Just when I thought it was safe to hide in a cave, Wylie tempted me out into the open by honouring me with this writing award. Hooray! My inner cheerleader and I are very happy for this reason to try out some new cheers. Life just doesn't get any cooler than this -- thank you, Wylie!

As part of the award, recipients are asked to cite three elements of powerful writing. Here are three things that make will make me keep a book forever so I can read it over and over again:

Great character flaws
I'm not going to invest a whole lotta time reading about perfect people or people who do the right things for the right reason all the rat-stinkin' time. Snore! Give me a heroine and hero with some issues to deal with so that I can feel their pain and cheer them on when they work their way through them.

Believable dialogue
I'm a sucker for a good line (just ask my husband), so I expect an author to have an ear for dialogue. Not only do I expect to see the story, I want to hear it too. Yeah, I guess I'm demanding that way, sue me.

Words that reward the reader
I call this the X-factor for a book. A novel can have a great hook, be written exceptionally well, have three-dimensional characters and/or a bit of all three of these things, but if I don't feel rewarded when I've chosen to spend some time reading it, I get cranky. While I love to read, my reading speed has slowed down considerably since my 20s (just last month - LOL) when I could devour two novels a week. It could be that now I'm actually paying attention and not just skimming to the dirty parts. ;)

And now, since it was kind of hazy what the next step is (I'm a gal who loves rules), I'm following Wylie's lead and passing this award on to four more brilliant writers.

There are so many fabulous ones out there, but I've selected the women who've helped me most, whether by still speaking to me after seeing one of my first drafts, inspiring me with their own work, making the time to write or a combination of all three:

Michelle Rowen: Her novels make me laugh out loud and green with envy. Who knew vampires could be so much fun? She's the reason I got my butt in this chair and decided to get my ideas (though none involve fangs) on paper. So if things go horribly wrong, I can blame her. ;)

Laurie Rauch: She's the editor extraordinaire who can take a pile of dogsnot and somehow find a sentence or two that works. Or at least rework it so it does. ;) Without Laurie's guidance one of my heroines would still be at an all-you-can-eat buffet!

Apprentice Writer: Although the "apprentice" in her blog's name drives me crazy, Maya has a gift for quirky characters that is truly delightful. And the fact that she reviews novels based on whether the are funny or not gets two thumbs-up from me. ;)

Amy Ruttan: My introduction to this crazy gal was through a freaking awesome one-page synopsis at a critique session. Although the placement of a comma had a child's paternity in question, I now have a karaoke partner for San Francisco...and probably every other conference we attend!

Please go visit these incredible women and, if you're lucky, you just might have a great laugh or learn something about something. Okay, next I should find my vocabulary.

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