Monday, March 28, 2011

Laurie's Journal

This purpose of this journal is to document our journey on the road to success as authors. I have a whopper of an entry today.

Actions I've taken as a writer. Where am I? What am I doing?

Whew! Ready for this?

Let me first explain that I took the day off work Friday, because it was “Golden Heart Day” and because I expected to be disappointed and moping about like I did last year, while at work, after not getting a call. No thanks. I’d rather sulk in solitude. So I prepared myself for the sinking-stomach feeling, and then to regroup and start off in a new direction.

Then…my whole world reversed the spin on its axis. Yes, I got the call. Twice! Let me recap, in this manic, head-to-page account.

For the first two hours, I sipped my coffee and got whiplash turning to see what time it was now. 6:00 am….7:00 am…the blogs are buzzing now and people are saying the calls were going out…7:20 am…silence…7:30…7:40….nothing….people are starting to chime in on the Rubyslippered Sisterhood (2009 GH finalists) and Judi Fennell’s GH Party blogs that they had finaled….still nothin’….8:00 am…..8:15…8:20—


I stared at the phone, stunned. I picked it up, and squeaked, “Hello?” “Is this Laurie Green?” I have no idea what I blathered after the OMG! chorus, but I'm sure she thought I was total idiot. But no different than any other catatonic GH finalist, I guess. I jotted a few non-sensical notes (and I quote: Emal phbp 2 weeks – Tenny mclughn stay close --) and immediately called Sharon—and woke her up with my hysterics because it was only a little after 7:00 am in Seattle. Poor Sharon. I think I blurted a chorus of "I finaled, I finaled!" at her, lost the call, called her again, and I *think* I asked if she’d gotten a call yet. It was all a blur to me and she was kinda groggy. (Imagine that.) But no, no call yet. I thought about calling Donna and decided waking up two co-bloggers in one day was a bit much. I considered texting her instead…

Ringgggggg! My caller ID said the call was coming from Michigan—not Sharon, not Donna—and figured it was family. When I answered and heard, “Is the Laurie Green?” I think I shrieked and began babbling in tongues. That poor RWA board member (Diane Kelly?) probably wondered if I was having a stroke. (hehe)

I spared Sharon the double dose of delirium and texted her that time, probably something along the lines of: DOUBLE FINALIST!!! OMGOMGOGMGOSLDIYGSO! Sometime after that, I broke down and sobbed. It was one of those “This can’t be happening to me!” (but in a good way) moments. I thought about texting Donna, but my hands were shaking so bad I couldn’t even manage to type a coherent word. So I called my husband. I think he thought I was dying, or had a car accident, or something horrible. He was finally able to make out two words that sounded like one “Doublefinalist!” and he translated, realizing it was a good thing. When I hung up and looked at the clock again, it was after 9:00 am...which is after 8:00 am Pacific time, and I thought, “Sharon's gonna get her call any min—”

Ringggggg! Sharon. Another OMG chorus this time blurted while both laughing and crying. (By now I was starting to master that talent.) Then I proceeded to cross fingers, toes, legs, and eyes and watch the RWA board and announcements like a hawk for Donna’s name to go up, too. Alas. *sniff* *sinking-stomach feeling* That was the key piece missing to make this an utterly perfect day.

So what's the big deal, right? It's just another contest—albeit a big one. Well...let me tell ya. It's not. I've heard it compared to a freight train and a tornado. Those are understatements. I've had my socks knocked off. I've been deluged. Congrats poured in via email, FB, Twitter and blog posts. I was inducted into the 2011 GH Finalist private Yahoo loop and sent info to join the Golden Network. RWA emailed a checklist of deadlines, reminders and perks. I need to work on a promo shot and info for press releases before April 8th so they can notify the media. When editor/agent spots open in a month, preference is given to Golden Heart finalists so I need to be thinking on who I want to pitch. (So much for my stubborn “I don’t do conference pitches” line.) We'll have special events and retreats in NY. Even with Sharon finaling the last two years, I didn't really understand what this meant. This isn't big—it's HUGE!!!—and yes, I feel like I've been run over by a supertrain DURING a class five tornado.

And, of course, in my spare moments, I've got to finish some tweaks on P2PC, come up with a decent log line, blurb and pitch, and FINISH the major revisions to TOP. Those are must-complete-at-the-first-possible-moment-priority-one taskings!

And I can't forget the dress. I have to find a really great dress. David's going to wear his tux. This is a total black tie affair. Think Academy Awards. Thousands will be in attendance. And being in NY, probably throngs of agents and editors in the audience. It will be on July 1st, a Friday this year.

So now I'm having a very different kind of meltdown, but in a good way. A “this is wonderful, but what have I got myself into?” mental gridlock.

And that's what life has been like for the last 36+ hours. I have no clue what I'm in for the next three months, but I suspect it's going to be one giddy, squeeeing, OMG! roller coaster of a ride.

And after hitting you with that lengthy memoir, I think my journal entry this week is long enough. I’ll forego the other topics.

But I may have a surprise for you next week.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

If you're tuning in to Six Sentence Sunday for the first time, be sure to check out all the other excerpts by very talented writers by clicking HERE.

I had a HUGE suprise on Friday. Two of them actually. I'm a double Golden Heart finalist! One of my GH hopefuls is The Outer Planets, so I'm back this week with another excerpt from the manusccript.

In this scene, Lissa is just being rendered into hypersleep by medical staff for the year-long voyage to Jupiter, when...

When Lissa tried to answer, she found her mind no longer online with her mouth. She registered movement from the corner of her eye—the transparent lid of the unit retracting over her. Too late, she realized how easily a sleeper could be sabotaged. She’d made it too easy for her enemies. Trapped here, onboard a vessel with a sleeping crew, she’d be an easy target for elimination. Murder by hypersleep.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Donna's Journal

Congratulations Laurie and Sharon!

Welcome to the Golden Heart nominations, or, to paraphrase Bob Hope, as it’s known at my house “Passover”. Yes, that’s right. My two brilliant blog partners were both nominated for the Golden Heart this year, Sharon Lynn Fisher for the third time in a row (for her paranormal/SFR Echo 8) and Laurie A. Green twice in the same year (is that even allowed?) for her SFR’s P2PC and Outer Planets. While my phone stubbornly refused to ring. Maybe the lines were down in Virginia. Or maybe I shouldn’t have killed off my heroine’s kids in the Prologue. I think I lost points with the judges there.

Actually I think it’s all a big mistake. The board member assigned to call me probably had to take the dog to the vet or something and is just now getting back to the house. I’m sure the phone will ring any minute. Or maybe that dog ate my phone number. Yeah, that’s it. Last time I looked (two seconds ago) there were only six titles listed under the paranormal nominations. They just haven’t gotten to me yet. They still have twenty minutes . . .

