Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blue Fridays

I got this in an e-mail and since I support our troops and plan to do this, I thought I'd share it. Feel free to share it with others...or not.

Blue Fridays.Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing blue every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the 'silent majority' We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or overbearing.Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of America supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -- and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar, will wear something blue. By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United States on every Friday a sea of blue much like a homecoming football game in the bleachers. If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family, it will not be long before the USA is covered in BLUE and it will let our troops know the once 'silent' majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on. The first thing a soldier says when asked 'What can we do to make things better for you?' is .'We need your support and your prayers.' Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example, and wear something blue every Friday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Isn't It Awesome?

I've got my groove back! I'm sitting here after my bedtime because I WANT to keep working. It's been a long time since I've been this excited about a book of my own. As I look at the calendar, I only wish I'd reconnected with Caitlin a month or two ago. But never mind. She and I will kick butt for the next 6 weeks and 2 days, which is when I head back across the pond. I know, such a hard life I lead, huh?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wanted By The FBI

How cool is this? I belong to 3 chapters of Romance Writers of America and the National organization. July is when we have our National conference and every year it's in a different city. One of my chapters, Kiss of Death, has a tour before the actual National conference starts. This year they're having 3 tours. I signed up for the one for the US Postal Service and the State Department, but I missed out on registering for the CIA and FBI tours when I was still in England for my Granda's funeral. So I politely asked to be put on the waiting lists for both the FBI and CIA tours. Well, last night I got a beautiful e-mail (okay, maybe only beautiful to me) telling me that I can now go on the FBI tour! I'm psyched! Think of all I'll learn to make the details in my suspenses even more accurate. Now all I have to do is hope that someone cancels out on the CIA tour between now and Nationals so I can to that one too!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Let The Butchering Commence!

Fractured Paradise and I have a date. We both want to be ready for some May and June contests. Yesterday I started a bit o'work on the story. Today I've been tearing the first chapter apart and shaping it into something that actually works. Thanks to my good friend and CP Cat, I'm finally at a place where I feel confident enough to proceed with the slicing and dicing. And the rebuilding. I'm only 6 pages into it, but I'm getting somewhere and I like it! Woohoo! Between Cat, Caitlin and my other CPs who will be reading this puppy before long, we might be able to produce a winner!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Book In A Week

Decisions made! Starting tomorrow, Monday, I'm going to work exclusively on Fractured Paradise for a week and I'm going to work on it every chance I get. We have state testing for the students this week, so I shouldn't have much day job work to do outside of the school day. There will be no more putting off of my revisions. I will whip this story into shape! (I know, I sound like a broken record, don't I? But I mean it this time!)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Broken Promises

Okay, I spent part of the day working on whatever came to mind. It is clear to me that Broken Promises is getting my attention instead of Fractured Paradise. While I still work on this fantastic story Fractured Paradise, Broken Promises has made more of an impact. ( I spent the afternoon at a bar with the intention of working on Fractured Paradise, but it didn't work.) So I'm thinking to do a BIAW with Broken Promises ideas since that story is so ingrained in my ideas. ACK! Such a commitment. Thoughts?

Oh yeah, and in this bar I had some Guinness and a hamburger. My diet isn't working. Up until today I'd been doing everything right, but I GAINED a pound last week! I got so frustrated but tomorrow I'll get back on it, though, and try again.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Plottin' & Plannin'

Woohoo! I actually sat down last night and worked on Fractured Paradise revisions! It was wonderful and I wanted to keep going (after almost 2 hours), but sleep called me and I had to answer that call. I'm hoping to get some more done tonight and definitely some serious work done over the weekend.

I'm still doing bits and pieces of Broken Promises for my 100 words a day challenge. Also, I keep going back and forth about doing a "Book-in-a-Week" on Broken Promises next week. In my head I keep thinking that if I just sit down and work on it for a significant amount of time then I'll "get it out of my system" for now and leave myself free to continue with Fractured Paradise.

I'm sure my CPs would say work on Fractured Paradise first and foremost, and I tend to agree, but Broken Promises is flowing soooooo well any time I'm working on it. Part of me feels I should capture that inspiration while I can.

And yet, Fractured Paradise could be finished in time for Nationals if I just buckled down and got to work on it. Ah well, things to ponder I guess. I'm just happy I'm making SOME progress toward an actual goal!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

My grocery store was giving away 5 of those energy saving light bulbs for free today. I've stopped using the plastic grocery bags. I'm attempting to recycle on a regular basis my used paper, which we all know can add up with the amount of handwritten pages I write! I even shut off the water in between brushing and rinsing my teeth! Before our next Earth Day, I hope to learn more ways I can be environmentally friendly, especially since I'll be moving into my own condo in four short months!

