Monday, July 31, 2006

Speaking of Bad Boys


Yesterday this blog saw more traffic than Colin Farrell's bedroom. Oops. Did I say that? Actually, that's not fair. I have no idea how many people visit Mr. Farrell's bedroom. I'm just assuming. From what I read. Ya know?

Speaking of reading... thank you to everyone who posted a recommendation yesterday. Interesting to see what everyone is reading, and several looked interesting to moi. Also interesting to read about other people's TBR piles. *g* Curse of the Booklover--Killer TBR Piles. Everyone who commented yesterday is automatically entered in Alison Kent's book givaway. Good luck and thank you to Alison for including me in her scavanger hunt. Don't be strangers, folks!

Let's get back to Colin Farrell. The ultimate bad boy. Too young for me, too wild for me, but the man does sizzle. I also admire his acting. I've seen him play several different types of roles, and all of them well. The man has superb acting chops along with mega sex appeal. His new movie Miami Vice(co-starring Jamie Foxx) topped Pirates at the box office this weekend. It's supposed to be very gritty not like the TV show some of us (raising my hand) remember. More than one reviewer called it sexy, referring to steamy scenes between Farrell and his female co-star, Gong Li. And suddenly I'm more interested in seeing this action flick. *g*

So what's your take on Farrell? On bad boys in general? What makes them so appealing?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Week of Bad Boys, Good Spies, Unforgettable Lovers

As if my TBR piles aren't high enough.

I've been accumulating books with alarming consistency for fifteen years. Books I bought at bookstores, bookfairs, and amazon.com. Books I asked for and received as gifts for some or another holiday. Freebies I collected at bukoo writers conferences. Lots-o-books.

Sadly, I have yet to read many of these. I simply lack the time. Yet, my TBR piles keep growing. It doesn't help that I now work at a library. Now I not only have stacks of purchased books, but stacks of borrowed books. I recently ordered Deep Breath by Alison Kent via Amazon. That same day, I noticed another library in our system had Kent's, The Beach Alibi, so I put that on hold.

Today, while checking in books, I ran across a brand new release by Catherine Coulter, then one by Iris Johanson. There's a waiting list for both. I added my name. Since one of my critique partners is writing a YA novel, I decided I really need something in that genre, so today I checked out one of Cyndi's recommendations. Oh, and there was the Robert Crais book that a patron highly touted. Checked that out too. So I have those two books on my desk and probably both of Alison's will arrive on Monday. *g*

Meanwhile, I'm on deadline. The only books I'm cracking (aside from the Stuart Woods and Robert B Parker novels I read two weeks ago) are research books. I'm typing away like a madwoman, creating my own story. And though I love my characters and their adventure, I'm dying to be swept away by someone else's tale.

I stare longingly at my stacks and stacks of purchased and borrowed books. Soon, I tell myself. Soon. The only problem will be, which one do I devour first?

What about you? TBR pile out of control? What are you reading now? Any recommendations? Because, you know, I just don't have enough books to choose from. *g*

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Wrestling with Nora

"...I've said, many times, I can fix a badly written page, but I can't fix a blank one. I don't throw out pages so much as wrestle them to the ground and find a way to make them work..." Bestselling author, Nora Roberts (from her interview in the 8/06 Romance Writers Report)

That's what I did last night. Wrestled a scene to the ground and found a way to make it work. Then it was mine, all mine, until my eyes drooped and I had to shut down for the night.

Today I double, or is that triple? Library then an emcee gig. I'll take my laptop and write on the gig. My three worlds collide today. Always intertesting. But hey, you do what you gotta do.

More on writing from Nora... "Is this your job or your hobby?"

If you get the RWR be sure to read that interview. I think of it as tough love for writers.

Click here to see why you should visit me tomorrow and comment. Meanwhile, have a great day!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Places to Go, People to Read - Day 5

For the past three days Blogger has failed to provide me with some previously offered options, like centering, font size and color. Any other blogger user having that problem?

On another note, pancakes make me nauseous. I think it's the syrup. But what are pancakes without syrup? Anyway, I only have them once in a blue moon. Yesterday there was a blue moon. Spent the morning writing. Didn't eat breakfast. So I stopped at the diner on the way to the library to have lunch. Eggs, toast and home fries... with a side of pancakes. I know. That's a lot of food. But I was starving and it's a good thing I fueled up because that's all I ate all day. Worked late. Came home and wrote. As for the pancakes, they were worth the upset stomach. Delicious!

Deadline update: I'm getting there.

Place to Go, People to Read #5

BellaOnLine - The Voice for Women
Click here for several links offering writers tips. If you can't attend workshops in person, there are plenty of virtual workshops. Take advantage!

My Heritage
Brooks turned me on to this site. Very cool. You have to register, but it takes five seconds and it's free. One of the services offered is 'Face Recognition'. Upload your picture and it will scan files and display a photo of the celebrity you most resemble. Brooks was matched up with Kevin Smith! *g* The program matched me up with Erica Durance. It displayed our photos side-by-side. Wow. Strong resemblance. At least in the photo shown. I looked her up because I didn't know who she was. Her credits include features on 'Smallville' as Lois Lane.

