Monday, October 30, 2006

Into the Cave

I did NOT want to think about what might be in my revisions e-mail, and I also wanted to have things done so I didn't have to do them this week. I wanted to be able to FOCUS. SO this is what I did this weekend.

Saturday morning I washed all the bedding, tidied up from breakfast, dug out the Halloween decorations and we put them up. Then all of us took in our recyclables, dropped by the bank machine, recylcled some old computer equipment and went to the dollar store.

After lunch, the husband and I cleaned the house. In addition, I washed the walls and the cupboards in the bathroom - officially the END of spring cleaning, LOL! I took clothes off the line. I worked out. I folded towels and put them away. I organized the very few christmas prezzies I had. And I did the ironing.

Yesterday was church. In the afternoon we got groceries. We had homework to get done. Dh carved a pumpkin with the kids. I got craft stuff ready and the girls and I made ornaments for the church bazaar coming up. We had supper and tidied up. Phew!

AND, my revisions came this morning. As revisions go they are minor...one is a tweak through a few scenes and the other is a layer to add...but it may take me some time. Adding a whole new layer and motivation affects the whole book.

SO, I'm taking the week to do them, and I'm heading into the cave. I shall emerge by Friday. If I don't....and Kriss BACK OFF - send in the mounties. Or maybe cowboys would be more appropriate. LOL

Grabs flashlight and heads fearlessly into dark revision cave....

Friday, October 27, 2006

Character and conflict in your opening paragraphs - and an update

Julie posted today about how your opening paragraphs can say something about your character(s) and conflict. And she posted a challenge to others to do the same. I'm only posting one because I'm in a huge hurry today.

Without further ado:
From HIRED BY THE COWBOY, Harlequin Romance, May 2007

“Miss? Wake up. Can you hear me?”
The deep voice came first, then Alex’s vision gradually started to clear.
“Oh thank God. Are you all right?”
Alex’s eyes followed the sound of the voice as she looked up, dazed. Trying hard to focus, she found herself staring into the most beautiful set of brown eyes she’d ever seen. They were stunning, dark brown with golden flecks throughout, large and thickly lashed. So we know he's a stranger, and a stunner. And that he's basically rescued her...
Men shouldn’t have eyes that pretty, she thought irrationally, realizing with a jolt that she was captured in the arms of the eyes’ owner.
“Oh, goodness!” She's not comfortable being in this position! The eyes crinkled at the corners at her exclamation and she felt his hands on her arm and behind her back, helping her to rise.
“Slowly now. You fainted.”
Really? I hadn’t noticed. I was too busy being unconscious. She bit back the sarcastic retort when she saw the genuine concern in his eyes. He even made sure she was standing firmly on her feet before releasing her—and then stayed close, as if he didn’t quite trust her to remain steady. We see that he's chivalrous, and by her noticing, we know she's not used to that from men.
He would have fainted too, in her condition and with this heat…and the lack of air conditioning in the convenience store hadn’t helped much either. What's her condition? A little mystery (although it's pretty obvious).
“I’m so sorry,” she blustered, brushing off her pants and avoiding his eyes. She avoids his eyes because she's embarrassed and uncomfortable. And so we have questions. What's going on with her, who is this knight in shining armor and how is he going to fit into the picture?

Openings need to do a few things...give us a basic sense of character, of conflict, and most of all I try to give them action. I hate it when books start with internal monologue backstory. Throw me into the thick of it. Most of the time I have my characters together in the first few paragraphs, and the first few pages for sure. I aim for immediacy.

I got a brief note from my editor saying I'd get revisions after the weekend. Yay! It was a positive note so I'm very, very happy.

I also did my banking. Let's just say it's a darker spot on my otherwise lovely day.

Have a marvelous weekend, all.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Need to Read More

I'm not sure how to fit it into my day, but I need to read more.

I used to devour books. I really did. But since I started writing, that has slowed to a crawl. Especially the last year or so...between working part time a lot, writing, kids, the house, choir, etc. etc. the list goes on, sometimes I just need to veg in front of the tv. And even when I do that, quite often I'll have knitting in my hand.

But I do need to read more.

