Saturday, August 11, 2012

First Drafts


Congratulations to "Heather E", the winner of Jeanne's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated.

Writers are all mad as hatters.  Really.  Readers know this about us, for the most part.  They both admire it and look askance at it even as they pepper an author with questions about The Writing Life.  I loved Julie Miller’s blog yesterday about “Where do I get my ideas?”  She’s right….ideas are everywhere.  That’s easy.

First Drafts are what’s hard.  I have a love-hate relationship with them that I face every time I sit down to write a new story.

All those lovely ideas wafting around like leaves in the Fall.  How do you choose?  Which idea is going to actually WORK, when it comes to those many, many pages between beginning and The End.  Sometimes the First Draft starts with a character idea:  that guy, you see at the movies, looking furtive, becomes the hero hiding out in a matinee of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, until his CIA contact can bring him in. 

Sometimes it’s the setting that gets the creative juices flowing, like Alison Stone mentioned earlier this week.  I still get a shiver over Du Maurier’s Manderley.  And I often get a setting for a book from a picture, or a poster, or a photograph in a magazine.  It may have nothing to do with the way the story ends up, but it STARTS there, and hopefully makes it through that ever important First Draft.

Then, you get to wrestle those disparate pieces, arrange and rearrange and sometimes pitch them out entirely.  Or you stretch them like silly putty until they don’t resemble the original idea at all.  Sometimes, even if you’re someone who plots the story alllllll the way out, you get to the middle of the rippingly bad First Draft of the book and…

It.  Just.  Doesn’t.  Work.  The moment every writer dreads.

“OMG, this is so stupid! Why didn’t I see before page 292 that a colonial mansion was all wrong???”

“Arrrrrgh!!  She can’t possibly know how to do that!  Why didn’t I realize that a physicist would never know how to find ginseng in the forest?”

It can be any of a hundred things that can go wrong, or right or sideways.  That First Draft is both humiliating and illuminating because suddenly those brilliant, gossamer Ideas that you captured have transformed.  They’re now like the Monster Book of Monsters in Harry Potter, snapping and snarling and restrained only by dint of a leather strap and a great deal of force.  They want to tear one another and the whole story apart.

That’s when the writer becomes a combination wizard, lion tamer and sleuth.  So how COULD that physicist know about ginseng?  Well, maybe her granny was a hippie wise woman and she spent summers with granny as a child. 

Ohhhhh!  Well, that would work.

And Google, my dear sleuths, can provide you with photos of every house styles known to man. 
Some days, it’s what makes writing fun.  (If you can get past the part where you want to tear your hair out and throw things.)  In my last book, Deadly Little Lies, I got halfway through the book and realized that the setting – Belize – was flat.  It’s so flat near the coast that they moved the capital of the country a hundred miles or so inland because of hurricanes and floods!  My idea had been to have the villains stash the hero and heroine in a cave, in the mountains.  The original setting was Guatemala.  It has mountainous areas.  That worked.  But Guatemala didn’t work for OTHER reasons.  So I had to figure out what to do in Belize, instead.  EEK!!! 

Thankfully, that was allll found in that precious, important, totally irritating First Draft.  As much as I’m annoyed by the difficulties presented in that first draft, I’m grateful for them too.  Because, when you have to change it in the final draft, it’s maddening.

In my first book, Dark and Dangerous, I did careful research.  Everything worked in Draft.  Yeah!  Wrote the book.  Yeah!  Sold the book.  Triple Yeah!  In the opening scenes, the villains land a stealth helicopter amidst some trees.  It CAN be done.  I had three – count them three! – sources, all of whom had flown said helicopter in tactical and battle situations, and done said maneuver, confirm it could be done. 

My editor said no one would believe it, and made me take it out.  ARRRGH!

In my upcoming release, Deadly Charms (October), I have two converging story lines and one very important charm bracelet.  The heroine is unconscious and the only clue to her identity is her charm bracelet.  Can the hero figure out who she is before the killer finds her and finishes what he started?  (You’ll have to read it to find out….bwahahah!)

