Monday, January 18, 2010

Failure IS an Option

Missy Tippens, here. And I wanted to share a moment with you today. An ah-ha! moment I had recently after reading a document from Natasha Kern (my FABULOUS new agent, by the way!). What she said was like a knock upside the head for me.

And I’m sharing this, knowing good and well that some of you may think, well, duh, Missy, you should have known that. So be kind, okay (Ruthy)? :-) Because haven’t we all had those moments where you hear something over and over, and finally it sinks in? Like the third time I had calculus. And no, I didn’t fail the class twice! I just had units of calculus in other classes until one teacher in college spent some extra time explaining it, and the light bulb came on.

So here’s hoping what Natasha said is light bulb moment for you, too.

Failure is an option. And she’s not talking about us as writers. She’s talking about our hero and/or heroine. The hero must be in an “I can’t but I have to" situation. I must save the maiden but I can’t because I’m afraid of dragons (burning desire vs. inner obstacle or vice). Keep the outcome in doubt. Failure is an option.

I love that! Can’t you just see a hero who knows he has to save the heroine, yet he’s deathly afraid of dragons? You have instant conflict! And it’s not easily solved. It can’t be solved by a conversation or clearing up a misunderstanding. It can’t be solved by sharing a secret. It can only be solved by this hero overcoming his fear/obstacle/vice—either that or giving up on his burning desire.

And if the outcome is in doubt, what do you have? You have a reader who’s going to keep plowing through the pages to find out what that poor hero is going to do. And the reader will be cheering for your hero the whole time—rooting for him to overcome his fear and win the hand of the maiden.

In my first book, Her Unlikely Family, Michael’s statement would have looked something like this: I must find my runaway niece, take her home, and act as a proper guardian for her. But I can’t, because this annoying waitress is acting like a protective mama bear, all because I’m unequipped for dealing with a rebellious teenager who’s refusing to go and who needs love I’m not capable of giving.

In His Forever Love, Bill might have said: I must go get my beloved, aging Granny, sell her house, and move her to Boston so I can take care of her. But I can’t, because I don’t want to spend time in the hometown I escaped, forced to face the woman I once loved and thought I would marry.

In A Forever Christmas, Sarah might say: I must help Gregory find the true meaning of Christmas so he’ll give his sons the gift they most want: time with their dad. But to do so, I’m going to have to spend time with him—the man who betrayed me—and risk falling in love with him again.

Okay, so what about your work in progress? Can you boil it down to a statement? I realized in doing this exercise for my completed books after-the-fact, I tended to do a statement that had nothing to do with the romance interest. (For example, my first stab at His Forever Love was: Bill must move his Granny, but she has a vibrant life (and romance!) and doesn’t want to move.) So I think if you’re writing a romance, the statement, and thus conflict, should include the other main character so that the hero is causing conflict for the heroine and vice versa. And the outcome needs to be in doubt. Failure IS an option.

Will you share your statement? Or maybe figure out the statement for one of your favorite books you’ve read?
Missy wants to thank Natasha for being like that calculus teacher--and putting this info in just the right words to create the lightbulb moment. And for allowing her to share this tip with Seekerville!


  1. Great point, Missy! That is such an easy way to add conflict.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Missy, this is great stuff and SO TIMELY.

    Melissa and I were talking about this in NYC last month. (Did ya' all note the name dropping there??? Just wanted to make sure you caught it.) :)

    "If a concept is strong enough to support the book, you should be able to state it simply."


    Marc's dysfunctional life needs no more emotional baggage, Kayla comes equipped with way more than her fair share.


    Craig needs no reminders of the mistakes he's made, Sarah IS the reminder.


    No way, no how does Brooks deserve a second chance at a family, Rita comes with three scarred kids attached.

    And then from those basic concepts you can derive blurbs, back cover, front cover, etc.

    Here's an example:

    Former Delta operative Brooks Harriman doesn't want, need or deserve a family. Been there, done that, crashed and burned, wasn't pretty.

    But twelve years of AA and sobriety have taught Brooks a few things, so when God plunks Rita Slocum into AA, a financially strapped widow with three kids, one of whom is a perfect brat, can the decorated hero of multiple conflicts take on the biggest risk of all, a Made To Order Family?

