Resolutions versus Goals

Resolutions on New Year's Eve? I don't do them.
I do, however, set goals for the New Year and I usually set those over the first week of said year. I try to be as specific as possible and I write them all down where I can go back and look at them. Sometimes, on this blog. Sometimes, the goals are written before January, after the crush of Christmas is over. But this year Maine has had a bunch of snow storms in a row and work has been unusually crazy, leaving me and my goals until New Years Day. So, tomorrow I'll be posting goals.

Got any you'd like to share?

Adding Meta Tags to Blogger sites

I spent several hours trying to figure out how to add Meta Tags to my Blogger Template. I've read tons of different online articles about it and I finally came across this one article that helped me the most. Want to know how to insert them quickly and easily?

Check out this posting Adding meta tags to blogger(blogspot) blogs,websites-SEO

GMC: It's not just for our characters

It's the end of the year. You're looking back at what you did or did not accomplish over the last twelve months and you are trying to figure out just how to get what you want. A manuscript published... or in my case... the next manuscript published.

For me, this was the year of rejection slips. Tough when you've sold before, but certainly not a new story. There are plenty of us facing the same fate after one, two or even twelve books.

So...
Our Goal? To be published (again). To see a return on a major investment of heart, soul and time.

Our Motivation? Well, duh! We've worked really hard on our stories. They are our lives transposed onto sheets of paper and computer screens. Of course we want to see them published. And along with that goes the unspoken rewards. Money is good. I'd certainly not turn any down if they wanted to offer it to me for a book or books. Money is not the dirty word that every writer secretly covets, but some refuse to acknowledge. Money can be a powerful motivator and justification. There is also recognition both from family and peers and from those who have yet to read your books. That, also, is powerful. And there is that need to get that story on paper. To exorcise those characters haunting your brain.

Conflict? There are plenty of them. Time. There is never enough of it and it always seems that there is something waiting to just rob it from us. There is self-doubt that makes us write and rewrite continually and never actually submit in fear that some unseen person will reject us. There is a tightening market and an the skeptics and analysts that say this will be the roughest publishing year in recent memory. The shrinking midlist... the death of a genre... heck, anyone can find a reason if they try hard enough....

And that's what it comes down to... isn't it? Have you tried hard enough to see your goals realized? Did you take those chances that were offered you, no matter how small the offering? Did you sit your butt in your chair and write... no excuses? Only you can answer it. Me, I'm no stranger to the conflict. But I am always honest enough to know that there is always a chance, even the smallest... And it's up to me to take it.

Inspiration...

For some unexplainable reason there is something about Sunday evenings that makes me think of Paris. I've never been, but there are times when I feel an ache to walk the streets and roam through the cathedrals de Paris. It's snowing here in Maine... a lot! And I have a vague image of snow gracing the streets along the canals of Paris that makes me think I must have lived there in another life. So, I googled Paris in the snow and came up with a site that had the most beautiful photos, some panoramic and some time lapsed and all beautiful. They are from Arnaud Frich and I would suggest that you take a few moments to enjoy his photos. I've included the link for you all. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did. And... thank you Arnaud.

http://www.arnaudfrichphoto.com/english-version/main-menu.htm

Quote of the week...

To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.
--Mark Twain

One for the holidays...

I'm not known for my cooking. In fact, usually my family will shy away from anything that I deem an "experiment". But this recipe is one of my mom's and that guarantees two things. 1. It will be inexpensive to make and 2. It will be easy to make. These are both and they make a good a take along for get togethers.

Chocolate Cherry Bars
350 Degree Oven
Cooking time: 25-39 Minutes

Grease and flour a 9x13 pan. Preheat oven.
Mix by hand: 1 pkg Chocolate Cake Mix
1 21oz. Can Cherry Pie Filling
1 tsp. Almond extract
2 eggs, beaten

Cook for 25-30 minutes.

Five minutes before pulling the cake out of the oven combine the following in a saucepan.
1 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Milk
5 tbsp. butter

As soon as you pull out the cake you can set the heat under the saucepan medium heat. Stir with a whisk until it comes to a full boil and then keep stirring for 1 minute after it comes to a full boil. After that pull from the heat and add 6oz chocolate chips. Stir until melted and then pour over the cake. Let the cake sit until it is completely cool. Cut and serve.

Hint: I sometimes double the chocolate frosting amount so that I have plenty to go around. Just make sure that you have a pan with higher sides in order to accomodate.

Enjoy.

Life at my house...

I worked late last night and returned home to find a very grumpy husband. You see, every morning my husband gets up while it's still dark and he does his best not to wake up the household. He gets dressed in the dark and apparently, sometime when the laundry was folded, the DH got a shirt that was actually mine. He was well into his work day when realized he was wearing a tee with a giant frog with a crown and the saying "Romance Writers, turning frogs into Princes on a daily basis"! When I asked him what he did when he found out he told me he just buttoned up his over shirt and refused to take it off... no matter how warm it got!

So, from now on... whenever I see a frog Prince (and in my line of work I see quite a few) then I'm sure I'll be thinking of my husband... and laundry.

Quote of the week...

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.
--Isaac Asimov

The finalists have been chosen

I have been to numerous workshops, all detailing the best way to come up with the most engaging openings for your book. I've seen charts, I've heard lectures and I've judged contests... but up until now I haven't found a better way to judge the worthiness of a first paragraph then to read the entries that Literary Agent Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown received in his 2nd-Sort-of-Annual-Stupendously-Ultimate-First-Paragraph Challenge. I would challenge you to read them all. I argue that it's worth the effort if only to see what works and what doesn't. I wasn't a finalist, but I did enter and found the effort worthy. Want to know what my entry was? You've got to read through them to find it... and while you're there you can check out the others and see if you can see why he chose the ones he did... I must admit... they are all wonderful and had I picked them up off the shelf and read the first page I would have bought the books.

Challenge yourself. Is your first paragraph worthy of a second look?

Begging the question...

With all the news this week from the publishing world, I have to wonder if this will mean an increase in the ebook market? After all, since the cost of printing books is so prohibitive (said by someone who used to work for a non-fiction company), it only stands to reason that they are going to focus their efforts on getting the biggest bang for their bucks. Does this mean they are going to be cutting the advances for the large names in the industry? Maybe they won't increase them, but I don't believe they'll be cutting them. They'll be looking for ways to utilize their back inventory and not taking as many chances on an unknown.

Now, don't stop breathing out there just because you're a new author. This doesn't mean the doors are closed to you, but it would behoove you (egad! Did I really just use that word?) to produce tight books with highly intriguing plots and an eye to the future. Does anyone really know what the next hot thing is going to be? Probably not, but it wouldn't hurt anyone to study the market right now.

Those of you who are already publishing within the ebook arena are already aware of what it takes to sell books. The authors that I see in these lists, at least the ones that do well, are a combination of great story tellers, avid marketers and determined individuals. It takes a strong constitution to survive in a hard market. And the ebook writers have been fighting a battle since their inspiration.

Do I have the crystal ball that tells me what is ahead for the publishing houses and the others who live there? Certainly not, but keep in mind that a recession is a trend in a downward movement... and anything that goes downward will eventually work itself back up again. Maybe not to what it once was. The concepts, strategies and systems may be different... but in the end the idea of a fascinating story in search of a willing audience will never completely disappear.

Quote of the week...

Anyone who believes you can't change history has never tried to write his memoirs.
--David Ben Gurion

Phew!

It's been a particularly rough week in the Publishing world. Random House, Simon & Schuster, Thomas Nelson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have all announced that they are reacting to the tough economy. Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Thomas Nelson are laying off. Random House is reorganizing. And even Penguin and Harper Collins have been affected. It's that damned trickle down effect that the economist talk about. Higher production costs, less expendable income and a truly rough economic forecast have everyone worried.

