Thursday, December 28, 2006

Muse - full speed ahead

During a fitfull sleep the other night, I kept dreaming the story of a girl named Lacy. I kept waking up, even to the point of reading for a while, but every time I fell asleep, I returned to Lacy's story. I suppose it's a love story because she tells me about her relationship with Ned Stevens - how she met him, how she feels about him, etc.

What was interesting to me, was the story was told as a story, to the point of the actual opening sentence and so forth. Every detail was rich to the specks of dust, smells, sounds, feelings. When morning rolled around I had no choice but to get up and get the story out of my brain and on paper (virtual paper, that is). I wrote it as it came to me, with the understanding that it would need editing later to remove some of the surreal dream aspects.

I discussed it with Melly and told her how good it felt to have the need to write back. The book I've been working on was created consciously, with the goal of a certain Harlequin line in mind. Once I get going on it, it flows, but the process is just that... a process.

Writing the story that came to me unconsciously is effortless. I'm curious what experience you've had with this. Do your stories come naturally or are they forced? Do you think one method is better than another? Do we need to work with both in order to be productive?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Characters - real or fictional?

Okay, so anyone who knows me a bit, knows how concerned I am about my characters being real and 3-D. I don't like one-dimensional characters, I like development, I like character driven books (although I have been know to be an Asimov fan, so go figure...).

In any event, lately, I decided my antagonist needed a little change in character to make him more interesting. You see, despite the interesting bits I tried to inject to his character, at the end of the day, I felt he was predictable.

So I made him do something out of character. Being the selfish, self-centered, control freak that he is, I made him do a selfless act.

I discussed this with a buddy who said that while in real life, this would probably never happen as we do tend to stay in character, in fiction it is necessary. Fictional characters, he said, should act totally against their nature as it adds more depth to them and it makes for great drama.

So it's a funny thing. I keep wanting to have "real characters," yet to make them real, they have to be fictional. I like this.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fugitive found a home

Hi everybody .... it's Melly

After Nienke's last post, I fear the news might disappoint...
You see, my own blog was suffering neglect of late. So following the sad state of my blog, Nienke offered me a refuge here, in her corner.

Let me tell you, this is the best solution I could come up with. I can actually stay within the community of writer-bloggers I've grown to know over the past year (or so). I can't believe how kind (and smart) Nienke is. I'm forever indebted to her.

I'm really excited about this and can't wait to "meet" all of Nienke's friends I don't know yet.

So to many more posts and collaborations.

Thanks for having me Nienke and everybody :)

Exciting news

I have some exciting news about this blog... I just can't tell you yet. However, there will be some significant changes and I think many readers will be pleased.

Stay tuned folks!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ready for Christmas?

As illustrated by my dwindling posts, I am busy with Christmas and wrapping up year end deadlines at work. I'm actually ahead of the game in terms of shopping... I often leave most of it till the last minute. I'm also in the spirit this year, which feels nice. You ready for Christmas?

Christmas Shopping
"In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukka' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukka!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!'" ~ Dave Barry

What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?

Play Evil Elves

Friday, December 01, 2006

NaNoWriMo - what I've learned

CONGRATULATIONS to those who made 50k during November! You ROCK!

I didn't make the finish line for NaNoWriMo. However, it was very successful for me and I've learned much.

Here are some of the things I've learned:
1. Any writing is better than no writing.
2. I can find time to write.
3. I get gut rot from too much coffee.
4. Writing 50,000 words in one month is hard!
5. Once I get into the groove of my story, and I write regularly, the story stays with me and I think about it all the time.
6. First drafts can, and usually do, suck.
7. You can't rewrite or improve a blank page.
8. It's fun to watch word count go up.
9. (one I already knew) The online writing community is very supportive. Thank you - you know who you are.
10. Hey, maybe I CAN write a book!!

What have you learned?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Need laughter or motivation?

For those wrimos who need a laugh or a little bit of motivation, I encourage you to listen to the follow Writers on Writing interview with Chris Baty (author of No Plot? No Problem and founder of NaNoWriMo).

It's a double interview, with Baty following Literary agent Betsy Amster.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Blogging is important too

Spent some of today organizing my various snippets of writing, so now I have a chronological and cohesive piece of work to continue with. Does anyone else do this? Write in notebooks, home computer, laptop, Alphie, work computer (on lunch of course!) and then have bits and pieces everywhere? Takes more time than I allotted to put it all together and make it smoothe. But, I needed to do it. Guess I'm just a smoothe operator...

I've neglected my blog of late, tho I'm very fortunate to have many online friends who continue to support me through comments here and on my NaNo profile and via email and chat. Thank you all, it certainly helps! However, I've come to realize the importance of my blog by the readership base. We took in another (yes, another) abandoned kitty (10-week old Suki) and I discovered that he is an avid reader of my blog.

Click here to see.

Here's a close-up of Cairo with his new brother Suki:
Cairo and Suki

Aren't they cute?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Soooooo behind

I am tempted to list excuses for why I'm behind, but there are no excuses. Writing is either a priority or it isn't.

However, all is not lost. According to my progress chart, if I write 2030 words per day, I can still do this.

In the end however, I'm not going to be too hard on myself. After all, every word written - whether it's 50,000 or not - is a word I didn't have before.

On that note, I've just viewed the progress of my Nano buddies and some of you guys are doing awesome! Way to go Wrimos!

How's everyone else doing? Feeling?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The two elements of writing

I was listening to an interview with Doug Lyle, author of Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers, on Writers on Writing and he had some interesting advice for writers.

He said there are two elements to writing a novel: the art and the craft. The art is the storytelling and the craft is the structure of the writing. It's important to get the story told, then go back and worry about the structure. To me, that's what NaNo is all about, getting the story told - because I get so caught up in the structure element I never finish the art part.

How's everyone doing so far for word count? I'm a little behind, but I've dedicated a 4 1/2 hour train trip to Montreal tomorrow to writing.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Are you ready?

