Thursday, June 17, 2010

That's What Friends Are For!

You’re probably thinking I couldn’t possibly have enough to say to justify TWO blog posts in one week.



But this one’s easy. Sinfully easy. Delectably easy. Today we’re doing a “play along”, hence the title “That’s What Friends Are For”.

Plot deepening is a big problem in a lot of books. Plots that skim the surface, gratuitous conflict, staged scenes that seem set to manufacture that conflict. What’s missing?


Depth in water is measurable. Depth in reading is subjective. Dagnabbit, EVERY TIME WE GET SUBJECTIVE, PEOPLE GET UPSET BECAUSE IT’S NOT MEASURABLE BY KITCHEN-AID SPOONS AND CUPS!!! But since we’ve got our big kid panties ON, and no one’s got ‘em in a bunch as yet, let’s play subjective. Let’s deepen our manuscript ideas. We’ve looked at first lines, talked first pages, talked subjectivity. Now let’s jump in the water, get our feet wet.

I started a new book in NYC last weekend. On the Island, actually. And I love the concept of the book, the idea of people scarred through no fault of their own, trying to mend those broken pieces and forge a new life. In today’s world this kind of trauma has become basic, and that makes it usable. BUT…

I needed a little more plausibility as to what was tweaking my characters besides the trauma. As a child interventionist, I went through a wonderful training that shows how to identify anxiety in a kid and talk it down, point by point. Going through this helps me develop characters, I just go the opposite way: What is it about this character, their situation, their past, their personality, that makes them react like THIS to evoke the feeling I want in the book. Kind of reverse psychology. In reverse. Don’t ask. I have no idea what I just said. I’d need a psychoanalyst to explain it and none are available. (This always makes me glad that none of my children decided psychology was a great way to make money. Just what every parent needs, a kid to psychoanalyze them regularly. Oh my stars…)

Did anyone notice a gratuitous picture in this post???? Just askin'. I needed a fix.

So here’s what you do: Post an outline of your characters’ problems, your plot. Not an 18 page synopsis, but give us something to play with. And then anyone who wants to play can toss in nuggets about what might help. These nuggets get my brain churning and give me food for thought to reach that deeper place. I did this with the Seekers when I got home on Sunday (I love going away, and I love coming home.)

Between Mary, Audra and Pam, they helped me ‘see’ a background character’s depth and by using that in the story, I strengthen the heroine’s behavior and the reasons for her conflict. That way every step she takes SHOULD make sense, not sound rushed or gratuitous, or planted, or read like a set-up. To me a strong book evokes (THERE'S THAT MAGIC WORD AGAIN... EVOKE. EVOCATIVE. WORD PICTURES THAT PAINT EMOTION IN A READER'S BRAIN, IMPLANT IT ON THEIR HEART... LOVE THAT WORD!!!) feeling and follows an organic path to wind naturally. Think mountain rivulets flowing to streams, then to creeks, and then melding into a stately river… That’s how I “see” a novel, those discordant bits of water trailing and wandering, not knowing there’s a plan to the path, the river below….

There is a plan, but the river's origins don't 'see' the plan. Still, they find their destiny, just like they should.

So, brave ones: Post a story idea. It can be one you’re working on, one you’ve done, one you’re just throwing around in your head. W’ll play. Let’s see if our ideas stimulate your thought process. I know it works for me.

So do Mallo-Cups but that’s a whole other blog.

Today I’m giving away a Ruthy-Critique to some very scared person. Yes, quake in your boots. You should. I’ve killed before. Metaphorically speaking.

I will do a 15-20 page critique (and I’ll do it within two weeks, poor KC thought I lost hers but rumors to that effect were untrue. Mostly) for one delightful person who dares comment. Leave your e-mail and if you don’t want to be in the drawing, let me know that. I’m not offended. Really, truly. I know that not everyone is comfy-cozy about sharing their work.


Did someone hear a CHICKEN??????? ;)

Another gratuitous photo, binky-sharing "baby buddy-breathing" Part 2... ;)

I’m also sending out a copy of Waiting Out the Storm, to some lucky person. And this is seriously lucky because not only did this book garner 4 ½ STARS, it’s just one of those ‘fix the problems of the family’ books that makes you want to be nicer. Sweeter. Kinder.

I write these things to inspire myself. It’s an elongated process as you can imagine, LOL!

Jump in. I brought food. I work better with food. I’m a grazer, I don’t do well with meals, so I’m going to pick on food all day, hence: Donuts and Danish, toasted almonds (brain food and belly fat reducer) cream cheese and bagels for Walt, sponge candy for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of eating it in Western New York, M&M’s, sandwich fixings for later (yes, they’re on an ice bed in a cooler cart, Mary, for heaven’s sake, I wasn’t born yesterday!!!!) lemon cake (my mother’s recipe) and coffee. Lots of coffee. Diet soda. Iced tea. And iced coffee. That’s coffee with ice. Simple concept, I know. I’m a simple girl.

See you inside…



  1. Okay, I'll play. Or should I say cry? Ruthy is ruthless.

    Forced to retire from the Phoenix Police Department due to an injury, Samantha Reynolds misses the challenge of the job and the camaraderie of the other officers. Taking a friend’s advice, she packs up her RV and heads out to see the U.S. But her journey brings some unexpected detours, including the emotional kind. Camped in the Sedona, Arizona area in her motorhome, she becomes embroiled in the lives of three women and a child who also have suffered a loss. Beginning with encounters with a wild bear, the search for a lost dog and culminating with a lost child, will Samantha and the other women heal and find a new life purpose?

    And I have hot coffee. Caramel truffle flavored this time to go with all the chocolate Ruthy has brought.

  2. Oh wow. We're really going to put ourselves out there, huh?

    I have found a new addiction; Love Inspired Suspense. Ever since I've started reading them, I've had several ideas come up, but since they are not the norm of what I write, I'm not sure how to develop them.

    My heroine works in a business office of some sort (suspect #1). Once a week she leads a group of Christian Singles'(suspect #2) activities (why? probably to make her family believe she's dating - something maybe scared her off of dating or courting) She also leads weekend long trailrides (this is her escape, she loves being in the outdoors, it's like she feels safe in the open). She's being stalked (minorly at first-will esculate to dangerous proportions), but refuses her brother's protection on a trailride, and he incorporates the help of a friend who happens to be one of the Mounted Posse with the local sheriff's office. I can't decide if there had been a previous relationship between her and the officer (maybe high school). I would think, parts of his character would remind her of a previous relationship (suspect #3) (possibly controlling/abusive). I have no idea about him. I was thinking maybe he didn't have any surviving family, or at least none he talks to. So her family is typically tight-knit, but she's pulled away. He's never really had that-maybe raised by grandparents.

    Okay- I know it's not well thought out. I just came up with the idea a week ago.

  3. Sandra, your blurb sounds awesome. It would take me weeks to narrow a story down and to get it right.

  4. Ruthy, you've probably noticed that I never put my work out there for you all to play with. Plain and simple, I'm a COWARD.

    I'll have to sleep on this and see if I can come up with something when I'm fresher. (Is that a good word?)

    Anyhow, nighty night.


  5. I scared Helen.


    "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something." Princess Bride, Wesley.

    Love that movie.

    Helen, my sweeeeeeet thaaaang, you take your time. And I totally get it, all teasing aside.

  6. Ooooooo....


    Think First Wives Club. Not a great movie, but some interesting chick-lit/hen-lit properties...

    Humor. Anger. Caustic personalities vs. sweet/forgiving personalities.

    Why are they caught together? Vacation? Or the missing child? What keeps them all there?

    Does this have romance too, or is it more Womens' fiction? If so, I think humor is the huge contributing factor to developing the story to balance their pain, their scarring. Do you have a character (usually the strong "Maude" type woman) who's funny? Cryptic? Overbearing? I find (and others jump in here, please, please, please) for WF to work for me, it's got to have a hen-lit element of humor. (Think Calendar Girls) And enough romance to make me keep reading.

    Loving the coffee. Oh my gosh, where do you find these flavors??? Caramel Truffle???? YUM.

  7. Renee, good addiction. Your brain is working. And SHLIS got your brain working. I love that.

    Sometimes I let it veg in my head. Sometimes I just jump in and start writing (most of this initial opening chapter writing gets thrown away eventually) but it helps cement the storyline in my brain.

    Let's break it down:

    "Stalked by an unknown entity, Christy Barrington must risk her life and her love to regain her freedom."

    Something like that.

    She feels safe outdoors. Why?

    You need to know that. Sometimes I figure out those elements as I write... I don't always know what the 'triggers' are first thing, but I develop them as I get to know the characters better.

    She sounds a little too safe, predictable and boring. Do not be hurt by that, seriously. I would ax the singles thing (do you know how many Christian books have either youth ministers and/or singles coordinators in them? YAWN.... my opinion only.

    Have her be involved in something kind of out there... Unexpected... Something either fun or daring or totally unusual, that gives her a new 'depth' for you to play with as a writer. Help us, people. Let's avoid predictability...

    I love that her family is close (that can be good or bad and add to conflict because close can also be interfering and invasive) and his is non-existent (he could be classic loner type, maybe a jerk in high school or have no past relationship at all... You've got enough strength here to toss that and be fine.)

    Then you want to know why is SHE being stalked? Why is she targeted? Why her? That brings us to developing THE BAD GUY... What makes him/them tick? Greed? Money? Power? Sex? Lust?

    What is it about HER that draws HIM?

    Is he in plain sight? Or hidden?

    If he's in plain sight (a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor) then you've got the fun of having him interact and each scene has double meaning. His and hers. She sees/feels what he wants her to see and feel but the reader is in his head and realizes his intent. Drama builds....

    If he's unseen, then her feelings/intuitions/senses come into HUGE play. Why do things feel out of sync? What's going on? Why is her tire flat? Were those things on the dresser moved?

    Building suspense is usually in the second or third draft, so don't hate yourself if your first draft (when you sit down and write this) feels flat. They all do. They should. Otherwise you're taking too long and the clock is ticking... tick...tock...tick...

    You get it.

