Monday, October 1, 2007

I'm Still Alive

I'm creatively battered, bruised, sore, but elated! The online class Discovering Story Magic is intense and REALLY gets to the heart of your writing. My poor little characters and plot feel like they were blind-sided by a dump truck, LOL! But they will emerge better, stronger, and more believable than before!

And cos I'm a real sick-o, I've just signed up for another intense online class: Margie Lawson's "Deep Editing: The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices, and More!" This one looks awesome, and I'll keep you all posted.


P.S. that story board pic is coming!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Story Boarding

I'm stuck, mired, stalled. Ugh. But I refuse to get down!

So, I've signed up for Discovering Story Magic online class and I'm still referencing the books in my target line. I'm tearing them apart and seeing how they tick. The "hero's journey" is very enlightening!

Don't worry, Jenna and Duncan are still running through my mind. Just mulling over the possibilities. And I'm getting ready to try story boarding. Very excited about it! Right now there is an author of the month workshop over at Romance Divas with the fabulous Julie Leto called Plotting With Your Pants On. Check it out! Very great stuff. I'll post a pic of my story board latter.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Hero's Journey

This is something that I've puzzled over for a while but I think it is becoming clear.

Here are the steps in order:

1. The Ordinary World
2. The Call to Adventure
3. Refusal of the Call
4. Meeting with the Mentor
5. Crossing the First Threshold
6. Tests, Enemies and Allies
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave
8. The Supreme Ordeal
9. Seizing the Sword
10. The Road Back
11. Resurrection
12. Return With the Elixir

Deborah M. Hale's free online workshop "The Lovers' Journey" explains these points in detail, focusing on romance. Truly eye opening!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Procrastinating... yes I know.

Okay, I blame this post on Trish Wylie. Kinda fun in a procrastinating way! LOL I really like the ring in the pic.

What do you do to procrastinate? My top 5:

1. read romance novels... for research purposes, naturally!
2. start yet another art project that somehow does not get completed. sigh.
3. go shopping for stationary supplies. I've got an addiction. sick, i know.
4. clean my house. like vaccuuming behind the stove. REALLY sick, i know.
5. painting my house. seriously.



Procrastinating... yes I know.

You Are a Ring Finger

You are romantic, expressive, and hopeful. You see the best in everything.

You are very artistic, and you see the world as your canvas. You are also drawn to the written word.

Inventive and unique, you are often away in your own inner world.

You get along well with: The Pinky

Stay away from: The Index Finger

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Oh, the STRESS of it all!!

Yup, it's official. Chapter 4 is giving me a bald spot! Grrrrrrrr.

I took a little break from Jenna and Duncan in the form of watching five children, all under the age of four for a few days. Let me tell you, the stress from that makes my chp.4 problem look like a walk in the park.

How is it that someone who is only three feet can move so fast? And what about the herd mentality? If one runs, they all want to run. And do you think it is in the same direction? Nooooooo, it's in all different directions. It forces you to mentally calculate who has the potential to get hurt the worst the first in seconds so you can speed after that one.

All moms who have more than three children, I salute you!

Hmmm... I wonder if the bald spot really is from chp. 4...


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Speak To Me

How do you write dialogue?

I talk out loud, acting out the lines I want my character to say. Then I write them in "screenplay" format with little tags indicating a movement, expression, thought or feeling that goes with the line. I'll read it through a few times, making sure the subtext, or the un-said items I want the reader to pick up on are there. Then, I'll flesh it out with description, actions and such. In other words, it takes me a long time. :(

I think that is why I've been procrastinating a little. I'm at a crucial scene and dialogue is paramount. Ugh.

Does writing dialogue get any easier as you write? I certainly hope so!

By the way, I'm at 15% of W.I.P. done! Yay!!!


Saturday, July 14, 2007

"Story" by Robert McKee---- Wow

This guy knows his stuff.
Yes, it is geared towards screenwriting, but the much or most can be applied to romance writing.

I'll quote directly here:

"Story Values are the universal qualities of human experience that may shift from positive to negative, or negative to positive, from one moment to the next." p.34*

"A Story Event creates meaningful change in the life situation of a character that is expressed and experienced in terms of a value and ACHIEVED THROUGH CONFLICT." p.34*

"A SCENE is an action through conflict in more or less continuous time and space that turns the value-charged condition of a character's life on at least one value with a degree of perceptible significance. Ideally, every scene is a STORY EVENT." p.35*

"If the value-charged condition of the character's life stays unchanged from one end of a scene to the other, nothing meaningful happens. The scene has activity- talking about this, doing that- but nothing changes in value. It is a nonevent.

Why then is the scene in the story? The answer is almost certain to be "expositions." It's there to convey information about characters, world, or history to the eavesdropping audience. If exposition is a scene's sole justification, a disciplined writer will trash it and weave its information into the (book) elsewhere.