So what about you?
Are you making a difference in the environment?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Don't Forget The Celtic Hearts Contest

***Extended deadline!!!***

Enter Celtic Hearts Romance Writers Chapter contest The Golden Claddagh! Don’t let our chapter name dissuade you, your entry does not have to be Celtic based to enter, unless you enter our Celtic Category. We have six categories, Historical, FF & P, Romantic Suspense, Celtic, Contemporary & Erotic Romance.

Our contest due date is May 15, 2009. Finalists will be notified by July 1, 2009 and winners notified by September 1, 2009.

Entries are 30 pages maximum with a synopsis no longer than 5 pages, for a total of 35 pages max. All entries are electronic. Entry fee is $20 for CHRW members and $25 for non-members.

Entries should be submitted to Eliza Knight – writer@elizaknight.com.

All entries will be read and scored for the first round by two trained judges and one published author. The three entries with the highest total scores in each category will move to the final round. An editor/agent will judge the final round and select a winner from the finalists in each category.

New this year!!! We have a new category: Celtic – Romantic fiction set in any time period and in any location, but MUST have a Celtic theme (Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, Bretons, Isle of Man). Please specify your time period and setting in your entry.

Final Round Judges:
FF&P: Laura Bradford – Bradford Literary Agency
Contemporary: Lois Winston - Ashley Grayson Literary Agency
Romantic Suspense: Leis Pederson - Berkley/Jove
Historical: Esi Sogah - Avon/Harper Collins
Celtic: Deb Werksman - Sourcebooks
Erotic: Diana Carlisle – TWRP

Awards:
The FIRST PLACE winner in each category will receive a golden Claddagh pin.
The SECOND PLACE winner in each category will receive a silver Claddagh pin.
The THIRD PLACE winner in each category will receive a bronze Claddagh pin.
All winners will receive certificates and icons to place on their websites.

For questions please visit our website or contact the contest chair, Eliza Knight at: writer@elizaknight.com

Monday, April 20, 2009

Inspiration?

The Celtic Woman concert last night was WONDERFUL! I cried during some of the songs. My friend and I had seats on the floor in front of the stage. We were only 6 rows back! I, of course, went crazy with the purchases and bought fridge magnets, coffee cups and a book bag.

More than anything, though, I'm hoping the concert will inspire me to get busy on the FP revisions. I want to work on the story. I really do. I just haven't. So tonight, I'm planning to start small. I printed the first scene of the first chapter. While cooking dinner, on commercials during 24 and Medium, and during the hour before 24, I'm going to see what I can accomplish. I think, braced with the enormity of revising, I can finally say I understand what my overwhelmed students are feeling. But I'll do it. I can! And my story deserves to be told the RIGHT way.

LATER (10:30-ish): FP work? Yeah, that didn't happen. Work on Broken Promises then? Nope, none of that either. What did I do besides watch TV and curse that evildoer Tony on 24? I wrote 242 words on a suspense I'm not even sure will be enough to make a complete book. I just wanted to write about those new and interesting characters for now. Hey, at least I was writing SOMETHING!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Weekend Update

Accomplishments this last week: Maintained my same weight, got to the gym 3x, kept up with my writing challenge, gee...is that all?

"To Do" today: Laundry, dishes, grade papers, finish lesson plans, grade some more papers, write my 100 words, work on the FP revisions I haven't really started, tape The Unit, go see Celtic Woman!

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thanks Anyway

I applied last month for a teaching job in Japan. Today they were having information sessions and interviews here in Austin. If they liked you today, they would ask you back for a personal interview tomorrow.

They didn't like me.

Personally, I think I was a little too wild for them. Because I've lost weight, the dress I wore was a bit more...low cut that it used to be. They mentioned women should only have 1 set of earrings in and no long danglers. I had 2 sets of earrings in and a 3rd hole empty. Tattoos are apparently taboo. I don't have any, but I've always thought about getting one. The other candidates were all fresh out of college. As you know, I'm not. They stressed enthusiasm in lessons and in the group presentations. I get excited about teaching, but I'm sorry, I can't fake it with a bunch of people I just met.

But I'm seriously okay with this rejection. (Hell, after all those writing rejections, it's not so bad!) It just means that there's a reason I'm not going. Maybe it means something bigger and better is awaiting me here in Austin. Maybe it means, as much as I like the idea of living and working overseas, my personality isn't ready.

