What a Difference a Year Makes!

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Yeah, I’m a Golden Heart® finalist. Yeah, seriously. I’m thrilled and still having trouble wrapping my head around it.

After I got the call, I remembered a blog post on the old blog I wrote in January 2011 about starting the GH manuscript. So I went and found it. Reading it brought a huge smile to my face. Who knew what would happen with this story 14 months later?

I thought I’d repost it because it’s so cute.

By the way, for the most part, my initial vision for the story remained intact. I did figure out what Noelle said to tick Tate off, and hilarity most definitely ensued. 🙂

http://www.jamiewesley.com/1/post/2011/01/it-feels-like-the-first-time-starting-a-new-manuscript.html

January 4, 2011

Today is a banner day for me. I’m starting a new manuscript – my third. First drafts are my favorite part of the writing process. It’s when I’m at my most creative and let the ideas flow freely. I have an idea of where I want the story to go, but I love getting that zing when an idea pops into my head that makes the story funnier or connects to another, previously unrelated plot point. I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, so it’s all great fun.

However, this new manuscript is different from my first two. The first two had been rolling around in my head for years. I think 2002 for the first one, Seducing Ms. Right, and 2003 for the second one, Second to None. They were stories straight from my heart. I got to write about football in the first and a The Bachelor-type show in the second. These are two things I know waaaayyy too much about. I knew for years what the central conflict in the stories would be (in part anyway).

This new manuscript idea only came to me in late 2010. I was trying to finish up Second to None, but this story kept poking at me. The title, Tell Me Something Good, came to me first. I think I heard the song on the radio and thought that would make a great book title. The “Tell” part stuck out to me and the first thing to pop into my head were radio personalities. Both my heroine and hero are talk show hosts, working for the same radio station. I know they don’t like each other. They each have not-so-nice (but funny) nicknames they’ve given each other that play off the other’s name. Tate and Noelle are going to be fun to write.

However…I don’t know much else. I’m pretty sure she says something that hacks him off and then hilarity will ensue. I kind of have glimpses of their personalities – she’s a little uptight, he’s the fun-loving flirt. I think anyway. I have an inkling of how the story ends – that idea popped into my head as I drove to work this morning – but other than that, I’m not sure.

Basically I’m entering unchartered waters. I know I want to figure out their motivations and goals before I dive too deep into the story. If I don’t, I’ll have problems. Been there, done that. With Second to None, I managed to write a complete first draft without fully understanding what drove Jeremiah, the hero. Not good. I don’t want to make that mistake with Tell Me.

So…

I have a craft book on characters that I’m going to peruse and use to help shape their personalities and figure out how they complement each other. I’m also going to do basic background sketches, so I know their backstories and, by extension, their motivations.

I hope this helps me avoid some of the pitfalls from the first two books, even though I know there are others waiting for me if only because I’m still learning how to be a writer. I always will be.

But anyway…wish me luck in this endeavor.

What do you do to prepare to write a book? Detailed character studies and plot outlines? Or do you sit at your computer and let your fingers take over? Something in between?

xoxo,
Jamie

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Jam of the Week

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I’m a horrible blogger. You know it. I know it. I haven’t been inspired to write anything lately, so I haven’t. *hangs head in shame*

BUT…I have been listening to this song a lot lately because it’s on my current work-in-progress’ playlist. I’m pretty sure my heroine stops whatever she’s doing and nods whenever she hears it. She’s in this position and can’t find it within herself to care. I love it (the song and my heroine’s predicament). Enjoy!

Quick Thoughts on Whitney

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It’s been over a week since Whitney Houston passed away. I was sad then. I’m  sad more. I’ve been listening to her music and dancing and singing along. It makes me sad, nostalgic, and happy.Man, what a voice!

Two Whitney memories stand out for me.

1. When I was in high school, more than once we broke out singing “The Greatest Love of All” on the bus. Mind you, that song was 10 years old at that point.

