Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Writing Game of Love

Now that the year is drawing to a close, reflection time has set in. I looked back over the year of my blog posts to see that I was all over the place, subject wise. That’s not a good or bad thing, just the way it was. It’s often the way I operate until I find my way through to my destination. It’s not always possible to have a goal if you don’t know what you don’t know, or to plan your destination if you don’t know where you are headed.

Years ago when I started my first novel, my writing teacher told me I should write romance. I almost puked. “Uh, no, I don’t think so.” I was a mystery genre snob. But it seems I have come full circle and am now fully engaged in writing Romance for my next two upcoming novels. Sure the suspense is still there, but the romance is now the main focus. How did this happen?

In the past, I had read some really bad romance novels and got a picture of insipid female angst that had no depth which turned me off of even considering writing romance. But last year I found book after book of really good stories in the romance genre—some well written and some not. It was the well crafted stories that grabbed me. Some were about common situations with uncommon ways of treating the subject of love, romance and sex. Others had unique, creative situations that were quite fun, or highly erotic and well done.

While re-reading last year’s posts, I saw that I advised on being open and not resist change when it is foisted upon you. Well, this slow progression of allowing my walls of resistance to come down, doing lots of research of past eras and having fun using the vehicle of reincarnation and different metaphysical possibilities and scenarios allowed me to ease into the Romance genre and feel right at home. And it certainly helps to have four great romance writer friends as critique partners. They rock.

I love the coincidences that occur when we open up to something new without resisting. I’ve always wanted more of that throw it out there and let’s see what happens attitude.  Sometimes it doesn’t work but sometimes it does. I can hear those of you who are goal oriented cringing--loudly.

Writers, don't be afraid to stretch and go for that next wild idea you might have shut down as too controversial. It might just end up being the most rewarding, creative piece you’ve done thus far. At least throw it down on paper and see where it goes. If you end up not happy with it, you can shove it in a drawer…and maybe even pick it up years later to find is was a good idea you weren’t ready for at this time but it will be there for you when you are ready.

So what was the point of this post? I’ve gone from mystery/suspense writer to romance writer without meaning to and am now in the game of love. My website and blog will have to undergo a change soon to reflect the new books when they come out. No more all over the place, but being the rebel I am, I will still be a bit all over the place (maybe in a bit narrower focus though).

Readers out there, I would advise not being afraid to try new, unknown writers of different genres you thought you weren’t interested in. You might end up being pleasantly surprised. I’ve read through dozens of indie authors who have amazed me with their story telling skills. Like I’ve blogged before, I’m not as hung up on writing errors if they do not interfere with the telling of the story. That is not so for everyone, I understand that. 

So, readers, here’s my five star list of favorite Romance genre books I read this year (noted in Goodreads for 2013): (If you would like, follow me on Goodreads)

Be apprised that these books are all heat levels from sweet to very hot (graphic, erotic).
I asterisked the books most memorable for me:
*Jake Undone by Penelope Ward

*Reckless by Skye Jordon

*First Strike & Skin Deep by Pamela Clare (any book from all Ms. Clare’s different series rates a 5 star from me)

Adam’s Apple by Liv Morris

A Seal’s Seduction by Tawny Weber

Master’s At Arms by Kallypso Masters

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

Love’s Portrait by Monica Burns

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley


Did you do anything that surprised you about yourself this year--something unfamiliar and off-putting that you tried and found you ended up really enjoying?

You might want to visit my writer friend Ellen Gregory's blog. She is also summing up her reading for the year and has alternatives to romance genre books: What I  Read in 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tangos, Teasers and Tweets

One of my critique partners has decided to read my novel and tweet her comments while reading it through this weekend. Oh gawd, am I in for it! 

I thought a heads-up post was in order. I have no idea what her reactions will be, but I’m sure I am in for some unexpected zingers because she does not hold back. A bit of background? She is one saucy gal and her wit and gut reactions will be on the menu.

