Tag Archives: Absolute Write Water Cooler

A Story About That Guy #1 (AW Blog Chain)

This month, I decided to rekindle my connection with the Absolute Write Water Cooler forums and take part in the monthly blog chain. If you’ve been reading me long enough, you know I participated in these every month a couple of years back.

The theme for this month is Romance and several writers are posting on the subject. You can find the links to their entry at the end of this post.

At first, I thought about writing a commentary on romance in pop culture these days. It seems to me like there are a lot of abusive relationships being celebrated as sexy or romantic. Fifty Shades of Grey is an example. Animals from Maroon 5 is all about sex and stalking. Take Me to Church from Hozier portrays another broken relationship. I’ve read a couple of books in which the heroine lands in the hero’s bed three days after he violently asserted dominance over her.

This trend baffles me.

After some internal debate, I decided that I didn’t want to write a whole post about that. Instead, I kicked my behind to polish the first of my new serialized short stories series.

The first of The Quirks is entitled A Story About That Guy and just so happens to be a romance. Here are the first 500 words. The next “chapter” will be up next Wednesday. 😉


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That Guy walked in Jamie’s Coffee for the third time this week. He had gotten a turkey sandwich on Monday and ham on Wednesday, each time with a bowl of our soup of the day and a large cappuccino. Brown tousled hair and blue eyes, That Guy strutted in with a laptop bag slung over a shoulder and a casual-with-a-hint-of-bad-boy vibe in his green polo shirt, jeans and leather jacket. Given today’s chilly weather, I doubly approved of the leather jacket.
I didn’t know anything else about That Guy, and I’d make damn sure to keep things like this. While he was still That Guy, he wasn’t The Ex and he could be anyone from yet-to-be famous TV star to understated millionaire to just another student.
“Next,” I said like I always did. I didn’t want That Guy to think I found him special or anything. It might lead to him ignoring me or worse, wanting to have a conversation, which always led to self-humiliation.
“Hello!” I added when he stepped up to the till. Jamie’s employees didn’t last long if they couldn’t pull off the friendly cashier smile. “What can we get you today?”
“Hi again!”
Again? He’d notice me. How? I had just been working here like many a faceless sandwich maker. Tracy had been here all three days too and he didn’t “again” her.
“I’ll have the Mediterranean Panini, please.” He ordered with the same part-absorbed, part-bland tone everyone used, but his voice had a spark, an avid taste for the world around him. Or maybe it was the hint of a growl behind the sweet caress of his tone that made me think of jungles.
I shouldn’t be noticing such details.
“Extra cheese, all veggies but the peppers? Will you get a soup of the day and large cappuccino with this?” I didn’t stutter! A part of me victory danced at my inconspicuous professionalism.
“So you do remember me!”
Damn! How did he know? I blushed beet red like the bowl of tomato soup I put in front of him. Blushed tomato red, then. Tomato red. Why am I staring at that soup?
“Well…” I chuckled —deadliest of all giveaways. “My boss…” I’m still staring at the soup, damn it!
I looked up to his baby blue eyes and warm smile. “He gets pissed when we don’t remember the regulars.”
Clean getaway or poor excuse?
“Yeah,” That Guy said.
Clean getaway. What a relief.
I gave him a quick smile and moved behind the sandwich counter. Jamie had gone Subway-style here with a long refrigerated counter of produce and deli meats for the client to choose from.
That Guy watched me assemble his sandwich through the glass protecting the sandwich bar. “I worked in a place like this for two weeks before I cracked.”
We had a somewhat something in common? Eek…
I had to find a way to discourage him from sharing more information, so I turned around to put his panini in the press on the back counter. Three minutes. I only had to hold on to my dignity for three more minutes.

Next >>

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Check out the other participants:

Before you press send, press hold! – by Aimee Laine

Hello everyone,
I’m swinging by just long enough to share with you a great guest blog by my friend Aimee Laine. She just published a book and wanted to share her thoughts on the value of time in the writing process.

* * *

Before you press send, press hold!