2. When The Bodyguard came out, I went to see it with my mom and other family members. Up until that point, I hadn’t liked “I Will Always Love You.” It hadn’t spoken to me or maybe I needed my ears cleared. Who knows what I was thinking? But I’ll tell you as the movie ended and the credits started rolling and the song started playing, there I was belting the song out in the middle of the theater. Yeah, I’ve been a fan of the song ever since.

Whitney, I’ll miss you. May you find the peace in heaven that seemed to allude you here on Earth.

Jam of the Week: My Birthday Edition

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Today is my birthday. Woot, woot!

Anyway, last night as a birthday present to myself I saw Kelly Clarkson in concert. She was amazing! Say what you want about her, but the girl can sing her butt off.

But it almost didn’t happen.

When the tickets went on sale, I had no clue. I’m usually pretty good about keeping track of that stuff. All I know is a few days after they went on sale, a DJ mentioned it on the radio. I was like, “Say what, now?”

I immediately hightailed it to my computer and went to ticketmaster.com, but of course all the good seats were long gone. Here’s something you should know about me. I’m hella spoiled when it comes to concert seating. I don’t do nosebleeds. I like to be as close as possible.

I decided to wait to buy tickets. I’ve played this game more than once. It’s not uncommon for (good) seats to be released the closer the concert date approaches. So I checked Ticketmaster every few days. Nothing.

Yesterday morning, I woke up early just to check Ticketmaster. Nothing but nosebleeds. At some point during the day, a lone seat close to the floor popped up, but someone was faster than me and snatched it up. Boo!

For the rest of the day, I went back and forth about just getting a nosebleed seat, but I couldn’t pull the trigger. Spoiled, remember?

But I really wanted to see Kelly. But I didn’t want to watch a speck on stage. Oh, the quandary.

So yeah, at 3:30, the concert was taken off Ticketmaster’s page. No!! I called Ticketmaster and got a recording that tickets could now only be be bought at the venue. I hunted down the venue’s box office number on their website. I called and asked if they had any tickets. Nope. Sold out. This was around 4:00.

I decided to wait until 5:00 to try again. I called and got a recording. The box office opens 2 hours before the show. The concert started at 7:30. Fine. I finished up some actual  job-related work, programmed the box office number in my phone, gathered all my stuff and headed to my car. By the time I got to my car, it was about 5:25.

I called. Got the recording. Waited 5 minutes. Called. Someone answered! Do you have 1 ticket? “We have one ticket available, but we don’t sell tickets over the phone.”

I told her it wouldn’t be a problem. I’d be there shortly. It just so happens that I work close to the venue, my one saving grace. I gunned it, arrived, ran up to the box office and asked if they had a ticket. They still had it. I bought it and the rest is history.

Yeah, kinda ridiculous. But worth it.

I haven’t done a Jam of the Week in a while (ya know because I haven’t been blogging, but whatever). Still I couldn’t let my birthday pass without putting one up.

So yeah, this song was written and recorded before I was born, but we can’t let facts stand in the way of a good story, can we? They’re obviously singing about me, right? 🙂

So I present to you… Jamie by the Jackson 5.

I Discovered Harry Potter!

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So it’s 2012 and apparently I haven’t blogged in almost 3 months. Ouch. Oh well. I aim to do better this year. But more on my resolutions later.

So yeah, I’d never read Harry Potter. Nor have I seen the movies. I decided long ago that I wouldn’t watch the movies until I read the books.

I bought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2009 (I think) and it languished in my huge to-be-read pile. One of my resolutions this year (I’ll blog about them all later) was to read outside of my preferred genre of romance more.

Since I’d been meaning to read HP forever and I had the book, it seemed like a logical place to start.

Here’s what I knew before cracking open the book (I’d deliberately kept as uninformed as possible as to not ruin anything).

1. Harry is an orphan.

2. Hogwarts is where he goes to become a wizard.

3. His BFFs are Ron and Hermione.

4. Ron has freckles and people were really upset that Movie Ron is freckleless.

5. There’s some character named Voldemort.

I’m pretty sure that’s it. Or, at the very least, that’s all I can think of right now.

