secrets and plotting


Written on Friday, December 26, 2008 by haleigh

Friday, December 26th, 2008

So as I'm plotting my next novel (how fun is that to say? I finally finished one!), I'm reading, reading, reading. And this week, I came across a book that has really made me think.

I liked it - I liked it a lot - until I got to the last chapter. All the way through the book, it was clear the heroine had a secret. A big one. Something that created huge amounts of guilt in the heroine. And that guilt permeated every inch of her life - how she formed relationships, why she never put down roots but instead moved from town to town, why she no longer spoke to her father, why she'd dedicated her life now to helping others.

In most cases, this works - it's the classic search for redemption. I used this myself - Cole's entire life is built on guilt over his father's death. It affects every decision he makes, how he treats the people around him.

The problem, though, is the secret. I'm realizing that it has to be the kind of secret that would make your average reader feel that same level of guilt. Or at least understand why the character feels that guilt. Cole didn't actually kill his father (obviously), but he was in charge of the security, and he made one poor decision, and his father died. Happens all the time in security, and maybe some people wouldn't feel guilty, but in theory, readers could understand why Cole did.

The point (I promise there is one), is that in this book I read, once the heroine's "big secret" was revealed, I didn't get it. I still don't. The big secret was that she had taken the SAT's for her not-so-bright but uber-rich cousin. In return, the cousin paid the heroine's tuition.

Okay, maybe I'm more of a dishonest person that I previously thought, but I still don't get it. Sure it was a dumb thing to do. It might even have been criminal of the cousin. And I understand feeling guilty enough that when the college offered her a distinguished alumni award she didn't accept it. I don't understand feeling so guilty you walk away from a man who loves you because you think you don't deserve him because of this terrible thing you did. I don't understand that when someone unknowingly calls you a "fake," you panic so badly about someone finding you out that you go on the run for weeks.

So I guess that's my "what I've learned this week" message. If you're going to build an entire character around one trait, like guilt, the readers have to feel it too. Or at least understand it. I mean no offense to this particular author, but as a reader, it really bothered me that this character how I "got" for the first 20 chapters, I suddenly didn't understand anymore. And it really makes me hope that in my case, readers feel, or at least empathize, with Cole's guilt (and if you're reading it, and you don't, let me know!!)



Written on Saturday, December 06, 2008 by haleigh

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

And no, I'm not referring to GMC cars, though everything I read on both sides of the bail out debate depresses me, but rather the lovely Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts of our characters.

Somehow, even though I made lists about this and did character sketches, this must have gone straight over my head. The contest comments I got back this week? All three judges agreed on one thing (always a bad sign, when they agree!).

The heroine's character had no discernible conflict.

Uh, can I just say opps? I thought, "yes she does!" and kept thinking it through and realized, uh, no, she doesn't. It wasn't just that I forgot to make it clear in the synopsis what her internal conflict is, I forgot it all together!!

So I started thinking about Shae and all the wacky things she does over the course of the manuscript, and suddenly, her internal conflict was clear.

She has trust issues.

Now, I realize this is a new, exciting, and unique internal conflict. Uh, not. It's cliche. But it works. And not only does it work, but as soon as that crystallized in my head, the ending fixed itself. Literally. I'd been trying to figure out what to do about the end, because I don't particularly like it as it is now, and the new ending just appeared. And it's perfect.

Anybody else forget something so simple, that when it's pointed out, it fixes everything? Anybody have any pesky characters who are hiding what their internal conflict is?

I lost my first contest!!


Written on Thursday, December 04, 2008 by haleigh

December 4th, 2008

So over the past few months, I've entered four contests. The two earlier ones went in with the same version, then I made major changes (Thanks Marnee!) and submitted to two more.

The results from the first are back, and I'm not in the finalist round. Regardless, I'm so freakin excited I can't even stand it.

It was the Susannah Contest (Nola Stars - North Louisiana RWA chapter). Published and unpublished authors are in the same contest, and there is no distinction between sub-genres. They're goal is to make to provide similar competition as an editor's/agent's slush pile - everything all mixed up, and you're competing against everyone.

The top ten percent go on to the final round. And while I didn't make the finalist round, they sent out the average scores, and I was firmly in the top 20%. How exciting is that?

And the judges comments - wow! They really liked it!

And the best part? All those changes the judges said it needed to really shine, are all the changes I made!! (you freakin rock, Marn!!)

Okay, enough gushing from me!

When do you give up?


Written on Saturday, November 22, 2008 by haleigh

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm entered into Golden Heart. I paid my fifty hard earned dollars (I chauffeured the local news anchor and his family to a wedding at the beach and back to earn the money - after listening to him, completely smashed, singing Kanye West's Soldier Boy at the top of his lungs the entire 45 minute drive home, I will never again be able to watch the news with a straight face. Every time he comes on, I want to shout Superman and do the arm wave.). Anyway, I earned the money, I entered the contest.

And in nine days, I have to overnight them my completed manuscript.

After working 16 hours days every day this week, I'm exhausted. I knew November was going to be a bad month, but I didn't quite expect this. I run a lecture series on my campus, and between my boss skipping town to spend 6 weeks in Kathmandu and me almost losing my job Monday because the stupid bitch in the TV office on campus decided she hates me, I'm ready for a break.

So I have today, tomorrow, and Thanksgiving break to frantically write, edit, and polish my manuscript.

That's not enough time.

So when do I decide to give up and try again next year? I know the first 55 pages are good, but the rest simply doesn't live up to the start. Do I send it in since I'm already entered, and hope I don't final, since the last 350 pages suck? Do I send it in, hope I do final, and hope an agent/editor sees enough potential that they don't write me off? Do I just forfeit my hard earned fifty bucks and wait for next year?

Anyone have any advice? Anyone else having the same panic I'm having? Anybody wanna swap those first all-important first 50 pages?

smokin' in the boy's room


Written on Tuesday, November 11, 2008 by haleigh

Nov. 11th, 2008

I never actually got caught smoking in school -- I was too much of a good girl back then to dare do anything like that. *g* But I digress. The point of this blog is....

I'm going back to school!

I just found I was accepted this week, and am sooooo excited. It's a two-year, MA in Writing Popular Fiction, and I start January 4th.

I just finished picking my classes for the spring semester. I'm taking: "Empowering the Female Heroine" (doesn't that one just sound awesome?), "Maintaining Narrative Tension," and "How to Make a Living Writing Romance Novels," taught by writer Stephanie Bond.

I have one more class to choose, and I'm stumped. I can choose a class on POV, or "Plotting for Mysteries." The POV class is required, but will be offered two more semesters. The Plotting class may or may not be. But I write suspense, not mystery, so it may not be 100% applicable. And if I take the POV class, it's one more required class out of the way, and hence room for cool electives next semester. But the suspense side of the plotting has always been difficult for me (people always figure out the mystery, like 5 chapters before they're supposed to!), so it could be useful.