If your muse is as active as mine, I’m writing every day, for a minute, an hour or maybe even long into the night, trying to capture every word my head conjures.  What happens, then, when I hit ‘The End’?
I want to send that baby out to the world for publication.
Yeah, I know I still need to edit at that point, but the rush of finishing and the need for positive validation from ‘outside’ sources is often too much. My fingers will itch to hit ‘send’ on a piece that hasn’t been vetted by my critique partners.
At that point, my best option is to press ‘hold’ instead.
Why? We hear it all the time. “Let the story simmer.” “Let it sit awhile.” “A novel must gather some dust before it’s ready.”
I wrote the story. I know the ins and outs and the nuances. I know it’s ready. Why can’t I just send it out?
There’s an expression about not being able to find stuff — happens in my house all the time. Open the fridge. “Mom, there’s no milk!” Mom goes to the fridge and pulls the milk jug from a different spot in the fridge, hands it over and says “It’s right under your nose.” This applies to our writing, too because we’re so close to the situation, we expect our scenes and actions to be in the place we put them, that when it comes down to moving them around, knowing what works and doesn’t, we can’t FIND the points that need further work.
That’s where critique partners and editors (NOT friends and family) come into play. These folks also give us the opportunity to hold our stories. To wait a little longer before putting it out to the masses.
They give us this chance to see what we didn’t see.
And that takes time.
How much time?
My critique partner generally takes 4-6 weeks to read through my manuscripts, chapter by chapter.
So that’s a start.
Even then, it’s not enough.
Unless you’re writing for a contest with a deadline, I suggest holding your work (in days) for 1/2 the number of pages written. So a novel of 300 pages, hold it for 150 days (that’s only 4.8 months and for a novel, that’s actually short!
What does waiting do? It gives you, the author, perspective.
In writing Little White Lies, I wrote it in 45 days. Queried it 45 days later. It went nowhere. I submitted it to a contest 30 days later. Three months later, it lost, but I got some very valuable feedback. Another three months passed, I rewrote it and there it got interest. There, I could finally say a publisher, an editor, two editors, in fact, where interested.
I’d taken the time to figure out the kinks in the story. It took time to do that. Time to let it simmer.
I’ve taken this same action with articles and shorts and I have to tell you, the successes are mounting.
Give it time. It will only help in both quality and story.


Little White Lies by Aimee Laine
Aimee Laine is the author of Little White Lies, a paranormal romance.
For Charley Randall, time is her greatest enemy. Wyatt Moreland’s love is her ultimate reward.
Buy it at your local bookstore | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | AllRomance | BooksOnBoard

AW Blog Chain – Scenery

It’s been quite some time since I’ve participated in an Absolute Write Water Cooler forums‘ blog chain and I’ve picked quite the month to get back to it.

This month’s prompt goes as follow: “Write a location description, and make us feel as if we are there. No dialogue, no introductory comments, just a location. We’re the tourists, you’re the guide.”

At first, I thought I could grab something from one of my WIPs. The search led me to realize that I don’t do pure description. At all. I mean, there might be a couple of sentences here and there but most of the information about the environment and characters is shared through the action.
Which isn’t bad, per se, it just doesn’t work for this prompt.

I finally decided to write a… errr… descriptive story!? It’s kind of full of action and yet nothing really happens.
I made it a drabble (story of a hundred words) because Monday is Drabble Day here.

So yes, drabbler, you’re at the right place for this week’s story, and AWers, feel free to drop by every Monday for a low-pressure writerly start for your week. *shameless self-promotion off*

Without further ado, here is my description!

The undertones of the running river complemented the melody of rustling leaves. A hart’s hooves thumped as it galloped in the meadow, playfully beating the bass drum to the cricket’s hi-hat. Frogs blues-ed the tune. Birds chirped in harmony, back vocals to the eclectic symphony.
And the opera smelled of the chlorophyll brought to life by the sweet embrace of leaves and morning dew. The four o’clock flowers slowly left the floor and the other blooms readied for their dance. They swayed with the wind, intoxicated by the growing warmth.
As the sun rose, the dissonance and left feet returned.

Here are the other participants in the chain. Check them out!

orion_mk3 – http://nonexistentbooks.wordpress.com (link to this month’s post)
juniper – http://www.katjuniper.com/ (link to this month’s post)
LadyMage – http://www.katherinegilraine.com/ (link to this month’s post)
dolores haze – http://dianedooley.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post)
jkellerford – http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post)
Ralph Pines – http://ralfast.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post)
AuburnAssassin – http://clairegillian.com/ (link to this month’s post)
pezie – http://www.erinbrambilla.com/ (link to this month’s post)
Inkstrokes – http://drlong67.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post)
WildScribe – http://DionneObesoBlog.com/ (link to this month’s post)
Guardian – http://daewrites.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post)
Lyra Jean – http://lyratorres.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post)
egoodlett – http://wordlarceny.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post)
cwachob – http://www.corriewachob.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post)
Aheïla – Guess what? You’re here!
Robbi Sommers Bryant – www.robbibryant.blogspot.com
TheMindKiller – http://www.jabberwocky.ws/
Irissel – http://irissel.blogspot.com/
xcomplex – http://www.arielemerald.blogspot.com/

First Year Tally – Anne Lyle

As I’ve written earlier today, we are meeting two writers today, both from Absolute Write Water Cooler forums. After Charlotte Jane Ivory, it’s Anne Lyle’s turn to take the stand.

