Archive for April, 2008


This a reenactment of actual events. Names have been changed to protect the not so innocent.

Internet Provider: Hello, how may I help you.

Irate Customer: I want you to cut off my internet.

IP: May I ask what’s the problem?

IC: I’m paying you 40 bucks a month to get “Cannot connect to Internet”

IP: I can set you up an appointment for someone to look at your modem.

IC wavers: What days do you have available?

IP: We have an appointment for the times between 6-7.

IC: In the morning or in the evening.

IP: Both actually. The appointment time is 6 a.m. – 7 p.m.


IP: Would you like for me to set up that appointment for you.

IC: You can cut off my internet service.

…..So, if you don’t hear from me you know why. I’ll be trying another provider.


April 29, 2008 at 5:55 pm 7 comments


You know it’s amazing how much writing you can get done when you internet is on the fritz. So, this weekend I got really good writing advice, which means I’m screwed. There are two days left on the clock and everything pointed out to me is what’s wrong with Megan. Underneath it all, it’s a good story idea. I’ve got good solid characters, but I’m telling (not showing) most of the story.

So, now I’m going to spend the next two days doing damage control. (Thank God it’s only tweaks) But you try tweaking 50k words in two days, while going to school and work. Try it. Go ahead. I’ll wait…..

Anyway, life isn’t going to end and even if I can’t stop all the problem areas I would have done my best and given this book my all.

But then again, I’m stubborn as hell, so this book is going to get fixed. Thank God it’s not a lot. (Is there an echo in here? Or am I just trying to lie to myself and then maybe I’ll start to believe.)

So to Friday’s post, no, you never stop learning.

And now I’m going to go internet surf. It’s been too long.

April 28, 2008 at 3:10 pm 2 comments


Because I realized I didn’t know diddly. BBP(before being published) I had no problems offering what worked for me. I’d expound about how I got to THE END. Then I got published and those post became scarce.


Because the thought of a newbie taking my advice is scary as hell. I know nada. I’ve just been writing long enough that I can string words together. I’ve been writing long enough to still feel the sting of that veteran who slapped my hand when I headhopped. Since I’ve been agent searching, scouting out publishers, getting rejections left and right my hide has grown another layer of skin.

And the main reason why I stopped giving advice is because the only thing about craft that works is to keep writing. Read. Read. Read. Write. If you don’t believe here is proof that writing can improve your writing.

I’m doing this for you. This may be the last time you ever see these words.

Without further ado, Love Unexpected, circa 2005. My very first novel.
The whole time Norah sat nibbling her Caesar salad she was thinking of going to the kitchen, finding Malcolm’s order of food, and sprinkling arsenic on the top. Not enough to kill him, she wasn’t for jail. Her stubbornness would win her an extended vacation in pumpkin orange clothing. No, it would be enough poison just to liven his night. She smiled at the thought of him twitching and gasping on the floor.

“What’s so funny?” Malcolm asked, interrupting the vision of him begging.”Help me.” in short choppy breathes. Her smile vanished. He didn’t notice the hardening of her eyes. She tried to focus on his face it was a mild shade of brown, it didn’t glow but it was smooth in tone, his eyebrows, thick, had a tendency to lift when hearing unfavorable commands. The brows accentuated chocolate irises that melted with every sighting of a beautiful woman.

“Nothing.” She cast a glance over her shoulder for the waiter. Norah didn’t know how long she could sit across from Malcolm before she erupted. She had spent three years of her life dedicated to this man. What pissed her off was that she could have been free after the first year.

He reached for her hands as the waiter placed their dishes on the table allowing her not to play tug-o war to get them back. She didn’t want him to touch her. With a smile she thanked the young man.

“Where do you want to go for our anniversary?”He didn’t wait for an answer but pushed on .”I was thinking.”He paused for effect. She fix her face to look interested. He always paused for effect.”We could go to New York see my mom. “

He smiled his charming smile that use to make her want to jump his bones, believe every lie with conviction, now it seemed flat and practiced.


Aah, good times when I knew nothing about POV violations, saying no to writer’s crack i.e. backstory. And starting 10 chapters too early. Oh, and genre. This particular story is a romantic suspense/women’s fiction/contemporary romance with elements of psychic.

Good times I tell ya. But what I learned from writing this novel not just for a year and half it took me to write it, AND not not only have written it twice (once in third and once in first person) is invaluable. (the first person version I still have, but that version was typed on a Smith and Corona. Yup, a typewriter. And those are definitely cringe worthy) So newbies, keep writing. You’ll someday get to be like me, writing better crap.

Good times…

April 25, 2008 at 1:21 pm 10 comments


I think it’s time I confess. (Sorry, not confessions of a romance writer…)But I’ve been having a problem, one equivalent to impotence just for writers. I can’t seem to finish a story. Which I think is apros for me since I wasn’t one of those writers who couldn’t finish a ms then something made me finish. No, me, being me I have to do every ass backwards. (Sorry, Lani and Sam, I had to curse.)I wait until my 5th novel is completed before I clam up.

