Thursday, January 31, 2008

EMOTICONS, LOVE 'EM or...NOT


Some people adore the little smilies and tend to overuse--I fall into that camp. Others think it's a lazy way to communicate. I happen to think emoticons are a great way to convey the sentiment behind words that might otherwise fall flat, or be misinterpreted, online. Though I'd never use a smiley in an official memo or email--not like I write too many of those, anyway--I think they're a fun way to represent my feelings about the words I've written. When I'm reading a note, it gives me insight into the person who wrote it, especially since I don't have the advantage of seeing their body language. In light of that somewhat shallow revelation--no one ever accused me of deep thinking on this blog =P --I found some interesting emoticons. Let's see if you know what they mean.

=:-)=

* :-o

0:-)

>:-)

> :-(

:-O

:-( )

:,-)

If you're desperate for the answers before tomorrow, click here!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

RELUCTANT SMUGGLER


From the back cover:

They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer...but what if you can't tell the difference?

For security consultant Desiree Jacobs, the assignment was simple: make off with an ancient Mayan artifact and hand it over to the good guys in time to plan her wedding to ultra-fine FBI agent Tony Lucano.

Yet, in a world where no one is as he seems, Desi must decipher who the good guys are--before she ends up in the hands of a ruthless enemy.

Suddenly, artifact recovery turns into archaeological espionage, and the woman who finds all the answers must now ask questions: Who's looting priceless antiquities underneath the nose of the baffled Mexican government? And what does a violent gang of drug and human traffickers have to do with missing artifacts?

Even with Tony on her side, Desi will need way more than luck to survive against the odds. She'll need the truth--not just to set her free, but to liberate many innocents caught in the snare of calculating evil.

My take:

What a fun book! Reluctant Smuggler has action, romance, and mystery, and moves from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico smack into a Boston blizzard. Jill Elizabeth Nelson has done one of the better jobs I've seen balancing action, and the interpersonal relationships of the characters. And whenever I began to think the hero and heroine were safe, along came a new twist that would keep me glued to my chair--I just had to know what was going to happen! No spoilers here, but I will say the book ended with a more than satisfying conclusion.

Fans of intrigue, romance, and exotic locations--this is your book.

Because I love to share with my friends (and I wish I could share with ALL of you!) I'm holding a drawing for Reluctant Smuggler. Enter your name and email addy, and I'm going to pull a name from a hat on Friday morning. In case you can't wait, here's a link to purchase the book! Jill also has a super-cool website where you can play games and check out her blog--stop by for a visit.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I INDUCED MY OWN...

...fictive dream! As many of you know, I'm trying my hand at writing thrillers these days. Last Thursday night I was writing Chapter 2, a scene where the main character is home alone with her baby at night. I was so immersed in her world, I scared myself silly.

“In the writing state—the state of inspiration—the fictive dream springs up fully alive: the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms, hunting through cupboards, glancing irritably through their mail, setting mousetraps, loading pistols. The dream is as alive and compelling as one’s dreams at night, and when the writer writes down on paper what he has imagined, the words, however inadequate, do not distract his mind from the fictive dream but provide him with a fix on it, so that when the dream flags he can reread what he’s written and find the dream starting up again. This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer’s process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things—sees them clearly—and in the act of wondering what they will do next he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writes that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid, until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.”
~John Gardner

In light of this quote, I truly didn't realize I was writing, but instead I was there with the character, jarred by every noise she thought she heard, standing at the window waiting for her husband to come home. It didn't help that my own husband wasn't home, and every time a noise sounded in real life, I jumped!

After an hour and a half, I had to shut the laptop and unwind with regular things, like watching a little television and eating something to reel me back into life, instead of sneaking around the 100-year-old mansion in the dark. I won't mention here how I had to turn on several lights and call my husband. Oops! OK, so I had to do that in order to calm my nerves.

Please, tell me I'm not crazy =)

Friday, January 25, 2008

A CONTEST!!

