Monday, December 28, 2009

No Photos Today - Just the Facts!

A quick update. The holidays were great - a tad intense now and then, but mostly fabulous. I got a few more words revised in the manuscript - but the major accomplishment was getting through the long synopsis and editing it down for the contest submission. I also found some new pages with info on agents. I'm almost done with the 'query' - so we're on target.

What's next?

New Year's resolutions will be all about the writer me. First quarter is agents and completed manuscripts and my new class on feature article writing. Why? It's a two-fer. It gives me a leg up on the job paying the bills and insight into a style of writing that I can use to help further 'brand' Denny S. Bryce and those best sellers I'm revising (lol!).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Long Synopsis - 75% Done! Snow or no Snow.

Photo this morning off the balcony. Pretty skies and snow.

Well, I've been a good girl today. I've almost finished my synopsis for the manuscript and have re-organized the first 30 chapters, and made a major decision about where and when my hero and heroine connect, and how long they stay connected. I believe all are good choices.

Not much more to say yet, but I certainly wanted to drop a line about the steps being taken to get this puppy submitted to agents and to a contest with a mid-January deadline.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Whoops. I meant to Post Photos... of Snow

I just had to share a little bit of the snow in Washington, DC from my balcony with you.

But to really get it - I've also included a snow free shot from the balcony.

Writing tidbits will resume after the apocalypse:)...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Search Begins: Denny and the Literary Agent

This is the Darioush Winery in Napa. Yes. I was there. I drank. It was good.

The search is on. As we move into 2010, I'm on the look out for my first literary agent (and if I'm lucky, my first, last and always). With this quest, there are a lot of things that are confusing right off the bat. And I'm not a novice to the world of pitching or business or query letters. But let me say, the Internet, blogs and authors, published and unpublished, equate the dreaded query letter to bouts of shingles, killer bee attacks and a really bad blind date. So what can I do to make this process less painful for me?

Stop reading those blogs and author 'fear' columns. Okay, I know that's not being fair. The fact is there are tips, insights, and good counsel to be found in a lot of places. But what I need to do - like I need to do so often - is narrow the playing field.

So here goes. First, I'm using the masterful website (IMHO) of The Knight Agency as a resource. They have some great links, easy-to-follow tips, and just lots of information on the website about submitting manuscripts, queries, synopsis, you name it. So check it out, and visit, spend an hour or so the "Writing a Solid Query Letter".

I was going to also write about the two agents I've found so far that I want to submit to, but I should leave something for my next post. Also, I've got to decide which of my two manuscripts I'll pitch...vampire tale one, or vampire tale two...

In the meantime, found a great blog post by this agent - and don't go sending her a bunch of queries - she may end up on my list:)!

Yeah - that's right. I'm just claiming agents as I go. Mine, mine, mine...

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Could Be Less Single-Minded

Yep, I Can Look Pretty Bad After a Rough Week on the Job...

Getting through another week of work was quite the feat, but now it's late on a Friday night and I'm listening to music and forcing my brain to relax. It's necessary if  I'm going to spend most of my day tomorrow working on adding my NaNoWriMo work to the manuscript.

I'm finding there are two or three topics that I'm beating to death lately - the manuscript, work, and food. I've become obsessed with it. Not so much eating, but cooking and watching TV shows about cooking. I find it so oddly soothing - especially watching the TV shows.

I'm also worried about the holidays. I know that sounds odd to admit. I'm worried about the holidays? Well, after the Thanksgiving I had, being worried about the holidays isn't a bad idea.

Some tips on two great movies - Brothers (I really loved it) and Sandra Bullock's new movie The Blind Side were fabulous.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day After Thanksgiving - Whew!

New Orleans & Hot Sauce! Photo by Denny

Well, I had quite the harrowing pre-Thanksgiving experience - which may not be over yet. I ended up in the hospital after a very scary incident, which left me in pretty bad straights. But I'm home now, and hopefully, won't be back in the hospital anytime soon, but we're playing it by ear.

Enough of the scary though.

Except as it relates to my finishing NaNoWriMo. Not happening at all! I will get 30,000 words completed, and that's really good since it is all about the middle of my current manuscript. So I've got to be happy about it, right? I wish I'd stayed focused earlier in the month, but as I've learned in the past few days, the best laid plans...

So to keep it simple and short today, happy day after Thanksgiving, and enjoy the shopping frenzy. I'm going to miss it:). Staying curled up on the sofa with my laptop in my lap, chilling, baby.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My New Writing Hangout: The Library of Congress

A little messy, but here's a peek at the home office.

I have six different topics in my head I wanted to blog about, but now that I'm finally at the computer and ready to blog, I'm struggling to remember what had my brain in a such a tizzy.

Oh yeah.

The other day, I had to find a new place to write. Of course, I'm comfortable curled up on the living room sofa with the laptop, or grabbing a cup of black coffee and sitting in the home office in front of the desktop. But since those are two spots where I also do my other job (yes, da job) I tend to need a break from those writing locations. So, I have a few places I like to escape to...

There's a cool little restaurant called 'Busboys and Poets" on K Street, and then there's a very spacious Starbucks in Georgetown that's cozy and another place called "Tryst", a fancy coffeehouse and bar in Adam's Morgan. But the other day, I discovered the Library of Congress (and don't laugh out loud or screech, duh!).

