Monday, November 30, 2009

Long Day

It was a twenty-hour ten hour day. You've had them right? Mentally tough. But now I'm settling in for the biggest game of the year, so far, the New Orleans Saints vs the New England Patriots. I hope it's a slam dunk or it will be a long night as well.

Go Saints!

It's also the end of Nano. Congratulations Nano writers and winners! Until next year!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Crimescenewriters loop

If you write anything from Crime Fiction to Romantic Suspense, well, any wip for which you need technical detail or procedure to flesh out your story - legal, police, EMTs, forensics...honestly, I can't name the subjects available on this loop. Nuff to say, try it you'll like it. Answers from professionals and knowledgeable writers in a well-managed format at the Crimescenewriters yahoo group. To join go here.

I asked a question about search warrants and one of the responses included the link to this sample search warrant which was very helpful.

Thanksgiving 2009

I feel especially thankful this year! No, I didn't win the lottery, get a new car, a high paying job, or even my new toilet this year. But I am doing something I love - writing. And though the life is simple, it's easy to support. (So far.)

The other day I heard an astounding statistic. 1 out of every 6 families can't put food on the table - in the United States. Amazing in a country where we probably waste enough food and resources to feed half of the starving communities in the world.

This morning I saw a Thanksgiving segment on a school in Las Vegas started by a woman who grew up poor and remembered when she, as a little girl, and her mother were turned away from a food line.

This morning professional chefs converged on her school to feed hundreds of children, many of whom are homeless, living in their parents cars or on the streets. Through donations, she's set up a warehouse of food and clothing the children can use and facilities where they can bathe. She says the number has exploded recently with children of parents who've lost their jobs and their homes to foreclosure. But it's not a new phenomenon.

Certainly this woman took a bad experience and used it to inspire her to save other children from the same. What can I say I've done to make a difference for someone in need? Not enough. But hopefully her story will stir me to act the next time I get an opportunity. How about you?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bubbl brainstormer

You are going to love this little program! I guarantee it.

is a free brainstorming tool I found through the Holly Lisle forums. Holly uses flowcharts and diagrams a lot in her lessons and I've always had a fondness for visual diagrams but haven't been able to find one that works like my mind does. (No smart remarks please.) Until now. And best of all - it's FREEEEEE.

Well, it's free, fluid, smart, colorful, easy to use, and can be exported or printed. If you sign up for a FREE account you can save your files on the site. I'm tellin' ya, this is a winner. I wish it was available in desktop version but who knows one of these days like Write or Die, it may be. There's a wonderful visual help file that illustrates the functions of the program.

And one other fabulous feature - you can collaborate, share it with friends online.

Here is an example of one I set up to think through the 'Who knows what?" business of my wip. Click it to open larger in a separate window.

The image below illustrates the program features as well as the ability to leave some ideas not connected. Note the little white boxes on one of the bubbles - the one to the right adds a sibling bubble and the bottom, a child. When you hover over a bubble a box appears for you to change color, font size, connect, delete or unpin the bubble.
If you want to get to a bubble that off screen just click on the workspace somewhere and drag the whole map a bit.

An especially handy tool is the 'fit' button which shrinks your bubble map to fit the screen. The images here are from the Beta version because that's the one I'm using. And except for one frozen map yesterday, it seems to be working okay. Just save frequently and if it locks up on you take a screenprint so you can reproduce it.

Heads up: your account works for the basic as well as beta, but you won't see the files you saved on Beta if you log into basic. Enjoy.

I. Love. It. Thanks to the Bubbl heads. If it's as handy as I think it will be, I'll donate via paypal.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Music for the Muse

Why are you drawn to certain music? Is it memories, beat, environment, or the words? Music for the Muse is different for each writer. If I'm writing a difficult scene any noise is a distraction but being a singer and guitarist I'm blissful when listening to my favorites. And the words provide wonderful inspiration for story development, brainstorming character motivations, and atmosphere for creating settings and plotlines before or in between writing sessions. For celebration - when you hit a goal or got THE CALL. (That hasn't happened yet but I'll have a song picked out for it.)

Then there’s what I call Travelin' music for when the story is flowing and you're at full speed.

Think Lawrence of Arabia (or Shania Twain) riding the vast expanse of the desert – the desert being your story and that sleek black thoroughbred is your keyboard.