In First Draft, that bracelet had one charm.  By the end of the book?  There were nearly 30 charms on that sucker!  Thank heavens for First Drafts!

Do you have a charm bracelet?  Do you have charms on it that would tell me who you are?  Does it reflect your passions – dogs, scrapbooking, holidays – or does it tell a story?

(I’ll be giving away a “Dark and Deadly gift” of Deadly Little Secrets and some Dark Coffee from Starbucks!)

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Aug. 12th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@justromanticsuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

69 comments:

  1. No charm bracelet, but I do have a special necklace. On the top it says "MOM" and has a birthstone charm for my son and daughter. Hanging from that is one that says "GRANDMOTHER" with three charms for my three grandsons. That says a lot about who I am. Smile.
    grandmabkr at yahoo dot com

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    1. Hi Brenda! That's so cool about your necklace. I love things like that. What started this story is my own charm bracelet. I was explaining to someone why I had a thistle on it, and a Dalmatian...yeah, you get the idea.

      LOVE your necklace though. Hmmmm. I could work with that....Grins.

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    2. Awww, Brenda. That sounds so beautiful. With my seven kids and 16 grandchildren, if I had a bracelet like that my arm would drag the floor LOL!

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  2. I havent read any of your books but I going to now.im always getting on just romantic suspense to find new authors I got a nook for my birthday and I keep finding new authors I love reading books that keep you wondering what will happen next.Your books sound really good.Thank you Debra. Stolhand email cher123@cableone.net

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    1. Hi Debra! I appreciate the vote of confidence. Grins. Do you love your Nook? I held off a long time on getting an eReader, but got a Kindle, finally. I really do love it. Especially for travel.

      (It's waaaaay too easy to buy books though....wait, is that a bad thing?)

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  3. I had a charm bracelet as a child. I got a new charm for every birthday. It eventually got too heavy to wear. Sadly I lost it in a move. But each charm represented something important to me that year and reflected how much I had changed from year to year. Trishleroy49 at gmail dot com

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    1. Hi Trish! Ohhh, I"m so sorry you lost it! They do get heavy, don't they? :> And it's that representation of "things important" that's key to finding my heroine's identity in Deadly Charms.

      Would you ever get another charm bracelet?

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  4. Very entertaining article. :) I can't wait to read your books!
    About the first draft--I hear you. I use a sketchy-sort-of-outline on the first draft, but mostly my characters boss me around. Even though it's a good feeling when the first draft in down, I usually think it's a pice of junk that will never fly at that point. So as you pointed out, there's a lot of work to do once the first draft is finished. It's comforting to know I'm not the only one who goes slighly mad with the rewriting and rewritng and... malolson at hotmail dot com

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    1. Hi Mal! Yes, it's the rewriting that actually turns us IN to Mad Hatters, isn't it? Grins. Had to LOL about the characters bossing you around. They do, don't they? Sometimes, I'll be grinding my teeth and talking to the screen and saying, "But you can't DO that, I didn't PLAN for you to do that, and it messes things UP!"

      The characters just don't care, alas. Grins. OF course, when you get to the end of the writing of it, you find that whatever that detour happened to be, it made the story better. Dratted characters!

      Oh, and I think every writer looks at that first draft and says, "Piece of Junk" Grins.

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  5. Hey Jeanne! *waves madly*

    You already know that I struggle so much with the first draft that I often Just. Stop. Writing. And I have to be prodded and poked mercilessly by friends to keep going.

    This is the hard work, though, and why so many people who always wanted to be writers are NOT writers. Sometimes I wonder if I am. And sometimes I wonder how in the world an extrovert chose a career track that keep her alone for most of her days. *beats head against wall*

    Can't wait for Deadly Charms. I want it NOW.

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    1. *pokes* Yes, you need to be writing. *prods unmercifully* I need to read your stuff. NOW, would be a could time, don't you think? *poke,poke,prod,prod*

      It's so true! And as my evil twin and fellow extrovert, you know how much I too struggle with "Bum in chair, hands on keyboard" when I want to be out with da peoples.