No scene that doesn't turn." p. 36*

Sooo, if the scene or even the chapter starts with hero happy, happy, happy, then he/she becomes sad, then becomes happy, happy happy, we have a nonevent. There is no progression. It might be interesting, but probably not.

If the chapter starts with character progressing from despair to elation, now that's progression! You can even but that up against the next chp... end of first, hero is happy. Start of next, hero is upset or sad. It can make the overall rhythm of the story interesting and make the reader turn pages to find out what happened.

Very interesting, indeed.


* "Story" by Robert McKee. Regan Books, An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, Copyright 1997.

Angry Poker Princess

Well, maybe a little miffed. Hubby lets me play his online account for one of the summer championship games at one of the poker clients he plays at. Here I am, in #3 out of 23 players left. I've slogged my way through over 150 players to get here. 20th place to 13th place get $5.00. First is $150.00US. He says, "Honey, I'll take over from here to get us to final table. Ok, I let him. He goes out in 13th.
Momma ain't gonna get no new shoes. Grrr.
But, on his behalf, I'd have played the last hand probably the same way. Just got sucked out on on the river.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Good Book and Meal Plans

Boy, oh boy! I've got an awesome new book from Amazon: "On Writing Romance... How To Craft A Novel That Sells" by Leigh Michaels and it is DAMN GOOD!! I think it ranks right up there with GMC. Love it!

It makes you think really hard about your conflict and motivations in your WIP. (Work In Progress) It also has a fabulous section on working out your "What if" muscles. Great examples too.

Now the meal plan. I spent all morning working on a menu for breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks for a whole week. I want to give the kiddies' to have well balanced meals that are fun so the little buggers will EAT them! Try explaining to a toddler why we don't eat Corn Pops and grapes for every meal! LOL

Plus, the added bonus is being able to budget for a whole week and not be in the grocery store EVERY DAY. Did I mention I hate grocery shopping? Thank goodness for husbands!


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Hero & Heroine Archetypes

I'm officially at 10%!!! Yay!
But on the downside, I'm 5000 words off schedule. :(
In my defense, I can say I was still working. I got a fabulous book from Amazon and I think it is worth its weight in GOLD!!

"The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes & Heroines...16 Master Archetypes" by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, Sue Viders.

I've heard good things about it before, and they weren't kidding. Truly great stuff.

Duncan’s Master Archetypes

Charmer & Chief With a touch of the Professor

Virtues as Chief:
Goal oriented. Decisive. Responsible. Organizes everything well. Concerned with function, not fluff. Motivated. Confident.

Virtues as Charmer:
Creative. Witty. Smooth. Makes friends easily. Terrific enthusiasm.

Virtues as Professor:
Expert. Analytical.

Flaws as Chief:
Stubborn. Dominating. Inflexible.

Flaws as Charmer:

Flaws as Professor:

Jenna’s Master Archetypes

Librarian & Nurturer, with a touch of Boss and Spunky Kid.

Virtues as Librarian:
Efficient. Serious. Dependable. Detail oriented.

Virtues as Nurturer:
Altruistic. Capable. Usually calm, cool and collected.

Virtues as Boss:
Highly organized. An achiever.

Virtues as Spunky Kid:
Sense of humor. Reliable. Supportive.

Flaws as Librarian:
Rigid. Repressed. Perfectionist. Introverted and uptight.

Flaws as Nurturer:
Idealistic. Self-sacrificing. Hold grudge. Resent being pushed around.

Flaws as Boss:
Blunt. Workaholic.

Flaws as Spunky Kid:
Sarcastic. Unassuming. Skeptical. Unassertive in her love life.

How they Clash, Mesh, and Change:

Jenna and Duncan thrive on being in control. This causes a constant struggle to see who will win. Jenna feels she must pick up the gauntlet in order to prove her significance. Duncan says Jenna is a prize worth winning. Jenna says Duncan is domineering, too sure of himself and a worthy opponent.

Duncan believes work, goals and achievement are what matter. Jenna believes family is what matters. She doesn't know Duncan's family history so she doesn't understand his view on family. Duncan says Jenna is a martyr, the picture of a warm hearth and home, and a true friend; this is something he's never really had. Both of them feel the other spends far too much time on things that do not really matter. Jenna says Duncan is egotistical, predatory, too much controlling but he is rock solid and there when you need him.

Duncan focuses on the goal but Jenna focuses on the process, which frustrates Duncan. Her attention to detail can drive him crazy. He is only interested in the bottom line. He thinks she over analyzes. But neither of them backs down from their views on how to do things. Duncan says she is prissy and too detail oriented. Jenna says he is convinced he is always right, and he is able to get through her defenses.

Duncan loves to play to the extreme, while Jenna is all work. For him, life is an adventure, a game to win at, while she is serious and determined for the most part. He gets frustrated with her inability to lighten up and have some fun. Duncan says Jenna can be a shrew, humorless at times but a door worth opening. Jenna says he is too conceited and dangerously irresistible.

