Monday, December 13, 2010

Perfect? Or Charlie?

There are many hard things about creating a story. The characters. The world they live in. But, I think one of the hardest for me is naming the hero and heroine. When I write a draft, I usually just slap names to the characters.

But, I find not using a permanent name really hurts the story. How can I imagine what the hero is going to say next when I've tagged him as Abe Vigoda? (Those of you who grew up in the era of Barney Miller and Fish will know what I'm talking about.)

Instead of the sweet talking 28-year-old he's supposed to be, my character becomes a grumbling 75-year-old.

So, I have to name my characters in advance. The problem here is I really like to think about the names. To me, it's like naming your own child. It can be a long process.

Any thoughts on how to shorten it and still be happy w/ the name?

Abbi :-)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Not My Baby, No Way -- Part Three

So, as part of my campaign to not coddle my writing, I said I'd put more of my work out there. Here's the first chapter of Stealing Joe Flanigan's Underwear, which will no longer be a part of the book. And, yes, it was very hard for me to give up this chapter. But, it's backstory, not in the present.

And, yes, this story is almost a parody. I grew up watching Mel Brooks movies. Enjoy. :-)


No more protecting skirts.

Picking himself up out of the dirt for the third time in less than five minutes, Brett McKinley repeated his vow: no more protecting skirts. Hell, the next time he saw a skirt after he left this continent, he’d make an immediate about-face and high-tail it out of the room.

After he finished this mission, he’d take his skills somewhere where they’d be more appreciated. Like maybe a life guard on Redondo Beach. Or maybe a bartender in Key West. He wasn’t Tom Cruise but he could mix up a mean drink.

He scanned the Australian landscape for the completely insane woman who didn’t understand limits – his boss, Dorie Albright. He found her, hanging off the side of a cliff, her hands playing a game of Russian roulette, seeking more stable ground with each grasp.

She wasn’t going to find it. This was a record dry year for southwestern Australia and the ground was brittle. He dashed toward her, hoping to catch her before she fell off, providing food for the sharks in the ocean beneath her.

Not exactly what he expected for his first trip to Australia. Then again, none of this had been what he expected. This job, his grandfather’s last wish for him before he died. His grandfather had made it sound like an honorable job, more honorable than any of the duty he’d done with the Army and the Airborne Rangers. Chasing after crazy women. Psycho women stealing chest hair. That’s what it was.

He’d told Dorie this whole plan was a bad deal. Like any breathing male, he was certain Hugh Jackman valued his chest hair. But, she wouldn’t listen. “I have to do it for the company. For our family,” she’d said.

He skidded to his knees as he reached the edge of the cliff.

“Brett. Save it.” Dorie’s voice sounded ragged as if she had trouble catching her breath. She couldn’t hold on for much longer.

Brett laid prone as close to the edge as he could get and extended his left hand out to her. “Dorie, grab my hand.”

“No.” Still ragged with extended wheezing between sentences. “Save the hair.”

The hair? She meant the acquisition they staked out for more than 36 hours. Her sitting in a too-tight polka dot bikini and he fending off her passes. He used the excuse to check around the beach for “checkpoints” to leave whenever she got too aggressive. Dorie was cute with her coal black shoulder-length hair and pear-shaped slightly overweight torso, but her ‘you’re my property’ was a huge turn-off for him.

The wind pushed a gust between them and Dorie grabbed his hand. A scream escaped and deafened his ears.

“It’s okay. I’ve got you. Give me your other hand.” Brett tightened his grip on her hand and reached out for her other. He tightened every muscle possible to transfer his strength to his arms. “Come on. We’re almost there.”

“No,” her scream more desperate than plaintive. “You have to save it. You have to save the hair!”

Okay, Dorie was undoubtedly psychotic from the hang on the cliff. Or the escape from the Bondi police. He noticed her abnormal gaze had turned away from him, her focus more intent. “You have to save the hair. It’s more important.”

With his muscles stretched to the max, he could only turn his head a little. But, it was all he needed to see what had caught Dorie’s attention. A piece of fly paper no bigger than a small envelope lay part against a large rock, the rest flapping in the wind. When it got away from the rock, the paper’s trajectory looked like the same as Dorie’s – into the South Pacific Ocean.

