Justine: The GMC, Ma’am, Just the GMC

conflict, gmc, debra dixon, goal, motivation, conflictSo I’ve been in judging hell this week. Last week, I’d spent a bunch of time totaling scores for the contest I’ve been managing…this past week, I’ve been reading paranormal entries for the 2015 Golden Heart (the “Oscars” for unpublished romance writers).

Elizabeth wrote in this post about some recurring items that pulled her out of the story (poor grammar/misspellings, not following rules, starting at the right place, etc.).

For me, there was one BIG issue that hit me over and over again on the poorly written entries. It’s something I admittedly didn’t know much about (at a conscious level, anyway) before I started writing, but I’m glad I learned about it. Those of you just jumping onto this writing wagon would do well to learn it yourself: Continue reading

Michaeline: Help a Lady Out: Trip Checklist

Ueno may have changed a little bit since then . . . .

Ueno may have changed a little bit since then . . . .

In just two weeks, I’ll be on a plane heading for the great metropolis of Tokyo to meet my daughter. I’m very excited to see her after her 11-month sojourn in the wilds of America, but almost as exciting, I’ve taken a couple of extra days in Tokyo to do some research for my 2013 NaNo, A Little Affair in Greater Tokyo.

Justine and Kat have talked about their research trips on this blog – I think all of us Ladies enjoy travel, and appreciate what a shot of reality does for grounding a story. So, I’d like to offer my checklist for the trip. Take a look, and tell me how I can do it better. Continue reading

Michaeline: Writing Good Food Scenes

Dinner at the Crachits from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens used food very effectively in *A Christmas Carol*.

Good Saturday, everyone, or whatever day it may be for you. Remember last week when I asked you to share food scenes that moved you as a reader? Today, let’s identify what made those scenes work for us, and think about how we apply that to our own writing.

I think it’s important to remember that food is a very basic need – right at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with friends like water and shelter and sex. When you write about food, you are writing about basic human needs that every human reader has.

I noticed four important things that turn food porn into something Continue reading

Michaeline: Grit

Pieter van der Heyden, 1562

It takes grit and hard work and all sorts of crazy stuff to make a pearl.

This week, I listened to an All Things Considered podcast about how it’s more important for students to learn to accept failure and get past it than for them to have a natural aptitude.


Whether it is school, or it is writing, natural talent is only going to take you so far. What’s going to take you the rest of the way is grit: the ability to fail, and get up again and try again. Continue reading

Michaeline: Self-critiquing

The first step to any good story is to put it down in a repeatable form. If you are a writer, write it; if you are an artist, draw it; if you are a storyteller in the oral tradition, memorize it. Just do something with it so you can show other people. But before you show it to other people, you may want to self-critique it.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, Continue reading

Justine: How Far Will I Go For My Book? About 5,200 Miles.

I just returned from eight days in Bath and London doing research for my Regency WIP. I’ve read a lot of Regencies; I think I have a pretty good handle on a lot of the social conventions, dress, forms of address, etc. of the time, but there’s nothing like walking in the shoes of your literary forebears (á la Jane Austen) to get a feel for what life looked like to people who lived 200 years ago. Continue reading