Sunday, January 20, 2008

Guest Blogger - Nina Davies

Hi, I’m Nina Davies -- reader, author and founder of the website -- an editing website for writers.

Lucy asked me to blog about AutoCrit, so here’s the scoop on this cool tool in Q&A form.

Q. What is AutoCrit?

AutoCrit is the home of the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. The Wizard is a unique tool that provides extensive feedback to help writers improve their first (or second or third) draft.

The Wizard automatically analyzes your writing and identifies weaknesses such as repeated words, excessive adverbs, slow pacing, etc, etc. In all, the Wizard provides over a dozen different reports on the manuscript.

Q. Why do writers need this?

Have you ever tried to edit your own writing? (Hopefully all writers will answer YES to this question!)

The trouble with self-editing is that it is easy to miss problems. You read what you THINK is on the page, not what is actually there. Also, when you read your manuscript, you might realize that something is wrong, but not be able to identify the source of the problem.

The Wizard solves these issues by showing you exactly where the problems are. With the wizard, you not only edit better, you edit faster, too.

Q. Where did the Wizard come from?

I wrote the Wizard in my spare time. What can I say, I’m a geek at heart J

I’m also a computational linguist. (That’s someone who writes programs to help computers understand human languages). So I took what I knew about analyzing language and applied it to the problem of editing.

I had fun writing the Wizard and I was really surprised (and pleased) when I discovered that other writers liked the Wizard, too. In fact, I was thrilled when Writer’s Digest gave it their seal of approval by naming it as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers.

Q. What else is at AutoCrit?

AutoCrit is also the home of the AutoCrit Writing Advice Center, a free library of articles on all aspects of writing fiction. The articles are written by published authors, including the lovely and talented Lucy Monroe!

It’s a great resource for writers of all levels. I know I’m a constant visitor to the library when I have a writing question.

Q. Are there any prizes today?

From reading Lucy’s blog, I know you guys like prizes J I wouldn’t want to disappoint you, so I’m going to offer a free Platinum membership to the AutoCrit Editing Wizard to a lucky reader.
To be eligible, you need to bare your soul and tell me: What’s the weakest link in your writing? What do you wish you could do better?

My weak link is character development. I find it easy to think of plots, but hard to find the characters to go in that plot.

‘Fess up. What’s your weakest link? I’ll choose a winner at random from those who enter.

Thanks for letting me visit today. It’s been a pleasure!

Note from Lucy

Hey, all...I've been sitting here and debating how real I should be with you all. Yes, you are my homegirls (and guys), but still, this is a pretty public forum. But that's not a bad thing, I guess.

Here's the scoop, with my flu and then my cold, I managed to get my sleep schedule flipped again, which led to another bout of sleep deprivation. VERY frustrating and once again, I found myself behind in both my writing and keeping up with email and my blog, not to mention my promotion stuff. Thank goodness for my PA and Promotions Coordinator. :)

I have slept at night two nights in a row and written 54 pages in the last two days as well (funny how getting normal sleep is connected so closely to my ability to write), so I'm feeling good and hopeful of catching up without getting as overwhelmed as the last time my sleep pattern went cattawumpus. However, I am committed to turning my book in on time and that means I have to really limit my online activity.

I'll be posting guest blogs frequently and may post a personal note or two, but watch my progress on the book in the sidebar. It's due in a couple of weeks and then I will be back with you all on a regular basis. Please make my guest bloggers feel welcome. Trust me, I've tried to schedule people you all will find interesting and enjoy interacting with.

You all are wonderful and thanks for always being so understanding and kind!

Hugs and blessings,


P.S. A cool piece of news - The Rancher's Rules received a Reviewer's Choice Award from CataRomance!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Guest Blogger - Kate Hewitt

First of all, a huge thanks to Lucy for inviting me to blog here. As a newly published author, I’m thrilled to be asked to contribute. Thanks, Lucy!!

I received ‘The Call’ from Harlequin almost a year ago now, for my Presents book The Italian’s Chosen Wife, out on the shelves this month. Just today I sent my fifth book to my editor, so it’s been a crazy, wonderful whirlwind of a year.

