Sunday, August 31, 2008

Got Ink Thumb?

I've been reading a book on and off today (no surprise there, huh?) and noticed the side of my left thumb was getting a black hue to it. It made me remember when I first started writing some years ago. I couldn't afford a computer and would only use a manual typewriter I owned when I finished a first draft of a chapter. And the company I worked at hadn't become modernized yet. So I did a lot of writing with pencil and pen. I had ink and graphite all on my fingers. No one had a doubt I was a pencil pusher. LOL! But I never mind having the ink from a book on my fingers and don't.

I love books. Reading them and owning them. Over the years I finally learned to narrow down the ones I keep. I estimate I read (not always all the way through - time is too precious to waste it on a book that doesn't satisfy) around 250 books a year.

Yep, I narrowed it down to the authors I can't miss their books. I keep Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters and Knights books. Now I keep Anne Stuart's and a couple new authors I've come across. The only author I started reading over twenty years and still keep every one of her books is Linda Howard's.

Thank you, Linda.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Music and Writing

A couple weeks ago at my writers' meeting, Laura Hayden, a talented published author, presented a program about using music to set the mood for writing different scenes in our currents WIPs.

It was amazing how it worked. If her program is picked for the RWA National conference in 2009, be sure to attend. You won't regret it.

One of the things I realized during the program was that I'm one of the few who could listen to music with words and still write, like I'm doing now. John Mayer is one of my favorites.

Check it out.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Counting

Okay, I typed five pages today. Thy name is procrastination. LOL!

Of course, writing those five pages didn't take all day. I watched my taped episodes of General Hospital, fixed breakfast (toast), looked up information on the Six Stage Plot Structure, drove to the nearest Chinese restaurant for lunch and brought it back, read emails several times, checked out a few websites and blogs... You get the idea. :-)

I'm proud to say I didn't play Spider Solitaire once.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Taking a Day to Write!

I took off work Friday! I'm so looking forward to writing all day. No husband. He will be at work. HaHa! That means, no TV disturbing me. Plus being a long weekend, I should get a lot written. Yeah! So we'll see. I'll report in and let you know.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Love Those Westerns!

I can't wait for this fall when Ed Harris's APPALOOSA comes to the theaters. Mr. Harris is a wonderful actor and not hard on the eyes at all. Speaking of eyes, he has a beautiful blue pair. LOL! The movie also has Viggo Mortensen, Renee Zellweger, and Jeremy Irons. Great cast. Check out the trailer.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sorry, Acheron

After reading Sherrilyn Kenyon's ACHERON, I was talking with a friend of mine about the book and how we would love some time with the hero, Acheron. Then I told my friend I felt kind of bad about wanting to use him for my own gratification. You know, he'd been used and abused so badly in the beginning of the book.

Yeah, yeah, I know. He's a fictional character. But Sherri does such a good job. She makes you feel sorry for him, even want to protect him. Now I call that writing! LOL!

Anyway, fiction or not, I have to say, sorry, Acheron. I shouldn't think of you as a piece of meat to lust over. You proved yourself to be a true hero and I look forward to you showing up in more Dark Hunter books.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Guilty Pleasures


I love to read Harlequin's Presents books. They're delightful little books packed with sexual tension and good old fashion alpha males. A lot of the books I read (paranormals), the guys aren't the type I would want to meet in real life. I would probably piss them off by telling them to get over themselves. So you wonder why do I like the alpha males? Because in every one of the books, the males find themselves begging for the female to love/stay/give it over. Yeah. That's the way it should be. LOL!

Now that Silhouette is following suite in their Desire line, I've been picking those up. They're similar but set in the USA and hotter. Oh, yeeeaahh.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Favorite Commercial

This is my favorite commercial. If only it was so simple...LOL!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Making and Keeping Friends

After several years of taking care of kids and a husband, and working a full time job, I had decided I needed a friend outside the workplace. I hadn't had one since I was a teenager. So I thought it be great to become friends with one of my children's friend's mom who had a tart sense of humor I enjoyed. Our children were friends, her husband appeared to be rather laid back enough to get along with my husband and we were around the same age and same work ethic, etc., etc., etc.