I live about six blocks from the Library of Congress and have been there a number of times for tours, meetings, events, but not to sit, read, or write.  So the other day, I decided, I'm going to go work on NaNoWriMo at a nice, quiet library. And hell's bells there's a seriously (I'm watching way too much Grey's Anatomy, I think:) nice library right up the street.

And you may know this, but you can't go into the Library of Congress to hang out and work unless you have a researcher's ID. It's easy enough to get with the proper government issued ID, but still, it's more time consuming to get then, let's say, a library card. So I did some searching in the LOC online catalog, and set out for a couple hours of writing, reading and research - and yes, you can research vampire stories. I ended up amazed by the space and the books and all the information, and didn't get any writing done. That was two days ago.

Today, I'm giving it another shot. I've got NaNoWriMo to catch up on, and I've also got to get new chapters to my critique group today - so it's writing Friday, and I'm psyched!

In other news, I missed Shemar Moore Wednesday because I had a 10-hour meeting, followed by a dinner meeting, and not even Shemar could get me to look at my computer Wednesday night.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Reading and Writing and Mondays

Today I got my nails done. Why blog about nails? I'm not. I'm blogging about what it takes to keep focused. A lot of distractions. Seriously. The more you plug into a day - as long as it doesn't become too random - the better. Here's how it works. Establish a ritual. Stick to it, and whoa -- you're writing 2000 words a day.

Or not.

I'm recommending a book - J. D. Robb's first book in the 'Death" series. Believe me. I know how far behind I am (published in 1995), but I'm enjoying the shit out of Ms. Eve Dallas. I also am still figuring out the difference between series (length?) and single title (longer?). I think there's more to it, and I'll have to nail it down before my next trip to RWA Nationals. Why? Because by then I'll finally be in the PAN group (is that the one that has been rejected?)

Still waiting to hear from the agent and the the end of this month, it will be three months since I submitted...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Yes, It's Shemar Day!

Yes. It's time for the pointless Wednesday post - it's all about Shemar.

There is nothing more fun then relaxing on a Wednesday by writing my semi-monthly Shemar Moore Post! Ah. Glorious. After a long two days of travel (went to Baltimore for 'da job') and numerous meetings all about 'da job' related stuff, I am now reclining in the home, getting ready for three days of NaNoWriMo writing and further polishing of 'The Manuscript'(this should be uttered in reverence and with creepy deep voice for effect).

But tomorrow, I will also get in some spa time. I'll start by working out - but then I intend to indulge in at least two  hours of sauna, whirlpool and steam - and not in that order. Writing is lovely, but there are times when you have to kick back and relax. For me, that time will be tomorrow.

As for my helpful tip for today - there's just so much information out there I don't know where to begin for us pre-published guys and gals (and yeah, there was a recent uproar about the word 'pre-published'. I don't really care - bottom line is no one has written me a check yet saying - your writing/storytelling/whatever - on the fiction front -  just put a few dollars in your pocket. Hoo-rah!

Frankly, I've added a few new blogs I'll be following that I suggest you check out.  I'm gravitating lately toward those writers who are in my boat - writing away but not getting paid...okay, they haven't been published yet, but are on course to getting it done!

The point? Today's rec is Patricia Woodside's blog. She's unpublished and has a great blog - so check her out.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaNoWriMo, Critique Group and Daylight Savings

Taken by me, Denny S. Bryce,  during a recent trip to New Orleans. A very cool street vendor.

I'm in a writing frenzy people. I got out 1800 words for NaNoWriMo, and am about to finish up the stories I'm judging for a contest. Then I'm going to go back and write a new scene for my current manuscript. My critique group was unanimous in their recommendation that I need a new scene. It's actually something I've been thinking about - but hadn't really formulated in my mind - or should I say came to the decision to just do it.

All in all writing is getting better and better - or I should say my approach to writing is improving. I literally wrote without editing today. Stayed within a certain area of story and just let it flow. We'll see how I feel after a day or so, when no matter how much flow I've got I can't get a word out:)!

Great article I must recommend about books and publishing. It's called, Good Books Don't Have to Be Hard. It's an article in the Wall Street Journal.

I'm also reading Nora Roberts, or J.D. Robb's Naked in the Death. The first of the Eve Dallas books. I really like the economy of her storytelling. It clips along, smart, while providing the right bangs for your buck so to speak when they should arrive. I like that style.

Lastly, learned something I didn't know (okay, lots I don't know, but I enjoyed learning this tidbit from my critique partner about MICE.  It's from a book by Orson Scott Card.

M = Millieu -- about the world (including Alice in Wondeland and Gullivers Travels); beginnig of the story should be as close to the new place as possible; pov character is often not from this world and the story will end the character returns home

I = Idea -- story about the bits of information disovered in the process of the story by the characters who did not previously know the information (e.g., most mysteries); the question (e.g., whodunit?) shapes the action of the story

C = character -- something is wrong in the character's role in life and the story goes on until the character changes or accepts the way they are. In a character story, we need to see the character before so we know why they want to change.

E = Event -- something is wrong in the fabric of the universe; story ends when order is restored or a new order is stablished; story ends when the struggle ends; most SF/F are event stories

E stories don't have prologs, but begin where the charcter who will bring about the change first becomes involved (think Frodo or Luke Skywalker); OSC especially recommends avoiding prologs that show the 'world situation' -- readers won't care until they have a hero (again, think Luke); he recommends showing the hero first in a small setting and gradually pulling back to show the world situation.

