Tuesday, May 31, 2011

FINALLY - sunshine!

The weather is GORGEOUS today! About time, too - we've had an absolute miserable May. I've been up, had breakfast, delivered a bike to a neighbour, had the dog to the groomer for her summer cut, and put clothes on the line! Now I have to hustle through some word count so I can work in the garden this afternoon.

I'm over at the Pink Heart Society today with one of my favourite Deadline Recipes and something you can tweak and play with to your own taste. It's not the kind of thing I'd make on a day like today, though - the sun and warmth is begging for grilling so I've taken out pork loin chops and I'm going to put them to marinate in some olive oil and fresh herbs from the herb garden.

Enjoy the day - hope it's gorgeous where you are too!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Last Call for the Brenda Novak Auction!

Brenda Novak's annual Auction for the Cure is winding up tomorrow, so this is your last chance to bid on hundreds of fabulous items!

I participate every year, so this is what I have up for grabs:

Critique of a partial manuscript by 4 multi-published authors: Pink Heart Society editors Donna Alward, Michelle Styles, Mira Lyn Kelly and Jenna Bayley Burke will read and critique a partial romance manuscript

A Kindle loaded with 15 Harlequin Romance titles from the Harlequin Romance Authors

Pink Heart Society Editors Tote Bag of Books - a PHS tote bag and 6 signed titles by Pink Heart editors Donna Alward, Michelle Styles, Mira Lyn Kelly and Jenna Bayley Burke

Pink Heart Society VIP package: If you're a category romance author, this package gets you
*Your upcoming Category Romance release reviewed as our Pink Heart Picks Book Club pick
*Be in the spotlight with a featured author interview
*Guest blog spot
*Pink Heart Society tote bag

There are numerous other offerings in the Pink Heart Society "store" on the auction site.

Currently I am dealing with a) ants and b) thunderstorms which means the dog is sitting by my feet panting as she hates thunder and lightning. It is pouring out.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Rugged Rancher Does New York!

So some cool news that I facebooked yesterday - my friend Michelle Willingham was at Book Expo America in New York this week and she snapped a pic of my July cover (A Family For The Rugged Rancher) that was on display! I had no inkling it would be there and it is one of my favourite covers so I'm thrilled. They blew it up nice and large and I think it's very cool.

And in other good news about A Family for the Rugged Rancher - I got the RT review and it's lovely. The reviewer gave it 4 stars and said:

Bachelor Luke Evans hires recently divorced Emily Northcott to be his live-in housekeeper. Despite reservations about letting Emily and her young son into his life, Luke desperately needs help with the family ranch that he is operating singlehandedly. Luke’s ailing father and younger sisters have depended on him since the untimely death of his mother. Emily soon discovers that Luke needs a soul mate as well as a housekeeper. Luke and Emily are memorable characters who are facing believable challenges. Engaging secondary characters and strong family ties make this novel a heartwarming story.

Now I'm back to working on Hideaway Hill - which is fun. I keep reminding myself of Julie Cohen's advice to write crap. I just need to write it, and then once I have I can look at it and do what needs to be done to make it shine.

And my biggest thrill of the day was when I stepped on the scale and realized I finally reached my first weight loss goal. I still have a ways to go, but when the mountain looked so very high to climb, I broke it down into 2 pieces - this goal and the final goal. I celebrated by having a high protein breakfast of egg beaters and my favourite yogurt (Yoplait Source Pineapple Coconut Banana, it tastes like a pina colada!).

Have a good weekend all!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pink Heart Picks

Today I'm over at The Pink Heart Society for the monthly Pink Heart Picks book review - this month we read Texas Heir by Linda Warren. Come on by to see my review and find out what we're reading in June. :-)

Otherwise I am working away on another story, and psyching myself up for my 90 min YogaX workout that's on the agenda today. 90 MINUTES. It's my least favourite P90X workout, and it's not because I don't like yoga, I do. But an hour and a half is a big chunk of my day all at once. I wish it were an hour like the other workouts.