The countdown has begun. Wrinos are wishing luck to fellow wrinos. I am shaking with anticipation. Can I do it? Will I do it? Is it within me? I suppose I shall find out.

Good luck to all of you participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I hope to see you at the finish line, with the certificate of completion in hand, if that is what you are aiming for. I doubt you'll see much of any blogger this month who is taking the challenge unless, of course, we are seeking a way to avoid writing.

Here's to words. 50,000 of 'em.

Here's to what we'll feel like by Nov. 15 (viewer discretion is advised):

Friday, October 27, 2006

A roaring success!

Melly and I are pleased to announce that the first session of the Writing Session Group was very successful. Here is the final tally:

Melly - goal: editing and writing 500 words. Result: 90%
R - goal: coming up with 3-5 scene ideas and write smthg up on each. Result: 100%
T - goal: finish reviewing my NaNo outline and to make the difficult changes I know are necessary. Result: 100%
L - goal: 500 words in new short story. Result: 100%.
M - goal: work on character development, further story building, read over/edit existing section. Result: 100%
S - goal: wiring a certain year of memoir. Result: 100%
Nienke - goal: work on outline. Result: 100%

And, as Melly put it, "Yay us!"

Doesn't this make you want to come join? Huh?

Oh, and I also want to mention that I popped in on young adult novelist Arthur Slade, who was at the library near my work last night promoting his new book, Megiddo's Shadow. What a great show he puts on. The kids just loved him. I know Arthur because of his podcast for writers.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Writing Session Group is a GO

Those of you that expressed an interest in the Writing Session Group can now sign up here. Your administrator is Melly and she has the first post up. The first scheduled writing session (ws) is tomorrow (Thursday) at 8:30 pm EST. Hope you see you there!

Let's get writing!

NaNoWriMo Tools & Tips

For those of you participating in the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year, I’ve compiled a list of tools and tips to help you get started and keep you going along the way.

Nanowrimo Podcast 2006 – back by popular demand
Character Questionnaires - Get to Know Your Characters
Steve's Columns – lot’s of motivational stuff
Feaths Bookcase: Writers resources, random generators, progress bars – fun!
The Writer's Software Companion – just in case you get lonely
The Scriptorium - writer's toolbox – for the writer who has everything
Language Is A Virus – NaNoWriMo tools & toys – for the writer who has more than everything
How to "win" National Novel Writing Month in 5 (no, 6) easy steps – courtesy of Write Now Is Good
National Novel Finishing Month – what to do with your manuscript after November 30
NaNoFiMo Resources Page

What are you doing to prepare for NaNoWriMo 2006?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Let's get writing!!

Most writers often complain about lack of discipline. Why not try and inject some discipline into us?

Well, Melly from All Kinds of Writing has come up with a brilliant idea.

We will set up a group in, say, Google or Yahoo! or something.
We won't talk about writing in the group, but we'd write.

Here's how Melly thinks it might work:
- We'll "meet" twice a week at set times, let's say (this can all change). For example: Tuesday and Thursday at 9:00 p.m. ET. We could communicate via a Yahoo conference chat.
- Before 9, all participants will post their goal for the hour-long-session. Examples:
  • - My goal is to write 500 words.
  • - My goal is to finish chapter 4, or that complicated fighting scene
  • - My goal is to work on the outline for chapters 11-20.
  • - My goal is to find a market for my latest short story and submit.
You see, very specific goal.

- Then, at 9:00, I'll sound the bell and everybody would start working.
- The session will be an hour-long and at 10:00 I'll sound the closing bell. Of course, you can continue working.
- After the session has closed, all participants will send me a quantifiable success rate. 0%-100% of goal accomplished. No reasons, no excuses. Just goal and success rate.
- Melly will compile the results and either post it here on our blogs, or in the group.

So what do you think?
Please leave your comments and ideas and let us know if you'd be interested in joining such a group.

If you think it is a good idea, then tell us if you would like to participate and what would be good times for you.

If we get a move on it, we might be able to have it ready for NaNo.

Now it's up to you.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Snow & NaNoWriMo

Happy Friday all! My condolences to those of you living in the Buffalo area. But hey, maybe if you’re home for a snow day you’ll be able to get some writing done! Although I suppose it will have to be with pen and paper with no power!

Eric has a great pre-NaNoWriMo post over at Quantum Storytelling: “Cooking Up Some Creative Constraints.”

Angela Booth also has some NaNoWriMo QuickStart posts to help participants get ready. Check ‘em out here.

I have entered NaNoWriMo this year – my first time. My user name is Nienke. Who else is going for it this year?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Back with working links (and a hat!)

Well, I'm back from an awesome week. I hope all my Canadian friends had a nice Thanksgiving. I certainly did. Spent lots of time with family all weekend and also had the pleasure of some down time. Now, I'm at the computer, and aside from blogging, I'm also writing!

What did you do this weekend?

Thanks for letting me know about the bad links on my last post. I blame Blogger. In any case, I'm reposting them and hopefully the links work this time.

Between Your Sheets
We Write Romance
Access Romance
Suite 101 Creative Writing Workshop
Romance Ever After – The Writing Craft
Myra Nour on Writing
Little Willow’s Archive of Author Interviews
Top 10 Blogs About Writing and Publishing
43 Things – Write A Novel
43 Things – Write a Book
Karen Kelley’s Writing Tips (some funny pieces!)
Lucy Monroe’s Articles for Writers
Evolution (a writers' group dedicated to free and open creative expression in all genres)

Oh, and S. William, thx for cleaning out my fridge and feeding my cat. Mysteriously, you left a red hat with a white pompom behind. Shall I fedex it?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

conference, links

I’m off for a three-day business trip to Deerhurst Resort. It is a beautiful place but, unfortunately, I am solidly booked day and night for the entire time I’m there. Oh well. I am bringing my Alphie in case I get some time to myself.

