Thursday, December 4, 2008

Let's go into Space!

This is the first chapter from Girl Space Pirate - it'll probably be cut along with the next ten chapters (LOL) but hey it's a start.


The soot and heat of the glassium forge seared my arms as I pulled the metal out onto the bench. Of course I could have used a millicompressor and had it mold the metal straight into the joint, but in all honesty I preferred to do things ‘old fashioned’. I didn’t mind taking my time to make sure the metal rivet wouldn’t slip again. Riald often grumbled about how long I took on each project, but when it came to having a working thorium engine I had proven time and again that I knew what I was doing.

‘In you go.’ I couldn’t keep the smug grin off my face as the rivet fitted perfectly into the engine casing. ‘What’s done is done, let no one come behind and muck it up.’

The invocation of the old stellar engineers blessing instantly brought Riald over to my work bench.

‘You finally finished with this thing yet?’ His looming mass wasn’t intimidating. I was used to Riald’s ways.

‘Just now, want to be the first one to test it?’ I held out the starter key in the palm of my hand to tempt him.

Riald jumped back and raised his hands defensively towards me. ‘You do it.’

I chuckled remembering it had only been the once that Riald had started up an engine I thought I’d fixed. It blew the workshop apart spectacularly. We were lucky the force shield held when it went or none of us would be around today.

I pressed the appropriate code into the data film and the engine roared into life with rotating lights signaling the movement of the thorium atoms throughout the casing. I crossed my arms and leaned against the bench behind me.

‘Think you’re so smart.’ Riald said. His voice betrayed the glee at having a working thorium engine to sell.

‘Yes you know I am.’ I smiled when he gave me a satisfied nod in agreement.

I was always given the jobs that no one else could fix. I suppose Riald was right when he said I was a natural at thorium engines and stellar drives, but the factory bosses didn’t know I was here. Riald had taken me on as an apprentice to help my mother and so anything I repaired he would keep and sell. Of course he gave me a tiny fraction of the profits so that I wouldn’t leave and find another job. It was hardly worth it, I loved what I did and if it wasn’t for the fact that food and shelter were soo hard to come by I might have even done it for free. I wanted to work with as many different engine systems as I could.

One day I would leave and travel to the inner worlds to see the great merchant fleets and perhaps join a crew to travel the space lanes.

Of course it was all pie in the sky thinking I knew that dumbolds from the outer worlds were never allowed the honour of joining merchant ships. In the long history of the planetary systems very few had gone off planet and those that had never came back to talk about it. Even the girls picked for The Farm never came back and all they did was produce oocytes for the fertile labs of the inner worlds. Probably knew better than to come back to this dump of a planet.

The whistle blew signaling the end of the shift. I had to bolt over to the women’s section before any of the subalterns came past to lock up the sheds. Women were not allowed to fraternize with the men in this factory, there were rules about it all. The owners were paranoid that there would be full scale riotous behaviour if men and women mixed at work.

Luckily my short hair and boyish body kept me from being spotted. When I snuck through the barrier separating men and women I had to shove the hat into my pocket and pull out a grey scarf to cover my head instead. Another rule, women couldn’t wear men’s headgear and vice versa. The whole thing stunk but as these people were paying Mum and keeping us alive I never bothered to argue. It was easier to slip through the cracks in the system than to confront the system itself. The insurgent Wing Zee would be proud.

‘Lenni over here.’ My mother waved a scared hand at me through the bustle of closing time.

I slipped quickly past several older women bent over from years of working the factory floor. That was another thing about working there, you ended up aging quickly, most never survived past fifty rotations of Qual. I could see the lines that had formed on Mum’s face as I came closer to her. No one knew how long they would live, but I knew one thing I wasn’t going to spend my life energies here.

‘I fixed another engine today.’ I whispered into Mum’s ear.

She gave me a small nod and held my wrist as we were thrust into the main crush of bodies exiting the factory. Standard procedure was to scan each worker before they left to ensure no one was making money on the side. Riald had a secret way out of the factory so the bosses never cottoned on to why so many engines that had come in for possible recycling were deemed for the slag heap.

People didn’t talk as they left the factory. It was as if they were trying desperately to forget the misery of life inside the dark doors as they pushed those in front of them through the doors to the outside world.

The scenery wasn’t much better outside the factory as it was in. This whole area had been set up by the one conglomerate, the houses were attached to the factory and kept the workers in line and any subversive activity was quickly picked up on, the family would be evicted instantly to the outlands. A new family would take residence almost before the lights could deglow in the boxy compartments.

We lived further out than most. Our fortunes had changed the day Dad and Jessem died. The factory blamed my father for the accident and we were left to pay them damages. It took everything we had and even then we were almost bound to slavery for them until the balance was paid in full.

When you’re just part of the numberless horde you tend to forget that there are things worth living for. Mum had slipped into that state of mind a long time ago but I wouldn’t let them get me. I couldn’t. If I did then they would win and all the effort we had made would be for nothing.

Sometimes I wished that someone like Wing Zee would rise up here and free the people. But that was over a hundred rotations ago, most people wouldn’t even know who Wing was. The Inner Consortium had made sure that most records of the revolution had disappeared along with anyone who was found to have Wing Zee’s life work. The little blue book was still out there, the authorities couldn’t stop it entirely. The disappearances had led those who professed to follow Wing Zee’s way to go underground.

Our apartment was small and boxy like everyone else’s in that part of town. We had three rooms, one where we could eat and talk, another where we could take care of ablutions and so on, and the third where our bedrolls were. The walls were made of thin dura-iron, a polymer hybrid of scrap metal and plastrons. It was durable, hence the name, but because it was so thin you could hear most of what went on in the apartment next door. The dura-iron was a sickly off yellow colour, it reminded me of puke and it was uniform throughout the entire neighbourhood. I guess that’s part of the reason why people were so downtrodden, they lived in a puke coloured habitat which leeched out positivity.

The lights came on automatically as we entered and the viewscreen showed a grassy hillside with small purple flowers dotting the landscape. It was supposed to be how the inner worlds were, the vegetation alive and the sky blue. I couldn’t help but wonder which planet this vid was from, I’d like to take Mum there one day so she could lie down on the grass and feel that breeze flow over her.

Mum didn’t even look at the screen anymore, she trod over to the food preparation bench and opened up two of the silver foiled packages which all our food came in. Part of the Factory’s way of cutting out the middle man, they bought this stuff in bulk and then sold it to us at an exorbitant price. We couldn’t not buy it. There were no grassy hillsides here and in fact I don’t think in all my years I had ever once held a plant that wasn’t hydrosynthically created in a bacterial tank.

‘Food’s ready.’ Mum said.

‘Oh look bean paste and beads again.’ I mumbled.

‘That’s supposed to be rice, close your eyes if it helps.’ Mum handed me a fork and sat on her chair closest to the view screen.

‘Beggars can’t be chosers huh?’ I said.

Mum closed her eyes and chewed her food ignoring my comment.

