New Strategy

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So, yesterday I cut 16,000 words from DLB and sent a query to Susan Litman. I THINK I queried her on it before and she requested it, but that was right when I signed with my agent. I mentioned that to her. I hope she remembers me - it's been 2 years.

I'm also going to target Ghost Hunters and BD to her, also, I think.

Meanwhile, I queried 2 agents via email and printed out a partial for another who rejected me, but was willing to look at something else. Just need to drop by the post office while doing the suit shopping today.

Don't forget to go vote at Romance Junkies!

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Romance Junkies, and Contests again

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AHEM. One of my entries is up at Romance Junkies. I can't tell you which one or I'll be disqualified, but I think you might recognize it!

I read RWR cover to cover the other day, and made a list of contests I’d like to enter the coming months.

I entered Indiana’s Golden Opportunity in the paranormal category because the final judge is from NAL. I also like that it was an e-sub. VERY easy. (I like entering e-subs but not judging.) The question I have is that if I’d mailed it, I would have only paid $30 entry fee, and my return fee is included in that. I paid $32 for paypal and they don’t have to pay return postage. Hmm. Sure, I saved $3, but they made $7!

Then I saw Adam Wilson of Harlequin is judging ST. Didn't I read he left Harlequin? Because I'm tempted....

The next one I’m looking at is Golden Rose, with an August deadline. The ST judge is from NAL. It’s also an e-sub, but it’s $36. It’s 55 pages, which is good, but still kinda high.

After that is Golden Pen. Esi Sogah is the ST judge. It’s $30 for 55 pages. Don’t know who the paranormal judge is yet.

The next deadline is Hot Prospects. I don’t know who the judges are yet, but I won that one one year ;) The fee includes return postage.

Gateway to the Rest has a paranormal judge from Grand Central. I would love to write for them. It’s e-sub and no synopsis.

Fiction from the Heartland, with a September deadline, is print-only. The paranormal judge is from NAL.

Golden Palms has Leslie Wainger as the ST judge. Do you know how much I would love to have her as an editor? And she never judges! I might just blow my budget here and enter 3 books. $30 a pop – gulp!

Then there’s the Suzannah in October. No categories, but if you final, you get in front of 6 judges. I’m debating if the odds are worth it. $25 a pop there.

Last on my list for now is The Emily. The website hasn’t been updated for this year, but I’ve finalled in this one twice and I love those ladies!

So my for-sures are Gateway and Golden Palms. We’ll see about the others.

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If You Give a Kid an iPod

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You never never get your computer again! My folks gave The Boy his birthday present 2 weeks early. He spent 3 hours Tuesday night loading it, then probably another ten yesterday. He got up at 11, was on till I kicked him off at 5, then was on the rest of the evening. There are CDs everywhere - 3 stancks by the computer, two more huge stacks on the breakfast bar, even some by the TV. We will be saving money on burned CDs now, though.

NOT TODAY. I have to write on BD, and I have to do it on the computer, because I'm adding in places. I did manage to judge all my Heart to Heart entries and type in some of Ghost Hunters on the AlphaSmart. And I read RWR cover to cover, after which I managed to bookmark some contests to enter. I watched Miss Potter and Barnyard. Yes, the udders on the boy cows were distracting. AND I finished Michelle's Irish Warrior - it was SO GOOD!

The dh came home with the coolest thing - a cookie bouquet! One of the clients he makes commercials for found out his birthday was last week and sent him a cookie bouquet with stuff like a director's chair, a TV monitor, slates with "Cut" and "Action" on them, and one with popcorn. I thought that was incredibly thoughtful, to go to the trouble for something so personal.

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It never did rain yesterday - in fact was very pleasant - but it's raining now. So, good day to sit at the computer.