And, for your surfing pleasure, some links I’ve come across in recent Net travels:

Between Your Sheets
We Write Romance
Access Romance
Suite 101 Creative Writing Workshop
Romance Ever After – The Writing Craft
Myra Nour on Writing
Little Willow’s Archive of Author Interviews
Top 10 Blogs About Writing and Publishing
43 Things – Write A Novel
43 Things – Write a Book
Karen Kelley’s Writing Tips
(some funny pieces!)
Lucy Monroe’s Articles for Writers
(a writers' group dedicated to free and open creative expression in all genres)

Okay, that’s probably enough to keep you occupied till my next post.

Keep on writing, folks!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday's Excuse Not To Write

Reprinted with permission from 101 Excuses Not to Write.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated with your writing?


The Squeaking Noodle recently posted about writing a book in one hit.

Noodle says, "writing a book can be easier than people want us to believe."

Go check it out.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Writing comes first!!

Oooh, I like this very much. With how crazy my life's been lately, finally a goal and way of thinking I can implement!!

The Writing Comes First Campaign by Lazette Gifford.

And, I also like Carter’s logo:

What writing goals have you set for yourself, and do you meet them?

I also want to mention that Lauren Baratz-Logsted's book VERTIGO releases today. Pop on over to her site and congratulate her!

VERTIGO is a literary novel set in the Victorian era with erotic and suspense undertones, was found by both Publishers Weekly abd Booklist to be entertaining, with the Boston Globe favorably comparing it to the work of best-selling author Ruth Rendell. It should be available in bookstores everywhere today or you can follow this link to its Amazon page.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Author Interview: Colin Harvey

Colin Harvey

Colin Harvey is the author of Lightning Days (Swimming Kangaroo Books, 2006) and Vengeance (The Winterborn Press, 2005). He is a member of the Horror Writers Assosciation, and reviews for Strange Horizons on a regular basis. Colin is a member of the Management Committee of the Speculative Literature Foundation, and for the last two years has been one of the judges for their Travel Grant. He is currently working on his newest novel, The Silk Palace, for 2007 publication.

What made you become a writer?

When I was nine, my teacher set us an exercise to each write a one-page story. I loved the act of creation, and from then on, I wrote longer and longer stories, until I began to think that I ought to let someone else see them!

Tell us about Lightning Days and how you came to write it.

It's the present day, in South-Eastern Afghanistan. The world is hit by a string of tsunamis, earthquakes and other unexplained phenomena. A satellite picks up a heat signature, implying the presence of an army, where no such force should be. The British Government, who are administering the sector, dispatch a patrol, accompanied by a 'civil servant', Josh Cassidy. The heat signatures belong to an army of refugees, fleeing from their enemies, the malevolent, but mysterious Sauroids.

I don't really want to give too much of the details of the plot away, but the story concerns parallel universes, Neanderthals, and the end of the all life.

Tell me about your journey from unpublished writer to published novelist.

I started writing with intent to sell almost nine years ago. I started with short stories, worked up to novelettes (including an early version of a part of Lightning Days), a novella, and then to my novel Vengeance. That first novel was published in e-format, but the company went down the tubes without selling a copy. Lightning Days was rejected by seventy-one publishers and agents before Swimming Kangaroo Books picked it up.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Pantser - that's a horrible term! I started out writing by the seat of my pants, but as time has passed I've learnt the value of plotting, especially for longer works. I had to learn to do that because I was writing myself into dead-ends, and other structural flaws. Formal plotting helped me identify the flaws and fix them.

How do you develop your characters?

I usually have a mental image of them at the start, but not much else. I start to think about what they want, particularly in relation to the central protagonist. For the next book, I've started using some new methods, like personality profiles, sibling relationships, etc. Often I find the characters altering slightly as I go along.

How often/when do you write?

I try to write for an hour a day at least. At the week-end, I write after walking our two spaniels in the country for a couple of hours, which gives my thoughts time to percolate. In the week, I write on the bus to and from work, which takes about an hour, and may finish it off in the evening.

How do you maintain your discipline for writing?

I don't have a problem because I get depressed if I don't have my writing fix. But having a routine helps as well. Try to develop rituals. Typing random letters for two or five minutes is supposed to be good. Type in short stretches, if you find you're struggling.

What's the best writing advice you've ever heard/read?

An editor suggested that I join a critique group. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, writers swap stories or chapters with other writers, and they point out where they think the pieces could be improved upon. One has to be strong-minded to be able to pick out the appropriate input, but Lightning Days benefited enormously from others' input.

Can you tell me a bit about The Silk Palace

Okay, here goes...


... that your name is given you by the dying breath of a semi-sentient jewel... air balloons and gliders co-existing with magic...

...that the gods walk among men...

...a tiny city-state perched atop a rocky plateau separating two rival empires, between which tension grows almost by the day...

...a plot to free a trapped demi-god...

...and a young woman, for whom a moment of folly may lead to a slow and agonizing death...

What advice do you have for aspiring novelists?

Keep writing; keep submitting; keep persevering.

For more information about Colin Harvey or his books, visit the following websites:

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I'd like to introduce you...

... to my heroine and hero.

I've been working with Karen Wiesner’s First Draft In 30 Days on creating characters. I like her method because I don't have to do it all at once, I can add to it whenever I discover something new and relevant or when I need something new and relevant. I'm really enjoying the process and thought I would introduce you to the two people I've been spending a lot of time with.

Meet Maggie Stokes:

At the start of my story, she is 18 years old. She is a high energy person with too much ambition for her own good. She wants all there is out of life, but life has a way of trying to hold her back.

Arthur Case.

Arthur was orphaned at the age of 8 and now seeks the attention and family life he never had. Unfortunately, he is in love with a woman for whom marriage and family are the last thing on her mind.

Stay tuned for more. I'd say preorder your copy now, but at the rate I write, you might be waiting a few years!

Do you use pictures to help develop your characters? What other means do you use? Do you alter them as you go or stay with a strict character sketch from the beginning?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ahh, the good life

This is where I am spending my 4-day weekend (my best friend Mar's cottage on Georgian Bay).