    That's a quick 'blurb' done from Brooks' conflict, his pov.

    Missy, I love that you brought this up, because it was one of those things I struggled with for a long time, how to 'SEE' the basic story, and build from there.

    I brought coffee. Lots of coffee. And I'm sick of diets so it's Krispy Kreme for everyone and yes, I know, it's been a long time, but I did it...



    Sausage. Eggs. Extra Sharp cheddar cheese (no wimpy cheese here!) Hash browned potatoes. Seasonings. A little onion.

    All fried up in olive oil. (and other than the potatoes, this is Atkins friendly, but you might have a heart attack while you lose weight so have aspirin handy, okay?)

    Juices are to your right. A vast array of K-Cup coffees are available to the more discerning coffee afficionados among us. I installed my Keurig coffee maker (I have become ADDICTED, I refuse to lie and pretend I'm not. I got one for Christmas and I LOVE the thing. Oh my stars, you realize Starbucks may go out of business or at the very least experience a huge downfall of sales in WNY since Ruthy Goes Keurig. Flavored coffees at the push of a button. Really GOOD flavored coffees. And teas. Oh mylanta, I'm talking way too much. Missy's going to hit me.

    Love you guys.

    Eat. Drink. Be merry!


  3. Boy, I had an inspired moment and was ready to submit, but I just couldn't keep the wording vague enough.

    When contest season is over I'll just blurt it out one day, okay?

    Ruthy and Missy jetting off to their publisher in NYC. Wow. You must be like real authors or something! Did you have to check your bling at the gate? Wear those oversized sunglasses?

    Which reminds me I really need to get to Walmart (the closest thing I have to a book store within an hour's drive) and see if they're carrying the Steeple Hill line out here in Amish country aka Wine country. Hmmmmm.

  4. Good morning, everyone! Happy MLK Day!

    The coffee's on, and I'm about to see who's alrady been by so early...

  5. Edwina! Boy oh boy, you sure get up at an ungodly hour! Of course, I'm looking at your photo, and it's as if you're up, professionally dressed and ready for work at 4:30 am. I guess there's a chance you're still in your p.j.'s with you hair standing on end like mine is. :) (Don't tell me if you really are ready for work and looking spiffy, okay?) LOL

    Thanks for stopping by! I see Ruthy has also been by, so hopefully there's good food waiting...

  6. Gosh, Ruthy, I take a jab at you in my post, and what do you do? You come by and play all nice and even bring Krispy Kreme! And frittata! I promise never to malign you again. On my honor...

    Thanks so much for sharing your examples (and your Keurig). I love how you used it to show you can use this method to pretty much write your cover blurb. When I summarized A Forever Christmas for my post, I realized it sounded a lot like the cover blurb SH came up with!

    I've learned those editors like a one-liner. It does help focus the story. And it gives the marketing department something to work with. Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method is great for showing you how to do this: start with a one-liner and build from there. I bought his program and used it on my most recent proposal.

    I can NOT wait for your books! They sounds fantastic!!

  7. Debra, I wish I could say I've hopped on a plane in all my bling and have headed to NY to see my editor! :) But alas, it's only Ruthy who did that. Well, she drove since she's in NY state. But she got to go tour the offices and spend time with everyone there. Oh, and Cheryl got to do it as well when she went for a big book event! All I've seen of SH are the pictures. But maybe one day...

    At least a gal can dream. And at least I've met most of the editors at conferences. They're all wonderful!

    Hey! I hope you find some books at Walmart. Mine is usually well stocked with 10 or 12 copies of each LI/LIH/LIS every month. Way more than my closest big name chain book store (which shall remain nameless because they don't carry ANY category books, and I refuse to go there anymore!)

