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Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Goodbye To You

Well campers, I'm off for a few days. Back on the 3rd. Happy Canada Day, Happy 4th of July (if I'm too much of a slug to post before then.), If anyone has any suggestions for a blog, leave them here and I'll see what my twisted brain can do with it.

Don't do anything I wouldn't do. Oh, and talk amongst yourself, but please talk of me. Because it's all about me.



I'll Be There For You.

I have the best friends in all of cyber space. I'm sure a lot of you feel the same about your online contacts... and it's true.

Several years ago, due to a series of unfortunate events, I was all alone on my birthday. At a loose end I decided to surf the web looking for something to read and fell into the amazing world of eharlequin.com. I read most of their online library and kept seeing these little links at the bottom of each page of the story--join this discussion. Everytime I clicked on it I received the same message 'become a member to join this discussion'. Oh how I wanted to, but I was leery as well. I'd not joined any group or service on the internet and I was so unsure about giving any personal information online. Eventually sheer curiosity got the better of me and I signed up... hey all they wanted was an email address, so I trotted off to hotmail and created an account just in case.

Once there, it was like stepping into a party already in progress, the women were witty and sharp, smart and thoughtful, and downright hilarious. My ennui lifted and I was immediately happy. In the first month there I met seven amazing women and we instantly gelled. We all shared the same dry wit and love of the ridiculous. I've made other friends over the years, but those seven remain. My husband used to call them my imaginary friends, but that has gradually changed as I've met most of them in real life now.

Some of us have since wandered far from the ehq message boards, but never far from each other. There's been weddings births, personal acheivements and yes, even sorrows, yet we're still happy to get together and share our news, or some piece of silliness. Never again will I suffer the trauma of my best friend relocating for that perfect job half way across the country. Where ever these friends of mine move, their computers go with them... we've actually held hook-up parties as we waited for the computer to be the first item unpacked and connected so we could find out how the move went.

Technology is a grand thing and I'm so very thankful that my incompetence with all things techno related hasn't stopped me from enjoying the society to be found at the end of my computer.


Monday, June 27, 2005


It's Only Words

Writing is a strange beast.

It never ceases to fascinate me how other writers work, perhaps because I haven't found my own process yet. Some sit at the computer at a set time, work for two hours and produce ten pages a day. Others write when the muse strikes, and still others sit down and map out every scene in terms of characterization/emotional depth/internal and external conflict present.

I admit, I've tried each of these... hey, whatever works at the time. Right now my method seems to be writing a long synopsis. My brain can't stay in one scene and I have to get it all down at once.

When I started my latest story, my brain was on fire to begin. I sat down and wrote twenty pages, and dang, it was some of the most satisfying writing I'd ever done. Twenty pages. There, ladies and gentlemen, was my chapter one. Except, when I reviewed it the next day I realised it hadn't written chapter one I'd written act one. Now I was in a complete flap, because brevity is one of my biggest failings as a writer. There was no way I could expand that to the sixty or eighty pages that would be usual.

But somehow I did expand it. Then I reverted to my old method of writing, one scene following another, with an eye on word count. I'm midway through act two and I'm stalled. My brain again wants to skip along and just get it all down. So I'm going to give that a try. see if something happens.


Sunday, June 26, 2005


One Thing Leads To Another

Y'all are going to have to forgive the appearance of this post, and my html struggles, (hey, I learned how to link.. give me a break!)

Okay, so from being very disturbed the past two days over the seemingly incomprehensible actions of the RWA board, some people have been kind enough to shed some light on the issue and have given me more to ponder than my gut reaction.

First off, this exceprt was posted by Carol Burnside, on Alison Kent's blog:
This was typed out from the April issue of RWR (thanks Carol). A message from the president, and gives some rationale for the current actions and direction of the board.

>>>"The situation before us is three-fold:
1. Where is the industry headed? How are publishers & readers defining romance? How will they be defining it 5 yrs fm now?
2. Where is RWA headed? Will our focus remain on romance writing, or will we segue into other genres w/o a focus on the romance? And if we are to remain w/ a focus on romance, w/the boundaries blurring, how will we define ourselves?
3. RWA needs a rangible, clearly provable, non-subjective method for determining, for application of policies, whether or not a book is a romance. Currently, this definition defines a romance as any work of fiction with ‘romance’ printed on the spine; or that is marketed as a romance (catalogued in the romance section of a nat’l distributor’s catalogue); or the publisher of which states in writing to the RWA nat’l office that the work is a romance. Does this definition still work? And will it continue to do so?"<<<

And then, over at Kate Rothwell's blog, Mary Stella makes some excellent points and takes some of the demonizing out of the actions of board. Mary Stella participated in the board for a time, and was there when they came up with the current definition of romance.