Can you tell I'm over thinking this, just a tad?

So, since my decision making prowess has always been a bit questionable, I'm doing some polling (that would be you). Which would you pick - POV or Mystery plotting?

endings and epilogues


Written on Wednesday, November 05, 2008 by haleigh

Nov. 5th, 2008

So I have a secret. After last week's posts, I'm sure this is no longer a secret to anyone else. But here it is. I hate epilogues. Blame it on the mini-feminist living in me, but the assumption that a HEA must include marriage, babies, and sex at regular intervals makes me want to jump out of my skin. And frankly, most epilogues take a satisfying happy ending and turn it into a sap-fest.

So this week, I found a new RS author - Annie Solomon who was the 2007 RITA winner in the Romantic Suspense category. I loved every word of her book, but most of all, I loved her ending. At no point did either the hero or heroine say 'I love you,' or have the classic 'Oh no, I realize now I'm in love with her' moment of internal dialog. There was no discussion of marriage or a long-term future commitment, and only a cursory mention of babies in a "lets practice since we've got the routine down" sort of way.

And yet, there was not a doubt in my mind, when I set down the book, that they were madly in love and would live happily ever after. And all without the normal sap overload of an epilogue. Personally, I found this thrilling, and I'm sure I'm going to re-read and re-read to figure out how she manged to do this so I can do it too!

the subjective success of best sellers


Written on Saturday, November 01, 2008 by haleigh

So I've been looking for new authors in the romantic suspense genre. Seeing as how I write romantic suspense, I've been trying all sorts of new authors, new directions, seeing what's out there and what I like and what I don't.

There's one particular best-selling RS author several people have recommended to me. Just the sheer quantity of books on the shelves says she's popular (and no, it's not Nora!). So I give it a shot a few weeks back. At page 136, when the hero and heroine still haven't met, and I've read 14 different analogies about the exact shade of blue in her eyes, I chucked the book at the wall.

Last night I was too tired to write, so I thought I'd give this author one more shot. One more book, just in case I happened to pick up a dud the first time.


I made it to page 91 this time, and went through an insane number of descriptions of his "golden eyes" (whatever that means) and the exact scent of a Chinese cigarette. Now, I love detail as much as the next girl, but give me a break! I don't need every puff of 3 cigarettes from the chain smoker in chapter 1 described to me in great detail. Or even better, if you love that much description, find something else to describe! It's a cigarette - we get it. There's smoke. There's ash. Time to move on.

And for goodness sake, can you pick a head and stay there? In each paragraph, the same thing was described from a different character's point of view. For example: "He rubbed her hands up and down her arms, reveling at the smooth feel of her skin. She shivered as she felt his hands rub up and down her arms, comforting her....." Yeah, we got it the first time. There were hands, there were arms, they were rubbed. Great. (can you tell this book hit the wall with a satisfying thud as well?).

I will say, after giving up reading straight through, I jumped around in the book for a while, and there was a phenomenal sex scene (though I'm glad I didn't waste 200 pages waiting for it) filled with deep emotion, and a very satisfying happy ending.

At some level, I can see why she's popular. Hot sex, deep emotions, cool characters. But it's not for me. So as I add to my little list of "what I like and what I hate," we're adding head-hopping to the hate side (it was already there, just adding it again for emphasis) and endless description of the same item/acts to the hate side.

Anybody found a new author recently they love? One that's just not for them even though everyone else loves them? Anyone else awed (and terrified) by the sheer subjective-ness of the publishing businesses?

everything I love about pretty woman....


Written on Monday, October 27, 2008 by haleigh

So I got new curtains, which of course meant hours standing in front of an ironing board to get rid of all the creases from the packaging. To occupy my mind, I started flipping through channels, and came across Pretty Woman.

Now I know a lot of people hate Pretty Woman, since it's a hooker being rescued by a rich man, blah, blah, blah, but I have always loved this movie.

I think for me, it's the characterization. You can't help (well, I can't help) but fall in love with these characters. Edward is the classic tortured alpha. You can just feel his desperation for something to change in his life. And in the end, because of her presence in his life, he makes those changes.

And Vivian! She's so unpretentious, so genuine, that you can't help but root for her. She's spunky! I was watching close this time, and I noticed something. At the beginning, Richard Gere's feelings for her shift around a lot. When she's just being herself (driving the Lotus, watching I Love Lucy), he likes her. You can see it in the way he looks at her and smiles at her. When she's acting like a prostitute (a defense mechanism, I would guess), he's instantly annoyed and put off by her.

One other thing I noticed this time (probably because I watched it out of order. I turned it on a third of the way through, watched to the end, then TNT politely started it over for me so I could see the first third :). Anyway, one thing I noticed is how much Edward's character changes. In the opening scene, he's on the phone with his girlfriend, and she's clearly on the brink of leaving him. He orders her to come to LA, when she refuses and threatens to leave, he says fine. He absolutely refuses to even ask her to stay, much less apologize.

However, when Vivian starts to leave (after the Polo game, when she gathers up her stuff and marches to the elevator), he responds completely differently. He chases her, makes himself emotionally vulnerable, and practically begs her to stay.

Interestingly, at no point does Edward tell her he loves her. But you see it, through every action and through the way his character changes. Even without any internal thoughts, you can watch the relationship develop through their actions.

I find this interesting for writing. While it's fine to use internal dialog and verbal dialog to show the changes in their relationship, we also have to make sure the characters themselves reflect it. Each of their actions should be influenced by the growing romantic relationship. One of the things readers demand is that they know, by the end of the book, that this relationship will last. So often, authors use an epilogue to tell readers that. (Yep, look, ten years later and they're still having regular sex, even with three kids. They must have a perfect relationship). My hatred for epilogues is a whole separate post, but the point here is that we can show that, through character changes and development. In Pretty Woman, you know Edward and Vivian will last because they're both different people by the end, and their relationship is based on that

So that's my thought for the day - sorry it's so rambling *g*

p.s. - I'm half tempted to post a picture of the curtains. They freakin rock.



Written on Tuesday, October 21, 2008 by haleigh

How's this for weird? In my WIP, the heroine google's the hero's name in an attempt to figure out more information about him. The first hit on google (in the story), is an obituary, which of course, raises a whole host of new questions (no, he's not a ghost :).

So I'm sitting here trying to figure out how much information she would get and how quickly. Would the headline say where he was supposedly killed (a key piece of information)? Or by whom (another important bit). Would she have to click on the article or just read the snippet on the search page.....

So, for inspiration, I googled the hero's name. What do you know, the first hit on google is an obituary, of a Marine on leave from Iraq (the hero is a former Marine, "killed" in Iraq). I don't want to make light of someone's death, but how weird is that?

shout outs


Written on Monday, October 20, 2008 by haleigh

Today, the pirates were discussing all the people that make us who we are as writers - teachers and critique partners and community groups and the romance community in general. And as I was thinking through all the people I need to thank in my journey so far (there are a lot! And I'm sure many many more to come), I realized I left one item off the list.

