Tuesday Ten: Awesome writing things

February 9, 2010 at 9:37 am (Tuesday Ten)


The idea for this post grew out of one discovery this weekend, so 10 truly awesome writing things may be a stretch (especially on only one cup of tea), but for you, my wonderful and amazing blog readers, I am going to give it one heck of a rah-rah try! So let’s get started!

1. Are you like me and have been looking for music to write to, but tunes without words? Try Vitamin String Quartet. I’ve had their String Quartet Tribute to Pixies for years, but didn’t know this was the same group until I was looking up another song this weekend. Check out their YouTube channel. I am just quivering with all of this new music!

2. Need something to jar you loose, goose your muse? Try StumbleUpon–it’s not a deep dark time-suck, it’s a tasty buffet for the creative neighborhoods of your brain! (And don’t blame me if you get pulled under–blame L.A. Mitchell, because she’s the one who infected me!)

3. Speaking of L.A., visit a group blog she’s associated with, the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood.  This is an amazing group of writers who have one thing in common–they were all finalists in the 2009 Golden Heart competition. They run a blog that I think could benefit anybody who writes–fabulous lessons, Q&As, tips and tricks–you name it, it’s there.

4. Twitter. No, I’m serious here. Get thee over to Twitter and follow or bookmark authors, agents, editors, organizations, groups and more. I have learned more about the publishing world in those 140 little characters than I have in days of blog-surfing. The recent kerfluffle with Amazon and MacMillan? All I needed to know I could find through my Twitter feeds. Start with Publishers Weekly and Writers Digest

5. Check out this great post from legend Teresa Medeiros. I’m especially fond of #5.

6. You know of my love for Blake Snyder and his Save the Cat method of screenwriting. Even though Blake is gone, his site lives on, and somebody over there recently did a beat sheet for Inglourious Basterds. As much as I love Blake, I love Quentin Tarantino, so this was amazing to me. (There’s also beat sheets for Avatar, Precious, and The Hurt Locker, and it looks like more to come–check them out!)

I’m starting to feel like this now:

Okay, onward and upward!

7. Speaking of awesome writing sites/blogs, get thee over to J.A. Konrath’s site. Not only is his blog amazing, but his whole site is. Do yourself a favor and spend some time there exploring what he’s offering. It is a-maze-ing!

8. One cool site I picked up from J.A.’s blog was Genrefinity. Now, I have to admit I don’t visit the site that much, but I do subscribe to their podcasts. They discuss primarily sci-fi, fantasy and horror so where I’m not looking to them to provide me with the newest and greatest in historical romance, I do love listening to their reviews on tv shows and movies.

9. Go to google and search for whatever town/city you prefer along with ‘book festival’ and then go to it! (Usually they’re free.) I adore book festivals and they are excellent chances to meet authors–anywhere from NYT bestsellers to debut authors excited to talk to a potential reader. Go listen to the presentations, get your books signed. I have discovered more great reads this way and every author has been so nice!

10. And how could I not have a little funny for #10?

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Tuesday Ten: The Happy List

January 19, 2010 at 10:55 am (Tuesday Ten)


Wow. It’s only Tuesday, but I must say “What a week!” The universe is sending some nice things to me, and I am paying attention. It feels nice, too. December had some pea-green and baby-puke orange shades of craptacular, so this new colorful and sparkly rainbow is a pretty pretty thing, indeed. And I thought, what better way to acknowledge this than to bring out the old chestnut Tuesday Ten?  So my list today is things to be happy about—it’s all about sharing the love, people.

