Thursday, December 26, 2013

Looking Ahead to 2014!

As 2013 comes to an end, we reflect on the months that have gone by. As a group, we've shared good times, successes and laughs - we've offered shoulders in tough times, shed some tears and weathered rejections.

2014 is sure to bring more of the same joys and sorrows (we're hoping for more joy!)

If you're a writer looking for a critique group to call home, we are looking to fill two spots in the year - so consider checking us out on the "how to join" page!

Happy New Year!

Friday, July 12, 2013

What New with the Passionate Critters?

Welcome to the official homepage of our critique group, Passionate Critters! From now on we'll only be posting once a month with our shout outs of new releases, contracts, blog events and contest wins.

This is also the place to watch for the those far and few between times we put out the call to pick up a new member or two! If you're looking for a critique group, please feel free to drop by our "join our group" page to read more about us and how to get on our mailing list.

GROUP NEWS:


Some of the Passionate Critters decided to start a new author blog, we can now be found on our new blogging home at Through Heart-Shaped Glasses! Hope you'll stop by and say hi...and all comments are entered into a monthly drawing!


MEMBER NEWS:


Bethanne has signed a contract with Entangled for Letters From Home.

Tina announces a new release from Ellora's Cave, How to Cause a Scandal.

Nina will have a July release from Entangled's Brazen line, Losing Control

Ava announces her latest release, available now, Taken


Friday, March 1, 2013

This Post is Procrastination


How do you handle CONFLICT?

and yes, this is for all my writer friends out there. I'm not really talking about how you duked it out with your buddy at the bar last weekend. Or, how you gave your bestest girlfriend in the whole world the silent treatment for an entire month one time.

I'm editing.
So, tell me how to do it!

1) break it down first and go through the ms one issue at a time
for example...bulk up on sensory items, first adding stuff for smelling, then for touching. In this way, I could go through for each element of conflict. Ex. Morgan left his girlfriend after high school to join the Army. He was escaping. Are those feelings clear. Does his girlfriend treat him like a woman scorned would?
Through each scene with one item.

Or

2) Go through a ms with a list of items and change everything as you go...
i'm sure this is possible, it just seems a little overwhelming to me.

How do you do your editing?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Are you embarrassed?

I have a 13 and a 12 and an 8 year old...
Embarrassment seemed to be a hot topic this morning.
First, we all saw this video on Facebook:

 

And my oldest thought that would be embarrassing... what?!

A sweet little four year isn't going to be embarassed! Also, my two year old watched this awesome video about 20 times this morning. She LOVED it. BTW, let's all be awesome today...and do everything better.

Then on the way to school my son talked about how it would be embarrassing to hug his sister in ten years. I told him that in ten years, she would be 12 and he would be 22. [ack. heart attack!] He would NOT be embarrassed to hug his sister when he was 22. And she would probably secretly love it...and be embarrassed.

My point is... their perception of life is so narrow. So specific and staunch even. They don't see outside of their view. It's eye-opening... I need to read a Middle Grade book. Any recommendations?

I begin to wonder if they are accurate. How can we write a character arc...at that age? Where does it go? From embarrassed to embarrassed? I'm very curious now... Hm.

What about you? Have you read a good middle grade character? I did once...but honestly, middle grade doesn't show up too often in the books I read. One, in The Villa, by Nora Roberts. And yes, she did a fine job with those characters. They were often embarrassed. LOL

Enjoy the day!
With Love,
Bethanne

Friday, February 1, 2013

Creative ways to torture your villain

I had a close encounter of the horsey kind on Wednesday.
It was what the weatherman innocently referred to as "windy".
Yeah. Pigs could literally fly on Wednesday, and they didn't need to file a flight plan first, or make use of a runway. Takeoff was not a problem. And you know what they say... What goes up will eventually go splat when the wind drops.
It was a "hold on to a fencepost or you're in the next county" kind of wind. Needless to say, my horse figured it was a great day for getting up to all kinds of interesting stunts. Like horse ballet. Fuette anyone?
All of this in the dark. In the boot-sucking mud. Dutifully aided and abetted by his friend and neighbor Ori, who also figured it was time to teach the human a lesson in humility and make her dodge ponies on a bid for freedom.
I thought I was being clever. I got them out of the field--Oz wearing his halter and on a rope, Ori loose--and left Ori to "roam" (buck, rear, slip, slide, circle Oz, kick, squeal...) in the outer field so I didn't have to wade through the deep mud again when I came to collect him. (We aren't allowed to bring in two at a time.)
During one of those "must herd the human to the gate while doing pirouettes" moments, Oz got a little carried away with one of his ballet moves and ganked me in the jaw with his noggin.
My horse has a very hard head. There I was, thinking "Look at all the pretty stars and the little birdies". The kind of situation where your head spins and you gingerly move your jaw for fear it'll come unhinged and fall off, if you wiggle it from side to side.
Owie. I'm investing in full body armor and a football helmet with a chin guard.
Well, I dragged the Mustang Ballerina and his twirling friend into their stables, shut the door and went home. Didn't think much about it, since the jaw was still attached and not too painful. Bruised, but not too painful. (Unless you touched it. So...no touchie.)
Until last night I dismissed the entire incident.