And finally, I took some medicine for my aching hip, and viola! It feels better. I guess I should just take the pill when I supposed to take the pill:). My only problem here is now is time.  I didn't remember how much I dislike time changes. If I'm traveling someplace it's one thing, but just because? It's going to take me a week to feel like I'm over what time is it anyway? Okay, being a complainer for no reason...

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Mother Wants to Visit My Blog

And No, this is not my mother! Photo taken by me in London at Thames River Festival 2007.

My seventy-five year old mother wants to visit my blog, but she's afraid. She claims that I am a wild woman (people, I'm not wild, I just like pretty men and I write paranormal, near-future, urban fantasies that can border on the erotic and features pretty men). I don't think she's opposed to the pretty men part - I certainly doubt it since she's on marriage number four and snagged her latest cutie eight years ago and swears she left the best for last:) But her real fear - or two fears - is that in some way shape or form I'm blaspheming (okay, maybe I am, can't really tell, don't totally know what it means) or I'm writing about her. Why or why would she think I'm writing about her? Could it be fear? Guilt? Lack of trust? Or simply that she realizes she'd make a damn good scary character? lol! No, I know why. But I'm not going to go into here - I'll leave it as a big reveal for one of my character's in my next book...

Also, if she does drop by: I had to post this in order to move my last post, featuring Shemar, down a spot - his bare torso scares some people, you know?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It Must Be Wednesday and That Means...

Yes, it's Wednesday and that means it's time for another pointless post about my favorite Shapeshifter - Shemar Moore.

This week he's about to venture into a new dimension, or maybe just a parallel plane where he is not the only one of his breed. There, he meets a woman from Earth who must navigate the perils of this new time zone, while controlling her desire for this freak of nature...

Okay, I found this photo and just said 'WHY?' I mean come on, yeah, you know you got it, but seriously, let's not take flaunting it to such a obvious level (except you know I love it!).

Anyway, seriously. Yes. I did write seriously. Shemar is still in the lead as the main contender for my bad boy anti-hero who will be the bone of contention in my next urban fantasy.

The heroine has yet to be fleshed out, but I've got time before National Novel Writing Month kicks off November 1. Yes, I'm doing it again. Hopefully, I won't fail again (this is year three), but with my polishing of the current manuscript about to swing into even higher gear - I'm anxious to start a new story (desperate in fact). I've been working on this current book almost daily since the end of June. But keep in mind that means I've been polishing and fixing and fixing and polishing since then. I'm up to 53,000 total words, knowing it will be 80,000 at least. So maybe the game plan should be ti finish it in November? Okay, that could be the goal...

Okay it's almost time for So You Think You Can Dance - which thankfully airs an hour before Criminal Minds - where you can find said ShapeShifter (photo shown above) at 9:00 p.m. Eastern...:)...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Are You Watching Flashforward or Three Rivers?

Cast photo from Flashforward on ABC Thursday nights at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Are you watching Flashforward on ABC? If not, do it, and do it now. It’s based on a novel, loosely based, according to Wikipidia, on Flashforward written by Robert J. Sawyer, a Canadian science fiction writer, in 1999. I won’t recap the synopsis of the book, but instead of following the scientists, the TV show follows the common man, or as common as TV likes to make man. A cop, a doctor, lawyer, FBI agents, ambulance drivers, children, etc. So far, in its first two fabulous episodes, we are mesmerized, at least I am, by two FBI agents played by Joseph Fiennes and John Cho. We're also intrigued by the premise, which uses a disaster to pull in the audience to the characters' plight. And although there is some grumbling about it's similarity to  ABC's Lost, it appeals to me much more than Lost ever did (I couldn't get through the first season). I don't think Lost ever knew the identity of its bad guy, and this show knows exactly who the villain is...and that makes a difference in how you write characters and create conflict, I think. (Anyway, this blog post is not about the reasons I couldn't watch Lost.)

In a nutshell, Flashforward is about the world’s population going unconscious at the same time for two minutes, but they dream, or see, their futures – six months in the future to be exact, in fact I think it's April 29 (isn't that sweeps?). The glitch for some is that they see nothing, while others see life-altering scenes, or then there’s the guy who was in the toilet, which just cracks me up. 
Anyway, I'm going to keep watching because it started out so good, so expect me to write about it again (whether it continues to thrill or disappoint). And speaking of disappointment? My biggest disappointment – Three Rivers with Alex O’Loughlin. 

I’ve had a thing for Alex O’Loughlin since Moonlight. I was/am one of his rabid fangirls as some like to call us, and absolutely adored Moonlight (even if it was mediocre vampire fare). But as rabid as I am, I won’t be watching Three Rivers much longer, not unless it gets a complete overhaul. No decent characters to care about – they look pretty in their tight bright blue stretchy, pull-over doctor uniform tops (yes, seriously).