On the PHS today a member posted that she had a spreadsheet to track her TBR pile. I think that's possibly a bit anal but really smart and organized. I have books sitting around that are not organized AT ALL. So, I'm starting a TBR list. I think I'll put it on my webpage too, the next time I update. And then, once I finish one, I'll check it off. For the record, for the most part I am not including most category length in here because usually I impulse buy those and devour them in a few hours. They are lovely little morsels for me. BUT, without further blathering, here is my list of what's on the shelf and not yet tackled:

Start Late, Finish Rich by David Bach - half done
Friendly Fire by Michael Friscolanti - half done
A Tangled Web by Lucy Maud Montgomery
A Noble Captive by Michelle Styles
There's Something About Christmas by Debbie Macomber
The DaVinci Code
Angels and Demons both by Dan Brown
Rebels of Ireland by Edward Rutherford
Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe, which I shall finish nevermore.
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Romola by George Eliot
Her Mother's Shadow by Diane Craver

Then there are other non-fictions that I should read just to LEARN - I usually buy these through my daughter's scholastic book orders, because they are simple, not university depth texts, but give really nice overviews. So far I have

Usborne Introduction to Art
Usborne Introduction to Archaeology
And bigger tomes of "Don't Know Much about Mythology" and "The Handy History Answer Book".

I think I've about maxxed my book budget for a while. LOL

So there it is, for the record. Oy.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Organization

So I don't know if it's submission jitters from handing in MCM, procrastinating starting something new (I still make myself write, lol), or hormone fluctuations, but I'm on an organizational kick.

One thing most people don't realize is that just because you've sold a book doesn't mean you're swimming in moola. Without mentioning exact numbers, I can tell you that category romance advances do NOT make you rich by a long stretch. And royalties? Well guys, my first release comes out in May and I won't see royalties until probably a year after that. Right now every little bit I bring in is BONUS money. Even if/when I do really get a good head of steam going, I doubt I'll ever have a big salary. A very nice second income for the family? Maybe. I hope so.

But for right now, we're still basically a one-income family. And so my latest "organization" project is our finances.

I started reading David Bach's "Start Late Finish Rich" book last night. Will I implement every single thing he says? Nope. But I'm only half way through and I have found a few really solid ways to make what we DO have work harder for us. Most of all, we need to start paying cash for stuff.

The first thing to do is really find out where you're at. Then you can look at where you're going. By January 1st I plan to compare right now with where we are then and see how much we've improved matters. And yes, that means over Christmas too. Yikes!

Here's hoping the "kick" lasts, because I still haven't finished spring housecleaning. LOL BUT, all I have left is to wash the bathroom walls, and clean out the cupboards in there. Otherwise, everything else is done.

I managed a solid 1000 words on the WIP this morning too. Slow and steady. I still have Thursday and Friday to finish this chapter. Which is good, because I plan to send it to my CP on the weekend, as long as she's finished her revisions.

Right now I'm off for work. Catch you on the flip side!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Finding His Family

I started the new book today!

I'm very excited. It seems I've waiting a long time to write this book. I've done research...articles on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, e-mailing a former sniper for military info, getting some physiotherapy details, reading a book on peacekeeping and still reading Friendly Fire, although I'm now on the court case and past the part that describes the actual event in Afghanistan. I've done a basic proposal synopsis that outlines the motivations and progressions throughout the book, even though the actual scenes aren't nailed down. I've done a character sheet for each of my characters. And today, I finished the prologue.

I don't know if it will stay. I want it to. My hero is wounded in action. I wanted what happened to him to be firmly in the reader's mind so everything he/she reads what my hero does, they have that point of reference. It will at least stay through my first draft, and then I'll decide.

His name is Jonas Kirkpatrick, he's got a permanent limp, symptoms of PTSD, and THEN discovers he has a daughter he knew nothing about. He's a tough guy, and more than ever he's built a wall around himself. He was a sniper when he was deployed and not a man to be trifled with.

Scott Foley's character Bob Brown is the casting inspiration for this one, and because today is my day of firsts, here are a couple of my favorite pictures. Granted, I like him with longer hair but that just doesn't suit the role, so you get THE UNIT military cut.





Enjoy!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Business Arrangement Bride by Jessica Hart



As a reward to myself for finishing and sending MCM, I bought Jessica Hart's latest, Business Arrangement Bride. Jessica is one of my favorite Harlequin Romance authors. When I joined the author loop and she welcomed me I got a little fangirly. It just didn't seem right, me being there with HER, you know? Anyway, I stayed up until midnight finishing it last night.

Her hero, Tyler, is alpha to his toes. Jessica does a great job making him tough. And I mean TOUGH. For the most part he doesn't even SMILE. But, she offers little glimpses of what it's like to be him, so we can't hate him for being cold. We get to see little vulnerabilities. And her heroine's baby, Bea, is the one that breaks the ice for him. We see him respond to her in ways he can't to Mary, the heroine.

