Twelve Books for Less Than a Buck!

One of the amazing things about the so-called ebook revolution is how readers have access to more amazing books for less money than they ever have before.  Case in point:  PLAYING FOR PASSION.

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This limited edition collection (available for only one month!) gives you ***twelve*** sports-themed romances by New York Times Bestselling authors, USA Today bestselling authors, and some of the leaders in the sports romance field — including, um, me.  For $0.99, you can read books that range from sensual to erotic, following characters who play baseball, football, soccer, or hockey.  PERFECT PITCH, the first volume of the Diamond Brides series, is included in the set.

Come on.  It’s less than a buck.  At that price you can buy a copy for yourself and four friends and still not spend more than you would on that extra-large pumpkin spice latte.  And PLAYING FOR PASSION will keep you warm a whole lot longer than that cup of coffee!

Buy the book!  Spread the word!  And revel in the power of ebooks!

 

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A Call to Retreat

I just spent the weekend at a writers retreat, and it was sheer, unadulterated heaven.

Once upon a time, I used to sandwich writing time in between all the other aspects of my professional life.  I woke up at 4:30 in the morning to write before going into the law office.  I sat at ergonomically torturous hotel desks late at night after long days on the road as a librarian.  I hoarded my vacation time, and I used those “free” days to write, write, write.

Now, writing is my day job.  I write all day every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (and I do career support activities all day Tuesday and Thursday.)  So why would I ever bother to go on a writing retreat now?

Part of it is the socializing, of course — the chance to chat with “co-workers” about the trials and tribulations of our “office”.  (And, yeah, to chat about movies and books and families and all those other things you gossip about with co-workers.)

An even larger part of it is the chance to learn more about my job.  This weekend, I picked up some formatting tips from one colleague.  I learned about new online tools to help with newsletters.  I heard about some great how-to-write guides that sound like they might help with some specific problems I’m working on.  In short, there were lots of ideas being tossed around, all weekend long, and a lot of them were pertinent to my work.

But the largest part of why I go on writing retreats is because they make me productive.  Yes, I have large chunks of uninterrupted writing time at home.  But when I go on retreat, there’s a certain level of friendly competition — everyone else is working, so I’d best keep my butt in my chair and my hands on my keyboard so that I can be as productive as they are.  Also, I need to make the time away from my husband and our home (and our very needy cats) worthwhile — I need to accomplish a *lot* to justify (to myself — my husband is always very supportive) the time away.

This weekend, I accomplished three major tasks.  One of them would typically have taken me an entire work day to do.  One of them would typically have taken me two to three days to do.  And one of them would have taken at least three days, maybe more, because it was boring and full of fiddly bits that I most likely would have procrastinated about for far too long.

So, yeah.  Retreats are still worthwhile.  And now my to-do list is so long that my eyes are bugging out of my head.  Small price to pay!

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Notebook of Doom

So, Saturday night, we went to a baseball game, as one does.

(Before that, we went to dinner, as one does.  To Medium Rare, which serves bread, salad, steak frites, and that’s it.  And we had a fantastic dinner — better than I’d expected, with perfect, salty, crisp frites that complemented the steak perfectly!)

Anyway, we went to a baseball game.  And the Nationals knocked around the Brewers pitcher pretty badly in the first inning, so the game had a pretty relaxed, easy-going feel.  And about halfway through the fifth inning, I all of a sudden realized that I didn’t need to write the next scene in CENTER STAGE, because it was boring and talk-y and didn’t tell the reader anything the reader didn’t already know.

But I *did* need to add a scene with a direct confrontation between two major characters, one where one guy says, “Do this and there’ll be Consequence X” and the other guy says, “I’m doing this, so get your consequences ready.”

Being an author, even an author at a baseball game, I had a notebook with me.  So I took out my pen and I scribbled away at a full page of dialog, using the extensive abbreviation scheme that I created in law school, so that I could transcribe hours of notes on Commercial Paper and other classes that left me clueless.

Today, I’ll be writing up that scene.  And I have the cheerful feeling that it’s already half done.  It’s almost like I get to spend the day editing instead of writing!  Yay, yay, yay.

And the Nats won.

And I spent yesterday at the Washington Romance Writers summer barbecue, chatting with friends, eating a killer chocolate cake I had no business enjoying as much as I did, and having a grand time away from the computer.

So, today is pretty much perfect :-)

How about you?  Did you have a good weekend?

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Reclaiming the Trope

Look up the word trope in your dictionary.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

The first definition is probably something along the lines of “a metaphor”.  The second definition is probably something along the lines of “a cliche”.  The second definition likely isn’t tagged “pejorative”, but it should be.  People sneer at tropes, whether they’re talking about movies, books, or any other form of art.

