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.
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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...

What's next...

I finished Stealing the Thunder on Sunday. It's now Tuesday and I'm starting to get restless. You see, I haven't really decided where to go from here. Most writers will tell you that it isn't a lack of ideas. It's a lack of interest that keeps most books from being written. Have you ever written to the third chapter and then felt like the story died? Are your middles sagging (bookwise, of course) and are you restless because you can't decide which direction to take your writing? For me, it isn't that I don't have projects to work on. I've got several and all of them are really good ideas. The problem is that right now I'm at a crossroads about which direction to go. I've always written Romantic Suspense and light Paranormal Romance, but my last two shorts have been darker, edgier Paranormal Romances. I pushed myself to write outside my comfort zone and found... I loved it! I live by the adage that when you stop learning you die. My father is the same way. He loves books as much as I do and he is continually interested in something. I've always admired him for his ability to find a way to do something, especially when the odds might have been against him. Anyway, I digress. Where to go from here. Right now, I've completed 1 full manuscript and two shorts so far for the year. Not bad by many people's standards. Certainly not by mine considering that I've got two active kids and a demanding full time job as well as MERWA chapter duties. I'm a big believer in signs (not the metal kind, the mental kind) and so far, I'm waiting for mine to lead me in the write direction. I just hope they can get through all this mental clutter to find me.

On Writing... Wanting

I have a couple of writing books on my shelf that I've read so often that the pages are dog eared. I've highlighted memorable text and even, at times, find myself going back to reread the same lessons over and over. The Seven Steps on the Writer's Path by Nancy Pickard and Lynn Lott is one of those books.

But I didn't exactly bring this up to pitch the book. If you're interested you'll pick it up. No. The reason why I bring this up is because I wanted to talk about Step 2... Wanting.

Did you know that it takes 21 days of a continuous activity in order for it to become a habit? This would be probably the only piece of information that I remember (and practice) from a Weight Loss through Hypnosis seminar that I took years ago. The guy giving the workshop was every bit as charismatic as Anthony Robbins, but it still didn't keep me from falling asleep when they did the hypnosis part of the session. (The speaker was impressed by how deep under I could go. Little did he know...) Anyway, what has this got to do with writing and wanting? More than you would think. Here's a little tidbit for all of you writers just starting out. I wrote for twelve years before selling a book. Yup, twelve years. Of course, during that time I also raised one child and gave birth to another. I wrote a short story that was published in a regional Magazine and I wrote articles, attended meetings, attended conferences, listened to workshops and dreamed. Oh yeah, somewhere along the way I wrote three books. Twelve years, three books. You are telling me the stats are not that good. But out of those books the second and the third sold with 6 months of each other. The first, will probably never see the light of day, but did receive a nice compliment from an agent when she told me "You write creepy very well".

There are many things that I've WANTED very much over the years. I wanted to be a size 10, but frankly, I was born a size 13. I wanted to win Megabucks, but I often forget what day the drawings are, or just to buy a ticket. And, I wanted to find a way to save my mom from cancer. Probably the hardest thing I've ever dealt with, but it didn't stop the cancer. There are a lot of very important things that I've wanted in my life, but most of them I couldn't find the heart to follow through and put the committment into it. The cancer and the megabucks, I came to realize, were out of my control. But the rest I have to admit that I wanted nearly enough. But my writing? I have always wanted this enough. Even when I had to retype a manuscript for the third time because my daughter deleted it from my old Brothers Word Processor without a backup. Even when I received two rejections for the same manuscript from two different editors from the same publishing house on the same day (Valentine's Day, I might add) did I give up.


I think I beat the 21 days committment by a few years, give or take, but if you want the dream then you have to put in the time and committment to make it come true. My dream still is coming true. So, how much committment are you willing to give?

Inspiration...

Let me tell you about a friend of mine. I count her as a friend, though we don't always get a chance to chat much. I met her about five years ago when I roomed with her at RWA National in Dallas, Texas. Not only is Lina Gardiner one of the most supportive people I know, always lending a hand or offering help no matter the distance. But she writes a good book, as well. At this year's Kiss of Death celebration at RWA Nationals in San Francisco Lina received the coveted Daphne Award for
Paranormal/Time Travel/Futuristic Romantic Mystery/Suspense Category. This is not an award that's given lightly. Named after Daphne Du Maurier, this award sets the standard for excellence in Romantic Suspense. The names of her competitors are legendary and she is to be applauded.

