Sunday, April 29, 2007

Austin RWA's My Five

I'm submitting this for my local RWA chapter newsletter. We also put these on our website. The idea is the writer picks a topic that has to do with writing and lists 5 things about that topic. I was going to write about the my five top choices of heroes to run away with, but I couldn't explain why I liked each guy except to say, "He's hot!" So, I chose this topic and I thought I'd share:

My Five Most Important Writing Influences

1. Steven J. Cannell- I truly believe without this man’s talents of bringing colorful characters to the television screen as I was growing up, I never would have pursued a writing career. In sixth grade, I became addicted to The A-Team. Yes, you read that right. The A-Team. The first completed 100+-page story I ever wrote was based on the characters of that show. The antics of the characters inspired my love of storytelling, suspense and the good guys always winning. As I grew up, other shows of Cannell’s came and went. I got hooked on them all.

2. Diana Gabaldon- I remember devouring Outlander and loving everything about Jamie and Claire Fraser. My heart ached to be a part of that world Gabaldon had created. After all, I’d already invested so much emotion in every step of Claire and Jamie’s journey. After finishing that book I knew I wanted to pursue publishing no matter how much heartache I had to endure. I challenged myself to make my readers care as much for my characters as I cared for Jamie and Claire.

3. Suzanne Brockmann- Suzanne Brockmann is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. She has tons of fans, but whenever I’ve been fortunate enough to meet her, I’ve always felt like what I had to say and my support of her career were important to her. I’ve heard and seen people who forget their manners once they meet with success. Brockmann is a wonderful example of a successful author who appreciates the people around her and never seems to take her success for granted. I hope to be like her when I grow up.

4. Jill Shalvis- I love the way Shalvis allows the reader into the heads of her main characters. When reading one of her books, I always feel transported into that world, like I’m the best friend sitting at the table, experiencing the story alongside the main character. Writing in deep point of view has been a strength of mine and at times, a weakness. When I need some coaching on how to do it right, I pick up a Shalvis book.

5. Nancy Wales- This is not a famous author. This is my best friend. When I started writing, Nancy was the one who always told me I could one day be a published author. For years, she has cheered for me, encouraged me and prodded me onward when I’ve lost my way. She sent me flowers for my 1st ever contest win. Through the years, she’s sent me tons of books on craft and countless other inspirational presents tied to the story I was working on at the time. Before I had my own computer, she typed all my manuscripts. She’s made business cards for me and talked up my writing with anyone who’d listen. When bad news threatens to get me down, she refuses to let me even think about giving up. With good news, she’s the first person I want to call.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I Can Make It 7 More Days

I've 7 more school days with my little...angels. Some days I wonder why I'm a teacher. 7th grade broke my heart last week. They were just more cruel than usual. The 6th grade...ack! We'll not even get into that. The only consolation I have is 5th grade is pretty cool. And I only have 7 more school days with them all!

I've gotten myself into a situation that you'll appreciate. I got my GH scores back on my contemporary. They weren't very good. I'm not really concerned because the original category the story was in (Traditional) got canceled. I believe that if Traditional had been an option that I would have done better.

So, anyway. I'm just about done the rough draft of the current contemporary, TCAFS. I already feel it's a stronger story, so I fully intend to enter that puppy in the GH in November. CP agrees with that. THEN I started thinking, "Hmmm, I'll have TCAFS done by the time I go on summer vacation and then I'll be taking notes and brainstorming the next Scottish story while I'm in Scotland. Why not try to finish the draft of RR, my latest suspense (which took 3rd place in the Hook, Line & Sinker contest this year), and enter that in the GH as well?"

So brilliant woman that I am, I've decided to finish 2 books this year- TCAFS, a short contemporary, and RR, a category romantic suspense. While I'm putting the finishing touches on the suspense in the fall, I can be doodling, drafting and plotting the next contemporary.

Yes, people say I really should stick to one sub-genre until I'm well established, but right now I want the challenge of doing both. Suspense is ultimately where my heart still lies, yet these Scottish contemporaries are begging to be told too. Who am I to turn away a good story? For me, I need to take my writing life up another notch. If it'll help me reach my goals and dreams (and also gives me an escape from those crazy middle schoolers!!), then I'll commit to writing every single day, to organizing myself and taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lots O' Little Things

This morning I pulled together another contest entry for my current WIP, TCAFS, and mailed it off this afternoon. Yay! It's the second contest for this manuscript. I've got a feeling that this one might do well. The opening is much stronger that FP, which has done well itself. I'll keep you updated.

This afternoon I went to a workshop/ lecture with Julia London. She's such a nice lady! I also picked up one of her books, HIGHLANDER IN DISGUISE, another addition to my "to be read during recovery" stack.

If you're an aspiring writer and you're looking for an awesome contest to enter, consider Celtic Heart's Golden Claddagh. The deadline is May 1, it's an electronic contest and they have a few categories that are short on entries.