All jokes aside, I want to offer BIG congratulations to Laurie and Sharon for their well-deserved honors. They’ve worked hard, their work is terrific and the path lies straight and shining before them both. The RWA conference in June promises to be a lovefest for SFR, thanks to them, and I can’t wait to share the moment with them, even if it is just a vicarious thrill!

Cheers, Donna

Live RWA results: A good year for SFR

Our very own LAURIE GREEN has finaled with not one, but TWO sci-fi romance manuscripts!


Congratulations, Laurie!!!

Also just found out my sci-fi/paranormal blend ECHO 8 finaled in the paranormal category. A good year for sci-fi romance!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sharon's Journal

Actions I've taken as a writer. Where am I? What am I doing?

Three pages into revisions on GHOST PLANET and I'd already rewritten a scene that need more showing, less telling. In the time since I last read GP I wrote another entire book, and I felt like I grew tremendously as a writer through that second, more complex effort. This is going to be interesting...

I had a brief chat with my editor this week as well, and she sent me a copy of editorial's guide for new authors. Very interesting info about timelines and my responsibilities throughout the process. Looks like after this round of revisions I'll be reading through the manuscript *at least* two more times.

New authors, cool web sites, great resources, great workshops!

I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to the Ruby-Slippered Sisters, but it is just an awesome blog. This week I read the first two installments of a series on using Twitter. I've been tweeting for some time and still learned all kinds of useful stuff.

Master Tweeting for Authors

I felt like I’d been dropped in the middle of a cocktail party where I knew no one and kept picking up partial conversations of which I couldn’t quite elbow myself into.

[You said it, sister.]

Master Tweeting for Authors II


It’s all about the @ on Twitter. Where you put the @ in your tweet makes the difference in who sees your tweet and who doesn’t.

The latest buzz. Submission calls. New publishers. Industry changes. Inspirational sayings or quotes for writers. And our take on them.

Here is a quote I look at every day, on a "sticky" on my Mac desktop. Do you agree? 

Craft is always secondary to the truth of emotional connection.
- Constantin Stanislavsky 

Books we're reading and mini-reviews. Writers must read voraciously. Sometimes we find gems in the literary universe or sometimes certain elements of a book really speak to us (and our muses). Do we know about book giveaways? A big debut? We'll dish on those.

I have started reading John Scalzi's Old Man's War on Laurie's suggestion. He's a fellow Tor author. The last book I read on Laurie's suggestion was a fabulous read: The Outback Stars, by Sandra McDonald. (Tor again! Coincidence we ended up critique partners? I think not.)

Events, conferences, cons as well as Facebook, Twitter and blog events.

MARCH 25 - Are you ready?

Real-time announcement of finalists:

The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood (blog party)
Judi Fennel (blog party)
Romance Writers of America (official results)

Do you know of others?

Here is a great excerpt from today's Ruby post prepping for the big announcement. Exciting as the day will be, it's going to be a let-down for the majority of entrants. This is good to keep in mind:

If you happen to become one of those disheartened writers tomorrow, please remember that a lot of luck was involved. Being a RITA or Golden Heart finalist means a great deal. Five judges had to agree they loved that entry, so it must be pretty darn good. At the same time, NOT getting a call means absolutely nothing. It’s not a sign that your story or writing aren’t excellent. I am living proof of that.  My non-finalist entry in 2005, which had been a 2004 GH finalist [...] was also an American Title finalist and went on to WIN the 2006 Golden Heart a year later without a single revision. 

Random Distractions
('Nuff said.)

For three days now a very small spider has been running laps around the rim of my desk lampshade. (Actually, today it is looking a little fatigued.) Spiders completely creep me out. Not so much the little ones, but this is the kind that grows into the big, brown, jumpy...SHIVER.

I'm in a quandary. I've formed a bit of an attachment, I'm afraid. What if I squish it and it turns out it was my muse??? I had a dream about praying mantises once (which also creep me out), and it spawned an entire story idea.  

Charlotte, is that you?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Laurie's Journal

Happy Monday! I promise a shorter (but not necessarily sweeter) journal entry today. Really! Cross my heart.

Actions I've taken as a writer. Where am I? What am I doing?

I’m still investigating, researching and beginning initial forays into the self-publishing arena. It’s skeery! And daunting. And like any venture into unknown territory, it’s difficult to know how and where to blaze the first trail. *brandishes machete and GPS* We shall overcome.

Meanwhile…this is the week! Friday is the day the phone calls go out to those who’ve finaled in the RWA Golden Heart. It’s March Madness for writers. Our own version of the Academy Award nominations day. Announcement parties for the Golden Heart finalists last year launched the SFR Brigade and Paranormalists communities, as well as the creation of the “Unsinkables”—the GH Class of 2010 (of which co-blogger Sharon is a member). As Sharon mentioned on her journal entry, you can tune in to the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood (the GH Class of 2009, of which Sharon is ALSO a member, and a group that’s still blogging strong after two years!) to party with the excited nominees this year. Read T Minus Four and Counting to Golden Heart Day by new author Hope Ramsey to get an idea what all the fuss—and nerves—is all about.

*ahem* I have a tag suggestion for this year’s class. The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood is an impossible act to follow, and the Unsinkables was so fitting after the Nashville floods moved the RWA event to Florida last year. I think linking this year to current event—The Earthshakers?—would be in poor taste. But how about... the Seven Elevens? Since RWA Nationals are being moved up this year and the Awards Ceremony will be held on Friday night, July 1st, I thought it was a fun play on words for the landmark day. July 2011. 7/11. The Seven Elevens. Whatcha think? (*cough* Other than the fact it sounds like an all night convenience store?)

New authors, cool web sites, great resources, great workshops, great online sites!

I’ve discovered a cover artist I think I’d like to work with and a professional e-book formatter. What, no details? Not yet. I hope to give you all the juicy details in future entries.

The Squeeze
Writers are sponges when it comes to soaking up writing tips and tricks. Here's where we squeeze out our sponges for the week.

I was recently challenged to come up with a new word for what I do that’s a bit more descriptive than “writer.” I’d heard others use terms like “penmonkey” and “sentence-sculptor” but after pondering these and a few more grandiose names (universe shaper, grammar god) I decided on “Wordcrafter.” Yeah, that fits. Simple and to the point. I am a crafter of words. I’ll go with that. Can you come up with your own spin on that?

The latest buzz. Submission calls. New publishers. Industry changes. Inspirational sayings or quotes for writers. And our take on them.

The latest promo tools for authors. Trading cards. Think baseball cards…for books! This idea has blasted off in the last two weeks as a new way to promote books by way of collectible, affordable printed material. For a peek at one really attractive design, check out Ella Drake’s cards for her award-winning story Firestorm on E’Terra here.  I think this is a fantastic idea and something avid readers may invest in.

