USA Today Best of 2012

Monday, May 31, 2010

Rules to break, rules to follow

I had a Sunday post on the Lyrical Press blog, and since today's a holiday, I'm re-posting...

When I started writing, I had no idea there were “rules” other than grammar, punctuation, spelling… the general mechanics. Since I considered my first novel (still lurking in a file in need of major rewrites) a romance, I joined a romance critique group and soon learned about lots of rules. A heroine couldn’t leave one man for another in the course of a story. She shouldn’t be divorced, but widowed was okay. If a heroine made a mistake, she was "too stupid to live". Adultery? Subject matter not to be addressed, in any manner.

I didn’t like these rules.

And when I first learned about character Point of View, I didn’t much like that either. The idea of each scene coming from only one character’s perspective seemed outlandish. After all, I’d read many books where the POVs were mixed, or omniscient.

Many critiques and several novels later, I still let my heroines do the things real women do, so I subsequently label my work “women’s fiction” when necessary. Standards of behavior women expected 50 years ago don’t cut it with me or my target audience. Sometimes my bad guys aren’t all bad, and they might have understandable motivations. On occasion, it takes awhile for the heroine (and reader) to know for sure if the hero is really a good guy or not. Those situations mirror real life, and I think today’s woman would rather see realism in their stories than have everyone perfectly good or perfectly bad. So I happily break some rules (and feel good doing it!).

But on the matter of Point of View… Well, I’m currently reading a novel by an author I’d dub the Queen of Contemporary Romance. This is an oldie, from 1987, before the POV Revolution. Sometimes one paragraph will have internals from both characters, and the next might be from the bad guy who is chasing them. Very disruptive. I keep reading because the premise is fun, but I’m honestly not all that attached to any character. And you know what? It might be an interesting “aside” to see/hear what the bad guys are up to, but particularly in a romance, this is not pivotal to the main story: that of the hero and heroine. Sticking with one character’s thoughts (at least for a scene at a time) allows the reader to delve deep into motivations and really relate. As an author, I want my readers to relate to my hero/heroine. Root for them, ache with them, feel the sexual tension, get that warm happy feeling at their happily ever after.

And if I do a really, really good job, those readers will think of my main characters from time to time and remember their story, the way I do about some great stories I’ve read.

Autumn Piper

Got romance?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lasting impression

We got a sweet little surprise last week. Though it hadn't appeared the previous two springs, right in the middle of our grass, a bright red tulip appeared.

I know with 100% certainty who planted it, and it was probably years ago. She doesn't live around here anymore, but we got a chance to know her, and she's very much like this little flower. Quiet, unassuming, a beautiful person who'd been transplanted here and made the best of things.

Of course, when we mowed, we had to save it. We all miss her very much.

The tulip just made me think... we all leave an impression, good or bad, when we're gone. No matter who we are, we leave something behind for others to remember.

So. Those are my deep thoughts for today. I'm off now to work on my newest writing project. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

Autumn Piper

Got romance?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

That day has come.

The much-anticipated First Day of Summer Break is here in Rifle, Colorado (which explains my tardy post this morning -- it's called going back to bed for a few hours:)). I spent the evening singing "School's out for summer" along with the kids. However, now that it's morning and I see the days of homeness looming before me...

A few special Summer Rules for the kids:

  1. Just because I am here, does not mean I am here to be your personal chef. You're big kids -- rummage and nuke for yerselves.
  2. No fighting. None. Snarly comments such as "Eat me" and "Smart one" will result in your banishment. No, not to your room, but outside.
  3. That big TV in the living room? Not yours. Yours is in your room, and that's the one you'll be using because A)If I have to sew 1.5 million (really 350 more at this point) sunglass sacks and listen to hours on end of Zack and Cody or SportsCenter, I'll have a voluntary aneurysm. B)Youth using the living room TV generally results in the breaking of rule #2. C) I've looked into temporary hearing loss and there's no way for me to induce it, so that screen is gonna be either off or playing an XM music station if I'm out there.
  4. Chores are now a morning occupation. And I'm not playing Chore Cop all summer, so there'll be new lists with spots for kiddos to initial that they've done each job. Call me anal, but I'm going there from experience...
  5. Do. Not. Interrupt. Writing time. Unless blood or flames is involved or Orlando Bloom is at the front door.
The kids won't be too thrilled to read these, I'm sure. They think they just got away from rules. But we've gotta fight insanity somehow right? And what was it my mom used to say about an ounce of prevention, right before she kicked us outside for the day...?

Have a great day!

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It can happen...