You see, Grave Illusions, the first in the Jess Vandemire Vampire Hunter series, is her first published book.

Vanessa Costa of Romance Reviews Today said: The characters are multi-faceted and full-bodied. Their emotions are realistic, helping the reader relate to both the characters, and further drawing the reader into the story.


This is high praise and not undeserved. I may be late on the congratulations, but not on the sentiment. Kudos, my friend... You deserve the best!

I am happy dancing...

I just finished the draft of Stealing the Thunder. This is the second short (60 pages) that I challenged myself to write that is geared toward the Nocturne Bites line for Harlequin. This one did not go as fast as the first one I wrote and I struggled with it. But it's a very powerful story and one that I learned so much from writing. For those of you who have been following my blog this is the one with the Cherokee hero. Here's to hoping the editors love him and the story as much as I do.

Quote of the week...

"To imagine yourself inside another person...is what a story writer does in every piece of work; it is his first step, and his last too, I suppose."-
-Eudora Welty

Quotes for writers...

The Journey

I was just perusing some of my favorite blogs and came across an interesting post on Jeri Westerson's blog Getting Medieval. It was about the Hero's Journey. You know the one. If you've been around writing for any length of time you've run across Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. Basically, he worked with Jung's theory that all heroes undergo the same steps in order to complete their journey to becoming... well, a hero.

As Jeri put it, Whether we actively seek these steps or not, the best literature seems to follow them.
What are these steps? Broken down to their simplest components:
1) A call to adventure or quest
2) trials and tribulations along the way
3) gaining knowledge and tools from wise ones
4) achieving the quest and receiving special powers
5) returning to the mundane life and applying those powers for the betterment of the community


You don't have to be an expert writer to know that these same steps can be picked out of your favorite book or movie. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars even The Wizard of Oz. I happened to be perusing the latest Sherilyn Kenyon book yesterday and found that she has an entire shelf that would have made both Campbell and Jung proud.

But one of the things that I've always been interested in is what makes a person make the choices that they make. Campbell suggested (and since I don't have the exact wording at hand I'm not directly quoting) that a antagonist is merely the hero of his own story. That in his mind he is playing out the same role a hero plays. This fascinated me so much that I wrote an entire workshop on it. Keep in mind, that I am deathly afraid of speaking in public. And yet, I really wanted to share my insight with others. The workshop is called Creating the Believable Anti-Hero and I'm honored to be asked to give it at New Jersey RWA, Put Your Heart in a Book Conference in October. If you are going to be there then stop by and say hello. I'll be the one with shaky knees, but a lot to say. In the meantime, check out Getting Medieval or Campbell's books. They are worth the journey.

08/08/08

Seems like a stellar date to me...

I was over on Karen's blog Life of a Publisher and her post was "Have You Seen my Destiny?". She was talking about taking control of your own destiny and the responsibility for where you are headed. She had a great line..

I am a firm believer that life is all about the journey, but it never hurts to have a map in the glove box, just in case. Don't let others take control of your life, you're important and no one can get you where you want to go better than you. All you have to do is figure out where you want to be.

I loved this and it was very fitting. I am a firm believer in Destiny and fate. Heck, I wrote a whole book about it.
The Three Truths of Katie Talmadge
It was completely about taking control of your own destiny and not just letting the chips fall where they may. It was about being open to possibilities and to taking chances. Frankly, the publishing arena is nothing but taking chances. I take chances on what I write, who I send it to and whether the readers will love or hate what I worked so hard on. There is a reason that my blog is titled With A Little Luck...

Anyway, I agree with Karen about life being about the journey, but keeping a road map to back you up. Look for me, I'll be out the highway.

Paranormals: Writing and being...

If you read my paranormal blog, GhostGirl. over at www.paranormalmaine.blogspot.com then you know that just recently I went to Windham, NH to participate in a lecture called Dining with the Dead, featuring psychic David Wells. I didn't tell a lot of my friends about the trip. Frankly, it was because I wasn't interested in hearing that they thought I was crazy for traveling so far (over two hours) to hear a psychic. But both my daughter and I are avid watchers of Most Haunted and his was the psychic on that show for quite some time (he's since left the show) and I thought, at most, I'd have some great research for upcoming books.

