Monthly Archives: April 2011

A Writing Retreat

So, when I first knew my local RWA chapter was having a Spring retreat for our writers, I can’t say I was super excited about attending, but felt I needed to go because I’m part of the board.  I can’t write when I’m around people, so I figured it’s not going to be a productive weekend, but once again – boy was I wrong.  Those who know me, know that me being wrong is not uncommon. 

I am rooming with four other writers, two I had never met before and two I know well.  I’m having the best time, not just with these four incredible and open women, but with the other twenty women in attendance.  We are having conversations I wouldn’t have expected, getting to know each other better, and finding kinship.  We are a diverse group from all walks of life talking writing, relationships, life, and ideas.  I feel rejuvenated, inspired, motivated. 

Writing can be a solitary activity and we need to connect once in a while, we need to re-evaluate why we write, and know that while we as writers create alone, we are also part of a bigger community that is supportive and helpful.  Romance writers are a true community that support each other, celebrates each other’s successes, and knows that success for one is success for all.  

The personal journey I am currently on is because I want to be a better writer.  Things I won’t do for myself or others, I am willing to do for my writing.  I am grateful that I felt compelled to be here, because it has been an experience I will remember.  And I’ll be back.  It’s not just networking, it’s building relationships, learning new things, and bonding with creative others whose spirits understand my spirit.

Friends, if you have a chance to go to a retreat, writer or otherwise, do yourself a favor and do it.  Embrace the experience, open yourself to some creative, emotional, ideational pot stirring that spurs you to new concepts, and inspires you continue your down your individual path.

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Review: “Hearts Through Time” by Marie Higgins

Hearts Through Time

Disclaimer:  A request went out and I responded – “Yes I’ll read and review your book.”  Said book was sent to me (free – thank you) and here is said review.

Marie Higgins, is a local author I’ve met, a lovely person, and the requestor in question.  So, what did I think?

First, let me say, I read the blurb and thought it sounded good.  THE BLURB:  When a beautiful woman claiming to be a ghost from 1912 appears in Nick Marshal’s new office and begs for help in solving her murder, he’s intrigued enough to consider her plea. A scandal that rocked Hollywood almost destroyed his law practice, so taking on a client who insists she’s dead seems a good way to refresh his career. The more history he uncovers, the deeper he falls for the ghost. Abigail Carlisle believes Nick is her heart’s true desire, but how can happily ever after happen when she’s already dead?

It does sound good, right?  Yes and no…. for me.

I like my romance steamy, the steamier and more explicit the better, so while I found the premise intriguing and the writing just fine, I personally had a hard time getting really involved in it because the romance is clean – squeaky clean.  As it should be, since Marie is a christian romance writer and that is the type of romance she writes.  I did not realize this when I volunteered but that’s bad on me.  I am not her target audience. 

If you are into clean, sweet romance then this will be right up your alley.  The premise is cool.  I wasn’t sure how you get a happy ever after with a ghost, but Marie manages it deftly.  There is a murder mystery going on that bring our hero and heroine together and the suspense is handled well.  It took a long time for me to figure out whodunnit and why.  Marie has some beautifully descriptive passages as well.  On the marketing side, I will often buy books (or at least seriously consider them) based on the cover alone, and this one is gorgeous.  So, as I said – if you like your romance clean, you’ll like this.  If you want some sex in there, this is not the book for you.

I thank Marie for the opportunity to read her book and review it.

You can find more info on Marie here:  Marie Higgins  and you can buy Hearts Through Time at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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And our winner is…

krisseev! 

I will be notifying our lucky winner who will receive a copy of Danielle’s eBook “Loving a Fairy Godmother”.

Have a great day, everyone…. and keep writing, reading or both 🙂

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Guest: Danielle Monsch, author of “Loving a Fairy Godmother”

Today, I’m welcoming my first guest blogger, Danielle Monsch.  I asked Danielle to discuss how she came up with the idea for her story.   Also, please leave a comment between now and April 20 at midnight to be entered to win a copy of Danielle’s eBook.  A winner will be randomly picked and I’ll post the winner on April 21st, 2011.  Good luck and I hope you enjoy…. Clancy

Loving a Fairy Godmother

Danielle: 

I wrote Loving a Fairy Godmotherin response to an open call.

An epub asked for stories related to Fairy Tales.  Fairy Tales are a favorite of mine, so it seemed like a great fit for me.  All the great stories you can riff off – Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White. 

Piece of cake, right?

Well, the story I had been working on originally was a riff on a famous fairy tale.  Problem was, I wasn’t feeling the story.  It should have come easy, but nope.  I was struggling, and because it was an open call, I had a hard deadline the story needed to be done by.

One night in bed, I was thinking over my story, and suddenly who should show up in my head except this blonde with dimples, telling me he was the only fairy godfather amongst the fairy godmothers, and I should tell his story.

Well hell.

