Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pen to Paper.

Wow, it's awfully quiet out there... Are you all deep in revisions or on deadline? How's the writing going? Anyone writing the first draft of a new story, like me? :)

I love the shiny new ones, but man, they can be frustrating as hell. Case in point: I'm typing along, knowing exactly where I want to go with my heroine, when ten pages in... BAM!... I'm suddenly staring at a blank page.

Now, the stupid thing? I'd already envisioned what the next scene would be! I could see it play out in my head as clearly as if I were experiencing it, but for the life of me I could not describe it on the computer. And I'm embarrassed to say I'd stared at the blank screen for far too long.

So today, after staring at the bright screen a little longer, I decided to pull out one of my journals and finish the chapter by writing it in longhand. And it worked immediately.

Why do you think that is? The connection between pen and paper? My fingertips gliding over the pages? The physical act of writing out every word? Or perhaps just the change from staring at a blank screen to grasping a pen and knowing what I needed to write? Maybe it's a combination of all of that.

And you know what else? Not until I'd opened my journal today did I remember that I'd completed the first draft of my first novel, a western, by longhand. And I'd finished it so much more quickly than any other manuscript since.

Now I know why...

Because when I write longhand, I don't edit my work to death; however, I will cross something out and move on quickly or add something else in the margins. When I type out a story, though, I edit as I go and delete what I don't like, which means I sit in front of the computer way too long as I try to compose The. Perfect. Sentence. Not good for a first draft -- at least not for me (I say this because I know down the line some scenes will be deleted anyway, so why should I perfect them during the first draft? You guys probably don't have this problem... LOL). Of course, I want a clean draft. Who doesn't? But there's going to be revisions to give the story POP, right? And yet, that doesn't stop me from over-editing the first draft when I should just write it.

Okay, so what have I learned today? Write! Dang it.


What's going on with you guys? You're all being so quiet! :)

Oh, and have you ever written a story in longhand? Feel free to chime in with the "Are you crazy?! How can you write a 400-page novel by longhand?!" comments. I'm sure a lot of you are thinking it. ;)

Take Care,


Monday, April 27, 2009

Power of Storytelling. And How Stephen King's IT Scarred Me.

Yes, I meant to write "scarred" in the title of this post, not scared... And it turned out to be a good thing.

I discovered this Friday night when we had some new friends over for dinner. As I was talking to one of them, we began discussing what we do... he's a professional musician and I write fiction. Upon discovering that I write, he asked me which authors have influenced me, and I immediately threw out Stephen King.

That actually gave me pause. I hadn't read King in a long while, so to name him threw me off there for a second or two. I then explained to him that King's older stuff scared the stuffing out me when I was younger and I'll just never forget his stories. The novel IT, in particular, scarred me in the sense that I'll never ever, ever, EVER look at a clown without suspicion.

When I read that book, I was about 12-years-old and staying with elderly relatives in a rural town in Colorado. My parents didn't join me on that trip--just my grandmother, as they were her sister and brother-in-law. Their 90-year-old house creaked all night long and boasted the darkest basement in the US. If you've read King's book, then you might remember Bill's little brother, Georgie, has to go down into their creepy and dark basement to fetch something for Bill. And in this old house in Colorado, I'd decided to read IT... at 12-years-old.

Yes, it totally freaked me out. (I'm sure you've already figured that out! LOL)

But, heck if I could stop reading! That's the power of storytelling and I'll never forget the entire experience associated with immersing myself in that frightening novel. And obviously, it moved me enough to name King as one the reasons I write today.

How about you? Which authors influenced you... Any that you've recently discovered? Or ones that you'd read in your childhood? I'd love to hear your stories! :)

Take Care,


Friday, April 24, 2009

Whispers of the Supernatural

I love to hear stories of the supernatural, especially when I’m sitting with a group of friends and we’re trading tales. Can’t get enough of them. And the chill that scurries across my shoulders and down my back? I just draw in a shaky breath and scoot closer to the storyteller.