So, a little background on the writing of Dance the Dream Awake, the journey of Tessa Harper:

Throw into a pot a bit of Joseph Campbell, fairy tales, Tarot, Meso-American history, especially Mayan history, and add some mystique and what do you get? A present day woman who gets The Call and Responds to the Call from her soul. She takes that hero’s journey into the unknown, her dark side—a hidden, repressed and festering past needing to be healed.

She goes to Mexico out of desperation to rid herself of the nightmares that have been driving her crazy. She must step beyond her safe place of familiarity—what the ‘normal world’ says to do. The norm being the place most people never leave—what the outside world defines for our lives; parents, schools, churches, employers, society all around. Her journey takes her to the center of herself—to the unknown, the dark side that most never face. Sometimes she moves forward willingly, sometimes tentatively and sometimes kicking and screaming. At the heart of it she is determined to find out what the nightmares mean and how to stop them.

Of course, no one’s journey is all dark and she has to have some fun, too. So there are men she meets along the way . . . but I leave you there, ---@corajramos waiting for comments on Twitter by @mills_michele,  @KristaWriter, and @ElsaBayly.

and

Just for fun, I share this video of a sexy Argentine Tango--oh yes, there's tango in the book, too. First (and only) video on the board at http://www.pinterest.com/coraramos/dance-the-dream-awake-novel/

This should be a fun weekend! If you want to jump in on Twitter, please do. The more the merrier.


Friday, November 22, 2013

The Tragic End of a Romance

Today is #WANAFriday prompt time: Write from the perspective of an inanimate object

Since NaNoWriMo has taken most of my time this month, writing for that 50,000 words by Nov. 30, this short, short tongue-in-cheek story explains my thoughts (from the Point of View of my Pilot G2 gel pen). Obviously, romance is on the menu.

Pilot Pining

I’m feeling like a split personality. First, she held me tight while giving me one story, but soon switched to another. She began throwing out these crazy ideas like she was talking to someone. And then I heard her whisper, “Muse.”  

Who is Muse? There’s no one else here but me and her. 

I think I am the latest of many she has used and thrown away. I know I will not be the last. When I can no longer give her what she wants, I’m toast.

It all started when she began making up that story about ancient Japan. I figured it was her way of whispering sweet nothings in my ear. So I played along and wrote down her musings. I was hooked, allowing her to guide my hand. We were almost finished, ready to finalize the deal when NaNo came along.

Now I’m trying to figure out who this NaNo is she keeps talking about. Is he taking my place? 

Suddenly we were writing a new story. Was it their story? It was very hot, not like the slow burn that I had become accustomed to. Now it was wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am. I felt tarnished, used, empty.

It will not be long now before all my ink will be gone and I'll be replaced with a new gel-tip pen—the tragic end of a beautiful relationship.
*

As you might have noticed, I am feeling a bit schizophrenic with writing two stories, insuring that I will not succeed at 50,000 words for NaNo, but since my stories are linked, I am making great progress on my writing goals.


A note on my present novel published this year: you can read a review on Dance the Dream Awake at KingsRiverLife Magazine. (it will be up on Saturday, Nov. 22)


Are you writing for NaNo? 
Do you use a writing implement or directly to computer? 
How sentimental are you about your writing implement?

Now you can visit Ellen Gregory who has a puzzle for you to solve on her blog.
Visit Liv Rancourt and read about her Inanimate Intellections.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Sizzling Slowly

#Wanafriday prompt this week: How did the last book you read change you, or not?

I’ve been ‘researching’ hot romantic stories of late, in preparation for my new novel, which I’m slamming down while taking the NaNoWriMo challenge (that’s National Novel Writing Month when writers put themselves through the rigors of slamming down 50,000 words during the month of November.) Only last week the slamming part stalled until I read this novel.

For weeks now, I’ve been up to my ears in testosterone fueled novels. Best research ever! Anyway, one of the best ones I’ve come across lately is the novel, Jake Undone by Penelope Ward. Jake is my new best book boyfriend (and there have been many in the past month 

(thank you Pamela Clare for Javier in First Strike and Striking Distance).