    Jump in, folks...(when you wake up of course, I realize it's 5:00 A.M on the East coast. Love this coffee)

    Add your two cents... Or more. ;)

  8. Ruthy ... you must DEFINITELY be a morning person, my friend, because your enthusiasm this early in the morning (5:50 AM when I usually fall out at 7:00 AM) is like three cups of expresso!!! WHICH is a reallllly good thing 'cause I'm on my way out of town (7-1/2 hours of drive time with my beloved laptop!!) for a funeral, so THANK YOU!!

    And, NO, I do not have a story idea this early in the morning for Mary's sake ... what, you think I'm you?????

    I wish. Sigh.


  9. Julie...



    I'm not so sure that's a good thing. We might be getting a call from the bereaved later on.

    Take care of that, Mary, 'kay?

  10. I think the thought of a Ruthy-critique has scared people away...

    Deviously, fiendishly clever on my part.

  11. Hey Ruthy!
    It's times like these that I wish I have started to write, you know?

    : D

    I don't think that I should be allowed to be up bby now! I didn't get to bed until just after 2am and was up just before 8am : / Hannah's not the happiest campers, if you can imagine. I have an appointment at 9am so I had to be up...grrrrr!

    Renee, thanks for the congrats the other day. It really was very good! Lol!

    I agree, a funeral doesn't necessarily sound like a good thing : /

    I guess, *sigh*, I've gotta go do something "productive" (as my mom would call it) (i.e. getting dressed, eating breakfast).

    I'll be back later!

  12. Hey, Ruthy! Do you know, we don't have mallo cups here in Alabama. But chocolate and marshmallows float my boat. And I never heard of sponge candy.

    I'm too insecure to want to be in the drawing for a Ruthy critique, but can I still throw my name in the hat for your book?

    I was about to offer my WIP, but maybe it's too complicated. Okay, I'll go with the hero. He's been raised in a loving family. The worst thing he's ever had to deal with was an older brother who called him a milksop because he'd rather read than learn jousting and fighting skills. He's betrothed to an equally spoiled, though not as nice, young lady, but he's falling in love with a girl who's an orphan and has been mistreated all her life. How does he deal with the fact that he loves this girl, but also thinks he loves the lady he's betrothed to? He has a duty to his betrothed, but he knows the orphan girl needs him. How does he tell her goodbye? Or does he? When he leaves her to go back to his betrothed, what are his thoughts?

  13. OK - I'll bite. After all, I've availed myself of coffee, pastries and am now drinking my diet crack - er, diet coke!

    I'm at the very beginning stages of developing my current story. Still completing the character worksheets. But here's my thoughts so far:

    Heroine and her 5 year old daughter have travelled from a large city to small town several hundred miles away to escape abusive ex-husband who just happens to be a police officer in the city they fled. She willl do anything to protect her daughter, even though it means she will have to set her dream of going to culinary school and owning her own restaurant aside for the immediate future.

    First person she encounters is a police officer, which causes her trust issues with men, and especially police officers, to overshadow everything she says and does.

    The police officer has his own secrets to hide: he previously worked in a large city and was wrongly accused of a "bad shoot." Although eventually cleared of all wrong doing, he became bitter and left the big city to move to a small town where he thought life would be simpler. Until he meets the heroine and eventually learns her secret of abuse from her police officer ex-husband. Putting two and two together, he realizes that he knows the police officer and served on the same force, although not together. He also knows he must protect the heroine and her daughter from the officer. But can he do that and prevent anyone from getting hurt? And can he convince the heroine that not all police officers are bad?

    OK - Ruthie, bring it own! :)

  14. Deb Marvin, it's never too early for lemon cake, and did I hear a chicken bawk...

    Just now????

    Slightly, maybe?

    Just wondering out loud. ;)

  15. Okay, Ruthy, I'll play along. This is an idea that I've been researching for the last week. I'm pretty excited about it but will admit that I'm still looking to deepen the hero's conflict.

    (Remember, I write historical romance)

    When her father dies, leaving the family improvished, Lady Abigail Hunt's stepmother's solution seems simply--sell Abby to the highest bidder on the marriage market. Abby runs, signing on as an indentured servant, hoping to make a new life for herself in America. A physcial assault by her master has her running again, this time to the mountains of Georgia to use the geology skills her father taught her to secure her freedom through the Dahlonga goldrush of 1829.

    Daniel Clark is a self-made man. Abandoned by his gambling father, Daniel has spent the last fifteen years taking care of his mother while learning the blacksmith trade. Following the goldrush to Auraria, Georgia, Daniel now owns his own business and has an apprentice--a young Cherokee Indian who is trying to assimilate to the white man's way of life. But while Dan makes his living from the miners, he has no respect for them, seeing them in much the same vein as his gambling father.

    I know what their conflicts are--Abby has problems trusting in God and Daniel has pride issues. Over the course of the book, they disagree when Abby tells Daniel his land may be rich in gold ore and wants to mine it but Daniel refuses; Abby's indenturement is revealed; Daniel meets his sick father in the street; Abby decides to testify against a white man in the assault of a Cherokee; Abby and Daniel come face to face with Abby's stepmother and the man she has choosen for Abby to wed.

    So go to it--I'd love to hear any and all ideas.

  16. Mel, first:

    My sympathy for the lack of Mallo Cups (eating one now in your honor) and the fact that you've never heard of sponge candy just shows you need more Greeks in your area AND/OR you need to visit WNY.

    Maybe I'll make that a prize one day. A box of Ruthy sponge candy. Shoot, I'd compete for THAT!!!

    And you're playing, good girl, it sure was GETTING LONELY here...

    And where's the help? No one has showed up except funeral girl...


    But that makes my fun that much better, so let's go:

    Hero was raised in loving family. Rich, right? Never had to do without? So while he's sympathetic to orphan girl, he can't possibly GET IT, when he's never had to do without. Submersing him in a situation where he has nothing (for whatever reason, geography, time, prison, hostage, or self-imposed to get the 'feel' of the common man) ups the ante for him, especially if she's the one who disdains him because he really is out of touch with the common class, the commoners...

    My beautiful dil Lacey has a saying she uses in the high school health class she teaches, when they talk about relationships. She addresses the boys, and talks about drama queens, crazy girls, the kind that do things just to get a guy's reaction, to make them mad... And her point is: WHO WANTS THAT? SERIOUSLY? AND IF YOU DO, WHY?

    It gets the point across that a relationship is built on a solid base, not games, so I'd suggest playing something along that line into the arranged marriage to spoiled girl part of the plot. And that awareness can be tweaked gradually, or it can come like a bombshell (I like bombshells, they're like wake-up calls, Connealy's great at them, and it leaves the hero seemingly SMARTER than getting it gradually although... Sigh... There's SOME semblance of reality in THAT!!)


    Wait, sorry, I just threw up a little...

    just a little...

    Oh, man, hold on, it probably works just fine, but right now I'm in total agreement with his brother. He's a milksop, a milquetoast, a wuss.

    So I don't want him to be a wuss, AND I know I'm just getting a bare-bones snippet here and he doesn't necessarily come across as a wuss, but I have to wonder WHY is he going back?

    Why does the reader think he's going back?

    And is his duty (now duty is a HUGE factor in life, and family, and royal families especially, hence the Charles/Diana/Camilla triangle we all know way too much about.

    So is his DUTY to marry this girl, or is it a family convenience, because the way you deepen it in either direction paints your hero in a good light or a bad light.

    "Are you a good witch? Or a bad witch?"

    "Why, I'm not any witch at all!!!"

    Sorry, random.

    Tell me more about his motivations....

    And thank you for playing:


  17. Oh Ruthy! You are sharing a talent with the world that we Seekers love about you! Really folks, forget her kids going into psych-analyzing, Ruthy is the story-psych-analyst of all time!

    Sandra, great plot and even more awesomer blurb. Teach me to condense like that, K?

    Renee, I'm with you. LIS gets my brain going, but then what do I do with it?? LOL!

  18. Edwina, classic good-cop/bad-cop scenarios work because they're so believable.

    Wonderful set-up.


    Her first:

    She's sacrificial, putting her life on hold to be mother and protector. Why this town? Is she hiding? Legally? Illegally? Most abusive husbands (unfortunate reality) maintain legal rights to their children for visitations, etc. This is a GREAT place to deepen internal and external conflict.

    Does he have a girlfriend yet? Knowing he has a girlfriend can deepen heroine's conflict. Feelings of guilt because she understands the possible danger of the situation, wanting to remain neutral, wanting to stay out of things, wanting peace and self-preservation. All important self perceptions of a post-abusive relationship.

    Effects on the child. These can bring guilt, pensiveness, poignancy, happiness, sadness, wistfulness. Kids are HUGE tools because their issues can reflect those of the parents' and that helps thrust things along.


    Burnt out. Jaded. Wants peace. Quiet. Holistic kind of life, country, small, bucolic.

    Loves to help. Loves being in charge. Maybe a little over-confident, over-zealous, over-righteous (not unusual for people in law enforcement).

    Feels shame for his history even though cleared. Maybe that shame is augmented by something in childhood, feelings of being less than or targeted, so he feels it deeper than most cops would once vindicated. And he can't quite rid himself of it, hence the need to move on.

    BUT... what's keeping him from her? Her conflict is plain to see, but what about his? WHY wouldn't he get involved?

    Anybody got ideas?

    What's his real story, what's holding him back, because we need to figure him out...

  19. Julie, honey! So sorry your trip leads you to a funeral! Definitely not a good reason for a road trip.

    Nap in the car. It'll do you good : )

  20. Wow, this blogging group is always challenging. I love it.

    I have been tossing a new story idea around so I'll post it. Sure, why not? And, no, Ruthy, you don't scare me...go ahead and take a bite out of me. I don't think it'll do you in.

    My new story idea is this:
    My heroine is a pediatric nurse who's recently been divorced because her husband decided their marriage wasn't working. See, she couldn't get pregnant and became obssessed with associating being a Godly woman with being a mother.

    My hero is a new single dad whose wife died giving birth to their child. (I haven't nailed down the how of the wife's death yet.) He's an accountant and a very by the book kind of realist.

    My heroine volunteers at a prayer hotline in an effort to help others to lessen her lonliness. A call comes in during her volunteer time that she answers in which the caller implies Caleb will die that weekend. This sends her on an adventure to "help" this man whose life may have been threatened. He doesn't believe her until a string of events convinces him that she may be on the right track in explaining him being run off the road, his house being broken into, etc. And, when they expose the killer will the threat be over, or will the person that hired the killer try again?

