Monday, December 27, 2010

Writer Wrestlutions

That's right. I'm calling for a fight. Romance writers unite!

Forget resolutions about keeping our butts in chairs, submitting, or getting published. Face it. Those things WILL happen because we're writers. Those things are a given. They're hand carved into every one of our hearts, so no need to scribble them on a sticky note or whiteboard. I'm a believer in success for those who really want it...even if it takes time.

Our resolution this year should be to team up against romance novel ignorance. We need to wrestle all those stupid, eye roll comments about what we write to the ground. Join me in the ring for a word fight. Hey, we're supposed to be word experts, aren't we? We're supposed to be creative...quick with our fingertips on a keyboard. But sometimes we're not so quick with our feet and tongues (yes, there are exceptions and you know who you are). As writers, we're used to mulling over our thoughts, rolling words on our tongue until they feel right...we're used to editing. Low blows against romance novels can take us off guard and land us on our backs.

There's no time to edit when someone makes a sny remark to your face or asks an irritating question about writing romance. So I say we need some strategy here. We need to share examples of stupid comments and the best come backs we can think of. We need to be smart, sassy, and strike hard. No more cheap shots at romance novels. No more getting bumped by ignorant remarks. Let's take 'em down and be romance champions!

"Oh, Harlequin huh?" (wink, wink) "I don't read that kind of stuff."

My favorite attack on that one is to throw the exact opposite of what they're thinking of at them. It freezes them up. Takes them off guard.

"Really? Have you tried their inspirational line? You know, their more religious, closed door stuff?"

Heh, it always works. I get a very confused "Really? They have that?" response.

Oh, and I get the eye roll, wink wink, "So what does your husband think of what you're writing?" (chortle)

I give them back the 'wink, wink' and say "Why don't you ask him?"

What comments have you endured? What responses did you give? I'd love it if everyone shared what they would say to the comments others have faced. Come on. Let's put our minds together, share strategy, and give romance ignoramuses a match they'll never forget in 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Slipping into a heroine's heels

I'm sure there are heroines out there who prefer combat or cowboy boots over three inch heels, and there are readers out there who opt for Keds and bunny slippers, but when a heroine is well written, readers will find themselves slipping into her shoes within the first few pages of a book. It doesn't matter if she's a vampire slayer, a high society princess, or the pre-school teacher next door, a well-written heroine is universally sympathetic. She may be a unique individual, her shoe styles may differ, but they come in one-size-fits-all. And they all have an Achilles heel.

Writers know that sympathetic heroines need to be proactive, vulnerable but strong, guarded but giving. The list goes on. But what specifically are we connecting with? What weaknesses or strengths? What insecurities? What flaws? Do different readers connect with the same heroine for different reasons? Is it her struggle with ten pounds for one reader, and the loss of her parents for another? Or is it simply the fact that she has a soft spot? As a reader, do you connect because of a shared experience, or a shared personality trait? Is it a matter of 'Oh, I did that too' or 'Yeh, I get her' or both?

I'm asking a lot of questions here, many that I've seen asked of heroes, but it's the heroine we become. We fall in love with the hero through her eyes and heart. So what do you think? What's the common thread across genres that has you connecting with a heroine? Is it a moment, a trait, or a growth arc? What makes her shoes fit?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My first blog award!

Hey everyone! I just got my very first blog award, and my Therapeutic Thursday posts were sited as one of the reasons. You have to admit that getting a blog award is wonderful, feel-good therapy for a writer :).

Huge thanks to Joanna St. James for passing the award on to me. If you haven't already, check out her blog. She does fantastic interviews and has insightful writing posts that I know you'll enjoy. Also, thanks to L'Aussie for creating the Fair Dinkum award. The award has a beautiful meaning, 'true blue', but I think L'Aussie says it best and gives a much more thorough explaination. Check out her post on Fair Dinkum here.

And that leaves me to the writers I'd like to pass the award on to...

Kaily Hart: For being a true blue friend, for being the one who urged me to start a blog, and for having a wonderful, honest, and informative blog of her own.

Jennifer Shirk: For her kind support of so many writers, and for her informative, fun, sweet, and sassy writer's blog.

Christine Bell: For her frank and funny honesty about her writing and publication experiences.

Maria Zannini: For her warm, fun, and honest must-read writer's blog, and for reaching out to other writers.

Anne Gallagher: For her informative, warm, and down-to-earth Piedmont Writer's blog.

Thanks everyone and have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, December 13, 2010

AquaNotes and more...

Remember my recent post, Carpe articulum, where I mention the dilemma of getting ideas in the shower? Guess what? I was reading my latest Writer's Digest (you really should subscribe to it if you haven't already), and their review of 'literary goodies' mentioned the perfect solution. AquaNotes. Check it out at It's a waterproof notepad and pen that suction to your shower wall. The pages can actually be torn off like a regular notepad so that your writing ideas can be taken back to your computer. Talk about a great writer gift idea! Check out the youtube video of how it works.