So why this book? The author keeps the tension ramped up high throughout the novel. The characters are well drawn and we want them to work it out, badly, because we crave Jake and want to see him in action. I’ll leave that to your imagination.

So how did this book change me? Jake is drawn so well by author Ward that it turned on the switch for me as to how to construct my own protagonist that I’ve been struggling to fill out. I know my Jack well from my first novel, Dance the Dream Awake. I go into his past life as a samurai in my second novel (which I am still in the process of finishing up), but I’ve been having trouble with the updated man we haven't fully gotten to know yet in present day. All of a sudden, since Jake Undone, I see my Jack in full light and the spigot is turned on and flowing. Whether I get 50,000 words done for NaNoWriMo is neither here nor there—I found the impetus to move forward on my new novel.

Now go take a peek at what these WANA* authors are coming up with in answer to this week's prompt:

*WANA=We are not alone, put together by Kristen Lamb. 


Ellen Gregory  -Book Review: Slow River

Liv Rancourt - How a Dish of Eyeballs Changed My Life.

Tami Clayton - Eleanor & Park

Janice Heck - A View From the Window

(More WANAs will be added as they post today.)


So what book have your read lately that affected you strongly?







(More Wanas will be added as they post today. Check back later)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Inspiration or Insanity?

"Certainty is a closing of the mind." Milton Glaser

This quote was the needed spark to get me to post again after my month long dry spell. I have no more time to write a post now than I did a month ago, and maybe even less, but inspiration does great things to help us find time.

I have listened to all the organized writers that say you need to have an outline, or note cards, or programs and graphs to help you work your story out. Refer to the above quote and I say, balderdash! I'm a muddled mess of a pantser who is too far gone to change her ways. I need inspiration--incessant, daily, unending inspiration. (I edit and do other things when the muse is playing hookey)

NaNoWriMo time is here and I must be crazy to put myself through it again--but I will. I have one book I should be promoting, another I should be finishing and I am going to start a third? Now? Really? I'm fu@%ing crazy but it is like an addiction that I must feed--this fiction writing endeavor. 

The thing is, for so long I perseverated over my first novel--I won't even say how many years (it's embarrassing). My second attempt last year (through NaNoWriMo) exploded into two stories that needed to be two different books. One of those is close to being finished, but the other needs--well--a story. It's time to deal with that front and center. Maybe this year the stars are aligned right to help me finish. 

Enough of the insanity and back to the inspiration I spoke of. 

I found a great video for any artist that needs inspiration and clarity. Jonathan Fields of the Good Life Project interviewed artist Milton Glaser. One of Glaser's comments in the video that grabbed my attention was:

"Everything exists at once with its opposite, so the contradictions of life are never ending. And somehow the mediation between theses opposites is the game of life."

Now doesn't that make you feel better, knowing that this insanity of the writer's life (well, this writer's life anyway) is part of life's game. That is somehow comforting. Makes it almost sound normal.

More specifically he spoke of the struggle writers/artists complain about incessantly, 'How can I write and market at the same time?' Writing is an in the moment activity. But marketing. . . 

 "Marketing is the enemy of art because it's always based on the past."

So, trying to find that middle road between marketing my first book, finishing my second novel and creating my third all at the same time will be my struggle this month. You will probably not hear from me until the month is over. That's the insanity part.



Are you having inspiration or insanity problems? What do you do to cope?














Monday, September 30, 2013

Man Up to Your Lazy Ways - Writing Short

After reading through many contest entries, I began seeing the same mistakes being made again and again by the writers of short stories wondering why they never win. Or, maybe they come close but can’t quite get there. There are plenty of craft books that will teach you all the elements of good writing, short story writing and mystery story crafting but most people just jump right in and think they can whip out a short story. Much like running a race without warming up first. This is my perspective without a lot of fluff.

