Sunday, November 7, 2010

Change of Address

Hi everyone!
I'm now blogging at
See you there. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Actually Won a Contest!

I did it! I've never won a contest in my life. Well, that's not quite true. I did win a raffle given by my brother when I was ten years old, the cutest little stuffed dinosaur... But that's another story.
Anyway, I won the contest given by Kai Strand on her website where she did a fabulous interview with Soda(John J. Clements) about his book 'The Wizard of Odd'. Fun book! And if you get the chance, read the interview, also very fun.
As for the contest, I tweeted the most about the interview and won a copy of the book. Yeah! Nothing better than free books from talented authors.
I won, I won, I won...!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Welcome to My Blog!

I was going to write something clever and whitty for this week, but as usual, I've overbooked my time.

Take a look around, read my posts, get to know me on Facebook

and MySpace

And if you have a minute, write a sentence or two on my round-about story


Monday, August 30, 2010

Erotica-Not as Easy as it Looks!

Just ask my editor. I have the most difficult time writing a simple love scene. I feel all flushed and uncomfortable and can't write with anyone else in the room. She has to pull the lines of the scene from me one by one like pulling teeth.
So now I've set myself the ultimate challenge. To write a short story, a la erotica. Heavens, my mouth goes dry just thinking of it. And honestly, there's just some words I cannot say let alone write down on paper. Did the temperature in the room just go up?
But like any phobia, maybe if I immerse myself in satin sheets and feather pillows then maybe the next love scene I write can be done with less embarrassment and more gentleness.
I wonder what magazine I should send the story too...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hard labor and birth of a difficult scene.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes for me writing a scene can be as arduous as giving birth. I have the characters’ emotions, the setting and where I want everyone placed, all jumbled inside me, and it’s almost a painful process to peel them from my mind one by one and place them on the paper. Then to go back time and again until the scene reads exactly how I first conceived it leaves me exhausted.

For example, this is a scene from ‘Alex’ as I first wrote it…

He heard Janie’s laughter on the patio and he looked out the screen. She and the doctor were relaxing in the shade, and when Jane saw him she waved him out with a bright smile. Alex’s heart swelled. She wanted him there! He chewed his lips, feeling suddenly shy, but he went out anyway. He hitched himself up on the short stone wall between the patio and garden and kicked his heels as he ate a sandwich. They talked softly and drank lemon-aide, and Alex had begun to relax when Adam put his glass down and moved to his side. Alex looked at him warily.
"I’d like to examine your scars now, Alex. I didn’t have time the other night."
"Why?" Alex’s lips settled stubbornly.
"Because I think they hurt you, and maybe I can help with that."
Alex sent Jane a quick glance and there was a desperate sadness in his eyes as he removed his shirt. Janie had seen his scars before; she knew how ugly he was. His dreams had been absurdities.
The bright sun wasn’t kind. Adam had to clench his teeth against the cry that rose in his throat. The familiar patterns of a leather belt and metal coat-hanger crisscrossed the boy’s chest and back, but there were puncture marks that made him wince and burn patches too numerous to count. He ran gentle fingers over the deep furrows on Alex’s breast. He could feel the pounding of the young man’s heart.
"How did you get these, Alex?"
Alex’s breath was a hiss. "Mama often took me to the garage and used whatever was at hand." A violent shudder passed through him. Adam looked up but the boy’s face was averted.
"Show him your legs, Alex." Janie’s voice was expressionless and Alex gave a small cry of distress, but pulled the cuffs of his shorts back.
"My poor boy," Adam exclaimed and Alex lifted a startled face. Compassion filled the doctor’s grey eyes for the little boy who’d suffered so cruelly. The tip of the hot iron had scorched the fair skin in several places on each thigh. The pain must have been excruciating. He touched the dead skin with a soft murmur of pity.
"Why, Alex?" The doctor had to swallow. "Why would she do this?"
"I was a bad boy," Alex whispered hoarsely and his tears dropped on his tortured chest.
"Alex!" Jane sprang to her feet and her voice shook with anger. "That’s not true! Your mother was---" She broke off at the doctor’s quick motion. Alex had jerked as if she’d struck him, and now he covered his face to stifle his sobs.
"Alex?" Adam took his hands and looked in the boy’s anguished eyes. "Won’t you tell me?"
"Mama," Alex stopped and struggled, and then went on as if he couldn’t lie to himself anymore, "She hated me." The heartbreak in his voice made them wince.
"No, Alex," Adam soothed. "She wasn’t well. There was something wrong in her mind. It was never your fault."
Alex shrugged, and suddenly he snatched up his shirt and jumped from the wall and disappeared into the garden.

