Posts Tagged ‘Scarlet Whisper’

Let’s just not talk about how I haven’t blogged lately. You and I both know only two people care, anyway. And you are NOT one of those individuals.

Let’s talk about the new adventure keeping me busy: REVISION

(Look! I’ve included random John Williams movie theme awesomeness to inspire your revisions!)

As I write this, I am slashing my way through the deep, dark jungles of revision for my agent, searching for the lost Tiki of backstory & characterization. When I finally lay hands on this ruby eyed idol, I’ll be one step closer to submitting my project.

How to get through this jungle full of Indiana Jones sized pitfalls? I definitely have strategies for coping. Here are my three tips for survival.

1.) Embrace criticism. Exploit it for all it’s worth.

The revision process is a great opportunity to grow and develop as a writer, so when your beta readers, your friends, and even your agent share feedback, really listen with an open mind. Yes, I’m talking to you, the tortured misunderstood artist. In my experience, the person giving feedback is right more often than not.

Neil Gaiman on critique:

“…when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

Bottom line: Listen, then fix it already!

2. ) Don’t just write during revisions…read, too!

If something is not working, stepping away from your work and immersing yourself in something else might be helpful. When I struggle, I always pull up a pile of great novels and read excerpts with a critical eye. I notice the different styles and elements which make the stories work. I analyze the mix of narrative vs. dialogue, description vs. action, etc.

While I would never try to imitate any other writer’s voice, I think it helps to admire the artistry of good craft. If I read good stuff, it helps me write my own good stuff.

Honestly, show me a terrible writer and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t read.

2.) Write yourself a revision letter.

Tell yourself what you’d like to see in a new draft. Lay it all out there and take yourself to task. Make specific suggestions to your writer self. Then take your own advice and whip your WIP into shape!

3.) Take your time and be strategic.

I go over my manuscript many, many times, focusing on different issues each time. One pass for the protagonist’s voice, one pass for general world-building issues, etc.

And don’t forget what my friend Rosemary Clement Moore says, do overs are allowed!

Hungry for more?

If you are busy poking around on your revisions and pouring your heart into making it better, you might enjoy this recipe for Chocolate Caramel Poke and Pour Cake.


Have you ever gotten a present so incredible, so meaningful, so awesome it almost made you cry?

Can you hear me sniffle? ‘Cause I just celebrated my birthday at the DFW Writer’s conference last weekend, and I got one of those gifts.


Friday night, my workshop friends arranged a little birthday bash in our hotel room. The regular gang was there, plus even a few super fab agents. Oh yeah. We had cake.

So then, my friends Alex and Sally bring a present wrapped in rock and roll wrapping paper. (Yeah, they know me too well.) I rip the paper off and this is what I see.

Scarlet Whisper Stalks the Stacks

As you can see, Sally is a very talented graphic artist and illustrator. I’m so grateful to have a custom, signed print of SCARLET WHISPER! And how cool is this caption?

And don’t forget, I owe Alex, too. After all, he is the guy who pulled my alter ego’s name out of thin air. At IHOP. Of course.

In short, the DFW Writers’ conference was unforgettable in many ways.

How about you? Has anyone ever gone above and beyond to give you a memorable gift? Tell me about it!

Hungry for more? Try this recipe for Raspberry Red Velvet Torte.


Hullo there.

Er, sorry for not blogging last week.  I’ve been polishing up my new project. I’d tell you about it, but I’d have to shush you. Permanently.

Anyhoo, let’s see a show of hands. How many of you writers out there have doubts about your writing? How many of you wake up everyday knowing you’re a genius scribbler?


My friends sometimes give me a hard time about this, but I must confess: Aside from Scarlet Whisper, Librarian/Rock Star/International Jewel Thief,  I also have ANOTHER alter ego. Yes, I am the (not so super) hero known as UNCERTAIN GIRL.

Uncertain Girl has one ridiculous ability, the Paralyzing Power of Indecision. Twenty times a day, Uncertain Girl changes how she feels about her own writing. One minute, she’s onto something good. The next, she doubts she can string a first rate sentence together.

Uncertain Girl has never had a day in which she felt totally, completely, utterly brilliant about a WIP.

Is that a bad thing?