Hey everyone, check out the contest on the White Rose blog, where you could win lots of free reading material, including an e-book of Table for One!
FALLEN


Jim was at work when his eyes drifted to the coffee shop visible from his office window. An attractive woman driving a Mercedes pulled up to the curb . . . and Jim’s married pastor emerged from the car. When Jim delves deeper into his pastor’s world, will he be able to handle what he discovers? Is he right to suspect that Dave is having an affair? In the behind-the-scenes church battle that ensues, Jim is torn between duty to his church and a desire to show grace. A ripped-from-the-headlines drama of suspense that keeps you engaged to the last page.

Fallen is the story about Jim’s relationship with Dave—how Jim tries to do the right thing to keep Dave accountable, but finds the situation getting worse and worse. It’s also about Jim’s other relationships. Just as he discovers hypocrisy in Dave, Jim discovers his own sins against his wife and daughter.




Matthew Raley is senior pastor of the Orland Evangelical Free Church in northern California, where he lives with his wife and two young children. For fun, he enjoys playing chamber music with friends, giving occasional solo recitals, and playing first violin in the North State Symphony. This is his first book.

To get your copy, click here!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I COULDN'T RESIST!

I wrote Chapter 1, and I loved every minute of it. The plan was to wait until every little detail, right down to the smallest clue and red herring, was carefully plotted. Scene cards, charts, research materials...I shoved them all aside as my fingers flew over the keys. OK, flew might be a slight exaggeration. But because of the careful pre-writing, I felt like I was there, in the character's running shoes, breathing in the frigid air, and....wait, I must stop before divulging all the details!

Anyhoo, it's good to get back to the writing part of writing. That doesn't mean I'm not going to finish my detailed outline--au contraire--in fact, I'm more excited than ever about making sure I fill in all the potholes before driving off a cliff.

Ever get the itchy fingers like me? Anyone???

PS. Come visit me at Writer...Interrupted today!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'M A GIRL!



You Inner Gender is Female

You're sensitive, caring, and willing to connect with anyone who's open to you.
You make friends easily, and you enjoy all sorts of conversations.
You understand most people you meet - better than they understand themselves.
You're totally a woman... or at the very least, your soul is female.

I thought for sure I'd be pegged a boy with the way I answered the shopping question! C'mon friends, fess up--what are you?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

WHAT TO DO...

...with all my old books? This is my newest dilemma. I used to, way back in the day, trade my books in at the used bookstore (shudder.) I have since come to my senses after realizing that it's taking money away from new book sales, and it's in my best interest to support the industry I want to become a part of so desperately.

There are two schools of thought on used bookstores: the one I just mentioned, and the other thought is that it's good to get books in the hands of readers, no matter how it's done. After all, a person may like an author's book so much (after reading it used the first time) to buy every new book that comes out. It makes sense, so I don't fault that school of thought. But my convictions run in the former. ((See the ACFW archieves for a similar discussion last week.))

The used book debate is not the purpose of this post, however. Now that I save all my books and don't trade them in, my problem is, what on earth do I do with all these stacks? Yesterday, for the first time, I gave away about 20-25 books to a women's group my husband met. I suppose I could do that forever--at least with the books I'm not attached to. I do keep books in my genre, in case I ever need them to make a comparison for market research purposes. I'm down to about 50 books in my stash, and 20 in my TBR. I'm sure that's pretty slim compared to some of your personal libraries!

What do you do with books you've finished? Where do you stash all the books you've read?

Monday, January 21, 2008

A NEW METHOD...

...at least for me. Since I'm trying my hand at another thriller, I thought I'd take a different approach, one that would allow me to have more control over my story. When I wrote my chick lits, I started with a fun character and a good idea of where I wanted her journey to end. Then I threw darts at her along the way. When I wrote my first thriller I got serious about plotting, and began with scene cards to guide my daily writing.

