Monday, July 29, 2013

Alaska Heart, Tulle Death Do Us Part, and Plotting Chart

Sam Wayland's Bag Of Doom, aka THE MARKERS

Monday morning updates: Alaska Heart, Tulle Death Do Us Part, and Plotting Chart ( an extra bonus, A Work Of Art).

1. ALASKA HEART by Christine DePetrillo

This book is just chock full of my favorite things! A sexy, rugged, outdoorsy hero, who happens to be the Iditarod-winner and have eighteen gorgeous sled-dogs. A breath-taking Alaskan setting. Adorable secondary characters. Laugh-out-loud banter. A suspenseful storyline that takes us on a hair-raising plane trip and chase through the wilderness. The hero was a bit too good-to-be-true, but honestly, I sort of like my heroes like that. He was delicious! (And had some nice scruff going on, too). Finished up with a lovely HEA.


Grade: A-/B+

2.  TULLE DEATH DO US PART by Annette Blair

I have been a bit frustrated with this series after the last couple of books. But the latest installment was absolute perfection! Blair has combined a compelling mystery, her trademark quirky writing voice and snappy dialogue, fun vintage clothing details, and totally satisfying romance. Oh! The romance! Not only did Maddie embark on a wonderful love story (finally, long overdue and she deserved it), but some other secondary characters also found their HEAs, too. One paranormal, one firmly on earth. And the fact that Maddie's deceased mother blessed all the happiness (with the sweet scent of chocolate) brought a tear to my eye. This book is WONDERFUL!

Grade: A+


3. Plotting Chart (aka Penny's Frightening Experience With A Master Plotter)

For those of you not familiar with writing approaches, let me briefly describe the two types of writers:

1. Plotters

2. Pantsers

Plotters are super organized, plot out their entire book in advance of writing it, and know exactly what is going on. I would hazard a guess that they also are extremely good at recycling, fold their underwear, and pay bills on time.

Plotter and Proud Of It!

Pantsers are authors who write by-the-seat-of-our-pants. Which means we do NOT plot the book. We have no idea what's going on. We sit down, and start banging away at the keys, and let our muse take us away! Pantsers probably plan their kids' birthday party an hour before the guests arrive, don't pack for vacation until the morning of the flight, and enjoy cocktails with silly names and umbrellas stuck in them.

I'm Pantsing, Baby! Woo hoo!

Okay. You get the idea. Needless to say, I'm a pantser. Sometimes this works out great. And sometimes, it doesn't. (I once attempted a werewolf story where I wrote myself into a corner and couldn't get out. At 50,000 words. And no amount of hairy werewolf sex could fix that problem. Ugh.)

It was with great trepidation that I finally asked my critique partner Samantha Wayland to help me with my plotting. There are "plotters" and then...there is Sam. Sam has 20,000 colored markers. Sam has 3'x4' poster boards. Sam knows what is happening at the beginning, quarter, mid-point, three quarter, and end of the book. Sam writes outlines that are 20,000 words long. The outline, people! The outline! My books aren't even that long. (*Penny takes short break to inhale oxygen canister*)

As you can plainly see, this appointment with Sam caused me undue stress. However, I personally know many people who have met with her and swore it was the best thing that ever happened to them.

So, I pulled on my big-boy pants and met with Sam. And HER BAG. (See photo above.) Do you see all those markers? DO YOU SEE THEM? She has different colors for the hero, heroine, 2ndary characters, the conflict, the black moment. You name it, she has a marker.

Our conversation started like this:

Sam: Tell me about your hero.

Penny: (eyes markers with great suspicion) Huh?

Sam: Your hero. What's up with him. (She holds marker in her hand, waiting to write something on the massive poster board).


Sam: Good! He's lonely. (she starts scribbling on THE BOARD).

Penny: (thinks silently....SHE IS KILLING ME!)

This went on for about an hour. And something funny happened.

It worked.

There. I said it. ARE YOU HAPPY, SAM?

I figured out some cool stuff about my hero, my heroine, my story, how to structure it so it flows right, and a totally killer ending.

And so I would just like to say....


Penny turned to the Dark Side...Plotting! And I don't even need therapy. (Although I do still have an unnatural fear of markers).

4. And finally, the bonus...A Work Of Art!

Remember how I told you my husband got me a cool diamond ring in Santa Fe right before I fled the high altitude vacation disaster? Well, I got it! My new pinkie it fabulous or what? (The one next  to it is a garnet).

So, those are my Monday Morning updates. Hope everyone has a great week! Julia Rachel Barrett is visiting me midnight! Like Cinderella! I can't wait to see her!