Monday, August 28, 2006

Setting

When writing your next great romance novel, give some serious consideration to setting. Setting can have a huge impact on the tension, flow, or tone of your story. Consider the impact of setting in the following movies:

Dead Calm (1989) - The heroine is trapped on a boat, which is stranded in the middle of the ocean, with a deranged killer. If that doesn't up the ante, I don't know what does.

Father of the Bride (1991) - A beautiful suburban home, the perfect setting for a wedding. The house even acts as a character in the story, a cherished part of the family's life holding many memories.

Practical Magic (1998) - Another house that adds its own character to the story. The rambling old home reflects the eclectic style and respect for family tradition of its inhabitants. The town adds a sense of community, at perfect odds with their perception of the "unusual" Owens family, who have been frowned upon for centuries.

Titanic (1997) - A ship doomed to sink, where history has shown that a landslide majority of first-class passengers survived, and most third-class passengers perished. A perfectly tragic, heart-wrenching setup for a romance between a first-class lady and a third-class man.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. A carefully-chosen setting can add punch to your plot, and even act as a character in your story. As such, it's important to give consideration to the backdrop in which you place your hero and heroine. If you haven't seen some of these movies, I strongly suggest you rent them and pay attention to the nuances of setting, and how the characters interact with it. And make some popcorn!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

3rd Place!

I'm tickled to announce that my first manuscript has recently placed third in an RWA-chapter-sponsored contest. I found out only after a weekend of getting congratulations from fellow writers and responding with, "Uh, thanks. What'd I do?"

The final results haven't been posted on the chapter's website, but our own chapter president forwarded the news from another loop. The news couldn't have come at a nicer time, when I've been struggling to make my current WIP behave the way I want it to. Sometimes, validation really does make one feel better. ;) The fact that this is my first manuscript is what truly excites me. I had gotten close with other contests, but placing makes me feel as if I'm on the right track. Now to get back to work on that current WIP!

I'd like to take a second to plug my fellow (soon-to-be-published) author, Jennifer Talty. I've been following her efforts to get published from the beginning, and her first book, RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, is due out June 2007 in e-book format and September 2007 in print through Triskelion Publishing. She'll be following that up with IT HAD TO BE YOU - no release date yet on that one. RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU is a romantic suspense set in beautiful Lake George, NY - and the hero is mighty droolworthy. Jennifer knows how to write a steamy hero!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Writing by Soundtrack

Some writers (and I am one of them) like to write to a "soundtrack." They compile a list of songs that closely relate to certain scenes in their novels and write exclusively to that homemade soundtrack until the book is finished. I go so far as to burn a CD and make a cover for it, as if it were a real movie soundtrack. (Did I mention I'm also a Photoshop junkie?) If you're anything like me, you play your soundtrack incessantly, and it drives your spouse or significant other bananas. :)

Music can be a great way to encourage the flow of your creative juices. Even if you aren't the type who can write while distracting music is playing, you might benefit from playing one of your favorite tunes before you hit the keyboard. Even if it doesn't help you dream up that stellar scene, it may help relax you and get you ready to tackle your manuscript. Give it a try!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ahh, Romance!

Well, yesterday, the DH earned full bragging rights. For no reason, he bought me a half dozen red roses. How sweet is that? He must have read my mind, because last week I was in the store and went past the floral display, thinking, "If I had just a little more cash this week, I'd buy a bouquet for the kitchen table."

Every once in a while, he does something so sweet and surprising, for no reason at all, that it makes me fall in love with him all over again. So here's to spontanaiety - do something unusual for your sweetie on any old regular day, and celebrate your romance!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Telephone Pet Peeves

This has absolutely nothing to do with writing, but I've come to realize that I hate phones. I spend most of my day job dealing with a phone, and by the time I get home, I can't stand to hear one ringing (which is why I usually make my husband get it). This is part of the reason I've adamantly resisted getting a cell phone, or even a pager, although I may soon be forced into it. Yeah, that's me, Dark Ages Girl. When I go out, I don't wanna be found. :)

The most annoying thing about phones, apart from busy signals, is voicemail. I can't stand it when you press a wrong button and the automated voice politely tells you, "We're sorry, but you've pressed an invalid extension." Or, when you're holding, the automated voice will pick up every so often to apologize for the wait. What? How is it that an automated message can apologize? It's not even sentient to be sorry! This false politeness really bugs me. It's meaningless.

I think our fast-food society is sapping the value out of human interaction. It's so much easier to keep a human being at arm's length when he or she is on the other end of a phone or a computer. That's part of the downfall of such incredible technology. People are slowly losing their social graces. Maybe that's why I've resisted getting a cell phone for so long. I'd rather unplug myself from the cyberverse and talk to a real person! Hey, who knew I was so deep? ;)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Are you a good rejection, or a bad rejection?

Got a rejection letter in the mail yesterday, but I'm happy about it. Why? Because the editor took the time to point out the strengths in my writing, even though she didn't feel the story was right for her house. A letter like that, or a handwritten note at the bottom of a form rejection letter, should make any writer sit up and take notice - and thank the person who wrote it! It generally means that you are on the right track, and even if your work isn't accepted by that agent or house, you should be proud of yourself. Not all rejections are bad news. This one happened to make my day, at a time when I was beginning to feel my writing sucked. So I fired off a thank-you note telling her how much I appreciated that extra effort on her part, and now maybe - just maybe - I can get back to work. :)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

And the heat just keeps on coming....

Another scorcher today, so try to stay cool. This weekend, my local RWA chapter is having a meeting to recap the experience at the Nationals, which have just concluded. I hear it was a fantastic time. You lucky dogs! Someday, I hope to go, but it'll have to wait.

In the meantime, I'm ashamed to say I haven't written a single sentence in my new manuscript so far this week. I think either I'm temporarily burnt out and my brain needs to rest and regroup, or the heat really is frying me. However, I have my previous two books out to a few editors, agents, and contests, so at least I'm doing something. That counts, I suppose. Ah, well, I may have to camp out in my air-conditioned bedroom over the weekend with my laptop. (Yay, air conditioning. How did I ever live without you?)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Keep Cool Today!

Just a short public service message today advising those of you dealing with extreme heat (100 degrees where I live) to be careful. Wear light clothing and stay hydrated, and especially watch out for pets and the elderly. Heat can be nastier than the cold, particularly in the absence of air conditioning and in the presence of high humidity. Take a swim if you can, or use this chance to revisit your childhood and run through a sprinkler. :)