It's hard to believe though that I have legs and back tomorrow and then kenpo on Saturday and I'll have completed my first 2 weeks!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

#WW - The 4 D's Post 2: Desire

Welcome back to the 4 D's! If you missed last week, you can read the post on Determination.

Today's post isn't going to be super long as the concept is fairly simple: Desire.

In short - if you're going to be a published author, you have to want it.

I can't think of anyone who decided they'd take the time to write a 50-100,000 word story on a lark or because they were bored. And then sent it to a publisher, not caring if it got accepted or not. In some ways, Desire is the easiest of the 4 D's, because most writers I've ever talked to say that they have stories that need to be told, that they need to write. It is not just what we do but a large part of who we are. It is what separates us from those who say "I'd like to write a book some day". It is not about doing something that sounds like it would be cool but because we have something to say. That something to say will very likely become your core story, by the way.

So the first thing you need is the desire to actually sit and put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. You have to have the desire not just to write the story but to finish it. You have to have the desire to not just finish that story but to write another and make it even better. You pretty much have to have the desire to keep writing and see it through. You have to have the desire to accept rejections and keep going anyway. If you're not willing to do that, you probably will not make it. Because you have to have the desire to put in the hard work. And it IS hard work. Maybe you've heard a story about a writer who zipped out a manuscript and had it accepted and oh it was a breeze. It might be true, though I would probably raise an eyebrow at such a claim. Even if it IS true, it will never be that easy for that writer ALL the time. It is work and make no mistake.

Desire is what Donald Maass calls Fire in the Belly. Do you have it?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This is me

After last week's RNA do across the pond, an article appeared in the Daily Mail that has caused a lot of controversy - mainly by calling romance novelists old ladies with blue rinses writing about sex to top up their pensions. In response, a lot of people have posted pics of themselves saying this is what a romance novelist looks like. So this is me, in a pic from a few months ago. Under 40, no blue rinse, no pension, and only occasionally writing about sex. Most of the time I write about love and mutually respectful relationships, but what the hey.


There is slightly less of me now than there was in that picture - while the scale only dropped a smidgen in the last week (week 1 of P90X) I did see some nice changes in inches. Someone did tell me I would see the inches first and then the weight would come. That'd be fab. Because truthfully I'd much rather BE smaller than I seem than look bigger than I weigh. :-)

This week's a short week, and my to-do list is still long (surprisingly so, considering all I accomplished last week during week 1 off deadline!) so I'm going to get to it. Back tomorrow with the next of the 4 D's posts for #WW.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Four D's: Post 1 - Determination

When I was unpublished, my very brilliant critique partner kept reminding me of the 4 D's: Desire, Dedication, Determination, Discipline (and you can add a P too - persistence). Michelle (Styles) is great in that she walks the talk. And she demonstrated it this week by having her latest book accepted.
So today I'm going to talk about Determination. It kind of goes hand in hand with persistence. It also brings to mind a slogan from Beachbody, the company behind P90X (my current workout program) - Decide. Commit. Succeed.

I've talked about rejection before, but rejection is only one sort of setback that you might - and probably will - suffer as a writer. Michelle very wisely also says it's what you do AFTER the rejection that counts. She's right. You can throw in the towel or you can keep going. You can see it as a roadblock or you can see it as an opportunity. Because people - when things get tough, when things don't go your way, you have a choice to make. You can stop or you can move forward. And moving forward can be really, really difficult.

What else can mess with a writer's head/productivity/success? How about burnout? Not taking time to fill your well is a big mistake. Taking on too many deadlines and then finding the book isn't going well or that you have massive revisions or rewrites, throwing everything off schedule. That's hugely stressful, and it shows in your writing, too, I think. And then how about rewrites and revisions? They are not always easy. They can mess with your confidence, and you can get TIRED.

