Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Theme: POV - The Who

If you're writing romance (or most other genres) there are two main characters you'll be dealing with - the hero and the heroine. That simple fact leaves you with a choice. Whose POV do I write in? Who gets what scene? How do I divide the book?

Sometimes the targeted publisher will help you answer those questions. Certain category lines (Harlequin/Silhouette) want the bulk of the book in the heroine's POV - and don't really allow for POV's beyond the hero and heroine.

Sometimes the style dictates. If you're writing women's fiction in first person, chances are you'll stick with that the entire book. There are always exceptions, some first person books have chapters of third person from another characters POV. Only you can make that decision.

But when you're writing single title, you may have numerous POVs - the hero, the heroine, the villain, a secondary character you hope to spin off as the heroine in book 2. Lots of option.

So who gets the scene? My rule of thumb is the POV belongs to the character with the most at stake. However, remember I said there were exceptions? Here's one - if the character with the most at stake also has information you're not ready to share with the reader. Then writing from their POV will seem false, because you'll be tip-toeing around the thoughts that would give that info away. The reader will pick up on it and the scene will fall flat. (Unless you're exceptionally skilled, etc.)

Don't be afraid to rewrite scenes that aren't working into the opposite characters POV. Sometimes doing that makes all the difference. Making that change in my third book is part of what helped me land my agent. The heroine, bitter after the death of her 2nd husband, came off too bitter while in her POV. Putting the scene in the hero's POV let us see her with sympathetic eyes. It worked. She became likable. (And my agent saw I was capable of making big changes without whining about and dragging my feet.)

Do what works, but when it comes to POV, be willing to try several roads. The final destination will be worth it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Theme: POV - The How

I was hoping to get a few examples of writing I could use to demonstrate how to get into deep POV, but no one sent anything SO I'll just talk about it a bit.

Deep POV helps a reader further connect with the character whose POV you're writing in. It makes the action and emotion immediate. I'll provide my own examples here.

Shallow POV:

She watched the handsome stranger approach her, feeling short of breath and wishing she had that same kind of courage.

Deep POV:

The handsome stranger approached. Her breath caught in her throat, thick and unsure. Why didn't she have that kind of courage?

Do you see the difference? Words like watch, saw, feel/felt, wish, thought, hope - those words create distance because you're telling the reader what's going on instead of letting them experience up close and personal. Show them by putting them in the head of the main character.

There are lots of distancing words. Many ways we tell instead of show. I challenge you to go through your current WIP and eliminate as many of these instances as you can.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Theme: POV - The What

What is Point of View? POV is the perspective from which a story is told. There are several types, but for romance, mulitple third person is most common, with first person being used more frequently for Young Adult, Chick Lit style stories and some women's fiction.

1. Omniscient Point of View:

The story is told by the author, using the third person, and his knowledge and prerogatives are unlimited. He can interpret the behavior of his characters; he can comment, if he wishes, on the significance of the story he is telling.
It offers a constant danger that the author may come between the reader and the story, or that the continual shifting of viewpoint from character to character may cause a breakdown in coherence or unity. Used skillfully, it enables the author to achieve simultaneous breadth and depth. Unskillfully used, it can destroy the illusion of reality which the story attempts to create.

2. Limited Omniscient Point of View (or Third Person):

The author tells the story in the third person, but he tells it from the viewpoint of one character in the story. He tells us what this character sees and hears, and what he thinks and feels; he possibly interprets the character's thought's and behavior. He shows no knowledge of what other characters are thinking or feeling or doing--except for what his chosen character can infer.
The limited omniscient point of view, since it acquaints us with the world through the mind and senses of only one person, approximates more closely than the omniscient the conditions of real life. At the same time, it offers a limited field of observation, for the reader can go nowhere except where the chosen character goes.

3. First Person Person Point of View:

The author disappears into one of the characters, who tells the story in the first person. The first person point of view shares the virtues and limitations of the limited omniscient. It offers, sometimes, a gain in immediacy and reality. We get the story directly from a participant. The author as a middleman has been eliminated. It offers no opportunity, however, for direct interpretation by the author. In such stories the author offers an interpretation of his material indirectly, through the use of irony.

4. Stream of Consciousness:

The stream of consciousness point of view is an extension of the first-person point of view, but it involves an unusual technique. Stream of consciousness is an attempt to reconstruct the mental processes of a character on a page, to show how his or her mind actually sound inside. The idea is not simply to capture the conscious and rational side of a character's mind, but to plumb the unconscious and irrational side of it as well.
Stream of consciousness writing typically abandons traditional grammar and sentence structure on the assumption that these are superficial devices not observed by the mind in the thought process.
A story written from a stream of consciousness point of view cannot be read literally. Such a point of view does not attempt to be factual nor rational since it is based partly on the Freudian notion that the mind is subjected to irrational and absurd forces. You have to infer about the character, rather than simply accept what he says literally.