But I could have endured all sorts of nonsense if Alex was acting his ass off, which he isn't. He looks bored, his acting is boring, and the script is without passion. The reason people watch medical shows has nothing to do with procedures (yes, CBS, you can’t make a procedural doctor show, why?)…it’s because everyone gets sick and what the viewer cares about is the conflict of the doctors – between the doctors, their families, their lives, their goals, their loves and hates, and folks, it’s clear, CBS has no clue how to put together a character driven show! So I hope this one dies fast, so Alex can find another show. Oh! I just read that Alex could have been on NCIS-LA? That show is damn decent, but I’m not sure he would get along with L.L. Cool J, you know what I mean? lol.
Finally, I had an absolutely amazing weekend, which I needed desperately, for reasons too self-indulgent to list here. However, having a blog already crosses a few self-indulgent lines, wouldn’t you say? Nonetheless, I did have a superior time in Philadelphia, and am settling in – mentally and physically – for a few changes in the way I approach doing the things I do – but that’s not the point here. I want to write about how lucky I’ve been. By making a commitment to writing, I’ve been able to meet in person and on-line some of the most generous writers on the planet. I believe it’s the nature of our demon – having to write – that makes interpersonal connections so important.  

On the other hand, when I mentioned my weekend to a friend, he made the point that the successful writers – book or TV - I've met, in particular, don’t need to be critical, snippy or unkind in general.  Success is their friend and their enemy, and just as I appreciate a weekend away from the day-to-day, they appreciate an opportunity to meet people who are as in love with what they do as they are. Okay, I get that. Common ground helps fuel relationships. But I’d like to think the women and men I’ve met who write are so much in love with what they do that they can’t help but give off the most positive energy and good vibes possible. And I like that!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Immortal: Shapeshifter Part II

Yes, I'm providing you with a glimpse into the world of my next hero (after I finish the current WIP). The inspiration for the hero of this marvelous new paranormal romantic suspense is the one and only Shemar Moore. If you don't understand or know what I'm talking about - you'd better ask somebody! Okay?

This man's beauty is mesmerizing. I mean, seriously? How does this happen? Yes, I know the deal in terms of procreation, but this man's looks are just - well, I'm convinced, he's a shapeshifter.

I've posted a little on this theory in an earlier post, but it keeps coming back to haunt me. I also recently visited another author's website and she had an entire page devoted to the men, all actors, who inspire her male heroes. I loved it. So I decided to start one of my own, but currently I'm stuck on Shemar - the Shapeshifter.

In other news! I'm excited beyond belief. This weekend I'm attending Phauxcon and the special guest for the weekend is the marvelous, best-selling author, L.A. Banks.

This is the cover art for L.A. Banks' latest addition to her The Vampire Huntress series.

I haven't read all of the books, I'm actually starting with the first one - but did read a lot of The Hunted - book three - but since I write in this genre I haven't read that many vampire stories - do you think that's odd?

Okay, I'm off to dinner, but first to the bookstore so I can get her to sign copies of her books!!!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Writer's Angst

I've been thinking way too much about what to post from what not to post. So this one is just off the top of my head.

Working with mortals can be painfully frustrating. That's the way I feel some days - and yes, I'm putting myself up on that superhero pedestal. It's rough going from on high - but damn - I think I'm explaining myself clearly and all of a sudden, it turns out I'm not. So it's time to step down, right? Okay, that didn't make much sense, but it was essentially a rant about my workday, not about my writing, and this blog is about the 'other' me. The one that is writer girl, and yes, I should have a cape!

I think I may have lost a few brain cells. I volunteered to judge a writing contest - don't ask me why. Like I have time to do this sort of thing, but already I'm hooked! It's really a serious responsibility. No just plowing through. These writers have sweated blood and tears over these manuscripts - whether they are brilliant stories is not even the point. It's about the seriousness of effort. I know I'd want whoever reads my contest submission to take a deep breath, and just do the best job they can do in judging my baby. Right? So that's what I'm going to do. Just hope the rest of the entries in my inbox are as interesting as the first one I pulled out.

Separate topic. I was re-reading my synopsis for the un-named publishing house that requested it, and I HATE it. Talk about convoluted! It reads the way I think - okay, that's quite the statement:) lol!

Minutes later...I decided to go back and read it again. I was like it couldn't have been that bad. And I was right, it's decent. It was damn decent. I'm not mad at all. But I've got to remember to be more careful when I choose to re-read stuff I've sent to editors and/or agents.  A lot can happen from one day to the next. I think it's the way the mind punishes writers for daring to indulge in a lifestyle where you attempt to be a writer.  In other words, the inner id is telling you, you should be doing something more meaningful with your life than writing about vampires falling love? Well, let's make this clear - my manuscript is not about vampires falling in love. It happens, but it's also about a woman falling apart, in fact crumbling into a million pieces and finding her way back to sanity. Just so happens she's a vampire. But even vampires have bad days, you know?

Well, this rambling post has helped me with a few things that have been floating around in my mind. It feels good to get them out.

But for writers who might happen upon this blog - tips for today? When you re-read something you've sent to an editor or an agent - make certain you are wide awake and sober.

Note: All photos were taken by Denny S. Bryce, and are her property.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Marlene Contest

I've realized that when it comes to my writing, I can be a coward. And by the way, that is so not like me in other aspects of my life. But when it comes to my manuscripts, it's true. I hesitate, over-think, pause, procrastinate, you name it, I do it. Not so much with the writing of the story (okay, maybe that, too), but when it comes to following up with editors and agents? I'm like a frozen lake of nerves. It's been six weeks since I sent the near-future story synopsis and the first 40 pages to the editor who requested it at RWA this past summer, and only a month since the agent checked in with me, saying she'd read it after the holidays (Labor Day). Neither one of them has written and said send me the rest of the manuscript, and happily (so far) no one has said, darling, please don't write us again. So I sit and I dream, and I wonder...

