Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Naming Characters

This morning I was brainstorming the name of the sheriff in my current manuscript. I'd called him "the sheriff" too many times. Obviously, naming this minor character (who somehow appeared in more scenes than I'd thought), was in line.

I wanted to find someone who was a reader and who I knew, well, at least kinda knew, in that strange new Internet way of knowing people to name him after.

John Bohnert was already taken, showing up as a detective in L.J. Seller's Jackson series . . . so who?

The sweet name who came to mind first, who has a Sweet Wife, I had to let go. The name Jack Quick sounded a whole lot more like the bad guy, in spite of the fact that I could imagine some terrific campaign slogans. Even though I won't be using him for the name of my sheriff, I'll file him somewhere for something far more nefarious. Something, I'm sure, Jack would like.

So the big news for the day (other than the fact that I wrote my Bound-To-Be-Changed ending) is that I've decided to name the sheriff after an Assistant Fire Marshall who gave me some terrific help to formulate my ending. I hope Jerry Coble doesn't mind crossing over to the dark side from fire to law enforcement. *wink*

CR: I just finished reading a most amazing story that should be available in September. Be looking for a very different novel from L.J. Sellers called The Arranger. It's a futuristic thriller that isn't so far in the future that we can pretend this kind of world won't happen while we're alive.

It's all better with friends.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Oh, my. Oh, my.

This is a post that originally appeared on Theresa Rizzo's website. I liked it so much, I asked her if I could reprint it here.

And she said yes. So without wasting another moment, please welcome Theresa to Suspense Novelist.

The publishing industry is really tough to break into. In the USA alone, in 2010 there were ~ 51,156 new fiction books published. As few as 2,500 fiction writers can make a living at writing. The odds of breaking in and being able to make a living at writing fiction aren't good, so why try? What's the point?

I've been writing for almost 13 years now and though I've accumulated over 400 rejections and spent a lot of money, I am still unpublished. But it hasn't been time and money wasted. I've recently had an epiphany that success truly is the journey - not the destination. Cliche as that might seem, it's true for me.

So I made this video to celebrate my writer's journey. It's tempting to dwell on the negatives when trying to get published, however there are so many blessings.

I've finaled in many writing contests and even won a few. I've been privileged to travel to wonderful, interesting places like Maui, Seattle, San Diego, Crested Butte, Nashville, and more to attend writing conferences. I've met and befriended many charming best-selling authors such as Susan Wiggs, Jodi Picoult, Terry Brooks, William Bernhardt, Don Maass, David Morell, Catherine Coulter, Joan Johnston, James Scott Bell . . . and the list goes on...

And then the best blessing being, not just my supportive family but, all my writing pals and agent/editor friends I've made --all because of the journey. THAT'S the true brass ring.

Sure it'll be great to see my book in print one day, however people will love it, some will not, I'll have other headaches, insecurities and worries, but my friends will remain a constant joy and blessing. And I wanted to get that message out before I got published 'cause it's easy to claim that, once you have the perceived "brass ring", but I don't have that yet and I'm still loving the journey.

And it's those blessings that keep me coordinating The Sandy writing contest and co-coordinating the Crested Butte Writers Conference.

I get huge joy from writing. I'm proud of my rejections. They signify effort and time put into my career. While this video shares the tough aspect of the business, it's meant to be an inspiration and celebration. An entertaining way to remind me of all the blessings writing has brought me.

My fondest gratitude to my family and friends - old and new - those I have pictures of and those I don't. Thank you, all.


CR: I took a couple of hours off this afternoon to finish L.J. Seller's Dying for Justice. If you haven't read her Detective Jackson series, you really should. Not sure where I'll head next.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Artist's Way

You know I'm appreciating this book more and more. If you don't have The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron sitting on your shelf as I did, put this on your list of books to check into.

Here are two bits I've read this week I especially loved:

I like to think of the mind as a room. In that room, we keep all of our usual ideas about life, God, what's possible and what's not. The room has a door. That door is ever so slightly ajar, and outside we can see a great deal of dazzling light. Out there in the dazzling light are a lot of new ideas that we consider too far-out for us, and so we keep them there. The ideas we are comfortable with are in the room with us. The other ideas are out, and we keep them out.

