Thursday, June 30, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different...

I'm taking a break from writing about writing today. In my day job I work for a provincial veterinary association, and we've been getting a laugh over some of these animal-related jokes on the Internet. I hope you enjoy.

This first one is an oldie but a goodie. It still cracks me up every time!

Excerpts from and Dog and Cat's Diaries

Dog Diary:

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 PM - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 PM - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 PM - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 PM - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
6:00 PM - Oooh, Bath . Bummer.
7:00 PM - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 PM - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 PM - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat's Diary. ..

Day 983 of my captivity.
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. In an attempt to show my disgust, I once again vomit on the carpet.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bastards.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now...............

The Ultimate Tease

It's not nice to tease dumb animals. Oh, wait a minute. Maybe this one's not so dumb!

Sad, wet cats

And this video is dedicated to any brave soul who has ever bathed a cat. Though why anyone would want to bath a cat, I have no idea...

I hope you enjoy the jokes and have a laugh today. All the best!

P.S. If you'd like to share a link to a funny/amazing animal video I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My New Cover!

I'm thrilled to show you the cover for my upcoming book "The Girl Most Likely" which will be part of the Class of '85 series from The Wild Rose Press.  Here's a blurb and an excerpt:

Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?
Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he's eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?


He chuckled. “Jessica better watch her back. You could give her a run for her money.”

He heard Cara’s throaty laugh, and various parts of his anatomy tingled in response. “Yes, that’s my evil plan. Take over Rochester Noon, then the world.”

“If you set your mind to it, I’m sure you could do it.”

“Thanks Finn.”

“For what?”

“For believing in me.”

“Are you going to be okay now?”

“Yes, I’m fine. Thanks to you.”

He wanted so badly to tell her he loved her, adored her, thought she was the most amazing woman in the world. But fear stopped him. Was she truly over her ex-husband? Why else would losing weight for the reunion be so important to her if not to impress Peter?

“I’ve got to run. Thanks again. I’ll talk to you later at my condo, right?”

“Absolutely. I can hardly wait to hear about your big TV debut. Break a leg. Isn’t that what they say in show biz?”

She laughed. “Yeah, that’s what they say. Bye.”

Finn replaced the receiver and closed his eyes. He hoped everything went well with this interview. Cara deserved to realize how amazing she was.
If she did come to that realization, would there still be room in her life for him?

So, no release date as yet, but I'm getting close to finding out. I can hardly wait. Yay!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book Review - "Hooked" by Les Edgerton

The subtitle for this book is “Write fiction that grabs readers at page one and never lets them go”.  Isn’t this what we all want to do? We all know that if the opening to a book doesn’t grab an editor or agent in the first few lines, they’ll stop reading. This book aims to show writers how it’s done.

“Hooked” should be required reading for every writer. Les Edgerton does a great job of explaining what an opening scene has to accomplish and gives us detailed information as to how to craft that opening scene. I thought I knew a fair bit about openings, but this book taught me much more. Edgerton breaks down the parts of an opening into two components and ten distinct areas:

The primary components:

1. The inciting incident – The event or trouble that creates the character’s initial surface problem and hints at deeper problems under the surface. This is the problem that gets the story rolling.

2. The Story-Worthy problem – I’ve sometimes heard of this part of the story that operates on a more psychological level referred to as the internal conflict. The inciting incident may be the event that starts the story, but the story-worthy problem is what the novel or short story is all about.

3. The Initial Surface Problem – This is the problem that occurs as a direct result of the inciting incident. It may seem at first that this is what the story is about, but it’s not. There’s a deeper, more complicated story-worthy problem underneath that must be dealt with. The surface problem exists to propel the protagonist forward and take action and assists in the eventual revelation of the story-worthy problem.
4. The Setup – It ‘sets up’ the opening scene by giving information  that allows what will take place in the following scene to be clear to the reader. But don’t overdo. The general rule is to only give what’s absolutely necessary for the reader to understand the scene that will follow.