Not to be a corporate whore or anything, but I have to give a shout-out to the writing software I use, because otherwise, I'd still be a disorganized mess of scenes and chapters and notes and character sketches. As a non-linear writer, organization is a must, and this little baby keeps me organized.

For anyone unfamiliar with the deity that is Power Writer, here are a couple screen shots of what it looks like.

The center portion - the word processor - has the same functions as Word. It doesn't have every feature, but it's got the important ones (like formatting options and copy/paste and a thesaurus most importantly, spell check)

To the left you have your outline. In my opinion, the outline feature alone is worth the price of the software (which, by the way, is right around a hundred bucks). The outline to the left sorts your novel by scene, chapter, and act (yes, this was originally developed for screenplays - I use the acts to separate beginning, middle and end, so I can collapse the outline for whatever section I'm not working on).

Now here's the really hand-dandy part about the outline. Ready? You can drag and drop!!!!!!! (all the exclamation points are the equivalent of me doing a cheerleader squeal over this feature) Select a scene title, and drag and drop it into a new chapter! Wanna re-arrange your chapters? Drag and drop! Move act 3 to the beginning? No problem! This is where being a non-linear writer works - I can rearrange anything!

The scenes are also automatically separated and labeled in the document itself, but the scene titles will be removed when you export the document as an RTF to send it to agents and editors.

Also, you can label your scene titles in the outline - I mark them in pink for heroine's pov, blue for hero's, gray for villain's, etc. You can also put a little icon beside - I use a checkmark for when I'm finished, and exclamation point if I need to come back to something, etc.

And the final feature is the bar across the bottom. This is where you can store notes, character sketches, etc. They have a section for each character allowing for tons of info (along with a name generator), notes for each scene, each chapter, each act, and a general section for research.

Also, you can embed notes in the text - highlight a portion of text, attach a note to it, and later when you scroll over with the mouse, your note pops up in a little box. Freakin genius, man!

So anyway, that's my rambling shoutout to Power Writer. If you're looking for reasonably priced writing software, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. I did have some snags switching from XP to Vista with it, but their support staff is great. And hey, Christmas is coming up, and you just know your mother-in-law is dying to splurge on something useful this year, right?

Thanks, Jessie, for reminding me I haven't posted in a while - hopefully soon I'll come up with something actually writing related to talk about! But in the meantime, hey, I've been productive (two more chapters revised!) so at least I'm keeping up on something!

growth and change


Written on Tuesday, October 07, 2008 by haleigh

As I'm revising Nowhere to Run, I'm putting together all these images of characters and thoughts in my mind for my next story. There's been talk on the blogs this week of characters - what type are they? What archetype? What personality type?

So I've been filtering all this through my mind as I think about Naomi and my next, nameless hero (I'm thinking Jameson, but I'm not set yet :) And what I'm realizing is that I've set myself up with an odd situation.

Naomi and "Jameson" were married once upon a time. High school sweethearts, passionate young love, and all that jazz. They were viciously ripped apart by "bad guy" (still need a name for him too :) In the ten years since, they've both changed. Fueled by anger and the bitter belief that his wife betrayed him, "Jameson" has turned inward, focused his entire existence on his job (under cover military intelligence) and perfected the perfect bad-boy lifestyle where he can set aside any emotion to get the job done. Naomi, in a desperate attempt to get revenge for her husband, whom she has thought dead all these years, has gone from the perky, girl next door cheerleader to a cold, calculating woman hell-bent on revenge.

So this is my conundrum: I need to know their characteristics as they stand now, when they meet again after all these years. How do they react? What do they do in the face of danger (there will be a lot). But I also need to know how they used to be, before "bad guy" came along, because there will have to be chapters set in the past to deal with how they were ripped apart. And even more importantly, I need to know how they will change as the story goes on. Once "Jameson" realizes Naomi did not betray him, does he revert back to his witty, charming, open high-school self? Does Naomi turn back into the perky cheerleader after 10 years of living with revenge? I can't imagine either of them would.

So how will they change? I'm guessing they re-gain some of their former characteristics (i.e. Naomi allows herself to feel emotion again, and "Jameson" will be a bit more open with Naomi, at least). So I need to be careful, over the course of the novel, to watch not only if things are "in-character" at the moment, but how that character grows and changes based on the emotional developments.

Hmmm, I'm starting to think I've gotten in over my head :) Anybody else have major personality changes for their character? Have any advice for me? Think I'm insane?



Written on Friday, October 03, 2008 by haleigh

Today's blog post from Jessica Faust at Bookends Agency is chock full of phenomenal advice of how to get (and more importantly, keep!) an agent's attention. So beef up the end of chapter three and chapter four of your manuscript!

contests, contests, contests


Written on Thursday, October 02, 2008 by haleigh

It's official. I have jumped onto the contest bandwagon. Three contests, just this week! In my defense, they'll be the only ones this year - they just happened to fall on the same week.

So I (holding my breath and crossing my fingers) sent in submissions to the Suzannah contest (North Louisiana RWA chapter), the Beacon Unpublished contest (First Coast RWA chapter), and signed up for Golden Heart.

I figured signing up now for Golden Heart would accomplish two things: keep me from getting blocked out if they hit their cap of 1,200 entries, and force me to finish my revisions. I paid my fifty dollars, so you better believe something is getting sent in by Dec. 2nd! How's that for motivation?

For anyone else currently trying to navigate contests, Stephie Smith has a brilliant and up-to-date chart of all contests, their rules, and dates, and their judges here.

Also, the Beacon contest deadline was extended (I really wish I'd known that last night when I frantically turned in my submission at 11:46 pm - lol) until the 7th. They're looking for more inspirational, erotic, and short/series contep if anyone's got them. It looks like a pretty good list of final round judges!

Anyone else submitting to contests - Golden Heart or smaller ones? Do you have any specific strategy for picking from among the pletorha of contests that exist (cause really, you could go broke fast entering too many of them!).

I made myself an excel chart of the contests I'm interested in, complete with final-round judge info, and a ranking system for msyelf of which I'm most interested in (yes, I'm a complete geek!). My strategy has been to look at who's judging the final round - if it's an agent or publisher I'm intersted in, then I go for it. If it's not, I pass.

Anyone else have a strategy?

Weeping heros


Written on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 by haleigh

So as I put off revisions, I've been reading like a fiend. And thanks to the recommendations of several friends, I am happy to report that I've found two new authors that I adore: Lisa Kleypas, and Julia Quinn (yes, I'm horribly late on both of these bandwagons).

But one thing I noticed as I sucked down three novels this weekend, was that in each, the hero cried. Wept, even, in two of the three.

I must say, (and all of my feminist friends can cringe in unison as I admit to this), I am not a big fan of men crying. In fact, I only know one real-life man who cries easily. In the past five years, I've seen my husband's eyes turn a bit red once, when a family member died suddenly. But no weeping. I've never seen my father cry.

