Sunday, November 30, 2008

Honey, I'm Home!

I'm back from Beaumont and my relaxing Thanksgiving vacation. I hope everyone who celebrated had a great holiday too. Now it's back to the chaos. School plans and grades, putting up Christmas decorations, planning and packing for a school conference next week, Christmas shopping, writing out cards, reading and of course writing! I managed to get a few pages of Danger revisions done and I LOVE where my characters are taking me. I'm trying to focus more on making sure they're properly motivated. No easy feat, I'll tell ya! I also figured out that I'm gong to take the last 2 weeks of December off from writing and then in January I'll be jumping into Broken Promises because that story deserves to be told next!

Oh, and speaking of stories that deserve to be told, I read Private S.W.A.T. Takeover by Julie Miller during my Thanksgiving break and WOW! I absolutely loved it. The hero is a sharpshooter with 3 other brothers (who naturally have their own stories too). You can bet your bottom dollar I'll be reading the last in the series and then hunting down copies of the first 2!

So, what's new in your world?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gobble, Gobble!

Wherever you are, Americans, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! Eat lots of turkey, enjoy good company and toss back a few drinks!

I'm thankful for:
the friends I have (in real time and on the net)
my wonderful family
my health
my talents that I promise I'm not going to waste
my great set of students (although some of them could work a little harder!)
the best co-workers ANYWHERE!
the roof over my head
the food I've been eating all this week with a bunch of special events
the founding fathers of my country and all the sacrifices they made
the men and women in our armed forces who sacrifice for us as well (Hi Jess!)
and I'm thankful for the simple fact that I have choices when so many people in the world do not.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


This morning I'm officially off work until Monday, 12/1! Woohoo! Can you hear me cheering and giggling all the way out where you are? Are you sure? Because I'm pretty sure you can.

Today I'm off to Beaumont, TX until Sunday. My sister-in-law invited me to go with the family to her parents' house for the holiday. They, her brother and his family are a great group of people and I'm very excited to spend some time with them. I'm also excited to get some more time with my hero and heroine of Danger (still making more changes after working on my latest contest entry). Plus, I'm bringing notes on my new Scottish suspense story and I'm bringing two books to read! There will be no school work done until at least Sunday! Oh, and I have some college football to watch too! And lots of food to eat and several adult beverages to consume. I don't know about you, but it looks to be a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, Monday...Or Tuesday, Rather

Here I am, fresh from printing my Golden Heart entry for the Romance Writers of America Contest! I foolishly left it all until the very last night. Although the deadline is 12/2, I wanted to mail my entry Tuesday before I head out for Thanksgiving. I started double and triple checking my entry at 7 p.m. Monday. It's now after 1 a.m. on Tuesday and it's still printing. But you know what? I absolutely LOVE my story and honestly believe this will be the manuscript I sell. (Hopefully the first of many!)

And now I'm wondering if I should go to bed at all tonight...this See, I have to be up for work in about 4 hours. I usually fare A LOT worse if I try to grab a few hours of sleep. So I could stay up, have A LOT of tea, pack for the holiday, read, grade some papers (okay, that last one was meant as a joke) and watch some Jason Bourne. Then tomorrow afternoon (this afternoon?) I can swing by the post office and mail my GH entry, pick up some treats for the holiday weekend and then sleep.

Hhmmm, decisions, decisions. I think I'll see what time it is when the GH entry finishes printing and then go from there.

UPDATE: Here it is 5:04 and I'm still awake. I did start to doze for a while on the couch, but then I had 2 cups of tea, I finished my laundry and then I popped in a Bourne movie. Now I'm trying to talk myself into getting to the grocery store before work so I won't have to think about it this afternoon. Don't know if that'll happen though.

ANOTHER UPDATE 2:37 p.m. : WOOHOOO! I'M FREEEEEE! Didn't sleep, didn't really teach much, ate good food at our Thanksgiving feast, mailed my GH entry. Now I'm off to do some chores before I think about finishing my packing for my Thanksgiving trip!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Thanks, everybody, for your thoughts and comments! I never expected that many people to weigh in!

