Just Write Cat

One Writer, One Journey

Logline Entry May 23, 2010

Filed under: Baby Steps, Baby Steps — justwritecat @ 4:50 pm

I apologize – I did not have time to post my entry for Bryan’s logline blogfest yesterday.  I attended an all-day workshop in Portland….which was fantastic, by the way.  I had the opportunity to meet an agent who has a partial of Set ‘Em Up, Joe.  She was incredibly friendly and kind. 

I will make time to read the entries for this blogfest and comment later today (I’m attending day two of the workshop this afternoon).

Cat

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Talk to Me… May 18, 2010

Filed under: Fiction — justwritecat @ 2:25 am

This is my entry for the Le’ts Talk Blogfest over at Fiction Groupie.  It’s a  scene between Joe Cooper and Detective Grace Gutierrez.  They’ve flirted with each other for the past few chapters, but now it’s time to put their money where their mouths are.  Or maybe something other than money.

Minutes before this scene takes place, Joe and Grace were at the latest crime scene.  Both were focused on the victim, but also on each other.  Joe heads out to the medial examiner’s office, only to find Grace already there waiting for him.  This scene is serving as double duty – for the dialog blogfest and the recent flirting blogfest I didn’t enter. 

             I picked up my pace and arrived at the lab in minutes.  I headed to the autopsy room, figuring I could make quick work of my examination.  I turned the corner, and then stopped.  Pacing the hallway was one Detective—stacked, racked and looking straight at me.

            “Gutierrez.”  I walked in her direction.  “Couldn’t wait for the results of my examination?”

            She leaned against the wall, hands folded in front.  She shook her head, then said, “Something about this whole situation doesn’t feel right.”

            “And what situation would that be?”

            She looked up at me, and her eyes closed the slightest bit.  “The murders, of course.”

            “Oh.”

            “What did you think I meant?”

            “You tell me, Detective.”

            She laughed, then looked away.  “I thought I might view the autopsy.”

            This was new.  And while I was intrigued, this examination called for a solo performance.

           “Why are you really here?”

            Her breath quickened.

            I moved closer, put my hand on her jaw and gently turned her to face me.  “Why are you really here, Grace?  Hmmm?”

            I sensed her heat, smelled her scent—musky, and sweet like almost ripe cherries.  She tried to turn her face away; I wouldn’t let her.

            “I don’t know.”

            “I think you do.”  I leaned in and kissed her, easy at first.   Her lips had a salty-sweetness that made me want to taste more.

            She murmured something.

            “Say again.”

            “I don’t…I’m not sure.”

            I kissed her again, harder, and her body become less rigid.  I teased her mouth open with my tongue and felt her lips quiver.  I kissed her lower lip, biting down just enough to make her feel it.  She moaned and suddenly thrust her tongue in my waiting mouth.  We kissed, deep and hard.  I heard her heart beat faster, felt the heat of her skin, picked up the scent of her desire growing stronger. 

            Suddenly, she broke free of our kiss and pushed me away. 

            She put her arms back in front of her and said, “I can’t do this.”

            I leaned back in and kissed her again, this time starting with her neck.  Her pulse quickened, and her arms fell to her side.  I put my hand on her back and pulled her closer, feeling the curves of her body, and the firmness of her breasts against my chest.  I ran my other hand down the curve of her hip, to the top of her thigh. 

            She pushed me away.  “I can’t do this.  I’m sorry, Joe.  I just can’t.”

            I stepped back.  Sure, I wanted her.  And yeah, I could’ve turned on that hypnotic charm and sealed the deal.  But that would be an unnecessary use of power.  And there was another body, behind that door, that needed my touch a tad more than she did. 

           I reached out to her, tilted her chin up, and said, “Darling, if you don’t like playing with fire, don’t light a match.”

            She looked at me, then turned around and walked off. 

            I watched her leave, then turned around and opened the door to the autopsy room.