A hard enough scene to write the first time through. Then comes the questions. Why is this scene necessary to the story? How strong or weak do I want Alex to appear? How is he coping? What is the doctor’s interest, outside his professional one? Alex doesn’t yet know how Jane feels about him. How much do I want to reveal?
To answer these questions I had to sit with Alex on the patio. What would it be like to be questioned about something you’d prefer to forget? What if the person you loved was listening? How do I show this scene in a way that will arouse the sympathy I’m looking for yet not make Alex appear pathetic? I had to answer all these questions before I could continue.
After an agonizing afternoon, this is what I came up with…

Troubled, he followed Beckett into the empty kitchen, only to hear Jane’s laughter coming from outside. Looking through the French doors, he saw her sitting with Beckett in the shade on the patio. He frowned, not liking how close the doctor had pulled his chair to hers.
He suddenly questioned the doctor’s motives for coming out to the house. He wasn’t that sick. He studied the man’s profile, noting with chagrin that he was both handsome and confident. He shook his head. Just when he began to think he had a chance with her, here was another man ready to step in.
He ran a hand over his face, knowing he wasn’t dealing with his jealousy very well. He looked wistfully at Jane, wishing she would give him some hope.
She caught his eye and waved. Seeing no alternative but to join them, he went out to the patio. He hitched himself up on the short stone wall around the garden and took the plate of eggs and cheese Jane handed him.
After a few minutes of idle conversation about the weather and how pretty the garden looked, Beckett put his coffee down. “I’d like to take a closer look at those scars, Alex. I was busy with other patients at the hospital and couldn’t take the time before.”
Alex took a defensive posture. “Why do you want to?”
“Because I think they bother you. There’s a new silicone cream that could help with that, if the damage isn’t too severe.”
Alex sent Jane a quick glance, and he removed his shirt with a desperate melancholy in his heart. She already knew how unsightly they were, but it hurt to be so blatantly exposed in front of her. Creg had it right. His recent hopes that there could be something between them were absurd.
The sun wasn’t kind. The patterns of a leather belt and metal coat hanger crisscrossed his chest and back. There were also puncture marks that made Beckett wince and burn patches too numerous to count.
Alex jumped when the doctor touched the deep furrows across his breast. “How did you get these?”
He lifted his shoulders. “Mama took me into the garage a lot and used whatever she had on hand.”
“But why?”
“She said I was a bad kid,” Alex whispered.
Jane leaned forward, “It wasn’t true. Your mother was cruel and abusive.”
He averted his face, not wanting to hear anything negative about his mother.
“Alex,” Beckett said. “Why do you think she called you a bad kid?”
“Mama . . .” He struggled for the words but couldn’t find the appropriate ones. There was no sense trying to sugar-coat it. He couldn’t lie to himself all the time. “She hated me.”
“No,” Beckett countered. “She probably wasn’t well. There must have been something wrong with her mind. It wasn’t your fault she was that way.”
He shrugged, overwhelmed by emotions he’d long ago suppressed. Unable to face Beckett and Jane any longer, he snatched up his shirt and jumped from the wall. He followed one of the paths into the garden until a screen of forsythia hid him from their view, then he dropped onto a stone bench. He groaned into his hands, trying to regain control of the frantic boy inside, the part of himself that still cowered from Mama’s cruel mistreatment.
(‘Alex’, copyright 2009 by Dianne Hartsock)

My editor sent me a note on this final version. ‘Well done. Now let’s move on to the scene with Alex in the garden.’
I stared at the screen a minute, wrung out and shaking, then quietly turned off the computer and took my kids out for ice cream and laughter and the joy of a happy life.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Confessions of a Query Addict