So one day I was over at her house, sitting on her couch, talking to her and our children, cutting up, having a good time. I'm not sure exactly how it came up, but we started talking about girl friends. She began to tell me she didn't like to be friends with women because all they were after were the husbands. Then she proceeded to tell me her best friend was a man at work.

Hon, I can tell you, I was hurt. First, unless the man was gay, having a male best friend at work or anywhere else is rarely done. No matter what they try to make you believe on television. Men are not normally wired to be just "friends" with women. Women can be that way with men, but men in the end will expect more...such as friends with benefits if you know what I mean. So as you can imagine, I guessed she was having an affair. My teenage daughter had said she wasn't, but it wasn't too long after that the woman left her husband. Though my daughter never did say, I still feel I was right.

Second, her statement about all women were after each other husbands was so laughable, I was speechless. My husband compared to hers was like comparing Brad Pitt to Woody Allen. Mine was Brad. Hmm, maybe she was doing me a favor by not being my friend. Maybe she was eyeing my hubby. Funny, I never thought of that until now. Sure my husband was way better looking than hers, but...nah. The woman was nuts.

Well, you would've thought I would give up on having a friend outside of work. I tried again, but it was disastrous too. In fact, I tried several more times with little luck. I'll save those for another blog. Maybe.

Of course, you probably wonder why I keep saying a friend outside of work. At work it's rather easy to make friends, (hey, you're there more than at home) but I've never had a good track record of keeping the friend and rarely get to socialize with them outside of work. For some reason, I make friends with people without kids or husbands. Don't know why, just one of those things.

Anyway, I'm working on my friendship skills. I've learn a few things through trial and error. Number one is even if you believe you and your friend were actually sisters separated at birth, don't tell her every thought that comes to your head. She will think you're crazy. Number two, don't tell her every secret you've always wanted to tell someone. She may feel compelled to tell someone else, especially if she thinks you're crazy. Or she will bring it up as a reminder of something stupid you did. Third, don't over compliment. She'll begin to believe you're lying. I never understood that but I heard people say "So and so is too sweet or overly nice, She's so fake." Fourth is the total opposite of the one before. Don't be negative about other acquaintances or absent friends or the friend you're talking to will believe you say the same things about her. And fifth and most important, if others criticize your friend, take up for your friend in a gentle, firm way and then keep your mouth shut. Don't tell your friend what was said. It will serve no purpose and she will only think you were gossiping about her in the first place.

I now have friends outside of work. Though I still miss having the type where my husband and I could be friends with another couple. But considering I've had two aunts to have their best friends to cheat with their husbands, maybe that woman from years ago understood this adult friend thing better than me.

So I guess my friends at work and my writer friends will be enough.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Straight Out of a Romance

I'm a big General Hospital fan. As a teenager, I use to make fun of people who watched soap operas. Even as an adult watching Dallas, Dynasty and the Colbys, I said they were dramas, not soap operas.

Then I believe it was 2001, Port Charles decided to bring on a vampire (Michael Eason - yum!) and I was hooked. Though I have a day job, I would record the show and watch it each evening. During that show I would catch short stretches of GH. The gorgeous men (Sonny, Jason, Nicholas) caught my attention and before I knew what I was doing, I was watching TWO soap operas. Well, Port Charles is no more and I didn't care for One Life to Live's writing (Michael is now starring in it). But I continued to watch GH.

I still record GH each day, and instead of watching it each night (cuts into my writing time), I watched them all on Friday night. Between fast forwarding through commercials and the couples I'm not interested in, I can watch five hours of GH in 2 to 2-1/2.

On Tuesday's episode Nicholas was upset and when nurse Nadine tried to console him, he lost his temper and the following scene was one like out of a romance novel. So very sexy in its intensity. Loved it!


See for yourself. The scene is 4 minutes and 12 seconds into the clip.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Show Me The Money!

One of my chapter mates blogged about if we expected to make money or are we just wanting to be published?

Of course, the proper response is "I write to entertain and share my stories with others." But what most of think is "SHOW ME THE MONEY!"

We've heard about the small amount most authors bring in, especially newbies. Then we hear about those debut books that went to auction and brought in a six figure advance. Chances are we'll be the former.