  8. That's a great test, Missy. It's hard to nail it down in just a few words, but it's so worth the work.

  9. Okay Missy, I'm taking a stab at it (using yours as a template):
    Rachel wants to get Ty to see that the world does not actually rest on his shoulders,to trust that the family business won't crumble without him, and that his adult brother, who happens to have Down's Syndrome, can function independently outside Ty's control. But she can't, because she's an outsider to this close knit town, and the more she tries to get Ty to agree to let Danny live his own life, the more Ty's well-ordered life -- and her own-- become unraveled.
    Yes, I know it could use more work. But, I'm finally acting on my 2010 Resolution-- coming out of lurkdom & sharing my writing.
    "Failure is an option" gave me some courage this a.m. Thanks!
    P.S. That fritatta sounds delicious!

  10. OMIGOSH, Missy!!! Your fabulous post made the lightbulb go on for me too ... FINALLY!!

    I'll be the very first to admit that I have trouble narrowing things like conflict or premise into one, neat, succinct sentence ... and uh ... I think Natasha would be the second to acknowledge that!!

    So THANK YOU for this wonderful post and Natasha for the wonderful tip because it's clarified the process for me quite a bit. Here's my stab at it for my current WIP, A Hope Undaunted in regard to the statement of my hero, Cluny McGee:

    As a street orphan without family, I'd like nothing better than to marry Katie and make the O'Connors my own, but I can't because sacrificial love for my friends (the only family I've ever known) is more important than romantic love for myself.


  11. Meg! I'm so glad you stopped by! Yes, this is definitely worth the work. And isn't it funny how one or two little sentences can be such hard work??! :)

  12. Pamela, good for you! I'm glad you're willing to share.

    Great job on your conflict statement! It sounds like a really good story. Have you sent it to contests or submitted it to an editor yet?

  13. It is SOOO hard to get that one sentence down, isn't it? I always go through so many revisions my crit partners want to strangle me. LOL.

    Great post!

  14. Thanks Missy! Working on this for the workshop in March, then I 'may'submit it to the Maggies. Along with the sharing resolution is the grow-my-steel-backbone-accept-criticism-humble-myself resolution. Who needs diets? Editing is aerobic & calorie-free!

  15. P.S. Could you please expand on that snowflake method you mentioned? What is that address? Or I could just bing for it....

  16. Julie, I love it! I'm just dying to read Cluny's story, and it sounds like you have his main internal conflict nailed. It's so perfect for Cluny.

    Thanks for stopping by this morning!

  17. Lynn, you're right! But isn't it a lot easier to work with that one sentence over and over than to work with a whole manuscript and try to focus it? :)

  18. Pamela,

    I never have figured out how to put a link in a comment (Mary, help me!)

    But I'll paste it here without the www. Just be sure to add www at the beginning! Or you can google "Randy Ingermanson snowflake"

  19. Speaking of food...

    Oh, wait. Was no one just talking about food?? Oh well.

    I just happened to think of something so, so yummy. After our Georgia Romance Writers meeting Saturday, several of us went to Ted's Montana Grill. Have any of you ever had their Kahlua Fudge brownie??? OMGOsh. It was amazing. No wonder I thought of it again days later at 10 am. :)

  20. I don't know, Missy, it's just a little blurb right. Sooo.. why does it feel like I'll fail in my endeavor to write it down?

    Oh wait. Failure isn't an option.

    Okay just promise not to laugh.

    It's a time travel.

    Marcus isn't afraid to face the past. He's afraid to conquer it and wake up to a future without Tessa in it.

  21. Missy, this is extremely helpful info. THANKS!


  22. Tina, I think that is great! Sounds perfect for a time travel. :)

    Thanks for sharing! See, that wasn't too painful was it?? :)

  23. Good morning, Cheryl! Glad you stopped by.

  24. Okay, Missy. It was a touch easier than pilling a tooth I guess.


    Here's another one...

    Pretty good huh? That one was really easy.

  25. LOL, Tina. Yeah, that is the easiest kind. [grin]

  26. Great post Missy. Thanks for the helpful tip. Since I'm starting a new WIP I guess I should sit here and nail that blurb. I have it in my mind vaguely. So let's see.

    Geri does not want to ever leave the safe and isolated ranch, so she can't fall in love with the man she rescued from a flashflood, especially when that man works for a relief organization that chases global disasters.

    Oh my. That sure helps. Thanks again Missy and Natasha.