      Still. You must write. I need to know the rest of the STORYYYYYYY!!!! (And couldja hurry up? Dyin' to know, here!)

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    2. Cassondra, I'm beating my head against the wall right along with you. Writing is such a solitary profession, but so many extroverts are in the business. What a paradox!

      And like you I can't WAIT for Deadly Charms to be released!

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  6. Oh I forgot--I had a charm bracelet as a child. First year of high school I left it lying on the bleachers in gym class, for some stupid reason thinking nobody would take it. But somebody took it. It had some charms on there that I hated to lose. Some were gifts. But the truth is that most of them were "what I wanted to be" rather than what I was. There was a really beautiful ice skate on it, because I loved watching figure skating. I'd never been on the ice at that time.

    I got another bracelet just like the first one, but have never collected charms. I've just worn the bracelet around as a silver chain. Oddly enough, I've been thinking, lately, that I want to collect charms again. Not sure what I would collect but I want it to be a theme this time. Like Nancy's bracelet with a charm for each of her manuscripts. Not that, but something...related. Especially since charm bracelets are back "in"--they were not "in" for a while, but they're back. Not that I cared, but now they're cool again, and it's easier to find charms, so I do believe I shall begin again.

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    1. Oh, goody! Now I have ideas for prezzies for you. Grins.

      I loved ice skating too. *cue twilight zone music* Yet one more Evil Twin thing.

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  7. Jeanne, this is all so true! First drafts are so annoying, especially when a plot line just totally stalls out far into the book and the reason is not on that page but in chapter one. Or when I've written myself into a corner. :-/

    I do have a charm bracelet, actually. A writer friend gave it to me, and it contains one charm for every book I finished. For the RS, she sent me handcuffs. The dh was with me when I went to the jewelry store to have the charm put on, and he was crimson. "You know what they're thinking," he muttered. *g*

    Oh, just noticed Cassondra mentioned the bracelet. :-)

    I tried to start an all-purpose charm bracelet, but it didn't work out so well. I'd end up wearing just the bracelet, the way Cassondra does. I need to get some charms for it and spur my guys to give me additional ones. I love the way the charms jingle.

    Can't wait for Deadly Charms! I've loved all your books.

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    1. I hate that "written myself into a corner" thing. Hate. It. But better to find out in first draft, right? Urg.

      Love the book bracelet! WOOT! so cool. But ROFLMAO about the handcuffs. OMG! The visual of your DH blushing crimson while they sodered THAT one on! Hahahahah!

      And the jingle factor on the bracelet is one of the many reasons I love it. :>

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    2. Oh, Nancy, what a lovely idea! That's what I want for Christmas. I'll have to drop lots of hints to my kids!

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  8. Great topic, Jeanne! Isn't it true that the all-important first draft is like the crucible of fire. It's where I literally dump my ideas and then have to go back and see all the cracks in the story.

    I love charms and charm bracelets and like the idea of a person being identified by the charms she wears. What a clever idea!

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    1. *blush* Thanks, Jo! And love it or hate it, it's important to find those cracks early, isn't it? Then you can mend them as you go rather than having to go back and redo the foundation of the story. Sigh. Been there, done THAT. :>

      When's your next wonderful Suspense out? For those of you who've not found Jo's The Watcher, The Avenger, etc. you need to go now, and get them. Talk about gripping suspense! Yikes! (In a fabulous, OMG way!)

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    2. Thanks for the plug, Jeanne. I planning another RS triology for 2013, but right now am working on two novellas for Christmas. One is called "The Hitman's Holiday" and it's dark, but uplifting (I hope). The other is a sweet, family-oriented Christmas story. It's been fun working on both at the same time. I've just passed the halfway marks, so it feels like they're coming together.

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    3. Oh, that's wonderful, Jo! I'll look forward to both!

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  9. Did the plastic charm bracelet thing when I was little. My mom would buy these cute charms that would hook onto it... so many types. As I think about I believe I still have it hidden away in one of my storage boxes. As for real charms, do not have a bracelet, but I do have this one pendant that I made a necklace with... love it and feel it is a good luck charm!

