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November 29, 2011

Plotting Princess Vicki Batman: Holiday Countdown Time!

Holiday Countdown Time!

Halloween is long gone and Thanksgiving and Black Friday ended last week. The stores have had holiday decorations up for months. Christmas is around the corner.

I have traditions with my family, and the most important one is watching the movie "White Christmas" on Christmas Eve.

Back in the dark ages, television had only a few networks. No cable, no videos. Just television. And on Christmas Eve, our local station would air "White Christmas."

When my grandmother was alive, my family and extended relatives went to her house on Christmas Eve. When we returned home afterwards, my sisters and I would turn on the movie. We knew all the songs and sang along.

I carried the tradition into my marriage, and when my boys grew old enough, they viewed it with me. (And yes, they learned the songs too!)

Over the years, my family and I have added to our movie repertoire. There's the one with the kid and the BB gun, "A Christmas Story." "Millions," "It's a Wonderful Life," "Stalag 17," "Love, Actually." And "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Charlie Brown Christmas," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

November 24, 2011


Thanksgiving's a rather special day for me. It's more than just stuffing my stomach full of delicious foods, watching too much TV, and napping away the afternoon. Thanksgiving is that time of year when I try to take a moment and reflect on what has happened to me; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I'm always grateful when the good outweighs the bad and/or the ugly. I have so much to be thankful for this year. In the last two years, so much has happened to me as a writer. I had my first book accepted by Carina Press and published—a feat I was beginning to believe would never happen. I was asked to participate in a group of writers, meeting at a fellow writer's home (big thanks Vicki), to help be an encouragement to other writers as well as work on our craft, provide moral support and just generally be there for each other through all the ups and downs.

This group soon became known as the Plotting Princesses. We meet twice a year, have some terrific food, fun, do workshops, writing exercises, brainstorm works for each other—in other words we're there for every member of the PP's.

November 22, 2011

PLOTTING PRINCESSES: Elizabeth Essex on Danger of Desire

It’s all about Character. 


Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to my next release, THE DANGER OF DESIRE, coming on Nov. 29th from Kensington Brava.  This is the last of my Georgian period Dartmouth stories, although THE DANGER OF DESIRE takes place almost exclusively in London, England in the year 1799.  It’s the story of Captain High McAlden, whom we got to know as a secondary character in both THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE and A SENSE OF SIN.

This book also introduces a new character to my readers, the heroine of the story, Meggs the pickpocket.  Meggs was both an easy and a difficult character to write.  Easy because I could all but hear her voice as I was writing, and difficult because she very well could have appeared to be an unsympathetic character—a conscienceless thief (at least according to the hero). 

So how could I make a character who was in direct opposition to a well-known, and well-liked, hero appear sympathetic to readers? How could I get them on her side?

November 17, 2011

Author Interview: She's here!!! Diane Kelly and Death, Taxes and a French Manicure

Hi, Diane and welcome to the Plotting Princesses. We are thrilled to have you here!!!

How long have you been writing? How did you get from a CPA to writing romance? I always enjoyed writing for fun as a child, but I began writing with hopes of publication in the fall of 2000, when I took a creative writing class at a nearby college.  So I’ve been writing for about eleven years, though I became much more serious about it during the fourth year.  Not coincidentally, that was the year my children were finally old enough to do a lot of things on their own and I was - finally!- free to devote more time to my writing. 

Years ago, I worked at one of the international accounting firms under a partner who was later convicted of tax shelter fraud.  I also worked as an assistant attorney general for the State of Texas under an AG who pled guilty to criminal charges relating to the settlement of the tobacco company lawsuits (he’d diverted funds to his cronies’ law firms).  With my employers repeatedly landing themselves in jail, I decided self-employment would be a good idea.  I’ve since worked as a self-employed tax advisor, which is surprisingly much more interesting than it sounds.  But I also realized that my experiences with white-collar crime would make interesting fodder for novels.  My fingers hit the keyboard and thus began my “Death and Taxes” romantic mystery series.

Who is your favorite author(s) and why?  I blog with a group of amazing authors, all of whom are among my favorites, probably because we have similar styles and tastes – Kathy Bacus, Amanda Brice, Christie Craig, Jana DeLeon, Kyra Davis, Angie Fox, Gemma Halliday, Robin Kaye, and Leslie Langtry.  My critique partners, Trinity Blake, Angela Cavener, and Celya Bowers/Kennedy Shaw are among my favorites, too!

November 15, 2011

Giving Your Characters Emotional Punch

By Michelle Miles

Writing emotion is probably one of the hardest things to learn. You have to do it in such a way that makes the reader believe that’s what the character is thinking and feeling and you have to make the reader feel it, too.

I write romance because I love seeing two people overcome impossible obstacles and odds to get together and have that happy ending. That’s what it’s all about for me. And, as we all know, romance stories are character-driven. I can suspend disbelief in the hokiest plot as long as the characters are unforgettable and the romance is timeless. Seriously.

I judge a lot of contests and in some of the entries I’ve read, the story is great, the pacing is fine, the plot is good. The author even has a good voice. But the characters are flat, flat, flat. You have to dig deeper and go beyond the physical description to make me want to cheer for your hero or heroine. It’s not just about how they look, it’s what they feel and how they feel it. You have to make me ignore my dirty house, the litter box that needs to be emptied, and the mounds of laundry to spend three hundred pages (or more) with your peeps.

How do you give your character that emotional punch?

November 10, 2011

Addison Fox: To Plot or to Pantz... That is the Question

My thanks to Plotting Princesses for having me here today!

So it’s hard to make a visit to the “Plotting” Princesses and not naturally think of plot while preparing a blog topic. In thinking about what I wanted to talk about today, I began playing with the concept of plotting and “pantzing” (writing by the seat of your pants) and how my process has changed somewhat over time.

While I’ve always considered myself a pantzer – and frankly, find the joy in writing the story the discovery of what’s going to happen – there is a roadmap. My publisher requires a synopsis/outline of the story, but I’ve got the freedom to veer from the outline where necessary as my story grows and develops.

November 8, 2011

Phyllis Middleton asks What's in your toolbox?


Writers do not only rely on our muse and imagination to write wonderful stories that intrigue and embrace our readers.  Our wits may be great to get the guts of a story onto paper, but sometime after that we have to face facts….they will need work. Our characters must be groomed, our settings redecorated and the plots require a compass for direction. So what resource is in your toolbox that you turn to for that help?  Here are some of my tools.

November 3, 2011

WHAT'S MY LINE? by Kathy Ivan

As writers and readers we are emotionally moved by words. Words make us happy. They make us angry. They make us think. We can be moved to tears, to laughter. We can even be moved to throw the book against the wall when it disappoints or angers us. But in every single case, without question, words make us FEEL.

Here are a few books that have memorable lines. I've put the book and author following it, but how many of you could have quoted the title and author even without the prompt?

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness . . ." (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." (Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier)

November 1, 2011


November, the month of turkeys, giblet gravy, CORNBREAD stuffing, cranberry sauce, family and football. Yes, that's right you can't have Thanksgiving dinner without a good football game playing later that afternoon when all you want to do is lie around and snooze off that tryptophan. Then there is always that one family member that you suddenly remember why you only see them once a year. So how many of you have had holiday disasters?

The first time I cooked a turkey, I left the paper bag of giblets and the neck inside the turkey. I also didn't put the turkey on to cook until about ten o'clock that morning, so we didn't eat until three that afternoon. Not my best planned meal. But I'll never forget the look on my grandmother's face when she pulled out that sack of giblets. She started to giggle and soon we were all laughing.