Jilly: The Scottish Question

 The Scottish Question (Wellcome Images via Wikimedia Commons)

The Other Scottish Question
      (Wellcome Images via Wikimedia Commons)

I have a question. As a reader, when you see a Scottish setting, do you automatically think a story must be historical? If you saw clear signals that a love story was set in present-day Scotland, would that surprise you? Would it ring your wrong-o-meter?

I ask because I recently received some feedback from a contest judge. I’m paraphrasing a little, but she said something like: I gave you a low score because your entry is a contemporary romance set in the Scottish Highlands. Everyone knows that if a book is set in Scotland, it must be a historical romance, so I feel strongly that your story has broken the promise to the reader, who will inevitably feel disappointed.

My entry was in the ‘contemporary romance’ category, I’d taken care to use a modern-sounding title, my characters were wearing contemporary clothing and using present-day language in a twenty-first century business discussion, so I was somewhat gobsmacked and not a little cheesed off Continue reading

Kat: How To Write A Romance Novel

YoungWomanWritingAtDeskOh, if only I’d found this four-part, six+ minute primer on writing a romance novel before I spent oodles of $$ and a year+ studying writing at McD ;-). Actually, too many people think this is all there is to it (how wrong they are), but I prefer to take it tongue-in-cheek. Either way, I found it hilarious.

Happy 4th everyone!

Justine: Getting Back on the Writing Horse

sagging middle, writing again, eight ladies writing, justine covingtonIn the month of May (and continuing here on into June), I sort of fell off the ‘ol Writing Horse. It wasn’t intentional. I didn’t want to not write. But with kids finishing school, a trip to England, and a serious sagging middle in my book, it didn’t happen.

Okay, the sagging middle was probably the biggest reason for me not writing. I was stuck. My story had gotten boring. And I needed to fix it.

So what IS a sagging middle? Besides the paunch on that hairy guy at the beach. Eew…

The sagging middle is Continue reading

Kat: Juggling Act (Oh, Balls)


From Wikimedia Commons Author: ILA-boy

It’s crunch time at my day job this week, and I’ve had no time or energy to write a good post. So, today is rerun day. I thought the “juggling” metaphor particularly apt since that’s what I’ve been doing for the past eight months as I’ve tried to meet the demands of my day job while fulfilling my writing commitments.

The good news is, in five days, the project that has consumed my life, will (for better or worse) launch. The bad news: I’ll have a whole new set of headaches, er…challenges as I try to support this new application.

I promise my next post will be new, but until then, here’s an oldie but goodie (slightly revised).

Continue reading

Michille: Antigone – My MLA Project

512px-Lytras_nikiforos_antigone_polynicesI finished my classes (and 2 papers) for the semester and am working on the proposal for my MLA project. I am fortunate to have Pamela Regis, Professor of English at McDaniel College, romance scholar, and President of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, as my advisor (although it is just as intimidating as having Jennifer Crusie as my professor for 7 of my courses). My project is a modern adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone, minus the live burial. I looked at the structure of fiction through time and the story of Antigone through time and then applied those to contemporary popular fiction standards and the story that I intend to write during the Spring semester, which is set in the fictional town of Bachman’s Run. Continue reading

Kat: Killing Off Catfish Deveron

Goodbye Catfish Deveron

Goodbye Catfish Deveron

A recent post by Jennifer Crusie reminded me of a story problem that I’ve been ignoring for a while.  In earlier drafts, Cheyenne was a loner—no family and few female friends. The story was populated with mostly males, and most of those characters were a part of Reed’s community, not Cheyenne’s. One such character is foster-father to Reed and witty Australian, Catfish Deveron.

Catfish hasn’t been on stage much lately, but initially I had big plans for him. A year ago he was pivotal to the house rehab Cheyenne must undertake to get what she wants, was a foil for Hawk, and a central component of Reed’s character arc (Catfish wants to promote Reed to manager of the construction company he owns; Reed wants to remain a site supervisor so he can be where the action is.)

Making Catfish disappear from the story has benefits, however. For one thing, it would eliminate a huge plot hole in a plot line that explains why Reed is under Hawk’s thumb. In order to allow his wife (and Hawk’s daughter) Kara to die at home, Reed quit his job and moved back to Dry Creek, taking a house and a loan (for medical expenses) from Hawk. It’s the old man’s ace in the hole and the whip he uses to keep Reed in line. With Catfish around (a successful businessman and foster-father to Reed) one has to ask why Reed would go to Hawk for money (and put himself under the thumb of a power-hungry crazy man). It wasn’t plausible, but I couldn’t get rid of Catfish.

Continue reading

Jilly: Getting the Party Started

Getting the Party StartedDid you enjoy any small (or large) victories this week?

I had a chunk of time bookended between two family commitments. I didn’t want to start a new scene in case I got stuck half-way and had to visit my mum with the other half still in my head – bad for the scene, bad for mum 🙂 , so I decided to revisit my first 50 pages. I knew I had work to do. Months ago, Jenny Crusie told me she didn’t know what to root for, because each of my scenes seemed to start a new plot, and the pieces of the story didn’t fit together. Than at RWA in San Antonio, I had feedback on the same pages from an editor who said something like “these are good scenes, but they’re all in the wrong place.”

I didn’t need to be told for a third time.

If the first scene is critical – you’ve engaged or lost your reader by the end of it – the first 50 pages (about 15k words, or half of Act I) are almost as important, because Continue reading

Kat: Back2Basics I: Cheyenne’s Story

womenThere’s a swim team poster on the wall of my Y that catches my eye each time I go into the locker room. Yet, until this week I’ve never really read it. It’s a list of tips for swim team members having difficulty with their stroke. Slow down, count, and focus on the fundamentals. In other words, go back to the basics.

After a long hard swim, I tend to zone out, particularly when a waterfall of hot water is beating down on me. My mind meanders and I blindly follow it, usually right to my story. This day was no exception, except, hmm….those swimming tips were swimming around in there, too…maybe I could apply them to writing.  Not the counting part, of course (I could count words, I guess), but the slow down, step back, and focus on the basics part. Continue reading

Kat: Voice: Shout It Out

Do you STAND OUT from the crowd?One of the other eight ladies recently recommended the “Charley Davidson” series by Darynda Jones. The protagonist, Charley Davidson, is the grim reaper who helps find the killers of the dead people she sees.

It’s a catchy premise that immediately hooked me, but what reeled me in was the writer’s voice. Continue reading

Michille: Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, Part 1

Man_on_a_rockFor any of you who are recent visitors, the Eight Ladies (and several others) met in the inaugural Romance Writing Certificate program at McDaniel College. It is a post-graduate certificate program. Some of us took it for credit while others were noncredit students. As I am the only one who lives close to McDaniel, I am the only one who continued in the Masters of Liberal Arts program (others were interested, but there are required courses that are only taught face-to-face). I am taking a psychology class right now on Jungian psychology and Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. My interest in taking the course was in the Hero’s Journey. My plan is write a 100,000 Hero’s Journey story as my thesis so my project for this class is dissecting Nora Roberts’ Key Trilogy relative to Joseph Campbell’s 17 stages of the monomyth. Continue reading