But according to Nathan Branford, an agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. (http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/) , the reports are not all bad. Some of the publishing houses are doing okay and those that are looking to the future and possible new venues are betting on coming out the other end of this recession looking good.

So, where as authors do we stand with this kind of news? Pretty much the same. It's my guess that the publishing houses are going to be a lot more selective about what they put in print and their budding authors may not get hugely fantastic advances... but the advice is still the same that it's always been. Write a damned good book and it will sell...

I'm waiting patiently....

well certainly as patient as I am capable of being. Anyone who has known me for any amount of time will tell you that patience is NOT one of my virtues to live by. So, what has me in an uproar today? Transferring domains. Yup, I've decided to move my domain to another host and of course the process can't be easy. If it were easy people would do it all time... wouldn't they? But they make the process more difficult just because they hope that people will give up and stay where they are. And that involves waiting patiently for all the processes to go through as they should... still waiting!

Goals and the holidays. Do they Mix?

It's that time of the year. The time when I start thinking about goals.

It's guaranteed that whenever I am short of time or resources, that's when I want to write the most. And the holiday season is the greatest example of this. Usually, by the time the presents are opened and the wrappings picked up, I'm ready to sit down with my computer and do some writing. It comes down to the things we have to do... and the things that we want to do. The writer's balance. Especially, if you have a full-time outside job, kids, and in my case, other responsibilities. I don't know of a writer out there who doesn't struggle with the writer's balance. Luckily, I've got a family that understands this delicate balance.

So, since I'm in the initial phase of my goals I'll not list them yet. But don't discount the quiet, I'm still there thinking about them...

chuckle for the day

Want a chuckle? This one is thanks to one of my shiftleaders, Derek. It was very slow last night and he told me not to worry, if he got bored he would just reinstate the Roman Empire... aparently, he's read this list of 474 things to do when you're bored. I had to come home and Google it, then spent 45 minutes rolling in laughter over the list with my daughter. Some of the references are such that most kids would not get it today, but obviously the list was created by someone around my age.

Enjoy.

Quote of the week...

"She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain."
-Louisa May Alcott

Most people gear up for the day-after-turkey-day shopping. Me? I'm gearing up for the day-before -frantic-rush-to-find-all-the-stuff-for-your-dinner rush. I work in a grocery store.


So while you're out there pushing your way through the crush of the people looking for the stuffing and cranberry sauce (aisle 5 and 7 respectively), be sure to be nice to your grocery store associates. We're doing our best to get your on your way.


I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!


I'm leading a double life...

No.
Make that a triple life.

By day, I'm a mild mannered mom (well, not always so mild-mannered as my kids will attest to) and an assistant manager of customer service for a grocery chain. I'm also a writer. Have been for a very long time. But then, if you didn't know that you probably wouldn't be at my blog. And, occasionally at night, I'm a ghost hunter.

This new life is not so new... but the title is new. Before that I was just some chick roaming cemeteries and talking to people who weren't visible to most.

Sounds confusing, doesn't it?

Sometimes, it is. But the more that I do each of these things the more that I realize how well they mesh together. And how each serves the other well. The daytime job is not something that I will probably ever be able to do without. The pay is needed. But the job offers something else to my psychy. I get to talk to people. During the week before Thanksgiving... I get to talk to a lot of people. That connection is something that I savor. My soul drinks it up as I connect with others. Even when it's as simple as telling them what aisle the stuffing is in for the five hundredth time in one day.

It's in aisle five... all the way to the back... on the right.

The writing offers me the creative outlet that I need. If I go too long without writing my husband will tell me to go write. Apparently, I become grouchy or something. Also, if I'm procrastinating over things then I tend to create projects for him. Hence, the new counter tops.

But the writing is a part of me that is almost ancient. I was born a writer. Most writers will tell you the same thing. I came from a long line of storytellers and I'm sure the line is set to continue. Storytelling is history, fiction or not. Storytelling is life. Art. Love. Inspiration. Perspiration. Humanizing. Intensifying. And most times... frustrating. But we do it because we have to.

The last part is the newest. My writing led to my newest passion... hunting for ghosts. Now, my husband not only has the challenging endeavor of telling people that his wife is a romance writer (not that he ever really minded), but he must now tell people that his wife runs around in the dark, armed with a camera, camcorder, IR thermometer and a digital voice recorder. I'm not sure that even he can believe it. And he's had a long time to become accustomed to me. I came to the ghost hunting through my love of history. In this case, Maine history. I became quick friends with Kathy and Tony at Maine Ghost Hunters and I realized that these were people who shared many of the same traits that I do. They are curious, with a thirst for knowledge, and minds that are open to the things that can't necessarily be seen with the naked eye. (Well, most of the time.)

All in all, I don't mind the split personality. I've got more than enough curiosity to go around. But should you happen to see me in the grocery store with an EMF detector, please, don't be surprised.

Lessons Learned...

I was watching one of those Sunday Morning Preachers on the television. I am not someone who will normally discuss my belief systems with others. I have them. I'm just not the type of person to discuss them with others. But on this particular Sunday, the preacher was talking about Joseph and his "loyalty". That one words struck me more than others. And, as it always does, my mind moves as to how this builds characters? How does this create a belief system?

Dianna Love gave a workshop at the KOD Retreat in Portland on World Building. The questions that she asked were unusual and geared toward creating an entire society... complete with belief systems. So, when I heard this lecture on the television I began to look at it and ask myself... what is it that my hero is so loyal to that he would never walk away from? What is it that forms his belief system?

I'm going to add this to my list of questions that I use to create my characters. What is the question that you believe has the most impact when you look at creating believable characters?

Off the Bookshelf...


I had the very distinct pleasure of sitting next to Dianna Love at the booksigning for the KOD Retreat in Portland, Maine this last October. She, along with Mary Buckham, gave great workshops that had us all mesmerized and urgent to get home to work on our own books.
It was at the signing that I picked up her latest release, Phantom in the Night. I'd had a chance to talk with her a bit about the experience of working with Sherrilyn Kenyon on this project, but nothing compared to reading the book.
I admit. I was saving it until I had finished a project I was working on. I'd put it aside as sort of a reward for when I had more time (yes, I know that crazy talk). You see, between writing and paranormal investigating, a full time job and two kids and very patient hubby I have to restrict myself to lunch time reading.
But once I started reading Phantom I couldn't put it down. I read it on lunches, regular breaks, my few spare moments at night and even waiting in the car for my hubby to come back from picking up a prescription.
I was hooked.
Not only is the writing seamless, something that very few can carry off when working with a writing partner, but the story was fresh, intriguing an totally captivating. I loved it from the start and had to reread the ending twice since I was in such a rush to the HEA.
I bow to your greatness Ms. Love and Ms. Kenyon. I want to be you when I grow up.

The research answers you can't get just anywhere...

I've been working on my non-fiction book, but there are some elements that are taken directly from my family, some experiences that come from my family's background. I was working on a particular instance with my maternal Grandfather who was, among other things, a fisherman off Harpswell. I needed to know what kind of boat he was using at the time between WWI and WWII. Now, I could just Google and find the answers, but there were too many different factors to take into account. What was used in Harpswell at that time? Even, what kind of boat would my grandfather have actually had access to at that time? This things can just not be Googled.

So I went to my next best reference... my dad. He is a great source of reference for anything that had an engine, boat or otherwise, during this time. Did you know that it was common during that time for fishermen to have either a Hampton style boat? Or a boat called a Peapod, which was shaped like the vegetable? I didn't. He even went on to tell me that the simple engines that they used at that time had to be cranked to start and there was no reverse. The only way to reverse a boat when it was coming into the dock was to catch the motor at a certain point in it's workings and to throw the controlling lever. It didn't always work and more than one boat hit the wharf. The engines made a put-put noise and were loud. Very important for a story when you are trying to build atmosphere. Could they have heard over the engine? Probably not.

