Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dear Diary,

Is there a word for someone who constantly changes their hair color? Fickle? Restless? Adventurous? Crazy?

Over the past fifteen years, I have tinkered with every shade of black, brown, blond, and multitudes of those combinations via highlights. Seven months ago I went auburn. Then Cherry. Than Hot Cherry. The next month I tried Cinnamon. And the month after that Mahogany. That one lasted the longest--three months. Yesterday, I had one of those--I need a big change--moments. So now I am cinnamon red with gold highlights. It's certainly... different. My husband likes it, so that's a plus. I'm undecided. I'm thinking the highlights are a bit too brassy. I want them to be more gold, but since I don't want my hair to fall out from over processing, that will have to wait until next month. Although that would be a look I've never had before--bald.

This time instead of trying a new look blindly, I tripped upon a makeover program hosted by In Style Magazine. It's free to register and you have hundreds of hairstyles and colors to choose from. You can also add highlights in various colors and tinker with make-up as well. All you have to do is upload a photo of yourself and you're off and running. It's an enormous time suck, but I was able to determine if I like myself better with or without bangs and what shade of red looked best with my skin color. The gold highlights looked dramatic, but I'm a dramatic kind of girl. Sometimes.

I just a had a thought. This would be an interesting way to get a visual on a heroine. Upload a photo of a model and visually build my character using this program. Huh. Anyway. Curious? Click here and give yourself a makeover. Have fun!

Okay. So is there a name for someone who constantly changes there hair color?

WRITING: Answered business emails and participated in an on-line interview. Worked on the still-not-finished synopsis.
RECREATION: Listened to an awesome Celtic CD during my power walk.
EXERCISE: Power-walked for forty minutes.
DIET: Weighed-in this morning. Week 7 of Weight Watchers. I lost TWO more pounds! Total weight lost thus far... 13 pounds! Woo-hoo!
MOOD: Pensive.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people." ~ Orson Welles

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dear Diary,

There's nothing more inspiring than someone who's suffered tremendous disappointment, stiffening their spine and using their noggin to make the best out of a crappy situation. I'm speaking of my good friend, author Mary Stella. I'm hoping multitudes of people visit her blog, read her (and numerous other members of RWA) saga, and join in her personal benefit for Literacy. Gooooo, Mary!

In other news, I'm still being featured over Jennifer's Random Musings and loving the responses her readers are posting to some of my questions. Great stuff!! Tomorrow Jennifer's running an interview she conducted with Rome Garrett--the hero of my latest western, THE FALL OF ROME. I can't wait to see what readers have to say to him!

Friends passed on a link to me that I just have to pass on to... well, anyone who peeks at my Diary. Author Libba Bray has written what is quite possibly the funniest and most dead on piece regarding a writer's love affair with her/his manuscript. This is a must read for any writer and I'm thinking readers will get a kick out of this humorous inside look. Click here and feel my pain.

WRITING: Wrote all day/night revising the synopsis. The good news is, the changes helped me to see the last 1/4. I think. I'm off to tackle it now.
RECREATION: Does checking email count?
EXERCISE: Because I wrote all day/night I missed my walk yet again. And I really, um, missed it. How weird. Tomorrow I'm walkin' for sure!
DIET: Wheat English muffin with orange marmalade for breakfast. Homemade garden veggie soup for lunch. Huge salad with chick peas for dinner. My overall points were so low, I treated myself to a cup of fat-free ice cream. Yum!
MOOD: Motivated.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It takes a heap of sense to write good nonsense." --Mark Twain.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dear Diary,

For the next three days, I'm being featured over at Jennifer's Random Musings. Each day she's highlighting a different aspect of THE FALL OF ROME, including a 'Finish the Sentence' game with me, an interview with Rome, and a book giveaway. I'm hoping lots of people hop over to join the fun!