According to Nathan Bransford (one of the galaxy’s most kindly and crazy cool agents), it’s okay to be uncertain. Here’s why.

See? I don’t have to think I’m awesome. I just have to be passionate, committed,  and ready to grow as a writer.

I’m happy to be imperfect me. I’m (maybe) good enough. I’m (probably) smart enough. And doggone it, (some) people like me!

I’m enjoying this unpredictable up and down journey. How about you? Please don’t leave me hanging. I’d love to know how you feel about uncertainty.

Hungry for more?

If you’re feeling anxious, try working out your issues by making these Aggression Cookies. Stress was never so yummy!

Disclaimer: Intentional Use of Bad Metaphor, Read at Your Own Risk.

Naturally, Scarlet Whisper has to crack a few safes/vaults/heads to get the jewels.

As her mild-mannered alter ego, I’m more into cerebral lock picking. Lately, I’ve been struggling to unlock the secrets of characterization and emotional tension.

See…I just finished my WIP, which has a face melting premise, lots of snarktastic twists, and plenty of fist flying action. (Did I mention the Evil Elvii? And the Volcanoes? There’s always those.)


I have to deliver more than that. My characters can’t just move from one scene like CGI ninjas on a green screen. My tale needs depth and heart. The reader needs to get inside the mind of the protagonist.

Whoa…sometimes, I don’t feel up to the task of this whole writing gig.

It’s a good thing I have writing mentors. The League of Extraordinary Writers, the superfriends who meet every Wednesday for DFWWW and IHOP post mortem are my saving grace.

Their advice and critique is priceless. The tips and tricks are like a locksmith’s tools. I can use them to crack the writing code. I can  listen and learn and read examples of good stuff. Once the door is open, it’s like I’m rolling around in a pile of greenbacks and sparkly stones.


All week, I’ve been marking up passages of favorite books and posts. I’m analyzing good passages and taking notes.

I’m picking locks.

I’d love to know what writing obstacles you struggle with. What has helped YOU?

Hungry for More? Try my banana pudding, a dish modeled after one of Elvis Presley’s favorite desserts.

The Evil Elvii’s Favorite Banana Pudding

3 reg. sized boxes instant vanilla pudding mix

5 cups milk

8 ounces sour cream (yeah, you read that right)

12 ounces Cool Whip

2 boxes vanilla wafers

10 bananas

In a large bowl, blend pudding mix with milk (use a wire whisk). Add sour cream and half the cool whip. Mix well. Set aside. In a large bowl or dish, layer in the following order: cookies, bananas and pudding mixture. Top with remaining cool whip.


Now, for today’s lesson:

di-dac-tic –adjective

1. intended for instruction; instructive: didactic poetry.

2. inclined to teach or lecture others too much: a boring, didactic speaker.

3. teaching or intending to teach a moral lesson.

4. didactics, (used with a singular verb) the art or science of teaching.

If you were to read Scarlet Whisper’s origin story (Action Comics #666), you’d learn that as a child, I attended Sunday School every week.

In these moral fiber knitting sessions, sweet little old ladies shared a lot of “application stories.” Some sort of flip chart, poster board, flannel graph, or book story was presented in order to “teach a lesson.”

These stories were didactic by design.

They were also usually boring.

Take a gander at some of the lovely illustrations from actual examples.

Look closely: Are they children or frolicking Stepford robots?

In these stories, the pictures and words are all about telegraphing an explicit message. Ala After School Special mode, the reader is told how to think about a given situation.

One of the more “edgy” stories…


 Maybe that’s why I always hated those stories. When a book does all the heavy lifting, by answering all the important questions, what is left for the reader to do?

The best stories allow the reader to grapple with questions and issues for themselves. The message is oblique and awaits discovery.

Maybe that’s why my favorite application story was never Grandma Takes Rainbow Kitty to the Dentist or Too Much Candy for Tommy Tuttle.

Instead, I always prayed the little old ladies would read The Giving Tree again. The spare illustrations and simple words leave a lot the imagination, but it’s Shel Silverstein’s message which stayed with me all these years.

Once there was a tree...

 I’d love to know what you think about the modes and messages of books.

 Hungry for more?

Check out this wonderful discussion on didactism in children’s literature. And you might enjoy my Seven Layer Bars. These gooey sweet treats are a lot to chew on.