With the wisdom of those wonderful people around me, I've decide to go to Glenfinnan during the Scottish leg of my summer vacation. Check it out and you'll see why I can't wait to go back!

Lastly, if you're wandering around blogland, have pity on my friend Meggie. I talked her into starting a blog, which she finally did, but she doesn't get much traffic. Granted, she's only got a couple of posts up there, but I know she'll post more when she knows more people are passing through. If you're not not interested in Scotland, then don't worry about it, but if you know anyone else who might be interested in hearing about Meggie's remote Scottish village, please pass the word along. Meggie will greatly appreciate it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

This Is Why I Love To Write

The story has been flowing for a while, but the last 2 days it seems to have picked up speed. I can't write fast enough. Okay, I haven't written much new material. However, I've started to pull together my 140 pages and organize them into a fantastic story. I've written for myself my main characters' goals, motivations and conflicts. I've pinpointed my turning points, sketched my Big Black Moment, and written out my character arcs. Now all I need is a good chunk of time to work on it all. Hhhmmm, maybe in May during my recovery?

I'm psyched also because I'm pretty sure, even with surgery and recovery, that I can have my first draft done by the time I go on my trip in June. Which means while I'm in Ireland and Scotland I can seriously start a new story. Which also means that I can spend part of my summer putting the finishing touches on TCAFS and start submitting it in the fall. Which ALSO means that I will have finished that book in six months. With that record I could be a very prolific writer! Of course, one has to sell first...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Meggie & The Muse

Meggie- I'd like to invite all of you to check out the new blog of someone very dear to my heart. She lives in the Scottish Highlands and she's got a big mouth. (Sorry, Meggie, but we all know you're the town gossip!) I kept bugging her to set up a blog of her own and she's FINALLY done it. Yay, Meggie! Check her out at Meggie's Musings.

The Muse- Okay, maybe I shouldn't have said "the muse" but it sounded good. Basically I want to hear what you think about the side trip I'm thinking of including during my Ireland and Scotland vacation. (Thank you, Bonnie, for already giving your opinion.) Should I go up to the village that inspires my current manuscripts or not? For more details please read my previous post. Share with me, people! I know you have opinions!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thursday Already?

And it's almost over! I can't believe how fast this week has flown. I've been keeping busy.

Tuesday I had my Austin RWA meeting, which was great. We had a speaker talking about "the Dreaded Synopsis" and she gave some great information. Oh, and the best part of the night was I got to meet and speak with a lady who writes for the Harlequin line I'm targeting. We talked about the line, books and the editors. She was very encouraging and I've decided that if I don't get any requests from the agents I've queried, then I'm going to send to the line directly. Oh, and I happened to have one of this woman's books that I'd just recently finished reading so I asked her to sign it for me.

Wednesday I went to the travel agency and booked my flights for my Ireland/ Scotland trip. I'm thrilled. It turned out to be the amount that I expected and it was nice having someone else handle all the work. I'll have 9 1/2 days in Ireland and 8 1/2 days in Scotland.

Tonight I have a PTO meeting-ugh, why did I volunteer to be the staff representative?

Tomorrow we have a very LONG staff meeting planned and then I volunteered for the PTO's Family Movie Night. What was I thinking?

This weekend I'm hoping to really get some time to work on TCAFS for those upcoming contests and I want to take a peek again at FP's opening chapters (in case I do end up sending it to the Harlequin line directly).

Okay, back to Scotland and Ireland. I'm having issues with something and I need other people's opinions. Feel free to give me yours. So I've got 8 1/2 days in Scotland. I'm definitely spending most of the time in Edinburgh, but I'm trying to decide if I want to spend 2 nights in Glenfinnan, which is the inspiration for my fictional village. I'd have to take the train (which is my absolute FAVORITE ride, even in rain!) and staying in the hotels will be more money than the average Edinburgh B & B. I'd have to stay 2 nights because of the limited train schedule. Some friends says I should do it because I'm already spending a chunk of money, what's a little more? Also, after all my medical drama, I'm thinking life is too short not to go to my happy place when I have the chance. Even my mom says I'll kick myself if I don't go when I'm so close. Plus, if I go, I could stay in the hotel that is the inspiration for my current setting and the owner has been helping me with details for the books. The cons to this leg of the trip-I'd have to walk to the hotel from the train station with my luggage (about 7 weeks after surgery) and it is a bit pricey.

So, what do you think?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Slicing & Dicing

May 7th. There's a slight possibility they'll be able to do it May 1st, but I'm not too hopeful for that. I asked the lady scheduling the surgery a whole bunch of questions. Of course, the most important one was 4-5 weeks after surgery will I be able to fly? I told her I booked my vacation back in January before all this came up. She said as long as everything goes according to plan, I should be ready for my trip. Of course my ever practical stepfather says I should still go to the travel agent to book the rest of my trip plans and I should also buy the insurance just in case I can't go in June. I'm hoping that I make a wonderful and fast recovery and that just the idea of recuperating in Ireland and Scotland is enough to get me there!

