Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Say it ain't so, Lance!

I read with dismay that Lance Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, has been stripped of his medals and barred from racing.

I am sad and furious over the decision. If Lance had been doping, as accused, why did the numerous tests he submitted to over the last 10 years come up clean? The only "evidence" is the accusations of fellow cyclists who claim to have seen or heard something. In most courts, hearsay is inadmissable evidence.

Lance has been my hero for years--not because I am a fan of cycling, but because his victories came at a time I sorely needed one. During his  seventh  race, I watched the tour every time I could get a chance, puzzling my friends and family who know my aversion to spectator sports of any kind.

I even kept (and still have) a scrapbook of the newspaper articles describing the race.

Why? Because this was the same year I was diagnosed with cancer and I knew Lance was a cancer survivor. Given 60-40 odds of beating my disease, I clung to the knowledge that he had beaten his. Somehow, I had the certainty that if he won this race, that I would win my own race against those runaway cells.

We both won.

I continue to admire Lance, the more so because he chose to walk away. Some say because he knows in his heart that he did what he is accused of doing.

I say it's because he knows he's innocent, and chooses not to fight whispers and rumor. They stripped his titles, but not his dignity.

Lance is still my hero becauseof the inspiration he gave me and thousands of fellow cancer survivors.

And they can't take that away from him.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why I didn't blog last week...

There is nothing more validating than having someone call you on the telephone or walk up to you in a grocery store to tell you they liked your book. I don't mean friends and relations, because they have to be complimentary or risk being struck from your Christmas card list -- not that I'd ever do that. I mean people you never heard of before who don't have to go out of their way to mention they've read the book and enjoyed it. Best of all is when they ask,  "Are you writing another?" 

With that in mind, I'm hard at work on my third novel. And, it is work. Someone told me recently how much they envied my ability to "sit down and let the words flow from my fingers."

I told her the words didn't so much flow as skip, tumble over themselves, and generally refuse to behave in a civilized manner at all. Well, I may not have put it quite that way. I've had a little time to think of a better response that the one I actually gave, which was, "Oh, ha, ha; I wish."

I sent my first few chapters out to my critique group, and the response was, "Why are you waiting so long to introduce the conflict?"

I had fallen into a familiar trap of starting out with introductions and backstory. My wise publisher/editor told me to lose the first chapter in both of my previous books. I did, and had a stronger beginning.

So I knew my writing friends were correct. I had to start the story at the beginning and "hook" the reader before going into the background details. And, since this is more of a romance than the other two, I needed to bring in the hero long before page 38.

So that's what I've been doing: cutting whole pages of description and dialogue and putting them where they belong. It's made me a little crazy, trying to keep track of all the messy little details that get lost in the shuffle.

And, I decided to tell the story from both Marcie's and Adam's point of view. Knowing what Adam thinks and feels will, I trust, make the story stronger. And, in doing this, I have gotten to know him better. He may be a preacher, but he still has an eye for a pretty woman.

I also changed the title to "Wherever You May Be," since the story does revolve around a mysterious disappearance--and reappearance.

 I am confident it will come together at some point and everyone will have his or her Happy Ever After and I can relax.

Until some character hiding deep in my mind whispers in my ear, "You need to tell MY story."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Romance" vs. "romantic elements"

I heard the news this week that RWA (Romance Writers of America) is tightening its membership qualifications and has deleted the category of "novels with strong romantic elements" in its contests. I wonder if they are no longer accepting members who write novels with strong romantic elements as opposed to the conventional romance genres (historical, paranormal, etc.) In which case, do I have to turn in my "Pro" pin and membership card?

My books deal with what happens after the "happily ever after" requirements of a romantic novel: After the champagne has been drunk, the bridal gown packed away and the real stuff of living commences. And, they take place twenty-thirty years after the "happy ever after"  (HEA) ending requirement that leaves readers free to imagine decades of wedded bliss.

There is romance, of course. I can't picture a story without some element of romance because it is so much a part of life. In "Angels Unaware," Kat's happy ever after didn't work out as she'd dreamed, but when a new love comes along, she is stronger and more sure of herself--and able to embrace it.

In "The Lunch Club,"  each of the four women is touched by romance. Jane Anne is as in love with Larry as she was the day she married him. Beth and Dan have their problems, but love prevails. Harriet and Melody, both widows, find new loves when they thought romance was in their past, not their future. But the romance is secondary to the main plot. 

I'm aiming for more romance in my WIP. Marcie and Adam are attracted to each other, but each has a reason not to believe it will work out. Of course, we know it will. And they will achieve the HEA that RWA requires of its authors.

I don't know if it will be strong enough to pass muster. But I have to write the books that are in my head. So, no Alpha Males and Saucy, Sexy Heroines will take shape on my computer. Just characters who have been there, done that, and are wiser for the experience.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Trimming and pruning

Picked the last of the blueberries and now the figs are coming on strong. I sent some of each home with our youngest when he left after the weekend. We've been freezing the berries and I've been eating the figs as fast as they ripen. Don't you just love summer?

It's been a season of changes as far as our landscaping goes. First, the power company came and trimmed some trees in our back yard. Their idea of triming and mine don't go hand-in-hand; I would say they were cut in half, straight down the middle.

Then a humongous limb fell off the sweet gum in the front yard. We decided to have the tree removed before more limbs--or the tree itself--fell on the house. The front yard looks woefully bare, but I will not miss stepping on a sweet gum ball while in my bare feet on my way to get the newspaper in the mornings.

After that, we noticed one of the trees in the back that had been trimmed was dying. We called the power company and their rep said it wasn't stress from the cutting, as we had thought, but bugs. He said they'd take it down anyway. I don't think he was just being nice; I think he looked at the height of the tree and the distance from the power line and thought "Better now than after it falls and takes out the line."

I'v'e been doing some trimming and pruning of my own on my WIP after getting responses from my beta readers, and now my chapter-by-chapter comments from my critique group. The landscape of the book is taking on a different look as I lop pages off here and prune paragraphs there.

Like our yard, it looks better without the deadwood and easier to navigate without the prickly little errors scattered about.