 

Lost in Another World… May 17, 2010

Filed under: Fiction,Life,Where Did That Come From?? — justwritecat @ 2:59 am

Status Update:  Nothing new to report on the partials and the full.  Staying busy on current WIP, another urban fantasy.

I have a confession to make.  Uh, no – I don’t really believe in vampires (sorry Joe, please don’t bite me).  This confession concerns those darn demons of insecurity.  Yes, I finished my first novel.  And for that, at least one or two of said demons should have been banished forthwith and post haste.  Alas, either they found their way back or they bred like hell before they left. 

I allowed myself a couple of days of downtime after finishing the revisions on Set ‘Em Up, Joe.   Then a couple days more to decide what to work on next.  I’d already started the second in the Seeing Red series (the Cooper series), but thought it might be best to work on something else.  You know, Just In Case.  I had a few ideas on the back burner, but none that jumped out at me.  Unlike the story about Joe – that one not only demanded to be told, Joe just about threatened to go for the jugular if I didn’t write his novel NOW.  

So I jotted down a few things about each of those other ideas, such as audience & genre, primary characters, estimated word count (related to genre and audience), oh yeah – and plot.  🙂  I even went as far as working up a rough query for some of the ideas, just to see if any seemed to have more potential.  By potential, I do not mean in terms of marketing.  I mean in terms of being rich enough to build a world/story out of the concept.  I went back and forth between my list of five possible novels.  While I was excited by the idea of writing any of the five, none demanded my attention.  None of the stories begged to be told first.  That had me worried (here’s where the confession part comes in).

The way I figured it, if none of the stories held me captive – how could they possibly grab a reader?  How could I even stand to write it (or rather revise, because you have to LOVE your story and characters to get through the revisions.  And yes, I know there will be more revisions if my novel grabs the attention of an agent and then an editor)?

Then came the fear, the insecurity.  I was a one-trick pony.  A one-hit wonder, without actually having that one hit (yet??).  Joe’s story came to me, almost in its entirety, one morning.  I woke up and this guy is talking to me.  Nursing a scotch, telling me his troubles, trying to charm me with his compelling ways.  I outlined the larger story arc in a few days, complete with characters/relationships/conflicts.  I’m not saying I didn’t make changes as I wrote the novel – and especially after working with a developmental editor – but essentially Joe and his world were real to me from the start.  So real I easily became lost in his world at times. 

My family quickly learned that when ‘mommy has that look’, there’s no talking to her – because she isn’t listening, she’s not even there.  I was in Joe’s world, considering the possibilities, working on his story.  And those moments were not few and far between.  Especially when I wrote the first draft.  All I could think about was the story.  I mean, I couldn’t not think about it – you know?  And I know many of you understand exactly what I mean when I say this – sometimes, I wanted to be in that world.  I wanted to meet those people who felt so real to me in my mind – how could they not be real?  (uh, hello, Catherine? Vampires do not exist).  If Joe and his world could feel that real to me – could another world/story/character also have that effect?   For a few days, I feared the answer was ‘no’.   

So, back to writing those rough queries and sketching out the possibilities.  Doing all that felt fine, but again – nothing captured me immediately.  Until, one did.  Today.  While sitting with my family, enjoying lunch.

I’d been spending more time thinking about this one idea – working out the larger story arc, the protagonist’s personality and job and friendships.  But I didn’t have the plot – not really.  Or rather, not the inciting moment that had to propel her to change.  The Event that would force her to take that first step.  The Thing That Mattered, that made her and her story worth reading and worth writing. 

So, there I am at Panera Bakery, taking a bite of my salad – and suddenly, it all came together.  Just. Like. That.  I looked out the window, past the cars parked outside, past the trees in the distance.  Past the real world I was in, to another world quickly taking shape before my eyes.  I recall my husband looking at me for a moment, then turning to see what I was staring at.  Then I turned to face him, and he smiled.  “You got it, don’t you?” 

“Yep.”

And I’ve been lost in that world ever since.  Dear family – I’ll be back in a few months.  Promise.

