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.