Friday, August 31, 2007

Some Good News Finally!

To Catch a Falling Star just finaled in the San Francisco Area's Heart to Heart Contest in the contemporary category! I got some awesome scores and comments that just made my day. Now I can revise my entry and then it goes off to an editor AND an agent! The winners will be announced September 30th. Keep your fingers crossed for my baby and me!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

And This Time...

It's my grandfather in the hospital. I got a call last night that he'd been admitted. There wasn't a major catastrophe. He hadn't been looking or feeling well for a while. His physical therapist pulled my mom aside to say he's feeling weak and he's in pain a lot and the doctor he had just didn't want to do anything but keep changing his meds. The therapist suggested my mom take him to the ER. She did and they kept him. There's talk now of a nursing home as the next step. He's still mentally "with it" enough that I know that decision will really, really bother him. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry. I came home from work with these great ideas for writing and then I could do nothing after that phone call. I even fell asleep on the couch! Well, maybe tonight I'll get to work.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Free-Writing Really Works!

I teach Language Arts to 5th, 6th & 7th graders. In the past, I've had free-write time where they have to write something for a certain amount of time. I tell them to write whatever comes to mind, even if they just give a running description of what's going on in the room. Some embrace it and get as excited as I do (because I free-write with them). Others moan and groan.

Today I decided to do this with my 5th graders. Several of the kids couldn't wait to get started. No one groaned. It was AWESOME! I had them write for 10 minutes and when we were done, they whined because they wanted to keep going! We didn't have that much longer before the bell, so we kept going.

WOW! I'd forgotten how well this works for me. In my TCAFS writing there's a transition scene missing and it's been bugging me for a while now. During the free-write, I decided to free-write this transition scene and it worked! I wrote 2 pages that gave me a GREAT starting place for my writing session tonight!

What about you? Does free-writing work for you?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday News

Day 2 and I still didn't want to kill anyone! Actually, after the hell year we had last year with several rude and mean-spirited children, I've got a good feeling about this year's bunch. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

I worked for about an hour last night on TCAFS and didn't want to stop. This is a good sign! I'm looking forward to working on it tonight too. I stopped last night so that I could read. I'm trying to get myself into the habit of reading at least a chapter a night before bed. I'm still reading Laura Griffin's One Last Breath. It's very good so far! I feel a bit guilty because I said I'd have it done in a weekend and I didn't follow through. But I am enjoying it and it doesn't come out until the end of September so I have time to get the review up on Amazon.

Monday, August 27, 2007

First Day

The first day of school was good. I didn't kill any kids and I didn't want to. In fact, I had so much fun I think I'll go back tomorrow.

My 5-year-old niece forgot to get off the school bus. Her 7-year-old big brother forgot to make sure she was with him. My stepbrother (yes, the one with the mini-stroke) managed to follow the bus in his truck and pick her up at the next stop. She was unaffected. Only the adults are laughing.

I decided to FORCE myself back to the manuscript and I had another "Aha!" moment. I LOVE those! I'm off to play with it for a while longer.

Less than 3 weeks until the Austin RWA retreat. I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited! That weekend I'm doing nothing with book #1 or book #2. My attention will all be on plotting and planning book #3. Those characters are just chomping at the bit for me to get to their story.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my bestest friend in the whole wide world! She is my biggest cheerleader for my writing and has been for as long as I can remember. I won't tell you how old she turned, but she's 2 years older than me!

All of you with kids, are they back to school yet? Are you thrilled? If they've still got some time, are you ready to pull your hair out?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Coming Up For Air

We've spent a lot of time meeting and working on our classrooms this past week. I've been working on lesson plans and finalizing ideas for how I intend to change things up.

Writing has been pretty much non-existent. I think I wrote 2 1/2 pages somewhere between last Wednesday and yesterday. I'm working on my personal schedule and plan to jump back into the writing. Even with the current family drama (more in a minute on that), I still have every intention of finishing TCAFS by next Sunday.