Okay, enough of that hooey - it just makes me nervous putting my thoughts about this aspect of the writing world to paper (or computer). To add to my insanity though, I've decided I will participate in the 2010 Marlene Awards. Deadline is December 15 (or submissions open that day and close January 15). I'm shooting for the 15th of December - because, it will be better if I don't give myself too much wiggle room. I don't want to mess around and submit too late to be considered. I'm a deadline fanatic, and might as well go with the first deadline to make sure, right?

For the Marlene Awards, I will be polishing up one of my other WIPs (not the near-future vampire story set in DC and Las Vegas I sent to the editor and agent. No, this one is an urban fantasy (okay, I've just got to have the urban fantasy thing going) set in Chicago during modern times. It's sexy (I think), it's dark, the main character is broken, but hopelessly brilliant and heroic. The heroine is stubborn, sexy, and has no clue about the world of magic, wizards, or demons. And it's set in the world of police work (actually, the FBI). There's a serial killer, portal jumper, witches, vampires, you name it, and it's all set in the snow-covered, frozen tundra of my x-hometown - Chicago!

Challenge though. I'm thinking I have to change the occupation of my heroine (it's already 40,000 words long, and should end up around 80,000). Her being a reporter is just striking me as trite. She could be a bartender - very easy for me to recall from my early days in Chicago. Or, she could be a restaurant owner. I like the idea of her being a business owner (like moi in my real life). I can bring in all of the joys and stresses of running a business, too busy to have a healthy relationship, stressed out over staff, customers, deadlines, taxes, etc.

But even more fun, it will be a single title and feature a twisted romance, sex, violence, (did I say that already?). Bottom line there will be nothing within the realm of routine. And why do I feel I can do this? Well, there are just so many damn books out there that do whatever they want. My latest find is Chelsea Cain:)...She's on my friend's list on Facebook - way too excited about that. You've just got to check out her books. I'm reading her first one in the 'beautiful killer' series now, Heart Sick. Visit her website, and buy. Her first book was a memoir written in 1994 or so. I'm so jealous. I wish I'd started getting serious about writing earlier in life, or at least when I started five years ago, I wish I'd learned enough to actually be more aggressive about getting published. That bug just hit me, and it's because of Rebecca Walker. She's my writing coach. I participated in her writing workshop in Maui this past June, and can I just say I fell in love with Maui, her wisdom (yes, I have a girl crush), and generally, the energy she shares so easily with others. Go to her website, and just hang out, and if you're in San Francisco in March 2010 (or  Maui in December 2009) - sign up for her workshop, okay? Just do it!

Alright, it's like 3 AM on the east coast, and I need to get some sleep. Big day tomorrow work-wise, and writing wise. I will finish polishing Chapter Six (can you believe it's taken me three weeks to write it?).  But it's okay. Not mad about it. The next  ten chapters are actually written, but need a decent amount of re-working. But I know what needs to happen, and the two new chapters I've been working on for the past several weeks will make those chapters so much easier to clean up.

I have my fingers crossed that I'll be able to finish those chapters in three weeks. I realize it might be dicey for me to finish polishing before November 1, but I've got to give it a real try. Who knows? The editor may email me tomorrow and ask for the entire manuscript, right? (hopeful is not always bad).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What Do You Think About Writing Contests?

I'm about to dive face first into the writing contest maze. I have enough material - I've got two 50,000 plus manuscripts just waiting to get out there, and I"m officially still on the 'unpublished' writer list, and I also guess I'm not so much ready to go e-books only. Nothing against them - I just have a thing for a couple of publishers - namely St. Martin's and Kensington and a wee bit of AVON and Harlequin Kimani - anyway, I'm just exploring the possibilities.

I haven't heard from the publisher I submitted to the last day of July. This week I will write and just see what's taking them so long to let me know whatever it is they want me to know (my guess is no thanks, but I'd like to get some feedback).

As for contests, just so you know in case you're interested in submitting ... in the RWA DC chapter we have the Marlene Contest and you can also check out Poets and Writers. These contests are a way (at least in my mind) of getting another beat on your writing without spending a fortune. I'm still working with my writing coach (although I'm almost afraid to check in with her because I don't feel I have enough new material to share) - but I've got to get over that hesitation/fear. I paid and I've got to be less fearful about this entire writing process (so unlike how I am in the business world! It's somewhat annoying frankly).

Anyway, it's Saturday night. I'm watching Fringe (got he DVD and am checking it out - first season). I'm also about to settle in and read some more of The Lost Symbol - the new book by Dan Brown (loving it so far). Set in DC, what's not to love.

Photos are taken by me. The first on a beach in Southern California a few years back, and this one in Paris, two years ago.

I'll be taking more photos of my town soon. Just because there's a lot to see and know in the D of C:)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This Week's DSB (that's me!) Nominees for Best First Paragraph - Book Category!
Visit Ms. Cain's website. It's excellent. Her book is in the running for my personal two thumbs up! (hehehe, this best selling author will certainly hold my recognition of her first paragraph sacred, I'm sure:)!

Yesterday was the second day in row I woke up, got out of bed and took an hour-long walk. The weather was great, seasonably DC-like for September, maybe 82 degrees at 8 a.m. So it wasn't as brisk of a walk as I'd planned - but it did help me do a couple of things I plan on turning into a ritual.