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    1. Hi Colleen! Oh, I remember the plastic ones with all the hooky-on-y charms! Wow - there's a trip down the memory lane. Grins.

      Pendants can be so special too, can't they? I have one with little shoes on it that represent my two sons. Love that thing and weart is ALL the time.

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  10. Hi Jeanne,
    I don't have a charm bracelet, but if I did I'm sure you could tell who I am with the charms I might have. They'll include a hockey, moon and flower charms.

    janie1215 AT excite DOT com

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    1. Hi Jane! See,that's the thing, they DO tell about who we really are, don't they? I'd presume you love hockey, the mysterious, and gardens. :>

      Am I right?

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  11. Jeanne - Great post!

    I always start a book with great enthusiasm and excitement. Then I start the first draft and that enthusiasm wans fast. I worry that I've made a huge mistake in committing to writing this particular story. Writing the first draft is hell and requires sheer faith (and a lot of time in front of the computer) to get to the back end where the magic kicks in. Thank God for editing (grin).

    I'm not a charm bracelet sort of girl. I'm not fond of the weight on my wrist and that constant tingle. It's hard to type on the keyboard with those things...but maybe a few charms on a pendant would work. I love the idea of a charm to represent one's passions and history. Brilliant idea to use a charm bracelet as a clue to someone's identity. Love that idea!

    Great post - but then it's from a great authoress.

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    1. Awww, thanks, Donna! I had to LOL about the "made a huge mistake in committing to writing this particular story" line. OMGosh have I felt THAT! Ha!

      And thanks for your kind words!

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  12. Jeanne, what a marvellous post! Love the imagery of the Monster Book of Monsters. THat's exactly what it's like!

    I'm writing a first draft now and my greatest challenge is always to keep moving on. When I get to the edge of the mist, there's that temptation to stop for a while and mull, and that's where I lose my momentum. I'm learning to just put ##WORK OUT HOW THE HECK A PHYSICIST WOULD KNOW ABOUT GINSENG and move on, instead of taking a break to mull. Love the idea of a charm bracelet in Deadly Charms! Can't wait for that one.

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    1. Hahah! I love that scene in the movie where Harry has to trap his Monster Book. Glad someone else feels that way too!

      That IS a handy thing, just putting in a note to say #FIGURE THIS OUT - I'm going to do THAT from now on! Ha!

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  13. Jeanne, You do a "Bawahaha" better than anyone I know :D

    Great post and great stories. (I know! I've read them!)

    Now back to my own first draft...for the fifth time ;0

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    1. Yikes, Joan. It's always those second, third and fourth drafts that get me. That's where my REAL work happens.

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    2. *Wince* Yeah...I know that feeling, Joan! :> And having read some of that draft, I know it's polish you're adding now, not draftiness. Grins. Looking forward to reading the final!

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  14. The books sound good. No charm bracelet.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  15. Hey, Jeanne! I love the sound of this book! And while I wish I had a charm bracelet, I'm a total clutz when it comes to jewelry. Aside from my wedding ring & a watch--and sometimes, when I'm feeling daring, earrings--I don't bother. I'll only hurt myself. But we got charm bracelets for my mom & MIL a few years ago so my two girls can give them new charms for holidays & bdays. It's really sweet because they pick out charms that remind them of stuff they've done with the grandma lately. Can't wait to see how the charm bracelet features in your story!

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    1. Hi Susan! what a fabulous idea for your girls to give charms! I love that! Thanks for stopping in!

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  16. I'm in science, so my "first drafts' consist of attempts to articulate my research for my dissertation committee update meetings (and soon, the actual dissertation) or papers... and they basically consist of my getting something on the page after agonising over it for hours/days, sending them off to my advisor, and having her make it a million times better. There aren't any major content changes, but she makes it sound so much better! Must be all those years of practise (and the fact that she was a literature major before she became a scientist), haha. On the up side, she's always said she's very impressed with my drafts, so I guess they aren't complete shite-- despite the fact that I feel they are!