WRITING: I'm still in synopsis hell. It's going to be a fun story. I can feel it. I just can't seem to envision how the last portion will play out. Writing in circles. Ack!
RECREATION: Had breakfast and a 3-hour chat with 3 girlfriends I haven't seen in forever.
EXERCISE: Missed my walk yesterday, but nailed it Friday and Saturday. I'll be back at it today. The power walk I hated so much is beginning to turn into my recreation. :)
DIET: Even though I ate out, I ate smart. Veggie omelet and dry wheat toast. Good thing black coffee is zero points. I think I drank a pot!
MOOD: Cranky. Must finish that synop!
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "A story isn't about a moment in time, a story is about the moment in time."-- W. D. Wetherell

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dear Diary,

It can't possibly be mid-July. Wasn't it just yesterday I wondered, will summer ever get here? Now it's here and half over. Various writing obligations are mounting. Deadlines are approaching. Instead of only worrying about what's yet to be done, I'm trying to recognize and celebrate things accomplished.

In the first couple of weeks alone, my latest western, THE FALL OF ROME, came out and the reviews--thank goodness--have been awesome. I sold two more books to HQN (Harlequin)! Yay! I lost more weight. Woo-hoo! I increased my 30-minute daily power walk to 40. Ouch! I completed a two-part interview that will be featured at Jennifer's Random Musings and wrote two blog posts for Babes in Bookland. I completed 3/4 of a research intensive synopsis. I updated my website, created a presence at Facebook, and posted semi-regularly here, and at my blogs on MySpace and eHarlequin. Lastly, I created a really cool book widget through Adaptive Blue in hopes of advancing Internet sales. (I'll write more about that later as it's a really cool company and a nifty sales tool!)

And I accomplished the majority of those things after working the 9-5 day job. Not bad. Okay. Clearly, I am not a slacker, so why do I feel like I'm not working hard enough? Probably because although I accomplished a lot in the last two weeks, not once in all that time did I get to work on my WIP. Yeah. That's it. Although I've been writing, I haven't been writing. The synopsis doesn't count in my mind because it's working a whole different set of muscles. As is writing a blog post or article or answering interview questions.

I have to finsish this synopsis. Then I have to critique a proposal. Then I am absolutely diving back into my WIP.

Unless the revision letter for EVIE EVER AFTER comes first. Gak!

Okay. This is where I remind myself of what my friend Mary always tells me. "You do your best work in chaos."


WRITING: Completed a two-part interview.
EXERCISE: Forty minute power walk. It was so dang hot, even the back of my head sweat. Eew.
DIET: Weighed in this morning. I lost one pound! That makes a total of eleven pound lost thus far! Adjusted goal: Just to lose four more.
MOOD: Anxious
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I am definitely going to take a course on time management... just as soon as I can work it into my schedule. " --Louis E. Boone

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dear Diary,

I've been holding in this news for what seems like months, but it's finally safe to announce... (drum roll please).... I sold two more stories to HQN!

Out of the Ordinary (think Gilmore Girls meets The Sopranos) and a subsequent book--working title--Into the Wild (think Romancing the Stone meets The Discovery Channel.) I'm thrilled. I'm... dancing on air. Woo-hoo!

(Special thanks to my super-hip agent Amy Moore-Benson and my-too-cool-for-her-stilettos editor Keyren Gerlach)

Did I say... woo-hoo!??

WRITING: Worked on the WIP synopsis. Am I done yet??
RECREATION: Watched a movie with Steve. Where Eagles Dare. An old war fick starring Richard Burton and a young Clint Eastwood. Ambitious. Maybeoverly so? I was so confused.
EXERCISE: Added two pound wrist weights to my, now, forty minute power walk. During the first five minutes I was certain my arms would fall off, the burn in my biceps was so bad. But ignored the pain and persevered. I WILL have toned biceps, darnit.
DIET: Made my WW garden veggie soup. Yum. That was lunch. Zero points. Steve made us fish for dinner. Coconut crusted something-or-other. Also yum.
MOOD: Thoughtful
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Success is as much a matter of luck as of ability, but perhaps even more, of perseverance in "sticking it" until the luck turns." --B.H. Iddell Hart

