Friday, October 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo

What is NaNoWriMo?  It is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) began in 1999 with 21 aspiring novelists in the SF Bay area who created a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.  It starts on November 1st and the goal is to write 50,000 words by midnight, November 30th.  Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

This year I plan to unofficially participate in NaNoOWriMo – unofficially because I’ve already started the book.  For the last year I’ve been working on two manuscripts at the same time with little success.  While my word count has grown significantly on one WIP, the other one has been ignored.  Since I’m currently free to write anytime I like, I’m going to take this opportunity to push myself to complete my neglected manuscript by November 30th.  I’m dedicated to giving it the old college try and hold off on editing until “The End.”  

I’m not one for tracking my word count; I much prefer to concentrate on completing scenes and chapters than stressing over the number of words on the page.  So long as I complete 175 pages in November, I’ll have achieved my goal.

If writing a novel in 30 days sounds like a challenge you’re willing to undertake, visit NaNoWriMo to sign up.     

Here’s to 30 days and nights of literary abandon!
Thursday, October 28, 2010

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Charles VIII of France wore an unusual, broad-toed shoe to hide his deformed foot.  A generation later, Francis I went one better: his broad-toed, low-cut slippers were attached with straps across the instep. 


Henry VIII of England got "in step" with the fashion trend and soon Renaissance men everywhere were wearing soft slippers of velvet, silk, leather, and brocade. 


The most fashionable insisted on slippers made of violet cloth or leather.  To show off their beloved hose, glamorous, style-conscious courtiers even went so far as to slash their shoes.  Extra bits of leather made the slippers sturdier, and over time cork soles were added for height and durability. 


By mid-century, the flat-foot look was dead, abandoned for more elegantly styled heeled shoes. 

The shoe business gained a new respectability in 1579 when Queen Elizabeth I granted shoemakers their own coat of arms.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday


"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases you can't wait to read.



MY WEEKLY PICK


"Darkest Mercy"
Author: Melissa Marr 
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: February 22, 2011
 
 
The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey. 

Aislinn tends to the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. 

Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. 

Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. 

And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life. 


Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict, some will win . . . and some will lose everything.  The thrilling conclusion to Melissa Marr's New York Times bestselling Wicked Lovely series will leave readers breathless.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read.

* Open to a random page.

* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 
MY TEASER
 
"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
Young Adult
 
"I don't bother suggesting Prim learn to hunt.  I tried to teach her a couple of times and it was disatrous."
 
~ page 35 
Monday, October 25, 2010

Dream Big


"Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself." 

~ William Faulkner
Sunday, October 24, 2010

In My Mailbox


In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way for everyone to show their new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won, or received for review.


"Loving Lydia" by Amy De Trempe

contest win

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Writing Update

Today I mailed off  three entries for the Hook, Line & Sinker contest sponsored by Hudson Valley Romance Writers of America. 

I've submitted entries for the past two years and though I've yet to final, both times I received high marks and gained invaluable feedback on my first three pages.  I'd sure love to make it to the final round this year.  :crosses fingers:

Of course I'll let you know how I did when I get the results in January.

What have you done today to make your dream come true?
Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Finds


Take a look at the books I discovered this week...



VIRALS
Kathy Reichs
Young Adult
Release Date: Nov. 2, 2010

Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage "sci-philes" who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer's scent.

Fortunately, they are now more than friends they're a pack. They are Virals.


ELIXIR 
Hilary Duff
Young Adult
Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. The daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC politician, she has grown to be a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a career that allows her to travel to the most exotic parts of the world. But after Clea’s father disappears while on a humanitarian mission, Clea’s photos begin to feature eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful man—a man she has never seen before.

When fate brings Clea and this man together, she is stunned by the immediate and powerful connection she feels with him. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father’s disappearance, and they discover the centuries old truth behind their intense bond.

Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fates, together they race against time to unravel their pasts in order to save their lives—and their futures.


THE ICE PRINCESS
Elizabeth Hoyt
Historical Romance

As the madam of Aphrodite's Grotto, the most infamous brothel in London, Coral Smythe knows everything possible about men's needs and desires. Yet she's never experienced the love of a single man-not even that of Captain Isaac Wargate whose hawk-like eyes stare at her with both condemnation...and lust.

Captain Wargate heartily disapproves of the sensuous madam who always wears a golden mask. She lures his officers from both his ship and their duty. But when Coral herself is offered up as the prize in a game of chance, Wargate impulsively enters...and wins.

Now the puritanical navy captain has just seven nights to learn everything he can about the mysterious madam and what she knows of a man's desires. But when Coral is threatened by the new owner of Aphrodite's Grotto, will Wargate take a chance on the woman beneath the mask...and on love?
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday


"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases you can't wait to read. 


