Monday, March 22, 2010

Blog Award

I was awarded this blog award much too long ago (Feb 28) and I've finally had the chance to pass it forward. First thank you to Jessica Rabbit for giving me the award in the first place. She has been so much fun to talk with.

Now here are the people I'm sending you to:

Lydia Parks

Molly Evans

Belle Sloan

Darynda Jones

Cat Lovington

These ladies have offered me friendship and support whenever I've needed it. THey make writing less lonely and are wise women.

Here are the rules in accepting this blog award:

* Post the award logo & use it on your own blog.

* Nominate at least 5 other bloggers you feel have become part of your circle of friends. {link to your nominees within your blog post}

* Include these instructions in your post.

* Link back to the person who gave you this award in your blog post, to show appreciation.

Thanks again to Jessica for picking me for this award.

Book I'm reading now:
The Phoenix Endangered by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Readers at Home online Conference

Courtesy of Lucy Monroe, a bunch of authors have gotten together to provide a an online conference for those readers who can't make it to the RT confernce in Ohio. So without further ado, here's Lucy:

Okay, so you all know I'm going to RT, but *I* know a bunch of you
aren't and I got to thinking what I could do to make the week of RT
fun for you all and any other readers who might be feeling a little
left out. Then I hit on it - I would host a Readers at
Home Conference
here on my blog. We'd have tons of
authors, tons of "door" prizes (more than 50!!!), tons of hotties
(cover models, hero inspiration...just plain yum factor) and tons of

I wanted something really special, something that made this a true
conference and my friends helped me make it happen! We are giving away
Swag Bags to the first 50
readers who register for the conference. To register, all you have to
do is send an email to me [lucymonroe @ lucymonroe
dot com] with your name and mailing address (for the Swag Bag) stating
your intention to attend the RAH Conference. The Swag Bags are for
conference attendees only and we are trusting that if you register,
you truly intend to attend the conference and interact with the
authors and other readers on the blog. :) I'm shipping the Swag Bags
at my own expense, but many authors have donated loot
for you all, and each Swag Bag will have a free book inside.

Yes, that's right - the Reader at Home
is FREE. How cool is that?

Every day there will be multiple authors visiting and guest blogging,
with new blogs posting every 3 hours between 6 AM and 6 PM. And cover
models? We've got 'em - with behind the scenes action as well as hero
inspiration. There will be daily drawings for multiple prizes,
including dozens of signed books, a B&N gift card, a t-shirt, 3
prize tote bags filled with books & goodies (donated by Sue
Grimshaw from BTRB and Becke Martin), free online subscirptions to
Affaire de Couer magazine and 2 more Swag Bags given away each day.
What could be better?

Readers at Home Conference Sponsors
~ Guest Blogging Authors ~
Elizabeth Amber
Jules Bennett
Jenna Bayley-Burke
Leigh D'Ansey
Jami Davenport
Kate Davies
HelenKay Dimon
Diana Duncan
Cynthia Eden
Kimberly Fisk
Barbara Freethy
Tricia Jones
Nicola Marsh
Kaylin McFarren
Susan Meier
Elisabeth Naughton
Erin Nicholas
Lorie O'Clare
Rick Reed
Maggie Robinson
Patti Shenberger
Gabi Stevens
Kay Stockham
Helen Scott Taylor
Karen Van der Zee
Mary Wine
Other Readers at Home Conference Sponsors
(donated prizes, items for the Swag Bags, etc.)
Affaire de Coeur
Borders True Romance Blog
Monica Burns
Christie Craig
Lori Foster
Donna Grant
Faye Hughes
Margaret Mallory
Becke Martin
Lucy Monroe
Alexis Morgan
Laurie Ryan
J.L. Wilson

So, while a bunch of us are at RT going crazy, you can be visiting
with some of your favorite and some brand new authors - wearing casual
clothes, ditching the makeup and your shoes. Oh, that? I envy! :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Golden Heart is stupid...

My dear friend Sheley Wimmer, wrote a brilliant reaction to next week’s announcement of the RITA and Golden Heart finalists. In it she expresses the ridiculous, angry, hopeful, illogical, and plaintive emotions many of us feel as writers. We want validation. Publication does that, but the euphoria doesn’t last. We want to know that we are loved, that we are good, that we have mattered. So, in her words, here is Sheley Wimmer:

The Golden Heart is stupid…
So says someone who was once addicted to entering this contest. But no more. No way. Know why? I will admit something here... but it's a secret. The Golden Heart contest makes me cringe, especially the day the calls go out.

My first entry went in 2002. I heard nothing on that day. In fact, I received a whopping 28 [out of 45] on my scorecard. If I were made of lesser stuff, I would have stopped writing right then and there. Nope. Kept plugging along. I started entering other contests about three years later. Becoming a contest finalist was my new goal. Goal achieved. Twenty-five wins altogether, but still no Golden Heart call. One year I was at Disney World, refusing to ride anything because it was call day. Another time I was on the beach with the phone in my hand.

"Why do you have your phone?" the husband asked.
"No reason."
None at all… just hope.

Again, last March, I spent the day on the computer watching the calls come in one by one. Sigh. Still no call for me. My scores got better thought. I went from 28 to 35. From a 35 to a 38 and then last year, a 42 and a 40, on two different entries.

This last year I said to myself there is no friggin’ way I am going to enter the Golden Heart a-g-a-i-n!!! No way! I'm not doing it. That's for crazy people. Contest wins had already blessed me with a wonderful agent… what more did I need?

