Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NaNoWriMo Prep: Training for the Marathon, Part 4

Don't forget to check out "The Next Big Thing Blog Tag" that I wrote about last Friday. See what other amazing 5 new books are coming your way!

More than one person has suggested making a play list for NaNoWriMo writing music. Actually, I came across that suggestion in a non-NaNo place. That author said that each book you write should have its own music, and named his. While writing, you listen to music matches the tone and the mood of your opus. 

All well and good for folks who do well for the music pie in Trivial Pursuit, but that wouldn’t be me. (“I” sounds funny here, doesn’t it? Not like real people talking. But I wanted you to know, I know!)

So, for The Quick and the Dedd I started auditioning CDs. My criteria were:
*Music has to have energy, but not too much; also some mellow for love scenes
*No words = no distraction, but if I don’t know the words it could work
*Nothing overtly classical since it isn’t who my characters are

Discarded 50 Shades of Grey, The Classical Album and Simone Dinnerstein, The Berlin Concert and other classical albums as well as most musicals with words I could sing along with. There were a lot I didn’t select to audition, but here are the few I did:

+The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the New Orleans Album, mostly no words--Jazz fits the mood of the story in many places

- Hiromi, A place to Be   distracting for writing, wanted to follow the piano technique

-Chicago, the musical Kept seeing the scenes since it’s such a well-integrated musical; sang along

+Chris Botti, When I Fall in Love    romantic, slow; fits mood for parts

-Three Tenors beautiful but too mellow; the Italian words were distracting

+ Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska  has that kind of rough edge that I need in some sections; Bruce is a lot like Riley

+ Holst, Planets    good energy also had mellow parts; could work for some sections

And the winner is:  Well, winners. I’m sure you could tell from my notes above that I’ll be playng The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Chris Botti, Bruce Springsteen, and Holst as I write The Quick and the Dedd over the course of 30 days. Is that eclectic or what??? I write on multiple manuscripts so why not have multiple CDs?

I’m sure this would have been easier had I DH’s deep knowledge of music, but I don’t. Nevertheless, this was a very instructive exercise since it caused me to examine how I work and the nature of my book. I highly recommend you pick your music for each book, too!

1 day and counting

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Next Big Thing: Authors Tagging Authors

I am so appreciative to Isabella Louise Anderson for tapping me for The Next Big Thing Blog. What an honor. I know Isabella through a Facebook writing group she started, Chick Lit Goddesses where authors go to other writers for answers to questions and to assist others with theirs.
I have the names of next week’s authors at the bottom. Do check in with them to see what books will be coming your way. And keep up with Isabella’s doings, too, at

What is the working title of your book?

I am writing The Quick and the Dedd for NaNoWriMo. I’ve had a tickler file on this book forever. NaNo will jumpstart the story for me, then come the revisions and edits.

What would the book jacket blurb say?

Isabella Quick, current owner of I.Q Security (“We take your intelligence seriously.”) misses the company of one of her best agents. Riley Dedd is, well, dead, murdered while on assignment for her. When his spirit turns up in her office, she thinks it might be other spirits--her single malt scotch perhaps--at work. Having convinced her he is real, a real ghost that is, they figure out how to work together to find his murderer and unmask a plot of national security proportions. And can they figure out the mechanics of making ethereal love corporeal? Throw in her petty crook ex-husband, a bimbo ex-sister-in-law who’s her best friend and office receptionist along with assorted other co-workers, and you have a paranormal romantic suspense that is not as transparent as it seems.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve always been fascinated by ghosts and all things paranormal. I lived in a Civil War era house as a kid, and it was haunted. I remember the footsteps crossing the end of my bed and footsteps on the stairway to the second floor. Our parents laughed at us, but I remember us three kids huddling by the parents’ bed in fear. I still regret I didn’t attempt communication, but then, I was a kid--and scared!