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Plotting Session

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Last night was great. Around 4, I started printing out everything I had saved on my hard drive about plotting, then I made notebooks while I watched Gilmore Girls. Margaret, Stacy and JoAnn got here around 6:45, we started at 7:15 and went till 11. Two were working on paranormals and two on normals ;) I felt bad because we didn't spend a lot of time on Margaret's story because she'd already worked out the conflict, but I think we helped her bring it out. Stacy has a really BIG complex plot that's going to unfold over 3 books, so we worked on that one for awhile. I'd bought a post-it easel pad and just wrote and wrote. The big concern for Stacy was having the heroine make her journey while moving the plot along. I think we came up with some good solutions. Then JoAnn, who also is plotting a paranormal trilogy, went, and we worked on that one awhile. The theme of hers is balance, so we worked on how to balance the heroes and heroines and their powers.

Then we got to mine. Like Stacy, I needed to get from point B to point C to point D, and while we talked it out, I kept thinking I was going to have to cut those 100 pages after all, but this morning I don't think that's as necessary.

We definitely will do this again, hopefully later in the summer. But man, I was so wound up, I didn't go to sleep till 1! Now for timed writing!

Looks like we're in for some good storms, so better write fast!

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Yesterday I went shopping with my mom. My goals were to get Cindi's son a gift, to get paper for tonight's plotting session, and to get the shampoo on sale at Bath and Body. (Yes, I have gone there every week this summer.)

I also thought MAYBE I could find something for conference Thursday night.

I ended up buying the dh 5 shirts for $50. Kohls had all their clearance half price. I got him a Liz Claiborne shirt for $6!!! Of course, he still needs a suit for Saturday, but that will have to wait. I did find a blouse I liked at Kohls but they didn't have my size :( And they don't have it in the right color on their website.

This AM I'm going to the grocery store for drinks for tonight. I think we're having 5 of us for the plotting session. I'm excited!

And I'm stuck. When I left Alex last night, he was asleep, so I don't know where I'm starting today. So maybe I'll work on Ghost Hunters or Vamp Hunters.

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I can’t believe I wrote this already and accidentally ditched it.

Last week I wrote on BD, wrote on Vamp Hunters, typed in a LOT of Ghost Hunters, went to SARA, judged 4 Heart to Heart entries, registered for TGN, had the dh’s party, cleaned house for same, talked to Dad about his visit during Dale’s surgery and read 2 books.

This week will be very laid back, with outside obligations, but next week will be full.

1) finish Breaking Daylight (pie/sky)
2) plotting session with SARA (Tuesday or Wednesday) DID THIS
3) shopping with Mom DID THIS
4) call hotel and add Thursday
5) enter Golden Opportunity
6) get dh a suit
7) online critique for SARA
8) Cindi’s oldest’s birthday – get gift! No idea if she’s going to have a party GOT GIFT
9) judge what I can of From the Heart entries
10) judge what I can of Heart to Heart entries
11) edit what I can on Ghost Hunters TYPED IN A BUNCH
12) keep up house for Dad’s visit next week SO FAR SO GOOD
13) trip to coast next weekend???

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Restaurants, Historicals, Plotting, Contests

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Cindi came back from a 2 week vacation on Wednesday. She'd gone to Washington DC over the weekend, but with 3 little kids, only traveled 6 hours a day, so she left the Monday before. She'd just gotten an Acadia the last day of school (while I was excited about getting 3 seasons of the Gilmore Girls for $20 each, she bought a new car) and wanted to take it on a road trip.

One of her observations when she returned was she knows why San Antonians are so fat. There are restaurants everywhere. She said they had the worst time trying to find some place to eat in DC. They couldn't even find a Chili's.

Then I was working on my Mess in Progress (less messy because I cut 4,000 words yesterday). It's set in Miami - why, I don't know because I've never been there. I needed my characters to go to a late night fast food restaurant and was figuring McDonald's was safe. But what else could I use? I like to use chain restaurants because everyone can identify with me, though foolish me though Burger Kings were everywhere and they aren't.

So, my question is - what chain restaurants are in your neck of the woods? Do you have a lot of restaurants in your town and neighborhood?


I have decided I love reading historicals. They just leave me with a great feeling. So I'm going to read them for another week. (Okay, I only read 2 books this week, but I read them all the way through!)


Stacy and I are thinking about having an emergency plotting session with some other SARAs. I'm not sure how to structure something that would just take an afternoon or evening. Thoughts?