So, when looking for references and information, don't discount those that are around you. Not only can they tell you the pieces that can't be Googled, but you are preserving some of those details for the future.

Confession time....

I hate SYNOPSIS...

Okay, so there are a lot of writers out there who will sympathize with me. We take our hearts and spill them out into stories, only to have to condense those hearts into ten pages or less in order to sell the stories to the editors.

But these synopsis do serve a purpose other than to torture us. They let the editor know at a quick glance that all the required elements are available within the story. The editor can see that the story progresses at a logical pace and that the growth of the characters and the advancement of the storyline is enough to make it a satisfying read.

For years, I've been judging synopsis contests. In fact, I coordinated one for Maine RWA. And I continue to see the same things represented in synopsis time and again...

1.) If the story is a romance, then the focus of the story (whether it is a suspense, paranormal, futuristic, etc...) should focus on the growth of the relationship. It seems simple enough, but the concept of condensing a storyline down can sometimes overshadow the reason for the story in the first place. The reason for the attraction, the steps of intimacy... and in this case I'm not just talking about making love. I'm talking about the steps that need to happen in order for this to become a relationship versus a one-night-stand. I want to know what it is that brings them together and pushes them apart. In short, it's about them.

2.) Put your heart into the synopsis. You wrote the story for a darned good reason. No one sits down and undertakes the telling of a story without knowing that there is something that they want to offer to the reader. Make sure that you imbibe your synopsis with this heart. It's going to make the difference between a simple storytelling and a story that catches their attention.

3.) You have just a few short lines to capture the editors attention. Don't waste them. I've been to all kinds of workshops on synopsis. There are plenty of authors out there that will tell you that they know the "secret" to a good beginning for a synopsis. Ask a question? Start off with a bang? I would suggest that no matter what you start with the character who has the strongest struggle. There is usually one main character that is stronger than the other. Tell their story and tell what it is that they want most within the first few lines. Then, tell why they can't have it. Sounds like the ingredients for writing a good story? It should. It's the same elements only in a shorter format.

4.) Your voice, the one that you've worked so hard to develop and show should be evident in your story. Show it, glorify it, but don't shove it down their throats either. Good writing should prevail and the place for long, flowery prose is NOT in a synopsis.

5.) Lastly, check, double-check, and then get someone else to check your punctuation. You may believe it to be perfect, but just a few simple mistakes like hyphenated words without hyphens can be the thing that makes the editor put your synopsis down in the rejection pile.

Will I still hate writing synopsis ten years from now? Probably. Will I agonize over it if I write 10 or 100 more of them? Most likely. But just for tonight I've got all the answers.

TOT... or Totally Off Topic


If you haven't seen the Dirty Jobs episode on the Fainting Goats you should really check it out. In the meantime, check out the IFGA site here.
I really like the t-shirts!
Looking for a little help with your writing? According to CrystalsandJewelry.com these stones will help enhance your writing...

writing: agate, amazonite, barite, blue topaz, diopside, fire agate, graphite, kyanite, lapis lazuli, sodalite, variscite, zincite

unfortunately... I don't see any that are good for stopping procrastination.
I haven't written on this blog for awhile. Not because I'm losing interest, but because my writing has taken a turn and I've been working furiously on a new project. This is a non-fiction regional book that I'm not going to say more out other than this. It requires a lot of research and so I've found myself doing a lot of internet and even leg work. Today, since school was out I took my son along with me and he helped me some. It's not that I'm not going to write romance anymore it's that I seem to be going through a growth stage and this is a very busy time for that change. I still have a book proposal, partial and rework of a short story to get out, but for some reason I've been unreasonably restless lately. Unable to focus and let my mind go to the purely creative side. This is where the non-fiction project has helped me by keeping me working.

I hope everyone is well and got the chance to get out and vote today. Me? I was at the polls when they opened at 8am. Maine has completely closed yet, but the first votes are coming in. They said the first district vote is in... but then, that town only had three voters. Surely, this could only happen in New England....

It's that time again...


2008 Put Your Heart in a Book Conference
October 24-25thThe Woodbridge Hotel & Conference Center
Iselin, New Jersey

Re-Release Day for Obsidian!


Obsidian is being rereleased today from Thorndike Press as part of their large print program!


Shelby Teague stood barefoot in the grass, watching him, and for the second time that day, Jamie found he was incapable of forming an intelligent greeting.
"What are you doing here, Mr. Rivard? Come to insult me some more?"
High, green blades of grass covered her feet. Her hair hung down, curling softly against her shoulders. She took a few steps, stopping just a few feet in front of him.
Jamie held tight to his bag, not daring to move a muscle for fear he would say or do something that would scare her off and prove to her that he really was a complete idiot.
"John Case sent me, he told me you had a room for rent."
"And I’m supposed to rent to a total stranger?" She brushed at a wisp of hair that fell forward into her eyes.
"Look, I know we didn’t hit it off well at our last meeting, but I would appreciate the chance to change your opinion of me."
She nodded. "Mr. Rivard, you have no idea what my opinion of you truly is."


Jamie Rivard is searching for the real reasons behind why his friend was killed and all the clues are leading him to Chandler, Maine, a sleep little fishing village that is hiding a scary truth. Mysterious planes circling the point in the night and her brother's sudden disappearance, Shelby Teague is all too aware the cost of making a living from the ocean... But can she trust a stranger with a take-charge attitude and an ability to stir her temper and her sense? They're bringing up more than lobsters in Chandler, and it's only when they learn to trust each other that they can save the ones they love.




"Sabrina, the full time observation of David Larrabee is not a recognized profession. Get down from that tree."


It's on tonight, another of my favorites. Sabrina, the new version, not the old one. This is the one with with Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear. The original with Humphry Bogart is great, too! But the newer one is my favorite.

This movie is filled with great lines. Way too many for me to put in here. There is a sharp, but heartfilled wit about the movie. The relationships are wonderful and the character's motivations are subtle, but real. The movie also has fantastic scenery of Paris and Cape Cod.

"I don't expect you to think of me when I'm gone. You didn't think of me when I was here." Sabrina confesses when she thinks she's talking to David and it's really Lineus.

Sabrina is a ghost of a girl who only wants to be loved. In this case, she wants the love of David. David is the perpetual goof off. He wants to play all day and not have to worry about where the money is coming from. He has an office at the family offices, but not a clue where they are. And he loves women, lots of women. He's made an art form of seducing women.

"So, you people work Sundays now?" David says to his mother and Lineus.
"It's Wednesday," responds Lineus in his dry manner.

Ahhh, Lineus. Harrison Ford as I imagine him to really be like. Lineus is all about being a success and being secure. But when he really "sees" Sabrina he begins to realize that there is more to life than protecting your interests. And when she really sees him. That scares the crap out of him.

Want to know how it ends? Check out the old version or the new. They're both great. After all, it's a romance with a happy ending!

I'm off visiting...

I've been visiting with Nina Pierce this weekend at the KOD Retreat in Portland, Maine. A good time was had by all and the best part was that I could actually come home and sleep in my own bed. That was a definite plus.

Anyway, Nina has posted an interview that she was kind enough to do with me. If you get a moment, go on and check it out @ http://www.ninapierce.com/romanceblog

Thanks to Nina for letting me chat with her! It is always fun when we get together.

Well, I'm off...