Sometimes the path of learning is making the mistake—then seeing what you did wrong so you don’t keep doing it. The important part of that is the “seeing” part, understanding the what you did wrong part—acknowledging it. It would be nice to be told what to do and just do it, but unfortunately as human beings we can be a stubborn species. In Part I we began this process of what not to do. Today we have a little of what to do, concentrating on mystery and suspense.


Part II

      Tell the story – story first, writing second
Some people are plotters (they lay out the story ahead of time) and some pantsers (they write by the seat of their pants—whenever and however it comes). Whichever you are, you still will need to lay the story out in a planned format eventually (or you don’t have a story).

Pantsers lean heavily on being inspired and that can be a good thing if you hold what inspires you in front like a carrot to get your story down. It can be the element that shines through and makes it a winner. But eventually you need to pull it together. Think of it as the bones of the story. Be clear on these points and you will be less likely to get distracted or side-tracked—wandering down that yellow brick road getting distracted by the non-essentials. Build flesh on the story bones (without a lot of unnecessary fat). And who doesn’t love that?

When writing a mystery (or suspense). You will need to decide:
1.      What is the crime (or suspenseful incident)?
2.      Against whom (victim)?
3.      Why was this done (motive)?
4.      How (by what means)?
5.      By whom? (antagonist)
6.      Who reveals the crime, or triumphs in sorting out the suspense (protagonist).

Important to keep in mind: 

  • The hook: up the ratings on your story with a good hook. The hook is the first few sentences or paragraphs that draw the reader right into the fictive dream, without breaking his attention (with an info dump), so the reader wants to know what happens next. It is the appetizer or aperitif that whets the appetite and draws the reader right into STORY (See Part I, A).
It doesn’t have to be some car chase or explosion—any over-the-top action, but it must capture the imagination. Take some time reading first pages of successful short stories, and source out what makes them work so effectively. That will be time well spent.

To be fair, what works for some will not work for all because of subjective reasons—we are not all interested in the same stuff. But, if you can find that commonality we are all interested in, you will rock it.

  • Who discovers the crime? Under what circumstances? (your protagonist? A side-kick? A stranger who ends up important in the story?)
By the way—all characters in a short story should only be there only if there is a need for them to be there. They tend to clutter the landscape if they are not essential to the story.) You can’t have ten people on page one of a short story. We don’t have time to get to know them as we do in a novel, so eliminate them, or don’t give them names and let them be part of the scenery.

  • What clues point to the doer of the deed (or reason for the problem in suspense)? (you must sprinkle carefully throughout and not slam us with an ending we could not foresee coming) Readers of mystery want to figure out the puzzle part and you will fail if you don't provide the clues. The suspense reader wants to remain on the edge and needs clues to keep the suspense alive.
  • Who uncovers/reveals the connections? Why that person? (part of the puzzle or the suspense?)
  • The tie-up. A nice bow at the end to tie up your story can be very effective—corresponding to the hook at the beginning if well done. It can be a twist or the unexpected for greater impact.


The fastest way to learn these tips is to study good short stories. Take the bones apart and see them in isolated pieces (the hook, the ending, track the mystery, the clues, the characters). If you take the time to do this you will quickly learn to effectively write these elements into your story. A short story is not a novel in short form. Get familiar with the form to be effective.


Learn what you are doing wrong or not doing effectively. Man up and admit you can't get away with lazy writing.


Have I missed some important piece? Do you study short stories to see why they work or don't work?


Monday, September 23, 2013

Why Can't I Get My Short Story Published?