As I'm sure you realize, I'm still weighing all my options. I imagine I will be for a while. There's so much to consider. I'll keep the poll up so that more people can weigh in and I'll keep you updated on my thoughts and progress.

I went to Houston this weekend for a whirlwind trip. We left Friday and came back Saturday. One of my brothers is turning 40 and his wife threw him a surprise party. On the trips to and from Houston, I managed to get through 2 chapters of Danger revisions! It's more than I've been able to get through in the last 2 months! I'll be going away for Thanksgiving with family too, so I'll have more travel time to work on Danger. I'm tickled that I'm making such good progress. Right now I'm thinking to finish revisions by about the middle of December. Then I can play for the rest of the year or work on the new Scottish story. Or not. The joy will be in not having any pressing writing work until 2009.

But first I need to finish checking my Golden Heart entry and get that puppy in the mail!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wanna Weigh In?

I've always been a wanderer. I've moved on average every 2 years, whether new house, new city or new state. After I graduated college the first time, I looked into teaching in Japan, but emotionally I wasn't ready for such a commitment.

When I went back to school to get my master's in education, it was with the intention of working with English as a 2nd Language students. I took classes for that and loved it all. But I moved to Austin and got a job teaching 2nd/3rd grade. Then I moved up to the middle school. Then I got the additional duties of the ESL Coordinator at my school. While this has been wonderful, it no longer feels like enough.

So, I started thinking about teaching overseas again. I've continued to talk about it for years and it's feeling kinda right for next school year. I've started researching a couple of programs. There's a worldwide certification that I can get that will open countless doors (or so I'm thinking), but I'd have to take classes for a month to get it. Then they'd help me find a job. My friends and co-workers are telling me to go for it, saying it's an investment in myself and something I've always wanted to do.

And then I think, wow, what a blog readership I could get with blogging about my life in a foreign country and how cool would that be to have all those readers ready for when I sell. PLUS think of all the intriguing plots I could come up with!

I just don't want to wake up on my deathbed and regret that I never went overseas to teach. I just have a strong pull to this and I'm thinking I really want to jump off the roof and see if I can fly.

So, wanna weigh in?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nope, Not Tellin' Yet

Chuck E. Cheese was fun, but I was glad to get home. And now I'm free until Sunday afternoon! I have tomorrow off, got some plans this weekend (which include talking to some friends about my life-changing possibility). I'll also be putting the finishing touches on my GH entry so I can mail it early next week! Yay! I'll probably spill the beans over the weekend about my "possible situation" simply because I wanna share! I promise not to string you along for too long. Have a good weekend and I'll catch up with you Sunday if not sooner!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dangerous Delays

Update: Wednesday night. Still haven't touched Danger since at least the weekend. PTO board meeting last night, family in town tonight, Chuck E. Cheese school fundraiser tomorrow night. Oh, and I've been grading and working on sub plans for Friday for my day off.

On a personal note, got some "stuff" going on that I'm looking forward to sharing with you soon and getting your opinion. It might be very positive and exciting and it could DEFINITELY change my life. (And no, it's got nothing to do with a book contract.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

And Now Back To Me

What's Going On In My Writing World:
Tuesday 11/18-Thursday 11/20-- Finish revising chapter 4 of Danger
Friday 11/21- Saturday 11/22-- Revise as much of chapter 5 of Danger as possible
Sunday 11/23-Monday 11/24--Review & revise Danger for Golden Heart entry, prepare entry
Tuesday 11/25--Mail Golden Heart entry to RWA Nationals!!!!
Thanksgiving Break-read, relax, read, write on the yet-to-be-named Scottish suspense and continue Danger revisions (2 chapters? 3?)
I'd like to have Danger revisions "completed" AGAIN by the time I get out of school for winter break, which is 31 days! Then I guess I better think again about another round of agent queries. Over winter break I'll also play around with Broken Promises OR the new one. Or maybe I'll just take the 2 weeks off to play and be a normal, non-neurotic individual. Nah. What fun would that be?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Enough About Me

I thought it was time I actually talked about someone other than myself for a while. There's so much good news around me.