And usually, in books, when an alpha male starts crying, I put the book down. There's just something about an alpha and tears that don't work for me.

However, in each of these three books this weekend, the tears made total sense, and made me even more sympathetic to the hero. In each case, it was something worthy of crying over. And never, in any of the books, were the tears in the presence of the heroine. (in two books he cried with his mother, in the third, it was a flashback with his former fiance)

I wonder, if he was weeping on the shoulder of the heroine, I would feel different. Or if it were described more. In each case, it was a simple: "and he wept." And in each case, I was already crying for him.

So here's my question for anyone reading. Do weeping alpha's bother you? Are there instances when it's okay? Not okay? Have you ever written weeping alpha male? Have you ever written a scene or scenario worthy of tears?

And that's all she wrote.........


Written on Thursday, July 31, 2008 by haleigh

It's official.....

I have a first draft.

Woo hoo!!!!!! I was running around my house squealing last night when I finished. My husband, who does try his best to be supportive but really doesn't get it, says "Oh good, you're all the way done?" (he's been a little bummed by me completely ignoring him for the past week). And I stop squealing and spinning and say, "No, this was just the first draft. Now I have to start at the beginning and re-write most of it." So he sighs, pastes on a big fake smile and tells me congratulations.

The end still ins't quite how I want it, and most of the beginning needs to be scrapped and re-written. And there are three or four major plot changes I made along the way that created huge inconsistencies.

I think I'll make a list of everything that needs to be changed as they come to me, and next week (cause I need some time off - whew!) I'll get back to it and get this baby polished and shining.

In the mean time.......I have a first draft!!!!!!!

binge writing


Written on Monday, July 28, 2008 by haleigh

So I turned off my email when I got home Friday, sent the hubby to his parents house, and cloistered myself in a room. At one am on Sunday night/Monday morning, I am finally emerging.

My legs and back are sore from sitting on a futon, I've drank 3 two-liters of diet coke and eaten I don't know how many frozen pizzas, and have inadvertently called my dog by my heroine's name on multiple occasions.

All this to say that in 56 hours, I wrote 15,564 words.

Hot damn!

Does this happen to anyone else? I call it binge writing. Once I get the end firmly in sight, I can't stop. My house is a mess, I'm out of clean clothes and groceries, and yet I can't stop. Concentrating at work tomorrow will be impossible, mostly because I know if I just had one more day, I'd finish. Finish!!

Ideas and sentences and sights and words are spinning around in my head at an alarming rate. I just have to ride out the binge until I have a first draft. Than I'll close the laptop, give a big sigh of relief, scrub my house and do some laundry, and finally come back to start over on the re-writes. *Sigh*. I can't wait :)

Progress report


Written on Friday, July 18, 2008 by haleigh

Though "frustration report" would probably be a better title than "progress." After almost a month of writing only one single, tiny, lone little paragraph, I am finally back on track. I think. I wrote 5,000 words this week, so I'm at least moving in the correct direction, if not perfectly.

I'm finding myself stymied on the suspense side of the romantic suspense plot. The romance side I have done. In fact, the suspense side has kind of faltered, and they're just spending a lot of time in bed, waiting for the bad guy to show up and cause a ruckus. Not the best plot device, but they seem to be enjoying themselves.

So I decided to make a list of all the possible things that could happen on the suspense side. Of course some of them are ridiculous, like the bad guy could blow up the apartment building where she lives and poof - that would be that. Or Cole could capture the bad guy, tie him to a chair, and torture him until he talks. Interesting, but not really going to fill 30,000 words unless I want to get really gory.

But having a list of options seems to be helping. Getting the creative juices flowing, so to speak. So let's see if I can make it to the end. I'm offically at the 2/3 mark, which is exciting. Not as exciting as Marnee finishing and winning our little contest (yay!!!), but still progress!

family dinner....


Written on Friday, July 18, 2008 by haleigh

It's been a while since I posted an excerpt, so I thought I'd stick one up here. In this scene, Cole going to visit his former mother-in-law, Maura, and his ex-wife shows up. Needless to say, Shae's snarky side comes out in full force


“I still can’t believe you let him in this house,” Adrianna said to Maura.

He dropped the knife and slid his arm along the back of Shae’s chair. “Here it comes,” he said under his breath.

“And there’s the matter of alimony that I didn’t receive this month.”

Shae blinked, seemed to come back around. “Who gets alimony anymore?” she whispered.

He grinned at her before turning back to Adrianna. “I’ve been declared dead, Aid. You cash a check from my account right now and you’ll find your pretty little butt in jail.” He feigned reaching for his wallet. “I’m more than happy to write you one. See what happens.”

She huffed, scooped up a serving of Pad Thai and plunked it on her plate. “You’re a jerk.”

“Yeah, I’ve got names for you too.”

“All right, children,” Maura said, passing the bowl of pasta to Shae. “Can we eat now, or do we have to listen to more of this?”

Adrianna rolled her eyes and started eating. Thank god she couldn’t talk and chew at the same time. She must have perfected that shrill voice, practiced until it was just the right decibel to drill into his skull. He took another swig of his beer. He nudged Shae under the table with his knee and raised an eyebrow.

She smiled around a mouthful and swallowed. “It’s good. I don’t know why you’ve had me cooking this whole time.”

“You were more heating than cooking.”

“True. Oh!” She turned to Maura. “The food you left in Cole’s cabin is great. Way better than anything he or I could have come up with.”

Adrianna froze with her fork halfway to her mouth. “You’ve been in the cabin?”

Shae nodded and smiled politely. Shit. He knew what was coming.

“Who are you?”

“Uh...” Shae glanced toward him.

Before he could help, Adrianna said, “Are you sleeping with him?”

“Adrianna!” Maura said. “Can someone in this family pretend to have table manners?”

“Oh, it’s okay,” Shae said. She turned to Adrianna with a smile would have terrified Cole had it been directed at him. “No, I’m not sleeping with him. I’m his prisoner. He keeps me chained in the cabin and trots me out for family dinners.”

Silence. Adrianna’s face flushed red with outrage. Shae kept that smile in place - one that showed too many teeth to be sincere - and took another bite. Maura muttered something and rose to get the bottle of Bourbon kept on the sideboard. She poured it into her glass and took a swig.

He squeezed Shae’s knee under the table for being a good sport, scooped the rest of the Pad Thai onto his plate, and finally started eating.

Adrianna was still sputtering. She threw her fork down on the table. “I’m not putting up with this.”

Maura poured more Bourbon. He wondered how drunk she’d have to get to be okay with him killing Adrianna. If he could just get his hands around her neck....he sighed and pushed aside the fantasy. For now. “Put up with what? I’m working on a case. She’s in my custody until I finish it.”

She squinted at Shae. “Aren’t you that reporter?”

“Oh look,” Shae said. “She’s bright too.”