    Short Story Fiction
Part I

After having run a short story contest and read dozens of short story entries through the years, I keep seeing the same mistakes being made over and over. I decided to do a series of articles pointing out the big things that keep people from developing as a writer of short stories and share tips on what a good short story should and should not include.
I shared the dais with Ed Hock (well-known writer for Ellery Queen Magazine) on a short story panel at Left Coast Crime a few years back, won several short story contests and been published in short story anthologies. I certainly don’t think of myself as an expert, but after reading so many short story contest entries, I thought I could share some tips that might help you be more successful.
Whether you are trying to win a contest, or get your short story published, these will up your odds greatly. There is always the subjective element to contest judging and what a publisher leans toward for their platform, but if you have met all the guidelines and your theme is what is asked for, these will up your chances that you will be published or place in the top tier of a contest.
There are no quick to-do’s to accomplish success. But if you are serious about your writing and want to learn to write a good short story, follow these tips for success.
A.     One thing to remember above all else: STORY IS KING. Concentrate on being a good storyteller. It is the premier ability—not how cleverly you write, your beautiful prose or if you have all the commas in the right place (I know I'm going to catch some flak for that one). STORY is what people want to read. They want to be transported and enchanted, not preached at or bogged down by your beautiful or clever words.
B.     Don’t fall in love with your own cleverness.
This is a continuation of A. above. Fancy wording or phrasing is an intrusion into the story and often distracts, if it does not outright kill it. Beautiful prose is a good thing, but not if it interferes with the STORY.
“If it sounds like writing, I re-write it.” Elmore Leonard

Watch the cutesy ideas - some people love to be clever, they come up with cute scenarios or characters or dialogue to the detriment of STORY. They can be too clever for their own good—or the good of the story. Don’t get caught up in trying to be clever and have it come off silly. That is best left to the comedians, not the story tellers (unless you are a comedic storyteller). Though some pull it off, you probably won’t. So make sure the images you are painting are cogent and not silly.
C.    Keep your eye on the ball
When writing a fictional short story you should have only one idea. Don’t include more than the story needs. Don’t ruin your story with a political or social agenda that preaches. It can be spice but should not be a main ingredient. Write a non-fiction essay if that subject is important to you. Just like too much back story, it kills the momentum.
“You do not have to explain every single drop of water contained in a rain barrel. You have to explain one drop—H2O. The reader will get it.”
—George Singleton
So often when I start reading a short story, I almost immediately get hit with a back story info dump. When you want to fill in the reader with a bit of interesting past that you think the reader will be as fascinated with as you are, STOP. If not intrinsic to the story, don’t put it in. It should be directly related to the telling of the story and be integrated artfully, not dumped.
Again—as a reader, I ask, “Do I want to wade through this to read on?” If this information interrupts the flow of the story, I may decide it is not worth it. I want a story, not a history lesson or details of a character's past that I don't need to know. Only layer in what is necessary, when it is necessary.
The reader decides how much patience they have to wait for you to get back into the story. Sometimes the story picks up again relatively quickly and I continue, but sometimes not and I don’t read on. Don’t get lost along the yellow brick road, wandering around pointing out all the interesting things; being distracted by the flying monkeys.
D.    Be sequential  - Don't get your shorts in a bunch.
Keep things in order. Keep your feet moving forward while walking on the earth.
Some writers who are good with prose, stringing together events or ideas in what they think is a nice flow, but they are not sequential in how things happen in space and time. This throws the reader off, taking him out of the moment. Lay out the phrases in a sequential order. Don’t jump back and forth with information. 
Example of distracting structure: (D) Jane tentatively entered the room (B) after suffocating in the closet (A) all afternoon (C) waiting for the intruders to leave. 
Try instead: (A) All afternoon Jane had (B) suffocated in that damn closet (C) waiting for the intruders to leave before she grew brave enough to (D) open the door and ease out. 

Easier to follow when laid out in the order it happened. (A,B,C,D)
If the reader ends up having to re-read your last sentence or two—or five, to get clear on what you just said--to get back on the path you have distracted him off of, he may give up. Remember, one foot in front of the other along the yellow brick road.
And it is better and more interesting to have a variety of sentence lengths to keep the interest going, rather than lo-o-o-ng phrases strung together so we forget what the beginning of that sentence was about. Distracting!

Writing is changing. Structures that may have worked in years past are quickly becoming stagnant. Readers want to read faster, to the point, without a lot of unnecessary words. If you are writing a short story, especially a short short, say it and move on. 

Unlike writing a novel, short stories should be concise and to the point.

Any questions? Maybe you disagree. Put them in the comments and let's discuss it.

