Some Write It Hot

December 15, 2010

Furbabies and Writers by Cherise Sinclair

Filed under: Writing life — dangerouslysexy @ 04:00
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Why your human writers should include pets in their stories

–an instructional article for fellow felines by the Calico – aka She Who Rules

I’ve been supervising my human’s reading material recently. I’m distressed at how many stories lack the most important characters of all–the pets. Yes, I realize that animals should be charitable toward their human’s short-sighted natures–after all, they can’t even see in the dark–nonetheless, a book should reflect the world, and in America, over sixty percent of American households contain a pet.

So why have I found books where none of the major characters own a cat or even–if they must display such poor taste–a dog? Truly, humans do need direction.

Being of a literary nature, I have assisted my human with this simple task. She tends to start off a story with boring humans…the hero, the heroine, and various two-legged friends. Bleah. If she continues with her narrow-minded plotting too long, I put my paw down. Usually no more is needed. Remember to show patience; use claws only if your human ignores to ignore a mild admonition. Disembowelment for a first offense is excessive. (yes, I’m talking about you, Mittens)

Below, I will list several ways in which an animal brings a story to life, so you can instruct your human. As kittens learn best by watching it done correctly, I will also provide examples for you.

To enhance a personality: Have you even noticed how two-dimensional some humans *cough* I mean, characters–can be? As I’ve shown Cherise, having a hero own a pet adds another, very appealing dimension. For example, in Club Shadowlands, Master Z appears like this:

Smooth black hair, silvering at the temples, just touching his collar. Dark gray eyes with laugh lines at the corners. A lean, hard face with the shadow of a beard adding a hint of roughness. He wore tailored black slacks and a black silk shirt that outlined hard muscles underneath. If Ben was a Rottweiler, this guy was a jaguar, sleek and deadly.”

[As an aside, I rather liked the above comparison–Cherise thought of it all by herself. I was quite proud and brought her a wonderful helping of nice, warm mouse guts to reward her. Please note that it’s almost as important to reward a two-legger as it is to reprimand her. ]

So, we now have a rich, good-looking human. Nice enough writing, but we can do better. Add in a feline to give him a history and a soft heart:

“Ah, about time. I was wondering if you were going to make an appearance,” Sir said to the cat, kneeling to pet it. He looked up. “May I introduce Galahad?”

“Galahad?” she said in disbelief. That had to be the biggest and ugliest cat she’d ever seen, and she’d seen some monsters at the shelter.

“He’s a very chivalrous fellow.”

Jessica knelt on the floor and held out a finger to be delicately sniffed. In approval, the cat nudged her hand, curveted closer to be petted. “You must be quite a fighter.” She frowned at the chewed-on ears and scarred nose.

“He’s been with me about five years, ever since I found him raiding the garbage cans. He was big then, has grown even more since.”

She would never have picked him as a person who would adopt a stray cat. She didn’t know him at all, did she?

To liven up a thinking scene: How often are there tedious scenes where the characters are simply sitting and thinking? Not even grooming–appalling, isn’t it? It’s much more interesting if the heroine has a pet to give her some advice since, face it, humans are notoriously lacking in common sense.

Even if Jake had come, she wasn’t going to roll over like an idiot dog who’d love a person no matter how badly he treated it. She stopped beside Mufasa. “I’m no dog—I’m a cat. Kick me and I’ll walk away, right, Mufasa?”

A furry head butted her leg in agreement.

To improve descriptions: Do the descriptions of hero or heroine lack a certain oomph? Comparing an animal to a human can be revealing. I fear the human usually comes off less appealing than the pet, but, as I’ve said before, stories should be based on reality.

Here’s Logan from Master of the Mountain:

“Right.” She forced her feet forward, one hard-won step after another. Where was the dog? As the man behind the desk shook hands with Matt, Rebecca checked the floor. There. Standing beside the man, it looked huge, with dark brown fur and a darker muzzle. It stared at her, and she heard another rumble.

“Thor,” the man said, his low voice almost a match for the dog’s. “Down.”

The dog flattened to the floor. It never stopped looking at her, though.

“Rebecca, eyes on me, not the dog.” The deep, rough voice broke her free, and she turned to the owner. He looked as mean as his dog, with steel blue eyes in a deeply tanned face—a ruthless face decorated with a day-old beard and a white scar below his left cheekbone. After handing her a pen, he tapped the paper in front of him. “Name and address. Signature on the release.”