She hadn’t always been this way. There was a time not too long ago when she was vibrant and full of energy. She believed me when I said I would one day travel through the stars and nebulas. Mum had even encouraged me to study the engine designs Dad had been working on so I could get a head start in life. But that was then. Today as she sat in front of me her skin had a grayish tone, her hair pulled back in a severe bun, and her eyes were hollow.

She hadn’t asked for this life, none of us had. It was what we had to make do with until something better came along. If it ever did. Perhaps I shouldn’t have thought like that but I harboured a fear that my dreams might never come to fruition and that doubt niggled in my stomach each and every day.

The view screen flickered and changed to a night time scene in some vast swampland with tiny firebugs flittering through the reeds. That type of darkness was foreign to us. The fluorescent glow of the factory reflected back from the cloud cover so that the sky was in a constant brown twilight. A brownish stain had settled over everything as if the world was weeping for the destruction the people of our planet had caused.

I poked my fork into the food with half hearted resolve but my fight to swallow was interrupted by the door chime.

‘I’ll get it.’ I bounded over to the entranceway and palmed the door open.

‘Have you heard?’ Gerri almost yelled in my face.

I sighed and shook my head. High drama followed Gerri everywhere she went as if she was a magnet.

‘You and I have made it.’ She twirled around excitedly.

‘What have we done?’ I shut the door and came back into the middle of the room.

There was a look of pure ecstacy on her face as she said, ‘we’ve been drafted, you and me both.’

I almost vomited on the spot. The draft was supposedly a random draw of all eligible females aged seventeen to fulfil their spot in The Farm as egg donors.

‘I know you’re stunned, I was too. I mean me? Going off world.’ She said it with such awe that I didn’t know how to respond.

‘They’ve got you.’ Mum whispered from her chair.

I turned to Mum who looked at me with utter despair. ‘What can I do?’

‘What do you mean, what can you do?’ Gerri was almost laughing. ‘You can celebrate Lenni, finally we get out of this place and after our term is up we can travel anywhere we want, maybe even go to the inner worlds.’

I swallowed the bile that had risen in my throat. ‘I don’t want to go.’

Gerri gave me a look of incredulity. ‘What do you mean? How could you not want to leave this hell hole, come on Lenni it’s all we ever talked about since we were young.’

I clenched my hands in front of my body and turned back to look at Mum. ‘I don’t want to go.’

I thought I saw a tear form in the corner of Mum’s eye but she turned away from me before it fell.

‘Why? What’s here for you? You’ll just end up a slave like the rest. Didn’t that Zee Ying say something like take opportunity when you can?’

‘Wing Zee,’ I corrected her without thinking it was a habit we had fallen into years before. ‘Gerri, I can’t go. I’ve heard what happens up there.’

‘It’s two years in stasis. You don’t even know you’re being harvested and when you wake up you have money and a place to go.’ Her smile had returned. ‘What could go wrong?’

She had uttered those fateful words and I wish I had had the courage then to tell her everything Riald and the others had told me. That you didn’t come back, most didn’t survive the treatment. It was just another way of enslaving the masses here with the thought that their daughters were living a better life somewhere else.

Gerri reached across to me and rubbed my arm. ‘Cheer up Lenni, we’ll go together and travel the space lanes together.’

I gave her a reluctant smile. ‘You’re right, it’ll be fun.’

‘That’s my girl.’ She almost jumped up and down in her excitement. ‘I have to go let the others know, they’ll be coming for us tomorrow evening, pack light.’

With that Gerri fluttered out of my life. The next time I saw her regret would almost overwhelm me.

The door slid shut with a familiar whoosh and an uncomfortable silence ensued. I sat heavily on the floor it felt as if the whole world had just crashed down on top of me. Gerri and I had always talked of getting off world, but not this way. I did not want to be hooked up to some machine in stasis as my body produced eggs for infertile inner world couples like some caged animal.

‘We can run away.’ Mum’s soft voice echoed across the empty room.

I looked up at her as she knelt down to cradle me I her arms. ‘We can’t they’ll find us and then we’ll be sold into slavery.’

‘We already are slaves here Lenni, or just about. We’ll hide on a freighter and go to another world, start again.’

‘They’d jettison us into space if we did that.’

‘There must be some way out of the draft.’ She said.

‘The only way out is to die, once your name is down you have to go.’ The resignation in my voice shocked even me.

Mum was quiet for a moment then said. ‘Why not die then?’

‘What?’

‘If you died they couldn’t take you.’ Her face was calm as she spoke. ‘Riald will know how to do that.’

Mum what are you saying?’

‘They will hunt you down if you don’t die, no matter where you run, they’ll find you. So the answer is to die.’

I had a sick feeling that Mum was right, The Farm would send someone to find me if I did try to run away, but how could she consider my death?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wednesday's word fest.

Okay, so I um'd and ah'd about which snippet to give you all a look at but I've finally decided to go with the opening two pages of Dress Up Cowboy. It's not edited so be gentle with it. Enjoy.

CHAPTER ONE

Scott Bennett couldn’t believe he’d let Josh talk him into coming tonight. The place was jam-packed full of people, half of whom wore very little in the way of clothing, the music was attempting to break the sound barrier and the beer he’d been nursing for the last five minutes starting to go warm. What on earth could Josh have used to tempt him into coming?
A couple of dark rose spots danced in front of his eyes. Oh, yeah, he remembered now.
Sex.
Easy sex.
Anonymous sex.
Hot, sweaty, no strings attached sex with a buckle bunny.
Oh, yeah!
He could do with some of that. There was just one problem. None of the buckle bunnies in the Bucking Bronc Bar looked old enough to know what sex was never mind old enough to do it legally. His cocked twitched as the two dark rose spots danced across his line of vision again. She might not look old enough to have sex but the big breasted blond certainly had the equipment for it. Mind you, with the way those mounds bounced they couldn’t be real. There was no give in them. Only one thing turned him off quicker than a girl, and that was a fake one.
Nope, Scott liked his women older and real. No silicon for him. The size didn’t worry him either, just so long as when you squeezed it was all woman. He liked them to be the way nature and genetics intended. He sighed and lifted his beer to his mouth, watched as the dancing dark rose spots got groped by some cowboy with large hands and scarred fingers. No doubt about it, he’d end up with a boner just from watching the boys and bunnies rubbing up against each other all over the room. Not exactly his idea of a good time.
Movement near the bar caught his attention and the mouthful of beer he’d just swallowed came charging back up his throat. Leaning on the bar, in the shortest, tightest denim mini he’d ever seen, was a woman. An honest to God woman. She had to be in her late twenties and her breasts were crushed into one of them singlet top things the waitresses at Hooters wore. He couldn’t quite read the writing on it but from where he sat it looked like the distinct brown owl and orange lettering made famous by the restaurant chain. No bra either. Damn, that was hot.
Her arms and legs were long and tan, smooth skin as far as the eyes could see. Hair the color of caramel swirled around her face and shoulders, feathered layers flying this way and that with every move she made. No other way to describe her other than sex on legs. Scott could easily picture those legs wrapped around his waist while he drove his cock into her wet cunt.
Pain lanced his groin. Damn. He was rock hard and hadn’t even touched her. He’d be lucky if he didn’t blow in his pants just sitting here watching her. The barman passed her a beer and she slapped some money on the bar top. Lifting the beer to her mouth, she turned to scan the room. He couldn’t make out the color of her eyes with the distance between them but he didn’t care, he wanted that steady gaze on him. He waited for her eyes to land on his side of the bar, she scanned quickly, cowboy after cowboy dismissed with just a look.
The closer her gaze got to him the tighter the tension in his body. He felt like his whole life rode on this one look. Josh stepped up to the table just as her eyes landed on it, he didn’t look away from her, and he watched as she sized Josh up and found him lacking. Her gaze lowered to him and he saw the spark of interest, her back stiffened, her shoulders pulled back and her orange splashed breasts pushed forward. He kept his eyes on hers as he raised his beer and toasted her with it. The corners of her eyes tipped up and he darted a look at her mouth.
Those red slicked lips were plump and kissable, and presently stretched in a grin that made him think he just might get lucky after all. But when she slid off the stool and started in his direction he knew he was getting lucky, because if she came over here and said one word to him there was no way he would let her walk out of this bar alone. If he had to, he’d throw her over his shoulder and carry her out of here. She didn’t know it yet but she was his. No if’s, ands or buts, he planned on spending the rest of tonight buried deep inside that tight little body until his dick refused to get hard anymore.
******
So what ya think?
RC