    No charm bracelets... I'd probably manage to spill something incredibly noxious on it in lab & ruin it forever. Were I to have one, the charms would probably be a microscope (for the science!), a football (of the European persuasion, where one actually uses the feet!), a fish (for my scuba diving), and an airplane (for my globe-trotting ways). And, well, chocolate :D. In lieu of a charm bracelet: I cannot live without a watch, not even on holidays!

    stalkers00(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Hi Cris! Had to LOL because writing is writing, no matter what the field, we all figure that first draft is shite! Glad you have such a cool advisor too. Congrats on getting to the dissertation stage! Care to share your topic?

      Love the ideas for your charms. I'm like you in that I'm almost never without a watch. I have several and like to switch them up too. Ha!

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    2. I'm a Ph.D. student in microbiology... but not the cool, I-work-with-bacteria-that-could-kill-you/cause-really-uncomfortable-gastrointestinal-distress-or-worse type, just plain old non-harmful E. coli. Which, really, is much better: I can spill bacteria all over myself/my bench/etc. without any ill effects! :). Our lab works on the regulation of gene expression in E. coli... very exciting stuff, for the ~5 people who read our papers :P

      I generally where my one digital watch that does everything. Twitchiness sets in when something's wrong with it, and I've been known to wear my (wrist) dive computer until the watch is sorted out!

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    3. How cool! Had to LOL about the "kill-you" bit. Snork! If it's what you love to do, it's exciting. Grins. Also had to LOL about getting twitchy without a watch. Now THAT, I do as well. Ha!

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  17. thanks for a fun post! No one in my family really wears jewelry, myself included. I don't kmow why... hmmm... for me, I work in pediatric healthcare so it's just more stuff for the kids to grab and since I have to wear gloves all the time, I'm paranoid that I will throw it away... but I do like to admire them :) If I had one, it would have a dog, a book, and Swarovski crystal penants. Just cuz :)

    efender1(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi Erin! Thanks for the work you do in peds. Those of you who work with the littlests are so strong! Much admiration! Have to confess, I'd be just as paranoid if I had to do the glove thing. Grins.

      Love your charm ideas too! What kind of dog? I've a Dalmatian on mine. Grins.

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  18. I have a charm bracelet with a charm of Cupid.


    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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    1. Hi Mary C! Oh! I love it! Then again, I write romantic suspense...I would love Cupid. Grins.

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  19. Jeanne, what a fabulous piece about first drafts. I'm currently trying to turn one into something readable so I know exactly what you're talking about.

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    1. Hi Anna! So excited to know there's another Anna Campbell book in the works. Also totally jealous of those in Aus who're getting Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed long before we can get it in the States! Arrrrgh!

      And those first drafts are sometimes bang-head-on-desk experiences, aren't they?

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    2. Actually Seven Nights is out in the States at the same time as it is in Australia (October). Yeah, first drafts are NOT my favorite things!

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    3. Okay, she said suspiciously, then how come Nas has read it? Hmmmmm???? Inquiring minds!!!

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  20. I don't have a charm bracelet, but if I did it would have to have a book on it.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. Hi Marybelle! Haha! Readers can ALWAYS be identified! Mine has a book or two on it. I want to create a whole new bracelet with each of my published books on it, just for fun. :>

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  21. Hi

    I have a charm bracelet that my godmother gave me when I was little and every year she would give me another charm. I still have it but never wear it. I enjoyed reading your post and look forward to reading your books.

    Thanks for the chance
    Pam
    tpibrew@msn.com

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    1. Hi Pam! What a lovely thing for your Godmother to have done! I'm glad you still have it. :> Does it have fun charms on it?

      And thanks for your kind words.

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    2. Pam, what a nice gift for a young girl! Even if you don't wear it, it makes a great commemorative gift.

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  22. I have never had a charm bracelet. With all the pendents that I have for a necklace, i could put one together.

    kmccandle(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Hi Kai! See, I think that's the same kind of thing though. I'll bet you put together the pendants beacause they mean something to you. :> Same idea behind a charm bracelet. Grins. Thanks for stopping in!

