Saturday, December 13, 2008

PBW Holiday Giveaway #3 -- Writer Secrets

The winner of PBW Holiday Giveaway #1 -- Gifts of Stories is:

Marnie Colette a.k.a marniebelle

Marnie, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to info to, and I'll get your package out to you. Thanks to everyone for sharing their favorite holiday reads with us.

Ten Things You Probably Don't Know About Writers

1. All writers have at least one secret bad habit that makes them better writers. Mine is discreetly eavesdropping on people talking to each other, usually in restaurants, grocery stores and at the post office.

Best line I ever overheard in a coffee shop, from a woman talking to two men: "I can take both of you, but it's gonna be a tight fit." (She had three kids with her and was talking about giving them a ride in her compact car; get your minds out of the gutter.)

2. One or more characters in our novels has probably had their name changed at least once. The reasons for these name changes are logical only to the writer.

Alexandra Keller from the Darkyn series started out as Vanessa Whitman, and then became Vanessa Killian, and then, finally, Alexandra Keller. I first changed the surname because it reminded me too much of chocolate. I changed her Christian name after meeting our blogpal Vanessa Jaye (who doesn't know about this, btw) because I kept thinking of her or something she had said online every time I sat down to work on the character in the first book. I chose Alexandra specifically because at the time I didn't personally know any Alexandras.

3. Bad reviews never bother us.

I accidentally kicked that hole in the wall because I went a little overboard trying to kill a silverfish. The voodoo doll? That was just a joke gift from a friend, and I've been using it as a pin cushion when I sew. And I don't know how those pictures of those reviewers got pinned to the dart board in the garage, but they're really helping me improve my aim.

4. Books are priceless to writers. Words are like jewels. Unread stories are gifts waiting to be unwrapped. Book stores and libraries are our treasure houses. People we see reading books always look beautiful in our eyes.

Lady who I saw reading a Harlequin romance novel in your car while we were waiting in the school pick-up line? You're gorgeous. I love you.

5. Every writer probably has a private, funny nickname for people in the industry that no one but their closest writer friends will ever hear.

I'll break the silence to reveal a couple of mine: Lady Catherine de Iceberg. Inspector Clueless. Lord of the Wrongs. The Scarlet Pimp. (and no, I'm not going to tell you their real names.)

6. If you ask a writer which is more difficult, writing or performing neurosurgery, they'll probably say writing.

No one sends in eight highly-trained people to help me write my books in a controlled environment with the latest in cutting-edge technology. Yeah, those brain surgeons have it easy.

7. No matter how personally uncool we are, we writers always get to hang out with amazing characters who do incredible things in strange and wonderful places.

Today I did the laundry, put away the dishes, and watched/listened to two immortal Kyn lords having a fist fight in a nightclub while arguing over the possible existence of zombies.

8. The biggest mistake you can make is to tell a writer that they can't write something.

The last time that happened to me, I not only wrote the story, I sold it. For a lovely pile of money. So, come on, tell me what else I can't write.

9. We won't admit it, but most of us do shop for our characters.

Except me. I was only looking at those Armani suits at the mall to see if they had any marked down to 90% off so I could afford to buy one for my guy. Okay, so he's a mechanic and doesn't wear suits, but if by some chance he unexpectedly wins the Nobel for peaceful advances in HVAC or something, I need to be prepared, right?

10. Writers are always writing -- if not on paper or the computer, then in our heads. Even when we sit on our favorite windowsill and seem to be doing nothing more than watching the snow fall, trust me, we're writing.

As it should be.

For the third PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have:

A Gift Bag of 10 Writer Secret Joys

-- A No Plot? No Problem! novel-writing kit by Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month

-- a hardcover blank book to journal in

-- unsigned hardcover copies of The Writer's Complete Crime Reference Book by Martin Roth, The Pocket Muse and The Pocket Muse ~ Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood

-- unsigned paperback copies of The Writer's Book of Matches ~ 1,001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction by the staff of Fresh Boiled Peanuts, A Literary Journal, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Alison Kent, A Writer's Space by Dr. Eric Maisel, A Writer's Book of Days ~ A Spirited Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life by Judy Reeves, and The Daily Writer ~ 366 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life by Fred White.