This one is a bit overdue, but the sentiment and good wishes are still there! My blog buddy and recent returnee to the Austin RWA Avery Beck sold!!! Congrats, Avery! Click here to find out the details.

Another Austin RWA member, Skye, received her first offer too! Woohoo, Skye! (I'd give you a link, but I don't have anything to link you to.)

Emily Mckay's new book, Baby Benefits, is a great read! And one of my favorite suspense authors, Laura Griffin, signed a contract for 3 more books! (And both of these ladies are also members of the Austin RWA chapter.)

Jess Dawson (yep, ANOTHER Austin member!) gave us a great talk about life in the Army at last week's meeting. We celebrated Jess that night because she's being deployed to Iraq in less than 2 weeks. (Please keep her and her family in your prayers.) She's got a blog that she plans to keep up while she's deployed.

Nita Wick has a release date for her new book, The Wagonmaster. The excerpt on her blog sounds great! You should check it out.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm a Libra

That's my defense when I can't make up my mind. Recently I whined and complained that I couldn't write new stuff, I wasn't getting enough Danger time and that my writing challenges were causing me too much grief.

Today I've added a new progress meter for my newest manuscript.

My thoughts are like this: Danger is coming along. I know I haven't updated the progress meter in a while, but I've been revising a few pages of my hard copy each night. It's coming. My writing challenge with my Austin RWA group to write at least 100 words a day is over. Woohoo! Great weight off my shoulders. Yesterday I only wrote 13 words. I also realized Broken Promises is as done as it can be until I can spend some serious evening time revising and rewriting. In other words, the hard part is up next for that one. So, it stays at almost 38,000 words until Danger is revised or close to being finished. At the same time, I've had an urge to get back to writing a Scottish story, so the new suspense is set in Scotland. I'm getting so excited about it and I love just jotting down whatever I can on it. So why not do so when I can?

The bottom line is I have to keep working toward my goal of eventually getting published. As long as I'm doing SOMETHING toward that, I can't complain.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Christmas Wedding

A Review by Lexi Connor

Tracy Wolff knows how to suck a reader in with the first pages of her novel, A Christmas Wedding. Jesse Rainwater, the world’s best horse trainer, hands his wife divorce papers. On their daughter’s wedding day. Triple H Ranch owner Desiree has always tackled trouble with an iron fist, but Jesse’s bombshell makes her realize this may be a problem she can’t fix. However, Desiree refuses to give up on her marriage, on the only man she’s ever loved, without a fight.

A Christmas Wedding is a fantastic story that immediately piqued my curiosity about how the author would tell the tale. Right away Ms. Wolff made me care about Desiree and Jesse, and then she pulled me on an emotional roller coaster straight through to the end of the book. I didn’t read it all in one sitting, but each day when I got home from work, I looked forward to curling up on the couch and uncovering the next layer of Jesse and Desiree’s story. I laughed, cried and sighed as I followed their journey and watched them revive their hope for an everlasting love.

I admit I’m much more of a suspense reader and the thought of reading about people involved in horse racing at first gave me pause, but wow! The time I spent reading this book was well worth it. Tracy Wolff is definitely an author I’ll read again.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sunday Already?

Hi, hi! This weekend is flying by. Yesterday I watched college football ALL day. (My Texas Longhorns kicked butt, too!) I also read more of Michelle Gagnon's The Tunnels. Good story! I've got about 85 pages left. I can only read it during the day though. It's too freaky to read at night when the house is making noises and the scene is about the killer torturing and killing the college girl victims. (Ooh, I'm getting a shiver just typing about it!)

Today I have a BUTTLOAD of grading to do. And progress report grades to put into the computer. And yet I'm going out to lunch. Hhhmm, maybe later on the school work.