So, you ask, what is my problem?

Fear. Unadulterated fear that I’m writing complete and utter crap. And it’s not the normal variety kind. I can deal with the normal variety. I just keep writing through it until I love my writing again. But I can’t seem to find my unheathly love of my own writing. This is a special kind of fear. It’s the kind that you start three stories and can’t seem to finish one of them.

Yup, you heard that right. I haven’t finished anything in six months. Six freaking months. And of course this just might be the day an agent reads my blog. *sob*

So, you ask, Melissa what do you plan to do?

I plan to quit publishing. I’m throwing in the towel. I’ll continue to log into Chats with the Divas every night. (This particular place you go and write for twenty minutes. I usually do two of them.) I’ll take my piddly word count and fool myself into believing I’m getting somewhere. But I’m not submitting this novel. Or any other thing I have until I’m done. Publishing gives me the Willies. Agent searching gives me a stomach ulcer.

I’m done.

I freaking QUIT.

But of course if an agent offers me representation I might be talked out of it.

April 23, 2008 at 1:16 pm 24 comments


Today we have multi-published author Bettye Griffin. I go to her blog for jokes, insightful posts, and just because she’s an author I admire. Without further ado…

When did you start writing?

I’m one of those rather typical folks who started writing as a kid. I wrote my first “novel” at age 10, maybe 11, after having taught myself to type with an old textbook I found in the bookcase. My father, bless him, sent it off to Morrow Junior Books. They passed, but I knew I’d try again eventually.

What was the defining moment that made you sit down and start writing a book?

I don’t remember; it was quite a long time ago, like 20+ years.

What made you take yourself seriously?

I decided it was time to stop fooling around and get some work done, even if at the time there seemed to be little hope of getting published (the African-American fiction boom had not yet begun.)

What have you learned about writing that shocked you the most?

That one of my former agents thought she was pulling the wool over my eyes in her continued attempts to rip me off. Nobody likes to be thought of as someone who just fell off the proverbial turnip truck.

What sub-genre(s) did you gravitate to when you first started? Is it the same as now and why do you think it’s changed or stayed the same?

I’ve made no secret that women’s fiction has always been my first love, but I actually started with romance because it was easier to get into. I’m now beginning to incorporate more romance in my women’s fiction.

What advice have you gotten that you live by?

I can’t say I’ve been given any words to live by from anyone, but my personal rule is: Family comes first. It’s an edict I believe I share with many other writers.

What advice would you give a newbie (if it’s not the same as above)?

Learn your craft. Learn your craft. Learn your craft. And learn your craft. There’s more to being a writer than sitting down and pouring out a story from your brain to the paper. Do everything to ensure your work is ready for prime time before submitting.

What’s you’re writing process? Has it changed since writing your first book?

I can’t say I have a process, but I do things a lot differently from my first book. I usually synopsize the story first and after getting an okay from my editor, start writing. I produce more than I did in those early days. I don’t do drafts; I proofread and self-edit as I go. My finished manuscripts have always required very little editing, but copyediting is a different matter! And I’ve never written in sequence. If I’m stuck on one scene, I’ll move on to another one. The important thing is to get the words down.

What keeps you writing?

I love to do it!

Do you have a support system? Do you have a writing community? What valuable lessons have you learned from them?

I had an excellent critique group in Jacksonville, Florida, but now I live in the sticks and the nearest writing group is probably 50 miles away, which makes it too far. I learned immeasurable writing tips from my group on the craft of writing: to use all five senses, to avoid clichés, to keep a careful eye on dialogue tags, etc.

Define success for yourself?

Having an audience who enjoys my work! I did not expect to become wealthy or to become a household name from my writing; there’s simply too many books for readers to choose from for me to think mine will stand out. All in all, I haven’t done too badly.

What are your comfort reads?
I don’t have any. I rarely read. I’ve read exactly 102 pages since January 1st.

Who are you reading right now?

I’d rather not say, because it’s taking so long. People are so quick to interpret. I wouldn’t want any rumors to get started that I’m struggling to read So-and-So’s book, when the problem is not the book but the fact that I only allow myself a minimal amount of time for reading, and when something has to go because I’ve got too much to do, reading time is the first thing to get chucked. I often fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day, without reading at all.

What book(s) that makes you want to write better (or stop writing because you’ll never be that good)?

First of all, nothing has ever (nor, I suspect, *will* ever) make me want to stop writing because I’ll never be “that good.” I am what I am, and I happen to believe I have strong skills. I was very impressed by BeBe Moore Campbell’s Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine. The lyrical writing in that novel taught me a lot about metaphors. I also liked last year’s Casanegra by Underwood/Due/Barnes.Incidentally, my married name is Underwood). I’m usually suspicious of celebrity-penned books, but this one deserves all the praise it’s received; it’s exceptionally well-written.

