Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflecting

Guess this is the usual time to reflect on good things that happened to me in the past year. Weeellll...I'm really trying hard to think of something. I'm happy and blessed I still have my job and my kids are healthy.

Ahhhhhh...::sigh::...but when it comes to my writing, this hasn't been a good year. Not one final. Not one good rejection (like asking to see something else or the submission revised). Of course I entered the least contests in the last six years and a couple of those I came real close.

Geez, I know it's time to follow the advice I heard on my favorite soap opera and posted about. For sure, what I've been doing isn't getting it done. Deep inside, I know my writing has improved a thousand percent. I feel stagnated. With the pressure my hubby has been giving me to quit, I have to do something to show forward movement.

So here's to change. Nothing drastic. Yet. But if this new year doesn't bring a contract of some type, I'm quiting everything. Of course, I'll continue to write but only for myself. Next year will be twenty-five years of trying. If it doesn't happen, then I have to realize I don't have what it takes. I'll have to quit for my own sanity and health.

I have twelve months. Who knows.

In the meanwhile, I hope everyone's dreams come true. Including my own.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Top of The Alphabet

Like a lot of romance readers, I love reading about an alpha male. I love how they can be bossy, oversexed and still show a tender side. The best part is that they're all fantasy. No, I don't mean there isn't real life alpha males out in the real world. It's just I like those in books and my head better.

The other day, I was reading one of my new favorite authors latest short story. In the same book was another well-known author's short story. I had tried to read another story from that well-known author before and never finished it as I hadn't liked the way the story was going. In fact, stopped half way through the first chapter. So I thought, she's become rather popular and if so many people like her, I need to give her another try.

It started out pretty good. I really liked her heroine and the way it was going. The plot and certain devices was just the type of stuff I liked. New and different. Then the hero started talking. He was alpha but dumb as a box of rocks. I cannot stand books where one or the other of the main characters are stupid. They can be from different worlds (literally) and be ignorant of customs, but don't make them dumb. I didn't finish it. Will I try this well-known author again. No.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Favorite Authors

As everyone who loves to read, I have my favorite authors. You know the ones you'll buy as soon as their next book hits the stands and you pick up without even reading the back blurb.

I had one favorite I had read since the late seventies. Loved her books until about four years ago. I picked up the book and started reading it and realized it was an old plot I had seen tie and time again back in the seventies. Where two sisters fall in love with the same man. One sister is shy and a goodie-two-shoes, and the other a total bitch. Of course, the bad sister pulls a dirty stunt and gets the guy for part of the book. Well, I didn't even finish the book. I felt the author had an old manuscript sitting under her bed she pulled out to meet a deadline. It wouldn't be so horrible if she could've updated it. Not sure how, but I haven't picked up another book of hers since. Nearly thirty years, and one book did it. Truthfully the last two or three books I hadn't really been that happy with.

There's another old time favorite (since early eighties) about to fall to the wayside. Out of the last seven books she's written, I've really only enjoyed three. She had another book to come out before Christmas and I haven't even bothered picking it up. I'm waiting until it comes out in paperback. I've heard several people complain that they believe she pulled an old manuscript out and sent it in to meet a deadline. It was more suited in length and depth to a series imprint.

Then a new time favorite's (this decade) last book, a new series, was too long with a lot of narrative that could've been cut, making it a faster pace and a more interesting story. Her original series had floundered in the last two or three stories, but I was hanging in there. I heard the next one in the series is about a character everyone expects to be great. I hope she doesn't disappoint me. I do know I doubt I will read her new series.

I think what's happening with the authors is 1) pressure from their editors to produce books quickly and often has hurt the quality of the books. That certainly can hurt your creative side. 2) Once an author is successful, the editor doesn't want to take the chance the author will become angry and not sign the next contract. So they let big tomes be published. You and I know that 9 times out of 10, a good chunk can be taken out and still tell the same story with the same depth. Usually making the story better and a quicker pace. 3) The cost of living is up and authors are living in bigger homes, expecting more and they know if they write more, they can make more money. That kind of pressure has to be tough.

Something else I believe is that I'm growing as a reader at the pace I am as a writer. Now that I understand goal, motivation, and conflict, and how narrative can slow down a story and how to rack up the tension, I expect more out of books. Yeah, I'm getting picky about the books I read and I have certain expectations.

No. I'm not reading so called literary literature. I'm still an one song type of girl. I love romance. May it be contemporary, paranormal or historical. I've got to have my boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl break up, boy and girl decide they cannot live without each other and they marry. Basic, but my kind of book.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Yesterday, I mentioned an uncle of mine. Let me tell you a little about him. He married his wife when she was fourteen and I believe he was in his early twenties. She'd sworn to him she was eighteen. Anyway, her parents obviously wanted her out of the house as they signed the marriage certificate. He then signed up for the air force and did a lot of traveling over the next several years. There's a lot of craziness to say about them, but the part I wanted to tell was how his wife calls him darling. As she's southern and never lost her accent during their travels, it comes out more like darrrrling.

So if you were around them, you would hear, "Darrrrling, do you want a glass of tea?" "Darrrrling bought that for us last week" "I'm going into the other room, Darrrrling." You get the idea. Every sentence spoken to or of my uncle by my aunt starts or ends with the elongated word darling.

Well, one time my uncle and aunt went on vacation with my dad and his wife. On the first day, all he heard was darrrrling this, darrrrling that until he thought he would scream. Finally, he turned to my aunt and said, "His name is Mark (name changed to protect the not so innocent) I swear the next time I hear you call him darrrrling, I'll pop you in the mouth." My dad isn't a violent man and my uncle didn't protest as he knew first, my dad wouldn't really hit her and second my dad had obviously had enough. For many years after that whenever she was in my dad's presence she would call her husband by his given name. I understand how my dad feels. She'd fallen back into the habit again around my dad and after only a couple hours, I felt the same way.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What Comes Out Of Your Mouth

I was overall a good girl this past week. Usually during the stress of being around and talking with so many relatives, I usually insult someone. I'm rather outspoken and really have a short fuse when it comes to way people act foolish and say ignorant things. Yet at the same time I've learned, not only do I not know everything, my opinion only matters to me and when I say how I feel about it, I come across as a bitch. Really, I believe live and let live as long as their stupidity doesn't harm children, especially mine.

Case in point: One relative is talking about how her grandson has stayed with her and his grandfather for the last week. She sighs and tells us they will be picking him up again to stay the next week with them. She moans how she never has alone time with her retired husband or to be by herself as she's off work next week. Now to me, it's simple. Tell the grandson, "I love you but you'll have to wait until next weekend and only stay a couple nights. Grandma and Grandpa need to do some things alone." Sure it's nice their grandson wants to be with them (they spoil him horribly and he dislikes his step-father), but you have to teach the child limitations.

Why moan and groan about it if you're going to give in to the child? Is it her way of bragging that her grandchild rather stay with her than his own mother? Personally I never understood that. If a child doesn't miss his mother, then what is the mother doing wrong?

I was a good girl. I just sat there with a stupid grin on my face, eyebrows raised and nodded with sympathy that I didn't feel.

So many times I heard people complain about something they could easily set their foot down and tell another person no or get off their butts and take care of the problem themselves. See, that's how I feel about it. I see a problem, I have two choices: I can do something about it or I can shut up. At the Christmas gatherings, I kept my mouth shut. That was the second choice. They really didn't want my opinion or my help. They just enjoy complaining about each other. And by me answering their whining in the past, I received nothing but a horrible reputation with my families. I spoke out too much. So now they can flounder in their indecisiveness as they really don't want my opinion.