Jenna believes in family and commitments. Duncan wants a good time with a variety of people. The idea of opening up his feelings with others gives him the chills. Duncan says Jenna is too honest but tried and true. Jenna says Duncan is out of her league, slick and a dreamboat.

Jenna makes lists for her personal life. Duncan thinks that is crazy, he'd rather live by the moment and play it by ear for his personal life. He says Jenna is uptight and longing to let her hair down. Jenna says Duncan is the star in her fantasies, but she'd never admit that to him!

Duncan is best at focusing on his own needs, while Jenna focuses on others. He hides behind his charming smile. Jenna, once she gets past her shyness and her fears, is warm, kind and guileless. Duncan sees her as a safe harbor. Jenna says he is undependable emotionally, a smooth operator and her cup of tea.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

I'm In LOVE!!! Romance Novel TV

Romance! Novels! TV! Mixed together, what could be better?

Check it out


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Blog Tagging!

Thanks, Sally

Crazy, silly fun. :)

But a great way to get to meet people!

Here are the rules:

A. Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves.

B. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed.

C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 more people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

ANd without further ado, here are 8 things about me:
  1. I am absolutely TERRIFIED of bears. I've had nightmares all my life about them. Stems from my childhood when I saw a mare and foal baddly slashed by one.
  2. My birthday is January 18th, and the year I turned 18, I celebrated my birthday every month on the 18 for the whole year. Mom even made me a birthday cake with candles each time. Thanks Mom! LOVE ya :)
  3. I sometimes just "know" what will happen. Husband hates it when I tell him "who done it" after the first 5 min of movie. Sorry hon!
  4. LOVE to bellydance. Studied it to combat clumsiness. Didn't really work, but fun!
  5. I love to learn.
  6. Lived in a haunted condo while in college.
  7. I want to own/fly a helicopter.
  8. Have a thing for stationary. Cannot go into a department store without buying paper, pens, pencils...etc. Weird thing about that? Can never find a pen when I need it. Think husband returns my stationary purchases when I'm not looking. LOL


Celebrate The Small Steps

Yay! Now at 5% done!

*grinning from ear to ear*


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Word Count Trophy!

I love a good competition!!

It seems I've got Lag-itis, other wise know as Dragging-Your-Ass-itis when it comes to writing. Notice the word meter. Only gone up by 300 words. Sigh.

I am not alone with this affliction; one of my crit partners is suffering from it too. The cure? How about a word count competition!

Okay, the rules:
  1. 750 words per day for one week.
  2. each day is done in a separate doc and emailed that night.
  3. the one that meets the goal or beats that goal by the highest % wins the word count trophy and bragging rights on her blog!
  4. NOTE: quality is key, not just quantity. Gotta be good work. We'll know if the other is cheating by sending crap. :)

May the most productive writer win!

I'm gunning for ya, Sally!

Hey Mandy, wanna play too?

Gotta go write,


Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Goals

Goals are good. Procrastination is bad.


Okay, I'm going to set some goals. I am writing a 50,000 romance targeted at Harlequin's Romance line. It will have approx. 15 chapters.
  1. I want to have the rough draft finished by August 30, 2007.
  2. I will right 5,000 word each week for the next 10 weeks.
  3. I will write at least 5 days a week, and aim for 1,000 words per writing session.

Go Me!

And I'll probably add to the list above.

Research Goals:

  1. Find out more info on mortgage underwriter departments in banks.
  2. Find out usual bank structure... top dog and positions under.
  3. Refresh myself on pregnancy. (been there, done that!)
  4. Look into mortgage insurance and stipulations for getting... ie. property up to code.
  5. Research hotel bars. And as many huge, colorful, umbrella toting drinks as possible. (Mental note: better bring husband as back up. It's been a LONG time since gone out. May need assistance walking/standing/remembering. TEee-hee!)
  6. Look at modern condos in Toronto.

And this list will grow.



Voice and Point of View

Silly picture, I know. But it illustrates so well. Your book's voice.

I've read some good romance books. And I've read some FABulous romance books. Story and characterization is paramount, but what made the FaBulous books stick out for me?


The character's voice, even in the non-dialogue bits, was excellent. It helped me remember who's Point of View I was reading. It entertained me. Made me laugh while crying. Made me want to keep reading even though it's late, and I know kids, husband, and a pack for pets are waiting for my full attention tomorrow morning.

Voice can really help get your book published. From the research I've done, editors want a fresh voice. But what does that mean? I looked at some of the current Harlequin books that are getting great reviews. Guess what I found? Yup, all had a great voice. Not saying the other books didn't, but there is a reason why some books get the good reviews and others do not.