    Oh and Ruthy, you still haven't had enough Krispy Cremes? After eating all of them the other day???

    But I forgive you because the fritattas are to die for.

  27. Sandra, thanks for taking a stab at this on your new book! So is your heroine's burning desire actually for adventure and to find love? But she can't because she's scared to leave the safety of the ranch (for whatever reason)? I love it! And I love the idea of a hero who travels the world to help people!

  28. Failure is an option.

    I'll try and apply this to The Husband's definitely easier AFTER the book is written.

    Belle has to get her cattle to market...the grass is used up and if she doesn't get them off her land they won't survive the winter.

    Getting them off the ranch land is hard, but they never consider failing at that. Getting them over that trail to market is hard and the only thing that will stop them is utter exhaustion.
    It is getting HOME that is hard, because the winter is closing in.

    And though getting home isn't life and death, leaving her cattle alone on her ranch a mountain valley so high the passed close up in the winter...might wipe out what's left of her herd.

    Silas, the hero, HAS to get Belle home. He HAS to get back out of that valley before the winter closes in because he can't be with Belle over the winter and not be with her as a husband. He wants it too badly. So he has to get out and he has to get back with a preacher and the preacher has to get out.

    I don't think I'm doing this right.

  29. Mary, don't give up! :) Just look at your last paragraph.

    Silas' burning desire: Belle--literally! LOL But he can't have her because all she cares about is moving cows. Or is there some internal reason he thinks he can't have her? Does he feel he doesn't deserve her? Or maybe he's afraid of dealing with all those girls of hers?

    Anway, thanks for jumping in! I have the book sitting beside me and can't wait to read another great Connealy story!

  30. Awesome advice! I'm going to have to think about it.

  31. Okay, great post! I am sharing my main premise line. The concept for my entire WIP. Okay deep breath (for me not you :) and here we go...

    A desperate husband, searching for his abducted wife and daughter, can't fathom why God doesn't care.

    I have had to get used to the failure concept, but my hero does plenty of that (I hope!).

  32. Mary, darlin', don't you go worryin' that purty little head about it, honey.

    These are difficult concepts at highly intellectual levels surpassing many a Nebraskan brain.

    My advice, sweet-ling?

    Find yourself a good New York friend with a heart of gold and you too can learn to walk the ricepaper.

    Oh mylanta!


    I brought cake, layered with sweet cream filling, chocolate ganache and frosted in gently stirred milk chocolate frosting swirled with almond glace.

    Umm... sorry about how much is already gone. I got reeeeeal hungry while I was making fun of Mary. Picking on her always whets my appetite it seems.

    Talk about a win/win!!!!

  33. Hi Missy:

    I agree with your observations. ‘Failure’ must be an option or else there is no tension or credibility. This is why I don’t enjoy magic-type paranormals. Any time the hero is in danger, he can just come up with a new magic spell. (Yawn).

    I also don’t like it when the hero’s ‘fear’ telegraphs a specific climax: like when a pilot, who has suffered a crash and fears ever flying again, has to fly a rescue mission to save the heroine’s life. (Yawn).

    I do like it when failure is a hidden ‘victory’. This happens when the hero fails in his goals but this very failure leads to his eventual redemption. In this theme the hero learns that he did not need to ‘win’ (achieve his material goals) in order to secure the heroine’s love.

    This is a wonderful theme. BTW, I think you used it in “A Forever Christmas”. I knew there was a reason why I liked that book so much. : )

    In my NaNo novel, “Three of Our Vampires Are Missing”, the failure of the hero and the heroine to separately save each other’s lives (which were both in danger) created the unique set of circumstances which led to the saving of both their lives. If neither had acted or if only one had acted (in attempting to save the other’s life), both would have died. This ‘double failure’ was the only way both of them could have survived. I call this the ‘double reverse failure as victory’ theme. : !)


  34. Casey, I took a deep breath with you! :)

    Nice work! Thanks for sharing.