The fly paper. What she’d used to steal this guy’s chest hair. Oh, hell. Was she kidding? Nothing, even her life was worth this.

She had a crazed look in her eyes. The same gaze he’d seen in many soldiers after they’d seen one too many violent deaths. Dorie had yet to see a death he knew about. Or so he thought. “You have to. I won’t let it get away.”

Brett jerked the arm holding Dorie. “Wake up, woman! It’s not worth it.”

Her psychotic gaze diminished and her eyes turned dark black. He could feel the heat increasing in her arms and she tugged right back. “It will be worth millions. Go get the hair!”

He tried to reason. “Okay, but only after I get you off this cliff. Now, GIVE ME YOUR OTHER HAND.”

She moved and the tension in his lower back eased a centimeter. He waited for her to swing her hand up to him. Her head moved and a searing pain flashed through his forearm. She bit him. His lower back reverted to an even higher level of tension forcing him to push out the pain from his body and focus only on holding on to Dorie. She’d bit him and he almost lost his grip. “Are you nuts, Dorie?”

Another blast of heated wind and Brett’s arm started to feel numb. He could feel his trapezoids burning. If he didn’t get her up soon, he’d be joining her over the side of the cliff. “For pity’s sake, Dorie, just – “

A new, sharper pain jolted through his hand – she’d bitten him again – and he let go out of self-preservation. As he clutched his hand to his chest, he watched Dorie – the skirt he failed to protect – fall to the ocean. Her last words echoed toward him: “Save the hair . . . “

He rolled over and planted his face in the ground, inhaling specks of sand and dirt. He repeated his vow: No more protecting skirts.


While, yes, there are problems w/ this chapter, the main issue is Dorie. I love Dorie and this is the second time I've started SJFU with a chapter including her. Unfortunately, this isn't Dorie's story. And while I like totally wacko Dorie, I need to focus on the h/h: Josie and Brett.

Abbi :-)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Magical Wizardry of Writing

The following happenings occurred on the night of 11/07/10.

It’s 4am and I’m finally sitting down during a very busy 12 hour shift (it started at 7pm). My head is spinning and I’m surprised I can still speak in coherent sentences. Both of my patients are new admissions and very sick. In addition to this, I have two new nurses in my module with me and I have been their resource for questions or concerns.

I want to sleep, but I still have charting to do. Labs will need to be drawn in an hour. A nurse from another module approaches me a smile on his face. “Hey, Barbara. Writer Barbara.”

“Hey Mohammed. What’s up?

“I need you to write something for me.”

Write? Like now? Sure, let me get my mighty pencil and sharpen my brain. I sigh.
“What do you need?”

“I need a thesis statement.

Riiiiight. A thesis statement. “You want a statement, right? Not a whole thesis . . .”

“All I want is a statement to help me get going. To work my project around.”

That can’t be too hard, right? “Well, I can’t promise how good it’ll be. My brain is toast right now.

“Oh, it’s not that hard. You’re a writer. You can do it.

If I wasn’t so tired. I would’ve been laughing about right then. I pull out a piece of physician progress notes and pick up my pen. “Okay, what is the statement about?"

“I need a thesis statement that makes an affirmative of bradycardia (slow heart rate) and tachycardia (fast heart rate) in a clinical setting.”

I didn’t drop my pen, but I almost did.


It amazes me how many people think how easy it is to write. How writers just pull finished manuscripts from their minds and get them published. No rewriting or revising. No blood, sweat and tears.

Maybe it is the case for some writers, but not for me. Anyone have the key to the Magical Wizardry of Writing? Is there a Hogwarts school I missed?

BTW, I did write the statement. Then minutes later, I had to rush to a code.

Abbi :-)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Win a Spa Package!

I'm busy with NaNoWriMo but I wanted to take a moment and highlight a cool contest and a great book. My local CP Lynne Silver's first book is out and as part of the release she's offering a home spa package to one commenter on her blog.

And here's a little about her book:

Catherine Schilling has done nothing but work since her divorce a year ago. A trip to Rapture Spa seems like the perfect way to begin pampering herself and having some fun. But Catherine soon learns that Rapture isn't like other spas, starting with her irresistibly sexy massage therapist, Hunter. His sensual massage turns too erotic, too forbidden to allow...but Catherine and Hunter's attraction is too strong to deny. And luckily for Catherine, Hunter agrees that one session just isn't enough....

