Friday, June 30, 2006

Celebs Get Paid To Party

Not sure why this news bothers me so much, but it does. Perhaps because it's so amazingly shallow. And maybe because I can think of so many better ways to spend thousands of dollars. On a much smaller scale, it reminds me of when I learned beautiful people from a local modeling agency were being paid to hang out in one of the new AC casino lounges. I don't know why I should be surprised. Beautiful young women are bound to attract men with money to burn. "Buy you a drink or three before I return to the tables?"

Being paid to be, well, beautiful, and party. Huh.

Although, when I think about it, I guess I've done something similar. In the past I was hired, along with a male dance partner, to attend high roller special event parties masquerading as regular casino patrons. The objective was to blend in, but to also be the first ones on the dance floor, thereby encouraging others to follow. You know the old saying, no one wants to be the first one on the dance floor. So my partner and I were hired to 'get the party started'. Party Motivators was our official title.

Except we didn't get to partake in the dinner or the alcohol. Promoting fun was a contracted gig. Still, officially, I got paid to party. Although we're talking a couple of hundred dollars as opposed to ten thousand (and up). Then again, I'm not a celebrity. Britney Spears' husband, Kevin Federline, got $30,000 to show up in some club. He didn't have to do anything special, just be. I'm not too envious as I wouldn't want to be Britney Spears' husband.

Maybe that's why I'm bothered by that article. Because I'm envious that celebs are being paid a ridiculous price to do what I do.

Pure, just so you know, I am an excellent emcee and I will gladly host your next New Year's Eve party and for a heck of a lot less than the $75,000 you paid Nicky Hilton and her boyfriend.

Someone clue me in. What exactly is she famous for?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Research Bugaboos

The ever-entertaining Ken Levine is answering questions regarding his days as a writer for M*A*S*H. He talks about how the show had a medical advisor. How he and his partner, David, would insert medical nonsense when they didn't know a particular term. An example borrowed directly from Ken's post today (thank you, Ken)...

HAWKEYE: I think his freebazzber is ruptured.

BJ: You might have to gumenford him and eeknonoogle his interior norgalflagle.

Later the advisor would supply the with the correct terminology. I dunno. I'm kind of partial to Ken and David's snazzy nonsense. *g*

At any rate, this made me think about what I've been dealing with the past few days regarding my WIP. As you know, I'm currently working on my next western romance. It takes place in 1878. I'll be on a roll, typing away, when suddenly a historical bugaboo stops me cold. Once it was a letter. How did the postal service work back then? Did they have stamps? Envelopes? How was the mail delivered? I'm really glad I researched this because, for one, no, we did not use envelopes. One thing led to another and soon I was researching the typewriter. When was it invented? Was it in common use? Blah, blah, blah. All of this was important because the letter in question is a blackmail letter and very important to the story. I had to get this right. But between all of my research books plus the Internet, I did not find all of my specific answers quickly. I think it took an hour or two. I went through the same thing when researching shotguns, the telegraph, and most recently, yesterday, 19th century spectacles. Sure there's plenty of information out there, but I had very specific questions.

I run into this for every book. For instance when writing THE CHAMELEON CHRONICLES --ALL ABOUT EVIE (coming spring 2007 from HQN), I had to research con-artists and their world. I also learned a boat-load about cruise ships (ha!). Most of the first installment of TCC takes place on a cruise and I've never been on one. You can only take creative license so far. Readers will call you on mistakes. So I ended up researching everything from boarding procedures to lifeboat drills to law in International waters.

Still, the research wasn't nearly as time consuming as on ROMANCING THE WEST (also coming 2007 from Medallion Press). I didn't hit those bugaboo questions as often. I already knew that if my 21st century broke her eyeglasses, she'd just drive over to Lens Crafters for a new pair. My 19th century stuck-in-the-boonies-wild-west heroine, I ultimately learned, would have to wait for a spectacle peddler to roll through town. Except she had the bad luck of needing bifocals (yes, they had those then) so that was a whole new bugaboo.

What was my point? Ah, yes. The medical advisor on M*A*S*H. I've decided I want one of those. Only I need an all-around research advisor. I'd like a housekeeper, too, but I'll pass on that if it means hiring on someone to help with research. Oh, shoot, and I want a publicist, too. I really need to win the lottery or land a Stephen King like book deal to make some of these things happen. A person can dream. I'm dreaming of the day when I can type nonsense when I hit bugaboos, relying on an advisor for the correct term for norgalflagle.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pet Peeve (today's anyway)

People who pull out in front of you (causing you to step on your brake) and then proceed to drive five miles under the speed limit! Grr. Naturally, this happens to me on the days that I'm running late for work. Never fails. Every. Single. Time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Just Say It

A woman walked into the library (No, this isn't a set up for a joke. I can't tell a joke to save my life.) and handed me a book.

