Who's Sexier? Building My Leading Male Character

His name is Kain.

His father is 1/2 American Indian and 1/2 Russian.  His father met his mother in Vietnam.  That's his heritage.

He grew up in Oklahoma and is an artist and a classic wooden boat racer, comfortable in the out-of-doors, comfortable with himself.  He lives in a beautiful and spacious log cabin on the shores of Grand Lake.  He is a golden god. 

Which of these actors should I model him after?

Daniel Henney

Arjun Rampal

Writing Tips from George Orwell

I love George Orwell. I especially love "1984," but you may be more familiar with "Animal Farm." Anyway you look at it, he was a great writer.  He had strong political views, but also strong views about good writing, so I was thrilled to come across this article, posted on the Gotham Writer's Workshop.

George Orwell: 6 Questions/6 Rules

With every sentence, Orwell wrote, he asked himself these questions:

  1. What am I trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

Give Your Chracters Horoscope Signs?

I think it would be fun to give my characters horoscope signs, then when I write about a certain day, I'll go out and see who's feeling bitchy, and

My main character is either a Gemini, a Sagittarius, or an Aquarius like me. Maybe I should stick to Aquarius, since I understand what it's like to live as one.

So my horoscope today would be

"You are impulsively affectionate and flirtatious at this time, and you feel quite restless if you are in a stable, predictable relationship that offers little excitement. You may be highly attracted to someone new, simply because of the novelty and possibilities for adventure. Also, your friends or love partner may behave in unexpected ways. Flexibility and open-mindedness in your relationships is called for now."

So now I need to figure out what Kain is, and my other characters, and all kinds of interesting interactions might pop up.  

I think I' going to try this technique in the book I'm working on now.  First to figure out what horoscope everyone is.

Dot Dot Dot

Yes, I'm an ex-English teacher. I'll admit it. I'm a grammar geek, and a technical writing. Please don't hate me.  I even completed all the coursework (but not the dissertation) for a Ph.D in Rhetoric. Oh yes, I did.

But now that I'm trying to write fiction, I'm learning gobs from real writers. I don't have a clue about their educations.  They are writers, living the writing life, selling books that other people pay to read. I am the student here. Looking at my current manuscript recently, I saw many, many uses of ellipses (defined on Wikipedia as "Ellipsis is the narrative device of omitting a portion of the sequence of events, allowing the reader to fill in the narrative gaps.")  I wondered if I was creating a fiction faux pas,

The "dot dot dot' questions always takes me back to one of my favorite movies (again .. .sorry): Mama Mia

It's the diary she kept
the year she was pregnant with me.


'July 17th. What a night!'

I don't know if I want to hear this!
- I do!

'Sam rowed me over to the little island.'

That's here. That's Kalokairi.

'We danced on the beach,
and we kissed on the beach,

'and dot, dot, dot.'

So I posted on my Aspiring Writers group on Facebook:

OK, it's time for the "dot dot dot" question (. . . ) I use them a lot when charaters aren't really finishing their sentences, and hesitating, and to simulate what real dialog sounds like. Do I need to take them all out?
"Oh, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry I asked . . . " murmured Connie, but her eyes were bright with curiosity.

I found that I'm not the only "Aspiring Writer" struggling with this concept:

    • Writer One I use them, too. I do think there are times when they are useful.
      Wednesday at 5:03pm ·  ·  1 person

    • Writer Two Me too.
      Wednesday at 5:33pm ·  ·  1 person

    • Writer Three  People really talk like that. I think it makes it a bit better to read than 'She paused ' every time.
      Wednesday at 7:13pm ·  ·  2 people
    • Writer Four Ellipses are for when dialogue trails off ("I was going to tell you, but..." She shrugged.) Em dashes are for when dialogue is cut off abruptly ("I was going to tell you, but--" She walked smack dab into the wall). Whichever you use, it's like anything--too much can be distracting. :-)
      Wednesday at 7:36pm ·  ·  6 people
    • Writer Five ahhhhh i needed that though... :) i now know the difference
      14 hours ago · 
    • Mystic Wyngarden A former English teacher (Me) learns the basics of writing narrative from real writers. HA!

Query Letter

I"m not to this point yet.  Way from it.  But when I am, I'm going to need these links, so I'm putting them in my blog for them.  You do know this blog is as much for me to save really cool stuff for myself later as it is to share with you, don't you? 

These links are from the Nelson Literary Agency LLC and describe in detail how to write outstanding pitch paragraphs for query letters.

  1. Pitch Workshop: An Introduction
  2. Pitch Workshop Part 1 - Young Adult
  3. Pitch Workshop Part 2 - Young Adult continued
  4. Pitch Workshop Part 3 - Young Adult continued
  5. Pitch Workshop Part 4 - Literary Fiction
  6. Pitch Workshop Part 5 - Literary Fiction continued
  7. Pitch Workshop Part 6 - Horror
  8. Pitch Workshop Part 7 - Romance
  9. Pitch Workshop Part 8 - Romance continued
  10. Pitch Workshop Part 9 - Romance continued
  11. Pitch Workshop Part 10 - Romantic Suspense
  12. Pitch Workshop Part 11 - Fantasy
They also post original query letters from some of their clients. Each query letter has commentary posted so you can read their thoughts and see why they said yes to each of these submissions:

  1. Original Query letter by Jana DeLeon
  2. Original Query letter by Jamie Ford
  3. Original Query letter by Sarah Rees Brennan
  4. Original Query letter by Hank Phillippi Ryan
  5. Original Query letter by Lisa Shearin
  6. Original Query letter by Shanna Swendson
  7. Original Query letter by Sherry Thomas
Some more of their pointers on submissions can be found at http://www.nelsonagency.com/faq.html

Finding an Agent

I have been trying to find out who publishes Chick Lit today. I'd really like to look at some submission guidelines. I haven't found any yet, but I did find a site where I can find agents who are interested in representing authors of Chick Lit.