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday's Torture

Here is part of the opening scene to my NaNo novel. As it turned out the first few days work was probably the better of a bad lot. LOL. But, as you can see it still need work. It’s interesting because now that I have read part of it again I may just do some editing on it while I’m editing a few of the others and start writing it again after Christmas.

Marianne sat quietly in the small parlour watching Shep Freeman from below lowered lashes as she attended to her needlepoint. Her sister Charlotte sat by Shep’s side prattling on about how hungry she was and how hard it was on their beloved mother to have to go without food. Charlotte’s selfish behaviour astonished Marianne at times. Charlotte two years older than Marianne always made sure Marianne knew her place.

‘Charlotte, I’m sure we have more than enough food to last us a good two weeks.’ Marianne felt it her place to inform the couple.

Charlotte looked over her shoulder eyes filled with fury. ‘You have no idea what we do and do not have Marianne. I’m the one who has to manage the household.’

Some household, there is only the three of us, and I do all the cooking. Marianne held her tongue. She would receive a good tongue-lashing from Charlotte as soon as Shep left.

The house they now lived in with its small rooms and heavy curtains resembled nothing of what they had grown up with, oh how she missed the peace of the countryside. The beauty of the rolling hills, the smell of wild flowers and slow flowing streams. She closed her eyes to the pain of the eviction from their childhood home by her sister-in-law after her stepbrother’s death.

‘Miss Marianne, are you feeling alright?’ The deep baritone voice of Shep Freeman washed over her bringing her back to her surroundings.

Shep Freeman, a tall man with dark wavy hair pulled back in a ponytail. His hazel eyes reached down into her soul and smile send a pool of heat to her stomach. Marianne had fallen in love with him the day he arrived on their doorstep carrying Charlotte in his arm after she had taken a fall. His muscular arms had held her sister close to his wide chest. Marianne wished it had been her in his arms. She dreamt of his hard body pressed against hers. The smell of him close to her, a raw male scent. It was a wanton thought, but she could not help herself. He was everything a man should be and more.

‘Yes, I’m fine thank you Mr. Freeman.’

Marianne lowered her eyes back to the needlepoint she was working on. It was no use saying anymore, Shep would hand over part his wage to help them out causing his own family to do without again.

‘Shep and I are going out in the garden for a bit Marianne, be sure to keep an eye on Mother.’
Marianne nodded her head in agreement. Now it would start, Charlotte would take Shep into the garden and work her charm on him. The sad fact was that Charlotte knew how to work her charm on everyone. She often came home with money from one person or another. She never told Marianne how she obtained the money, nor did Marianne really want to know.

She stood and moved to stand by the side of the window. The large garden lay out in front of her, Charlotte stood within the circle of Shep’s strong arms. Her hands farrowed in his hair. Shep smiled down at her sister, and then lowered his lips to hers.

Marianne closed her eyes pretending it was she in Shep’s arms. It was her mouth that he covered and drank from like a man dying of thirst. She groaned deep down in her throat. Her eyes opened in shock, she was behaving no better than a common whore, but that did not stop the tide of excitement to course through her body.


Okay that is my bit done.

Sandie

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My NaNo writings....

Okay, this is scary, but here is an excerpt from my NaNo writings, A Monarch in the Making, in all its unedited glory:

Ash put his head down, his chin nearly resting on his chest. Placing his hands in his pocket he sighed. Looking back up he wondered if the sorrow he felt inside was reflected in his face.

‘I think I might be the biggest idiot around. I’m truly, to the very bottom of my heart, hurt by what you did to me. I never thought, not in a million years that you could do that to me. Not after everything that has happened. Not after the promises you made to my father.’ He looked out the window, trying to keep his temper in check. ‘You put a price on our relationship. Families don’t do that. Not that you can think much of us as a family because you just threw us away, like garbage. You basically said you know what, your happiness is not quite worth this much money. You know, it really does hurt. How can you champion yourself as a ole model when you are willing to discard your family like that. I know we aren’t related by blood, but I valued the famiy that we had become.’

(His stepmother) lifted her hand to her throat, as if to ward off his words. Opening her mouth she didn’t get the chance to speak. ‘I don’t want words, no words. It is too late for that now. No, none at all.’

To force the words home Ash leant down on the table and looked her straight in the eye. Speaking slowly, but with a forcefulness that was not to be mistaken he made his position clear. ‘I don’t want to you to talk to me.’

(stepmother) sat there, her mouth opening and closing, like a goldfish out of water, but with no sound coming out.

‘Honestly, the hardest part for me was the fact you took away time I could have spent with Bree. Ohhh,’ Ash sighed, shook his head. He bent over, his hands supported by his knees as he tried to think of the words that could express the feelings that, up until this moment, he had been too afraid to even think to himself.

Standing up, he took a deep breath and started again. ‘Bree, when I told you that day by the billabong, when you asked me if I was playing you or not, I told you honestly that I wasn’t faking it. I’m not faking my feelings for you. I might have made light of it, turned it into a joke, but I really am having feelings I’ve never felt before and have never –‘ he broke off, taking a deep breath to steady himself, ‘I honestly feel like I startyed to fall in love with you.’ Ash looked at Bree, his eyes baring his soul as she smiled up at him.

‘You ar an amazing girl and I want everyone to know that and I …. I’m glad I didn’t stay in Brisbane so I could be here and have met you.’

Bree held his gaze as she mouthed the words ‘thank you’ to him. Ash shrugged and sat down, still smiling at Bree.

While a mixture of emotions coursed through Bree she realized she had to make a decision. Ash still didn’t know that she was the mysterious girl from the ball, and she knew that it was the magic of that new year’s kiss that had held him back from her. She also knew that, regardless of everything he had just said, that the guilt over his fathers death would prevent him from severing ties with his stepmother and force him to stay on the station. She knew whe sould have to make a very hard decision.