"Returning," she said.

"Did you enjoy it?" I asked.

"I couldn't get through it. Too many adjectives."

This woman frequents our library often. She's an avid reader. Mostly she goes for the bestselling suspense/thriller authors. Patterson. Woods. Parker. The author of the book with too many adjectives was a big name, too. Though I haven't read him, I was intrigued.

"Lengthy descriptive passages?" I asked. I admit. I tend to skim those myself.

"Too much description period. Too many adjectives. I have an imagination. Don't talk it to death, just say it."

Huh. Since I read Stuart Woods and Robert B. Parker, two of her favorites (and mine), I knew exactly what she meant. Or rather her preferred style--sparse, direct. My personal writing style is not as sparse and direct as either of the authors mentioned above, but I do lean in that direction. It's what comes naturally. Part of my voice. I usually don't give it much thought. Although every once in awhile . . .

I'm currently reading Linda Lael Miller's latest release, a historical western--The Man from Stone Creek. I'm a longtime fan of Miller's. I particularly enjoy her westerns. She is what I call a word smith. I'm sure the library patron of this post would declare the novel overkill on the adjective front. Not me. I admire the way Miller roots me in the period without boring me info-dump. Her writing is direct yet poetic. The perfect balance for this reader.

As a writer, however, though inspired, I suffered an attack of self-doubt. I emailed Cyndi (my friend, CP, and a poetic word smith herself) and lamented, "Compared to LLM, my writing is so simple."

Now, I know better than to compare myself to anyone, but I was in a mood.

Cyndi responded, "I don't think your style is simple. I think it's straightforward. You like tight; you like dialogue and movement."

Straightforward. I like that. Much better than simple. The library patron with the too many adjectives gripe would probably like my style. Readers who like sparse and direct would like my style. Of course, there are historical readers who abhor what they refer to as costume dramas. They would probably find my writing lacking, specifically in adjectives.

Luckily for readers, whose tastes vary, there are all kinds of writers. Writers who just say it and writers who say it with more color.

Luckily for writers, there are all kinds of readers. Next time that library patron hands me a book, I'm going to hand her one of my bookmarks.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Because it Makes Me Smile

This photo was featured on my Yahoo news. Apparently this dude and his dog were zipping past the church where Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban got married yesterday. I love this picture. It makes me smile. Want to lift my spirits even higher? CAPTION THIS PICTURE. *g*

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Er, my blog seems to be glitching a bit today. The pics show up right away but the text is delayed. Weird. Oh jeez, and here I am typing an explanation that you probably won't see. *thunk to the head* in case you do see this. There is a post next to Robert Duvall's pic. I swear. Wait. It will magically appear. *g*

Western Alert!

I'm a long way from my seven-page goal for the day, but I'm knocking off early. For a good reason, I swear. Inspiration. I meant to post this sooner. Western fans, tune in to AMC tonight or set your TIVO (I really need to get one of those). Robert Duvall (who I adored in Open Range) stars in the original AMC movie-- Broken Trails. Click here for details. Good westerns are hard to come by these days, my friends. Catch it if you can!

"I always say the English have Shakespeare, the French have Moliere, the Russians have Chekhov, and the western is uniquely ours. There's always an interest." ~ Robert Duvall

Survived. But. I'm.

My knees. My voice. My brain. Crispy burnt. But I'm determined to write seven new pages today. So what if it's drek? Drek is fixable. At the very least, I'll fool myself into thinking I'm closer to my target word count. Days like this, I'm easily fooled. Where's my bean juice?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mysteries of my Universe

Observations from last night's gig.

Why contract the band to start at 8pm and then tell the band, before they ever play a note, that they want you to play so soft that the diners won't her you? Those diners, by the way, were to my immediate right. The only thing separating us--a 3/4 wall. I couldn't see the diners, but I could see (and hear) the people standing three deep at the bar and to my immediate left. People who had been drinking for an hour (or three) and wanted to dance. But I rolled with the punches. It's what I do. I typically play the AC casinos where punches are aplenty.

I don't plan to wear polyester pants and moo-moo smock thingees buttoned to my chin when I'm 65 (and up). But I do think there is a time when a woman should give up wearing things like halter tops, tube tops, mid-thigh skirts (especially with no stockings), and hip-hugger jeans with appliques and rhinestones. I'm not judging. I'm just sayin'.

While on break and minding my own bees wax, a woman (picture a variation of the above) comes over to me with her husband (or whatever) and starts talking to me about other singers that have performed at this club. Not their voices or repertoire, but their breasts. I'll spare you the details, but basically they were certain most all of them had had boob jobs. Why, oh, why, would you ever strike up this conversation with a stranger? Were they subtlety asking if I'd had one? It's called a Wonder bra folks. I did not contribute much to the conversation, just shrugged a lot. Finally they got up to leave. "Nice talking to you," they said. "An intellectual thrill," I thought. "Have a nice evening," I said.