    During all of this, of course, the heroine will have to face her deepest fear, darkness, to help the hero. And, the hero will have to give up being in control and accept help from the heroine.

    I'm sure there's more details I'm leaving out, but my brain doesn't always function before noon when I let myself sleep in.

    Thanks for the bagels and cream cheese. I'm with Walt on that one. And the chocolate! I can't have any in reality right now so cyber-chocolate is just what the doctor ordered.


  21. Melanie? He'd rather read than joust? Surely you jest : )

    Ha, I just couldn't resist : )

    Ruthy, great topic. I'm so irritated I have to go to work and can't stay to play.

    I'll try and catch up later.

    Have fun everyone!!

  22. HI Ruthy, I'm here, but you're doing a great job. Can't beat the Ruthster for great insight into the plot and character.

    Helen see why it is good to be afraid??? She is ruthless.

    Renee, I like the trail rides your heroine takes. You can put in a lot of outdoor action. And being stalked. Great suspense element. I'm with Ruthy on skipping the singles thing. Have her activity related to her trailrides. btw is she riding a horse or ATV? The stalking could be related to her activity. Like she's saving some tree or bird and this is interfering with bad guys goals. Or she's helping at a safe haven for abused women and he's the abuser? And she takes women out on trailrides to help them heal.

    Just thinkin aloud.

  23. Hi Melanie, Do you really want your hero loving the woman he's engaged to? Can he really love both? I think the conflict would be upped if he respected the other woman and like Ruty says, felt the duty and family honor to marry her, but his deep and true feelings of love and commitment are for orphan girl.

    Hey Ruthy never sends me mallow cups.

  24. Patty, thank you for playing, brave girl!!!! YAY, YOU!!!

    Okay, tell me this is a long book...

    75K and up, right?

    Her conflict is right there, for everyone to see, and at this moment (do not hate me, remember I'm only 'seeing' what's before me and not what's in your head or on paper) she seems scripted BECAUSE...

    Everything is happening TO her...

    And she runs repeatedly. That implies that she runs when scared, that she's not a fighter, and that weakens her from a 'strength' mode. It can work, but if you have her run twice (from marriage and then the physical assault), then you've got a runner. This can be used to her advantage later, that she feels BAD about running, that she thinks she's a chicken, that she's self-blaming herself, but that's tricky because (depending on how you deepen her issues without going over the top gag-me internal) you still have a runner on your hands.

    Some people will identify with that. Some will throw the book across the room. (They throw all our books across the room, honey, so that just makes you part of a very non-exclusive club called: WRITERS)

    So ponder that set-up for her, see if it's adjustable so she doesn't appear to have to run from danger all the time.

    Let's have her face something, build her character early, build her panache...


    Self-made men. Pride. A touch of arrogance. Knowledge. A-type personalities SOMETIMES. Strong. Self-confident.

    He's taking care of his mother. That can be either nice or over-bearing, not thinking women can handle themselves... Mary uses this ploy on men often for comedic relief... So that can go either way or be combined and confused, the NICE side fighting with the OVERBEARING side because he doesn't know where to draw the line in the sand with his mother, or this cheeky geologist girl.

    Great forethought on Daniel and his scorn for men willing to gamble when he's only willing to work for actuality, his trade a guaranteed living, but you've done a stellar job of softening him with the Cherokee apprentice. I love that, because now we 'see and sense' more of Daniel, that he respects all people regardless of skin, creed, etc., that he's willing to help others be self-made. Great insight there.

    The payoffs have me scratching my head, but that could be fleas. Or lice. Let's hope not.

    You've got a LOT going on to close this out. Does he have to make peace with his father? See him/find him/come to reckoning?

    Does she have to be tracked down by overbearing parent with groom in tow?

    Abby's indenturement being revealed is good. We want to pay our debts, not duck out on them, and this gives the hero a chance to champion her, to pay her debt and possibly clean the guy's clock or at least offer to to defend Abby's honor. I love that, and it opens the path for a future.

    I love that she'd be willing to testify. I'm no expert on that time period or place, so I'm trusting your research that such a thing could or would happen, that women were even allowed to testify then. So many things were locked out to us before the Civil War, but even if she couldn't, the fact that she's willing to fight for someone else's worth deepens hers, especially since she had to 'run' previously.

    So much of that comes through in the weaving, the writing.

    Bits and pieces, patchworked here and there, then stitched together.

    Rivers... quilts. bits and pieces...

    Oh my stars, I'm gagging myself.

    Need coffee. Badly.

  25. Hi Edwina, I agree with Ruthy, you have a great set-up. And really play up the child. Seems like that is really popular these days.

    Almost all the Harlequin covers have children on them. I guess they think that keeps the story clean???? Do you think so? Personally I like the Marlboro type hero on the cover. LIke Amanda's the other day. sigh

  26. Hi Patty, I think it shows she's strong that she would not submit to the marriage and the abuse. I think it will work if you don't have her running away so much as making an assertive decision to not be used. Make the process of leaving a difficult decision but so it looks like positive proactive behavior. After all women in those days didn't have a whole lot of options.

    And I love that she's a geologist. Build that up. That makes her an unusual woman of her day.

    I like the premise. The details need more work.

    And Ruthy there's plenty of coffee. I brought some protein to help counterbalance the sugar high from all of those mallow cups. How does a tray of sliced lunchmeats and cheeses topped with black and green olives sound? Just roll them up and eat them plain or I have a tray of a variety of crackers-some gluten free, and rolls. Mayo too

  27. Ooooo,,,,,,

    Sandra, I LOVE that twist about the trail rides (seemingly innocuous) could be the problem...

    The whole Snail Darter thing, that if they can't use Plot B for the stalker's purpose (to gain money and possible world domination) then he must kill/scare/remove the trail ride person (and you could even make her more sypathetic by making it THERAPY riding for children with disabilities...)

    AND he originally wants to scare her, but then realizes she knows too much and must kill her...

    Or he wants to kill her for other reasons, but Sandra, I love that!

  28. Hi Dianna, Yes, you do still need lots more details. Is Caleb the hero's child? I'm assuming he is. So all the things happening to the hero, how does that relate to the mom's death and to the child?

    And how does a person on a prayer hotline get to see and help a person who is being threatened? How do they meet? How do her skills help him overcome the threats on his life?

    I like suspense, but you need to think out how they are related to him and let us know. sounds intriguing.

    Ruthy will have some great ideas. She's the bestest. Even though ruthless. smile

  29. So we wanna play?
    *gulp* k.

    Okay, I'm going to write this quickly enough, and lemme say, I'm so glad you said the first draft is supposed to feel flat, cause, it DOES! I'm a little peeved with all my first drafts right now, so I'm able to ease up a little on thanks.


    Mary Ann's sister, Candy, passed away from a disease and cost her family, the hospital and America millions. Not to mention the toll it took on her family's life.
    Left to fend for herself and her three younger siblings, Mary Ann grows up quickly.

    Later in life, Mary Ann and her husband, Senator Roberts of Florida (future/kinda speculative) have pushed for the Diseased Child Abortion Act.

    As head Genecist at a famous Think Tank, she's pushed for Parent Licensing. (Each couple must have blood screenings to see if their children are at risk for certain types of diseases. They are not granted a parent license if they are above 70%)
    Now she's pregnant, and doesn't hold a license.

    She must now fight for the life of her child against the world she's helped create.

    (Okay...I'm ready for the pain! Ooooo. Is that chocolate covered coffee beans?! My favorite!)

  30. How'd I miss the therapy part for abused women?

    I like that better than with kids...

    More punch.

    No pun intended.

    And now on to Dianna....

  31. Ruthy, I like the trail rides as therapy for disability kids. Or it could be for troubled teens. And maybe bad guys teen is getting therapy and he doesn't want it known why.

  32. Sandra,

    Caleb is the hero. His child is a daughter. The heroine figures out Caleb is the intended target because Caleb had visited the church, and he had been obviously very angry at God for his wife's death. And, she is a nurse so every time something happens she's there to patch him up, sort of. Her care is also what begins to bring him out of his shell.

    Again, details are still a little sketchy as I'm just beginning the process with this idea. Thanks for being a sounding board.

  33. Okay, Hubby's awake and we have some errands to take care of. I'll be back later today to play some more.

    Have fun. And thanks btw way Ruthy for the ideas for my wip. Your insights are amazing.

  34. oops before I go. Dianna, Thanks for clarifying. Isn't this fun? It helps bring your mind to some details you hadn't thought of and also helps clarify in your mind what you want to accomplish.

    Thanks for playing with us brave soul.

  35. Dianna....

    Pediatric nurse...

    Loves children, has goals, wants the American dream, home, husband, family, has some reason why she equates this with Godly womanliness...

    Delve into that, why does she do that, why does she need to have a child/children to prove her self-worth to God or anyone, what part of her is damaged to twist her thinking that way? Childhood stuff? Parental stuff?

    She's a "Hannah" barren and woebegone....

    Helping on prayer line.


    Can't she be (DO NOT HIT ME) helping on a psyche help line where people (trained in life-space or mental health issues) man the lines to talk them down and the guy calls there instead of a prayer line?

    Only because (and I'm here to say I LOVE prayer) but I think it touches more reality to have her in an everyday person kind of role, rather than a strictly Christian kind of role. Consider that aspect as you decide.

    So Caleb is the hero?

    He's cut and dried, accountant (my Boston finance son would laugh at this because he's SO NOT the prototype for accountants...) great with figures, grieving, caring for child (how old is child now?) working, trying to do it all OR conversely, NOT trying to do it all...

    And desperately needs help.

    Overwhelmed and hates that feeling.

    And now he's being approached by psycho woman who says he's going to be killed.

    But she loves kids. Eee gads, I see a bunny in a pot of boiling water for certain!!!!

    Okay, so she's intervening... Why does she fear darkness? And is this part of her twisted thinking that wants/needs motherhood to be Godly?

    That's bugging me, I keep coming back to it, why Godly? I get 'fulfilled', but why Godly?

    That phrase keeps jumping out at me.