Click here and look for Face Recognition. If you do it, let us know which celeb you resemble! In the meantime, it's another day of writing, library, and writing for me. No pancakes.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Places to Go, People to Read - Day 4

Body and brain exhausted but I'm pushing on. Deadline's closing in. Thankfully I'm not blocked--I can see upcoming scenes, the climax, and black moment. Not blocked, just exhausted. I can live with exhausted.

Meanwhile, I found two nifty place for you to visit. One geared more toward writers or fans of thriller fiction. One for fans of movies and one star in particular.

Places to Go, People to Read #4

Stephen Coonts -- Click here for excellent, in-depth tips on writing tips from this best-selling adventure author.

George Clooney -- Click here to read a transcript of CNN Larry King's interview with this dynamic actor, producer, director George Clooney. Or if you have high-speed internet, you can watch the interview (and drool over the real thing) on video.
clooneyfiles.com offers links to part 1, 2, & 3 of this 60 minute interview (plus a lot of other cool Clooney stuff). Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Places to Go, People to Read - Day 3

If you're easily offended by vulgarities or crude humor, you might want to skip this recommendation. But that would be a shame, because this guy (or dude, as he'd say) is a fresh and dynamic voice in filmmaking.

Over ten years ago, my husband brought home a movie called CLERKS. He warned me. You're going to be shocked by the language, possibly disgusted by some of the humor, but you should watch it. I think you'll like it. He was right on all counts. Shocked, disgusted . . . and I liked it. But I liked his next film even better, or at least the one I saw next. CHASING AMY. As in all of his films, he dealt with certain taboos and used very frank language. Language that makes this born and raised farm girl blush. But the movie touched me deeply and there was something about his writing. I didn't understand until I bought the screenplay and read it. Rhythm. There's a rhythm to his writing that is very appealing to me. Music to my ears, so to speak. Oh, and he's insightful too. To all those who touted his film DOGMA as anti-religious, you didn't get it. The message. Him.

He has a new movie out, CLERKS 2. I haven't seen it yet, but I will. He also has a jamming blog. It's called MY BORING ASS LIFE. Heh. So not boring. Lots of obscenities. You have been warned. They don't bother me anymore. They're part of his voice. He's funny and smart. Oh, and talk about a marketing whiz! Color me envious. Oh, to have those kinds of ideas . . . and that energy. So here it is. Today's recommendation.

Places to Go, People to Read #3

Kevin Smith



Blog -- MY BORING ASS LIFE
Website -- VIEW ASKEW PRODUCTIONS
Video Clip -- Smith talking about his shot at writing a script for Superman (Hilarious! But don't watch at work. Obscenity alert!)

*Note: Blogger is glitchy today and not giving me certain options. I'll try to fix the 'look' of this post later.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dream or Dud?

Even in the early 60s young girls oohed and ahhed over boys. Dream or Dud? What a hoot. I'm so out of step. What would girls that age be wondering now? Hunk or Dweeb? Hotty or Nerd? *G* Check out this bit of nostalgia.

Places To Go, People to Read - Day 2

Blogging midday because I had to attend a training course for the library this morning and of course I was running late! It was either post or make a pot of coffee. Sorry folks, java won out.

Very productive writing day yesterday. Had an epiphany as I wrote a new scene late last night. Can't wait to dig back in. But first...

As promised, every day this week I'll try to point you to a new blog or website or perhaps remind you of somewhere that fell off of your blog-o-map. A place that offers a good read whether it be entertaining or educational. Day two offers a three-for-one.

Places to Go, People To Read #2
Known to us in blogosphere as PBW (Paperback Writer). This prolific, multi-published author is offering a week of virtual workshops. Workshop #1, Building Series Novels, is up. Read and learn.
Another prolific, multi-published author! Alison is running a week long special too. "...Each day I will be giving away copies of the various books in my SG-5 (that's the Smithson Group with 5 original members - no relation to Stargate, no relation to Alias) series to those of you who visit while I'm out touring the Southeast." She's doing this via a scavanger hunt. Check out her blog and learn how to play. (Pssst. You. Yeah, you. Not so subtle hint--check back here on Sunday. I'm involved!)
Are you a romance writer? Are you one of the few who, like me, are at home instead of at the biggest romance writers convention in America? Check out this blog! Updated daily, you'll find links to writers blogging from RWA National. Almost as good as being there. Almost.
There you have it. More tomorrow. I'm off to make magic. *g*

Monday, July 24, 2006

Places to Go, People to Read #1

Yesterday, I had a productive writing day. I need another one of those today. Imagine my horror when I discovered we were OUT OF COFFEE! I rummaged through the fridge and found an old canister of Folgers. God knows how long it's been there since we don't drink that brand any more. I also found a small bag of decaffinated. How did that get in there? To make a full pot, I had to mix two scoops of the non-jet fuel grounds with the five-year old Folgers. *shudder*

I'm drinking a cup now. I've had worse. But after I finish this post and get out of my PJs, I'm heading for Dunkin Donuts. This is DEADLINE WEEK and I must be properly fueled.

This week several of my fellow writers and friends will be attending the RWA (Romance Writers of America) National Conference in Atlanta, GA. A week of workshops and networking. I will not be there. I will be here. Writing. Because this is DEADLINE WEEK. The dates of this year's con couldn't have fallen at a worse time for me. I had not one, but several work related conflicts in addition to having a book due. I couldn't swing it. I was okay with the decision (made months ago) until today. I've been been feeling like a hermit for weeks. Now I feel totally out of the loop.