The event was held at the Windham Restaurant in Windham, NH. It's a beautiful restaurant with a great deck to sit on and enjoy the weather or eat inside and some time at the bar or in the classic dining room. We were in the upstairs dining room and all in all there were probably less then 2o of us, including David Wells and fellow psychic Gavin Cromwell. I had the pleasure of sitting next to a lovely couple from New Hampshire who made me feel more comfortable about being in that kind of setting by myself. They are also Revolutionary War reenactors who gave me a great opportunity to not only ask about how they got involved with reenacting, but the rest of the who, what, where and when's of it all. I couldn't have asked for better dinner guests. After my fabulous Chicken Bianco we were introduced to David by Ron Kolek, founder of The New England Ghost Project, but along with Maureen Wood, make up the hosts of Ghost Chronicles, a paranormal podcast offered at togi.net. (read my review of Ghost Chronicles on GhostGirl.)

David was very engaging, his humor was infectious and he tells a great story as he led us on his path to developing his abilities. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I found that I came away with more insight into how the experiences effect him and how I might put those traits into a character. I will most likely use some of his insight to help me with the Nocturne Bite I'm working on. I'm very grateful for the insight.

Great Book Read...


I just finished Enchanting Pleasures by Eloisa James. I picked this book up during the late night excursion to Borders for the Breaking Dawn release party and when I picked it up I didn't realize that it was one of her older books. I was just happy to find a book of hers that I hadn't read. I love Eloisa's books. There are very few author's that can successfully and what appears to be effortlessly mix history, engaging characters and a the love of a love story. I kinow when I pick one of her books up that I won't be disappointed. And with Enchanting Pleasures the read was true to form. The characters were delightful and I loved the mix with the Indian culture and the history of the East India Trading company. Her heroines are always intelligent, insightful and never afraid (at least at the end of the story) to go after what they want. Her heroes are often working under misinformation (for which the heroine will gladly dispell) or they are trying so hard to do what they feel is the right thing for themselves... only to find their lives thrown into chaos and their hearts under seige from women who are usually not what they thought they wanted.


Check out Eloisa Jame's books at her website http://www.eloisajames.com/ and if you sign up you get some delightful extras, such as extra chapters and information that make you want to devour all of her books. As for me? I'm off to Borders tomorrow to find the other two books in the early trilogy, Potent Pleasures and Midnight Pleasures, so that I can satisfy my own pleasure... reading her books.


Work in Progress...

I'm still working on my Nocturne Bite. This as I said before is Lilly's Nocturne Bite and she is getting a little ansy about my finishing her story. Actually, she's not usually the pushy type, but frankly she's a little upset that her sister's story took 5 days total and this is taking... well, much longer.

The process of writing for me is... just that... a process. I start with inspiration. Either a dream, a character, a germ of an idea and build from there. This one started with the idea that she was an artist and the man who shows up on her doorstep is an indian. A Cherokee Indian. Now, I've always tended toward Irishmen, so when this gentleman showed up I was very surprised. His name is Graham. Surprisingly, I found after doing more research that Graham is the name of a county near the reservation. He is taking shape, just like Lilly. In fact, he becomes stronger every day. It's a bit disconcerting, but it is their story after all... I'm just the writer.

Who are the characters that you've read lately that have jumped off the page for you?

In the name of research... the islands of Casco Bay

Yesterday, in celebration of my birthday, DH took myself and the kids on a cruise around Casco Bay. All my life I've lived in the northern part of Casco Bay, the area where the islands pennisula make up the most northern tip. This trip took us to the islands immediately in the bay, the ones serviced by Casco Bay lines on their mailboat route. DH had been to many of these islands over the years as he worked a lobster boat in the area. He was my tour guide for the afternoon sojourn.