Me? Sure, I wouldn't turn down a six figure income, but I would be happy with less. [Maybe I should add, "...less at first."] But presently I prefer a large publishing house. Things can change. E-books are becoming more and more mainstream.

So for now, getting my book published is most important and the rest can follow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

To Blog or Not To Blog

Okay, this is purely my own opinion and personal preference. (Like duh, huh? LOL!) and a long post.

If a person is going to do a blog of their own (published or not), then she needs to blog every day or state up front for the readers a schedule of how often she plans to blog.

Let's say every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Or only when she has news to report (e.g., the call, new book deal, book cover reveal). Why? Because the readers will get fed up waiting for her to blog. People like consistency, knowing what to expect.

For those reasons, several authors have united and do group blogs like this one.

Now for my personal taste, I read the BookEnds LLC (a literary agency), Pub Rants (a literary agent), and another agency’s I won’t mention as I’m hoping they will be interested in my paranormal and for some reason mentioning it feels like I would jinx myself. Silly, I know. As you can see, I have a theme going here and you can guess why I read their blogs. I want an agent and you learn so much from them. There are a few other blogs I read that are not agents, but only when I want to goof off. The only author blog I use to read consistently before they stopped blogging together was SquawkRadio with several authors including Christina Dodd who is the keynote speaker for Southern Magic’s November Readers’ luncheon.

One type of a blog I rarely read: Gossip blogs. No interest.

Now I think it doesn’t hurt an author at all to blog as long as she keeps it positive and doesn’t tell too much about her personal life. There are stalkers out there. Fans love author blogs. They love getting to know the author. Plus the author can post immediately their book covers and news (as mentioned above) without waiting for the next round of updates scheduled by the webmaster.

It all comes down to the individual and what she expects from it. I'm tyring to make sure to blog every day. Considering I've been called motormouth in my younger days, it will be no surprise if I don't miss many days. LOL!

I warned ya. Sorry.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oh My Gosh!

I fell asleep at my laptop last night and completely forgot to blog yesterday. Like anyone noticed, huh? LOL!

Three seasons out of four are some of my busiest times at my day job. That's what I get for having a territory in the NW and SW. It never snows in the SW and not enough in the NW. So people are digging up the earth and planting pipe all over the place. And summertime is the worst with all that beautiful weather - go figure. LOL!

Anyway, nothing to say about writing for now. Just need to get over a hump in my book as I'm past the middle and then it should be all downhill. Okay. I'm trying to be optimistic here.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Critique Groups

Critique groups are helpful for any writer as long as 1) all critiques have to be constructive and 2) everyone participates often enough to be beneficial.

No tearing apart a WIP. I know a well-known author who had her WIP torn to pieces by a critique group. She'd almost given up writing because of the criticism. In a critique group, the participants should use critique sentences that start with I believe, I suggest and always with a positive tone. Instead of saying, "Your heroine is too stupid to live if she runs out in the middle of the night to chase after the peeking Tom when there's a killer on the loose," say "I suggest rethinking your heroine's reaction to the peeking Tom, unless she's a trained police officer or self-defense expert, she probably wouldn't go after the man." See. You give suggestions and the reason why you feel the way you to, but without being insulting.

Also unless you have a English degree, your suggestions about grammar may even be wrong. So be cautious when you give them.

Then when you join a group, it's not just to say to others you're in a critique group. You have to participate to make it worth your while. Plus the others would appreciate it. Participating once evey six months is a waste of everyone's time.

So be considerate to others and they will do the same.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Checking Them Out



Last night I caught myself checking out random blogs and I quickly realized the ones I enjoyed the most had pictures in them. Considering I'm a writer, that shouldn't be the case. At least, I didn't think so. Well, I've decided to put a few pictures on mine. Enjoy.











Friday, August 15, 2008

Fridays Are Wonderful!

Each Friday, I'll try to remember to post something I'm thankful for. All part of thinking positive.

This Friday I'm thankful I live in the U.S. Sure we have crime and some of the craziest people in the world, but doesn't every country? I'm glad I can go to church without being arrested, have a party without asking permission from the government, fly from one state to another without a passport, and write romances without being harassed.

I worked eight years in export sales for a manufacturer. It's amazing the negative attitude I came across during those years, especially against American women. Yep, I'm proud to be an American and proud my ancestors decided to come here over 150 years ago.