Lucy was one of the Presents authors who inspired me with the in-depth emotional conflicts she portrays in many of her books. What struck me about her books was how the hero and heroine actually talked about their issues. Sounds simple, right? Yet so often a plot hinges on that missing conversation—the one the hero and heroine should have but always inexplicably shy away from. The conversation that, if it happened, means the story would end 100 pages sooner. You know the one I mean?

When I read Lucy’s book His Royal Lovechild, I loved how Danette and Marcello had to work through their problems together. They knew exactly what was keeping them apart because they were honest about their feelings—they had a conversation about it rather than always shying away from the issues. Ultimately they had to change and stretch and grow in order to have their happy ending. That, I decided, was the kind of book I wanted to write—a book where the hero and heroine always have ‘that conversation’.

It’s tough—and wonderful—to write about people who seem incompatible, who don’t think they can find their happily-ever-afters with each other, and then to make it happen—as well as make it believable! I love stories that show the redeeming and transforming power of love, and that can only happen when the conflict keeping them apart is based on more than a misunderstanding.

In The Italian’s Chosen Wife, Alessandro and Meghan are both running away from their pasts and the mistakes they made. They can’t forgive themselves, but ultimately they can forgive each other… although it takes a lot of stormy soul-searching for them to get there.

What kind of emotional conflict do you like to read about in a romance? Are there any issues or conflicts you’d like to see but haven’t yet?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

On the Mend & Some Special News :)

This cold is hanging on longer than I'd like, but I'm not a walking Zombie anymore! Yay!!! However, here's your giggle for the day. Don't you think it's just wrong that a 40 year old woman coughs so hard she wets herself? I'm not even kidding and it's happened more than once. Thankfully, no matter how yucky I feel, God shows me something to smile about. And honestly...when I was done coughing...I laughed. The indignity of it all...

I'm so grateful that DQ was willing to post a New Year's blog for me. Thank you, darling daughter of mine! And didn't she look absolutely gorgeous on New Year's Eve? She is such a delight to me. The greatest pleasure as a mom I feel is the knowledge that her outward beauty is a mere reflection of what God has blessed her with on the inside.

I absolutely loved reading her blog and your responses. Thank you all for sharing and for so many well wishes. I'm so grateful to have all of you in my life in this way!

BTW - her blog winner is Stacy S!!! Hon, please send your info to my admin so she can get your prize in the mail.

Speaking of...she says she has not heard from Day 9 winner yet. That is mammakim from MA. If she doesn't hear from you in the next couple of days, I'll go ahead and draw a new winner. Don't want the prize package cluttering up Teresa's office area. :)

Okay, now for my special news. How about a build up? Something pretty cool and exciting in a totally different way? I found out from some wonderful friends (thanks Tisa and Lori Foster!) that Moon Awakening has been nominated for a Reviewers Choice Award from Romantic Times. Isn't that uber cool? I'm so excited. (For those of you wondering when the next book will come - I plan to write it in the Fall of 08.)

Now, for my really big news!!! Drum roll please...
I'm going to be a grandmother!!! My oldest daughter is "with child" and I could't be happier. Yes, she's young - no, they're not getting married. But she's making very good choices for her and the baby and I'm really proud of her and the way her younger siblings have responded to the news. My dear oldest will be staying at home and finishing her education (she's going to be a nurse), so our household is growing. We're making a second bedroom in the garage for one of our longterm exchange students and the other will be moving into an apartment in the summer before the baby is born. (S/he is due the day after my birthday. Happy sigh.)

On a more mundane brain is finally unclouded enough to be writing again and I'm absolutely loving this new book. The dynamic between Elle and her older brother (who just happens to work for the company she's investigating) is fun and fun*ny*. LOL And the hero is totally yummy. I'll try to remember to post his character inspiration pic and mini bio soon. Remind me if I forget. The book's got a secondary romance in it between the brother and a former flame - who is a suspect in the investigation. Chantal and Elle are total opposites personality wise, but where it really counts...their inner strength - both heroines have what it takes. And that's all I'm going to say for right now.

Well, that's all for now. I'm told sleep is essential for getting better. :)

Hugs and blessings,