 

The Importance of Being Patient May 10, 2010

Filed under: Agents,Life,Social Media — justwritecat @ 10:36 pm

First, an update on JustWriteCat’s submission process (or, the process of my submission which sounds wrong and sort of dirty):

As of May 10th, I have a partial out to four agents, a full to one agent, and one unanswered query.  Sending out the partials was certainly scary, but that full – whew, something about sending out your entire manuscript is downright nerve-racking.  Let me add that all of the agents who requested material were incredibly quick to respond and very friendly.  I know it can takes weeks, even months, to hear back on your query (longer on your partial or full), so I guess I lucked out.  Or the stars were aligned just right or something.  Whatever the reason, be sure you have EVERYTHING ready to send out should you get a fast response to your query.  In addition to your completed manuscript, you should probably have a synopsis and short bio ready to send as well. 

Not all agents will ask for a synopsis, but it’s good to have one ready.  Even if you’re not asked for one, writing a synopsis helps you get a better handle on your novel.  Sure, it’s a pain in the buns to write – but it serves a purpose.  For help, check out the following sites:

Guide to Literary Agents  – offers examples of well-written synopsis (primarily based on films).

Mastering the Dreaded Synopsis – straightforward approach, but be sure to check individual agent guidelines if they request a synopsis. 

Nathan Bransford’s Blog (his blog is great for a number of reasons) – practical advice on how to tackle a synopsis.  You may want to start with this one!

The bio was rather fun to write.  I don’t know if it’s good – but it was fun!  I felt like George in that episode of Seinfeld, where he keeps saying things like “George likes his chicken spicy.”  “George is getting upset!”  I  might have a “talk about yourself in third person” day once a month.  You know, just to keep the family guessing about my sanity.  Oh wait, they already do that anyway….  Catherine doesn’t like it when people talk about her behind her back!

An aside – about response times….I emailed the full manuscript to one of the agents this morning.  She quickly replied to let me know that she’d received the file, was able to download it, and was looking forward to reading it.  She also told me that given things were hectic, it might take up to sixty days for her to get back to me.  She even apologized that it might take that long.  Wow.  First, sixty days is really not that long for an agent to read a full.  From what I understand, that is rather a fast turn around.  Most agents state (on their submission guidelines) that it can take up to six months to read a full.  So, two months – I’m happy.  And, I think it was very cool of her to reply and give me a heads-up on the timeline. 

You may wonder why it can take months for someone to read a manuscript.  Well, yours is not the only one they have to read.  Plus, they have – uh – clients….  I’ve noticed a few agents post a query or partial/full status update on their blogs.  Often, they have something like thirty fulls to read (plus hundreds of queries).  That’s thirty books, people.  I mean, I’m a fast reader (I read Stephen King’s Under the Dome in three days, without neglecting my family) – but thirty manuscripts?  With more coming in each week?  Not to mention, agents do have a life (see below).  Anyway, patience people.  Patience and understanding.  🙂

That’s the status update on Set ‘Em Up, Joe.  And so now, I wait.  And write.  And maybe go a little crazy, but I can put that to good use (which goes back to the writing part).  Here are some other things to do whilst waiting to hear back on your query/partial/full/hopes & dreams  (about that last one – even if the responses are ‘a pass’, never, never, ever, never give up your hopes & dreams.  Never, ever.

Things to Occupy Your Time

Start or continue on your next novel (duh).

Social media – work on your blog, visit/comment on other blogs, tweet – get connected!

Catch up on your reading.  I checked out over a dozen books last week – with several more on hold.  I also have a few purchased books to read on my Kindle.  I’m set, for at least two weeks.

Hey!  Did you know that there’s a whole world out there, filled with people and places and things to do?  It’s called – ‘real life’.  Give it a try.  Sure, sometimes it’s not quite as…exciting…as the world you get lost in when you write, but sometimes it is!

Learn a foreign language.  Seriously.  We’re starting a Spanish program (as a family) this week.  Next – Italian.