Quotes Heard in Passing:
“One man's ‘impossible’ sooner or later always becomes another man's ‘watch my smoke.’”
- Cyrus Keith

Books we're reading and mini-reviews. Writers must read voraciously. Sometimes we find gems in the literary universe or sometimes certain elements of a book really speak to us (and our muses). Do we know about book giveaways? A big debut? We'll dish on those.

I’ve started three books but have no “finishes” to report. Stay tuned. Hey, I’m doing better than last week anyway.

Events, conferences, cons as well as Facebook, Twitter and blog events.

We’ve posted our drawing winners for our 25,000 Hit Celebration Pick Your Prize giveaways. Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate. We’re now over 26,000 hits and well on our way to our next landmark.

OMG, did you see the Supermoon? What a sight. Though warnings of doom abounded—storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions—the Supermoon event passed with ooohs and ahhhhs instead of emergency alerts. (Please and thank you. I think we’ve had enough catastrophic events of late, don’t you?) The trigger to this amazing sight was the moon passing its closest point to the Earth – 221,567 miles – in 19 years. The scientific term for this is a “lunar perigee.” It’s not all that rare of an event in astronomical terms. Previous supermoons happened in 1955, 1974, 1992 and 2005. (Each year had extreme weather events.)

On a somewhat more sober note, here’s a very eloquent and heartfelt statement about disrespect toward our servicemembers who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice by one of my IPs on her D. L. Jackson blog.  Right on, Dawn!

Ping Pong
We'll comment back to our co-bloggers on things they've posted on their journals.

@Donna @Sharon
Well, guys, this is the week. Time to take a deep collective breath and think ahead to what another year will bring and where it might take us. The road of a writer is probably one of the rockiest and disappointment-strewn paths a person can follow—but every once in awhile we have those shining moments to celebrate, like Sharon’s big announcement or Donna’s contest win, or an event that can totally change the course of our careers.

*fingers and toes crossed*

Be back next Monday.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

I'm sitting Six Sentence Sunday out this week, but plan to be back next week. Meanwhile, don't miss all the other great posts by clicking here.

If you stopped by to read more of The Outer Planets, thank you for your interest!  Please leave a "Kilroy was here" comment below.  There may be a surprise in it for you. *wink, wink*

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our Last Two Winners!

The last two winners have been drawn in our 25,000 Hit Celebration! 


LovLivLife Reviews

Please contact me before Thursday, March 24th at Lgreen2162 (at) aol (dot) com in the usual format with your first and second choices from among the items still available on our swag page (see link on sidebar) and your mailing address if you live in the USA.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our big celebration.

AND...keep watching this blog for more UNANNOUNCED random prizes and giveaways.  Just our way to say, "We heart our followers!"

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sharon's Journal

Actions I've taken as a writer. Where am I? What am I doing?

In the wake of the big news last week (whew!), I'm settling in on revisions for GHOST PLANET. I have a two-page editorial letter I'm working from, but also I am rereading the novel for the first time in over a year, so I know I will find additional stuff I want to change. I feel excited and nervous - like you might feel after being apart from a boyfriend for a year and going out on a reunion date. Will we still feel that spark of attraction? Do we still have stuff in common? Will he still laugh at my jokes? I'll let you know next week!
Alexi Murdoch in Seattle

My mental/emotional prep for all this began last week. Just a couple days before my news was announced, I went to see a live performance by one of the musicians who inspires me. Alexi Murdoch's song Shine is on my playlist for GHOST PLANET, and in fact I think something of his has been on all of my writing playlists. He has a way of singing about despair and sadness that makes you feel hopeful. (Yes, I do realize that makes no sense.)

New authors, cool web sites, great resources, great workshops!

There's been a bit of chat in my cohorts' journal entries about the 2011 Golden Heart, so I'm jumping on the bandwagon. The big day is NEXT WEEK! My 2009 GH finalist class, The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood, is holding an announcement day blog party. It was loads of fun last year, with live announcement of finalists and lots of nail-biting and celebration. I know of at least three sci-fi romance entries in the paranormal category this year - all of which have won other RWA contests - so it promises to be exciting!

Ping Pong
We'll comment back to our co-bloggers on things they've posted on their journals.

Laurie, have so enjoyed reading all the research you've been churning out on self publishing. I know you're facing a tough decision, but the reason for that is a positive one, eh? The fact that more and more authors are making it pay. Can't wait to hear what you decide!

Donna, really connected with your post on info dumps. Seems like I've faced that dilemma in every story I've written. I often research a particular point, stick in all the gory details, then find myself yanking out 3/4 of it in revisions.

And to both of my co-bloggers and all of our followers - thanks so much for celebrating with me over the last week. The support and enthusiasm have been just amazing.

All right, it's late. Signing off until next week...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Our Next Four Pick Your Prize Winners!

Continuing with our drawing, here are the next four names for the Pick Your Prize drawing. 

Please email me at Lgreen2162 (at) aol (dot) com in the usual email format as soon as you see this post (or receive a notice via your link to contact Spacefreighters Lounge).  The winners will be able to select their prizes in the order we receive their responses.  (Give us at least 12 hours to get back to you.)

The next four names chosen by Randomizer are:

#6  Cate Masters

#15  Jessica

#7  Melisse Aires

#18  Eleri Stone

And there's still time to comment on Heather Massey's SFR Evolution post for a chance to win an ecopy of her recent SFR release, ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE.  Click here to see the post.
Donna’s Journal

Actions I’ve taken as a writer. Where am I? What am I doing?

I’ve been back at work on the body of my manuscript this week, struggling to get two key passages right between my battling hero and heroine. I’m almost there (whew!). Then it’s down the stretch with this draft and my other CP’s will be getting a request to look things over.

I must admit I’m distracted, though. Next week at this time we’ll all be talking about who got a nomination from RWA’s Golden Heart committee. I’ll be using this space to jump up and down in celebration or bemoan the fact that I fell short again this year. And, no, there’s not a chance in hell I’ll somehow forget what day it is.

So, since I won’t have another chance to remind those of you who might be interested, the deadline for the Virginia Romance Writers Fool for Love contest is April 1, two weeks from today. For more info, contact

New authors, cool web sites, great resources, great workshops, great online sites!

I’ve had reason to check out ( on any number of occasions and find it a great resource for all things science fiction. Need the title of a classic movie or book? A recommendation for an author you’d like? Got a niggling plot question or idea you what to check out? These are the folks for you. See below for the latest subject of interest I found on the site.

The Squeeze

Writers are sponges when it comes to soaking up writing tips and tricks. Here's where we squeeze out our sponges for the week.

