Eastern for the draw, so you still have about 5 hours to enter! The e-mail is donna@donnaalward.com and put CONTEST in the subject line!

Back in a bit!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Male on Monday and a big wave - attempt 2

Stupid explorer froze again, after I had this post ready, so let's try it again...today is Male on Monday at the Pink Heart Society and their choice is Hugh Jackman. I think he might just be the most photogenic man on the planet...I've never seen a bad picture. All PHS members are to post their own pic as a part of a "tour", so here's my contribution...I'm a sucker for a white shirt....




I had a busy weekend but it was fun, all up until last night. I think the not-so-healthy food I ate yesterday paired with tea after 8 p.m contributed to NOT sleeping...at least not until 2 a.m. and the alarm goes off before six. Grrr. Dh went to sleep early, but woke at 3 apparently and couldn't get back to sleep. LOL what a pair we make. I am looking forward to getting lots of work done today though, some things that mean that once they are done and sent, I will be able to focus only on the WIP for the next month.

And before I go, a wave to Jim and Colleen. :-) I was much surprised yesterday when at church, Jim informed me he'd been reading my blog. LOL *waves*

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Characters and Setting

I love it when discussions make my mind work.

The latest is a discussion of characters and setting. Some of the M&B lines stress no small town settings. THe books have to have a cosmopolitan feel.

The key word here is FEEL, and I can't stress that enough.

What the lines like Romance, Presents, and Modern Extra want are not Home and Hearth stories. They don't want a "slice of small town life". But that doesn't mean that your books have to be set in New York, Paris, London, or Vancouver.

What comes to mind for me is "larger than life". Your books have to have that feeling about them, a solid, larger than life feel for your characters. Alpha guys are high on the list, and the focus has to remain on your characters and a high pitch of emotion. It's about the tone that you set for your setting, rather than the actual setting that you choose.

Which is a good thing, because my romance that was bought is set on a ranch in small town Alberta. By focusing more on the industry rather than the day to day running of the ranch, by keeping my secondaries to a minimum and keeping everything centred around my two main characters, it works. It's keeping the internal conflict driving the story that really counts.

Further in the discussion someone mentioned being inspired by a setting and thinking up a book around it and whether or not it would work. Kate Walker made such a great point that I have to credit her with it. She remarked that stories grow from CHARACTERS, not PLACES. I have been guilty of this in the past. I have had a setting in my mind and manufactured a story line to fit it, and it hasn't worked that well. Then Kate said this, and I quote: "Can you picture your story – your characters’ story – being played out anywhere else? If you can then you have the right balance of character/setting - but if your setting is almost a third character then I suspect you should be looking elsewhere to place it."

This is particularly true for me, in reference to Hired By The Cowboy. I first wrote this storyline as a shipping magnate in Southampton and a Canadian girl in London. It just didn't work. I was writing what I imagined would be wonderful and not what I knew. But when I took that same idea...pretty much kept my heroine the same, changed my shipping hero to a cowboy...everything fell into place. It was the RIGHT setting, but the setting wasn't as important as the fact that when I developed a new hero, and developed the internal conflict DEEPER, that became the book that sold.

FWIW the setting obviously wasn't a problem, because it's also the setting for my wip right now. THe hardest part I think is going to be keeping the characters I established in book one QUIET. LOL

Ever since the new guidelines came out for the Romance line last spring, this question has popped up probably half a dozen times, and will again. The best thing to do is to read what's being published NOW within the Richmond lines to get a feel, and compare it to other lines like Supers or American.

Will be MIA for a few days...just a hectic schedule and some planned R&R on the weekend. ANd SLEEP. Thanks to everyone who commented this morning. LOL Nothing like a bitchy grumpy blogger to bring people out of the woodwork! :-)

Not Fit for Company

Look at the time of this post, people. Look at the time!

2:23 is what my computer says right now. And that's a.m. I'm up courtesy of the lovely neighbours from HELL who don't care that I exist let alone would read this blog. I'm the bitchy woman next door with no life according to them.

They woke my eldest and myself up at 12:21. Every time since that I start to drift off, they wake me up again and I finally got fed up and came out here to check e-mail rather than lay in bed and stew about it.

I'm really not fit for company. I'm tired, I'm severely PMS'd...I'm emotional, and at the point where I'm emotional enough I'd like to cry and can't. It's been, as Anne says, A Jonah Day. I wouldn't mind looking forward to tomorrow being fresh with no mistakes in it except now it IS tomorrow and I've had approximately a half-hour's sleep.

My kitchen is in shambles and I'm behind on my word count for the WIP because my edits took longer than anticipated. I was looking forward to a quiet, nice day of work tomorrow and now I'm going to be totally BAGGED.

I have yet to learn how to be a hermit, but once I figure it out the world will be a quieter, more peaceful place I am sure. Normally if I chant "Two year plan, two year plan" it gives me some sort of optimism.

But tonight I'm restless, and it holds absolutely no comfort.

I am definitely not fit for company. Will come back when in better mood.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus!

I finally sent my edits!

runs around dancing and screaming I'm Free! I'm Free!

Ahem.

Back to previously scheduled lunch, appointments, housework and WIP.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Writer's Wednesday

It might only be Tuesday night here but it's Wednesday in the UK...and it's Writer's Wednesday with Donna Alward on The Pink Heart Society!

Pop over and have a gander at my first "guest" spot. :-)

And thanks to the PHS gang for inviting me to participate during launch week!

Layering during Edits and Procrastination

I'm in editing hell. Actually it's not hellish it's just tedious and every hour or so I take a break. Find ways to procrastinate. Moments ago it was IM'ing with Kris Starr. But, I had to go and so went back to my document.

