Michaeline: I Happen to Like First Person Point of View

A duchesse sitting in front of a mirror holding a book.

How does first person reflect on the writer? How does it draw in the reader? (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

I happen to like the first person point of view. Many of my schoolgirl scribblings were in first person, and so were my favorite novels.

But somewhere along the line, I picked up the idea that first person wasn’t ideal. It was kid stuff, it was for amateurs, it was a bit narcissistic.

So, I started working with tight third person. I kidded myself that it was practically the same, and I got along OK with it, most of the time. Then I started thinking that a single third person POV was also too baby-ish. I wanted to try working with multiple POVs. And that’s where my muses went on strike. Oh, everybody inside my head agreed that multiple POVs, alternating every chapter or some other mystical and complicated schema, would be a grand idea. A rococo drawing room of an idea, full of interesting insights and various opinions. Continue reading

Michille: Recorded Sessions

rwa, national conference, writer's conference, eight ladies writing, justine covington

I’m already thinking about what to do before RWA® Nationals.

So many recorded sessions, so little time. Actually, the second part isn’t exactly true. I have all the time in the world. I’m referring to the RWA National Conference recordings. I have lots of time because I don’t have to listen to them all at once. In fact, I am looking forward to parsing out the listening as motivation over the next year until I go to the next one. I’m very sorry the Michael Hauge session isn’t on the flash drive. I understand it was last year and I didn’t buy those (sigh). Continue reading

Elizabeth: A Few Good Mentors

MentorImagePersonal development is a big area of focus at my day-job. We have annual plans in place and are highly encouraged to determine what our long-term career strategy is so that we can gain the skills, abilities, and experiences we need in order to make it a reality.

As a manager, I not only have to work on my own development, but I also have to “help” my team work on theirs. This week that meant I attended a day-long Coaching & Mentoring for Leaders class at my local university. Like almost every other management / team-related class I’ve attended, there was a hands-on exercise that involved building a tower. This time there were blindfolds. Continue reading

Justine: Cultivating Lifelong Readers

boys readingOne of the fears I’ve had throughout my life (aside from heights) is that my children, whenever I got around to having them, would not be readers. I’ve always been one. If you’ve read my bio on the About page, you’d see that the best punishment I could have received as a child was to be grounded to my room, because it meant uninterrupted reading time.

My parents should have been suspicious when I never complained.

So now I have two children, both boys, ages 7½ and 6½. Was my fear unfounded?

Yes. At least for my older son. Of that I’m sure. But I’ll get back to him in a sec.

While reading about kids reading, I stumbled upon an article in the Washington Post by Valerie Strauss about a teacher named Donalyn Miller, “The Book Whisperer.” She’s helped teach how to make kids lifelong readers, and in her latest book co-authored with veteran teacher Susan Kelley, “Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits,” she discusses five traits that lifelong readers have…traits you can cultivate in your young children. What I found so interesting about this is my older son is exhibiting ALL five traits — at age 7½! Woot!

So what are they? Continue reading

Nancy: When Life Just Doesn’t Cooperate

Wd358b-jeanne2baccepting2bgolden2bheartriters, and perhaps other people who expend any energy pondering writers, tend to wax poetic about the idealistic vision of a writer’s life. This particular fantasy might be full of never-ending supplies of coffee, chocolate, wine or other choice vices. It definitely includes hours upon hours of uninterrupted solitude in which to create the next great masterpiece that the world simply must have, interrupted by rare but exhilirating trips into the outside world to receive kudos and awards, like our own Jeanne, pictured here. Left to our own devices, many of us might try to achieve this nirvana, and our family and friends would never hear from us again. Luckily for us, life has a way of protecting us from ourselves by delivering regular doses of writing interruptus.

At least that’s the story I’m telling myself after a weekend full of interruptus and seriously devoid of writing. It’s okay, I tell myself, writers can’t just write about life; they must have real-life experiences to feed the stories. Continue reading

Jilly: Alpha Males and Guilty Pleasures

Alpha Males & Guilty PleasuresHow alpha do you like your heroes? If your favorites are uber-dominant types, do they inhabit a sub-genre that expects or requires that behavior?

In my reading life I greatly enjoy alpha male asshattery. There are provisos: obviously the asshat in question must be a good guy deep down, he must have brains and a sense of humor, and he must be enlightened enough to respect and enjoy being challenged by a heroine who’s his equal and maybe even stronger.

Even with those provisos met, though, most of my favorite heroes indulge in the kind of high-handed, obnoxious behavior that I would find totally unacceptable in real life. It’s been on my mind this week, because I’m in the first draft of a new story and I’m gradually filling in all sorts of details about my hero. As I’m writing contemporary romance, it’s closer to home, and I’m finding it tricky to get the balance right. I found it a struggle with the previous book, too: after reading my opening scene from an early draft (a McDaniel College romance writing assignment), Jenny Crusie said she’d keep reading, but only in the hope that my hero, Ian, would get hit by a bus. Continue reading

Michaeline: What exactly is in a name?

Young woman with a large bouquet of roses on her lap. 1916

Helen Delilah Patton Leckey (whew! what a name!) takes time to smell the roses. (From Greene County, Pennsylvania Photo Archives Project. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

What exactly is in a name? “That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet” or so they say, but first impressions count for something. “Belladonna” sounds very pretty, even if we know it’s a bit sinister. On the other hand, “deadly nightshade” is a clear warning. Same plant, different names.

I don’t have many problems with character names. It’s pretty easy to set a name for my characters at first, and as I get to know the character better, I have no problems changing them. (I make it a point to note the character’s name changes in my Cast of Characters spreadsheet so I can go back later and make sure every Luke is changed to Hadiz, or whatever name I’ve chosen.)

My characters often start out with half-forgotten celebrities from the 1970s and 80s (remember General Hospital’s Luke and Laura? No, neither do I, really, but Luke has stuck in my head as a name for a romantic lead. It almost always needs to be changed at some point, but it’s a good start).

Book titles are another story, and they give me fits. Continue reading