Next year. I'll socialize and network next year.

Although many of the writers whose books and blogs we love will be away all week, many will not. Some, like me, couldn't go. Some wouldn't go if you paid them. Some don't write romantic fiction. There are plenty of places to go, people to read. Each day this week, I'll try to point you to someone new or someplace you've missed. Lord knows I won't have any thought provoking posts for awhile. My brain is fried. Did I mention it's deadline week? Heh.

Places to Go, People To Read... Recommendation #1:
Jane has written scripts for sitcoms such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Gilmore Girls (to name a few). Her blog is fascnating. She's extremely generous with her knowledge of the craft and is always entertaining. She also documents her lunch each day. Oh, the variety! A great writer is a great writer, no matter the genre/medium they work in. A lot to be learned at Jane's blog. Special thanks to sitcom writer/playright Ken Levine for the link!

I'm off to Dunkin' Donuts. Have fun with Jane.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

And The Winners Are . . .


Taylor and Ann!

Thank you to everyone who chimed in with a guess as to how many pages I'd write yesterday. And thank you for the many shouts of support. Taylor guessed 12 pages. Ann 13. They came the closest. Taylor, I'll have a copy of Dream Quest for you next time I see you. Ann, please drop me an email with your mailing address so I can send on Key of Sea!

As it turned out, I only wrote nine (9) new pages. That's not bad though. They were nine important pages. A scene I couldn't wrap my mind around until I went back and reviewed the whole story. While reviewing I found several places to tighten my writing. So though I only wrote nine new pages, I cleaned up over one hundred old pages. Also, everything I did yesterday paved the way for today.

I'm in the zone.

This manuscript has been an amazing challenge. Come to think of it, every tale is. If 's not the plot, it's the characters. Or the dialogue. Or the narrative. You dream about scenes and twists. You wake up in a sweat thinking you'll never finish on time. Or you'll just make it, but, by God it's the worst piece of crap you've ever written.

Ah yes, the biggest challenge is to keep the faith. To believe in your characters and their story, and in your ability to deliver a satisfying read. To believe in yourself.

"Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it."
~~Buddha

Friday, July 21, 2006

Take A Guess and Win a Great Read!

Wondering where I've been all day? Why I'm blogging late evening instead of early morning? Because this morning, instead of blogging, I did Pilates. It's the first time that I've formally 'exercised' in a couple of months. Ever since I started stressing out about making the deadline on this book. I only have so much time in the day, especially on days where I work at the library, perform, or both. I'm obsessed with and determined to meet my deadline.

Must. Write.

Blogging gets my creative juices flowing. Exercise does not. However, this morning I felt the need to stretch other kinds of muscles. It was probably a whim, a fluke, a passing craze. No doubt I'll be back here tomorrow morning, blogging. Maybe. Tomorrow is Saturday, right? I have all day to write. All. Day.

Cyndi Valero and Mary Stella have been amazing cheerleaders and critique partners as I muscle my way through ROMANCING THE WEST. To celebrate their wonderfulness, I'm going to give away...

A copy of DREAM QUEST, an anthology of nine paranormal romance short stories. KNIGHT MOVES is one of those short stories and it was written by Cyndi and I under the name CB Scott.
"...Knight Moves (DREAM QUEST) was exciting, dangerous and it was a thrilling ride... CB Scott writes an entertaining heroine who proves to be one tough cookie. This is a tale to warm your heart and confirms that if you believe in yourself, you can do anything. --Tracey West, Road To Romance

And a copy of KEY OF SEA, Mary's latest release. It's laugh outloud funny and s-e-x-y.

"Four and 1/2 stars! Key Of Sea is sensuous, poignant, humorous and wonderful. Mary Stella has created a generous cast of eccentric, memorable characters, and the author demonstrates her gift of capturing the rhythm of life in the Florida Keys. This is a lovely and hearfelt story of finding your way back home and wondering why you ever left."- Affaire De Coeur Magazine

All you have to do is guess how many pages you think I'll write tomorrow. (I write in Times New Roman, double space. That's approx. 350 words per page) Remember I'll be writing all day. May the muse be with me. The person who comes closest without going over will win a copy of DREAM QUEST (the short stories. Get it?). The person who comes the closest, but just over beyond will win a copy of KEY OF SEA. You can only guess once, and you can't guess the same number as someone else. So be sure to skim all of the comments. If you're dead on, you get a surprise bonus.

I'll announce the winners Sunday morning. Okay. Take your best guess!!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

You Remind Me Of...

Up until recently, people would come up to me after a performance and say, "You remind me of ... (insert a popular celebrity of the time)"

When I was in my late teens/early twenties, people told me I looked like Linda Ronstadt. It was the late 70s, early 80s. I was performing six nights a week on stage at that time, singing a lot of Linda's past and current hits. We both had dark brown, straight hair, bangs, round faces. We both had that 'cute' vibe going. I sort of got it.

