Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Streak of Beige Uniform and Pasty Skin - A Fight Blogfest

Photograph by darkpatator
The Fighter Writer has thrown down the gauntlet with her Fight, Fight, Fight! Blogfest.  Its in celebration of her month anniversary of blogging. Woo Hoo! Congrats, J.C. way to go!!

I decided to enter an excerpt from my recently completed novel, Ruby Dawn.

Imagine the love of your life disappears after a tragic accident. What if he bursts into your life ten years later bringing with him a dangerous secret from your past...

This is a flashback of the day Tom defended Ruby against Griffin, the boy who attacked her during her stay at a juvenile detention center.



Ruby Dawn
Dresden Heights Detention Center – Ten Years Ago


The teacher, old Mrs. Hardwick, stopped mid-sentence when everyone’s head whipped left to the open windows on the side of the Biology class.


“Griffin!” Tom’s angry scream ripped through me. I scrambled out of my desk and ran to see outside.


My movement spurned the rest of the class, and everyone rushed the windows. They jostled and pushed around me while I struggled to see down into the grassy field. Someone knocked off the purple bandana wrapped around my ruined hair.


Panic shot through me as I watched Tom run toward Griffin, his fist cocked back. I banged on the window. “Tom, no!”


Too late, Griffin spun, meeting Tom with a tackle. They flew sideways onto the grass, twisting and hitting each other in a vicious, squirming knot.


The students around me shouted and hollered in unison. “Fight, fight, fight!”


I turned on my heels and ran for the door of the classroom, but Mrs. Hardwick blocked my path. Her arms across the door, she shook her head, face flushed.


“Stay here, Ruby,” she said and yelped a little when I ducked under her arms and ran out of the room.


I raced down the hall, terrified for Tom. Griffin, a foot taller and twenty pounds heavier, wouldn’t stop hitting until someone pulled him off of Tom. I’d seen him pummel a boy last month over a brownie. The kid transferred to a medical facility to recover. More shouting from outside hit me as I pushed through the swinging doors. A crowd of kids encircled Tom and Griffin, chanting Tom’s name over and over again.


Confused, I writhed in between two yelling girls.


Tom bobbed around the inside of the circle, his arms up like a boxer. He pulled Griffin around with him like they were magnetized. The bigger boy swung and missed as Tom ducked and came up with an uppercut to Griffin’s chin, then bounced out of reach again. Griffin’s pulled his mouth into a bloody grimace and swung. He missed again.


“Is this why you pick on girls, Griffin?” Tom shouted.


He reached out and slapped Griffin on the cheek, the loud smack resounding through the throng of onlookers. The students, some still chanting Tom’s name, started laughing and pointing. Griffin’s eyes slid over them, his face growing crimson. He swung at Tom again, and missed again.


Tom, a smile on his face, locked eyes with me and his face fell. His eyes wandered to my exposed hair and I brought my hands up, embarrassed. Distracted, he didn’t move in time to dodge Griffin. A crushing blow threw Tom down onto the grass. He scrambled to his feet, anger flashing across his features. His fist sprang back, ready to punch, no longer playing. Blood trickled down from a gash near his eye, my stomach lurched.


“Stop this,” I screamed. “Just stop!”


Griffin, panting and sweating, grabbed at Tom’s shirt. Tom twisted, ramming an elbow into Griffin’s face as he yanked away. Griffin stumbled to his knees, the crowd of kids screamed louder, shouting for Tom to kick him.


Tom looked down at Griffin, wiped the blood from his eyes, and looked at his hand. He seemed surprised to see that he was bleeding.


Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw Beau dive into the crowd. The enormous security guard batted the teenagers aside like they were nothing, his eyes on Tom.


“Watch out,” I shouted, but I was too late.


Beau launched himself at Tom, taking him to the grass in a beige streak of uniform and pasty skin. The crowd scattered, including Griffin. I stood on the field, my stomach twisting as Beau flipped Tom onto his stomach and pulled his arms back, cuffing him with plastic ties. Another guard chased after Griffin.


“Is this about you?” Beau growled at me.


I shook my head and wrung my hands together, unable to speak through the lump in my throat.


“Leave her alone,” Tom grunted. His face half obscured by the soft dirt and tattered grass. “Look at her hair. Griffin did that!”