Born and raised in “Robin Hood Country” (Nottinghamshire, England), Anne has a passion for English history. It’s a bit surprising considering she has a degree is zoology and is currently a web developer for the second largest medical charity; it all sounds so here and now! *laughs* But then, her fascination for non-European languages, especially Native American ones, fuel her creation of realistic dialects for her fantasy novel. Safe to say, she’s comfortable and inspired by the variety of her interests!
Here’s what she has to say about her writing debut!

I’m Anne Lyle, and I write historical fantasy. I guess I’ve been writing since my early teens, but as so often happens, my writing got put on the back burner for decades whilst I completed my education, started a family and establish a career, in my case as a web developer.

I made a few attempts at getting serious about my work in the early 2000s, but there was a lot going on in my personal life that made devoting time and energy to writing very difficult. So, I contented myself with puttering along and improving my craft; I joined a local SF&F writers’ group and a couple of writers’ forums online, I learnt how to critique and, more importantly, take criticism. By 2006 I was pretty confident in my ability to string sentences together to make enjoyable prose, but every time I attempted to write a whole novel I would stall after a few chapters, with no idea how to get from there to the ending I had planned. It was in the summer of that year that I realised Something Had To Be Done.

That was when NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) came to my rescue. The goal of this annual writing frenzy is to write 50,000 words (the length of a short novel) in 30 days. This, I felt, was achievable, and the manic pace would surely force me past the dreaded block. But the thought of running out of ideas and failing to complete the 50k terrified me. I needed a plan.

I’d tried outlining before, but always shied away because I find it difficult to develop characters in the abstract – I need to write my characters, hear them speak and watch them interact, before they become real people to me. And without complex characters, how do you plot a whole novel? This time, though, I didn’t have a choice. So, I worked out roughly how many scenes I would need for a 100k book (about 90 at first estimate), and brainstormed that many scene ideas. When November came along, all I had to do was sit down each day with my printed outline and write 1667 words of one or more scenes. I let myself deviate a little from the outline as the characters came to life on the computer screen, and skipped scenes that no longer fitted, but at least I got to the planned ending.

I “won” NaNoWriMo that year but, although I was happy with the overall product, I could see it needed more work. So I began revising it, dividing the scenes into chapters, polishing them up and submitting them to the writers’ group. But as I revised, more and more ideas started to flow. The plot changed, characters changed, even the setting changed from an invented fantasy city to the real Elizabethan London. Suddenly my original story was broken, and I didn’t know how to fix it. So, in November 2007 I did NaNoWriMo again, writing a sequel to the first book, just to take my mind off the disaster on my hands. On the plus side, by the end of November I had done what I set out to achieve just over a year earlier: I had completed not one but two novel-length drafts, and broken my block.

Fast forward three years, and I have finally finished the book that began with that first NaNoWriMo, and sent it out on submission in September 2010. Right now I’m doing a further round of revisions at the request of a publisher I met at FantasyCon, and I have an agent interested in seeing the revised manuscript when I’m done. Of course the wheels of publishing turn painfully slowly, so it’s going to be some months yet before I know if they like it enough to bet their own careers on it! In the meantime, I’ll be working on the sequel, because the publisher wants to be able to pitch a two-book deal to his marketing team, and applying the lessons I’ve learnt through my struggles with the first book. And who knows? I might do NaNoWriMo again in 2011, either to draft a third installment of my Elizabethan fantasy or try something new.

After almost five years, things are finally moving full steam ahead, and I’m incredibly excited about what the New Year may bring!

You can find Anne on her writing blog at http://www.annelyle.com/journal and on twitter at @AnneLyle.

First Year Tally – Charlotte Jane Ivory

On this eve of the last day of the First Year Tally, I have two wonderful writers to present to you. I’ve met both of them on the Absolute Writer Water Cooler forums and will split this day in half so they both get a chance to share their thoughts.