This particular story idea came about because I wondered if love could survive the boundaries death set. What causes spirits to linger? Could there be a crossing over? What would it take to prompt a crossover? And what if a woman is depressed because someone she loved was murdered, and she’s about to lose her business? Would someone who was murdered want his killer brought to justice? And just how could Isabella Quick and Riley Dedd partner up to accomplish that? I love the word play with her name and his.

What genre does your book fall under?

Paranormal romantic suspense. I hope it will have its tense moments as well as a lot of comic relief from quirky secondary characters. And of course there is the Isabella/Riley impossible connection.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I can see a bulked-up Julianne Moore as Isabella. She has Isabella’s red hair and could have her overly-curvaceous body. A young Sean Connery would make a perfect Riley Dedd. Both will have to drop their British accents though. I can see a tarted-up Reese Witherspoon playing BFF Trini; Danny DeVito as Isabella’s ex, Bobby; J.K. Simmons as Trini’s boyfriend, Stan; Bryan Cranston as Jack Barnes, the CEO of the rival security firm, and a young Allison Janney as Cara, the office accountant.

Check out these up-and-coming authors and see what they are working on now! They will post answers to questions on their WIP next Friday.

Sheri Fink
Nola Sarina
S.A. Stolinsky
H.D. Thomson
Annie Weissman

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

NaNoWriMo: Training for the Marathon, Part 3

A major recommendation for NaNoWriMo is to plan the majority of scenes. 
I began by listing events, things I wanted to happen or to reveal. Then I made a chart like this and began to fill it in:
Point of scene
What happens


I knew that classic story structure requires escalating dire straits at the quarter, half, three-quarter, and end points. So I filled those in early on. I put in the rough page number I am estimating those scenes to end on. ROUGHLY, being the operative word. You can see, at this point, it’s a work-in-progress. I have a long list of events/info to get in that I need to incorporate. Fun isn’t it?
Here’s part of what I’ve done so far just to give a flavor. I am still working on it, so this may or may not be the final product. I have one more week to tinker.

Point of scene
What happens
Offices of I.Q. Security
Anniversary of 6th mon. after his murder; Riley’s 42nd birthday
Intro MCs
Riley tries  to convince her he is real-just ghost-real
Intro plot point of finding his murderer

Drunken Isabella discovers Riley sitting on her desk
Trini’s apartment for dinner
Trini, Isabella, Bobby, and Stan
Day after Riley’s appearance
Isabella doesn’t believe Riley is a ghost; wants Stan to run a check without him knowing what it’s about; afraid her bias will change results
Stan questions why he should check but agrees to go to Radio Shack for the stuff Isabella identified from an on-line article on ghost hunting; include stuff on their backgrounds and relationships; bring up big contract they’re going for--her rationale for Stan’s check

Offices of I.Q. Security
Next day, evening after work hours
Isabella finally convinced
Stan runs a check; picks up vibes he can’t id or explain; suspicious of what is going on; does some investigation on his own to uncover her reasons; have Riley there messing with the energy field and threatening to appear; Isabella torn bet wanting him to/or not

10--50 pp
Plot Pt 1
¼ point crisis

Bidding for contract at airport; underhanded tactics throw her company out of contention; bills piling up

20  100pp Midpoint Crisis

Bringing pressure to bear on Isabella to sell; loans called in; tax guy shows up; lawsuit filed against company

30 150 pp
Plot Pt 2
¾ point crisis
Offices of I.Q Security

They figure out that the people trying to buy her company are the ones behind a massive security breach; they killed Riley; they need proof


Security door breach at Terminal during testing; Riley finds it


Confrontation with Riley’s killer; Isabella struggles with him and shoots; self-defense but implicates FiveStar Security

40 200 pp

Sets up there will be a next book
Riley disappears; will he return? Neither knows

For another author’s take on NaNoWriMo prep, check out Wendy Ely’s blog at

8 days and counting!

Friday, October 19, 2012

NaNoWriMo Prep: Training for the Marathon, Part 2

I read a really great blog post by Holly Lisle (you have to subscribe to her newsletter) on how to avoid months and months of revisions and edits after you write the book. Well, I’m all over that! See and read her post on one-pass editing and revision.