And yet.

And yet romance novels, especially category romance novels, are built on tropes.  The entire idea of the genre is that we take a relatively few elements — a lover, another lover, (maybe more lovers), a trope or two or ten, emotion, conflict, and a satisfying ending — and we tell a story that is different, interesting, engaging, unique.

That’s the challenge of the genre.  That’s the joy — both in writing and in reading.

Tropes fade in and out of popularity.  It’s a pretty hard sell to set a romance in contemporary times and have a credible ward/guardian love story without setting off every possible creepster alarm — but it *can* be done.  It’s easier to use the trope of the secret baby now that lots of women are enjoying lots of sex.  Royalty — especially sheikhs — are a bit sparse on the ground, but there are an awful lot of athletes and military men.   Some tropes have become inflated — millionaires have become billionaires (I guess that’s the value of shrewd investing, early in one’s financial career.)

So?  What’s your favorite trope?  You know you have one.  Or maybe more than one.

I’ve put together a list of romance tropes:  http://www.mindyklasky.com/index.php/for-writers/romance-tropes/

Check it out, and let me know if I’ve missed your favorite!

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The Twilight Zone

I do my best thinking (at least as far as my novels are concerned) in the shower — I cannot count the number of times I’ve solved plot problems while shampooing my hair.  I do my second best thinking while walking — the three-block trip to the subway is usually long enough.

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But lately, I’ve been solving story problems in the twilight zone, just before I fall asleep or just as I’m waking up.  Science has a word for this:  hypnagogia.  I’ve actually always done a lot of plot-solving as I fall asleep, but those solutions have almost always been forgotten, washed away by actual sleep and dreaming.  Or, upon waking, I remember the solution but conclude that it’s worthless.

That’s what’s changed.  For the last couple of weeks, I’ve figured out fixes that stay in my brain, through sleep, through dreams, through awakening.  Also, I’ve figured out different fixes in the morning, before I’m fully awake.

The Post-It notes by my bed are a workout — I don’t trust myself to remember most of my solutions through the mind-scrubbing routines of brushing teeth, washing my face, etc.  But so far, so good.

And now I’m off to write Chapter 7 of FROM LEFT FIELD.  Because, you know.  I figured out that there’s an actual *villain* in this romance!

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On the Right Track

I spent this past Saturday at a writing seminar taught by Candace Havens and Liz Pelletier. Candace presented her Fast Track writing workshop (write a novel in a month), and Liz presented her three-part Edit Like a Professional workshop.  Both women were friendly and engaging, and they handled lots of questions from the very engaged group.

Candace’s Fast Track program turns out to be a version of what I’ve been doing to complete the Diamond Brides.  Candace measures her progress in pages, rather than words, and she relies heavily on group accountability — announcing that you’re working, announcing that you’ve worked.  But aside from those two differences, we both believe in writing every day, writing till you’ve met your goal for the day, turning off your internal editor to just get words down, and reveling in the way our subconscious minds know the story and track the story and relate the story — often better than our conscious minds could do.

(Candace also advocates a positive attitude — there is no whining in Fast Track — an approach that I *try* to emulate on a daily basis!)

Liz’s editing sessions emphasized a somewhat different system than my own — she advocates three editing passes.  The first is an overall read-through without any commenting on the actual manuscript (focusing on the global aspects of the story), the second is a firm editing pass of the story, and the third is a copy-edit-ish pass of the actual text.  (She has different terms; I’m summarizing.)

I found that greatest value in Liz’s admonishments to edit the story — both what is (duh!) and *isn’t* there.  She advises writers to look for missing scenes, to realize when they’ve forgotten to include vital information, etc. — vital reminders, especially to those of us writing fast.

(With regard to actual text, Liz and I are in almost complete agreement about grammar and usage — she values the Oxford comma as much as I do! — but we’ll have to agree to disagree about exclamation points, which she says should never be in a novel.)

So, useful sessions, as reminders of what I should be doing, if nothing else :-)

Alas, I ended up missing the Sunday sessions, due to my pinching a nerve in my neck while I was engaging in the extraordinary task of *getting dressed*.  Yes, ladies and gents, I have skilz!

So, Sunday was a quiet day around here — I finished reading BRING UP THE BODIES (which I loved, loved, loved), and I finished knitting my Wingspan shawl in summer blues and greens (which I love, love, love), and similar high-value activities :-)

And now, it’s time to get back to writing.  Without whining.  Because there’s no whining in Fast Track or in Klasky Rapid Release :-)

What did *you* do this weekend?

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