Mary is often dishevelled, her clothes don't fit right because she's still carrying baby weight, and she lavishes love on her daughter rather than on herself. As a mom, boy do I respond to that. I would have liked to have seen MORE of her feeling more of a woman and less of a mom. I know Tyler had to love her as she was and not some ideal, but when a man makes a woman's heart beat like Tyler does Mary's, she's gonna make some effort. There is a scene where they go to a party, and she's dressed up and gorgeous and the scene is steamy....THAT was perfection.

I also didn't expect to cry in this one. But I did. There is a reason women love a man with a baby, and I'll leave it at that.

Finally, if you're a fan at all of Pride and Prejudice, you're gonna love the ending of this book. I have no idea if it was intentional or not, but I definitely heard echoes of Darcy in Tyler's speech to Mary. Sigh. Makes me want to watch the "new" version all over again!

Thanks Jessica for the fantastic read!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Good and the Bad

Today there's good news and bad news. And the bad news isn't that bad, so it's no biggie.

I sent a proposal and first chapter to my editor at Samhain for a christmas anthology that they are putting together. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of the five picked...but the writers and the titles of those who DID make the cut sound so great, it's hard to feel bad about it.

I knew there was a slim chance I'd be picked, so I have a plan B.

I'm still planning on writing the last 3 chapters of The Mistletoe Memoirs. And then, on my website, I'm going to post a chapter a week leading up until New Year's Eve as a FREE READ. So stay tuned for more information as Christmas gets closer. As soon as I post a chapter, I'll make sure I put a link here.

I watched Battlestar Galactica last night. IT WAS PHENOMENAL. Possibly the best episode of all three seasons, even if there wasn't quite enough Lee for my liking. It's time to get rid of the prosthetic, Mr. Moore. We want Lean Lee...and we want him back as the CAG and in a viper again. The episode, though, packed SO much into an hour. I was on the edge of my seat during the action, said a couple of "NO WAY!"s and cried twice. Michael Hogan has been incredible so far this season.

FINALLY, more good news. I have to send in my proofs for TGML, but after that I get to start my wounded soldier story. I've waited a LONG time to write it and the plan is to have a partial ready for my editor by November 9. It gives me three weeks, so that should be lots of time. I'm still doing background research though and first things first - I have to finish up the character sheets I started with "write a book with Trish". But look for that word count to start moving by the end of the week.

Now I'm off...have a marvelous Sunday everyone.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

BOMBS AWAY!

My sequel to Hired by the Cowboy, is GONE. As in sent to my editor, complete with suckopsis.

She e-mailed this morning saying she was "desperate to read it" after having read the partial. That's good news...she liked it! But in the back of my mind is this little crow cawing, "What if she's disappointed?"

ANYWAY, when I look back over the last few months, I feel pretty damn good. I wrote this book from inception to completion in the last 9 weeks. In addition to that, I did second round edits on TGML, copy edits on TGML, first round edits on Almost a Family, my Samhain January release, AND did up a proposal and first chapter for a special project that Samhain is putting together, and which I should hear soon whether or not my story's going to make it in or not. AND, we were away for 6 days this month. So not bad, all in all!

I'm taking tomorrow and Saturday off, and then Sunday afternoon I'll probably start my galleys for the print version of The Girl Most Likely. The print release date is December 19...more info on that as the time gets closer.

To celebrate this ms being FINISHED, I'm posting a pic of Max Martini, one of THE UNIT boys. I was reminded how much I love his character in last week's episode. And he made the PERFECT casting inspiration for my cowboy hero, Mike Gardner. So THANK YOU MAX!



Have a fantabulous weekend, all. I'm off to celebrate.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

When it all comes together....

I'm feeling particularly squishy towards my CP Michelle.

She sent back chapter 12. Axe the epilogue. Layer layer layer chapter 12. Small tweaks, I promise.

Then she threw in, how about changing it to a neutral location instead of where I set the final scene?

As a throw in, that's a damn good one. Because I did that and suddenly everything came together.

Now, it certainly took more than small tweaks. It took a heck of a lot of revising, but suddenly an ending that yesterday was "meh", became RIGHT. I cried. I cheered, dancing in the kitchen.

I still have to "edit" chapters 3-12, but that's perfectly ok. When I send this later this week, I know in my heart that for better or worse, I am proud of this book. In fact, I'm now so excited I can't wait to get it all put together so I can send it to my editor and see what she thinks.

