Sunday, November 28, 2010

What's In a Name?

I have a tendency to use the same names for more than one character. I thought I only did this with minor characters, but I don't. I know this because I went through all my stories and counted them up. I didn't include all my short stories, so the numbers are off slightly, but the results show me something:
I use the same names WAY too often!

Common names like James, Michael, Robert and William aren't too surprising. However, names like Burwood, Derrick, Dexter and Jasper were unexpected. I also found that I reuse men's names more than women's – though I still use things like Amanda, Bonnie, Cindy and Tammy way more than is necessary.

I don't know if this will make any difference to the way that I name my characters in the future, but I hope that I will be more aware of variety.

I know this is probably more information than you care to know, but I spent a lot of time going through character lists, so I'm going to share.

Top 10 Names for Men
Robert/ Bob/ Bobby 19
Henry/ Hank/ Hal 16
William/ Will/ Bill/ Billy 15
Michael/ Mick/ Micky/ Mike 15
Peter/ Pete 11
Samuel/ Sam 10
James/ Jim/ Jimmy 10
Edward/ Ed 9
Frank 9 (the name Frank Lord used twice and both are lawyers)
Toby/ Tobias 9

Top 10 Names for Women
Mary/ Marie/ Maria 13
Cynthia/ Cindy 10
Tamara/ Tammy 8
Martha 7
Angela/ Angie 7
Bonnie 6
Margaret/ Maggie 6
Amanda 6
Andi/ Andrea 6
Barbara 5

Ten Most Unexpected Repeats
Burwood 2
Cadence 2
Crux 2
Deacon 2
Honoria 2
Ianna 2
Magda 3
Orchid 2
Shelby 2
Teague 2

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What Happened to the Cat?

My husband is a detail oriented person. As a medical professional, he has to be. It amazes me, however, what details his analytical, scientific mind will latch onto when he reads my novels. He'll read the entire story and start asking me for clarification, demanding details. Some of it I've thought of, other things I make up, glad of my improv experience, because I honestly hadn't gone there.

It's not unusual for me to make up some BS answer out of thin air just to get him to quit asking. Sometimes, if the subject really interests him, he'll expand on it to the point where I'd pay real money just to get him to shut up. Often, these sessions are helpful, clarifying those nebulous ideas that I hadn't fully considered.

A typical exchange:

“Have you thought about ?”

“The readers don't need to know that.”

“But it's interesting. You could....”

“Yes, maybe, but why? It's not the least bit important. Why do you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Ask about the most unimportant elements?”

“I don't do that. Now, what about...?”

He's gradually learned not to ask what I'm working on because ninety percent of the time it's something I have told him about. I shuffle projects and might work on a dozen different stories in a week. I love the fact that he's interested, but I don't always want to stop what I'm doing and explain what the book is about.

However, in a weak moment, I told him about one of my novels where the psychotic ex-wife of the hero breaks into the heroine's apartment, shaves her cat and duct tapes it to the hood of his car. Yes, it's messed up, but the neighbors find the cat a short time later, call the police and take the cat to the vet. I mention in passing that the cat is at the vet's and he's fine.

Apparently, that information wasn't enough for my husband. “What happened to the cat?” He asked when I got to the end of my explanation.

“What? Which cat?”

“Amanda's cat, Muse. What happened to him?”

“He's at the vet's. I said that. He's fine.”

“But you don't mention him again.”

“So? You don't even like cats. Why are you worried about the cat?”

“I was curious.”

“Forget the cat. He's fine!”

“Whatever you say, baby.” There's a long pause, to the point where I'm busy again and have forgotten about the conversation. “You really need to clear that up.”

“Clear what up?”

“The part about the cat....”

The point I'm making is that little details, things we forget about or think are inconsequential, can bother our readers if left unresolved. My husband, who positively loathes cats, was worried about Muse to the point that it detracted from the climax of the story.