But, you see... I went to the annual dental checkup on Monday. Nothing needed doing--thank God.
Anyone who knows me is fully aware that I turn into a gibbering wreck the second I walk into a dental surgery. Doesn't matter whether I know something is being done, or not--I shake worse than jelly attached to a road drill. If anything needs fixing -- it's IV sedation all the way, or the dentist loses fingers. If they get me to open my mouth.
Which they won't.
Last night...I grazed my way through a variety of painkillers. Ibuprofen, Codeine, Paracetamol, Aspirin... I didn't care what they were, how strong they were, or if they mixed -- just as long as the darn pain stopped.
Tooth ache. Vicious, keep-you-awake-until-you-scream, tooth ache. Throbbing / pulling... and...well...needing a visit to the dentist. I explained about me and dentists... A drill is the sound of a starting pistol for me. It makes a noise -- and I run. Out of the dental practice and straight into traffic. I wouldn't care if a bus hit me, just as long as I escape the drill.
There is no way they have an anesthesiologist on standby, just to put me under. I knew that. I knew more suffering would be involved, or utter terror and possible fainting in the chair, because the treatment would be done while I'm awake.
Provided they could somehow ratchet my mouth open, that is.
By about 3 am (and a lot of tossing and turning) I was about ready to get Paul's tool box out of the loft to find new and creative uses for a pair of pliers. The hammer drill looked more and more attractive. I went over every way I'd ever come across to pull a tooth. Would our door be strong enough to pull it, if I tied a string to it and the tooth? Could I slam the door hard enough? Maybe if I tie a brick to the end of the string and lobbed said contraption over the balcony? Would the brick be enough--or should I use the sofa? If I tracked down a drug dealer, would they kill me or sell me drugs? Never mind I have no idea where any drug dealers might hang out, but cocaine sounded like a dream come true at around 4 am. Could I con the hospital out of some morphine, or would I have to steal it? I didn't care anymore at that point.
You name it -- I contemplated it.
In between the tossing and turning, the whimpering, the trips to the kitchen for more painkillers--my head was in overdrive. I kept coming up with scenarios where I could use tooth ache against any character I wrote about.
Oh yeah. Who needs torture chambers when all you need is a broken tooth to inflict no small amount of misery upon your victim?
Eventually my painkiller cocktail kicked in and I got some sleep. A whole 2 hours worth. Yay.
This morning I called the dentist (even though the pain was tolerable by then and I've been well known to wimp out the moment the pain stops) and at 2:15pm I had the verdict, after she'd done some x-rays: Fractured tooth.
Yep, the beast actually broke my tooth. Or rather the root.
She is going to save the tooth. I'm on antibiotics and painkillers, and "We'll see. I don't want to pull it." Oh good. It better not keep hurting, or I'll have to resort to that "brick, sofa or wardrobe" scenario.
Or maybe I'll have to visit Oz during the night, with that piece of string. But they frown on trying to pull your tooth at four in the morning, by means of a spooked mustang-ballerina.
But while the knock I got broke the tooth, it certainly re-focused my thinking.
The next villain I write will not fall victim to a bullet. Or a knife. Or drown. Or...whatever.
No.
I will give him...tooth ache!
It's enough to drive even the sanest person nuts.
And I never said I was sane to begin with...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Like a movie... DIALOGUE

Sometimes I think a book should read like a movie...a good, old-fashioned, dialogue-rich movie. :D


Monday, January 14, 2013

Rewards or Vices?

When faced with a job to do, everyone has a different method to get them to the finish line.

It's no different with writing a novel.

Sure, as a writer I love what I do - but that doesn't mean getting to the end is any less of a job than clocking in at an office. I still have a deadline. I still have daily goals.

Today's question isn't about the method we choose to get the work done.

The question today is:

"Do you choose a reward for the end of a particular goal? Or do you choose a vice to get you TO the goal?"

LOL

Perhaps you take the Hemmingway approach and toss back a stiff drink before you sit down to write, as you're writing, and then toast the end of your writing day with a celebratory shot.

Or maybe you've got candy bars stashed away in a drawer that only come out when you finish a chapter or reach a particular word goal.

I think I'm more of a hybrid.

I drink coffee whenever I'm at my desk, it doesn't matter what time of day or night it is. During the afternoon I pop JellyBelly jelly beans as I write (my current favorites are Cotton Candy and Buttered Popcorn, just in case you were dying to know!) And I have a stash of Lindt Chocolate Truffles in my desk drawer for when I finish a chapter.