Oh, wait. I think Ron and Hermione hook up at some point in the future. I think anyway and could be so wrong, but I’m going with it because it amused me that Ron dislikes her at the beginning.

Oh, also, actually, I was a little surprised that it took a while for Hermione to join the gang just because they’re always presented as a trio at the movie premieres. Which I guess they are once she joined the gang.

As you can tell, my HP knowledge was severely limited before I cracked open the book. I was ripe to be surprised. And I was!

1. The book had a lot of humor in it, which, for whatever reason, I wasn’t expecting. I laughed more than once.

2. I got a wee bit annoyed with Harry when he first got his letter. J. K. Rowling had taken great pains to describe his crazy family and how they gave him nothing and wanted him to have nothing, so he waltzes back into the kitchen and opens the letter in front of them! Really,  Harry?

3. My word – it took forever to get to Hogwarts. I was past page 100 before that happened.

4. I was a victim of my own expectations. When he did get to Hogwarts, I kept waiting for something BIG to happen. He would have mini-adventures, but everything would be okay by the end of the chapter. Which was fine. This “criticism” has more to do with me than the book.

5. Sometimes, I would have preferred to be in Harry’s head more. Maybe I wish there was more dialogue instead of just telling us what was happening.

6. With that said, I’m in awe of Rowling’s imagination. All the stuff she came up with was amazing! She created a whole new world with its own language, rules, and even games. She laid the groundwork for six more books, and did so effectively. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but she made it appear effortless. I was enthralled and kept turning the pages.

I think it goes without saying that I’m looking forward to the next books.

P. S. I love Neville!

Thursday Links

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1. I love celebrity news and celebrity couples. (Keep the duhs to yourself, peanut gallery). But it’s always funny to watch TV shows or movies with stars who used to date each other. I love Gossip Girl (stop judging me) and Serena and Dan dated for a few years. And there they are on the show giving each other longing glances (sometimes). It makes me giggle. Anywho, here are some celeb couples who worked together after splitting.

2. I love Twitter. (Remember, keep the duhs to yourself). It’s fascinating watching it grow in importance. TV, especially, has latched on to it and now both are helping each other grow.

3. This made me giggle. Who wore it best? Mariah Carey’s baby Monroe or Kim Kardashian?

4. Hip hop is an ingrained part of American culture now, but the music genre is only around 30 years old. I liked this look back at one of the early stars, Big Daddy Kane.

So yeah, all of my links today were on the entertainment side and none on the sports side. I looked for some interesting ones, but honestly, the sports side of my brain has been consumed with the Penn State debacle. It sickens me, it hurts me, it pisses me off that football was deemed more important than protecting kids. I can only hope that the kids have found help or will now seek it out and they find or have found a way to live a happy, peaceful life.

I’m a Better Writer Now, Right?

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Last night I watched Revenge. It was only the second episode I’ve watched, so I’m still a little confused about some things and I’m too lazy to go look it up. Regardless, I’m enjoying the show and its intrigue.

Will Emily Thorne succeed in her quest for vengeance against those who harmed her family (something to do with her dad)? How much does she care about her boyfriend or are all her shows of affection just part of her revenge plan?

But, anyway, I got a nice, little giggle last night. When another character confronted her about her past, Emily called up someone who’s been helping her and said, “I need your help…again.” Dunh dunh dunh! Fade to black.

Why did that make me giggle? It was the “again” part. It was put in to tantalize viewers as we were introduced to a brand new character, Warden Stiles, and make us want to stick around through the commercial break.

But really? I’m pretty sure Warden Stiles remembers Emily asking her for help in the past. She doesn’t need the reminder that this isn’t the first time.

This probably caught my attention because of my writing aspirations. I’m more cognizant of word choices and what works and what doesn’t as I strive to become a better writer (and published). Even when I’m reading books during my leisure time, part of my brain is still focused on craft and the choices the author makes.