Did you think I’d look behind me? No way! ;)

And you know what? Almost everyone I’ve asked, even a skeptic or two, has a story in which they can’t explain the appearance of the misty figure in their bedroom…or a premonition they had…or even a dream where a loved one, who has already passed on, visits them in order to tell them something (or to comfort them).

This may be why I’m drawn to reading and writing about the supernatural. Because on some level, we do tend to relate to the stories, even if that connection is when you’ve walked into a room and spun around because you swore someone else was in there with you.

I do have so many personal stories and I’d like to share one today that I've posted before on another blog--hope you don't mind. And then, if you care to share your experiences, I’d love to read some of your tales. Oh, and by the way, this particular event has kick-started a brand-spankin' new paranormal story that I'm currently writing! Yay! :)

In July 2006, we traveled to York, England for the night, as we were to leave for Edinburgh, Scotland the next morning. (I bet most of my friends thought I was going to write York, Maine, my favorite place in the world. Ha! It’s the OTHER York. The older one. LOL)

Anyway, we’d arrived in York from London on Saturday around 6:30 p.m., which meant everything was pretty much closed, except for restaurants and pubs. So, we wandered the nearly empty streets and explored at our leisure, as darkness wouldn’t fall for a few more hours and the rain had lessened to a drizzle.

As I gathered information for a historical I was writing at the time, I stopped in the middle of the cobblestone road to admire a sign hanging outside one of the shops.

“Michele,” a voice whispered in my ear.

I glanced over my shoulder, expecting my husband to be there, waiting for me to move on. But I was alone. Huh. It wasn’t until looked in the opposite direction that I realized my DH was already 20 yards ahead of me and clearly occupied taking pictures.

Okay, I just thought I heard someone whisper my name.

So, I continued studying the buildings and did some window-shopping for a few more minutes. Then I turned in the direction of my husband, who waited for me down at the end of the street, and headed that way, ready to find a place to eat.

“Michele,” the voice whispered again. A male's voice.

I froze, but not from fear. Just curious as heck. What did the male voice want? Should I answer? Why would he get my attention, but not say anything else? Or even appear to me?

At that very moment, a ghost tour made its way down the street toward my DH. As the guide and his group passed me, he pointed to the buildings and spoke about the numerous reports of supernatural occurrences on this particular street.

Hmm, you think? All I could do was grin.

This is the street and the group gathered at the end of it is the ghost tour.

So, that’s one of my stories. I wish I knew what the voice wanted. (Or maybe there’s a connection between that York and my obsession with York, ME???? LOL)

Anyone want to share your story? A premonition? A dream? A ghost story?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More Writing Contest Info.

Hi Everyone,

I've never entered this writing contest, but I've heard good things about it. And bonus! The submissions are all electronic, so less out-of-pocket money on your part. :)

Below, I've posted some of the details for Indiana's Golden Opportunity Contest 2009.

Hope this helps... And good luck!!

Take Care,


*******Permission to forward*******

Indiana Romance Writers of America presents

Our detailed score sheet and considerate feedback can help you fine-tune your manuscript.

**Trained first-round judges, including published authors
**Acquiring editors and agents as second- and third-round judges
**Cash prizes for the three finalists in each category
**The Best of the Best winner is chosen from among the first-place winners in each category and will receive an AlphaSmart Neo

DEADLINE: Entries must be received by July 1, 2009. All submissions must be electronic (sent through e-mail).

ENTRY FEE: $25. Can use PayPal or mail a check.

ELIGIBILITY: Open to any author who is unpublished. (See web site for detailed eligibility guidelines.)

ENTRY: Beginning chapters (Prologue included) and synopsis. Pages and synopsis combined not to exceed 35 double-spaced pages.

FIRST-ROUND JUDGES: Either trained judges or published authors.