I want my Jenna's voice to be sassy, even though she has a lot on her plate. She could easily be a whining, weepy willow type. But that's not how I "hear" her. Now the hard part. Me. Do I have enough skill to record her voice right? I truly hope so!

Voice in book I recently read and loved: Liz Fielding's "The Secret life of Lady Gabriella." Liz's character is a still fairly recently widowed. She is chasing a dream that everyone, including a small part of herself, thinks is silly and she can't do it. She may possibly be kicked out of her job and thus having to move from the house she's come to love. A house that gives her the vital inspiration to write.

With so much going wrong for the character, so much pain to deal with, she still is funny, optimistic, and silly in an endearing way. She just shines, even when the character is lying to herself. THAT's what I want for Jenna.

As for point of view, my book will mostly be from Jenna's perspective. As you can see below, she has the most fears and baggage to deal with. Plus we get to "see" more of yummy Duncan through her eyes. Yay!

Okay. Go write!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy Ever Afters!

Don't you just love them? As a romance reader and aspiring romance writer, I DEMAND a Happy Ever After or HEA as they say in the biz. If I don't get one, after taking my time and investing my emotions in a chacter or characters, I want my money back. If I can't get that, the book goes sailing into the recycling box.
What can I say? I'm a simple kind of girl.

Sticks and Stones...

I'm so mean.

I plan on throwing Jenna's and Duncan's fears at them, starting from the smallest and working up to the biggest, to make their path to true love (story plot) exciting. Sorry guys! Ah, exposure therapy. Where would we romance writers be without you?

Get ready, Jenna. I'm aiming at you first.

Okay, Duncan. Your turn!

Now, a qoute from "UNK" from his "Transformational Character Arc"

Conquering their greatest fear is the transformational character arc, COMPLETED.
Just like exposure therapy, you can now take your list of fears and begin to develop them. Consider putting them in an order of RISING ACTION with your story events... i.e., start out with the smaller fears -- leading into successively larger fears -- ending with your Protagonist's GREATEST FEAR. In other words, KEEP RAISING THE STAKES!

As you kick your Protagonist's ass up shit mountain and expose him or her to "the trail of fears,"
always keep in mind that each fear you ultimately decide YOU WANT in your story needs to be
revealed through ACTION and DIALOGUE. Each fear needs to be CONVERTED into rising action and conflict and it's your Protagonist's emotional reaction to action that will reveal the fear(s) and begin his or her transformational character arc. Your Protagonist's action is motivated by their emotional reaction to action i.e., the decisions they make along the trail of fears. Up shit mountain and along the trail of fears, your Protagonist must STRUGGLE between what he or she wants and what he or she NEEDS.

Also keep in mind that your character has very likely been HIDING these fears and especially his or her greatest fear. ..."

Thanks, UNK, you're brilliant!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Character Arcs

Character Arc:
"A character arc is the status of the character as it unfolds throughout the story, the storyline or series of episodes. Since the definition of character arc centers on the character, it is generally equated as the emotional change of the character within the narrative. Characters begin the story with a certain viewpoint and, through events in the story, that viewpoint changes. Often this change is for the better, but it can also be for the worse or simply different. Character arc are most evident in character drama or in subplots." --From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Now, an EXCELLENT quote from Robyn DeHart... (read her article here)

"How to use elements to build character arc and discover your book’s theme – we all have heard about character arcs and until I figured out this combination, I tried everything under the sun to come up with clear character arcs. I knew that in order to have good fiction, in particular good romance, I needed to have my characters change and grow. This meant they needed to move from Point A to Point B in order to achieve their happy ending. Here’s what I discovered.

Using your character’s internal GMC you can find the two ingredients needed for character arcs: error in thinking and the lesson.

Error in thinking – The Error in Thinking is something the character believes about themselves or the world that is: wrong and keeping them from achieving their internal GMC and thus happiness (love). This is Point A in the character arc.

The Lesson is the life lesson your character must learn before they can overcome the crisis in the big black moment. And, yep, the lesson is often related to the character’s error in thinking. It’s also worth noting that often in romances the hero and heroine’s lessons (and therefore their character arcs) are mirror images of each other. For example, if your heroine needs to learn that it’s okay to lighten up a bit and lose control every once in a while, then your heroes lesson might be that he can still enjoy life even if he’s a bit more responsible. This is Point B in the character arc. ..."


Jenna's error in thinking is two-fold:
She believes she is nothing like her mother because she devotes herself to family and stays.
She believes the house is the most important thing to herself and her baby. Will keep them safe.

The lesson:
She discovers she is like her mother by pushing the ones who love her away so she could reach her own selfish goals. She realizes she is selfish with her heart.

Home is not a physical location. It is where your heart is. She was using the house as a shield against experiencing life.


Duncan's Error in thinking:

Money, power and living a fast life is the life for him because he is not able to love anybody.