MY WEEKLY PICK


"Nightfall"
Author: Ellen Connor
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Release Date: June 2011

Their instincts will save them.  Their passion will transform them.

Growing up with an unstable, often absent father who preached about the end of the world, Jenna never thought, in her wildest nightmares, that his predictions would come true. Or that he would have a plan in place to save her–one that includes the strong, stoic man who kidnaps and takes her to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest.

The mysterious ex-Marine named Mason owes a life-debt to Jenna’s father. Skilled and steadfast, he’s ready for the Change, but Jenna proves tough to convince. Until the power grid collapses and the mutant dogs attack–vicious things that reek of nature gone wrong.

When five strangers appear, desperate to escape the bloodthirsty packs, Jenna defies her protector and rescues them. As technology fails and the old world falls away, Jenna changes too, forever altered by supernatural forces. To fight for their future, she and Mason must learn to trust their instinctive passion–a flame that will see them through the bitter winter, the endless nights, and the violence of a new Dark Age.

READ EXCERPT
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read.
* Open to a random page.
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



MY TEASER
 
"Highland Dragon" by Kimberly Killion
 
"When she tried to flee, he grabbed her and hauled her up against him.  'Ye'll not climb a tree.  Ye will remain with me until ye are convinced ye are not cursed and not a witch.'"
 
~ page 101
Monday, October 18, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way for everyone to show their new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won, or received for review.
 
 
"The Summoning" by Kelley Armstrong
 
contest win


"The Awakening" by Kelley Armstrong

contest win
 
 
"The Reckoning" by Kelley Armstrong
 
contest win


"The Gathering" by Kelley Armstrong

won an ARC
Thursday, October 14, 2010

Music as Inspiration

Do you listen to music while you write?

I started out listening to music while writing because I couldn’t find a distraction-free writing environment. I couldn’t keep my attention on my work for all the noise my DH made while watching football or playing X-Box. In college, I used to be able to read my textbooks surrounded by chatty co-eds. But for some reason, I lost that ability when I sat down to write a romance novel.

Desperate for quiet time, I turned to music. It helped drown out the outside noises and create an environment that encouraged my creativity and allowed me to stay on-task. Eventually, I learned how to write just about anywhere regardless of distractions. Yet, more often than not, I still listen to music when I write.

Music is a great way to stir your muse and put you in the right frame of mind, for any particular scene. I prefer music without lyrics because I can’t write at all when I hear my favorite tunes. I just want to sing along. Instead, I listen to piano music by Jim Brickman or movie soundtracks from epic motion pictures such as The Last of the Mohicans and Gladiator. These songs reflect the overall tone of my manuscript, keep me centered on the action, and infuse my writing with emotion.

Certain songs speak to me and I listen to them over and over again. Here’s a short list of my favorite music:

Movie Soundtracks

Braveheart ~ Gladiator ~ Green Card ~Hilary & Jackie ~ Lord of the Rings
Shakespeare in Love ~ The Last of the Mohicans ~ The Mission
The Piano ~ Titanic ~ Twilight: The Score

My new favorite is Michael Giacchino who wrote the soundtrack for LOST. His music is exquisite.  Take a listen:
 

What do you do to keep focused and eliminate distractions?  Do you listen to music while you write?  If so, what are your favorite tunes? 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday


"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases you can't wait to read.  


MY WEEKLY PICK


"Vow of Deception"
Author: Angela Johnson
Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: Nov. 2, 2010

Your first allegiance is to your heart…

As a knight, Sir Rand Montague’s allegiance is to King Edward I. But when the king orders Rand to escort Rosalyn Harcourt to court in order to wed her off to Sir Golan—a crass knight Rand abhors—he’s torn between duty and desire. For Rand has never forgotten the woman he spent one unforgettable night of passion with…

After suffering abuse at the hands of her deceased husband, Rose wishes to never wed again. But when Rand rescues her after Sir Golan attempts to compromise her, she agrees to marry Rand in name only. However, sharing such close quarters with Rand brings back memories of their torrid rendezvous—and tempts Rose to give in to an all-consuming desire…

READ EXCERPT
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:


* Grab your current read

* Open to a random page

* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
 
 
 
MY TEASER
 
Killbox by Ann Aguirre
 
"The monster on my right lunges, teeth snapping, and I duck low, spinning into a fighting squat.  I sweep with my blade and take it at the joints."
 
~ Page 258
Monday, October 11, 2010

Words to Avoid

Some words deserve to die. 


