Tuesday, January 31, 2012

REVIEW: To Catch a Cop

~~I may be slow getting through my to-be-read list, but I know a good book when I read one:
Elle Druskin's To Catch a Cop is a delicious romance and a neat murder mystery rolled into one good read. With a tight plot that does good service to both facets of the story line. To Catch a Cop starts fast and doesn't let up.

Here's the synopsis from Amazon:
Forty-year-old single mother Lindy Kellerman needs a man, a secure job and an exercise program. What she gets is a dead student in her Sydney university nursing classroom.

Detective Fraser MacKinnon needs to meet a smart woman and can't decide whether to arrest Lindy or seduce her. With Lindy as chief suspect and threatened by the real killer, MacKinnon has his hands full.

Interrupted attempts at furthering their romance combine with Lindy's amateur sleuthing. Lindy's hunches and MacKinnon's skill leads them down a trail of false leads and university scandals with a murderer ready to strike again. Along the way Lindy and Fraser discover that love is definitely better the second time around.

~~By the way, Eve's "To Catch" series has another installment available. Check out To Catch a Thief, too. Yep, it's on my TBR list. ; )

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Curse of Knowledge

~~I think it's unfair--the more you know, the more you have on your to-do list. Especially if you're a writer. Take details for example. We know we need them to make a scene real, but which ones do we use and how many should be included? Recently Diana Gabaldon posted a Master Class on the Books and Writers Forum on using details. Diana emerses her readers in a scene, but you never feel like you're drowning in details, so it pays to give attention to what she says. One great example from the master class is:

Use description to describe the narrator (in terms of attitude, relastionship, etc.) as well as the person or situation being described.

This really made me stop and think. All of FRIENDLY FIRE is told from the POV of Laura Grace Chandler. How well am I describing my main character from the details included in each scene? Here's some examples and what I think I was saying. You be the judge. Did I pull it off?

Ex. 1: (Aim--a reduction of tension)
The dappled shade and bright patches of vinca and impatiens along the path began their calming medicine. Magnolia blooms heavy with vanilla and lemon scented the warm air. The beauty of the place captured my mind as I settled into my rhythm. A flock of Canadian geese honked at each other as a mother goose, followed by five fluffy goslings, sailed by. The little ones were puffs of downy yellow-gray as their legs worked overtime to keep up with their stately mother. Male mockingbirds strutted their stuff, raising their wings in the time-honored ritual to show how big they were in hope of attracting the ladies, and I found myself laughing. The sap was rising, just like spring at the high school.

Ex. 2: (Aim: fear, worry)
Silk ficus trees draped with dust like Spanish moss and park benches had replaced the plastic chairs, but nothing disguised the institutional nature of DFCS. Air freshener from one of the offices still clashed with the disinfectant used in the restrooms. Neither scent was a bouquet I wanted to bury my nose in. Hunching in my coat couldn’t block December’s cold that penetrated the block walls.

Ex. 3: (Aim: uneasiness)
Streetlights glinted on the neighbors’ cars except for the ratty Ford in front of the Talley house.  Frowning, I stepped further onto the porch to see it better.  Rosemary wouldn’t have let one of the boys buy a car like that, but it was the same one I had noticed outside the school yesterday.  I shrugged. 

~~I'll admit to being an impatient sort--I want every scene I write to be it's best the first time through, but that's not reality.  But I think I'll have to go back and assess every scene for Laura Grace's emotional POV to evaluate the details. Not to mention all the other reasons for revision.

~~I have to remind myself of the Ira Glass quote:

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

~~No one said write was easy. Well, maybe knowledge isn't a curse, but a goal.
Happy Writing!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Can You Hear Me Now?

~~We’ve had problems with the phone and the DSL before, but this time takes the cake. For several months, the internet had been shutting down intermittently, but within seconds our software would reconnect and restore the session. We shrugged.

~~About three weeks ago, we had a phone that refused to work, but we did have internet still. The provider said to check out each piece of equipment on the line because one of them wasn’t hanging up. After checking the modem, the fax, and three phones, we zeroed in on one phone and replaced it. Problem solved. For all of a week.

~~Then our phones started to short ring, hanging up before caller ID could kick in. When we did make connection, the static was horrendous. Mind you, we are the main caregivers and backup for our two mothers. Not having reliable phones isn’t acceptable. So I called the provider again. This time the suggestion was that our DSL/phone line filters were iffy. We replaced them.

~~Still the problems persisted and got worse. This time, because we had service off and on, the provider said it has to be the inside lines…and, by the way, if a repairman comes out and it’s inside lines, you’ll be charged $85 just for the guy coming. Sigh.

~~We really are very good at solving problems and with a solution that depended on us, we prepared. After buying new wire and all the necessary items needed to replace the inside wires, we plugged one phone into the outside box and had service—for two days. The short rings, hang ups, and static started again. By that time, John had already spent three hours under our ninety-year old house pulling the rat nest of wires that had been added…and added over the years.

~~This time I told the provider to send that repairman! Guess what the problem was? The outside line between the pole and the house. A short that disconnected and reconnected with the wind was the cause all along. The repairman was sorry we had to replace the inside lines, but really, why fuss about new lines? Even if it did take 7 hours of labor by both of us to pull them. By the way, the nice young man also said, to call him directly if the service screwed up again in the next week. Of course, my dirty, tired, and slightly cynical hubby commented that he didn’t want us to report a faulty repair to the provider.

~~So, we’re finally in business again. Of course, just when we lay down to "rest," the phone rang.

~~Now we have to figure out the "check engine light" in the truck.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Happens in the Book Store at Night

~~Come on, you know you want to know what's up at night when all the customers and staff leave. Take a peek.

~~Did you see the Kindle? Now we know how all those lovely books get into our e-readers! ; )

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Writing By Design...Or Not

~~How do you write--linearly, chunks, or something entirely different? Do you use an outline or write as the story comes to you? Diana Gabaldon, award-winning, multiple NYT best-selling author writes in chunks without knowing the full story. Check out her current essay, "The Shape of Things" at the Books and Writers Forum.

~~When I started writing, I'd have sworn I was a linear, point A to point B type of writer and even have an outline for my current story. But things have a way of changing when you least expect it. ; ) I've written many separate scenes scattered here and there across the outline and the last third is solid.

~~And then I got blocked. Nothing I tried with the front of the story was working, but that's all changed now . The reason may surprise you. As I transferred the bits and pieces that reside in my Rough Draft file to Scrivener, I've been rereading...and my eyes have opened. Now that I know how the story ends, I know what the front two thirds of the story need to do. I'm excited again and the juices are flowing. The new plan is to write backwards. Really. ; ) My notes from the reread will guide me. So wish me luck.

~~Happy writing, everyone!