Writers also go through phases where they might simply struggle. In summer of 09, I had five rejections in a row. Not all on fulls, but one was indeed my option book and I was gutted. I went on to write another and thankfully my editor loved it, but was my trouble over? Oh no. The next book was a nightmare. I'd been working extremely hard - I took two rejected mss and completely reworked them and sold them elsewhere and wrote 2 full books for the Romance line between September and March. I had another book due the end of May. And the March book came back needing a complete rewrite - from scratch - and then 3 sets of revisions. My May book ended up being handed in on July 2, and by that time I was absolutely drained.

On July 2 I started my summer break. And to be honest, I wasn't sure I ever wanted to write again. But breaks do wonderful things (like fill the well). I had made it through the tough patch, and thankfully the last book of that contract didn't have heavy revisions. Actually - I think it's my favourite that I've written so far. What happened? Well, I think when writers hit a patch where their thinking and their editor's vision don't match it can be a case of writers stretching and growing. And there are growing pains. And you come out the other side bigger and better. At least I hope I did. By September I was raring to go on new projects.

When things like rejections, heavy revisions, and any other crows of doubt stuff happen, it's your determination that will see you through. You have to dig deep. You have to be willing to put in the hours, take the criticism on the chin, do what it takes to get that next book through. It sucks, it really does. Critique partners are wonderful for venting. You have to adopt an attitude that says "I'll show you I CAN do it, and I'll do it bigger and better than you expected."

You have to be willing to eat a little humble pie. You have to be willing to say, "I'm going to knock this out of the park if it kills me."

Steely determination is a good quality to have, because this industry can be fickle. There's a saying that says The Only Thing You Can Control is the Writing. But there is something else you can control. Your attitude.

Your Determination.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Working it out

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday because I spent the whole day at the school, first counting hot lunch money and then talking to my kid's class about life as a writer and writing stories as they are doing a short story unit. It was fun. Then I did something TOTALLY indulgent.  It was the first truly sunny afternoon we've had since I can remember, and as we were leaving another mum was there to pick up her daughter. Instead we went to the playground where the kids played and we basked in the sun and chatted for nearly an hour. It was heavenly!

But it meant I got home late, checked e-mail, mowed the lawn, had supper and then the dh and I spent an hour getting the basketball net set up in the yard which meant I also had to take a few minutes to shoot some hoops. Then it was workout and I ended the day at nine with finishing the dishes.

Who says life stops being busy the moment a book is handed in?

The P90X workouts are going well. In fact, I'm lovin' it. The only thing is it's a BIG commitment. In fact, I ran out of time last night and didn't get the 15 min Ab Ripper in after doing the 1 hour workout of Shoulders and Arms. I was going to try it today, but truthfully, today is a heavy physical day as I have a 4k run this afternoon and today's workout is YogaX. Tomorrow's another strength day and I hope to manage my time better so I can plan for 1:15 of workout time.

I'm a bit sore in places I didn't know I had. The workouts leave me sweaty and exhausted, but truthfully, I expected to fail a lot more. I expected there to be moves that I just couldn't do at all. None yet.

If you've been considering P90X, I highly recommend doing the Power 90 series first. I know it prepped me for doing this in a big way as far as capabilities, and it also means I'm familiar with a good number of the moves so I'm spending less time having to watch and learn and more time doing. There are some new moves, though, and it's significantly more challenging than Power 90.

Now what's on the docket for today? Critiquing a chapter for my CP, doing a load of laundry so I can hang it out (more sun this afternoon! Yay!) and going to the post office.

And instead of Fridayreads tomorrow, I'm going to do my WriterWednesday post. Because I seriously haven't finished a book this week AND I feel particularly compelled to write my next #WW post.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday ramblings (aka the to-do list)

Today is a regular hodge podge of stuff - I've tidied my inbox, updated all sorts of fun facts on the book pages in Shelfari and LibraryThing, made 2 appointments (one for dog, one for husband), and cleaned the oven. I still have three items on my "work" to-do list and all three are rather significant, and my "house" to-do list is ginormous and I'm in denial. One job at a time. Considering I am giving a talk at the school tomorrow and also have to go to Costco on Thursday I see my week getting away with me. But one job at a time usually does get things done.