Seven Layer Bars


1/2 cup real butter

1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup milk choc. chips

1/2 cup semi-sweet choc. chips

1 cup coconut

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup Heath or Skor toffee bits

Melt the butter, pour into a 9 by 13 pan. Layer the rest of the ingredients in the order above. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Binge!

Thank goodness @IrisBlasi sent me this book. 

I’m devouring Flawless, Union Square Press’ sparkling new non-fiction title. Within the pages, authors Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell (Blood Diamonds) detail the events surrounding the greatest diamond heist in history.

Half a billion dollars in gems boosted from an impenetrable underground vault within Antwerp’s locked down diamond district?

Oh yeah, Scarlet Whisper is all over this one.

What kind of Librarian/Rock Star/International Jewel Thief would I be if I didn’t do my homework on this dazzling book?

A rich veneer of history overlays the narrative. With focus and clarity, Flawless examines not only the oft politicized roots of diamond industry but also the origins of the gems themselves. As the world’s most liquid commodity, for centuries these  jewels have been mined and funneled into the pockets of tycoons and tyrants alike. 

Millions of dollars worth of carats are passed from hand to hand…and it all happens in Belgium, baby.  Antwerp rose to prominence over a century to become the center of world diamond trade. The book thoroughly explores the dichotomy between Antwerp’s moneyed diamond district and the surrounding tourist infested streets before transporting the reader to the backrooms and back alleys of Turin, Italy, a haven for mystics and thieves.

While the locales are in intriguing enough by themselves, the criminal masterminds responsible for the heist hijack the reader’s attention. Leonardo Notarbartolo and his gang of thieves are anything but the usual suspects; the “School of Turin” makes Danny Ocean’s crew look like small time crooks.

Flawless outshines most of the historical capers I’ve seen on the shelves. You’ll want to snag a copy. The execution of the premise is THAT good. Even though the loot has never been recovered, you’ll enjoy slipping into the shadows to follow the footsteps of the suspects.

Hungry for more? Then try these luscious lemon bars. While they aren’t sprinkled with diamond dust, the recipe is worth stealing.


Are you ready to see a Rock-tastic face melting performance?

Then I suggest you iTunes  a Kings of Leon video.

Are you ready to watch Scarlet Whisper make a fool of herself?

Then look no further. I am here to amuse you. And make your ears bleed.

You’ve heard Eye of the Tiger. Now listen to EYE OF THE AGENT!

Eye of The Agent
Risin’ up, back in the slush,
Took my crits and I revised.
Went to workshop, and I rewrote this mush
Just a hack and her will to survive. 

So many times, it happened so fast,
An auto-reject from Bransford
Don’t lose your grip on your work in progress,
You must write just keep it alive 

It’s the eye of the agent, it’s the thrill of the slush
Risin’ up to the challenge of the query,
And the last known survivor gets a partial request,
And he’s watchin’ us all in the eye of the agent. 

Page to page, stuck in the inbox,
Hangin’ tough, keep on scribblin’
Full rejections with a scrap of feedback,
Help us kill, find the will to revise. 

It’s the eye of the agent, it’s thrill of the slush,
Risin’ up to the challenge of the query,
And the last known survivor gets a partial request
And he’s watchin’ us all in the eye of the agent. 

Risin’ up, straight to the pile,
Killed my gerunds and my adverbs.
Got some tension, now I’m not gonna stop,
Just hack and her will to survive 

The eye of the agent… 

Still Hungry?

Make like Elvis and grab a hunk o’ Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

2 sticks butter

8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, or cut up  bars

5 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

4 teaspoons flour

8 extra-large paper muffin cups (or use greased ramekins).

Melt butter and chocolate on very low heat; remove from heat. Beat eggs, sugar and salt with a hand mixer in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixture into chocolate until smooth. Combine with flour.   Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a standard-size muffin tin (1/2 cup capacity or use ramekins) with 8 extra-large muffin papers. Spray muffin papers with cooking spray. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until cakes puff but center is not set, 8 to 10 minutes. Pull papers away from cakes or lift out cakes before serving.


1. a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, esp. one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature

New buzz on the Percy Jackson Lightning Thief movie, anyone?

