Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Clear Your Shelves winners from my blog are:

Eva Millen
HH Kaufman
Holly Letson
Renee G

I've emailed all of you!

Thanks everyone for participating. It was great fun.

Writers looking for my Monday morning post, please scroll down.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Thinning the Herd

Last weekend I looked at my schedule and my mouth fell open. It seemed all I did was work, or think about work. When my husband and I sat down and chatted about it, we realized I needed to get rid of some projects.

Projects come in all shapes and sizes. I really want to put my reverted rights books up online, but I wanted to polish them first. That's a project.

I have some short stories I'd like to put online...but one's not quite finished and the other two need polishing...That's a project.

I wanted to be in a suspense continuity with some friends, but as you all know, a continuity story requires a bible which means all four of us had to come up with a big story that ran through all four books and ... well, that's a project.

Then there are the how-to-write books. Oy. I could talk forever about writing, and have tons of workshops I could turn into books but getting those things polished enough to put up for sale...That's a project.

Add to that my already contracted work for two publishers and I knew some things had to go. But that wasn't just because I didn't want to wake up one day and realize I was in over my head. I knew being distracted by so many irons in the fire could potentially hurt the work that was my bread and butter.

Nobody wants that.

And self-publishing, even my how-to-write stuff (that's mostly done) went off the table.

So today, rather than give you a writing lesson, I'm asking you to take a look at all your projects. Have you spread yourself too thin? Are you giving your projects the "best" of you. The best of your time and attention so that they can be the best that they can be...or are you scatter gunning your energy, not giving your best to anything?

At some point, you have to stop and say...Well, stop. LOL  You don't want a million mediocre works out with editors or self-published on Amazon. You want your best work.

Happy Monday

susan meier

Monday, August 19, 2013

Clear your shelves blog hop!

I'm participating in the clear your shelves blog hop...Link below. :)

For my part...all you have to do is comment below to be entered. I'm giving away six copies KISSES ON HER CHRISTMAS LIST. One each to six lucky winners. (U S only please!)

Then click any of the links listed below the pretty Christmas covers to see the other blogs and other opportunities to win!

Lots of prizes. Lots of chances to win!

Writers looking for my Monday Morning blog...scroll down! :)

susan meier

Digging Deeper

Last week, I sat down with a notebook and began doodling ideas. This is the part I love the best. I get to use the list of twenty, the could/might/must and should list, all four of my story paragraph formats...not to mention the draft storyboard that I put on a page in a notebook and write really, really small -- sometimes in shorthand -- so only I can read it. :) It's like having a wonderful secret.

But the thing about the beginning of a project is that when we land on an idea that tickles our fancy, it's like the traffic light turns green. Our engines rev and we fly through the intersection into the street.

If we're lucky, we'll soon hit another red light though.

Why lucky?

Well, usually the tickle-your-fancy idea is more of a concept. I'm going to write a book about a woman who marries her dead husband's brother...Great scene ideas pop into our heads and we do a could/might/must and should list.  We might even do a list of twenty to come up with rich conflicts. (Although marrying your dead husband's brother, I think, already comes with some built in conflicts! LOL). We probably even do one of the one-paragraph story summaries, just to make sure we have a complete story.

But here's the interesting thing about ideas. If you give yourself a week (or a month if you're luckily working on another project and can spare the time) when you come back to that idea, you won't just see the flaws you missed [in your enthusiasm] you will also find ways to deepen the story.

In fact, you could write up a question for a list of twenty...How can I deepen this idea?

Right now, your nose is wrinkling. Why do you have to deepen your idea? Seriously, Susan, are you always going to make us work so hard?

Yes. Because when I say deepen I don't mean that you have to look at your idea and think of ways to make it more serious...I want you to think of ways to make the story richer. If it's funny, can it be funnier? Are you missing opportunities?  Are you missing the obvious about the conflict? Have you asked yourself, "How can I make this story great?" and then... "How can I make this story exceptional?"

There are millions of good books out there. Probably at least a million great ones. But exceptional? Not so much.

A book can be exceptional because the idea is just blow-readers-away wonderful. But more often than not it's execution that lifts a book from great to exceptional. So you say, Um, Susan...we're talking about ideas here, not execution...

But the thing is SCENES are part of both planning and execution. And we sometimes forget to dig deeper when doing our could/might/must and should list. We should take seriously the task of thinking through our scenes because those scenes make or break your execution.

So dig deeper. Think harder. Ask yourself...How can I make this story exceptional?

Happy Monday


Monday, August 12, 2013


One of my greatest fears after finaling for a Rita was that I would not [ever] be able to write a book that wonderful again. Go ahead and laugh. All authors/artists are paranoid.

When I looked at my work schedule...which has kind of gone nuts...I realized that the best way to make sure I always write good books [hopefully, some great books] is to keep doing what I've been doing.

You all know I work with a lot of tools. Could/might/must and should list, storyboard, one-paragraph story summaries, lists of twenty. Those aren't just avenues to come up with better stories, they are failsafe mechanisms. Think about it...if I'm running my story ideas through four one-paragraph story summaries, testing them for strength, I'm probably going to continue to come up with strong stories. If I'm really thinking through my C/M/M and should list, then I'm going to find the best defining scenes for my stories. Using the list of twenty will result in cool, unique things: plot devices, humor, great things for characters to say and do. And the storyboard, ah, the storyboard, what better way is there to test the specifics of your plot? What better way is there to shuffle your scenes, test out the drama factor?

So I relaxed and told myself to chill. My next book or books might not final for a Rita, but I'll be proud of them.