So hope on over to her site or eHarlequin and check it out.

Congrats, Lynne!

Abbi :-)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Is it Live or Is It Memorex?

Many who know me (and even some who wish they didn't), know I'm a Chris Pine fan. Adore his voice and some of his movies.

So, as I was doing a little cyber-stalking, I came upon a cover photo of Pine that will be on the stands next week. It's an eh picture compared to an inside photo. But, there was one aspect that concerned me. Take a look at the cover:

I can't help but wonder if those are really his arms or if they've been touched up a bit with Photoshop. Or did someone mess up a photo and have to fix it for some reasons. I can't really fathom how they could be real. Arm muscles just don't bulge that way when you're in that position.

Part of me is like: It's not for me to say. The other part -- the part that works in an ICU -- wonders if someone's overdoing the workout thing a bit.

Here's another photo which is much nicer.

Okay, Chris Pine fix done for the month.

Abbi :-)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sale Shout Outs

Time to celebrate!

Congratulations to two writing friends who've sold to Harlequin Mills & Boon.

Amy Strnad to Modern Heat
Wendy Marcus to Medical

It couldn't have happened to two nicer people. I look forward to cheering both of you on through your careers.

Abbi :-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Not My Baby, No Way -- Part Deux

As part of my Not My Baby, No Way campaign, I submitted the first chapter of one of my mss in the Mills & Boon New Voices contest. You can see the first chapter of How to Marry a Brazilian here.

I have to admit, it wasn't an easy decision. I still have a medical romance I am working on, but I didn't feel I could have the first chapter polished in time to meet the deadline. Plus, I really like the beginning of my new medical. Tentative title for the medical: Countdown to a Wedding.

So, now I have a draft almost ready to sub to Desire, one to M&B Medical and my single title. I think my plate is full.

Abbi :-)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What to Read? Everything.

Time for serious Abbi to talk.

If you're a writer, you read, bottom line. In his bookOn Writing, Stephen King wrote: "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or tools to write."

Well, I'd like to add a little twist to that: Don't just read what you intend, to write, include what you don't intend to write on that TBR pile/list.

If you're focus is single title, then read short contemporary. If you want to write for Harlequin Presents, read Silhouette Desire or even Silhouette Romantic Suspense.

Why? Because you will learn about the differences between styles and genres. I think if you just read within the line or genre you're targeting you won't pick up on those subtle differences.

Reading a mystery, may help you come up with a plot twist for your series contemporary. Reading short contemporaries will give you a better grasp on inner conflict.

So what do you think?

Abbi :-)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Recasting a Story

Before you read my post, you need to go over and read the post by one of my critique partners and Sassy Sister Jane Mulberry.

Any-who, I'm in the process of rewriting the story I subbed for the HQN Medical pitch earlier this year. It's not as light as it used to be which means I have to recast. It means this guy is no longer Hayden:

Chris Pine was great as Hayden when I needed someone to be funny and quirky. I just can't see him as the serious type. Maybe someday if he does a Kramer vs. Kramer, I'll rethink it.

So, here's my new Hayden:

Tahmoh Penikett was my most recent Peek of the Week on the Sassy Sisters' blog. I think he qualifies better as someone who's trying to figure out why his lover of three years doesn't want to marry him. Brooding Hotness on the Rocks as I've nick-named him. Don't ya think?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Contest Critique Rant

I was going to talk about Stealing Joe Flanigan's Underwear tonight, but I've decided to change topics. I will get back to SJFU tomorrow.

I received contest scores for the second book I am subbing (not my baby, no way) -- Guillermo's List (GL). Guillermo's List is the story of two sisters who must deal with the aftermath of a medical error. The first chapter takes place in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and a bereavement room.

Let me preface this by saying I am extremely critical of my writing and I listen to and try to take criticism effectively. But, when the critique tries to tell me something that I experienced and put into words couldn't happen or questions the feasibility of it happening, then I get a little upset.

I've been in a bereavement room. I know how many people are there to talk to the family. I know under what situations medical errors can occur. I know how people react. And, if a person reacts contrary to how you think someone should react, why is that a problem? Each situation is different for each person. We have to take that into effect when we judge entries.