An article by Charlie Jane Anders on the website ( ) lists “20 Great Info Dumps in Science Fiction Novels”. All of us involved in world-building see the info dump as at best a necessary evil and at worst a trap to be avoided at all cost. Anders takes the quandary of how to pass on mass quantities of details to your readers and asks what would the masters do? The answer is an intriguing variety of responses from William Gibson, Samuel R. Delany, Robert Heinlein, Ursula K. LeGuin, Phillip K. Dick, Vernor Vinge, Stephen King (?) and others.

Though the actual selections Anders offered were (mostly) short and to the point, even she admitted they weren’t particularly typical to the authors. She quotes Heinlein as warning his readers in Friday that one whole chapter is just a lecture and worth skipping. Too bad he didn’t learn that lesson much earlier, say in Stranger in a Strange Land. And Vernor Vinge? Really? She must have looked long and hard for a passage that wasn’t an info dump in one of Vinge’s books, which are fascinating, but an intellectual workout. Dialogue is limited to a few lines per chapter.

Stephen King is capable of drawing a character in one or two lines, but there’s a reason his books run to a thousand pages. I happen to love the portraits he paints now, and so do millions of others, apparently, but he started out with much shorter sketches. (And I’m not sure I’d classify King as an SF writer, but given Under the Dome, we’ll let that one pass.)

Which brings me to my point. For those of us writing science fiction romance, taking our cue on info dumps from SF is probably not the best writing advice. Science fiction readers have an extraordinarily high tolerance for long passages of dense information. It is a tolerance they share only with readers of techno-thrillers and economics texts. Not, I repeat, not romance readers. And, contrary to what some of those SF readers might think, it’s not because of any lack of intelligence on the part of the romance readers. It is a matter of preference. It’s not good or bad; it just is.

So. I’m writing a novel in which the science fiction and the romance are equally important. I know I must attract the romance audience. I do not want to lose them with three pages or one page or even three paragraphs of tech-heavy “how things work in my universe”, especially not early on. I might get away with a paragraph or two of internal monologue somewhere in a quiet moment deep in the book, but it better come between a hot love scene and a fight scene or I’m in trouble.

And here’s one thing for sure. If I don’t edit that stuff out, the first agent or contest judge to see it will. Or they’ll just send it back with a rejection, and I’ll be left to wonder why.

I have to be smarter than the average writer. I have to work it in gradually, make it appear seamless. The people who live in my world do not go around commenting on the wonders of their universe at every turn. They call a plasma injector a plasma injector and go about their business. Does the reader really need to know how it works in detail? Do you need to know how your telephone works to make a call? As a writer it’s my job to make the reader believe in the world I’ve created. Period. How I do that is my business. I’m a strong believer in smoke and mirrors. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain and we’ll all be happy. The End.

Cheers, Donna

Monday, March 14, 2011

Our First Drawing!

Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate our 25,000th Hit here on Spacefreighters Lounge.  It's time to start the drawings.

In order to be fair to all followers--old, new, friends, acquaintances and those we don't know well--we used Research Randomizer to chose our winners.  Each follower was assigned a number and the program was asked to select a group of numbers between 1 and 47.

Our first winner is #16.  Misa!

Misa, we'll attempt to contact you through your link, but if you see this message, you can post a comment below. 

Laurie's Journal

Well, it’s been a head-spinning week in more ways than one. The tragedy in Japan left me glued to the TV and internet for the better part of three days (so far). The destruction, loss, and disruption of lives is incomprehensible. The one-two-three punch of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency left me wondering how much more they could weather. My heart goes out to the Japanese people, those living in Japan, and nation in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy. 

Stares at blank page. *blinks* Where do I even begin? *wild, stampeding herd of thoughts and ideas flashes in front of my eyes* OK, girl, steady. Just dive in and start typing.

Actions I've taken as a writer. Where am I? What am I doing?

Well, one of us had a tremendous leap in her career last week, of course. And while Sharon is off and running on what promises to be a stellar journey, and Donna is kicking out some really amazing contest material, I’m, well…a bit stalled. No, it’s not writer’s block. I don’t really get that. It’s more like I’m in this very new, very strange place with three giant Kirby vacuums all trying to suck me in and I’m getting pulled this way and that way and every which way but loose. Huh? you say. Yeah. Those vacuums are named: Traditional route? E-publish? Self-publish?

OK, full disclosure. The siren song of self-publishing has been calling to me lately. Loudly. And sweetly. I have a peer who’s had huge success in that arena, and the thought of skipping over the next round of rejections, and waiting…and waiting…and waiting…holds a lot of appeal. The idea of ME having control over my cover is exciting. The thought of ME setting my own timeline is liberating. The prospect of never being told again that “you can’t tell a romance entirely from the male’s POV” is seductive. So, yes, I’m saying the “self” word. I’m entertaining the idea of DIY. Still. Entertaining is not the same as marrying.

Because there’s this other little writer on my shoulder that says, “Wait!” What about your investment in contests?—your finals, places, and wins! Your last two RWAs? Your other memberships? All in the name of chasing the paper dream. Was it all for naught? Do you reaaaaaally want to give up on the traditional published author’s dream?  At least consider e-publishing. You haven’t really even tried, and that market is so much more receptive to SFR.  Faster track to publishing and dedicated traffic and all that jazz. Plus the prestige of being a [insert e-publishing house name here] author. Do you reaaaaaally want to have to admit you’re self-pubbed?

*Whew!* Yup, I’m in writer’s purgatory. But, thank you. Good to get that off my chest. I’ll keep you updated on this drawing-and-quartering experience in future journal posts.

New authors, cool web sites, great resources, great workshops, great online sites!

Wowie, zowie, yes! I’ve stumbled on some fantastic resources this week.

Rules for Short Fiction Writing
If you are one of those who can’t write anything that doesn’t turn into a 100,000 word epic, this link may be something you’ll want to see (via Liana Brooks blog, just click the link in her post).

Writer's Knowledge Base: Search Engine for Writers
A search engine tailored to writers! This is so excellent it boggles the mind.

And on the entertainment front, if you’re into SFR, you might like this muse-prompter from
Nobody Told Me Battlestar Galactica was a Romance

The Squeeze
Writers are sponges when it comes to soaking up writing tips and tricks. Here's where we squeeze out our sponges for the week.

Woot! Cool stuff! This #Twitterdinosaur discovered the excellence that is Tweetdeck  – a cool way of seeing and managing your tweets, and also TinyUrl –a site that will shrink down your monster links to teeeeeny little manageable, non-letter-space gobbling ones. Yes, I know. Probably laughable to most of you who find these a part of very basic WWW life, but in the event there are some other social-network-challenged writers out there, check ‘em out.

Also, Dropbox!  A program that automatically updates and saves the files you designate…and makes the available across all your computers…for free! Yep, jaw-droppingly squeeable, simple to install (even for dinosaurs) and the “f” word too.  *hugs her Dropbox*  Umm, okay that sounded questionable. But seriously, click the site and play the info video to learn more about it. I was tweeting to someone whose dog stepped on her keyboard and deleted an entire 50,000+ word manuscript.  Dropbox saved her manuscript and saved the day.  It. Is. Amazing.