I admit it, freely and without embarrassment. I’m a query-addict. I spend hours perusing the lists at the ‘Writer’s Market’ and ‘P&E’, trying to find that perfect fit for my manuscript. Then I find it. Eagerly I read over the submission guidelines. I sweat over my query letter, synopsis, and sample chapters for the umpteenth time. When everything is in order I tap the ‘send’ key with a wish for luck.
I wait for the reply with trembling hope. I check my ‘inbox’ two, three times a day, knowing, absolutely, that the website said 5-8 weeks for a reply. Then comes that glorious, frightening day when I receive a letter. I stare at the bracketed (1), heart pounding. Is this the one? Will my dreams be answered by this most wonderful publisher? Do they want MY book?
Nothing beats that rush of excitement when I open the letter and start to read. Though the replies have been mostly rejections, kindly put, there’s still that chance that the next letter will be the ONE! So I sit at my computer and browse websites and continue to send out my queries, anticipating the next reply.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You're the substance of his wishes, and the sum of his courage.

'...they would ride out simply to see the winter and to hear what Tristen would say of it, how he would wonder at things men simply failed to look at, past their childhoods.
But, oh, how precious those things were! To look at the sky, breathe the cold wind, have fingers nipped by chill and skin stung red and heart stirred to life, gods, he had been dead until Tristen arrived and asked him the first vexing question, and posed him the first insoluble puzzle, and marveled at hailstones and mourned over falling leaves. What miracles there were, all around, when Tristen was beside him...'

Lines to get your heart beating!

"Mauryl Summoned me," he said to those on either hand, "but it went amiss. Or did it? Was his wizardry not greater than his working? And didn't things go as he wished, in spite of his wishes?"

"- As he wished, in spite of his wishes...all of that, you are, young lord. You're the substance of his wishes, and the sum of his courage. He let you free. He didn't Shape you. He left that to the world and this age. He left you to Shape yourself, young lord, and Tristen he named you, and Tristen you are. Think of it. Think of it, where you go. Never let that go."

I've been reading the wonderful 'Fortress' series by C.J. Cherryh. Books to fill you with joy and longing and wonder and magic... The perfect escape.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bad Dreams

I just woke up from one of the most horrible dreams of my life. I'd woken up a few minutes before the alarm with that happy, fifteen more minutes!, feeling. I lay there drowsy and dreamy in my warm snuggly blankets. Then the dratted radio made that whirling sound it does before it goes off. I was dragging my protesting mind back to consciousness when a voice out of the blue whispers in my ear, 'Jennie's passed away'.
You can bet I was awake then! Heart pounding, chest so tight I could hardly catch my breath. 'It's not true. It's just a dream,' I assured myself. No, I didn't rush to call her to make sure, though I desperately wanted to. I'm not superstitious, but I do believe in self-fullfilling prophesy. Besides, someone would have called me if my daughter had caught a cold, let alone anything more serious.
And sure enough, she calls and lets me know she's having a great time and will see me later today.
Seriously, though, give your kids an extra hug before they leave the house today. Tell them you love them. Life can change in a single breath.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Beautiful Sister Mary

Mom’s surgery goes well. We sit in her room laughing and teasing each other. We’re quiet when she’s napping; saying things to make her smile when she’s awake.

She has a rough night. She wakes up at 11p.m., anxious and scared. Mary sits on the floor beside her bed, holding her hand, reassuring her that she’s not alone. Saying the words we say to comfort a child awake with nightmares. At one point Mom tells Mary she just needs to be held. Mary carefully climbs on the bed and holds her in her arms until she feels better. Sometime around 2a.m. they sleep.

Mom’s awake at 4:30a.m., frightened. She’s reacting to the medicine they gave her to sleep. She tries to climb from the bed and Mary has to physically hold her down, reassure her that she’s okay. That nothing’s wrong. Mom struggles and says she feels like she might throw-up. Mary buzzes for the nurse. Someone comes in carrying a bucket. Mary sends him off to get some real help.

No one comes. So Mary, my hero, calls the Family Emergency Crisis number to be used only when a patient needs help NOW. Within minutes Mom’s room is full of doctors and nurses and everyone Mom could possibly need.