It gave me time to give my imagination free reign and what did I get? Plot bunnies! Tons of them, but one in particular that I will be working up for November's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It's a killer.

So I'd better have my POS (piece of shit, aka, borrowed phrase from Nora Roberts' presentation during RWA national conference), or WIP for the rest of us-DONE! The plan is to finish polishing the manuscript before the end of October. Then I'll be free to get started on a new project. Can hardly wait! And it's not because I'm seriously hating the book I'm working on now - no, that's not it. But since June, I believe I've learned more about who I am as a writer than in all of the five years I've been dabbling with writing. So I'm definitely ready to start a project armed with this new knowledge.

But okay, since we aren't quite ready for all of that hoopla, I wanted to begin a little thing I'll be doing for the next few weeks or months, or as long as it interests me...since I'm obsessed with books (not always reading all of them, but just the idea of how people approach their craft, and what ends up between the published page), I've been searching through books and have found quite a few that are deserving of special recognition - right here in my blog! This week's nominees for best first paragraph are established best selling authors - sure - but even they can't just get over on a weak first paragraph - you know? So above I like Ms. Cain's opening graph - quite a bit, so gets to go head-to -head against (drum roll, please!), Mr. Dan Brown! (and OMG have you visited this man's website? I have corporate clients who haven't invested as much...)...

I totally enjoyed the first chapter. So this one will get read:)!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Searching for a Topic

Searching the Internet, trying to find something interesting to post about, I realized my best bet is to go with one of my hobbies.

I love taking pictures.

The photo stage left was taken earlier this summer during a trip to San Francisco. Iconic in many ways of that part of town, I just loved the contrast (although I did cut off her shoes).

This was a night sky over a still body of water. Another one of my favorite shots is water and sky.

One of the joys of taking pictures to me is framing the shot. I'm not advanced enough to control lighting, shading, etc. I'm basic. How to get the most information into a photo without making it a jumbled mess. These aren't cropped by the way.

Just a flower on the National Mall to add a bit of my favorite color.

Now it's time to get some rest.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunlight and Cactus and a Polish Poet

(Photo taken by me at the US Botanical Garden in Washington, DC)

As has been the case, I'm working on polishing the manuscript. A polish can also include a couple of new chapters and even a new character. My newest character is a Princess. Always a sign the story is moving along in the right direction when the new character can lay claim to such a title.

But when I was searching for a name to further inspire me, and some sense of historical authenticity surrounding it, I googled Poetry and Apocalypse (which will make sense if the book gets published and you read it:), and found this beautiful piece by Julian Tuwim, a Polish poet.

The Dancing Socrates

I roast in the sun, old wretch…

I lie, and yawn, I stretch.

Old am I, but full of pep:

When I take a slug from the cup

I sing.

My ancient bones bask in the sun's glow,

And my curly, wise, grey head.

In that wise head, like woods in spring

Hums and hums a wiser wine.

Eternal thoughts flow and flow,

Like time.

Kind of ideal when you're writing a vampire story, don't you think?

And by the way, the character's first name is Izabella.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Writing on the Road or What I Found on the Internet

Picture taken in 2004 during my first trip to London in October. I loved the city, and got a chance to see the changing of the guard.

I take a lot of pictures. I also am lucky enough to have done a lot of traveling, although that isn't a perquisite to taking pictures.

I got up this morning after only a few hours sleep, after writing most of the night, and decided to share some of the photos I've taken here on my blog.

We'll start with this one.

But on to the revision wisdom for today. I finished polishing chapter 5, and reworking the first four chapters - that have already been sent to the agent and the editor for consideration. They were minor tweaks, but I just had to do it. The agent sent me a note, and said I should send her updates on my manuscripts. My goal is to send her a fresh 10 to 20 chapters (I know wide gap, but only three new scenes, the rest just polishing, I swear). I plan on finishing a chapter every two days. Do you think that's doable? Well, the bet is on, people! Here we go! I'll report tomorrow - when I have finished chapter 6.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Shemar Moore and other Shape Shifters

I'm pondering other books I would like to write as I work on the current set of revisions for this first book. Somewhere down the road, I'll need to explore shape shifters. And I've decided that Shemar Moore (actor pictured left) would be a perfect muse to create this otherworldly entity that through no fault of its own automatically shifts to another creature.

I believe Shemar is a shape shifter. Why? Come on seriously, who looks like this? Sure, a handful of insanely over-developed males who have no right (NONE) on this Earth to exist, except as a result of some mad curse. A punishment to all who think this is what they can be, or what they might be able to have one day.

But without the pretty face, great effect lighting and a few muscles, would you want to spend time with this? I mean think about it. The constant looking over your shoulder. The ridiculous amount of time you'd have to spend in the gym - just to feel what? Adequate? I'm telling you - why put yourself through so much pain? Would it be worth it? What real value would you have from such an experience?

Yeah, you're right. Memories. That's all I'd ask for. Just something (anything) to remember.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Heaven and Hell

This post is about the thing(s) that torture writers. You'd think it was a walk in the park - if you didn't write, you'd swear it wasn't a big deal. Got an idea for a great book? Write it down. Pull out the old sheet of paper and pen or laptop and keyboard and go at it! But for those of us who write, we know the truth about writing. It's all about heaven and hell, and sometimes (oftentimes) more about living in the nine rings of hell then anything else. Okay, I'm in revisions, thus my angst.