I'm not suggesting that every reader is quite so easily misdirected as my husband, but some are. Those are the people we have to satisfy by tying up the loose ends. Make sure the subplots are resolved. Give enough of an explanation that it sticks with the reader. Keep distractions to a minimum so that the thread of the story isn't lost along the way. A few moments spent on “housekeeping” will prevent the inevitable question: “What happened to the cat?”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Maker - Book 3 in the Lone Wolf Series

I've been going back through my sci-fi series re-reading the earlier novels with an eye on both editing them for publication and re-familiarizing myself with the world so I can finish book 6. The following is one of my favorite scenes. Emmelia Spenser, Chairman of the Mining Guild, is the most powerful woman in the galaxy. In "The Lone Wolf", she's guarded by Captain Ben Drexel of the Galactic Marines. Why isn't important. What is important is the fact that they fall in love. However, given their positions, they aren't able to put duty aside to be together. Ben is sent on a mission far from the Mining Guild home base and Emmelia can't go with him. She doesn't hear from him for over three years, but as it's Christmas Eve, she's thinking of him.

Gazing at the clock on her living room wall, Chairman Emmelia Spenser watched the hands creep toward midnight. Drinking a silent toast to absent friends, she tried not to cry.

"Oh, Ben," she whispered to the air, "Where are you tonight and what are you doing? Are you thinking of me as I think of you?"

She rose, walking to the window of her penthouse apartment, high on top of the Guild Tower. Tonight she'd been obligated by her position, to host a lavish, expensive party for all the somebodies in the Mining Guild and associated riffraff.

She'd been the perfect hostess, she always was, paying extravagant and insincere compliments to the hideous wife of the head of the Miner's Consortium. All the while harboring unkind thoughts that the woman looked more like a troll than a lady of wealth and substance.

All the board members had been present, of course, their trophy wives in tow. She couldn't keep track of them any more. They all looked alike: blonde from a bottle, boobs by design, pouty lips, long legs and tiny little brains. They dripped furs, jewels, gold, platinum and other choice tidbits given them by their husbands. Usually, there was a new one every other year, and they all had names like Buffy or Tippy or Missy.

She had not been alone at her party, of course. There were any number of eligible men willing to escort the most powerful woman in the Mining Guild to a posh soirée. The one tonight had been better than most, smarter, handsomer, better put together, but he wasn't Ben.

He'd made the expected advances. She'd repulsed them until she had too much champagne to drown her sorrows, then she foolishly gave in. He hadn't been a complete disappointment, but he wasn't Ben. Without that shadow to compete with, Brett might have stood a chance. He was several cuts above the average hanger on, but he had to compete with a memory, although he didn't know it. She'd hoped that Ben would be back by now, or at the very least she would hear from him. But nothing had come.

"Tomorrow," she thought hopefully, "tomorrow I will hear from Ben."

A final sip of champagne and she made her way to bed, where Brett slept, looking for all the world like a child. She wondered how old he really was, 25, 26? Did it matter? He kept the bed warm, didn't drool, and didn't snore. Slipping quietly back into bed, she curled up next to him, facing the door, crying gently.

He must have sensed her presence, perhaps even heard her crying. He rolled over, putting his arm protectively around her, cuddling up behind her, breath warm on her neck. Tears fell anew, remembering how Ben would do the same thing.

"Tomorrow," she thought as she fell asleep, "Tomorrow..."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lone Wolf at Last!

"The Lone Wolf" has finally made it to the publisher's site and I'm so excited! Even more than "Indian Summer", this book is a part of me. I admit, I totally fell in love with the main character, Wil. To celebrate, I've included an excerpt from the story.

Although Matilda is involved with Marc, she meets Wil and that's it. Wil, who's been around more than even he will admit, has never truly been in love. He's invited her to lunch, which segues into dinner. After their meal, he finds himself at a loss as to how to proceed.

Their eyes met over the glow of the candle. He started to speak once or twice, but each time he stopped before doing so. Matilda sat placidly, waiting for him to make the first move. She had a feeling she knew what he was trying to say, but couldn't quite put into words. A playful smile tugged at her lips.

Wil blushed, his gaze dropping to his lap uncomfortably. He couldn't remember a time he'd felt so awkward in a woman's company. Probably not since he was a kid. Suddenly, it was very important to him that she say yes to what he wanted to ask.

"I was going to try to be subtle and charming." He grinned at her shyly. "But it's been so long since I tried to be either, I can't remember how." He pressed his lips together and the candlelight played along his scar. "This usually isn't a problem for me. I guess I got used to being irresistible."

Matilda reached out, tracing the line of his scar with her finger. The skin was warm and silky. He held her fingers to his lips.

"It's all right, you know," she said softly. "You don't have to be subtle with me. You were about to invite me to your room, weren't you?"

