Sunday, September 30, 2007

My Fives

I got this idea from my friend Heather Foeh and thought you might be interested in my answers.

Five Jobs I’ve Had In My Life
1. Dietary aide in a hospital
2. Job coach for people with disabilities
3. Customer Service clerk for a newspaper
4. Restaurant hostess
5. Information/Office clerk

Five Places I Have Lived
1. Warwick, Rhode Island
2. Grand Canyon, Arizona
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
4. Austin, Texas
5. Norton, Massachusetts

Five TV Shows I Like To Watch
1. The Unit
3. Numb3rs
4. Men in Trees
5. Monarch of the Glen

Five Places I Have Been On Vacation
1. Phuket, Thailand
2. Paris, France
3. Berlin, Germany
4. Sunderland, England
5. Dublin, Ireland

Five Of My Favorite Foods
1. Asiago (sp?) pretzels
2. Hawaiian pizza
3. Mashed Potatoes
4. Bread – any and all kinds
5. British Mars bars

Five Places I Would Rather Be Right Now
1. Edinburgh, Scotland
2. Glenfinnan, Scotland
3. New Zealand’s South island
4. Perth, Australia
5. On the train traveling across Scotland
(Notice a pattern here?)

Five Places I Like To Shop
1. Barnes & Noble
2. Best Buy
3. Office Max/ Depot
4. Central Market
5. Things Celtic (In Austin)

So there you have it. If you post your Fives on your blog, comment here and let me know so I can read them instead of working on my manuscript! (Just kidding!)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Light Bulb Moment

As a writer, there is nothing better than those light bulb moments. They are the moments when pieces click into place and make the world a little better, a bit brighter. Recently I had a light bulb moment, not in my manuscript but in my approach to my 2nd career. I am no longer a "newbie".

Now, I've been writing forever, but seriously writing toward publication for about 5 years. I've completed several manuscripts, I've finaled in and won several contests, and I've graduated to personal rejections. I'm the type who allows herself to wallow for one day only when I get rejections or bad news. I absolutely believe in learning from my "rejections", applying my new knowledge to my writing and then moving on. Why dwell in the past when I only want to move forward?

Technically, I've known I'm not a newbie for quite a while, but at my last Austin RWA meeting 2 and a half weeks ago it really started to hit me. We had lots of people there, visitors and members alike. People asked questions of our chapter officers and our guest speakers. As I listened to their answers, I realized that I really am a veteran of this march toward publication. The amount of answers I can offer in reference to craft, story elements and RWA just staggers my mind.

I notice this also on my writing loops and even when I speak with non-writer people. Wow! I can speak intelligently about my career goals, the business (from the viewpoint of an almost published writer), story elements, craft and marketing ideas.

With this newfound (or newly acknowledged) wisdom, my question becomes, what will I do with it? First and foremost, I think it deserves another attitude adjustment. I can no longer play dumb. I have to pledge to teach to others what I know. If I don't know something, I have to have the courage to find the answer. I have to be willing to take my career gently in my hands and make sure it receives the attention it deserves---as an almost published writer. I can no longer claim the ignorance of a beginning writer AT ANY POINT. As a PRO member banging on the door to PAN, I have the responsibility to hone my skills and learn all I can about the next step in my career so that I can make intelligent decisions when the time comes.

But most importantly, I have to give back to the community. Pubs and almost pubs answered my questions when I first joined RWA. They fostered a love of craft and continue to lend support even now. As I move up the ladder toward a publishing contract, I see it as my duty to bring someone (or many someones) further up that ladder as well. Life is about living, learning, falling on your face. Courage comes from getting back up, moving ahead and sharing what you've learned. I accept the challenge and my position in the writing community. I embrace my duty to my own career and I will do my best to pass on the gems of wisdom to the next set of almost published writers.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Another Pledge...Please Do Your Part

I've decided to give myself a huge birthday present. I'm going to give myself one of the best stories every told. (Well, the current version. I'm sure I'll find other things to revise before it goes off ) My birthday is in a week and a half. I am pledging in front of all of you to have my story (TCAFS) completed by that day. I have plenty of incentives (it feels like it's been too long already, I want to enter it in the GH, I want to send out queries, I want to move on to the next couple!) and I have plenty of chances to write (my 100 words a day challenge, my 301 words a day for the month of October challenge, my weekends and evenings). I've been making steady progress all week and I'm psyched about finishing now. I KNOW I can do it. Malcolm and Heather deserve their happy ending. They're whispering that it's time.