I discovered AgentQuery, where you can enter in a fiction or non-fiction genre and search for agents.  Of course, their agencies are also listed, so next I'm going to go out and see what I can find there.

Am I Writing Chick Lit?

Someone, a very nice someone, read the first two (very short) chapters of the book I'm writing. One of the things she said was that what I'm writing doesn't exactly fit into the mold of category romance, but it might be Chick Lit. 

Really?  What exactly is the difference?  I'm on the research trail of Chick Lit!

The first article I read was PopGurls Guide to Writing Chick Lit.

They outline the formula for Chick Lit.  I hope I don't have to fit into it exactly, but in some ways, I do.

My heroine is around thirty. Score one for me.

What about her issues/quirks (she should have three)?
  • Well, Hadley is currently very upset that her mother just died.
  • She has this old boat to deal with, and she wants to leave this state where she spent her childhood as soon as possible.
  • She's never really been around much traditional marriage, and so hasn't really given that path to happiness much thought (She thinks the Cougar lifestyle is the normal lifestyle).
Is that enough?  The trouble is that my character is very well adjusted. Not in the normal all-American way, but considering how she grew up. She's happy with herself, or thinks she is.  She does learn a lot about herself in the story though, and ends up even happier.

My heroine is also supposed to be struggling in her career. I hadn't planned  that, but that change would be easy to make . . . If I decide to make it.

She's supposed to have a gay best friend.  I have not written a gay friend in for Hadley, and can't really think how to fit that in.  Wait.  There was a gay couple on the adjoining dock of where my boat is one summer. They had an awesome Hatteras boat, but they sold it and left.  I don't think that's a very gay-friendly dock.  In fact, It's a pretty hicky, red-necked dock, which is, I guess, one reason I stand back when I'm there and view it as a writer, not a participant.  When we buy our live-a-board (weekend condo-boat), we're moving to another dock, but my step son's boat is there, so we'll stay pretty close.  Have to think about that one.  

Now the other friends, she does have, including the married friend.  She plays a bit of a different role than is outlined in the article, though.

Well, obviously Hadley has had ex-boyfriends.  This girl is NOT a virgin.  She's grown up in France, for goodness sake.  But any ex's are back there, and obviously she wasn't too torn up about any of them.  She's a free spirit and kind of looks at men as delicious varieties of candy to be enjoyed.  She's a curious and adventurous girl.

And her mother IS NOT a cold blooded Harpy ( or was not--she's just died).  She was, again, a bit unusual by most of our standards, but she was a very loving mother and a very wonderful person. She did have her demons, and by the end of the story, we find that before she died, some of her issues were resolved. At least her daughter understands her a lot more.

Dad, the voice of reason?  Give me a break.  He's a Dean Martin type, drinking, whoring oil man.  ( I have read that Dean Martin was really a good family man, and I love his music, but you know what I mean.)  And he's dead.  And he made her mother miserable.

The mistake. Yeah, there is one, but I'm not giving that away.

And my story must have the perfect man, and it does.  Kain is pretty darn cool, even if she thinks he's just a hick boat dock laborer when she meets him.  His dad is cool too.

The book does have sex, but more sexual tension . . . It does have alcohol, and glittery parties on boats in on a pretty cool lake, surrounded by absolute mansions (and trailer parks), a lake that most people don't know exists in the dusty hills of Eastern Oklahoma.  It has less glamorous late night events as well.

And the ending is happy.  So whaddya think? Do I have a Chick lit story?

Writing Prompts

Just ran across this tumblr with some cool writing prompts by a writing teacher. I'm not a member of tumblr, but might join just for this.  Pretty cool:

"These are some of the daily writing prompts that I use in class. The prompts and pictures are scraped together from so many sources - forgotten websites, old journals, overheard conversations, the crusty recesses of my hard drive - that attribution is difficult. I've tried where I can, but if you know how any of them should be attributed or have a problem with one of them, please."

I Like This Contest. It pays!

We are now accepting entries for the Writer’s Digest Romance Competition.
Win over $1,000 in cash and prizes and be featured in Writer’s Digest Magazine.

Final Deadline: November 1, 2011

It's only for short stories-- All manuscripts must be 4,000 words or fewer.

Click here for more info.

Writing Contests

One of the reasons I blog is to save cool stuff I find that I might need later.  Hey, it'll all be right here when I need it. Of course, if the same stuff I'm saving happens to be the same stuff you need, I'll share.  Right now, I'm coming across some interesting writing contests I may decide to enter to get my foot in the door as a writer.

The first one is from the Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writers of America

And you don't have to be from Connecticut to win!  Here's a little of the information about the contest, but you can click the link above to find out more about it.

Prizes: The winner in each category will receive $100.


  • All entries must be received by the midnight, December 5, 2011.
  • In order to be considered “received,” CTRWA must have confirmed completion of the following:
    • The online entry form has been completed.
    • The cash or PayPal payment has been received, or the check or money order has been sent (verified by post mark).
    • The entry has been received via email, and is in acceptable electronic format


  • $20 for members of any RWA chapter located in Connecticut. This includes CTRWA, CORW, and CoLoNY.
  • $30 for all others.


  • The work must be unpublished and un-contracted as of December 2011.
  • The entrant must be unpublished or, if published, cannot have earned $1000 or more in advances and/or royalties for a single work of fiction as of December 2011.
  • The writer does not need to be a member of RWA and, as long as the submission is in English, can be from anywhere in the world.

Worth the Wait

 I actually chose a later date for my knee replacement surgery so I could attend the last two last weekends' gallery openings, and I'...