I think I was there 10 seconds when I realized something, hence the blog post and more procrastination, although this might actually be worthwhile.

First round edits that I'm doing right now are actually what I do when I polish up a manuscript. Only I didn't have this handy little document until my editor at Samhain sent it to me. It gets rid of garbage words, helps deepen POV, changes 234 to two three four...you get the idea. BUT, when I sent her this ms and it was accepted, I hadn't done this "first round" on it. So I'm doing it now.

I'm also layering a bit as I go. Most of that falls into the deepening POV category, I guess, really only adds up to a handful of words a page, but over 200 + pages, those words all add up to a couple thousand.

Here's what I've discovered, and it's really quite cool.

When I'm in my hero's pov, I hardly add ANYTHING. The bulk of it comes in my heroine's pov.

Which brings us right back to our earlier discussion on Heroes and what they need to be.

A hero has to act, not react. So if your hero is an action man, how much introspective layering are you going to do? Not much. You might clarify a movement, a tone of voice, a look. But increasing self-awareness? Uh uh. We'll leave that up to the heroine. After all, you're supposed to be in HER shoes, right?

Kate Walker did a short series recently on how not to write a romance novel, and I remember one of the things she said was to make sure your heroes talked like men. Make sure that when you're writing about them your points of reference are male. Men relate to different things than women. And they sure aren't going to analyze things to death like a woman might. Heroes have to be, well, heroic!

In Julie Cohen's Being a Bad Girl, Oz is a therapist so he's a pretty in-tune-with-your-feelings guy...except when it comes to dealing with the heroine. He still acts like a man, still has a raging libido (yeah baby) and isn't quite as self aware as you'd expect. For a guy like that, having a woman get under his skin is fun to watch!

It's well worth a look into your work to see if you do this or not. It's one of those things that I know I've been improving on over the last 2-3 manuscripts. Finding the balance of action/introspection with your hero can take him from slightly boring to a sit-up-and-have-your-hormones-take-notice guy.

Enough procrastinating- back to work!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Day Trip = Research!

With the husband out of town today, I decided the best way to beat the blues was to take the kids on a day trip.

So, we packed a picnic of juice boxes and leftover pizza, made a stop for coffee at Tim Horton's, and headed north to Sundre, Alberta.

Sundre is the nearest town to my fictional Windover Ranch in Hired By The Cowboy. You could expect a view like this from Windover:




I have been to Sundre a few times, and love it. It's a bustling but small town, full of western charm. I've wanted to visit the Pioneer Museum there for quite sometime but for one reason or another, never made it. Until today. Deb, the lady at reception, was really helpful, and answered a few questions about the town that had nothing to do with the museum itself.

I was particularly interested in the parts that were concerned with original Norwegian settlers. I gave Windover Ranch, and my hero, Connor Madsen, a history. In the history I created, Windover had been settled by his ancestors in the late 19th century, straight from Norway, and it had remained in the family ever since.

We wandered through a log cabin, a one room schoolhouse, and admired antiques and especially several stop organs, wringer washers, and the most lovely wedding gowns and shoes.

Of course, I took out my camera only to realize dh had taken the batteries out for the other camera that he took on HIS trip, and no spares were in the case. :-(. Instead, you'll have to make do with this link...and if you want to know more, just go to the home page. This is the buildings gallery.

My favourite discovery had nothing to do with research. It was a stack of old Harlequin Magazines. After a brief inspection I couldn't find any dates on them but they sold for 75 cents. :-) I asked about them and Deb, bless her, said she'd check the thrift shop to see if there were any more if I'd give her my contact info. (The thrift store is closed on Sundays).

Anyway now we're back and I'm sleepy as I was up until 12:30 working last night, but it was a lovely day.

Also congratulations to a dear friend who had her baby today, 10 days early the lucky duck!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Pink and Proud!!!!!!!

Today is the launch of the new, revamped, fabulous PINK HEART SOCIETY!

I'm being lazy this morning, so I'm going to post what I sent out to my groups yesterday, with a few modifications.

Friends of mine, namely Trish Wylie, Ally Blake, Natasha Oakley and Nicola Marsh, have launched the new and improved Pink Heart Society TODAY! This is a group of authors, readers, and just plain romance lovers who are proud to show that they love romance! Ally, Trish, Nic and Natasha are writers for the Harlequin Romance/Modern Extra lines. This is what’s coming tomorrow….

The Pink Heart Society is here to show we all love romance!!!! Specifically we love category romance!!! And we're not afraid to say so!!!

The Pink Heart Society members & all their friends are free to pop in here and rave about romance any time they please... So why not come join us and tell us all about you and what makes you love the books we love to read and write!!!

We have plans for Guest Bloggers/weekly updates to the Hero Database/articles/reviews/Blogs of the Week/Romance destinations/Rom-Com reviews/Romance Tips/Nominations for Shipper Shows/Competitions & Giveaways/Challenge of the Week and MUCH MUCH more...like Guest Author appearances and a hamper giveaway every month!

If you have suggestions, would like the chance to become a reviewer (free books!!!) or are just interested in nominating hot guys & Great Movies for us to add to the Hall Of Fame then pop on by. Or join our Yahoo Group for free! You can join at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ThePinkHeartSociety/join.

I've been over to the blog and it looks great...already there are comments from fans, authors, and even an M&B editor has popped by! I can't wait to see what they have planned for the rest of the month! Just FYI, I'm featured with my Harlequin sale story on Sept 6, which is Wednesday.

Pop over to the blog and show your support for category romance!