So, I ask you to hound me, er...encourage me to complete my task. Ask me how I'm doing. Ask me if I made my word count for the day. Harrass me if I tell of slacking off or if I start whining. Because even on my worst writing days, this is still the best job in the world!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Laura Griffin's One Last Breath

Laura Griffin's debut novel One Last Breath officially hits the stores today. If you are a romantic suspense fan, go out and get your copy. I was fortunate enough to read the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC). Here's my official review:

It’s all Laura Griffin's fault. I lost precious hours of sleep devouring her debut novel, One Last Breath.

While spying on her ex-husband, reporter Feenie Malone realizes there’s more to Josh than just being a lousy ex. Hoping to kill two birds with one stone, Feenie decides to investigate Josh’s connection to a well-known criminal and use the story to advance her career.

PI Marco Suarez is convinced Feenie’s ex had something to do with his sister’s disappearance. Suarez has spent the last two years “unofficially” working his sister’s case. When he meets Feenie, he’s determined to find out if she’s just the innocent bystander she claims to be or if she’s Josh’s accomplice in Paloma’s disappearance.

As Feenie and Suarez work together uncovering Josh’s seedier side, sparks fly and their relationship grows. Feenie begins to wonder if they could have a future together, but Suarez’s quest for revenge seems to keep getting in the way.

One Last Breath is an engaging story from start to finish, one that suspense fans will not want to miss. The explosive prologue hooked me right from the start. I connected with Feenie quickly and as Suarez grew on her, he also grew on me. In short, I wanted to work out in Chico’s Gym, be a best friend to Feenie and I just plain wanted Suarez. With a tight plot and an endearing cast of secondary characters, One Last Breath is a great read from an author who is sure to entertain us for years to come!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Don't Stop The Madness!

When I started my 100 words for my challenge today, I couldn't really think of anything to write about on the 3 Scottish contemporaries I've got going. Nor could I do anything with the suspense that has pretty much died. So what did I choose to write? Words for Scottish contemporary #4! Now I've got FOUR couples throwing phrases, descriptions and words of wisdom at me. Madness, I say! I wish I could feel finished with one before I start on this 4th story. But hey, while Caitlin is visiting, I might as well take advantage of her generosity. (Caitlin's my muse. Did I tell you about her? Yes, I named her. Oh no, wait. She CHOSE to tell me her name. Yeah, that's it.)

So there's FP- the finished manuscript that needs to be revised. I'd sent it to the Harlequin Romance slush pile and then I got interest from an editor...twice.
There's TCAFS- the near to finished one I intend to start querying agents with next month. This is also the one going into the Golden Heart. (This is the one an editor gave me great feedback on during Nationals.)
There's HHC- the one I brainstormed on my Austin RWA writing retreat, potentially the next one once the first 2 are completely finished. (This is the one with the killer first line!)
And the latest one, ABR- I'd started this one back in January, but the characters needed more time to sew their wild oats.

I'm off to create more chaos for my fictional Scottish village! (PS: This is NOT the allergy drugs talking!)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Caution: Zombie Working

My allergies are so bad lately that they've severely interrupted my life. It got to the point on Friday that I had to take some allergy drugs. Relief is a good thing, even if it's only temporary. Being drowsy is not.