5.Objective Point of View:

The author disappears into a kind of roving sound camera. This camera can go anywhere, but can record only what is seen and heard. It cannot comment, interpret, or enter a character's mind. The purest example of a story told from the objective point would be one written entirely in dialogue.
The objective point of view has the most speed and the most action; also, it forces the reader to make his own interpretations. On the other hand, it must rely heavily on external action and dialogue, and it offers no opportunities for interpretations by the author.
The objective point of view sometimes referred to as the Dramatic point of view.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

This Week's Theme: POV

This week, I'm going to discuss POV. What's it mean, how's it work, when to shift, when not to shift, getting into deep POV - all that fun stuff. If you have any questions about POV, ask them in comments.

If you think you have issues with getting into deep POV and would like to give me a sample of your writing (no more than two pages or 500 words) to use on my blog and demonstrate how to get into deep POV, email me at

I can't promise to critique every piece sent to me, but I'll do what I can.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Theme: Critique - The Who

Okay, this is a biggie. Your critique partners - who they are as writers - can make or break you. I firmly believe that. Why, you ask? I'm so glad you did. Let me tell you...

Your critique partners are like mini-agents. They should be able to get behind what you're writing (I'm not saying they need to love it, worship it or want to marry it) in such a way that they can be enthusiastic about it AND should the occasion ever arise that they are seated next to an editor at a conference who just so happens to be looking for a vampire cowboy story, be able to talk about YOUR vampire cowboy story with reasonable intelligence.

Your CPs should also be either a.) more advanced writers than you or b.) be stronger in certain areas than you. Having CP's who are at your same level is okay too, so long as your level isn't beginner. A bunch of beginners critiquing each other's work is an effort in futility. You need someone to show which direction to go in.

My CP's are all about my level and many have strengths in areas I don't. I like to think I bring an equivalent portion to their tables as well.

Be careful who you partner with, but don't be afraid to dissolve the relationship if it's not working. Your CP's are integral to your success. And this is a business. Making friends is fine, just keep your eye on the prize and focus on what you need to get there.

Of course, great critique partners are worth their weight in published books.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Theme: Critique - The Where

As I see it, there are two ways two work with a critique group - online or in real life. (Ain't I a regular rocket scientist?)


The easiest way to do this is through a yahoo email loop. This allows you to post chapters via the files section, communicate easily with the other members, even get opinions on author photos or book covers using the photos section.

Using the yahoo groups, your online crit group can be as small or as large as you like.

Another online method is through email. I know of one group that forwards chapters from member to member, each adding their comments as they get it until it finally returns to the originator with everyone's comments.

Real Life:

There are a few ways to do a real life crit group as well. The first way is something we do at my RWA chapter. Once a month at our meeting, two members are selected to participate in the critique. These members bring enough copies of their 15 pages for everyone at the meeting, then with everyone following along, they read their work outloud. The other members may jot notes on the provided pages during this time. When the reading is over, everyone gets a chance to discuss the work - except the author. You only get to listen - no defending your work! Then the pages are gathered up with everyone's comments and returned to the author.

The second way is a weekly meeting where pages are exchanged, critqued during the week, then returned at the next meeting. I participate in a group like this as well and it's been a great source of beta readers for me.

So...what kind of critique group are you in?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Theme: Critique - The When

Let's talk about two things - when you need critique partners and when your work needs to be critiqued.

When you need CP's:

Personally, I think you need to complete a manuscript before you start rounding up critique partners. Why? Because if you haven't finished that first book, how do you know you will? And if you don't finish, you've wasted your CP's valuable time. Time is a huge commodity in this business. When someone gives you theirs, you need to know it doesn't come cheaply.

Now, if you find someone else working on their first manuscript and the two of you want to critique each other's work, have at it. Just know that's a bit like the blind leading the blind. You're both starting out. How much help can you be to one another?

When your work needs to be critiqued:

Ideally the work you turn over to your CP's should be as clean as possible. That means you don't vomit up a first draft and hand the mess over to them to clean up. A good critique partner (which is what you want to be, right?) goes over their work first, tries to find the missing words, the forgotten commas, the misplaced modifiers, the fact that the hero's name changed from Matt to Mark on page 13.