I've got a huge weekend ahead of me with two different events back to back. Looking for me? I'll be in Portland, Maine at the KOD Suspense Retreat at the Portland Regency Hotel. Maybe I'll remember to take my camera and get pictures. Something to post here after. If you are in the area on Saturday be sure to drop by the booksigning from 4-5:30. I'll be the one running on massive amounts of caffeine since I haven't slept for a few nights. If you see me, stop me and make me take a breath.
I'll be sure to post when I get back! If you are headed to Portland for the Retreat, I'll see you there!
Looking for a good read?
Come meet the wonderful writers
who will signing at the KOD Suspense Retreat
Portland Regency Hotel
20 Milk Street
Saturday, October 4th from 4-5:30
Psst... this includes me! I'll be signing Obsidian and Three Truths!
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month... when was the last time you truthfully checked? Do you know your family history? Did you know that cancer has to start somewhere in a family? Did you know that it is a myth that only certain types of breast size and density can affect your chances of getting cancer?

Know the facts and have a mamogram. Do the right thing.

When I opened up my email from Borders this morning one of the first things that caught my eye was a new release, THE GIVEN DAY, by Dennis Lehane.


Now, there are a few things that will always suck me into a story. The first is that "catch your eye" thing. Very vague, I know. But it can be any number of things that will bring me to the point where I investigate a book further, especially since it has to be something quite intriguing to get me read outside romance. Usually, it's something that has a bit of history that I'm interested in, and if it includes a bit of Boston history, all the better.


In the case of THE GIVEN DAY, it's set in 1919 in Boston. Around that time, my family was living in Medford, Mass. So, I was hooked when I read the following blurb:


Set in Boston, the book revolves around the police strike of 1919 and its ramifications for two very different main characters. Capturing the maelstrom of a city—and a nation—at the crossroads, the book is a fascinating portrayal of race, politics, family, and greed.


The second draw was the video interview with the author. (if you want to see his interview, click here)I've bought a lot of books based on author interviews. Dennis Lehanes interview sealed the deal for me. Not because I thought he was well versed, or even comfortable in front of the camera... Heck, half the time he looked like he'd rather be doing something else. It was the passion with which he talked about his love of Boston, it's neighborhood's, triumphs, struggles, and even mistakes. This was what sucked me in. Anyone who has that kind of passion into their story will bring me in as a reader everytime. I don't want the rehearsed speech, the designer clothes and the vocabulary that goes over my head. I want passion. I want purpose. And I want someone who cared so much about a story that they couldn't help save write the book. As an author, I'd hope that when a reader reads my story they'll get just a little of that passion that I try to infuse in my own stories.


Mr. Lehane... I'm off to reserve your book. I can't wait to read it.

Inspiration...


We had dinner tonight at a diner up the street from my home. They have old 45's (think compact disk before compact disk) hanging on the wall. One of them was for Electric Light Orchestra's All Over the World. And in one moment I was a teenager again.In 1980, I was 13 (again, please don't do the math) and I was a wanna be writer with a huge imagination and a teenager's thirst for the romantics and a quest for identity. Along came the movie Xanadu, featuring the beautiful Olivia Newton John (shortly after her fame with Grease) and the movie highlighted all the things that my 13 year old self loved.It was the 80's and there were an awful lot of us roller skating. Even my mom took up roller skating. There was great music, lots of fun and cool guys who knew how to do all the fancy tricks. (But I digress). I was never an expert at skating, but I could go forward and backward and earned myself quite a few blisters. I never looked as cool as Olivia did in those long flowy dresses, but chances were quite good that if I'd worn them I'd have ended up on the floor with the skirt up around my neck. I did however have a couple of pairs of nifty leg warmers in rainbow colors that I used to wear. That was the year that the movie Xanadu was released. For those of you who have never seen it, I can assure you that it can still be found. It can actually be downloaded or rented from iTunes. And in case you haven't seen it, then this is a spoiler alert


*******Don't read more if you don't want to know the storyline***********





The movie starts when a record album artist, Sonny, played by the dreamy Micheal Beck, is asked to paint a cover and finds that the girl in the picture is the same one who kissed him earlier and then skated away on the boardwalk. He knows that somehow he has to find her and he traces the picture to an old art deco auditorium (the Pan American building?). There he meets Danny, played by none other than Gene Kelly as an aspiring night club owner. Now, for anyone out there saying Gene who? Shame on you! I'd been half in love with him since the first time I saw Singing in the Rain. No one could dance like he could and make it look so effortless. (Except maybe for Danny Kaye). Together, they decide to open the nightclub of their dreams. Then along come Olivia's character, Kira. She's beautiful and soul awakening. But Olivia's character, Kira had a secret. She was a daughter of Zeus and one of the legendary Muses. She has come to earth to inspire until the time she recalled. But she falls in love with Sonny, Beck's character. Her parents are angered, but it's her impassioned plea that convinces them to let her stay with him for a moment or forever. Unfortunately, their idea of time is not the same as ours and they recall Kira. Sonny is depressed and convinced that his dreams are nothing with Kira. Opening night and the place is packed. Everyone loves it and Sonny is still upset about Kira. But he is surprised when she suddenly reappears. And... sigh... all is well in the end. All the songs were dreamy and romantic and I played them so much that they began to skip. Somewhere I may still have my copy of All Around the World. And if ELO is still out there... Thank you. So, what does this have to do with a 13 year old girl who wanted to be a writer? O-So-Much! That story had all the things that I dreamed of and inspired me to put my pen to paper and start me on my path. It wasn't the only inspiration, but it was a strong one. Many would say that the movie was nothing more than sappy fairy tale on roller skates... And I say... We all need a good sappy fairy tale on roller skates at some point in our lives. I may even go dig out a pair of skates!

I visited Paulo Coehelo's blog and was amazed at the amount of time and effort he puts into both his writing and his promotion. The man is incredible (not to mention he's a international jetsetter and bestselling author). Anyway, he mentioned that he posts regularly on his Amazon blog and this shamed me into going back to post something on mine.

Want to read it? Check it out here! And I'm making a promise to be much better about keeping up with it. I even went and updated my BookTour page. Of course, I just sent out my postcards for Obsidian's upcoming rerelease!

I was part of a workshop this past week given through Paranormal Workshops, a yahoo group. This months workshop was from Jennifer Dunne and the topic was Abundance Thinking. It talked about clearing your blockages to change your thinking and to attract those things you desire to your life.
Though I didn't participate much, I did read the entries with interest. And they got me to thinking about attracting those things in our life that we need most. Notice that I didn't say "the things we WANT most". Because frankly, a lot of the things we think we need we really don't. I really want a new car and enough money to do all the things that I'd like. What I need is a healthy body and a to feel confident in my abilities enough to attract those around me who can help me. Does this make sense? Want and need. Those are concepts that so many people confuse. We tend to obsess on the things we want. I want to win the lottery. I'm going to buy tons of tickets with the hope of winning. I'm going to go without something else to take bargain for something I want. I see it a lot in my job. People who spend exorbitant amounts of money on scratch tickets and lottery tickets, all in the hopes of being that one in a million. Now, I'm not trying to preach here. I buy my own share of lottery tickets and I've even been known to tell them at work that if I win the lottery I won't be in the next morning. But I do know the difference between want and need.
I need to stay healthy so that I can be there for my kids in the future. I know this, and there are a lot of times when I get off track and forget that this is a need that I can't ignore. This week I got another wake up call. I'm okay, but it was a strict reminder that I need to take care of myself. I'll be a little better about it... at least for awhile.
One other example happened about a little over a year ago. When it comes to September I always have a hard time because it was during this time that my mom became really sick and died. Anyway, I was missing her a lot and I was sitting by self wondering if she had any idea of where I was in my life. I was a bit depressed, missing my best friend. I went about my day, did my job, put on a good face for everyone and at the end of the day, when I was finally leaving work I was going out the door when I happened to meet up with my mom's friend, Brenda. She'd worked with Brenda for years. We had a short conversation and during that time I mentioned that I had my first book was coming out. Brenda smiled and told me how proud my mom was of me. Not... would be. But was. This was one of those things that I needed. I asked and I got. Does make one think that there is something to it. Doesn't it?