Adrianna gasped and leaned forward, bracing her hands on the table. “Do you want to know why Cole and I split up?”

“He said it was because you’re bad in bed.”

“Oh Lord,” Maura said. She drained her glass, scooted back from the table, and started picking up plates. Cole’s was half full, but he let her take it anyway.

He glanced at Shae out of the corner of his eye. “I said it was because I was bad in bed.”

She grinned and shrugged. “I know.”

“It’s because he killed my father.”

Cole scrubbed his hands over his face. “Great.”

the problem of being a plotter....


Written on Monday, June 09, 2008 by haleigh

So I think I'm making progress again. After a brainstorming session last week (thanks Christie!) and (literally) filling 11 pages of a legal pad with outlines this weekend, I think I'm back on track.

And even better, I think I have my ending.

It's all coming together. Of course, I've been saying this since April. But I really thought it was coming together then! This time, I feel much more confident. I have questions to be answered for the mystery, the emotional connection of the characters plotted out, and a bad guy who is going to die. I'm on a freakin roll. Now we just have to see how long it lasts.

The research is getting more fun too. For instance, what kind of bugs might be planted in a room, how big are they, and how can you scan for them? If you're wearing a sling on your left arm due to a broken clavicle, what kind of holster will still allow you an easy draw of a Taurus Millenium? Which gangs have a presence in New York and Washington DC, and Rio De Jinero? If you were a leader of the U'wa tribe in the Llanos Basin of Colombia, could you get access to a satellite phone or email?

I don't know how authors did research before the internet. In two hours, I had answer to all of those questions (multi-directional microphones and radio frequency scanners; a canvas holster that hooks to your belt at the small of your back; MS-13; and yes).

One of the batbabes told me this week that she was doing research on Marines, so we went over to the Marine Recruitment office and got all sorts of good info, along with a list of characteristics these marines thought her hero should have (badass being at the top of that list). I was in awe! To have the nerve to just walk in and get first-person answers to your questions! I find this amazing. I'm doubting it's something I could pull off without launching into a full blown panic-attack, but wouldn't it b cool?

Anybody else have research spilling out all over the place? Anyone else brave enough to ask questions? Or do you stick to anonymous websites?

Christie, Marnee Jo - how are those word counts coming?

the walls we build


Written on Thursday, May 29, 2008 by haleigh

So this week I built a wall. It was a pretty thrilling project. Actually, it was a major pain in the ass. But I got to thinking, and I realized that building a wall is a lot like writing a book.

Not so much the whole one stone at a time part, but that too, I guess.

The problem for me was the leveling. I had to dig down a ways to put the bottom stone, and if I didn't get it exactly level, then the stones on top were all kind of skewed.

So I tried to fix my skewed stones by jumping up and on them to beat them into submission (i.e. into being flat and level). That didn't work so much. So I had to remove my top stones, dig down, remove my bottom stones, dig down a bit farther and level everything out with some dirt and sand that got all over my hands.

Then I get to the end, and I have a freakin two inch gap in my circle. I can't fit a stone in a two-inch gap! I can't leave it - the hole will be obvious to everyone! So I either have to move everything around to close off my gap, or I have to widen my curves to make enough room for one more stone.

There was an analogy in here somewhere. Something about plot holes popping up no matter what kind of foundation we lay or how carefully we, outline.

So anyway, I'm just full of plot holes this week. I've been researching out the wazoo. Did anyone else know that there are oil pipelines in Colombia being attacked by gurerllia and paramilitary armies? Or that it cots approximately $35 per barrel to drill for ultra-deep sea oil off the coast of Brazil?

Anybody else have a plot full of holes about now? Or is it flowing?

My first rejection letter!


Written on Monday, May 19, 2008 by haleigh

I am proud to announce that this morning, I received my first rejection letter. I tried my hand at flash fiction (though I had no idea what I was doing), and submitted (on a dare from a friend) to a literary magazine. And as far as rejection letters go, it didn't seem all that bad. In fact, I'm still smiling about it:


Thank you for your interest in ----. Our decisions were difficult, but we have decided not to use your submission. We have included below our editors' comments on your work; we hope you find them useful. Please note that we are closed to submissions until June 1, when our Fall issue reading period opens.


Editor 5 Vote: Maybe
Ed. 5 Comments: This starts off very strong but the murder revelation feels like a gimmick. Otherwise written well.

Editor 6 Vote: No
Ed. 6 Comments: Although the writing is good, the first mention of a husband comes too late in the story and as a result, the murder confession seems tacked on for shock value.


In the submission explanation on this magazine's website, they warn that all editor's comments are unedited, and often not positive. You need two maybe's or one yes to move on to the final round of editing.

So........not bad, right??? I got a "starts off very strong," "writing is good," and "written well." And I got one maybe. There was no "you suck," no "stop writing now," no "I wanted to poke my eyes out halfway through this and eat them."

I'll take it!

I know it's a rejection, but for some reason, I'm just all smiles and thrilled with myself right now. An actual editor gave me a "maybe"!!!!

After my whole crisis-of-faith this weekend (see voodoo doll below and the clumping of voodoo pins in the balls-region), I'm back to feeling better about myself and my abilities. Even if the encouragement is in the form of a rejection.

Anyone else have rejection letters they're proud of? Or am I just insane?

faith and voodoo


Written on Friday, May 16, 2008 by haleigh

So today I let a friend.....let's call him the first three chapters of my WIP. I'd submitted these chapters to a critique group, gotten good feedback and made revisions, so I was feeling pretty damn good about myself.

Mark felt differently.

I won't repeat everything he said, but the words "sophomoric," "suck," "start over," "implausible," "unpolished," "unbelievable," and "start over" stick out in my mind.

(Notice I really remember the phrase "start over.").

So parts of what he said was very good criticism, and parts of his advice I'll take. Parts of it just pissed me off. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he's right.

And that's okay.

My writing is not perfect. It's not polished. It's not ready for the New York Times Best Seller list. But I started writing 14 short months ago, and it's a hell of a lot more polished now than it was then. And that's what my comparison should be, right? There's a reason 80% of the authors of NYT Best Sellers are in their 60's!

Writing isn't something that happens overnight, or that we're instantly good at. Sure, there are those success stories of people who rocketed to the top of the best seller list with their debut novel at the age of 22, but for the rest of us, it's all about hard work, dedication, and faith.

It's the faith in myself part that I'm running a bit short today. Which sucks, because I was on such a roll before he got started! (halfway - woohoo!)

Anyone else get a figurative (or literal!) knee in the balls this week?

Anyone else use the voodoo doll gadget from Google desktop? (notice where on my Mark doll the voodoo pins are clustered). The doll sits on your screen. You can assign a name and add a little pin every time they piss you off. Very nifty for those pesky co-workers.

jumping in the deep end...


Written on Wednesday, May 07, 2008 by haleigh

So I've been thinking about point-of-view.