Holly’s point is that, in part, doing some serious upfront prep will speed up the revision process. She claims that she edits 125K in two weeks and that she has never had to do more than two light edits for an editor. Okay! Sign me up!

One of the things to do upfront is called “Discovery”. Discovery includes identifying the theme, subtheme(s), one-line story arc of MC, writing a 25-word book summary, creating a back-of-book story blurb, and writing MC descriptions. 

In the last post, I did two of the six. This post will be the remaining four. 

Theme for The Quick and the Dedd: Love can cross any barrier.
Interestingly, for a recent submission for another manuscript, I was asked to identify tropes or themes. First time that’s happened, but I can see how an editor, marketing director, cover art designer, etc. would find that a critical piece. Plus, if the author doesn’t know, who would?

Subtheme(s): Is there existence beyond the grave? What forms can love take?
This was soooo hard. Are these my sub-themes? I know I need to know before I settle in writing this story if it is going to keep its focus. Maybe as I consider my story in these few remaining days, I will adjust these. I’m letting them stand now and see if they stand up to the further development I’ll be doing.

Story arc of Isabella: Everyone else’s needs come before Isabella’s so she decides to cede the position of caretaker to focus on her own needs but then she realizes she can do both, or at least try.
To do this piece, I looked in The Virgin’s Promise by Kim Hudson (book review coming). Hudson identifies 12 core feminine archetypes (she says they are not meant to be only female) for early, middle, and beginning life stages. I see Isabella as Mother/Goddess taking care of others and not realizing her own need for fulfillment. Her story arc is the reconciliation of care giver and taking care of her own needs.

Book Summary:  Isabella Quick is surprised when Riley Dedd, the ghost of her best operative, materializes to help her solve his murder and save her business.

I am confident that knowing what my book is about at center, I will be able to complete it in the 30 days I have for NaNoWriMo. Stay tuned. In the next post, I am going to reveal some of the plot points and the chart I am using to track them. 

13 days and counting.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NaNoWriMo Prep: Training for the Marathon, Part 1

We have a winner! My readers, tweeps, and FB friends selected:
The Quick and The Dedd, the paranormal rom-com  Thank you all!

Today I’m sharing some of the prep on this book I am doing for NaNoWriMo as I get ready to enter this marathon. 30 days and 30 nights of unbridled writing! Be still my heart. 

Only for me it won’t exactly be 30 continuous days because of travel to Lil’ Bro’s wedding out of state. Way out of state! So, to make up for those interruptions, I gotta be prepared to write like crazy on the days I do write. The average of ~1667 words per day must be adjusted (after all that’s only 11,699 words per week. Quite doable.

Rules are you can develop plot points, write character sketches, do research, stuff like that, but you can’t write a scene or sentence until November 1. Some places are doing a group-gathering to launch, so you begin writing at 12:01 a.m. That sounds like fun. For people who stay up late. Me, I’ll launch when I get up at 4:30. I already know my opening scene--I can see it. Writing it? Piece of cake!

I also read a great blog for NaNoers (those who NaNoWriMo) at Look for the Sunday post by James Scott Bell. Fantastic suggestions!

So let me share here today and Friday, some of my pre-planning segments. If you have a reaction--good or bad--please leave a comment below. Today: book jacket blurb and the two main characters. 

Blurb: Isabella Quick, current owner of I.Q Security (“We take your intelligence seriously.”) misses the company of one of her best agents. Riley Dedd is, well, dead, murdered while on assignment for her. When his spirit turns up in her office, she thinks it might be other spirits--her single malt scotch perhaps--at work. Having convinced her he is real, a real ghost that is, they figure out how to work together to find his murderer and unmask a plot of national security proportions. And can they figure out the mechanics of making ethereal love corporeal? Throw in her petty crook ex-husband, a bimbo ex-sister-in-law who’s her best friend and office receptionist along with assorted other co-workers, and you have a paranormal romance that is not as transparent as it seems.