But now I'm going one step further, getting down and dirty, if you will. Not only am I fleshing out the story with scene cards, but I'm trying a new trick by working backwards. In this book I have strong mystery elements, which means there are things that one character will know that others won't, and twists that have to remain hidden until just the right time. The best way to work backwards is to use a timeline for each character, and start with the end at the top where every thread ties together. In order to do this I needed a giant sheet of paper and an easel.


I separated the page into four sections, for the four characters I need to keep track of the most. Horizontally, it loosely shows where each person is when something important is happening to the others.

This method helped me to see the big holes in each subplot, and who needed more screen time, and also which elements weren't as important as I thought they'd be. For writers who need to be visual and juggle multiple story lines, give this method a try!

Though I'm still a few days away from being able to start Chapter 1, I'm more confident that I'm starting the story in the right place, and cutting any fluff that would slow the story down. And the biggest benefit is filling in the gaping potholes before they require a major rewrite. Working backwards has allowed me to have a grip on my story in a way that usually took me at least until the 2nd draft with my previous books.

I shared my favorite new trick--now tell me what you do to handle your complex plotlines.

Friday, January 18, 2008

TAGGED!


I found this one from Erica and Kaye, and is a fun trip down literary lane.


1. One book that changed your life. It has to be the Bible. The first time I read it through really impacted me, and it was as though God spoke to me directly.

2. One book that you have read more than once. Eighth Moon, by Bette Bao Lord. It's the true story of a girl in China under Mao, and the things she struggled through appalled me as a child, and touched me in a way I can't shake. Naturally I made my oldest daughter read it too.

3. One book you would want on a desert island. Of course I could say Bible, but that's probably a given =P If I were given a 2nd choice I'd take Wuthering Heights, this gothic romance gives me shivers.

4. Two books that made you laugh. What A Girl Wants, by Kristin Billerbeck, and Consider Lily, by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt. The scene with the shark head is one of the funniest things I've ever read in my life. Talk about busting a gut!

5. One book that made you cry. Oceans Apart, by Karen Kingsbury

6. One book you wish you'd written. Anything written by Jodi Picoult.

7. One book you wish had never been written. LOL, that's a pretty harsh thing to think about! I can't think of specifics, but any book written that particularly leads people into a cult/away from Christ.

8. Two books you are currently reading. I don't read two books at once--I'd never finish! Y'all know how slow I read. Since I just finished a book, I'll tell you what's up next: Without A Trace, by Colleen Coble, and Fallen, by Matthew Raley.

9. One book you've been meaning to read. Pride and Prejudice.

10. Five people that I tag: I declare this an official self-taggability meme!
CHRISTIAN WRITERS' MARKET GUIDE



This guide is a MUST HAVE for every writer of Christian fiction. You will be amazed at how much underlining, highlighting, and dog-earing can be done to one book!

The essential reference tool for the Christian writer, Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide is now in its 23rd annual edition!

Check out the section on Blogging on page 69...the CFBA is listed!

Writers’ Conference listings, Book Publishers, Magazine Publishers, and a Bookstore filled with the resources you need to be successful in this business. Get a Book Contract or Manuscript Evaluation, and check out the Writer’s Resource links. This book has all you need to connect to all these valuable helps for the beginning, intermediate, or professional writer.

To keep you up to date with the latest marketing news, visit Sally Stuart’s new marketing blog, Christian Writers’ Marketplace, at http://www.stuartmarket.blogspot.com/.

A new, updated version of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide is available about January 15 each year.



Sally Stuart has been writing for the last 40+ years, and has been putting out the annual "Christian Writers' Market Guide" for the last 23 years. Her other writing includes several Christian education resources books, a children's picture book, a basic writing text, writing resources, and a western novel--plus hundreds of articles and marketing columns. She writes marketing columns for the "Christian Communicator," "Advanced Christian Writer," and the Oregon Christian Writers' Newsletter. She speaks and teaches at Christian Writers' Conferences nationwide. Sally is the mother of 3 and grandmother of 8. She and her husband, Norm, spend their free time vacationing on the Oregon coast.