I am also considering treating myself to a massage at a local day spa when I actually type "The End" on my latest WIP.

Vice, reward or a little of both? Tell me your secrets...hahahaha


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Your 2013 Agenda?

Oh no!

It's that time of year again.

That time of year when you sit down and crack open a new calendar, or a new daily planner, and begin the process of planning out the new year.

I've never been good at "new year's resolutions." Probably because I always tend to think those resolutions need to be BIG and life changing. Maybe that doesn't have to be the case.

This year I'm going for small and consistent.  Saying I'm going to write at least one page every day is much less daunting on my daily schedule than writing in big bold numbers five thousand words a day...that's way too scary for me to see first thing in the morning!

I've got a few small goals I'd like to achieve, like walking a mile every day and taming some of my pack-rat ways by tossing out unnecessary papers.

I've also got some pretty big goals that I KNOW aren't going to happen if I don't pay attention to them every day, but I've made the decision to put them on my agenda in a way that I can work with. No big bold letters at the top that increase my stress and guilt - but more breaking them down into smaller bite-size chunks.

Rome wasn't built in a day, novels don't get written in a day either.

Over the next few days as I put up my new calendars and start writing my goals and my daily schedules for the coming months, I plan to keep a few things in mind:

(1) The most important things to me get on the calendar first - which means anything relating to my family takes top billing.

(2) I've figured out how long the books I've got planned for this year will be and I've broken them down into small (very achievable) chunks to be put on my agenda (if I do more, then I'm ahead of the game and that's a WIN!)

(3) At the bottom of every day on my agenda I've got two lists - a "must-do" task list and a "bonus" list - both these lists keep me accountable for the daily chores and the extra feel-good achievements that are personal to me.

Whether you do resolutions or goals for the coming year, I think at least having a plan of action is a good start. What's your plan of attack as we get ready to ring in 2013?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Year...


Taking this entire thought a step farther... I was listening to a youtube video made by a young group who questioned, "how do you know you're in love?" The video brought up a good point... it's not that feeling, but the choice TO love someone even when they aren't at their best. yadda, yadda, yadda.

All that aside...

It made me think, where is the Happily Ever After?

I love romance because of the HEA. That's what I want in a story. But really, I want all of it...I can't just read the last few pages and feel satisfied. I want all of the YUCK that comes before it. The fights, the anger, the uncertainty...

To me, that's the happily ever after. The HEA actually starts at the meeting of two people. Let's face it. We all know that there will be hundreds of HEAs in a lifetime, even between the same two people! Because we will always be thrown a loop or curveball. Life is full of ups and downs.

That's what I want to read. Everything that makes life interesting. :D

All THAT being said...

Writing is such an exciting adventure. I've had a great year. My writing has flourirshed [Oooh, how prosey of me]. It's had good moments and bad ones. But, I'm looking forward to the new year.

What about you? You excited about things to come? Or still looking back with regret?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Holidays Make Zombies

I'm certain of this. As we run around like mad men and women trying to get our hands on the gifts of the moment, we sometimes end up forgoing sleep. As I have lil zombies of my own, who were blessed enough to come into the world a week prior to Christmas, this creates a more harried and sleepless month. Add to that the fact that a bunch of us here in PC-land just plowed through NaNoWriMo and that we are nearing the end of the world (if you believe in all that stuff) and well... you can begin to see why zombie-ism is at an all time high. The pieces start to click and a peppermint martini becomes a necessity either hasten the zombie epidemic or to keep it at bay (really all in how you look at it).

Somewhere along the way, I think we've managed to lose the real spirit of the season. The holiday season was always about spending time with family and friends. It was about tradition. That was how we grew up. I'm thankful for those traditions because while the rest of the month may fly by with me feeling like I belong as an extra in the Walking Dead, things like my family's Christmas Eve Open House allow me the chance to breathe. To remember and appreciate what the holidays really mean. It's not the gifts (though finding that perfect gift that makes someone's eyes light up is quite thrilling). It's not the fat man in the red suit (though my Santa is a hot shirtless man in the red pants and boots). It's not the fight on Black Friday to beat out the little old lady for the last iPod on the shelf.

If I learned nothing over the years of my bah-humbug grinchiness, it is that zombie or not, the holidays should not be filled with stress. We need to focus on the more important aspects of the holiday. Spend some time with family and friends. Maybe forget the gifts and invite your best friend and husband over for dinner. It doesn't have to be fancy or over the top. It's the company, the togetherness, and the sense that we just aren't going through the motions that is important. That being said, I'm going to get busy doing just that (and I'm going to do it now before the apocalypse comes and we are fighting off hoards of the undead). Have a great holiday everyone!