Self conscious of the stares swinging my way, I smoothed the bandana back down over my forehead. My fingers brushed my scar and my face burned red.


“She couldn’t prove it,” Beau shot back and pulled Tom to his feet. “You have no right to take this into your own hands, boy.”


“Oh yeah, who else woulda done something about it?” Tom shouted back, his pale eyes furious. “Who cares what happens to the throw-aways, right?”


I stood frozen in the grass, cold despite the sun beating down on me. I watched Beau lead Tom away, my heart squeezing with fear. Tom’s attack on Griffin would only make things worse. I knew in my bones that this wasn’t over.



That's it for my entry. I hope you enjoyed it. There are a lot of other exciting entries over at  The Fighter Writer.  I encourage you to take a peek.

Until next time...Go Write.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wise Writer Award

I spent a lot of times haunting your blogs this past summer and I have to say, I learned a lot. From writing memes to posts about queries, you all shared a wealth of information that truly helps. I wanted to honor those of you who really helped me makes some sense of this crazy publishing world.

The Wise Writer Award comes with one requirement...that you share your favorite book on writing. For example, if you swear by Writing the Breakout Novel by Maass, then let us know so we can check it out. If anyone ever gave you some great advice...let us know that too.

So, without further delay, here are the three blogs that I learned from the most:

In My Write Mind by Justin W. Parente - This blog about the craft of writing has great series that cover hard to tackle aspects of fiction writing. Thanks Justin!

Wavy Lines by Laura Marcella is a blog filled with goodies to get you going on your writing day. Great quotes, encouragement, writing prompts, you name it -- she's got it!

Weekend Writer's Retreat by Calico Crazy and Grandma offer weekly memes that really stretch your writing style.

Thank you to all you die-hard bloggers who share your wit and wisdom. I encourage you to give them a visit and check out their wares.

Until next time...Go Write!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bloom of Raging Red - A Word Paint Blogfest

Photograph by Troy Kelly.
Dawn Embers is celebrating 100 followers with a Blogfest that is all about description...painting a picture with words.

Her Word Paint Blogfest is in full swing today and I threw in my writer's cap with an entry.


This selection is from a work in progress for my Shades of Hope Series. Bayou Blue is a romantic suspense novel... Cajun style.


Riley's family name is synonymous with death; her brother the cause of a terrible tragedy. When she receives a letter that casts his blame in doubt, Riley will do anything to prove his innocence...even if it means teaming up with a man she loves, but doesn't trust.  This is an excerpt from the first chapter.




Bayou Blue

Chapter One
Bayou La Foudre, Louisiana

I used to think of the ocean as a place of peace until that night on the black water; when the air heated so fast and so furious that the wet steamed right off me. The dark night lit up with a bloom of raging red and orange. The night the sea stole my brother.


I remember how our lifeboat bucked on the water and I clutched the side with aching, sweaty hands. Members of the crew jostled and jockeyed for position on the craft, tending to the wounded. I noticed absently the paint on the hull melted off from the blast and the sickening feeling in my gut when we capsized in the swells.


Overhead, acrid smoke billowed up from the listing structure blacking out the jaundiced moon. Helicopters panned search lights back and forth lighting up the churning waves with frantically jerking beams. All around us flames flared across the water fed by the oil slicking along the surface. Trembling with fear and loss, my brother’s last words clanged in my head.


Don’t believe what they tell you.


The car behind me honked, tearing me out of my memories. I waved my apology and tore through the intersection on the yellow light. Skating around a curve, I rolled across the pebbled driveway of the Roustabout Bunkhouse, and slid into a parking space up front.


The worn structure sat huddled under a pair of large Cypress trees. Spanish moss draped over the branches and hung down to the roof, just scraping it with the faded green tendrils. Low in the sky, the sun angled shards of sunlight through the softly swaying leaves. I shut off the engine and sat staring through the windshield at the building’s faded wood fa├žade trying to find the courage to go inside.


My phone buzzed on the seat next to me, the screen heralding my boss at the paper. Joseph Bradley ran San Diego’s North County Chronicle with an iron fist. The fact that one of his reporters didn’t show up for work this fine Monday morning must be driving him nuts.