For example, in my own work, “Flawless” the inciting incident occurs when an agent from the Special Operations Executive springs jewel thief Hunter Smith from prison in England so that he can steal a priceless diamond, Le Coeur Bleu, from the Nazis in occupied France. This incident changes the course of Hunter’s life. The surface problem he faces is of course trying to find a way to steal the diamond without being caught. But along the way, as Hunter falls in love with French Resistance fighter Madeleine, he faces his real story-worthy problem; his inner belief that he is unworthy of love and will never be as good a man as Madeleine’s late husband, his friend Jean Philippe. I set up the opening scene by showing Hunter in an English jail, being interviewed by British spymaster Alastair Campbell. In the opening scene we learn he’s been in jail for jewel theft, that he’s American, and that his best friend Jean Philippe died trying to keep Le Coeur Bleu from the Nazis.

The Secondary Components:

5. Backstory – Backstory includes everything that’s happened up to the time of the inciting incident. A little backstory may be necessary in your opening scene, but Edgerton warns that putting too much backstory in your opening is dangerous; it can easily bog down readers in detail and worse, turn off editors and agents. Trust the reader to ‘get’ what’s going on without providing lengthy backstory.

6. The Opening Line – Edgerton says writers should spend a lot of time crafting this line. He says to make sure it creates a strong first impression.

7. Language – The opening is where you should create your most memorable language. Use original verbs and concrete nouns. Don’t overuse adjectives and adverbs.

8. Character Introduction – Introduce your characters by showing their reactions to the inciting incident. Those reactions reveal their personalities and create a first impression for the reader. Resist giving the character’s life story in the opening.

9. Setting – A glimpse of the setting should be included in the opening since it’s important to be grounded physically.

10. Foreshadowing – This means hinting at the action or obstacles to come. Foreshadowing may or may not be important to your novel, depending on the genre. For mysteries and thrillers, foreshadowing may be very important.

What I enjoyed most about “Hooked”, aside from all the good information, is that it is so readable. Edgerton uses lots of examples, and his style of writing is humorous and easy to read. Even though it’s a book on the craft of writing, and craft books can sometimes be a little dry, it’s an enjoyable book.
I highly recommend this book for writers of any genre. I know it’s one I’m going to refer to again and again. "Hooked" can be purchased at Amazon and at Writer's Digest Books.

Do you have a favorite opening line from a book?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Time and Space to Write

St. Michael's Hall
A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to go on a writing retreat. My writing group, the Saskatchewan Romance Writers, goes on an annual retreat each spring at St. Peter's Abbey, a monastery and school in the Saskatchewan countryside. For three and a half days, I got to write, talk about writing, and spend time with writing friends.

The minute I step onto the grounds of St. Peter's I relax. It's quiet and peaceful, probably the most peaceful place I know. The only thing that breaks the silence is the sound of the occassional tractor or the singing of the birds.

St. Scholastica, the former convent where we stay.
I've written previously about retreats and how much I enjoy them. Even if you can't go away, you can still create a mini-retreat for yourself. For some ideas about how to get that retreat feel, even if you stay at home, please click here. For me, a retreat is a way to 'fill the well' of my creativity and a chance to simply think.

I enjoy going for walks and communing with nature while I'm at St. Peter's. I also like to visit the cemetary where monks have been buried as long as there's been a St. Peter's. It's my way of paying my respects. But mostly I'm there to write. And write I did. I finished the first draft of a new novella I'm working on. Yay! I was probably able to complete the novella because I could concentrate solely on the work without the rest of the world interrupting. Not once did I have stop to cook a meal, put laundry in the dryer or take the dog for a walk. Perhaps that's selfish, but I think a writer needs to be selfish once in a while so she can hear the voices in her head clamering to be heard. Every writer needs a little space and time.

Saskatchewan countryside with St. Peter's in the background.

I hope you enjoy my pictures of St. Peter's Abbey. I know whenever I look at them I'll remember friends, good conversations and ideas rushing through my brain! Have you ever gone on a writing retreat? Would you like to if given the chance?