First up is Charlotte Jane Ivory, known as Steam&Ink to fellow AWers. A writer of Historical Mysteries, Gothic Thrillers, and her own brand of “Victorianoir”, she’s a living, breathing warning of what happens when you have one foot in the twenty-first century, and one in the nineteenth.
Represented by the Donald Maass Literary Agency, her current projects include a Victorian London murder mystery, a noir thriller about London gang wars during the mid 19th century, and – surprising even to her – a satirical fantasy novel.
Let’s see what this New Zealander has to say about her journey toward publishing.

Gentle Reader,

It was the Chinese philosopher Confucius who observed that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step”. In my case, a journey of a thousand miles is more likely to begin with “forgetting to programme the address into the GPS”. I just don’t have much of a sense of direction.

Much the same can be said about my journey as a writer. I certainly never intended to meander down the writing road. Despite this, my childhood was characterised by scribbling: my first short story at age six was a farmyard saga in which a Rhode Island Red hen (named Big Mama Betty) hatched from one of her eggs a baby bull (tragedy struck when the farmer came over to investigate, and got a swift kick from the newborn). Encouraged by the success of these early efforts – it got a big red tick, and was subsequently stuck to the fridge door at home – at age ten I wrote a comic space opera. This featured the antics of the crew from the star ship Capewallader Cod – and no, I don’t know how I came up with that name. In fact, all I remember about the story was the opening scene, in which the ship’s captain awoke floating three feet above his bed because he’d forgotten to take his gravity pills. Gene Rodenberry, eat your heart out.

As generally happens, life got in the way, and from age fifteen onwards, I probably wrote a grand totally of fifteen hundred creative words (despite what some of my grumpier professors may claim, I’m not counting University essays). Fifteen hundred words over some thirteen years amounts to a 115 words a year; about one-third of a word each day. I was not exactly slaving over a hot typewriter, Gentle Reader.

It wasn’t until 2007, when I lived in Germany, that the desire to write struck me again. To help my painfully slow progress in that delightful language, my husband (a native German speaker) would read me novels in the evening. One of these happened to be the translation of a suspense novel by a well known English-speaking author. Perhaps it was a poor translation, but I spent the entire story being irritated by the plot (in my eyes, tepid and predictable) the characters (wooden and clichéd), and the tone (saccharine and a bit preachy). Hell, I remember thinking, I could write a better novel than this. So I sat down to do exactly that.

I failed, of course. A year later, the plot of my newly-minted novel could only be described as tepid and predictable; the characters wooden and clichéd; and although the tone was neither saccharine nor preachy, I have to admit it did oscillate between ponderous and breathlessly-hysterical. But that, as our friend Confucius might say, is all part of the journey. Most of my writer friends (and yes, these days I feel I am advanced enough in writerdom to drop phrases like “my writer friends” into the conversation) view their first novel with a mixture of embarrassed affection and slight humiliation. If you, Gentle Reader, have written your first novel and it isn’t the literary equivalent ofJackass: the Movie, then you should celebrate: you’ve done better than about eighty percent of your counterparts.

But enough about you, Gentle Reader; let’s talk about me again. There I was, reading through my own shiny new novel manuscript, and all I could think was: Hell… I could write a better novel than this. And, with a dizzying sense of déjà vu, I sat down to do exactly that.

Except this time, it worked. After another eighteen months, I finished a novel which I deemed worthy of rejection by a prominent New York agent. Accordingly I sent off my query letter and the first three chapters, fully expecting a polite but firm no. And blow me down if my dream agent didn’t love the story! After reading through the whole manuscript, she offered me representation.

And that, Gentle Reader, is where I am at the moment: still shaking my head at the journey so far, but desperately keen to see what’s around the next bend. Admittedly, much of the process for this novel is out of my hands for now, which is maddening. Whilst I would like to have a New Year’s Resolution of score a contract with a major publishing company, really the best thing I can do is to work on new projects in the meantime.

Thankfully, my open-minded agent has embraced what I describe as “my trans-genre leanings”, and with her blessing I’m working on a satirical urban fantasy and a gothic Victorian thriller.

As I mentioned, Gentle Reader, I never intended to meander down the writing road. But just look at what happens when you don’t use your GPS.

Ever a fan of reading the map upside down, yours,

Charlotte Jane Ivory

If you would like to read more of Charlotte’s thoughts, you can always find her on her blog at http://steamandink.blogspot.com/.

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