    Right now I feel like a psychic dude wondering "Is there a George in the room? I'm getting George, George, as in a father? Brother? Ah, you have a FRIEND named George!!It must be you!!!!"

    Sorry, tangent, it happens, I'll try to control it better....

    So, Dianna, the killer was hired but reluctant? I actually LIKE that a lot, because very few people are heartless enough to really kill.

    Remember, though, the biggest motivators for killing are revenge, lust, power and money.

    What's the motive? What has the accountant done? Why is he being targeted? And we need bit players in this, background people to lighten the mood, to brighten scenes, even with danger all around.

    One of my favorite things about older RS stories was HUMOR... Not too many Christian suspense writers interject humor and if you go back and read the old-timers, Mary Stewart etc., there was snark humor going on there...

    It's an off-set, it helps up the mood of danger if you quiet the danger occasionally with a laugh.

    Too much darkness pushes the reader away. My humble opinion.

  36. Dianna,
    I've heard of postpartum cardiac idea how it comes about, but it's a good way to lose the hero's wife.

  37. Thanks so much--yes, Abby is a runner but in as much as she makes the decision not to be used by the people around her. The Black moment to this story is Abby's decision to testify against a white man for assaulting her Cherokee friend--at that time, Indians could not bring charges against white men so they were abused in hopes that they would pick up and leave. The thing with this is if Abby testifies, she runs the risk of being exposured to her master. The takeaway value is that she realizes that to stand up for your beliefs sometimes leaves you exposed but that God can work through those situations too.

    Daniel is more difficult for me--he doesn't look for his father but stumbles over him in a town that is riddled with gambling houses and travens. It's only in healing this relationship that Daniel can come to terms that he is his father's son, taking risk on a Cherokee when all around him want to run their people off their land. He also comes to appreciate Abby--Yes, she's a risk taker, but within means.

    Does that make sense?

  38. Edwina, is your heroine's ex-husband maybe responsible for the "bad shoot' of the hero? Are there other activities the ex has been involved in - maybe instead of busting the 'red district' he was skimming off the top, offering protection for a fee.

    And will your hero have to chose between breaking the law and upholding it, if the heroine is guilty of kidnapping her daughter? Knowing her ex is a bad, bad man?

  39. Well, Kelly, I'm now STEALING this idea because it's that good.

    Seriously good.

    Why on earth are you telling people about it? Oh, wait, that's right, I asked... ;)

    Strong, organic conflict. Her actions (caused by family circumstance beyond her control) have caused a reaction chain of events, and now her new action (pregnancy, darn it, i thought those condom things WORKED!!!) has her in the headlights of her own doing.



    Her backstory has to be integrated, but I would suggest burying it and letting it out piece by piece. Show her as the take-charge person she is, and she's got heart or she wouldn't be taking care of siblings, and she's got brains or she wouldn't be where she is...

    Age when sister died? Make sure she lived long enough to make the claim of 'costing millions' stick. Very important.

    And the ache of having a child that needs constant money, time, attention, the counter-part of God's special child to disposable child, that's a HUGE turn-around right there, very Saul-St. Paul, I love it.

    Just love it.

    So: do we like this husband? How does he figure in? Are we keeping him? Because already I don't like him. SHE has a reason to be "A"-type and somewhat stupid, does he? And if so, what?

    But I'm going to have a hard time liking him, so can he be an ex-husband? And can we have a real hero?

    I LOVE real heroes. Just love 'em. Love 'em to death.

    Please say yes, Kelly, because I want to punch the Senator in the face. Just because. Call it misplaced anger due to the financial crisis of our country. Call it what you will. I'm REALLY longing to take out my internal angst on him right now.

    But not her because like a lot of smart people (refer back to Saul) they THINK they have all the answers, because they live in absolutism.

    But then they see the truth, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the warmth surrounding a babe in a manger...

    Loving this. Just Ray Bradbury futuristic enough to make a great movie.

    Kind of like The Giver...


    First drafts should be flat. I mean it. Or you're dwelling too much on content, on verbs, on adjectives, on timing. Push through, then play. Add. Layer. As I layer (and yeah, I'm no expert, but I'm a good story teller) more possibilities for layering come to me. So I add them. And I readjust timing to fit those layers.

    Honey, flat is okay. That's why God invented padded bras.

  40. Melanie-

    I love the whole drama idea. What if the betrothed, out of spite, finds this orphan and shows the hero that she's hired her. Maybe that throws him for a loop.

  41. Okay Ruthy, got an idea here--and yes, this is a long book.

    Abby signs an indenturement contract when her father, a miner in England who has taught her geology, dies. A cook's assistant in the house of the Earl of Sheffield, she wants to make her own way in America. This way, when she runs from her master because he wants to bed her, it won't be seem weak of her to do so.

    How does that work?

  42. Okay, Ruthy, I can answer some of your questions, but not all. I'll have to ruminate on the ones I hadn't considered.

    Get ready. Discussing killer's motive gives away the big finale, but I like you guys so why not?

    The actual villian is the twin sister of the dead wife. She wants custody of the child and blames the Caleb for the wife's death. When the hired killer fails to kill, she determines she must take care of it herself. She's a lawyer so she's confident she could make herself appear innocent in front of a jury.

    As far as the heroine's desire for family, I'm going off of several real-life couples whom I know went through a rough patch or separated because of inability to have kids and the nurturing wife began obsessing over this b/c she really wanted kids. The bible is full of exhortation to mother's so this is where she gets that kernel (not from God of course)that her inability to bear children makes her less than all she could be for God. And, the fear of the dark is an unexplainable phobia that I've yet to think all the way through.

    Kelly- Thanks for the idea for the wife's cause of death. I've been thinking along some similar lines. I'll research that idea!

  43. Ruthy, nice of you to share your food and your wisdom on some lucky winner's 15-20 pages! I'm grandson watching so can't play.

    Looking forward to reading Waiting Out the Storm!


  44. Okay Ruthy:

    How about this?


    She's a music teacher. Four years earlier while in college she fell in love with a man who left without an explanation. Since then her widowed best friend has died in Iraq and left a young son in her care.


    Four years ago he fell in love with the heroine, but her father, who is a newspaper editor, sent him an article announcing the girl's engagement to another man. Hurt and caught in a bad situation of his own, he leaves the state to rescue of the branch of the family construction business that his brother was in charge of and got into trouble.

    Now he has returned,encountered the heroine again, and learned she has a four year old son.

    What conflicts must they work through before finding their happily ever after?

    Now I have to go work a while.


  45. Excellent, post, Ruthy!! I was lying in bed thinking about a future hero last night, wondering what in his past would make him the way he is.

    I have a small town bad boy who drinks too much, who ruined a girl's reputation, dropped out of school, and ran away from home. What would make him eventually decide to make something of himself (to push to succeed financially)? A brush with death? A stint in rehab?

    He'll find God later, right before the story opens, so that can't be what drives him to succeed.

    Okay, Miss Shrink and all you others with ideas, what would motivate someone like this? :)

  46. I'm loving all the story ideas you brave souls are sharing!

  47. Patty, I love your set-up here.

  48. Hahahaah!
    Okay, I just laughed WAY out loud because of the bra comment!
    (okay, so mostly it was becuase you LIKED it! That makes me so happy!)
    I gotta go back and read it again to remember what else you said, lol.

    Okay, I didn't think about the husband being a jerk just because of being a Senator, lol.
    And I don't know what his reason will be.

    I've contemplated the divorce and the new love interest.

    She has to go into hiding because she's pregnant, and the people she loved and trusted are the people out to get her.

    While in hiding, she's saved, and sees what she's done.
    I never thought of it being Paul-esque. I like it that way :D

    My friend and I came up with this idea. She wanted me to write it, since i've sat at the computer, things have gone way off what we wanted at first...

    Okay, I personally love stories with a love interest. The husband thing is not so much my cup o tea for a book (I love my real-life husband :D), but for pregnancy purposes, she needed a husband...but then again, she's not saved yet, and has no biblical sense of morals (just because I don't want her to lol)

    also, in the background, her mother and her are at odds becuse of her past.
    Her mother is recenstly saved, I'm thinking that's where she hides. Sort of mending the relationship and finding God...

    I REALLY need to speak with my partner in crime about this stuff!

    Thanks SO much, ladies!

  49. Missy,

    I know of a real-life person with a story similar to that one. What happened to him was he was imprisoned. While in prison he was introduced to God. Upon leaving prison he began to amass financial wealth and started a ministry to help inmates who are released from prison begin a new life.

    I'll see if that ministry has a website address if you'd like.

  50. Missy- here's the guys testimony that started A Better Way Ministries. If the link doesn't work then just cut and paste into a new browser. :-)

  51. HE could just be a jerk, and want kids to cary on his name and not care about anything but his power and pride and money...
    When they CANT have children because of the parent licensing, he leaves her.
    NOW she's pregnant, and fighting this stuff.

  52. Thanks, Dianna! I'll check it out. Although my hero doesn't do anything altruistic until right before the story starts. He needs to have been striving for success (in a way, to prove he has worth) for several years before he finds God.

  53. Missy- feel free to email me if you need more info. I could get in touch with this guy for you if necessary. He goes to church with my in-laws.

  54. Dianna, I just went to the website. What an amazing testimony!

  55. Everyone’s plots sound great!

    I’ll play along. I just stood in front of 5000 middle and high school student, so I’m feeling brave.

    A pro-football player (who comes from a Christian home, but has since drifted away from God) meets an event planner who’s in charge of putting together a gala for his charity. She’s a Christian devoted to God. Over the two months they work together they become good friends. The night of the gala they both let their guards’ way down and end up sleeping together.

    Big complication, he already has a fiancée. The fiancée is willing to “forgive” because she wants to be married to a star. The event planner leaves town to take a job with her best friend’s aunt in Tennessee. Although, he tries to contact her the season starts and he lets it go, but breaks things off with the fiancée. After the season he finds her and the baby, but unfortunately the media finds them. There are people who want to destroy their relationship, and she’s getting threatening notes.

    There are the basics. Thanks for the chance.

  56. Ruthy, I was not hurt by your comment at all. In fact, if I were a coffee drinker I probably would have spewed it all over my screen in laughter.