He nodded sightly, looking embarrassed.

"But you weren't sure what the answer would be."

He looked even more uncomfortable, silent. The table developed interesting dimensions. He stared at them.

"Where are you staying?"

Trying to speak, he stammered.

"We can't go to your room if you don't show me."

Wil stood awkwardly, nearly knocking the table over. He pointed to a luxurious hotel near the hostel.

"I'm—over there."

Taking his hand, she tugged pointedly so he'd follow. "Show me," she whispered throatily. Leaning toward him, the top of her breasts brushed his bare chest. "I want you to show me everything."

Gulping, Wil followed her eagerly, like a puppy until he caught up with her. Sweeping her into his arms, he carried her quickly to his room. Only after the door was locked behind him, did he kiss her for the first time.

Wil brushed his lips lightly across hers, barely touching. His tongue flickered between them, teeth nipping playfully as he explored her mouth. Holding only her cheeks between calloused hands, he caressed her throat, licking the base. He hadn't even kissed her mouth and already she was his.

Hungry for his mouth, Matilda brought his face to hers, demanding that he kiss her. Lips parted, she brought him closer, sure of what she wanted. Laughing throatily, Wil complied, giving generously, taking hungrily.

He held her gently, his full lips leaving a blazing trail upon her skin. He held her tantalizingly close, their bodies not quite touching. The heat from him set her on fire as the intensity of his kisses increased. Still he held her carefully, treating her as if she were made of spun glass. Somehow, this contrast of passion and tenderness made his touch even more erotic.

After several minutes just kissing her, he took off her bikini top. For the space of three breaths, he gazed at her breasts without touching them. Admiring the firm, fullness, he took one nipple into his mouth, suckling blissfully. Sighing happily, he moved to the other, treating each like the greatest of gifts.

Matilda moaned as his hands moved along her body, pulling her so close to him, she could feel the beating of his heart. His touch was still consciously delicate. She sensed a tension in him, his body fighting with itself for control. Marc had always held her the same way, afraid he'd crush a delicate flower.

Nearly mad with desire, Matilda decided she'd had enough standing around and kissing. She wanted action and now. Shoving his shoulders hard, she pushed him on his back. Wil sprawled on the bed as she removed his shorts and her bikini bottoms. He laughed, glad she had finally decided to take control.

"I admire a woman who knows what she wants," he chuckled as she made her desires clear. Still laughing, he complied.

Matilda had never been so aggressive in bed. Something about Wil encouraged her to assert herself. She pulled him close, demanding his all. He gave it to her freely, unconditionally, something he had never given to any other woman.

For the first time in Wil's adult life, a woman left him so breathless, he couldn't even speak her name. But that was all right, because she couldn't say his either. He kissed her softly, holding her close, stroking her hair. His fingers played along her spine, sending a thrill dancing down her back.

He wanted to speak, but couldn't find the words to express how he was feeling. After sex dialogue had never been his strong suite. Anything he said at this point would be trite, or worse yet, silly. Instead, he kissed and fondled her, expressing himself more eloquently than words.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

NaNoWriMo -excerpt

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is in full swing. I started on my novel and it's really coming together for me. I'm very pleased with it. I thought for this week's excerpt, I'd post a bit from "Undiscovered". Cadence Stuart just finished showing a condo to a young married couple when shots ring out. She steps into the hallway to see a tall man dressed in baggies, T-shirt, mask and gloves run down the hall and into the stairwell. She gets a good look at him, but he also gets a good look at her. Detective Walter Scott (no kin to the famous Sir Walter Scott) stays at her apartment to protect her in case the guy comes looking. He sleeps on the couch. Fortunately, it's a quiet night. This conversation takes place the next morning.

He showered, but hesitated to shave. His chin and cheeks were tender to the touch. He decided to forgo it. If anyone hassled him, he could say he was growing a beard. He used the aloe lotion once more, slathering it on before he got dressed. He liked being a detective. As long as he was clean cut and neat, he had some leeway on what he wore. He'd chosen a loose fitting linen shirt in pale yellow and a pair of light beige chinos. A hemp necklace and a sunglasses, he looked like he'd walked in off the streets of Miami.

A steaming mug of coffee and a huge plate of food landed in front of him as he was sitting down.