I've come prepared with my Alphie and 'First Draft in 30 Days.' So, between caesars and hikes, I'll spend a little time with my heroine.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday's Excuse Not To Write

Reprinted with permission from 101 Excuses Not to Write.

and besides, I'm going up to Georgian Bay to be with my best friend for a few days.
Hope everyone has a great weekend! I'll be back on Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

And the winner is...

Drum roll please…
The winner of book giveaway is Jen (a la Sassy Devil).
Jen, please email your mailing address to me at nienkeDOThintonATgmailDOTcom.

Jen wins a copy of Alison Kent’s new book, Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance.
Thanks to every one who contributed. Looks like this book may come in handy for quite a few people!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pale Immortal releases today!

Welcome to Tuonela, a sleepy Wisconsin town haunted by events of 100 years ago, when a man who may have been a vampire slaughtered the town's citizens and drank their blood. Now, another murderer is killing the most vulnerable...and draining their bodies of blood.

Evan Stroud lives in darkness. The pale prisoner of a strange disease that prevents him from ever seeing the light of day, he lives in tragic solitude, taunted for being a "vampire." When troubled teenager Graham Stroud appears on Evan's doorstep, claiming to be his long-lost son, Evan's uneasy solitude is shattered.

Having escaped Tuonela's mysterious pull for several years, Rachel
Burton is now back in town, filling in as coroner. Even as she seeks to identify the killer, and uncover the source of the evil that seems to pervade the town, she is drawn to Evan by a power she's helpless to understand or resist....

As Graham is pulled deeper and deeper into Tuonela's depraved, vampire-obsessed underworld, Rachel and Evan team up to save him. But the force they are fighting is both powerful and elusive...and willing to take them to the very mouth of hell.


This is a book I've been waiting for. To check out more visit the Pale Immortal site. It includes a cool trailer.

Also, visit author Anne Frasier's blog, static. Frasier is the USA Today bestselling author of Hush, Sleep Tight, Play Dead, and Before I Wake, has been recognized with numerous awards including the RITA and Daphne du Maurier for romantic suspense. Publishers Weekly says Frasier "has perfected the art of making a reader's skin crawl." The Minneapolis Star Tribune calls her a "master." She lives in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

What books soon to be released are you excited about?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

love and writing types

Cairo loves Piffy.

My Dad created this picture from two photographs. I just think it's so cute.

And, thanks to Lynn over at A Jolt of Reality for this one:

You Should Be a Romance Novelist

You see the world as it should be, and this goes double for all matters of the heart.

You can find the romance in any situation, and you would make a talented romance story writer...

And while you may be a traditional romantic, you're just as likely to be drawn to quirky or dark love stories.

As long as it deals with infatuation, heartbreak, and soulmates - you could write it.

Ha ha! Big surprise.

What about you? What type of writer should YOU be??

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Wet Spots & Contraception - a Review and BOOK GIVE-AWAY!

I was given the honor of being one of 24 writers given a chapter of Alison Kent’s new book, Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance, to review. Kent gave me Chapter 22, ‘The Marriage of Fantasy and Reality.’ Kent’s book focuses on applying all aspects of craft to erotic romance, but it also addresses fiction in general.

Writing about sex can be awkward. Yet, most romance sub-genres contain some level of it—some are even based on it. Most genres outside of romance also contain some romance and, with romance comes sex.

When writing sex scenes, questions writers face include:

  • How much sex to add?
  • How realistic should the scenes be?
  • How do you deal with sexual realities such as wet spots and contraception?

These are only some of the topics covered in Chapter 22 of Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance. Kent addresses the subject of writing about sex head-on and discusses when and when not to deal with the realities (or inconveniences) of sex.

Kent acknowledges that many readers choose romance novels to escape into fantasy and, because of that, writers need to be aware of what details are relevant and will move the story forward.

Her writing is conversational and to-the-point. Kent has a healthy matter-of-fact attitude that will help any writer understand how to write the best sex scenes for his or her story. Scattered throughout the chapter are quotes from various authors telling how they write sex scenes. Authors quoted in Chapter 22 include Alyssa Brooks, Cheyenne McCray, Shiloh Walker, and Saskia Walker. The book is also sprinkled with little boxes that contain comments and tips from Kent.

I’ve only read one chapter of Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance and it was very insightful and helpful to my writing. Based on reviews of other chapters, the book sounds like a must have for any writer’s bookshelf. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy!

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance is due to be released September 5, 2006 and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

Links to reviews of other chapters:

Chapter 1
Chapter 3
Chapter 5
Chapter 9
Chapter 20
Chapter 23

Alison Kent is a best-selling sensual romance author. Her books include The Beach Alibi, Larger Than Life, and The Bane Affair.



I’ve actually pre-ordered two copies of Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance. The extra copy will be a give-away to someone who comments to this post. I want to know: what aspect of writing sex scenes do you find hardest to write, and why?

Deadline for entries is September 5 at midnight.

Update: Check out the profound writer who answers John Baker's 'Five Questions.'

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Author Interview: Dawn Scovill


Dawn Scovill is the author of Immortal Bonds, to be released in October 2006 by ArcheBooks Publishing.
Immortal Bonds is Dawn's debut novel.

Dawn also has an online presence at MySpace, which includes her blog.

What is the best thing about being a novelist?

Thats easy: Response from readers who say I’ve hit the mark. Writers, in general, are impatient, needy buggers who have a constant jones for feedback and I’m no different.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Waiting. Waiting till the piece is finished. Waiting till someone reads it and says its good. Waiting till the agent/publisher, magazine, contest official, reviewer responds to a submission. Waiting for the book to come out. Waiting till the next opportunity to write. Waiting sucks.

What made you become a writer?

