Monthly Archives: March 2010

Spring Cleaning

This could also be titled “pick up your bags and truck on over to Blogspot”.


I did it.

I moved the blog to Blogspot.

I have absolutely nothing against WordPress (actually I’m rather nostalgic about ditching my very first blog) but several things hooked me into Blogspot.

1. Followers. Yes… I am lame like that. I need followers to prove to the world that I don’t ramble to a deaf world. I also thought it would be easier to follow other people’s blogs if I had a Google account.

2. Pages.
Actually this was the one reason it took me so long to get here. I love the WordPress Pages feature, and I didn’t think Blogspot had it. Until this morning, when I sneaked into Google and created this account just to test things out… and discovered that Blogspot has an all-new Pages feature! I was sold.

3. People. I started hinting at this change on Twitter this morning, and the replies were instantaneous and unanimous: make the move!

So change your links: is the new place to be. Don’t forget the “joy” part — that’s new and improved and also very important, because Kirsten Joy Rice is going to be the name you’ll see on bookshelves someday.

And… to be nostalgic, just because change makes me sad sometimes, thanks to all you lovely people for contributing to “A Romantic” in its first form. Onwards and upwards!


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The Beach Salvage (tension, part two)

Building tension is one thing. You can craft all the craziness you want, and ramp up the stakes in every conversation, but it’ll mean nothing if you don’t create a satisfying climax.

The other week, a string of storms blew several large, 30-40 ft sailboats onto one of the beaches here. I just so happened to be playing volleyball on the next sunny day when a crew of men were trying to pull one of the boats out of the sand. This boat was buried. Really, really buried. The keel probably shot 10 feet or so into the ground and wet sand filled the cabin.

The crew had decided to loop a chain around the base of the keel. The chain was connected to a tow truck that was in the beach’s parking lot. Of course my friends and I headed over to check things out. A bunch of other spectators had gathered around the boat with cameras and frowns and lots of curiosity. As people crowded to closer to watch and whisper, a security car showed up to keep things under control.

“Stand back!” one of the crew guys shouted. “When the tow truck pulls, this whole boat’s gonna blow up!”

We were stoked. What a cool afternoon!

“Stand farther back!” the crew guy and the security car told us. “The debris might fly fifty feet, and you don’t wanna get hit with any of it.”

Wow. Danger? Possible death? We moved back, but not too far.

As the tow truck started up, the crowd hushed. This was it. The boat was going to blow! The crew gave the signal and the tow truck shifted into gear. The chain made a grinding noise against the keel —

Then —


Lots of silence.

And then the security car drove up and told us to go home; the crew was giving up and the fun was over.

Lamest story ever?

Yes, I’m sorry I put you through it, but it proves the point.

When you make your book sing with tension, you’d better deliver. Build to a satisfying climax that tests your characters’ strengths and changes them forever. Don’t just wrap things up with a couple of hugs — or, in this case, a “just kidding”.

Maybe this seems obvious, but I can think of several books that ended with a huge anticlimax — okay, mainly the fourth Twilight book — and it can be tempting to reach the end of your book and just want to be done. Don’t do that. First blow up the boat, scatter some debris, and make the evening headlines. Then pack up and go home.

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Say what’cha need to say (tension, part one)

Do you ever notice our conversations? Real life, normal conversations?

We don’t push buttons. We play nice and say good things and generally avoid conflict. At least I do. I really don’t like tension-filled conversations — they make my palms sweaty and they twist up my tongue.

In novels, however, conversations have to snap with tension. There’s no other way. Characters can’t talk about the weather or ramble about their days; they must say things that make other people uncomfortable or angry, they must bare their souls (or hide their souls), argue and gossip and lie.

Take, for example, this excerpt from FELL. Birch, having just gotten on the bus, sees Harley, this kid who doesn’t seem to have a home and also always appears on her bus routes. She sits down next to him. The scene doesn’t have much momentum yet, and it makes total sense for Birch and Harley to say hello. I mean, I would say hello. But “hello” doesn’t establish tension, start things off with a bang, or make me want to read (or write) any further. Instead:

“You’re early,” he says.

“Do you have my schedule memorized?” I choose not to be creeped out by it.

“It’s an easy schedule.” He rolls his head to one side so we’re almost nose to nose. He looks exhausted, shivery. His hair’s greasier and his eyes are darker, sadder, smudged with circles.

“Were you waiting for me?”

Now that is interesting (I hope). When your characters say unexpected things, push buttons, and dive into taboo subjects, your readers will get glued to your scenes.

But don’t try this at home — save it for the books.


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