  1. Got an email yesterday that just made my day. Can’t say much more about it at this point in time, but I’ll be smiling for weeks over this one.
  2. The third book in Heidi Betts fabulous Chicks with Sticks trilogy is coming out in exactly two weeks, and I am busting at the seams to read it. I loved Tangled Up In You, I devoured Loves Me, Loves Me Knot, so it only follows that Knock Me for a Loop is going to be as sexy, funny, and sassy as the first two!
  3. On a similar note, registration for RWA Nationals opens on February 1st. (That’s a day under two weeks.) Since I had to miss last year’s conference, I am twice as stoked this year and cannot wait to see all of you again (or for the first time, as some cases may be.) And it’s in Nashville? It’s-Gonna-Be-A-Hoot-Ville, party of 2,000!
  4. Glee won the Golden Globe for Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical. That was a fun moment to watch. April cannot come soon enough for me!
  5. I’ve had some other books start talking to me recently, and it feels good. I think those voices are also freeing up my WIP, so the butt’s been in the chair more, the fingers on the keyboard, too.
  6. Got to go to the Apple shop on Sunday for a few extras for the laptop. Not only do I always love a visit to the Apple shop, I’m excited to get my baby purring even better.
  7. It is gray and rainy here, and being such a rare thing (plus a weather state I love like cookies), I am enjoying it to its utmost. It’s supposed to last all week, so break out the sweaters, tea, and umbrellas! (I know, I always have tea, but somehow it tastes different when it’s raining.)
  8. I got to see somebody very special this past weekend, somebody I haven’t seen in years, and once again, I find myself wishing she lived closer, or vice versa. However, I’ll take a little bit over none at all any day!
  9. Let’s go for some everyday fun and happy–CakeWrecks, CuteOverload, GraphJam, and in one of the best video/posts/events in human history ever, click here.
  10. Did I mention Nationals? In Nashville? In a hotel with its own indoor boat? Yeah, that’s absolutely worth a second listing.

 Here’s to a great week for everybody, and thanks for stopping by!!!

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Tuesdsay Ten: The Soundtrack Edition

September 8, 2009 at 9:43 am (Events, Tuesday Ten)


It’s Tuesday. It’s Query Day. It is a beautiful and wonderful day.

Why is it a beautiful and wonderful day, you ask? You’re aware my yearly clock resets the day after Labor Day, infusing me with possibility and goals and creativity up to wazoo, but it’s also Query Day. This is the day I’m sending my newest baby out into the world, and I couldn’t be prouder.

I don’t know the exact moment BROKEN came to me, all I know is when the Girls decided to send it up, they spared nothing. They took over my iPod, worked their voodoo on it, and managed to send me the exact songs I needed to make this dark world come alive. I mean it was freaky how perfectly the songs I heard matched the book.

I loved writing this book. No, let me rephrase—I lo-oo-oo-oved writing this book! I loved doing my most recent read-through. I love closing my eyes and seeing it play like a movie. And I love the music.

So, in honor of Query Day and this beautiful and wonderful day, my Tuesday Ten is the soundtrack to BROKEN. (Though to be fair, there are 15 songs to it. I figured you, my beautiful and wonderful blog readers, wouldn’t mind if I played with the numbers a bit.) And, to give you the fullest sense of my wonderful book (I’m its mother—I can say it’s wonderful), here is my hook:

In Victorian London, Lady and King, a prostitute and a street fighter, are soulmates in their own separate hells. Both owned by a ruthless businessman, they need to decide if a chance at love is worth life and death.

Now, the soundtrack depends on some minor understanding of Michael Hauge’s Identity vs. Essence. For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, a quick description can be found here.

All good? And so, without further gilding the lily, and with no more ado, the Tuesday Ten BROKEN Soundtrack:

  • Act 1—King’s Identity: Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day (American Idiot)
  • Act 1—Lady’s Identity: Sex (I’m A…) by Berlin (Pleasure Victim)
  • Act 1—Their Song: I Fall to Pieces by Aaron Neville and Trisha Yearwood (Rhythm, Country and Blues)
  • Act 1—Turning Point: Try a Little Tenderness by The Commitments (The Commitments Soundtrack)
  • Act 2—Theme: Let Me Fall by Cirque Du Soleil (Quidam)
  • Act 2—King’s Essence: Why Can’t I Fall in Love by Ivan Neville (Pump Up The Volume Soundtrack)
  • Act 2—Lady’s Essence: Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths (Pretty in Pink Soundtrack)
  • Act 2—Turning Point: Come What May by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge Soundtrack)
  • Act 3—Theme: Tango de Roxanne by Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge Soundtrack)
  • Act 3—King’s Song: In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel (Say Anything Soundtrack)
  • Act 3—Lady’s Song: I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders (Last of the Independents)
  • Act 3—Their Song: Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run)
  • BBM—King’s Song: Bed of Roses by Bon Jovi (Crossroad)
  • BBM—Lady’s Song: Broken by Lindsey Haun (Broken Bridges Soundtrack)
  • Final Act—Their Song: I’d Die For You by Bon Jovi (Slippery When Wet)

I wish this kind of synergy and musical reaction could have happened on the book I’m starting now, but it came to me with just one picture and one song, so I can’t complain. In fact, I’m as giddy to start this one (FALLING AGAIN) as I am sending BROKEN out today. Life is truly, truly good.