    Although I've been devouring suspenses over the last two weeks, prior to that I really only have read historicals. So it's good to know if I'll make someone yawn.

    I hadn't considered that she'd be boring. Originally, I thought to have my heroine be a newly named director of a Crisis Pregnancy Outreach center, however, I thought this subject might be one of those no-nos. This is what I was thinking originally- her and the hero dated in high school-first love kind of thing. They part ways (maybe he does a tour in Iraq, but again that's kind of overdone).

    The idea that I want to keep is her being a horseback trailguide and I want him to be a mounted posse sheriff. And I'd like that they haven't seen eachother for years. I thought that if she had just been promoted to CPO director that that is when the stalking begins. Why? Well, I was thinking it could be an ex, a co-worker, a pro-choice advocate, someone who is upset with her for counseling a pro-life decision that possibly caused a death to the mother in delivery (not sure on this).

    The thing that comes out as the hero is trying to protect her and solve the case, is that she (her secret) had been pregnant with his child and had chosen abortion (this all before she came to know the Lord). She doesn't want him to know.

    As to why she feels safe outdoors in the country; it's wide open and she can see for miles and miles. She finds peace in God's creation.

    Still boring? I'm not very good at narrowing things down.

  57. Sandra, I just saw what you posted. I liiiike. She'd be on horses.

    My whole idea is to build a series (3) on the Sheriff's Mounted Posse. Totally contemporary. I was thinking outside the box and thought one could be a undercover as a rodeo clown and another just trying to solve a serial murder case where bodies are left (possibly like scarecrows) in farmer's fields.

    I really should stick to my historicals, huh? :)

  58. I go away for a while and people come out of the woodwork to play with you, Ruthy!

    Well, since you asked ..., the hero goes away because 1. He is obligated to marry his betrothed. He kind of made a promise to this other girl that's rather more binding than a simple engagement. And 2. the heroine thinks he should be with the other girl. She doesn't feel worthy, she's outside his class, and she's afraid to hope that he would choose her over his betrothed. So, in a big dramatic scene she basically refuses to accept his "sympathy proposal" and tells him to go back to his family and his betrothed.

    But I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea that he is forced to experience poverty and helplessness firsthand so he can really know what the heroine is going through. Good call, Ruthy!

  59. Good morning, Seekerville! It's raining on the prairies. Again.

    I was going to say I don't have time to play but I'll have to work on this sometime and I'd rather do it with friends now than alone later. So, here goes:

    Sequel to my current wip: Emma's Outlaw (1879)
    Heroine: Susan
    - kidnapped as a child in Wyoming, taken to Montana and sold as a replacement for a dead daughter
    - is locked up for first 7 or 8 yrs until she accepts her fate: God has turned His back on her
    - she's never understood why her family didn’t rescue her.
    - Disillusioned, Angry, Spunky
    - at age ___, she inherits the family business when her ‘mother’ dies
    - must fend off unscrupulous businessmen who want her prime land near the tracks ???
    - the hero's job is to buy the land. If she won’t sell, they’ll expropriate it.

    And when the next earthquake hits, check to see if it's coming from Ruthy because she has a way of shaking things up. Haha


  60. Cute joke, Audra! :-)

    Sandra, he just thought he loved his betrothed. He really only loves the heroine. When he goes back home to marry her, he realizes what a mean little brat she is and figures out a way to break the betrothal. Besides, he finds out heroine is in danger and goes back to save her.

  61. Hi everyone.

    Please insert the tone of Eeyore's voice to this comment.

    I've been ... what's the word??? Eradicating? Iradicating? SCRUBBING Mold all morning.

    I am NOT happy.

    I am an ARTIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (My husband smirks at me and then proceeds to tell me how he walked fifteen miles yesterday carrying a 150 pound calf. Big deal.

    He's skinny, too.

    Have I mentioned I'm not HAPPY!!!???

    What the heck game are we playing here?

    I'll go check. If the mold doesn't revive after my attempts to kill and it SEEKS REVENGE.

    If this ends badly, remember how much I love you all.

  62. Ooooo, Renee, that is a diabolically awesome idea! It reminds me of my favorite book by Eva Ibbotson, The Countess Below Stairs. Love that book.

  63. Okay, I didn't stay with Eeyore's voice did I?

    Switched over to a slobbering raving maniac.

    How'd that happen?

    Oops. Mold's coming for me.

    Must find a weapon.

  64. Here's my shot at a Ruthie makeover :)

    Shopping Can Be Murder

    Shopaholic Katelyn Lark wants to be better with money, if she only knew how, and could curtail her fashion urges. She loses her job and blames it on wearing the wrong footwear so is shoe-shopping when a customer ends up dead.
    To make matters worse, although she loves living in
    Havendale, Indiana, her job prospects are slim so she's forced to become an assistant to a financial planner, something she definitely isn't
    suited for. And the head of the firm looks a bit too good in a suit.

    He's just ditched a woman who was bad with money and isn't game for any companionship, just wants to get the office on track and head back to the city. Can she uncover the Ponzi scheme behind the death and discover from a "money man" that what is important in life is free?

    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo

  65. Oh Ruthy,
    What a great pic for the new book cover! I love it!!!

    Am I brave enough to try your dare? Well I certainly want a chance at a critique so... (gulp)

    K. I'll use my wip (and one SOME people in this group might have seen before)

    While the shadow of WWI looms across the Atlantic, Ashleigh Dougall is trying to piece her life back together after her fiance deserted her. She finds strength in the friendship of her fiance's brother, Sam. But when her mother begs her to return to her hometown in England, Ashleigh must use all her strength to keep two secrets safely hidden: the loss of her innocense as a child by the hands of her father, and the letters she's started writing to Sam...signed with her sister's name.

    After being abused by her father and deserted by her fiance, Ashleigh's having her own anger toward God...and is a control freak. She became a nurse to make people better. Heal people. By focusing on them, she doesn't have to look too deeply inside her own lonely life.
    And because she's so afraid of rejection, she writes letters to Sam under the guise of her sister, without counting the cost of what will happen with Sam and Catherine meet again? For her heart and theirs.

    Sam has his own issues with deception - whch I won't go into here. His mother deserted the family when Sam was fourteen, so honesty is vital.

    So doctors? It's historical, obviously, but I'm trying to figure out if it's romance or women's fiction. It HAS romance, for SURE - but both the romantic climax and Ashleigh's spiritual climax happen back to back, so I can't tell which one is most important to the story.

    Thanks for reading through. I know it's long.

  66. wawzah...

    65 comments already - I'll have to come back when I have more time so I can look through!

    Would love to win the book. Winter's End was relished, reviewed, and whisked off to my cousin in Houston yesterday.

    Agreed on Love Inspired Suspense! Finished Debby's book Scared to Death and very much enjoyed. :)

    And... don't let anyone fool you into thinking a Ruthy critique isn't fabulous. It was!!! (and she liked it! She really LIKED it. nyuk nyuk nyuk.) Ok, so she was 2 minutes past the 2 weeks but who's counting???

  67. What great story ideas! Wow. I love it when you guys do stuff like this and we get to see minds at work.

    Spray windex on it. I hear it clears up everything (My Big Fat Greek Wedding)

    Ruthy -
    "Aaaas Yooooou Wiiiiish" (Definitely a movie on my keeper shelf)

    My dad's favorite line from that movie:
    "Are there rocks ahead?
    If they are, we all be dead.
    No more rhymes now, I mean it
    Anybody wanna peanut?"

  68. Yes, Mary, bleach, bleach, bleach. At least that is what my mother keeps telling me.

    Melanie, I'll have to add The Countess Below Stairs to my reading list.

  69. My special needs niece just learned from one of her aides, "Put on your big girl pants and stop being a baby." I had to double-check to see if Ruthy moved...hehe, kidding. The phrase reminds me of Ruthy though because that's best advice--cry for a day and then put on your big girl pants and move on.

    Fresh Brewed Romance--targeted for Steeple Hill

    What makes a hero?

    A thriving coffee shop—Cuppa Josie’s, being a positive role model for her preteen daughter, and her father’s new family are about all twenty-eight-year-old Josie Peretti can handle until dashing English professor Nick Brennan saves her daughter’s life, earning him a lifetime of free coffee and Josie’s gratitude. On a five-year plan to repay her father for his start-up loan to show she is not irresponsible like her mother who abandoned them twenty years ago, Josie doesn’t have time for romance, especially with Nick when she learns he is her daughter’s uncle.

    Thirty-year-old Nick English needs a fresh start—some place where his reputation won’t take a beating for standing up for his beliefs—the value of a quality education. A new teaching opportunity in Shelby Lake will provide Nick with the income he needs to help support his mother and brain-damaged younger brother. Waking up in the hospital after saving Josie’s daughter’s life, Nick missed his interview. Instead of making a difference in students’ lives, Nick does construction work and teaches day classes at Cuppa Josie’s while trying not to let his attraction to the pretty owner and her charming daughter derail him from achieving his doctorate and having a successful career.

    Have at it, Ruthy, because I'm not seeing the story clearly yet.

  70. Kelly, WOW! So your heroine had the test and didn't score above a 70%? Why, if she created this world, and believes in the program does she care to keep the child? Especially after what she went through with her sister? Is she just below 70%, has she had problems getting pregnant and knows this is her only chance?

    And, yes, do we like the husband? Or will he try to have her killed to keep his program? Sorry, had to ask, politics and all. :)

  71. I must suffer from CRS whenever I come to Seekerville. I keep forgetting to add my email.

    reneelynnscott at gmail dot com

    Okay off to make lunch, the work. I hope to catch up on comments tonight.

    Thank you, Ruthy, this is great for brainstorming.

  72. I'm using bleach. I can try windex next.

    Quit giving me clean up advice. Ruthy HATES when someone draws attention away from her.


  73. I just realized I forgot to add my email for a chance to win an awesome Ruthy critique!

  74. And Ruthy, I could never hate you! Your opinion, maybe, but you, NEVER! ~giggle~

    But you're right about Abby--I just like to see how much stuff I can throw at a character to really mess up their lives before the happy ending! so I'll back off with Abby a bit and turn to throwing the kitchen sink at Daniel for a while!