Another attitude that bothered me was how adults talked about their children. During each of the get-togethers, they would say things in front of their children like, "I can't wait until they graduate and out of the house" or "Hey there, bubble-head" or "He acts so gay" or "He better plan on a tech school, he'll never get in a university" or the one I hate the most (as my mom use to say in front of me, "She's sweet? If only you lived with her."

Then these same people go around wondering why their children have self-esteem issues?

Hey, I know I wasn't a perfect parent, but I was cautious of what I said to my kids. I always TRIED to say positive things and whenever someone told me, "Your daughter is so sweet." Even today I always say, "Yes, she is." And I believe it. I'm fortunate and blessed. No. My children are not perfect. They have made mistakes and will make others. But so have I. I just refused to air them to everyone in effort to make myself sound like a martyr.

Oh, the biggy happened yesterday. An uncle I rarely see (maybe ten times in forty years) and who is really a nice guy, but not too bright, pointed to my youngest daughter (who's about to turn twenty-two) and said, "Carla, is she your granddaughter?"

The people around us became very quiet. I figured they were waiting for me to explode and tell him off, instead I turned away and asked my nephew how his wife was doing as she wasn't there. I'm sure someone told my uncle he'd made a big faux pas as he never asked it again.

Yep, I was a good girl.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve

When we were kids, my sister would almost tear down the house looking for the gifts mom would buy us. I'm certain she found her gifts several times. But only once did she tell me of where mom had hid them. I remembered how she whispered, "Come and see what I found." Being the not-so-bright little sister I followed her into mom's bedroom. She opened the closet and pulled out a couple bags. Inside were our Christmas presents. I remember I didn't stick around long to see what mom had gotten me. I was scared of getting caught. But more than that I didn't want to know. I like good surprises. Small, big, expensive, cheap. Doesn't matter. Just being surprised is part of the magic of Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stained Glass Windows

Today, I was sitting in my husband's truck outside an insurance company while he was getting a quote. The company was near my church. It's funny how you look at a building differently when you show up on an odd day or see it from another spot. When my girls and I visited the church for the first time fifteen years ago, it was only a few buildings with several huge oak trees out front. A few years later, the main worship area was moved from a smaller building to a new giant sanctuary that holds like 1500+ people.

Anyway, I was sitting in the truck thinking about the old Sanctuary with its stained glass windows. They were so pretty. But I remembered how one window had a small piece missing. It use to bother me so much. At the time, I kept wondering what had happened and why it hadn't been replaced. Well, when they built the new, larger sanctuary, they had to destroy the stained glass windows. Too sad.

You're probably wondering why they didn't save the windows and use them in the new building. Others asked too. It appears it would've cost way too much money to take the windows out and preserve them. The money was better spent elsewhere.

So there I sat feeling sad about the small piece that was never replaced and the lost of such beautiful windows. Then I mentally slapped myself. Instead of regretting stained glass windows with holes in them, I needed to rejoice in the beautiful day. The blue sky God created is so much better than any stained glass window.

Moral of the story: When you concentrate on something small, it can become big. So concentrate on something bigger, then all else will appear small. :-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

People From Your Past

It's funny how sometimes a name from your past will come to mind and you can't help but wonder how that person is doing? Or if they ever think of you? And especially if they think of me with kindness?

You know, as you grow older, your past takes on a rosy hue and you remember things not exactly the way they were. Kind of like an article I read once where they talked about how people tend to think kinder of people who died. Like those who were hateful while alive, relatives will remember them fondly after they die. As a child will an alcoholic parent. Or a wife of her abusive husband. Not that I'm an alcoholic or abusive (or been abused), or dead for that matter, nothing like that. Just wondering if they think of me.

I'm one of those people who are always surprised when someone remembers my name or remembers me from ten years or more ago.

Wouldn't it be interesting if we wrote down every name of every person we met? Wow, considering the type of jobs I've had, that would be a lot of names.

Oh, well, just been thinking...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thankful Friday

You know, it gets harder to think up something original to be thankful for. Sad but true. Let's see...::tapping fingers::...I guess I'm thankful that work was quiet today. We need business and when I return the first of the year, I wouldn't mind being snowed over with work, but today I wasn't in the mood to work. So that's good.

Sorry I've been so neglectful with my blog. Very little insights and such. Hopefully I will be more positive soon. No certain reason I say that. Just want better times to come to me. Heck, don't we all? :-)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

You Betcha!

This is so true. Check it out. Even more of a reason to be tall and slim (which I'm not).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thankful Friday




I'm thankful that General Hospital is still on the air. They bring so many hunks to my world and help me write books. Though he's not smiling in these, he's got a killer smile. Wish I could've found the usual soap opera shirtless shot. LOL! I'm such a dirty old woman.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Greater Power

When I use to teach sunday school, I would ask if anyone had any special requests for our opening prayer. We always had a few ladies who would mention a sick child or friend or maybe a relative's surgery. Occasionally they would include someone looking for a job or needing guidance in their marriage or faith. I could only remember once mentioning my need for prayer and that was for a skin condition I had that made life a misery (turned out to be allergy medicine causing the problem), but I never asked for anything to do with my job or finances. Though there were times I could've used the help. I just figured others needed help in that area more than me. Plus I was fortunate that my children were healthy and normal, and that was more important.

Well, today, I would like to send out a request for everyone to pray for my daughter to get a job she's interviewing for tomorrow. She's tried for the same position once before and they hired someone from the outside. That person didn't last three months.

I know of other people are applying for the job, but I have to say my daughter deserves the job more than anyone else in the company. I know that sounds selfish, but sometimes you have to put your foot down and believe just as others deserve good things, your own children do too. She works hard, and the extra funds it would bring in would go a long ways. While the job to another person I know who applied would only mean a lateral move and they've had a lot of things handed to them. I know. I've heard.

But one thing I've learned in the business world, the one who deserves it more doesn't always get it. It's usually who you know.

But I also know there is a greater power that rules over it all, God. Through prayer I know anything can be accomplished.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wisdom From A Soap Opera

On my favorite soap opera, General Hospital, one of the characters said that doing something over and over again, while expecting a different result, was a sign of being crazy. I had heard that before but this time it really struck me. I wonder, is that where I'm going wrong on my writing?

Hmm, something to think long and hard on.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Oldies

On the Alabama Public t.v. channel, they're advertising a CD collection of guests who were on Ed Sullivan's Show during the 1960's. On an odd occasion I enjoy listening to the songs I grew up with. It brought back so many memories. Thankfully a lot of good ones. Wow! The guys were so young. Of course at the time, I was a kid and so they looked "adult" to me then. LOL! Anyway, I watched THE ANIMALS sing a favorite song of mine, House of the Rising Sun. Check it out.



[corrected 12/11/09]

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saturday Night Live Lives

I'm not sure, but Saturday Night Live has some new writers. They have some very funny clips. Check them out. Click here. And here.

The first one was a parody of Tiger Woods cheating on his wife and her attacking him (I don't blame her). And then the next one is the way a couple snuck into a private and heavily guarded party with the president and vice president attending. In this case, they sneak into a press conference. So funny.

Friday, December 4, 2009

One of The Family

When I was a kid, my family owned a beautiful Boxer. He looked a lot like the dog in the picture. As one website said, they make great companions and interact well with children. That was so true. We called him Man. Yep. I’m not kidding. His full name on the papers was Man O’War. I loved that name.

At the time, I was a big fan of horses and read every book I could on them. One I found fascinating was about the racehorse from the nineteen twenties called Man O’War and nicknamed Big Red. He’d won all but one race and from what I read that one could’ve been thrown on purpose. Anyway, I always thought it was a great name for such a sweet dog.

Back to talking about my dog. He was so gentle, he would let me use him as a pillow as I would stared up at sky, imagining cloud animal shapes. He loved snapping at and swallowing honey bees. He would jump and twist his compact body in the air, whining and growling. We use to think he liked them for the honey on their legs, but it might be more along the line of how people like jalapeƱos peppers. They had a sweet taste and a great kick.

