Practical Chemistry for Writers

From Val Roberts

Sorry for the x-posting, but I wanted to get the word out that I’m teaching Practical Chemistry for Writers as the first Murder in the Grove online class. This is a reprise of the class I taught through RWA KOD’s COFFIN program last year (with a couple of easter eggs they didn’t get). It’s also probably the last time I’ll teach this class for the foreseeable future. Practical Chemistry will cover: Poison 101 – the basics Poison 102 – overview of alkaloids Meanwhile Back at the Lab – how we handled things in my lab Herbal Medicine that Really Works Suburban Terrorism – what HSA won’t tell you Love Potion #1 – neurochemistry of attraction, infatuation & attachment Soapmaking Distillation You can find more information (or sign up for the class, hint hint) at Feel free to forward this information wherever you think it might be useful or welcome. Thanks, Val Robertson — Blade’s Edge – Sept 2009 from Samhain Publishing Chemistry for Writers – MITG online class Oct 2009


Sex Scenes

Cross-posted to Genre Benders

At a recent writers meeting a few twitter stalkers of Ken’s was teasing him about writing love scenes. The story goes that when he got to a love scene in his WIP, he twittered that he hated to write them. The next day his mom, via computer web cam – cool mom – told him he needed to write more love scenes. Old ladies like them. Ken, feel free to add to the story.

So to help my friend out, here’s a link to a Romance Writers of America article on writing love scenes by Cara Summers a Harlequin Temptation and Blaze author.

Behind the cut below are the 12 stages of intimacy that Valerie Robertson was talking about at the meeting provided by Kerri-Leigh Grady. She says that Linda Howard was the first to introduce them but I’m not sure that’s true.

And here are my helpful tips. Build the tension so when you do get to the scene it doesn’t take as much to pull it off. *smiles* Remember that no one gets it perfect the first time. Sex doesn’t solve problems, only complicates things. And if you feel awkward writing or reading it, so will your reader. Write what you’d like to read. You can write a love scene where it fades to black (no actual on stage action) and still get the reader’s blood pumping. Me, I love to add humor to love scenes. The condom that won’t unroll. Trying to be sexy and falling on your butt. Tickling.

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Killing off Characters

I remember the first time I killed someone. I’d avoided it for weeks. Planning, talking about it, studying the results but the kill it self? I just couldn’t do it.

Until I picked the right person. Squinted so I didn’t see it happen. Then it was easy.

Sound creepy? I’m just talking about the first character I killed. We’re writers that’s what we do. And don’t go saying, oh this inspirational writer – the writer who creates characters who are widows or who have misscarages? Yeah, we deal in death. Moving on. So this character, his name is a combination of two boys I suffered through knowing. Cheap therapy. And I didn’t actually describe the death itself, just the crime scene and body. Since then killing characters has been easier. I’m working on the first draft of SAR my second Amazon book, and this is the beginning of a chapter. I use a similar talk-to-self-method as David Morrell

Okay, next scene to work on? Let’s do the other murder. Kee Ping she looks a lot younger than she is and has lead a solitary like with men in and out. She has recently met a total nerd. He is a neurosurgeon and in his mid-thirties, half her age. He has none of the romantic skills her normal lovers have nor the good looks yet she’s fallen for the first time. Fallen hard. He’s sent her flowers, a dozen roses and though she appreciates it she also thinks that he should of at least sent two dozen or an exotic arrangement. Though the card is sweet. More than sweet. She sits at the end of her bed. She should at least call and thank him for the flowers.

And then I couldn’t kill her. The poor nerd. I love nerds. Next thing I knew I’d written twenty pages in a single sitting and reached the end. Oh, it needs serious work but it’s all there. Just from trying to kill her. Geuss I’ll have to attempt murder more often.


I got a reply from Samhain. A no thank you. I think I prefer the long response time, then I can delude myself that they were tempted. For some reason this one was really hard for me. Maybe because it’s the first non-personal rejection. But I think its more that I had gotten …arrogant? Not quiet the right word…. I was so sure that this would be a good fit. I even made the mistake of telling someone that I felt close. That’s like when one of the character’s on a tv/movie says it can’t get any worse and then it does. I just want to climb into bed and ignore life for a bit but instead I packed my writing bag and headed for the coffee shop to work.

I didn’t get much done. Distracted. My mind wanting to analyze the different angles, where I should submit next, etc. Then my nemesis Kathy Hurley sat across the café from me. Then I had to work. I’m not saying were enemies or even Frenemies. She’s great. But having another author who could see I was goofing off instead of working was a great kick in the pants to get started and the rest of the night was very productive.

So, I’m not giving up on RNR, no freaking way, but I’m juggling a little publisher research with working on SAR so I can figure out where to send it next and how to spin it. Wish me luck.

Arm Porn

Cross-posted to

Okay, I have this   thing   about well defined muscular arms. There are tons of romance covers with half naked guys and a few with totally naked guys. Like those just fine but there is something…powerful… about Arm Porn (I stole the term from spikedluv). Here is some

It’s from Cherry Adair’s October Newsletter. Thank you Cherry!

What is your favorite body part? On a guy or a girl? Do you love the curve from lower back to bottom? Do you have a hot fascination with earlobes? A well turned calf?

Start To Finish

This is a repost from my other blog. Felt appropriate for NaNoWrMo

Start to Finish

Possible meanings of the above sentence. What? You thought there was only one? Shaa, whatever. If ‘to’ means a continuation or through, the sentence suggests a journey. If ‘finish’ means a goal or objective, the sentence suggests a purpose for starting in the first place. Are you following me? This would be easier if keyboard had keys for voice inflection. If ‘start’ means a point or status of a project, the sentence suggests that you are almost finished, you are beginning to come to the end.

Often we are in the ‘to’ of the first meaning. In the process of writing. In the journey of creating, improving. Occasionally, we are in the third meaning. Almost there. We can look back and see what we have accomplished and sense – like a women smelling lost chocolate in her desk drawers – that we are getting closer. But rare is the few that are driven to the second meaning. Lost you did I?

80 %. Eighty percent of people say they have always wanted to write a book. Wanted ‘to’, maybe even ‘start’ed to. But done it? Finished? And even more done it – written a book – again and again? Wow.

Ways to stay motivated.

1. Read your local chapter newsletter. Don’t belong to a writing organization? Consider joining.

2. Read the RWR. It counts, weather just a page or the whole thing, as helping you. A business tool to improve your chances to get and stay within the elite few.

3. Attend a chapter meeting or conference. Surrounded by book lovers, writers and chocolate (in most instances bring your own, I’m not the sharing type). It rejuiventates the creative spirit, it soothes the aches of rejection and gives you the chance to support others.

4. Read a good book. Remember why you want to write in the first place. Remember why books are good, and not evil torture devices.

5. Read a bad book. You can do better than that.

6. Write fluff. Doesn’t have to be part of your WIP, work in progress. Doesn’t have to be good. You just have to enjoy it.

7. Exercise. Nope, it is not a four letter word. I counted. But it doesn’t have to be, or rather it shouldn’t be, something you dislike. Walking, playing hide and seek with the grandkids, gardening, doing the dishes while you dance to heavy metal. It’ll keep you healthy and make it easier to stay in that chair when it’s time to write.

8. Last, more ‘cause their kicking me out of B&N (it’s only 10:58pm), think of all the reasons to quit. Write them down and tear it up. Then write all the reasons you write and pin it up to your bathroom mirror.

Start to Finish.