My human does struggle sometimes against my gentle direction. For example, she’d planned a simple Dom finds sub in his private dungeon-type story. Very straight-forward–can we say boring? I pointed out that the plot needed a reason for the rich Dominant to have a middle-class submissive in his home. After a little prodding and effort on my part (tail-lashings, ignoring her presence, hacking up hairballs) Cherise gave in. She came up with a rather brilliant reason: to take care of the owner’s dog. I did feel it was a shame she used a dog, but logical–no self-respecting feline would need a babysitter.

So the heroine became a veterinarian, and that led to a fine parade of animals through the story. I did have to throw a hissy fit to get a feline added. Really, a cat can enhance the showing of a character’s problems and back story far better than any drooling canine. Here’s Mac and Alex in The Dom’s Dungeon:

To top off the wreck of her day, she heard footsteps. Alex was home.

And this wasn’t her home. What was I thinking?

Her stomach sank. He’d probably order her right out of his house. The clawing worry in her stomach duplicated the tiny claws digging into her forearm. The kitten had seen Butler.

“Easy, kitling,” she murmured. “I don’t think he eats cats.” But she didn’t know, now did she? “Butler,” she said firmly. “Behave.” She turned so the cat was out of the dog’s sight and vice versa.

Alex walked around the corner with that easy grace and power, and her heart did that funny dip like it did every time she saw him. Maybe she had a heart condition.

“How did the day go?” he asked; then his eyes narrowed, and he moved forward. “What’s wrong, little vet?”

Caught. Caught dead to rights. When she was a kid, she’d rescued a half-starved puppy and brought it to the foster home. Arlene had thrown it out. “This is my home, not yours.” That night, Mac had sneaked out and found the puppy still in the front yard. So little. All bones and big eyes. She’d carried him across town to the animal rescue and cried all the way back. You would think she’d have learned.

Of course, Alex liked animals. Maybe… Her stomach tightened, and she looked down. Anything to avoid his eyes. This was Alex’s home. Not hers. If he liked cats, he’d have one.

He huffed a laugh, and she looked up in time to get a firm kiss on her lips. “I’m not sure which of you is shaking harder,” he murmured, disengaging the kitten’s claws with an easy competence. “Butler, lie down,” he ordered absently when the dog’s approach triggered a tiny hiss.

“I’m sorry,” Mac whispered, looking at the antique furnishings. “It’s just for tonight, and then I’ll try to find him a home. He was in the middle of Mercer Street, and I couldn’t leave him. If you don’t want him in the house, then…” Maybe she could sneak him into a motel.

He gave her a puzzled look. “MacKensie, if you could have left a kitten in the middle of the road, then you aren’t the woman I thought you were.”

See? Now didn’t that add a lot to MacKensie’s and Alex’s characters?

Finally, a word of warning. If and when pets get added into stories, do NOT let your human forget them. All too often an appealing pet appears in a story, but, as the idiotic author gets wrapped up in the romance, the animal disappears. Excuse my hissing, but that’s as disgusting as when a two-legger forgets mealtimes.

I realize the sacrifice I’m asking you all to make, but my friends, it’s imperative to keep an eye on your human writers. For example, Cherise once tried to write a story without consulting me, and obviously needed closer supervision. So I now spend my days warming my paws on her lap. She’s learned to type with one arm pinned under my body–even old humans can be taught new tricks–and if she doesn’t remember to pet me in repayment for my dedication to duty, I flick my tail against the screen. (Have you ever noticed how effective a tail is when used on the tailless? Be sure to teach this to your kittens.)

Well, if you’ll excuse us, I believe this article can come to an end. And I need to reward my human for her dedication to duty. Hmm. Perhaps I’ll let her feed me some of that chicken she cooked last night.

For the latest on what Cherise is up to visit her website

October 8, 2010

My Song By Ali Katz

Filed under: Writing life — dangerouslysexy @ 04:00
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It wasn’t too long ago when claiming Walt Whitman as my favorite poet was a little embarrassing. People gave me funny looks and said things like: ‘Whitman is so 19th century’ and ‘Don’t you think he’s just so… ordinary?’ and ‘Poetry has to experiment, use language in new ways to make it beautiful.’

But, it doesn’t bother me anymore. Truth is, when someone’s words speak to me, whether prose or verse, it’s poetry.

Look at this:
Poemet.

That shadow, my likeness, that goes to and fro, seek-
xxxx ing a livelihood, chattering, chaffering,
How often I find myself standing and looking at it
xxxx where it flits,
How often I question and doubt whether that is really
xxxx me;
But in these, and among my lovers, and carolling my
xxxx songs,
O I never doubt whether that is really me.
WALT WHITMAN.

My songs are in the thrill that passes through me at the silhouette of a tree on a hillside, or the sight of the wind passing over a meadow. The real me takes time to appreciate the beauty around her.