With her heart bursting with love, she realized whe would have to go. She couldn’t be responsible for breaking up the familuy. And she new that the guilt he felt over his fathers deathwould just worsen if he didn’t stay at the farm. But she couldnlt stay behind. Similarly her family duties meant she had to return to Sweden. While she new it would break her heart she made the silent decision to leave.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nano is nearly over!

Wow! Look at all those green bars piling up in the word count thingamijig! Go green!

We are awesome.

And we still have approx 36 hours (depending on your time zone) left of Nano to go!

And everyone who participated is awesome, including those who just could not find the time to write because life got in the way, or could not find the words to write, or had a better offer (submissions, anyone? - go Nat!!).

Whatever you end up with at the end of November is okay.

And I want to thank our fellow 50ks bloggers, as you took the pressure off the Topless Tabledancing Tarts. We didn't have to perform so regularly.

So here is the challenge to my fellow bloggers. Post an excerpt from your Nano work on this blog. Good, bad, unedited, ful of Nanoisms. It's your choice. Let's get a taste of what everyone was doing this month.

Here goes (word doc open, searching for something now) - an excerpt from Reality Check:

Dylan placed the drinks on the table and pulled up a chair close to Kirsty. As soon as he’d taken his seat, his mobile started vibrating again. The bitch! It’s as if she knew where he was and who he was with. No-one had warned him that Siobhan was working with the production company and if she was going to keep up this level of harassment then he was tempted to take his project elsewhere. He’d managed to escape her for the last couple of years and it was almost as if it was out of sight, out of mind, but now that she’d spotted him in the meeting today and seized his new business card, she had called him every half hour. He stared at the familiar number flashing up on his screen.

“Sorry, Kirsty, I’ll turn my phone off.”


He hit the end button and turned the mobile off.


Kirsty smiled. “Don’t you need to answer it?”


“It’s nothing vital. I’ll catch up on the messages tomorrow.”


Damn Siobhan! It was over years ago. Why didn’t she get that? Why did she think there’d be another chance for them?


“Are you okay?” Kirsty asked. “You seem a little preoccupied.”


He forced a smile, searching for an excuse. He did not want to bring Siobhan’s name into the conversation, though he was sure that Kirsty would have noticed the tension in the meeting room that morning. He was sure that everyone else in the room had known that he and Siobhan had been a major item for a couple of years. She’d given him his first break, but the relationship had become so controlling that he’d had to break it off, and change his number. There was only one cure to shake the spectre of Siobhan, and that was the delightful young lady who now sat in front of him, waiting for him to speak.

“I’m fine Kirsty. I’m just feeling a little under the gun to come up with the right concept and the right location.”


“I hope that Bilby Creek will be the solution that you need. It’ll be fun to visit again. I haven’t been back there for six months.”


He smiled, a real smile this time. “I’m looking forward to the trip, especially with such a beautiful tour guide. I thought we’d leave early Saturday morning, stay the night and drive back Sunday evening, in time to have you back at work on Monday morning.”

“It’s a shame I have to go back to work on Monday.”


He downed his beer and stared at her. “Don’t you enjoy your job?”


“Being called into the meeting today is the most exciting thing that’s happened in five months on the job. Most of the time it’s just photocopying, typing and filing.”


“I’m happy to have contributed some excitement into your work day.”


Kirsty’s cheeks reddened to a delightful blush.


“So you’re my knight in shining technology come to rescue me from my life of computer files and paperwork?”


He laughed, and reached over to rest his hand on hers. “I’ll see what I can do to rescue you. I might just be in need of a personal assistant for this production. Or even a star for this reality show set in Bilby Creek. The prodigal daughter returns to her home town.”

Kirsty let out a tiny squeal. “Are you serious? You’d put me in the show?”


“If that’s want you want. Of course the network will have to approve it, but I’m sure we can persuade them with a good screen test.”


He swallowed his words. He knew that Kirsty would be magic on the screen, and would probably provide the network with a ratings bonanza, but he was hoping that it wasn’t the only reason she’d agreed to go out with him that evening. Because he liked her. Really really liked her. And he didn’t want to find out that she was just in it for her fifteen minutes of fame like all the other girls had been.


“I’d never thought about doing reality TV before,” Kirsty replied.


“Do give it some thought. It may not be the best thing, especially if you want an acting career. Sure there’s a few reality celebs who have moved past the stigma of their shows, but many of them have just ended up on the C-list, and back at their dull and boring lives within months of their television appearance.”


“I know. I’ve read TV Week. I know how quickly the fame appears and goes away again. I just think it would be an interesting experience.”

“Your whole life would be up there on the screen for everyone to dissect and rake over in internet forums. Your life would no longer be private. Every move you make off camera will be reported back to the press in some form. At least while the show is screening. Are you prepared for that?”

Kirsty shrugged, sweeping her straw around the chunks of ice left in the bottom of the glass. “Not really. But I’ll do whatever it takes. Besides the producers may not want me. I might flunk this screen test.”


“I doubt it. I’ll take a camera down to Bilby Creek with us and you can do a bit of your tour guide on camera. We’ll get enough of an idea whether it’ll work or not from that, and then I can take it back to the production company, as a suggestion.”


He smiled, gazing at her loveliness, her peaches and cream complexion where the blush had now faded, her beautiful brunette waves framing her face. He felt his stomach lurch as he realised it had been a really stupid suggestion. Ratings-wise, an absolute first-rate choice, but for him, he knew that it would make his life very very complex. Because he had a bad reputation for not keeping his private life and professional life separate and already, just by being out with Kirsty tonight, and longing for much, much more, he was swimming back out into the sea, far beyond the safety of the flags.


This is Dylan:




And this is Kirsty:


Okay, who's next?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Time to Edit


Well, with NaNoWriMo almost at an end there have already been many winners (Congrats to you all), some who are nearly there (good luck and keep at it) and others, like me, who have resigned themsleves to not making it this time but are many words closer to the end.


Oh well, there is always next year.


It is getting closer to the time when all those NaNo words are going to have to be revisited, spell check employed and detective skills used to work out exactly what you meant by the words "Bree felr a trmor of mweces" written at 2am after 8 coffees.


So to ease you on the way I thought I would include something to help you on the editing journey....



Once again my office desk is laden with partial manuscripts I have agreed to judge for a romance writers contest. Reading through each is rewarding and I am constantly astounded at the diversity yet similarity of ideas we writers have. Another thing brought to my attention is the common mistakes made. So ... I want to share a few of these problems and in so doing, help others learn how to search their work, and kick those no-good words out of their script in order to create stronger stories.In no particular order:


It was/there was:

Now every writer needs those simple words, yes I have used them. But when they are splattered across the page - that's called lazy writing. Most times it's not necessary to say "it was." And certainly not several on any given page!

Example: It was an unusual sound to be heard this early in the morning.

Reworked: The sound was unusual this early in the morning.