At that same time, people in the 'older' generation told me I looked like Teresa Brewer. I didn't know who she was. But I heard it so many times, I had to look her up. She was a popular singer in the 50s and 60s. She had a number one hit in February 1950 called 'Music, Music Music.' (Put another Nickel in the Nickelodeon...) I knew the song. Didn't know the artist. She had shorter hair--blond. Although she definitely had the 'cute' vibe, I didn't see the resemblance.

In the late 80s, people told me I looked like Paula Abdul. I was singing a lot of her songs at the time, danced like her. Dark hair, big smile, 'cute'. I got it.

In the 90s, some people told me I looked like Judy Tenuta. Remember her? The comedienne who played the accordion? But mostly people told me that I reminded them of actress Fran Drescher. I heard that A LOT. The TV sitcom, The Nanny, was a popular then. I was performing full-time as a character actress. My role was comedic. Like Tenuta and Drescher, I had long, dark hair and a quirky speaking voice. I absolutely got the comparison.

I was thinking the other day that no one tells me that I look like anyone anymore. Does it mean that I finally look like me? Although, I'm not a natural blond, I feel the the lighter color better suits my spirit. Anyway, I started thinking about Teresa Brewer again, looked up her website, and came across several pictures. We're closer in age here. At long last... I get it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Deadline Haze

Yesterday I had the entire day to write. I couldn't afford not to write. Guess what? I didn't write.


I was braindead, the creative wheels worn out from two previous days of intense brainstorming and writing of two pivitol chapters. I was physically exhausted, the result of stress-induced insomnia several nights running.


Unable to write, I read. All day. Some research related (Roadside History of Arizona by Marshall Trimball), some for pleasure and inspiration (Dark Harbor by Stuart Woods). The day was not wasted, I told myself. A writer can't dwell in a cocoon of one's own stories. A writer must read other tales by other writers. Learn and grow.


So I read, I absorbed, enjoyed, and learned (hopefully grew), thinking it's okay. I have all day tomorrow to write. I'll write like the wind. I'll make up for lost time. I spent all day yesterday thinking it was Monday. Thinking today would be Tuesday. It wasn't until very late last night that I saw something that triggered the realization that today would be Wednesday!


I lost an entire day somewhere. The Deadline Haze, I'm calling it. (Cue Twilight Zone theme song)


So I don't have all day to write and catch up. I work at the library today. Because it's Wednesday.


Jeesh.


This morning I told Steve I want a weekend at Disney World for my birthday (which isn't until the fall). A weekend of pure escapism. I'm thinking I should've asked for a time machine so I can go back and relive days lost in... The Deadline Haze.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Note From Cheyenne and Billie


Hey gang! It's a scorcher here today! We thought we'd hijack Beth's blog to spread the word to all you pet lovers out there. Be careful! Animals overheat just like people. A friend's bunny recently died because of heat exhaustion. She's awful sad now and the world is minus one loving furry soul. Here are a few tips to help protect your fuzzy friends.

*Don't leave us outside too long.

*Don't let us run and play too hard.

*Make sure we have lots of water.

*Don't take us for a ride and leave us in the vehicle. Even with the windows down, a car can become a furnace.

* Check out this article for prevention tips and signs of heat exhaustion.

Thanks for listening. Keep cool and have a great day. We'll be hanging out in the air conditioning, watching Beth write. Since she couldn't find Viola, we decided to be her muses. We must be pretty good at it. She finished two more chapters yesterday! Arf! We're good at barking, too, but that makes her cranky. So we're off to muse. See ya! Arf! Arf!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sunny Day, Sunny Mood


The projected high temperature for my little beach community here in NJ today was 95 degrees. It's currently 96 degrees although the local weather says it feels like 99. I'm thinking that's about right. I've been out in the backyard with Billie and Cheyenne (my beloved doggies) twice today. Both times we lasted ten minutes, if that. Dang, it's hot.

I've been writing like a fiend since 8:30 this morning, with the exception of those two breaks. I'm in the zone. Which means I'm zipping along. Which means my mood is pretty decent. So long as I don't think about the deadline (August 1) and how much more I have to write (100 pages). I'm channeling Yoda just now. "Think not. Do." Or something to that effect.

How's the weather in your neck of the woods? What are you doing to enjoy or avoid it?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm Not a Freak!

According to Wikipedia, "... research suggests that 1 in 50 people suffer from this disorder to some degree." Bestselling author Tess Gerritson is afflicted with it. She didn't even know there was a name for it until she read about it in Time Magazine. I didn't know anyone else wrestled with it until I read about it on Ms. Gerritson's blog. It is Prosopagnosia.

Wickipedia's definition: Prosopagnosia (sometimes known as face blindness) was, until very recently, thought to be a rare disorder of face perception where the ability to recognize faces is impaired, although the ability to recognize objects may be relatively intact. Recent research, however, suggests that 1 in 50 people suffer from the disorder to some degree, and it is thought to be highly heritable.

My definition: When someone comes up to me and starts talking to me like they know me. In fact, they do. Sometimes quite well. That's when I break into a sweat. My mind starts scrambling as they're talking away. I can't remember where or when I met them. Their face is familiar, but I can't place them. I can't remember their name.

Let me tell you folks, it's a terrible feeling. And it happens to me all the time.