Those were the highlights of my night. Now I'm off to the library where I get to ponder the mystery of some parents who allow their little ones to trash the children's section, and then leave without picking up after them. Or better yet, teaching the kids to pick up after themselves.

You guessed it. I haven't had my coffee yet.

Friday, June 23, 2006

We Do What We Must

The Bangles sang, Just Another Manic Monday. For me, it's Just Another Manic Weekend. Today and tomorrow I work at the library. Tonight and tomorrow night I perform. As for writing, looks like Just Another Manic Sunday through Tuesday cram session. Hey, at least it's some sort of routine! I'll check in here somewhere along the way. Have a great weekend and, as my friend Elsie would say: Be safe, have fun. Or is it 'Be safe, be good?' One of those two. Your choice. *g*

"We work in the dark--we do what we can--we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art. ~~ Henry James

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Two Talented Men, Two Different Worlds

This year my schedule is such that I have been unable to physically attend as many (hardly any) writers workshops as I'd like. I attend conferences and workshops for inspiration and education. Also to network and hang with my friends, but mostly to learn. The nice thing about blogs, one of the nice things anyway, is that I can learn about writing/publishing, the craft/business without leaving home. Presently, I have two different daily blog haunts, places I visit for education and inspiration.

Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer and has worked on shows such as MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYONE LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, and DHARMA & GREG. He's brilliant, hilarious, and he is currently sharing scenes from a script he wrote for MASH. Actually, he shares quite a bit of work on his blog and I'm not only entertained as I read--I learn. It doesn't matter that he's a screenwriter and I'm a novelist. Pacing, plotting, characterization, dialogue--those are the things I zone in on and study.

J. A. Konrath is the author of the Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels thriller novels Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, and Rusty Nail. He's sold numerous articles and short stories. He's also a promo WHIZ. Konrath is extremely generous with his time and knowledge, writing in-depth and informative blog entries on promotion, craft, and publishing in general. The man makes my head spin, but in a good way. And did I mention he's funny? I'm a sap for funny. Check out his interview today over at Alison Kent's blog. (Er, another daily haunt.)

Thanks for giving me a daily kick in the pants, guys.

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind." ~~Rudyard Kipling

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I'm In Love

It happened last night. We were standing on the boardwalk outside of Doc Kellogg's office. Emily was ranting about the intolerant and judgmental citizens of the conservative town of Heaven, California. Sensing an emotional breakdown and not wanting her subjected to more public ridicule, Seth ushered the quirky librarian off of the crowded street and into a private area. She continued to vent about supposedly good people who shun those they perceive as different.

"Mrs. Dunlap is a goodhearted woman who contributed generously to this community for years. But along the way she lost her husband and two sons and slowly but surely her mind. She's not crazy, she's forgetful. Cole Sawyer Sr. took advantage and manipulated her out of her land. Granted, he paid for it. But not a fair price. No one wanted to take her in because they considered her a nut and a burden."

"You took her in."

"It was the decent thing to do. I can't fathom how someone could turn their back on someone in need!"

In that moment, something turned inside of Seth. And me, too. At long last, I fell in love with the heroine of my current story, ROMANCING THE WEST. I finally 'got her'. Completely. After months of being the bane of my existence, Emily McBride could well end up being my personal favorite of the heroines I've written thus far. With the exception of Evie Parish from THE CHAMELEON CHRONICLES. Evie and I share a special bond.

Emily's rant and subsequent breakdown wasn't only about Mrs. Dunlap. There are several contributing factors as Seth will soon find out. She's an interesting and complex woman. Over the past three days, I not only clicked with Emily, but with Seth, and two other central characters. I wrote 26 pages in the past three days, five scenes. Within those scenes twice, I second-guessed what I wrote off of the top of my head. Twice I ignored the urge to fight and change what had come naturally from the characters, but as a surprise to me. I'm glad I went with it, because those unexpected happenings led me fast and furious into the heart of the story. I'm driven now. I feel the characters and the plot is developing as I'd planned and as I hadn't planned.

That's the thrill of writing by the seat of your pants. That's the beauty of allowing your creative muse to run roughshod over your inner critic.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Scoop on Me

Confession time: Recently, I haven't had the time or energy to blog. Nor have I been able to blog hop. I've fallen behind in returning emails . . . again. My house will soon be declared a disaster zone and I've been living on Dunkin' Donuts and Chinese take-out.