Most times, with a little effort, the sentence becomes stronger and the reader is given a precise and succlulent image rather than the boring it was statement. When searching out "it was" bloopers, don't read the words on your page, simply scan down each paragraph, circling each one you find. Go through a chapter at a time. And then sit back and evaluate what you have discovered. If your pages are splattered with markings, then you've discovered one of your weak traits. And now you know one of many ways to fix the problem. Good luck!


The He/She sentence structure:

Again, many fall into a routine with sentence structure. The above exercise will help with discovering this problem too. Take the time to simply scan your pages, circling the He/She/They sentence beginnings. I was always told if you have more than three or four sentences starting with He/she, then you have too many. Gotta mix it up, folks. The simplest fix is to rearrange your sentence structure, try putting a phrase before the statement. Perhaps linking a few phrases together would work, thereby eliminating another he/she sentence. Be imaginative! The goal is to make it interesting, intriguing. Similar is boring. Big yawn here.


That word!

I'm not going to say too much, only that that is over-used, abused and should be thrown out if at all possible. If you think you don't have that problem, do the circle test and find out. Good luck!


Same word usuage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now we're getting into one of my pet peeves. Thesaurus, people. Buy a good, wordy thesaurus and be creative in describing your characters, your setting, your everything!. Every entry I have judged, some dozen in this packet, this is a VERY big problem. I don't understand this concept. Finding new words should be the fun part of writing, finding another word to describe what needs explaining. This lack of imagination is lazy writing. Oops! Did I really write that? Too late now.


Since we're on pet peeves, here's another one: Beautiful

Okay, I'm judging historical romances, yes, she's beautiful! But the reader needs more than the writer's word. Descriptions move the story, show the reader what the character looks like, more importantly what she's like as a person. Details and more details are what is needed. I would love to read a book where beautiful is not mentioned once, but the sense of beauty is in every word about her/him, the inner beauty, the all important beauty, not the physical attributes only. I bet publishers would enjoy seeing such descriptions as well.


Underlining Thoughts:

I must be old-school, because this is driving me batty!!!! The need to underline simple thoughts is not necessary. I don't know what English instructors are doing these days, but this interruption is really distracting. Since I have not attended an English class in some time, I won't say stop doing that, but I will tell you, I've lost interest at wondering if I'm supposed to enphasize those words in my mind, shout them out or something??? Underlined thoughts pull me out of the story. And folks, if it pulls me out, someone who loves to read, it will undoubtedly pull your reader out too. And that, ain't the idea at all!!!!


Paper Characters:

I'm talking about the minor characters not brought to life. Another big problem in the entries I've judged. Each character, no matter how minor, should be real to the reader. Introducing characters is never easy, but let the reader know the relationship between the main character and the new ones. By doing this, the reader grasps the connection, or lack of connection and develops a clearer picture of the plot unfolding. Physical description is crucial too, but it's the relationship between the characters that will bring them to life.


Withholding important information:

Don't confuse intrigue with insightful information. The reader needs to know why your character doesn't believe in love anymore, or why she can't go back home. A long explanation is not needed, but a hint of past problems, conflict enriches the story. It's not giving anything away, it's pulling the reader into the story. If some explanation is not given in a timely fashion, the reader becomes frustrated and may set the book aside. Not good. This confusion over delving out information when appropriate is another VERY big problem. My suggestion is to read, read, read, how others do it and then follow what you learned from them.


Too Many Questions:

When the main character continually poses questions to no one but themselves, it becomes distracting. Most times, turning questions into statements or thoughts serve the reader better, even if another sentence has to follow to make it clear. Let your reader pose the questions, not you, the writer.

Example: Could one so fair-haired and benign be John's brother?

Reworked: One so fair-haired and benign couldn't be John's brother.


I hope these common bloopers I've mentioned will help you tighten up your manuscript. Mentioning them is meant to help others from making the same mistakes. Finding a publisher is not easy, and they are a tough crowd to please. I know I only mentioned a smattering of solutions to you, but sometimes fixing the problem is the easy part, finding the mistake in the first place is the biggest hurdle.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

All sorts of sexy!

Men in Uniform....

Now ladies we've had a week of men in uniform, and yes some of them are definitely inspiring enough to write whole reams of stories about. But I think there's one type of uniform we're missing and some of the most romantic men don't carry guns or fire hoses. They're honest, dependable, true and chaste, with a simmering sensuality that according to Cleo magazine puts them in at No.3 of sexiest men on earth. Yes we're talking about ...... preachers.


I just want to say when I served as a missionary we had some guys hotter than this one to my left. But I never did see them without their shirts off. Damn but it was all very chaste. And they really are nice guys with hearts of gold.
















I've been scouring the internet for pictures of other faith's sexy men of the cloth, um apart from Buddhist monks, there's not that many out there. But I did find this guy and thought oh my he could give me a sermon anyday.... lol



So why not use that pent up sensuality in a story. These are men who have just as many hormones as others but they have a commitment to themselves and a higher power to follow their heart. Wow. And how sexy would it be to see what simmers beneath the surface.
The passion, the forbidden love. Okay going to calm down now.

These pictures are from Men on a Mission calendar and a Catholic Priest calendar celebrating the good looking men of the cloth. Apparently there are no Anglican or Pentacostal versions available. Ah well maybe next time.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday's Wipeout!

Okay, so I'm supposed to be full of wisdom and helpful info for the slide down to the finish line. Ah, yeah, well I'm full of stuff but it's not wisdom. Nope, for those keeping up my back is still out, I'm still popping pills and now I've got the migraine to end all migraines and don't you just love those? So I'm giving you this guy to look at, maybe it's my doped up state but I look in those eyes and just float away.
Keep going on your Nano word count even if you don't think you're gonna make it. I am, at 4am this morning I know I got up and write in my trusty little bedside notebook. Whether it's any good is another thing but then that's okay, I can edit it out later. After I pass the finish line.
RC

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday's Tale

So here we are into our final week of NaNo and not a moment too soon for some of us. This can be the hardest week of the lot, mostly because if you still have ways to go it is so easy to say ‘hang it I’m not doing anymore’. Oh, wait a minute I’ve been saying that for the four weeks. LOL.

Honestly though, this is a hard week. It’s a week where you have to keep pushing yourself or get your friends to help push you just that little bit more. If you are at the point of no return it doesn’t mean you failed. How can you fail something if you have tried your hardest? Let’s face it life gets in the way at times. That can’t be helped. We have kids get sick, we get sick, holidays need to be taken. Lord I’m going to need a holiday after this month. But if you have taken every opportunity you can to write than you are a winner.

Has anyone else struggled with their stories this month? Has anyone just struggled with a story at anytime? Have you ever sat down to write the novel you’ve been wanting to write for months, years even only to find out that it is a heap of CRAP? How do you get past that? How do you learn to love this one story as much as you love the others? I mean your stories are like your children, they are a part of you and you don’t love one child more than another, so shouldn’t your stories be the same?

I’m hoping to reach the 50k mark today and I know there are others in the same boat. To those that have already finished huge congratulation. To those that will be writing right up until the end, just know we will be there to cheer you on no matter what word count you end up with.

