Monday, January 30, 2006

Ditching The Book Of Love

As I mentioned in my last post, Julie Elizabeth Leto has an article entitled, ‘Ditching "The Book Of My Heart" For "The Book Of My Voice".’

Leto says she never really knew what the ‘book of her heart’ was and, furthermore, if she would want to write it. She says in the article, “I believe in the ‘art’ of writing, but I believe equally in the business and marketability.”

However, the only alternative phrase she knew was, ‘The Book Of My Wallet,’ which, by the way, she says she can relate to. The problem is this: I don’t think many writers go into writing novels just to make money. With the odds as they are for ‘making it,’ even if only enough to survive on, I’m not sure any writer writes for the money.

Leto heard a new expression at a seminar she attended: ‘The Book Of Your Voice.’ She says, “The cost of the entire NINC conference was justified, for me, in that one phrase. Here's a term I can sink my teeth into, though I contend the article should be changed from "The" to "A." Just so I can keep on writing more than one.”

She goes on to define ‘voice’ and says, “Bottom line--Voice is what makes the writing uniquely yours.” If you are interested in more detail about what ‘voice’ is, I suggest you check out the article.

What peaked my interest about this article is that I do know what ‘The Book Of Your Heart’ is. That’s what my original WIP is. I have a story (yes, it’ll be cathartic to write) that I need to tell. But, after doing some research, I’m not sure it is meant to be read.

Long story short, I’ve decided to continue working on If I Knew Then and see where it takes me. Maybe I’ll send it out when it’s done, maybe not. This will also take the pressure off with my perfectionism. I have, however, started another story, tentatively titled Picture Perfect. It’s funny, as soon as I decided to do this (write a marketable book), the story came to me, one, two, three. I know how it starts, I know the ending and I have a mindful of ideas for conflict and resolution. I even have a subplot. The most important fact about this decision, for me, is that I am actually writing it for a particular market, as described by publishing house submission guidelines. Oh what fun it is to write…

What about you? I’m curious to know, was your first book a “Book Of Your Heart?”

Have a great week,

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I was set up!

I came across some great writing advice recently on Julie Elizabeth Leto’s website. She has a list of articles here, but the two that stood out for me were ‘Where Am I? The Importance of Setting to Your Romance Novel’ and ‘Ditching "The Book Of Your Heart" for "The Book Of My Voice".’

The first article, ‘Where Am I?,’ talks about the importance of setting. Now, although she talks specifically about the romance genre, it is true to any genre. Leto makes a great point that I hadn’t thought of: “Anyone who wakes up suddenly in a new place usually has only one question that must be answered first: where am I?” How true! And, looking at setting from this perspective, I realize how truly important it really is to ground a story.

Holly Lisle, in her Worldbuilding Workshop, also recommends knowing your setting well when you write a novel. Now, although she creates new worlds for her fantasy novels, she says no matter what the setting is, you need to have it mapped out. “Everyone needs a map. Even if your entire novel takes place within a single house over the course of a single day, you need to lay out the house -- the placement of windows, which side faces north, where doors, halls, and rooms lie in relation to each other. Nothing is more disconcerting than being told that sunlight is pouring through a window in a room we were previously told faced north. Or having bedrooms wandering around like sleepwalkers, on minute accessible from the kitchen and the next, only by going up stairs.”

Good point.

However, the importance of planning your setting goes further than just providing consistency. Leto says the setting is important to create the right ambiance for the story. Just like dark gloomy skies can be used as foreshadowing or to set a foreboding mood, so can the entire setting. But, it’s not just the setting that’s important, but also how you describe it. Leto says, “Setting and atmosphere must be considered nearly the same thing, since one is dependent on the other. To have setting without mood and atmosphere means a lack of emotional connection--a major no-no in romance. To have only mood and atmosphere and no concrete place invites confusion in the reader.”

Leto quotes William Noble, the author of Make That Scene: A Writer's Guide to Setting, Mood and Atmosphere, when she says, “Setting provides three crucial contributions to your story:
(1) It adds vividness to your story(2) It influences character(3) It plays a vital role in the story
If a setting you've chosen doesn't interlock this tightly with the story you're about to tell-if it's just a backdrop as changeable as stage scenery-you may not have chosen the right place for your story to occur.”

Here are some links about writing settings:
Writing Dynamic Settings
Creating a Vivid Setting
Four Ways to Bring Settings to Life
Writing Fiction: A Beginner’s Guide – part 3: setting
Creating the Perfect Setting
It's Your World: Setting Your Novel
Houses are People Too: The Structure of a Literary Device
How To Achieve Effective Setting
The Power of Place
Creating the perfect setting for writing fiction

Well there you have it. Do you think setting is important in novels? Why or why not?

PS In my next post I will cover Leto’s other article: ‘Ditching "The Book Of Your Heart" for "The Book Of My Voice".’

Monday, January 16, 2006

What does your birth date mean?

Your Birthdate: August 27

You are a spiritual soul - a person who tries to find meaning in everything.
You spend a good amount of time meditating, trying to figure out life.
Helping others is also important to you. You enjoy social activities with that goal.
You are very generous and giving. Yet you expect very little in return.

Your strength: Getting along with anyone and everyone

Your weakness: Needing a good amount of downtime to recharge

Your power color: Cobalt blue

Your power symbol: Dove

Your power month: September

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Best Blonde Joke Ever

Perhaps it’s a case of the blonde leading the blonde, but this is the best blonde joke ever.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

First-time novelists reviewed

USA TODAY recently reviewed the upcoming works of three first-time authors.

The first author is Galt Niederhoffer, who wrote A Taxonomy of Barnacles. Reviewer Bob Minzesheimer calls the book clever and melodramatic. It is about a rich, eccentric Manhattan family with six competitive sisters. Niederhoffer is an independent film producer and Minzesheimer says her novel could have the makings of a good movie.