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dear Diary,

I'm over at Babes In Bookland today offering my bit on this week' topic: Tips on Attending Conferences. My fellow Babes covered most of the territory, but I managed to offer something useful. I hope.
WRITING: Devoted last night to 'book' promotion. Spent many hours creating useful widgets for my blog and website, plus joined and created a page at Facebook.
EXERCISE: Upped my power walk to forty minutes. Walked at 6pm, but man it was still hot... and humid. I made it though!
DIET: I'm being super good this week. Lots of veggies!
MOOD: Energized.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Promote yourself but do not demote another." --Israel Salanter

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dear Diary,

Photographic evidence of my fabulous day at the library....

My co-workers and friends (a truly fun and supportive group)

The cake! (it was worth the WW points *g)

The book discussion! (I have no idea why I look so intense. Jeesh.)

WRITING: Making major headway on the synopsis. Yes!
EXERCISE: Zip. Came straight home from work and started typing. My fingers and brain got exercised plenty.
DIET: Weigh-in was this morning. I didn't lose any pounds this week. *Sigh* It must have been the cake. Oh, and I didn't watch my portions as well as I should have this past week. At least I didn't gain any weight. I'm still 10 pounds lighter than I was. This week I'll do better. I'm determined!
MOOD: Good. Determined.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Really, in the end, the only thing that can make you a writer is the person that you are, the intensity of your feeling, the honesty of your vision, the unsentimental acknowledgment of the endless interest of the life around and within you. Virtually nobody can help you deliberately -- many people will help you unintentionally." -- Santha Rama Rau

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dear Diary,

I had the most fabulous day. This past month, I was the featured author for my local library's book discussion club. All of my books were on special display. To my delight and relief, all of those books went out... again and again. How exciting that so many people are reading my stories!

Today, I was a featured speaker for the book club. In addition, my boss, the branch manager, Sue, had designated today as party day in celebration of my newest historical western romance, The Fall of Rome. All of my co-workers wore country attire complete with cowboy hats and bandanna's. The library gave away cool wild west notepads and there was an awesome, delicious cake displaying the cover of The Fall of Rome.

I know I have several books published. I know I'm growing in craft and popularity with each published work. But I'm still delighted and astonished when readers celebrate my tales. I was humbled by the attendance. I was enthused by the feedback. I was....


Usually, I feel like a senior library assistant who writes by night. Today, I felt like an author who moonlights at the library by day.

My humble thanks to Sue and my co-workers and to everyone who attended today's event.

I am blessed.


WRITING: Still working on the synopsis I mentioned. Ouch.... but awesome!
EXERCISE: Another 30-minute power walk. I'm Hooked!
DIET: I was doing great until I ate a piece of celebration cake. It was so moist, so delicious. Ack! Couldn't help myself. I had a second piece. So what was that? 8 points??
MOOD: Happy
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences." --Somerset Maugham

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dear Diary,

Today I wrote about my 'hidden talent' over at Babes in Bookland. Although it's not talent so much as a quirk. Heh.

WRITING: Chipping away at that synopsis. The process is about as pleasurable as getting a tooth pulled.
RECREATION: I watched five movies in two days. My way of celebrating the holdiay weekend. Woo-hoo! More on that later.
EXERCISE: Thirty-minute power walk, two days in a row! I'm going try for 45 min. today.
DIET: There's nothing more motivating than 'seeing' the results of my efforts. The more inches I lose in my hips and thighs, the easier it is to resist temptation.
MOOD: Quiet
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good." --- William Faulkner

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dear Diary,

Talk about a rude awakening. Billie, who doesn't see as well as she used to, decided to join me in bed this morning. Hampered by arthritis, she's a little shaky now when she leaps onto the mattress. Her paw and nails plowed down on my left eye. "Ouch!"

I now have a red scratch under my eye. I'm just hoping it doesn't turn black and blue. I can hear it now.

"What happened to your eye?"

"My dog punched me."