Sandie

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday’s Military Men




Apologies for the late posting of this entry to the blog. Hubby and I had a little disagreement, and he thought it would be funny to block my internet usage. I couldn’t connect for a while (men!).

Anyway, please enjoy my military meat… err… men for Monday. Maybe you’ll find them a great source of inspiration, like I have!

Found a fabulous website http://baldwriter.blogspot.com/. There was a great article about character diversity which was really relevant to my NaNo story. Maybe it will help you too.

7 Steps Toward Character Diversity

One problem than plagues most writers is creating characters that are too similar -- too much like themselves. If I had it my way, my stories would be full of middle-age fat bald guys. Hey, it might not be interesting be it’d be easy for me to “get into their brains.” Okay – not a good idea. How then shall we create characters? Here are seven ideas you can use to populate your story with diverse characters.
1. Make characters physically different. I took a Disney animation course once where animators discussed how they chose a “cast.” According to them, the ideal cast consists of a diverse group of characters. The starting point is physical characteristics. Select characters where some are tall, some short, some overweight, some skinny, some beautiful, some not so much. On another occasion I sat in on the decision about casting the move “Closure: The Problem with Money.” The director talked about the importance of selecting a supporting cast only after the key players are in place. This is obvious when some characters are supposed to be children of the others – but it is also important for the cast to have a “look” – not that they all had to be similar kind of people – but that the group form an interesting ensemble of people. So it is in any story – select cast members that are physically different from each other – to tell them apart and to bring diversity to the story.

2. Select characters that are emotionally and culturally different. Marge is a whiner. She’s best friends with Kathy who is an optimist. George is a staunch God-fearing Republican whose house backs up to his neighbors Buffy and Hank the nudists who like to take midnight skinny dips. Abu the Hindu gets stuck in the elevator for 11 hours with Donna the voluptuous Pentecostal gospel singer. And they both have to pee. Diverse people make interesting things happen. Of course, sometimes people who are too similar make things happen as well. What about the two feisty red-headed teenagers who both want to be the head cheerleader – they are similar in many ways but you’ve still got to find something that makes them different so they will take a different route to achieving the same goal.
3. Create characters with different sounding names. There are twenty-six letters in the alphabet. Use them generously when selecting names. Readers or viewers easily get confused when Mary the detective is after Merriam the hitchhiker because she’s suspected of killing Martha the heiress. Carefully select each name to be different from others. Rarely create characters with names that begin with the same letter – unless there is a reason. You might have triplets named Larry, Luke, and Leonard… if you do have such a situation -- you need to give each one of them some unique characteristic that separates them in your story, otherwise your audience will get confused.
4. Give characters different voices. Authors tend to write dialog using their own voice. Don’t do it. It is a sure killer for any story. Listen to other people speak. Choose what makes their choice of words different – don’t depend on different accents -- an Irish brogue versus a southern drawl. Let choice of words, length of phrases, level of formality, intelligence and other aspects of language define your characters. Sit in a public place and listen to people talking. Write down phrases you hear. Develop an ear for each character so you can hear them talk – and then write down what they say.
5. Give characters differing life goals. People react to situations because of their beliefs or life goals. Two people find an envelope on a city street. It contains $500 and no other identification. A person who gambles, cheats on his income tax or who needs to buy cocaine will react differently than a honest-as-the-day-is-long janitor or a Sunday School teacher (we hope.) Specifically pick out, write down, know by heart, the core beliefs of each of your characters. That way when they are put in challenging situations, you will know how they might act. Plus – make sure the reader has an inkling of that character’s belief system so when they do act, it is not “out of character.” If your character does something unexpected – make sure there was some seed planted earlier (and maybe not fully revealed until later) to explain the behavior.
6. Use character tags. We don’t like to pigeon-hole people or make them one-dimensional, but tags do help define a character. Do you want your banquet dinner prepared by the cigar-chewing short order cook with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his sleeves? How about by the fastidious blue-ribbon chef who takes the temperature of every pot at precise thirty minute intervals and insists that the floor is kept squeaky clean? Tags can define quick aspects of a character – but it doesn’t have to limiting them. The fastidious chef may NASCAR fan and the short-order cook might also train seeing-eye dogs because his kid sister is blind. By all means never create a character that is a perfect representation of a tag.

7. Give characters different but specific purposes within the story. Most characters are included in a story for a specific reason. A wise-cracking brother-in-law might give your story some levity. If he does – let him do his wise-cracking job throughout the story – don’t change him (without reason) into a sullen pessimist half-way though – unless that’s necessary for your story. Create specific characters to do certain tasks within your story. Your hero, for example – will have redeeming qualities that make him or her able to face up to some dire circumstance that the story will provide. Your hero may have an ally – someone who is a helper (Sam in Lord of the Rings comes to mind.) He may have a mentor, an opponent, a love interest, and so on – each one with a specific task to do in moving the story forward. Of course there are also shadow or changeling characters who start off as one type of character (an ally) and are later revealed to be something else (they are really a mole for the enemy.)Look back at these items – they have to do with creating an interesting ensemble of diverse characters who will be able to carry your story. Your homework is to make a list of characters in your current or proposed story. For each character write down how they meet each one of these seven criteria. Use this as a start to then flesh out other biographical characteristics of each character – get to know them as unique individuals.

(c) Alan C. Elliott, 2008
Hope you found it useful!
Love, hugs and all that mushy stuff,
:-) Mon

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Men in Uniform

As the theme for this week's blog is Men in Uniform, I thought I would google the phrase.

Any single girls out there in Melbourne or Brisbane reading this? Because this is what I found:

Men in Uniform Speed Dating

Woohoo! Now I've never done the 'speed dating' thing myself. Back in 'my day', it was 'slow dating', you'd usually give the guy at least an hour to impress you, rather than a five minute face to face meeting. I did the classified thing, met lots of guys, went on a heap of blind dates. It was a hell of an eye-opener. A couple of meetings progressed to second dates, and some went no further than that first drink, but nothing eventuated from the two occasions that I took that particular adventure. I found the whole thing very superficial - so I'm not sure how increasing the quantity, while decreasing the quality of time spent with a person would improve your chances of finding Mr Right.

When I look back and analyse my relationships especially the ones that worked for a substantial amount of time, it was always a gradual getting to know the person, a slow burn. The lust at first sights (and none of that happened on a blind date) never worked out beyond the initial attraction.

Anyway, back to Men in Uniform: let me find a few pics:

Here lemondrop has done the work for me: 20 Favorite Movie Veterans How can we go past Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentlemen? But I do apologise in advance for the alien in uniform, you know the one I mean - initials TC, used to be married to NK.


Ooh, nice calendar! Wonder if there's a 2009 edition?



Okay enough of that! Yeah I know there's never enough, but the scary thing for me about men in uniform now is that the ones I meet in real life seem to be getting younger and younger. Maybe it's because I'm adding another year to my age tomorrow - starting to feel old.