Check out School Library Journal’s inside scoop on the movie companion guide.

2. an imaginary or fictitious thing or person.

Is Scarlet Whisper: Librarian/Rockstar/International Jewel Thief a mythological creature?


3. an unproved or false collective belief.

Check out super ninja agents Brandi Bowles, Emmanuelle Alspaugh, Colleen Lindsay and Jason Allen Ashlock bust myths about queries, agents, and publishing in general. This eight minute clip features their panel discussion from the 2009 Backspace convention. The video is truly worth a look.

Hungry for more?

Try my Italian Cream Cake. Although it’s delish, I don’t recommend trying to sneak it into the Percy Jackson movie.

Italian Cream Cake

1/2 shortening (butter flavor Crisco is best)

1 stick butter

5 eggs

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 cups coconut

1 cup chopped nuts (pecans are great)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup butter milk

Cream shortening, butter, and sugar. Add eggs. Beat well. Add buttermilk, soda, flour, coconut, nuts and vanilla. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Makes three 9 inch layers. Cool completely. Frost.


1 stick butter, softened

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1 box powdered sugar (3 3/4 cups)

1 cup chopped nuts (optional, I don’t add them)

1 tsp. vanilla.

Combine until smooth. Frost your cake, then frost your beak.


Saturday night, folks from my writers’ group came over for a RockBand/Guitar Hero night.

Writers’ Rocksgiving.

I never knew we had so many headbangers and fist pumpers in our scribbler’s gang.

And of course…Scarlet Whisper made an appearance with her signature encore: Helter Skelter on Beatles RockBand.

I lose all inhibition (and dignity) wailing Helter Skelter. Imagine a tone deaf Paul McCartney in Janis Joplin drag performing a Vegas Style lounge act rendition. That kinda sums it up.

Can’t stop myself. I love that song. It’s become my writing anthem.

When I get to the bottom
I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and turn
and I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again

Revision after revision after revision. You edit your manuscript until the sight of it makes you want to hurl all over your Chuck Taylors. And then you work on it some more.

Do you don’t you want me to love you
I’m coming down fast but I’m miles above you

You waver. One day, you believe you possess a glimmer of talent. The next (after your query incites a chorus of crickets), you embrace the enormity of your writing suckage.

Tell me tell me come on tell me the answer
and you may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer

You turn to your beta readers, your crit group, your spouse and your second grade teacher (or worse, your mom) to analyze what is wrong with your book.

I will you won’t you want me to make you
I’m coming down fast but don’t let me break you

You put your manuscript aside. You start a new project.

Tell me tell me tell me the answer
You may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer

You play the waiting game with agents. You persevere.

Look out
Helter skelter
helter skelter
helter skelter
Look out cause here she comes

And one golden day, you get a manuscript request (or two, or six). Maybe it’s a partial. Maybe it’s a full. You’re back on the roller coaster.

When I get to the bottom
I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and turn
and I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Well will you won’t you want me to make you
I’m coming down fast but don’t let me break you

Look out
Helter skelter
helter skelter
helter skelter

Rejection? Maybe. Who knows.

She’s coming down fast
Yes she is
Yes she is
coming down fast

I can’t stop. The ride makes me hurl sometimes, but it’s too much fun to get off and walk away. Yep, I’m hopping in line again.

Here we go.

Tell me, dear ones, what’s your writing anthem?

Hungry for more? Writing junkies will enjoy my Black Magic Cake

Black Magic Cake


2 sticks butter, cut into pats

3/4 chocolate syrup

8 Milky Way Bars (2.05 oz. each), cut into chunks

2 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk (or add 1 tbsp. lemon juice to one cup regular milk)

1 tsp. vanilla

4 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa (dark choc. Hershey’s is best)

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 cup bundt pan. Put butter, syrup, and Milky Ways in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 5 minutes, whisking once halfway through cooking time. Whisk until smooth.

Add sugar, buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs. Then add in flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda.

Pour batter into bundt pan. Set bundt pan on a cookie sheet to catch any accidental spillover. Bake for one hour. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting cake from pan.

Glaze with frosting. To make frosting, melt three more Milky Way bars with 3 tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1 stick butter.

Overdose, erm…binge.