Until three years ago, I thought I’d started writing in fifth grade, which was when I got my first diary with a lock. I still have it. But, when my mom cleaned out my grandparents’ Olympia, Washington, attic in spring of 2003, she found a spiral notebook that I’d used to create a six-page, illustrated collection of mini essays, titled SompThing By Dawn B. Bramer (my actual middle initial is E). There was a table of contents and page numbering and even ‘The End’ at the end. Based on the spelling, content, and baby shower gift wrap that served as some of the illustration, we estimate I was six-years-old when I wrote it. Here is page three, with all spelling, punctuation, and capitalization intact:

“My Self

You Might Not Know
Me. But My Name I
Dawn Bramer. I like
My Self. Do You
like Your Self. I
Live On A Farm. Do
You Live On A Farm.
I hope You Do.
Don’t You. I have

To Go. Good By.”

Growing up in a small town, I was fortunate to have had teachers all through school who challenged me to write better with every assignment. I had other creative interests, but writing was something I loved and was good at both at the same time! So, even when life stepped in to distract me with jobs and marriage and children, I always knew I was meant to write. It was simply tough to find the time. But, when Mom found that notebook, I took it as a hint to stop procrastinating.

Tell us about IMMORTAL BONDS and how it developed.

The idea for the book hit me as I was reading BLOOD LEGACY by Prudence Foster (aka Prudy Taylor Board, a founding member of The Bloody Pens, my writers critique group, At the time, spring of 2004, I was working on a sinfully autobiographical novel and struggling with the problem of separating myself from the main character. BLOOD LEGACY is a vampire story set in Florida and I remember thinking how cool it would be to write something that was totally fictional like that; a story set in a real place, but with made-up characters that couldn’t sue me. It was the first time it ever occurred to me that I could write actual fiction. The idea of vampires led to immortality, which led me to the question, How would it feel to be an immortal woman forced to leave the man she loves because he’s mortal and doesn’t know her secret? I finished Prudy’s book, put my life story in a drawer, and started writing IMMORTAL BONDS.

Tell me about your journey from unpublished writer to published novelist.

After years of journaling when I couldn’t sleep and writing pieces that could have been submitted somewhere if I’d had the time, I finally got the nerve to admit to my husband that I wanted to write a novel. I had no formal training as a novelist, we both had full-time jobs, our kids were nine and 17, and I thought he’d laugh me out the door. But, instead, he asked, “What took you so long?”

For six months, I wrote evenings, weekends, holidays, and any other time I could find, while Scott took up the slack with the housework, the kids, the cooking, and pretty much everything else. I tried to quit twice, but he wouldn’t let me. Writing that first story was one of the hardest, and most selfish, things I’ve ever done. When the story was finished (at least I thought it was), I asked around and found a writers critique group that let me sit in and, over time, they helped me identify strengths and weaknesses in my writing. With their encouragement, I entered a South Florida short story contest and, with their help, I won first place, which gave me the confidence to start from scratch and create IMMORTAL BONDS.

Throughout 2004 and 2005, amid the chaos of three hurricanes and countless other nasty storms, The Bloody Pens critiqued every chapter of IB until it was declared finished in July of 2005. When I typed ‘The End’ that first time, I could barely make out the letters through tears. Some critiques were more painful than others, but I’m very proud of the end result and the book would not be what it is without the Pens.

The first agent I submitted it to turned it down, but, because she represented one of the Pens, she was kind enough to make a few notes on the manuscript, so I edited a little more. Then, in October of 2005, I attended a writers conference offered by the same small publisher (ArcheBooks) that had produced Prudy’s hardcover of MURDER A LA CARTE. At the close of the two-day conference, the publisher invited us to submit a book proposal. I put one together as soon as I got home. The publisher liked it, asked for the manuscript, referred me to an agent, and offered a contract in January 2006.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a plotter. I wrote by the seat of my pants when attempting my first novel and having an outline for IB (aka attempt number two) made such a difference, especially when it came to organizing historical and present-day scenes in a way that kept the story moving at a consistent pace.

How do you develop your characters?

Aussie author and fellow Pen, Graeme Johns (SITUATION SABOTAGE, Echelon Press), turned me on to a method that begins with cutting and pasting a picture (from a magazine, off the Internet, etc.) onto a sheet of paper, then creating a biography (full name, date/place of birth, hair/eye color, parents names, etc.) for the character in the picture. I start all my characters this way and have only the most basic understanding of who they are when I begin writing. But, as the story unfolds, I learn more about them, and I'm constantly rewriting earlier scenes to incorporate new information. By the time the first draft is complete, the characters are real to me, like dear friends, so its easy to start from the beginning and craft the story from their points-of-view.

As a side note, to illustrate how alive characters can become, my first thought after hearing news that the levees in New Orleans had failed when Katrina blew through was, I hope Oliver's house is okay. Olivers a 100% fictional character in IB.

How often/when do you write?

I give thanks every hour on the hour that I'm able to pursue this full time, so my plan every week is to take the phone off the hook and write on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays while the house is quiet, reserving Mondays and Fridays for housework and evenings and weekends for family stuff. But, in truth, my children (now nearly 13 and 21) and husband, Scott, are still my top priorities. So, I write whenever I can get away with it. But, if I hit 'the zone,' they all know to ignore me, because I can tap away at the keys for 10 hours or more at a stretch.

How do you maintain your discipline for writing?

Given the opportunity, I could be the laziest soul on the planet, so I credit the story, itself, for insisting it be written as my only discipline. That, and the fact that I have to get up with my daughter before school every morning. My usual routine is to nurse my coffee and manage email for the first hour or two every day, then dive into the task du jour. And, because characters and story ideas nag ruthlessly until I give them life, that daily task almost always has something to do with writing.

What's the best writing advice you've ever heard/read?

It's great to be confident, but don't ever think you're above learning more about the craft. I've met writers who truly believe their material is perfect as is, without editing, because its THEIR writing and THEIR creativity and Who's to say what's good and what's bad? Well, agents and editors and publishers say what's good and what's bad every day, not to mention the buying public. I'm hoping to sell a book or two so I can stop feeling guilty for sitting at home all day while Scott works overtime. So, until my likeness is painted on the walls at Barnes & Noble, depicting me at a café table drinking tea with Mark Twain, I figure its wise to keep learning to do it better.