I'm judging two contests right now. One has instructions for the judges to base everything around a 3, the average score. The other has judges basing everything on a 5, with comments for everything under a 5! So the entries I'm scoring are coming in pretty low for the first contest. I imagine the other contest will have a nightmare with figuring out who the finalists are, with a bunch of high end scores.

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Summer TV

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It’s summer, and you would think my TV watching would have slowed down.

Alas, no. I started watching The Starter Wife. Meh. So I was wary when I started watching Army Wives, but it is AWESOME. Wow, great characterization, 4 different women and a man who form bonds based on their husbands and wife being in the Army. You have the lady who is the leader, you have the abused wife (but her abuser is not who you think), the feisty wife, the woman with a struggling marriage and the sole husband of a colonel who just returned after 2 years overseas. The first episode was a little off for me, but by the end of it, I was hooked. And the third was a stunning cliffhanger.

I’m also catching up on The Unit, which I stopped watching when American Idol was on. I know, shallow girl. I like the show, but not enough to bump AI.

I’m watching Smallville and Roswell now that I have a bit more room on Tivo. Jane Seymour as Jensen Ackles’s mom? And is John Schneider still not the cutest? That gorgeous hair. I’m not as enamored of Roswell, but Izzy is on it.

Then there was a show on National Geographics, I think, about pararescuers. I told my son, “That looks like Lackland.” I spent many summers next door to Lackland, and I teach near there. He blew me off, but I could have sworn I saw Wilford Hall in the background. (I was born there – Dad was in the AF.) Finally the pararescuer candidates were talking about going to Schlitterbahn, and they boarded a bus with Lackland on it – I was right! Just from looking at the terrain and the sky. And the water tower. So I have 2 more episodes of that to watch.

We watched For Your Consideration and Crank on DVD last night. Don’t bother, though I’m thinking Crank would make a good erotica novel.

Today is the dh’s party, so I’ve got to get his cake, do the floors and one more round of straightening. See, being blocked is good for the house.

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Rated R

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I want to go se 1408. I reeeeeeally reeeeeeeally do. Ghost hunter in the most haunted room ever? Why WOULDN'T I want to see it?

But I'm skeered. Because it's rated R.

I am really wary of R movies. I can't even watch 13 Ghosts when it comes on SciFi. I finally watched Once Upon a Time in Mexico because it was on TNT and I figured it would be cut. I still hid my eyes. I have History of Violence, Derailed, The Ice Harvest, Sin City and Constantine, all of which I haven't seen because I'm wary of the violence.

Yet I've seen some R movies that aren't all that bad. Flags of our Fathers was bearable. So were 300 (cartoony violence), Children of Men, V for Vendetta and Inside Man. Two for the Money and The Constant Gardner - I can't even remember why that was rated R. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang wasn't bad. Munich was violent, but the story overcame it. Same with Lord of War. Wedding Crashers was fairly tasteless, but so was 40 Days and 40 Nights and that was on Comedy Central the other day. The dh watched The Descent, but I couldn't.

So there's a wide spectrum of R rated movies, from movies that have a few violent scenes, a lot of cussing, to movies like Hostel, which shows torture. You understand my wariness.

My students (remember, I teach 4th graders) see Hostel and all the ones I'm scared to see. Either mom is too indulgent and takes them to see it because she wants to see it (and it's more often mom than dad) or they rent the movie and don't bother to send the kid out of the room. You just have to wonder.

Then, there are movies that could have been PG but they throw in a gratuitous F word to get the PG-13 rating that gets more viewers.

And have movie ratings changed? I didn't remember Breakfast Club being rated R, but it is. I don't remember why. And I showed my class Clash of the Titans a couple of years ago. It was rated PG. And right there, naked woman walking on the beach. Yeesh! (I know, I should have watched first.) Even some of the PG movies throw in an unnecessary curse word now.

So, okay, I was all over the place here - it's early, I didn't sleep well (surprise! Now the ceiling fan is making all this noise and does it disturb the dh? Noooo.) But I want to know your thoughts on movie ratings, and if anyone's seen 1408, let me know!

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We had a really great SARA meeting last night, though only 14 people showed up. We had a kind of round-table discussion of what we want from SARA this coming year (our new year begins in July) and I'm very excited.

