Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dorothy McFalls

One of the best benefits of being a part of the writing community for me, has been meeting other writers.

One author I have had the pleasure of getting to know is Dorothy McFalls. Dorothy's first book, The Marriage List, was published by Signet Regency in 2005. It was released with rave reviews and has gone on to win numerous awards. Currently, The Marriage List is a finalist in the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency Romance. Dorothy also has releases with Titan and Venus presses. Her most recent releases include a sensual paranormal suspense entitled, Neptune's Liar and a short sensual regency entitled, Lady Sophie's Midnight Seduction.

Recently, Dorothy graciously agreed to allow me to interview her. (read: I begged and pleaded till she gave in) Here's how that went:

How did you get started writing romance?

I didn't read romance until...let's see...eight years ago now, I think. I admit it. I was a romance snob. Thought those trashy novels were beneath me. Instead, I read mysteries and suspenses and adventure stories. What I didn't realize at the time was that I really enjoyed the parts of those mysteries, suspenses, and action-adventures that had romance in them. It was by happenstance that I picked up a romance to read on a plane in a small airport gift shop. It was one of Catherine Coulter's romances. Oh my, was it a great read! I was instantly hooked. That was what I really enjoyed in those other stories, and here was a book that emphasized the relationship. I wanted more.

A year before I'd discovered romance, my interest in writing had been rekindled. I've always written stories. As soon as I learned to write, I wrote fiction. They weren't very good, but they made me happy. But when I started college, I didn't have time to write and that part of my life was put on hold until one day I was driving home from work and I remembered. I wanted to write! I started out writing mysteries. And then I discovered the romance genre. The pieces fell into place. I was going to write romance novels. And nothing else.

You've written regency, paranormal romantic suspense and sensuals in both categories as well. Is it difficult to write across such different lines?

I like to dabble and try new things, so writing different genres and styles comes naturally to me. I think I would be sad if someone told me that I had to stick to just one. That said, dabbling isn't something I recommend. Readers don't like to jump genres with an author. (I know, I'm a reader. It took me years to read Catherine Coulter's contemporary romances. They didn't disappoint, by the way.) Also, changing styles slowed my learning process. One of the most difficult things for a writer (at least this one) to learn is creating the right tone of the story that matches the publisher's guidelines. It is subtle and involves a blending of the plot, the word choices, and the pacing. You can't just take a Regency, throw in some suspense elements, and get a romantic suspense. Every time I switch genres, I'm having to learn and relearn what it takes for that genre to feel right and to provide the reader with a satisfying experience. If I had stuck to one genre and focused on writing for one publisher, I probably would have found success faster.

You took a big leap when you quit your job to write full time without selling first. What was the drive behind that decision and was it harder than you originally anticipated?

I started to write full-time because, quite frankly, I was exhausted. I was working full-time at a job that required many night meetings and long hours. Add to that, my writing during lunch breaks, evenings, and weekends. I didn't have a social life and I was work, work, work. It felt like I had two jobs and was burning my candle at both ends. I had to make a choice. With my husband's help, we trimmed our budget until my paycheck was no longer needed. Leaving work, knowing that I was chasing my dream, made me feel like I was walking on air. It was the right thing for me.

But it hasn't been all roses, though. I gave myself three years from the time I left my job to get published. That put tons of pressure on me. And I felt every bit of it. Facing loads of rejection letters, negative comments from contest results, and scores of self-doubt has taken a toll. There is also the problem of not getting out enough and not making money. Writing is a lonely business. I didn't realize just how lonely until I quit my job. I missed the team meetings and working toward a common goal. I still do. But I'm not going back to work...well...not yet, anyhow.

I cut it close and sold my first book to Signet three months before my three year time limit had run out. I had already started looking for employment opportunities. It just goes to show, you never know when success will come...

You offer visitors to your website free short stories. As a result, you've even had to have a collection published due to requests. Have you considered working on novellas or anthologies?

I love my short stories, even though they aren't that short. They tend to run about 35-50 pages. I have written a couple of novellas. The last one wasn't plotted out in advance and turned into a novel! I don't do true short well.