Also, I came across a must read blog post called The Biggest Mistakes Writers Make When Querying Literary Agents. It includes direct quotes from a multitude of agents polled on common query mistakes.

And finally, let me leave you with a Youtube video that's going viral in the writing world. You have to be a serious writer to see the humor in So You Want To Write A Novel...

Happy Writing!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

And the winner is...


Congratulations Karen! You've won the book of your choice by Jennifer Shirk. Send your contact/mailing information, and which book you'd like, to jennifer (at) jennifershirk (dot) com. Let me know in the comments if you have any trouble.

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Interview with Author Jennifer Shirk

Happy First Monday in December! What better way to ring in the holidays than to have the wonderful and talented author Jennifer Shirk here to dish on her writerly life. To make things merrier, she'll be giving away one of her books to a very lucky commenter. Trust me, her storytelling will draw a smile on your face. If you haven't already, check out her fun and informative blog Me, My Muse, and I. Rumor has it, she bakes wicked good cookies. Getting in the spirit? Let's get started!

1. When it comes to careers, backgrounds, and experience, romance writers are definitely an eclectic bunch. I think the variety adds richness to all the romance novels out there. You earned a degree in pharmacy before you became a published romance writer. Was there always a writer in you itching to come out? What was the catalyst, and was it difficult to embrace a new 'identity'?

Was there a writer itching for me to come out? Um...NO. In fact, when I told my mom I was going to write a book she looked at me strangely and said, “But you don’t like to write.” LOL

I guess like any writer, I first started out as a reader. I found myself mentally rewriting stories to the way I wanted as I was reading them. So I decided to put my pen where my head was and sit down and try my hand at writing my own. Luckily, there is an enormous amount of helpful information through the Internet.

2. We're definitely lucky to be writing with today's technology at our disposal. You have two books out, The Role of a Lifetime and Georgie On His Mind, each with a different publisher. What were you doing when you got the first Call? Was the second Call just as exciting?

My first call was actually an email. Not typical but still VERY exciting. When I got my second call from Avalon Books I had just come home from an exhausting day of teaching Vacation Bible School. There was a message on the answering machine from the editor asking me to call her back. I still haven’t erased the message. :) So yeah, the second call is JUST as exciting.

3. I had a grin on my face the entire time I read Georgie On His Mind. You have a gift for drawing out the humor from the psychology of human relationships, and yet you balance it well with all that wonderful conflict and character torture (insert evil romance writer grin). Your characters are very real and easy to relate to, and I think they make us laugh at ourselves (and at our friends and family...shhhh). If I started describing your voice as funny and sassy...what would you add to that?

Oh, thank you! My writing has been called funny but never “sassy” before. I love it! I’d definitely add quirky and dare I say…heartwarming.

4. If you had to do one of the following, what would it be? Karaoke, stand-up comedy, poetry recital, or kidlet story time at the library?

Easy peasy. Kidlet storytime at the library. I love anything to do with kids! Adding books to that mix is a bonus!

5. On a more serious note, do you tackle a synopsis before or after you've written your story? Any synopsis survival secrets, or a favorite synopsis writing resource?

Well, honestly it depends on the story. I wrote the synopsis of Georgie on His Mind when I was about halfway through writing it. With my most recent wip, I only have four chapters written and I cranked out a synopsis the other day. I sometimes need to see how a story will all play out on paper and if the flow makes sense or not before I proceed. Plus, I think it’s good practice for me to write a synopsis first in case I ever want to sell on proposal alone.

I don’t use any synopsis resources since I kind of have the hang of them by now. When you’re writing romance, the main thing is to clearly identify your heroine’s and hero’s GOAL, MOTIVATION and CONFLICT. So make sure what you have in the synopsis centers around those three things and how they change or are affected throughout the story. Anything else in the story doesn’t need to be mentioned unless it affects the G, M, or C. For example, I mentioned the subplot of Kendall and Brad in ONE sentence of my synopsis because it explained why Brad didn’t want his sister missing out on a special relationship like he had done and why he asked Walt to watch over her in the first place.

6. Great advice! You have an amazing blog, and you've amassed a loyal following. How do you manage your social networking with writing time and family life (we can all use tips :))?

Gee, I could use some tips myself! I used to blog 5 days a week. Then I joined Facebook and I went down to 3 days. Then I joined Twitter and went down to 2 days a week blogging. That seems to be the perfect number to balance being social and having a good amount of time to write and get things done around the house. I tend to blog or be on the social networks early in the morning and then whenever I’m taking a writing break or have a few spare minutes here and there. So far, that seems to work.