The kind of meds I'm taking make me extremely drowsy and make my head foggy. So I only took them Friday night. Then yesterday morning I felt worse. So I took them again, felt better and went about most of my daily activities. This morning I had to weigh all the effects carefully before I popped that little pill: I could either not take it and suffer (to the point that I'm getting sick and can't eat) or I could take it, feel better and just nap on the couch most of the afternoon. I decided to take the drugs. So now I feel like a walking zombie who is reading with her eyes half closed and who will soon be grading papers. I tell you, what a rotten way to spend the weekend! And apparently there's really no end in sight to the allergy problem here in Austin.

I worked a lot yesterday (even in the allergy med fog) on TCAFS and I'm thrilled with the way the story is coming together. I still wish I didn't have to go to the day job so I could spend as much time as I wanted on my writing, but if I want my supply of allergy meds to stay filled, I guess I have to keep the day job...for now. You know, just until I make the best-seller list a kazillion times in a row.

I ventured over to eharlequin to check out the latest Harlequin Romances last night, which led me to check out several authors. Do you know I found one woman who had 7 books published this year? 7! SEVEN! Granted they're short contemporaries, but they're still full stories. I'm aiming to write 2 a year and I thought I was doing well with that. But seven? I'd definitely have to quit the day job for that and yet, I'd have to make more money in order to quit the day job! It's a vicious catch 22, isn't it?

Unless I hit the best-seller list a kazillion times in a row.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bright New World

My horoscope for today according to AOL:

Once you decide upon your course of action, you'll have a fierceness of character. Others may not realize how formidable you are, but if you believe in yourself then nothing will stand in your way.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Better Day

I think one day to wallow and be pitiful every six months is okay, but I'm over it now. I'm getting stuff done with the day job, I got a good night's sleep last night, and I met with my 50/50 challengers (students) today to discuss our progress.

Student challenge-Still got 21 out of 25 and then one of the dropouts (who dropped out this week) asked if he could make up the words and restart today. I said yes. I also told the dropouts they'd still be allowed to go to the party at the end of the challenge because they did make it about 2 weeks.

My own challenge- I'm still plugging away. Plus, in conjunction with the 100 words a day for 100 days challenge, I'm also signing up for a 301 words a day for 31 days challenge in the month of October with my local Austin RWA chapter. I know, I'm a glutton for punishment!

My writing- I've decided to just take things one step at a time. I think yesterday I was overwhelmed. So last night and tonight I'm typing up the 25 pages I wrote on the retreat. Then this weekend I'm going to continue and try to finish the TCAFS draft again. I decided I am entering this in the GH and so that is going to be my priority now. Also, this weekend I'll take a look at my business plan and revamp it according to my latest challenges (difficulties, not writing challenges). I've got so many stories playing in my head and so many things I want to do from the business side of writing, I MUST reorganize!

Thanks for rallying around me and helping me get back on my writing feet.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Writing Blues

Nothing is truly wrong, I'm just kind of in a funk. I'm DESPERATE to spend hours on my manuscripts, to plot, plan and write like I did over the weekend. Trouble is, I can't. I've got an allergy attack and I'm so physically exhausted I can hardly keep my eyes open. Then I panic about all the day job stuff I could be doing, but then I remind myself there's a reason it's called a "day job". Add to that, I got another agent rejection today. It wasn't a shock, quite honestly. It's for the old draft of FP. After my chat with the editor at Nationals, I figured out what was wrong with that manuscript and I'm working on correcting it. I know I've come so far with the current WIP. It's 100 times better than FP (and FP is still an awesome story!) But, I'm in a frame of mind where another rejection still hurts. Maybe I'll go look at my pictures from Scotland again to cheer myself up.
In other news, my blog buddy Kerry Blaisdell is doing a poll on her blog about books and swearing in them. Go check it out! She's deciding whether or not to have a contest too, but you should go vote anyway.