On the way, I started listening to the Crusie/Mayer workshop from last conference, YEX AND VIOLENCE. Enough technical talk to make my hair curl, but the thing that stuck with me is that DON’T LOOK DOWN had 104 scenes.

104. Scenes.

I usually have 60, about 3 per chapter.

In Ghost Hunters, I have only 1 or 2 per chapter. I know this because I revise by scene.

So I’m wondering, these 104 scenes – do they count change in location as a scene, even if there’s no scene break? Do they count POV switches as a scene?

And they have an arc, a GMC for each scene.

My now-curled hair is being pulled out by the roots as I consider doing this. I could do maybe the first 10-12 this way, but GAH! After that???


First of all, how many scenes do you write? How do you count them? Do you craft them ahead of time or build that arc in them as you revise?

Today's my dh's 42nd bday.

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AND I'm blogging at Wet Noodle Posse on heroes' ages.


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I used to love it when there would be a heated discussion on All About Romance, or a controversial blog that would ignite discussions on other blogs.

Now I avoid them.

I also keep my own blog pretty controversy-free, because I'm a big chicken when it comes to defending my stand. It doesn't mean I don't have strong opinions, but I tend not to voice them because I just don't think quickly enough to defend them.

And to be honest, I need some mystery about myself to keep y'all guessing ;)

What about you? Do you feel secure in voicing your opinions in cyberspace, or do you feel your opinions could taint your online persona?

What are some hot-button items for you? Politics? Religion? RWA issues?

Have you stopped reading someone's blog and/or books because of something you read about the author that changed your opinion of him/her?

Do you think published authors have to be more careful than unpubs?

Curious minds want to know.

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Books I Want to Read This Week

I took Tylenol PM last night and slept from 11ish to 7 ish. The boy is off to work and I'm off to write.

Last week I discovered reading paranormal is not really my thing, at least, not the books I picked. I stopped reading 4 of the 5 I started.

This week, I’m going for historicals.

I already started this one:

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If I like it, I’m passing it on to Mom.

I haven’t read an Amanda Quick in forever. She’s always been a comfort read for me.

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I love the title of this one, so I have to give it a shot.

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I’ve been dying to read this one since I read about it on eHQ.

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This is another eHQer’s first book:

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Then Stacey’s books, which she sold this time last year:

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And I’m WAY behind on Noodler books:

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I know I won’t get to all these, but some I’ll roll over when I have “Books by Friends” week!


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Man, my sleep schedule is messed up. It doesn't help that I have these weird dreams with a ton of people in them. I went to bed at 10 last night, exhausted. I woke up, restless, at 1:30. I read till 3:30. I hope I can go to sleep later.

I only wrote 26 pages on Breaking Daylight this week. Considering I wrote half of those on Monday, NOT a good writing week.

I wrote 11 pages on Vamp Hunters and revised 66 pages of Ghost Hunters.

I only read Something Wicked start to finish.

Watched a TON of movies.

Cleaned what I was supposed to, though.

This week:


2) judge Heart to Heart entries, which I SHOULD be getting this week

3) write on BD

4) Write on Vamp Hunters, with an eye toward entering it in Indiana’s Golden Opportunity.

5) Revise 7 more scenes on Ghost Hunters, which will mean typing up some, since they’re still in longhand.

6) Call hotel about adding Thursday night too – since my editor/agent appts are Friday AM, I’ll go up Thursday after all.

7) Register for TGN reception.

8) Talk to Dad about coming for Dale’s surgery.

9) Get read for dh’s birthday (Thursday) and birthday party (Saturday.)

10) Clean bedrooms, bathrooms, work in yard.

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Bored, and Answers

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It is so weird because it NEVER happens. Yesterday I bolted during timed writing because I just am so stressed about this book. It was kinda rainy so I took my next scene of Ghost of a Doubt to the couch to read over it. I did that, made a collage for Breaking Daylight, watched some Night Stalker episodes (Sci Fi had a marathon on Wednesday and I Tivoed) and after lunch took my nap.

By the time I got up, I was incredibly restless, and I couldn’t settle down to do anything. I didn’t want to watch TV, read, write – WEIRD for me.