Digging in my purse for my press credential, I found it and tossed it into the glove compartment of the rented sedan.


Wouldn’t be needing that out here. The less people knew I was back in Louisiana, the better.


I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel and bit my inner cheek. If I turned around now, caught a flight back to California, and just called the head office…


No. Randy deserved to have his stuff packed up by someone who knew him before his name meant death and destruction. Someone who loved him despite what he’d become. I thought about my younger brother and the breath whooshed out of me with the weight of his memory.


Hand going to my arm, to the still-healing burns, I wondered at how life pulled us in such different directions that he could turn so far into darkness without me knowing. Without me having one clue.


I folded and refolded the letter I received in the mail three days before the tragedy. Stained with tears and mottled with the oil of my hands, I knew the contents by heart. Randy’s all-capital handwriting scratched across the page.


I’m in over my head, sis. I don’t know how to stop this.


He’d asked for my help. He’d said he was scared. He said he’d explain when I got here. That was it. That is all Randy left me. That and scars both inside and out.


I knew one true thing. I failed Randy before. I wouldn’t do it again. One way or another, I would make things right...



I hope you enjoyed my selection. There are some really great entries over at Dawn's...take a few minutes to check them out. 

Until Next time...Go Write!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Killer Geisha with Knife Fans

Photograph by JackiePix
I took a writing class a few years back and our teacher had us do a weird mind game to get us thinking about our plot threads.  He put a bunch of random situations in a basket and we had to draw two out. Now the situations were not similar in any way.

For instance I got: A boy gets stabbed in an empty lot and The villain's dollar bill was on fire. 

This in and of itself can be a great prompt, but he added a genre to it. So he gave us either fantasy or science fiction or what not. What was great about this type of prompt was that it corralled the action, but left the circumstance wide open.  If you've read any of my blogfest entries in the past, you'll know that I actually used this years later in a novel I finished a few months ago.

He also had us take well known passages from famous books and turn them into sarcastic rants. For instance, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's love poem to Robert; How Do I Love Thee -- you know the one where she counts the ways, is actually quite funny when you put a different spin on it.

Photograph by Klearchos Kapoutsis
One of my favorite things was our "Cool Stuff That Never Happens" notebooks. Its where we write down really strange scenarios that we've seen in movies and read in books.  Things like a dirigible chase or swimming under an iceberg's craggy underbelly.  I have over a hundred such scenes, my personal favorites include running ahead of imploding catacombs and killer Geisha's with knife fans.  That always makes me laugh.

The point was to get you thinking outside of the normal action scenes. How might a car chase look with crappy cars or while running out of gas? What about a villain with an accent so terrible that you can't understand his threats and he ends up pantomiming?  Original ideas can come from simply asking yourself...what if?

I came away from the class feeling like I'd grown creatively because he taught us that thinking outside of the box wasn't really all that hard. If I could do it, then so can you.  Tell me...what kinds of mental exercises do you do to get the creative juices flowing?

Until next time...Go Write!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Publishing Business Low Down

Photograph by KellyB
A number of interesting things are happeing in publishing this month. Specifically 'General Market' or secular publishing but we see the effects trickle down into other markets.  Publisher's Weekly reported that Dorchester, a publisher of mass market romance, has dropped its print publishing business in favor of an e-book / print-on-demand model.


This ties in with something Terry Burns wrote in his blogpost for From the Heart, Heartline Literary's webiste, an excellent post explaining the difference between self-publishing and print-on-demand.  It seems that the idea of e-books being a growth market is catching on big time.


Speaking of technology. Writer's Digest recently posted an article on the Anatomy of a Writer's Website that was timely in its advice. They likened the author website to a business card and that it shows editors and publishers that you are a professional that can be reached by readers, or for assignents like articles and speaking engagements. 


The article goes on to list some of the mainstays of the do-it-yourself web domains and some 'for hire' professional sites.  The thrust of the article is clear though...Your blog and your book website are two different things meant for two different audiences. I urge you to take a look at the post.


Over all the trends in publishing and technology aren't unexpected. No one is hailing the reign of the e-book just yet or predicting the demise of brick-and-mortar retailers anytime soon. Small steps in the direction of more effiecient, less costly ways of doing business are the order for now.  For writers, the message is clear. Keep honing your craft and refining your work because no matter what the venue...it still is all about the quality of the product.