Example #1) My husband and I met up with a friend for dinner. We visited a new restaurant. I stepped in first and was greeted by a waitress who knew me by name. "How are you, Beth? Fancy meeting you here. I haven't seen you in awhile." And on and on. Not only could I not remember her name, I couldn't remember where I knew her from. I contributed to the conversation as politely as I could without letting her know my dilemma. I could tell from what she was saying that we hadn't met just once, but several times. Then my husband stepped in. She knew him as well. And he knew her. From listening to what they were saying, it finally clicked. Her primary job was at the same casino he works in. The same casino where I emcee sweepstakes. I had worked with her at several special events and often saw her in the employee cafeteria. I DID know her. Pretty well, in fact. Why then didn't I recognize her right off the bat?

Example #2) I'm making a purchase at a store. The woman waiting behind me says, "I thought I recognized your voice. How have you been, Beth?" Her face was extremely familiar. I knew I knew her, but from where? And what was her name? My mind scrambled, grabbing on to what she was saying, praying her words would jog my memory. Finally she said, "... the meetings..." and it clicked. She was a writer. I knew her from the NJRW monthly meetings. Although neither of us had been to a meeting in several months. I did know her. Not really well, but well enough that I should have instantly recognized her. Her name came to me five mintes after I got in my car.

For the above instances, I could use the excuse that I hadn't seen or spoken to either of these woman in months. And that I was meeting them both out of context, meaning not in the places I associated them with. But they both knew me out of context plus they remembered my name. So really, what's my excuse? Either I'm a horrible, insensitive person or I have a horribly faulty memory. I'm not the former so it had to be the latter. But that didn't make me feel better. Not only did I feel like a bit of a freak, not only is it embarassing, but it's scary. Am I destinited for senility?

Reading Ms. Gerritson's blog this morning partly eased that fear. At least I don't feel alone. Everything she described is exactly what I go through, right down to how she handles not recognizing someone she should know at a booksigning or conference. She uses the same tricks as I do in an effort to spare someone's feelings. Apparently, our way of dealing with this pesky disorder is common.

Wikipedia says: Few successful therapies have so far been developed for affected people, although individuals often learn to use 'piecemeal' or 'feature by feature' recognition strategies.

So now I've outed myself. If you run into me in person somewhere, if I should know you and I have a bit of a dazed look, please don't be insulted. Please, bear with me. On the inside I'm dying a thousand deaths because I know I know you. I'll make the connection. It just takes me longer than the normal person.

I'm still not sure what I can do to fix the problem, but at least I can research it, because now it has a name. Prosopagnosia.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Harlequin Wants You!

Check out this exciting opportunity!

Welcome to the launch of something special--www.writeharlequin.com--where you can write Harlequin, and you may be contributing to writing a Harlequin! Harlequin is canvassing our extraordinary community of romance experts--readers, authors, editors, aspiring writers, employees, interested parties, friends and family--to answer important questions like: What is Love? Got to www.writeharlequin.com, type in your answer and hit SUBMIT!

Isabel Swift, VP of Harlequin Books has all of the details over at her always entertaining blog, Wouldn't You Like To Know?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Give Up the Hunt... but, Don't Give Up the Fight

Seems I should stop looking for Viola. According to Nora Roberts...

"There ain't no muse. If you sit around and wait to channel the muse, you can sit around and wait a long time. It's not effortless. If only. Well, if it was, then everyone would do it, and where would we be then? So I work really hard to make it as fluid as possible, as readable and entertaining as possible.

I'll vomit out the first draft: bare-bones, get-the-story-down. I don't edit and fiddle as I go, because I don't know what's going to happen next. Once I get the discovery draft down, then I'll go back to page one, chapter one, and then I start worrying about how it sounds, where I've made mistakes, where I've gone right, what else I have to add, where's the texture, where's the emotion. I start fixing. And then, after I've done that all the way through again, I'll go back one more time, and that's when I'm really going to worry about the language. And the rhythm, and making sure that I haven't made a mistake, that I've tied up all the loose ends reasonably."

The above quote is from a new interview with Ms. Robert's in relation to her newest release, Angel Falls. It was part of a special feature in a Borders Books newletter. First thing I saw when I checked my email this morning. You can read the entire interview here.

I haven't actually been waiting for my muse to help me through the woefully non-productive past three days. I've been writing through the block, even if only writing in circles. When I wasn't writing, I was still working through that block. I knew I'd eventually figure out what was tripping me up, and I did. I think. Today will tell. *g* At any rate, I found Ms. Robert's (whose writing I admire) process to be interesting and helpful to me at this time.

Another inspiring post regarding writer's block, self-doubt, and process can be found at Tess Gerritson's blog. Click here for a dose of encouragement. The post is called 'Second Book Syndrome'. But personally, I think the affliction is 'Any Book Syndrome'. It's all about recognizing and accepting your process... and not giving up the fight.

Come on fellow writers, show me your dukes.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

As I Once Again Sweat Deadline

BETH
I feel like Will Shakespeare just now as portrayed in one of my all time favorite movies, Shakespeare in Love. Written by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard.

HENSLOWE
Will! Where is my play? Tell me you have it nearly done! Tell me you have it started. (desperately) You have begun?

WILL
(struggling with his boots) Doubt that the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move...