Current drama: On Friday, I got a call in the middle of lesson planning that my stepbrother who just had his 41st birthday was in the hospital with numbness along his arm. I went to see him and then to babysit the kids (5 & 7) so my (step)sister-in-law could stay with him. He came home yesterday afternoon. One of my other stepbrothers drove in from Houston yesterday morning with his wife to help out. I stayed another night and came home this morning. After pulling myself together, I went back to work to get everything set up for school tomorrow morning. The doctors say he had a mini-stroke. At 41. Thank God it only affected him a little. After the numbness in his arm Friday, he had no symptoms and he's feeling fine now. But talk about a wake-up call.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Break Anyone?

I've been back at work for 2 whole days and I'm already exhausted! Ugh! I think it's this going to bed early and getting up early thing that's throwing me. During the summer I go to bed between 2 & 3. Now I have to be up at 6.

The website meeting went very well! I'm so excited about it. We talked about colors, designs, pages I want now and pages I can add once I sign a contract and actually have a book coming out. Since I'm focusing on my Scottish contemporaries, we decided to go with a Scottish theme. I thought about adding a suspense page, but I haven't truly worked on a suspense story in over a year and a half. Again, that is something that can be added when I sell a suspense story or when I start to shop around a suspense. For now, I'm quite happy immersing myself in my Scottish village!

Family medical drama continues with my grandfather and it hurts my heart that I can't be there. I know I'd probably go insane, but I could at least help my mom out. Even the people at his assisted living place tell my mom that there will be a crisis with him. They said a bit more to my mom, but I can't remember it all correctly so I won't try to repeat it.

I think this stuff with my grandfather is also why I'm so physically exhausted. Plus, I'm also having trouble writing. Yes, even though TCAFS is still flowing and I still love it, I find myself flipping through stupid TV shows and thinking about my grandparents. I wrote nothing yesterday. I tried to bribe myself to write today. I've got a page, but it's crap. (But hey, it's something, right?) I think I might just do some free-writing, see what comes out. Maybe then I'll be able to get back to work.

As for my little blog friend SOS, Meggie was the only one to come out of the woodwork. She gets a little credit for that, but she promised to update her blog today and it didn't happen. I must harrass her some more!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Stuff To Share

As you know, I finished Taken by Lori L. Harris last night. Take a minute to check out the author on the Harlequin Intrigue Authors site.

My blog friend Michelle Willingham just sold 2 more books to Harlequin! Yay, Michelle! She writes AWESOME historicals. I loved her first book, Her Irish Warrior, which came out in May. Her next one, The Warrior's Touch, looks just as good as the 1st and that one comes out next month.

After finishing Taken, I picked up another suspense that I'm really excited to read. It's called One Last Breath by Laura Griffin. Laura is an Austin RWA chaptermate. I offered to read the book and post a review on Amazon for her. I know you'll want to pick this one up when it hits the shelves next month! I'm only about 50 pages into it, but it's already grabbed a hold of me.

My computer guru friend and I are finally getting together today! Yay! I'll let you know how the website discussion goes. I'm rethinking the MySpace decision. I'm not sure I want to commit to that yet. If I do it, I want to be able to devote time to it on a regular basis and I'm just not sure I'm ready for that. We'll see.

And finally, I'm putting out an SOS for some lost blog friends. These people have blogs, have regular blog readers, but they haven't blogged in a LONG time!
Meggie MacDougall- She promised to post twice a week. It's been almost 2 weeks. Meggie, I need my Scottish Highland gossip fix!
Brenda Bradshaw- it's been about a month and a half since her last post AND her website has mysteriously disappeared.
Elisabeth Naughton-okay, it's only been about 2 weeks, but it feels like a lot longer!
Kari Lee Townsend-it's been a month for her too!

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Recently I started reading Harlequin Intrigues because I thought maybe my romantic suspenses might fit that line. This month I picked up Taken by Lori L. Harris. This is a story about 2 sisters who get into a car accident and get kidnapped by human slave traders (or so it seems). The heroine escapes, but can't get her sister out. This is all in the first chapter. So far the rest of the book is about finding the truck with the sister and the other victims before they're sold or killed. (I'm on chapter 13 of 21.)