I want to tell you about Write or Die! Write or Die is a website that I discovered while procrastinating on the Nanowrimo forums. Great for word sprints, and people like me who can end a paragraph and then check their email instead of writing on. So you set your word target and a timer, and you type into the web site itself. If you stop typing, after a set period of time, it will flash red and start playing unpleasant sounds to you. ( I won't tell you what the unpleasant sounds are - you can discover them for yourself) The sounds stop when you start typing again. I'm going to test it out now and write for 10 minutes so I can get a Write or Die widget for this blog post!

328
11
lab.drwicked.com


8 days of Nanowrimo left. If you're on track, congratulations! 8 more days of hard work and you will be at 50ks or beyond. If you're behind, don't despair! Just keep moving forward, and find out exactly how much you can write in one month!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Flyboy Friday




With another hunk week for NaNo thought I couldn't go past the flyboy. Flyboys epitimise the very essence of the alpha male - born leaders they exude confidence, are competitive and are very masculine. I mean, c'mon girls, when looking for an alpha male hero, you can't go past a flyboy....


Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's TWILIGHT time!



Okay just take time out of your busy NaNo schedule to have a look at something for me. Twilight is not just a series of books, they're a phenomenon....say it with me folks, PHENOMENON... (there goes that Muppet song in my head).
So what did Stephenie do that was sooo different. There're dozens of teen angsty vampire books out there which were written long before Twilight came into her head, why these books?
LJ Smith wrote the Night World series in the 90s. They're about a teen girl who finds out she's an old soul - a reincarnated person who's had many lives. She also is the soul mate of a Lord of the Night World. Thierry has been there for her in every life she's led, she is his passion. When she finds out who she is she rejects him and this leads to the rival vampire who is out to kill her to find her. It's an interesting book, yet it hasn't had the world dominance that twilight has.
I think Stephenie did something that was amazing - she tweeked into the facebook/myspace/online community and teen girls had access to her. Wouldn't you like to be able to speak with your favourite author and ask them questions about the story/characters etc? If I ever find Terry Pratchett's phone number look out world! or maybe just change your phone number Terry!
So Stephenie wrote a 130,000 word book about an angsty teen girl who gets shifted to an out of nowhere town where she's sort of an outcast and meets up with a guy who is gorgeous but wants nothing to do with her. Oh that appeals to teens on soo many levels (I was there once.. not in an out of nowhere town but an angsty girl who was in love with a gorgeous guy who didn't know I was alive - someone get me a tissue the memories hurt).

So with your own story do you have characters that have inner conflict? Are you giving them lots of scenes to show how conflicted they are? (although watch the whiny voice thing, that gets annoying.. i'm just saying, not accusing Bella at allll - sorry Di)

And don't worry if you don't, because it's first draft, on the second and third run throughs you'll get into the whole inserting conflict, cutting out whole scenes etc...
Anyway my teen has told me she wants to see Twilight with her friends and not me. Ah well, I'm going to see it before her anyway now, so I'll have one night where I purposely tease her all about it - ahh the joys of being a parent.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday Warriors

Warriors bring to mind different things for different people. But for me a warrior is someone who fights for what they believe, puts their life on the line for other or goes out of their way to do something for another. A warrior is often a hero. The best ones do what has to be done without much fanfare and without taking credit. The ones I admire the most are the ones who do everything in the name of their job.
Think about what makes your hero a hero. Is it enough to make your heroine love him? Is it enough to make your readers love him? Do you love him? While you're pondering the virtues of your hero here's some pix for you to look at.













Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday's Troy Boys

We are having another hero week here on the blog. This week it’s Men in Uniforms. Now because I’m writing an historical novel for NaNo I thought I’d go with that theme so to speak hence the heading Tuesday’s Troy Boys. LOL. And who better than to start my pictures off with than three men in dresses.



The other week on the ROMAUS loop we were discussing the Alpha hero and what makes them an Alpha Hero. Let’s face it we all love the Alpha hero in a story, the one that stands out from the rest, the one that gets our hearts racing. We may not always like them to start with but by the end of a good book we are heads over heels just like the heroine.


There is one thing that most authors agree on and that is that the Alpha hero has to have as sense of honour and no matter how arrogant he may be we need to show just a glimpse of the tender side early in the story.




In his time Charlton Heston was one of the most popular actors of the day and not just with the women but also the men. The reason I think he was so well liked was because he gave each of his roles that real male quality.

In 'Ben Hur' he took us on the ride of our life and not just because of the chariot race. Plus I bet he had many a woman's heart racing with his short skirt and muscles.









Now I have to admit that Kirk Douglas is not one of my favourite actors but he like Charlton was big in his day and had women swooning for him especially in this get up.


I often wonder what it is about the hero’s in the movies that draws us to them. Is it the actor playing the part?




Or is the way the writer has written the part? Have you ever read a book and visualised the hero a certain way only to have it made into a movie and have your vision blow to pieces? Or had two different actors play the part and think yeah he looks more like the hero?




Now here's an example Kirk Douglas played the hero in 'Spartacus' yet to me he didn't seem to fit (Okay
so I've already said I wasn't a fan and that could have a lot to do with it) but Goran Visnjic Now he is my idea of Spartacus.











Then we have the actors of today (yes I know Goran is an actor of today as well) that have played the roles of heroes in the times of the Roman empire. Russell Crowe (also not a big fan of Russell's so glad he didn't do Australia with Nicole sorry got of track) he pulled the hero off so well in 'Gladiator'. Plus if you ignored the voice and head the body looked great. LOL. (Sorry again had a bitchy moment).








Now on to the Troy boys. Orlando Bloom well as far as I'm concerned Orlando can be a hero of mine any day. I loved Orland in 'Troy' but I loved him more in the 'Pirates of the Caribbean'.







Now I know some of you think Brad is a bit sissy to be a hero but you have to admit that six pack is well worth looking at. You know I can't help liking Brad as a hero in 'Legends of the Fall' he was great, I loved his role in 'Meet Joe Black' and 'The Devil's Own'. In 'Sleepers' he was fantastic, okay I have to admit I'm a brad fan.










Than we have our own Eric Bana. Who would have thought all those years ago when he was taking off 'Mr Perfect Hair Ray Martin' that Eric Bana would turn the heads of women all over the world as a hero. He plays his roles with such ease, I watched him in 'The Other Boleyn Girl' a couple of months back and thought he was great. Okay, I'm not sure Henry the eighth looked this good but I bet he was up their doing a little dance when Eric was cast to play him.
In 'Troy' he played the role just as well. Hero material all the way.



So what sort of hero do you write? Is he strong, arrogant, self absorbed, does he show any kink in his armour?


Sandie

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Serious case of Nano brain

I'm not referring to the Nano brain created by scientists.

I'm referring to the state of my brain while participating in Nanowrimo.

This week has been particularly laughable. Forgetting lots of stuff, buying the wrong stuff, and becoming extremely sleep-deprived. (Why oh why does my creativity really kick in near midnight?) But I think the highlight of the week was arriving at work to be informed politely by my podpal that my shirt was on inside out. LOL.

