March 25, 2011

A Sneak Peek (and New Website)!

I've been busy with a few things that have taken precedence over my usual weekly postings, but I've gotten a lot done! I'd like to announce my new website, which will contain anything and everything concerning my published books, including release dates, book signings, and where you can find them once they are available! I've also been updating this blog, which now includes a sneak peek at my current work-in-progress, which has also, happily, been taking up my time. I would guess I'm just over halfway done.
Thanks for your patience!

The Sound: A Branch off The Orchard Trilogy

Sam Brennan has everything going for him. He has a great job with a future (he's a sous-chef at an exclusive Puget Sound restaurant), he has a house (well, it's a rental duplex fixer-upper, but it's on the island), a cool ride (his old motorcycle . . . yeah, it rains a lot in Seattle), and an ideal girlfriend (who used him to get back her brand new fiance). Yes, things are going great for Sam, until a frightened girl shows up in the kitchen. Then it all falls apart.
Georgiana Tate has always been strong, confident, a bright spot in the universe. But she's fallen in love, and finds herself trapped and abused, surrounded in gray, forgetting the black and white that once defined her and her faith. In a desperate effort to break free of Ian's hold over her, Georgie leaves college and runs to her aunts' house on Camano Island, hoping to be able to shake the fear and paranoia of abuse, and find herself again.
She doesn't know that the key to healing will be finding others. Or that Ian's hold is stronger than she realized.

March 22, 2011

Tuesday Testimonial: Shine Through

"Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish."  -John Jakes

I don't know about every sentence you write. But at the very least, the important ones. The plot-building ones. And the humorous ones. And the intense ones. And the ones at the beginning. And the ones that will make the reader pause, and then hurry on. The painful ones. The exultant ones. The ones full of tension. The ones that promise. And the ones at the end. And the middle. Those sentences. You get the idea.

In film, a character is what the actor brings to the part, and a good actor will have us remember the character and the character's story.
But then look for the actor again in another film.

So shine through, but be invisible.

Easy peasy. Right?

March 18, 2011

The Latest {superhappyterrific} News

I tried to go to bed somewhat early last night (11-ish, which lately, is early) but was so excited and keyed up I couldn't sleep for another two hours. One of the thoughts that popped into my head was that I didn't think I was doing this "getting published" thing the normal way. Of course, it was quickly followed up by the thought that I knew over a dozen authors and so, over a dozen different roads to getting published. I'm not sure there is a normal way, and so with that conclusion, I got all keyed up again over this great news.

The news: Covenant Communications, Inc., who I already have two book contracts with, The Orchard, and The Inn, yet to be released, has just accepted my most recent submission, Grace & Chocolate! *squeal of delight*

The news that was keeping me up into the wee hours of the morning: We are going to push to release Grace & Chocolate as my DEBUT NOVEL! AHHHHHHH! Unexpected, or maybe not, I'm totally thrilled. And grinning, and my stomach is in knots. *squeal again*

For a look at the novel, I'll refer you to the post I wrote when I first started writing G&C, the post I wrote just after finishing it, another post I wrote during revisions, and another about the feeling I had just after sending it off. Take your pick, or read 'em all!

Oh, and this song is in my head. It's Sesame Street. It pretty much sums up how I've been feeling since yesterday afternoon.

Oh, listen to the song that's humming in your ear
And you'll have more fun than you've had all year.
Just hop around with a
Hop, hop, hoppy hop
Hoppy hoppy, hop, hop
Spin around with a
Spin, spin, spinny spin
Spinny, spinny, spin, spin
Flap your arms with a
Flap, flap, flappy flap
Flappy, flappy, flap, flap
Wiggle your fingers with a
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle wiggle,
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
Shake your legs with a
Shake, shake, shakey shake,
Shakey, shakey, shake, shake
Pat your tummy with a
Pat, pat, patty, pat,
Patty, patty, pat, pat-too! Wooo! 

Yup, that about sums it up. I really need to celebrate. I'll post more details as they come!

March 14, 2011

Monday Mess: Fake It 'Til You Make It?

I've had the flu the last few days and because we were on vacation, I've been running on cold meds, cough drops, and adrenaline. I simply wanted to enjoy my vacation, do everything we had planned, and didn't want to bring others down or hold them back. Through watery eyes and silenced sneezes, I faked my way through. And I had an awesome time.

Now, I'm home. I've been out of bed three times. Once to see the kids off to school. Once to feed myself and let the dog out. And once to . . . Okay, just two times. My husband came home during his workday to pick up something he forgot.
"Um, are you not feeling well?"
I stared at him. Then flung my arms out. He read this gesture correctly.
"Well, I know you weren't feeling well, but I thought you were getting better."
"How?" I asked, sounding in my head like I was speaking into a tin cup.
"Because yesterday you seemed pretty good."
"You mean yesterday when I slept from Mesquite to Provo, then sulked because I felt like breakfast and it was 1:30 and you guys picked Wendy's so I pretended my salad was french toast and said at least my sandwich had bacon in it?"
"I was medicated and read the rest of the time. How is that feeling better?"
"I don't know. You looked better."
"That's because I washed my face."
He looked me over. "And combed your hair."