The good news is people seem to like my writing. I just seemed to get marked down for things that have nothing to do with my writing. How can you write about what you know when no one believes it can happen?

I just might post my first chap tomorrow. Or, we can talk about SJFU. Any votes?

Putting up my happy picture.

Abbi :-)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Not My Baby, No Way -- Part I

So there was this discussion on Twitter-- prompted from a discussion at RomCon -- about how you should treat your book. It's not your baby and it shouldn't be treated as such. Writing/publishing is a business.

I've decided to take that approach with two stories that are important to me: Guillermo's List and Stealing Joe Flanigan's Underwear. Now this doesn't mean that I am just going to throw them willy-nilly out to the world for everyone to see. But, I am going not hold onto them so much anymore.

First step, Stealing Joe Flanigan's Underwear goes out today. I will tell you more about that story and Guillermo's List tomorrow night. (Will be at Boy Scouts tomorrow.)

Abbi :-)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

So Many Hats, So Little Time

I’ve been out lately, working on projects that mean a lot to me.

My new blog, Nurses in Literature, is intended as a forum highlighting nurses who write, whether fiction or nonfiction. It's still a baby, but I'm working to build it up.

I am now co-blogging with my international critique partners at Seven Sassy Sisters.

I will continue to post here once a week, but if you want to really keep up with me, the above two blogs are the place to find me. I need to manage my writing time as well as time in my job and with my family.

Hope to see everyone around the ‘net!

Abbi :-)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Let's Celebrate!

CONGRATULATIONS to my CP Jessica Darago for being a 2010 Golden Heart finalist.

And another congrats to another CP and fellow nurse, Jane Mulberry, for completing her current WIP.

I'm very proud of both of you.

Abbi :-)

Friday, April 2, 2010

With a Little Help from . . . Underwear

No one ever said writing is easy and I tend to agree. Writing is about discovering your passion, discovering what works for you and discovering your voice. Luck does come into play, but I think the three aforementioned are just as important.

I am realizing I need to be positive about this journey and believe in myself. And maybe some underwear (to be defined later).

So, I'm done with the first draft of SFJU and I am receiving positive comments. Now to send it to my critique group and out to others. Yikes!

Someday, I will be able to explain this and people will understand.

Abbi :-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

On Judging Contests

MH aspiring writer Rachael Johns has a great post about the subjectivity of contest scores. Read it if you are subbing to contests.

I would like to talk about judging contests. Over the past several months, I have judged contests and I am currently a coordinator for my local RWA chapter. When you judge, some contests coordinators will send you a table of overall results, yours and other judges in your specialty. This allows you to see just how well you judged other manuscripts compared to your peers .

I like these results because I care about how I judge others manuscripts. Was I too hard on someone? Generally my scores are in line with other judges. But, this last contest, I scored much higher than a couple of other judges.

Which leads me to my point:

What manuscript warrants a score of 29 out of 100 points? Yes, you read that right. 29 out of 100. My answer: NO ONE. There is really no purpose to scoring someone really low in a contest except to kill someone’s spirit. And, IMHO, that is not the purpose of contests. They are here to help aspiring writers.

Most people who score below an 85 will not make the finals so a score of 29 is overkill.

My suggestion: Make your lowest score a three. You point will still come across with 3s.

Abbi :-)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Which is More Important: The Super Bowl or Caring for the Sick?

A little bit of snow fell this weekend where I live. The main roads are plowed but the side roads, ie., my street haven't been touched.

I work tonight 7p-7a and I had a feeling getting into work would be a problem. I am working on it. Why? Because people will be too busy watching the Super Bowl to help nurses get to hospitals and take care of sick patients.

And, once I get to work, my place of employment can't guarantee I will have a way to get home.

I really hope everyone enjoys the game.

AC :-)

Monday, February 1, 2010

You Don't Know Me . . .

My blog is back up. Abbi Cantrell I am.

This blog will be about writing. And, because it is not the ONLY thing I do in my life, it will be about the other things as well: family, work (nursing) and life.

And, I am going to start out with a little fun. The ABC's of Romance started by my creative critique group.

WoooHooo for remembering the letter Q!

Abbi :-)