So now that you've gone and read both those posts lets have a cosy chat.

Ultimately it seems that RWA has pots of money and everyone wants to dip into the cookie jar. Decisions need to be made as to how/who gets the money. That doesn't seem at all unreasonable. However, in the very limited time I've been conncected to RWA, everything I've seen on the part of the board, and the members (myself included) is reactionary. The board reacts to a need for clear definitions and paramaters with which to work, the members react to seemingly arbitrary decisions and directions. This is what happens to any organization that doesn't have clear goals.

If you refer back to the excerpt from the RWR above, the board is trying to take steps to setting those clear goals. So that when (I'll use Mary Stella's example), The Horse-Lovers Writers want to dip into the pot, or have an equine category in the Golden Heart contest, the board can say no without getting into a costly legal wrangle defending their decision. BUT...

I do think a more open process needs to be put in place so that the membership can better see and understand the types of concerns they're [the board] having to deal with and respond to. It's all very well to say 'we've received a deluge of emails with regards to this issue or that', but we can't see that, is it a dozen emails? a hundred?. Think of it like a local school board meeting. They're public and if you have concerns you stand up publicly and announce them in front of everyone. Some might moderate their speech, some might not, but it's all out there in the open for everyone to see and mull over--to agree with or come up with a counter argument.

If Suzy Sinless had a problem with sitting beside Debra Debauchery at the book signing this would have been stated out in the open, a discussion would have ensued, legalities and rights would have been pondered and all the excellent arguments we read on the blogs would have come to light, and guess what? I bet the board would have come up with a reasonable compromise/solution.

Meeting Agendas need to be posted in advance, so that if there are items with serious concerns they can be tabled to a later date while a consultation process occurs. This is where RWA Chapters can get more involved, holding open forums for their membership to inform and discuss issues and ramifications with their members.

Maybe I'm making this too simple, or far more complicated, I don't know. I do know that if a better way of communicating whatever concerns the board are facing isn't found, the organisation as whole is doomed to repeating these ugly and embarrassing scenes.


Saturday, June 25, 2005


Love Plus One

Or, how we can't define romance.

I've been writing seriously for a little over four years. During that time I have made some amazing contacts, and have had the benefit of some utterly bitching feedback from some awesome writers. This year I felt I'd reached the stage where I could join a writing organisation and converse competently and with some confidence in regards to my profession. I joined RWA with a certain personal glow of 'making it'. I was envious of others as they talked about the resources available to them, the networking, and just the sheer force of experience invested there, and I wanted in.

My reality has been quite different. I find pertinent information not readily available to me. The lists (what folk familiar to cyber space might call message boards or forums), are not quite open discussions. They're open to the comfort level of the moderator (at least that's what it seems to me) with very little in the way of negative or dissenting voices. In fact I couldn't find any discussions on the lists in regards to the two hot topics that have done the rounds of the blogworld lately. Graphical Standards... and now the new definition of romance survey.

I freely admit I'm new to the organisation and I'm not entirely sure how it works, but so far I'm less than impressed. They have a website. They have access to instantly informing and responding to their membership on issues via this website. And yet, they chose to send this survey out in their monthly periodical 'Romance Writer's Report'. I'll be lucky to receive this in the mail by late July, yet many are already talking about it. I went to the site hoping to get the information there. No deal, (and if it's on the site somewhere, please point me in the right direction), so my only source of information is what's appearing on members websites and blogs. I emailed the appropriate party requesting I be emailed the survey but I haven't received a reply yet. (granted I'll give them until Monday).

Living at the end of my computer, and not having instant access to this information is annoying to say the least, and I don't like being annoyed. So I'm sitting here asking myself what I've gained by joining RWA except an association with an organisation I'm fast becoming embarrassed to be a part of. My contacts in the writing industry are still out there, my access to expertise hasn't really altered, so I'm thinking all I've gained is a trophy status. And for what, to be embarrassed publicly not once but twice in the same month?