Now I can really start to wrap my head around the whole idea of being sliced open again. The thought is enough to make me sick to my stomach. And school. I have 19 days left with my kids. I have A LOT of work to do in those 19 days. Maybe that will help keep my mind occupied for a while so I'm not thinking of surgery every single second of every single day.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy, Happy, Happy!

Happy 16th Birthday to my nephew Jemas! (No, that's not his real name. It's a family joke.)


Happy 35th Birthday to my youngest stepbrother, D!


Happy Easter to all who celebrate it. Have a wonderful day with your families. I hope the Easter Bunny leaves lots of good treats for everyone. He stopped by here and left me some money. Part of it will pay for my next batch of contests. The rest will go into my "poor, prepubbed author needs a website" fund. Enjoy your day!

Friday, April 06, 2007


It's a 3 day weekend.

I've got no pressing plans.

I figured out how to add the cluster map at the end of my sidebar.

I'm amazed I even know what the terms "cluster map" and "sidebar" even mean!

My CP and friend Jenna Stuart is kickin' ass in contests!

My suspense is tickling my brain, but SO IS THE LATEST SHORT CONTEMPORARY! (I thought I'd have to take some time off from the contemporary, but I'm eager to get back to it.)

I've got about five more contests I want to enter. Now I just have to decide which manuscript to submit.

Happy Friday to all and to all a good night! (Oh, wait. I'm mixing up my holidays, huh?)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Yippee! I'm Cleared!

Cleared for surgery, that is. I know, it's not the best thing to be hopping up and down about, but considering how long it's taken me to get to this point, I'm gonna hop. Pressure was completely normal. I got my written consent for surgery. I told 2 of my 3 classes about their 3-week sub.

While waiting to see the doctor, I wrote in my little notebook that fits inside my purse. I wrote and wrote and came up with a wonderful, critical scene for the middle section of my suspense. Yes, I think switching to suspense for a bit of time will do me, my suspense and my muse some good. After all, I'd been living in my fictional Scottish village where there's very little danger for almost a year and a half. I NEED some danger! As one of my nephews used to say, "ME NEED IT!"

What are you craving right about now?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tuesday Already

Time's a flyin'! Let's see. I don't know what to tell you. I'm exercising again. Yay. I feel pretty good. Tomorrow I go back to the doctor's to see if he'll clear me for surgery. I'll let you know. I'm not worried. I've been more relaxed since I left his office Friday than I have been in months. My ESL stuff is coming together. I have about 22 more school days with my kids and I'm not letting them get to me as much. After all, life's too short! I stopped my 100 words a day because it was no longer productive or fun. So I'm taking a week off to read and do work stuff. I'm pretty sure I'll get a lot written during my recovery time. I've got suspense withdrawal again-I might have to kill someone! Actually, I put a temporary halt on the short contemporary so I could play around with my next suspense. I'm also lining up a buttload of contests to enter in the coming months. Now, paying for those entries is another beast entirely. Until tomorrow...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Questions From Kelly

Kelly Boyce gave me five questions to answer about a week and a half ago. I've taken my time coming up with the answers, but here they are:

1) What was the first thing you wrote?
I know I wrote short plays in elementary school, but I don’t think I ever finished them. The first story I remember completing was called The Illusive Intruders and it was a writing assignment for 7th or 8th grade English. I was so proud of that story. It was about a group of kids who solved a crime with bad guys who “ran pretty fast for thirty-year-olds”!

2) Who is your favorite television hero and why?
Oh, there are so many! Okay, I’ll start with the men from The Unit. I think those guys are my current favorite TV heroes because they work so hard to protect our freedom and us. (And they remind me that there really are people out there doing these things for our country!)

I also love Don Epps of Numb3rs. I can’t explain it other than he seems like such a true character. He’s a great FBI agent, a good leader and yet he still screws up and struggles with that. AND he’s man enough to admit when he’s wrong. He doesn’t always make the right decisions, but he’s got a good heart.

3) If you could be one heroine from a movie, television show, or book, who would you pick and why?
This is a tough one. I think I’d want to be Maggie Sanger from Evelyn Vaughn’s AKA Goddess. (Vaughn wrote 3 books with this character for Bombshell.) She’s tough, she’s smart, she’s got a job I would love. She’s a kick-ass Bombshell heroine who wants to make the world a better place. Who wouldn’t want to be like that?

4) What did you want to be when you were little?
I wanted to be the first female major league baseball player. (Until I realized I couldn’t hit a ball, couldn’t catch, couldn’t throw….) Then I wanted to be a singer. (Until I realized I HATE getting up in front of people.)

5) If you were a color of ink, what color would you be - and why?
Blue because that is my favorite color. It reminds me of the ocean and it always calms me.