As for my 100 words a day for 100 days challenge, I'm doing well. I haven't missed a day in the 16 days we've done it. 3 of my 25 students have already dropped out of their 50/50 challenge. Another one told me today that he didn't think it would be hard when we started but now he's having trouble remembering to do his words every night. Tomorrow is our day to discuss our progress. Maybe I'll give them a few days of in class writing time. It only takes them about 4-5 minutes to write at least 50 words for their stories. Maybe that will inspire them to keep going. (And me since I free-write with them.)

Thanks to all of you who ventured over to offer your opinion to my Scottish blog buddy Meggie MacDougall. I know she'll be tickled to see comments from someone other than me!

Okay, I'm feeling better already. I know I really have no reason to be down. I'm making as much progress as I can each day on the books. I'm submitting and getting my work out there so that one day my books will land in the right hands and I'll get published. I've still got great students who make me laugh and ease the tension out of me. Plus, I've got a great support system with all of you, my chaptermates and my non-writing friends who can't wait to see my books in bookstores. So, thanks for "listening"!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I Fell Off The Horse!

Yeah, since my retreat I've written a whopping 247 words. I've been able to keep up with the 100 word challenge, and I've even started typing up what I wrote over the retreat, but that's all. Hopefully this week I'll get back into it full swing. Of course, I could always blame the day job. :)~

If you have a favorite historical author (either historical romance or just straight historical fiction), please take a minute and pop over to my friend Meggie's blog. She's trying to find some new authors to read.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Back In The Saddle

WOW! What an AWESOME weekend! My Austin RWA retreat just rocked! I talked a lot, wrote a lot, had a few drinks, and serenaded the group after a friend "demanded" I prove I could sing. A hush came over the crowd and all heads turned my way. I think some of them were quite surprised! Stage fright didn't affect me like it normally does thanks to the beers I'd consumed before I sang one note.

I managed to write 25 pages on TCAFS. I hadn't planned to work on that one, but a scene I'd been stumped with suddenly came clearly to me. Of course I had to run with it. And what a HUGE difference to the manuscript!

I also brainstormed with Heather Foeh, which was awesome too. She helped me piece together my next manuscript and we talked out some of the points I needed. I tried to return the favor. I hope I helped her out. I never really thought of myself as much of a brainstormer (for others), but chatting with Heather about our books was surprisingly easy and pain-free!
Oh, and I came up with a killer first line for the next book, HHC.

Then today, Heather helped me again! I was having issues with a different set of scenes for TCAFS, so I gave her the basic story and she helped me figure out where to take it from there.

I didn't even think about the suspense at all. In my heart, I believe I'm meant to focus on the short contemporaries for now. They are flowing. (Yep, I even "met" yet ANOTHER potential hero in my Scottish Highland village!) The contemps are doing well and I really have faith in these stories. So, I'll continue to be a suspense reader and perhaps at a later date I'll jump back into writing suspense.

How was your weekend?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Taking Charge...?

Can't sleep. Like the kid in the Disney commercial says, "I'm too excited!" So I checked my horoscope. For today it says:

You might wish that the tensions would just go away, but they won't until you consciously face what's bothering you. You might have to stand up to someone more powerful than you, but you can do it as long as you act consistently with your feelings. Push past your anxiety and self-judgments; just show up and be yourself.

All right, Mr. Suspense Hero! I'm talking, so you BETTER listen up! I know I keep trying to push my ideas onto you and your story, but you're not doing your part. I NEED to hear from you! Your ideas, plans, fears and dreams have to come out on the page and they can't do that unless YOU TALK TO ME! I'm willing to look past your faults and show the world what a great guy you really are. So, what's it gonna be? Are you man enough to face me?

Friday, September 14, 2007


It's Friday! Yeah!

Tomorrow is my Austin RWA writing retreat. 2 whole days of doing nothing but writing related activities. We've got brainstorming sessions, critiquing sessions, personal writing time, a happy hour and plenty of time to visit. It was SO wonderful last year. I'm hoping I'll get that fire restarted under me and I'll get back to work. I've got to stop being a slacker!