Until next time...Go Write!

***update***


Judging from the comments, there seems to be some confusion over what the article says.  The writer suggests using BOTH sites, the blog AND the book site, to complement each other.

I don't think its a matter of choosing one over the other, only recognizing the different audiences.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Breaking the Rules - Memorable Characters

Photograph by tibchris.
We are taught that the elderly are wise and frail, princesses are beautiful and helpless, and monsters are evil and should be slain. We grow up with these archetypes in our fairytales, our movies, and in witness to real life.  Its an unspoken rule that a babe is innocent and should be protected, a gangster is ruthless, and heroes win because they do what's right...right?

Sometimes great stories break the rules and the character is better for it.  Think of your favorite type of character and give them an unexpected twist in the opposite direction.  You may end up with a beautiful milkmaid that is cruel or an assassin that risks his life for a child. Sound familiar? These are famous takes on heroes and villains that made us remember, root for, and talk about.

What about changing an expected outcome on its ear like a monster attack making someone stronger, or a hospital that is intentionally killing people? These types of changes give you as the author a whole new set of conflicts to throw at your characters. If your thug is afraid of guns or your village elder is an idiot then that makes for a great set of circumstances that can be delightfully unexpected.

Characters like this allow for story threads not available to their traditional counterparts. They give your novel originality and with a market saturated with similar themes, memorable takes on the tried and true set your story apart.

Think about what you could do with a cowardly knight, a dare-devil granny, or a wicked angel. Your character twist doesn't necessarily have to be opposite either, just unexpected. A favorite blogger of mine uses well known literary and historical figures in his supernatural thrillers with rivetting results.

So give it a try. Defy convention - break the rules. You may be pleasantly surprised. How do you keep things fresh in your writing? What tricks to you use to avoid stereotypical characters?  I'd love to hear your secrets.

Until next time...Go Write!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blog Master, Becky

When I first started blogging I was so proud of myself for figuring out how to actually upload a post. Then I wanted to add pictures in my blog post and that sent me into a tizzy for days. Flickr or Photo Bucket...wait, what's Picasa?

Flash forward a year and I'm slowly figuring out how to add scroll bars to my link list.  This HTML stuff is simple, but complicated...oxymoron, you say. Uh, no.

The other day I wanted to make a button that launches you to my book website. I didn't just want a picture with a link. I wanted to choose a picture and alter the coloring and size. I wanted to add text to the picture, etc.  Basically I wanted a bigger brain...not happening.

My daughter, Rebecca, whipped it out in like twenty minutes. She's 13 years old. I watched her hands fly over her laptop as she hunted down appropriately romantic-looking font, downloaded it, and then re-colored it to my very specific request for, "crimson-ish." She even fixed the font itself as the cursive 't', when seen at that small size, looked like an 'l'. I have no idea HOW, but its fixed.

Then she wrote some code and emailed it to me so all I had to do was copy and paste it in a gadget and I was done in less than 30 seconds. I can't tell you how humbling that was.  I've homeschooled her for over a decade and now she's surpassed me in this area. Oh, she also made this award for me that I wanted to use later in the month. Wow. ------>

Because I can't pull her away from...whatever it is she does on the computer everytime I need some help, I thought I'd list some great helps for the non-technical people out there like me.

First off is How Can I Do That? a website by fellow writer Bonnie Calhoun. She's a certified Blog*Star by Google and her step-by-step explanations are so helpful. Plus, she's super patient and walked me through the whole scroll bar thingy right on her comments section.

If you're past the newbie things, you can add some really great features to your blog like digital voice clips on sites like GabCast. Or make your own widgets that invite your viewers to a particular event if you leave out location, the widget can be altered for online events like blogfests.

Intimidated? The Blog Doctor has some great picture tutorials.  Finally, if you're like me and just want to start from the basics and add to that, there is a great HTML tutorial here. Its free and you don't feel like you're jumping in mid-stream. If you can think of any sites that might be helpful, please let us know.

Until next time...Go Write!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ain't No Mountain High Enough - What Does Your MC Want?

Desire.

I would move mountains to save my child. I would swim oceans.  People, ordinary people, are capable of extreme acts if the motivation is right.