Did you know?

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined. It is expected to cause about 49,960 deaths (24,260 men and 25,700 women) during 2008.

http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_1X_What_are_the_key_statistics_for_colon_and_rectum_cancer.asp
or the Tiny url...


http://tinyurl.com/6f8jow


In 2004 (the most recent statistics available)
 73,997 men and 71,086 women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer
 26,881 men and 26,699 women died from colorectal cancer

http://www.cdc.gov/CANCER/colorectal/statistics/

 Each year, more than 50,000 people die from colorectal cancer.

 Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death due to cancer for men and women combined. (Lung cancer is the first.)

 Someone dies from colorectal cancer every 9.3 minutes.

 More lives are lost each year to colorectal cancer than to breast cancer and AIDS combined.
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common, and yet preventable, cancers.

To learn more about colorectal cancer prevention, please read Top 10 Colon Cancer Prevention Tips.

http://coloncancer.about.com/od/cancerstatistics/a/US_Death_CRC.htm

These are all staggering statistics. I've given credit for the places where I got the information and there is more on their sites. Read these statistics and take it to heart. No history of it in your family? It has to start somewhere.


For more information on Colorectal Cancer and the preventions... please check out the links I've provided. If you think you may have a problem, please be tested now... the sooner the better your chances.

Plebes vs Patrician

Ann DeFee did an interesting blog over on Tote Bags and Blogs on Plebes and Patricians. (http://authorsoundrelations.blogspot.com/2008/09/plebe-or-patrician.html) These terms caught my eye as I haven't thought about those particular terms since I took a college history course. But the idea intrigued me. They talked about the differences in our personalities. The more refined of our traits versus... shall we say... our more earthier tendencies. Ann admitted to a fetish for fancy china and it being offset by her love of reality shows. To me, she's found a great way to balance out the two. But this had me thinking about how I balance my own plebe and patrician sides.

Patrician side: Believe it or not, I actually come from a couple of rather well distinguished shipping families. Peleg Merriman, and yes, that was his name, was a Captain who managed to accrue himself a nice home and a lovely family. His descendants had one of the first cars in Harpswell an had done quite well for themselves. That is until the homestead burned and most of the Merriman legacy was lost. On the upside, my grandmother was in the house and the time and she managed to escape which is most fortunate for me. The other side were the Gott's of Mt. Desert Island. Most people would say Gott who? But for anyone who has seen a history of the island then you know that they were among the first settlers of the area that now encompasses Acadia National Park and the beautiful islands beyond. If there was a fortune there it's well past being passed along, but the legacy is still there.

My Plebeian side is certainly my more pronounced. Though I have long since learned to speak without the Maine accent, but there are times when it does become more pronounced. Usually, this involves a small amount of alcohol or a conversation with someone who has a strong Maine accent. I also drive way too fast and have a love of trucks and large vehicles, especially when I combine the driving too fast with the large vehicles. I had a truck for awhile, but now go the softball mom route with a nice Durango that satisfies it all. I never miss an episode of Ghost Hunters and I've been known to cry over Deadliest Catch. I love country music or even Irish Rock, especially heavy Irish Rock. And, I can swear like the best of them.

Is my Plebeian side more interesting than my Patrician side? No doubt. But neither of these alone would be a complete picture of me. The same as my characters that I write it takes both sides of myself to make me whole. Another interesting part is that there have been times in my life when I fall back on this more Plebeian side of myself. When my confidence wavered I fell back on the more unrefined part of me as a way to protect myself. I can surely imagine a character doing the same thing. Falling back on what they think people's expectations of them are as a way to protect them from the chance of being let down.

These are the things that make us human. These are the things that make our characters believable.

Twilight No More?



Stephenie Meyers has a real dilema. One that could affect all writers. Her work was stolen before publication and put out on the internet for all to see.

Any writer who reads this should be afraid. Not just the ones that garner the huge amount of marketing dollars that a book as popular as the Twilight series. Any author who is working toward publication should be watching the way this plays out. Unfortunately for Stephenie this is a saga that is playing out to national attention. Want to know more about it? Check out this link:


http://tiny.cc/m8WSi



As a writer, I can only imagine what it feels like to know that something that you've worked so hard on, something that has taken two other books to get to... has been pulled away from her. I don't know about any other writers, but if it were me I'd be heartbroken. The choices she has in front of her must seem impossible. I know that when I work on a book, the idea that I might have to change it in it's entirety, a manuscript that I had put so much into, I'd find it impossible. The characters become so real, their heartache, their struggles, their lives are real. To have that pulled away is an insult.

I know that there are any number of young women (and young men) out there who are going to go and read the unedited last book online. They've been given the go ahead by Stephenie to do so. But something has been stolen from them as well. So much happens to a book within the final stages. Things that even as writers we can not predict. Every writer should be just a little more cautious in how they handle their own work.

After all, how much more than just a book was stolen from not just Stephenie, from her readers? Shame on you, whoever did this...
The last few days have been busy with the few remaining things that we had to do before school started. My son got off to school fine on Tuesday and is already into the swing of things. My daughter had an extra day, but already I can see that some of the habits are continuing. It looks like it's going to be another sleepless year.
Anyway, my daughter had a project to do for school over the summer that required her to do a family tree. The great part is that I'd done a lot of the genealogy for it years ago. I've got boxes of the stuff. But it had never really been organized. She took on the task of putting it all together and actually putting the information on the family tree chart that I bought years ago. The project was interesting and it netted a few things that surprised us both and some that truly didn't.

Didn't:
I knew that my family for the most part came from the British Isles. Not a big surprise when the majority of them immigrated from England, Scotland and Ireland.

Did: What did surprise us was that there was one lone lady that somehow made it onto the family tree. She was reportedly from Switzerland. This is what I attribute my love of chocolate to... or at the very least, I can say that it's in my genes.

Didn't:
Most of my relatives come from either the Midcoast area of Maine or the Mt. Desert Island area. This is two different sides of the family, mind you. The Mt. Desert side were granted land in the 1700's to settle Mt. Desert and the surrounding islands (probably to get ahead of the French, who also wanted the land). The Midcoast Maine relatives all seemed to stay within the area that was reachable by boat. Even as recent as when my great aunt was growing up, did they go to town by boat instead of by car. Both were very sheltered island communities and the further back you go the more muddy the waters get. It must have been pretty remote with a very small pool of people to pick from when you came of marrying age. That would explain some of the twisted branches on the family tree.

Did: What was surprising was that there were connections between the two sides of the family. My mother's and my father's side shared at least one relative about five generations back. No doubt, it was the shipping industry that brought them into contact. Still, it was interesting to note. I also have Morgan blood on both my grandmother and grandfather's side. They are a bit harder to trace and they were decidedly more recent additions to the family tree. But there is a connection there of sorts.

Regardless of the findings, I am glad to know that the information will continue on. The stories that my grandfather and grandmother told me will continue with my kids and their kids. And through them, they will live on...

Quote of the week...

"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader."

-Robert Frost

Quotes for Writers...

Lessons Learned...

So, I took the challenge of posting every day for the month of August. I actually started early by posting in the few days leading up to the challenge and today, marks the end of the challenge.

Some things I learned...

1. I do have something to say every day. It's not always the most brilliant and sometimes it's simply just a thought for the day. Whatever it was that I posted I hope someone got some enjoyment out of it. I enjoyed writing them.