The cold seems to be "mostly" gone - I say mostly because I am still coughing now and again and blowing my nose more than I'd like, but I feel pretty good. Yesterday I finally started P90X and surprised myself with being able to do a couple of moves that I couldn't when I tried them in another program months ago. There were a few challenges (I hear the word dips and I shudder) but I fared better than I expected. Room for improvement but I definitely wasn't demoralized. :-) Then I did a 2 k run and ended up walking the dog in a lull in the rain yesterday so it was a good day. Today is CardioX and we'll see how I manage to keep up...

And there's a rumour flying about that we might actually have SUN. It might be true. The dandelions that were closed up this morning are blooming all over my lawn at the moment. This happened last year too (in fact I did a post about embracing the dandelion) and my plan of attack is the same: mow, mow, mow. Especially before they get to seed. That seemed to do the trick.

Now if I could only find a way to get rid of ants that didn't involve hours of cleaning and words like "borax" and "vinegar". Sigh.

Monday, May 16, 2011

WINNERS of HER LONE COWBOY CONTEST!

It's Monday! The book has been sent and I'm now catching up on all the stuff that I've let go while I finished - some promotion stuff which is important as HONEYMOON WITH THE RANCHER is out this month, not to mention the Art Fact Sheet for my editor, a backlog of articles and oh yes, the workshop coming up at RWA 11.

BUT first things first - the three winners from my contest celebrating HER LONE COWBOY's contest finals!

The winners are:

Linda Bass

Maria Durst

 A. Muller

I've sent you all an e-mail to get further mailing info. Thanks for celebrating with me everyone!

And please bear with the blog glitches.  I'm going to attempt to keep posting and hope the wrinkles get ironed out.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Test post

I'm still having glitches from last week's blogger outage, so I'm doing a test post.  Please ignore the "Bad account" pop up - I'm trying to resolve it but I'm not sure what's causing the problem. It's really not a bad account, and I hope it gets fixed sooner rather than later.

Friday, May 13, 2011

#Fridayreads: The Outlaw Bride and To Marry A Matchmaker

Debut author Kelly Boyce has a treat for lovers of the Western Romance - THE OUTLAW BRIDE!

I actually don't know where to start with this review. This story was fantastically crafted! Sympathetic, lovely characters, a plot that keeps you wondering how in heck it's going to play out, great dialogue, wonderful pace, and a homespun, cozy Western setting. Honest to God, I could see this story playing out in my head and hear the voices of the characters. I was drawn right into the world of Connor and Kate. Add in a traumatized little girl and a family secret and there was just so much good stuff  going on!

It's risky writing a heroine who is already married, but of course she's married to a Very. Bad.Man and running for her life. It just goes to show that it's all in the execution and this one is done beautifully.

If you enjoy historical westerns, you're going to love this story.

I also finished my CP's (Michelle Styles) latest: To Marry A Matchmaker:

When I started TO MARRY A MATCHMAKER, I instantly thought of Emma and Mr. Knightley. Henrietta and Robert are friends, make wagers, have arguments, and joke with each other. But neither truly realizes how important they are to each other, and that friendship and passion are not exclusive from love.

Henri has held on to her grief and guilt about her first husband's death for too long and lets their relationship form the yardstick by which she measures love, and contents herself with matchmaking for others. Robert challenges her to a wager that she will not interfere with other's lives - just as his ward comes to the northeastern town of Corbridge on the cusp of a scandal involving none other than Henri's cousin, Sebastien, a rake of the first order. Now Henri is sworn to stay out of it or else lose the wager. On top of it all, the attraction she feels for Robert is blooming into something more, confusing everything.