  35. LOL, Ruthy. Poor Mary. But hey, at least we get cake!

    And now we can look forward to Mary's witty comeback. Gosh, I hope she stops by again!! :)

  36. Okay, y'all, it's time for a wake-me up coffee break. How about a nice strong cup?

  37. Vince, I love that idea of the double failure! It sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing it!

    You know, you're right about stories that are too predictable. Although I do love to make a character face his or her greatest fear. I guess we need to make sure we don't do anything in a predictable way. :)

  38. Hi Everyone,
    Missy did such a great job of taking that little tidbit and turning it into terrific insights about the engine that drives fiction. One of my other favorite sayings is: Anything worth doing is worth doing badly at first! (Plotting, pacing, character development, learning to walk as a toddler and everything in life that we were not born knowing) As you keep doing something it comes together.

  39. Wow, Missy, very enlightening! Leave it to Natasha to flip those light switches for us! You really got me thinking about the story I'm currently working on. If I tried to put it into one "want to/can't" statement right now, I'd probably fumble around like Mary was doing. Let me think on it some more.

    Thanks for the words of encouragement, Natasha. We learn and grow with every book we write.

  40. Mary, I'm reading The Husband Tree and loving it! You have a natural knack for getting story right like having rhythm or perfect pitch but it doesn't hurt to know consciously what you are doing too. Your hero's burning desire is to have his own ranch, a place to settle. It is definitely NOT to have a wife or be surrounded by females. In fact that is the LAST thing he wants. Belle becomes his desire but marriage is an obstacle because of his experiences. He has a big fat chance of failing because a) he is broke b) he would feel crappy about having her nice spread via marriage and would never feel it really belonged to him c) it would take many years of work to build up a new claim and d) he can't just abandon delivering this herd to get a stake. Belle does NOT want another husband! She wants security for her kids and a real break in a hard life. She can't avoid hte cattle drive because she lacks enough grass and they'll starve by spring leaving her family in jeopardy. One of her obstacles is needing to count on and depend on a man, especially one she starts to be attracted to. And definitely the kids who do not want husband #4 in their lives are a serious problem. You certainly have built the possibility of failure into this situation in many ways particularly because they each have a past that screams DANGER at the very sight of each other. As usual, hilarious, poignant and inspiring.

  41. Natasha, quick! Grab some of that cake before the late crowd gets here, that's a good girl, it's totally delicious, I promise.


    Hey, welcome to Seekerville again!

    And you caught me picking on Mary, but it's just way too much fun and she DOES make it easy, so I won't even pretend to promise to stop.

    But just so you know:

    She started it. Always. :)


  42. Hi, Natasha. Thank you.

    I loved writing The Husband Tree. For some reason I just let those two characters go nuts.

    Belle particularly just said ANYTHING that came to mind, she didn't care one bit what anyone thought of her.

    In fact she LIKED scaring people away, especially men.

    One of my favorite lines is when she asked the lady who owns the diner if she ought to hire Silas, while Silas is sitting right there scowling at her.

    The lady at the diner says she thinks Silas will measure up.

    Belle says, "Well, I reckon I should take your word for it. Whatever else I am, I am the worst judge of men who ever walked the earth."

  43. She CAUGHT you picking on me, Ruthy?


    Not a big trick.

    If she ever caught you bein' all warm and cuddly, now THAT would be worth a whole comment box!


  44. Three of our Vampires are Missing?


    The title alone ought to sell it.


  45. I'm finally back! I had to pick up my kids from the ski trip. And they were starving!

    Natasha, thanks for stopping by! I think you did a fantastic job of summarizing Mary's story. And now I want to read it even more!

    And Mary, honey, anytime I post, you just need to ignore it. You do all this naturally. So just don't even listen to me!! :)

  46. I'd buy it Vince.

    Just to have that spine facing out on my bookshelf.


  47. Look at that.

    Missy thinks we listen to her.

    What a novel idea, sweet-cakes!


    Sorry, laughing in upstate, must stop pestering nice people.

    And Mary.

  48. Also, Natasha, I loved your point about keeping on doing something over and over to get it right! It's worth it.

    I appreciate all of you bloggers who offered up your conflict sentences today. I think it helps us all learn!