I've immersed myself back into my fictional Scottish world...and my muse returned. Well, maybe "returned" isn't the right word. She peeked into my office for a while. I plan to load up on my Scottish inspiration (videos, music, rereading previous manuscripts) tonight so I will be ready to "go forth and write much" over the weekend.

As for the suspense, the hero gave me teeny, tiny glimpse of what he wanted today while I was driving. So, I'm going to jot down his ideas and then play around with them over this weekend too if the hero will let me. (Pretty please with sugar on top?)

I didn't go to Julie Ortolon's party last night for her new book Unforgettable. I had some family stuff come up, but I'm not worried. She's so awesome, I know she had a lot of people planning to go!

Congrats to two blog friends who recently did well in contests! Cat Schield took 1st place in the short contemporary category of the TARA contest with the Heart of the Negotiation. Not only that, she ALSO got a full manuscript request! Kelly Boyce finaled in the Toronto Golden Opportunity contest in the historical category with Desire and Brimstone. Way to go, ladies!

And FINALLY my friend Meggie MacDougall in Scotland updated her blog! Three cheers for Meggie! It's been about 5 weeks or so since she last posted. I love hearing about her little village. As I told her, I was about to board a plane to search for her...and for a hot Scotsman for myself! Meggie PROMISES to blog regularly again, but I won't believe it until I see it.

I'll blog when I get home Sunday to share all I've accomplished with you. Until then, have a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


You probably don't want to read this blog post. I'm not a happy camper. I'm struggling with my 100 words for today and I have NO DESIRE TO PICK UP A PENCIL! (or pen or to put fingers to the keyboard. You get the idea.)

I figured out today that I've been writing THE SAME SUSPENSE SCENE for the last few days of the challenge. The new scene starts off one way and I think it's going to be awesome, but then somehow I end up back to the same conversation between my hero and heroine. I think it's happened about 3 or 4 times now. (Yeah, and I just realized it. Yeah, I'm a little slow apparently.)

I finally asked my suspense hero what he wanted from me. He still hasn't answered. GGGRRR.

Update: When the clock struck ten and he STILL hadn't answered, I switched to writing the new contemporary. With that, I squeezed out 241 words and got some good ideas for a starting point tomorrow. I guess suspense isn't in my immediate future.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Busy, Busy

Challenge totals:
Monday 607
Tuesday 354 (I think. I have to check.)
Mostly I'm working on the suspense because I FINALLY got into the groove of that one. Even though I'm rusty with the suspense angle, I reminded myself that I can fix a page with words already on it, but not a blank one.

Couldn't get into blogger quickly enough to blog yesterday. Last night was the awesome "Web Presence" workshop at my monthly Austin RWA meeting. (More on that later.)

Tonight I'm kickboxing and working on some manuscript. Hopefully a little of FP revisions since I'm supposed to be doing those all month and I've barely started.

Tomorrow night I'm going to a party for Julie Ortolon's newest release, Unforgettable. (More on that later too.)

Friday's kickboxing again and then Saturday and Sunday is my Austin RWA retreat! (You guessed it, more on that later too!)

Have a great day!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sunday Stuff

The challenge is going well. I wrote 831 words yesterday on two manuscripts. I also wrote two articles for my Austin RWA newsletter, which I did not include in my word count for the day. I'll share them with you when they go into the newsletter.

I've got grading to do today, but I'll be doing that while I'm watching football. Then I'll go back to my manuscripts. I've already done my 100 words for today, but I don't want to stop.

Have a gander at my friend Carol Ericson's new cover. Her debut Harlequin Intrigue comes out in December. I can't wait!

On Tuesday at our monthly meeting, my Austin RWA buddies Michelle McGinnis and Heather Foeh are giving a talk on creating a web presence. I'm so excited about this! I'll take good notes and share with you.