My songs are in the building of a scene, bringing a character to life, the crafting of a beautiful sentence that says more than the sum of its parts. The real me has a talent that some people actually appreciate.

My songs are in learning, in letting my mind ask questions and seek answers. The real me is a lifetime student of history and science and astounding facts.

My song is in solitude, where the real me comes out to play and enjoys the company.

“Dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.” ~~Leaves of Grass, 1855

Thanks for reading.
ali

Read more from Ali on her Blog, Love Songs or her Website, Passion In Spades

Friend me, please:

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On Twitter, @practicalkatz
On MySpace: practicalkatz

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September 27, 2010

Are Critique Groups Necessary?  By KevaD

Filed under: Writing life — dangerouslysexy @ 04:00
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I’ve seen this question posed and discussed in various chat rooms, blogs, and sites. Given my experience with and without a critiquing group to support my efforts, I’m going to weigh in on the answer here and now.

Grab a Pepsi or a glass of wine. I’m never short-winded.

For two years I wrote and submitted my work to agents and publishers, knowing I would receive the literary brass ring in response at any moment. How could they not see I was the next King, Patterson, Bombeck, or Robbins?

After all, my family and friends loved what I wrote.

Ten novels and hundreds of rejections later, I was as devastated as I was determined to figure out what I, and I stress “I,” was doing wrong.

Could it be my own family and friends had no idea what they were talking about?

In a word… Yup.

The key here is to accept, if you’ve just started writing, you don’t know what you’re doing – – yet. But you will. You will as soon as you accept, you don’t.

Having awakened to the fact I needed the opinion of a total stranger – yes, in writing you need to talk to strangers (and the stranger the better) – I first tested the water at Absolute Write Water Cooler, a critiquing site anyone (writer or not) can join and sit in anonymous judgment. Posted a couple of sure-fire samples I knew would wow the crowd. Two days of patting the carpet later, I finally located my head they’d cut off and tossed back at me.

As author Amber Green is so fond of saying, “NEXT!”

Next was reviewfuse.com. It’s a neat little free site designed for writers. Simply post a sample to be critiqued and, once you’ve critiqued three others’ works, your private posting receives three critiques. The experience was enlightening. Not only did I obtain what I thought were fair and unbiased comments and suggestions for improvement, I learned there were writers in the same spot as me – – totally lost and confused as hell.

Armed with just enough experience to be stupid, I went back to Absolute Write. They went after my hands this time.

“NEXT!”

Next was posting want ads on Absolute Write for a crit (critiquing) buddy, someone to evaluate my work in exchange for assessing theirs. A one-on-one situation where I could ask questions and receive honest answers from someone who hadn’t kissed my boo-boos when I fell off my training bike.

My personal knight in font armor was well-respected author Barbara Sheridan. I was looking for a crit buddy. She was looking for someone with cop insight for a story she was writing. I had twenty-four years of what she needed, and she had twenty years of what I needed.

We entered into a temporary literary marriage of convenience with divorce decreed by the final keystroke.
Unlike my first wife, Barb didn’t pretend I’d disappeared on a Tibetan sponsored exploration of the Antarctic the next time we digitally bumped into each other. Instead, she referred me to a critiquing group looking for a new member. Not just any group, but ERAuthors… Erotic… Romance… Authors.

I mean, I’ve engaged in sex in places I won’t admit to, read Playboy for more than the articles, viewed confiscated porno flicks on a sheet suspended over jail cell bars (we had to affirm the quality of the evidence, don’t you know), assigned positions on my number scale to every woman in the bar and readjusted their placement with each emptied bottle of beer until all that remained were ‘tens’ (except for the guy in the corner with the cute heart and rose tattoo – he stayed an ‘I’m not that drunk yet’ eight), purchased mountain climbing equipment in case I ever met Dolly Parton, and shared every throbbing stroke of my unmarried conquests (except for one of his ex-wives) with my best friend. And contrary to popular belief, my parents did have sex at least once.

But these people have the audacity to actually write about that which I do, talk about, fantasize about, and watch. How dare they!

Yes indeed. How dare they pen expertly crafted plots, artistically cultivated characters who float across the page, and locations as exotic and real as the breath they steal from your throat.

When I read the excerpts of ERA’s members, I was absolutely intimidated. Each and every one of them is the very definition of the word ‘writer.’ Except one. Me.

They took me into their fold (apparently they like a challenge).

That was in April. In July, under the tutelage of ERA’s members, I completed a romantic comedy titled “Out of the Closet” and submitted it to four publishers.

Two of the four sent me contracts.

Holy crap.