I thought I was pretty solid on POV - no major slips into the wrong one, no head hopping, none of those pesky "she thought's" or "she said to herself's". Basically, none of those mistakes that I used to make.

But yesterday morning I was re-reading sections of Pamela Clare's Unlawful Contact (I had gone to my neighbor's house to let her puppies out and found her borrowed copy so sat down with it - not to get off-topic or anything). And once again, I was blown away by the depth of her POV. I mean, she gets way down in there. As a reader, you're so far inside those characters head's that it creates an almost visceral reaction.

And what I really want to know is how in the world she does it!

I'm pretty sure a big part of it is knowing your characters so well that you, the author, are that deep in their heads. Because really, if you're not that deep, no reader will be. Right?

I think I'm getting there. But then again, I've been saying that for a month now. On the bright side, I am slowly falling in love with my heroine.

And it's about damn time! I thought I was going to have to kill her again. I've written seven scenes now where she dies. Cole holds a gun to her head and shoots her. She gets hit buy a bus. Their plane crashes (Cole, of course, miraculously survives, because let's face it, he's hot).

I pulled each of these scenes out of my WIP and put them in a file called "SHAE DIES."

It was therapeutic.

But now I'm starting to think that I like her. I'm warming up to her. Now I just have to get further into her head.

Any ideas?

(And Christie.....I'm still ahead of you!)

Read 'em and weep


Written on Friday, April 25, 2008 by haleigh

I'd like everyone to take a close look at the progress bar to the right. Then click on Christie's blog and take a look at her progress bar.

That's right......I'm ahead of Christie.

I know it won't last, but right now I'm so proud I can't even stand it. Marnee - you're still in the lead, but watch out!

So I read on all these blogs and read such wonderful authors and they're all pansters. It's very rare I come across another plotter.

And pansters always describe it in such romantic, literary terms. They get to watch a story unfold, they get to be surprised, they can let their characters grow and change!

I'm jealous of all this, I must say. So for the past few weeks, I've been working hard not to plot ahead. To just write, and let my characters follow their whim and take me where they will.

I wrote nothing.

Scratch that. I wrote a very odd scene where the hero pulls a gun out of his waistband and shoves it against the heroine's head.

Uh, not quite how I'd imagined their relationship developing.

So yesterday, I gave my students their second exam, which means I sit for an hour and a half and twiddle my thumbs, while watching for anything that might appear like cheating. And during this time, I decided to give in and plot. I had a legal pad and a pen and started writing. I filled four pages, with motivations and developments of all my main characters, including the bad guy who is working behind the scenes. I found ways out of all these out of sticky situations I'd been mired in. I even drew a little chart that used solid lines to connect my plot and dotted lines to connect my themes.

And I got home and started writing and was able to crack out 4,000 words in two evenings.

So, much to my efforts to the contrary, looks like I will remain a plotter.

Anyone else a plotter wishing they were a panster? Or a panster wishing they could plot?



Written on Sunday, April 20, 2008 by haleigh

Today, for the first time in over two weeks, I was actually able to write something that was mildly legible! Woohoo! All I managed to write was sex, but hey, that's still writing. Right?

* * * * * * * *
Shae opened the fridge and bent to grab beer bottles from the bottom shelf. The temptation to grab her from behind, push her up against the counter was overpowering. Bury himself inside that sweet body she’d been tempting him with all day and forget everything except her.

She bent farther to push aside the leftover’s from Maura’s lasagna to reach the beer. Without thinking, he stepped up behind her and rested a hand on the back waistband of her jeans.

She gasped and straightened, swung around to stare at him with wide eyes. He didn’t give her time to react or object. He grabbed her around the waist with both hands, pulled her body flush against his own, and took her mouth with his. His tongue slid into the sweet honey of her mouth and everything else ceased to matter.

He could feel the tension draining out of her body, as if she wanted to fight him but couldn’t keep up the ability to do so. Her body softened, sank into his. That was it. He slid his hands lower, to her hips, and pulled her against him. She was so soft, so warm. And that ass. All day he’d found his eyes drifting there and now...he ran his hands around to grab it, lifted her. Walking her backward, he lifted her onto the kitchen counter, stepped between her open thighs.

She moaned and pulled him closer, her fingers closing around his upper arms. She was kissing him back now, her tongue sliding against his. Christ. The intensity of his desire for her blew his mind. It was just like that morning, all he could focus on was the thought of stripping her down, spreading her legs, settling himself right there.

Her legs wound around his waist, pulled him against her, so tight that his cock was pushed against her center, so tight he could feel her heat through her jeans.

“Christ, Shae.” He dropped his mouth to her neck, her throat, raised a hand to cup her breast through her shirt. Nothing was sticking in his mind - there were fragments of thoughts about condoms and consent, but he couldn’t focus on anything except her breast, her lips.. “You’re sure?”

“Yeah.” Her voice was husky, her breath coming in gasps. Her fingers found the waistband of his jeans and popped the button.

A loose thought about condoms was still in his mind, but he couldn’t keep his attention there long enough to remember where he had put them. There was a pack somewhere. Bathroom? Bedroom? She pulled his zipper down, her fingertips brushing against his cock. Christ. Why weren't they in the kitchen?

“Come on.” He got his hands under her ass, pulled her off the counter, and carried her toward the bedroom. Her arms were around his neck and she was still kissing him. He caught his hip on the edge of the recliner, spun, kept walking. The feel of her mouth, her tongue...

He pushed her up against the wall between the bathroom and bedroom doors. Where the fuck had he left the condoms? Her hands were busy, pulling his shirt up, trying to get it out of the way. Then she got her own shirt off.

“What’s wrong?” she said.

He yanked down on one bra cup, enough to get access. “Condoms.”

“Under the sink.”

When he dragged his gaze from her breasts to her face, she was grinning, an impish, mischievous smile. “Glad I’m so curious now?”

* * * * * * * * *

Hopefully I can keep up the progress, though that's not a sure thing. Christie, Marnee - how are you guys doing? Anybody else break through this week?



Written on Wednesday, April 09, 2008 by haleigh

So who is making progress in this race of ours? Because I know it's not me! I got stuck somewhere around Sunday. I sat, staring at my computer, for five hours. In that time, I managed to flip through 800 channels, buy stuff I don't need online, and write exactly one paragraph.

I feel like giving myself a big thumbs down.

So while on this hiatus from any productive form of writing, I decided to take up my husband's hobby of watching TV. There are a couple shows I love, though I rarely end up sitting down to watch. Bones is one of them, and I watched a re-run from season one.

So Agent Booth (otherwise known as David Boreanaz, or Angel, or soooo hot) is stymied on an investigation. And he turns to Bones and says "I'm getting no where on this case. Usually by now I have a sense of the victim. I know what she likes, what motivates her, what she was thinking. I can't figure out who killed her if I don't know her."

(or he said something similar to that...)

Not that I want to compare my heroine to a murder victim, but it made sense. If I don't know her, more specifically if I don't know what motivates her, I have no idea how she would react in the situation I've shoved her into.