More to chew on next post--including writing for mystery/suspense contests.                                                            


Friday, September 13, 2013

The Dance is the Thing

When I picked today's #wanafriday post theme, I thought it would be easy. Click a picture from one of my Pinterest Boards, scribble a few words and voila, I'd be done. Not! The more pictures you have, the harder it is. And I have lots.

I finally decided to concentrate on dance. We all love to move our bodies to music, even if it is only to tap our toes. This first picture speaks for itself. 

When you feel it, you can't stand still.




Whether classically trained 
or culturally evoked, (whew, steamy)



we all get happy when we dance. Ever seen a sad dancer?



So go feel the music and dance today, even if only by yourself in your room, or in your imagination. I bet your mood will improve.

Go visit the other #wanafriday bloggers who have great pictures and comments:

Kim Moser
Liv Rancourt

(More posters with #wanafriday will be added as they post today and tomorrow.)

You might like to visit my board for more pictures on 'photography' and 'dance' here.



Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dance the Dream Awake - Snippet

I'm joining the Weekend Writing Warriors today to share a snippet of my novel Dance the Dream Awake:


*
I was flat on my back when I came to with Louisa was looking down at me, her eyes like black pools with no bottom—windows into another time.

“You have something that must be completed, a loose string that must be tied up and imperative to your happiness. We cannot talk now, but soon,” she said while closing my eyelids with the tips of her fingers.

When I opened them again, Nick was kneeling over me, calling my name and patting my cheek. I raised up on one elbow and asked, “What happened?”

“The curanderas were drinking some sort of psychotropic mixture and you barely had a few sips before passing out.”

“Did you pass out, too?”

“No, but it’s been a very interesting two hours.”
*


DANCE THE DREAM AWAKE: Romantic Suspense with paranormal elements.

Visit and see more snippets by other authors at the Weekend Writing Warrior site. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

All Those Pretty Little Apps

Going into fall, I will start to revive from our hot summer (although today is supposed to be 105) and post seriously, though don't count on me being THAT serious. I have a couple of posts on short story writing coming up, but today's not that day.

I am joining the #wanafriday gals today to post on: A NEW DISCOVERY. I have been very -- I hate to use  the word, busy, it sounds so excuse-laden -- so let's say, I have been very occupied with all kinds of disparate things going on in my life (don't we all?) that wouldn't yield to getting out any kind of serious posts these past several months. One major thing being finishing my next novel--which takes center stage at this point--almost there.

So, what's my new discovery? My new Samsung Galaxy S4. Why would I list such a thing for a post? Well it is not to advertise for Samsung. I suspect all new I-phones and present day androids (or whatever-I'm not tech savvy) do the same sorts of things. It is because it allows me to be me.

I suspect I don't think in sequential ways as other people do. I am more a circuitous thinker--around in circles--no, more like spirals. I often get that, huh? look because I am just off center at times. I know that about myself so those looks don't upset me much anymore. My husband and gal pals understand me and love me anyway so it's all good.

But I digress.

I love all those lovely buttons (well, pictures of buttons) and things to click on--so pretty. I really don't get that distracted, it just makes my life so much easier--and now I have my music! (my last phone had so little memory that putting up the Twitter app drained it of all remaining life--forget getting music)

My critique partner understands -- she tweeted, "How's your love affair with your phone? He cheat on you yet?" (romance writer humor)

That's it. 

So, what's your new discovery? 

I will be adding other #wanafriday posts as the gals post (no men yet):

Liv Rancourt -  Discovery, What Does the Fox Say Crazy new music video from Norway.





Saturday, August 24, 2013

Who is that Rock?


Joining other writers who are posting 8 lines from their work in process, this is an excerpt from my  novel,  Dance the Dream Awake. You can find other writers participating and their work by clicking on Weekend Writing Warriors.



***

After breakfast, I took out the sketches I’d made and worked on creating a painting while the hours slipped away. Isabella came early to tidy up and worked quietly, careful not to disturb me.