I just have to say this story disturbs me. It has from page one. But I like it and I keep turning pages. For me it has a certain creepy element. I can't really read it at night when I'm in the house alone. Ms. Harris does make me want to drop everything to finish the book. She also makes me want to be part of the Intrigue authors group someday. For now, I'm going back to the book while there's still daylight!

Update: I decided that even in the darkness, I had to finish the book. Great read! Definitely worth the time and the suspense kept me turning pages. Two thumbs up!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blockages, Deadlines & Technology...Oh My!

I'm having a bit of trouble staying focused on my manuscript. There are no problems with plotting, no character issues sailing out of control. I keep finding awesome little snippets to add to the overall manuscript as well as specific scenes to add. I look forward to the time that I plan to spend at my computer. The problem is I just can't seem to get my butt in the chair to finish the work. It's very odd.

So my solution? A deadline. I've already given it to my critique partners. Now I'm giving it to you. I'm hoping that making it public will guilt me into getting to work! So, Sunday, August 26th my TCAFS story MUST BE FINISHED. Yes, I'll still have another draft to go, but the bulk of the work should be done. (I usually go through several drafts before I read my version of "The End".) Hold me to it!

Other things happening:
I figured out a writing schedule to coincide with the restart of the day job. During the school year, I often spend hours and hours on the computer because the writing work actually keeps me sane after long days with middle school, kids.

I've also figured out a few more points for my next contemporary, HC. I plan to brainstorm the characters, investigate their internal conflicts, and plot the novel the week after I finish TCAFS. I won't actually get to the writing of HC until December or January seeing as I have school duties and 2 manuscripts to revise. I might actually finish revisions before I expect, but I like to give myself some leeway (sp?).

My computer guru friend and I didn't meet last night. She'd forgotten a prior commitment. So, we're going to get together tomorrow night to have a couple of drinks and start working on my website. I'm SOOOOOOOOO excited!

After a long talk with an illustrator friend, I've decided to delve into the world of myspace. I've only looked at a couple of pages and the whole idea still freaks me out, but I figure I can't afford to miss out on the opportunity to reach so many people. My best friend had offered at one time to put a page together for me, so I'm hoping the offer still stands and that it's something we can do fairly soon.

Okay, I'm off to work on the manuscript. Well, after a stop at the store for some school stuff. And a birthday card....

OH! A HUGE HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY COUSIN, WHO TURNS 27 TODAY AND TO MY STEPBROTHER, WHO TURNS 41! I'm going out to dinner with my stepbrother, his wife and kids tonight to celebrate.

Okay, NOW I'm going.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I'm Home

I actually got in Saturday, but that day was such the day from hell that it's taken me this long to recover!

My grandfather is all right for now. I spent as much time with him as I could before I left and leaving was so difficult. During 2 of my 3 plane rides on Saturday, I cried like a baby. I'll keep you in the know simply because it affects every aspect of my life, including my writing.

When I landed back in Austin, my ride forgot to pick me up on time! My stepbrother got carried away with his yardwork and lost track of time. Oh, and it gets better. As I drove home from his house (I'd left my stepdad's car there so stepbrother could run it every few days), the battery light came on while I was on the highway and I could barely move the steering wheel. Needless to say I was a basketcase, called my stepbrother who came out to meet me, waited for Triple A and then drove me home. I had expected to get in the door about 3:30. It was 7:45.

Onto better things! On Wednesday my computer guru friend and I are going to get started on my website. I'm so excited! So even amidst my family drama, good things keep happening. I'll keep you updated on this as well.

I got my score sheets back from the Inland Valley RWA for my double final and WOW! Talk about comments to keep me going! I guess I must be doing something right to get praise like this. Thank you, judges!

Fractured Paradise
One judge said-"Definitely wanted to get to know them better", "Love how the location jumped out at me"
Another judge said- the hook very much drew her into the story, she loved the characters, said "resounding yes!" to question would she buy this based on the first 10 pages. She also said this excellent story had a delightful sense of humor!