Another symptom of Nano brain is wanting to talk about what your characters are up to at any given moment. Now writers understand. Non-writers really do not get that your characters are as real to you as any other human in the room (and sometimes realer). And there's another symptom of Nano brain - making up words. Because at the moment, when you are aiming for 50ks in a month, a near-enough word will hold the place until November passes and you can go back and edit.

So, fellow writers, what symptoms of Nano brain are you displaying?

PS. Today is Day 15 of Nano. We're halfway through the challenge, though you may not be halfway through your wordage. But that's okay. There's still time to catch up. I will be out celebrating tonight with my writers group. We've celebrating our 20th anniversary and the launch of our anthology. Why don't you have a Nano celebration tonight as well?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Saggy Middle

Firstly, a big congrats to all of you for doing such a great job so far. The word counts are looking really impressive. Even if it isn't going as well as you would want (like me) hang in there because every word written is one more closer to completing your ms.

With the middle of the month (and hopefully the middle of your ms) looming, I thought it might be a good time to raise the issue of the saggy middle.

Following is an extract from an article titled "Avoiding the Saggy Middle" by Cathy Witlox, an editor at Harlequin:

The middle is where it can be hard to keep momentum going. You need to ask yourself these questions:
  1. Are your characters growing, or have they remained the same?
  2. Have you shown why heroine and hero would fall in love?
  3. Have you woven in subplots that you introduced earlier on or have you abandoned some, leaving questions?

You shouldn't work backwards to rectify anything you've missed - make notes on things you have to weave into your story and do it at the end of writing.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Good Dialogue

I've been scrolling through all my bookmarked pages to find information on dialogue. It's something that's a work in progress for me. I find that at times my dialogue flows and other times it's sooo stilted. So I thought that maybe I'd find some experts to tell us how to do this.

Condensing Back Story

by Elizabeth Rose

Instead of using narration to tell tons of back story, let your characters do it for you through dialogue. It makes it much more interesting, plus it gives the characters a chance to develop.

For example, in her book Eden’s Garden, author Elizabeth Rose combined a bit of narration with the use of dialogue of Eden Ramirez, the heroine, and her dying father to tell of their relationship.

“Papa . . . don’t die,” Eden said in her native tongue.

She took his large hand in hers and rubbed it softly against her cheek. He was so unlike the hardened professor who had come from the States year after year to study the Incan ruins of Machu Pichhu, hoping to find some uncovered truth or hidden treasure of the ancient culture that was destroyed so many years ago.

“I wanted to marry your mother – really,” he whispered through his ragged breathing. “I’m sorry. I wish I could have been the father you needed.”

Even if you didn’t know Eden was half Peruvian and lived far from her American father, you could see the distance of their past in their words. Her words show us she has feelings for him and doesn’t want to lose him. His words show most the back story. We find out he has never married her mother, he’s sorry about, and obviously had feelings for the woman, but something didn’t work out. He knows he hasn’t been a good father or there for his daughter, and we see his guilt as well. So, in just a few sentences, we find out what may have taken a page to tell about the back story.

Dazzling Dialogue Tips
by Alicia Rasley

Keep it short: 3-4 lines between " ", then insert an action, change speakers, switch to a quick thought. This creates more white space, suggests more movement, forces you to be cogent and quick.

Keep it snappy: This is conversation, not a lecture. Go for demand-reply, stimulus-
response... aim for conflict within the conversation. SHOW the conflict by snapping
back and forth. They don't have to be vicious as long as they can interrupt each other.

Keep it active: Watch the static conflict, where they keep arguing about the same thing over and over in the conversation. Pick out the best exchange that shows that conflict, and then at the end of that exchange, start something new, open a new angle on the subject, bring up something they haven't yet considered, have a speaker change tactics.
"You never listen to me!"
She sighed. "Right. Then how come I know exactly what you're going to say next? If I never listen to you?"
"What? What am I going to say next?"
"You're going to say that no one listens to you. You say that every time."
He started to protest, then paused and regarded her balefully. "Okay. So sometimes
you listen to me. You never do anything about it! It's even worse! You listen to me,
hear what I'm saying, know what I mean, and then you do nothing! You don't even
care!"
"Oh, yeah! And no one cares!" She laughed. "And here's my cue, right? I'm supposed to assure you I care, and show you by doing whatever it is you insist that I do. Well, the hell with it. I'm tired of it. I quit. You're right. I don't care. No one cares. No one gives a tinker's damn about you. You've been right all along about that."




Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday's Writing Wrap-up!

Can you see that? Talk about castles in the sky! This is where I've been and why my Wednesday post is late. This is Genting in the Highlands of Malaysia. It's in the clouds, literally. This was taken on the drive up the mountain at about 2pm and yes, it was damn cold! I live in Singapore, I don't like the cold. I coped only because there are lots of indoor things to do. Like shopping! Sitting and having a hot chocolate, going to the indoor theme park, the outdoor theme park or the casino. It was a great get away and I even managed to get some words written.

I have no idea where my word count stands, I do know I'm over the halfway mark but I won't know my exact amount until I finish typing in all the longhand stuff I wrote while away. It was actually kind of nice to get away from the computer and write. At one point I was sitting in Starbucks with their computers not ten feet away and I could have easily gone over and gotten on one but I didn't. I sat with my pen and notepad and wrote. Hubby's laptop wouldn't let me open any of my file on the USB I'd brought with me so I'd started the longhand on the six hour bus ride from Singapore to Genting. It was actually quite liberating not looking at a word count every few seconds. I'm thinking of taking notepad and pen downstairs more often.

So how is everyone doing? Are your stories flowing or are you just hammering out words and hoping for the best? I'm writing out of order. I wrote a scene last night that comes at the end of DUC and one that comes somewhere in the middle of RHI. *sigh* I guess I'll be piecing them together. I'm not sure where these two stories will end up or what their word counts will be but because they cross over I'm classing them as one story for Nano. It's probably cheating but at this point I don't care because the words are coming and they're good.

RC

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday's Tip

Here we are part way through Week Two, and things begin to get interesting. For me, I normally start to wonder if the story is any good. Okay this year I’ve known from day one it was crap, but never the less I’ve continued to write.

That is the key for this week keep writing, it is so easy to think this is dribble, crap and why bother. The answer is, because it is the First Draft; call it ‘The Ugly Duckling’ effect. From this first ugly draft will bloom a beautiful story that everyone is going to want to read. (That’s what I’m telling myself. LOL.) Just keep telling yourself the Swan will be born. After November you’ll put this aside for a few months and go back with fresh eyes and craft your story into the Swan story.

Here is the tip for day 11 from ‘No Plot? No Problem! Novel-Writing Kit.

Day 11:

Bathe Your Imagination.

Among the weird places where writers find inspiration, the shower is one of the more common. “Your body is totally relaxed and your mind is totally relaxed,” says Ray Bradbury of his trips to the steamy plot chamber, “then the little explosions, the little revelations come.’

Spend some time today investigating those places and situations that allow your mind plenty of room to wander -- a walk, a bike ride, standing in line at the bank – and soak in the literary results.

I’ve started to put each days quote up on my normal blog here if you want to read them.

Happy writing.
Sandie