Is there anything else that should go into this blurb? Would you pick it up to buy from this description? I tried to get the light “spirit” of the book in the blurb. Did it work?

Here are my two MCs: Isabella Quick and Riley Dedd
Isabella Quick is 38 years old, with dyed red hair and brown eyes with gold flecks. Isabella never met a shade of red hair dye she didn’t like. At 5’9” she has a generous body that went from curvaceous to chunky after Riley’s death. A hard-boiled divorcee, Isabella carries a gun, votes Republican, and is a founding member of the local N.F.A. (National Firearms Association). An ex-smoker, she chews gum and sucks hard candies. She favors really bright clothing, at contrast with the low-profile business she runs. She can’t connect with most other women. She’s got a smart mouth but is very vulnerable. She loves a good single malt scotch-neat. She sips her favorite scotch when things get tough. She has a bottle of Johnnie Walker for everyday drinking, but reserves the fruity and woody Macallan 18 year old for special occasions. She had a thing for Riley and there was sexual tension between them, but it was never pursued before he died. She assumes her vision of him is a dream brought on by stress. BFF Trini wants to get her into BBB--Big Beautiful Broads, a dating service since she seems depressed.

Riley Dedd, a widowed hunk, was one of her investigators. He was a liberal on most social issues, but tough on crime. That is, before he was killed at age 41, six months ago, by an unknown assailant. Recently he has been appearing to her in her dreams, she thinks. When he finally convinces her he’s real, but a ghost, they decide to catch his murderer and get him convicted. His gray-streaked dark hair was never well-trimmed nor was his belly that threatened to overflow his belt. At 5’11’’ Isabella in heels was taller, but in death he chose to be taller. He’s now 6’2” and quite hunky. One of the bennies of having to be dead, he tells her. He’s a red wine drinker. He’s stuck here with “unresolved issues”, just like Isabella was always telling him when he was alive. He kept track of his birthday and is upset when she doesn’t want to celebrate it.  He tells her she won’t get older than him because he is aging, too, even if not really. When alive, he kept trying to solve his wife’s murder. He joined IQ Security because of link he found with one of its clients and his wife. He and Trini flirted as he did with Cara, the business manager and accountant. He never got along well with Tony.

The pix that I think look like my characters wouldn't transfer here, but Riley looks like a young Sean Connery and Isabella, well, let's just say I found a big and beautiful British porn star that looks just like her!
What do you think of my starring characters? Leave a comment and help me shape this book. Thanks!

15 days and counting!

Friday, October 12, 2012

NaNoWriMo Advice to Newbies (Like Me!)

Note: Have you voted yet for the story idea I’ll write for NaNoWriMo? See the October 10 blog,  scroll to the poll at the bottom of the page, and vote for which story you’d like me to complete.

As I prepare to head in my first NaNoWriMo, I sought advice from my on-line groups at Facebook for ways to not just survive the month, but to thrive. I want to complete a 50K novel in November. So I asked for newbie advice from those who competed in the past. I sought input from: Chick Lit Goddesses, Lit Pow Writers, and SCWC (Southern California Writers Group).

On the NaNoWriMo website (, they provide 3.5 hints. Really. This is a group with a sense of humor who take themselves seriously by not acting serious. Last year, out of more than 250K participants, fewer than 15% completed at least 50K words.

NaNoWriMo Tips from NaNoWriMo:
1)    It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. Stick to it and it will happen;
2)    To finish 50K DO NOT EDIT as you go;
3)    Announce to your world that you’re doing it; and,
3.5 You’re doing to want to quit--don’t.

Support groups are available and NaNoWriMo urges you to use them. They say that the first week typically goes well, the second week is want-to-chuck-the-whole-thing week, the third week stuff comes together, and the fourth week is smooth sailing. All of this assumes you keep up with the writing and are not far behind, if at all.

From my FB writing groups, I got great tips:
Jackie said to not fall too far behind in daily word count because it’s really hard to catch up.

Rick said not to give up but keep going.