God Bless the U.S.A.!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mistaken Identity

I receive short newsfeeds into my Microsoft Outlook every day. Usually, I erase most of them but I couldn't resist this one. It was about my city, Birmingham, Alabama. It appears the city council of Birmingham, England has a problem recognizing its own city. They have twice used photographs of my U.S. city instead of their own. Too funny. I just feel sorry for the graphic person doing this.

Check out the article here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Do You Write The Same Book Over and Over Again?

I've noticed a trend in the books I write lately. The hero or heroine or both have siblings they're willing to protect with their own lives. The brother is in jail for murder and the heroine's trying to find the real killer or the sister's a runaway and the brother's trying to save her before something terrible happens. See the plots are different but the themes are the same.

In several newsletter articles and blogs I've read, editors were worried with the trend of protagonists not having living parents. Hmm. Most of mine are living. The few who have one missing, it's usually the mom. Does that say something about me? I guess I need to watch that. LOL!

From what I understand, most authors unconsciously stick to a theme for their books. Something to do with our psyche. Maybe my next book won't have any siblings, but the hero and heroine will have both parents.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Getting Your Name Out There

As in any business you get into, your reputation is the key. Thus, don't have blogs known for bashing anyone in or out of any business you're in and make sure you let people know what you're doing - in a good positive way.

For more years than I would like to think of, I hid my writing. The first person I ever read a small snippet of a story to made fun of it. What do you expect from a little brother? Even if he's six foot one. Years later I let my older sister read some, and she was such a sweetheart, she went on and on about how she wanted to read more. She couldn't get the story out of her mind and all. Love that woman. Anyway, it was because of her and the realization if I didn't do something about my growing obsession, I would never get published. So I joined RWA, but that was all I did for a long time.

Well, my confidence still wasn't at the level I needed it to be until the call went out over the loop about needing articles for the local chapter's newsletter and Nancy Jenkins (I believe she was the newsletter editor at the time and one of the past presidents) suggested an article about history tidbits. I jumped on it. I love history and I wrote nearly 100 articles about history and writing over the next few years.

After about twenty articles, I worked up the courage to go to a meeting and people recognized my name. Astounding! Before you knew it, I was going to every meeting. It was wonderful. I found out I loved attention (only positive, of course).

During the next few years, I volunteered or was voted into office as Membership Chair, PAN Liaison, Vice President, President, Webmaster, Conference Chairperson, Luncheon Chairperson, M&R Chairperson, and Linda Howard Award of Excellence Contest Coordinator. And including Newsletter Editor for another chapter.

So when we had a freelance reporter from Birmingham's LIPSTICK magazine come and visit, my chapter was so excited and the article turned out rather nice if I say so myself. Check it out - click here.

It's a beautiful magazine I've enjoyed so much. Colorful, funny, thought provoking and a joy to read. Of course, I'm rather bias since they have my name in it now. LOL!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Nose To The Grindstone

There's a cliché for you. I know critique partners, contest judges, and editors tell us to look for new ways to say old things. I certainly agree. Like all good things, using one too often or too many of the same type can be aggravating and throw the reader out of the story. But occasionally a good old standby cliché comes in handy, helps the reader understand without having her think long and hard of what you're trying to say.

Anyway, what I was trying to get across was exactly like I said in the subject. It is time for me to get back to work. Someway I need to write a thousand words or more a day. And someway I'll accomplish it. I want to finish my book before the M&M conference, so I can pitch it to an agent and editor.

Okay. Now back to work. That is, the kind I love. Writing.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Where Do I Go Next?

I haven't been really writing since the first of June. I had received an unexpected rejection that almost pushed me over the edge into saying "I give up." But then what would I do? Sure I would have lots of time to watch television, sit on my back porch and watch the birds play, and even clean my house from the spotted wooden floors to the top of the dusty paddles on the fans. Boring!

Whenever I clean house, I find myself pretending to be a housekeeper to a rich handsome bachelor who wants to take me away to some exotic island. Or I'm a lowly serf mopping a stone floor and my knight decides I'm really a wealthy heiress in disguise and wants to take me away to his castle. Notice the reocurring theme? Some fellow wants me to stop cleaning. LOL!