Start a hobby.   I have a vegetable garden.  And not a small one.  My husband built five raised beds…and ahem, I asked him to build another one last week. 

Watch the first two seasons of Damages (netflix).  The writing is incredible!

What about you?  How do you maintain your sanity while waiting to hear back from an agent?  How do you find balance in your life (which is really the hidden topic of this post)?

 *Yes, I love Oscar Wilde.  And Stephen King.  And Jane Austen.  Go figure, I like variety.

 

And I’m Feeling Good… May 7, 2010

Filed under: Baby Steps, Baby Steps,Life,Writing — justwritecat @ 4:32 am
Tags: ,

One of my favorite Buble songs (yes, this is another post that references Michael Buble) is I’m Feeling Good.  My favorite part of the song is this:    

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good

(sing it with me, loud)

Whenever I’m having a ‘good’ writing day, I listen to that song and belt it out loud for my entire family to suffer through enjoy.  Oh, who am I kidding – they suffer through it no doubt.  I am NOT a singer.  Sure, in my own head I sound okay.  Not off-key too much, can almost carry the tune.  In reality, I suck. 

But that’s fine with me – the point of singing isn’t to sound good (unless you are Michael Buble, in which case you sound mighty good, oh yes, mighty good).  For me, it’s all about feeling it.  Letting the words and the sounds take you to wherever you need or want to go at that moment. 

In my ‘real life’, that means to a place where I can accept myself as a writer.  Where I can be okay with the writing life.  With all the worlds I’ve created (or want to create) swirling around in my head, with all the voices of my characters talking to me and sometimes yelling at me to tell their stories, with all the…possibilities.  Being a writer is scary and exhilarating.  Often, at the same time.  But when I hear that song, everything’s okay.  I see the road I’m heading down, not knowing where it will lead, and everything seems right somehow. 

Then there are times when I think about what I’m doing – or trying to do – and I tell myself – ACKK, where are you going?!? Turn back, idiot, turn back.  It’s not too late.  Go back to teaching, or baking, or something you know you’re good at.  But lately, those moments are fewer and farther between.  Which I think is good.  And anyway, this post is not about the demons of insecurity.  It’s about Feeling Good.

I mentioned my ‘real life’.  But music also helps with that writing life by creating the right mood in my mind, which hopefully translates to setting the right atmosphere in a scene.  Example – when I wrote chapter one to Set ‘Em Up, Joe, I listened to Frank Sinatra’s version of One For My Baby over and over again.  Like over a hundred times, seriously.  One reason is that the scene opens in a bar, with Joe easing into his night with his favorite scotch (and his favorite gal).  I figured a ‘bar song’ (or rather, song about a bar) would work.  And I think it did.  But the main reason I listened to that song is because my character (a vampire) was turned in the 1960s and was a huge fan of Sinatra.  Hence the name of the novel, which is a verse from the song.  In fact, my hope is to write a series with each title referencing a Sinatra song.  But I digress…

 So what about you?  Do you use music to help you write?  Any songs that motivate you (either when you write, or at any other time)?

By the way, when (not if, when) an agent falls in love with my work and extends the offer of representation I’m going to send out a post called “And I’m Feeling SO Good).  I’m also going to dye my hair auburn, but that really has nothing to do with music.

 

Last Line Blogfest Entry May 1, 2010

Oh my, when did it become May??  Seriously.  A few weeks ago I started a draft of this post, figuring I had weeks – WEEKS – to decide which last line to use.  And then I’m checking the comments on my blog and someone is nice enough to remind me that the Last Line Blogfest is tomorrow!  TOMORROW. 

A heartfelt thank you to Roland over at http://www.rolandyeomans.blogspot.com  for the friendly reminder, and of course a mega-thanks to Lilah Pierce for hosting this blogfest.  Too cool!!

Below is my entry for last line blogfest over at http://lilahpierce.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-first-blogfest.html

Ahem, I cheated a bit in that the set-up is way more than twenty-five lines.  More like fifty.  Sorry – I really wanted feedback on the last line in this scene and didn’t think I could get the flow working in less than fifty lines.