“Timed it just right. I hope you're hungry.”

“Always. And I could eat.” He cursed himself silently for the none too subtle slip up. It was something he and his buddies said all the time. Standard, smart ass comeback number one. “Sorry.”

“What for? Being honest? Male cousins, remember?”

“Gotcha. You said your dad was a cop and some of your cousins? Any of them with DBPD?”

“Yes. Dad's retired. He worked in Orlando. My family's spread all over. You know Jake McMurtry and Sara McTeague?”

“Yeah. Good officers, both of them. There are some McMurtrys in Edgewater too. You kin to them?”

“Oh, God, am I ever. I'm related to most of Volusia County. I practically have to go out of state to find a boyfriend.”

“That'd seriously suck. I'm from Georgia.” He realized that might sound like a come
on and mentally kicked himself. “We moved here when I was sixteen.”

“Did you go to school at Atlantic?”

“We lived in Deltona. Mom moved when I got the job here. Her husband passed and she wanted to be near me.”

“Sorry about your stepdad.”

“Don't be. He was a prick. If he hadn't died when he did, I'd be in prison by now cause I'd of killed him.”

“That bad?”

He nodded. “Better left unsaid.”

“Sorry to hear that.”

“My family is so dysfunctional., it has its very own zip code.”

“My family's pretty normal—well, if you define normal as being huge, crazy and redneck.”

He laughed, nodding. “Compared to mine, that sounds pretty normal. My mom and sisters have managed to find the biggest sacks of man shit ever to drag their knuckles on the pavement. I've got a full time job running the bastards off.”

“I should introduce them to my cousins. They're good men, all of them. Not just saying that because we're kin. If we weren't related, I'd date them.”

“How's your track record with men?”

“Aside from the lasagna loser? Not bad. I've had my share of jerks, but mostly I've done well. Best ones get away, you know how that is.”

“Unfortunately. Maybe just not best for you.”

“They end up marrying my friends a lot, so I guess not. My one cousin, that happened to him forever. Every girl he dated ended up married to his friends.”

“I'd have to kill somebody....”

“Yeah, ditto. You'll love this one. One woman said she aborted his baby, but she didn't. She married another man and let him think the kid was his. Doesn't look a damn thing like him, okay? But....”

He got very quiet.

“I'm sorry. I said something that hit a nerve.”

He shrugged. “Not like you could know.” He swallowed his coffee, saying nothing for as long as he could. He had to explain.

“Something like that happened to you?”

“Yeah. Only the bastard knows the kid's not his. He knows and yet my daughter calls him daddy. I've never even seen her.” He swallowed more coffee, hoping his throat wouldn't close up on him.

“That's terrible Scott.”

He shrugged. “Maybe I'm no better at choosing women than my sisters are at choosing men.”

“What it shows us is that there are a lot of shitty people out there.”

He laughed quietly. “Unfortunately. And I deal with them on a daily basis.”

“At least you're getting them off the street.”

“What? Hell, no. I mean the dirtbags I work with.”

That got her laughing and what could have been a very tense moment eased into something more comfortable.

“So, what will they do with me?” She asked suddenly.

“As far as protection? No idea. Sometimes they take you to a hotel somewhere. Other times, patrol the neighborhood. Different levels of protection.”

She nodded, sniffling as she cleared her plate. “I want to thank you again, Scott. I know you didn't have to do what you did.”

“Can't have my star witness scared and alone, can I?” He stood, bringing his things to the sink.

Cadence turned quickly, finding him directly behind her. She hadn't heard him walk up. She was in tears again. Scott put his plate on the counter and took her in his arms. She pressed her face to his shirt, crying softly. He held her close, stroking her hair and murmuring comfortingly in her ear. Not quite sure how it happened, he found himself kissing her. Mouth closed, at first, nothing special about it. Just your average kiss.

She opened her lips, her tongue diving into his surprised mouth. That was all the encouragement he needed. They stood there for several minutes, consuming one another. She clung to him desperately as he possessed her. His phone ringing broke the moment. Cursing, he looked at it. Nessa. He flipped it open, trying not to sound as pissed off and horny as he was.

Books & Entertainment Radio Presents Dellani's Tea Time with Jenny, Jon and Karen!

It's summer time and folks are flocking to the beach, the mountains, and anywhere else they can go (at least in their minds—there'...