Anyway, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, my mind tends to drift into stories I would love to write. That can be rather dangerous when I'm the one driving. :-) Yep, got one for that scenario too. I pretend to be a secret agent trying to shake my tail--you know, the bad guys following me. Hey! It gets me to work fast enough.

Yeah, I guess I better stick to writing. A lot safer and I can do it in the comfort of my dusty house.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Day After

I finally made myself go to sleep about 1:30 this morning. Most of the evening and early morning was spent redefining my goals, short and long terms.

Of course, you're wondering, "All of this from a contest final?" Yes. Last year, when my entry was a finalist in the Maggies, I figured it was a fluke. Maybe they didn't have many entries. Then when I entered this year, I couldn't make up my mind between Short and Long Contemporary categories. I wanted Long because the final judge was Wanda Ottewell. At the time, she had another contest win of mine. But I knew I usually did better in short contemporary as they are notorious for being low on entries, increasing a person's chance in being a finalist. While Long had many more entries and the competition stiffer. And getting your entry in front of an editor with a chance for a request is what it is all about. At least for me.

One point can keep you from being a finalist. Being a former Linda Howard Award of Excellence contest coordinator for three years, I've seen it happen. Of course, don't get me started again about judges and some the clueless things they do.

So here I am with a second final in the Maggies. So sweet.

Will I enter more contests this year I hadn't already planned to enter? No. Part of my short term goal is working on meeting the right agent who likes my work. I have an agent appointment at a writers' conference in October. I've checked them out on-line, looked over their present clients and their preferences. I liked what I saw. If they like my work, we'll see.

Most of the time I like my work. I know I could improve a lot more. Goodness! I've grown in ways I never knew I could. Heaven knows, when I believe I've peaked, I definitely need to stop writing. Just as our characters in our books need to grow, authors do too. Every book needs to be better than the one before it, if no more than in the plotting or how it's presented.

Friday, August 8, 2008

NEWS BREAK!!!

My manuscript, A Sheriff to Call Her Own, is a finalist in the ever-loving FREAKING Maggies's Long Contemporary category!!! This is big time, folks! Not as big as the RWA Golden Heart, but hey, it's still big. I'm so happy. I needed this.

I'm doing the shake your ta-ta dance!

Thanks for the prayers. Keep them coming.

The Madness

I decided to describe my blog as "My Journey Into Madness." For writers out there, you understand. You have to be either down-right crazy or into S&M, probably both, to want to be a published writer. Anyone can be a writer. Write a few short paragraphs, read it, enjoy it and save it or throw it away. You're a writer.

But to be a published writer you send in query letters, meet editors and/or agents at conferences and then for most of us, receive rejection letter after rejection letter. Sad to say, most of us receive the standard form type "Your project is not right for us at this time" or "Unfortunately, I'm going to have to pass on this submission."

And the writer contest route sucks. I can't afford to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year on a chance I can get two judges or more who believe my entry is wonderful enough to score better than the next person's. Too many factors can play in it. They may not like the title. They want the heroine to be mature, level headed and a good girl. Boring! Where's the chance for character growth? Judges will even tell you a character in your entry doesn't say such things! What? She's knows how my character thinks?

Grrr! The above are the reasons judges have marked me down on different entries.

Anyway, starting next year, I've decided to enter no more than five contests. That'll be half of what I'll probably enter this year.

Sigh. Let's see if I stick to that. I really need an agent. I really need something good to happen before long. Last year started off crappy and ended really nice, maybe I'll have a repeat this year, but better. Maybe there's an agent out there waiting for my kind of book.

Pray for me.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Taking The Plunge

I decided to take the plunge and start my own blog. Probably few people will read it, but I figured what the heck!

Even though every two weeks I post on my writing group's blog, I find an article of interest or think of something more to say and don't want to hog the space. So here I am, with a blog of my own. Don't expect much. I'm told I can be funny - as in a ha-ha sort of way - I'm not sure if it comes across much in my writing. Then again, whenever I read my stuff, I find myself laughing hysterically, but not from the comedic actions of my characters, more from thinking I can write.

Oh, well, here I go. Let's see how long I hold up.