And this:

My grandmother knew what a painful life had taught her: success or failure, the truth of a life really has little to do with its quality. The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.

This morning, in my morning pages, I brainstormed some ways to bring the book I'm writing to a more satisfying ending than what I've managed to come up with so far. I think I may have done just that. And, I also had the most amazing moment related to a completed manuscript I have that will make it oh-so-much better. Of course, it will require a complete re-write, but I was sort of looking at that probability anyway.

OT (but not so much): Because of a sore ankle, I've been trying a little yoga in the morning. Trust me, I'm horrible at yoga. I can't get through (yet) an entire session, and the moves I do get through are horrible imitations of what the instructor is doing. But still, I work at it a little. And even with my feeble attempts, I've noticed I'm a bit more limber each time, and I'm sitting up a little more straight at my desk. I might have to practice my poor yoga moves in the middle of the day!

CR: Dying for Justice by L.J. Sellers.

It's all better with friends.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Morning Rituals

At the moment—this moment—I love my morning time. Well, mostly. Except when it's hard.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been faithful at one thing for sure. My morning pages. The Artist's Way encourages even the busiest among us to get up twenty minutes early (for me it would take thirty minutes. Just sayin'.) and write out three full pages, long-hand, in a pretty much stream-of-consciousness style. The idea is to begin to identify your Censor and kick it to the curb. And at the same time, connect with the huge and immense creative center so many of us block. It's not always easy, but it's never wrong. Week Two gave me a big clue, but I needed to get through Week One to understand.

The processes and background in TAW keep me filled with trust that it will ultimately yield to good things. So I'm plugging along, sometimes getting an aha moment, sometimes just glad to finish the three pages. Trust really is a big part of this.

Thus far, I think I've uncovered that I'm a little leery of uncovering anything that might release my driven side, and well, there's always the comfort in the status-quo, even if it means staying in that stuck spot I've been comfortable in for so long. If you've done the work in TAW, maybe you know what I'm talking about.

Aside from TAW, I'm LOVING, LOVING, LOVING Elizabeth George's Write Away. Her process gives me so much hope. I guess, in the end, there's a part of me that craves a certain amount of structure. And her stream-of-consciousness plotting had me practically jumping up and down in our courtyard this morning. She gives insight to a process that doesn't seem stifling.

In the meantime, LoML is putting together an amazing road trip for us. Can I just say I love his wanderlust? His romanticism? His never ending interest in the world around him?

CR: Dying for Justice by L.J. Sellers.

It's all better with friends.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Crime Fiction Writer Who Keeps Getting Better

I've always figured that even a favorite author can't hit a home run every time they're at bat. I forgive them and look forward to their next book. It's just the way it is. And a miss to me will be a hit to someone else.

It is really a rare thing to find a writer who doesn't disappoint. I have to tell you, that writer for me has been L.J. Sellers. Beginning with The Sex Club (the title of which has always been a great debate, originating with L.J. herself), and ending with the current book in the series I'm reading, Dying for Justice, Sellers has simply gotten better at her craft.

I've wanted to mention this for a while now, but have hesitated because we're now partners in a blog aimed primarily at readers, Crime Fiction Collective, and I didn't want there to be any appearance of conflict. But I finally decided I needed to let you know about this most excellent writer.

Check her out. Read her books (the order isn't that important, except to see the growth of Sellers as a writer) and let me know what you think.

CR: Dying for Justice by L.J. Sellers

It's all better with friends.

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Date With ???

So, did that get your attention? You know I'm totally and completely in love with my husband. You're wondering . . . "What the . . . ?"

Here's your answer.

I'm working through The Artist's Way. I've been doing my Morning Pages (designed to put my Censor Snake in its place) faithfully.

Morning Pages are a daily event, but there's another assignment. You must take your inner artist on a date once a week. Before I proceed (and OT), I was reminded of the weekly dates LoML and I had back when he was still working. I want to engage those again as well. A special time when it was just the two of us. A special few moments every week.