Money can buy him happiness.
Duncan's Lesson learned:

He is able to love, and experience emotions. He does not need to hide from them. Jenna is what he has been searching for. Life with love, someone he can feel "home" with.

Money cannot buy love and happiness.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Poker Princess

Came in 10th out of 750 people. $150.00us for new shoes! :)

Go me!


Muses, Trust and Poker

You've caught me; I'm playing hookie. I know my character arcs will not build themselves, but I'll think about that tomorrow.

What am I doing with my precious hookie time? Laundry, of course. Sheets, to be exact. Now, most will think that's nuts, but I love hanging out sheets on the line. LOVE the smell and feel of them when I bring them in. sigh

And muses. Trish Wylie has just admitted to muse abuse over at her blog. Brave girl! Can't help her with any advice, mine is still fresh and unwrinkled, straight from the box. Sorry Trish! There must be a book or website somewhere about the Care and Feeding of Your Muse.

And trust. DH is out at my parents' place with the kids, leaving me alone to hang laundry, and play hookie. And it being Father's day today! Sweet boy. *sigh* LOve 'im! And he is letting me play his 10k online poker tournament for him. What fun! I get to be a total donkey! :)

Have fun, all you fellow hookie players!


Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Bio/Backstory Blahs

I really want to start writing! I've done some research on my characters, I've got lovely pics of them, I've got music to play like a soundtrack while writing scenes, and I've got the location built in my head. Scenes are flocking towards me like crows, (did I mention I love crows? Visit my Facebook album and take a peek) each crying for my attention. I'm using recipe cards to capture them and I'm stuffing them in my "Plot Box." But I can hear them rattling about, wanting my attention. *sigh* I must resist.

Why? Well, from what I've read and researched so far on the Craft of romance writing, the key is to know your characters. Not just know what color hair, eyes, and shoe size, but REALLY know them. Know their history. Know their likes. Dislikes. Their Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts. Their personality traits. Basically, know them inside out. Now, you probably will not use even half this information when you write, (that's what the books say) but it will help when writing scenes. If you know your characters well, like a best friend or a sibling, THEY will help you write believable scenes. If these characters seem like real people to you, it will show in your work and your reader will believe it too.
So, without much further ado, here are Jenna's and Duncan's Bio/Backstories. Which will probally change. And grow longer. Sigh

Jenna truly loves her home. It symbolizes family to her. It keeps her safe, and makes her feel like she is not alone. Or so she thinks.
The small apple farming community where Jenna grew up in is very beautiful. Jenna loves the charming farm houses, the rolling fields and the untouched wooded areas. She is a country girl through and through. Though she loves her simple life, secretly she does yearn for adventure, and to see the world. HINT: this secret desire is what helps with the attraction for Duncan.

Jenna Maria Dunavan was born January 16, 1980 in the small city Georgeton, New Brunswick Canada.
Her mother, Anna Maria Dunavan was 19 when she gave birth to Jenna. Anna was a wild and as hedonistic as they come. Jenna’s birth certificate states “father unknown” and that is true; there were simply too many men at that time for Anna to know one way or another. Anna discovered shortly after Jenna’s birth that she was not meant to be a mother; she gave her newborn daughter to her mother. Anna left town and was never heard from again, except through infrequent birthday and Christmas cards and few awkward short phone calls.

Ida Rose Dunavan raised her granddaughter the best way she new how. She installed in Jenna a sense of humor, family honor, and the will to succeed. She never criticised Jenna’s mother; her daughter was just who she was, and she loved her dearly, even though she did not understand her or agree with her choices most of the time.

Jenna was picked on and made fun of at the small country school she attended from grade 1 to grade 9. She was different. She did not have a father and her mother did not want her. This malicious teasing hurt her deeply, though she hid it well. She compensated by aggressively achieving academically and by developing a keen sense of humor. Funny thing about Jenna; she laughs when nervous. The more nervous or upset she gets, the harder she will laugh.
From an early age, Jenna did not understand why her mother would not come home and be with her. As she grew and learned more about her mother through Grams and Gramps, neighbors and her mother’s journals, Jenna vowed she would never be like her mother. Selfish. Deserting her family and her obligations. Leaving. Even when Jenna finished university, she did not want to leave her home. Throughout her childhood her Grandfather and Grandmother encouraged her to fallow her dreams. If nothing else, Jenna is practical. She can see that her Grandparents are aging and are having a hard time maintaining the family farm. Jenna tells them her dream is to stay home and take care of her family, while working her way up the corporate ladder at the bank she works at in the city. This way she can stay close to the wonderful, proud people she loves and take care of them. They need her. Even more so when Gramps died of a heart attack during her first year of university.