  75. HELEN

    Can the hero wonder if the child is his? That'd make is a sexual relationship so it's a little touchy.

    Can the father have done something to the heroine to deepen her sense of betrayal when the hero left?

    She needs something in the present to conflict them besides their past.

    He's the new 'staff development' director in her college and they need to make budget cuts. Maybe including her job.

    He's the new foot ball coach and the college is considering cutting the music department in order to pay his salary.

    There's a building project, her dream of a new music building. Now this guy is fighting for a bigger football practice field to cover the land, donated by her father? where the music building would have been.

    Can the hero maybe AC

  76. Mary, must be you were reflectorating on my comment yesterday. Are you no longer doubting it?

    Artist yes. You paint with words.

    Great post, Ruthy. I'm so glad some brave souls were in the position to share today in a public brainstorm. I have this 'I'm at work' excuse!

    I never knew sponge candy was a regional thing. I guess you could say we have it all, up here in WNY!

  77. EEK!
    Wow, can't believe I forgot that!

  78. You girls are not good for me!

    My Easter Bunny is still sitting at the table because I've chosen not to eat it at this time.

    I'm down 25 lbs and going further.

    But I love sponge toffee! We don't have Mallow Cups but they look like the marshallow creme cookies that are kind of dome shaped and come in a bag. Love those, too. But again, I'm choosing not to go out and buy them. Heh

    Maybe it's just me, but the baby in the photo reminds me of Mr. Magoo. :D


  79. Wowzers, Kelly, that Parenting License idea sounds like a winner.

  80. Dianna's story. Ruthy says:

    Okay, so she's intervening... Why does she fear darkness? And is this part of her twisted thinking that wants/needs motherhood to be Godly? That's bugging me, I keep coming back to it, why Godly? I get 'fulfilled', but why Godly?

    Pam sez: Maybe she was raised Amish?

  81. Ruthy, I got the whole BAWK BAWK thing happening here.

    You should hear me. Feathers are flying everywhere.

    Actually I've been giving this whole thing some consideration.

    I'm trying to figure how best to explain this

    In my sci-fi/time-travel, my hero finds out he's married to the woman he meant in what he thought was a dream some 300 yrs earlier. She's carrying his children, (through insemination). He can't remember any of his life, beyond five years. He has clone markers in his blood, and wonders what his wife will think if she finds out.

    Now that I've made myself perfectly clear in a muddy nutshell...

    enter me for the contest so I can win and Ruthy can whoop on long as she doesn't whoop too hard and make me cry I'll be okay.

    gulp -- maybe


  82. Dianna’s story again. Ruthy sez: What's the motive? What has the accountant done? Why is he being targeted? And we need bit players in this, background people to lighten the mood, to brighten scenes, even with danger all around.

    Pam sez: Maybe it’s something to do with his job as an accountant….or what if his wife did something, hid something, (maybe she was an accountant too), and they killed her, but now they think HE knows something, but he has no clue what is he’s supposed to know.

  83. Missy’s story: I have a small town bad boy who drinks too much, who ruined a girl's reputation, dropped out of school, and ran away from home. What would make him eventually decide to make something of himself (to push to succeed financially)? A brush with death? A stint in rehab?

    Missy, I think we need to figure out why he drank too much, why he dropped out of school, why he ran away, etc. Then we can figure out what makes him change. Maybe he was poor, ran with a rough crowd (older brother maybe). What if father ends up in prison, mother dies, brother ends up paralyzed and in a nursing home. Hero grows up big-time and has to send his younger sister through college. He doesn’t want her out of this cycle. Using this scenario, you can actually open your book with the brother being deceased (or the sister graduating college with a nurse’s degree and taking care of him if you prefer to have them in the story). If he’s deceased, maybe the brother had a life insurance policy. The hero promised to make something of himself and to make sure the sister did too.

  84. Kelly’s story: Kelly, what if the heroine never married and focused on her goal of getting the Parenting Laws passed. What if it’s not HER that’s pg, but her younger (unmarried) sister. What if her sister’s baby possibly has the same disease that killed the other sister? This way you can have your cake and eat it too. You can still keep the Senator be the bad guy (maybe they were close at one time), but when she realizes her sister and the baby will die/be killed, she sides with family. You can have another guy be the hero and he's trying to help them.

  85. Kirsten, is this suspense? And is everything you described leading up to before the story starts?

    Okay, gotta work now. Sorry I can’t play more.

  86. @ Renee, I never thought of the turning point...
    Hmm I'll have to evaluate that one.

    @ Pam, haha, good idea.
    I'll have to run all this by my writing partner.

  87. Mary:

    See if what I have jives with any of your comments.

    The hero wonders how they parted four years ago and she has 3 year old child. Thinks she betrayed himm

    In prestent: She's chair of church finance committe. He's bidding on church construction job to bild addition--of which her children's choir is to get a new room.

    Do those conflicts seem adequate or flimsy?


  88. RUTHY!

    Totally gratuitous and irrelevant post here.

    8 Home Runs
    39 RBI'a
    20 Walk's
    39 Strikeouts
    AVG .286
    Slugging Percentage .429
    On Base Percentage .341

    15 Home Runs
    49 RBI's
    44 Walks
    35 Strikeouts
    AVG .308
    Slugging Percentage .558
    On Base Percentage .423

    And Pujols has been in a SLUMP.


  89. Oh my stars!!! I had to duck out with the kids for a bit...

    Give me a minute to catch up.

  90. Renee, I like the idea of the wicked rich girl trying to twist things to her own ends by changing things up on the hero. Nice, nice twist.

    Patty, I like that much better. I like the idea that circumstance pushes her rather than victimization. Much better. We EXPECT a heroine to run for her life if necessary. It's just that if it's necessary too often, the heroine becomes less heroic.

    If anyone can figure out what I just said, e-mail me and explain it, 'kay?

  91. Dianna, I love the sister motive. You might want to consider a twist and have had the sisters estranged at some point so the murderous sister is herself feeling guilt on top of the anger, but directs it all at him. Murderous wench. I LOVE it...!!!!

    And the fear thing may come as you write. I had no idea what caused Kayla to flinch when she first saw that window in the opening of Winter's End. None whatsoever, just that it sparked fear and a decision to push the thoughts away. The 'truth' about what happened came as I wrote. That's a very normal phenomenon for abnormal people known as writers.

    Refer to Tina's post yesterday.


  92. Helen, this is a great start...

    She's young, so why did the father wave off the other suitor... What were his motivations to discourage this young man? His actions color her decisions, and does he use his power as a newspaper editor indiscriminately or just to mess with his family?

    Is he bad or just overbearing?

    Does the editor/father approve of her having this little boy? How did the little boy's father die? Was it a contentious death or was it natural causes or military? A respectable death or honorable death paints a whole different layer for the child/heroine relationship. Obviously the mother was a servicewoman. Did she die honorably?

    If everyone is honorable we all start yawning about now... Someone needs to be fretful over something, but it doesn't have to be directly the hero or heroine. People have bad things happen to them all the time through no fault of their own. Or, like Missy's example, they mess up their own lives and need to regather strength and courage to fix them. Examine her relationship with parents and friends, and that helps to figure out how to deepen her conflict.

    Hero: honorable, hard-working, strong, family-oriented, maybe guilt-ridden or just helpful, wants to fix things, anxious-to-please personality....

    So he comes back, she's got a spare kid, and is he confused? Why did he think she was engaged? Was it a false announcement done up by the father? Was he led astray? And if so, why did Dad do that?

    Is he now thinking this is her child? Or does he know it's not, but feels deceived?

    A lot of this one comes down to deceit if that's what the father did. Victimization through no fault of their own, BUT.... if you don't make it deep enough, it sounds set up.

    So we need family depth, circumstantial depth, and while I appreciate he had other fish to fry with the family business, wouldn't he have tried to contact her when he found out about her engagement? She loved him, he loved her... If he did try to contact her, what kept it from happening? Remember how Ally's mother kept letters from her in The Notebook? Parents will go to extremes to create their own image of 'the right life' for their children.

  93. Missy, is he coming back home to be successful or did he engineer success and then come back home?

    Two very different scenarios there.

    If he's had his turnaround and worked toward success and now is coming back home successful, let's find out WHY he was bad.

    Bad parents? No parents? Sad childhood? Victim of some kind of abuse? No conscience? Hurt or damaged by outside circumstance? An accident? Loss of a friend/sibling/parent? Grandparents that never thought he measured up?

    Once we know why he was BAD, we can see what makes sense to help him choose to be good... Because then we know what buttons to push to wake him up.

    And I like that he finds faith just before the book opens. New Christians are SO EASY to tweak. Really. We can make 'em plum crazy!!! ;)

  94. Kelly, I think you're on the right track...

    Go for it. And I might give you a time limit to check back with me and let me know you're avidly workiing before I STEAL THE IDEA!!!

    You only get so long! ;)

    Kidding, of course, but don't waste time sittn' 'round here.

    Get busy.

    Time's awastin'.

  95. Dianna, thanks for the link for Missy.

    Isn't this great how one thing leads to another, and everybody wins?

  96. Kelly, I LOVE that you're thinking.

    I want romance in this.

    It's her reward for everything, and now she'll be a Salvationist for the unborn once she conquers evil....

    She needs a Salvation partner. A totally hot, hunky Salvation partner...

    And I'm GLAD you love your husband.

    But we can still 'ax' hers.

  97. Yeah, good work, Helen. Of course you've got to cause TROUBLE He can't just bid on the job and get it.

    Have him bid against someone she favors. Her brother. Her father. A potential boyfriend. So she has to admit he's the best but it pinches.

    Maybe her favored one even does something shady but makes it look like the hero does it. Somehow sneaks a peak at the bid to undercut.

    And sure the betrayal thing works except it's solved with a simple conversation. I mean everyone's gonna know where she got the kid. So how do you sustain it?

    Either keep him in the dark or have the town be in the dark or have a reason no one talks about where the child comes from.

  98. wow, gone for a bit and we're loaded with terrific ideas. Who says you're chicken. Not you folks. I like the comments and suggestions. Might take me awhile to catch up. Feel like I've just read ten great novels. whew.

    This is what I love about writers. We're so danged interesting. Don't you just yawn at some of the table talk with friends? Now this is interesting.