2. Preparation makes all the difference. I learned to post ahead if I knew that the next day was going to be a zoo. Thank goodness for preposting. It saved me. I also knew that weekends were going to be my worst time to blog so I wrote Saturdays blog on Friday and Sundays were great quotes that I found along the way.

3. While my hits on my blog did pick up they were never "over the top" I didn't quite have the success that some of the participants had. But I had more than I've ever had. It has also increased the amount of traffic to my regular website www.TeaganOliver.com so I know that are those people out there who are reading this.

4. Don't spread yourself to thin. I twitter now. You can follow me on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/teaganoliver There are tons of places that you can go to network online. I just joined http://www.mypara.net for those who are interested in talking about ghosts and paranormal stuff. If you want to friend me on that site I'm GhostGirl. and I'm the one lurking in the corner until I figure out how to be involved with the site. I also have let my other blog go a little, so I'm looking forward to getting http://www.paranormalmaine.blogspot.com back up and active again. I owe a few people a podcast review post. I haven't forgotten.

5. There are people out there who share your dreams. And I don't mean that we all share the same views. But we came together in this challenge and found that we had a common ground in blogging that we could all agree on.

Thank you all who visited my blog during the challenge. I appreciate your support and your great thoughts. I hope you'll continue to visit. I hope that if I've gained anything from this challenge it's that I've met some incredible people and learned some incredible things over the time.

Blessing to you all...

Now, back to the Journey...

Last time I talked about the trials and tribulations part of the hero's or mythic journey. But since I was tired I'm not sure how clear I was about how important it is that these trials and tribulations increase so as to increase the tension of the scenes and ultimately leave the hero/heroine in a place where their ideas are changed and they are put in a place where they need to sink or swim. At the end of this they should be on their knees begging for it to come out okay, or swords drawn slashing their way toward the tower to save the princess from the dragon.

Achieving the Quest and Receiving special powers.
This is the pinacle of the black moment and the downside of it. The aftermath directly after the fight. This is the point where the hero/heroine would give up all the things that are dear to them in order to get through the challenge. And realize that by doing so they are getting so much more in return. This is that perfect moment of clarity when they realize just what is important in life.

And that leaves us with...

returning to the mundane life and applying those powers for the betterment of the community.

There is a moment toward the end of one of the Star Wars movies (forgive me, but my tired mom brain can't be certain which one) after Luke has battled Darth Vadar on the catwalk and ended up falling through the tunnel to hang precariously from the bottom with a damaged hand. After his hand is fixed he is distant and a bit disconected. You can see that for him, the battle may be over, but there is much more to dealt with. The look on his face says it all. You know that he has discovered the great horrible truth about his father and he must use that knowledge to continue on with his life. However he chooses.

If you haven't read my book Obsidian... there is a bit of a spoiler ahead.
.
.
.
.
.
But for those who have already read Obsidian, you know that when I got to the end of the book I didn't leave everything in a perfect world. Believe it or not, it was a conscious choice for him not to completely have settled the difficulties with his father. Yes, he's battled his own demons and he's avenged the wrongs. But there was a part of him that I thought needed to remain for him to fix. With the last scene you get the idea that he ready to work on it, but he knows that there are no guarantees. Kind of like real life.

Anyway, that concludes my look at the hero's journey or mythic journey. There are a few steps in between, but this is the basic idea of it. If you look at many classic stories and even movies, you can pick out the elements. Not every story contains all the elements and that's fine. The story is yours. Tell it how you want it to be. Only then, will it be your story.

Question for the day...

Okay, so I am now completely off track with the journey thing. But I was working on my newest project, the dark paranormal suspense set in New Orleans and I began to wonder something...

Should authors who write two very different genres use two different names to publish under?

Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle comes to mind. 3 different genres, three different pseudonyms. I've also got a friend who writes erotica and a few other things and she has at least three names she pubs under. I'm never quite sure what I'm supposed to call her.
I have a hard time remembering if I'm supposed to call myself by my real name or my pseudonym whenever I send out an email. I can't imagine adding another pseudonym to the mix.
And that follows that if I've built up the little following that I have already with Obsidian and Three Truths (one sweet paranormal, the other romantic mystery)... should I have a different persona for the dark paranormals that I'm writing now?
My first response would be to say no. But I've heard logical arguments on both sides. Some say that readers don't want to have to worry what kind of book they are picking up. They want to know that if they pick up a book by Nora then it's going to be primarily a romance, and if it's J.D. then it's going to be about the suspense.
But for arguments sake, let's just ponder what happens if you aren't the Noras or the Amandas? Then you are going to have to worry about two different sites, two different marketing and promotion plans, two very different personalities when it comes to gearing content of your blogs and sites toward your readers.
It's a quandry.

What do you all think? Two or one?

Help Restore Maine's Pemaquid Lighthouse


I'm taking a break from my promised posts about the Hero's Journey to talk about something very important. My daughter has gotten behind the cause and wants to get as many people as possible to vote for Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. Be sure to look for the "vote" button on the page to take you to the list to vote.
The following, is from my daughter....

Recently while watching the news a story came up. It was about a contest in which 12 lighthouses had been chosen from an original 49 nominees from all over the United States. The winning lighthouse will receive new windows and doors.

In the running for this prize is Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in Maine. In the past few years, people have raised enough money to give the outside of the lighthouse a renovation. They are hoping to win this contest in order to finish the outside with all new windows and doors. Unfortunately, the lighthouse is behind in votes and would need a surge of new votes to catch up. By clicking on the link below and voting you are bring the lighthouse one vote closer to being finished. After all, the lighthouse represents Maine and its coast in a way only second to lobsters and clams down on the beach. Whether you live in Maine or have moved but are still deeply connected to this great state, you can make a difference by voting and then sending the link to friends, parents and other family members.

On the sponsor's site, there are before and after photos of the past winning lighthouses. The results are amazing.

Please vote and help restore a true Maine symbol
http://www.jeld-wen.com/lighthouse/

"Ah, the force is strong within you"

We all know that Yoda's role to Luke was as the wise one. The keeper of the knowledge. Even when Luke didn't want his advice, Yoda knew how to get Luke's attention. He took him from an unpolished, untested fighter to a Jedi Knight. That's what the Wise one does.

Okay, so let's recap again, shall we?
This time we'll use Harry as an example:

Inciting Incident/Call to Adventure: Harry Potter, ordinary boy, living with people who say they are relatives, but have no resemblance to him and treat him horribly. One day, Harry decides that pain-in-neck cousin has done just about enough and magically conjures him behind the glass in the zoo. Thus begins the grand adventure that nets several movies, tons of readers and lots of admiration for Ms. Rowling. Harry doesn't do too bad himself. He is suddenly whisked off to a castle where he learns that he is the legendary child prophecy to fight evil.

Trials and Tribulations: Hmm, way too many to count. Certainly more than a blog post can handle. But there is danger at every turn and then there is the personal lessons that come with growing up and learning to deal with life.

Oh, Wise man... tell us more.
The obvious would be Dumbledore. But there are others that he learns from along the way. Good and bad. Teachers and students. From the Weasley's he learned family. Even Hagrid with his humble ways had so much to teach Harry about loyalty and respect.

Now, it's time for you to tell me who your favorite wiseman is?

Quote of the week...

"When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away even if it's only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time."
-Kurt Vonnegut


Quotes for Writers...

Oh the Trials and Tribulations...

Yesterday, we talked about the Call to Adventure. Today, we're on to the Trials and Tribulations that plague us on our Journey to Campbell's mythic story structure.

We've already set the stage with our hero/heroine by creating an inciting incident that introduces them as well as illustrating to the reader just how far they willing to go for what they want. The Call to Adventure is that event that brings them to the point where they know they can no longer avoid what needs to be done. Their need is so great that they will do whatever it takes to get it.