Jenna does have a few good friends, but most of them have moved away or are raising families of their own. There are a few acquaintances at work, but no one she would confide her secrets and her dreams too. Grams is her best friend, and when she develops cancer, Jenna is devastated. And when Grams dies, Jenna is completely alone. She is now floundering, questioning her life.
Money is a huge issue for Jenna, now that Grams is gone. The house is aging, and needs repairs. Costly repairs. Here Grandfather had taken a mortgage out on the home years ago when there was a dry spell to save the farm. The year he died, there was a early thaw, then a sharp frost that killed most of the apple trees. The farm no longer produces. Now the mortgage is coming up for renewal, but she needs proof of house insurance to renew the mortgage. And she cannot get the insurance until the electrical in the house is modernized and brought up to standards. There is not enough equity in the house to pay for the repairs. Jenna had used up what little savings they had to pay for Grams’ medicines. Without Gram’s old age pension and her widow’s pension, Jenna is in dire financial straights. She cannot even get a loan; with her student loans and the mortgage payment, she is sufficiently obligated. Gram and Gramps were too old to get life insurance on their mortgage.

Jenna needs more money, and quick. She saw this coming almost a year before Gram’s death. She set her sights on a promotion to the credit department at the bank. And she got it. The money is excellent. She works hard, and takes overtime when she can. She and Gram do what little repairs on the house they can, working with the little extra money and around Gram’s health. But as Gram’s health declines, so does the money. Jenna refuses to take the overtime; she wants to spend as much time with Gram as possible.

Grams dies and Jenna is alone. She is barely making ends meet. And there is a problem. She is pregnant. She’d love to take the full year off, but she would only receive half her pay. She cannot afford that. Plus, there is a rumor that her department may be moved to the head office in Toronto. She cannot move; her home is here. She would have to take a pay cut. She cannot afford that. She decides to take in a boarder to help with the money shortage.

How did she get pregnant? Jenna does not have a boyfriend. In fact, she has not had a boyfriend in over two years. Sure, she dated. Had fun. But nothing serious. When Gram got sick, well, there just wasn’t time. So how did she get pregnant? It started with a Cosmo magazine.

Just a month after Gram’s death, on the morning of the huge Achiever’s Gala, a celebratory ball work throws each year to highlight the bank’s and individual’s success. Jenna was grocery shopping. She had been feeling, well, she didn’t know how she was feeling. Lost, maybe. Overwhelmed, definitely. And so terribly alone. When standing in line to pay, she noticed a Cosmo magazine. One title on the glossy cover jumped out “How To Have An Affair To Remember.” She found herself leafing to that article and read it. Scoffing, she set it back and paid for her groceries. But, she couldn’t forget what she read.

She wasn’t going to go to the party, but after work, she just couldn’t go home. The house was just too big, too empty, too full of sweet, painful memories. And that stupid magazine article had plagued her all day, niggling at the back of her mind. On a spur of a moment decision, Jenna goes shopping and buys a knock-out dress and heels. She goes to the gala.

At the gala, she is miserable. She laughs, chats and eats. All while feeling hollow. Just when the presentations were about to start, she slips away, looking for a quiet spot. The hotel was teeming with business people, all whooping it up. All of the hotel ballrooms were booked with business functions.

Fending off drunken advances from a group of balding businessmen in Hawaiian print shirts, Jenna finally finds a quiet spot in one of the hotel’s bars. She sits at the elegant bar, determined to feel… something. The soft, sexy music almost drowns out the sound of revelry outside the bar door.

Jenna is accumulating an assortment of tiny colored drink umbrellas when a man sits down beside her, giving her an old and tired pick up line. Jenna is determined to ignore him. But he says something that makes her look at him. He is a gorgeous stranger! He flirts with her. Amazingly, she finds herself flirting back. While talking to him, Jenna decides something. HE will be her “affair to remember.” He asks her to dance. Duncan James’s song “Amazing” is softly playing (want to see the video?). Electricity practically sparks between them. He playfully challenges her to pick up him, saying he is not easy. Jenna accepts. They share a night of incredible passion. But in the wee morning hours, Jenna is filled with remorse. She is scared. There was a connection here between them, something stronger, more frightening than just sex. She leaves the sleeping man, fleeing to the safety of her home. She takes comfort that she does not know his last name, and he does not know hers.

But the consequences of her lapse in judgment become apparent when she misses her period. How can this be? They had used protection. Several times. But the fact remains; she is pregnant. With a stranger’s baby. Just like what her mother did. But Jenna vows she will never leave this baby. She will give it a home in the home her Gram gave her, and raise this baby so he/she will know Jenna loves him/her with all her heart and be there for her/him.

Jenna throws herself into work, driven by her need to make as much money as possible before the baby’s birth. She gets a coveted position in the mortgage underwriting team, an awesome job with awesome money. She is worried it came too late.