The ending is truly lovely, and the story is warm, intimate, and witty. This is quite possibly my favourite tale from Michelle Styles!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sun, Dandelions, and word counts

The sun is trying to peek through after rain every day for three weeks. Even on those days where the sun made an appearance, it inevitably clouded over and showered at some point. And it looks like this is a temporary respite. But the dandelions are enjoying it immensely, and to my annoyance. It makes me want to mow, but the yard is just a spongy mess of wetness so I'm not sure how well that would work. :-(

And I've finished this round of editing. Tomorrow I will make one more pass through the whole thing. I am over word count (ack!) so I need to be ruthless with extraneous words - especially as I think the ending could still use some ooomph. It has been great having this week to edit, though. I've made a lot of changes that I hope have improved the story.

And finally - a wonderful review came through today from Wendy The Super Librarian! She reviewed HONEYMOON WITH THE RANCHER and said a lot of wonderful things. Click on the links to read the whole thing, or be satisfied with her conclusion (which gives me glee!):

This is really a lovely story with a wonderful sense of place. I loved the exotic feel of the Argentina country-side, and the angst-fueled internal conflict kept the tension running high between the romantic couple. An enjoyable, one-sitting read.

Thank you Wendy!

Back tomorrow with a special Friday Reads post!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

#WW - Cutting for Pace

Well, here I am in the editing stage. I finished the complete draft of the book on Sunday, and now I'm going back through, making sure I've nailed the core conflicts, layering in bits that are missing, foreshadowing and all that good stuff. Editing is grand. It makes a good story better. And then my editor gets a crack at it and makes it better still. Because that's what editors do.

I was reading a post somewhere yesterday  - and I don't remember exactly where - but the writer was saying how sometimes you go over a story so much that you can't read it with the clarity of a fresh set of eyes. I agree with this - for example in my last revisions, my biggest job was to make the hero's conflict arc more defined. I tweaked and read over and over and in the end I wasn't sure if it was as effectual as it needed to be - because I'd seen it so many times by that time that to be honest I couldn't see what bits I'd added etc. In one way that's good, because stuff doesn't leap out so hopefully it won't pull the reader out. But a fresh pair of eyes are crucial.

Right now my eyes are somewhat fresh as I go back through the story. I do not have a lot of word count wiggle room, so for every bit of layering I do I am seeking an equivalent amount of words to delete. This sounds very clinical but it's a precise thing. I am keeping my eyes open for things like repeated introspection and ideas, circular conversations that do not move the story forward, long bits of narrative that can be pared down. Deleting those bits make for a tighter, pacier story, which in turn hopefully keeps the reader turning the pages.

There was one scene in particular that I knew was troublesome. I needed my hero's reaction to a turning point - so his POV. I needed to see him making a decision to go back to the heroine and it just wasn't working. I ended up with four pages of introspection that was just...draggy. And yet bits of it had to be there.

Part of the problem was I hadn't made it hard enough on him (remember this from an earlier #WW post on being too easy on your characters, and I said I would have to go back and add in this element). And I'd introduced a conflict thread that really didn't add to the story (added it in a search for adding depth, but it didn't work). I took that thread out, layered the stronger conflict in, and then cut the scene in half - about 500 words worth. Of those deleted pages, one got completely deleted as it was superfluous. The other page ended up filtered into a later scene - which has action with the heroine.

Hopefully it strengthened the scene considerably and gave it some motion rather than being four pages of the hero "thinking about it".

Cutting for pace is important. I have a tendency to also use 2 sentences that say essentially the same thing in my MRUs (motivation reaction units). We have the action, the physical reaction and then the emotional reaction to each thing. I am finding that in my emotional reactions, I can often delete an entire sentence without affecting the meaning. If anything, the extra sentence dilutes the emotion and by making it more succinct it has more punch.