The only bad habit he had was he loved to jump the fence and go looking for a new girlfriend. He found one in a neighbor’s collie. Needless to say, the neighbor didn’t want a boxer-collie mix and complained long and hard to Dad. Dad did try to keep Man home by chaining him. No matter how long the chain, that can be so cruel. Sure we could’ve “fixed” our dog and that would probably have taken care of the problem, but we had bred Man once and planned to do it again.

Well, one day Dad asked me if I wanted to go with him to hunt for Man as he was out of the fence again. I didn’t think about it until years later, but I figured there was a good reason he wanted me to go along. It appears the man with the collie at called Dad to come and pick up his dog. Only thing was Man was dead. He’d been poisoned. Dad had suspected the neighbor but couldn’t prove it. I wondered years later if the neighbor regretted his actions at all when he saw an eight year old girl bawling out her eyes over the death of her beloved dog.

I’m one of those people who understand how a person can be so upset when their dog is sick or dies. Animals can be so much part of the family.

For Thankful Friday: I'm thankful for all the dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, etc. that I had growing up. Taught me responsibility and true love (as in how my pets loved me).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Good Information

Hey, the other day I watched a great special on the History Channel called THE LEGACY OF STAR WARS. Lots of info can be used in writing stories. Click here to check it out. They talk alot about the Hero's Journey. I'm not sure if the whole video is there, but lots of clips.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wow! I'm Glad It Wasn't Me

Feeling low? Feeling like a loser? Need a pick me up? Check out the top 10 movie flops of the decade. Sad, but there has to be a silver lining somewhere. Makes any wrong decisions I make appear minor in comparison.

The biggy was Eddie Murphy's THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH. They spent $100 million dollars and it made domestically only $4.4 million. Wow!

Monday, November 30, 2009

American Film Institute

I believe I've mentioned this website before, but it's great in providing lots of info you can use even in writing books. Check out this page.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Memories

This time of the year gets me in a reminiscing mood. Last night, I was listening to Christmas music and decided to walk through my childhood home. Since strangers now live there, I couldn’t knock on the door and ask to walk through. So I did what any writer can do. I closed my eyes and entered my old home through the same door I entered whenever I came home from school or a date. I even remember the shape of the key I had for so many years.

As I entered through the door with slats of glass that mom opened on beautiful cool mornings, I could smell the sharp scent of hairspray. My mom owned a beauty salon and it was part of the house. When I was around five, my parents converted the garage into a salon on one side and a den in the other. The salon had two chairs: one near the sink and the other near a shelf with wigs along two pink and black cushioned chairs with dryers attached. A utility room held my father’s mother’s chifferobe that I now have in my house.

The two rooms were divided by a wall, so in my mind’s journey, I opened the door leading into the den. It had indoor-outdoor dark blue-green carpet and mom’s desk sat in the far right corner. A long mirror covered the left wall above the vinyl covered sofa. This room had a utility room too, but it held the washer and dryer and another door leading out to our patio. Mom often sat out there in the mornings in her nightgown as she drank her first cup of coffee. We didn’t have any neighbors in the back with only one at the side, so no one could see her.

The den had shelves in one wall that replaced a window (remember it use to be garage) and in those shelves were World Book Encyclopedias and several other books I loved to look through as a kid. I rarely watched a movie without having to pull one of the alphabets out to read about something said or shown on television.

The next room was one step up and you entered the kitchen. It wasn’t big, but I remember so many wonderful smells coming from there. Mom was a great cook and still is especially when it comes to chicken and dressing. My poor children never could say the same about me.

Years later, mom would change the den into a part of the salon and place a door between it and the kitchen. The shelves will be moved to separate the kitchen’s “bar” from the dining room. I remember as a kid sitting at the bar and hearing my sister talk about what one boy or another said to her. She was so beautiful and I thought she was so cool.

Then I walked into what was my bedroom until my sister moved out and I got her room. In my first bedroom were twin beds and I shared the room with my little brother. That wasn't easy.

The bedroom had a huge double window and I can remember lying in bed as mom sang in the kitchen and the rays of the sun crawled across the floor.

After I married, mom changed the set up and opened the wall between the living room and the bedroom, turning it into an open floor plan. It was really nice and helped in making the house feel larger, especially when all of us came home for the holidays.

Walking down the hall, the bathroom was on the left and the living room on the right. A standup piano near the door and the large double window facing the street. We always placed our Christmas tree there for everyone to see. A little further down the hallway was my bedroom straight ahead (the one I moved into at twelve) and mom’s on the right.

When I was a teenager, mom decided to place carpet in the house (years later she torn it out and refinished the wood floors – styles change) and she let me pick out my color. I think in a way she regretted it. I picked red. LOL! Red shag carpeting. With red and white shades and a black Spanish style hanging lamp with red glass inserts, I had a great bedroom. I also owned a black light – you know, those that make white and other paints glow.

When I fourteen, I gave up my beautiful bedroom for a little while (this was before I got the red shag carpet). My grandfather had lung cancer and lived with us for short while, receiving chemo treatments. Though I was a teenager and we know how self-centered they can be, I didn’t resent my granddad having my bedroom. I didn’t really understand he was dying and thought it was cool I could see him every day. It was during that time he told me he loved me. He was crying and I cried with him and told him I loved him too.

Mom said he only said it because he was dying, but I believe he meant it.

Anyway, I lived in that house from the time I was 18 months to 18 years old. Mom remarried and moved out, goodness, around twenty years ago, but to me that house will always be home.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Good Fight

Depression is so depressing. LOL! Sorry. I couldn't help it. You have to remember I love slap-stick and corny jokes, so I go for the easy laughs. Though depression is really no joking matter. And I know, as depression was the center of my life from 1996 to 2002 and I still struggle with it every day. Oh, I functioned the best I could during the worst of it at that time. Yet I know I wasn't myself. I gained hundred pounds and quit caring for a lot things I use to love to do. My kids were important part of my life and thankfully for them, I kept going.

In 2002, I decided I needed to get out of that terrible funk and decided to concentrate on my writing. I figured if I ever was to get published, I needed help. So that year I became involved with my local RWA chapter. I have to say, concentrating on improving my writing and working toward publication helped pull me out of that six year slump. But it's a double edge sword, isn't it? There are plenty writers out there who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, and I certainly understand how they can become that way. Receiving rejections are bad enough, but after become published, the pressure to produce more and better has to be hard. Then the bad reviews must be demoralizing.

I've found when I become depressed, usually I'm thinking too hard and tearing down every word said by those around me. And I start to allow old hurts to resurface, especially when I'm with family. I don't want to be one of those grown adults blaming her mother and dad for all the mistakes they made. They're human. Having children of my own has taught me that.

For now, I take one day at a time. When I feel the darkness surrounding me, I read a good book or watch an exciting movie. Before I know it, I'm feeling better.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mishmash


Look where I've been. I'm on vacation and Diane and I met for lunch at PF Chang's at the Bridge Street Center (shopping center). It was beautiful. It's located in Huntsville. Then I spent the night with my dad and his wife. We talked and talked (Diane and I; Dad and I). Whoa, I'm tired.
Then I returned home to another rejection letter. ::sigh:: It was from Kensington. He said, "...the narrative didn't engage me." Narrative is another word for VOICE. Oh, well. That was only one book. I have others, but when they don't like your voice that makes it rough. This year has been a bust for me.
I'm so tired.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Relax and Take A Bubble Bath Music

Norah Jones sings some of the most relaxing music. I heard she has a new album out. Waiting for payday to buy it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Zoom-Zoom

Well, this weekend has flown by again. When not writing, I caught up on my shows. I watched two episodes of each: General Hospital, Gossip Girl, Dark Blue, and Vampire Diaries. I watched parts of Troy (Brad Pitt) and a few other movies not worth mentioning. I did a little house cleaning and bought some groceries.