Hence: I'm stuck.

So I spent last night trying to get to know this girl. I've been having this sinking suspicion for the past few weeks that she's really a huge bitch. Turns out I was right. There are things about her that I don't like. I'm already finding myself trying to think of ways to redeem her by the end. I've been trying to convince her to act in a more responsible manner, be a bit nicer, be a bit less selfish. She disappeared and I've written a grand total of 500 words in a week. comes the bitch. I'm letting her out to play. She wants to save her job, and she has every intention of doing whatever that takes. Even if it means lying to the one man trying to help her, hiding evidence he needs for his investigation, and (inadvertently) putting innocent lives on the line.

Maybe she'll redeem herself, maybe I'll still want to punch her in the jaw in the end. I guess we'll see.

Anybody else have a character they can't control? I feel like I'm trying to discipline a two year old or a small puppy. I put one hand on my hip, point the other to her nose, and say "Young lady, you will start following orders and stop caring so much about your damn job."

She wrinkles up said nose, flips her hair, and next time I see her, she's dancing with some strange guy at Eugene's (or whatever they're calling that club nowadays).

Christie, Marnee Jo, anybody are you guys coming? Christie, I noticed you took down your word counter. Don't make me waggle my finger in front of your nose too! How are you coming?

Chapter 1....take 2


Written on Wednesday, April 09, 2008 by haleigh

So in thinking about characterization, I realized I did not know my heroine well enough to continue writing. So I decided to crawl around in her skin for a while, and this is what came out. I'm reading this book called "Setting and Description" (yes! A whole book devoted to how to show, not tell!) and I think I took it to far.

Shae McCrary let her head fall back, closed her eyes, and waited for the beat of the music to seep through her, to fill her until her entire body moved in a timeless rhythm. Strobe lights flashed, their cadence matched to the music, illuminating the backs of her eyelids for a brief second before snatching it back away, as if even her own body lit up from the inside in time with the music. The bass drummed under her feet, pushing her into movement, her hips swaying first left and then right, her arms drawing over her head without any conscious effort on her part.

Sweat cooled on the back of her neck and her chest. Her face felt flushed, though that could have been the exertion or the vodka. Thump, thump, thump. Her body moved and all of it faded: the close press of other bodies, the dull roar of voices straining be heard above the music, the scent that stuck in the back of her throat of someone near her wearing too much perfume.

It was here she could turn her mind off, empty it, let the stress of the day drain out of her in time to the latest pop icon up on the stage. Let the alcohol thicken her blood and dull the reminders of just how badly she had fucked up her life.

It wasn’t working.

Hands skimmed her waist and she opened her eyes. Marc? John? Whatever he had said his name was, he was cute. Flashes of light illuminated surfer hair and green eyes. He smiled and his hands slid to circle her rib cage. Maybe that’s what she needed tonight. He looked like he could get the job done.

Matthew, maybe?

She realized what he was going to do a second before he did it, his head dipping and his lips touching the side of her throat. She sighed, snaked her arms around his neck and let the first languid tendrils of heat slide through her.

But her mind refused to cease its torment. Snippets of words replayed themselves over and over again. One week....salvage your career...facts, not conjuncture....find yourself in Sheboygan writing the local gossip column about who gave Big Bertha the bad perm!

The beat changed, the music shifting into something with Latin undertones. It didn’t matter. She could plunk herself into a vat of vodka, flood her body with music so loud it burst her eardrums or have mindless, anonymous sex with whatever-his-name-was. It wasn’t going to change anything, but pile on more consequences of one stupid decision made after another. She smiled at her date and stood on her toes to yell ‘thanks for the dance’ into his ear.

He made a grab for her hand as she turned and walked away. She dodged him, but it wouldn’t have mattered. The crowd swallowed them each, sweeping them in opposite directions. It propelled her through the mass, past sweaty bodies and waving limbs. Someone’s elbow landed in her ribs - a twenty-something in a tube top who didn’t miss a beat. Shae skirted a bare shoulder and a leather-covered knee before spilling out the door into the chilly, laden air of Manhattan.

A taxi flew past, a yellow blur, shooting a wall of water toward her. She jerked back, one foot in mid-air, and somehow managed to not get sloshed. The air was still heavy under the weight of the storm that had passed through that afternoon, mist clinging to her bare arms, and warm, choking steam puffing up from the subway grates.

She walked West, sticking close to the buildings to avoid the wake caused by taxis taking advantage of the abandoned streets to fly from one red stoplight to the next. Or as abandoned as the streets of Manhattan could be, even at two in the morning.

Her head spun, after effects of the alcohol, as she put one foot in front of the other. A jacket would have been smart, or telling Analise she was leaving, or even getting into a taxi herself. But her apartment was only a few more blocks. She stepped around a group of laughing girls who looked too young to be out on a school night. Jazz music poured from a bar, and patrons still swaying to the beat cluttered the doorway to smoke.

Two more blocks and she was inside. As soon as the door to her building’s foyer locked behind her, she slipped off her heels. She went barefoot up the three flights of stairs and once she made it into her apartment, sank back against the closed door.

If she lost this job...

She straightened up and pushed at the fear trying to clog her throat. That wouldn’t happen. It couldn’t. She dropped her shoes on the floor, pulled her ID and money from her bra and set those on the table bedside the door.

She just need a plan. She stripped her slinky, silver top over her head as she walked to the bedroom and let it fall on the floor. Her jeans followed, then her jewelry. A plan that could salvage both her career and her reputation. She yanked on a pair of men’s boxer shorts and a tank top and piled her hair on top of her head. A plan that wouldn’t send her scurrying back to Wisconsin, her tail tucked between her legs, investigating abandoned jet skis on Lake Michigan.

She flipped on the stereo in the living room and grabbed the plastic bottle of cranberry juice out of the fridge. There was still a bottle of vodka somewhere in the back of her freezer. Bag of peas, pizza, pork chops she had bought on sale in an effort to learn how to cook, French fries, there it was. A half-full bottle of Stoli’s. She poured both into a plastic cup - almost half and half - and took a swig.

A plan...

Bad feng shui, that was the problem. The couch should be under the windows and the TV should definitely be against the far wall. Better lighting there - no glare. She refilled her cup and carried it around while she pushed the couch. The wooden foot caught the edge of the rug. She grunted as her stomach hit the armrest, her body’s momentum continuing despite the couch’s abrupt halt, the contents of her cup sloshing over her hand.

“Stupid rug,” she muttered as she strained to left the edge of the couch. Maybe she just needed a new rug. This one was beige with deep red flowers - she must have been in a much better mood when she bought it then she was now.

It took two more drinks and the armchair against three different walls before she could close her eye without panicking. She crawled into bed and pulled the down comforter to her chin. Tomorrow, she’d come up with a plan.

Description to the point of boredom?