Check out her blog!



You MUST order this book!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I MADE SOMEONE CRY!


Or more accurately, my book made someone cry...but in a good way. I received a review of Table for One, and the reviewer said, "It will make you laugh and cry and laugh again." To read the complete review, click here.


And wait, there's more! Today I'm guest blogging at Writer...Interrupted. Stop by for a visit!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

THE RESEARCH BUG

I like to make things up, hence the reason I write fiction. But the more I write, the more I realize the need for accurate research, lest I miss important details that add to the readers experience. The smell of old books in the library, the quiet shuffle of papers, the distant clacking of keys at the computer carosels--a nice way to spend a day learning, and I'm sure I'll be doing that soon too.

But yesterday I took a field trip (by myself, if you can believe it!) to a 100-year-old mansion. With the help of a tour guide, and digital camera at the ready, I absorbed every detail my mind would hold so I could carefully create my protagonist's home. I also snapped some shots of other homes downtown to give me ideas.





This one is a public building, but when I went to go inside there was no one there. It definitely requires another field trip.









The one to the right, here, is a B&B. Sadly, when I got to the front door there was a sign saying to call for an appointment =P










This is one view of the mansion that's open to the public. It's 13,000 sq. feet. Naturally, my protags house isn't going to be this big, but it will be this old.











I know it's hard to tell from this picture, but the servant's staircase was narrow, twisty, and incredibly steep. It reminded me almost of a ladder.





This is the main staircase in one half of the house. Beautiful arched doorways were everywhere. Also notice the pole on the right side of the picture--there were curtains to close off a room for privacy, but still allow the air to flow. I didn't get a picture of the transomes (little windows above each door) but those served the same purpose.






The family who donated the home also left many of the original furnishings and books!












One last view of the mansion from the backside.










Yesterday was a productive research day. I also got shots of the wallpaper and other informational details. You know, y'all may have begun the process of converting me--I may get the research bug yet!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A CHEERFUL HEART...

...is good medicine (Prov. 17:22a), and believe me, I've been needing good medicine. Yesterday I was ever-so-sick, and so was my 3 year old. I actually believe that joy/cheerfulness can have a strong influence over the physical body, and when I came across these cute cartoons, it was just what I needed. And you know me, I just had to share! Hope you are blessed too =)




Monday, January 14, 2008


DID YOU KNOW....

That our friend Sally Bradley is also the owner of Affordable Novel Critique Service? Pull up a chair, and get to know her a little bit better!



*What are the most common mistakes that you see made by newer writers?

The most common ones are plot related. It's very easy to mistake everyday conflict as plot. The conflict that matters must push the characters farther away from their goals.
That's another big plot problem--many characters don't have story goals. Writing about people's everyday lives and the scrapes they happen to get into isn't enough. The characters must have internal and external goals. And when writers find those goals, those characters come alive. So does the plot.

*What suggestions do you have for writers to help themselves improve?

First, read fiction that's done well.

Years ago a published novelist told me to read a lot but to stop reading a book if the writer was breaking writing rules or wasn't the best quality. You pick up writing habits from what you read. You don't want to soak up the wrong things.

Join a writing group and get involved. I'm a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and I have gained so much writing and business knowledge in the few years I've been with them. See if there's an ACFW chapter in your area. If not, get online with the group to see if there are any writers nearby. There's nothing like hanging out with other writers to get your creative juices flowing.

If you can, join or create a critique group, and train yourself to be open to their take on your work. Don't assume they just don't get you.

*What are your favorite writer's resources, and why?

My three favorite writing books are James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure, Debra Dixon's GMC: Goal, Motivation, Conflict , and Robert Ray's The Weekend Novelist. The last book is misnamed, I think. It's really a great book on plotting and teaches well the concept of writing in scenes. The first two are must haves for plot and character development. And if your plot is strong and your characters are realistic, you've got a story.