I loved Hired by the Cowboy. It is a special book, special enough that I rewrote it in its entirety because I thought it deserved to be told. But Marriage at Circle M is equally as special to me in its own way. Mike and Grace are real people to me that deserve to be happy.

Michelle, you're a gem. I hope you don't get tired of me saying it.

In other news, my brother will be in town this weekend, for work but he has about 24 hours where he's free before he flies out again, so I'll be seeing him for the first time since my Gram's funeral a few years ago.

Now I have to get some stuff edited...because I also agreed to do some temporary work at my old job, and I have to be there in an hour. :-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

A P.S....FINISHED!

I've completed my first draft!

Now it's on to edits and layering. As you can see I have about 5k I need to add to this story, which shouldn't be too bad as I go through and layer in emotion and sensory stuff.

BUT WHAT A RELIEF TO HAVE IT DONE!

New Author Profile

My new author profile is up on E-harlequin! There is a slight error - it says I live on a ranch, which I don't. Maybe I was channelling, because I'd love to have acres and acres. LOL You can see it HERE.

This week it's finishing the book and subbing it, working on Tuesday as I'm still listed as an "on-call" for my old job...and my galleys came for THE GIRL MOST LIKELY print version. My release date is official...DECEMBER 19th! So right after I deliver MCM, that's what's on the agenda. I have a smaller, special project coming up and then the plan is to have the next book for Romance in by Jan. 1. I wanted it to be earlier, but then realized I'll likely have revisions on MCM, and my revisions and copy edits for ALMOST A FAMILY, which comes out at Samhain the first week of January. Never any shortage of work! But it's all very exciting.

And don't forget to pop over to the Pink Heart Society, because it's just so darn fun!

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Weekend, New TV and Benefits

I forgot to post that it was Friday today and so the weekend...it was a short week this week, but filled with lots of things to do.

On Sunday night, I'm singing in a benefit for Hospice Calgary. The proceeds of course will go to their organization, making things easier for cancer patients and their families. Hopefully I won't get too nervous and forget any of the words, LOL.

Other than that, I'm almost finished the first draft of my WIP, with only the very end of the last chapter and an epilogue to go...so if I get a chance on the weekend, I'll be finishing that up.

I'm also enjoying fall tv. Grey's is great, I'm enjoying NCIS a lot too. I actually really liked the shows where Tony took the lead when Gibbs was gone...I'd like to see more friction between them. I'd like to see Tony save Gibbs when Gibbs makes a mistake. Anyway, onward. Battlestar Galactica's season 3 debuted last weekend with a two-hour opener. WOW. I am constantly astounded by the depth of the writing, the directing, and the willingness of the writers to tackle really hard subject matter. The fact that the humans started using suicide bombers? DARING. And while we feel their desperation, the Chief sums it up with "There are some things you just don't do Colonel. Not even in war." I'll be glued to the SPACE channel on Sat. night.

My other MUST WATCH is CBS's THE UNIT. I just want to get up and kick some ass during each and every episode. Tuesday night's epi looks fabulous...it looks like a tribute to Katrina.

It's also our anniversary this weekend, so I'm predicting a night in with wine and movies, since we were away last weekend and sort of blew our cash. :-)

Layers

In Shrek, he says, "Onions have layers. Ogres are like onions."

It has been fun putting layers into this story. One of the things that I HAVEN'T panicked about with this manuscript is my character arcs. I have solid characters and solid motivations, and the biggest challenge has been executing the story in the right way. But my characters...they've been good to me.

They've been full of a few surprises too. For example, there wasn't supposed to be any sex happening, but half way through all of a sudden the heroine demanded to have sex with the hero. Now, as I'm nearing the end, things are popping up all over the place. Little angles that I hadn't really explored before. It's exciting, actually. My heroine's main conflict has just taken on another layer...and the hero is the one to point it out in a most painful way.

I see a marked difference in this too. In other manuscripts, published and unpublished, I've layered in things but they've always been "added" rather than having "developed" from the general conflict, and this feels so much better. I'd love to give you an example, but that would be spoiling the ending. And since it's my fervent hope that Harlequin will buy this (especially as it's a sequel to my May release) and since my editor has already seen the first three chapters and liked it, I'm going to keep my mouth shut and hope you get to read it down the road.

