Can't believe it's been ages since I posted. The good news is, I've been writing like a fiend. Still working on stuff that's in the 12th draft mode (I hate this book at this stage), taking breaks now and then to watch the Chase for the Cup on the weekends (the truck racing is by far the best this year), and to rake leaves. Ahhh, yes, the eternal hell called leaf raking. I feel like such an idiot dragging leaves off the lawn and out of the flower beds. They're beautiful, for one thing. Carpets of yellow and orange - quite lovely this year. But since they'll kill my very expensive grass, I keep at 'em. Kinda like picking up after toddlers - a tedious, odious, neverending job, but someone has to do it. I console myself with thinking it's great exercise for those upper arms, LOL. Not sure if it is, but I have to give myself some motivation.

BLOOD CHOCOLATES has me at the keyboard when I give myself a break from revisions. What a lot of fun it is to write. I'm keeping Andrew Gross' TEN WAYS in front of me - 1)Pace 2) Think in scenes 3) Tight first POV (I break this rule regularly, but it's fun in first POV) 4) Riveting opening 5) Make the reader care 6) bad guys you want to hate 7) Four memorable scenes 8) the Big Hinge (book shifts tacks) 9)Widen what's at stake and 10)plot, plot, plot in detail.

The last one is a bone of contention with many of my writer friends. They feel as if the magic disappears if they plot in advance, because they already know the ending and that's no fun. I've learned to let go of the minutiae and focus instead on the theme (always!), the characters' growth, the internal and external conflicts, and the Journey. I know the last chapter before I start, but it's allowed to change if the characters insist upon a different ending. I agree with Gross that you need your four pivotal scenes before you start out, as well. They give you plot points to build towards, and thus, your pacing.

I'm amazed at the new Dean Koontz novel, YOUR HEART BELONGS TO ME. It's so different - in a very good way. A romance in its heart, it's about the corrupting influence of unfathomable wealth. Who knew Dean Koontz understood women as well as dogs?