And to add to all of that chocolate-covered goodness, check out my newly revamped webpage. I am just slinging my-baby-is-so-pretty-proudness all over the place!

Can you tell I’m a little bit excited? After having to miss Nationals and my yearly dose of writing juju this year, I may be overcompensating just a smidge. However, I am not apologizing. Writing should be this fun. Sending queries out should be exciting. Coming up with a perfect line in your synopsis should be worthy of many squees. We should all be celebrating our writing, every day.

Thanks for cheering with me.

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Tuesday Ten: The Total Comic-Geek Edition

May 12, 2009 at 10:40 am (Events, Tuesday Ten, Virtual Gems)


I’ve mentioned before that I’m a geek—band, comic, girl—I wear all of the badges proudly. Of these, band has slipped off since I graduated from high school (though I still have the soul of “One day, at band camp…”) and the girl geek is almost a continual, low-grade thing, like what makes me laugh or my favorite foods. So that leaves the Comic Geek.

I’ve enjoyed comics as long as I can remember, from the classic Carl Barks-created Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge my dad got me hooked on, to the X-Men I secretly read from my brother’s stash, to the Teen Titans I collected later in high school. I have since eased up on the encased-in-plastic-with-a-backing-board rigidity that some true comics aficionados adhere to, but I have always enjoyed a run of Daredevil, an arc of the Fantastic Four, or the deliciously dark mini-series of Cloak and Dagger. And since I’ve thrust my toe in even deeper and reveled in comic writers such as Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy, for those of you first time readers to Pam Writes Romance), Jeph Loeb (producer/writer for such shows as Smallville, Lost and Heroes), and Kevin Smith (writer/director of Dogma, Clerks, etc.) I have found that my comic geek is growing.

It’s only natural, I suppose. There are comic book hero movies coming out at a wonderful clip, and it’s crossed over into fiction, even romance. (Jennifer Estep, anyone?) Go to any alternative fiction conference and you’ll be hard pressed to draw the lines between paranormal, anime, comics, science-fiction, fantasy and a slew of other sub-categories. But the comic conventions (commonly shortened to ComiCons) can be the most fun of all, and based on my personal experience, here’s why.

#1—I got to “meet” Chewbacca. (Though at the conference Montana and I attended, Peter Mayhew was there, so I could have really met Chewbacca. Chewie

#2—Having drawings made for you by the same people who’ve drawn Superman, Wolverine, Green Lantern, Spiderman, and one of my personal favorites, Herobear and the Kid.

#3—Watching people of all makes and models dressed up in costumes is just a hoot. Some looked like they raided the Goodwill bag, some could have gone straight onto a Hollywood lot. Others, with their costume swords and battle-axes, needed to be avoided lest an unfortunate accident occur.

#4—I got to talk to Jo Chen, the fabulous artist who did these (and more):


This is what an amazing artist she is—when I asked her how she got hooked up with Joss to do the Buffy Season 8 series, she said he called her. How’s that for living the dream?

#5—Hearing a talk by Todd McFarlane. You want to hear about somebody who’s made it by being true to their voice and not backing down? This is him.

#6—I got to see R2-D2. That is just the cutest little robot and he is even more so in person. Er…you know what I mean. 100_1477

#7—As writers, I think one of the best things about this Con for Montana and myself, was talking to the other artists and writers. Granted, they wrote about Magneto and the Incredible Hulk, but they faced the same thing we do—telling their story in a specific way. We have 70,000-100,000 words to tell our story, they have a limited number of pages and panels but have a strong visual medium at their disposal. And you know me—I love talking writing.

#8—Watching the kids ask this poor dude to “kick” them down the hill, yelling (you guessed it) “This is Sparta!” glad 1 

glad 2 

#9—Even better was then having that same gladiator come back and stand by us, telling us in a very weary and cynical voice, “Yeah, the kids like that. I just hope none of their dads is a lawyer.”

glad last


#10—And as promised many weeks ago, the picture of me with the Stormtroopers. 