Now, I grew up on an island. I can say that much as truth. But, in fact, this island is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Is it a true island? Yes. But even as distant an upbringing that I had, the islands that I saw yesterday were a much truer story of life on an island. My Mom-in-Law is the minister on Long Island and she's taken my daughter out to experience it a time or two. I am a bit envious. My only experience of Long Island is from the ferry. But it looks like a delightful place. It was used as a military installment (as were most of the bay islands) during WWII and there are several old warehouses and one great looking barracks that I would love to get my hands on and run a bed and breakfast out of...(yes, just another dream). Anyway, we say Little Diamond with Pocohontas light, the smallest working lighthouse in the US, Great Diamond (which has a much talked about restaurant on it) and then on to Chebeague and finally Cliff Island. At Cliff Island we had a thirty minute stop and I got to get off the boat. This island is probably the furthest out of the continually habitated islands and when you get off the boat you are met by handwritten signs that point the way to areas of interest o the island. The library, post office, etc. There is a small store with a snack bar at the dock and we indulged in some ice cream while we looked around. They actually have a taxi driven by Chester. Yes, I know it's Chester because I saw his picture on the message board at the center of town. There are golf carts to move people about the island and a few other vehicles. But it seemed like a much more condensed version of my own hometown island. I was enchanted. I wanted to stay, but hubby said no. There are things to be considered when living on an island such as that. For one, there would be very little impulse buying since there are few places to shop and anything that you purchase on the mainland must be carted, wheeled or otherwise toted aboard ship and brought out to the island. There is no such thing as fast food and getting to it isn't a matter of just going down to the dock and getting on board the ferry. Cliff Island has a ferry only three to four times a day and less during the colder months. You would need to plan very carefully what was needed. Whereas when I was growing up we would make the trek to the nearest town as an indulgence of sorts. This is much closer to what life was like when my mom was growing up and the islands (even the ones connected by bridges) were much more remote. But even on Cliff Island they had all sorts of community activities planned. A spaghetti dinner to raise money for the fire department, a talk at the library (I'd love if they asked me) and even an acapella group called The Bretheren that gave us a preview on the ferry.

It was an incredibly wonderful day and one that I won't forget. I just wish to dig my toes into the sand of a few more islands before my time is over.

Quote of the week...

"If a book is not alive in the writer's mind, it is as dead as year-old horse-shit."
-Stephen King

Quotes for Writers...

On Writing... Style defined

I followed a trail of blogs this morning to a new blog Paperback Writer and found a wonderful workshop of Style. Now, over the years I have heard the question of how do I create my own style. Ms. Viehl has given great insight into it. It's well worth the click to check it out.

The Twilight Zone...

because, frankly... the Breaking Dawn Zone just doesn't have the same appeal. Does it?

Anyway, I am writing this bleary eyed post at 12:56 in the morning after having taken my daughter to the Breaking Dawn release party at our local Borders. Even on a normal Saturday there are not nearly as many cars in that parking lot as there were tonight. I did the dutiful mom thing and hung back, letting my daughter have her time with the other girls that she goes to school. But hanging back gave me a truly interesting perspective when that probably most of the parents there weren't looking at. Because most of those other parents probably aren't writers.

Just a couple of observations before I give in and go to bed for the evening.

There is a certain exhilaration that hung like a cloud of euphoria among those young women there tonight. I can't say that I've ever seen any group of girls screams as much or as loud for anything other than a favorite rock band (or maybe an equally cute group of boys). I hope that Stephenie Meyers has a true understanding of just what her books have accomplished. It's that thing that I think every writer strives for... we all want our books to be loved. Everyone one of those girls there loved the storyline, the characters, the age old conflict... and of course, let's be honest... Edward.

Now, I was at the Harry Potter midnight party. I stood in line to get the little bracelet and I did the prerequisite pre-order to get my daughter her much-loved, much-read copy of the last book. But this was in many ways a much different crowd tonight. These young women (and I keep reminding myself that they are young "women") covered a wide spectrum of ages, personalities and even cultures. But they didn't care. I saw a lot of women my age there as well.(We won't say what that age is.) Some were sporting "Team Cullen" tees and obsessing along with the teenagers. I wasn't one of the obsessor, merely a roadie along for the adventure and the one holding the Borders Reward Card. But I had as much fun watching them tonight and listening in on their conversations as they did having them. And I even felt a little reminiscent as to what my mom must have felt, listening in on my conversations.

Finally, kudos to Stephenie Meyers for writing books that help create these, strong, creative, intelligent readers (female and male). You are inspiring a next generation. And as a writer, don't we all wish we could say that?

Just in case...


you don't have a teenager who's into vampire books you may be out of the loope when it comes to the big event happening this weekend. This is the last in Stephenie Meyers books trilogy about a teenage vamps and the young women who love them. My daughter was practically in orbit the other day when we watched the trailer for the upcoming movie. And for those of you who haven't seen it. Check it out...



And just in case you haven't gotten enough of tempting bite of Edward and Bella you can check out TwilightLexicon.com for the latest information.

As for me? I'll most likely be at Borders on Saturday night with a group of teenage girls waiting for the release of the book. Maybe I should invest in earplugs? Just kidding.... really.... sheeesh!

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