Thanks, Mel!

You can find Bettye Griffin at:
Or just check out my blog roll.

April 21, 2008 at 7:04 am 7 comments


For the past month the people in my blog community have been discussing how soon is too soon to fall in love (in a book) and their own beliefs. Like, Allie, Marianne, Twice, and Southern Fried Chicas.

I weighed at SFC pointing out characterization, suspension of belief, and how well an author executes the story as to if it works for me. The last one to me is what really sways me.

But I also think it has something else to do with it. Writing is subjective. You may love an author who makes my eye twitch. So this argument can also come down to the readers own beliefs about what love is. An author may think that showering the heroine with gifts or providing the one thing the hero needs is what love truly is. It can also be putting the h/h first. Or it might be all the above, but if the reader believes love is compatibility not only with the h/h, but with the family. Or when the h/h confides the ONE DEEP DARK SECRET that’s true love.

But if the reader thinks all that is hooey no matter if the love story plays out in days or months they will walk away thinking: Pfft, they’ll be divorced within a year.

And that’s why writing is damn hard and why its so damn subjective. And also why writer’s say, “I’m doing this for MY readers.” So for the people that wholeheartedly believe love conquers all are diehard fans of La Nora. So when she has her characters fall in love after the vanquish the Big Bad Guy/Gal the believe the characters ride off into the sunset. Or when Crusie has the hero buy the heroine an air conditioner, or makes the heroine come her brains out because she confessed to her BIG DARK SECRET, her readers walk about believing Phin/Sophia, Agnes/Shane, walk off with their cast of thousands into the sunset.

For me it doesn’t rely soley on the authors execution, or great characterization, but if I, the reader, shares the author’s beliefs.

So, I said all that to say write YOUR story, because your beliefs is what’s going to sway the reader. Writing what’s true to your heart is what’s going to make you the big bucks (when I say big bucks I just may mean splurging at Mc Donald’s. All in the eye of the beholder).

So, I’m going to stop bitching about See Megan Run being the book from hell. Because I had to realize I wrote my true and deep dark beliefs about love. Yeah, I don’t like them because it’s just SO DAMN MUSHY. (who would have thought, ME, a completely and hopeless softy?) But it’s what I believe and I’m still learning on how to accept it. But the first step is admitting it right? So here’s my new dedication:

To the men in my life, listen up this might be the last time I do this in public:

For the man who taught me the meaning of close. Oh, and you can now brag that I am multi-published. For the one who wakes me up at 3 a.m. for yogurt and water. Lastly, for the boy who stole my heart and the man who still has it…my heart breaks and mends at the thought of you.

So what are your beliefs?

April 18, 2008 at 1:45 pm 23 comments


It’s been doing crappy. I haven’t been told no this many times since my son was one. I did get an offer to send my next story. Well, whenever I finish I plan to do so. I particulary liked that agent. Well, I liked all of the ones I queried that’s neither here or there.

So now I’m wondering if there is a formula I don’t know about that will garner more interest in my women’s fiction with STRONG romantic elements. And yes, I did have to cross an agent off my list who said verbatim, “please do not submit WF with STRONG romantic elements.”

Which all just leads me down to is my blurb crappy? Do I commit a grammar faux paus?

I’ll let you judge. Yes, what’s the point of having a blog readers if you can’t use them.

Phoenix Lyons doesn’t believe in fate, so when she mutters the word ‘never’ she doesn’t expect her world to fall apart. It does. Her estranged mother dies of a heart attack; she’s asked to find money missing from the family’s business, and the hot guy she saw in the coffee shop less than 24 hours before, works for her father. Phoenix then mutters fatal last words, “Things can’t get any worse.”

Oh, but things do get worse. The California Accountancy Board suspends her CPA license, and the money she’s been saving up for a rainy day disappears from her bank account. This control freak must get her life back and the only way she can is with the help of her father’s employee, Don Juan, aka Adam Woods. If fate does exist it has a sick sense of humor.

Suggestions? Concerns? I always like to take praise….


Phoenix Lyons doesn’t believe in fate, so she flips it the birdie when she mutters the word ‘never’. Of course, her life goes to hell in a hand-basket. Her estranged mother suddenly dies and now after six years, she must go home. This control freak is determined to get her free-of-family life back. All she has to do is find the 75 grand missing from the family business. The only person who can help is her father’s employee, Don Juan aka Adam Woods. A man who doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of a sex only relationship. Love is the last thing she wants…ever. Yet, fate seems to have other plans.


I know it’s not close to what I want. I think I’m being too wordy. (why am I not surprised?) But I think it’s closer than my first one.

April 16, 2008 at 1:37 pm 10 comments

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