A few people have assured me that this is a storm that will blow over. There have been others storms and scandals, and this too shall pass. That may be true, but I'm here now, and my gut has a nasty clench in it wondering what the hell I've got myself into. Frankly I was happier without RWA screwing up my professional image (well they say ignorance is bliss). I can see in future, if this nonsense continues, writers proclaiming to other professionals, "I write romance... oh don't worry, I'm not a member of RWA.", and immediately their respect quotient will rise.


Friday, June 24, 2005


What The World Needs Now...

Is a perfectly precise definition of romance.

The powers that be at RWA have a member survey up for discussion to better define their (RWA's) representation of the romance genre. I'm completely astounded why the need to change their current definition at all (and I'll go back and find these definitions in a moment), unless it's to generate as much controversy as possible prior to the AGM in July. Are they deliberately whipping up the membership into a frenzy of activism in order to ensure attendance? If so they've chosen a very divisive way to do it.

Survey Choices:
A. The romantic relationship is between one man and one woman
B. The romantic relationship is between two people

And why limit the survey to two choices? I mean, I applaud the board for consulting the membership on this issue, but seriously, why is it even an issue? I really, really want to know why RWA needs to change the current definition. Who decided on these choices? Why isn't, let the existing definition stand, a choice? What about a few dictionary defintions to choose from?

There's an article currently on the RWA site in which Ms. Quinn herself quotes: "RWA established a simple and straight forward acid test for classifying a book as a popular romance novel. Our central-love-story/emotionally-satisfying-ending criteria will allow writers, readers, and other interested parties to fully understand what RWA means when it discusses ‘the romance novel,’ and all the statistics and demographics that refer to it," Quinn says.

At this rate I think I better pack some protective gear, nunchucks, and maybe a refresher course on self defense before I attend the AGM.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw?

My title today has very little to do with my subject, unless it's to proclaim joyously that my husband is home again from his travels (but that's a whole other post).

World, I am not the slowest slug on the planet when it comes to grammar. In previous posts you may have noticed a trend of insecurity when it comes to my perfection of writing skills, but...

I pretty much spent the whole day (between critting 5 excellent chapters, and homeschooling the Spawn) taking notes over at Smart Bitches on how to punctuate a single sentence. Granted, this was a poorly structured sentence, and left itself wide open for interpretation--and interpret we did.

Now the brain power that visits that site can be intimidating to say the least, but even these fine bitches couldn't agree... and that made me feel deliriously happy. (I know, small and petty, but true)

So today I think I'll bask in my 'not so dumbness', have some fine conversation with my CP, and happily be a blog ho.



Why Can't We Be Friends?

During my power blogging this morning I came across a comment that joggled my thought processes. To paraphrase (because I can't be bothered to retrace my steps and find the actual line) it was something along the lines of, why can't all us writers just get along.

My first thought was, yeah, that would be great. Let's eliminate the bitch factor and just be nice. But it was quickly followed by, why should we? Why should we all like each other. Those were my first thoughts and you can see I immediately made it about personalities instead of professional.

I've been to some awesomely dull blogs, full of sweetness and light and praising the lord. Obviously not my cup of tea. I've been to web sites that were giddy and silly and as close to the web world version of giggling as you can get. I ran like hell. I've been to blogs that were so freakin intellectual I felt about as bright as belly button lint. Again, personality instead of professional.

Why can't we as writers put aside our personalities and be nice to one another? In great part I think it has to do with the medium in which we interact these days. Almost every writer today is at the end of our fingertips. They're accessible and judgable by the click of a web link. Our opinions are out there and immediate, and easily responded to. We have (or the medium has) inextricably connected our personalities to our profession.

So what's my point? I'm not sure I have one. Unless it's that why should we hold writers (or any demographic in society) up to different standards or expectations about how they interact with one another.

Embrace the differences. Not because you agree or disagree, but because they're there.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005



A couple of posts down I mentioned my spelling skills-something along the lines of, 'they're not bad'-I recant. Spelling also on the craptastic list.