What was I going to do with him?  I had two weeks to write a damn story, I couldn’t indulge some random character who was beckoning me to use him in a story.

But he wouldn’t leave me alone, and the other story was not working at all.

So I called my crit partner Anna Alexander and told her my situation.  Told her that I needed to write about this new guy and had to shelve my other story.  Would she be willing to put in the work to help me – and believe, writing a novella in just under two weeks, tons of work.  Told my husband I was not to be bothered, and for two weeks, all I did was write.

I abused my husband, I abused my crit partner Anna, and I just wrote.

Well, I did get the story done by the deadline, but it was not ultimately selected for the open call.  That was a disappointment, but I did have reason to believe I was one of the finalists for the anthology, and that was enough to give me a glow for a few days.

What did I learn from this experience?  I have an awesome crit partner and an awesome hubby.  I can do some crazy writing if I absolutely have to.  And that I should never ignore a character who refuses to leave me alone.  If I have a great character, the story will follow.

 LOVING A FAIRY GODMOTHER

Blurb:

 Tiernan is one of a kind. Beyond the divine dimples, killer blue eyes, and hard muscled body, Tiernan is also the only Fairy Godfather. Most of the Fairy Godmothers have no problem with keeping Tiernan around, but Reina isn’t like most Fairy Godmothers.

Amongst Fairy Godmothers, Reina is the best. Organized, efficient, logical. So why is it when Tiernan is around, all those qualities fly out the window? Reina doesn’t like that one infuriating male makes her lose control, and just wants him gone. Circumstances arise that just might let her get her wish, though not in a way she ever wanted.

Tiernan is given an assignment and told either get a Happily Ever After or he will no longer be a Fairy Godfather. Reina is going with him to supervise, but if Tiernan gets his way, he’ll not only be supervising that luscious stubborn fairy in bed, but also get her to admit Happily Ever Afters also apply to Fairy Godmothers.

Excerpt:

 “Godfather Tiernan—”

“You can just call me Tiernan,” he interrupted.

She tried again. “Godfather Tiernan—”

“”Didn’t Sara just tell you that you had to follow my directions?”

That pushed her over the edge. “Do you truly think you are going to secure a HEA when you haven’t been able to do it yet?”

He let out a derisive snort, but immediately realized that was a huge mistake. Her face lost her usual look of annoyance crossed with bemused tolerance, leaving pure ice in its place. “This is why men should not be allowed into the Godmother program. None of you have any respect for Happily Ever Afters.”

“I never said I didn’t believe in HEAs” he began, but she cut him off.

“Every case you’ve been on tells me you don’t believe, or else you would have tried once, just once, to get one!”

His hands slammed on the table as he leaned across it, his face coming inches from hers. “I’ve never tried because I believe in love! Humans need love so much, who the hell was I to screw up two people in love to get them to HEA status? I could never forgive myself if two people in love missed out on each other because of my actions!”

All anger fled her face, and a hesitant, unsure look came over features. “What do you think a HEA is?”

He drew in a deep breath, sitting down once again. “I think happily ever after is a nice way to end a story, but in the world I remember, it’s a waste.”

Her hand was halfway towards him before she seemed to remember their roles, and she pulled it back to her side. “Love is wonderful, but only love alone is incomplete. You can love someone, but they can ultimately not be right for you. Even in love, people can still be led to believe the worst of each other, still hurt each other, still decide they are better without the other,” she began, her words hesitant, as if she was trying to define to herself what it all meant as much as to him. “But the Happily Ever After is so much more. It’s finding your perfect match, love purified, refined, to such an extent that it can never be sundered. With a Happily Ever After, men can achieve greatness, as can all the generations who follow growing up in its shadow.”

“And you think jeopardizing the surety of a love match now is worth it for only the possibility of a Happily Ever After?” he asked, his voice gentle, reverent, wanting nothing to break this intimacy their words were creating.

“I do. In your view, maybe that seems cruel, but in my view, there is no greater tragedy then two people who almost make this connection but fall short in the end.”

Such a hard exterior to cover such a tender heart. “I’m not sure if I can believe as you do,” he said after considering her words. “But I never want Sara… you… to feel as if I let you down. After we get this situation behind us, I want you proud of the job I do.”

And as his breath caught at the rare smile she bestowed upon him just then, he knew all she had to do was keep smiling at him like that, and anything she wanted, whether it be his beliefs or his blood, he would give her.

Her smile faded, and the moment ended. Reina cloaked herself in her position of authority as she handed him the file that had been sitting on her desk. It was already open to show a picture of a blond girl, pretty and vibrant with a mouth full of straight white teeth, all of which was evident even underneath the dirt. “I looked over this case earlier, before I realized what was going on,” she said. “It is a good, solid HEA case. There are several challenges to overcome, but also several sources of help for the client. It is about as perfect as a case can be for this purpose, as evenly balanced as I’ve ever seen. No one can accuse the council of favoring either side. The girl’s name is Cinderella. She lives with an abusive Stepmother and two rotten spoiled stepsisters. She is a very kind, generous girl—though a little too much of a doormat, if you ask me—but outside of that, not really any other character flaws. She is much beloved in her village, children and small animals flock to her daily. In short, we exist to give HEAs to mortals like her.”