My favorite book on writing proposals is Blythe Camenson's and Marshall J. Cook's Your Novel Proposal: From Creation to Contract . The book deals only with fiction and is full of examples.

My most favorite resource is my library. I've been working for my library since September, and even though it's a small library, it has all the benefits my huge Chicago-suburb library our previous home had. Take advantage of interlibrary loan--even a small library can get their hands on almost any book for you. That way you can read a ton of novels without taking out that second mortgage. Also, ask if your library has access to research databases. Again, my little Kansas library gives out Kansas State library cards that let me access databases, and I've used these extensively when getting market information for my proposals.

*Please tell us about your services.

Years ago, when I was just starting my writing journey, I longed to work with an editor to help me pinpoint where I needed to improve. But working with editors was always too expensive.
So my goal has been to provide excellent editing help with a teaching atmosphere and combine it with an affordable price. I try to keep my prices as low as I can while still meeting my family's needs, and I think I've succeeded in doing that.

My services range from help with a synopsis or full proposal to a detailed substantive edit or a small mentoring critique for the new writer. To me, there's nothing more fun than taking an existing story and digging into it for missed potential--for ways to tighten the plot or deepen the characters.

Thanks for visiting with us, Sally. Make sure to stop by her website for more details.

Friday, January 11, 2008

VIVA INSPIRATIONAL CHICK LIT!!

The day has arrived. The moment has come. The book you've all been waiting for....well, at least in my mind =) The e-book version of Table for One is now available here for five dollars. So if you need a really good laugh, or even an extra smile and a pick-me-up, check out my new book! And don't worry, if you're not a fan of e-books, the print version will be available in 6 short months! For another take on this event, please visit me at the White Rose blog. I'm also hanging out at the Seekerville blog today!

From the back cover:



Successful stockbroker Lucy Brocklehurst hasn’t had a date in four years. In a town where the ratio of single women to men is 7:1, she’s determined to wait on God for the perfect mate—as long as it’s the hot new youth pastor at her church.

Lucy will do anything to get his attention, including volunteering for the youth group. Through a series of misadventures on the teen outings, Lucy finds herself falling in love with a kindhearted chaperone named Edgar Flowers. But when their relationship grows serious, Lucy discovers the lengths his recently-widowed mother will go to in order to keep them apart. What starts out as harmless interference turns into an all out tug of war, with Edgar as the prize!

Will Lucy crumble under the scrutiny of her would-be mother-in-law? Or can Lucy and Edgar’s budding romance survive the schemes of his meddling mom?

Thanks for sharing this special day, my friends!
AND THE WINNER IS.........


RAQUEL!!! Congratulations on winning Happily Even After. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did =) I'll be contacting you shortly.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

ONE WORD!

I found this on Betsy's blog, then Erica's blog, then Kaye's blog. Naturally, I want to play too!
But before I begin, remember to sign up for a chance to win Happily Even After, on the post below this one. The drawing is Friday morning. Without further ado.....

Being a writer is often difficult. Some struggle with word count, never able to fill the pages with their desired quota. Other authors type on and on, barely able to rein in at the desired quota.
How do you do? Here's a fun game....
You. Can. Only. Type. One. Word. (not as easy as you might think!)

1. Where is your cell phone? dunno
2. Your significant other? fun
3. Your hair? long
4. Your mother? sincere
5. Your father? hilarious
6. Your favorite thing? kidlets
7. Your dream last night? none
8. Your favorite drink? soda
9. Your dream/goal? published
10. The room you're in? kitchen
11. Your ex? gone
12. Your fear? pain
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Caribbean
14. Where were you last night? home
15. What you're not? thin
16. Muffins? yes!
17. One of your wish list items? books
18. Where you grew up? home
19. The last thing you did? shop
20. What are you wearing? clothes
21. Your TV? SpongeBob
22. Your pets? dead
23. Your computer? on
24. Your life? busy
25. Your mood? frazzled
26. Missing someone? Grams
27. Your car? dirty
28. Something you're not wearing? perfume
29. Favorite Store? Barnes
30. Your summer? busy
31. Like someone? yes
32. Your favorite color? red
33. When is the last time you laughed? today
34. Last time you cried? December
35. Your favorite animal? penguin
36. Last thing you ate? food
37. Dream vacation spot? Castries