My Excuse: Friday day I worked at the library (5 hours). Friday night I performed at a restaurant/bar (4 hours). Saturday morning I spent two hours filling out a cover spec sheet for MP. That afternoon I performed at Ballys Casino (4 hours). That night I performed at that restaurant/bar (4 hours). Sunday morning I slept late, trying to recover my voice and rest my aching knees. Sunday day and night I researched (I now know way to much about 19th century shotguns) and wrote. (10 hours) Yes, I was braindead, but I was two days behind schedule. Monday (yesterday) I wrote. (15 hours) Today I attended a three-hour training course for the library, came home and started writing again. Felt guilty about being away from my blog for yet another day . . so here I am.

The Good News: The audio systems were awesome on all three of my gigs, hence I sang with ease and actually had FUN. During the library workshop where we learned a new database program, another librarian typed in my name and LASSO THE MOON came up in the NOVEL LIST database along with the awesome Book List review. Six months ago I wasn't included in NOVEL LIST, I checked. Now I am. Woo-hoo! Over a two day period I wrote 22 pages plus did some tweaking on earlier chapters.

That's the scoop on me, folks. Deadline for ROMANCING THE WEST is now six weeks away. if I can stay focused like I've been for the past two days and let everything else in my life fall through the cracks, I'm good. *g*

When you're crunched for time what do you let slide?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Birthday Paul!

Yes, it's Father's Day. Wishing all dads out there the very best! Paul McCartney's not only celebrating Father's Day, but his 64th birthday. Naturally everyone is referencing his hit from yesteryear--"When I'm 64." As a singer and a music lover, I am in awe and in love with many Lennon/McCartney songs. The words and melodies are timeless. As a romantic, here is one of my favorites.

And I Love Her
(music and words by: Paul McCartney and John Lennon)

I give her all my love. That's all I do. And if you saw my love. You'd love her too. I love her.

She gives me everything. And tenderly. The kiss my lover brings. She brings to me. And I love her.

A love like ours, could never die. As long as I have you near me.

Bright are the stars that shine. Dark is the sky. I know this love of mine, will never die. And I love her.

Do you have a favorite McCartney tune?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Cover Fever

Just turned in my cover spec sheet to Medallion Press for ROMANCING THE WEST. This is a multi-page document where the author supplies the publisher with details about the story and characters. This means the cover artist, in this case the wondrous Adam Mock, will soon be designing a cover for RTW. Yahoo!

I've also been informed by my HQN editor, the lovely and talented, Abby Zidle, that the Harlequin art department is presently working on the cover for THE CHAMELEON CHRONICLES: ALL ABOUT EVIE. Yippee!!

I don't know about you, but I'm dying to see both of these covers! Both books are scheduled for release in 2007 and I'm currently working on putting them both to bed, so to speak.

Looking forward to sharing my spiffy covers with you as soon as they arrive in my in-box. Stay tuned! On the subject of covers... Name a cover of a book that's recently 'wowed' you. I'll look it up on Amazon. Just curious as to what knocks off your socks cover-wise!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Love International Style

Harlequin VP Isabel Swift, recently posted about a global Team Harlequin meeting that takes place annually. A fun and interesting read, reminding me of how very huge and innovative Harlequin Publishing is. We're talking International distribution. They need to be in tune with the romantics of the world. Not just North America, but the world. I've never really thought about the dating and marriage scene in other countries. That is to say I think of love as universal. But of course there would be cultural influences. The folks at Harlequin got the scoop.

A copy of Harlequin's Romance Report 2006 was available to readers at the the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. (You can also see it here.) It's filled with hip and thought provoking information. I particularly enjoyed the surveys. Here are some 'global' highlights as posted in the report.

Harlequin polled 14 countries and and everyone agreed the best way to meet new people is through friends. The men and women who depend most on their friends for romantic introductions are Japenese women (90%), Swedish women (80%), and Mexican men (80%). But what if you don't trust a friend's judgement or what if they're not into playing matchmaker? Not to fret, says Harlequin's survey. There are plenty of other ways to meet new people. Parties, pubs, bars and clubs are popular among: Italian men (50%), Dutch women (40%), and Greek men and women (40%).

I'll share some other interesting tidbits from this report over the weekend. But this got me thinking... Personally, I can't imagine being on the dating scene again. Where would I go to meet new people, specifically of a possible romantic nature? Where would you (or do you) go? To a friend? Club? Bar? Dating service? Inquiring minds (Okay. I) want to know.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Missing Teen - Can You Help?

I've just learned that a fellow author's daughter is missing. I'm saddened to hear this and hoping I can help by spreading the word. Please visit this link to learn about Staci Jones and how you can help if you've seen her. My thoughts and prayers are with Staci and her family.

Captain Sparrow and Woody

I love movies. I love seeing movies on the big screen. That is if I can find a seat where no one is sitting in front, behind, or beside me. Specifically, yappers. People who talk through movies drive me insane. Wanna comment on every bit of action or dialogue? Rent the DVD and watch it at home. Please. I beg you. But I digress.

