Thursday, September 29, 2011

DearReaders...A Joke too funny not to share!

How to wash a toilet

This was simply too much of a time saver not to share it with you.

1. Put both lids of the toilet up.

And add 1/8 cup of pet shampoo to the water in the bowl.

2. Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.

3. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close the lid.

You may need to stand on the lid.

4. The cat will self agitate and make ample suds.
Never mind the noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.

5. Flush the toilet three or four times.
This provides a 'power-wash' and rinse'.

6. Have someone open the front doorof your home.

Be sure that there are no people between the bathroom and the front door.
7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift the lid.
8 The cat will rocket out of the toilet, streak through the bathroom,
And run outside where he will dry himself off.
9. Both the commode and the cat will be sparkling clean.

Mikey My Dog

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dear Writers The Other Use for the Storyboard

Last week we talked a bit about using a storyboard to help you plot out your story.

This week, we're going to talk about the "other" use: Using a storyboard to revise a story.

When you're finished drafting your book, or when you've received a request for revision from your editor, it's always wise to read the thing the whole way through, making notes on the changes you see need to be made.

Lots of times those changes are things like: Beef up this conversation or deepen the emotion of this scene. I like to call those "isolated" changes because they involve just one part of your book, and if you do them correctly they don't impact anything else.


When you have a change like: Make this guy more of an alpah male or in the middle of the book have the heroine realize she still loves the hero -- these changes impact everything that comes after them.

Now, you could go through your draft, penciling in changes as you go to input into your computer draft later. That works. Because if you use a pencil nothing is set in stone. But you also have to flip back and forth checking what you have against what you've added. It can be clumsy and cumbersome.

An easier way is to do a storyboard of your project as it exists, using post-its. This way, as you're penciling in your revisions, you can see what's "up ahead" in the book so that you don't step on any of your existing scenes when you change something.

Plus, you can see your entire book at a glance which helps with pacing and intensity. Because post-its are moveable, you can experiment with your changes on the board before you make them in your manuscript. You can add scenes or take them off. You can even change existing scenes by adding or subtracting things from your post-its. You can totally recreate your book on "the board" and then implement those changes in your book.

It also helps to do a storyboard of the book you've been asked to revise, then walk away...letting all those revisions you need to make sort of roll around in your head for 24 hours... with your existing storyboard in mind. You'll come back the next day with all kinds of wonderful possibilities jumping around in your head!

There's nothing more horrifying than making a book WORSE when you revise. Or making it a total mess because you forgot where you were, what came before, what comes after.

The story board is an amazing tool for keeping everything on track.

Happy Monday!


Monday, September 19, 2011

DearWriters Using a Storyboard

A friend recently emailed telling me she was a bit befuddled about what to do next on her story.

She had a could, might, must and should list. (A list of things that could happen, might happen, must happen to make the plot work, and should happen to make the plot work but might not.)

She had the heart of her story. That one-line ditty that tells you what you're writing about. (It's a story about a hero and heroine who must catch a killer but she's already been arrested for the crime and he's the DA prosecuting her.)

She had even written three chapters. But she was stuck. She wanted to know what I thought she should do next.

The truth is...if you have three chapters and a CMM&Should list, yet you still don't know what to write next, you're probably going to have to storyboard your book.

What do I mean by that?

Well, most of us get a piece of poster board (a bare wall will also do) then we write our CMM&Should scenes on individual post-it notes and put them in the order we think they should occur in the story.

There will be blanks. Because CMM&Should scenes aren't ALL the scenes. They are just our jumpstart scenes.

But, to tell you the truth, once you get all those on a storyboard in order of the way you think they should occur, if the story isn't compelling ... You've gotta start all over again.

And you can. Since your scenes are on post-its, you can yank them off and reorder them.

You can also think of other scenes. If you're writing a romance, do you have a first kiss scene? Do you have a second kiss scene? (LOL!) Do you have your black moment? Do you have an "everything changes" scene?

Every time you reorder your scenes on the wall or poster board, you should get more ideas of what could happen, what might happen, what must happen, what should happen.

Every time you do the storyboard, you might also lose a few scenes! Not all scenes will work for all versions of the story.

But you must persevere with shifting and playing with your scenes until you come up with the "version" of your story that's beyond good. It's compelling. It's great.

And then that's the story you write!

Happy Monday!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


It feels so much like fall here that immediately my mind jumps to thoughts of pumpkin muffins! There's nothing like the scent of cinnamon wafting through a kitchen warmed by the oven.

I even like the beginning of winter. The first snowfall. Christmas. Sledding. And let's not forget pretty sweaters and scarfs.

We're entering a very happy time of the year. Mums for the front porch. Trick or treat. Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie. Christmas shopping. Parties.

And a book, KISSES ON HER CHRISTMAS LIST! This year my Christmas story will be released at the end of November. Just in time for steaming cocoa and bubble baths.

So this year, let's all enjoy fall. It's slipped away other years when I was bogged down in deadlines. But this year, even with deadlines, I intend to take some time to stop and smell the pumpkin!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Dear Writers ... I don't know why I don't like it, but I don't

The other day I was listening to a song being performed on TV and I thought, "This song ... isn't good."

Now, I'm no music expert, but even untrained as I am I could tell the dang thing dragged ... and was flat. As soon as I thought that, I realized that the guy singing and playing was on TV. TV! Sure, it wasn't a network show. It was local, but somebody, somewhere thought that song was good enough to play on TV. And I was kind of stunned. I wondered if he was popular enough that no one had had the nerve to tell him the song sucked. Then I wondered if he was so new and so innocent that everyone around him told him his song was wonderful, when they probably should have been telling him to go back to the drawing board.