For the first time in recent memory, I was bored. I sat out back for awhile and vegged. After dinner, I sat out front while the next batch of storms rolled in and vegged. Once it started raining, I came in and messed on, rating movies, while the guys listened to Neil Young, then The Beatles. Then I opened windows in the back room and sat in my big chair and vegged. (At least I have lots of places to vegg.)

Just before I went to bed, though, I thought of all the things I COULD have done so the day wouldn’t have been a waste.

I could have typed my revisions in on Ghost of a Doubt.

I could have typed in more of Ghost of a Doubt (I wrote it longhand, remember?)

I could have gone for a walk.

I could have touched up my toenail polish and my gray roots.

I could have read over Breaking Daylight and my notes on it, looking for ideas of how to fix this mess.

Instead, I wasted the day and still don’t have a fix. Sigh.

But I got a partial requested by Pamela Ahearn and I got good comments back on my Four Seasons entry (but scores of 82, 83 and 84???) But good comments.q

Market quiz answers

1. B
2. C
3. A
4. A
5. C
6. C
7. B
8. C
9. A
10. B
11. C
12. A
13. C
14. Grand Central Publishing
15. C
16. A
17. C
18. C
19. B
20. B

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Market Savvy III Quiz

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I read in one place paranormals are leveling out, in another they're still hot. And still I write.

Here's a new market quiz. It's a toughie!

1) This agent writes the blog, Agent in the Middle.
A. Meredith Bernstein
B. Lori Perkins
C. Jessica Faust

2) This agent’s blog is Pub Rants.
A. Jessica Faust
B. Emily Sylvan Kim
C. Kristen Nelson

3) This agent’s blog is Lit Soup.
A. Jenny Rappaport
B. Jenny Bent
C. Jessica Faust

4) Allison Brandau edits for which house?
A. Berkley
B. Bantam
C. Pocket

5) Sulay Hernandez moved from Kensington to what publishing house?
A. Harlequin
B. Bantam
C. Simon and Schuster

6) Keren Gerlach edits for what house?
A. Pocket
B. Bantam
C. Harlequin

7) If you enter a paranormal contest, which of these editors is most likely to be the final judge?
A. May Chen
B. Chris Keesler
C. Brenda Chin

8) Abby Zidle moved from which publisher to work at Pocket?
A. Bantam
B. Warner
C. Harlequin

9) Jessica Zita works at which publisher?
A. Simon and Schuster
B. Grand Central Café
C. Signet

10) Leis Pedersom edits for which house?
A. Avon
B. Berkley
C. Harlequin

11) If you submit to Superromance, you’ll probably submit to ___ or ___.
A. Lauren McKenna and Jessica Zita
B. Kerry Donovan and Laura Cifelli
C. Victoria Curran and Laura Shin

12) Lara Hyde is the editor for _____.
A. Harlequin
C. Red Sage

13) Tessa Woodward is an editor for ____.
A. Grand Central
B. Bantam
C. Avon

14) Warner Books is now called ________.

15) Which of these editors does not work for Harlequin?
A. Brenda Chin
B. Susan Litman
C. Esi Sogah

16) Kerry Donovan edits for ______.
B. Avon
C. Pocket

17) Michelle Bidelspach edits for ______.
A. Harlequin
B. Leisure
C. Grand Central

18) This agency is located in New Orleans.
A. Prospect Agency
B. BookEnds
C. Ahearn Agency

19) This agency is located in Madison, Wisconsin.
A. BookEnds
B. Three Seas
C. Folio

20) If you write sexy, this is not the editor for you.
A. Hilary Sares
B. Krista Stoever
C. Raelene Gorlinsky

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Yup, the Spurs did it again. We watched on TV as they won, as San Antonians went downtown to celebrate together in the rain.

In the rain? I looked out the front door. Not raining here, but 10 minutes down the road, pouring. Never did rain here last night.

I suppose a lot of SA dads will get Spurs Championship shirts for Father's Day. The dh is just hoping he doesn't have to work the parade.

Trish and I were talking last night about series, and how to make strong connections between characters in a series. I don't read a whole lot of series, so these were some of the connections I came up with:

common goal
common enemy
same team

What are some connections you can think of?