I can think of no words eloquent or grand enough to thank Mary for the gentleness, resolve and courage with which she is taking care of my Mom. She’s doing it out of love for Mom, but I feel I owe her a debt of gratitude that I will gladly hold the rest of my life.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Waiting Room

The three most wonderful words to hear... "He's (she's) doing fine. " I'm sitting in the waiting room Friday afternoon, hands tight in my lap, Mom five hours into her surgery, listening to the soft conversations going on around me. The lines from a Death Cab song run in my head. "...there's no comfort in the waiting room. Just nervious faces bracing for bad news. Then the nurse comes 'round, and everyone lifts their head..."
The doctor comes in and calls a man's name. His family replies and the doctor takes a seat by them. The first words from his mouth are, "He's doing fine." Dear God! The relief and gladness and joy and tears that pour from these people are overwhelming. I have to leave the room and stare out a window in the hallway for a few minutes. Cherrie blossoms and pink azaleas blur in my sight.
Our good news comes a little differently. Mary's standing in the hallway and turns excitedly to us. "They're bringing her down the hall!" Luckily they turn down another hallway before they reach us. We would have smothered her! But we got to see her in the ICU for a few minutes to say goodnight soon after that. It was wonderful.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The joy and agony of writing

It’s true. I absolutely and completely love writing. From the minute I turn on the computer and open my latest document to the last second I’ve waited to tear myself from the keyboard, I’m enchanted. I’m lost in a world of dreams and words and emotions that are not quite my own and not solely theirs. My characters take me to places and times I’d never have the courage to go to in reality. There are days when the story spills from me in thousands of words, and others when a single scene is written painfully in tattered phrases and broken sentences. Where the emotions start in my stomach and press on my heart and dance in illusive words in my brain till my stumbling fingers give birth to them on a page I have to blink the tears from my eyes to read. God, I love it. Thank you for this gift.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Alex's Interview with Officer Mandel

part 6

Brad stared at Alex, thoroughly confused. “What do you mean? I thought you and her…”

Alex’s head shot up. “I won’t discuss that,” he said angrily, glaring from him to Haden. He looked ready to bolt and Brad straightened, moving behind his desk.

“Should we break for lunch?” he asked the chief, reaching for the phone. Haden grimaced sourly at the abrupt change of conversation, but inclined his head.

Alex looked baffled, then the anger left his face and he sank into his chair, folding his arms on his chest.

“Jane was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen,” he said into the quiet room. Brad replaced the receiver in its cradle, watching Alex’s expressive face. The boy took a breath. “I was fourteen, and lonely. She was kind to me.” A fleeting smile touched his lips. “I didn’t even know what love was.”

He looked at them without embarrassment. “Sean Elson was a good man. A better father than I deserved. I was backward and stupid, afraid of my own shadow. His patience still amazes me. He set it up so I wouldn’t have to go to school, and when he couldn’t be there, Jane made sure I did my lessons.”

He turned suddenly to Ben. “I wanted to do something big with my life, to thank him, but he died…”

Haden’s craggy face softened at the distress in his voice. “Don’t worry, son. He’d be proud of you.”

Brad noisily picked up the phone in the awkward pause that followed Ben’s words. “So, sandwiches all right with everyone?”

Alex laughed as the tension eased in his chest. “Sure.”

One Crazy Week

Good golly Miss Molly! (insert any expletives you'd like here, they all work) What a crazy emotional week I've had. Two weeks ago I was given a release date for my book 'Alex'. I thought, 'Wow! I made it!' As with any publishing company, there's always the chance of having a release date pushed back several months, but I was sure I'd passed that hurdle.
So! I asked for some Saturdays off work (never easy) to do promotional stuff. I met with the organizer of our local Saturday Market about spending weekends at their writers' bookshop. Such a nice person! I visited with the founder of one of our local charities to discuss donations. Lovely woman. I even made a list of bookstores to discuss booksignings with.
Then comes the polite letter Wednesday saying my book has been pushed back until September. Nothing like plunging from the heights of happiness to the depths of despair (exaggeration). But I have a little more understanding and sympathy for bi-polar sufferers. The fall is shattering.
On the bright side, I've talked with the publishers some more, and they may be able to push my release date to earlier in the summer. I should have a date tomorrow.
Life is never dull, anyway. Bye for now!