I actually think I prefer Donkey's analogy, come to think of it. Parfaits have layers. I'll take a parfait over an onion any day of the week.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hugs

Today I'm sending out incredibly belated hugs to my nephew and his wife. Sometimes it feels very strange to know he's all married and grown up. There are fewer years between us than there are between my sister and myself. Anyway, Matt and his wife are pregnant and expecting in February, but due to some serious complications, mum is in hospital and the best case scenario at the moment is complete bed rest to keep labour from starting. Hang in there Matt and Becky. Every day your little girl grows is a blessing and a reason to cheer. Know that lots of hugs and prayers are being sent to you and yours.

Love,

Donna

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

There's One in Every Book

One what, you may ask?

One bloody chapter that just will NOT seem to go my way.

You know as I get closer to the end of this manuscript, I was really really hoping I was going to get through without such a chapter. But nope, it looks like it's going to be chapter ten. I started it, hated it, and started again. Wrote the bulk of it, knew it was wrong, went back and revised it. Sent it to my CP - and I need to revise it AGAIN.

However I'm sick to death of this chapter right now and so instead of labouring and cursing over it further at this moment, I'm simply going to push through and finish the first draft of this book and then go back and look at the last 3-4 chapters. After that I'll go through the whole thing and layer, and then there'll be one more "polish" read through before I send it in next Friday.

Thanksgiving was fun. We went to Kamloops, BC to visit family. I did lots of walking which I hoped might counteract the eating we did but no such luck. I did have fun walking though. We took the kids through the hills near my bil's house, and then twice I took their rather large dog out for a good 45 min. walk around the neighbourhood. It's very hilly compared to where I am so at least my legs felt good. But boy, I've got to be a lot more diligent and ramp up the workouts. I did buy some arch supports for my running shoes which I hope will help with my arch pain so I can get more cardio in.

Otherwise, I've got my butt planted in this chair. If I'm not back by next Friday, send in the Mounties. :-)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Canadians out there! Tomorrow is turkey day. This morning we baked dessert - an Apple Crisp Cheesecake. And my sister in law is currently making pumpkin pie (you can't have Thanksgiving without it!).

I'm making a wee bit of progress on the WIP this weekend because the deadline demands it, but when I get back it'll be major major writing. COMPLETE FOCUS.

Maybe having leftovers will be a very handy thing for a few days!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Smooch of the Day at ECataromance!

I totally forgot about this...but you can certainly still view it!

My smooch became a "smooch of the day" on ecataromance.

To read Ric and Katie's first kiss from The Girl Most Likely, click HERE!




And Michelle Styles is the featured call story on the Pink Heart Society blog, so go over and read about her journey to publication with Mills and Boon Historicals!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Samhain Books in Canada!

One of the other Canadian authors for Samhain discovered her book available at Chapters Indigo online. I checked too and other authors are featured. Now bear in mind that this is only for the print version, not the e-book of course. But it is BRILLIANT news that they are carrying them. When The Girl Most Likely and Almost a Family come out in print form, people will be able to order them from Chapters instead of having to go through a US company and worry about customs, shipping, and exchange rates! TGML should be available just before Christmas, the official print release date is Dec. 19. And Almost a Family will be released in print on the third Tuesday in May if things stay on schedule!

Now, if they started carrying them in-store I'd nearly die of happiness.

It is onward with the ms. Slight problems with my chapter nine but nothing as disastrous as I envisioned. LOL I need to get through the next chapter or so and then I'm close to the ending and the pace *should* take care of itself as things come to a head.

In more boring but happy news, my Battlestar Galactica Season 2 dvd's came yesterday. And season 3 starts Saturday night, squeeeeeeee!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Stress

Ok...three weeks to deadline, but I think I can make it. :-) I have to bust my butt, though.

I just hope I don't have another week like I did last week. I did get a fair amount of writing done despite everything that went on, but there are a couple of situations that have been causing me a LOT of stress that have nothing to do with work. I was pretty distracted and frazzled by the end of it. In fact, I think by Friday night I said to my husband, THANK GOD that week is over. I was so distracted that when I took something out of the freezer Friday morning I left the turkey on top of the washer. When we went downstairs to workout, I saw it sitting there - nearly completely thawed. So Friday night I cooked a turkey and Saturday we ended up having a turkey dinner.

The kidlets have fall break coming up starting on Thursday and continuing into all of the next week. We have some fun things planned over Thanksgiving and hopefully some R&R, as well as me getting this first draft finished by the 13th. I write a pretty complete draft as my chapters are critiqued and "adjusted" as I go, so a week at the end should give me adequate time to go through and edit and polish.

As for the stress, I have a standing order for red wine and dark chocolate.