I use the short story as a sketchpad to test out new writing techniques and to grow. I started to publish my short stories online because I wanted my writing out there where it could be read.

I don't think I'll write too many short stories for publication anywhere other than on my website, though. Within the confines of these stories I have full freedom to do whatever I want. They can be whatever I want them to be. I have no guidelines, no rules. If I'm happy with a story, that is all that matters.

What is your favorite thing about writing?

I love dreaming up new people, new worlds and setting them in motion. Perhaps it is a control thing. In this world, things happen like I want them to happen (as long as a character doesn't hijack a scene). It's exciting watching the story grow into something that makes sense, something that I can feel proud about. When my writing is going well, I feel like I'm riding on the crest of a wave. My fingers are flying over the keyboard, my mind is humming, and I'm perfectly focused on what I need to do. For me, that's writing in its perfect form.

What is your least favorite thing about writing? (And don't say doing this interview ;-))

Shucks, and I was going to say that, too! Interviews are hard! I write fiction. You know how hard it is for me to keep to the truth? It's nearly impossible, let me tell you. I'd much rather make something up that would sound good and make people sit back and mouth the word, "wow!"

But here's the truth (or as close as I'm able to get). My least favorite part about writing is that it strips away my confidence. Someone once said that writing is easy, you just have to cut open a vein and bleed. I think there is a lot of truth in that. You strip away your defenses and dig deep, touching on emotions that perhaps are raw and painful in order to create characters that feel real. Doing that makes me anxious. I question everything I do while I write, uncertain if I'm choosing the right words, taking the characters in the right direction, revealing enough or perhaps too much. I get myself worked up, worrying about how an editor or a reviewer or a reader might react to my writing. That stinks!

Is there a particular author who inspired you to write or inspired you along the way?

As I mentioned earlier, Catherine Coulter's books are what got me hooked on romance. Her books continue to inspire me. I also have a few authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kay Hooper, and Julie Garwood, whose writing gets the words flowing in my head. Their books make me excited about the written word. They inspire me to write and to write better.

And now for the million dollar question, what's the best piece of advice you can give an unpublished author dreaming of one day being in your shoes?

Read. Know where you want to sell your book and read everything that publisher puts out. It will be the best thing you can do for yourself. An Avon romance reads differently than one published by Signet or Berkeley or Dorchester.

And one more thing. Never, ever give up on yourself. Writing is one of the few arts anyone is qualified to do. I think that's great! Everyone of us has a different perspective on life in this world. Everyone of us has an important story to tell. Celebrate your writing...especially in the face of rejection. What you have written is important. It is a picture of the world, a slice of life. Treat it with the honor it deserves.

Thanks, Dorothy, for sharing so much about yourself and your writing. Without authors who are willing to share, unpubs would be lost! Well, I would be ;-)


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Oh so that's what's wrong...

My RWA chapter had a workshop with Alicia Rasley yesterday. And it was GREAT!

She spoke about plotting. And at first I felt squeamish because well... I'm a pantser and I don't do a lot of preliminary plotting.

But by the end of the day, I had eleven pages of notes with tons of starred items referring to my wip. And I felt like I had been slapped by a category five hurricane (we're a coastal town).

Alicia talked about "acts" and three vs. four act plots and scenes and the basic components of scenes which are the basic components of acts which are the basic components of books.

At first, in my wee little brain I thought, "I don't do acts and all that. I just write." And what I learned is that I was WRONG. I write in three acts. At least up until now I have been and I never realized it. And I even use the blooming scene structures she gave, but didn't realize it. And the few scenes that are still bothering me in my wip, well they don't have any of the important components of a scene and that's why they're bothering me!

By the end of the six hour workshop (that included our lunch time), I was sitting, staring at Ms. Rasley with a gaping mouth, thinking... "Why couldn't you have come into my life sooner?"

Maybe I'm the only person for whom some of this is new. I'd heard some of the terms before, but I hadn't ever had it all drawn out for me. I promise to share some of what I learned, right after I get my head straightened out enough to be able to put it all into focus for myself and apply it to my wip.