HENSLOWE
No, no, we haven't the time. Talk prose. Where is my play?

WILL
(tapping his forehead and heading out the door) It is all locked safe in here.

HENSLOWE
God be praised! (then doubt) Locked?

WILL
As soon as I have found my muse.

BETH
Anyone seen Viola hanging around??

Monday, July 10, 2006

Real Life Inspiration

Dad C's birthday party was a huge success. The Ciotta clan is blessed with many entertainers, some only at heart, but just as insanely talented. There were a few monologues in honor of dad, one given by my husband, and they were packed with sentiment and humor. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. I also cried a lot. I think I've mentioned that my father-in-law is one of the last living survivors of Iwo Jima. He received a purple heart. Yesterday I saw the actual certificate. I also saw a copy of his immigration card from when he first came to this country with his Pop. They sailed from Italy to America, landing at Ellis Island when he was just a very young boy. In his photo, he looks petrified, though he's keeping a stiff upper lip. Or at least I thought he looked petrified. A cousin teased that he looked like he was in training for the mafia. *g* He wasn't. I swear. Where was I? Oh, yes. The reason I cried a lot. Well...

Just after he walked into the room, packed with family and co-workers (did I mention the man still works full time? At 80?!) a Marine color guard marched in to pay tribute. Dad stood at attention throughout their routine. I cried throughout. All the times someone said something sentimental about him, I cried. Every time I saw him getting choked up, I cried. My husband even commented to someone at the end of the party that I pretty much cried from beginning to end. I can't help it! I'm sensitive that way.

But I also had a lot of fun. Steve comes from a huge extended fun-loving, affectionate Italian family. I truly have never known a family quite like them. Every now and then I'd just look around the room, breath in, and smile, thinking, "Feel the love. Feel the love."

I was also reminded that no matter how old we get, we are always capable of making a postive difference. At 80 years old, Angelo Ciotta still works full time with a construction company. He commits his of free time to raising funds and building memorials for Marine veterans. He's currently working hard with his team and a crew of builders (who also donate their time and skills) to creating a memorial for the 9-11 victims. It's quite an amazing project. Dad C and his friends also organize special dinners and parties for Marine veterans and Marines just returning home from war.

It's a wonder that he has any time left in the day. But he always has time for family and friends. Always. The celebration of Dad C's life couldn't have come at a better time for me. I am blessed to know him and I am truly inspired.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Mish Mosh of Positive Energy

Continuing on with yesterday's theme and without detailing the funk-inducing things that I've read and witnessed over the past week or so, I want to share a mish mosh of positive energy.

Yesterday, I told myself that instead of getting irritated by rude behavior, I would reinforce thoughtfulness. We've been extremely busy at the library and I've been shocked by how many parents allow their kids to destroy the children's section and leave it to the extremely busy librarians to clean up. Yesterday, I nearly keeled over when I saw two very young boys, maybe three and five, helping their mother to put away all of the puzzles and games they'd dragged off of the shelves. Arms loaded with books, I stopped and made a point of thanking them for their thoughtfulness, telling them how much we appreciated their help. Later, the mother thanked me for the reinforcement as she's been trying to teach her boys responsibility and manners. Oh, if there were only more parents like her! Throughout the day, no matter how busy I was, I made sure to acknowledge every kind word or sentiment uttered by a patron. I wanted them to know how much I appreciated the gesture. Throughout the day, I focused on the positive more than the negative, and came home a happier person.

This morning, I had an email from a entertainer friend. She doesn't read this blog, so she couldn't know about my current bugaboo about negative energy. We're waiting to hear if a gig we're supposed to do together is a go. She said, "I miss working with you and your energy/positive attitude...I could use an injection of it!!" Wow. That made me feel very special indeed.

Yesterday, Cyndi told me that I remind her of June Carter Cash. After reading this article, I have to say that that's perhaps one of the kindest compliments ever paid to me. Please treat yourselves to the entire article (written by Roseanne Cash), but I must share at least this part. It knocked my socks off...

She (June) looked for the best in everyone; it was a way of life for her. If you pointed out that a particular person was perhaps not totally deserving of her love, and might in fact be somewhat of a lout, she would say, "Well, honey, we just have to lift him up". She was forever lifting people up. It took me a long time to understand that what she did when she lifted you up was to mirror the very best parts of you back to yourself. She was like a spiritual detective: she saw into all your dark corners and deep recesses, saw your potential and your possible future, and the gifts you didn't even know you possessed, and she 'lifted them up' for you to see.

Lastly, a year or two ago, my friend Brooks sent me a link for something called The Daily Guru. It's a free service. If you subscribe, you'll receive a daily motivational message. Given my blog topic the past two days, today's advice was kind of eerie ... in a good way.

Saturday, July 8, 2006
COURTESY OPENS ALL DOORS
There is no investment you'll ever make that will pay you so well as the effort to scatter sunshine and good cheer wherever you are. The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. If you treat an individual as if they were what they ought to be and could be, they will become what they ought to be and could be. Everyone thrives on being appreciated, loved and needed. There is no stimulus like that which comes from the consciousness of knowing that others believe in you. Applaud others when they run. Console them when they fail. And cheer them when they recover. As water is to a flower, so is praise to the heart of another.