The more work you do, the less your critique partners have to. This makes their job easier and, lo and behold, the likelihood of them wanting to critique your work increases! A happy critique partner is a productive critique partner.

Lastly, and this is slightly off the "when" topic, but if your CP's point out the same things over and over...get a clue! If they tag you on constantly adverb abuse, police yourself first. A CP who can't learn gets old fast.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Theme: Critique - The Why

Why do you need critique partners? Why do you need anyone other than your mother and your best friend to read your work before you submit it? After all, it's the most amazing story that's ever been put down on paper.

Ahem. Not to be the one to stick a pin in that over-inflated balloon of delusion, but you need to wake up and smell the reality. Unless you're La Nora or SEP or one of those grand dames of romance, you need another set of unbiased eyes on your work.

I'm notorious for missing words (my brain types faster than my fingers) and for forgetting the -ed on action verbs. He crush the letter his hand. Yes, that would be me. My critique partners help me see those things, but they also help me find the bigger issues. Lack of conflict. Gaps in the story. TSTL moments. (Who me? Never!) Unbelievable actions on the part of hero or heroine. Etc.

This is all stuff I'm too close to the story to see. That's why my critique partners are an invaluable tool. If the journey toward publication is a road to be traveled, I'm the driver, my manuscript is the vehicle and my critique partners are my pit crew. Could I get to the finish line without them? Maybe. But it would take a lot longer to get there.

I can't change a tire to save my life.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Industry News Flash

Apparently, agent Caren Johnson has left Firebrand to start her own agency. This might be a great chance to get in with a new agency for those of you out there looking!

Caren Johnson recently began her own literary agency, Caren Johnson Literary Agency. She began her agenting career four and a half years ago when she started an internship at Peter Rubie Literary Agency. She stayed at the agency for three years, the first year as an intern and two years as an agent. She then left to join Nadia Cornier at Firebrand Literary where she stayed for a year. She recently made the switch to agenting on her own so she could work more closely with her authors in building their careers. She would like well organized, well crafted stories in the areas of romance (particularly romantic comedy in the vein of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jenny Cruisie and Kelley St. John; and historical in the vein of Susan Carroll, Diana Gabaldon, and Lauren Willig—high concept only please!), Teen fiction (in the vein of Caridad Ferrer/ Adios to My Old Life, Scott Westerfeld/ Uglies Trilogy) and commercial fiction (in the vein of Christopher Moore/A Dirty Job, Carl Hiaassen/ Nature Girl). For the moment she’s full up with wonderful paranormal romance (Caridad Pineiro, Lee Roland) and romantic suspense (Caridad Pineiro, Dianna Love Snell) authors so if an author submits in this genre, she will be more critical than she normally is. She is only accepting queries via email so send to

Theme: Critique - The How

Here are some great articles on the "how" of critiquing. I figured I'd post them instead of rehashing all that info. The last one is especially thorough.

I think the most important thing to remember when being critiqued is "I am not my work", and the most important thing to remember when critiquing is "do no (intentional) harm."


Sunday, January 21, 2007

This Week's Theme: Critiquing

Just to see how it goes, I've decided to do some "theme" weeks on my blog - all various topics relating to writing. This week will be critiquing. I'm starting off with this topic since I recently wrote an article on critiquing for the RWR (Dec. '06 issue) and feel like I have a fair handle on it.

If you have any questions or things you'd like to see covered concerning this topic, ask away! Also, if you have an interesting tale to tell about a critique group or partner, share that too. I hope to cover the how, why, where, what and when of it all.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bad, Bad Blogger

I haven't been faithful with the blogging lately and for that, I apologize. Next week, I hope to be less of a slacker and get back into a more regular rhythm.

Until then, got any good jokes?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Future Hero

Yes, I know I'm the aunt and all that, but doesn't he just steal your heart a little bit? I adore this child! C'mon, you know you want to squeeze those cheeks!

I adore him so much I'm naming the hero in my next book after him - Ben.

Monday, January 15, 2007

So...Whatcha Reading?

I'm finishing up Catherine Spangler's newest book, Touched By Darkness and I hoping to fit in a long reading sessions today because I don't want to put it down!

What are you reading? Is it any good? Any book burning up your TBR pile, something you're just dying to get to?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Is That So Wrong?

I make myself laugh. As in, when I'm reading my own work, I laugh out loud. Is that odd? You see, I've been reading through Date With The Devil - this is the book I put down to write a book for Nocturne - to get back into the story and reconnect with the characters so I can finish it.

The first night, I stayed up until almost 1am reading my own stuff. I couldn't put it down! Then the next night, besides laughing out loud, I actually said, "That's good stuff," as I finished a chapter.