Genre matters. I write Romantic suspense and Paranormal. The music I'm drawn to for each is different and you’ll notice there’s a lot of Celtic/ethereal/new age in my choices and mostly it’s acoustic.

My favorite all time for inspiration for a love story, emotional scenes, angst, tenderness is this video - the emotional performance by Eva Cassidy put to rhumba in the Superstars of Dance. More bittersweet, Eva, who was from my home area near D.C., lost her battle with cancer in her thirties. After hearing her rendition of Fields of Gold, Sting, who wrote it, said it moved him to tears.

It does the same to me everytime.

That's what I'm looking for – music that elicits the emotions of the scenes I’m writing. So Eva Cassidy's songs and other ballads are high on my list for romance, tenderness, that moody atmosphere, and especially story ideas.

For character development~~

Bonnie Raitt Longing In Her Heart Songs like You, Storm Warning, Circle Dance, Dimming of the Day
Shake a Little for travelin’ (literally, I love going down the road with the moonroof open and this song blaring.)
(The Road Tested collection is an excellent choice.)

Richard Marx Hazard, Now and Forever, The Way She Loves Me

Bryan Adams - the angst of Please Forgive Me, and for describing your hero’s love for the heroine - Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman. Remember the word, "And when you can see your unborn children in her eyes..." OMG, the sheer romance of that song.

Adams’ The Best of Me a greatest hits collection.

And the same goes for Bon Jovi's Bed of Roses - "I wanna be just as close as the Holy Ghost is, and lay you down....on a Bed of Roses." sigh.

Travelin’ and Mood music~~
Enya Caribbean Blue From Shepherd Moon CD and
Ebudae from the same CD
Paint the Sky with Stars
Memory of Trees great for emotional scenes.

The Twilight Soundtrack is good for background and atmosphere.
Five for Fighting Live
especially Superman and 100 Years.

Quest of the Dream Warriors

The Festival from the Celtic Book of Days

John Cougar Mellancamp - for travelin', celebrating or inspiration
Pink Houses
Wild Night
and everything else (grin).

Sexy Scenes and character ideas
Layla by Eric Clapton, the acoustic version from Unplugged
and others like Lonely Stranger from that same compilation.

Jesse Cook is a treasure trove for me. A talented acoustical guitarist, his music is great for travelin and oh, my, for those sensual scenes, no one is better. Listen to Breathin Below Surface from the Ultimate Jesse Cook Collection.

There are no words and yes, there are no words for what this song does to me. I loaded it five times on one playlist. It's the beat and I don't know what else. But your 'on' switch will be different I'm sure.

For angst~
No One is to Blame from Howard Jones
and from Emmy Lou Boulder to Birmingham

Loreena McKennitt Book of Secrets
Mummer's Dance for travelin'

Loreena's music for dark atmosphere inspiration, sensual scenes or writing in the flow. I can't see writing contemporary to Loreena.

Also for travelin’:
Signe from Clapton’s Unplugged
(Live albums are more difficult - you have to pull music for playlists to avoid all the cheering and clapping, unless you need noise.)

and Last of the Mohicans - especially the Promontory and the Main Theme

My favorites for celebration:
Black Horse in the Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall
John Mellancamp - You're Life is Now

Shania – If You’re Not In it For Love, I’m Outta Here Heroine puts her foot down!

Again the performance and free spiritness of this video makes my muse dance.

Speaking of playlists, I just reorganized my Itunes with playlists accordingly - Character Devel, Love, Emotion, Lovelost, Kickass, Travelin, and celebration. I labeled one Fiction Fodder. I get on the treadmill to that one and think about character and plot development.

Other notable mentions for me –
Shawn Colvin
David Cook er, David Cook
Smooth by Santana travelin'
Kris Allen, the new idol

Country music doesn’t do it for me but here’s a hilarious song on YouTube with a fantastic beat – the clever lyrics can give you great ideas for plot twists. This from Lonestar on No News. Words again.

‘She missed her bus, missed her plane, surely this can explained. Lost her car at the mall, got locked in a bathroom stall. Playing guitar with the band, on the road with Pearl Jam. FBI, CIA, If they seen her they ain’t sayin’ Buried with the Grateful Dead… offered as a sacrifice.’ Lots of wonderful excuses there!