To have a chance to win this giveaway, in comments tell us something we don't know about you (or, if you'd rather keep your secrets, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Sunday, December 14, 2008. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the gift bag with the 10 Writer Secret Joys, plus two extra stocking stuffers -- signed, printed* copies of my Lynn Viehl writing how-to, Way of the Cheetah and my December Darkyn novella e-book release, Master of Shadows. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something from PBW in the past.

*Printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.


  1. I have no secrets :)

  2. I have lived in two haunted houses. To be honest, I kinda miss them.

  3. Anonymous1:24 AM

    In high school I was on the dance team and we performed at half time. I'm not sure anyone (who knows me now) knows I used to jump into the air in the slips and then land on the ground in full splits as well:).

    Crossing my fingers that the randomness of the universe picks me to win:).

  4. Tossing my name into the hat~~~~~

  5. No one knows that when I upgraded to my new pc, I boxed up the old system, including the printer, and send off on a drive to help build a computer lab on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

    I can only trust that someone found it as beneficial as I had, when I ventured into the world of words.

  6. I got bitten by a shark once.

  7. Anonymous2:31 AM

    I name my laptops.

  8. I too had trouble reading as a child. I only picked it up at the age of eight but I haven't been able to stop since!

  9. I have a t-shirt in my Cafepress store that says
    "It only looks like I'm daydreaming. I'm actually hard at work on my novel."

    But the secret is, sometimes I'm just daydreaming!


  10. Anonymous3:18 AM

    I love number three on your list.

    Only two other people know that I won money from a story that I wrote years ago.

  11. Something most people don't know about me is that I wear a hearing aid. It's hidden and I function normally; I usually have to take it out for people to believe me!

  12. Anonymous4:00 AM

    Me - I'm a commedian. OK, a lot of people knew that, but most don't know that I actually started writing fiction while I was clinically depressed.

    How ever ironic that may sound - a depressed comic - being depressed sucked, big time. I was totally convinced, for quite some time, that I would never to a joke, ever again. I would never be able to tap into funny again, and I would never be able to write, nor perform anything laughable again.

    However, the urge to create did not want to just roll over and die, so I started writing whatever came out and manifested on paper.

    My first story, about a vegetarian vampire, I thought was pretty entertaining so I released it on my blog. And a publisher read it. And loved it.

    Yeah, I know, stuff like that don't happen, but for once I guess God missed the person before me in line, and mis-blessed me instead. So everything turned out great. I had a contract for the collection of short stories, before they were all written. Published in the end of last year.

    So - that's my secret. Depressed comedian turned writer.

    (Now that I'm fine, it turns out I can still write! Wohoo!)

  13. Something I generally keep quiet is that I used to teach Morris dancing.

  14. I hate watching television because when I do they never send anything interesting and I end up watching junk just because I'm to lazy to turn the damn thing off again.

  15. I have the Complete Crime Reference and Pocket Muse and can highly recommend both. : D

    Something you don't know about me...I built a trap to catch a ghost in the basement when I was a kid.

  16. Anonymous8:12 AM

    One thing most people dont know about me is how far I will go to attain a sense of realism within my characters.

    I once got permission to observe an autopsy where I was allowed to cut, handle and weigh the heart, brain and liver. To experience that allowed me to realistically convey the emotion or lack there of the main character and his grotesque motives. It was an interesting experience..

  17. Anonymous8:34 AM

    I have such an avid imagination that I end up imagining myself getting injured or dying constantly. And no, I am no where near suicidal, I'm actually a very happy person. But when I'm on the road and a semi-truck almost hits me, I just have to imagine what would happen if it did...

  18. I'm an introvert, which nobody believes when they meet me. (I'm outgoing, but it makes me tired. Being alone engergizes me.)

  19. Anonymous8:50 AM

    Tossing my name in the hat. Too fluey to trust myself to pick a secret I can live with. :-)

  20. Not sure I have any secrets worth sharing, but I did recently buy my protag a brass compass from Nauticalia with some money I earned doing a crisp survey (that's potato chips for the USians). The best part is, I get to use it too!

    *puts artificial snow around brim of hat*

  21. Not so much of a secret, but for me, walking the dogs is the BEST way out of "writer's block".

  22. Anonymous9:19 AM

    Tossing my name into the hat...