  49. Ruthy! I just knew you'd end up getting me back for my jab at you in the post. ;)

  50. Hi, Myra! I've found that in my WIP, I have a statement for each character, but they don't really relate to each other yet. I've got to work on that next.

  51. Gee willikers, I come back and get to be happified all over again.

    Not only do I get the option to fail. Whoo hoo.

    I get to do it badly. And can I be frank, that's so me sometimes.

    That's me wiping the sweat from my brow, cause I was just reading my critiques again and I had myself in a virtual tizzy thinking I was never going to arrive in the writing department.

    And given the fact that I still can't walk right. It's nice to know I get to take my time.

    But mercy, will I ever get it right? I've been at it for over 20 years and try to keep up with the changes, but by some of the critiques you'd think I just started to write.

    Oh well.

    Mary, its a good thing Natasha gave a blurb for you. I was trying to come up with one myself, just to help you and be friendly and neighborly. Because that's just my nature, unlike others I won't name.

    I was thinking how Belle didn't want to get married again cause she wasn't sure how she was going to fit the next guy under that tree.

    But Natasha nailed it for you.

  52. Tina P., remember, I said only our characters are the ones failing! Not the writers! :)

    And regarding your critiques...the thing with critiques is that everyone has an opinion--different ones! Often in contest feedback I would have one judge who thought I was the best thing since sliced bread. Then another would leave me shredded and weeping. Or sometimes all judges would leave me weeping. :)

    Eventually, the hide gets tougher, and we're able to look at the feedback more objectively. Sometimes only after chocolate, though. :)

    Hang in there.

  53. I'm late. Mine might be,
    The hero must save the damsel in distress and marry her, but the damsel isn't at all the kind of girl he wanted to marry, he might get killed trying to save her and his older brother's always made him think he's a wimp, and the girl isn't really interested in him and seems pretty capable of saving herself.

    Actually, I'm not sure what direction I want to take this story. I'm just trying this out to see how I like it.

  54. How about true life conflict??

    Writer wants to spend holiday from work writing book but must take daughter to college daughter will complete her education.

    Okay, works for real life. Now let me run it over the finished outline I have for my book and see where I can rev up the option of failure!!

    Thanks Missy for this great post. I'm printing it off right now : )

    And thanks Natasha for sparking the creativity that makes Seeker authors so fantastic!!

  55. Thanks Missy,

    I appreciate your candor and encouragement, and you've just given me another excuse to eat chocolate.

    As if I needed one.

  56. Melanie, I love all those directions! Your poor hero doesn't stand a chance! :)

    Isn't the beginning of a story fun, when you have so many choices?!

  57. Audra, gotta love those real life conflicts. ;) But hey, you got to keep your daughter at home a really long time! I had to send my son back over a week ago. So enjoy that drive! :)

    Good luck with the story.

  58. I stopped by much earlier and have been thinking about this allllll day for three of my different ms. I'm really long winded so it's not easy for me to keep it down.

    Here it goes.

    With the Civil War over, Garrison must find his orphaned nieces and ensure their well-being before he can hide from civilization in the Colorado Mountains, but then he discovers one of his nieces is in the care of the woman who robbed the train he was riding on and also shot at him.

    This was a great light bulb. I understand elevator pitches and high concepts, but this just made it a little brighter. As you can tell just because I understand a concept doesn't mean I fully know how to apply it.

  59. Tina P...I seriously thought that empty fourth side of the tree was an ominous, looming threat to poor Silas.

    You never got that, huh? :)

    Missy, you know I had TWENTY finished books when I got my first oen published right? I'm pretty sure that counts as failure...and listening to you and to all the great advisors of writers... probably would have been a good thing.

    I seemed to learn everything as slowly and painfully as possible.

  60. Oh, here's a failure. My husband and I actually discussed this quite a bit because he HATED it, but he also really got it and understood why I did it this way.

    The wolves. If you haven't read The Husband Tree this won't make sense, but my husband was pinched that Silas didn't get to shoot any of the wolves. He really wanted Silas in there in the nick of time.

    I told him it was actually VITAL that Silas at that moment, be unnecessary. It was the black moment. The turning point when he faces that he is utterly unneeded and the woman will be fine without him. Which led to the final... let's call it...shoot-out between Silas and Belle.