Bottom line - choose your music zen - the music that gives your muse BLISS! Whether it's the words or the music. Or just tune out the distractions of tv, kids, dog with a set of headphones and the volume on low.

Do you have some favorite muse music? Share.

Thanks to Ronna
for suggesting this blog. It's been so inspiring during Nanowrimo. All of the participating writers (links below) have different takes on the music we use for different parts of the writing process, for prep, for inspiration and for celebration.

Check out the other Music for the Muse bloggers. I can't wait to find out what they're tuning into:

Stephenie Kuehnert
Jeri Smith Ready
Bryan Bliss
R R Smythe
Tara Kelly

Jennifer Linforth

Monday, November 23, 2009

GOooo Saints!

I forgot to blog yesterday about our Saints, now 10-0. They won decisively 38-7. The only teams to ever get to this point have all wound up in the SuperBowl!!!

I only saw the second half of the game. My friend, Cadence, was taking pictures for me to use on the web or for writerly stuff. Here's an example. She's a real pro.

That one was for fun...might be why I have a krick in my neck today!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nano Saturday #3

Okay, I read the last couple chapters in Chris Baty's book, No Plot, No Problem, about the third and fourth weeks of Nano. I hadn't read the part about making your book finish by the end of Nano even if you have to sketch scenes. I think that's what I was doing in the initial prep and writing of the book.

Though I like the idea of having THE End on it at the end of Nano, I don't think it's practical. If I sketch a scene and move on, I won't see the magic happen as C.L. Wilson calls it and the way it worked out for me on Thursday when I just hung in there and worked my way through a scene and wound up with some wonderful new creatures I hadn't even conceived of in the development and advance worldbuilding process.

So I'll just wait and see where I end up at the end of the week. I WILL get 50K though, regardless of Thanksgiving, relatives coming in for the weekend, work Friday and Saturday, and the time-consuming but rewarding blog on music for writers on Tuesday. I Hope...

Whew, I guess I better stop listening to music and get busy.

It's raining here, the dog is doing the only other thing that rainy days are good for besides writing and that other thing.

Have a sweet Saturday.
Nano, Nano

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Blog is Two!

Two years, I can't believe it.

For my blog's two year anniversary this month, I'm sharing some of my favorite videos, this one created by a fan in response to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

Jamie was voted the best romantic hero ever. (Rourke, from Nora Roberts' In Death series was nearly tied with him, though.) Romantic, inspired dialogue is much of the reason you fall in love with Jamie Fraser. You know what I mean if you're a fan, and if not, watch this.

You may have to watch more than once to catch all the incredible dialog from this work of art. What a chore .

If you're a Gabaldon fan, what enthralled you with the characters, the setting, the plot? What 'did it' for you?

Next Tuesday several writers on our GIAM loop will be blogging on music for writers. Our own use of music to inspire or provide background to the writing process.

Do you have any favorites for the general inspiration of your story? Muse music? Do certain pieces or artists inspire specific aspects of the story - i.e., the sensual, the action, the black moment?

Between now and then if you have any favorites please send them to me so I can share them as well.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

He Said, She Said Chronicles 3

If it weren't for the pitchfork...

For this week's He Said, She Said Chronicles I borrow a quote from the blog, May Contain Nuts. What a fascinating, insightful and funny blog on Advice We'd Give Our Younger Selves.

He said: (and I quote)"Women say one thing and mean another. Then once you get used to that approach they go back to meaning exactly what they say. Then they switch back again in the time it takes you to say, ‘What the...?’ It will confuse you. Don’t fight it. That’s. Just. The. Way. It. Is."

She said: I don't understand why you seem confused; I always say exactly what I mean. Even when I change my mind. That's just being flexible. ;D

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Finish the game

'It ain't easy what we do. But gettin' to the end of the trail...'

Two more weeks of Nano and I almost took a break to reassess. Two things happened. A friend gave me the 'boot' saying 'isn't that what Nano is about? Finish it then worry about the rest.'

Good advice and watching Peyton Manning bring the Colts come from behind (AGAIN) on Sunday Night Football brought fresh confirmation.

