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!



Mrs. Missive said...

Your talk of this plotting thing scares me. And I will now have nightmares of markers. ;p

Christi said...

Love this post! Hehe...from a plotter who is dying in the middle of her first panster writing experience...maybe Samantha will come help me. I have to admit, I'm a bit jealous of the markers and eyeing my thirty one bags with the possibilities. Smiles, Christi

Christi said...

Love this post! Hehe...from a plotter who is dying in the middle of her first panster writing experience...maybe Samantha will come help me. I have to admit, I'm a bit jealous of the markers and eyeing my thirty one bags with the possibilities. Smiles, Christi

Annette Blair said...

Needless to say, you absolutely made my day, Mz Penny. I expected to ruffle some feathers, which I did, but I also converted a great many readers, which I did not expect to do. I also broke my own record for reader mail...all good.

Annette, dancing around her office.

Heidenkind said...

Very pretty! I'd love to read your unfinished werewolf book. :)

I'm between a pantser and plotter (of course... I'm a Libra). I write a 4-5 page synopsis because I can't handle outlines and this generally tells me if I know where I'm going with the book and have a handle on the plot and characters. Once I wrote a synopsis of a bank heist romance, only to realize this book was never going to happen for me. I'm glad I realized that before I invested time in the book!

Penny Watson said...

Mrs. Missive...The Marker Apocalypse!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Christi! One time we went to a romance conference and there were a bunch of scrap-bookers at the same conference. Sam had the same bag they did! Heeeee! It was hilarious. I made fun of her the whole time.

Penny Watson said...

Annette! THAT BOOK! Yippppeeeeeeee! You made MY day when I read it. Especially the end. And the beginning. And the middle. THANK YOU! :^)

Penny Watson said...

Tasha...I think most folks are somewhere in the middle of plotting and have structure, you have unbridled creativity. I'll make a deal with you...if you write the heist book, I'll let you read my werewolf book. Deal?

Unknown said...

The black and white bag (gorg, btw) stuffed with colored markers is killing me. Too funny. Glad it was helpful. Great recs, as always. :)

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe that hairy werewolf sex can't fix just about any problem. But I trust you, so it must be true.

Thanks for the reviews. Going to check out Alaska Heart.

little alys said...

Omg, the many pens, And, 20,000 words long outline?! Wow. Just wow. I should plot, but I'm such a pantser.

Also, your rings are gorgeous!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Lindsay. I have to admit, Sam does have a nice bag. And it has lots of other stuff in it,'s like the Never-Ending Bag O' Doom!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Jessi! Believe me, I tried w/ the werewolf sex. This was my first book. It had a Cinderella-transformation scene at a night club, too. Really. :^) (not for the werewolf, for the heroine)

Penny Watson said...

Little Alys...Some of Sam's outlines are honestly longer than my novellas. My brain doesn't work like that. My creativity doesn't kick in until I'm actually writing the story. Although, the downside is that I sometimes re-write a chapter about 6 times before I get it right. That drives Sam nutso! Hee hee!

Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

Pantser here, trying desperately to be a plotter. Just writing a 3-4 sentence outline of each scene is giving me stomach pains, headaches, and major anxiety. Rewrite a chapter 6 times? How about 60? (Well not really, but it feels like that.)

Julia Barrett said...

So sorry I arrived with a headache! But I got to see those rings in person - that pinky ring is gorgeous!

Penny Watson said...

HMCW--Today is "MARKER DAY"...I am going to attempt to man-handle that big poster board. Wish me luck!

Penny Watson said... great to see you! I hope you enjoyed your cross-country trip!