Desire can be anything that moves you to attempt the impossible if only for the smallest chance...

As fiction writers, one of the first things we need to look at in the editing process is desire, or motivation.

What does your character want?

Is their desire clear to you as the creator of the character? Can you explain it in a sentence? Why are they pushing forward despite all the obstacles thrown in their path?

Are they on a quest? Are they doggedly pursuing a killer? Are they attempting to rescue, escape, or exact revenge?  Ronald Tobias, in his book 20 Master Plots, goes beyond the typical 7 themes (man vs. man, etc.) in fiction. If you're unclear on your character's goal, then perusing his list might help you define it.

It's up to you, the writer to figure out what your character's goal is. Why?

Because it will color every decision they make.

We want our characters to arc into something else, something more than what they were at the beginning of the journey.  To do that, they have to want something enough to change for it. In your character's mind, is their desire worth a lie, a life, their life? Or maybe its dignity, or sanity, or safety that they must risk.

Ask yourself if the decisions your character is making are in line with their ultimate desire.

An advantage to truly understanding what your character wants is that revising your story is easier because you can see through the fat of the scenes you love, but don't really need, to the bone of the story.

A compelling desire, conflict to that desire, and consequences for not achieving it are what drive your story forward.

So get out your red pen and reread your manuscript with an eye toward clarity for the reader. They have to know what your main character desires so that for the duration of your book...they want it too.

Until next time...Go Write!

Photograph by Yasin Hassan

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Torrential Trouble - A Weather Blogfest

Today is the Weather Blogfest given by Nick over at A Little Slice of Nothing. I love drama. Not just relationship drama, but honest to goodness edge-of-your-seat drama. I had a scene in mind as soon as I read about the blogfest.

I wrote a series of books called the Intelli-Trace Files about bounty hunters for stolen technology. This excerpt is from the first one entitled, The Shadow Effect. I entered a blogfest earlier and entered the first chapter here.

August, the main character, and a group of Intelli-Trace operatives are making their way through the jungles of Peru trying to track down the people who stole and interrogation formula.  Hayden, Jake and Daryl are his team mates.  The girls he's refering to are from a local village. They paid the girls to help with the equipment and to act as guides.

Hayden has the habit of never asking for help when she needs it, a theme throughout the book.  She is August's love interest.



The Shadow Effect - An Intelli-Trace File

The air pressure changed and August felt a stirring in the weather. The hair on his arms stood up, and then a flash of lightning scratched along the dark sky followed by the roar of thunder overhead. Up at the front of the caravan, Hayden looked up at the sky, her brow furrowed.

His earpiece clicked, and August heard Jake and Daryl swearing from the end of the caravan. Hayden called out to the girls to stop walking and dug in her knapsack. August did the same, located his rain poncho, and pulled it over his head just as the oversized drops started pelting down from the sky.

With this weather, August thought, their trek will take twice as long. At least the rain took the edge off the heat.

Up ahead, Hayden motioned for the girls to continue. The rain pounded on August’s head loud against the plastic of the hood. He could barely hear anything else. He looked back at Jake who gave him the thumbs up sign, and the group started moving again.

They picked their way along the path toward a ravine with a steep embankment on the other side. The girls stopped ahead of them and chattered amongst themselves, pointing to the ravine. As he got to the edge, August realized that the ravine was much narrower and deeper than he thought. It looked like it used to be a river. An old ladder-bridge spanned the ravine four feet down from the edge and almost fifty feet across. Directly underneath the bridge, the middle of the riverbed narrowed abruptly to a V. The torrential rain poured into the ravine, the water already rising.

Construction crews often erected these makeshift bridges to get supplies across to a site until a road is cleared, August knew. This one looked at least ten years old. Weather damaged and rotting from the constant moisture in the jungle air, August noticed some of the slats missing.

It wouldn’t be safe to double back and take the main road. Not knowing where the militia was made it dangerous to go hiking around VasTech’s grounds. This path at least provided some cover. They had to press on.

Hayden said something, but the sound of both the pounding rain and the splashing water drowned her out. He shook his head and cupped a hand to his ear, listening.

“I said we have to get across now,” Hayden repeated.

August nodded. “It’s rising fast,” he half-yelled back.