More depth does not equal more words. It may mean fewer words but more important words. Same goes for dialogue. If you are writing dialogue and you find yourself going back to something your characters have already said, you've gone in a big circle. Sometimes this is good, because when they return to the idea the reaction can be different. But often it just means you've gotten nowhere. Move it along, people. If it isn't moving things forward, delete it.

I may have rushed my ending, so I really can't afford to be wordy. I expect I will end up adding a scene - probably another 1000 words as well as layering. Seeing as I'm already at 52k, I need to be very, very careful. But it's a good thing. Deleting unnecessary words and phrases will only make for a tighter, better story.

Until next week,

Donna

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

HER LONE COWBOY Hat trick and a giveaway!

Oh my gosh, y'all. I found out today that HER LONE COWBOY has also finalled in the Golden Quill Awards. That makes a hat trick of finals for this book and I feel the need to celebrate!!!!!!!!!!

So. To celebrate it finalling in The Colorado Award of Excellence, The Bookseller's Best Award, and The Golden Quill Award, (squeeee!) I'm going to give away THREE copies this week!

E-mail me (please use the e-mail addy in the link) between now and Friday and tell me what Noah's disability is (hint: answer is on my website!). I'll do a random draw from the correct answers on Friday night to kick off the weekend right!

Monday, May 09, 2011

I hit the end - and got sick - and got good news

Ok so last week I mentioned I did this "dietary" thing for a few days and it was hugely successful and I also quickly learned why instructions said not to do a normal "heavy" workout. During Friday's run I ran out of gas half way through. Turns out there is possibly another reason for that other than not enough calorie intake before running. Friday night I started getting this horrible sore throat and I was so tired! It ended up being a cold that is still hanging on a bit today. Yesterday the throat was better and just scratchy but my nose was like someone had turned on a faucet. Today so far it's not running quite so much and I'm still a bit scratchy but definitely on the mend. Just in time for a 4k run this afternoon - if the rain lets up.

What else happened on the weekend? Well, I finished the book. I've sent the final chapter and epilogue to my critique partner and hope she doesn't hate it. I am over the 52k mark so I have to be very careful in editing. Some things will need layering and clarifying and the words cut for pace are also going to be employed. But it does feel good to have a complete book to work with.

Saturday afternoon I got a lovely phone call from Patti Schenberger, a friend from the Detroit RWA chapter and coordinator of the Bookseller's Best Awards. HER LONE COWBOY is a finalist and I'm thrilled! But secretly? It was equally as exciting to talk to Patti. We "see" each other on e-mail occasionally but it's been too long since we chatted and I am planning on catching up with her in New York in June.

And of course yesterday was Mother's Day. I got an assortment of homemade cards from the girls and the eldest wrote a lovely poem on hers, and she also bought me a big barrel curling iron (which I know isn't for me as much as it's for me to use to curl HER hair). The dh bought me P90X which I've been wanting for a while and the girls also made breakfast yesterday: turkey bacon, blueberry pancakes and fruit. It was delicious and a great start to the day.

Now I'm off to make some lunch, and then work on editing until it's time for running club. Happy Monday.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Friday!

It's Friday! Hurrah! Though I have a lot of work to do (like writing the last chapter of my WIP!), I'm excited. We're finally supposed to be done with this horrid dreary weather and the plan is to do some more yard work/spring cleaning on the weekend. I envision a clothes line full of clean clothes, and perhaps mowing the grass. But probably not until Sunday. It is going to need at least a good day to dry up enough to mow.

I had the BEST run last night on the treadmill. I did my 3 min warm up and planned to run 25 min before doing a 2 min walk/cool down. But I got to the 25 mark and thought I could maybe do 5 min longer. So I ran for 30, go me! The downside is my back is a bit stiff this morning, even though I stretched afterwards. I'm not sure if it was the run or not, but I have running club this afternoon (instead of yesterday) so hopefully it will work it out. I've modified my eating for a few days in an effort to kickstart my weight loss again, and it's working which is exciting. It's a short term only sort of thing, but what's surprising to me is that I'm still ingesting approx 1200 calories a day for each of the 3 days. It's just how I'm ingesting them that is different. I have not been this weight since...fall of 2007.  Lots more work to do, but I'm down almost 28 lbs from last year which makes me happy.