So guess what I was doing the last week of November. That's right. You know what I was doing. Need I say more? Okay, I will, but only because I said it was stupid before. That was just a hook to get you to read this far. Two days before the entries were due, I was making crazy insane copies of three manuscripts, the first fifty pages, formatted just right, six copies each, and rewriting each and every synopsis, because, of course, that had to be why I wasn't getting the call. Overnight mail really works! I won't tell you all what I paid. That's a secret between my credit card and myself. Suffice to say I had to hide that bill from my honey.

Through everything, something amazing happened. I had pre-paid for four manuscript, hoping that by some miracle I would finish my young adult novel. Well, I didn't. Not even close. But what I did have was three solid manuscripts, beginning to end, sitting on my kitchen table. Seeing them piled like that made me realize that I am indeed a true writer. There is a plaque I have hanging on my bathroom wall that says, "One shoe can make all the difference. Cinderella."

In my case, one phone call can make all the difference. It won't be the Golden Heart call… it will be the other one. The real call. Even so, what will I be doing on the twenty-fifth, next Thursday, between, roughly, I don't know, six am to, gee, midnight, because one can always hope they "forgot" to call someone? Nothing much. Mostly just sitting here. On top of my on my vibrating cell phone. With my house phone right by my side. Glued to my computer screen. Watching the calls come in. Hoping against hope that I might get one of them... or three. (Okay, now I am just being greedy!) Part of me thinks this IS all incredibly stupid on my part. But what if? I like the "what ifs?" So, like many of you, my fingers are crossed. That is my true confession. Anyone else care to admit a true Golden Heart confession??? =0)


You are not alone. We all want that elusive feeling that today is the day. But I’ll let you know that the desire for that feeling comes back. Even after THE CALL. I was a Golden Heart Finalist way back when, and while I try to appreciate being published, I still crave that validation. So you know what I’ll be doing this November. Entering the RITA with THE WISH LIST.

Sucker. Right there, printed on my forehead. But beside it is also DREAMER. Because that’s what gets us writers through the day.


Books I’m reading now:
Lord Of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
Lessons in French y Laura Kinsale
The Phoenix Endangered by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How to Write a Romance Novel--Dialog

Dialog is a crucial element in romance novels. At least I think it is. I love writing and reading dialog. It moves the story forward (plot), lets us get to know the characters without telling (characterization), tells us what’s important (theme), defines the mood and tone (setting), gives us insight to the author (voice), gets us into the characters’ heads (POV), and exposes problems (conflict). Great dialog can lift a book to another level of enjoyment.

Personally I’m a dialog slut. I write books heavy on the dialog. I always have to go back and add introspection, description, and emotion, because I usually just write down my characters’ conversations for a rough draft (yes, there is more to writing my novels than just dialog, but hey, this blog is about dialog.) So let me start with mechanics. Just kidding, sort of. I won’t speak of punctuation. Comma if there is a speech tag, when to use single quotes, when to use double, how to use a question mark, etc. You can look that up, right? Let me jump right in and talk about the speech tags themselves.

As Elmore Leonard said, “Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue.” Who am I to contradict the great Elmore Leonard…but…I would also add use only “ask when tagging a question. Rarely use “whisper,” or “cry,” or “shout,” or anything else. Every “whimper,” “stated,” “retorted,” “answered,” or word other than “said” stops the reader, requires processing, and slows the pace. Any time the reader has to stop to process the word in dialog, it slows your novel. Yes, sometimes you need to use a different word (remember, there are no hard and fast rules for writing--use what works for you), but the word “said” becomes invisible to the reader.

Sometimes you don’t need speech tags at all, especially if only two people are in the conversation. Action tags can indicate who’s speaking. An action tag is simply giving an action to the character who is speaking and attaching the line of dialog to that tag (but not with a comma). For example:

“Now you look terrified.” He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Should I be?”
“No.” He drew his hand down his face.
“And I’m supposed to trust you?” Panic rose in her throat. “I don’t know who you are--“
“Ritter. Tennyson Ritter. I’m your arbiter.”
“The guy who’s supposed to test me?”
“Judge you, observe you, decide whether you pass or fail.”
“Thanks, but I’ll pass. I mean on the test thing.”
He let out an angry breath. “And you’re Kristin Montgomery, who lives at Seven Thousand Beadnell Way, Apartment Two C.”
She hated the Internet. Any creep could get all kinds of information.
“Don’t pretend you don’t know--” He stopped and peered at her, his eyes widening. “Good God, you’re a Rare One.” (THE WISH LIST, May 2010)

Notice that “said” doesn’t even appear in this passage. You might have also noticed that often no tag was necessary at all.

OK, I don’t want to drone on and on, so here are a couple of final points: avoid using the dreaded “-ly” in combination with your speech tag (she wrote vehemently). If you need an adverb to describe the tone, your words aren’t doing their job. And while we are trying to sound realistic in our dialog, we can’t be. We are writing. You’ve probably heard that communication is something like 85% body language (and 67% of all statistics are made up), and all we have are our words on the page. So, yes, strive for realism, but dialog has to convey so much more than just the way we speak, and if you analyze just how much goofy empty stuff we actually say when we speak, you don’t really want to write real dialog. (Yuck. What a horrible sentence.)

Spring is almost here. Yay!
Books I’m reading now:
The Phoenix Unchained by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
The Golden Season by Connie Brockway