In the time they stood there talking, the water rose almost to the bottom of the bridge. Hayden said something again, but he didn’t catch it, the noise of the rain deafening.

Hayden called to the girls to cross, but another thunder clap drowned her out. August saw her flinch. The sound roared over them, filling the space around them and then rolled onward down the ravine.

Motioning for the girls to follow her, Hayden took up her knapsack, walked ahead of them, and crossed to the other side of the ravine. August looked up. The black clouds churned and a wind picked up, chilling the rain.

Following the girls, August started across the ladder bridge. The water lapped along the bottom of the slats and the mud supporting the bridge sloughed off in chunks from the side of the ravine. August felt the bridge shift under them.

“Hurry up,” Hayden yelled. “Get across.”

August doubted the girls heard her over the thunder.

Hayden caught August’s attention just as a flash of lightning ripped across the sky lighting up her eyes. She looked scared. She climbed up onto the other side of the ravine and reached down for one of the girls, helping her climb up.

“It’s giving way,” Hayden yelled.

He nodded and continued toward her. Hayden reached down again, grabbed a crate from another girl, and then helped her up the steep side to her level. One by one she pulled the girls up. Frightened, they grasped at Hayden. The last girl moved up to the embankment, August a few yards behind her. August gave Daryl and Jake the thumbs up sign, and the two started down the side of the embankment toward the bridge.

Up ahead, August saw the last girl hand her crate to Hayden. The girl flinched as another streak of lightning lit up the sky, connecting with a tree on the far side of the ravine. Sparks erupted from the tree and a deafening crack tore across the field as the tree toppled over.

August gritted his teeth. If they didn’t get out of the storm, they’d get either fried by lightening, or crushed by a falling tree. They had to move.

More thunder rumbled over them. Spooked, the last girl pawed desperately at Hayden, trying to climb up.

“Stop,” Hayden yelled. “Para. Me voy a cayer!”

She was losing her footing, and August saw the mud start to slide from under Hayden’s feet. They were dealing with a rushing river now, the rain water flowing toward the basin.

“Back up,” he yelled, but was drowned out by another roll of thunder. “Hayden!” The water, now up over his knees, slowed him as he tried to get to her.

“Please,” he prayed. “Don’t let them fall. The current is too strong.”

He was almost there. The girl had a hold of Hayden’s poncho and was pulling herself up by it. Hayden leaned back trying to get some leverage. Almost there, August could see a large chunk of the ground under Hayden crack and then give way, toppling her into the ravine.

August reached out and grabbed at Hayden just as she hit the water. He caught her by the strap of the knapsack and pulled her toward him. She was bleeding from her forehead; probably hit her head on the bridge. She reached out for the girl, but the current was already pulling her down.





That's my entry in the blogfest. I hope you enjoyed a jaunt in the jungle with the Intelli-Trace crew. Check out the other great entries over at A Little Slice of Nothing.  Until next time...Go Write!

Photograph by edenpictures.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rain, Revolvers, and Reckless Words

This week's meme from The Red Writing Hood is to post a piece of fiction that contains an argument between two characters.

This excerpt is from a romantic suspense novel I wrote called, Purple Knot.

To set up the scene, Rain and Jimmy are former lovers. They are thrown back together when his sister is murdered and Rain, a private investigator, decides to look into the case. The result is an attack in her office by a masked man. Officer Wicket is the officer that took the report. Salem is Rain's intern at her agency. Summer is the sister that died.






Purple Knot

After Wicket left, I stared at Jimmy’s back for a couple of seconds, decided to leave him alone, and went to go and find the vacuum. I rooted around in the supply closet and was amazed at the amount of pens Salem felt the need to keep on hand. I finally gave up on the vacuum and grabbed the broom. The dustpan was wedged, impossibly, underneath a box of printer paper and I yanked at it angrily. It wouldn’t budge, and I just got more and more angry until finally I was yelling, and kicking at it, and crying. Jimmy appeared in the doorway with a look of concern and utter exasperation on his face.


“Why didn’t you tell me about the phone call and the flowers?”

I froze, not wanting to look at him but he reached out and tucked a ringlet behind my ear. I took a breath.

“I…should have. I just didn’t want to make you worry.”

“You didn’t want me to worry?”