I don’t want the reader giggling or rolling their eyes, which takes them out of the story, when they’re reading my books. I strive to make my writing, especially the dialogue, as natural as possible.

I like to think dialogue is one of my strong suits. It’s my favorite part of writing in any case. I’m lucky (or crazy depending on your viewpoint) because my characters “speak” to each other in my head. It’s very easy for me to go to that place in my mind where they’re talking to each other (and thinking to themselves) and I just type it as it comes to me.

But I also like to read the dialogue out loud to make sure it really does sound as natural spoken out loud as it does in my head. I don’t want to pat myself on my back too hard. 🙂

I also constantly ask myself, is this is how people talk? Is there a better way to say this?

This process works for me.

How would I have written the scene between Emily and Warden Stiles?

Emily: I need your help.
Warden: Again, Emily?
Emily: Yes. It’s a matter of life and death.

Dunh dunh dunh. Fade to black.

OK, not great. But a little more natural – I think anyway.

What do you think? Am I totally off base? How would you have written the scene?

Only Me: How I Almost Killed Myself Trying to Win $10,000

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A local radio station, KISS-FM, does “No Commercial Mondays.” From 10 am to midnight, it’s straight music except for the occasional deejay lead-in.

A few weeks ago, the station started advertising a contest. Mondays would still be commercial-free, but if they played a commercial, the first person to call in wins $10,000.

I listen to KISS, usually in the morning while getting ready for work and it’s in radio station rotation when I’m in the car. At work, most of the time, I listen to Pandora and ESPN. I thought the contest was cool, but I wasn’t really motivated to change my listening habits for it.

So last Monday, I get off work and was driving home. The radio was on KISS. A song went off and on came a commercial. I wasn’t really paying attention, when all of it sudden it hit me that the commercial was kinda long.

And then my brain kicked into gear.

“Commercial?! Wait. Is it Monday? It’s Monday!
They’re not supposed to be playing commercials.
Where’s my phone?!”

I started digging into my junky purse with my right hand for my phone while steering with my left hand.

I found the phone with little trouble, but that’s where the real trouble started.

Have I mentioned that I hate driving? I’m not good at it and it stresses me out. I don’t like talking on the phone and driving at the same time because my attention gets split and it stresses me out trying to concentrate on both things at once. Remember that.

So I got the phone and I’m trying to concentrate on the road, and at the same time, trying to find the icon on the phone screen that would lead to me making a call. I find the icon, press it and get to the phone page.

But there’s a phone number already typed in!

Ugh. I guess it was the last number I dialed.

And it wouldn’t go away!

I was trying to delete it and drive at the same time and stressing out because I knew time was wasting away and because the stupid, wrong number wouldn’t go away.

Then the freaking screen just went black and the phone wouldn’t do anything. Argh!

Did I forget to mention that, in the middle of all this, I got honked at because I accidentally drifted into the next lane?

Fun times.

So yeah, I didn’t win $10,000. This other lady did. She sounded very excited. Hmmph.

Only me.

Jam of the Week

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The Jam of the Week is not the one playing on Pandora as I type. I heard it and thought, hey, that could be the JotW, but I decided to choose another song by this group (although I do love the song playing on Pandora).

The song playing is No Scrubs by TLC.

But the Jam of the Week is Creep by TLC.

I love TLC. I have all their albums and listened to them nonstop, especially CrazySexyCool, whose lead single was Creep. I’m pretty sure I got the CD for Christmas and spent the entire winter break listening to it and memorizing ALL the lyrics to ALL of the songs. Good times.

Creep was the song that turned TLC into full-fledged pop stars, which was cool for them, but not really what I was concerned with. I just remember loving the CD. It still jams today.

I wish I had more to say, but when I really love something, it’s hard for me to articulate why. The love is just a part of me that I can’t dissect. And that’s how I feel about Creep, CrazySexyCool, and TLC.

So enjoy.