The summer movie season is here or almost here. I don't know the official start date. I do know that there are some movies that I'd hoped to see in the theater that I've already missed. I know there are a couple playing that I would very much like to see but won't--The Prairie Home Companion and The Lake House--because I can't justify giving up the writing time just now. There are two movies, however, that I will break away for.

The first I must see on the big screen: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest . It's all about Captain Jack Sparrow. Well, not all. The whole swashbuckling pirate thing is great fun. *g*

The second must see summer movie is a product of one of my favorite writer/directors, Woody Allen. Granted, his last several comedies fell flat. But he came back strong with the atomospheric drama, Match Point and now Scoop looks like like classic Allen fun. The trailor sold me along with the synop. "A contemporary comedy centering around a student journalist for a college paper visiting friends in London who happens upon the scoop of a lifetime. Along the investigative trail, she finds magic, murder, mystery--and perhaps love, with a British aristocrat." I'm so there!

What are your summer must-sees?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Anticipated Endings and Reads

Anticipating the end of my WIP, coming in the next couple of months. Anticipating an entertaining read, Stephanie Bond's BODY MOVERS, coming July 25.

Starting today, between the library and performing, I work everyday straight through Saturday. In fact Friday and Saturday, I'm doubling. That leaves very limited time to write. But when on deadline (whether contracted or self-imposed) you do what you gotta do. You write whenever you can. Even if I only complete two new sentences, I'm two sentences closer to the end.

In her blog yesterday, Stephanie Bond wrote: "Plain and simple--the only way to finish a manuscript is to commit to the many, many hours it takes to get to the end. Every sentence, every paragraph, every 10-minute writing session will get you there eventually."

If you haven't checked out Stephanie's website, I urge you to hop over. Her site and blog are filled with articles and fun extras for readers, writers and booksellers. Plus, she a terrific and prolific writer. And yes, a good friend. I'm really looking forward to her July release BODY MOVERS, the first in her new sexy mystery series for MIRA books. Looking for a fresh, fun read? Add this one to your summer reading list!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Websites? Blogs? Or Both?

Just a quick note to check in and say, "I'm writing. I swear." Okay, I did do another quickie photo session with Steve and I did upload a new pic to the front page of my website, and one here too, although it's not showing up yet. Maybe after I publish this post? But that's it. I'm done tinkering. For now anyway. *g* I have a book to write (as a couple of author friends have reminded me).

I will say that the break was needed. And I worked on promo related aspects (blog/website) so it's not like I diddled away precious time. Could have been worse. I could've been playing computer games or surfing the Net for a new hairstyle. Oh, wait. I did do the latter. Anyway, this afternoon I am working on my WIP. I am.

Quick question, if an author offers a website and a blog, do you visit both? One more then the other? If so, why?

Monday, June 12, 2006


I couldn't help myself. It's all Scott's fault. He started it. He created a new, nifty look for his blog. Naturally, being me, I got the itch. Must. Make. Changes. So I spent a good portion of the day hunting down a template I liked, a template that was user friendly for goobers like moi. I found this at Caz's site. I must admit I was tempted by a few of the ultra sexy templates (can you say HOT?) but in the end, funky cartoon girl best represented 'me'. I know guys. It's pink. But pink's my fave color and besides it's only a little pink. White's the dominant color. You can deal with this, right. Not to mention cartoon chick is sorta, kinda hot. Yes? No?

Anyway, I'm very pleased with how this turned out. A very special thank you to Caz for the ultra cool template. Also a shout out to Scott who walked me through photo bucket. I'm talkin' he held my hand. Mu-wah. Kiss, kiss. Hug, hug, Scott.

Steve, super supportive husband that he is, agreed to take new pictures of me so that I could match the color scheme (I'm anal like that). He doesn't care for the one you see posted as it's too dark and a little blurry, so that will probably change. But I liked the overall look, and believe you me, I don't think I'm all that photogenic. So I begged him to send me this one to upload anyway. For now at least. As an afterthought I asked him to take a picture of me with the crew. Sadie, our cat, was in no mood and split the scene fast. As you can see here, Billie and Cheyenne weren't into a photo op either, but I thought this action shot was funny. Cheyenne's a face licker. Eww! Billie's like, are we done yet?

I will say that, though this makeover consumed most of my day, I still produced four new pages on my WIP. Yeah, baby, yeah. Life is good!

A New Look

Talk about an extreme and classy makeover, check out historical author Scott Oden's blog! Nice work, Scott. Of course, now I'm itching to jazz up my own blog. A new brighter color? Adding my book covers? Maybe a banner up top displaying my logo lady from my website? Only I don't know how to do any of those things. Bob Farley gave me some tips awhile back. He's always tinkering with the look of his blog. Maybe it's time to get my butt in gear and toy with my template. Of course, since I'm a techno-goober that would be time intensive and I'm on deadline (and finally on a roll) so it's probably not the time to do a blog makeover.