You can subscribe to The Daily Guru at www.TheDailyGuru.com

Well, that's my mish mosh of positive energy, folks. I hope you get something out of it. I think it just goes to show that no matter who we are we are capable of making a difference in this world. Courtesy and kindness are mighty powerful.

I'm spending the weekend with my husband's family. We're celebrating Dad Ciotta's 80th birthday! I'll check in if I can, but most likely I'll see you Monday or Tuesday.

Peace and joy,
Beth

Friday, July 7, 2006

Try a Litle Tenderness

Been in a bit of a funky mood the past week. Things that I've read on-line, things that I've witnessed in my every day life. We seem to live in a time where common courtesy and respect are not in vogue. I find that very sad. It makes me wonder what's wrong with this world and where are we going? I could wallow in that question and be in a funk for weeks. Or I could focus on the positive things I read on-line and witness in my everyday life, set a healthy example by being thoughtful and kind... and hope that it's catching. I'm striving for option two.

"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness." ~~ the Dalai Lama

Thursday, July 6, 2006

We Interrupt This Program...

for a sneak peek into THE CHAMELEON CHRONICLES.

I've been talking about ROMANCING THE WEST a lot lately. I'm happy to report the story is moving along and I'm loving it. I'll still be writing right up until deadline, but I'm not sweating that contracted date quite as much as I was a few weeks ago. ROMANCING THE WEST will hit shelves July 2007 (Medallion Press).

As soon as I wrap RTW, I'll dive into the revisions my HQN editor requested for ALL ABOUT EVIE, the first book in THE CHAMELEON CHRONICLES (also 2007 release-HQN). I'll have to adjust my brain big time as I'll be jumping from a historical western to a contemporary. Instead of writing about a librarian and a cowboy, I'll be featuring an entertainer, a con-man, and a government operative. Instead of writing exclusively in third person, I'll be writing in first and third. Here's a sneak peek. I hope you enjoy it!

Unedited excerpt from ALL ABOUT EVIE...

It finally happened.

I, Evie Parish, the ultimate professional, snapped.

At an audition no less. In front of several peers and a table of entertainment and marketing executives.

Bad enough I even had to audition.

I'd performed in this casino on a number of occasions throughout the years as a singer, an emcee, a dance motivator, and a character actress. Not just this casino, but every casino in Atlantic City. I was known as the poor man's Tracy Ullman. I had versatility out the wazoo. A stellar reputation. A kick-butt resume. I had more experience in entertainment than any one of the six stony-faced executives who'd insisted upon this live demonstration.

I also had sequined bras older than any of the people deciding my fate.

It wasn't their youth I resented. (Okay. That's a lie.) It was their inability to afford the performer their respect and attention. In between memorizing the script that I'd been handed on arrival and checking for the umpteenth time to make sure my blush and lipstick hadn't faded, I peeked out from the wings to gauge the reaction of the powers-that-be to the actress on deck. I watched those suits yawn, mumble, and fidget through five seamless auditions. The only time they showed interest was during a giggly, stilted presentation from a big-breasted twenty-something-year-old. Granted, Britney was young, stacked, and beautiful, but she was as green as the bagel I'd found this morning in the back of my fridge.

I traded a disgusted, knowing look with two friends who were also auditioning for this gig: both a year shy of the big 4-0. Talented, experienced, and equally ignored by the Gen-X execs. Nicole and Jayne were already slipping into day clothes and trading their heels for flats.

I should have cut my losses then and there and followed suit. I should have collected my purple fake fur coat and I Love Lucy travel tote and vacated the showroom in a dignified manner. But no. I was stubborn, desperate, and, dammit, hopeful. Hopeful that they'd see something in me that they didn't see in my friends. Hopeful that talent and experience would win out.

Talk about idealistic.

Or stupid.

When my time came I strode on stage with confidence and grace wearing a turquoise bikini top, flowered sarong, three-inch heels, and a dazzling smile. I hit my mark and launched into the poorly written promotion intended to wow casino patrons. Me, Evie Parish, a mild-mannered, small-breasted, forty-something.

Normally, I excel when reciting monologues and pitches. I can sell camp like Liza Minelli. Unfortunately, I was distracted by an overly loud conversation from the vicinity of the 'judges' panel. I stopped mid-sentence. Did I mention that instead of reading off of the page like Britney, I'd memorized the copy? But I digress. No one instructed me to continue, so I didn't. Instead, I shielded my eyes from the bright wash of the spotlight in order to pinpoint the commotion.

I'd endured a lot of humiliation in my twenty-five year career--including a crotchety patron yelling, "You suck!" three inches from my face while I was performing--but this took the cake. Instead of focusing on me, the executives, the people controlling my paycheck or lack thereof, were scanning a menu, seemingly arguing over what to order in for lunch! Three of them anyway. Another yapped on his cell phone, while the remaining two studied me with bored expressions.

For crying out loud!

Seething, I tugged at the hem of my mid-thigh sarong. Michael, my agent, who also happens to be my ex-husband--don’t ask--had told me the theme was tropical. Show some skin, he'd said. Then again he always says that.

"Should I wait?" I asked. "Start over? Pick up where I left off?" Go tell it on the mountain?