At eight months pregnant, she is in the elevator at work, going home when the father of her baby gets on. Her catty co-worker, the one Jenna beat for the underwriters position, is in the elevator as well. She introduces Jenna to him. He is her boss. The man who might take her job away from her. By moving it to Toronto.
Duncan was born August 17th, 1975. His father was an architect of a huge firm he built himself and sold for millions when he retired. His mother was a foreign affairs person. They had Duncan latter in life, and he is an only child. Much of his early years were spent traveling to other countries with his mother. When he was old enough, he was sent to boarding school in England. School breaks and holidays were rarely spent with his parents; they always seemed so busy. Instead, he would holiday with friends or with a guardian arranged by his parents. Many of his school friends admired his independent lifestyle, but secretly Duncan wished he had a more normal kid life, with parents that were not so busy and could pay him some attention, give him more affection. This desire is what causes Duncan to become very competitive; maybe if he was the best, his parents would notice him.

Duncan went to university and studied business. He entered into banking and worked his way to where he is now with blazing speed. He never lets feelings cloud his judgement at work. That is why at work they call him “Ice Man” though no one would ever call him that to his face.
Duncan has always lived in cities. He loves the fast paced, modern lifestyle. But for some reason, he is unhappy. And he doesn’t know why. This makes him furious.

Everyone loves Duncan. He is rich, athletic, and has tons of friends. But he still feels like he cannot confide in any these friends. Sometimes, even when he is sitting in his modern condo overlooking Toronto, he feels like he should be somewhere else. He feels like a fish out of water. To get rid of this feeling, he travels and parties.

Sometimes Duncan wonders when it will ever be “enough.” Money, power, parties, women, and the list continued on. His parents cannot help him with the answer. They expect so much of him. He has a strange feeling, either they don’t care, or he hasn’t reached a point that will impress them. He tells himself it doesn’t matter, but it does.

Duncan ended a two year relationship several months ago. Dating on and off, he hasn’t found anyone that really caught his attention.

At the bank gala, this time held in Georgetown, New Brunswick, Duncan feels lost and alone among a sea of smiling faces. After he does his part with presentations, he seeks solitude in one of the hotel’s small bars. This is where he sees the most beautiful woman sitting by herself at the bar.

He goes over and gives her the first pick up line he can remember. Unfortunately it is a really lame one. When he gets her attention, he challenges her to pick him up. She does, and they share a night of mind blowing passion. But sometime during the night, she slips from his hotel room. Duncan is upset; he didn’t even get her last name. There were too many business functions that night to know what company she works for. He cannot trace her. He feels cheated. He really thought they had a connection, more than just the excellent sex.

Months later, back in Toronto and behind closed doors, Duncan is told the vice-presidency for the bank he works at is coming up for grabs. It is a toss up between him and his rival at the bank. If Duncan can come up with something to wow the higher powers, it will be his. He comes up with a plan to potentially save the bank millions of dollars. He must travel the newer branch in the Maritimes and see how effective it is to have a separate mortgage underwriter division there. His hunch is he could move that division to the head office hub in Toronto, and merge it with the existing underwriter division there. It would cut down in the processing time for mortgages and therefore save millions.

He is back in the Georgetown, at the bank division he is evaluating, when he sees Jenna again. He is in the elevator when she gets on. She is carrying a plant and a fist full of ridiculous balloons. And what shocks him to the core; she is pregnant. Heavily pregnant. A business associate of Jenna’s introduces him to her. Before he has time to react, she bolts out of the elevator, leaving him stunned. He just knows that baby is his.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Character Diamonds Are A Writer's Best Friend

Ah, the character diamond is a gem of a writer's tool; it helps us keep a character "in character" as we write scenes, dialogue, etc. Use it to avoid an editor/critique partner's dreaded response "I don't believe he/she would do that; it's just not like him/her."

I'm going to quote an excellent article by Constance K. Flynn about the Character Diamond. She sums it up best. The link to this fab article is here.

"Primary Strength--In a protagonist this is an admiral trait that forms the backbone of who they are, such as warm and caring, reserved and logical, outgoing leader. In a villain, this will show up in traits such as ruthlessness, lack of self-discipline or paranoia.

Supporting Trait--This is generally an attitude or value such as optimistic, pessimistic,
eager, pragmatic, loyal, etc. Hero or villain, this blends with and supports the primary strength.

Fatal Flaw--In protagonists, this trait is a virtue carried to extremes, best illustrated by the movie the ODD COUPLE. Felix is organized and tidy to the point of being nit-picky, while Oscar's laid-back habits are carried to slobbishness. Traits that have this potential include nurturing (smother-love), leadership (controlling), compassion (excessive sentimentality), independence (inability to cooperate), and there are many more.

Shadow Trait--A secret yearning. This is a trait the protagonist either actively suppresses and is unaware of, or believes he lacks an aptitude for. It is NOT an evil trait as is commonly supposed. For example, an engineer raised by logical thinking/intuition denying and immensely practical parents would probably suppress any inclination toward the arts. If this character had a strong aptitude for music or painting, it would be suppressed. Pair the character up with an artist and you create immediate inner conflict for the character. This is the point of character growth. By allowing the shadow to emerge the character heals him or herself.