Walking Away

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I was up till 2:30 last night. I watched 3 movies - The Messengers, Blood and Chocolate and Freedom Writers.

Freedom Writers was INCREDIBLE. I went in with a bleh attitude - I don't care for Hilary Swank, and I've seen every teacher-in-a-poor-school movie, but this one was a lot more raw. I really really liked it. It's a purchase for me.

The Messengers was my second favorite of the night. It's a ghost story with Dylan McDermott (who looked a lot like Gerry Butler in this movie, but that's NOT why I liked it.) He moves his family to North Dakota to raise sunflowers (yeah, I know.) Penelope Ann Miller was his wife, and she moves into this decrepit old house wearing a SUNDRESS. (I said to the dh, "You will NEVER buy a house with boarded up windows, a sagging roof and no paint, got it?") BUT the haunting stuff started almost immediately, and was creepy as heck! And the daughter, who you know did something wrong back in Chicago, but you're waiting to hear what, has to earn her parents' trust and convince them what's going on.

Blood and Chocolate was good, too, about a werewolf clan and a girl meant to be the alpha's new bride, but she falls in love with a human. I really liked the mythology.

Okay, I didn't mean to go on so long about movies. I think I wrote myself into a corner last night. I dunno - I'm less than 50,000 words, I have some circular plot points (h&h go out investigating, they are followed and shot at twice, the third time something ELSE happens) and I just don't have a good handle on it. Everything I'd planned to write this week has gone awry because it's not coming out the way I wanted.

If I cut, it will be 100 pages gone. GULP. I've done it before, and I know it will be better for the book, but 100 PAGES. When I wanted to finish this book.

I should never have contested it, because it's done well, so I don't want to give up on it.

I did write another couple of pages on the vamp book, including the first meet, and I think it can be fun. I may just, as Stacy suggested, work on that for awhile and get distance from BD.

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Point of View

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Had a blast at Dawn's! We talked so much and so fast, and still didn't get everything said! And y'all have to try Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc - YUMMY.

Only got 3 pages done yesterday, but will be doing timed writing here in a few minutes. I'm supposed to clean the kitchen today, according to my schedule. I may bump it till tomorrow.

The dh's bday is next week and Father's Day is this weekend and Mom and I are debating combining the two, or having them separately. I would be just as happy to meet everyone at Rudy's Barbecue and celebrate there. My MIL would hate it, but does she offer to have his bday party? Uh, no.

Okay, so point of view - when I started writing, I was not a point of view purist. Then I came to see the benefit of being one - you keep the reader in suspense of the other person's thoughts, you only see what the POV character is seeing. But apparently lately my POV transitions aren't apparent. My cps pointed it out in Breaking Daylight, and I noticed it when I was going over my Ghost Hunter scene yesterday. Plus, now that I'm doing online critique, I have a few beginning writers that I need to explain this to.

So what's a good way to transition from one POV to another, without the reader having to go back and say, "Whose head are we in again?"

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Books I Want to Read This Week

I wrote 15 pages yesterday. I don't know if they're the RIGHT 15 pages, though. I'm looking forward to going to Dawn's tonight for some girl talk!

Okay, I didn’t finish ALL the books on my list last week. I finished HEAVENS TO BETSY, SHADOW HAWK, UNDER THE WIRE, A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES (I read the last 90 pages after listening to the audio book for TWO MONTHS) and a SECRETS volume. This week I’m reading paranormal books, so I’m going to pull a few onto this week’s list.

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And add:

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Some of these have been sitting in my TBR an embarrassing length of time. I hope I’m as productive this week as last.


M.J. Fredrick's books on Goodreads
Breaking DaylightBreaking Daylight
ratings: 11 (avg rating 3.33)

Beneath the SurfaceBeneath the Surface
ratings: 11 (avg rating 4.00)

Hot ShotHot Shot (Samhain)
reviews: 2
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.00)

Where There's SmokeWhere There's Smoke
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.00)

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I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher and a writer. I have five cats and a dog to keep me company. I love bookstores and libraries and Netflix - movies are my greatest weakness.
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Where There's Smoke Review


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