    (My life has been relatively unexciting. I have no shark-bite stories to share!).

  23. I am an US Army veteran. Yep.

    My friend and I were the first female soldiers to go 'in the field'(West Germany when it was two countries)with the soldiers we supported. I was a Medic and Ambulance Driver. I made sure their boo-boos were treated. :)

    No one even suspects I am a vet. They always say, 'no way!' and then give me weird looks.

    Now the question is, 'what is a female vet supposed to look like?' LOL.

    Thanks Lynn. Love the question.

  24. I'm a secret wannabe D&D/fantasy-gaming nerd but haven't done anything about it because I'm too shy to go to a Games Workshop by myself, too afraid to ask someone to come with me (because they will laugh) and now I live in Holland and I don't speak enough Dutch!

  25. I kept a pencil and paper by my bed, along with a flashlight, when I was in grade school. I would wake up with a poem or story on my mind and couldn't sleep again until I wrote it down. I'm still an insomniac, and still sometimes write at night.

    I could use some inspiration for the new year. Please put my name in the hat.

  26. Everytime I truly am proud of something I write, I buy myself a little gift to reward myself.

  27. Anonymous9:48 AM

    Oh, I'm in.

    First book I wrote was under was for a young author's contest in 3rd grade. Called MURDER IN THE MALL and I had to illustrate the stupid thing, too.

    (I can't draw)

  28. Anonymous9:53 AM

    On this day a year ago, my mate asked me to be his. A year of joy and great pain...but one we lived through together!

    This is not strictly speaking a secret, but not something i've shared here before. :P

  29. Anonymous10:08 AM

    I also do research applicable to characters/plot when I can. Next on the list, shadow the guys who scrape animals off the road. To be followed by hanging out with a local group of paranormal hunters. It never gets boring.

    BTW -I love P&P reference.

  30. No matter how bad the date, we refuse to forget it, because it's novel fodder.

  31. My secret? People who see me think I'm talking to myself when I'm walking around the skywalks downtown... I'm actually talking to my characters. A little embarrasing when caught by my manager at my day job doing this.

  32. I name my cars -- since I spend about two to three hours a day in them on a commute I can't help myself after a while talking to them.

  33. I can't think of any secrets. :(

  34. I'm blanking on secrets right now, so I'm throwing my name in the hat. :)

  35. Please don't put me in this drawing. I already own most of those books. :)

    Something you don't know about me...if I can't figure out a plotting problem or a character, I draw until it comes together. My sketch pads are full of characters, situations, landscapes, and really cool space faring vehicles I wish I owned.

    One day I *will* write that steampunk novel I keep sketching. :)

  36. I participated in NaNoWriMo 2008 and got the 50k words. I had a mini outline but have strayed way off course and now, here's the secret - I don't know how to end the story. I just keep typing, adding scene after scene - trying to get to an end. Never mind all the things I think I need to add to parts already written to make the story cohesive.

    And in case you haven't figured it out, this is my first time writing a story since high school - nearly 20 years ago.

  37. People think I'm caffeine-free, but the truth is I drink a LOT of decaf. Lots and lots.

    And I, too, am a closet introvert. I tell people I'm an introvert with a big mouth.

  38. I can't think of any secrets offhand (at least none that are interesting) but I do definitely have a tendency to (window) shop for characters. "Oh, she'd love those dangling ruby chandelier earrings." "Oh, I can totally see him lounging in that antique leather wingback chair." and so on.

    Unfortunately my characters tend to have tastes far beyond my means. XD;

  39. I named my laptop George (okay, not exactly a secret).
    I must admit, I've never gone shopping for my characters (yet), but I have drawn lots of plans for them: I've designed houses, farms, islands, and am working on part of a planet. :)

  40. I'm too private to share secrets but something that comes close is that I've written -and write- all my books while perched on about an inch of my chair. This is necessary because my little dog claims the rest and I can't bear to disturb him.

  41. Something most people don't know about me - I writer letters to people I haven't met yet. A future best friend, a future lover, husband, a future child.

    Sometimes, there are just things in my head that I know are for someone I haven't met yet, so I write them out in letters on my comp and save them.