Whatever the reason, it's back to the drawing board I go. Now I think I'll make myself feel better with a margarita. Thanks for all the positive thoughts. I knew I could count on you!

If You Read This...


Please keep me in your thoughts. Send positive vibes. (No, there's no one sick or dying, and it doesn't have to do with writing.) I've got some really neat things happening today and, if I'm lucky enough, tomorrow. So send your positive energy my way and I'll fill you in on the details (good or bad) later this weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Most EXCELLENT Gift!

Guess who's going to a concert this weekend! ME

Guess what concert! CELTIC WOMAN (OK, the picture probably gave you a hint.)

Guess how? A generous lady from my Austin RWA group won tickets and asked if I wanted to go with her. I've wanted to see these ladies in concert for a while now, but could never justify the cost. Now I don't have to! WOOHOO! (Thanks, Robin!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

And We're Off!

Today marks the beginning of my Austin RWA's monthly writing challenge where we write at least 100 words a day until the next meeting. I skipped the challenge last month because I was in England and not in the mood. I almost backed out of this one, but fellow ARWA member Shari and I decided to harass each other into doing it. So I just whipped out a whopping 103 words. Yes, I'm done for the night. I have to finish critiquing "short" stories from some of my students. I finished most the stories by Monday. I had 2 left, one was 34 pages. Finished that one yesterday. Tonight I'm reading the 23 pager. Yeah, 23 and 34 page stories from 7th graders. And the best part? They're actually pretty awesome!

Hope you made it over the hump without much trouble!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Shock and Awe Of A Different Kind

Have you ever been watching a TV show faithfully, loving the twists and turns, the interactions of the characters, rooting for the good guys and then....WHAM! The TV show Powers-That-Be throw you for a TOTAL loop? I know, for me, this is the best type of storytelling, but WOW! I was knocked down, run over and left for dead when one of my favorite characters turned and did some "not-so-heroic" activities that I never saw coming! I'm SHOCKED...and awed, actually. Awesome storytelling! The episode's been over for almost 2 hours and I'm still sitting here trying to justify what he did. I keep thinking, "I can't believe he did that! How could he?" Too I'm sitting here trying to figure out a way to redeem him, you know, so he can eventually get his HEA. But right now he doesn't deserve one. But WOW! As for writing, I really hope I'm able to shock and awe my audience someday with talent like that.

UPDATE: Wednesday night...still thinkin' how much I hate him right now.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!!

To all of you who celebrate this holiday, have a joyful Easter Sunday!

My Lenten sacrifice was to put a dime in the charity box every time I used a bad word. This year I chose Disabled American Veterans to receive my check. I'm happy to say (or should that be not so happy?) I earned 20 dollars and 80 cents for DAV during Lent!

Whatever you do today, have a great one!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Weekend Update

Accomplishments:
Lost 2lbs this last week!
Hit the gym 3 days
Reread Fractured Paradise
Plotted out lots of details for revisions
Finished reading 2 books, started a new one
Priced out and played with designs for business cards for Nationals

Didn't get to see the Easter Bunny hopping around today. He must've been too busy!

Sunday Plans:
Grade papers
exercise
grade more papers
read
grade more papers
lesson plans
work on FP's 1st chapter or 2
Oh yeah, and grade the rest of the papers (if I'm lucky)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Writing Goals

Today I'm working on rereading Fractured Paradise and making notes about how to improve it. Then I'm going to get started! This is the ONLY thing I'm going to work on today. The other days in this weekend I'll have to spend some time on school stuff, but writing is starting to take its place in the front seat of my life again and I can't be more thrilled.

So, in honor of my muse, Caitlin, returning from her 3-month vacation, she and I have come up with some goals we want to share with you. (You know, so you can keep us in line and on target!)

1. April 10- Finish rereading Fractured Paradise and making notes. Begin revising.
2. Rest of April- Focus will be on revising Fractured Paradise.
3. April 14- Rejoin the Austin RWA writing challenge where I write 100 words a day for the month between meetings. For that I'll work on whichever story is yearning to be told at that moment.
4. 1st week of May-Send Fractured Paradise to CPs.
5. May- Focus will be on 2nd draft of Broken Promises.
6. Will continue with Austin RWA writing challenge.
7. June- Send Broken Promises to CPs.
8. First 2 weeks of June- revise, create pitches for these two stories and the next two, whichever they may be.