Second and goal with a minute thirteen seconds on the clock and barely a foot to get into the end zone and win the game, one of the commentators said, "they better worry about having too much left on the clock when they make this touchdown." I screamed, 'Win the game.' You don't know what might happen if you fool around and run a time consuming play before you go in, you might lose the football worrying about what happens after.

Win the game. Finish Nano, otherwise - Life Interrrruptus - and there you are, you haven't won Nano, and you haven't got a completed manuscript to revise or pitch.

Nano, Nano

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's all good.

I had a wonderful brief vacation early in the week to hurricane country - southern Mississippi. But a friend called from Florida saying we should check the weather. Ida, the wonder storm, was headed our direction and was coming on land earlier than expected. (Even in our brick cabin in the state park, it was a difficult night, 30-40 mph winds and hard rain.) We'd planned to drive south to the coast and do our part toward the recovery - lunch, shopping at the outlet mall. So instead, we went shopping and dining locally in Hattiesburg about an hour north of the coast. It was lovely.

I didn't plan to write but since the time change I haven't been able to sleep past 4am so I got up and trudged forward on RCP a couple thousand words. My total has been at 21,131 since Tuesday. Came back enthused but feeling like I need to look over what I've written so far before I get too scattered.

I also didn't anticipate being called into work the last three days which was a financial blessing and a Nano loss. All in all, a special week. I'll start on Nano again Monday.

Today is Football Sunday! Saints vs Rams! (In case you're interested Denzel Washington's son plays for the Rams.) Go Saints!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nano update

New total - 20,038!

Got up at 4am this morning to get my 20k for the week! I'm going on a three day mini holiday so I had some extra motivation. I honestly didn't think I was going to have time but I couldn't sleep anyway so I popped open Scrivener and started on the scene I've been avoiding. Will I keep it? I'm not sure. I think I may be introducing these characters elsewhere in the book and this idea I loved when I was developing RCP may go into 'I really loved it but it's not working now, but I'll keep it just in case' file. It's hard to let your babies go.

Need some inspiration? InkyGirl is chock full of information, hints and links about Nano.

NaNo, NaNo

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Joie de Vive3

Two videos to share with you this week to make you smile. If you watch this one without feeling happy, make an appointment with a professional.

I am in awe of this guy - for his singing talent and his expertise with video. Un-frickin believable! I want to hear you singing along.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

He Said, She Said Chronicles 2

CNN asked for responses online after a Florida player tried to gouge out the eyes of an opposing player in a pile on top of the football.

He said: I don't know nothin about football but if someone did that to me I'd call the cops and press charges.

She said: Get real! It's football.

'Nuff said.

Yeah, Saints!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Love Knows No Boundaries!

A limitless sky filled with balloons reminds me that anything is possible.

My new website is up. Don't you just love it? If you saw my previous website with the Atlanta skyline and the flashing lightning, you know my webdesigner, Rae Monet has a healthy muse. I hated to see it go, even took a little video of it for posterity then said my goodbyes. It was designed around my first series of books set near Atlanta.

I asked Rae to design something to represent whatever I might write - paranormal romance, suspense, contemporary. Ironically, she'd designed this one a couple weeks before I contacted her. After I saw it I couldn't get it out of my mind. It didn't help that the Balloon races were in Natchez that weekend!

I'll be adding a 'For Writers' page and doing more software reviews after Nanowrimo.

Good luck, Nanoers.

UPDATE: Monday Night Football and our Saints are ahead 28-14. Go Saints!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nano Begins

Just when I was gathering some momentum with my networking, writing, and blogging NANO arrives. My website redo is ongoing, the dude will be a year old next week (hey, Leah, he and GG may have the same birthday) and constantly needing attention and the holiday mail season is upon us.

For those of you who aren't familiar with it... Nanowrimo is an annual writing challenge - it's free by the way - and the goal is to get 50,000 words by November 30th (or just to boost your word count, get a good start on a new wip or finish one). I heard from one Nanoer that last year he did 82,000 and won a contest with it last month.

So forgive me if I'm inconsistent this month. RCPn is waiting for me. I created a poster this week with all my characters on it for inspiration. Shut up, Marley, and start writing.

PS If you didn't catch the interview I did with Susan at Twisted Sisters check out that one and the rest on Susan's Meet a Psychic.