This week I'm working on an old vampire novel of mine. I need 20,000 words and hope to finish it by the new year.

We'll see.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thankful Friday

I'm thankful to be home after working eleven hours. Guess that means business has picked up. I'm thankful for that, but I rather get off work on time. I rather write. :-)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Buzz - Part Two

For those who don't understand the problem with Harlequin starting up a vanity line, click here and read Jackie Kessler's blog. She does a bang up job.

As I mentioned the other day, I understand why Harlequin did it. The all powerful moo-la is the reason. They're not there for their looks. But I believe they screwed up by attaching their name to it. (Reputation wise.) Obviously the bean-counters who recommended this, didn't understand the fine nuances of what it means to be an author.

Vanity publishing is as low as you can get in my opinion. I know of people who've paid for their book to be in print and they go around calling themselves published. They have to know those who are really published (like by St. Martin's, Ballentine, Pocket, etc.) shake their heads in disgust. I've even tried to read a couple of the self-published (vanity) books and they're horrible. That doesn't mean all are horrible, but chances are...

Anyway, I do believe Harlequin will thrive. Too many people want to be published and don't care what else the company does. Heck, there are still people out in the world who have never heard of Romance Writers of America. Only now those authors will have to decide being published is more important than being able to call themselves published under RWA's rules and being able to submit their published book in the Rita (as of 11/17, that would be a no on both counts). For those who don't know, the Rita is romance's Oscar (Academy Awards).

Me? RWA rules or Rita isn't as important to me than being published. But I won't pay to be published. I plan on a publisher paying me. I put enough of my time and money (conferences, workshops, paper, postage, ink, software, etc.) into my unpublished stories. No way will I turn around and pay someone to print them. In fact, that's a HELL NO.

So now we wait to see what happens next. RWA has responded as they only could. They did a great job, but all of their (our) power is smoke. Sure we have 10,000 plus members. But there are millions of readers out there and they don't care.

Have I said recently how glad I am not to be on the RWA National board? Geez!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Favorite Tale

Beauty and The Beast is one of my favorite stories. Whenever an author uses the premise I usually love it. This clip has only the musical score, but it's beautiful. Plus it makes you concentrate on what the characters are doing, how they're expressing their emotions without words. Of course, the music helps too. What a wonderful way for an author to learn to "draw" emotion in her book. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Buzz

It's all over the internet, Harlequin has started a vanity line. So you pay them money and they'll publish your book. Don't expect the complete book to be edited. Don't expect advertising. Don't expect distribution. That's yours to do. They only print it. That's it. Click here to check it out.

I understand why they're doing it (money), but it doesn't make me like it. Really wished they hadn't attached their name to the brand - Harlequin Horizons.

But I'm not surprised.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Mountains of Tennessee

My hubby and I love to stay in the mountains of Tennessee. We rent a cabin with a great view and we go and do a little sightseeing but mostly relax. This cabin we made sure had a big screen TV and with plenty of movie channels. We stretch out on the couch at night and watch movies until the early hours. Hmmm. I even got into the hot tub -- couldn't talk hubby into joining me. Maybe next time.

Look for me on FaceBook. I have more pictures there.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why Does An Ad Agency Sound Like Sales?

Funny. But be aware the language is a little salty.



Well, I guess the lesson from this is I'm thankful I don't work in advertising.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On The Job

For those interested in where I work during the day...click here and watch Show 228. They never show my office, that's okay, but it shows several other areas.

[Oh, the company I work for is the first one.]

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Time Change

I'm in the Central Time Zone for the U.S. and for some reason we still change time from Standard to Daylight Savings and then back to Standard every year. We're presently on Standard time. I prefer it as I don't have to get out of bed until it's daylight. But it's so dark when I get home in the evenings.

If my hubby doesn't make it home before me for some reason, the house is so dark. He hates it when I leave a light on. Wasted electricity and all. So I keep my figures crossed. It creeps me out when I have to search for the light switch in the dark. I've seen too many suspense movies.

No worries though. I'm safe as we have an alarm system and two nosey neighbors. LOL!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Everyone Is My Friend

LOL! I couldn't help but give this post that title. Friday night I had a Margarita. Only one. That's my limit. There's a good reason I do that. I love that drink and when I get tipsy, I love everyone. Yes. I'm one of those happy-go-lucky sorts. Married or not, that can get you in trouble even if you don't do anything but flirt or talk nice to people.

Speaking of nice...Anne Stuart is as nice as I had expected. Charming, smart and witty. And as we talked during the several trips from airport to hotel to library and back to hotel, I found we had a lot of the same taste in TV shows, movies and songs. It was kind of eerie in fact.

For example, on the way to the hotel Friday night, out of the blue she started singing the words to one of my favorite songs. In fact, I blogged about the song at one time. Click here to check it out. I was so tickled that I plugged in my iPod to play her the song (proving I wasn't brown-nosing her). LOL!

She was so much fun.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm Your Number One Fan

This afternoon, I go to pick up Anne Stuart at the airport and I’m so tickled. I’m such a fan. Not the scary “Misery” type of fan. I don’t even own a sledgehammer.

We’re having our Romance Readers Luncheon tomorrow and Anne is the keynote speaker. She spoke at our RWA National conference in July too and she was so funny. Dry humor mixed with a little naughtiness. Just my type of humor.

Her books, especially her single titles, are edgy and the heroes are almost more bad guy than good. I find them to be interesting and, oh, so sexy. Kind of like the fascination people have for alligators (they eat their young) or owning tigers (think Siegfried & Roy). Even one of her books had the hero accused of killing his wife and children. Every clue in the book pointed to him, but knowing Ann is a romance writer was the saving grace that kept me reading. I will tell you the children were alive. After finishing it, I gave the book away. It wrung me out emotionally. Definitely a sign of a great writer.

She has another book that came out a couple months ago and I’ve been waiting until the luncheon to purchase it and have her sign it. Another reason I waited was the book’s heroine cheats on her husband with the “hero.” Since infidelity is second to child abuse in terrible scenarios, she has really pushed my buttons. But I can’t resist. It always turns out better than I expect. I may not approve of her methods, but she hasn’t failed me yet with a great read.

Well, maybe once. It was a Harlequin (can’t remember the line or title of the book), but she had the hero driving a Volkswagen Beetle. Sorry. He can drive a beat up truck or a junky sedan, but a BEETLE? That is just downright horrifying.

Yes. I know. I have my priorities all screwed up.

Oh, I'm thankful that I get to meet so many wonderful authors.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What's Your Favorite Time?

I've noticed recently I set a lot of my books in the fall. Not that weather plays a part, but I just thought it strange. Summer is really my favorite time of year. Winter is my least. I've told my youngest many times, she's the best thing to come out of winter. She's a New Year's Day baby. I use to tell her everyone was shooting off fireworks to celebrate her birthday. LOL!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Boob Tube Tuesday

Missed writing my blog yesterday because Tuesdays I have three one hour shows I like to watch. Rarely do I sit for 3 hours without moving, well, at least my hands rarely stay still. I'm usually typing away answering or sending emails. Between my writing group's luncheon this Saturday and the on-going Linda Howard Award of Excellence contest, I've been busy.

Have I been writing? Not yesterday and not anything new. The last month I've been preparing an entry into the big RWA contest, the Golden Heart. Yes. I've been a good girl and this is the only contest I've entered since, goodness, June I believe.