Excerpt.......from chapter 1


Written on Saturday, March 29, 2008 by haleigh

From chapter one - when Cole wakes up from the blast that killed his partner, and first meets Shae.
He had to escape – that much was for certain. He tried to sit up but gentle hands pushed him back down.

“Shhh,” a voice said.

He instantly relaxed. It was an angel’s voice. Smooth and soft and husky. So he was dying . The angel made more comforting noises and brushed cool fingers across his forehead. An icy cloth followed, making him groan aloud with relief.

Death was okay then, if she was how he got there. He slit open one eye to get a look at what god had provided for his last wretched moments on earth.

His angel of mercy didn’t look so hot. In fact, she looked kind of sick. Dark stringy hair was piled on top of her head, her skin was clammy, her eyes were sunken, and on top of it she smelled bad.
But maybe all was not lost. He let his eyes travel down past her neck and shoulders toward the lush body he was sure god granted him in his mercy.

He groaned aloud at what his eyes encountered. “I at least deserve boobs.” From the look that crossed her face, she caught his creaky, barely intelligible words.

“Excuse me?”


She held a bottle of water to his lips, though her look was still wary. He closed his eyes a second, and waited until the room stopped spinning before looking at her again.

His angel had fewer curves than a twelve-year-old Korean boy. She was skinny, with no boobs, no hips, and no…well, he couldn’t see her ass from here. Maybe there was hope for redemption yet. “Do you have an ass at least?”

She flung the washcloth she was holding directly onto his face, so that it covered his eyes. “You’re a pig, Mr. Cole. And I’m going back to bed.”

He managed to get the washcloth off his face in time to see her walking away. Yep. Great ass. “Oh come back,” he said. “I’m bleeding. You can’t leave a bleeding man to his death, can you?”

She turned back to him, her slow movements exaggerated in what he had to assume was a killer hangover from the way she smelled. Her eyes were flashing, making her look a little less hideous than she had a moment ago. “I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to live with my conscience.”

He tilted his lips in a crooked smile that had women all over the world swooning at his feet. “Come back, baby. Be my Florence Nightingale.”

This woman was not impressed. She backed up with a hand over her heart. “Well, that’s just about the nicest thing anybody’s ever said to me.”

She turned back to the door. “Okay, okay,” he said, trying not to laugh. “I'm sorry. My mother should be ashamed of herself for raising such a reprehensible, chauvinistic monster. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m actually bleeding.”

He could see her wavering. She may not be an attractive woman, but he couldn’t help baiting her. It was kind of fun. More importantly, it distracted him from the images that just kept coming: the rubble of the ice cream store, the crater where Caleb’s car had been....

He focused back on her ass. He could only guess at the exact shape under the baggy men’s boxer shorts she was wearing, but from this angle, he’d have to rate it at least at a seven.

She turned back to him. “Are you staring at my ass?”

“Of course not.” Busted. “What kind of man would stare at your ass after that heartfelt of an apology?”

“You, apparently,” she said.

So this is where my internal editor shows up and starts bitching. "It's not original," she says. "It's a cliche. And Cole sounds like a jerk. What kind of man focuses on boobs after watching a little girl get blown to bits?"

I tell her to go away. I'm trying to write fast here. I can't worry about pesky little things like characterizations. And besides, Cole's been in Iraq for six months. The poor guy hasn't been laid in quite a while - of course he's focusing on the boobs!

"But that makes him sound superficial."

At that point, I just punched her.



Written on Thursday, March 20, 2008 by haleigh

So the race is on...

And I'm losing.

On the bright side, it's motivating me to write faster. The question, of course, is if it's motivating me to write better. At this point, I'm thinking no. Hell, I wrote a sentence that included the word 'armhole' twice. How in the world is that even possible?

But we had this goal of turning off our internal editors until the first draft is done, so I'm trying to forget about the armhole debacle and move forward. Onward and upward, right?

So last night, there was a terrible storm here. Winds coming off the ocean like you wouldn't believe. Did hurricane season strike without anyone noticing? Being from the midwest (and much preferring tornadoes to hurricanes, myself), I decided to enjoy the storm. I wrapped myself in three blankets, trucked my laptop out to the porch, sat on the swing, and cranked out 2,300 words.

That's right, Christie. 2,300 words. Watch out.

The blustery wind was howling, sirens from the fire station down the street were blaring, a car alarm was going off, assorted small animals were skulking between the houses, and the steady creak of the porch swing all created an eerie cacophony around me.

Talk about setting the mood!

Our lovely rum-stealing pirates were talking this week about soundtracks and wandering laptops, both of which I apparently make use of. Anybody else "set the mood" for the type of scene their writing, inadvertently or otherwise?

Christie, Marnee Jo - how are you guys coming? I think Christie is going to take the cake this week with her 11,000 words, but Marn's still got a higher total...

Excerpt.....from chapter 2


Written on Thursday, March 20, 2008 by haleigh

Cole turned to her. “This next part is one of those if-I-tell-you-I have-to-kill-you things.”

“Oh crap. You are a serial killer.”

The corner of his suddenly serious mouth tilted up. “No. But this information doesn’t leave this room. Understand?”

The automatic reply was ‘off the record.’ She stopped herself just in time. “Got it.”

He limped over to the stove and opened it. Curious, she followed and leaned over his shoulder. The bottom of the stove popped out in his hands, revealing a keypad and several other electronic components.

“Holy--” The words died on her lips as he ran his thumb over a metal thing and punched a series of numbers into the keypad. A series of metallic groans and loud clicks filled the room. Shae swung around, looking for the source. The middle of the floor - the exact size covered by a scruffy rug - rose four feet into the air, revealing a complex series of levers and metal arms.

Cole ducked into the opening and started down a flight of stairs. Even from where she stood, she could see that the lower portion of the little shack was a technological feat.

“Oh my god, you’re James Bond.”

He turned on the third step down and grinned at her. “I prefer the Batman analogy myself, but I’ll take whatever gets you naked faster.”

the race......


Written on Sunday, March 16, 2008 by haleigh

In an effort to motivate us, Christie and I have added word count bars to our blogs. Your job is to mock us if we don't hit at least 500-800 words a day during the week, and 3,000 words a day on week ends.

Let's see how fast we can crank out a manuscript. The goal is have a first draft by June/July, rewrite till October, and have it ready for a contest in November.

So far, I've spent most of my time staring at a blank screen, which I call "research." After all, you have to have ideas, right? And then you have to double check those ideas against fact.

That means getting on google, and do you know how many interesting things are on google? Tons and tons of interesting things!

And of course, to write you need music! But all my music is on a different computer. Which means moving it all over. Then the playlists are all organized wrong. So now I have a separate play list for each type of scene I'm going to write. For motivation.

So now I'm ready to write.....but it's been hours, my ass is sore from this chair, and I'm hungry. Tomorrow, I'll be ready to start as soon as I sit down, since now I have all my facts and my playlists.

Yep, tomorrow.