To Catch a Falling Star
One judge said-finely honed sense of humor, "I think I would (buy it) unless it's going to make me hungry" (It's about a chef)
Another judge said- "The interaction between Heather and Malcolm was fun to watch."

Have you ever gotten comments from a contest judge that brought the light back into your world?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Scotland For Comfort

This is how I know my Scottish contemporaries are the right manuscripts for me. We're having some medical drama right now with my 88-year-old grandfather. Circumstances have my mom & stepdad with him and me home alone. I thought to work on my suspense to keep my mind busy, but I haven't touched that manuscript yet. I keep thinking about it, but that's as far as I get. Instead, what am I doing? Having a cup of tea (yes, even in the heat of summer without air conditioning), listening to a British comedy on TV and working on my contemps. I guess my fictional village is more of a comfort for me than I first imagined.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dreaming Of A Ballplayer

I'm on another vacation. This one is in RI visiting the family, enjoying th beach and eating as much seafood as I can before I head back to TX. There's not much to tell you right now so that's partly why I haven't been blogging on a regular basis, but I have a story for you coming up. I spent some time with my best friend over the weekend, I'm reading a lot, and working on my revisions and new manuscripts. The weather is kind of overcast today and rain is threatening, but tomorrow is supposed to be hot--around 92- and I'm going fishin'! I hope you're all doing well and enjoying the summer (or winter if you're in the southern hemisphere).

Okay. Onto my story. Well, actually, it's a strange dream I had last night. It was about me meeting my favorite Boston Red Sox player, Curt Schilling. Now in the dream, he was walking with his wife and I was with my best friend. I got all stupid and told my friend I just had to go introduce myself to him. When I did, he was a complete jerk. All I'd said was that I really liked watching him pitch and he was my favorite player. He just scoffed at me and said, "Of course I am." So I just turned up my nose, said, "Forget it" and walked away. Well, his wife must've said something to him because he started calling me back. He called me by name even though I hadn't told them my name. Anyway, I walked back to them and they invited us to a party where some of the other players (and wives/ girlfriends presumably) would be. My friend and I went. I was telling her that he hadn't actually apologized, but that must've been his way of apologizing. That's pretty much all I remember (except he wasn't a jerk to me anymore). Odd, huh?

What do you think of that?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

End Of My Trip

Days 15 & 16 were spent in Edinburgh. I pretty much did the same things I'd done in the beginning of the week-took the bus into the city centre, checked E-mails, went shopping, wrote a little on the Royal Mile, went shopping again, stopped in Deacon Brodie's for dinner and drinks and then took the bus home. It was a very relaxing time and I was sad to leave. I didn't take anymore pictures so I have no more to post.

Day 17 I got up (actually, I didn't sleep) and got a cab to the airport about 4 a.m. I was counting out my pounds and pence at the airport and the driver told me not to worry if I didn't have enough. That floored me and made my eyes start welling up again! I did have enough for the fare and a tip, but he wouldn't take the tip, telling me to make sure I had enough for a cup of tea and something to eat in the airport.

I managed to get home in an uneventful manner, which was very good. Then I had to start facing the real world again. Well, thank you for letting me relive my vacation in my posts here.

Speaking of vacation, I only have a couple more weeks before I go back to work. Ugh! School starts too soon for me! And yet, I find myself thinking about lessons and things I want to do differently this year and wondering if I'll get along with the new teachers. (That last one's pretty much a given. I think I'm a very easy person to get along with!) Since Nationals I've been working extremely hard on my manuscripts-lots of revisions going on here! I think I might have had another breakthrough of understanding after reading a fellow Celtic Hearts author. Now if I can just apply what I've learned to the manuscript I'm revising!

Speaking of that Celtic Hearts author, it's Monica McCarty. Go. Get. Her. Book. Now. Highlander Untamed. Oh, I finished it in 2 days and it was so awesome! It's been a while since I've read a Scottish historical that grabbed me as much as this one did. I couldn't put it down and I can't wait for the next one!

Okay, enough babbling. I'm off to do some plotting, planning and revising! Catch you later!