What are you working on now?

I expect to be knee-deep on final edits for IB soon, but, in the meantime, the Pens are putting finishing touches on a short story collection, titled THE BLOODY PENS: AN ANTHOLOGY, which we hope will be available next year through ArcheBooks. Three of the stories in the Anthology are mine, including 'The Pens,' which pokes fun at the real Pens, offers a glimpse at who we are when were together, and attempts to demonstrate the anxiety a writer feels when faced with a barbaric critique.

I'm also finishing an unexpected second novel, CKR, that I started writing last February (2006) after Scott and I drove north for the Daytona 500 and accidentally spent four days on the road with one of our favorite musicians, Kid Rock. But, it's not what you'd think. The story is about radio producer/writer Ted Seever and the dysfunctional relationships he has with his wife, his boss, and his two best friends. It's set in post-hurricane Florida and begins three days after Ted's wife serves divorce papers. He's convinced she'll change her mind if he can get her to go to a rock concert with him, but, before that happens, he has to make it through a vice-filled Daytona 500 weekend with his friends.

Because the development of this book has been an interesting story, in itself, and because I remember how writing felt so lonely before I found other writers, I posted an online journal about CKR to share with aspiring authors who need to know they're not crazy and they're not alone. Ive been working on marketing lately, too, and, about a month ago, I invited people at MySpace to read the story WITHIN the story of CKR and the response has been better than I imagined. (Find The Diary of CKR at or read most recent entries at

What advice do you have for aspiring novelists?

Don't quit your day job. (Scott gave me that when I asked what he'd say, so I can't take credit, but I WILL expand...) Give yourself time to learn the industry and the craft before you jump in. Only a small percentage of novelists ever make it and there aren't as many making a good living at it as you might think. Spend some time at the library and on the Internet. Learn what agents, publishers, and readers expect from a novel. Then exceed their expectations. :)

Dawn Scovill grew up in the foothills of western Washington State in the small, unassuming town of Rochester. Although she's made her home elsewhere since late 1990, her memories of the area are dear and she enjoys visiting and writing about the Pacific Northwest. She currently resides with her husband and two children in South Florida and, when not writing, she can likely be found diving, fishing, or boating along Floridas Atlantic coast.

Dawn can be reached through her website, or at her MySpace site at

IMMORTAL BONDS, Dawn's debut novel scheduled for release in October, tells the story of Jane Dougharty, an immortal woman forced to abandon everything she loves to pursue the possibility of becoming mortal again. Jane's journey, from mid-1800s Sacramento and Seattle to present-day Palm Beach and the Mediterranean isle of Malta and every stop in between, is destined to appeal to readers who enjoy paranormal fiction, historical fiction, womens fiction, erotica, and travel.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A viral marketing campaign

I've mentioned before that I like to support my fellow authors (and I like to win prizes), so I've decided to take part in the following viral marketing experiment:

I am participating in a blogging experiment hosted at To enter the contest, put up this blurb, image, and trackback and you are entered to win the following prize package.

  • $200 Amazon gift certificate
  • Signed copy of Slave to Sensation
  • New Zealand goodies chosen by Singh
  • ARC of Christine Feehan's October 31 release: Conspiracy Game
You can read about the experiment here and you can download the code that you need to participate here.


Nalini Singh

Berkley / September 2006

Slave to Sensation

Welcome to a future where emotion is a crime and powers of the mind clash brutally against those of the heart.

Sascha Duncan is one of the Psy, a psychic race that has cut off its emotions in an effort to prevent murderous insanity. Those who feel are punished by having their brains wiped clean, their personalities and memories destroyed.

Lucas Hunter is a Changeling, a shapeshifter who craves sensation, lives for touch. When their separate worlds collide in the serial murders of Changeling women, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities…or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

I'm so blue.........

Your Aura is Blue

Spiritual and calm, you tend to live a quiet but enriching life.

You are very giving of yourself. And it's hard for you to let go of relationships.

The purpose of your life: showing love to other people

Famous blues include: Angelina Jolie, the Dali Lama, Oprah

Careers for you to try: Psychic, Peace Corps Volunteer, Counselor

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Plotter or Pantser?

Louise Doughty, author of the London Telegraph column, A Novel in a Year, says, “It is easy to believe that there is some holy mystery to plotting or structuring a novel but, at its most basic level, it is no more than a matter of you as a novelist deciding that this will happen, then this, then that… and if it doesn't work, you will change it.”

The ongoing debate is whether plotting is something worth doing before your write or as you write—otherwise known as plotting vs. pantsing.

Plotters are writers who like to write with a detailed outline. Pantsers like to write by the seat of their pants, sans outline. There is no right or wrong way to write, and new writers need to discover what works best for them.

Personally, as a first time novelist (and virgo), I like to work with a very, very detailed outline. In fact, I am currently working with Karen Wiesner’s First Draft In 30 Days. This book develops an outline to the point where it can be considered the first draft. I also do my work in several software applications which I find help me organize my outline. Currently, I’m using FreeMind (free!!) mind-mapping software and a trial version of Liquid Story Binder.

I’ve tried several times to make a go of my novel (and others in the past) as a pantser, but to no avail. I eventually can’t carry on because I don’t know what to write. With an outline, I’m better prepared as I sit at my computer – with a full mind rather than a blank one.

Some writers feel outlining quashes their creativity, and perhaps it does, but for me, in order to have a well-structured book that ‘works,’ I need to have a plan to follow.


Apparently, I’m a Plotter (big surprise). “You're a plotter, someone who carefully crafts an intriguing plot to keep the reader hooked from one scene to the next. You thrive on knowing exactly where your story is going, and what's going to happen along the way. Although you might veer off your original plan for the story, mostly you stick to your carefully planned outline. You're a born storyteller who enjoys sharing your stories with others.”