I wish it didn't bother me so much, but when you deal on a daily basis with writing (and writing in many public forums) all the little imperfections I see after I post make me paranoid. And it's not like the grammar Nazis are going to hunt me down and ban me from ever posting in cyber land again. It's more that... well there are people I respect out there, people with massively unintelligible letters after their names and I can't help feeling as though they sit there with a mental red pen correcting my posts.

It's demoralising.

What if, wonder of wonders, an editor receives my manuscript one day and is curious enough to search for me on the web. She'll come here and see my semi literate ramblings and have second thoughts. I mean anyone who can't even figure out how to use the abc button before they publish their blog (I love that we PUBLISH our blogs btw), must be some sort of uberloser.

So anyone out there know how it works? I'd really appreciate a pointer.


Monday, June 20, 2005


Weekend Getaway

Living as I do, mostly at the end of my computer, it's nice every so often to prove I'm not addicted by stepping away and abandoning all ties to the electronic community. That's what I did this weekend.

I received my Amazon order on Friday, and the weekend was filled with reading (which I don't do enough of), and elevating my nose just enough so I could peer over the edge and check that the spawn hadn't drowned yet. Apart from the bugs which are still in smallish clusters and not ravening swarms it was truly a lovely weekend.

So what did I read, you might be wondering. Well it was a Christine Feehan overdose. "Oceans of Fire", "Wild Rain", "Shadow Game", and "Mind Game": in that order.

Oceans of Fire: The third story of the Drake sisters and the first full length novel devoted to the saga. Excellent beginning. Wonderful conflict for both protagonists. In fact it's exactly the kind of conflict I love to sink my teeth into. The kind where their love and attraction isn't in doubt so much as the appalling betrayal that tore them apart. In this case it is the hero that did the betraying and it's a doozy. Sadly the resolution is not as satisfying as the conflict itself. It's all very fast and very pat and not nearly enough grovelling and soul searching on the part of the Hero.

Wild Rain: The second story of this (the leopard) series. I haven't read the first one which appeared in an anthology. The flashback/deja vu part of the leopard people mythology isn't well explained. I gather it's part of their animal instinct, their recognition of their mate, but I'm guessing here. Over all, not a bad story. Rachael is the heroine and her badly chewed leg seriously hampers the Feehan sexfest for most of the book. Lots of manly nakedness and female appreciation for said nakedness raises the sensuality somewhat, but it do get tiresome after a time. There are killers, bandits, and drug lords running all over the jungle (supposedly a remote region of Borneo), making for an awful lot of neighbours. Conflicts, mostly external. Lots of hunting down killers and pity parties about their wronged lives.

Shadow Game: Liked this book. Liked the premise. Soldiers with a high propensity for telepathy are altered to open their minds to all degrees of psi-ability. Down side is they can't turn it off. They're open all the time and they're suffering. The military wants to terminate the experiment and the subjects. Enter the mad scientist's daughter. Unbeknownst to the military daddy practised on her first. Ms Lily saves the soldiers and begins teaching them how to protect their minds. At the same time helps them uncover the plot within the military and her daddy's company regarding the project. It's dangerous, it's tense, and some how, she and the hero always choose the most inappropriate times to leap on each other.

Mind Game: Much better than Shadow Game. Dahlia and Nicolas actually have some serious hurdles to overcome in order to be together. Not the least of which is her inability to diffuse or control the energy; sexual, violent or otherwise in circumstances involving other people. The characterisation is much stronger and even in this story. The intrigue of finding out who is trying to kill her is secondary to the protagonists finding a way to cope with Dahlia's unique ability.

Of all the reads this weekend, this was my favourite.


Thursday, June 16, 2005


The Fool on the Hill.

I know nothing! I thought writing made me a writer... I was quickly disabused of that notion by folk who'd actually finished a book.

I finished a book. Wonderful. Now I'm a writer.

...er, no. Lots of people write books. Go and put your ego on the line and submit it to a publisher.

Check. Submit to publisher. No problem. They'll love it. They'll love me because I'm brilliant. I finished a book and every word is gold.

Reality check: fastest rejection. Ever. Not even a commonplace, 'feel free to submit something else in future'.

Assume foetal position for several days. Pick up shattered remains of what's left of my self confidence and analyse the problem.

Was my story really that bad? Does my writing suck that much? The correct response is both yes and no.