The latest buzz. Submission calls. New publishers. Industry changes. Inspirational sayings or quotes for writers. And our take on them.

Well, by now you know what I’ve been chompin’ and stampin’ to tell you for over a week. Sharon’s earth-shaking news broke last week! (Earth shaking? Hey, you don’t suppose…naw.) Having a two-book deal with Tor is tantamount to tracking down the Holy Grail, especially in this economy. Sharon, as our Aussie friends would say, “Good on ya!”

And in other news, they think they’ve found Atlantis!  Yeah. Again. *g*

Great Quotes: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."
-Henry David Thoreau

Books we're reading and mini-reviews. Writers must read voraciously. Sometimes we find gems in the literary universe or sometimes certain elements of a book really speak to us (and our muses). Do we know about book giveaways? A big debut? We'll dish on those.

Reading. Yes, well. Next topic?

Events, conferences, cons as well as Facebook, Twitter and blog events.

Our 25,000 Hit Celebration came to a close last night at midnight.  Thanks to all our loyal readers and to all those who opted to become new followers of our blog.  We'll start our drawings this week from among the followers for our Pick Your Prize giveaways. Stay tuned!

Ping Pong
We'll comment back to our co-bloggers on things they've posted on their journals.

@Donna: Totally enjoyed your Mission Success Journal. No bookstores in Utah? Who knew? And I grimaced a bit at your comments on the sedentary writer’s life. Touche'. I really need to get on that “break a sweat every day” program. It was a New Years Resolution.  And it’s now March.  Time to get serious.

@Sharon: You are a leaf on the wind. Can’t stop the signal. Look out ‘verse! (Firefly moment.) Yup, still reeling from the blockbuster news. Yay you, Sharon! So exciting. As one of your CPs, I feel like I have a vested interest in Ghost Planet, of course. Can’t wait until the world is treated to this utterly fabulous Science Fiction Romance! *sigh*  Must wait. 

Meanwhile, our readers can check out some of the offering and snippets on the Sharon Lynn Fisher site.

You know. The last time I shared a blog with other writers, they all got published and left me in the dust. Oh no! It’s happening all over again. I gotta get busy!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

I'd like to thank all the members who've been returning each week to read my excerpts.  You're the best and your comments make my day.  If you've happened on Six Sentence Sunday for the first time, be sure to check out all the other very talented writers excerpts by clicking the link above.

Also, a couple of public service announcements: *g*  (What a week we've had!)

First a huge shout out to my CP and co-blogger, Sharon Lynn Fisher who just sold her two-time Golden Heart nominated Science Fiction Romance, GHOST PLANET, to Tor in a two-book deal.  Congrats, Sharon!

AND...Spacefreighters Lounge is in the middle of a BIG 25,000 HIT CELEBRATION.  We'll be drawing names from those who "Follow" this blog for some nifty prizes.  We have books, t-shirts, a special mug, and even DVDs of the SF television series Defying Gravity and Done the Impossible: The Fans Tale of Firefly and Serenity.  If interested, click the "Follow" button on the sidebar and check out the swag here.  The celebration ends tonight and we'll start drawing names this week. Full details.

Now...on to the Six Sentences.  :)



Lissa is being escorted to a hypersleep unit by med tech Elena Stevens, where she'll spend a year in hypersleep for the year-long journey to Jupiter. She discovers Mitch is in the next unit, already asleep.


Lissa's gaze moved down to the lieutenant's sculpture-worthy shoulders and tanned pecs. Polycon dog tags rested in the deep hollow of his breastbone. A thin blue band affixed across his chest monitored pulse and respiration. Sensors dotted the relaxed six-pack on his lower abdomen. Lissa’s attention swept lower before she realized her eyes were going AWOL.

“Caught ya starin’,” the med-tech teased.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Heather Massey's SFR Evolution

Heather, first of all, congratulations on your debut Science Fiction Romance novel, ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE and welcome to Spacefreighters Lounge!

You've probably done more to promote SFR than any other person on the planet through your SFR hub, The Galaxy Express. What are your plans to balance your blogging time at The Galaxy Express and your new author's life going forward?

Thanks for your kind words, Laurie. To answer your question, lots and lots of coffee, LOL! In all seriousness, blogging is priority number one. When I began The Galaxy Express, I planned on committing to it for a long time. I’ve always been an avid reader, and look forward to enjoying many more science fiction romances in the future.

That said, I might have a few more stories in the pipeline…

How do you think being published might change your role in the SFR community?

I view my book as one more way to entertain, so in a way, it’s partly an extension of my blog. Upon further reflection, niche subgenres tend to have a smaller fanbase, albeit a hardcore one. As a result, many science fiction romance fans are also authors or aspiring authors. In some ways, I don’t distinguish between the two. So even though my role as an entertainer has expanded, I still anticipate being associated with science fiction romance as a blogger—and now also as an author.

I see you have a shiny new author web site now. Can you provide the web address, and explain what sort of content readers might expect to find on your site?

Readers can expect my site to be informative and easy to navigate.

The URL is Readers can download a free, three-chapter excerpt of ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE. Additionally, they can download Heroes Are Forever, a free sci-fi romance short available on the “Freebies” page. On my “News” page, I’ll share notable news and events as they happen.

Sounds like some cool things to discover on your site! 

Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook (or other) as a social networking medium? Do you think they're effective as promotion tools and how do you plan to use them now that you're a published author?

I think Twitter and Facebook can both be effective promotional tools—as long as they’re not abused in that regard. In the age of social networking, the hard sell is dead. Readers don’t like being bombarded with a constant stream of “Buy my book!” Used organically, these sites and others (such as Goodreads) are a great way to connect readers with books they might otherwise not have tried.

I’ve been using Twitter primarily as a supplement to my blog, but have recently set up a Facebook page for my book news.

Twitter: ThGalaxyExpress
Facebook: Heather Massey – Science Fiction Romance Author

In addition to your web presence, will you be making any public appearances or attending any events in the near future? RWA? RT? Cons?

I wish! Right now, circumstances prevent me from attending anything at the moment, but I hope that will change in the next year or two. At the very least, I am determined to attend Comic-Con San Diego in 2012.

Where do you see yourself in the publishing world in five years? Ten?

Blogging, reading, writing—science fiction romance, of course! Many people have predicted that the ebook market is going to experience substantial growth in the next few years and I couldn’t agree more. The potential of growth for science fiction romance ebooks is huge. I adore having a Kindle and am excited to discover what the future holds as far as innovative digital content.

If you have a magic wand (ok, a time-matter-space manipulator) and you could make any change to your career or the publishing world in general, what's the one thing you would make happen right now?

