Sunday, September 12, 2010


Yeah, I'm a sucker for a happy ending. I love it when, no matter what kind of strife they've endured, the hero and heroine join hands and stroll off into the sunset together. You close the book with a feeling of satisfaction. You gather your things and leave the theater. Being a writer, my only question is, then what?
What happens when the unlikely hero drops his socks beside the bed and leaves his smelly sneakers to perfume the air? What happens when the pert heroine smears on the exfoliating masque and touches up her roots? Dang that reality anyway!
Fortunately, as writers we don't have to turn that page. We don't have to wonder if the dashing hero will let his granite-hard six-pack abs slide into a paunch. We do not have to see the perky heroine's sky blue eyes develop laugh lines and then crow's feet. We just have to get them to a satisfactory ending where the reader can put down the book with a sigh, content that Rex and Sheila will indeed have a happily ever after.
What constitutes a happy ending? From my perspective it's when the conflicts have been overcome; when the main characters goals have been reached or have been exchanged for a shared goal; when evil has been punished and danger extinguished.
In life, we have to take our happiness on a moment-by-moment basis for life is too fleeting. We have to celebrate each victory and enjoy the small events that make life worth living. Please hug someone you love today and remember to cherish each moment. Don't look beyone the curtain. Just savor today.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Participating in a critique group for the first time is like taking your clothes off in public. You feel exposed and vulnerable. I have been a part of the same group for many years and cherish the members. Receiving honest, insightful feedback on my writing is essential to the process. But not all criticism is equal or productive. Let me share some tips on critique partners or groups.

The goal of critique should always be the same: To politely offer feedback with the goal of improving the body of work under consideration; To offer praise for the aspects that deserve it, and point out areas that need work.

Above all, the critique group should fit you. First, decide if you need to meet face-to-face or online. Do you need a single critique partner or a group? Do you plan to meet weekly, bi-monthly? You need to find something you can commit to because the longer you critique together, the better you will become as critters.

Critique Group Etiquette:

1) Be kind

2) Do your homework: Take writing classes; Review online articles.

3) Be objective: Use writerly criteria.

4) Do not "defend" or explain your work. If the reader didn't "get it" perhaps you should re-writing it stronger. If you receive negative comments, say thank you.

5) Take turns. Listen politely while your work is being reviewed.

6) Listen politely while someone else's work is being read and make well thought out, constructive comments. Never make negative comments in an unkind manner.

7) Remember to comment on elements you like.

8) Make a commitment to show up for the agreed upon meetings whether or not you have pages to read. It's not fair to only appear if you have work to be read. This should inspire you to always have pages ready.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Don't Wait For Inspiration. . .Wake Up The Muse

Writing is a creative, active and developing process. Definitely not static. What do you do when The Muse is on strike?
Some writers say they're having a "dry spell" or "writer's block." I'm fortunate in that I've never experienced this state of inertia in my writing. Other areas of my life, yes...but I can always write my way out of it.
About a year ago, two of my friends and I were at a place where we needed fresh fuel for the creative furnace. We made a list of story prompts and gave it a couple of hours to gel. Then we got back together online to share our efforts. The amazing thing is that two of us chose the same prompt but came up with entirely different scenarios. My fellow writer, Carol DeVaney and I went on to develop our respective stories into full grown manuscripts. The important thing is that we were both open to the challenge and willing to be enthused. I call this my "Yes! Attitude". I am willing to be drawn in, to take on new challenges, to take risks. I'm willing to jump in the lagoon without knowing all the facts. Is the water too cold? Is it too deep? Who cares. Just get wet.
What inspires me is something I call the What If Factor. What if a small-town preacher's daughter became enamored of a bad-boy biker just riding through? Lots of conflict. Lots of tension. Lots of heartache. Okay, what if you took it a step farther and gave it a twist? What if the hero was the small-town preacher with a very predictable day-to-day life? What if the heroine was a down-on-her luck drifter; maybe she has a bike; maybe she has a Bible in her backpack, but maybe it's a bundle of incriminating documents that she stole from her last employer, a Russian mob boss, who is actively searching for her? Still with me? Now let's give them more to lose: What if he is a widower and he has a young child (much more at stake). What if she's got to get to the coast in a week so she can catch up with the person who is going to smuggle her out of the country to safety? But she's drawn to this man who wants to protect her and save her soul? And he can't explain why he's willing to risk everything to help this woman on the run? I mean, WHAT IF???
I know this was a pretty hilarious and far-fetched example, but my message is, just let yourself go. Let your brain take you to strange and beautiful/dark/dangerous places and explore every interesting crevice...and write about it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Springing into Action

Spring in the Houston area is a fleeting experience. Don't blink! Summer will be upon us shortly and we'll wonder where these lovely spring days went. Of course, we have a pollen count in the zillions and everyone is sneezing their watery-eyed heads off. Fear not! The long hot summer will dry those eyes and everything else.
Springtime does bring about an appreciation for rebirth and renewal. I've put away winter clothing and done a spring cleaning (well, sort of). I'm eating more salads and I joined a gym where I can be found cycling my fanny off several times a week. All this activity may mean very little in the overall scheme of things, but in my little world, it means I'm getting lean, mean and green.
I'm also giving the same treatment to my novels. I'm slowly, one by one, revisiting the manuscripts in my store and revising them to their leanest, meanest and greenest version and I'm getting them out there.
The first one is Bad Habit. I spent a couple of months slashing and rebuilding it and now it's in the hands of my wonderful beta reader, Candace Fitzpatrick.
Another romantic suspense, Kill Shot, is getting a chapter by chapter makeover with my long-time, face-to-face critique group in our weekly meetings. I'm trying to clean up my act and get the novels polished to an acceptable state of vibrancy so they will be print worthy.
I've also been working on writing at least 100 new words daily. With my job, I was unable to do much writing, since I work 4-10 hour days and have a long drive to and from Houston. I tried writing on the 3 days off, but found that by Friday I couldn't really get a feel for the story. I made a public commitment to write at least 100 words daily, no matter how exhausted I might be. It's only about a half page. Thankfully, several hearty writers have joined me on FaceBook and I'm now over 200 days (and nights) with this challenge. Just this little effort has meant that I can stay in the story during the work week and by Friday, I am super productive. Join in if you want. Everyone is welcome.
I'm wondering what you are working on. Do you have a method for revision? Do you share it with others or keep it to yourself? Wishing you gleaming manuscripts worthy of readers everywhere.