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  23. Hi Jeanne- I have five charm bracelets. My husband has always wanted to give me jewelry and I'm just not a blingy type of girl. Usually a pair of plain earrings and my wedding ring set does it. But he discovered Pandora bracelets and I love them! My first bracelet is a mix and match with charms that represent the kids, our first house, the ship we were married on and so forth. My latest charm bracelet has a theme. We are going on a cruise (to Belize ironically) next week and he got me a tropical themed bracelet. It has a suit case, palm trees, sea shells, a gold sea horse, turtles, a treasure chest and some really cool stone charms that look like waves. It is my favorite and I rarely take it off.

    I can't wait to read Deadly Charms. It sounds like it is right up my alley! And yes, you could probably learn a lot about me from my bracelets but maybe not enough to identify me if I'm lost.

    Added this series to my TBR list. Love discovering authors new to me.

    Heather E
    hregtvedt@aol.com

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    1. Hi Heather! Ooooh, I LOVE the sound of your charm bracelets! How cool! I really love the Pandora bracelets and the Trollbeads too. Still, my oldest charm bracelet is the silver kind with the silver charms. Grins.

      Thanks for your kind words about Deadly Charms. YOu might like reading Deadly Little Secrets and Deadly Little Lies on the cruise! You'll learn about Belize...at least a little bit. Ha!

      Enjoy your trip!

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    2. Those Pandora bracelets are sooo pretty. I would love to have one. Wouldn't mind taking that cruise Heather's going on, either. *g*

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    3. Right there with you, Nancy! Cruise sounds great, doesn't it?

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  24. Hey Jeanne! You know I LOVE the title for your next book. What a cool way to look into someone's past but with their charms? I do not have a charm bracelet, but my critique partner Sandy Blair does. Her husband started it with her Golden Heart win. With each subsequent book sale he's added another charm to represent her books. You have to ask her about them sometime!

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    1. Oh, Suz, that's so COOL!! Thanks for the title love. The cover - by your very own pal Lyndsey Lewellin! - is outstanding. Soon to be released....bwahahahah!

      I love the idea for Sandy's bracelet too. Must do that!

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  25. I really like what charm bracelets represent and they can be just as unique as an individual. I don't have a charm bracelet but my mom does and it's full of random things that are important to have. If I did have one I would want one to represent all my travels when one day I do get the opportunity to do so!

    Cambonified(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Hello, Na! Thanks for popping in! Travels and the charms representing it are part of what solves the riddle of my gals identity. Grins. They DO tell a lot about who you are!

      Cool that your mom has one!

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  26. Hi Jeanne :-) I love your description of having to be a wizard, a lion tamer and a sleuth! Ain't that the truth *g* and I love the sound of your new story - gorgeous cover, btw. I'm a fan of charm bracelets and have two, but don't actually wear them. Both were gifts, and very sweet (the first represents my first book sale, with charms for the different aspects of the story). I've heard stories of authors who have bracelets to represent their career with charms for each book and major milestones. But, yeah, I don't wear the bracelets, so I decided for my career kudos, I'd buy a pair of shoes for each sale instead. Now those, I wear *g*

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    1. Hey Tawny! LOVE the idea of new shoes for each book. There's a prezzie I could enjoy, for sure! I do wear the charm bracelet still, and I like the idea of one for my career. I can't wear it when I write though. Much as I love the jingle-jangle, it's distracting when you're pounding the keyboard. Grins.

      (Tawny's gotten a preview of the cover, so she knows...bwahahaha!)

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    2. heeehee, that makes me special. Cuz it is one rockin' cover!!!

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  27. It sounds like you have a lot of fun writing Jeanne.
    Please enter me in your draw. That too sounds like fun!
    Jan

    janet_kerr(at)msn.com

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    1. Hi Janet! I do indeed, when it isn't driving me totally insane. Grins. You posted, so you're entered!

      Thanks for stopping in. :>

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  28. It was so fun to be here this weekend. Thanks to everyone for stopping in, and thank you to Maureen and Just Romantic Suspense for letting me hang out!

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