*Heather furiously enters commands into the time-matter-space manipulator*

I see it now…an image is forming…yes, it is good, very good…a hundred epublishers—no, a thousand—all releasing sci-fi romances as fast as readers can download them onto their devices of choice….science fiction romance authors are dominating the bestseller lists…Hollywood is cranking out film after film in this beloved subgenre…the crowds are cheering wildly…

Actually, a more realistic wish of mine includes making ebooks more consumer-friendly as well as the technology that supports them. Also, if just one reader a day would take a chance on science fiction romance, that would be awesome.

Ohh, I love your vision.  And wouldn’t a One Reader a Day campaign be awesome! Hm, must scheme think on that.

Thank you, Heather, for taking time out to discuss your new release and SFR in general, and provide your (uber cool) answers!

Laurie, thanks so much for having me!

You can see Heather Massey's bio HERE.

GIVEAWAY:  Heather Massey will be giving away an e-book copy of ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPACE to a random commenter on this post in either Adobe PDF or Mobi (Kindle) format.  Enter a comment below to be eligible.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I am dinosaur. Hear me roar.

I recently took a ski trip to the great state of Utah, where I had a wonderful time. The snow was powdery, the people were welcoming, the weather was fine, my legs remained unbroken. And, best of all, I had plenty of time between “ski days” to rest up back the condo with a book in my lap and a mug of tea (or something stronger) at my side.

Yes, I said a book—that thing with paper pages and a cover. I’d brought two with me. I’d given some thought to bringing my Kindle, with its unlimited access to a wealth of digital reading, but I’m nervous about traveling with it. I’m afraid I’ll leave it somewhere—on the plane, in the airport, in the condo—and, poof! there goes two hundred bucks. Not like leaving a paperback behind and being out five dollars and the end of the story.

So, as I often do, I brought a couple of cheap paperbacks, thinking that would be enough for the trip. Not so. I devoured them within days. Faced with nothing but my husband’s New Yorker (his mother keeps giving us a subscription, which we both find boring as hell), I set out to find a bookstore to replenish my supply of reading material.

Which is when I discovered the future is now in Park City, Utah.

There were cute little shops of every description on the main drag in Park City. There were boutiques and antiques and jewelry makers and boot makers. There were drug stores and grocery stores and hardware stores in the little towns surrounding the resort and, even, way off by themselves in various locations so as not to contaminate the legitimate trade, state liquor stores.

But there were NO bookstores. Anywhere. Not just no little independents. No Waldenbooks or Borders or Barnes and Nobles, either. And when I asked, people looked at me like I had two heads. I might as well have been asking for a store that sold buggy whips.

Now, before you folks from Utah start writing in ready to string me up, I’m not suggesting the good citizens of that state don’t read. But Park City and environs are recently developed, and I suspect no one feels the need for a new store to sell them something they’re used to getting from or another online supplier. Just a guess.

As for me, I was eventually saved by the oasis of Walmart in that bookselling desert. (Sam Walton’s monster-child does occasionally have its uses.) I was able to pick up Kresley Cole’s latest paranormal and a romantic suspense novel by a fellow member of the Virginia Romance Writers to tide me over.

Now, the good thing is that Walmart was there, and it had books for sale. The price was right (cheaper than the Borders where I usually buy mine) and the titles were recent ones. The bad news is shelf space was extremely limited, meaning only a few titles, by the best known names, are going to get that space. If you and I, as newbie writers, are going to have to rely on Walmart to sell our books, we’re in deep trouble.
Most of you are shaking your heads right now. Poor, sad dinosaur! Why didn’t she just save herself the trouble and take the damn Kindle? Well, next time I will, and I'll tie it to my wrist or something. Because I have seen the future, boys and girls. Evolve or die.

Donna’s Journal

Action!Actions I’ve taken as a writer. Where am I? What am I doing?

Well, it took the better part of this week and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but I whittled down my synopsis for Trouble in Mind to the 675 words required for entry in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense contest. (The deadline is Tuesday, March 15, for those of you still considering entry. See my last post for details.) Thank you, Laurie, for all your help and thanks to my critique partner, Linda, too. Now, everyone, please keep your fingers crossed!

I’ll be entering my own Virginia Romance Writers’ Fool for Love Contest, too, this spring. Deadline for that one is April 1 ( I feel a little more relaxed about that one, since the entry allows for the first 50 pages and an optional five-page synopsis. What a luxury! I can just go on and on! (Kidding! I’m kidding!)

New authors, cool web sites, great resources, great workshops, great online sites!

February’s edition of the Romance Writers’ Report, the official magazine of RWA, was dedicated to heart health as part of RWA’s Go Red for Women campaign with the American Heart Association. A number of articles described ways to counteract our largely sedentary profession and provided links to writers’ groups to find support for a healthy lifestyle.

I’m lucky in some ways—my “day” job gets me moving as a teacher of tai chi and karate. In addition to that, I walk and use the virtual worlds of the Xbox 360 to work off the hours I spend at the computer. Still, like some paranormal heroine, my genetic destiny stalks me. I fight both high cholesterol and high blood sugar, the legacy of bad genes. I need all the help I can get.

One of the great suggestions in the RWR articles comes from author Christina Dodd, whose physical trainer boiled a confusing litany of fitness advice down to one simple rule: break a sweat every day. Dodd has started a support group on Facebook, Christina Dodd’s Sweat Achieved, to help herself and others do just that, with the motto “No guilt. No excuses. Break a sweat every day.” (

Another great online site for writers seeking support toward a healthy lifestyle is Healthy Writer (

Ping Pong

Of course our humble blog is all but busting our bulkheads at the news of Sharon's big sale. Wonderful, wonderful news, Sharon!! And congrats to you, Laurie, on your latest contest win! And even better, it’s terrific that your muse is speaking in such great volumes! Nothing like that in the world.

Cheers, Donna

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Mission Success Update

Yes, that's right!  Huge news!

Sharon has sold her award-winning novel!

But wait...there's MORE!

Read the scoop by clicking the link above.

Monday, March 7, 2011

We Are SO There!

That's right.  Oh yeah.  We have a major blog milestone:

Twenty-five THOUSAND hits! 

Let the fireworks and the flashbangs commence.

We really owe this landmark moment to our readers, so we want to say thank you during our celebration.  How?  We have swag!

We're going to select multiple winners from among our Followers list at right >>>>>>>>> in a PICK YOUR PRIZE giveaway.  We'll select a series of names in succession and each person will be able to select their prize in the order their user name is drawn. 

Here's how it works:  If you're not already a follower of this blog, then click the "Follow" button to be added to the list in order to be eligible for our drawing.  The more followers we have, the more prizes we'll add and award.  We'll draw the first user name this coming Sunday, March 13th and continue drawing a new name each day.  All the swag winners will be given a choice of items to select from. (We must have a way to contact you within 48 hours, so if your user name isn't linked to contact info, be sure to check back or leave your email address in comments.)