    Keep on. Keep on. Brave souls. Ruthy is just getting started.

  99. Ruthy:

    Responding to your questions.

    The engagement announcement the hero received was fake--created by her newspaperman father because he had been investigating fraud in government contracts and thought hero was involved. It was actually his brother--who ended up going to prison for it, which is why the hero had to leave the state so precipitously.

    As for communicating, the hero wrote to heroine, but the father waylaid the letters. The heroine sitll lived at home at the time, since she was still a college

    The father has no problem with heroine adopting the little boy. The child's father was killed in a car accident just before he was to deploy to Iraq. The mother (heroine's friend) was torn up and couldn't cope, so she decided to enlist and let the military provide her with a livelihood and take care of her. She requests to be deplyed to Iraq in her dead husband's place--and is killed in a roadside bombing.
    She left her baby with the heroine, gave her power of attorney, and made her the child's guardian, stating the heroine is to adopt the child if necessary.

    When the hero first learns of the child, he thinks it's hers--but soon learns the truth. Then he has to associate with the heroine, can't seem to stay away from her, and begins building a relationship with the child.

    Have I covered everything?


  100. Mary:

    Thanks for the input. I like it.

    And from the looks of my last note to you, I STILL CAN'T TYPE!!!


  101. Kirsten!

    Wonderful beginning.

    Now flaw her... Over and above what she did with Football Hero, we've got to flaw her....

    Why is she so good? What makes her walk the straight and narrow? What makes her sleep with an engaged man? What makes her want to serve? What is it inside her that makes her long but not act... At least until she slept with the hero...

    And I would change his engagement to an involvement... Engagement is a huge commitment, and guys that sleep around on their women are not to be trusted.


    So he's in a "You've Got Mail" kind of relationship, mutual, satisfying in some ways, but not death-defying, just comfortable, very new millenium...

    Otherwise he sounds like a certain in-the-news quarterback and that's not at all heroic.

    And time plods along. A new season. He's busy. She's gone...

    Now I'm thoroughly ticked off at him, because a real hero GOES AND GETS THE GIRL!!!!

    Oh my... He can't go to wherever she is on their 'bye' week, discover the baby and her... Realize... And then spend the rest of the season back and forth, trying to win her love, knowing he's committed to the team (and legally contracted) but wanting to have another chance.

    And I know that messes with your time frame, but if we give her a REASON why she can't be with him, then she could disappear way before the season, he eventually finds her...

    So why couldn't she be with him?

    Danger (ala Dee Henderson's Danger in the Shadows)


    Horrible secret on her part. Family secret? And I know if he's not engaged, then the smart money would be on her TELLING him about the baby, so why wouldn't she????

    What would keep her from revealing that?

  102. Renee, better!!!

    Okay, so she's got a secret, A VERY BIG SECRET....

    And he's the knight in shining armor that doesn't know his child's been discarded, so of course the last person she should be indebted to is HIM....

    Oy vey, this one's deep.

    Can we have her schedule an abortion but miscarry instead, so that she's not the active participant in this one thing?

    Thinking out loud. (Sweet Home Alabama and some nice book I read last year, cannot remember the title, a Superromance and it was good...)

    I like the mounteds, I love horses, I love horse books, and I think the trail rides for some good cause is great...

    Horses and riding allow all different kinds of face-offs between heroes and heroines.

  103. Dead bodies like scarecrows in cornfields.

    Renee, I LIKE how you think, girl!!!

  104. Anita Mae, has your heroine ever met Glowing Sun, "Abby" from Wildflower Bride????

    Because these girls have GOOD REASON TO BE MAD AT EVERYONE!!!!

    Oh, honey, no man in his right mind would mess with her the way I'm seeing her. Ticked off, good with a gun, self-taught, hating a lot of stuff, half-tame, half-wild, angry inside and out, petulant not spunky, and willing to do whatever it takes to maintain what's she's inherited because it's the only nice thing that ever happened to her.

    Locked in a room for 7-8 years????

    Ouch. I might toss that if it was me. Or just be indiscriminate about the time, have it be an indeterminate length, because that's stark-raving mad talk, Mrs. Rochester in the attic kind of talk.

    With this you can go ballistic and angry or spirit broken and mild.

    So we're talkin' either "Cassie" of Montana Rose


    Glowing Sun of Wildflower Bride. Not just like them, but similar prototypes.

    How fun to have such diverse directions and get to pick which one works!

  105. Hi Ruthy,

    Wow, are you exhausted yet? Great ideas buzzing around out there.

    Helen, I have a wee problem with the lady leaving her child and going to Iraq when the husband has already been killed. Unless she was brought up in a military household, with a general for a father or some such, no woman I know would abandon her child like that. The motivation would have to be SUPER powerful.

    Kelly, love your whole premise. I'd buy that book in a heartbeat!

    As for me, I'm just tossing ideas around for a new story, so here goes:

    After 5 years away in the city studying to be a chef and working in a restaurant, Chloe Martin returns to her hometown to heal from a broken heart and/or a possible rape. The only family she has left is her biological sister (not raised together - both adopted) and a cousin who is like a big brother to her. She ends up taking a job at the local high school as a hospitality teacher, using her cooking skills to encourage students.

    Aidan North has moved back home to take a position as vice-principal at his old high school. His sister, Allie, convinces him to hire her friend, Chloe, who is dealing with a trauma and badly needs a job to distract her.
    Aidan wants to get the youth more involved in the community to keep them out of trouble. Not much to do in a small town.

    Was thinking Aidan and Chloe could work together on some project and maybe clash over the welfare of a troubled student.

    Anyways, just the bare bones as I get started. Feel free to toss any ideas around.

    Thanks for doing this, Ruthy. I love brainstorming with a group. You can almost see the ideas flying through the air! And you have a great way of zooming in on the important things!

    Good luck everyone!
    sbmason (at) sympatico (dot) ca

  106. Cathy, I remember this! This was your contest entry years back!

    Oh, what fun!

    I can't remember all of what I said back then, but here's the gist of today:

    Being a shopaholic is a great gimmick for this day and time, ESPECIALLY with the economic downturn. Everybody can relate to her need to stop. Control herself. And if you make her funny enough, we'll all empathize with her.

    And the job situation. Why is she THAT UNHAPPY in this job when she knows she needs to provide for herself. That might need to be adjusted because of the downturn in American financial resources. Very few people are sympathetic to people who are too picky about a job, so what worked before everything hit the fan, won't work now.

    Love the Ponzi scheme, a scheme over a hundred years old, give or take, and still timely because greed pushes people to cheat, lie, steal, etc.

    And kill.

    So how's the dead guy related to the Ponzi scheme and how is cute-suit hero guy who heads his own firm connected?

    And so he tossed a relationship with a money-spender, then you've got to be careful to show the heroine isn't that kind of person, shallow and pretentious.

    She just likes great shoes. Oh, and a Burberry handbag, perhaps. And maybe a Louis Vitton scarf... :)

    That's a tricky balance to scale because you really want her to stand out away from the old girlfriend, and yet they share a similar habit so you have to define them with care.

    And he's a little too pillar of the earth good. Smack him down a little.

    Is this chick/lit/cozy/mystery/romance?

    It sounds like a delightful blend of mixed genre and if done right can be a real page turner.

  107. Pepster, hey, girl!!!

    Glad to have you in the sandbox. Yes, I know it LOOKS like a guillotine, but it is, indeed, a sandbox.

    Cleverly disguised... ;)

    So Ashleigh was abused?

    Her father? The stinkin' pig. He should have his cojones snipped and be hog-tied to a railroad track when a 126 car freight is due to arrive shortly.

    This changes Ashleigh's profile dramatically. You know that, right? And it would have an effect on her internal thought, on her actions, on her reactions even if she was handling it well because no matter how well you look outside...

    And dahling, you looook mahvelous!

    Inside you're a freakin' mess even with faith. There's a lot of emotional baggage that goes along with any kind of abuse, and it peeks out at inopportune times.

    So: I'm not in love with her writing the letters to Sam. First, it's deceitful and second: it weakens Sam, as if he's not a big enough boy to handle rejection.

    I'm wipin' me eyes with tissues for him at this moment.... bawling....

    And that's not the reaction we want for a hero.

    You have properties of both romance and Single Title and Women's fiction, but that's okay, a lot of books are done like that, but a part of me thinks you need to decide for Pep's sake WHICH story you want to tell...

    Once you know THAT, you know how to proceed. If the romance becomes key, then you downplay the whole sister angle because he's got the best sister on hand, even if he doesn't realize it yet.

    And she wants to have a delightful life, the kind of life she's seen in other families, in normal families that don't abuse their children (and do you know that many abused children are nearly teens before they realize they're different? They think everyone's got secrets like theirs. That kind of realization messes with heads big time...)

    So is Catherine (the sister) also abused? And is Dad dead? If not, I'll be glad to help.

    And we need Sam strong enough to handle this kind of thing, so when you develop him you have to keep him decisive enough to be a helpmate to her eventually. If he's not, how can she find balance?

    And if he's drawn to her sister, how can she take leftovers? Only in pot roast are leftovers worthwhile, right?

    So weigh that up, and see what direction you want to go in. Imagine Publisher X is your goal, and write the book to their specs.

    Then write it to fit Publisher Y.

    It is almost embarrassing (no, it IS embarrassing) how many times I've rewritten works to try to fit specific lines.

    The best thing about it is that it makes you A BETTER, MORE PRODUCTIVE WRITER. MORE SAVVY. MORE SKILLED.


  108. Lisa, hey girlfriend, it's nice to see that special needs aides are still SNARKY!!! ;)

    Nick's an English professor?

    So he's qualified to do other forms of teaching, even subbing to get through the year until he can reapply, AND there are schools everywhere... Is Shelby Lake SO REMOTE that he couldn't get a job in a district within 40 minutes?

    A 40 minute commute is pretty normal in lots of the country, so him not trying to work or substitute in a district might not fly with lots of people who are in education.

    So even if it's a college opening he misses, it seems weird he's not teaching in a manner that augments his credentials because credentials are huge among educators.

    SO: Could he teach at a low-paying charter school to seem more realistic?

    Or a special needs school even though he isn't certified because one of their people got injured/killed/sick and they need a long-term sub....