Don’t tell Montana, but if I can Photoshop a little Santa hat on one of them, I think this is going to be our Christmas card this year. May the Frosty be with you.

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Tuesday Ten: The Random Thoughts Edition

February 10, 2009 at 10:49 am (Tuesday Ten)


Hello and welcome to February! I know, I’m a little behind in my postings and such (and especially after I promised I wouldn’t be), but some days just get away from you, you know? And so without further gilding the lily and with no more ado, I give to you the Random Thoughts edition.


1. Wasn’t Heidi fabulous? I think my girl-love for her is more than obvious, but it’s nice to introduce her to new people.  We’re still partying over at her blog, so please come play!


butterfly22. Some outstanding business—the lovely and gracious Marilyn awarded me this pretty Butterfly Award for my blog.   Isn’t she the coolest?  Thank you, Marilyn. I will display it with pride.







3. I decided if I were to ever write Sci Fi/Fantasy (adult, YA or both), my pseudonym would be Zanzibar Doom.


4. I would like to commend those of you (and you know who you are) who resisted the urge to go after Punxsutawney Phil when he predicted six more weeks of winter. Groundhogicide is just wrong.


5. The edits on BROKEN are going well, thank you. At times, I start hyperventilating at the thought of having to weave in all of the fabulous, juicy themes and extra threads and make it come out like I see it in my head, but then I look at something shiny and forget all about how I’ll be bleeding out of my ears come this spring.


6. Too many good TV shows coming on this spring. I’m already invested in Scrubs (and have been for years) and Lie To Me (I love Tim Roth), but now I have Joss’s new show, Dollhouse, with the amazing Eliza Dushku (premiering this Friday!), Nathan Fillion’s Castle and Ian McShane’s Kings. Don’t you people realize I have editing to do? Did you not read the ‘bleeding out of my ears’ part? Argh!


7. I am in the wrong line of work. I’m going to start doing this instead:































8. I am blatantly stealing this from Barbara Ferrer’s blog, but it made tea shoot out of my nose, so I had to post it here. It is, as Yoplait would say, C’est Si Bon.
















9. The girls are taking care of me. They’re sending up a very intriguing idea. Don’t know if it’s going to be the next book or not (that’s for them to decide), but I’m just loving what they’re thinking. Whatever I’ve been sending down to them to inspire such tales, I need to figure out what it is and keep doing it.


10. It struck me this week that this blog is helping me with my current agent search. I’m much more in tune with writers, agents and editors, and I find myself weeding through the list more quickly, as well as knowing who some of the writers are that these agents represent. (Plus, I know more about how they got there—the stories of The Submission and The Call.) Let’s hope it pays off.


Okay, there we are—ten random thoughts. I hope you were informed and entertained. Just to cover my bases, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Dean Martin jokes.


A grasshopper walks into a bar and orders a gin and tonic. The bartender says, “You know, we got a drink named after you.” The grasshopper says, “You’ve got a drink named Irving?”


Thank you, I’ll be here all week. Tip your waitress.

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Tuesday Ten: The Thanksgiving Edition

November 26, 2008 at 7:40 pm (Tuesday Ten)


First, I know it’s not Tuesday. I was going to do this on Tuesday to fit in with my dusty Tuesday Ten category, but I was sick. However, most of this post was already written in my head, so since I’m queen of my universe, today is also Tuesday. Just like your birthday extends to your birthday week, right?

So yes, how could I not do a Tuesday Ten on things I’m thankful for? Tis the season after all. But first, I would be remiss if I didn’t offer this: 