And finally, Friday reads. I will hang my head in shame. My friend Kelly is entitled to smack me on the back of the head because I still haven't finished The Outlaw Bride. I hope to do that this weekend and post a review early in the week. I have a difficult time reading this close to deadline. My head is usually so full of my own book that reading is challenging, and also it seems to be so busy lately! By the time we got groceries, had dinner, I worked out, did dishes and folded laundry it was after 10 o'clock.

Have a good weekend all, and don't forget you can catch me at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs tomorrow!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

I get around

You can find me in a bunch of places today!

First of all, my most awesome chaptermate Julia has posted a Thursday Thirteen with me on her blog. I loved her questions and had fun answering them, and there's an excerpt from HONEYMOON WITH THE RANCHER, too!

And you can find another excerpt in a Special Sneak Peek at RomConInc today! This was one scene I really enjoyed writing!

And I wrote an article for the Seekerville blog on Service, and what it means to give back. The comments and questions have been wonderful, and there's a copy of HONEYMOON WITH THE RANCHER for a giveaway.

Now, I'm off to put laundry in the dryer, do the banking, and finish the second-to-last chapter of the WIP! I can't wait to get to the end!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

#WW - Embrace the Knife

You're writing along and it's kind of a slog. Or you re-read a scene and realize it's flat. You write something thinking it is what needs to happen and it just doesn't work. Or you find that after "fixing" the last chapter, what you've done to the new one isn't quite right. What do you do?

Well, as the old saying goes, you can fix it. You can't fix a blank page. You can fix everything else. Here's the ugly part of that truth: sometimes fixing means hitting the delete key.

Before you curl into a ball, moaning about lost word count and hours and hard work down the drain, repeat after me: It's okay.

Sometimes, people, you need to cut away the bad stuff to get to the good. Sometimes you spend far more time trying to shoehorn a scene into doing what you want rather than cutting it and starting over.

If you look at your scene and you can figure out what's wrong, splendid, and carry on. But if after several attempts to make it better you still feel like it's not quite right, you might have to do the unspeakable. Get out the knife. If the scene is not doing its job, if it's not working and working hard to move the story along, complicate the conflict, show character and develop the romance...well, you know what you have to do.

So here's the good news. It doesn't have to be gone forever. You can save your deleted chunks to another file. This is a bit like a security blanket at first, and I do this a lot. Most of the time I do not even use the bits I deleted. But for example yesterday I deleted 10 pages - half a chapter - of my book and I know I will end up re-using probably 2-3 pages of it in a later scene. Gone doesn't have to be gone forever, unless it needs to be. And you don't need to trash it completely until you're sure.

Here's more good news. Cutting a scene that's not working can be liberating. "Finally," you can say, "I'm rid of this cumbersome scene that was tying me in knots." You're free to write it again - the way it should be written.

Cutting a bad scene means that you can cut out the "noise" that was keeping you from realizing what really needs to happen. It can mean things suddenly opening up in your story and the words flowing even better than before (which makes your lost word count lament rather pointless, because you're making it up big time). Suddenly things feel RIGHT.

Yes, this is yet again the voice of experience and it is not the first time I've had to do such a thing. I tried to make a scene work and all I did was make it worse. My CP made a suggestion that was brilliant - cut out the last 2/3 of the  scene and leave the hero hanging. Pace wise everything picked up. And the tension was amped up considerably. Things feel RIGHT and rather than skimming the surface of things trying to manufacture tension, it stayed simple and complicated and added depth. All good things.

Don't be afraid to embrace the knife. If it's a mistake, you can always add it back in. But I'll guarantee you that 9 times out of 10 you'll be glad you did.

Happy writing this week! I'm racing towards the end. What do you want to bet that next week's post will be on editing?