I heard the change in his voice. I looked up at his gray eyes and saw the anger flare behind them.

“Then why, after that kind of warning, did you come here alone, Rain? What were you thinking?”

He was angry at me? Hands on my hips, I whirled on him.

“What was I thinking? I was thinking that maybe it should be safe for me to come to my own place of business! What were you thinking? Why were you creeping around outside this time of night? You could have been shot!”

“I nearly was, thanks to you, Annie Oakley!”

“How do you even know about the phone call and flowers, anyway?”

“Salem called me this morning. He thinks you’re being reckless. I tend to agree. What are you doing, Rain? This isn’t a game!”

“Oh, so this is my fault? I should have what? Run over to Salem’s for protection?”

I waved my arms in the air, growing furious with Jimmy.

He stepped toward me, his voice almost a growl.

“No, that’s not what I’m saying, and you know it. But maybe, when someone threatens you, you go to a hotel for the night.”

“I’m not going to turn tail and run at the first sign of a threat,” I shot back. “I’m not going to cower in the corner, Jimmy. I’m not--”

I stopped myself when my brain caught up to my mouth.

“What, Rain?” Jimmy shouted. “You’re not Summer?”

He stalked away from the doorway, walked to my desk, and grabbed his coat.

“That’s not what I was going to say,” I lied, following him.

He headed for the door, muttering to himself like he always did when we fought.

“Why is everything so one way or the other with you?” He asked suddenly.

He turned to face me, and I could tell he was exasperated. I didn’t understand.

“What?”

“You’re in danger, so you either ignore it and go about your business, or run headlong toward someone trying to kill you?”

My face burned, as did my stomach. Why was he reacting this way? Suddenly defending myself was a character flaw?

“This is my place, Jimmy,” I shouted, pointing to the floor. “I have every right to be here!”

He shook his head, and I threw my hands up, at a loss.

“You’re so stubborn! You could have been killed.”

“What would you have me do, then Jimmy? What?”

“Stop and think!” he shouted angrily. “Stop acting like you’re alone in this world, and start behaving like some of us love you! I wouldn’t survive losing you, Rain. I couldn’t take it!”

I looked at him stunned, and then he strode out of the office.

“Jimmy!”

He didn’t come back. I paced the floor for a few minutes, trying to stop what felt like an impending aneurism from blowing, before I called for a cab. I grabbed the Bower files and my suitcase and went downstairs. A lone sedan idled in the parking lot; the interior light illuminated Jimmy’s disheveled hair. I didn’t want to fight again, and tried to slip around the side, but he looked up and saw me. He got out of the car, walked around to the passenger side, and opened the door for me.

“I already called a cab,” I said without moving toward him.

“You can cancel on our way,” he said.

Once again back to his slow, laid back drawl he walked over to where I stood and took my suitcase.

“It’s not really nice to call a cab and then not use them.”

Jimmy put the suitcase in the trunk and looked at me quietly. I walked toward him and slid into the passenger seat.

Jimmy closed the door, walked around the front of the car, scanned the street up and down. He got in behind the steering wheel and sat there, staring out the windshield. When he looked at me, his eyes were red, worried, and exhausted. When he spoke his voice was quiet, controlled.

“Rain, when I heard those gunshots I nearly lost my mind. I just kept thinking about all the time we’ve lost, dancing around each other. I don’t’ want to do this anymore, Rain. I don’t want to give you anymore space. I don’t want to be patient anymore. You said you miss us. Well here I am. All in, Rain. I’m here in this all the way.”

He looked at me then and I started to tremble. His gray eyes were dark, full of pain. When he spoke again it was barely above a whisper.

“What about you, Rain. What do you want?”

My heart jumped in my chest. I reached out and ran my fingers along his jaw, and I smiled, not caring that my lip was trembling again. The words caught in my throat.

“I’m all in, Jimmy,” I said finally.

He reached up, took my hand, and kissed my palm. Relief and wariness mingled in his gaze and he looked at me intently.

“You’re sure?”

I nodded, smiling and crying at the same time.

Jimmy slid his hand along my neck and pulled me to him, his lips pressed against mine softly. Every muscle in my body burned for him. My hands went to his jaw, drew him closer. His lips parted mine and my breath escaped in a moan. I kissed him with a million years of missing him.