When I finally took a break in the early afternoon, she came and stood behind me. “May I see, SeƱora?”

“Please, call me Tessa.

“Is very nice. Who is una viejecita?”

“What old woman?” I asked as I squinted at my painting of rocks at the seashore.

***



Saturday, August 17, 2013

Weekend Writing Warriors: Dance the Dream Awake



Weekend Writing Warriors 

Joining other writers today for posting 8 sentences from my new novel, Dance The Dream Awake. Be sure to check out the other writers at the link above.

***

Eduardo took a bite of grilled salmon, savoring it a few moments while staring into the flame of one of the candles before continuing, "Visions, so unbelieveable." He stopped for a swallow of wine, pausing to reflect.

The first time I'd had the nightmare, I'd been unable to explain the things I knew about that ancient time and place, and the fleeting feelings threading through it all. I couldn't get across how deep it really went, that it didn't feel like just a nightmare.

He continued, "Most civilized men will look at you strangely, 'bunk, superstitious belief,' they say, but I say, don't judge until you also have experienced what el indio experiences, and that is all I can say." 

"You mean," I interrupted, remembering the melting feeling I'd had at the cave with the curanderas, "because it's impossible to find the words to explain them, or because it is forbidden?"

"Ahhh, Teresa, you have put the nail on its head."

"Hit the nail on the head," Jack corrected.

***



Friday, August 16, 2013

Reading Time? Ha, Ha.

“This will be a good weekend for reading.”


I so wish that were true. I have a growing list of books to be read and less and less time. But the #wanafriday blog prompt (above) is pressing down on me to comply this week. I have slithered away for too many days now, avoiding the last few prompts my writer friends are challenged with for Friday posts on our blogs. 

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

I will be squeezing in the time to read this weekend, but like Ellen, I will be at a writer event and won't have as much time to read as I would like.  

And right now I am pushing to finish a novel that seems to have no end--but it's sooo close,  I tell myself . . . but I fear it is like a magnifying glass--it appears closer than it is in reality. 

Refining, refining, refining.

So, quickly, back to this weekend's reading. I have been on a marathon reading binge of the Romantic Suspense novels written by Pamela Clare, squeezing in reading time whenever I can, usually at bed time when I end up unable to put the book down until after midnight. Then I wake up sleepy and unfocused to get my own novel done. So the vicious cycle goes.

But as our WANA leader, Kristen Lamb, tells us, no whining. (Oh but it is feels so good to whine a bit)

Here are the other participating writers so you can check out how their reading agenda for this weekend is coming along:


So, what are you reading this weekend?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Birds of a Feather

Today is for the birds - real and imagined.

This month was the announcement of the annual Coveted Dead Bird Contest winner (short story of mystery or suspense of ten pages or less) at our local chapter of Sisters in Crime. As usual, we had a fun time with the trophies. 

Far from being standard, the Bird Boss who runs the contest each year is encouraged to be creative in developing the trophy (the winner of last year’s contest was Bird Boss this year). It is all tongue in cheek fun.

*(No birds were harmed in the making of these fake trophies)

This year’s theme was Water Rights and Wrongs and so water played a key role in the trophies as well.

The Baby Bird Award (for a new writer entering our contest for the first time who excels and deserves to be recognized):








And, the major trophy this year, The Coveted Dead Bird? A buzzard—an interesting play on the black bird theme which is our tradition.











It was a fun meeting, but to top it, we had a falconer, Cat Krosschell of the Sierra Foothill Conservancy, come with the real thing - four raptors that she cares for. 

I must say she shared information about raptors that was not only interesting but downright fascinating. The birds were amazing up close.



She brought a peregrine falcon: (we learned that the Air Force has designed a plane based on this bird's wings) They can go 200 miles an hour straight down from a height as high as 10,000 feet. 


And a red-tailed hawk (chicken hawk):

He got a little feisty while his handler was speaking.
And two Great Horned Owls:






















A very interesting writer's meeting, with lots of people taking notes so we expect some unusual stories next year for the contest.

What did you do with your Saturday?