Two years of beating my head against the wall believing I could do this on my own, and this fantastic assemblage of writers, through patience and sheer desire to help each other, helped me learn the skills to have not one, but two publishers want to print my work in just three – count them; one, two, three – months.

This small group of gifted people celebrate their successes with each other, and lend a supportive shoulder in defeat and personal time of tribulation. ERA exists for one reason – to encourage growth in their writing skills.
At times their comments may seem harsh. But sometimes it takes a strong slap through the computer screen to get my attention.

Someone asked me the other day what the most important thing is my writing has gained from being a part of this particular group of unique individuals.

I answered immediately. Honesty.

You can read more from KevaD at his blog

September 23, 2010

The Distraction of New Ideas–Part Two by Ellie Heller

Filed under: Writing life — dangerouslysexy @ 04:00
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Last time I talked about getting rid of those top of the brain new story ideas which are clamoring for attention while you are trying to write. And I mentioned I tend to save a note, perhaps the scene with three or four tag line ideas as to why it happened or a short paragraph if there’s a more solid story racing around. This is because for me, ideas come in one of two categories, scenarios I wonder about and people I see doing things and I wonder what they’re thinking.

For a scenario I note the trigger and perhaps one or two thoughts I’ve had, but generally not full sentences and no characters. Just the scene and the ideas it sparked.

Something like:

Ambulance – u-turn in forest. Stops.
-Attack from inside?
-Dump drugs/chemicals/body?
-Spill coffee in lap?
-Let changed Were creature out to roam?
Then I force myself to stop. Just stop.

Okay, usually I do succeed; sometimes one of the ideas becomes so entangled with the idea for a character I instead jot down a paragraph about the character and scene. While I always try to use good grammar, just getting it down and out of my head is top priority here:

If Daria had just done her job and searched in the Hudson’s garage as well as the house while they were there with the warrant Harris wouldn’t be standing in the sweltering sun without a lick of shade going through the dumpster which supposedly contained their trash. Although, it wasn’t like Daria to be slack on the job, heck, she usually busted balls over someone screwing up like this. Which made Harris wonder why the screw-up had occurred in the first place, and why she wasn’t ripping her partner Jude up one side and down the other. She was clearly covering for him. What hold did Jude have over her that she’d let him get away with a stupid mistake? Harris would find out, if only so he’d know her secret too and make her cut him some slack. Some days being low man on the totem pole at the sheriff’s office was hell; no matter how much you’d done before you got here, you were treated like a greenie and watched like a hawk. And given the worst and nastiest jobs; right now, sweat dripping off him, eyes squinted against the glare of all the white paper in the mid-summer sun, life pretty much sucked.

There done, I have it for later.

If, and it’s happened, I seem to have a lot of ideas (and this does seem to be inverse to how far I am in a piece, i.e. the further I am the more ideas will pop into my head, keeping me from finishing my current project) I try to set a time or number limit generally three ideas or fifteen minutes.

For me scenes and scenarios are always easy to come up with and, along with them, some general ideas for stories. I’m always curious, though, how other people come up with their ideas.

When not distracted, you can find Ellie Heller at her blog

September 17, 2010

Voice By Ali Katz

Filed under: Writing life — dangerouslysexy @ 04:00
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My face-to-face crit group picked up a new member about a month ago. He’s fresh out of college, has been writing for a long time, but never tried to have anything published. The first chapter he presented for crit was a well-crafted bit of writing but typical for a beginner: lots of flowery descriptive passages, no action, no concept of character, not a clue to what the story was about.

One of our older members, who’s been around a while and has a few novels with a major print publisher, commented. “This voice might work for a literary piece, but it won’t fly in genre fiction.”

His reply, “What’s voice?”

People keep slinging that word around. I had to look it up.

Voice is a combination of a writer’s use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc….Voice can also be referred to as the specific fingerprint of an author, as every author has a different writing style. ~~Wikipedia

OoooKaaaay.

One thing I know about voice is how elusive it can be.

Hard to find, easy to lose. Usually, when I feel myself slipping, or more often locked up, I pick up a piece of fiction by an author I enjoy reading and start analyzing paragraphs. Lately, I’ve been reading poetry.

O for the dropping of raindrops in a song!
O for the sunshine and motion of waves in a song!

~~Walt Whitman, A Song of Joys

In a half dozen articles, I kept reading these words: song, poetry, sound, rhythm, color. Color?

A writer’s voice is his song. The magic of words strung together to create an image only he can show us. It’s a living breathing thing that changes as characters, scene, emotions change, but beneath every line lies the unique voice of the individual telling his story.