My systems work for me. And so will yours. But the trick is, you actually have to have a system -- tools -- and use them. I know, the pantsers are groaning. But though you might have to ditch the storyboard, you can effectively use the list of twenty, C/M/M and should list and even the one-paragraph story summaries without spoiling your pantser fun.

When I was struggling with coming up with my third book, the great Alice Orr asked me, "How did you write your last one? Did you keep the synopsis you wrote from? Did you use a certain writing schedule? Did you play certain music? Did you mood write your scenes? What did you do?"

What did you do? When you wrote your last uber-successful book...What did you do?

Consistency is your friend. Doing the same things over and over, getting good at using the available pre-writing tools, rereading the how-to-write classics [like Donald Maass's books] get you into your writing groove. They create a creative anchor...something that tells your brain to get off its butt and work.

And if you want to be great [I know you do] the best way is to take your existing process and use it...gradually improving it as you get more experienced. :)

Happy Monday


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Size 14 in a size 0 world

Here's a blast from the past. A post I wrote a few years ago that lots of people thought was fun!
Writers scroll down to the next post if you're looking for this week's writing inspiration!

A size fourteen in a size 0 world

I have a little bit of a problem with a size 0. Seriously. If you're not big enough to warrant a you exist? Haven't you disappeared?

I've always fought my weight. Except when I smoked and right after I had kids. Obviously, I quit smoking...and right now my kids don't want me chasing after them making sure they don't fall or hurt themselves or get into trouble...though there are days I think they might benefit from having me right behind them.

Anyway, about ten years ago I decided to give up the battle and, of course, I gained some weight. For a long time I stopped on a size twelve and was fairly happy there. Unfortunately, about two winters ago I put on some more weight and now I'm a size fourteen. But even though the research suggests that most of us are a size 12 or 14, no one seems to have told makers of women's clothing.

This causes all kinds of problems. At church on Sunday I sat down and my pants and shirt didn't meet. It might be cute for a twenty-something with a firm behind to show off the top of her butt. one wants to see that little piece of flesh below my top and above my jeans.

Worse, one year for Christmas my husband asked me what I wanted. I suggested he buy me something (nightwear) that he wanted to see me in. Christmas morning I opened up a package containing a huge flannel nightgown. As I dialed the number of my lawyer, he hastily explained that he'd bought me flannel because I'm always cold and he only wanted to see me warm and happy.


I bought the explanation because he does have a tendency to be considerate, but I re-explained my request...telling him that I wanted him to buy me some sexy little number he'd like to see me in. Then I sent him back to the mall with a bit of cash.

He returned with a cute little red thing that came with a thong. I went into the bathroom to put it on so I could come out and model it. I took off my clothes and put on the thong...and whoosh it immediately disappeared in my fat roll.

I looked at the box. Nowhere does it say "must have a hard body to wear this". Or "Danger, tight thongs will disappear into fat rolls". Nope. There were no instructions at all.

In the meantime, my husband was getting restless. While he was calling, "Hey, babe, don't you have that thing on yet?" I was debating calling the fire department to see if they could bring over the jaws of life to get the red thong out of my fat roll.

I have no clue why sleeveless clothes are so fashionable when most of us refuse to wear them. There are maybe ten women who can wear sleeveless dresses. And whose idea was it to bring ruffles back? Do I not look round and cuddly enough? I actually have a three-tiered gray dress that makes me look like a keg of beer. I would be incredibly popular at college dorms in that thing.

Short plaid jackets also make me shake my head. First off, if you've got any sort of bustline at all, you ruin the line of the plaid. But second, does any woman really want to look like she has the shoulders of a linebacker?

Seriously, they dress football players better than this. Have you ever watched a game that had even ONE PLAYER who didn't look like he had a tight butt? Heck no. They dress these guys to show off their broad shoulders and tight butts and hide their big tummies.

So why can't designers make fashionable clothes that make the rest of us look good? Face it. The football players have money. They will never lack for a date or companionship and no one would dare tell them they looked bad. They could wear burlap and pancakes and no one would say a word.

Forget the football players. Make the rest of us look good!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Reading Makes Me A Better Writer

This month I had the chance to read some great books. One by Laura Kaye. One by Jennifer Probst. One by Robin Covington. And a novella by Ruthie Knox.

I'm a very slow reader. I love to savor every word in a book. Which means I love the great wordsmiths.

I have to confess that as I was finishing off my most recent book for Harlequin Romance, I seriously became poetic. Even I was amazed at some of the beautiful prose coming out of the tips of my fingers.

And I realized that reading some authors of beautiful prose, Kaye, Probst, Knox, Covington, their goodness rubbed off on me.

Or maybe it made me more aware to think about everything happening in the moment of my scene. The sky. The scents. The kiss of the sun. The trembling perfection of a hero's touch. A slammed door. A baby's giggle. Those are the things that put readers in a story. Because that's where they want to be ... not dumped or dropped, but lured, tempted.

A good storyteller doesn't just whip out facts or follow a trail...she lures her readers to follow her on an adventure. That adventure may actually include some adventure. :-) But more often than not in romance the adventure is a unique adventure of the heart and emotion, told with the right words, the right feelings, the right breathless wonder.

Who doesn't love a romance that leaves you breathless or a thriller that really thrills or a suspense that scares your socks off? Who doesn't want a mystery that truly puzzles you or a Sci Fi that fascinates and makes you think?

Consider the most recent book YOU loved? Did it just tell a story or did it drop you into a wonderland of perfection?

Now consider the book YOU'RE writing...are you telling a story or are you taking your readers on a breathless adventure?

Happy Monday