Wanna play along? Leave a comment so I can visit =)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

HAPPILY EVEN AFTER


I'm so glad we're starting the year with this book. The main character, Tracey, is someone I started rooting for on page one when she stepped on the scale. This is a woman seeking God in order to find her place in an imperfect family and in a new church. This is a woman dealing with insecurities that everyone faces in one form or another. Happily Even After is filled with moments of humor, but also moments of genuine heartache and getting real with God. And don't let the pink cover fool you: this book has a little bit of edge that made me sit back and say, "Wow, this is so true to life, I can't believe they printed it!"

In fact, I want to share the joy. I'm kicking off this year with a giveaway. Enter your name with a working email addy in the comments, and I'll do the drawing on Friday morning.

Without further ado, here's the back cover blurb:

Superwoman doesn't live here

I marry a gorgeous executive, have a baby, lose all the weight (most of it)--and move to a fine house in the suburbs with a welcoming new church. Wait--did I say welcoming? One teeny waaah! and new mothers and their crying babies are exiled to a separate room. At least there's some enlightening conversation. Like about my husband and issues I didn't even know about! And then there's my aptly named mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, who can't stand me. I'm about to lose my mind! So it's high time for a visit to the Sassy Sistahood for some much-needed advice about men, marriage and motherhood!


Marilynn Griffith is mom to a tribe, wife to a deacon and proof that God gives second chances. While best known for her colorful novels about friendship, family and faith, Marilynn is also a speaker and nonfiction writer.

Her nonfiction has been included in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE CHRISTIAN WOMAN'S SOUL and several other devotionals and magazines. Currently, Marilynn is editor of the SISTAHFAITH:BELIEVING BEYOND SHAME anthology. She is also the founder of Faithchick.com, a blog for faith fiction readers.

Marilynn is the author of six novels dealing with issues such as teen pregnancy, AIDS, abstinence, stress relief, single parenting and marriage. Her recent fiction titles include TANGERINE and IF THE SHOE FITS.

Marilynn has served as Vice President and Publicity Officer of American Christian Fiction Writers. She speaks to youth, women and writers about believing beyond boundaries and daring to reach dreams.

Marilynn lives in Florida with her husband and seven children whom she taught at home for seven years. When not chasing toddlers, helping with homework or trying to find her husband a clean shirt, she can be found scribbling furiously on her next novel.

To book Marilynn for media interviews, speaking engagements, Serious Fun fiction parties or book club call-ins, please contact her thru her WEBSITE.

Me here again:

DID YOU CATCH THAT? Seven children. Seven. Wow. I'd love to follow Marilynn for a day, just to see how it's done.

Anyway, click here to buy the book. AND ENTER YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDY IN THE COMMENTS FOR A CHANCE TO WIN ON FRIDAY!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A FEW GOOD RESOURCES...

A small note to tack onto yesterday's post: I have a few resources for those of you who, like me, struggle with finding the perfect name. (Although from the comments, it's not as hard for some as it is for me!) And because we're all friends, I wanted to share =)

The Baby Name Survey Book, by Bruce Lansky. What makes this book different is that you can choose a character trait, look it up, and see the names associated with that trait and vice versa. The results are based on a survey of 100,000 parents, rather than just traditional meanings of names.