But, oh, those Trials and Tribulations!
You know... those pesky little things that get in the way of what your characters want most. I went to see the new Clone Wars movie with my son on Friday. Before my eyes glazed over from having to watch what is basically a good movie (but, still a cartoon), I was able to identify that mythic story structure the Star Wars stories are so famous for following. Anaken and Obi Wan (please forgive me if I spell these wrong) know what they must accomplish. Their paths are set. But there are so many trials and tribulations along the way that you begin to wonder if they are in fact going to accomplish their goal. Each task becomes successively more difficult. The stakes are raised along the way. And, by the end of this there is no doubt that the characters are determined to succeed.

Currently, I'm reading Chris Marie Green's Midnight Reign. This is the second book in the Vampire Babylon series and even though I haven't read the first one yet, it's clear what the heroine wants. She wants most to find her father. And we begin to see that all these things that are distracting her from her main goal are the trials and tribulations of the mythic story structure.

These trials and tribulations are there for a reason. They up the ante for the character. They test their mettle to be able to perform the tasks. And they serve to increase their need to achieve. Every good case of Trials and Tribulations will result is self-discovery. Their greatest weaknesses are brought forth and can only be overcome by their greatest strength.

These are the things that lead up to that "God is my witness" moment from Gone with the Wind.

But be forewarned, the trials and tribulations should serve to increase the tension of the story. They should move the story forward and force the emotions of the characters to the point of breaking and determination. These are true mythic trials. Remember the minotaur in the labyrinth? Theseus volunteered to go kill the minotaur to keep the sacrifices from happening. He was added by Ariadne who loved him and helped him navigate the labyrinth and kill the minotaur. All the things that challenged Theseus in the labyrinth were his trials and tribulations.

I'm taking a break from the story structure on Sunday. But I'll be back with more on Monday.

Campbell's Journey

Awhile ago I wrote a blog on the Journey where I talked about Joseph Campbell and his mythic story structure that he based on Jung's work. Since I'm going to be giving my workshop in October on Creating Believeable Anti-Heroes at New Jersey RWA's Put Your Heart in a Book Conference, I thought I would take this opportunity to go over my interpretation of Campbell's Hero's Journey.

The Inciting Incident followed closely by the Call to Adventure...

Every good book starts with one. It's that initial incidient that sets the ball rolling and gives the reader an idea of what it is that the hero... or heroine want most at the beginning of the story. Usually, this comes around the same time that we meet the main hero/heroine and we find out if they are up to the challenge at hand. A lot of writers tend to think of the Inciting incident as the same thing as the call to adventure, but in my mind they are two very different things. The inciting incident is the place where we see time stop for the hero/heroine. It's here that they feel their world shattering. The Call to Adventure would be when they make up their minds to go after what they want most.

In Romancing the Stone, Jack wants that yacht. We know that he's willing to do whatever it takes, legal or not, to get that yacht. We see him going after the birds in order to get the money to get his yacht. So, we know that Jack is desparate. It's only Joan falls into his lap (literally) that we see just what he's willing to do to make that dream come true.

In Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc, Indy wants to get to that Arc before his fellow archeologist can. We've already seen from the beginning set up that he's more than willing to switch from mild mannered college professor to swashbuckling hero to get the job done and the call to adventure is a mix of the headiness of the hunt mixed with a good dose of professional jealousy and the love of a good history.

In my book Obsidian, the call to adventure follows an inciting incident of a boat explosion that kills Jamie's best friend. He is shattered and frankly, he drinks a little bit too much as a way of escaping the pain. The Call to Adventure comes when no one will tell him what really happened to his friend and he decides to take matters into his own hands.

Campbell's theory was that all stories follow the same mythic story structure. That by knowing what the structure is we can pick them out of stories and use them to create our own mythic stories.

Signs...

Under the Tuscan Sun is on again. I admitted to the kids that I've already seen this movie three times before. Twice in one night when I actually rented it. I like this movie a lot. Not because it has a dashing romance, in fact very little of the story is romance. Nor do I watch it for the beautiful scenery. And yes, the scenery is breathtaking. But it's more for the characters and the simple lines of the movie that translate into scenes that steal your heart.

There's a moment at the beginning of the movie when she sees the flyer for the Villa for sale. She's just come out a bad divorce, lost most of her personal identity and she is floundering. A stranger observes her looking at the flyer and asks her if she is going to buy it and she tells her that she is just a visitor. Basically, that it would be a crazy idea for her to buy a Villa. On the bus leaving town they are stopped in front of a high wall and she looks out the window to see the name of the Villa on a sign set into the wall.

"It's a sign," my daughter tells me from her place next to me on the bed. And I thought, yup, it's a sign. And then, I ran to my computer to write this blog post.

Signs... they're everywhere. Whether we chose to see them or not. I am a big believer that there are no coincidences. That you are where you are supposed to be in your life because you are there to learn a lesson. Whether you learn the lesson or not is up to you.

Signs are like our instincts on Red Bull. They are for those moments when you've totally missed all the other things your body, mind and soul have been trying to tell you. I firmly believe that the more you hone your instincts and heed what they tell you, the more aware you will become of what is going on around you... inside you... to those you love... and in the books you write.

There have been too many times in my life for me to recount that I saw a sign and didn't listen.
Every character that I've written has had to undergo some sort of internal struggle, something they need to learn in order to move on and find happiness. Some sign that they were meant to see. When I'm struggling with a book, it's usually because the internal struggle for the main character has fallen flat. It helps me to go back and ask the question "what is it that the character is missing?"

Maybe they just need a bigger sign.

Thought for the day...


(Since I'm finishing up my manuscript to send out I am going to post this is an article that I wrote earlier this year for Maine RWA's newsletter. I hope you enjoy it. It applies to all writers, not just romance writers.)


Dear New Romance Writer:
You are now on a path limited only by your imagination. You have undertaken a task that many endeavor to, but few ever undertake. You have thrown your hopes and dreams onto the table for everyone to inspect, encourage and even, at times criticize. And by doing so, you will learn and grow and find yourself treading paths few even know exist.


In this open letter to you I hope that you will take this advice in the manner in which it is offered, from someone who has been writing for a very long time and traversed the pothole-filled road to publication.

Know that what you undertake is not a crazy lark. There will be those who would tear you down. Call what you want to do crazy. Even suggest that you will most likely fail. They are wrong. The only person who can determine whether you fail will be yourself. You alone control the power to persevere and to succeed. And only you can determine what will make your life a success by your own terms.

The most sage advice I can offer is to be open to any and all experiences this journey can offer. Be a sponge. Be a flower in the sun. (Be sure to avoid overused cliches). But know that there will always be someone further along in their career, more successful, or even more comfortable with what they do. It’s your job to take what they can offer and use or discard it as you see fit. Not every method works for everyone. I went to one particular plotting session very early on in my career that I’m still trying to figure out what the author was teaching. Take what you can use and throw away the rest.

Create a support system. Join Romance Writers of America. Find a local writer’s group that is open to the romance genre (unfortunately, not all are). Find a mentor, someone who has been there before you. And, if you think it would be helpful then find a supportive and nurturing critique group to help you along. I guarantee that these people are out there. Some are online, others right around the corner from you. All you need to do is check the Internet, the library, or the local bookstore, as they can usually tell you if there is a group in your area.

Take heart in the small and big things that you do when you work toward your goal of publication. Even something as simple as putting the first sentence on the page. To writing "The End" on the last. Even a rejection is an accomplishment. I’ve encountered many writers over the years that write and write and never send anything out. They let their fear of rejection control their future. Remember that nothing ventured is nothing gained.

Lastly, never let anyone take away from you that feeling of euphoria that comes from putting those words in your head onto the page. You will run into many people who say they would like to write a book, but never do. You have already taken a step toward your goal. And you should be applauded for it.