  42. Anonymous12:26 PM

    Something people don't know about me is that my entire fictional world, which I've worked on for four years running, all came from the combination of a challenge that I couldn't anglicize a Mayan myth and a wicker lion's head hanging in our family cabin. The person who challenged me on the Mayan myth thing doesn't even know she did that. The lion head is probably innocent, too. ;)

  43. Wow! Those books would help me in my writing.

    Secret about me - I'm afraid of heights but I do height activities out of curiosity. ha ha ha

  44. My secret: I actually do write my friends and family into my novels. By the time I'm done messing with the character, it is usually so unrecognizable that they would never know it was them, but I do and I often refer to my books (to myself) as "the one about my sister" or "the one about my best friend".

  45. I'm going to quit my job at christmas despite not having another job to go to.

  46. I performed peace songs on stage at a convention while dressed up like a Klingon to poke fun on those hard-core fans who took themselves far too serious.

    And I'm guilty of #4 - reading strange stuff in public places.


  47. Most people don't know I was named after one of the original Mouseketeers because my mother was so sure I was going to be a boy she had only picked out boys names.

  48. Soemtimes I "tal"k to my characters and sadly, they're the ones pulling me out of my slump.

  49. I don't think I've ever commented here before, so you don't know anything about me anyway! But wow, I'd like some books on writing.

  50. oops, I must have erased part of my answer before I posted.

    Please don't add me twice, just wanted to make myself clear.

    I have lived in two haunted houses and I'm going to use the experiences we had there in one of my stories. I've already blogged about the first house and will probably tell about the second one soon.
    I love a good ghost story.

  51. ...I'm Batman.

    I've said too much already!!!!

    Okay, the truth is I like romance movies. If any of my friends knew they'd hound me to death, but I like 'em. The Notebook? Awesome.

  52. Most people don't know that during everyday events, I start narrating in my head. Like, "Tim turned away for me and headed to the new DVD section in Target." I do this quite frequently and never tell anyone cause I don't think anyone would understand.

  53. I'm a pack rat.

  54. I absolutely eavesdrop as well. I don't usually get ideas for dialogue from it, but it gives me a much more realistic idea of how people speak.

  55. Anonymous4:14 PM

    It's all true! From the eavesdropping to the constant writing. We can't help it, tee-hee.

    Something about me? I hardly have main male characters in my stories. A thing that has to be changed ;)

  56. My secret?

    I have a balloon phobia. Can't stand the things. I think it dates back to when I was small and riding in the back seat of a car with some balloons, and they popped next to me. At any rate, balloons squeaking or rubbing each other just set my teeth on edge and I want to get away (which is why I don't like birthday parties).

  57. Anonymous4:39 PM

    My secret ... i create lives for strangers. The young girl, on the city bus, in Calgary was a ballerina. The young man with eyes of denim blue loved her. (I never saw them on the same bus).

  58. I love boy bands. The secret is out
    LOL. and I listen to Elton John when I write.

  59. My mother originally wanted to name me Kelly and though I have no beef with any Kellys I'm glad I got a different name (always kept picturing Tiffany Amber Thiessen from "Saved by the Bell").

    Name in the hat, please!

  60. Too private to share secrets... so tossing my name in the hat.

  61. When a close relative confided to me that she had turned another equally close relative into the FBI for suspected terrorist activities, my first thought was "I'll bet I could get a really cool story out of this, but I'll probably have to wait until they're dead to get it published."

    If writers think that anyone reading is beautiful, I'm a knock-out - I've got a book in my purse, in my car, in my locker at the gym, one for each bathroom, one by the bed, one by the computer (those slow-loading pages, you know)- when a simplifying website calculated that you had to read six books a month to make a Kindle worth it money-wise, they seemed to think this was unusually high. I go through six or more books most weeks.

  62. My brain's too numb to think (just got in from shovelling snow in -20 wind chill), so I'm just throwing my name in the hat.

  63. Anonymous6:01 PM

    Hmmm, something people don't know about me? He! He! He! I write very very naughty erotica under another name besides my erotic romance name Jan Springer...that's my big secret...

    Great contest! :-)


    jan, a bad girl and loving it!

  64. I'm really a polar bear living as a human.

    Don't believe me? That's OK.

  65. Anonymous6:41 PM

    I'm one of those people who gets told all the time, "You should write a book about your life!" And I'm only twenty-something.