Boy am I glad I didn't cop out going. I came soooooo close. Hubby was away Friday night and Buckley thought that meant he had to be a real guard dog. So every time he heard a noise in the night, he attacked! I got a total of three hours sleep, so when the alarm clock went off at 5:45, I considered going back to sleep. Gosh I'm glad I didn't!

So am I the only one for whom some of this is new?


Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Green Monster...

Seems my current hero was none too happy to discover my thoughts were on "another" guy. Oops. He feels I should finish his story and get him out of the mess I'm about to throw him into before giving any thought to someone who won't even tell me his name.

Yeah, he has an ego a mile wide. But he can back it up too, so you gotta love that.

In an effort to reassure him that I am in fact thinking about him and working very hard on completing his story, (nearly 2000 words done last night!) I thought I'd share his pic too. (It's also a great excuse to post another picture:-))

Meet Riley:

Maybe he'll quit brooding now :-)


Wednesday, May 24, 2006


That's the file name of my wip. I took special notice of it today as I opened it. It says a lot. It says I started off thinking it would be a temporary file because I named it Chapter1. And it says that I had to start it off a couple of times. Now there are two other Chapter1 drafts floating around on my hard drive.

And I thought, why haven't I renamed it? Easy, because then I would never find it, cause I would forget what I named it. Even though the wip does have a working title. But then I decided I like this name. It says... This is a Work In Progress. It is not done, it is not refined, it's a draft and it's the third after two failed attempts, so I'm not perfect and that's okay.

In other news: I'm having intrusion problems. Read: I have another story idea that is flicking me in the head. And the hero is already here and ready. Gosh, I still have to finish my Chapter1Thirddraft. So, I thought I'd introduce everyone to him while he waits. Oh yeah, he hasn't shared his name yet...

Doesn't he look woebegone? Can anyone keep him busy and out of my hair until I get to him? :-)


PS He's also the guy in the pic two posts ago! :-)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Debacle...

My family is in real estate. And real estate can be a very dangerous job. For one, people have a false notion that realtors are wealthy. And second, we go to vacant homes with strangers. So, we are a safety conscious bunch. Lots of safety protocols in the real estate industry. One of those is telling someone when you expect to be back from an appointment. Then if you're not, that person tracks you down or calls out the National Guard to find you.

So, a family member of mine went to a listing appointment tonight at 6:30PM and told her hubby she'd be home by 8:30 for dinner. So, when she didn't show or call and didn't answer his calls by 9:30, he called me.

I did what any loved one would do... Broke into her email, found the address of the listing appointment, grabbed hubby and jumped in the car.

On the way, hubby asks, "What are we going to do when we get there?"

And I reply, "Sneak around. If the windows are open maybe we can see that everything is fine. If not, I'll go up to the door and tell them I'm lost." (the home was out a ways from town)

And he said, "No you won't!"

And I said, "Ok, you can go up to the door and tell them you're lost."

And he said, "No I won't! We're going to call the police!"

To which I replied, "yeah, she would love that! 'Uh, Mr. Seller, please forgive my family for calling the cops on you because I was late for dinner. Really, we're not nuts. Would you like to list your home with me?' "

Then, my husband who has NEVER picked up a gun said, "We should have brought a gun."

Shaking my head, I replied, "And gotten arrested when we get pulled over for speeding because my dash doesn't lock." (gotta have a license to carry it concealed if it's not locked away in the car.)

I could practically see the light bulb go off over his head. "We could have put it in the fire box we have for our documents and brought the fire box."

Ignoring that said firebox is really heavy, I focused on the important issue and with a shocked expression, said, "And who is going to do the shooting?"

"You!" he responded. "I don't know how to use those things."

"Great, so carrying a concealed weapon isn't enough. Now you want me up on murder charges?"

He reasoned, "Hey you're the one running around at 9:30 at night sneaking around people's houses to see if your sister's listing is going ok." And why that sounded like perfect reasoning to me, I'll never know.

A few minutes later, we got the call that she was fine, just didn't hear her phone ringing and had gotten so caught up in conversation she hadn't realized how late it was.

Remind you of a bad Cagney and Lacy episode or what?