Leah (a 12-year participant and winner) said that even if you are normally a “pantser”, you should be a “plotter” in order to participate and win in NanNoWriMo. Write every day and “bank” extra word count when you can for the days you can’t get there. She recommends identifying at least one interesting character, writing a one sentence summary, writing a paragraph summary, writing a one page summary, id character basics, and list 30-40 scenes so you can write at least one each day of November. She said the breakthrough comes at the 35K mark. Quell the inner editor and lower your standards. And always write what you love. Please check out her site for more on NaNoWriMo in the coming weeks.

Dot, on the other hand (10 or 11 years of winning) says she goes in with the barest of ideas, and “let ‘er rip”.

Stefanie suggests outlining your favorite novel and use that as a template to outline your novel. Make sure you know the ending first.

So there you have it, advice to us newbies from those who are experienced. Are you joining me in the race to the novel? More on NaNoWriMo in upcoming blogs. Come on back!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Is NaNoWriMo One of Those Cute Boutique Animals for Grandparents to Buy?

Disclaimer: You may already have read this post at or

Someone in one of my FB groups asked that (cute, huh?), so I thought I would rip it off, err, borrow it for the title of this blog. No. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a non-profit organization, so any donations made are fully tax deductible.

NaNoWriMo is my new Pillsbury Bake-Off. For years I said that I was going to enter some of my delectable dishes in that contest. One year I finally said to myself, “Put up or shut up.” So, that year I entered 4 recipes. None were ever even acknowledged, let alone placing in the competition. I call them my Pillsbury Bake-Off Losers”--and I still make them.

Same thing with NaNoWriMo. I want to enter. I want to be a winner. But, I just never got around to it. So this year, “Put up or shut-up.”

The rules are pretty simple: you write 50K words during the month of November and upload at the end for a word count to verify. 50K? You’re a “winner”. Has to be done from scratch, but it’s on the honor system. You can plan in advance, write character sketches, and do research--just no composition of scenes or chapters. 

That sounds pretty clear.

What shall I do? I have tickler files with dozens of story ideas. I kind of wanted to work on my Slippin’ into the Future book (daughter/father relationship complicated by dementia) or book two of my culinary mystery series (Prime Rib and Punishment) or even book two of my erotic romance “Sex Sells” series, but you can’t have written any of it--honor system--in advance, and I have.
So digging deeper into the tickler files I find three plots that really, really interest me. (Who am I kidding? There wouldn’t be a tickler file if it didn’t really, really interest me!) So help me pick one of these three! Vote below or with your comments. As a side note, I have never written a novel in any of these genres, so I am stretching myself that way, too.

1)    My paranormal rom-com I call my Quick and the Dedd series. Isabella Quick owns a security agency: I.Q. Security, “Your intelligence is safe with us”. Isabella is hard-boiled divorcee, carries a gun, votes Republican, and is a founding member of the N.F.A. (National Firearms Association). Riley Dedd, a widowed hunk, was one of her investigators. He was a liberal on social issues, but tough on crime. That is, before he was killed by an unknown assailant. She had a thing for him, sexual tension between them, but it was never pursued. He’s been dead now for several years, but recently he has been appearing to her in her dreams. At least, she assumes she’s dreaming brought on by stress. When he finally convinces her he’s real, but a ghost, they set about getting his murderer caught and convicted. Working title: The Quick and the Dedd

2)  Another paranormal takes a different tack. My tagline for this maybe-series/maybe-single title is, “Djinni are the new vampires.” 28 year-old Gwyneth Catrin (Welsh meaning for the two names: luck, happiness and pure) Warlow, who recently broke up with long-time boyfriend, receives a letter from a Welsh solicitor regarding an inheritance. She is the closest living relative to her great-uncle, Emrys (Welsh meaning: immortal). She arrives in Wales to claim the estate left to her. It is all hers to dispose of as she wishes with the exception that she is not to touch anything in the attic. Emrys was a world-traveler and collected many things. All in the attic is to be gathered up by a mover and burnt without an examination by Gwyneth . She of course does and uncovers an artifact that is home to a djinn, Abdul Wahid (Arabic meaning: Servant of the Unique One). Complicating things is Uncle Emrys who has tricked the djinn into giving him partial immortality, and trouble ensues when he shows up. Working title: I Dream of Djinni.