After the luncheon and after I get enough 1st round judges to cover the scores we need, I plan to finish a book I started a few years ago. I have several where I've written a couple pages to 200. Nine in fact. Funny, that's the same number I've finished too. Though I have to add, four of them will probably never see the light of day. But I'll probably recycle the plots or premises.

Oh, I need to query some more agents.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Good People

Talk about good people...Beverly Barton is one of the nicest authors I know out there. She's not able to make the luncheon and she still sent my writers group a basket to give away. She's a true Southern lady.

Oh, and a talented author too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Feel Good Movies

Who loves feel-good movies? I do. Today, I watched THE KID with Bruce Willis. Sometimes you just need a sweet movie to lift your spirits. As you can imagine, I'm not one to watch horror flicks or the literary type with the death of a hero or heroine. Sure if you watch the type of film that is certain to end happy, you know whatever predicament they get into, they'll get out of. For me, it's the way they arrive at that happy ever after that makes me watch it.

Thus why I like romance so much.

Friday, October 30, 2009

No Marks, Thank You.

I love marking my heroes. Most of them have tattoos or scars. And some in the strangest places. LOL!

I'm thankful I never gave in to the temptation of getting a tattoo. They can become an addiction. I already have three addictions (eating sweets, reading and writing) and don't need any more.

Funny that I don't want tattoos for myself but love them on men. Just makes them appear dangerous and sexy. Of course that could be my imagination working overtime.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

And Then This Happened

I was looking at Books-a-Million website and they were advertising Nora Robert's latest J.D. Robb book, Kindred In Death. She has over 30 "In Death" books. It's amazing that she still has something to tell for the same lead character. Nothing wrong with it. People continue to buy them. I say more power to her.

I guess it's kind of like my favorite soap opera, General Hospital. It has been on the air for 40+ years. But at least the main characters have change.

Just amazing is all I'll say.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So What!

So what if I’m not published! I still have something to contribute!

Of course, you’re wondering what in the world am I hollering about? Well, at a conference not too long ago, I overheard an attendee say she wondered if a workshop presenter was a published author. Asked why, she said, "If she’s published, she’ll know what she’s talking about."

Geez, didn’t that shoot down a lot of the advice I’ve received over the past, hmm, four years if not longer? A lot of the advice I’ve been given was from not-yet-published writers. Sure, I’ve received just as much advice from published authors, but I don’t remember one contradicting the other - except from pantsers and plotters, and that’s understandable.

Considering a lot of that advice, since becoming involved with Southern Magic, has been from non-published authors that are recently published, I believe that advice is very viable.

When it comes to me, my faults are many. Nevertheless, I can tear down a story and show you how to word your pitch or query letter and make it interesting, even exciting. Thanks, Kelley St. John, for the lessons and advice. And, hello! that was given when she WASN’T published. I've included the cover of her second book - we at Southern Magic are very proud of her. (Side note: Love this book! http://www.kelleystjohn.com/home.cfm I just know she was thinking of me when she wrote it. Ain't that right, girlfriend? Yeah, right!)

I’m a firm believer that not everyone is made out to be a teacher as everyone doesn’t have the tenacity to be a published writer.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Heroines

We’ve talked about men inspiring us and what it takes to be a hero. All good subjects. Actually my favorite. Now let’s talk about the women. Though we all dislike the too-stupid-to-live heroine – you know, the one that hears the strange noise outside and decides she MUST open the front/side/back door to investigate – I have to say at times she can be useful if written the right way.

For example, you can’t imagine a female police officer hiding in the corner. She’ll definitely be the one opening the door. Only she’ll have a gun and would know how to use it. That same type of heroine – the TSTL, not the officer – can be used as quirky heroines. Though they don’t appear to have the sense the Good Lord has given them, they are so much fun when they are constantly finding trouble. But I must mention again – the writing has to be handled just right.

Another heroine many of us dislike is the opposite of the TSTL one. She’s the wimpy heroine. This much maligned heroine is okay in the first couple chapters or so of a book, but I have to see growth soon. By a quarter or so in, she must have the beginning of a backbone. She can be shaking inside, but by God, she better get it together and find some conhones (figuratively, unless they belong to the hero…well, we won’t go there for now) or I won’t read another page.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Share Some of That Sunshine

As a writer, whenever someone asks to read some of my work or I ask someone new to read it, I put a little of myself in their hands. And when they finish and have a hard time voicing their feelings, usually not meeting my eyes, and twitching and twisting their body, you know they didn't care for it.

I know what I write isn't everyone's cup of tea and that's okay. I understand very well how one person can love a book and another feel unmoved or even abhor it. But even understanding that, it still hurts.

YET, I still want people to read my work and be honest with me. How else am I to learn what works and what doesn't? So I smile and tell them I understand, patting their hand and hoping I've soothed their worries. I really do understand.

Then I tell myself I read books quite often (sad to say) that are boring and terribly wordy or have silly heroines or wimpy heroes. And I remind myself that an editor out there liked that book well enough to buy it and surely some editor will like mine. Then again, I may be delusional.

Of course, the other side is when I read a book that's superb and I've given up sleep to finish it, I become depressed and feel my writing is hopeless.

Continuing to be an unpublished writer is a hard. With the holidays looming nearby and well-meaning relatives asking me when my book will be published, I cringe inside. They have no idea I'm writing number ten. So I'll say once again, "Not yet. I'm still trying," and a little more of my soul dies. They always look at me with confusion and a little pity. I can imagine they think to themselves, "Poor thing should give up. Obviously, she's a terrible writer or she would've been published years ago."

Sorry to be such a downer. Except for wanting my two children so much, I don't think I've ever wanted anything so bad in my whole life. Maybe I'm a little spoiled in a way as in most things I've wanted bad enough, I've gotten. But so far, this one thing has stayed out of reach.

For the last four years, people have told me I'm on the cusp of being published, though I've written for many, many years before that. I have to say the last two I've agreed with them and I'm getting rather tired of waiting for an editor or agent to agreed with me and everyone else.

Will I quit? No. But I don't like how it has made me such a sourpuss. I want to be happy for other people's successes. Just because they've gotten what they wanted doesn't mean I won't. There isn't a limit of books that can be published in one year. I can be published too. But I have struggled with my attitude and I hate that. I like happy people and those who are first time published are the happiest anyone could be around. :-) I just want some of that happiness for me too. I'm certain there's plenty for everyone.

And you thought this blog was going to be about all the rain we're having in the Southeast U.S. Actually, I went through four titles. The others were so sad, I knew I would reget it later, so I settled for one a little more upbeat though demanding.

:-)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Well, Phooey!

I had great post in mind for today and it slipped my mind as usual. This is definitely getting old. ::sigh:: Maybe it will come to mind later. Whenever I think of it, I don't stop to jot it down. I really should. Really.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Come On Over

I'm posting over at the Romance Magicians' blog. It's about how to be a good speaker. Check it out.

Oh, and I'm thankful I have a nice group of writers to blog with too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just A Taste

I thought I would give everyone a taste of my current WIP...


Jaw clenched, Ryker took determined strides to the iris scan next to a large metal door. Then a buzz sounded and they entered a room the size of a basketball court. Every wall covered with large screens captured a different scene of people living their lives in various parts of the world. In the center of the room, faces tinted blue by the monitors in front of them were the supervisors and handlers communicating with their operatives.

Ryker stopped in the middle of the bullpen.

The balding, whipcord thin Bryan Tilton stood over a handler shouting instructions and pointing at the screen in front of them. Maybe a second sense alerted Bryan for he looked up and his eyes widen. Ryker headed straight toward him, ignoring the people ducking for cover.

Ryker’s fist shot out and clipped Bryan in the chin, sending the man sliding across the floor. Desire to flatten the asshole’s pointy nose almost overrode all of Ryker’s control. Good thing Bryan remained sprawled out.