*******SAP ALERT!!!********WATCH FOR FALLING MUSHINESS*******SAP ALERT!!!*******

  1. I’m thankful for the wonderful authors I met this year and have inspired, taught, and suffered me, so my first Thanksgiving Thanks goes to Heidi Betts, Anna Campbell, MaryJanice Davidson, Jess Riley and Marilyn Brant.
  2. To all of my wonderful blog readers (lurking, commenting or otherwise) my second Thanksgiving Thanks goes to you—you give me something to look forward to every day, especially when I am a bad blog buddy and am sluggish in visiting your blogs. Extra drumsticks for you!
  3. I’m thankful that I had such a wonderful experience at the RWA National Convention in San Francisco this year. Not only was the setting splendid, but it was just a fabulous conference! (And I got to ride in an elevator with La Nora—much like finding a four-leaf clover.)
  4. I’m thankful to the Wiffers. You make me laugh, you make me smile, you make me proud to be one of you. Great big Thanksgiving Thanks to all of you!
  5. I’m thankful for the Girls in the Basement. Thanks to you wonderful broads, I wrote a fabulous book this year. Not only do you get Thanksgiving Thanks, you get extra wine with that! (And pecan pie with butter pecan ice cream!)
  6. I’m thankful for my wonderful writing/critique/career partners, Caryn and Robin, and it would take me until next Thanksgiving to list how many ways you’re fabulous! If turkeys had lips, you’d be getting a big, wet kiss from them! Mwah!
  7. I’m thankful most of you didn’t hurl with that last thanks, especially with the turkey lips visual.
  8. I’m thankful to Joss Whedon. Not only for the hours and hours of enjoyment for Buffy (and Firefly/Serenity), but for teaching me how to build worlds, create amazing characters, pace a story, and always leave your viewers/readers guessing.
  9. I’m thankful that I’ve found my road to Oz—not only have I learned amazing writing tools, tips and tricks from Jenny Crusie, Lani Diane Rich, Samantha Graves, Stephen King, Michael Hague, Blake Snyder and every person who’s given a seminar at RWA from 2005, 2007, and 2008, but I’ve learned how to take what works for me and blend it all together into my writing toolbox. Thanksgiving Thanks to every one of you, and the ones I’m sure I forgot.
  10. My final, and biggest Thanksgiving Thanks, goes to Montana. Making a wish on a wishbone really works.


Wishing each and every one of you a very happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season. 

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Crazy Good

June 3, 2008 at 9:42 am (Tuesday Ten)


Hello and welcome! It’s Day Three of SocNoc and I’m doing okay. No, I really mean that. Last week I kept alternating between hysterical giggles and periods of intense despair, but once Sunday hit, I took a tortoise-type view of it (instead of some of those crazy people who are doing it from the hare’s perspective), and things are going well. I do happen to think this period of wellness is more of a universal sense than just SocNoc, so my Tuesday Ten today is about the Crazy Good things that have been happening lately. Let’s rock on, shall we?


1.   The writing is going well, not only with SocNoc, but in general. I’m past the second turning point, and yesterday the girls sent up several wonderful scenes, all around a central occurrence. They escalate the tension, create more conflict (both external and internal), and throw the ticking clock into sharp relief. After those scenes comes a sequence I’ve got more or less figured out, then some gray areas, then the Big Black Moment and downhill ride, all planned out in my head. (And on paper—I know better than to trust my head.) Whee!


2.   I got my order from Amazon yesterday, which includes my copy of Jess Riley’s Driving Sideways, and the first three graphic novels of The Astonishing X-Men, as written by Joss Whedon. I am in print heaven!


(This next one you have to promise not to make fun of me before you read.)

3.   Earlier this year, I finally listened to the thousands of romance readers and writers who have raved about Loretta Chase’s book, Lord of Scoundrels, and picked up a copy. They were all right—this book is fabulous, wonderful, amazing and will make you cry in realizing most of us mere mortals will never be able to wield a pen (or keyboard) this way. So enchanted was I, an immediate trip to the bookstore to pick up Lord Perfect was necessitated. Could lightning strike twice? Oh yes, it did. I was gasping before I left page one. Being a bona-fide fan, I finally did what any other fan would do—I checked out her webpage. Your Scandalous Ways came out last week? Rapture! But here’s the really good news—Loretta (I can call her that since we’re such close and personal friends) does a group blog with Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverly, Edith Layton, Patricia Rice, Sarah Gabriel, and Susan Holloway Scott. How could I not have known about this wonderful, lush, incredible collection of writers before?


4.   I’m one step away from ordering my webpage. All I have to do is decide which template I want to start with and then press the button. I’ve got some pretty good choices, all that will make me happy to have my name on and I’m getting itchy to order it and start diving in to the customizing. My goal of having a basic webpage set up before Nationals is coming closer to being checked off. And as soon as it’s ready, it’ll be unveiled here first.