Sunday, May 21, 2006


Progress is a relative term. For some it means their word count goes down, because they have edited out "not so good" stuff. For some, it is being able to write "The End". Congratulations, Cole!

For me, it meant finally getting my heroes pants off. Finally! Well, and adding to my word count. Of course later "progress" might reduce that word count. But for now, my progress includes it going up.

And since I've made progress, I'm giving a reward. Here it is:

(sorry for the black line. It's meant to be a center spread in a magazine)

So, what has "progress" been for you lately?


Friday, May 19, 2006

Going to Class...

Some of you may recall my mentioning a whiole back that I would be teaming up with another member of my RWA chapter to oversee the online classes our chapter puts on. Well, June is the first official month of our endeavor together. And LOOK at what class we have. Was this kismet or what?

Instructor: Su Wright
Registration Deadline: May 25, 2005
Course description: 4 Week Workshop -- Tues - Thurs, June 7 - 30.
Instructor bio: Su Wright remembers when she first began "pitching" her novels and knows the face of rejection. From those early pitches, she's learned how to do it right - in the past year she's pitched to agents and editors - and all have asked to see either a partial or complete manuscript. She is in the process of sending partials to agents. Su is a freelance travel writer. She's been a newspaper reporter/photographer/editor, has researched numerous Fodor travel guidebooks, and written book reviews. She teaches writing classes through the University of Colorado-Boulder's continuing education department. She writes mysteries and romantic suspense novels as well as screenplays.

Now that you've finished your manuscript, this course will teach you how to pitch your novel to editors and/or agents at writer's conferences. We'll cover how to write a pitch and tips for the face-to-face meeting. You will have a chance to try your hand at writing your pitch and get instructor feedback to polish it.

The course includes "lectures" with corresponding homework to help you develop your pitch material:
Lesson 1 Purpose of pitch
Lesson 2 What’s your book about
Lesson 3 Characters
Lesson 4 Goal-Motivation-Conflict
Lesson 5 Logline
Lesson 6 Paragraph
Lesson 7 About You (the author); Appointment Etiquette
Lesson 8 Wrap Up

If any of you want more info, you can visit our website at Or email us at LRWAonline at yahoo dot com. Or you can email me via this blog.

I have been so busy I hadn't really looked at what was going on for June. When I saw what the class was, I thought... Wow, I really need that right now. Obviously :-). I hope everyone else is getting loads of writing done. I'm headed to do that now. I've got to put my hero out of his misery!


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Time Out...

Thank you, everyone who chimed in with advice. I plan to review your comments over and over during the next two months :-). With all of the excitement over getting my appointments and the thought of pitching, I completely allowed myself to get side tracked from my writing. As a result, "that" scene I started a few days ago, making my hero very happy... Well, I left him stuck in the middle. Oops.

So, I've decided to put aside my excitement for a few days and jump back into writing. Not to mention, I got an email from my cp and it said, "So when do I get the next few chapters?" And I thought... "Oh crap. I knew I was supposed to be doing something!" :-)

In the meantime, I have these guys to keep me company. You can only watch them from 7AM to 7PM. But they're so cute, you have to pop in on them sometime. I know they aren't my usual treat, but I'll work on one of those for when I finish this chapter. Unless writing it kills me first!

How's your writing going? Am I the only one getting no where?


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Editors and Agents...

So, the national conference is in, oh... say... two months. TWO MONTHS! And yesterday appointments to meet with editors and agents were opened up to Pros. Which would include me.

(Side note: for those of you not in the know, mainly my friends, who are thinking... holy moly, did she get published and not tell me; No, Pro is an RWA designation for those of us who have completed a manuscript and are seeking to sell it. Not everyone in RWA has done that and so they have a designation if you do. So that in instances such as editor and agent appointments, they can offer people who have a completed work earlier dibs on the appointments. Because even though you're not supposed to sign up if you don't have something complete, people do. Published authors are part of the PAN or Published Authors Network)

So I nervously logged on yesterday morning, for my very first ever attempt at getting an appointment. I had heard that it can be a real ordeal. And I was pleasantly surprised. There were quite a few spots left. I got an appointment with both an agent and an editor. And now... I think I may be sick.

