Poor Purter and the Midwife Cowpoke

My good friend and sometime writing buddy Jenn Burke shared this link on Facebook last week: Romance Novels Generated by Artificial Intelligence. Briefly, computational scientist Elle O’Brien fed over 20,000 Harlequin Romance novel titles into a neural network and then asked it to come up with some titles of its own. The results are all sorts of interesting and hilarious.

I find this project fascinating for a number of reasons—most of which have to do with the sorting of data. If we take the results posted by Ms. O’Brien as even a random sampling, the number of times the word “baby” pops up in the AI generated titles would tend to suggest that an inordinate number of Harlequin Romances are about pregnancy and babies. Continue reading

The Myth of the Perfect Draft

When I wrote my first book I had absolutely no concept of how the whole process worked. I wrote a story, read it over, sent it to a friend—who read it over and said very nice things—corrected a few typos, and sent it in. The publisher offered me a contract, and I thought, “Wow, that was easy.”

Then I got my first developmental edit letter.

I’ve had worse. I didn’t cry over that first one. But I did wonder why they’d bought the book if they wanted me to rewrite it. I decided that a first draft—revised, but not really changed—was the idea and that publishers bought ideas they liked and helped you shape them into books.

I can hear you laughing. Continue reading

Thursdays Are for Hiking

Sometimes to write better, you have to not write. I’ve been pushing hard the past couple of weeks trying to meet a deadline for Uncommon Ground (better known as my Aliens in New York project). I need to be done by tomorrow, and I’m maybe 3-4k from the end. Doable, right? Even more doable if I hadn’t taken day to hit the Appalachian Trail today.

Lying in bed last night, however, feeling as though my brain was leaking from my ears, and wondering if the pain in my shoulder was going to keep me up, I decided that the best thing I could do today was not write.

So I got up this morning and wrote 1300 words. Continue reading

Five Years!

WordPress just informed me that my blog is five years old today! In honour of my blog’s fifth birthday, I thought I’d share five of my favourite posts.

Ramble: The Weed

This is one of my earliest posts, and one I reread on occasion because it reminds me of the fact that sometimes, it’s the little that make life special.

May 6, 2012

I try to spend at least an hour a day in the garden. It’s good for my daughter and it’s good for me.  I’m sure it’s good for the garden too.  As soon as the spring sun peeps from behind the last winter cloud, I don my sturdy boots and stiff new gloves and set to work pulling out all those weeds I was able to ignore when snow or leaves covered the ground.

When I lived in Texas, I battled with more than weeds. The previous year’s vegetable patch often continued to enjoy success in the form of tomato and cucumber seedlings popping up in the most unexpected places—usually the middle of the lawn. Often, I mused that if we went away for a month, we would return to find a tangle of cucumber vines covering the lawn, robust tomato plants poking up between. Sometimes, instead of plucking them out, I just mowed them down, curious to see if they would shoot back up by the end of the week.  They did.

Continue reading

Magical Moments

That is seriously the corniest title for a blog post ever, but I’m sticking with it. I spent the past weekend at the Create Something Magical Conference in Iselin, NJ, organised by Liberty States Fiction Writers.

Despite having depleted a good deal of my conference mojo at the Dreamspinner Author Workshop in Florida earlier this month, I had a really great time. More importantly, I met a lot of fantastic people, learned some new tricks, added a new story idea to my Big Book of Ideas (thanks, Felice Stevens) and came away freshly inspired to create (something magical). Continue reading

Following Your Heart

following-your-heartIf I had to pick the underlying theme of my many blog posts about writing, it would be me asking: what am I doing this for? The question isn’t unique to my profession, or even to creatives. From time to time, we all take a look at what we’re doing and ask why. Or we should. And it’s not something you can ask once and be done. The answer changes with time.

I set goals at the beginning of this year and felt pretty good about not only the direction I wanted to take my career, but in the number of books I wanted to write. It was a good number. Very doable. Then I got to work and started writing the wrong book. Henry and Marc’s HEA was number three on my list of projects. I went with it, though, and by the time I hit the 6k mark, I’d entered that wonderful phase where the story started to tell itself. I was golden; writing 1500-2000 words every morning, revising a two or three chapters of Irresistible, the novel I drafted last year, every afternoon.

Then I finished drafting this second book and suddenly had two books to revise. Revisions on Irresistible had ground to a halt as Counting on You hit the phase where all I wanted to do was write another chapter so I could see what happened next. This is a good thing, usually. It’s one of my favourite parts of drafting. I rushed past the finish line, took a few days to recharge, and started revising Counting on You.

So I was attacking my To Do list out of order. What did it matter, so long as I got all the books written by the end of the year? Continue reading

Looking Ahead

reading-writing-resolving-1Every January I tell myself I’m going to post about my writing goals for the year—and then I don’t. Admittedly, I wondered if anyone would care about what I was up to. Right now, though? This post is for me. My whole blog is pretty much for me. ❤ So here’s a resolution post with an outline for some reading goals, some personal goals and quick ramble about all the books I’d like to write. Continue reading