Do you plot, write as you go, or use a combination of both methods? Why?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Using Psychology to Create Characters

Okay, finally on to my characterization ideas.

As most readers probably know, I love searching the internet for ways to improve my writing – in fact, it’s more like an addiction. In any case, I came across some interesting ways to help develop characters.

We all know that it takes some understanding of human psychology to create believable characters. That said, I know I don’t have the time to study psychology in order to improve my characters. I could use a little help. A cheat sheet maybe. Well, wouldn’t you know it, there are some wondrous resources out there on the internet.

I came across an article (based on a workshop) by romance
writer and speaker Laurie Schnebly Campbell called ‘The Psychology of Creating Characters.’ In it, she says there are basically four things that determine people's character: birth order, priorities, enneagrams, and personality scales. She says:
“Each one of these has the potential for conflict, and conflict is what we need for a great romance novel! And for the real emotional drama, there need to be conflicts of character...conflicts in the way these people approach life.”

Let’s briefly examine how each factor can help us create a better character.

Birth Order
Birth order may affect how your character sees life and how people treat him or her. It may also have a lot of influence on the profession they choose, and how they interact with other people. Knowing the affect of birth order on your character can help you determine her behavior but, you also don’t want to associate the incorrect personality types on your character based on her birth order. Campbell discusses a little bit about how this works in her article; but here are another few links:
Personality Traits Linked To Birth Order
Birth Order - Understand How It Affects Your Personality
How Birth Order can affect your Child's Behaviour and Personality
Wikipedia - Birth order
I know that for me, this technique will be very helpful in developing my characters.

Many character questionnaires encourage you to develop your characters’ priorities. However, knowing a little bit more about them can help you determine which priority is ranked highest for your character, whether or not he is even aware of it. And, this ranking will greatly affect his behavior and decisions and even perceptions of the world around him. Campbell says, “Everyone has individual priorities in addition to universal things like family, job, and world peace. These personal priorities influence every decision they make, and there are only four to choose from… Excellence, Comfort, Pleasing and Control. This choice is never a conscious one; it grows up with the character the same as it grows up with all of us.”
Here are some links:
Priority Test
Career Personality Test
Determine Your Priorities To Maximize Time Use
Your Priorities Exercise

Okay, I have to say, this is my favorite. If you know a little about your character, you can use enneagrams to develop that character further from what you know. The enneagram theory is based on 9 personality types. Campbell says, “Just the names of the nine types are intriguing.”
The Enneagram and Life Coaching
The Enneagram 9 Types
RHETI Test (to determine which type your character falls into)
The New Enneagram Test

Personality Scales
For personality scales – and there are loads upon loads of personality tests available online – Campbell discusses the Myers-Briggs character types. They measure four different traits — introvert/extrovert, intuition/sensation, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving. Each person ranks somewhere along each of those four scales.
What 'Type' Is Your Character?
MBTI® Basics
Wikipedia: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Personality test based on Jung - Myers-Briggs typology
Free Jung Personality Test
More tests

The handouts for Campbell’s workshop are available here.

And, just because, here are a few more links to help you discover your character’s motivations and personality.
Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
More Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Motivational Model

Character Mapping -

Character Building Workshop -

And a link to help SHOW your character’s personality rather than TELL:
The Nonverbal Dictionary -

Now, get to work.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A few good links

Just some items I’ve found whilst surfing that I thought might be of interest to my fellow writers:

Carolyn Jewel's Writing Workshop - What I Learned the Hard Way
(courtesy of Lady Tess)

Tests of document readability and suggestions how to improve readability

Red River Romance Writers

Peder Hill’s Learn the Elements of a Novel

Writing Information – List of Articles

Writers on Writing Broadcasts from 2000
- the thoughts of twenty-one established writers. They share their hard worn experiences, explain aspects of the craft, and reflect on the wisdom gained from success and failure.
Writers on Writing presents an in depth study of the craft of writing from the inside. Our selection of writers impart their experiences based on five key learning areas:
  • the spark of idea;

  • the grind of writing;

  • creating characters;

  • shaping and balancing narrative; and

  • the ups and downs.
Writers include: Cristopher Koch, Dorothy Dunnett, Roger McDonald, Tom Petsinis, Eva Sallis, Janet Evanovich, Venero Armano, Anne Marie McDonald, Vikram Seth, Neale Drinnan, Claire Messud, A. Scott Berg, Nicholas Shakespeare, Hilary Mantel, Robert Drewe, Jennifer Johnston, Edvard Radzinsky, Richard Ford, Isobelle Carmody, Nikki Gemmel, and Tom Keneally

Also, Rene has started a Blog Carnival on the romance genre and is looking for writers/bloggers to participate.

Finally, for those of you that didn’t get a chance to go to the RWA National Conference in Atlanta, Blogging National has links to pictures and blog posts about the conference.
- Note: The 2006 & 2005 RWA Conference Recordings© on MP3 CD-ROM are $129.99 per set BUT you can get them for $99.99 per set plus S&H if you order them on or before Sunday, August 6, 2006.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Quote of the day

There are three rules for writing a novel.
Unfortunately no one knows what they are.
Somerset Maugham

Courtesy of Jen Holling at The Working Writer.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Around the web in 90 seconds...

I can’t wait for the Hotlanters to start posting about the RWA National Conference. In the meantime, a few interesting blogs to check out:

John Baker has been asking “Five Questions” to all kinds of bloggers about why they blog. Some very interesting answers. Many writerly types.

Paperback Writer has an interesting post called Extending Your Writing Range. She writes about the journey to becoming a writer and a ‘novel recipe.’

Anne Frasier asks if writers are broken.

Tamara Siler Jones has a great dialogue going on about perfectionism, fear, and being good enough over at tamboblog. See posts from July 27 to 29.

Amy Durham at tappity tap talks about the worst writing advice she’s ever heard. She also asks readers to share their own worst advice.

