The Three Days of Christmas

Christmas snuck up on me this year but I managed to pack in several weeks worth of work in a couple of days.  Lots of fun but I am ready to chill this week.

Buddy, Bella and I head to the woods to cut a tree.

Got the lights up before the snowfall.

Decorated late on December 23.

Put my Santas out for display.

My friend Kelly and her husband Jeff renewed their vows and I tagged along and snapped photos.

Made a trifle for my Mom's Julia Child themed Christmas dinner. It was a lot of work but delicious!

MB at Christmas dinner enjoying the wine and great food.

New Jersey Romance Writers Conference

I had a blast at the New Jersey Romance Writer’s Conference.  Met lots of new folks, caught up with old friends and attended some great craft and business sessions.

Driving to NJ.

Lots of great sessions to choose.

MB with author Julianne MacLean.


MB with fellow Virginia Romance Writer Lori Stacy.

Writer’s Police Academy

MB in front of a Hazardous Devices vehicle.

I attended the Writers Police Academy this past weekend in Jamestown, NC.  This event was jam-packed with demonstrations and seminars.  I attended a session on “Why People Kill”, an autopsy seminar, guns, profiling serial offenders and undercover work.  This is an event I will definitely attend again!

MB inside a mobile command vehicle.

Supplies from the fingerprinting class.

The county dive team demonstrates equipment.

Lunch with fellow recruits.

One attendee brought her service dog, "Sheena" a three-year-old recuse dog.

Chatting with Chesapeake Romance Writers

I was down in Chesapeake, Virginia this past Saturday speaking to the Chesapeake Romance Writers about Dialogue.  Had a great time and really enjoyed the group.   Thought I’d share a few tips from my talk.

Know Your Character. Character is the center of all my stories and everything, including dialogue, grows from it.   Does your character have a southern accent?  Does he speak with stutter?  Are his sentences short and clipped or long and meandering?  The answer lies in character.

SAID is not a four-letter word. Many new writers try to avoid said when in fact it is a very effective word.  Not only does it tag or denote which character is speaking but it is nearly invisible to the reader.

Avoid the Data download.   Dialogue can be a great way to reveal back-story but the trick is not to load the reader up with a lot of information all at once.

Don’t Think So Much. Often new writers spend a lot of time with a character’s internal dialogue.  Though it can be effective times, it can also slow down pacing.  If your scene feels slow, have your characters speak their minds and see what happens.

Read Aloud.  Not sure if your dialogue is working, then read it aloud.  I have my computer read back all my books to me.  It’s amazing what looks good on a page falls flat when heard out loud.

P.O.V. Switch.  Scene feeling flat?  Change the P.O.V.  You’ll be amazed how it changes not only the dialogue but the whole mood of the scene.  Who’s P.O.V. should you choose?  I always choose the character with the most at stake.

Silence is Golden.  Sometimes it’s better not to say too much.  Let white space or a character’s silence do the talking.

A few of the attendees at Chesapeake Romance Writers September 2010 meeting.

Banned Book Week Summer Reading

With 72 Days Until Banned Book Week I picked up my second banned/challenged book from my local library as part of my summer reading challenge.  I decided to keep it light this time and chose a children’s book called Witches, Pumpkins and Grinning Ghosts—The Story of Halloween Symbols.  Halloween is my favorite holiday so I am a bit biased…but I really enjoyed this quick read, which was chocked full of tidbits about the origins of Halloween.

Where did the symbols of witches, Jack-O-Lanterns and black cats originate?  I’ll leave that to you to discover when you read the book.   The book did say that cake and breads were a big part of the Halloween tradition hundreds of years ago.  Hmm… Check back in a couple of days.  I’ll bet I have a recipe that fits this bill.