But how come so many people on the planet know so much about the pain and agony of giving birth to a manuscript?

What has prompted me to examine this question in all of its highly frustrating denominations? Nothing slight, I guarantee you.

It's a new Meryl Streep movie (check out stage left - facing your monitor). Or it's the fact that the movie is about Julia Child and Julie Powell and what they went through to get their respective books published, and to establish themselves as writers.

Okay, back to my point. Could it be that the writers community has the best PR on the planet. Not only do we know how much we suffer, we know that half the movie-going public also knows and they love to hear, see, or smell something that reeks of failure just before a great success is born.

Now let me state the obvious. Just finished watching Julie & Julia - and enjoyed it immensely. As I watched, I also wondered did everyone in the theater empathize with the main characters in the same spots where I laughed loudly or held back a sob? I think so. Because the general public has been educated by writers (of fiction, television, film, or whatever) about the writer's life in all of its pain and glory.

Why? Because writers of entertainment enjoy sharing their angst. And that's why everyone in the theater during the two hour movie was an aspiring author. They shared the main characters' failure and success, and that's what made the movie so enjoyable for me - the same way a good book is enjoyed - through character. (Okay, recently I was at a writer's convention and told a lie. I said I approach my books from plot. No, I don't. I do think of a situation and then I create characters to dwell in that situation - but I don't always say here's a character and now what am I going to do with him or her. Right now, I'm doing that in REVISION!

Okay, back to the main point of this post - revisions: heaven or hell? I think you know where I stand.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Catching Up

Whew! It's just been a while since I've posted in this blog. My energy has been divided into any number of directions. But today, I'm writing about letting go. It’s a writer’s prerogative to take that leap from making main characters sweet, predictable or safe. They need to go where danger and fear and risk are commonplace.

I had a dream last night (yes, I did). And it was the most outrageously dangerous dream I’ve ever had. And I’ve had my share. It involved two men, gunplay, loads of interaction of the most dominating kind, and there was no remorse.

Think about that for a moment. Ponder the implications, and then think about vampires, and shape shifters and werewolves and creatures that must exist on the edge of what makes sense. Have you written a character who has no remorse? Not across the board, but perhaps just for one action, and it's beyond no regrets...

As a writer, can you cross that line? I'm struggling with my main character during revisions because she needs a sharper edge. At a conference recently the presenter asked a question about how to approach your story through character or plot. I said through plot, or at least situation. Now, I'm writing an outline, and I want to take my plot to task while nailing character. Am I going about it wrong?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Discovery...Writing Big Ideas

After four days of a different level of being absorbed into my craft (attending the Romance Writers of America -RWA- national conference in DC), I am a bit exhausted, fearful, and just plain excited. So much to think about, but sorting through it all is an amazing process of self-awareness.

With that said, what am I talking about? No matter what you write about -- be it the wildest sexual adventures, or the most serene glimpses into ordinary life that explode into drama - the basic ingredients of good writing is how well the writer infuses themselves (their beliefs, their morals, their ideas of what is and what isn't) into their craft.

I may be a girl who is attracted to high concept pieces or whatever you'd like to call them - but fundamentally the story I'm telling is about girl meets boy, girl fights her way through the forest, despite the trees and the thickets, and ends up as happy as her soul will allow. In other words, the forces of nature play a role in the outcome of my urban fantasy/erotic romance tale. Happiness is layered, and defined by circumstance and conflict. (Or from which way the wind blows).

I'm busy revising a few scenes in my book (okay a lot of scenes in the book). However, it's gratifying to have a manuscript to dissect and perfect - but I tell you, it's never easy.

Here's a shout out to all of the fabulous writers and personalities I had a chance to hang out with a RWA. It was good times.

Check out photo of Lafayette from True Blood. Also check out article called "Rough Sex with Vampires: What Does True Blood Tell Us About Women & Sexuality?" I got the heads up on it from a friend.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Goals - Is Your Heroine the Bear or the Fish?

What's the difference between ambition and a goal? Do you remember your goals? Is there a point in life when you forget about goals and start thinking about 'what if'?

Writing-wise - I'm trying to pin down my main character's goal - in the sense of what drives her to make decisions and choices that propel the action. Sounds textbook, but if I can get crass - I need to know what this bitch wants?

Let's explore the word goal: Goal: 1) the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end. 2) the terminal point in a race.

What's next?

I have a vampire cop who is struggling to regain her sanity so that she can continue her simple, basic lifestyle - feed, hunt, solve crimes (that don't involve human beings). She's the queen of avoiding emotion, relationship and angst. She's had her fill of that and since the death of her partner - she just wants the easy life. Of course, the book wouldn't be a book without conflict. No easy life for her - sorry guys - she gets thrust right back into the middle of mayhem and she has to deal or die.

So my question is - will my heroine be a bear or a salmon - both have clear goals. One path could lead to death but it's a goal that is ruled by blood and lineage. It's the path that must be followed and if it leads to destruction - so be it.

Or will she be the bear that waits for her goal to arrive and then pounces -- success achieved only through patience and perseverance.

Anyway, Goal, Motivation, Conflict, the heart and soul of story telling, and I'm worried about bears and fish.