We've already loaded our cargo hold with potential prizes (more may be be added during the week) including:

 A DVD set of the SF(R) television series
Defying Gravity
that I discussed in my I'm the Bucketeer! post.

STRANGERS by Barbara Elsborg
The new paperback release I raved about
in my journal entry on Monday

The Unchained Memory Galaxy T-Shirt
I wear mine everywhere and
it's a real conversation piece.

A Spacefreighters Lounge mug
Our brand new blog mug design
with a cool graphic and
"Where the imagination goes..." on the reverse

Hugo Award nominated SF novel SPIN
by Robert Charles Wilson

A bronze-and-pewter-tone
Steampunk ray gun
Okay, it's really a squirt gun, but it's a
nifty steampunk prop all the same.

An officer's flight patch
from the Nostromo starship
as seen in the movie ALIEN

NY Times bestseller Sherrilyn Kenyon's

NY Times bestseller Sherrilyn Kenyon's

A Firefly T-shirt in small adult
or large youth size
Black with the same logo as our
Firefly shrine on the sidebar at right.

A Starfleet Command Star Trek dog tag

(Want to see pics and more info?  Visit our Swag Page.)
Watch for further posts this coming week.

Please note: Due to the high cost of shipping,
foreign swag winners may be offered
an Amazon gift certificate in lieu of the prizes.

Thanks to all our commenters, readers and visitors
who have made Spacefreighters Lounge
a Science Fiction Romance destination.


Laurie's Journal

Welcome to our continuing Mission Success Writers’ Journal series. Each week, we’ll all post on our progress toward becoming successful authors, and share news and what we've learned. You're invited to come along!

Laurie's Journal

I apologize in advance if my journal entry this week sounds a wee bit bouncy and manic. Yup, this has been a very bouncy, manic kind of week.

Actions I've taken as a writer. Where am I? What am I doing?

I love surprises! I had a wonderful OMG moment this week when Shea Berkley, a member of my local RWA group, LERA (Land of Enchantment Romance Authors) posted on our loop that I was a finalist in The Write Stuff contest. *clicks heels together* Oh, what a feeling! It’s been a while since I’ve been active in contests and had all but forgotten I’d entered this one. More surprises like this one please!

On the Novel One front: After an extended hiatus from submitting my work, I’m ready to begin some aggressive sortees again. In fact, I have a definite mission strategy laid out. (Queen takes rook, knight takes queen…)

On the Novel Two front: The high word count continues to stifle my muse, but I’m going to grit my teeth, ramp up the Pit Bull tenacity, and get ‘er done. Then I’ll figure out what and where to cut. The editing seems to be the easier part for me, so I’m redoubling my efforts on the completion phase.

Meanwhile, a new character popped out of the Creativity Dimension fully-formed for my P2PC sequel that promises to throw in a few more fun twists!

And the characters from my back-burnered SFR epic, Draxis, have been whispering in my ear and tugging on my shirttails again. Hard! Yup, gotta get back to their story next. *waves a flaming torch at insistent characters to keep them at bay in the meantime*

Why, yes. My muse has been zipping around at hyperspeed this week. Does it show?

New authors, cool web sites, great resources, great workshops, great online sites!

I thought this was an interesting article on how to research a place that doesn't exist anymore.

I’m working on an interview for a very exciting discovery on my part--indie author Victorine Lieske. Who is she? Just someone who hit the New York Times bestsellers list last week with her self-published romantic suspense novel! Not What She Seems Wait, you say, how does an indie author rack up those kinds of sales? That’s what I’m going to be asking her.

The Squeeze
Writers are sponges when it comes to soaking up writing tips and tricks. Here's where we squeeze out our sponges for the week.

If my news about Victorine Lieske (above) excited you, here’s what I learned from her blog  about her methods of getting there. (By the way, don’t despair if your sales start out slow. She confided she sold seven copies the first month. This truly is a brave new world in publishing, isn’t it?)

The latest buzz. Submission calls. New publishers. Industry changes. Inspirational sayings or quotes for writers. And our take on them.

Do I have news? Um….er….uh…YES! But I can’t talk about it. Yet! *chomps at bit* *chews at nails* Should be soon! Really! Sorry to keep you in suspense. The wheels turn slowly, you know? (This industry could definitely use a hyperdrive retrofit.)

Great Quote: Don't think outside the box. Destroy the box.
-- Susannah Breslin in a Forbes Magazine Article: How to Sell Your Fiction Online

Books we're reading and mini-reviews. Writers must read voraciously. Sometimes we find gems in the literary universe or sometimes certain elements of a book really speak to us (and our muses). Do we know about book giveaways? A big debut? We'll dish on those.

This was my second happy, happy, joy, joy moment this week! (Okay, maybe this year!) STRANGERS is out in PRINT! It seems the publisher released the paperback version on February 9th without so much as a whisper (even to the author!). What were they thinkin’? (At the risk of sounding like an over-enthused fangrrl) I can’t say enough about how great this novel is, but I can tell you this isn’t SFR and I’m not generally a contemporary romance/erotica fan, but this is, without a doubt, one of the very best books I’ve ever read. The fated collision of two disastrous lives! The heartbreaking black moment! The deep, dark backstories!  The emotional struggles of a couple who are caught in the harsh glare of the paparazzi spotlight! All told with incredible realism and unexpected humor, and a cover that captures the essence of it all. This is a spellbinding, can’t-stop-reading-even-though-it’s-2AM kind of story and it’s FINALLY out in print. But don’t just listen to this cheerleader rant like a smitten critique partner—read the rave reviews on Amazon or the 24 five star reviews on Ellora's Cave! You’ll see phrases like “best book of 2009” and “best book I’ve read in a long while” (from a big reviewer) and “how did the big publishers miss this one?” Honestly, if this is the ONLY contemporary romance/erotica you read this year, don’t miss it! There’s a reason this book made it to #4 on the Preditors and Editors Readers Choice Poll for BEST EROTICA NOVELS OF 2009 even though the novel was released in DECEMBER! OK, I’m done shouting now. Really! *hyperventilates* (But you really should read it!)

Also of note: THE SPIRAL PATH by Lisa Paitz Spindler, a fellow Skiffy Rommer, is now available for pre-order from Carina Press. Yes, it’s SFR. Really looking forward to this one.  Here's the link:

Ping Pong
We'll comment back to our co-bloggers on things they've posted on their journals.

@Sharon: I enjoyed revisiting the Offended by Rank Objectification of Writers article. I think this should be required reading for every writer’s new love interest or potential spouse. Yes, we can certainly laugh at ourselves.