Doesn't mean I won't try it anyway. Heh.

I'm also itching for a new hair style or color. Again. But at least that only takes two hours and it's a no-brainer as my hairstylist does it. Are you a creature of habit or always in need of change? Me? I'm a little of both.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Getting There

It’s been a busy week. Worked at the library four days, performed three nights. In between and during, I worked on the manuscript that is suddenly and gloriously no longer pesky, but promising. Since establishing and solving my core problem my brain has been buzzing. During downtime at the library I freewrote my heroine’s backstory in a little pink notebook. Then I came home and worked up an actual timeline interspersing that background and key plot points. I also made notes about the characters’ emotions. The brain continued to buzz.

As much as I itched to go back into the manuscript and revise, I lacked concentrated time. Plus, I refused to tinker with the story any more until I clicked at least 99% with my heroine. Yes, I should have done this kind of work extensively before ever starting the book, but my process is bass-ackward. Always has been, only it’s never taken this long to right itself and make sense.

But it’s okay. It’s all good. After spending four days with my heroine immersed in a heart-to-heart, we are at last, emotionally connected. I get her now. I feel her. Last night I took my laptop to my emcee gig (you know, the behind-the-scenes gig where I announce a winner every ten minutes) and typed away for six hours. The revisions were slight, but essential. I simplified the plot, gave the heroine depth, and suddenly everything made sense. Emily makes sense. To me anyway. Seth is baffled by the woman. She intrigues him and that’s going to get him in a whole lot of trouble. Their brains are buzzing along with mine. That’s when I know I’m in the zone, when the characters come alive and take over. So I took the long way round. At least I'm getting there. Yes!

"There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." — W Somerset Maugham

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Couldn't Have Said it Better...

‘Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him to the public.' --Winston Churchill

Friday, June 9, 2006

Special Day

Today is my husband's birthday! Here we are in London (our place). This pic was taken two years ago, and for me, many hair colors ago. *g* Happy Birthday, Steve!!!

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Kicking into Hermit Mode

Yesterday was an incredibly interesting and jammed packed day. Unfortunately, I lack the time to blog about it. I would however like to shout out a thank you to Cyndi who called me with a solution to pesky sticking point in my story. Another loose end in that scenario was tied up by one of my co-workers at the library. Thank you. Thank you. The solutions were simple. How could I not see them? Signs of being too close to the story. Signs of being tired and stressed.

In addition to working part time at the library, my summer performance schedule is kicking in. Every spare moment is devoted to the deadline book. I owe some friends a phone call. I've fallen behind on some emails. I apologize if you're one of the people waiting to hear from me. I'll answer soon. Really I will. It's not that I don't care. It's that I'm distracted and obsessed. If my blog posts become sparse, brief, or boring... please bear with me. A book that's giving me fits is due in seven weeks. There are times when writing is fun and easy and there are times when it's frustrating and really, really hard. Guess where I'm at. My tough luck. I have a job to do. The good news is at one point it will click and I will be driven. Of that I have no doubt.

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." — Jack London

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

We Did it!!

Cheyenne and I graduated Basic Obedience Dog Training! Tonight was our final class in the eight week course. We never missed a class and we practiced (almost) every day.

I remember the first day, she was so pertrified. (We've established she has issues.) She spent most of the class cowering, trembling, glued to my leg. But as each week went by she gained confidence and actually began to look forward to class. She loved the instructor, Arlene (who was FABulous!). The people who dropped out really missed out. Yup. At the beginning of the course there were ten owners and dogs. Each week the class got smaller. By the last three classes we were down to three, and that's including me and Cheyenne. Congratulations to Stevie and Cracker and their owners for toughing it out! Stevie and Cracker were both large breeds and very hyper. Where as I had scaredy-cat-dog, Cheyenne. We all had behavior issues (the dogs, not the owners)and we all stuck it out. The change in these three dogs after the eight weeks was pretty incredible.

Tonight Cheyenne whizzed through class, performing with her little head held high (Except when the three school buses roared into the lot. But we won't talk about that slight wimp moment.) She heels very nicely. Sits and lays down on verbal command. She comes when I call, and sits squarely in front of me. She sits and stays. Stands and stays. Down and stays. She may be timid, but she very smart, and I'm very proud of her. In addition, most of her destructive behavior (chewing things up when we leave her alone) has stopped.

At the end of class, Cheyenne didn't get a diploma or a cap with a tassle, but she did get a squeaky toy! She was one happy dog! And I'm one proud owner. Thanks you Arlene of Banner Dog Training and YAY, Cheyenne! Doggie biscuits all around!

The Editor, The Cover Model, and The Author

Speaking of Mr. Romance... Here he is! Rodney Chatman, Mr. Romance 2006. Isn't he dreamy? Great smile. Great guy. Click here to read an endearing article on the man who won the opportunity to pose for the cover of an HQN novel.

