Archive for January, 2011

Also requested by some workshop participants in Ohio, the list of popular romance novel themes that I ran through very quickly (too quickly, apparently).  Be aware that there are literally hundreds of possible themes.  These are just a few I jotted down off the top of my head as examples.

You must let go of the past before you can move forward

Love is better the second time around

Love can triumph over unfortunate circumstances

Opposites attract

Compromise is necessary for a strong relationship

To be grown up means taking responsibility for your life

You must not be afraid to reach for an impossible dream

There’s no place like home

Good triumphs over evil

Love triumphs over fear

You can’t take responsibility for anyone’s life but your own

A family doesn’t have to be related through blood

Home is where you make it

Money can’t buy happiness

True intimacy must include complete trust

Love can tame a beast

You must learn to accept your lover as they are

If you can think of other good themes, please add them in the comments!


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While I was speaking at the Ohio Fiction Writers Association this weekend, I did a workshop called “Plot Fixer: The 15 Most Common Plot Problems and How to Fix them.

I confess, I rip through this list at a blistering pace, and the workshop participants thought it would be helpful to have a list of the 15 Plot Problems.

So, here ya go!

1. Your premise isn’t compelling enough.

2. A cute meet does not a plot make.

3. Starting in the Wrong Place

4. A lack of clear-cut goals for your characters

5. Weak conflict

6. Too many conflicts–the “Kitchen Sink” approach

7. Stakes are too low

8. Plot moves too slowly (pacing problem)

9. The dreaded saggy middle

10. Plot moves too fast

11. Plot is too predictable

12. Plots that rely on coincidence and contrivance

13. Loss of Focus (lacking theme)

14. Weak black moment

15. The ending does not satisfy

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Thrift Store Score

My sister-in-law Jane and her daughter, Annie, came to visit today.  (They live in L.A.)  So after grazing on a lavish buffet of rotisserie chicken, homemade bread, cherries, apples and tangerines, hummus and chips, nachos and chocolate cookies, we needed a walk.

All of my husband’s sisters, like me, love to comb thrift stores.  Our favorite one, the Assistance League Thrift Store, was closed, but we found another small store that was incredible.  In addition to racks of clothes in the front, they had a back room with a “mountain of clothes.”  When I say mountain, I’m not kidding.  It was about twelve feet tall, and people were just diving in and grabbing stuff.  Jane found an angora sweater and a silk top, a skirt and a glittery sweater top (all $5 each).

I, however, stayed away from the mountain and instead found a whole rack of faux fur coats.  I need a winter coat, as I’m traveling to Ohio next weekend.  I found a fabulous warm car coat for a mere $32.  I was also amazed to see a fox coat–a real fox coat–for $42.   I was tempted, but it’s, like, fur.  And I live in California.  I might get picketed by PETA.

So I went faux, and here I am in my new rags.

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Insulation Mess

Imagine my surprise when I went to my underwear/sock drawer to fetch a clean pair of knickers, and found this:

My drawers are built into the wall, and behind them is a lot of nothing, including not much between them and the attic, apparently.  So when I had insulation blown into the attic the previous day, it did not all stay in the attic.

We found it in a few other locations, where we still have holes in the ceiling from the electrical and plumbing work (yes, a whole year ago).  This is a picture of the downstairs half-bath/utility room:

Two stories below the attic! The cellulose fluff traveled quite a distance to get here.

And here the hole above, through which the insulation poured unabated.  Now, you would think the insulation people would have noticed that certain areas of the attic weren’t filling up.  But they didn’t notice.  And we didn’t notice until they were long gone.

After I took these pictures, we found one more closet with about two feet of insulation on the floor.  Almost entirely covering my shop vac, which I will have to use to get rid of this stuff.

On the plus side, we now have insulation.  Hopefully the heater won’t run constantly now.  (We’ve needed the heater lately.  Yesterday morning, there was ice on the birdbath.  ICE!

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