Can we learn it? We can learn to do it right. Study syntax, accept the rules, learn to use them to your advantage, but your voice is within you waiting to be found. It forms from all you have experienced, all the people you’ve met, all you have read, all that makes you who you are.

So, how do you find it? By writing, and rewriting, and writing again. And, in my case, I write, and rewrite, write again and read poetry. At some point, the words fall into place and you see magic happen. Voila, exactly what you wanted to say, said clearly and beautifully.

I did not know how to differentiate
between volcanic desire,
anemones like
embers
and purple fire
of violets
like red heat,
and the
cold
silver
of her feet:
I had two loves separate;
God who loves
all
mountains,
alone knew why
and understood
and told the old
man
to
explain

the impossible,

which he did.

~~HD Doolittle, The Master

Thanks for reading.

ali

Read more from Ali on her Blog, Love Songs or her Website, Passion In Spades

Friend me, please:

On Facebook, Ali Katz
On Twitter, @practicalkatz
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Report eBook Piracy to: Internet Crime Complaint Center

September 15, 2010

The Distraction of New Ideas–Part One By Ellie Heller

Filed under: Writing life — dangerouslysexy @ 04:00
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This happens to me almost every day. There I am, kids are in bed, dog is walked, i.e. distractions are at a minimum and I am ready to write. I open the document and…I remember this idea I had for a story this afternoon, involving a car which crashed into a pool, a were who is deathly afraid of swimming and…

It’s like the donkey in Shrek jumping up and down yelling ‘Pick me! Pick me!’

NO! I need to stick to my story, right?

For me the answer is yes, and no. One of the reasons I write is I’m always thinking of scenarios and stories which pivot around an odd thing I’ve seen in real life. Like the cop standing in the paper recycling dumpster at the dump or the ambulance which did a u-turn in a forest preserve, sirens and lights blaring, then pulled over to the side and parked.

I simply can’t help but wonder why? And then scenes and scenarios build and, well, I’m off on a tangent which is not my always helpful in my quest to finish my current work.

However, I don’t want to loose these ideas, some I can use now, others I’ll use later, so before I start on my current project, if there’s an idea incessantly demanding attention, I open my ‘story ideas’ document. And save a note, perhaps the scene with three or four tag line ideas as to why it happened or a short paragraph if there’s a more solid story racing around.

That’s it. NO MORE.

Then, with newest idea is no longer floating on the top of my head and distracting my attention, I can get back to work on my current story.

Not everyone does this. Some people are ruthless and ignore the ideas, or make a really, really short mental note and continue forward with their work in progress. How do you deal with new story ideas interrupting your current work?

Ellie writes hot romance in variety of sub-genres when she’s not distracted. Read more about what she’s up to right now at Ellie Heller’s Blog, Ellie Writes Too

September 13, 2010

Meet KevaD By Evanne Lorraine

DA Kenther, quoting him, says he’s: Writer and author (the two are not necessarily the same thing), blazing a path to where I have no clue, spinner of tales, purveyor of misfortune, U.S. Army vet, retired cop, former auctioneer, son, brother, uncle, father, and grandfather, commentator on anything that strikes a chord in a moment of passion, and willing to share my trials and tribulations as I blindly plod my way through the swamp toward literary success… or failure.

I know a slightly different man. An author of poignant, funny, and gripping tales. A man generous with his time, gentle with his insight, and incredibly brave. Confronting armed drug dealers is nothing compared with the hazards of having dreams sliced, diced, and left to bleed out on the cruel pages of critiques by ruthless women and axe wielding grammar Nazis.

Out Of The Closet

Buy it here!

Here’s the Blurb for Out Of The Closet

Chaz never once thought the day he came out of the closet no one would be home… except the cat. And he was neutered.

Chaz is ready for the great reveal. He’s carefully prepped himself for his private coming out party with new clothes, a handwritten invitation to a romantic dinner, and a solitary long-stemmed rose. Just one little problem – – the object of his affection, the beautiful Karl, isn’t home.

While the cat that looks like a rat gnaws on his rose, Chaz doesn’t hear the rough and tumble Mike, the third member of the trio of apartment-mates, walk in the door. Mike’s not the least bit shy… about anything, including letting it be known how upset he his Chaz is in love with Karl.

Chaz and the cat consider the demise of Mike who is on a quest to sacrifice the cannibalistic cat, until Karl comes home and announces he’s getting married – to a woman.

Could it get any worse for Chaz? Maybe. Mike’s about to declare his undying love for Chaz. And he’ll even throw a man off a twenty-story building to prove it.

You can learn more about KevaD on his blog

Out of the Closet has a review here!

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