I can't tell you how AWESOME it feels to get back into the swing of working as a writer! I've missed this and I can't believe how much! Now Caitlin and I are counting on your support, so don't let us down!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Celtic Hearts Contest

***Permission to Forward Granted and Encouraged!!!***

Extended deadline!!!

Enter Celtic Hearts Romance Writers Chapter contest The Golden Claddagh! Don’t let our chapter name dissuade you, your entry does not have to be Celtic based to enter, unless you enter our Celtic Category. We have six categories, Historical, FF & P, Romantic Suspense, Celtic, Contemporary & Erotic Romance.

Our contest due date is May 15, 2009. Finalists will be notified by July 1, 2009 and winners notified by September 1, 2009.

Eligibility: The competition is open to RWA members and non-members who have not accepted a publishing offer from a non-Subsidy, non-Vanity Publisher (self-published) for any length of fiction in the past five years. Entrant must retain all rights to the entry and not have granted any of them to a publisher or any other party by the contest entry deadline. If your manuscript is accepted for publication during the time of our contest (dates will be specified) you must notify the contest coordinator; your submission(s) will be withdrawn from consideration and your entry fee(s) returned.

Please Note:

  • Previously entered manuscripts may be entered again, but no previous winning manuscript shall be re-entered, even if revised.
  • You may submit multiple entries so long as you pay an entry fee and submit a completed entry form for each submission.
  • You may not enter the same manuscript in more than one category. *Entry fee per entry: $20.00 CHRW member and $25.00 non-member.

Entries are 30 pages maximum with a synopsis no longer than 5 pages, for a total of 35 pages max. All entries are electronic. Entry fee is $20 for CHRW members and $25 for non-members.

Entries should be submitted to Eliza Knight – writer@elizaknight.com.

CHRW reserves the right to discard all electronic entries and return fees if a minimum number of three (3) entries is not received in any category. Entrants will be contacted before the entries are returned and given the option to place their entry in another category. We may also refuse an entry that does not follow the rules stated here in the guidelines.

Pay by Check:

CHRW Treasurer

c/o Ericka Benayad

175 Loring Avenue

Salem, MA 01970

By Paypal: treasurer@celticheats.org

(You can do this by logging into your Paypal acct. Clicking on “Send Money” Pasting in the below email, and the amount you owe.)

All entries will be read and scored for the first round by two trained judges and one published author. The three entries with the highest total scores in each category will move to the final round. An editor/agent will judge the final round and select a winner from the finalists in each category.

New this year!!! We have a new category: Celtic – Romantic fiction set in any time period and in any location, but MUST have a Celtic theme (Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, Bretons, Isle of Man). Please specify your time period and setting in your entry.

Final Round Judges:
FF&P: Laura Bradford – Bradford Literary Agency

Contemporary: Lois Winston - Ashley Grayson Literary Agency

Romantic Suspense: Leis Pederson - Berkley/Jove

Historical: Esi Sogah - Avon/Harper Collins

Celtic: Deb Werksman - Sourcebooks

Erotic: Diana Carlisle – TWRP

Entry Composition: Your entry must have the following:

  1. A separate cover page which includes the author's real name, address, telephone number(s), e-mail address, submission title, category and manuscript word count should be submitted in text of the e-mail. Do not include the cover page in the same attachment as your manuscript and synopsis. The manuscript and synopsis will be sent together as one document as an attachment.
  2. The beginning of your manuscript, including prologue, cannot exceed thirty(30)pages. Standard manuscript format must be followed: 1รข€ margins, double spaced in a standard font and size that gives 24-26 lines per page. We will not accept entries that have italicized, colored, or designer fonts. DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME ON THE MANUSCRIPT. See ENTRY FORMAT.
  3. The synopsis must be included with the same file attachment as the manuscript, must be double spaced and is not to exceed five (5) pages. Do not send the synopsis in a separate attachment. Whether the synopsis is at the beginning or the end of your entry, it should start and end as though it were separate from your manuscript. Any entry that contains a single spaced synopsis and/or begins or ends on the same page as the manuscript will be refused and sent back for correction. The synopsis will be scored.

NOTE: Your entry, which includes the synopsis must not exceed thirty- five (35) pages total. ANY MANUSCRIPT, OR SYNOPSIS THAT DOES NOT FOLLOW THE RULES SET DOWN HERE WILL BE REFUSED AND YOUR ENTRY WILL BE RETURNED SO THAT YOU CAN CORRECT IT. However, our deadline still stands; corrected manuscripts will need to be returned by the midnight deadline on May 15, 2009 to be valid.