Two days until RWA. I'm anxious and semi-focused. But I need to get my brain right. I keep letting opportunity pass me by. That has to end now!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What Would It Take for You To Feel Immortal?

(Relatives? - In 1882 and 1892, some native families from French Guiana and Suriname were brought to Paris, to be shown as specimens of "savage humanity" - My grandfather was born in 1893)

Spent the weekend with my Mom and gave her the third degree about her parents. Sometimes this can be a really, really good thing. Other times - not so good. With my Mom it bordered on the 'not' side of good.

And it wasn't because she had a bad childhood. She's 75 years old and her parents were immigrants from Jamaica and French Guinea, mother and father, respectively. They ended up living in one of the smallest towns in Ohio from 1923 until their deaths in 1989 and 1976, respectively.

My Mom was the baby of five children and she loved her parents and had a fabulous time, being the bell of the ball in many ways even though she was Negro and the only black family of stature in the town of 2000 clay miners.

According to my Mom, her parents were 'saints'. No, seriously, she said the word saints - and meant it. She also said the word perfect. I knew her parents. I lived with my grandparents from the age of 4 until I was 8. I visited my grandparents every summer for nearly three months from the age of 8 until I was 17. I knew them. They were cool. Okay, my grandmother was cool. My grandfather was silent - I swear he said less than a thousand words in the twenty years I remember him being on this Earth. So when I say they weren't perfect. I know of which I speak.

But my resistance to my Mom's tale about her perfect, god-fearing childhood? Well, it's strong. But is it me, or does the story beg - I mean scream and beg - to be pulled apart?

Shit, it might just be me. But I don't think so.

All of this leads to a central theme. In addition to examining the peaks and valleys of an immortal existence (my vampire story). I'm also examining the loose ties that bind generations.

Memories - They are a bitch if you want them to be.

Hey, if you happen across this blog - I'm just finding my way to informative bits and pieces about writing, memory and vampires (think about it...there is a symmetry to this, I swear.)

Don't hesitate to drop me line. Share a memory, and answer the question:

What would it take for you to feel immortal? (As much as I love children, you can't mention your babies in response, okay?:)!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

e-publishing? give it some respect, RWA!

There is some serious in-industry flap about e-publishing that I'm only on the fringe of - mainly because I haven't been published. A short story in an anthology (by an e-publisher three years ago) that wasn't very good - my story, that is, not the entire anthology - just doesn't count.

But I was searching the news on the Internet this morning and found an article about an e-publisher who is doing it! Please check out the June 28 issue of The Washington Post about Loose Id... (click here to read it now).

I have a few friends at my journaling home (Live Journal) who have been published by Loose ID and I just love when this kind of story gets coverage especially when the Romance Writers of America (RWA) is giving digital publishing a hard time these days (okay, maybe that's a constant). From what I've been reading, RWA calls most if not all of the e-publishers vanity press, and isn't recognizing these houses or their authors (not giving them their props) who are doing it via e-publishing. I'm going to my fourth RWA conference in two weeks (it's here in DC, and you'd better believe I'll be blogging and twittering my a** off) and I'm sure to run into a hail storm of commentary regarding e-publishing versus the traditional NYC publishing houses.

I'll let you know what's going on.

(Note: I write paranormal - sexy vampires in a world of diversity - but a queen of the genre is L.A. Banks - see the cover above? It's from her first book of the Vampire Huntress Legend series. If you haven't done so - do so, go now and read it!)

Monday, June 29, 2009

We Women Have A Responsibility!

Here we go boys and girls (okay, mostly girls) - I am stressing over writing, revising and tweeting (hehehe)! Yes, to tweet or not to tweet - that is the question! What I mean is in today's world of marketing, marketing, marketing and the new social media outlets that can make you - the author - more marketable - I am paralyzed by the prospect of what to tweet...

Of course, I read the sage columns that say - tweet about informative tidbits and keep it light - in the initial stretch - before you hit them with the whammy! Buy my freaking book!

Oh...or is that what I read about blogging...mmmm...

Enough said on that point....

Onto the info 'bite' for today - let's talk sexy black men and why they aren't dominating the covers of more romance novels, and gracing the screen - TV, film, you name it - with those beautiful black bodies and smooth baritones! What keeps my brothers off the air and out of print?! And no - this isn't me complaining about the Hollywood elite who don't treat a brother fair.

I think it's because we 'older' women who love men of color (black, brown, white, or whatever) tend to stay way too mum about what we like. The teeny-bobbers do not hesitate to shout out their excitement over the Backstreet Boy types and the cutie pies on The CW, and the hotness that is Wolverine (By the way, I will take Hugh Jackman anytime, any day of the week, month, year or decade, ladies!).

So what am I saying here? It's time to get loud, girls. If you like it, let the world know! I will gladly point the way to the pretty, the strong, the chiseled, the beautiful men who are out there and the inspiration for my heroes (be they vampire, shape-shifter or your common run-of-the-mill humanoid!

And so to get the ball rolling - I'm posting one of my recently found favorite photos of a truly fine looking black man...

In the photo above, you'll find Brain White - Actor and Renaissance Man...enjoy.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

First Post - Nervous...

Introducing my new blog. It's not ready for prime time, but it will get there. Come back and get to know me. I write stories about vampires, shape shifters and humans and how they love, live and work together and apart in urban settings that will put a new face on the paranormal romantic hero and heroine. Stay with me, and you'll see what I mean.



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