This scene takes place after Joe Cooper, ME, is called out to examine the second murder in as many weeks.  He is speaking with Detective Grace Gutierrez right before he’s about to chat with the kid (a seventeen year old) who found the victim. 

Now, I like the last line.  I think it’s somewhat cheesy, but that’s what I was going for in some ways.  Joe’s a bit of a player, flirts (even at crime scenes), and Grace is attracted to him.  But….if you think the line doesn’t work, please don’t hold back.  (FYI, Rodriguez is Grace’s partner.  Another homicide detective who is rather AR.  He dropped a spot of jelly from a donut on his shirt, hence the reference to him still looking at the spot).

Thanks for reading!

     I walked away from Rodriguez, who was still looking down at his shirt.  I headed over to the kid, and Gutierrez followed.  “Don’t trust me to get at the truth, Gutierrez?  I’m not like your partner, you know.”  I smiled at her, the most unassuming one I could manage.  “Occasionally, I give someone the benefit of the doubt.”

            She laughed, looked at me, started to speak, and then blushed.  She always seemed momentarily taken aback when we looked directly at each other.  And in those moments when I looked directly in her eyes, I could see the beginnings of her guard going down.     

            “I know you’re not Robert.  In fact, you’re so opposite of him and any of the other detectives I work with, it’s strange.”

            “Well, I’m not a cop.”

            “True, but you work with us.  You’re on the same side, but something about the way you conduct your business is different.” 

            “I’ll bite.  Different how?”

            “You’re focused, intent, and yet, also distant.  I know all of us are—hard, somehow.  No  one on the police force could be accused of not caring about a case, about the victim and those left behind.”  She looked off to the side, took a deep breath.  “You put on a good show of not caring, but it’s obvious you do.  Maybe too much.  And yet, I can‘t figure out just what you care about, what motivates you.  Is it catching the killer, helping the victim, or something else entirely?”

            I watched her, enjoying the sound of her voice.  It was soft and lyrical, and I thought I could listen to it for hours. 

            Her breath quickened and she looked at me, her eyes open and wide.  As if she was waiting for me to say or do something.  Not just to answer the questions she had voiced, but to give her answers to larger, more universal questions.  Maybe to explain why anyone cares about anyone else in this world.   

               “I know I’m rambling—sorry.  I’m tired and working this crime is a hell of a way to wake up.” 

                I looked at her for a moment, sensing what she needed to hear, perhaps what she plain needed.  And I wanted to give it to her.  All of it.  The answers about my existence, my life, my pursuits.  I wanted to tell her why I cared about humans, the same humans I hunted when my thirst became too great.  But, as always, I held back.   

            I broke her gaze, looked to the side and cleared my throat.  “You think too much, Gutierrez.” 

            Out of the corner of my eye I saw her body tense, her shoulders go up a fraction of an inch.  She stared at me for a moment, and then turned in the direction of the witness.    

            “And, I would never call you hard.”  I turned back and gave her a sly look.  “You seem plenty soft to me.”

            She snorted.  “Guess I was overreaching with you, Cooper.  What was I thinking?”  She smiled, not very convincingly.  “So the kid’s name is Ernest Smith, a.k.a Skinny Ernie.  Seems he was headed over to his grandmother’s so he could help out around her house.  He wanted to get an early start since he has to work later today.  I will give Robert credit for something.  I think the kid did see more than he’s letting on.”

            “You know I prefer to question witnesses my own way.”

            “Sure, I know.”  She turned to walk away, then looked back.  “Hey, Cooper—”

            “Yes.”

            “He seems like a good kid.  Okay?”

            “Sure, Grace.” The maternal instinct looked good on her.  “By the way, if you know where I live, why haven’t you ever come knocking?”  The embarrassed and possibly caught reliving a sordid-sexual-fantasy-involving-a-forensic-pathologist didn’t look too bad on her, either.