The supporting trait and fatal flaw is in harmony with the primary strength, while the shadow is in contradiction. The fatal flaw is what the character must overcome in order to make a commitment to the other protagonist. The shadow trait is what allows this to occur. ..."

Keeping this in mind, here is Jenna's Character diamond:

Primary Strength: Loyal and Responsible.

Supporting Trait: Traditionalist and Reserved.

Fatal Flaw: Selfishly Stubborn (with her heart) and Afraid of Change.

Shadow Trait: Jenna wants to experience life, with someone she loves, instead of watching it by herself.

And of course, here is Duncan's Character Diamond:

Primary Strengths: Honorable and Leadership

Supporting Traits: Modernist and Outgoing.

Fatal Flaw: Manipulative and Emotionally Stunted.

Shadow Trait: Duncan wants to feel grounded. Like he belongs somewhere, with someone who loves him and he can love in return.

By looking at this, I would not write a scene where Jenna decide to throw herself a "don't you wish you were me" party and invite everyone to she knows to show off. Likewise, Duncan wouldn't sit wrapped up in a blanket, sipping tea, moping about a problem that's come up.

With that said, IF I wanted to have a scene stand out, I could have the characters do something that is not in their diamond for emphasis. Neat, huh?

For more info, look at the Character Diamond links under my Writer's Resources. Well worth a peek.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hero's Goals, Motivation And Conflict Chart

Duncan thinks he knows what he wants. Money. Power. Respect. He is known as "Ice Man" at the bank; he never lets personal feelings get in the way of getting the job done. Handsome, charismatic, silver-tongued, and comes from wealth; Duncan seems to have it all.

If I were to describe him, "ruthless, honorable, successful businessman" would be my choices. He is used to getting things done and getting his own way.

He lives in a super cool, very modern, HUGE condo in downtown Toronto, Canada. He started working for the bank 10yrs ago, and now at the age of 32, he has risen to the top. There is one more rung he wants to climb; he wants the vice president position. It's a competition between him and another man. Nothing will stop him from getting it.

Duncan has come up with a plan to save the bank millions of dollars-move the mortgage underwriting department from the newer division of the bank from small city Georgetown, New Brunswick, to the main hub in Toronto. He'll get it done, and leave. The bank would be happy, he would be happy, and everything would be perfect. Or would it?

Duncan is unhappy. But, even worse, he doesn't know why. Most times, he feels like a fish out of water with his fast paced life. It infuriates him; he can't put a finger on what is causing this. He has almost everything he wants and what he does not have, he can get. He is very confident in his abilities. He is like his cool, distant parents in this respect. All his life he has worked hard to be better, do better then everyone around him for them. He knows they are not expressive people, but, he'd like them to just once... well, it doesn't matter.

Duncan is lonely. he loves women, but has never been in love. Doesn't have time for a lot of emotional turmoil. When a relationship gets complicated, he assesses the situation, and moves on. He's never had a broken heart. Better to have a deep friendship like his parents have.

Duncan's Life Lesson Learned: "You cannot make someone love and respect you with money and power."

Heroine's Goals, Motivation And Conflict Chart

Finally Blogging!

About time, too! LOL

Well, I just finished the book "GMC: Goals, Motivation & Conflict" and I must say it is a fabulous book. Never will I view a book or t.v. show or a movie the same way again. This book is very enlightening. If you want to write, I highly suggest it.

Here is Jenna Donnovan, my heroine. She is a complicated person, fiercely loyal and loves her home. If I was to describe her, I'd say she is a "lonely, up-tight, over achieving homebody who has trouble letting go of the past." She is super motivated to climb the corparate ladder to get the big paycheck. She has finally made her way to a possition in the mortgage underwriters team at the huge bank where she works. She works in the online mortgage application division. Her job is to verify information before the bank considers funding. She loves this job. Why? The paycheck. She is in desparate need of cash to save her family home. Her Gram, who raised Jenna since infancy, died from cancer. Jenna didn't know it, but Gram had cashed out her life insurance policy to pay for the medications that were not covered by Medicare. She only wanted to make it easier for Jenna, but instead, Jenna is in a financial time bomb. The mortgage is up for renewal. Gram was too old to have life insurance on the mortgage. The bank will not renew unless the building is insured. The insurance company will not insure unless major electrical renovations are done to bring it up to code. Jenna cannot loose her family home; it is all she has left. To make matters worse, after what Jenna considers a huge lapse in judgement, she got pregnant after a one night stand. What will she do? Cope. That's what she does best. So she thinks.

Below is Jenna's goals, motivation and conflict chart.

Jenna's Life Lesson Learned: "Home is where the heart is."

Jenna must discover she is being selfish with her heart. She is using the house as a shield against the world.