“I swear, sir, I told her to wait until I could get backup in place, but she wouldn’t listen.” Bryan cupped his jaw and shifted it from side to side. “Two of our operatives are held up in a traffic accident about five miles from her last location.”

“Last location?” Ryker pressed. His fists, knuckles white, stayed by his side.

“The target’s house in Druid Hills.” Bryan scooted back when Ryker took a step toward him. “As soon as Phil and Harry reach the house, they’ll break in and save her.”

Afraid he would crack the man’s chicken neck, Ryker turned away and pointed at the nearest handler. “You. Sal?” Mohawk bobbing, the pale man nodded. “Tell Phil and Harry to call me on my cell as soon as they reach the house. Jack and I will be there in forty-five minutes.” He turned back to Bryan. “Have the Raven ready in ten minutes.”

His helicopter was perfect to cover the miles quickly and could land almost anywhere.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

As The Clock Ticks

People have told me over and over again how patient I am. As I get older, my patience isn't as it use to be. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe because as I get older, the future doesn't stretch out as far as it did when I was younger. (Note that I said younger, not young. HA!)

But for now, my patience is wearing thin when it comes to hearing back from agents and editors. It's a sad thing to say, but some days I wish to see a rejection letter in my mail box near the street or in my MS Office Outlook folder. Even a rejection is considered movement. Though backwards.

Yeah. That's sad.

P.S. If you're wondering, yes, I'm writing the next story but whether or not I get The Call determines what 'next story' I really should invest my time in writing. So I'm kind of dragging my feet...uh...fingers.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A View From The Rear

Last month, I posted a picture of the road (actually the sky was the important part) to my house after dropping off one of my co-workers. Well, this morning she emailed me a picture she took of the valley between her house and mine. In fact, it's actually the same valley I see in my rear view mirror as I drive to work. You can't see my house because of the trees and the miles separately us, but I love the low lying clouds (fog).

Beautiful, isn't it?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saturday Night Live

It's a little naughty, but funny. This is based on my favorite Disney movie. Gerard Butler is the beast. Click here. If only Gerard really likes what the beast claims. LOL!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thankful Friday

I'm thankful I have the gift of the gab! Someone in my family tree must've kissed the Blarney Stone for sure. LOL!

Funny that I say that with such a short post. I'll explain another time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Movie


I want to see this. It looks so interesting and funny in dark a way.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nightmares

I’ve been thinking, heaven forbid, if I never became published, what would I do with all my extra time? I love lists – sorry, I’m such a freak.

1) Stare at the birds nesting in the trees and imagine the female bird is wondering where her bad-boy boyfriend has flow off to as she tends to her “secret” babies.
2) Take long drives in the country and pretend the car riding my bumper is a secret agent. He wants me to go with him to another country and save the world from mass destruction.
3) Go to the movies and watch the current pirate movie. I immerse myself in the scenes as I make believe the leading men are fighting for my hand in marriage.
4) Clean house (finally) and picture a tall, rich tycoon sweeping me off my feet and hiring a mansion full of servants to do the work.
5) Sink into my tub for an hour long soak and pretend two (yep, I’m freaky) gorgeous men are taking care of my aches and pains.

Well, you get the idea. Even if I were never published (and not from the lack of trying), my imagination would keep on going. I guess I’ll keep writing them down and hope one of the stories hits the right editor at the right time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ants and Gnats

I loaned my car last week to my youngest daughter. We rented a car, but since she's under 25, the extra cost was too much. So I drove the rental and she drove my car. Well, I get my car back and it has gnats and ants in it. YUCK!

Do you think I'll let her borrow my car again? No. She can bum rides from her friends. And hopefully she won't have any more car problems. I can't wait until she graduates college. Then she'll take better care of her stuff (and mine).

Ants and gnats...::shudder::

Monday, October 12, 2009

Work, Work, Work, Work, Work

Time for me to start querying more agents and editors. I haven't received any rejections from the lastest I've sent out, but I've learned that doesn't mean anything. Nowadays, they reject you without answering.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Busy Weekend

Been pretty busy this weekend answering questions and receiving in entries to the Linda Howard Award of Excellence contest. I don't have time to look at every entry, but I have to say there are some talented people out there.

Oh, and when you enter a contest and mess up, don't worry, most coordinators will give you an opportunity to correct it. :-)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thankful Friday

I saw two rainbows today. They were so deep in color. So I'm thankful for such beautiful miracles.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Suffering For Love

I haven't written anything in my new manuscript for a week. Mainly working on the Linda Howard Award of Excellence and trying to get something sent out to the Golden Heart contest for myself.

The new story is screaming at me. I've left my heroine tied up and desperate for help. The hero is on the way and worried he may be too late. You're probably asking, why won't she save herself? Because she doesn'tknow how. She hated the self-defense classes he insisted she take.

Yep, I really need to get back to those two. They need some help for sure.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Professionally, It Makes A Difference

I can't rememer where I read this, but someone asked if a female editor should be referred to as Mrs., Ms., or Miss. Considering I've been in the business world for a long, long time. Hey, I remember when Ms. first came into use. I can tell you I was thrilled back then that we finally had an address for a woman to use in the business world and it didn't have anything to do with her martial status.

Personally, in the workplace, whether I'm married are not, shouldn't play in any aspect of my work and especially in addressing correspondence to me. At work, if someone addressed an envelope to me and wanted to be formal (actually that's now far and few between what with the informal world of email), they should say Ms. Carla Swafford.

If someone outside my job is addressing something to me at home, maybe car insurance or a request for a donation, then they can address it to Mrs. Carla Swafford. Never Mrs. Hubby Swafford. I can promise you, I love my hubby, but I am my own person. Part of growing up in the years of women libbers.

It makes me think of something I read once about a person walking through a cemetery and coming across a large headstone reading, "Here Lies John Doe." (I can't remember the name.) And beside it was another headstone with the words, "Here Lies John Doe's Wife." It horrified me. The woman wasn't worthy enough to have her own name on the marker? As you can tell it made an impression on me.

Of course, years later I realized there could be another story to the wife's headstone. She could love the man so much, she didn't want to be known as anyone else, but his wife. Hmmm. I couldn't imagine being so lost in another person like that. Not healthy at all in my opinion. But that was another time...thank goodness.

Oh, I never truly answered the question the person asked on the loop. Here it is...you don't know if the editor is married or not and that's rather personal and really has no bearing on getting your manuscript looked at. You can show Ms. Editor Name or Editor Name. As long as you don't start the letter out with Hey, Editor (literally or only her first name - one's too general and the other too personal).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bugs Bites!

I hate getting bug bites. Of course, who doesn't? I've been around people who say they rarely get bitten. Me? I can be in a room with a hundred people and ten fleas. All ten fleas will bite me and not touch another.

While my daughter's car is in the shop, she's driving mine and I'm driving the rental. On the way to work, I started itching. When I got to work, I figured it out. The car has fleas. It was confirmed on the way home. I caught one and threw it out the window. Yuck!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It Comes In Threes

Why is it everything comes in threes?

My college student daughter's car needs work and she brought it home today. We decided to rent a car but the fee for a 21 year old to use it is too expensive. So I'm using the rental.

Then about thirty minutes ago, our big screen TV fizzed out. Bad. It's only two years old.

In the past, whenever we had things to blow or wear out, our bonuses at work took care of them. But we haven't received a bonus this year and we're having to hit our savings again. Not that I'm really complaining as many people don't have any savings at all. For that matter, many people are without jobs. But it's still a bummer.

I just hope number three won't be too bad.