Now, you have to understand, it's close to five months since I looked at this story. I've forgotten a lot of what I wrote, especially the little bits.

So do you do this when you read your own stuff? Or am I having some sort of bizarre ego trip?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Feeling Groovy

Today is chore day. Blech. But I'm trying to keep a positive attitude and will be playing a CD of island music I picked up in Hawaii while I'm vacuuming, finishing the Christmas undecorating, doing laundry and generally straightening up.

I'm doing pretty good on my edits/read through of the first half of Date With The Devil and am really looking forward to getting back to writing that story - and finishing it!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Big Island - Part III

The Volcano! It's a pretty amazing place - very diverse. From rainforest...(this is on the way to a lava tube) To the original crater, still sending up plumes of sulfurous fumes in a few places...
To the steam vents...
To the lava slides (there used to be a road under here - note the person in the upper right hand corner to get a sense of how vast this is)...

To the lava flowing into the sea (sorry about the blurriness - the sun was setting and I didn't have a tripod - not that there was a level place to set one in the lava field - and yes, the glowing stuff is real live lava)...

To the sheer power and beauty of its jagged coasts...

To the decadence of the chocolate volcano cake served at the Volcano House restaurant! Mmmm...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Big Island - Part II

Some more pics and a story... One of the many beautiful golf courses Hotrod played - this is the same one that had mountain goats all over it.
The lovely little town of Kailua. Doesn't it look like a place you could live? I think I could...
The view from the place we ate breakfast at almost every morning. And yes, those are golf carts. Let's just say Hotrod has an addiction.

The Story:

Okay, we went to dinner at this chic-chic place that turned out to be only so-so (the food was great, the visibility of the sunset was NOT as promised), and while we were waiting for our table, we walked the beach a bit. We came across this pitiful looking honu (See pic below - pitiful, right?)...
We thought he was dead, but then he started drooling (this is also how I know the turtle was boy - girls don't drool when they sleep) and since he was generally looking ill, Hotrod decides we should rescue it and put it back in the water. (How can I not love a man who wants to save turtles?) Just as he's approaching him to pick him up, a woman runs down from the nearby hotel yelling, "No, no!"

Apparently, the turtles come to that beach all the time to sleep on the rocks and absorb their residual heat. And there's a $10,000 fine for touching a honu. We've had some expensive dinners, but that would have topped them all!

I referred to Hotrod as "The Turtle-Toucher" for the rest of the trip. He was not amused.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Big Island

Here are some pics of our trip! Hawaii is a beautiful island! I'll start with some of the local residents... Mountain goats were all over the Kona Country Club golf course (mauka side) - they were so cute! You could hear them baa-ing back and forth to one another. Watching the kids jump around on the lava rocks was fun.

We took a sunset cruise and were treated to a visit by some curious spinner dolphins. Love them!

Here's a honu (sea turtle) resting on a black sand beach. They're so beautiful. Maybe tomorrow I'll tell you how a honu almost cost Hotrod $10,000.

Stay tuned...

Friday, January 05, 2007


Isn't undecorating the house and tree the most blechy thing? I'm not looking forward to it, but I really want my house back in order. Ick. Such a bother but it has to be done. Anyone have any secrets for making it less of a chore? I wish I could pay someone to do it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Back To Reality

The holidays are well and truly over and it's time to get back to the reality of the writing life. For me - and I think many of us - this means setting goals for the year to come. And as the lovely Roxanne St. Claire has pointed out to me many times, my goals are really not true goals (things I can actively affect) but rather dreams. Le sigh. Dreaming is great, but you can't do anything that will directly cause an editor to offer you a three-book deal, you know what I mean?

So, with that in mind, I'm trying to think "goals" and "dreams" and list them separately.

1. Finish Date With The Devil.
2. Write two new books.
3. Write two newsletter articles.
4. Pitch another idea for an article to the RWR.
5. Do a great job of being Vice President of the Spacecoast Authors of Romance.
6. Develop a novella idea.
7. Rough that novella out.
8. Improve the quality of my first drafts.
9. Be more mindful of the five senses when I write.
10. Develop an idea for a workshop.
11. Pitch that idea for 2008 Nationals.
12. Continue to improve Romance Divas.

1. Sell a book this year.
2. Sell three books this year.
3. Option one or more for a TV or movie deal.
4. Secure a fabulous advance that makes both me and my agent smile a lot.
5. Hit the New York Times Bestseller list.
6. Hit any bestseller list.

How about you? Any goals or dreams you'd like to share?