The second author Minzesheimer reviews is Justin Tussing for his novel, The Best People in the World. He says the novel is an oddly engrossing tale that ultimately succeeds because of the original voice of the narrator. It is about 17-year-old boy from Kentucky who runs away from his ordinary home with his not-so-ordinary 25-year-old history teacher.

Finally, Minzesheimer talks about George & Rue by George Elliott Clarke. Minzesheimer calls this book powerful and haunting. The book was inspired by a brutal real-life murder committed by two of the author’s cousins. Clarke writes that his ancestors were physically free but were "forced to work like slaves, basically, for that was their function in the Nova Scotian economy and society, and it remained our reality, until well into the 1960s. (Nova Scotia is a displaced Mississippi.)."  Minzesheimer calls Clarke’s writing raw but wonderfully descriptive.

I haven’t yet read these books, but they are on my ‘to buy’ list. I think it’s wonderful that first-time novelists are getting media attention, although the review mostly just describes what happens in the books.

If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear what you thought of them. Also, do you think first-time novelists get enough media attention?


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Personal Privacy - NOT

How much should the government know about you?
Imagine when ordering pizza comes to this.

Do you think we have enough personal privacy? Would the benefits outweigh the intrusion?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Want to create great characters?

Just a quick note. Holly Lisle's Create A Character Clinic is now available for download. To get your copy, or more information, click on the link:

Lisle says, "I want to show you, not just how to develop a character, but how to write your characters in a compelling fashion once you come up with them."


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Best-written book I've read

This week I finished reading Holly Lisle's book, Talyn. It was one of the most incredible books I have read in my life.

Now, I know that sounds over the top, but let me tell you my story of Talyn.

First of all, I've never fully read a fantasy novel (yes, that includes the Harry Potter series). It is not (or so I thought) my cup of tea. However, Holly Lisle is one of my favorite writers who write about writing, so I thought it only proper I should read one of her novels. After all, since her writing advice is so good, so should her books be, right?
(And believe me, this is not always the case...)

I came across one great review after another about Talyn so I went to my local Chapters and purchased my own copy of the 524-page book.

The book is truly 'unputdownable.' The story sucked me in and I had to know what happened next at every turn. The characters were deep, the world complete, and the story just kept moving from page one to 524.

Now, I must say here that I am tainted as a reader. After all these many years of studying writing (and as a full-time editor), I cannot read a book without being painfully aware of the writing. It really takes away from the pleasure of reading when you notice the writing technique in the story you are reading. At the very least, I am aware of the writing as a method of research for my own craft. With Talyn, I completely forgot that I was reading. I was 100 per cent absorbed in the story--and boy did it feel great. What scares me is that Lisle seems to be able to write so well in her first drafts. I know she revisits her drafts, but still, I've read her posts of snippets during the writing of the book that shows me it all comes out right the first time. I suppose this is the result of many years and many hours of practice and awareness. Lisle is one of those writers that work and produce mostly every day.

Well, that's my Talyn story. I now have a bag full of other Lisle books to help keep me from doing my own writing. Looks like fantasy is my new thing. I highly recommend all writers and aspiring writers as well as readers pick up a copy of Talyn. Even if you don't normally read fantasy, you will like this book.

BTW, I also read Lisle's blog regularly at It's also a great read. In addition, her website has a library of articles on writing that no aspiring author should skip.

Happy writing and happy reading!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Welcome To A New Year

Writing Accomplished: backstory, lots of backstory
Writing Goal: in the process of creating my Plan Of Action
Recommended Website:

This is it. A new year. A chance to start all over again. Get organized. Write more. Maybe diet a little, quit a few bad habits. Sound familiar? You bet. I've 'started over' many times yet continue to feel the need to do so once again.

A new year brings about a time to reflect on the past year and decide what you want to do different. Well, for me it does anyway. My foremost resolution is to do more writing. Sound familiar? This is a resolution I've made before, many times.

Well, as browsed my blog list, I came upon a very inspirational post by Vicki Hinze. I read her blog regularly and it is often inspiring and informative (as is her website). The January 3 post is about planning for the year ahead and I realized that I need to do that. I've set goals, but never actually sat down and made a plan on how to reach those goals other than figuring out how many words I needed to write each day (a number that increased with each day that passed as I didn't write).

In her post, Vicki brings up the traps that many writers fall into, albeit with good intentions. She refers to one of her articles in her website library called "Why We Need a Plan." You can link to her website here, but you will need to register (for free) to access the article library. Vicki has kindly given me permission to reprint the article here. However, I HIGHLY recommend you register at her site and take full advantage of the terrific articles she has.

"Why We Need a Plan" talks about the desire to write and how to apply discipline to the act of writing. Vicki asks the reader to take a good look at him/herself and decide what they want most out of life. She also talks about fear (yeah, know that one) and suggests writers have to have the courage to ditch the fear. "A helpful way to go about that is to look at what we as writers do NOT have to do..." says Vicki. She goes on to share her personal plan to give writers an idea of what to focus on and what to do. Want to be more productive as a writer or a person? Read the article. You won't regret it.

On another note, Hinze is one of my favorite writers who write about writing. Aside from articles on her website, she has books out on writing. One is ALL ABOUT WRITING, an awesome book that covers just that, all about writing. Another is ONE WAY TO WRITE A NOVEL, being released January 31, 2006. The cost is $14.99, but preorders are only $10 WITH the following coupon code: NIHTB-614. The publisher is also giving away a 2nd writing book to the first 100 who preorder at

So, my friends. The next time you hear from me, I'll be a lady with a plan.

Happy New Year!