In the name of research... New Orleans

I love New Orleans. I had a chance to go there just pre-Katrina. Maybe two years before. I've talked about it before because for me, it was one of those places that you go and feel and instant connection. I'd wanted to go since I was about 14, so when I finally got the chance to go to the RWA National Conference I grabbed it.


New Orleans is exactly everything you've ever heard about the city. The good and the bad. There has never been a city that had more of an apocalyptic, party-til-the-end-of-our-days, kind of feel quite like New Orleans. And I wasn't even there during Mardi Gras.


They call it the Crescent City because of the way it curves, caressing the edges of the Mississippi river. Flying into the airport is an experience. The plane descends endlessly over trailing bayous, crisscrossed by intersections of sparking river roadways. Here and there you can spot houses dotted among the dense foliage, stacked on poles and seeming far from civilization.


Once the plane landed I took the shuttle to the hotel. It was set on the edge of the French Quarter. It was a fine hotel, very commercial and efficient (except for two elevators and a couple thousand women trying to get to their rooms to go to the bathroom). Our room overlooked Riverwalk area and the place where the steamboats dock. But the great part about the hotel was that all I had to do was cross over the street and down one and I was on Decatur Street. The edge of the French Quarter. I spent several days traipsing those streets. I've gotten grief and a lot of assumption that I must have spent a fair amount of time drinking in the bars. But in fact, I did a lot of walking and looking and observing. After all, I am a writer.

One of the streets just across the from the hotel held antique shops. It was so interesting to look in the windows and see what other people's pasts looked like. We also found the best place to eat breakfast on that street. The Tally Ho restaurant had a fantastic Jambalaya omelet that was spicy to the tongue. All the streets of the French Quarter lead toward Jackson Square. Some are much more commercial (some downright obscene). There was one shop where if you looked just right in the doorway there was a strategically placed mirror to showcase the whomever was dancing on stage. I loved the hotels that I saw right in the Quarter. The ones that had balcony's iced in French lace railings. And, to this day I imagine what it would be like to stay there. My friend Diane and I ate at Pat O'Brien's in the patio area. It was squeezed between the high brick buildings on each side and cast with the sound of the waterfall at the back of the garden. We had fancy drinks as we sat there and watched tiny bird dive bomb the tables around us.


Another day I went to Marie Laveau's shop. The walls were filled to capacity with all things strange and exciting. I had beignets at the Cafe Dumond and enjoyed the Irish music and the sadly, now-defunct, much missed, O'Flaherty's Pub.


When I left, it was with a heavy heart. I felt as if I were leaving a large part of me behind. It's no wonder that the Crescent City continues to call to me. It looks very likely that it will be the setting of my next book. I tried placing the brassy, objectionable GiGi Sterling in another place, but she wasn't happy. So, it looks like I'll be traipsing the French Quarter once again, at least in my mind and heart.

May she live on forever...

Question for the day...

How much is too much socializing when it comes to promoting yourself?

So far, I'm on Shelfari, booktour, eharlequin forums, and Twitter. I'm sure there are some that I've forgotten. I do know I'm not on myspace, but that has more to do with the fact that I don't allow my daughter on there, so it would be a bad example if I set up a myspace myself.

Now, I realize that this is a small amount compared to the sheer number of these online communities that exist out there. But how much of the time spent is a value and how much of it is time that should be spent writing? I'm already spending time writing two blogs, GhostGirl. and this one. I'm updating two websites, mine and Maine RWA as well as keeping up with email and working a full time job. There are also the writer and reader yahoo listserves and, if I'm really honest there is another time sucker Puzzle Pirate (note: I added links to the other ones, but I won't contribute to anyone elses addiction by adding th Puzzle Pirate link. You have get that one for yourselves.)

Oh ya, did I mention I've got two kids?

The other day I came across another site that looked very interesting. It's not a writer's site, but it's a paranormal one and I'm very tempted. But frankly, I had to step back and tell myself "NOT RIGHT NOW" in my very stern "mom" voice.

Part of my problem may be that I work a very retail job. I'm with people continuously all day long. The writing was a way of getting away from all of that. Besides, I'm extremely shy (no laughing Diane and Deb!) Even at conferences I have to push myself to be an extrovert.

So, are the online forums and sites a way to really help? Or are they time suckers and a place for introverts like me to hide? What do you think?

Quote of the week...

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
-Mark Twain


Quotes for Writers...

Two of my favorite things...

Good, Kick-butt books and... Free, Kick-butt books
I got a package in the mail today! At first, I looked at the mailer and thought "figures, second rejection in as many days", but I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that Chris Marie Green had sent me a copy of her latest book Midnight Reign!

I won the book by commenting on her post on the Ninc blog. Truly, it wasn't my intention to vye for a book. However, (and all you blogbooktour challengers take note) I just couldn't help myself when I read the post. It's titled Crossing Over and it was all about her foray at Comic-Con in San Diego recently. She also has one of the hottest book trailers I've seen yet.

Want to learn how to hook a blog reader? Check it out and tell me what you think. Maybe you know the answer to the question that was asked of her. Personally, I spent quite a bit of time pondering it with my daughter and we didn't have an answer.
In the meantime, check out Chris Marie Green's Vampire Babylon Series. And no, you can't have my copy.

Today's topic? Rejection

Yup, I got one yesterday. I didn't have to wait long for this one, but then, that's okay with me. Usually, I write my blog a day ahead. That gives me time during the day to reflect on the next topic at hand. But frankly, after I got the R I just wasn't up to it.

Now, 24 hours later, I have a bit of a distance on it. I actually didn't stop for long. Soon after getting the rejection I was emailing my Maine RWA cohorts about possible places to send my much loved story. They came through with flying colors and sympathy and encouragement. All the things that I needed at that time. I've said it before, "writing" can be a solitary profession. But it takes many people to be a "published" writer.

I've never been one to reach out and ask of others. It's not truly in my nature. I tend to be the one who wants to give to others. And I do mean "want". Sometimes, the difficulty is in asking help. But there's nothing wrong with it and it doesn't make you weaker. Sometimes, it just nice to have friends who rally around you, even when there is nothing they can do except offer kind words. I'm blessed.

Rejection? Yes, it sucks. But there is always tomorrow and somebody else may just love my story as much as I do. Both of my books were rejected other places before finding a home. I can only hope that this one has the same fate.

Where did the time go?


WARNING! BLATANT SELF-PROMOTION AHEAD!

I was working the day job today when I looked at the calendar... I mean REALLY looked at the calendar... and froze. OBSIDIAN's large print edition is coming out from Five Star in less than 2 months!




Five Star markets primarily to the library market. So, when they emailed and said they wanted to re-release OBSIDIAN as part of their Clean Reads, Large Print program I was excited. This could give the story that I love so much another chance to get out to those who really like romantic mysteries set on the coast of Maine.



This one has special place in my heart because the setting is based on the place that I grew up. For those of you who are worrying about all the dead bodies? Nope, those are made up...



So far, Borders is the only online bookseller that I know of that has the large print edition listed. You can check it out here (Borders) Anyway, I'll be posting a few shorts on the book over the next couple of weeks as I gear up for the release.

Want to know more about the book and can't wait? Check out my website http://www.teaganoliver.com/ and read the excerpt.
Coffeetime Romance gave it 4 cups and had this to say about OBSIDIAN,
Suspense, romance and intrigue this story definitely has all three... This story will have you by the seat of your pants. So make sure to put it on your list of books to be read.
I hope you all enjoy it...

Featured Post

Writing from the Dark Side

Heh! I started out calling this blog post "Blogging from the Darkside" and then went to "Writing from the Darkside" ...