Entry Format: Standard manuscript and synopsis format, double-spaced, 12-point readable font, twenty-six (26) lines maximum per page, minimum 1" margins all around. Only the TITLE of the manuscript, the category, and any subcategory should be placed on the top left hand side of the entry. The PAGE NUMBER should be on the top right hand side. IF THE NAME OF THE AUTHOR(S) APPEARS ANYWHERE ON THE MANUSCRIPT OR SYNOPSIS, THE ENTRY WILL BE DISQUALIFIED AND THE ENTRY FEE WILL NOT BE RETURNED.

Important: Manuscript and synopsis must be in a .doc or .rtf file.

Awards:


The FIRST PLACE winner in each category will receive a golden Claddagh pin.
The SECOND PLACE winner in each category will receive a silver Claddagh pin.
The THIRD PLACE winner in each category will receive a bronze Claddagh pin.
All winners will receive certificates and icons to place on their websites.

For questions please contact the contest chair, Eliza Knight at: writer@elizaknight.com

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

On The Road To A New Me

Hello, world! If you look to the right you'll notice a new "gadget." Inspired by the lovely and talented Lori Borrill, I decided to post my poundage on here. Well, not my actual weight, but what I've lost and what I still intend to lose. Now, the 14 lbs lost have been over a REALLY long time, like a year I think. But the point is, I actually kept it off (more or less). So, my original goal was to lose 30lbs basically for myself to feel healthier (says she who had an English breakfast most mornings and at least 3 pints of Guinness every day last month in England!). But, I'm heading back to Europe in just about 10 weeks and then I'll be heading to DC for RWA Nationals and THEN I'm heading to RI for my 20-year high school reunion in August. So you see, if EVER there was a time for me to get serious again and push to get to my goal weight, it's now. I've started back to the gym, started watching what I eat and making adjustments to my diet. I intend to update you every Sunday with this since I weigh myself and record it every Sunday morning. Wish me luck and at the end of the 10 weeks I'll post before and after shots!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Missing Link?

Happy Weekend! I'm having a wonderful time....actually writing! It feels SOOO good to get back in the groove. I'm still working on the 1st chapter for Broken Promises and it's coming along splendidly! And part of that reason is what I consider the missing link.

One of my CPs, Cat, has been helping me pinpoint internal conflicts with my manuscripts. Well, actually, I asked her to help with Fractured Paradise, but everything she's been sending me I've been applying to Broken Promises with EXCELLENT results! She'd been telling me about the book The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes & Heroines by Tami Cowden & others. I was getting so much from what Cat was sharing, I went to the bookstore this morning and picked up my own copy!

Now, I know a lot of writers will swear by Deb Dixon's GMC book. I read that one and I respect that so many people love it, but it did nothing for me. But Cowden's book has already helped me see what's been missing in my own work. As I'm crafting the first chapter of Broken Promises, I'm able to delve deep into the characters and make the story so much richer. I'm running with what I have for BP' s first chapter and then by the end of the week I expect to put Cowden's book to good use with FP!

Writers, what are your thoughts, opinions on Dixon's GMC and Cowden's Guide?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Time Slips Away

I can't believe it's Thursday already! So much is going on around me. I've been focused the last 2 days on my ESL Coordinator duties, which is the part of my job that I love. Today I went back into my own classroom and told the kids we have just under 9 weeks left of school. And really, I have only 7 weeks of actual teaching since we're going on a camping trip the 2nd to last week and then the last week is actually only 2 1/2 days.

Anyway, I've been hard at work reading Monica McCarty's book, which I'm loving, and I entered Broken Promises into a contest just to get some feedback. I'm totally in love with that story now and can't wait to get started working on the good draft! Fractured Paradise, of course, is still going to be my priority for a while. I'm planning to spend Saturday (while I wait for the phone rep AGAIN) reading through the entire novel since I haven't read it in 2 years.

Other than that, not much is happening. Well, I am in the process of planning some blog posts for the next few weeks with some interesting topics. Okay, I don't know how interesting YOU'LL find them, but they're very interesting to me! Some have to do with writing, several will be personal. Tune in next week for the start of the fun! (Okay, I'll probably blog this weekend too because I tend to blog A LOT, but you get the point.)

For now, I'm off to do some laundry (how exciting, right?), have some dinner and work on Broken Promises' 1st chapter. I intend to read tonight too on the commercials during ER's series finale. I watched the show and loved it when it first came out. I kept up with it for quite a few years, but then stopped watching. Occasionally over the last few years I've watched episodes or storylines. But I still want to see how they end it. Anybody else planning to watch?