"Do you have bikini bottoms under that skirt?" This from the bored clean-shaven man who looked young enough to be my . . . younger brother.

Certain I knew where this was leading, I shifted on my strappy heels and cocked a recently waxed, perfectly-shaped eyebrow. "Yes."

"Would you mind losing the sarong?" This from the bored woman sitting next to him. At least she knew it was a sarong.

My heart pounded with fury. The last several months, months of being rejected solely on my advancing age, weighed on my shoulders like an unlucky slot machine. "Yes, I mind."

I heard a collective gasp from the wings. I knew without looking that Nicole and Jayne stood side by side, shocked by my defiance. I didn't cause scenes. I was the calm one, the logical one, the one who sucked it up and took the high road no matter how low the blow.

Up until now that is.

***
THE CHAMELEON CHRONICLES is a series about a divorced and forcibly retired 41-year-old showbiz veteran who rediscovers passion and purpose when she unwittingly teams up with reformed grifter and a government operative in their mission to expose nefarious scams. Look for the first in the series, ALL ABOUT EVIE, in the spring of 2007 from HQN.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Uranus, You're a Pain in My . . .

Appliance. This week my laptop died, our vacuum cleaner broke, and the upstairs air conditioning unit quit working. Something else of that nature happened, but I forget just now. I blogged about my laptop, and learned two of my friends' computers crashed recently, too. I commented, "Something must be in the air."

Brooks wrote...
"Something in the air, you say? It's something in the airless planetary system. The planet Uranus (no, I'm not setting up a joke) is in retrograde motion from June 19 to Nov 20 this year. In astrological terms, Uranus in retrograde plays havoc with everything electrical."

Uh-oh. Okay, well, I have an extra coffee maker, two hair dryers, and several curling irons. So I think I'm safe with my java and hair obsessions. Our big screen TV has been acting up. Admittedly it's old, but, ouch, there's an added cost we don't need. Ah! I remember the other thing that went on the blink. One of our DVD players. Although Steve was able to fix that. Holy electronics, Batman! Uranus is kicking our--

As to what to do about this pesky retrograde thing, might I suggest you keep a keen eye on all your appliances. Listen for any weird noises, and smoke and sparks would definitely be a bad sign. In case of emergencies, Overstock.com is having an up to 75% off sale on electronics. Funny, that's the first thing I saw on My Yahoo page this morning. *g*

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Fireworks

And not the good kind.

There were no sparks or explosions. It went pretty quietly although it hit me like a ton of bricks. My laptop bit the dust. The hard drive, I'm told. Everything on it, four years of data, personal and professional, gone. You hear about it happening to other people, but never think it will happen to you. You've heard it a million times, "Back-up. Back-up." And I did. Sort of. At the constant urging of Steve, who bought me one of those flash drive thingees, I did have all of my manuscripts, including the two I'm working on, backed up on that portable stick thing and also on his big computer. But it never occurred to me to back up character charts, time lines, future story ideas, proposals, reviews, promo projects . . . you get the picture.

It's been suggested by friends that maybe some data can be saved. Steve looked into that. Nope. Nothing is irreplacable, he told me, trying to ease my panic. If you really need a piece of information you can find it, somewhere. Then he took me shopping for a shiny new laptop the very same day (yesterday) so I wouldn't lose any writing time. What a guy, huh? I'm telling myself everything happens for a reason. Maybe I needed to de-clutter my life a bit. Maybe I needed a clean slate. I have my imagination and a zippy new laptop. What more does a writer need?

So here I sit this morning, blogging with Ethel. That's right. I named my laptop. I've never done that before. It just sort of happened. She's slick and fast and does some pretty cool tricks. She probably deserves a hipper name, but Ethel's what came to mind. We have big plans for the day, Ethel, my imagination, and me. We're going to crank out several pages on ROMANCING THE WEST, then I'm going to give her a rest while I watch some fireworks. The good kind.

Happy Fourth of July everybody!

Monday, July 3, 2006

Medic!

Ouch! My laptop is sick. Really sick. Steve thinks my hard drive is going. I couldn't even use it yesterday. I ended up writing on his computer. Happy to say even though I felt discombobulated in his 'space' (the keyboard and seat felt foriegn and uncomfortable), I still managed six new pages. Seven pages the day before that. I'm whizzing toward deadline. But it's the fact that I am on deadline and that I must produce solid pages every day up until that point that's got me shaking in my pink high-tops. Not to mention all of the files... research, manuscripts. Steve did operate last night and I am working on the patient now, but she's slow and keeps gitching. Plus she makes these funny noises now and then. *shudder*

Please don't die on me laptop. Please!

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Be Safe, Have Fun!



I'm expecting very low traffic here today. I'm thinking most of you (at least those living in the U.S.) are out and about. It's a holiday weekend afterall. Most of you are probably having cook-outs and picnics, or maybe splashing and sunning at the beach or staking out a primo spot to watch a parade. Tonight mostly everyone will be watching fireworks.

I have no plans other than taking advantage of a totally free weekend to write. The story is going very well, so it's an exciting phase just now. As far as the fourth of July, I'm thinking I'll break at some point for a hot dog, maybe dazzle the dogs and cat by waving a sparkler around. Do they still make those?

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a safe and fun weekend! Enjoy!