So what went wrong? The answers to that are abundant, and brings me back to my opening comment--I know nothing! Well I knew nothing. Now a know a few things. Editors don't actually edit, (at least not my naive perception of what editing is.). Those whacky guys want a polished piece of work, they want a query letter that doesn't mention how I live with my pet turtle fluffy. They want a synopsis that clearly outlines the the protagonists emotional journey, growth and triumph, instead of, and then there's this big fire which leaves them homeless, and then they get an inheritance from an unknown uncle, and then, and then, and... . You get the drift.

Ultimately, I thought writing the book was all I needed to do because, dammit, in my dewy dream-writing world, other people take care of all the nitty-gritty, mundane tasks of polishing, proof reading etc. What a fool!

So I set out to learn. And jayz did I learn. I learnt my grammar sucks, my punctuation is atrocious, but my spelling and vocabulary aren't so bad (yay me!). Plotting, pacing and emotion; all solid. So it wasn't all soul crushing defeat. There were some positive things.

I was invited to join a critique group where other writers, not only, offered constructive suggestions on my work, but respected my opinions in regards to theirs. World? I am not a complete loser.

I wrote a second book. Believe it or not, this one was even better that the first (is that even possible?). This one I haven't sent in for submission yet. I'm still editing and working on the synopsis. The query letter is very professional and ready to go as soon as the 'polishing' is finished, but I'm in no rush this time. Meanwhile, I began my third book and, you guessed it, it's my best effort to date. I can't wait to see how this one ends.


PS: I don't really own a turtle named fluffy, and no actual homeless people were charicatured in my first book.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005



There has been a lot of talk lately on the blogs regarding Romance and respect, or lack thereof. This isn't a particular problem for me, because the notion of anyone being able to make me feel small for reading or writing romance is simply laughable, but I do see the point. Often, the covers can be appalling and the titles verge on the purple.

Kassia Kroszer wrote an excellent article at Romancing the Blog. Other blogs that talked about this were Smart Bitches, and Wendy Durin, the Super Librarian. So I thought instead of reiterating what others have already said I'd go hunting for covers that won't trigger the blush factor. Now I have a fairly low blush factor so you might find them just a titch shameful.

Perhaps, in the future, I'll have the necessary skills to imbed the graphics here. Sadly, I'm not there yet. I'll be impressed as hell if the links work.

So I checked out Barnes and Noble top 10 romances for the day. I found six out of the ten that I would consider sophisticated both in image and title. At Amazon I only found two. Over at Cerridwen Press I only found one. (Note: This is not an endorsement of the stories within, merely an opinion on image)

Edit: I just read over at smart bitches (link above), where clinch covers generally sell better. Now as an author which would you prefer, charmingly tasteful covers, or mega sales?

And I have to agree whole heartedly with Ms. Kroszer regarding reviews. Reviewers have to stop the genteel maxim of 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all' mentality. Go out on a limb and Give Ms. Roberts a bad review for "The Villa". Hello? what the hell was that offal.. some sort of contractual obligation? because it certainly wasn't up to her usual standards (yes I'm a fan, but that was a complete rip). Actually, do your readers a favour if you have to stick to that maxim, and stop reviewing every piece of utter crap that comes across your desk. (I know of a few review sites where the policy is to always give a positive review, regardless). Recommend/endorse books that you feel are top quality, please, I'm begging you. In this way everyone wins. The author, the reader, and the reviewer.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Begin The Beguine.

Now you may think from my small blurb, and the title of this post, that my blog is about music; in a way it is, but it's the music of words. Like music, words evoke emotion. Panoramic, wonderous, terrible emotions and they have always filled me with endless fascination.

Yes, I'm a writer. And before you go screaming off into cyberland, seeking salvation from yet another writer's blog, fear not. This is my very first attempt at anything more complex than sending .jpgs through email. I may not survive this post, we'll see.

So why do something that clearly I'm not qualified for and may screw up royally? Because I firmly believe that the future of publishing and an author's livelihood is online. I intend to at least try to master this foreign media before I get trampled by the scrambling rush.

Of course it could also be that I'm quite late to the party, the rush came and went, and, as usual, I missed it. The other possibility is that I am in fact the lead lemming, stampeding happily--ignorantly to my glorious suicide. Time will tell.



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