Donna

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Brenda Novak Auction for the Cure of Diabetes

Brenda Novak Auction for the Cure for Diabetes!

This is a great cause and so I'm going to highlight what I've got listed for bid. There are tons of incredible items (you can even bid on a chance to see the taping of The Big Bang Theory!) so if you click on the link above you can view them all. Here's mine:


The Harlequin Romance™ series authors have joined together to offer a great item! A Kindle e-reader loaded with a selection of Harlequin Romance™ titles:

Deserted Island, Dreamy Ex. – Nicola Marsh
A Mistletoe Proposal and His Diamond Bride – Lucy Gordon
Pregnant: Father Wanted – Claire Baxter
Christmas at Candlebark Farm – Michelle Douglas
Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong – Nikki Logan
A Wedding at Leopard Tree Lodge – Liz Fielding
The Sheikh’s Destiny – Melissa James
The Bridesmaid's Secret – Fiona Harper
Beauty and the Brooding Boss – Barbara Wallace
Molly Cooper's Dream Date – Barbara Hannay
Saving Cinderella! – Myrna MacKenzie
Oh-So-Sensible Secretary – Jessica Hart
The Daddy Diaries – Jackie Braun
Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle – Donna Alward


Critique of a Manuscript by 4 Published Authors

The winner of this auction will receive a critique of a partial romance manuscript (unpublished) by not one, not two, but FOUR multi-published authors and Pink Heart Society editors Michelle Styles, Donna Alward, Jenna Bayley-Burke and Mira Lyn Kelly.
Talk about feedback opportunity!
www.pinkheartsociety.blogspot.com
Visit these authors online at:
www.michellestyles.co.uk
www.donnaalward.com
www.jennabayleyburke.com
www.miralynkelly.com



The Pink Heart Society Editors are putting together a tote bag with books!

Lot includes

Pink Heart Society Tote Bag

Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle – Donna Alward
Sold to the Highest Bidder – Donna Alward
Wild Fling or a Wedding Ring – Mira Lyn Kelly
Front Page Affair – Mira Lyn Kelly
Pride and Passion – Jenna Bayley Burke
Breaking the Governess’s Rules – Michelle Styles
To Marry A Matchmaker (Hardback) – Michelle Styles



If you’re a category romance author, this item is for you!

The Pink Heart Society is offering you VIP treatment during your release month!

*Your upcoming Category Romance release reviewed as our Pink Heart Picks Book Club pick
*Be in the spotlight with a featured author interview
*Guest blog spot
*Pink Heart Society tote bag

You can also see all the offerings from The Pink Heart Society. There are lots of signed books, some promo opportunties and jewelry.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Not Getting Political. Celebrating Instead.

I make a point of keeping my political views private unless I just can't stand to be quiet (which does happen on occasion). So today I'm not going to blog about the Bin Laden news, and I'm not going to chat about the Federal Election happening in my country today. I will speak with my vote, and be glad I live in a country where I can do so.

There's still lots of other stuff going on, though! A new review for an older book popped up at Eharlequin today and it make me smile. So if you're so inclined, here's the review for Falling for Mr. Dark and Dangerous.

Tomorrow is launch day for HONEYMOON WITH THE RANCHER! And as it's the first of the month, there are THINGS happening. First of all, I've just sent out my newsletter. If you aren't signed up but would like to be, kindly use the sign up box on the right sidebar. :-) I'll get a notification, and I'll forward you the newsletter that went out this morning.

As well, Lee Hyat of Author Sound Relations has done a brilliant Newswire for me. If you're not on her mailing list, you can view it in a browser. You may want to do that because there are prizes involved. Like books. And an amazon card.

And while foreign releases have been a little thin on the ground of late, HER LONE COWBOY is out in Mexico this month.

So you see, lots of good things! And more to come during the week as I have an interview scheduled not to mention a few more "appearances" around the web and a few more prizes to be won.

Stay tuned, K?