[added 10/5: I just realized number three (actually number one) happened the other day. Some of the sheet rock on the garage's ceiling fell on my car last week. My hubby was able to wax the scrapes until they're barely noticeable. But now we can see the attic. Hopefully it will be okay until we save up the money to repair it. ::sigh::]

Saturday, October 3, 2009

One of My Peculiarities


I'm a little strange. I find cementaries interesting. They have so much history in them. People who participated wars, died young, or have their family buried around them. I came across these and thought the first one showed the couples sense of humor. His reads "Gone Flying" and hers "Gone Shopping". The next one shows a group of people (really not sure if they're related or what) and they're Alabama football fans. The A on top is solar powered and will light up at night. The last picture is what it looks like inside. Letting others know what they look like and what may be a few of their favorite things (besides football).





Friday, October 2, 2009

Thankful Friday

This evening I watched a documentary on thrillers. One name stood out among all the directors of thrillers. Hitchcock.

Alfred Hitchcock was awesome. Even when I was a child, I appreciated his dry (and slightly warped) sense of humor. Click here to read about him.


I'm thankful I recognized his genius. :-)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

On-Line Workshops

This week, I've been giving an on-line workshop on judging. Today, I'm starting a workshop given by Lisa Gardner on writing synopses. It's a month long. That blows my mind. The judging workshop I'm giving is only a week long and it's taken up a lot of my time. Though I must say the attendees have been delightful.

I sure needed this workshop. I've been needing these lessons and looking forward to it. And I'm almost certain my lack of synopsis skills have been hurting me when it comes to the editors who ask for partials and synopses.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Taking Pictures On The Road

My oldest daughter teases me about how I like to take pictures while driving. I promise if there were cars around me, I wouldn't do it. See the one I took this week. It's beautiful -- not because I took the picture, but because God decided to show off His sky. Awesome.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

She'll Be Missed

When I heard Kate Duffy, Editorial Director at Kensington, had passed away, I was heartbroken. I had the pleasure meeting her a couple times and dealing with her a little in a contest. She was one of the final judges in the first Linda Howard Award of Excellence contest. I liked her so much and really wanted her to give me THE CALL.

Then I read the Publisher’s Lunch notation about her passing and discovered she was the founding editor of Silhouette Books and founder of Pocket’s Tapestry Books, that reconfirmed my belief the woman was smart. I remember in the seventies and eighties reading books from those lines and thinking how they were just the type of books I loved. (That's when I started reading Linda Howard's books.) They were different than Harlequin’s (Silhouette wasn’t owned by them at that time), a little hotter and more current. I knew Brava Books were her baby and I’m not surprised I enjoy those too.

She died too young.

I’ll miss her.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

They're Crazy!

Today while pumping gas, the man at the next pump was talking and laughing. The scary part was he had no one around him but me and he wasn't talking to me. I thought to myself, "Ahh, he has one of those cell phone Blue Tooth ear thingamajiggies." They always make me think of Star Trek gadgets. Then he turned around. Nothing. Just ear.

He was crazy. And driving! Yikes!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thankful Friday

I'm thankful I have something besides work to occupy my time. Too many people go to work, come home to cook and clean and that's it. Maybe see family once or twice a month or just during the holidays. Now, this is referring to people my age. So when you're raising children, that's totally different.

For me, by just wanting to be published and working toward that goal, I feel like I spend my time more wisely than others.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall Season

It's that time of the year again. New television shows or their new season of old shows. So many to choose from. THE BIG BANG THEORY, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, FLASHFORWARD, NCIS, NCIS: LOS ANGELES, THE GOOD WIFE, EASTWICK, STARGATE UNIVERSE, ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE.

And so many more I've missed and will try to catch. Too much TV hurts my writing. LOL!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Optimism

Everyday I pull my cell phone out of my purse and place it on the desk next to me. I go to lunch and take it with me and it's there nearby in case I get THAT CALL. I guess you can call that optimism.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Same But Different

I've been so cautious the last few years to look inside the covers of the books I pick up. Especially those I haven't planned to buy. You know, you're in a book store and see something interesting or you unexpectedly come across a book from one of your favorite authors. Yeah. You're probably already guessing what I did.

I thought, "Oh boy! A new book I didn't know was coming out!" So I buy it and a few days later I sit down to read it and bam! It hits me that I've already read it. I look at the copyright page and there it is, printed in 1999. And it happens to be one of my favorites from the author. Geez! What can I say? Most titles sound alike and the cover is different. Oh, well. I'll read it again anyway and then give it to someone.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hi! My Name's Carla

While growing up, I felt fortunate to have a name different from so many of my classmates. There were plenty Debbies/Debbys, Janets/Janices, Lindas/Lyndas, and Kathys/Cathys. Not until I was a pre-teen did I meet another Carla. She was beautiful and 2-3 years older than me.

It wasn't until I became an adult I met another person with my name, but she spelled it Karla. Then CHEERS came on the air and the notorious barmaid, Carla Tortelli. The character was rude, hateful, promiscuous and had (duh!) eight children. I like to think I'm none of those things.

During the eleven years (especially the last five) it was on the air, occasionally a customer of mine would ask over the phone, "Are you like Carla on CHEERS?" NO!

Thankfully, there's now another famous Carla. She's beautiful and talented. Sadly, no one ask if I'm like her. LOL!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ahhh! That's it!

I'm reading one of the books from my TBR pile. Not sure if I got it at the luncheon last year or one of the conferences (last year or this), but it's been okay. At first I told myself I've read the book before. I kept guessing what would happen next. The names, locations, and conflict was so familiar. But I looked at the copyright page and it had a first print from 2008. I had thought it might be a paperback of the e-books I had a flashdrive. Wrong publisher. But I went ahead and checked. Out of 118, there wasn't one with that title and the ones with werewolves didn't read like it.

Finally, I came to the conclusion I judged it in a writers contest. But which contest? It came to me that it was the Golden Heart. Why? Because it's the only contest I've judged with 55 pages (including synopsis). When I got to around page fifty of the book, I couldn't guess what happened next. So that would be about right. Sorta.

This was a first for me. I've never come across a book I've judged in a contest and I've judged quite a few.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thankful Friday

I'm thankful that my parents are doing well. They have a few problems but overall their health is great.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Where did it go?

Lately, it appears time is breaking all kinds of speed limits. No sooner than I reach home, it's time to go to bed. Then it's Friday. Wake the next morning, another month has gone by. I'm trying to get a few odds and ends done writing and chapter business wise before I start on the second book in my spy series. Somehow I need to tame this time business. Any ideas?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another Huh? Moment

This article in Time Magazine was to be a positive spin on the increased sales of romance novels. All I can say with her using the BR words, twice, she proves she still uses a rotary phone and DOS on her desk top. She's so behind the times.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back and Forth

I'm having a hard time staying on one thing. I want to revised THE PREACHER'S SON for the Golden Heart. In fact, I've changed the beginning but there's more to correct/change. You can send 55 pages including the synopsis. That's a lot of pages for a contest.

Then I want to write my next book in the "spy" series. The first one, OUT OF THE SHADOWS, is with an agent now and I hope she really likes it. To have the second book in the series half way done would be great. I have only three pages written and I've named it IN THE SHADOWS. Actually, that's a perfect fit for the story.

And then again, I would like to revise and finish a paranormal I have that's in first person, THE ONES: DEADLY TEMPTATION. I love the world the heroine lives in and I believe it's different enough to strike an agent's or editor's interest.

So much to do. So little time.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Went a Visiting

Visited with my youngest daughter today. She's still at university and now renting a house. The place is old and not perfect and it had the typical kid junk sitting around everywhere. While my husband set up a washer and dryer for her, I washed dishes and washed dishes and washed pots and pans. I have to say, she has more dishes than my hubby and I did when we were newlyweds. Maybe that's the only reason she had more to wash than I did back then. LOL! By the way, I made her dry and put up. Only fair.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thankful Friday

I'm thankful for the real life heroes who join our armed forces. Like my sweet, handsome son-in-law. And in remembrance of a friend's son...a hero...click here to read about him.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Square Peg, Round Hole?