5.   Between SocNoc and Will Write for Wine and blogging and The Cherries, I’m building a fabulous network full of amazing friends, readers and writers. I feel blessed beyond chocolate and thank each and every one of you. Mwah!


6.   Saturday morning, the girls gifted me with a very fleshed-out idea for a YA book. We’re talking hook, theme and arc, characters, plot directions, turning points—it was all there in one form or another. Now, you may be asking yourself, “But Pam, I don’t remember you ever talking about YA except for a few books you recommended. I didn’t know you wanted to write it.” And you’re right! I’ve got enough not only planned between the para-lite-rom-com and my tortured historicals, but with my other “stuff on the horizon” that I was assured of projects for years and years to come. But this sounds like a fun book, one that really weaves together a lot of what makes me go “ooh!” and then wraps it with a big brocade bow. It’s playing in deep in the dirt for now, so we’ll see what happens, but if my brains do start leaking out of my ears, you’ll know why.



Well, I’m sorry to say the Tuesday Ten has turned into the Tuesday Six. Nothing else is jumping to mind and rather than force four more entries, I’m going to do the merciful thing and stop the list. This is just for today and falls under the SocNoc rules of The Blog’s Going to be a Little Thin This Month. I’ll make it up to you, I promise. Here, let me distract you with something cute (and Australian, in honor of SocNoc):


















There, don’t you feel better now?

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Tuesday Ten: Jess Riley

May 20, 2008 at 8:45 am (Tuesday Ten)

It’s a very special day here at Pam Writes Romance–I’m doing my first author interview and it’s also the release day for this author’s debut novel. Ten questions on a Tuesday Ten, that Tuesday being release day? That’s some major karma there, but I can’t take all of the credit. I think you’re going to be wonderfully enchanted by Jess. She’s got the off-center sense of humor and underlying determination that I really enjoy. In fact, when reading Jess’s replies to my interview questions, I kept feeling more and more at home with her, like she was somebody I could have sat down in a coffeeshop with and not left for hours because she was so much fun to talk to. So that you can love her as much as I do, let me introduce her properly and then get on to the interview.

Jess Riley is the author of Driving Sideways, a story about Leigh Fielding and how Leigh wants a life. Seriously. Having spent the past five years on dialysis, she has one simple wish: to make it to her thirtieth birthday. Now, thanks to the generosity of the late Larry Resnick and his transplanted kidney, it looks like her wish may come true.

With her newfound vitality (and Larry’s kidney) in tow, Leigh hits the road for an excursion that will carry her from Wisconsin to California, with a few stops in between: Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, the Rockies, Las Vegas–and a memorable visit to thank Larry’s family for the second chance.

Yet Leigh’s itinerary takes a sudden detour when she picks up a seventeen-year-old hitchhiker, Denise, a runaway with a bunch of stories and a couple of secrets. Add a long-lost mother, a loaded gun, an RV full of swingers, and Hall and Oates’s Greatest Hits to the mix, and Driving Sideways becomes a hilarious and original journey of friendship, hope, and discovery.



1. Describe the spark of this project. Why kidney disease?


After my ‘practice’ novel hit the wall, I realized that should I write another novel, it needed a fresher, bigger hook. Once day I had a conversation with a coworker about cellular memory: that is, the possibility that transplanted organs can retain some of the energy of the donor, even contributing to new tastes in music, foods, and hobbies for the recipient. I thought, “What if a girl receives an organ transplant, convinces herself she’s channeling the donor’s energy, building the donor up in her mind, using these personal changes to tackle some life goals…only to learn nothing is what it seemed?” Thus, Leigh Fielding was born, but she needed a transplant. I did tons of research and discovered that kidneys were the most commonly transplanted organs. More research turned up Polycystic Kidney Disease—the most common life-threatening genetic disease you’ve never heard of—and Leigh’s story began to unfold for me.
2. How did you celebrate when you got the call? Did you buy your first boa? (Don’t all published writers go out and buy feathered boas when they get published?)
I was about to type, “Well, I’m more a garter snake kinda gal” before I realized you meant the FEATHERED kind of boa! (Sidenote—the girl my husband dated before me had five snakes. In fact, I’m writing to you now in the room that was once the snake room! Isn’t that kind of creepy?)
No, seriously, I think I felt both thrilled and stunned. It was a little strange, actually—it’s a moment you imagine over and over before you get there, and it’s never the way you imagine when you arrive. I was home alone, I remember, just returned from a meeting with a client, and it was snowing out. I thought, “Well, here we go!” I’m pretty sure my husband and I went to dinner and ordered whatever we really wanted. Oh, and then we built a garage, resided and reroofed the house, and finally got ourselves one of them fancy, new-fangled concrete driveways.

3. Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently? Did you break any rules along the way?

Other than nearly being orphaned and switching publishing houses (which delayed the book release for a year but kept me paired with an awesome editor who ‘gets’ the book), I am very lucky that things have mostly gone smoothly for me, and I don’t know if I’d have done anything differently. I think I’ll have some thoughts on things I’d do differently on the promotion-side of things, after the book’s been out for some time.

After the resounding rejections for novel number one, I became methodical about improving my writing and approaching agents with a polished, professional project. So, after a rebellious start, I became a real rule-follower. But I skipped the ‘write and publish short stories first’ rule. Instead I wrote grant proposals and entered a few contests, doing well enough to ultimately attract the attention of several agents.

4. What is your day-to-day writing process?

During the school year, when I’m writing grant proposals, I am too mentally exhausted to write much fiction. But I’m very fortunate to have summers off to write, and then I write daily until the muse closes up shop. Or the ice cream truck drives me crazy.

5. Panster or plotter?

Kind of a plotter, in a very broad way…before I start a novel I figure out the conflict & climax, but how the characters get to the end (which is still a mystery to me at that point) is very much done by the seat of my pants.

6. If an evil gremlin (gotta love a question that starts with an evil gremlin) came and took away the one thing that would cause you to give up writing, what would it be?

Hmmm…the one thing that would cause me to stop writing…death? J Actually, self-doubt … that would be really nice to live without, as far as its effect on writing.

7. What’s been your craziest writer moment so far?

This is a fun question. Probably getting a personal email from Marian Keyes with a fantastic endorsement for Driving Sideways. That was crazy in the ‘wildly fantastic and unexpected’ sense. Also, moving the book contract from HarperCollins to Random House. I had no idea that was even possible.  

I may have some really fun answers to this question after I’ve done some readings this summer.

8. What would you be doing in an alternate universe? Or maybe I should ask, in any of the alternate universes out there, what is Jess Riley doing in them?

Let’s hope she’s not procrastinating! I think the alternate me is an urban garden or native plant consultant. She’s a nerdy, walking encyclopedia about plant care and the fauna certain flora can attract, and she drives friends and family a little wonky sometimes.

Oh wait. I kind of do that now.

9. What’s next? What are you looking forward to? What are you not?

I’m working on a novel that takes place in a medium-security men’s prison, actually. (Sounds like a barrel of laughs, right?) I taught in such a facility in college, and discovered the setting was actually FULLof opportunities for warped humor and darkly funny storylines. The next novel focuses on the relationships between several staff members and examines how we heal after a particularly gruesome romantic betrayal. I’m having a blast with it.

So, I’m looking forward to finishing the next book. And I’m looking forward to connecting with readers…I’m not a natural salesperson, so I’m not really looking forward to some of the things on the promotion-end of the spectrum. But I’ll try to have fun with them anyway.

10. Wild card–what do we need to know about you?

Well, I don’t know if you need to know it, but it is something people get a kick out of: in the summer, I grow milkweed and raise Monarch caterpillars. Last year I released 48 butterflies in my backyard. 


Oh, and you won’t solve the ‘nature vs. nurture’ dilemma with me: my biological and adoptive fathers both were/are English majors and writers.




Now do you see why I’m going to be referring to her far and wide as my BFF? I’ve placed my order with Amazon today and have already started looking in my email for the tracking confirmation. This book sounds so funny and so sweet that I’m stocking up on Kleenex to both wipe away the tears and the diet Coke that spews out of my nose. And I was tickled to notice that she’s going to be presenting at RWA Nationals this year, so I get a chance to stalk, er, meet her in person.