My planned date for today got squeezed a little bit. But because it got squeezed, it actually expanded. I needed a haircut. Because of my hair stylist's schedule, it was either get there today or wait for six weeks to get in to see her. I'm not stupid. I opted for today.

My planned date was to a wonderful Asian market known locally as H-Mart. I love walking into that space. If you want the suburban grocery shopping experience, you will be disappointed. When you walk through those doors, you walk into a different culture. I love it.

Here's a little list I made today of some of the 'different' things I found and would love to know how to prepare: Lotus root; Pepino melon; Dragon Fruit; Rambutan; Sesame Leaves; Bacha; Nagaimo; Dried persimmon; Mugroot (I so flashed on to Harry Potter); Bellflower; King Trumpet Mushrooms; Enoki Mushrooms; Indian Bitter melon; Whole Kimchi; Acorn pudding; Yellow croaker; Dried octopus; Salmon heads; Snail meat; Sweet Fish Roe; Dried cuttlefish; Dried squid; Beef Blood; Pheasant; Frog legs; Tube squid and Squid Flower. For things LoML and I love—fried Calamari for way more than two people for $2.99, and Wild Caught Sea bass for $2.99/pound.

I was early to my hair appointment by a good 45 minutes (this is where the expanded date begins). And the shop (which had moved since the last time I'd been there) was right next to a little restaurant, the Monaco Inn, which had a delightful patio. I had my Kindle (loaded with an L.J. Sellers book), and opted to have a light lunch, a glass of wine . . . and L.J.

To round it out, I was talking about TAW to my stylist, and lo-and-behold, she's been giving that book away to people for years, but never studied it on her own.

I love when this happens.

CR: Dying for Justice by L.J. Sellers.

It's all better with friends.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Okay, six days ago I marched out my smart self and told you about four books for writers I was going to read my way through.

Yesterday, I parked two of them back on my shelf. Not because they aren't wonderful, but because The Artist's Way was clearly going to demand a little bit more of me than to simply read my way through it. And the third book . . . well, if it doesn't hit the shelf soon, it will at least be read in even smaller bites.

I think I'm going to gain a lot from working through TAW. Of course, at this point, there's a lot of trust involved. And patience. Kind of like when I broke my ankle in two places. I was just this side of surgery. While my head heard what the orthopedic surgeon was telling me, my heart just knew I was gonna set all kinds of healing records. They'd be writing about me for years in JAMA.


Trust and patience.

Are any of you familiar with TAW? Please someone, say yes. I hate the idea of hanging out there all on my own. It's freaky.

CR: The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

By the way . . . I almost made this a seperate post. If you're looking for a terrific police procedural series, you can't go wrong with L.J. Seller's Detective Jackson. Seriously. I have yet to be disappointed.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Books on Writing

I don't know about you, but I have shelves of books on the craft of writing. Some are terrific, some not so much.

What's important to remember when you buy a book on the craft of writing, is that it won't do you any good if it just sits on your shelf looking good. I know this from personal experience.

So, as a kind of accountability, here are the craft books I'm reading bits from every morning (beginning this morning) while I sit outside in the Colorado sunshine:

The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell. As opposed to craft, this is more about the writing life, and how we can get through it. I'd begun reading it ages ago, but for some reason (probably the need to organize my desk), I shelved it.

The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass. I don't always agree with him, but I always learn from him. Again, I'd started reading this one a long time ago and had to pull it off the shelf this morning.

Write Away by Elizabeth George. This one has been untouched on my shelf, but not for very long. George is going to walk me through her process, and I have the feeling she'll hold my hand if I need it.

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I confess that this book has been in my home longer than I can remember. Even before I seriously considered writing a novel. Unread. I think because I thought it might be a lot of psycho-babble. But, along with Write Away, it's probably the book I'm most excited to read now. She teaches us how to unblock our creativity. I'm willing to give that a shot.

What books on craft are you committed to reading right now?

CR: Passions of the Dead by L.J. Sellers.

It's all better with friends.