Monday, July 28, 2008

Your creative spot

On one of my authors e-mail loops, someone brought up the subject of where she does her best writing. Most of the authors who responded to this conversation thread said they had one particular location in which they preferred to write also.

One author said whenever she moved, it took her six months to get acclimated enough to her new home to start writing again. Another author said she'd tried but failed to write anywhere other than her home office.

What about you? Do you have one particular space in which you prefer to write? Your creative spot, so to speak?

I'm not so particular. Perhaps it's because I write in my day job, too, that I'm able to fairly easily change my creative locale. I've written in my kitchen as well as a home office I shared with my husband.

I really got mobile when my husband bought me a laptop for my birthday several years ago. Since then, I've written in the dining room, living room, family room, bedroom, hotel rooms, family guest rooms and libraries. This ability to pretty much write anywhere comes in handy for someone who writes as slowly as I do. Truly, missing one day of writing could set me back a week. Or more.

So what about you? Do you have one particular spot in which you prefer to write or can you pretty much write anywhere?

Until next time, happy writing!


Monday, July 21, 2008

Point of view

Point of view - POV - is one of our most powerful writing tools. Select the correct character's POV and your reader will feel the scene's emotion: love, hate, anger, fear, sorrow, joy. You'll actually put your reader in the scene. The correct POV can heighten the suspense, add information, explain a plot point all without slowing the story.

While watching The Closer last Monday, I experienced first-hand the power of the right POV. Have you ever seen The Closer? Here's a brief set up. The main character in the ensemble cast is Chief Brenda Lee Johnson of the Los Angeles Police Department. She's engaged to Fritz, an FBI agent assigned to the bureau's Los Angeles Office.

Spoiler alert in case you taped the episode and haven't watched it yet.

In past episodes, Fritz's role has frustrated me. He's almost a gofer for Brenda. She calls him and demands his help with her cases. He went along with her plan to hide their relationship from her parents. In last week's episode, they couldn't get their bathroom fixed because Brenda didn't want their landlord to know she has a cat in the apartment. This meant they couldn't use their home bathroom.

I wondered why Fritz put up with Brenda's challenging personality. Then I watched Monday's episode. In one of the subplots, Brenda learns from another character that Fritz has two driving under the influence charges on his record. She was furious and confronted Fritz.

In Brenda's POV, Fritz was in the wrong. She called Fritz a liar and said she didn't know whether she trusted him enough to marry him anymore. And in Brenda's POV, I was angry with Fritz, too.

Toward the end of the episode, we heard from Fritz. In his POV, he didn't lie. He'd told Brenda he didn't drink because he was allergic to alcohol. He didn't tell her about the DUIs because they were in his past; he had his problem under control. But the biggest bomb in his POV was when Fritz said Brenda had a lot of nerve condemning him as a liar when she was a liar herself.

Now that set Brenda and I both back. And Fritz supported his argument by pointing out that he'd cooperated when Brenda didn't want to tell her parents about their relationship. He'd also cooperated when she didn't want the landlord to find out about her cat - even though that lie meant he couldn't use the bathroom in his own apartment.

Fritz ended the scene by expressing his hurt and outrage that he'd accepted her weaknesses but she would threaten their relationship because of his. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, "I understand people's weaknesses because I sure have enough of my own."

Yeah. That last line made Brenda and I feel pretty small.

I don't know whether I'm doing a good job conveying the power in that scene. It's stayed with me and fascinated me for so many reasons. The timing, for one. We saw the relationship develop through Brenda's POV. But when that relationship was threatened, we finally saw it through Fritz's POV. It also reinforced the message that there's always more than one side to a story.

How do you decide which character's POV to use during a scene?


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

Today I read on USA that Ben & Jerry's has created a tribute ice cream flavor for Elton John called, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, which consists of chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cookie dough, butter brickle, and white chocolate chunks. Proceeds of the ice cream will be donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Sounds fabulous! I can't wait to try it. 

I would love to have an ice cream flavor created just for me.  It would have chocolate ice cream, brownie bites, Reese Cup chunks, chocolate fudge, and chocolate covered almonds. What would I call it? That's a hard one. Here's a list of potential names. Vote on your favorite in the comments section, or come up with a good one of your own, by midnight July 17th and I'll draw an entry at random and send that person a free book!

Murder on the Chocolate Express
Chocolate Victim
Mystery Chocolate
Chocolate Killed Me
Chocolate Death!

PS: Death By Chocolate is already taken.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Replenishing the well

Sometimes we put such intense expectations on ourselves that we lose focus on the fact that we're not machines. We're humans. This means sometimes - once in a while - we need to completely forget about the eight-to-five job, the manuscript deadline, the household appliances that either need to be fixed or replaced, and indulge in some good old-fashioned fun. That's what I did this weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had reservations about letting an entire weekend go by without checking in on my task list, especially the manuscript that's due any. Minute. Now. But, man, was it worth it.

I had great workouts every day, although Saturday and Sunday, I wanted to ignore the alarm clock. I cooked at home instead of eating on the run. I saw Will Smith's new movie, Hancock - and can definitely recommend it.

Now, as I sit here writing this post, I feel so much better. Much more relaxed. Remember that cranky post I shared with you last Monday? I was wound so tight, I was sure I'd snap. I've seriously mellowed over the weekend.

So, let's write this down. We won't go to hell if we take a weekend off to unwind, recharge our batteries and replenish our wells.

Until next time, write happy!


Thursday, July 03, 2008


I happened to be flipping through the latest issue of Jet today, the one with Jordin Sparks on the cover, and came across an interesting ad for an interactive online sweepstakes from Toyota called "If Looks Could Kill". Apparently, Toyota has teamed with Essence magazine to try to get more African-American women interested in buying the 2009 Toyota Camry. The grand prize is (surprise) a 2009 Camry. But there are other weekly prizes as well, including a trip to Paris!

The game started on June 9th, runs for 7 weeks, and is centered around a website that features weekly webisodes revolving around Bianca Turner, an African-America fashion designer who finds herself caught up in espionage. Bianca uses her trusty Camry's features, as well as audience participation, to get herself out of each week's dilemma. Check out the trailer.

I think this is a pretty cool and interesting campaign on Toyota's part. I'd be very interested to see stats on whether this actually boosted sales of Camrys to black women. I'm even planning to sign up to play the game. However, Toyota has its work cut out for it when it comes to trying to get me to buy a car. With gas prices skyrocketing, and no end in sight, my next vehicle will most likely be one of these.

Have a safe and happy 4th everyone!


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