@Donna: Loved your summary of where you are as a writer and with your series. Also in The Squeeze you raised the subject of weighting characters via Julia Barrett’s blog article. While I agree on most points, P2PC is probably the exception to most rules since it’s told primarily from the male MCs POV and Sair really tips the weight scales in his direction. Because of revelations about the female MC in the story, I made a decision as a writer that this is how the story would be most effective. I’ve had a lot of judges, fellow writers and critique partners tell me, “You really shouldn’t do that.” Oh, don’t I know it! However, that's why the quote in the Pssst! section above really spoke to me. “Don’t think outside the box. Destroy the box.” Sometimes you just have to break The Rules.  :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome back!  If you're here for the first time, be sure to check out all the other Six Sentence Sunday excerpts from a variety of very talented authors.

This week's segment needs a set up.

This a continuation of the trans-level lift scene between Mitch and Tija (with a capital Trouble).  Tija doesn't want what happened in Houston to stay in Houston. When Mitch doesn't respond as she hopes, she presses the issue, and the lift doors open to leave Mitch looking like the sexual aggressor to a very disapproving commanding officer.

“A word in private, Lieutenant,” the captain growled.

Mitch walked off the unit without looking at Tija. He was starting to think of her as his own personal Calamity Jane. Every time she was near him, questionable things happened. Sexual things happened. Usually through no fault of his own--usually.


If you'd like to read the expanded scene, CLICK HERE.

To read all the Six Sentence Sunday back posts, CLICK HERE.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Donna's Journal

So as always my co-bloggers are a couple of tough acts to follow, but the great thing about associating with talent is that you always have to bring your “A” game! In the spirit of the Mission: Success theme, in my journal I’ll be giving you all a glimpse of how I view the writing life, my plan for success and a few things I’m picking up along the way.

Actions we've taken as writers. Where are we? What are we doing?I currently have three books in my Interstellar Rescue series in various stages of production. The first of these, Unchained Memory, is in the most “advanced” stage, having been much reviewed and revised, queried and rejected and revised again. Last year UM went through the contest mill, collecting a few big wins, lots of useful comments and one very important request for a full from an editor at a major publisher. A much trimmer and snappier version of UM is competing for a second time in the Golden Heart contest this year and has also had a full request from one agent.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on preparing the second book in the series, Trouble in Mind, for the contest circuit this spring. The first entry goes out to the 2011 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense (Paranormal category) by the cutoff date of March 15. The du Maurier Award, sponsored by the RWA Mystery/Suspense chapter Kiss of Death (http:\\ is a highly competitive, national competition. Unchained Memory didn’t place last year, but I have high hopes for TIM, with its FBI agent heroine and half-alien, psy-talented tracker hero.

That’s provided I can grind out the 675-word required synopsis, a task that is sheer torture compared to the relatively easy 5000-word entry. I’m really struggling with what to include, what to leave out, how to express the most with the greatest economy of words. Not only do you have to condense a 300-page book with a romantic plot, a science fiction/suspense plot and at least three main subplots down to roughly two-and-a-half pages, you also have to make it sound exciting. I have worked all the magic I know about synopses (the tone should reflect the tone of the book, don’t try to be chronological, don’t use too many names, make sure to hit all the major turning points of the plot, including the ending, etc.), and I’ve got a great synopsis that weighs in at around 900 words. ARRRGGH!!

Ahem. Well. This is a journal, right? Plenty of room for venting.

The third book in the series, with the working title Fools Rush In, is a classic space opera starring two characters from the earlier books, starship captain Sam Murphy and Rescue agent Rayna Carver. I got as far as an outline and several chapters before serious revision and contest work on TIM got in the way, but I expect to get back to that first draft work in a few weeks.

The Squeeze
Writers are sponges when it comes to soaking up writing tips and tricks. Here's where we squeeze out our sponges for the week.

I came across an interesting post while surfing through the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal loop. It was a reference to a February 24 blog by Julia Rachel Barrett (Julia Barrett’s World, titled “How Do You Weight Your Characters?”. In her post, Julia raises an essential question: whose story is it, the hero’s or the heroine’s? Can it legitimately be both? And how do we find that balance as we take it scene by scene through the story (or even line by line through the dialogue)?

Unchained Memory is unquestionably Asia’s story, so much so that I wrote her scenes in first person and Ethan’s in third person. Ethan’s POV is necessary—some things we just have to know from his perspective—but Asia’s voice has to be paramount. Thus the change from first person to third. It’s a tough act to pull off, granted, and I really hope I accomplished it (no one has rejected the manuscript on that basis, at least), but I had a distinct reason for it. That’s the balance I was going for.

Gabriel and Lana, the protagonists of Trouble in Mind, are much more evenly weighted. This is truly their story. I’ve used the standard third-person POV for both of them, switching back and forth between them. The balance issues come when they interact. They are both strong personalities, fiercely independent and emotionally guarded. As a writer, I can’t allow either one of them to give in to the other except in carefully constructed increments. I can’t allow an emotional collapse or an unwarranted surrender on either side. Maintaining this dynamic tension has been quite a stretch for me as a writer, since I tend to be a pretty mellow person. Fortunately I have my friend and critique partner Linda, a born warrior, to keep Gabriel and Lana poised on the edge of conflict, where they should be.

The funny thing about character balance in writing romance is that we may start out with a story that primarily belongs to the heroine, but we inevitably fall in love with the hero. The story then becomes his, too. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, as long as no one gets lost in the telling.

Books we're reading and mini-reviews . . .

At least one of my daughters gives me hope that the next generation will provide enough readers to keep another generation of writers going. She actually reads. Mommy is so proud. (Did I mention that my daughter is 23?) Anyway, she sent me a highly entertaining book for my birthday: Night of the Living Trekkies, by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall. Hilarious and surprisingly well written, this play on the zombies-in-a-mall theme (this time the attack comes at a Star Trek convention) is a must for all Trek fans. Of course, the protagonist, Jim Pike, is a hero. Of course, the red-shirted Willie Makit takes one for the team. Of course, there are Trek references enough to fill a shuttle bay. I can’t wait for the film version.

Want more referential fun? Try Eloisa James’s latest When Beauty Tamed the Beast. Her hero is an 18th-Century version of Doctor Greg House, badgering interns and patients alike in an English manor house until James’s intelligent and, well, yes, spunky heroine puts him in his place.

I’m in the middle of Zoe Archer’s Scoundrel right now, one of her Blade of the Rose series of companion books of romantic adventures set in the Victorian era. It’s not exactly steampunk, but I think it owes a lot to the popularity of that subgenre, and I wonder if it’s the historical timeframe or the Romancing the Stone vibe that drew the interest of the publisher?

Ping Pong
Love the rhubarb trick, Laurie. I can't tell you how many times I've searched through a draft looking for various things wishing I had marked them somehow. Can't search for a big ole hole in the paragraph, now can ya?

Cheers, Donna