For writers out there who are embarrassed to tell anybody they're writing (been there!) or let anybody read their stuff:

Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone With The Wind in secret and gave it to an editor only after a colleague laughed at the idea of her writing a novel. It won a Pulitzer, inspired that film and sold tens of millions of copies.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Not quite a spelunker

For lack of a more exciting (or writing -relevant) blog topic, here's what I'm up to today:

Heading to nearby Glenwood Springs with my son's 8th grade class, to the Glenwood Caverns. We'll take the cave tour, and the kids'll ride all the newest attractions. Who knows, maybe I'll ride some of those too...

We've been there before, and the caves never cease to impress me. Hubby-head did the electrical for the tramway and restaurant/gift shop, as well as other buildings at the top. It's a really neat local attraction. The caves are privately owned and had been closed to the public until about 2000. When they first re-opened, the tour required a treacherous ride up the mountain to access them. Now it's easy and fun to get there (so long as you're not afraid of heights!).

Have a great day.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Completely, Believably Lost

I watched the finale of LOST last night -- as well as the 2-hour summary episode before it. Even though we've missed a few episodes here and there, my family has followed the show since it started. I think part of its success was its ability to leave people a little confused all the time, which stirred up more questions. Some very unbelievable things happened on that island, as well as in their future, past, and "sideways" time continuums. Crazy things, like smoke monsters, immortality, ghosts... you name something wild, it probably happened on LOST.

Still, even on last night's episode when we were wondering just how the sideways continuum caused some people to be exactly the same as if Oceanic 815 never crashed, but some others were totally different (Sawyer as a cop? NOT!), and how Jack could all but die inside the island's heart with the "bright light" but wake up out in the middle of a stream.... we'd ask how/why, but still watch. Why? Simple. The writers had that supremest of all supreme writer skill: Suspension of Disbelief. The magical power to get readers/viewers to put aside all manner of reality and just go with the story.

Ahh. And isn't wonderful to be transported so? I was especially swept away by the romance involved in the last few hours of the show. And wow. The writers did a wonderful job with it. Even the dudes who watched had to be (silently, inwardly, so as not to be caught) sighing.

And the end... was it satisfying? I had to think on it. But yes. For me it was. I'm still left with many unanswered questions, but that's part of the beauty of this series. For me to be so wrapped up in it mentally that even after it ended, I still think about... Yes, it was very skillfully done. Suspension of Disbelief, folks.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Smart-ass Friday Funny

Technically the school year isn't over yet -- but this is our last day of "real" school because all 3 days next week are field trips and assemblies.

So. The kids are a bit haywire and likely to say, erm... inappropriate things. I've found the best way for me-- as a sub-- to deal with this sometimes is to reply with a quip and move on (no mouth dropping open in shock allowed).

Today's smart-ass answer is from a college prof:

A college teacher reminds her class of tomorrow's final exam. "Now class, I won't tolerate any excuses for you not being here tomorrow. I might consider a nuclear attack or a serious personal injury, illness, or a death in your immediate family, but that's it, no other excuses whatsoever!"

A smart-ass student in the back of the room raised his hand and asked, "What would you say if tomorrow I said I was suffering from complete and utter sexual exhaustion?"

The entire class was reduced to laughter and snickering.

When silence was restored, the teacher smiled knowingly at the student, shook her head and sweetly said, "Well, I guess you'd have to write the exam answers with your other hand."

Happy Friday, everybody! My weather report says "Chance of precipitation: 0%." Ain't nothin' wrong with that.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why she writes romance

Here's a nifty article about author Eileen Dreyer, and why she writes romance novels. I love it.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fearless Honesty

On our way to school yesterday morning, the kids and I saw my nephew riding his bike... and TEXTING. Yep. Elbows on handlebars, hands out front holding the phone and punching buttons. Because sometimes he looks pretty wobbly when operating the bike with both hands, this sight sparked a few giggles and crash predictions, while my son (same age as the bike texter) invented names for the infraction, such as Biking While Texting (BWT).

"I couldn't text while biking," I admitted after the quips quieted. "I'd wreck for sure." Heck, I once had a minor bicycle crash while trying to replace my water bottle in its holder. Ever since, I pull over to sip. (Besides, what a scary view I'd give everybody if I leaned forward on my bike far enough to hold the handlebars with my elbows!)

And my daughter says... (God bless her for giving me so many cute things to use as blogfodder), "I can't even walk and read my watch at the same time."

:) It's always a good thing when somebody knows and respects their limitations, no?

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Back in the turnstile

Got my first round of content edits for Fallen Star Trouble yesterday. This wasn't a surprise -- I've been expecting (and perhaps dreading) them. Publication happens on a schedule, so when your edits show up, you'd better be ready to put whatever is going on in your life--including but not limited to a really healthy run of writing--on hold, to get your part of the job finished and back to the ed so the book is ready for its next phase. Don't want to hold up anybody else, and that's exactly what happens if you slack off.