Back to writing. I've recently posted about using real life and events to inspire characters, setting, and scenes. Well, this post is about hitting those points where you need to research. You can't always write what you know. Sometimes I come to a research point where I have to stop and look it up. A name, a map, a fact. And sometimes I do stop for the little things. But if it's bigger, like the layout of a famous amusement park, or what it takes to become a volunteer at a women's shelter, or the correct police procedure in child abandonment and missing persons, I mark the place with an asterisk, and fake it. I make my best guesses, stage what I see in my head, keep moving the story forward as far as I can, keeping in mind that I'll make the correct changes once I get the correct information. Then, when I can research, it's generally pretty easy to fit in the correct findings and, if needed, tweak the story a bit to fit.

BUT: If it's something that is weight-bearing for the plot, I stop where I am and research. No point trying to go forward, guess wrong, and have the ideas that follow end up worthless. You can bet that if I was burning up with fever, was unable to eat anything, and kept seeing Elvis in the room (although we were in Vegas, so more possibility there) I would have stayed in the hotel room, perhaps gone to the emergency room, and the vacation would have been put on hold a bit while I got the help I needed.

Are you following me? I guess what I'm trying to express is that knowing when you can fake it and just keep writing is important to the flow of your story. Just be sure to straighten things out later. Researching your facts, the things you don't know, is vital to your story's credibility. Even if it's fantasy, truth resonates. Magic or realms must be viable. And if a major part of your story is based on something unfamiliar, research as much as you can. I've read books where it's glaringly evident the author has never been to Australia, and other books where I would swear the author lived there for some time, only to learn they hadn't. They just researched everything they could find, talked to people, read.

When you're faking it? Keep in mind that readers know. So fake it good. Good enough that they're surprised you're still sick. Or whatever.

I need a nap. And a comb, apparently.

March 9, 2011


I won't have time to blog for the rest of this week, but I will be back on Monday with a whole new mess to discuss. In the meantime, please feel free to explore past posts, starting with those recommended below, and leave a comment. I love getting to know you better!

Enjoy your week!

March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

In celebration of International Women's Day, which I never knew existed until today, I am listing three international women who have influenced me and my writing. Isn't this exciting?

Rosamunde Pilcher, Great Britain
I read her book, Coming Home, at the latter part of each of my pregnancies, and before writing The Lake. I love everything about it: strong, defined characters I relate to, excellent pacing (especially for a 900+ page work spanning 8 years), twists, conflict, pain, strength, values, arcs, romance, I just love this book. I've read others by her, but this is my favorite.

Jane Austen, England
Do I really have to say anything? Oh my. A treasure.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, United States of America
I don't know that there was much influence here on my writing, but definitely on my reading. This was my first series I ever read. I was thoroughly interested in Laura Ingalls and how she grew up. Finishing each book only compelled me to find another, in or out of the series, just another book to read. Where could I go next?

Some more honorable mentions: JK Rowling, Agatha Christie, Charlotte Bronte, Stephenie Meyer, Louisa May Alcott , George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), Jan Karon, Mary Stewart, LM Montgomery . . .

Thank you, ladies. You are fine examples to me and hold a sweet place in my heart.

What women have influenced your writing or reading?

March 3, 2011

Thursday Authorial: A Shot in the Arm

I've just given myself a shot in the arm. Not only did I find motivation to pull out the revision I'm working on and start cutting away all the floof and sputter, but I also was able to see some needed changes in my WIP. I'd sort of written myself into a wall (a low wall, but a wall nonetheless) that just didn't feel great. But now I can push through it and get to where I and my characters want to be.

Where, you may ask, did I get this magical shot in the arm? This clarity of mind and motivation to believe I can do hard things?

I read. And read and read and read.

Traci Hunter Abramson's Smokescreen.

Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series (the first three of six).

I think I started on Friday and finished on Tuesday. Still sleepy . . .

BUT THAT'S NOT THE POINT. Yes, I know none of these books are in my genre. IT DOESN'T MATTER.

What matters is these stories were great. The strengths of all of these reads were exactly what I needed.

Character. These characters were believable, real, acted and made choices as only they would. I missed them for a couple of days after finishing. As a writer, that would be a wish of mine. For my characters to linger, to be remembered, because they became real, individual, strong. I need to keep that in mind as I write this new story. I love it when you know a character so well as a reader, you can start to predict what action they're going to take, and it opens up a whole new opportunity for tension when a block is thrown in, preventing that character from making that choice. Eeee!

Pace. The timing in these stories was right on for me. There was no lull, the action balanced the introspection, the pages kept turning, there was no floof and sputter. Everything moved the story forward. The final few pages of City of Glass felt like that last moment on the roller coaster ride, when the cars slow to a stop and pitch forward before halting, and there I found that it could have ended just a little sooner and been completely satisfying, but all of these books exemplified pacing to me, and I really needed a refresher course on that.

Voice. Both of these authors are very different, very unique from one another, as you can imagine just by their chosen genres. I find if I go too long without reading other authors, just hunkering down and working on my edits, my revisions, my writing, me, me, ME . . . I begin to worry that I sound monotonous, that I'm writing what I've already written, that I'm beginning to drone.

To read someone else is to take a break from that; clear your palette. After reading such strong voices in other books, when I come back to mine I can see what makes my writing uniquely mine, and it's not monotonous. I just got used to it.

So, I am motivated. All juiced up on reading. Back to work.

March 1, 2011

Tuesday Testimonial: Minds Alive on the Shelves

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.  From each of them goes out its own voice... and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart.  ~Gilbert Highet

I wonder if this is why being surrounded by my favorite books is like being surrounded by friends.

And, I wouldn't recommend this particular bookshelf arrangement if you live in an earthquake zone. Or that lamp, either. Ouch.
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