Baby Names World I like this website because you can type in a word like "strong," and the names that have "strong" as part of the meaning pop up. Plus, there are tons of naming tips, which are supposed to apply to actual people, but hey, I think my characters qualify ;)

The phone book. I'm not kidding. This works well when you are writing a setting similar to the phone book's location. Because this next story I'm writing takes place in a town like my own (but not my own), I want to get some regional names incorporated into the story. We have a high minority mix in this area, so it should be reflected in my book for the sake of authenticity.

You're probably wondering if I actually have some good names now that I've shared these sources. No. I don't. Still thinking, pondering, and searching for the perfect names that will enhance the characterization. Thankfully, our phone book is really, really thick.

Soooo, if you have a moment and your wheels are already turning this morning, I'm open to suggestions for a strong heroine who is going to face incredible trials, has an abundance of endurance, is a former teacher, and is vulnerable and guilt-ridden because horrible mistakes she's made. Anyone???

Monday, January 07, 2008

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

...I begin with a name. To my way of thinking,
it's impossible to create a character without one.
The name I choose cannot be arbitrary, either. It's the
first of the tools that I can use in revealing who and what my creation is,
and silly is the writer who just slaps any old name on a character
without realizing that name's import to the reader.
~Elizabeth George, Write Away

I'm stuck. I had a brilliant story idea the other day--not that I'm trying to brag, but in my mind it's brilliant. I have a story, a skeleton of a plot, and even character motivations. When I pulled out my giant index cards to begin sketching out scenes, I stopped. Then puttered. And puttered. So why am I stuck?


Because I don't have the perfect character names!


I can't outline scenes and take the story to the next level without giving each character a true identity. My heroine is a real life Jane Doe. Not good.


Countless hours--okay, maybe not hours--have already been spent scouring baby name websites. My little brainstorm web has been scratched through multiple times as I change each characters name. As soon as I think I have the perfect name, I realize someone else of the same sex already has a name that starts with the same letter, or it sounds too wimpy, or like I was trying too hard.


This happens every time I write a book. The names change from draft to draft, and sometimes I'm not satisfied, even at the end. (Although I will say that I love the name of my characters in Table for One, and only one person's name changed in that whole book.)


And just why are names so important? Elizabeth George reminds us that names can suggest just about anything: traits of personality, social and ethnic background, geography, and attitude. She also says that names will influence how a reader will feel about a character.


And lest you think my troubles with names are confined to my fictional world, let me assure you there was great agony in naming all three children, especially because they're real ;) But despite my troubles, I've come up with a few that I love. Lucy Brocklehurst, in Table for One--must have come up with the last name while reading Jane Eyre. (By the way, her name plays a somewhat significant role in the book.) Molly Beane in Honey Do Inc. is definitely a favorite, as is Slater, which I chose on a dare from Betsy based on who this guy reminds me of. Bella McAllister seems very appropriate for my heroine in Shadows of Alaska.


My question to you is, how do you choose names? Randomly? Scientifically? Do you have favorite character names that you've come up with?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

IF YOU'RE A WRITER...

...you'll love this!





Wednesday, January 02, 2008


glitter-graphics.com

I don't know about you, but it was a wonderful day of naps and grazing around our home. Let's see, we had Schwan's French toast sticks for breakfast, Schwan's cheesy tater tots for snack, Schwan's pumpkin pie AND Schwan's turtle pie for snack, Schwan's (are you sensing a theme here?) chicken fries for lunch, Schwan's cream cheese wontons for dinner, and Schwan's queso dip and chips for night snack. I'm still full, although that didn't stop me from having breakfast.

What is it about a holiday that encourages reckless self indulgence? Whatever it is, I was under the ether.

But today is a new day, another chance to torture myself on the treadmill. Nothing to do with New Year's resolutions, just a little something I started last May--running multiple miles to nowhere! Anyhoo, I'm ready to get back to our regular routine--not that I'm a TOTAL grinch--and start reworking our schedule. Most of all, I'm ready for the kids to re-start normal naptime and bedtime.

Ahhhh, the sweet relief of a new year.....
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