Because now I have to pitch. I don't know how to pitch. I studied advertising and I still don't know how to pitch. How sad is that? I called a friend and asked if I could practice on her and she said, "Sure, wanna come over tonight?" And I replied, "Uh... No. I have to think of what I'm gonna say first. What am I gonna say?"

So, in the middle of trying to finish this blooming book, a whole new ordeal arises. How in the world am I going to pitch? Any and all advice and input is welcome... ok, it's begged for! :-)


Sunday, May 14, 2006


Mother's Day and Anniversary.

First, I want to wish a happy mother's day to my wonderful mother. She's one of the most amazing people I've ever known. Things certainly haven't always been easy for her, but she's always given me all of the love and support I could ever want or need. Without her, I wouldn't have the courage to seek out my dreams. Without her, I wouldn't be secure enough to risk giving my heart to another person. Without her, I would be lost. I love her beyond all reason.

Second, I want to say happy anniversary to my hubby. On this day, last year, we were getting hitched. And we had a ball. This year has been full of lots of lessons and even more fun. To some, our wedding was long over due. We had dated for eleven and a half years, after all. In fact, when we selected Etta James' At Last as our first dance song, we hadn't taken the title and chorus into mind. We just like her and her music and the song is lovely. The music began and everyone was silent, then when the first two words came out and were "At Last..." the room broke out in laughter.

But we got married when we were ready and not a day before. And it's been one of the best things to ever happen to me. My hubby is my best friend. He's been there for me through the trauma of loosing my father and he's been there through all of the highs too. No matter what ideas my crazy mind conjures up, he supports me fully and even thinks I'm cute for my nuttiness.

So, today I celebrate two people I love dearly. How blessed I am!


PS Who would have guessed that year old wedding cake is REALLY good!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Ebb and Flow...

For two nights last week I got 1000 words a night written. Which is big for me! But then, for the past two nights, I haven't gotten any done. Blah...

I'm chocking it up to plain old being tired and lazy. But tonight, I hope to make up for at least some of that. We'll see.

There hasn't been too much to do this weekend. Some last minute mother's day arrangements and hubby worked in the yard. One big thing did happen... I have my first mosquito bite of the season. Got it less than 30 minutes ago. Bugger! Although I should be thankful because I've seen them buzzing around for a while now and have avoided a bite until today. You see, I am an official mosquito magnet.

Once when I was in kid, I was in gym class and a friend looked at my legs and asked, "You got chicken pox?" Nope, I had a yard full of mosquitoes much like the rest of our area.

I've been trying to convince hubby we need to screen in the area under our second story porch. That way I would have somewhere to go and stick my tongue out at the little pests!

Well, I'll have to make sure Buckley has a large supply of heartworm pills and we get some bug spray. We've thought of buying one of those expensive mosquito machines, like the propane thing. But I'm not convinced they work. Anyone know any or used any? Want to share an opinion?


Thursday, May 11, 2006

He Gets His...

So my hero took me out for margaritas, got me sloshed and convinced me to finally write his scene. You know, that scene. He's been waiting and waiting and pacing and prowling and growling and being an all around pain in my derriere. But now? He's happy as a clam shell at an oyster bake. Is that a saying? If not, I'll use it anyway.

Yup, I'm finally writing it. He's still cursing everyone who suggested a few weeks ago that I make him wait longer. But that's okay. Because the heroine got what she wanted. She got the time she needed to feel like more intimacy and tension was built and well, being a tease can be fun too. So, that's what is important.

In honor of this momentous occasion for my hero and heroine, I'm sharing this:

Now go forth and... Celebrate :-)


Monday, May 08, 2006

Why I Write...

I recently read a post by Agent 007 which brought to mind why I write.

Ever since I was a little kid, I've had an overactive imagination. In my imagination, I've done some rather amazing things. I've traveled the globe, been a spy, even done a strip tease or two. But it's unlikely I will ever be a spy. And it's even less likely that I would really want to be one. No comment on the other. Although I like my privacy. But just the same, it's so fun to pretend.