Tiernan read the file quickly, then flipped the page and took in the photo of the male who would supply the HEA. “A prince, huh? That’s pretty standard.”

“Indeed, but for the most part, we don’t mess with the classics here.” The pointed look she gave him told him he was one of the exceptions, and she wasn’t necessarily thrilled about it. Ah yes, completely back to normal.

He returned that look with a flirty smile. “I used to serve royalty, Godmother Reina. Believe me when I say, sometimes the large crown is to compensate for something.”

“Oh really? Well, I assume we can say the same thing about your sword, eh, knight?”

Maybe not completely back to normal after all. The second those words passed her lips her eyes went saucer wide, and Tiernan couldn’t say who was more shocked, him or Reina herself. There was no way he was letting this pass. His voice coming out a low growl, he replied, “Why, Reina, I never knew you were interested in the size of my sword. Anytime you want a private viewing, I will be more than happy to oblige.”

Danielle Monsch is a Geek Girl Writing in a Fantasy World.  Her debut story, Loving a Fairy Godmother, is available from Liquid Silver Books at http://bit.ly/Dani_LFG

You can find her online at www.DanielleMonsch.com, www.twitter.com/DaniMonsch, www.facebook.com/DanielleMonsch.  You can find Anna Alexander at http://www.AnnaAlexander.net

One random commenter will receive a free ebook of Loving a Fairy Godmother.  Good Luck!

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Emotions and Writing

I think we can all agree that emotions are key to good genre fiction (I’ll not comment on other types of writing as they are outside my purview).  In genre fiction, if we don’t have our character’s emotions shaking their fists in our faces so our hearts can pound right along with theirs, we will be bored as readers. 

What raised this topic?  I was reading a blog about permeating our writing with emotion (a very good post on it too) and the author gave links to where you could garner info about emotions in general (very helpful links – thanks).  So, being the anal-retentive-info-hoarder I am, I stuffed all the info from these four links, plus notes from the blog post into one document I could save, print, and keep handy.  As I was reading this newly created document of mine on emotions, however, I found my eyes blurring, my lids heavy and my head bobbing.  Sterile definitions of emotions are not as interesting as feeling them (hmmm…. the difference between telling vs showing?).  I had to put my computer down, grab a blanket and roll over on the couch for a nap. 

But, as I often cannot fall asleep without a good book in hand, I picked up my copy of “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder and started reading that.  Guess what?  He’s funny and interesting and my eyes perked up and I read an entire chapter.  Then I had to sit up, grab my computer and start working (I consider this work).  I have ideas buzzing through my head that need written before they disappear.  Don’t kid yourself – ideas are fleet-footed little suckers and will disappear as fast as they appeared if not wrestled onto the page without dispatch. 

One of said fleet-footed ideas… this post.  Write with passion, dear friends.  Write from a place of feeling.  Make me as the reader, take that journey with you, and I will endeavor to do the same in return.

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When to Pull the Plug

Ever started something, invested a ton of time into it, and then at some point it seems like you hit a wall?  It’s hard to figure out when to pull the plug.  You’ve spent so much time on it (whatever that IT is) that you feel like you’ve wasted it all if you quit.  But, going forward is just wasting more.  Grrrr.  What to do?

It’s a tough decision, friends.  And perhaps you feel foolish for spending as much time as you did on it, but you were hopeful, right?  Nothing wrong with that.  And perhaps, the next time, you’ll figure it out sooner.  We’re ever hopeful, right?

My son and I are going thru this together right now.  He and his girlfriend are/may be breaking up.  And the poor guy feels like all the love/time/money he spent on her is now wasted.  I just spent over a year on a manuscript that I am shelving.  And I feel like all the love/time/effort has been wasted.  But wait… what if IT isn’t a waste?  What if it’s just all part of the process?  What if it’s one more step in the right direction?

My son may be completely heartbroken, but IT wasn’t a waste because he learned a lot during their several years together.  He learned how to love another person, how to take on responsibility, how to not be selfish.  He grew up and matured as a man.  And, all of these experiences including the heartbreak have shaped him into a person that is better prepared for his next relationship.

I may be frustrated, but IT wasn’t a waste because I learned a lot about my craft, that I can do editing and rewriting, that I can finish a story, that I can take criticism and rejection positively, that I am fully committed to this career.  I’ve grown as  a writer and my next story will be even better, and I will continue to grow so that I am prepared when I finally get published.

You’ll figure it out too – just remember to take all the good out of IT that you can find.  Learn, grow, repeat!

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