Speaking of HQN, meet Abby Zidle, my editor. Well, she edits for other authors too, but I claimed her for this photo op. And for a few hours after the competition. We had dinner and laughs with another HQN author, Jennifer Skully. A fabulous way to end a hectic week!

Monday, June 5, 2006

The Challenge and The Conquest

You may or may not have noticed that I never blogged about RT’s Mr. Romance Competition. I refuse to say Pageant. Sounds to girly. Anyway, I think I dragged my feet writing this post because I didn’t want to give you a play by play account. I wasn’t sure how to phrase what I wanted to share. I’m still not sure, but here goes.

Out of all of the events that I performed or spoke at at the convention, this was the most personally important to me. The most demanding. The one that had me shaking a bit in my platform sandals. The mostly female audience wasn’t going to be getting the hunky soap opera host they’d been promised. He bailed last minute due to a filming conflict. Nor were they going to be getting NYT bestselling author Heather Graham who usually co-hosts the show, but had to leave RT early to attend BEA. They were getting me.

I battled my fear that the audience was going to be disappointed by telling myself that, though I’m not a celebrity, I am a professional performer with bukoo years experience on stage. That I’m building a name as a romance author and that I had several supportive friends in the audience. Also, I wasn’t hosting alone. Writer/director Rich Devin recruited actor/cover model Bill Freda to co-host a large portion, as well as cover model/Mr Romance 2005 Andrei Claude, and actor/cover model Mark Johnson. Cover models, C.J. Hollenbach and Evan Scott, worked as off-stage announcers. The audience would forget all about the lack of Mr. Soap Opera Hunk once they laid eyes on my charismatic, ultra-attractive co-hosts. Then there were the hunky competitors themselves. The audience would be focused on them, not me. So I told myself over and over again throughout the week leading up to the event.

Adding to my nerves was not being able to study the script ahead of time. Because soap opera dude canceled last minute, and because of a few other glitches, Rich had to rewrite the show throughout the week. I give that man a lot of credit. He spent sleepless nights rewriting. By day he coached the competitors along with partner Lance Taubold. Throughout, Rich was cool as a cucumber. Come to think of it, mostly everyone involved seemed relaxed. Except insecure, anal me who obsessed on not having the script until the morning of the show. About not having a full fledged rehearsal... just a walk through. Rich, who knows me, wasn’t concerned. He had complete faith in my ability to improvise. The script would be at the podium providing structure and needed facts. “You’ll be fine,” he said with a smile.

Long story short, I was fine. More than fine. As soon as I hit the stage, I felt comfortable and in control. Kind of like the central host of the Oscars, my job was to keep the show on track. The focus was on the competitors and often the co-host. Bill Freda performed an amazing comedic monologue. Mark Johnson, who would go off-script even if he had one, cracked up the audience (as always) and handled his part of the show with confident grace. Andrei Claude was absolutely charming. The competitors sexy and fun. Rich’s script provided important information and structure. My years of entertainment experience proved invaluable. Playing off of my co-hosts, the competitors, and audience came naturally, easily. I had fun.

After, I received several compliments. Several noted an on-stage chemistry between Bill and I, describing us as witty and charming. Several noted and appreciated my sensitivity with the competitors. I cherished each and every kind word.

Right before the show, backstage, Bill noted that I was nervous. He was surprised. “You do things like this for a living.” Yes, things like this, but not exactly this. And never in front of the romantic fiction community. The last thing I wanted to do was choke and fall flat on my face. Happily, that didn’t happen. I’m glad I faced my fears. I walked away with a sense of accomplishment and with bolstered confidence in my performance skills.

My eternal gratitude to everyone involved in the show and to everyone who never doubted my abilities. For me this gig wasn’t about being in the spotlight, but battling insecurities… and winning.

The Romance Zone has some amazing shots of the show. Please hop over and check out the photos. Ladies and gentlemen, it was a pleasure working with you! Congratulations to Rodney Chatman who won the opportunity to pose for an HQN cover!

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Harlequin Books VP Blogs!

Thank you Booksquare for pointing me to a new and exciting blog, Wouldn't You Like To Know by . . . Harlequin Books VP Isabel Swift! Even if I wasn't a Harlequin author, I'd still be jazzed about Ms. Swift's birth in blogosphere. Her witty insight is entertaining and informative to readers and writers alike. Welcome Isabel and blog on!