7. What's your quirkiest writing habit and favorite deadline-crunch-time snack?

I clean a lot for my writing breaks. I think it’s because I’m sitting for so long I need to get moving somehow—even if it’s lugging a vacuum around. LOL My favorite all time writing snack food is Tootsie Pops. They last a long time, have chocolate in the center and won’t leave a mess on my keyboard. :)

8. What's the one thing you did as a writer that you feel played a critical role in helping you achieve your goal of publication?

Joined a critique group. Without them and their knowledge I would still be clueless. They taught me what G, M and C was and why I needed to purchase extra large rubber bands. LOL

9. And finally, if you had the perfect Rx (prescription, for anyone raising a brow) for unpublished writers struggling towards their goal, what would it be (other than ones the DEA might object to, LOL)?

Read Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon. Join a critique group, and the RWA and your local RWA chapter. Those four things will put you miles ahead of the pack.

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Rula!

GIVEAWAY: As a bonus for your readers and since Christmas is around the corner, I’ll be giving away one of my books--either The Role of a Lifetime or Georgie on His Mind-- (winner’s choice) to some lucky commenter!
Contest Note: Leave a comment on here to be entered to win. Contest will end Wednesday, December 8th at 11:59 PM (EST). Winner will be announced Thursday, December 9th.

Good luck and happy reading!
Thanks for hanging out here today, Jennifer!
Check out Jennifer at:
Find Jennifer's books at:
Georgie On His Mind: ISBN 978-0803477827
The Role Of A Lifetime: ISBN 978-1605041599 (also available in e-book format)

Blurb: Georgie On His Mind
Georgie Mayer has no boyfriend and rarely goes out. In short, she needs a life. Since she's graduated college and returned back home, her brother's protectiveness has been in overdrive, and she hasn't been able to have any fun, never mind get a date.

So what's a poor particularly attractive girl to do in a situation like this? The only thing she can do: find him a woman!
He'll thank her for it in the end. That is, if his best friend Walt Somers would stop interfering with her plans. The handsome pharmacist has made no secret that he doesn't approve of what she's up to. Unfortunately, having Walt hanging around does strange things to her mind, and suddenly she can't help but take a healthy interest in him. But how can Georgie entertain thoughts of the two of them together when Walt still treats her like his best friend's little sister?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Revision Elbow and other writing induced Repetitive Strain Injuries

It's time for another Therapeutic Thursday post, and this one was inspired by the arm pain I suffered from while trying to wrap up my last manuscript in time for the GH deadline. Who knew writing could be dangerous?

I bet that you've all heard of Tennis Elbow or even Golfer's Elbow. Well, apparently writers have their own elbow ailment called Revision Elbow (or Student's Elbow). I'm not making this up, but I did laugh when I saw the name. Go figure. Revision Elbow is a repetitive strain injury suffered by anyone who works at a keyboard for lengthy periods of time. Fellow writers know that completing a manuscript draft requires hours at the computer on a daily basis (or most days), only to be followed by hours and hours of revisions. I've been suffering from elbow pain that radiates down my arm. That pain motivated a little research.

Check out this excellent article at Writers Services. According to the article, writers, and all keyboard/mouse users, can suffer from Tennis Elbow, Golfer's Elbow, and Revision Elbow. It describes the pain involved, the cause, and most importantly, what we can do to reduce our risk or alleviate the pain.

Another article by Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz  over at Writing World, describes how yoga techniques can be used to reduce hand-wrist tension.

I've heard that squeezing massage balls or stress balls in your hands 15-20 times, several times a day, helps to strengthen fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms. That may help reduce the chance of injury, and it would be an easy, mindless thing to do while brainstorming characters, plots, or other manuscript ideas. Consider it physical therapy for writers. There are several hand excercises for writers described over at include the finger bend, finger walk, and shoulder-to-finger roll. I know these sound simple, but they really do help. In fact, I remembered Nora Roberts describing several of her arm/finger stretches at the chat she gave during RWA Nationals in DC in 2009. She stressed how important it was to do them (I can only imagine how important for such a prolific writer). Well, my writing schedule wasn't as rigid at the time so I filed the info somewhere in my brain. Now I understand what she meant.

Writing injuries can escalate to Hand Dystonia (writer's cramp) and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Why let it go that far when you can do preventative excercises, or ones that'll nip the pain when it starts. Seriously, check out those links. Even if you  pick one or two stretches to stick with, it's better than nothing. Don't wait for the pain to hit right before deadline crunch time.

Edited to add a few more helpful sites: and

*Stop by Monday for a visit with author Jennifer Shirk. She's doing a fabulous holiday giveaway. You won't want to miss it!