In other news, since uploading my radio interview on my website and blog, I've been contemplating doing some sort of series of podcasts. I googled and found two sites of interest to me. NPR features podcasts on an array of subjects. American Writers showcase podcasts on different aspects of creative writng. I may actually get hooked there. Podiobooks offers free books via podcast. But does anybody listen? I guess readers who are attracted to audio books (and judging from their popularity at our library, there are a lot) might be interested in listening to some sort of podcast. But is it worth the effort on my part. I'd have to purchase the right equipment, learn how to use it and write, record and upload the podcast. That means investing time I don't have. Hmm. Me thinks this may be another one of my bright ideas that falls by the wayside.

P.S. Yesterday I heard from a few readers here and at MySpace who've already read The Fall of Rome. I hope they know how much I apprecaite their kind words and enthusiasm. It helps to keep me chugging on!

WRITING: Researched anthropology and added another page to the synop for a new book.
RECREATION: Watched the 1941 classic, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, starring Carol Lombard and William Powell. Clever writing. Stellar acting. Hilarious! And--shocker--this screwball comedy was directed by Alfred Hitchock!
EXERCISE: I'm going to get back on track this weekend. I swear!
DIET: Four weeks into Weight Watchers. Today I weighed in and... I lost two more pounds! That brings my total TEN POUNDS! I can't believe it. Ten down. Ten to go. I can do this!
MOOD: Positive
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Each step upward makes me feel stronger an fit for the next step." -- Mohandas K. Ghandi

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dear Diary,

It's here! It's here! The official release day of THE FALL OF ROME! Available now on-line and in bookstores nationwide. Woo-hoo!

I have to admit, this day sort of snuck up on me. Life is a big honkin' blur. I'm waiting for revisions on one story, writing a new story, and brainstorming the proposal of a second new story. The day job at the library has been insane. Summer beach-reading madness. Not that I'm complaining. Gotta love the fact that people are reading! But... what day is it? Oh, yes. RELEASE DAY!

I madly googled... or googled madly (take your pick) and came across these reviews...

"Ciotta strikes gold with this fast-paced, intricately plotted story!" -- 4 stars, Romantic Times BookReviews

"Bookshelves hold few new Western historical romances, which makes Beth Ciotta's Fall of Rome a welcome find. The large cast of characters, including Rome's family and their love interests, make for a rollicking read. --Book Page

"Ms. Ciotta brings her characters to life with perfect pitch dialogue and emotional realism while keeping the action fast-paced and the humor flowing!" Five Spurs! -- Love Western Romances

"The return of PMA agents and their spouses (see ROMANCING THE WEST) enhances an enjoyable second chance at love western romance in THE FALL OF ROME. Beth Ciotta provides another excellent Reconstruction Era tale (see LASSO THE MOON). --Harriet Klausner, Genre Go Round Reviews
Truth known, I've been more worried than usual about incoming reviews. This story gave me fits. I honestly didn't know what to think when I finished it although I did know it was a bit intense compared to my normal lighthearted fare. I'm relieved to know that, though a bit different (for me), The Fall of Rome is being well received. I hope readers are equally pleased.
To make this day even more interesting, the radio interview I did with Medallion Press's publicist, Paul Ohlson, went live today on blogtalkradio. Thankfully, I don't sound like a total goober, just a partial one. Which I guess makes me a goob.
Curious? You can listen to the interview at Medallion Press Radio.
** I just found a way to add the radio interview here! Look to the right sidebar (under The Fall of Rome book cover) for blogtalkradio and press play. How cool!
WRITING: Eeking out the proposal for a new book. Updated website and blogs.
RECREATION: Watched the movie Dan In Real Life. I really enjoyed this quirky romantic comedy, although it would have been even stronger if Dan had dealt better with his middle daughter's issue--especially after feeling what she was feeling for himself.
EXERCISE: I've been working my buns off at the library. LOTS of shelving and such. That's go to count for something.
DIET: Still on track!
MOOD: Good, though a bit anxious.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Fiction is the truth inside the lie." -- Stephen King