He pulled back, out of breath.

“That’s pretty sure,” he murmured.



I hope you enjoyed the argument meme and take a look at the other blogs that participated. You can find them, and other Red Writing Hood writing prompts every week.

Until next time...Go Write.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't Pack for That Conference Just Yet...

We all know how important it is to hone our craft as writers. We need to read voraciously, constantly strengthen our storytelling skills, and learn the business of publishing so we don't end up querying our YA Thriller to a non-fiction agent. One of the best ways to both learn and network is the writer's conference. But if you can't make it to one, there are a number of great ways to grow as writer that don't require packing or bad hotel coffee.

The Teaching Blog:

I like to genre hop when I am trying to seek out advice on writing. Sometimes insights into say the children's market or the horror market yield great tidbits that help me better understand my own genre. There are, of course, some great blogs out there that truly dispense accurate and timely advice to writers no matter what you write. Nathan Bransford, Quintessential Query Experiment, and the Character Therapist are just a few to check out.

Virtual Conferences:

I am currently attending a "virtual conference" called WriteOnCon, that is actually for children's lit authors, but I have to tell you, I've learned so much. Its a three-day affair with speakers and opportunities to ask questions...Best of all, its free. I really wish there was something like this in the Christian romance genre. I would totally pay to attend a conference in my pj's.

What's cool about virtual classes and conferences is that they have many of the same elements as a real conference. They have live chats with editors and agents that you can register for and enter your questions. There are video feeds of Q and A sessions with publishing professionals. Not to mention some outstanding posts with great information on subjects that affect ANY writer. Queries, advances and contracts, refining your craft...great stuff no matter your genre.

The Webinar:

This is a little different than a virtual conference in that they generally have a cost. Webinars are often given by well known agents or editors. Rachelle Gardner is doing one on Composing a Killer Pitch this month through Writer's Digest. They aren't cheap, but again the convenience of not having to travel is a plus.

The Critique Group:

I can't stress enough the importance of hanging with other writers. Artists in every discipline do this and for good reason. I get great information from other writers on contests, conferences, classes, and general buzz in the industry. I learn about things like formatting and what not to do with your query from writers happy to share their experiences. Critique groups aren’t' just for reading each other's chapters every two weeks. They're for encouragement. Nothing beats a knowing nod when you're crushed over a rejection than someone who has been there.

What do you do to improve your craft? Until next time...Go Write!

Photograph by geishaboy500.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Climbing Out From Under the Desk

It’s been over a week since I last posted anything, but I have a super good reason...I volunteered to write up a proposal and some chapters for a novella coming out next Christmas and that's taken up all of my blogging time. There's no guarantee my novella will get selected, but at least there's a shot and that's all we struggling writers can ask for, no?

It was interesting to write because it was a novella of only 20,000 words. I usually write in the 97,000 + range so condensing a story to so few a word count was challenging, but I feel I learned a lot also. Nothing like parceling out words to make your descriptions and dialogue tighter.

The parameters of the project were very clear and I had a fun time working within that type of assignment. It’s interesting how we can work around what is required, and still be creative and have fun with it. I learned a lot about pioneers, cabin life, and baking in the 1800’s. Talk about a hard life, people!

Research has always been a great love of mine in writing. I really got into the whole chinking vs. mud sealing, what kind cabin designs were where, and types of cooking paraphernalia actually available at that time, in the particular region of wilderness I chose to set my story. What really got me interested in the time period and genre were the first hand accounts found in letters, diaries, and newspaper articles of the era. We have such amazing access through library digital archives…yay technology!

I said that I would send a few chapters as examples of my work, but I got so into the story that I’m on chapter seven right now. It’s the last chapter I’ll submit with the proposal, but it’ll be a hoot to write because it has a huge storm in it and a flooding creek and whipping wind…whew! Can’t wait to finish it. Another plus about this is that I will have fodder for the Weather Blogfest coming up on August 14th so that's two birds, baby!

Anyway, I missed out on quite a bit over the week and I’m anxious to read what you all have been talking about. Erin over at Hold on to Your Bloomers! said the High Drama Blogfest was awesome so I’m heading over to check out some of your entries. See you in your comment sections…Until next time…Go Write!

Photograph by g-hat.