    Silas definitely failed.

  61. Renee, I love that! He wants to just do a quick check on the nieces. But he can't just do that and retreat, because they may be in danger. So he's forced to get invovled. Nice! And I love that twist about the heroine. :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  62. Mary, I'm eyeballing The Husband Tree right now, itching to jump right in! The big black moment sounds really good. (despite what your hubby says). ;)

  63. Oh my this was a good post. It really is much easier to do the one liner if I do it in the POV of the protagonist. I love that.

  64. Dang. Too late for the frittata and cake.

    I could bring some wassail sometime, if y'all want to try it.

    I'm completely enjoying reading your posts here. What a wonderful topic today.

    Uhmm - Is it ok to jump in? I'm such a newbie.

    This is what I worked up as a synopsis for my WIP - a middle grade fiction. It's been shredded by at least one "professional" and needs work. Well (gulp) here goes for May on the Way:

    The Princess hasn’t been out of her cell in months. Honing her wits and skills help shield her from boredom… and attacks from the monsters (an out-of-control toddler and his wicked parents).

    What’s a young Schnauzer to do?

    When she overhears her captor planning an exchange, Princess has a flicker of hope, enough to attempt another escape no matter what.

    Though unexpected, plans can change for the better. She finds that great possibilities await those who grow. And though pain and hardship may pothole the path, she learns that love can conquer all, and that the path may just lead to great adventures... including life as a K9 spy!

    Yeah... needs work... I know...

    I'll go crawl back into my lightless hole now... chanting failure IS an option, failure IS an option...

  65. KC, I'm loving that SO MUCH!!!!

    How fun is that concept already!

    Princess the Schnauzer's POV....

    Oh mylanta, girl, that's a sure winner.

    Get it done, get it out there, have so much fun with it! My daycare monsters would love a fun series of stories just like that, shades of Howliday Inn and Bunnicula come to mind.

    Oh man I wish I'd thought of this first!!!! :)

    I'm totally rooting for the dog.

    And hey, I saved you food, Cupcake. We've always got plenty in Seekerville, it's just the way we roll.


  66. Im so late coming today. but love your post. I love where there is a chance of failure. it gives us mere mortals hope when heros and heroines may fail and have flaws.

  67. Missy, great post. I had one of those lightbulb moments last week. I LOVE them!!
    Then when you tell people they're like--oh, yeah, I knew that. And it is all in the way it's worded.
    Thanks for sharing.

  68. Thanks for stopping by, Tina!

    KC, so glad you made it! I love your blurb. Sounds like a really cute book!! I know my daughter would love it. :)

    And I'll remind you: failure is only an option for your characters!! [grin]

  69. Jenny, thanks so much for offering your point of view as a reader! :)

    Lindi, I'm glad you dropped by.

  70. Hey Ruth and Missy,
    You have the gift of encouragement, right?!
    Thanks very much. :)

    Of course - I sorta like the idea of it... But what will the agents and publishers say?

    Heading to the SCBWI conference in Houston in February. Will take another run at it.

    Through the blessing of a mutual friend, an agent has given me some ideas (including that I'd formatted the ms completely wrong - ugh - so that's what I'm working on now) - will re-submit first 10 chapters to her by TONITE.
    YES! I work so much better with deadlines.
    Thank you all.

    How old are the kids in your periphery? This is for 8-12 though I've had a 6 yr old enjoy it.

    Welcoming critiques/ideas from that age group especially, if any want to give it a whirl. (The 6 yr old suggested a glossary since I use some "big words". GOTTA LOVE IT! MOTW WILL have a glossary. Yes!)

    I'll wipe the melted Belgian chocolate from my fingers and get back to the ms rework.
    Thank you all for making a newbie so encouraged.
    Very much appreciated...

    OH, and Missy, thanks again - what a great topic today.
    I've learned a lot.

  71. Aha! What a good lesson. And aren't the stories that stick with you the ones that you groan with the character because he really has no good choice. And then you are hooked and have to find out what happened. I think I got it, Thanks