    Think about that possibility. With a butt-zillion teachers out there, we don't want them tossing the book across the room because his choices aren't making sense to them, right?

    So Nick is the daughter's uncle? So she was married to or had a fling with his brother? Older brother? Younger? Why aren't they together? Why is she a single mom? What brought her to Shelby Lake or was she always there?

    I love the coffee shop and the name SO MUCH.... Wonderful. And a good cup o' joe is my middle name, although I've switched to Diet Snapple for the evening and I just brushed my teeth.... YUCK... those first sips taste like pond swill.

    My nose is wrinkling. It's not even close to cute like it is in books. I'm just sayin'...

    So what's keeping Nick from Josie? She's shying away because he's the uncle... Is that it? Even though he saved her kid's life?

    Seriously, men who save lives are worth some reward, Lisa-baby, right???? :)

    Kidding, but what IS keeping them apart, what is his thought process. He's got a mother and younger brother, but that's no reason not to fall head-over-heels in love with a woman who makes good coffee, right?

    And the daughter should have a strong role in this. Is she sweet or bratty? Funny or pouty? Eager to please or self-serving. The reasons behind all of those behaviors help formulate Josie's behavior, and then the cast of thousands from her father's family offset the whole thing.

    I want more conflict and more thrust. What's she got that he needs?

    Besides the obvious. Sigh...

    You're such girls.

  109. Anita Mae just called 'Lijah Mr. Magoo....

    Oh my stars, I can't let Beth see that one.

    I call him my 'Garden Gnome'...

    His uncle says he's an alien.

    And he's just the cutest, sweetest, smiliest little dude, with his father's gentle nature...

    (Beth is much more like me, more's the pity!)

    But we know that with a little hair, and a little weight ('Lijah's one of those long, skinny babies) our boy will look like something other than Mr. Magoo in time.

    And hey, there must have been a Mrs. Magoo at some point in time, right????

  110. Pam, ah, that's a good point.

    Background could make her seek Godliness through womanliness.

    Dianna, that's food for thought.

  111. Tina, with yours the sky's the limit because as long as the prototype scenario is believable (and who hasn't time-traveled lately??? Shirley Maclaine and I are BFF's in ancient Greece. For real.)

    you can present your story in your own way, it just has to:

    Make sense with the timeline

    (Mary and I both butcher those, we would totally wipe out unless someone read our work and cleaned up the timeline for us. Now she'll write a time-travel historical inspirational western just to prove me wrong. Sigh...)

    So if your timeline is okay, and the reasoning behind WHY HE IS WHERE HE IS works, then the elements are in place.

    As far as relationships go, the same thing applies: Basics. Your conflict of time keeping them apart always works, but then they keep finding a way around it. Clever people.

    One of Karen White's earliest books was a time travel, fun book, about a displaced woman who finds herself back in time...

    Loved it.

    Since the romantic elements don't change, your people still have to deal with all the REGULAR romance strife and then conquer their fears and or objections to displacing themselves entirely.

    Not an easy choice.

  112. Pam, Sorry I'm just getting back to you, but my boss actually expects me to do work for my paycheck! Can you believe that? :o)

    To answer your questions: No it isn't really a suspense. Picture a ticked off ex-fiancee who wants her quarterback back. An irate father of the ex-fiancee with money and influence who happens to be a media mogul. And a guy who thought the heroine should end up with him.

  113. I love that Pam is on a roll here.

    Pam has great insight, she see's beyond the norm and picks at things like a teen with zits until she nails down that tiny bit of info that helps cement a conflict from multiple directions.

    (Like that analogy, Pammers???)

  114. Ah, Helen, you're talkin' to a true baseball lover here.

    Albert Pujols? A class of his own. Oh my stars, you should hear Dave talk about him. Makes me wanna put on pinstripes to get attention. ;)

    But now Jeter...


    It ain't all about the game.

    That's all I'm sayin', girlfriend.

  115. So we're talkin' either "Cassie" of Montana Rose
    Glowing Sun of Wildflower Bride. Not just like them, but similar prototypes.

    I have to admit I haven't read either of those two. I don't like reading stories similar to mine until mine's said and done. But, in this case, I think I'd better or I may be wasting my time.

    Yeah, the 7-8 yrs is extreme. I'm not sure what I'll have for that. I don't even really like the room idea but she's such a strong-willed character, if she wasn't 'tied down', she would've found her own way home.

    Thanks Ruthy, I appreciate your advise.


  116. Helen, better, much better. Now I have a clearer picture.

    But Dad's not sounding too smart and way too controlling, so we need that heroine to outsmart him or "out" him on stuff, to stand on her own two feet.

    He can't be Mr. Nice guy over the kid and be Mr. Dishonest over the boyfriend, especially when the boyfriend wasn't involved and that gets proven. Stir up trouble with him... He's already shown that he's controlling and invasive.

    Don't solve their problems too quickly (which I'm so prone to do!!! It's the mother in us, the nice person coming through.)

    Make 'em suffer. But be nice to the kid. I like the kid and I don't even know him.

    No mama and no papa.

    Poor baby.

  117. Susan great beginning.

    The first thing that popped out at me was her reason for coming home is too passive. Too 'tuck-your-tail' and run....

    Have something MAKE her come home, kicking and screaming (not really, but wanting to)

    Her sister needs a transplant, her cousin's mother is dying and they need help, something that makes her come back even though she was gone and is now edumacated beyond belief...

    And then she can hang out awhile to heal if necessary, like they're doing her a big FAVOR, and she wants the help but doesn't want it, and she needs a job, and takes one that isn't in her exact field, but OKAY, SHE'LL TAKE IT because it's offered.

    I see her torn between being back and having to be back, and torn between what she sought away from the hometown and what she found.

    So we have her conflict from every which way, but what's his? Why is he back? Why isn't he hurting? Why isn't he jaded? Scarred? Bored? Jilted? Scorned?

    Nice guys finish last for a reason, and not that we don't want him nice, we want him nice but in need of SOME SERIOUS HEALING ONLY SHE CAN PROVIDE because she's God's chosen mate for him....

    It's his destiny.

    We just have to smack him upside the head to see it, right?

  118. Ruthy and everyone else, thanks for today. I love when people push me to think outside my little box and you guys have delivered as usual. I got some great insight to my characters from you today.


  119. You guys rock.


    I know it takes guts to put it out there, to throw ideas around, always wonderin' what people are thinking....

    This was SO MUCH FUN!!!!

    I had a serious great time with all of it, and I'm so glad a few of the gals got in here to play as well.

    And that you guys bounced together.

    Plotstorming or brainstorming or whatever you want to call it is just plain good sense to jump-start us into stronger layers.

    Great seed planters.

    And HANNAH, my little amazing graduate with a gazillion awards!!!

    Oh mylanta, girl, you have done such a wonderful job of completing a great high school career and then careening yourself into a great position for college. Every parent here is So stinkin' proud of you.

    You rock, girlfriend, and in more ways than I can enumerate here.

    Glad to know you. Hugs and kisses to you!


  120. Thanks for your help, Ruthy.

    Great food for thought!



  121. EVERYBODY!!

    This post has confirmed an idea that's been hovering in my mind for some time now.

    I think Soon-to-be-Vacant Seekerville should be renovated into an academy. I'm sure there are a number of us out here who would love to sign up and take more classes like this.


  122. Ruthy,

    I cannot believe you remember that story line! I thought i sent a different one to you!!

    I'm thinking you've all worked yourself into a frenzy today and I've been hanging with my kids. I'm not sure whether to answer some of the questions.
    If I did win the mss review, you could see the answers to your quesitons :) I don't remember if it's a random drawing or you choose a topic....
    Today's conversation has been helpful!

  123. Ruthy,
    That wasn't so bad.
    I only cried a little after ready it ;-)
    Wait...I WAS peeling onions.
    Okay- so...
    Got the point about wimp Sam. Definitely. Don't want that.

    ASHLEIGH's story is the one I want to write. And handling it well I know firsthand.
    Dad is dead, painful, cancer-filled death.
    Sister doesn't know about the abuse. Ashleigh 'protected' her sister from it, so her sister only sees the fact that their father loved Ashleigh more than her.
    The only people who know about it are the mom, Ashleigh, and Ashleigh's ex-fiance (who overheard her father's deathbed confession) - besides a really witty and sage-like housekeeper.'s my problem then.
    Ashleigh wants to start an orphange for WWI orphans. (when she gets to England seh discovers her family's fortune has been greatly depleted by her sister the socialite)
    She also wants a healthy family - being a mom, all that sort of stuff.
    She doesn't think she can have that AND let a man know the truth about her past.
    It seems to be she'd be her own worst enemy. Or am I confused.

  124. Thank you, Ruthy, for doing this today. It was a lot of fun, educational, and very entertaining.

  125. My heroine, Lucy, is a 50 something woman who discovers after 32 years that what she's thanked God for may not be true. It looks as though she DID marry an alcoholic after all...late onset. As she struggles to accept the facts and take action, she encounters all the old fears of her childhood w/an alcoholic dad.

    In addition, her son goes through a nasty divorce. Lucy and her husband "rescue" him by buying a business he will eventually take over, and she is stuck in the office. What she wants to do is work on her WIP.

    The son treats her disdainfully, but she can't just "write him off," b/c she wants to see her grandchildren. Her grandson shows signs of terrible insecurity, and she wants to be there for him.

    At the same time, her best friend is recovering from her first battle w/cancer, but it recurs, and Lucy knows she is dying. Will Lucy be able, through Al-Anon and a new online critique partner who happens to be a Texas rancher's wife with a down-to-earth sense of humor, to survive and thrive?
    Thank you, I hope this gets there - Gail at

  126. I ended up having a girls evening out with my daughter (finally saw Letters to Juliet!!) and didn't get back online last night.

    Ruthy and Pam, thanks for the great questions to ask my hero. I've definitely gotta sit down and figure out what made him a bad boy.

    Thanks for your help!

  127. Ruthy, Sandra and Renee,

    Thanks for the helpful comments! This has been great!

    Dianna - as soon as you began to comment on Missy's post that you knew someone with a similar situation - I knew you were talking about A Better Way Ministries. Love those guys!!