Historical/Regency: Becky Vinter, Editorial Assistant, NAL
Mainstream with Strong Romantic Elements: Paige Wheeler, Folio Literary Management
Paranormal: Kerry Donovan, Associate Editor, NAL
Romantic Suspense: Megan McKeever, Associate Editor, Pocket Books
Single Title: Latoya Smith, Editorial Assistant, Grand Central Publishing
Young Adult**: Holly Root, Agent, Waxman Literary Agency

BEST OF THE BEST JUDGE: Allison Brandau, Editorial Assistant, Berkley/Jove

*Please note we are offering new categories this year.
**Young Adult does not need to be a romance.

1st Place: $35 and certificate
2nd Place: $30 and certificate
3rd Place: $25 and certificate

BEST OF THE BEST PRIZE: A Neo by AlphaSmart and certificate.

Further information and contest rules are available through our IRWA website:

If you have any questions, you can e-mail the Contest Coordinator at or

Best of luck! We look forward to reading your entries.

Garthia Anderson
Contest Coordinator

********Permission to forward********

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Never Give Up.

From the files of "Never Give Up On Your Dreams," here's a link to Susan Boyle's singing performance on another Simon Cowell show, "Britain's Got Talent." If you haven't seen this, it's pretty cool and it already has over 9 million views in only 4 days! Talk about a video going viral... WOW.

Also, sorry this post doesn't have anything to do with writing, but it's still the arts, right? Besides, the 47-year-old Susan Boyle did a fantastic job of flooring Simon when she sang "I Dream A Dream" from Les Miserables. LOL

Okay, and I'll admit it. I had tears in my eyes when it suddenly hit her how much the judges loved her voice. Sigh.

Hope you're all doing well and chasing your dreams!

Take Care,


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Online Writing Class: "Skips, Lies, and Videotape"

Hi everyone,

Here's another four-week online class that may be of interest to some of you. :)

I've never taken a workshop with this group or with these instructors, but it certainly sounds informative..."Skips, Lies, and Videotape: (How PIs Find the Missing, Nail the Fraudulent, and Obtain the Proof)" with Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. I've posted some information and links below and you're welcome to forward to any friends who may be interested.

Hope you're all doing well and your writing is going smoothly!!

Take Care,


***Permission to Forward***

Skips, Lies, and Videotape: (How PIs Find the Missing, Nail the Fraudulent, and Obtain the Proof)

Instructors: Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman
Dates: May 4th – 29th, 2009
Cost: $20
Sponsored by: Heart of Dixie, RWA

If you have ever wondered what it was like to work at a PI and incorporate it into your books, then this is the class for you. This four-week class will cover the following: The Skips: Tracing Electronically. The steps of a skip and researching on the web, along with case examples. Tracing on foot and how to dig in public records. The fraudulent: from black market to white collar and the types of investigations. Types of proof and ways to obtain the proof needed for the case.

Colleen Collins ( has written 20 novels/anthologies for Harlequin (including one paranormal romance thriller for Dorchester w/a Cassandra Collins). As a private investigator, she specializes in skiptracing, witness interviews, surveillances, and infidelity investigations. She and her business partner Shaun Kaufman co-own Highlands Investigations in Denver, Colorado, and also teach workshops for writers who are developing PI stories and characters (

Shaun Kaufman is a retired trial attorney who specializes in forensic and financial investigations, domestic relations and civil surveillances, and criminal litigation assistance. Along with his investigative business partner Colleen Collins, he teaches the popular "Writing PIs in Novels" workshops ( He has published articles on private investigations in PI Magazine as well as on the Internet.

Register at:
Questions? Contact _online@heartofdixie.org_

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Need for a Happy Ending

Hi everyone,

Did you guys see this report on "NBC's Today Show" this morning? Apparently, during these tough economic times, people are turning to something they know will make them happy and the sales of romance novels are up, especially those stories published by Harlequin. :)

Executive Editor Margaret Marbury gives a brief interview, as well as a few readers and B&N workers.

Hope you're all doing well and the writing is going smoothly! I've been working on a story (actually 2 stories), so I've been a little scarce around the blogs... but I hope to catch up with you all soon!