To say these edits arrived at a busy time is a bit of an understatement, but hey. I'm still new enough at this game to be thankful each and every time I get a book contracted, so it's all good. Unlike my other published books, this one hadn't gone through the exhaustive critique process my others had (although most of it was written and self-edited with more experience than the others). Critiques from a good group usually include lots of atta-girls, which every writer needs. On this book, I'd had 3 beta readers, two who gave positive feedback and the other... well, let's just call her response Less Than Stellar. So I've had a few nerves going in, wondering whether I'd get the 2 page email attached to a file marked up with more warpaint than a Native at the Little Bighorn. Would I have to do extensive rewriting? Remove some of the focus from my secondary characters and my heroine's job? I could be looking at a lot of work, if my editor found big gaffes.

Big sigh of relief, though. My pages are still mainly white. LOL. A few suggestions here and there to streamline, but it's really going to be a breeze to make these minor adjustments. Have I mentioned I love my editor? And even though I'll be way, way tired of looking at this manuscript in about a month, that's okay. I still love getting published, too.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Nice review

A Fireman for Christmas got a really nice review this weekend from Two Lips Reviews
Read it here:

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Now what was I doing...?

So I got this email from Oprah yesterday (I think she may have CC'd a few million other email addies too, but that's not the point). She included an article on things you can do to prevent memory loss, which was quite informative. And yes, this is one of those blog posts where I foray into the personal and leave behind all the writerly biz official professionalism...

The first suggested way to help prevent memory loss is to teach. Concept behind this is pretty simple: if you know something well enough to teach it, then it's going to stick in your head better. Hey. I like that! Because I teach all kinds of different stuff as a substitute. Does this mean in my old(er) age, I'll be able to remember the formula for finding volume of a cylinder, which president came before Lincoln, the difference between mean and median, and what year the battle of 1812 happened? "Use it or lose it," I smugly mumbled to myself. "I'm not gonna be one of those old ladies who forgets where she parked at the supermarket!" Well... maybe. I've kinda already been there.

So maybe the memory benefits don't apply to substitute teaching. Because, seriously, after a Teacher Stunt Double day, I feel like a quick-onset Alzheimer's patient. Sometimes I forget to fuel up the truck before leaving town for home (which makes for a heart-rushing, sweaty-palmed drive back to town the next morning, which might ultimately give my son his first ulcer). Or I forget for the 4th day in a row to run by the Post Office and send off that Netflix. Or I arrive home and can't for the life of me remember What the Heck I'd Planned to Cook for Dinner (because, as my daughter reminds me, there's no food at all in the house!). And then the kids get to joking or playing a game and I hear them giggling together like last night when they set up the electric race track just so the cat could watch them race the cars, and they were giggling and squealing, and I can hardly remember what life was like before kids...

Happy Friday, everybody. I'm heading off to the Greatest Place on Earth. No, not Disney-related... The grade school library. To sub! Can you believe they pay me to do that? Muahahahaha!

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Not my review

I'm sharing a link for a review today, for a book I edited. The author is a supersweet lady, and totally deserves this great review for all the hard work she does.

Earth Enchanted is book 1 in a series featuring fascinating, gifted Irish people, cops, and stolen diamonds... and that's all I'm gonna say.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A little ho-hum

I still get the Writers Digest weekly (sometimes thrice weekly) email newsletter, from when I subscribed many moons and solstices ago. From time to time, one of the articles catches my eye, and it's interesting to see the hubbub in other genres. So my most recent installment had an article entitled "What Should Fiction Writers Blog About?". Good question, as I see this come up time and again with new writers on the Lyrical Press staff group board. By now, I feel pretty OK with the "big picture" of what I blog about; it's more of a daily basis What-the-heck-am-I-gonna-blog-today issue, but I read the article anyway. And when I was done, I felt a little "meh". She didn't list the one thing I harp on probably as much as I harp about authors presenting a professional query when submitting-- although she did follow it-- which is, Keep. It. Brief. (My blog pet-peeve is when somebody goes on for pages on one daily blog post. Bleh. Serialize it already! We stopped by for a brief look into your thoughts, not to hear a damn commencement speech! :) )

And who knows, maybe I'm way off base here, but I think she left off the Number One Thing readers visit an author's blog or website for: personal connections. Stuff about characters and their stories is available all over the net on fan-fiction boards and sites, Amazon, pretty much anyplace books are sold. Honestly, I don't see that many readers being devoted "fans" unless the author is huge and tapping markets like the fanbases for Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter and the like. Maybe a really popular YA author... maybe, would attract readers by posting serialized stories and stuff about their books' characters. But hey, I could be underestimating devoted readers. From personal experience, I visit an author's website or blog if I want to know more about her. Period. I find her on Facebook if I think she'll offer cool insights about what her life is about and what makes her tick (or tic, LOL, if she writes crazy stories). If she's funny and I know her posts will give me a good belly laugh now and then, I follow her blog.

