Friday, July 24, 2009

Outside of a Dog

A writer friend sent me this Groucho Marx quote and it made me smile. I hope it makes you smile, too.

“Outside a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.”
This is Blue, a heart-wrenchingly adorable Bearded Collie who was adopted by the good people at Sheepie Hollow. You can read Blue’s story here.

Read a book. Hug a dog. Have a wonderful summer.

Until next time,
The Writer Side of Life

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Writing Advice

Here's a writing tip from Jacqueline Diamond:

Analyze books that you love, particularly those that were published recently (rather than classics). Diagram a couple of plots chapter by chapter. Retype a few passages that you find particularly effective—openings, in particular. This is tedious and time consuming, but you'll be amazed how much you learn.

If you're an author or aspiring writer--have you ever tried to diagram a book or break down a plot? If so, what method did you use and was it helpful?

Jacqueline Diamond
Next book: Doctor Daddy, HAR, September

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Limping Home from Conference (With Photos)

I've limped back to Dallas from sightseeing and "conferencing" in Washington, DC. Well, actually, I flew back, but there was a lot of walking in the airport!

My husband joined me for the trip this year and we went to Washington, DCon Monday. On the first day of sightseeing I discovered that I'd forgotten to pack any walking shoes, but that wasn't going to stop me from taking the Metro to Union Station, then walking around town. I wore my favorite Clarks sandals, which seemed fairly sensible to me, and we set out. Here's my husband, Chuck, standing outside the Capitol.

I developed a huge blister on my right foot about the time we hit the Air & Space Museum on The Mall. I braved the crowds and saw the one museum that I hadn't gotten to see in 2000, when the RWA Conference was in DC before. (This was especially important to me because of the July 20th 40th anniversary of the moon landing, which I clearly remember since my roommate, her family and I stayed up most of the night.) Then we took a cab back to our hotel.

On Wednesday we rented a car and I went to see my cousin Suzie, whom I hadn't seen in at least 40 years. She was the one person in our family who had an exciting job, working for the State Department all over the world. Now she lives in Reston, VA, a short drive from Washington.

On Wednesday night we took a twilight tour of Washington, which ended up being mostly during the daylight because the sun doesn't set until after 8:30 pm. We saw most of the monuments, beginning with the White House. Here's my friend and fellow North Texas Romance Writers of America aspiring author Gina Nelson, standing in front of the White House. We also saw the recently completed World War II Memorial, important to me because my father served in the Pacific during the war. The Washington Monument is in the background. We ended up in Arlington, VA at the Iwo Jima memorial, which is very impressive at night.
So then the conference started, and I got to meet some new
Harlequin American authors and see some old friends. Here's a photo of new author C. C. Coburn, a very interesting Australian who lives part of each year in Colorado, and (right) a friend from previous years, author Cathy McDavid. This photo was taken after the RWA Awards Ceremony at the ballroom in the Marriott Wardman Park hotel, where the conference was held. Previously I had a wonderful conversation with Linda Warren, a fellow Texan, who was nominated for a RITA award.

I also lunched with , Barbara White Daille, Laura Bradford and other authors, along with editors Kathleen and Johanna. Also, I spent time with another fellow Texan and new Harlequin American author, Pamela Stone. My critique partner and friend, Kara Lennox, was there and roomed with fellow Harlequin author Carla Cassidy. I'm sure I saw many others, and I apologize if I have forgotten to mention your names. It was a very exciting but tiring week!

I'm off to finish my new proposal for Kathleen and send it in post haste (as I am already woefully late.) And then I'm going to come up with some new ideas for more Texas stories, because I've been told they are still in demand, especially cowboys and ranchers. And since I do live in Texas, I might as well do the research, right? Even if it requires me to spend lots of time with good-looking, slow talking, tight jean-wearing, cowboys. Please, no pity. I'm a big girl. Have a great month, whether you spend it at home or away, getting your own blisters.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's a Mistake

The other day I did something I don’t usually do. I reread one of my books. In a fit of writer’s block, I picked up ABOUT LAST NIGHT, a Harlequin American Romance released in February 2004. This book is one of those special ones. It outsold the rest of the line that month. It got 4.5 stars from RT. The funny thing, my editor didn’t like my hero. She kept saying, “I would never stay with a man like that.” But women do, and the book jumped off the shelves because she had the vision to let me keep Shane Jacobsen as he was. In fact, I had to stet the first line that copyeditor changed, and made them change it back.

Normally I don’t reread what I write, at least not right away, because I’ve already read the story about five or six times before I even sent it in to my publisher. Then I’ve read it again and again as the book went through revisions, copy edits and line edits. Yet, with all these things, mistakes can be made. I was reminded of this fact this week when a reader found an error in a Silhouette author’s book. A friend posted on a list serve that the reader wanted to know if she should let the editor know. The question then became, should she?

As an author, we want to hear from the reader first if you are so bothered by something. First, it’s our name on the cover. Second, editors are busy. Once the book is published, the fact that the hero got out of his truck on one page and into his car on the other isn’t something an editor has time to deal with. The book won’t be reprinted. An editor isn’t going to go search and try to figure out who made the mistake either. Yet as the author, I will. Why? Because my name is on the cover and I’m a perfectionist. I’ve put my heart and soul into the story. While I can’t necessarily change it, I want to know.

In my Harlequin NASCAR, HART’S VICTORY, on page 243, the spotter says “Pit car on pit road next pass.” Eke! It’s a pace car, and of course as a NASCAR fan (go #14) I know that.

But you know what? It’s my mistake. I wrote it that way in the original draft, and because I type really fast and a P is a P, pit and pace got jumbled in my mind, as they did my poor spotter. But I didn’t catch the mistake on edits. Neither did the NASCAR editor or the copy editor. Or my editor. Or anyone else for that matter. Still, I’m the one frustrated. It bothers me.

In EMERGENCY ENGAGEMENT, another Harlequin American, my corrections never got inputted. Production’s fault this time as they sent the book through without them—one of those glitches that happen. They thought they had the green light to start production on a Friday; my editor and I thought we had that same Friday to make final changes. My editor and I both winced—we discovered what happened after the book came out. And there it is—on one page the heroine had a glass of milk, and on the next it was Gatorade. Yet it didn’t detract from the story, which won’s best Harlequin American Romance award for that year.

Unfortunately, mistakes things happen. I just read a Dorchester release and noticed a period was missing in one of the sentences. It didn’t ruin the book for me. I’ve found small typos where bat is pat and so forth in others, or thing is think and vice versa. Usually these happen because your brain fills in the blank or auto corrects. Lik U can rede dis. Yes, there are those books out there that are so riddled with mistakes that you wonder if anyone ever read the thing or at least used spell check before printing. I am not excusing those.

I promise you I comb through with a fine-tooth comb, as does my editor. We work very hard to bring you the best book possible. My latest release, BACHELOR CEO, is on the shelves now and I’m praying it is error free. But I won’t read it for at least another few years to find out. But you can, and if you do find something, feel free to let me know.

Michele Dunaway
Bachelor CEO--out now
Baby in the Boardroom--Feb. 2010