3)    Number three is Sci-Fi medical thriller. I clipped news items from three disparate events that I combined into a story idea.  There is a document that always makes the list of undecodable text--the Voynich Document contains unreadable text and illustrations of strange objects and flora. The second news item detailed a mystery sunken craft in the Baltic Sea. And the third was a description of a strange new illness (named Morgellons) which causes open sores, sprouts of strange fibers on the skin, and a feeling like bugs crawling on the skin. All three cool, huh? The story premise is that Dr. Nia Parker, a marine research microbiologist is recruited under the pretense of discovering a cure for Morgellens but in actuality it is a secret government group out to discover more about the alien roots of the disease. A cryptologist, Dr. Rhys Fenner, was similarly recruited under false pretenses. He is given pieces of the document, presumed to be an ancient accounting of the disease, to decipher. The two form an immediate disdain for the other since each their needs are at cross-purposes and each is told to share info in isolation. He thinks Nia is in over her head, and she thinks Rhys is a prima donna. When they discover the government agency may be a rogue group set to control the alien resources for their own purposes, the two form an unwilling bond to fight the group. Unnamed as yet.

Vote--tell me which one you’d like me to write and update you on.

Recap: 30 days; 11, 669 words per week; 50,000 total words. Now if I subtract the time I’m at my brother’s wedding in Iowa and add those days’ word goals to other days, I can still do this. On average, 1667 words per day or less than 7 pages. Pshaw! Nothing to it!  Find out more, and sign-up yourself, at

Friday, October 5, 2012

Navigating the Social Media Rapids

Boy, it’s been a long time. I kinda burned out keeping up with the social media sites and trying to keep 3 blogs going. I am posting at Romance Righter ( and Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time ( on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’ll be here on Wednesdays and Fridays. Maybe having a regular schedule will help you keep up with my meanderings.

As you know from earlier blog entries, I am trying to figure out the balance of social media and my writing and what role my social media connections can play in promoting my writing. Aren’t you, too?

Have you noticed that when you are submitting to publishers these days, they ask about your web presence and what your marketing plan looks like. Sigh! So, for the latest submission, I updated my list since I had forgotten stuff. More on my presence another time, but my gosh it is an issue to move up on your to-do list.

I know that many authors are addressing the issue of “web presence”. Read the recent Lynne Kennedy mystery newsletter in which she takes it head on (Who's Got Time to Write?
  ) and the recent Nancy J. Cohen blog ( ) in which she describes how she organizes her day.  

In pursuit of the balance issue, I posed a question to my different FB groups: Chick Lit Goddesses, SCWC, LitPow Writers, and Author Tonya Kappes Street Team. Here’s what I asked:

I'm posting this question in all my FB groups: How do you balance the content of your blogs between book promotion and giving value-added content info (e.g., recipes, cooking tips, product reviews on my blog for my culinary mysteries)? What is the percentage you use of content vs. promotion?
The responses were interesting, and what a shock, varied. But 80-20 seemed to be the most frequent answer. Unless, as agent Sally van Haitsma pointed out, the FB page is your author page dedicated to that book; then go all out on that page.

So, 20% hyping my books; 80% content for my readers. Okay. I can do that. In fact, I think I am currently providing more than the 80% content. 

We need to add in KLOUT and any other tools that evaluate your impact, because, after all, it makes sense that there is some sort of metric attached to your web presence.  I found this article on line: 

"What does your KLOUT score mean?"
“What is considered a good score? Let’s say that you have a Klout score of 32-what does   that mean? According to Megan, a score about 30 shows expertise in social media. Above a 50 is approaching social media thought leader status.”

Will there come a day when we have to provide a Klout (or other measure) when we submit? More later on the balance I am working on. Peace (and go social mediate!).