And you can be darn sure I’ll be bringing my dog-eared, tear-stained, diet Coke-sprayed copy of Driving Sideways to have her sign.

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15 Minutes

May 13, 2008 at 9:37 am (Tuesday Ten)

The Girls were looking out for me this week. As I was wondering what my ten of the Tuesday Ten would be, my friend Robin had this post. I had an a-ha moment, and here we are: Ten Authors I’d Like to Spend 15 Minutes With. And since I am so very crafty,  I’m going to further define this as Ten Living Authors I’d Like to Spend 15 Minutes With. (I’ll give you 3 guesses what next Tuesday’s post is, and the first two guesses don’t count.)

To pay homage to the plotter, anal-retentive, coulda-been-an-accountant side of me, here are the rules. First is these are authors I really have no chance of spending 15 minutes with, so no Jenny Crusie, no Lani Diane Rich, no Samantha Graves. Second is this list is in no particular order, so no favorites should be inferred. 

Drumroll, please.

  1. Joss Whedon. Surprisingly, this would not be Buffy focused as I feel fine with my handle on the Buffy-verse. I would love to ask Joss (I can call him by his first name since we’re such close and personal friends) about Firefly. There’s something about alternative westerns that really capture my attention. Combine that with the amazing world-building Joss can do and I’ve got 15 minutes easy.
  2. Stephen King. Yes, the man is a master of horror (The Stand, Cujo, The Shining, Carrie and so on) but he’s also a wicked twisted storyteller. Get Night Shift, his book of short stories, and you’ll see what I mean. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption? Bee.You.Ti.Ful. I think the final feather in his cap for me is On Writing. The man’s a quadruple threat.
  3. Ray Bradbury.I think I’d just stare at him for my 15 mintues, offering to bring him tea or cookies or anything else he wanted. He transcends literary and has become a legend.
  4. Christopher Moore. I’ve heard him speak twice and don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life. I think he’d be fascinating to talk to in a more intimate setting.
  5. Laurell K. Hamilton.I’d love to hear about her a-ha moment with the Anita Blake series and some of the background of her Merry Gentry series. And now she’s doing graphic novels? Somebody’s doing something right.
  6. Donald E. Westlake. (Also writes under Richard Stark.) I adore his writing, particularly the Dortmunder series, but some of his other stuff is wonderful. I think every writer should read Sacred Monsters.
  7. Gregory McDonald. I do love the Fletch series, but I think I like his Flynn series better. I don’t know that I’d necessarily talk writing with him, but anybody with such a twisted sense of humor is easily worth 15 minutes.
  8. Janet Evanovich. I’d love to hear about her crossover from category to the Stephanie Plum series and how that popped into her head. Plus, I’d like the chance to fawn a bit.
  9. J.K. Rowling. Who wouldn’t want to talk to the creator of Harry Potter? Plus, it would be so wonderful to get a contact buzz on success–from unemployed and on state benefits to the 13th richest woman in Britain. Yowza.
  10. Jeph Loeb. Allow me to list what he’s worked on/written: Heroes, Lost, Smallville, Batman, Buffy, Spiderman, Superman, X-Men and the list goes on and on. This man is so amazing I could probably learn from his grocery lists.

So there it is. My ten. I’m seeing a series of Ten Authors, so brace yourselves. 

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Tuesday Ten: Worst words

April 29, 2008 at 8:12 am (Tuesday Ten)

Okay, I’m cheating a little bit here in that my Tuesday Ten is a little smaller than what I’d like to be, but some blogs are longer than others, right? Trust me, I’ll be back on my pace again soon and will get back to effusively babbling before you can say “I miss the quieter days.”

My list of ten words I use way too much in my first drafts:

  1. Just
  2. That
  3. Looked
  4. Glanced
  5. Then
  6. Went
  7. Back (if used in combinations of looked back or glanced back–double credit)
  8. Felt
  9. Tone
  10. Turned
Obviously, I have a lot of problems in movement, what people do with their eyes and how they all return to the state they were in before. I’ve learned that (see, there I go again!) if I let it rip the first draft, I can do a find and replace on an edit. My last book I took out 1/3 of the justs and thats, changed 1/3 into something better and left 1/3 alone.
Okay, spill. What are your worst words?

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