Melly at All Kinds of Writing traveled to her hometown in Northern Israel a few weeks ago and has been keeping us posted on what’s happening and how she feels. From reading her posts, I’ve developed a whole new perception and understanding of the calamity in the Middle East.

Writers Unboxed has an interview with editor and YA author, Victoria Holmes.

Finally, I’ve been memed by Rene from A Little Cheese With That Whine:

1. When did you first start blogging and why?
My first blog post was September 26, 2005. I thought it would be a great way to interact with likeminded people who were interested in writing and publishing. It was and is.

2. What don't you talk about?
I try to stick to the subject of writing. However, since I am more than just a writer, other aspects of me are revealed as well. I try to stay away from controversial subjects (politics, religion, etc.) – except if they relate to writing and publishing. I’m not here to be right or to argue, I’m here to learn and meet interesting people (I have).

3. Are you and your blogging persona the same person?
The person people know is real and is me, but there is a lot more to me than what I expose on my blog.

4. How do you use blogging to build friendships?
Friendships have just naturally developed because I’ve met many people with the same interests and goals that I have. As I get to know about them, I’ve learned to care more about them and what happens to them.

5. How would you describe your writing style?
I try to keep a natural flow to my writing style for all my writing – blog, non-fiction, and fiction. When I read, I enjoy conversational and informal prose, so I tend to write the same way.

Have a great week all!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The tiny bagel maker...

"The tiny bagel baker crawled into the noisy cafeteria for the CEO."

That's my Story Starter idea to get the creative juices flowing. Great for some free writing...

Thanks to for the link.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Quick Pics

Hi y'all:
I've been wrapped up in other things and unable to post, so here's a couple of quick pics for your amusement. It's Cairo discovering the kitchen tap. (He's such a cutie!!) (To know my obsession with my pets is to know me)

And Piffy wants her two cents worth included too...

Hope you're all having a great week!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Big Deadline

Big deadline at work. Will be back tomorrow or Saturday to discuss my character development idea.

To keep you occupied while you eagerly await my next post, here are some fun things to do and read:

Robotube Games
Fish Tales
Various Flash Games
Various Java Games

Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully - in Ten Minutes, by Stephen King
Fiction Workshop for One

"It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous." ~ Robert Benchley

"I don't like to write, but I love to have written." ~ Michael Kanin

"However great a man's natural talent may be, the art of writing cannot be learned all at once." ~ Jean Jacques Rousseau

"I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again." ~ Oscar Wilde

"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." ~ Cyril Connolly

"I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork." ~ Peter de Vries

"Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hoped." ~ Lillian Helman

"You must write every single day of your life…You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads….may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world." ~ Ray Bradbury

"The first draft of anything is sh*t." ~ Ernest Hemingway

"You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing." ~ Doris Lessing

Quotes scooped from Ink.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My Family Grows

We live on a dead-end street about 3 km from a main road. Mostly, it's awesome. It's countryside, makes me feel like I'm going home to the cottage every day. Unfortunately, however, our road becomes a dumping site for lazy, cheap ignoramuses. It's bad enough having to look at tossed beer bottles and dumped building materials when I walk my dog but, even worse is when they leave an unwanted pet.

This weekend someone dumped a kitten. He sat all night beside a bowl of food left with him. Two little girls found him and went door to door to see if anyone owned him. Nobody said they did.

When I heard about it, I dragged my DH across the street to have a look at him. He was about 3 or 4 months old, a male, and not very happy. I think the reason he was not very happy is because the two little girls hadn't left him alone for a minute and were dragging him through heaven and high water. There was also a cat and a dog in the house which didn't please the little guy either.

We took him home to see how he would get along with our doggie Epiphany (Piffy - also a rescue, but not from our street).

This is Piffy, an Australian Cattle Dog/Hound mix. We've had her 5 years.

The kitty was not impressed with Pif, but was VERY happy to lie down for a while. He fell asleep on DH's lap for a couple of hours. We decided to keep him. His name is Cairo.

Once he had a good nap and some food, we learned Cairo is VERY affectionate, and VERY playful - as every kitty should be. He likes to bop his head against my face, play with my nose, and wrap his paws around things when he sleeps. He purrs almost 100 per cent of the time, even when he eats, and chirrups like my kitty Feline used to do.

Welcome to my family, Cairo.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday's Excuse Not To Write

Reprinted with permission from 101 Excuses Not to Write.

I have discovered a great way to help develop characters. I will share sometime this weekend. In the meantime, have a great one. It's going to be hot and smeltering here in Toronto!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Podcast addict

Not long ago, someone memed me, and one of the questions was, what six things would you take out of your home if it was on fire. Well, one of my answers was my iPod. I love my iPod Nano. Only, I don’t have one song on it. There is room for four days worth of songs but, instead, I have it filled with podcasts. I am addicted to podcasts, especially ones about writing, authors, and books.

Surprisingly, there are not very many podcasts on the subject of writing. There are a few, however, that offer author interviews and the authors often talk about their methods.

I have made a list of podcasts on writing or books that I’m aware of in my sidebar. If you know of any that are not on my list but should be included, please email me at nienke DOT hinton AT

My favorites include:

Writers On Writing - Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, author of pen on fire – the busy woman’s guide to igniting the writer within, interviews various writers. Recent guests include Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander; Andrew Vachss, author of Two Trains Running; and Betsy Lerner, author of The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers.

The Secrets: The Podcast for Writers - Michael A. Stackpole, an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author, offers tips, advice, and anecdotes about writing.

The Naked Novelist - Brendan Gullifer, an author “on the brink,” shares the heartbreak and highlights of getting a novel published. Past guests include playwright, novelist, and screenwriter Joanna Murray-Smith (great interview although the sound is a bit grainy).

I Should Be Writing - Mur Lafferty, a wanna-be writer, has tips, anecdotes, and interviews for other wanna-be writers. She says, “Let my stack of rejection letters and battle scars benefit you.”

Do you listen to any podcasts? If so, which ones?