A few years ago, I had a long list of hobbies I wanted to take up. I had an actual list and I meant to do them. Here's a sample of the list:
-I wanted to start taking flight lessons and get my pilot's license
-I wanted to do the formula car experience in Britain (obviously there was a need for speed in there)
-I wanted to go back to school and study criminal profiling
-I wanted to study medicine
-I wanted to participate in police ride alongs (the show cops is a guilty pleasure)
The list went on and on....

My dear hubby, who was then, my dear boyfriend, thought I was loosing my mind. And I did too. Ever the voice of sanity, he suggested I look into doing one or two first instead of tackling them all at the same time. Of course, I was raring to go. Other than for the finances, I had it all worked out.

Then I realized, I didn't want to really DO all of those things. I mean, I'd love to dip my toes in them. But I don't want to be a doctor. I don't want to fly a plane. Shoot, I'm terrified of heights. I had a hard time looking down from the balcony of our tenth floor hotel room.

What I realized is that I loved the adventure I experienced in reading and I wanted to immerse myself in that adventure. And I could. I could write it. I could create people and places and events. I could write about a surgeon and purge the need to study medicine. I could write about a sexy formula car driver and the race circuit all across Europe and travel and experience speed without ever leaving home.

It's one of the best benefits of being a writer. My imagination runs away with me. My goal is to relate that through the words I put to paper (or screen) in such a way that my imagination runs away with the reader too. That's my hope.

What about you? Why did you start writing?



So we're finally home. We had a great trip! The weather was great and we got to do a lot of stuff. We spent Saturday on the beach.

Hubby slathered up in sunscreen, well except for his legs which I told him he'd regret and he does. I didn't put on any sunscreen because we rented lounge chairs under a thick umbrella and I parked my behind there. And despite having been in the shade all day, my legs got sunburned. You know you are pale when you get a sunburn in the shade!

But we're both on the mend. I got a little reading done. But now I need to get some writing done. I'm definitely motivated. Lots of ideas floating around in my noggin.

How was your weekend?


Wednesday, May 03, 2006


So the hubby and I are prepping to leave tomorrow for the beach. Yay! And since I worked late tonight and still gotta pack, I'm not getting any writing done tonight. But the old laptop is coming too. Mainly because hubby needs it. I was going to leave it behind. Really. I'm bringing reading material :-)

In honor of my previous blog, I thought I would repost a blogthings quiz. Funny thing, I took the test again and got the same result. I posted it months ago, but I figured it was more appropriate now...

You Are Dr. Bunsen Honeydew

You take the title "mad scientist" to the extreme -with very scary things coming out of your lab.
And you've invented some pretty cool things, from a banana sharpener to a robot politician.
But while you're busy turning gold into cottage cheese, you need to watch out for poor little Beaker!
"Oh, that's very naughty, Beaker! Now you eat these paper clips this minute."

Of course, on my second go, this one is what I got... Surprise, surprise...

You Are the Swedish Chef

"Bork! Bork! Bork!"
Your happy and energetic - with borderline manic tendencies.
No one really gets you. And frankly, you don't even get you.
But, you sure can whip up a great chocolate mousse

So, what are your results?


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Swedish Chef...

I had a thought today. I know, it was a surprise to me too!

I'm in the middle of my wip. You know, that part you have to use to get your story and characters from the beginning to the end. Yeah, that part. And, I find I feel sort of like the Swedish chef from the muppets, appropriately named, Chef. I feel like I'm haplessly tossing ingredients around and singing, "smorgie borgie, stroodel poodle..." and hoping something decent comes out. Whether it's a souffle or stir-fry, I have no idea.

Ever feel like that? Or would you pick a different muppet? I love the muppets!


Monday, May 01, 2006

Half Week...

I'm excited because this is a half week for me. On Thursday, hubby and I will be heading out of town! Yay!

We've both been in desperate need of some vacation time. The mono may slow me down a little, but we have a relaxed trip planned. A lot of beach lounging included. And sipping on frosty drinks. At least with mono you can't take antibiotics so I don't have to worry about any of that!

We're just headed to a local beach. Only a couple of hours away. One nice part about living in a state with a coast.

So anyone else have any fun trips planned for sometime soon?