I'm just too dang busy to read post after post about somebody's upcoming book... even if it's a book I look forward to reading. Seriously, hype is time-consuming! And who has surplus time these days? A post here or there about milestones in the book's production is cool, and I do think readers as well as many beginning writers are interested in "the process" -- of publishing as well as creating.

Passed the Briefburg City Limits a ways back, so I'll muzzle myself there.

Happy Wednesday.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Home, James!

I learned something this weekend: My family is not cut out to be super-busy, crazy-running around people. We had one of those Very Packed Weekends and come Sunday night/Monday morning, well... we needed A Day. To just be at home, and recharge our units. It was a fun weekend, don't get me wrong, and I'd not cancel any of the events if I could, but by the time we were journeying home Sunday night, I had this song running through my head...

My Grandma used to sing this song, and the only time I've ever heard it was in her warbly voice, but I went looking for it on YouTube(the Encyclopedia of Everything these days). Sure enough, there it was, in Gramophone glory. I got to hear it in its entirety for the first time, and it's rather a cute story. For anybody interested, the phrase, "Home James, and don't spare the horses" is from Victorian England, reputedly from Queen Victoria Herself. Obviously the songwriter used artistic license for this tale. Have a listen:

Home James, and Don't Spare the Horses!

Happy Tuesday. May you get as much home-time as you need!

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Great insights about living and health

Cheesy way out, I know... but today I'm linking an article from Dr. Mehmet Oz on "what he knows for sure".

I would love to pull what he did for #5 on my family, just to see the looks on their faces. LOL. Where is Candid Camera when you need them?

Autumn Piper

Got romance?

Friday, May 7, 2010

New from Amazon...

Used to be, in order to have an author page on Amazon, you had to have a customer account -- one you'd made a purchase from. Recently they changed this and you can set up a page on Author Central just by being an author. Which may not seem like a big deal, except I could never have an author page on (Canada) or (Britain)--because I couldn't purchase there. Which meant I couldn't tag my books there either.

Well. Today Amazon sent me a message to let me know I can now create a page for Author Central on Cool! One more promotional tool handed right to me.

Happy Friday!

Piper Denna

Romance is sexy!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday Funny

A woman was standing nude, looking in the bedroom mirror. She was not happy with what she saw and said to her husband, "I feel horrible; I look old, fat and ugly. I really need you to pay me a compliment.'

The husband replied, 'Your eyesight's damn near perfect.'

And then the fight started.....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

8 Blunders Editors Hate

This is from my weekly Writers Digest email, and it's very good. Author Jerry B. Jenkins talks about what editors hate to find in a submission. Things as readers we've seen hundreds of times, so we probably assume they're a good idea (and why they're not):

8 Basic Writing Blunders

Piper Denna

Romance is sexy!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Smart-ass Answer

Still counting down the list of best smart answers. This one is #2:

A truck driver was driving along on the freeway and noticed a sign that read: Low Bridge Ahead. Before he knows it, the bridge is right in front of him and his truck gets wedged under it. Cars are backed up for miles.

Finally a police car comes up. The cop gets out of his car and walks to the truck driver, puts his hands on his hips and says, 'Got stuck, huh?'
The truck driver says, 'No, I was delivering this bridge and I ran out of gas.'

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Office hands

Today's word of the day from the Urban Dictionary:

Office hands: someone who has soft hands for doing office work and little or no hard labor.

Ahh. We've all seen 'em. Question is, do you like them, or not? On a man, in the old days they usually meant he was really well off and didn't have to "work" -- but nowadays they can just mean he's a geek who hides out in a cubicle with a computer all day, and doesn't necessary make much money at it. Conversely, maybe he's a teacher, and that's not a bad thing, but with really soft hands he must not like many diverse activities. On a woman, office hands are probably more desirable, the hallmark of a woman who's led a feminine existence (or been terribly dedicated to gloves). and probably never had a job which involved any hot cooking appliances or tools.

Personally, I like my man's hands to have a few nicks and scars, and definitely some muscle. Kinda bothers me now to shake some guy's hand and have his be softer than mine!


Piper Denna

Romance is sexy!