Then next weekend is our Austin RWA retreat. Heather and I are going to brainstorm our new manuscripts. Yes, I'll be playing around with both the suspense, DAD, and the next Scottish short contemporary, HHC. I must confess, the Scottish story is winning out during this challenge and may very well be the next manuscript I focus on writing. (Well, once the revisions are done for Book 1 and Book 2 of the series!) Maybe I just need to write a suspense scene every once in a while to keep my creative juices flowing.

I've got another contest announcing finalists tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for TCAFS and me!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Challenge Is A Challenge

Hi! No, it's not a challenge making my 100 words a day...yet. My difficulty is this. I've been focused on short contemporary stories for almost 2 years now. For the challenge, I'm writing a suspense. Suddenly writing a suspense feels awkward for me. Does that make sense? I'm not saying I can't do it. It just feels clunky and weird. I have to pull out of my brain's hiding place everything I know about making a good suspense, and now I have to add to it all the craft information I've learned since I last wrote a suspense. Very odd feelings to experience, but ones I wouldn't want to give up. I still LOVE reading a good suspense and I FULLY intend to write suspense too. I just need to formulate a writing pattern/ style/ magic that works for me and BOTH short contemporary AND romantic suspense. Anybody have the same issues? Any advice for me?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Joan Swan and Elisabeth Naughton talked me into doing a writing challenge. They're doing 1000 words a day for 100 days. I can't commit to being that productive, but I can do 100 words a day. Yesterday was the first day and I made 183! That was pretty cool. Today, I'm already over 400 and this is good too. But you want to know the best part? I brought the writing challenge to my students.

25 of my 5th, 6th & 7th grade students are engaged in a 50 words a day for 50 days challenge with me. Some days we have time to work on it in class, other days we're all on our own. The challenge was totally voluntary and I promised prizes for some of the participants and a party for all of them at the end.

For my challenge, I thought I'd work on the new contemporary, HHC. I still might. After all, 100 days is a LONG time. For now, I've decided to work on a suspense. You see, I went to see the Bourne Ultimatum on Monday and I LOVED it so much I wanted to get back into working on a suspense for a while. So, all the words I've done so far have been on the suspense. Yes, I've still got work to do on my short contemps, but right now I need the suspense to replenish my writing soul. (Of course, the fact that I love Matt Damon as Jason Bourne might be an influence as well. Do you think?) I'll keep you updated on my progress and the kids' progress as well! Wish us all luck! If you're bored, pop over to Elisabeth's blog or Joan's. Cheer them on too!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Oh My Gawd!

I'm about ready to take my claymore letter opener and stick it in my eye. I'm pretty sure that will be less painful than what I'm doing. For at least the last hour I've been trying to finish my revisions to my Heart to Heart contest entry so I can e-mail it tonight. I love what I've got, love the changes I've made, BUT...there's one line I CANNOT figure out how to fix. It's a response to an already killer line that I don't want to cut, but I've gone through so many ideas already and nothing fits. I'm staring at the computer screen and hoping the right words will magically appear if I stare long enough. So far NOTHING! One line, one itty bitty line to be as kick-butt as the rest of the entry. Is that too much to ask for? Apparently YES!

Update: Yippee! It only took me MOST of my day off, but I FINALLY found the perfect phrase! This calls for some ice cream!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Judge Comments

I thought I'd share some of the comments I received from the Heart to Heart judges for my manuscript To Catch a Falling Star:

Excellent! I found myself not wanting it to end. I can’t wait to read this when it’s published. Because I know it will be. Great job. Good luck!

You have a great story here!! I love Heather!! She’s strong determined and you convey that well in your entry.

Also, you did a great job with Malcolm. He’s stubborn, yet gentle. I can’t wait to see how he and Heather come together. Good job and I look forward to seeing it in print soon!!

Very nice overall. The meet is excellent. You have a wonderful style, very smooth, easy to read. I expect to see it on the shelves some day. Good luck!

With comments like these, it's easy to see why I'm so thrilled! Thank you to all four of my judges!