Many words and phrases are very unnecessary.  Really.  In fact, sometimes words can weaken sentences.  To polish your WIP and make it shine, keep your sentences crisp and clear.  Learn to write tightly by avoiding the following words:

about   •   all   •   almost   •  always   •   amazing   •   anxiously   •   as   •   basically   •   believe   •   best   •   big   •   eagerly   •   every   •   feel   •   finally   •   first   •   frequently   •   got   •   hardly   •   just   •   like   •   merely   •   nearly   •   need   •   never   •   not   •   often   •   only   •   pretty   •   quite   •   rather   •   really   •   several   •   short   •   small   •   so   •   tall   •   that   •   then   •   thing   •  think   •   utilize   •    very   •   wonderful

Not sure if you're overusing these words?  Here are some ways to avoid using repetitive words in your writing:

1)  Read your work aloud.  It's easier to skim over repeats on the screen, but when you vocalize every word on the page, you may hear the repetitions.

2)  Use the "Find" feature in your word processing program (Ctrl + F in Microsoft Word). If words like "beautiful" or "opaque" turn up more than once in a three-page story, start looking for synonyms.

3)  Use a thesaurus. Most word processing programs have a built- in thesaurus (Shift + F7 in Word). This tool can provide alternatives to repeated words. It can be a great help in editing, or when you're stumped for a descriptive phrase.  You can also use a hard copy thesaurus, the larger the better.  A computer thesaurus is quick, but the hard copy version contains more choices, including slang phrases. It also groups similar types of adjectives together, so if you're not finding what you want for that one particular word, you can browse and find a different way to arrive at the same meaning.

4)  Eliminate adjectives. Rather than trying to replace some of your repetitive adjectives, get rid of them altogether. Readers don't need to know from paragraph to paragraph that the heroine's eyes are "misty grey," "bright blue" or "darkly suspicious." Let the dialogue do some of the work for you, or the other character's reactions, or switch to a description of body language. Sometimes it's okay for your heroine's eyes to just be blue. Or just eyes. Don't overload your reader with descriptors they don't need.

5)  Limit adverbs. Weed out empty intensifiers, such as "really" and "very," that don't mean anything. Instead of writing that a character is "very tired," describe him as "exhausted."

6)  Read your edited manuscript aloud again. Much of the editing requires focusing on pieces of the writing rather than the whole. If you've removed a large chunk of text, some adjectives that were perfectly spaced apart before now end up on top of one another.

Above all, make use of powerful, strong, specific words when you write. The word choices you make should be the most active, powerful ones that fit what is needed for your story.
Sunday, October 10, 2010

In My Mailbox


In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way for everyone to show their new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won, or received for review.



"Captured By Desire" by Kira Morgan

contest win
 
 
"Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me" by Maya Jax
 
contest win from Book Boost
 
 
"Taken By Midnight" by Lara Adrian
 
purchased signed copy

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Finds

Books I recently discovered...



TO CONQUER A HIGHLANDER
Mary Wine

In this first in a trilogy of sexy Scottish Highland romance, Laird Torin McLeren kidnaps his neighbor’s daughter attempting to quell a treacherous plot sure to bring English retribution, only to find the lass he’s captured would serve him much better as an ally than as an enemy…





BUTTERFLY SWORDS
Jeannie Lin

Journey to the very edge of honor, loyalty . . . and love

During China’s infamous Tang Dynasty, a time awash with luxury, yet littered with deadly intrigues and fallen royalty, betrayed Princess Ai Li flees before her wedding. Miles from home, with only her delicate butterfly swords for a defense, she enlists the reluctant protection of a blue-eyed warrior…

Battle-scarred, embittered Ryam has always held his own life at cheap value. Ai Li’s innocent trust in him and honorable, stubborn nature make him desperate to protect her – which means not seducing the first woman he has ever truly wanted….
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Strong Enough for a Man, But Made for a Woman

Believing it warded off fevers and depressions, women of the 1350s carried a sponge soaked in perfumed vinegar in an exquisitely gilded bauble called a pomander that dangled from a belt or was worn as a necklace.   



 
The word pomander originates from the French word pomme d'ambre. A common interpretation of this phrase is "apple of ambergris," referring to the wax substance used as a base in pomander recipes. Others take the phrase to mean "apple of amber" or "golden apple," as in the fragrant citrus fruits exchanged during holidays for good luck.

By the 1600s, men discovered the joys of pomanders, especially in Venice where a whiff could dispel ripe fumes from the canals.  Elizabeth I is frequently depicted wearing a pomander, as are other nobles and notables of the day. 



People took great pride in their pomanders. Simple pomanders were made of wood, while the most stunning examples were worked in silver or gold, studded with precious stones, and etched with intricate designs. Some pomanders were divided into sections, similar to an orange, into which its wearer would place several different scents.



As time wore on, the pomander began to take on the "golden apple" interpretation. By the 18th century, a pomander was more often than not an orange studded with cloves and other spices. These made for popular gifts during Christmas and New Years. Many people make this type of pomander today in order to scent their homes and clothing.