Creating Buzz and Books

Fan/Stalker #1, Laurie, gave me a heads up about a discussion happening over at the popular author group blog Squawk Radio. NYT bestselling author, Eloisa James wrote an essay on book promotion (June 2) and readers chimed in with what works best for them. I found the information helpful and depressing at the same time. A reminder that I should do more in terms of promoting current and past releases. But dang, right now I'm consumed and obssessed with writing fututre releases. Hmm. Maybe it's time to ask my magician friend, Brooks, to conjure me an assistant. Someone who'll work for Oreos and undying gratitude.*g*

Meanwhile, I've been musing the characters and plot of ROMANCING THE WEST (coming 2007) and tapping away at my laptop. Enjoyed reading your childhood memories in my Age of Innocence post. Lurkers, please do add yours if you're so inclined. Those memories make for happy Sunday reading!

Friday, June 2, 2006

Age of Innocence (warning: long nostalgic post)

A couple of days ago, I wrote a scene that took place in a tree. In the story (a secondary plot in ROMANCING THE WEST) a little girl regularly climbs trees to escape reality. She hangs out in the branches talking to an imaginary friend. At one point, my secondary heroine, a grown woman, sheds her fears to climb a tree in order to have a conversation with the young girl. I felt that woman’s exhilaration at navigating the heights and branches. Suddenly, I was catapulted back to my own youth.

I was a textbook tomboy.

Though I’ve lived in New Jersey for almost twenty years. I was born and raised in Indiana. Farm country. We moved around a bit, but always lived in small rural towns. One house sticks out in my oh-so-horrid memory. A house in Converse, Indiana. A one-horse town. A two-story house. Fenced in kennels. (My mom raised German Shepards) Chicken Coops. Fenced in pasture for our horses. And a barn (complete with hay loft). A large yard edged by trees, rhubarb plants and raspberry bushes. At least I remember the yard as large. I was quite small. Six to eight years old. There was one particularly massive tree in that yard. A maple tree I think. It sat close to the road. I spent a lot of time in that tree. Climbing in the branches. Hanging from and sitting in the branches. By myself. With siblings. I sang to myself. Talked to myself. And to imaginary friends. I remember being utterly happy, looking at the world from the treetops and thinking… anything is possible.

I have several vivid memories from that brief period of my childhood. Most whimsical. Some funny. Some sad.

I remember painting the barn with my grandpa and him showing me ‘proper’ brush technique. Cleaning the stalls with a pitchfork and whining about how heavy the straw and horse manure were. I remember sitting in the feed trough of the stalls along with a litter of kittens that were born there and talking to the horses. Conquering my fear of heights and jumping out of the second story hayloft into piles of straw. Someone got hurt. Me or my little brother. Or maybe it was a neighbor kid. Can’t remember. But we got in trouble because we weren’t supposed to jump from the loft. That I remember.

Walking barefoot in the yard and accidentally jamming a pitchfork prong through the side of my foot. That I remember. Yep. That was me. Ouch. BIG ouch.

I remember picking raspberries and eating them right off the bush. And the rhubarb… I liked it raw, but my brother liked it in pie. Grandma would make rhubarb pie especially for him. (I don’t think I’ve seen Rhubarb Pie on a menu ever)

I remember using cardboard boxes to make trains. A train to wherever. Using sheets to build tents so I could camp out in my room. Playing Cowboys and Indians, hide and seek, and freeze tag. Lots of outdoor activities. One winter, my mom allowed my brother and sister, and I to go sledding by ourselves. She rang the ‘dinner bell’ to signal time was up, but I was having too much fun so we stayed longer and my little sis almost suffered frostbite. Oops.

I remember watching that movie Hush Sweet Charlotte and having nightmares for several nights. One stormy night I saw a headless ghost in my window, I swear! I remember sleeping on the floor of my parent’s bedroom for consecutive nights and them finally kicking me out.

Sneaking down past bedtime, sitting on the stairs and peering through the banister to watch whatever ELVIS movie my mom was watching. *g*

I remember my little sister jamming a plastic turtle, something we’d won at a county fair, UP her nose. NO, I don’t know why. And that plastic turtle head breaking OFF in her nose, and my mom taking her to the emergency room where they pulled the turtle head OUT of her nose with long tweezers. Heh-heh.

And that tree. Spending countless hours climbing and hanging out in that tree. Dreaming. Believing. Imagining.

We moved to Florida soon after. It was like moving to another world. I was forced to grow up very fast. And I never really fit in. I remember staring up at the palm trees and cursing their lack of branches. I remember yearning for that farm house, that maple tree, and the age of innocence. Writing that scene the other night brought it all back. That time. Those feelings.

When do you remember being at your most carefree and hopeful? Where were you?

Thursday, June 1, 2006

The Thrill of the Unknown

Thank you for the get well wishes. I feel much better today, partly because I wrote seven new pages yesterday, a scene that was not preconceived, a scene that set me on a new and exciting path. Yes, I sold on synopsis. Yes, I need to to produce a story that somewhat follows that plot. But my stories always evolve and differ somewhat from the synopsis. I always fly into the mist and it always proves an exciting and worthwhile ride. How many times must I learn that lesson?

"Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ... Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." — EL Doctorow