    To be honest, I've thought about it, but I'm still not ready to revisit all the emotions surrounding my past.

    Plus, I have a lot of living left to do.

  66. Dear Miss Viehl
    I'm a fan your stardoc books since many years.I'm from German.First I reed the books in my language,and in a result of this ,a lot of things had changed my live.I need to tell you this.Can you give me an adress somewhere please.My English isn't really good,I learned it in a eveningschool one year ago, and this letter is very privat to send via E-mail.
    My secret is I'm a great yellow belly and very introvert no one knows.And outwards I must be a tough girl for my people.Also it cost a lot for me to post that. greetings Di.

  67. I work out a lot of my dialog in the shower. My family long ago stopped asking me who I'm talking to. lol

  68. When you have children, very rarely do you get to have secrets. At least with my kids. Please throw my name in the hat.

  69. Congratulations, Marnie!

    One thing most people don't know about me is that I taught myself how to read sheet music so I could play the piano.

  70. That I hate to shop for anything other than books.

  71. You don't know me anyway, but I'll tell you something that not many know: My nickname as a kid was Sugar as in sugarpie. I hated it and quit answering to it as soon as I realized I could do that. (About 10).

  72. Anonymous8:40 PM

    I stopped speaking to my best friend from college after she insulted my husband. He keeps trying to get me to mend fences because he doesn't know why I stopped speaking to her.

  73. I would love to receive ANY book for Christmas---if on the off chance I've read it, I can exchange. My relatives don't understand I crave books : )

  74. Tossing my name in, I guess...

  75. I'm afraid of success.

  76. Tossing my name into the hat :)

  77. I'd like to think I still have secrets and keep them locked up tight.

  78. I enjoy sitting in the dark and letting the silence wash over me. No one in my family knows this. Weird, huh?

  79. *toss*

    There's my name. No secrets I can think of. Does that make me dull?

  80. Something you don't know about me? I think I've pretty much spilled all my secrets on my blog.

    Okay, not all of them, but all of my writing related ones.

    Ok, here's one... I've procrastinated on a book so bad that I only gave myself three weeks to write a full novel...and still made my deadline.

    Sometimes all nighters make me brain dead, but seem to be the best way for me to stop thinking so hard, and just write.

  81. *tossing my name in*

    which, by the way, you don't know. (grin)

  82. I'm a pretty open person so it's a little hard to think of one.

    How's this, about 3 years ago I created a character that was one of those unabashed mary-sue of an idealized self.

    She changed my life. I realized I had created her out of frustration of not being her. Since then, she's been my inspiration to reach for everything I ever wanted.

  83. Anonymous8:32 AM

    I still watch cartoons. *g*

  84. During the early morning, when the sun has barely gotten strong enough to warm anything and the air has this light, crisp taste, I love to go out and stand still. Breathing in the cool air, watching the clouds caress the sky in complete silence -- it recharges my batteries and also makes me feel closer to someone I've lost the last year. There was a morning when I stood staring out across the river that runs through my city and tears just began to flow.

    No one, not even my husband, knows about this extremely-for-me time.

  85. I wrote a Harlequin-type novel while in high school, in my Modern European History course. I've still got it somewhere.

  86. I think Justin Timberlake is sexy.

  87. Anonymous1:32 PM

    Tossing my name in the hat. :)

  88. HI Lynn,

    I'm a perfectionist! It makes me crazy as well as the hubby, also!

    Thank you,

  89. Anonymous6:08 PM

    No one knows i'm working on a book,sshhh,it may always stay on my laptop or one day i'll be bold and send it somewhere.


  90. I ate half a caterpillar when I was a baby. No, the other half did not survive.

    My parents were good, other than this one incident of neglect. :)

  91. Tossing my name in the hat, because my secrets aren't worth telling :)

  92. Anonymous8:51 PM

    I don't think I have secrets. . . yea..that's me, an open book. ;) add my name to the hat, please.


  93. Anonymous9:16 PM

    Most people I talk to think that I'm going for my English degree so that I can teach, not write.
    ManiacScribbler =^..^=

  94. Anonymous9:56 PM

    I totally narrate life in my head too, Amanda. :)

    My writing secret? Writing... I think I share all my writing secrets on the blog. Hm.

  95. Just wanted to throw my name in.