Or maybe the people who heard him sing and play were simply blown away by the fact that he'd written a whole song.

Does any of that sound familiar? LOL

I just got what I considered "light" revisions from my editor. But when I got into the book I saw too many things I didn't like, things that might have squeaked through...or maybe things she didn't want to tell me about because so many other things about the book were good. I missed them the first time around because I was so focused on certain aspects of the book that others just fell under my radar.

Still, my editor hadn't asked me to change those things...did I really want to mess around and take another week to fix a book that should have only taken a few days?

I didn't...I'm not really lazy, but I do have my limits. Still, I have a motto. Good enough isn't good enough and since I was revising anyway, I turned the darned thing inside out.

I know it sort of goes against human nature to have our faults pointed out to us, but, honestly, just think of that kid on TV, singing the flat song. Nobody did him any favors by letting him go on TV with that song. I sincerely doubt we'll ever hear from him again. He had his 15 minutes of fame and he blew them.

So don't resist editing, revision, critique group comments. Don't get so mired down in them that you stall. But read them with an open mind. Read your book with an open mind! Don't fluff over the things that are wrong or flat. Fix them.

I always believed the change in my books from good to really good (I somehow can't call my own books great! LOL) came when I one day looked at a scene that was falling flat and thought, Oh, heck this gets the plot point/journey step in. It's good enough! ... And then I paused and wondered...What if it isn't? What if good enough isn't good enough? And from that day forward my books were no longer at the mercy of my moods or the muse. I took care to create wonderful stories. I took care with my scenes. I took care with every word.

Next year I'll write my 50th book. I think that change speaks for itself.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

DearReaders...A vampire trilogy. Have I come too late to the party?

Why is it that I get really perfect ideas for trending books two minutes after the trend train has left the station? LOL

Over the weekend, thinking about books as I celebrated the holiday with my husband's family, including two grilling sessions and a balloon fight, I suddenly realized a gaping hole in the vampire trend. There were no vampire books that had a certain aspect to them. And, oh my gosh, wouldn't THAT be fun to write?

I went to my bedroom, got out a notebook and before you know it I had outlined the arc for an entire trilogy. I even had book titles and detailed character profiles.

This does not happen arbitrarily in a writer's life. LOL!

So I stared at it. Really? Is Susan Meier, author of sweet romances, going to tell this tale that's something like The Terminator with fangs.

I can't see why not. Basically, if I take a pseudonym, I won't ruin the Susan Meier sweet romance brand. And even if no publisher would touch it with a ten-foot fiber glass pole because the trend is dying, there's always self publishing. LOL

Which leads me to ask the question...

Because we CAN write anything we want, with the catch-all safety net of self-publishing...should we?

What do you think? As readers, do you worry that your favorite authors are going to ruin their brands because there is no editor/publisher patrol to keep us from writing anything and everything we want?

Do you worry that your favorite authors won't produce as much of what you love because they can cheat on you with another genre?

Or are you stoked? Does it excite you to realize that your favorite authors will be able to branch out into other genres because there is no publisher slapping her fingers, saying, "Stick to your brand?"

It's all very interesting.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Monday is a Holiday...but Writers Never holidays

Really. We don't. It was a huge decision for me a few years ago when I decided NEVER to work on Sundays unless I was involved with a serious deadline.

Why? Because writers like to write. Lots of times we have to write to get what's on our brain off our brain so we can have normal social interactions!

But I digress.

Last week, I began writing the Prepping for Nano workshop. And it's a dilly. Mostly because this is through the writer's group Pennwriters. Most RWA chapters charge ten, twenty or thirty dollars for a class. Pennwriters changes more. So I think anything I do for them has to be FANTASTIC. Or at least filled with that many $$$ worth of information.

So as I was writing that workshop last week I thought about some things I hadn't thought of in a while.

Like how in the name of all that is holy do we push ourselves to get so much done in such a concentrated amount of time.

I use bribes. Seriously, you'd be surprised what I'd do for a fudgesickle.

I also constantly work on my motivation. I write to pay our mortgage. But some days, when I'm really struggling, I close my eyes and think of the beach. The water. Lying in the sun. Eating fresh fish. Strolling on the boardwalk in a mini-skirt (because my husband likes me in mini-skirts and no one knows me at the beach!). Having an ice cream cone. Having a drink at a bar...IN THE AFTERNOON. (LOL)

And I realize that we probably couldn't afford to go on vacation every year if I didn't write. And that gets me writing again.

I also sometimes find myself thinking about success, projecting forward, wondering what I'd do if a few hundred thousand people ... instead of tens of thousands...bought my books. Wouldn't that be cool?


No one loves to write more than I do, but I hate it when I can't get a scene to work. I'm struck by the same insecurities everybody else is. And that's when I start thinking or the mortgage, or the beach, or the potential to sell lots and lots of books -- and knowing in my heart that those books have to be good.

And that gets me back to the chair and writing.

So take today off...Labor Day...because everybody needs a break. But think about some of those things.

What will it take to get you excited about writing again when you're tired, or your scene sucks...or your entire book sucks?

The mortgage? The beach? The thrill of selling so many books?

Think that through. Don't let procrastination ruin the wonderful chance you have to live your dreams!