Only 2 more days in my Austin RWA writing challenge (where we commit to write at least 100 words a day in between our meetings). I swear, I'm pulling my hair out and it's like pulling teeth to get 100 words done. And remember that 50,000 words by 12/31 challenge I joined? Well, I have done some serious soul searching and I've decided to drop out. I'm at a point in the new story where I really don't like anyone. I've got almost 38,000 words on the rough draft and I can't be bothered to write on it anymore. I've learned that I really can't work on two stories intensively at the same time while working at my crazy day job. If I was just writing notes on the new one while revising Danger, then that wouldn't be bad. But trying to revise Danger AND mold the new one into a great story WHILE spending countless hours on school stuff has become too difficult. So, my new goals are....

Finish as much of Danger revisions as I can by Golden Heart deadline.
Finish the rest of Danger revisions by 12/31.
Figure out which story is actually next.
Relax and take a writing vacation when Danger is done.

Part of my problem is I really, really, really want to focus on Danger. (I sound like a broken record, don't I?) I think another part of my problem has been that Broken Promises feels like it's morphing into two couples with two very different stories. It feels like I've been forcing it and therefore ruining it and my motivation. So my new goals are really in my best interest (and the best interest of my characters too!).

What's new with you?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Out Of The Ashes Of Despair

This morning there was a shooting a few miles from my school and 3 of the suspects ran away. The neighborhood was blocked off, the helicopters and SWAT guys were out in force. Six other schools in the area closed. We stayed open.
The whole situation gave me a GREAT idea for a new book...
Then it worked itself into a character I already had and loved, one of those that had his story way back when I didn't know anything and I planned to someday rewrite it.

Huh...such awesomeness to come from a tragedy.

In the end, a couple of the criminals are still on the loose, but we're pretty sure they're LONG gone from our school neighborhood.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Exercise Your Right To Vote!

If you didn't participate in early voting, make sure to let your voice be heard today. Go out and VOTE! And now I'd like to share with you my version of the perfect political ticket:

President- Jack Bauer (from the show 24) because he's always willing to do what he thinks is in the country's best interest, even sacrifice himself.
Vice-President- Jonas Blane (from the show The Unit) because he's calm in a crisis, sensible, brilliant and I think he would be the perfect person to talk Jack OUT of sacrificing himself for the good of the country.
Secretary of State- Patrick Jane (from the new show The Mentalist) because he can read people in a flat second and can tell people what they need to hear.
Secretary of Defense- Jason Bourne (I shouldn't have to tell you where he's from) because he kicks butt, outsmarts the CIA and he's always thinking at least two steps ahead.

What about you? Which characters would you want running our country?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

My New "Job"

Celebrate with me! I just became the Vice President of the Celtic Hearts online chapter! I offered to run because I wanted to make sure we had enough people to take over the board. Turned out the VP position was the only position that had an actual race. All the other positions only had one person running. It was very humbling to know that enough people had faith in me to vote me into office. I'm very excited about this, although I don't think I thought it all the way through when I offered to run! But still, I will give it my best because it's a chapter near and dear to my heart.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Austin Celtic Festival

Woohoo! My students that came to the Austin Celtic Festival had a GREAT time. We got pictures of them "fighting" with soldiers with wooden sticks and shields. They ate, they bought stuff and they didn't want to leave. Sadly, several of my "yes" students didn't bother to show up so I had 8 extra tickets.

Once I passed the kids off to their parents after the field trip, I went back to the festival by myself to have a few Guinness pints and listen to the music. Since I had all those extra tickets, I decided to stand just outside the gate and look for someone who might want them. I spotted a woman with three little girls. I stopped her, explained I was a teacher and had extra tickets and that I wasn't trying to scam her. She took the tickets (and one for her husband who was parking the car) and thanked me. I can't tell you how AWESOME it felt to give to someone else. Their tickets would have cost them $60.

After that I looked around again at all the things I wanted to buy. I stayed until it closed (about 45 minutes ago) and I had a BRILLIANT idea while I was listening to the musicians. I've still got one extra ticket left, so I'm going back tomorrow! I've decided to start my Christmas shopping there, have a few more pints AND I'm bringing my stories (Danger and Broken Promises) so I can sit, listen to the band and work. That may seem strange to you, but the atmosphere at the Celtic Festival is exhilarating for me. It makes me want to go back to Ireland and Scotland. It makes me want to work on a story set in Scotland. It makes me feel like anything is possible!