The other day I was watching a short interview with Ringo Starr of The Beatles fame. For those who don’t know (though that’s hard to imagine), he was one of four fellows who changed the way teenagers look at music. As in most bands, the guys were friends before starting the band, but Ringo wasn’t one of them. He came in later though still before they hit it big in the sixties.

A comment he made stood out. One time, Ringo went to see John, another member, and told him he felt John, Paul and George were the real group and he would step aside. John told Ringo, he had thought the same thing but he considered Paul, George and Ringo as the real group.

That really struck me. How often have we thought we didn’t fit in or someone was smarter or more fortunate? And then we find out none of that to be true. No matter how “big” the person is, they have insecurities too. Maybe not in their craft, as Ringo wasn’t saying he wasn’t the best drummer The Beatles could have, he was talking about how they meshed, were friends. Our emotions can play tricks on us. That’s where friends can help by being supportive. You don’t need to hear how wonderful you are, though that doesn’t hurt, you just need people there willing to listen and hug you on occasion.

Thankfully I have that in Diane, JoAnn and Sande.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rejection

Of course, there are authors out there who receive an offer of representation the first time they query, just as there are authors whose first books were published. And I know for sure there are others who have more rejections than I do. This is what I tell myself everytime I receive a rejection. Like I did today.

I took it in stride and thought to myself , "How sad," and didn't think any more about it until I got home. After a little while I realized I wasn't acting like myself. In fact I was tired and quiet. Then I remembered the rejection email. Funny how you try not to let something bother you, but your body will let you know what's going on.

Sorry to be so depressing lately. I'm really trying to keep my chin up. There's no way I can give up but changing strategies (again) may be in my future. :-)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Let me give you a scenario.

A teenage boy didn't show up at school one day. He's known for skipping and wandering the streets of a big city. His sister goes in search for him. She's concerned and wants to bring him home. She loves her brother but understands his need to do what he does, but as any big sis would do, she wants to make sure he's okay.

Now it's almost midnight and she comes across a wounded man in front of an apartment building. Someone has beaten him up. She doesn't own a cell phone and no one is around. What should she do?

Let's see...leave him bleeding in the rain to find her brother? NO! Of course not.

So she checks the wounded guy (she's had some medical training) to make sure he's breathing. Does she leave him now? Goodness no!

So she thinks of ways to help him. Maybe she can knock on the doors inside the apartment building and hopefully someone will call 911 or help. Right? Right. Before she can, the wounded guy's younger brother comes out and tries to bring his bigger brother out of the rain and into their apartment. The younger brother is too little. By the way, they don't have a phone. I know it's hard to believe that some people are too poor to own a phone. (It's times like these I wish there was a sarcastic font.)

Okay. She helps the little brother bring in the big brother. I guess she could dump him in the apartment and say, "Sorry. But I've got to go and look for my brother though you have a little brother and sister worried about rather or not you'll live." Of course, you wouldn't leave. Sure she's still worried about her brother, but didn't I aready mention this wasn't the first time her brother went out wandering around?

Then the wounded guy (a few cuts and bruises along with a big knot on his head) offers to help find her brother because, lo and behold! his teenage sister is with her brother. But he tells her it will be safer to wait until daylight. You have to remember, she's not a cop, superhero or an alien with a ray gun. Those streets are as dangerous for her as they are for her brother and the guy's sister.

Now. Tell me. Would you say, "Sorry but I can't worry about you and I've got to go back out into the big city streets AFTER midnight and look for my brother because I'm WORRIED about him"? Talk about too stupid to live!

As you probably guessed. I received back comments from a judge on my manuscript SHADOW HEALER and the judge couldn't believe the heroine didn't leave right then and look for her brother. It bothered her. Geez! I would like to see her wandering Atlanta streets around midnight. Actually, I have with one other woman and the whole time I kept thinking how stupid we were.

All the points I made were in the manuscript, why can't they read the words I've written? What am I doing wrong? No need to answer. I'm just ranting. This is good therapy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Old Westerns

I love westerns. One of my favorites was on the other day and I realized there were such strong emotions in every scene, that I could use them in my current book. Not the words, but the feelings they invoked.

My hero has done a lot of things he regrets. Now his life has changed and he sees a future alone and unloved because of those bad choices. See the clip below. The beginning is really only a small portion of the scene. There was so much more. In fact, throughout the movie it showed so much depth you almost couldn't catch it all.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hey, How About Me?

Come on over to Southern Magic's Romance Magician's blog. I'm talking about self-confidence.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thankful Friday

I'm thankful I can read and love immersing myself in books. I'm so fortunate. Hmm, I guess that says it all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Really, Not A Fan

On the TV in my "study" (another word for spare bedroom), there are around 60 channels. Downstairs, on the larger TV, there are easily 200, but that's my hubby's domain. Anyway, on the smaller set, twice I've tried to find something different but funny. I love romantic comedies. Go figure. LOL! But all I found were dramas or ones I've seen.

As I flipped through the channels, I came across one reality show after another. I know lots of people watch them, thus the plethora of reality shows. (Note the new $50 word I used.) My buddy at work likes AMAZING RACE. My sister-in-law loves SURVIVOR. Others watch BIG BROTHER or PROJECT RUNWAY. I don't care for anything even remotely close to those...nope. Not for me.

Yet I will admit the only reality show I like to watch is WIPEOUT. Yep. A real game show. That's the only one. Give me slap-stick. I'm Just wired that way. LOL!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Commercial Time

NEW: Three first round judges (lowest score dropped), and special category for Southern Magic members.

******************************

First 25 pages without synopsis. See rules for further information.

Must be emailed by October 11, 2009 – 10 p.m. central
Finalists should be announced by January 1, 2010
Revised final entries must be emailed by January 25, 2009 (with synopses)
Winners should be announced on April 1, 2010


Categories and final judges:

Series/Short & Long Contemporary - Susan Litman, Editor, Harlequin

Single Title - Latoya Smith, Editor, Grand Central Publishers

Suspense (series or single title) - Megan MeKeever, Associate Editor, Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster)

Historical - Alicia Condon, VP, Editorial Director, Dorchester

Unique Genres (Paranormal, Futuristic, Fantasy, Time Travel) - Heather Osborn, Acquisitions Editor, Tor

Romantic Sensual and Sizzling (Erotica) - Raelene Gorlinsky, Editor, Ellora’s Cave

Young Adult - Natashya Wilson, Senior Editor, Harlequin Teen

Inspirational - Tina James, Senior Editor, Love Inspired Suspense & Love Inspired Historical, Steeple Hill

The Write Magic -For Southern Magic members only, Final judge: Sara Megibow, Associate Agent, Nelson Literary Agency

Thanks.
Carla Swafford
LH AoE Contest Coordinator
Southern Magic, Birmingham
http://www.southernmagic.org/

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Seventh Heaven

The other day I saw commericals for Seventh Heaven. I use to love that show. The first two-three seasons I watched every episode. Then I realized I was crying at the end of each one. Talk about emotional scenes. They were excellent, but I didn't like the tearing up or crying all the time. I rather laugh. Though I didn't care for their spoilt kids. I did like the relationship between the parents most of the time and how the family would pull together at the last minute. Actually, made them all appear more real.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Say What?

I receive emails from Catherines, a clothing line for "plus-size" women (such a PC word, isn't it?), about their sales. This time they mentioned GLAMOUR magazine had a "plus-size" model featured in it. Get this, she's a size 12. Isn't that sad? The average size of American women is 14, but she's considered large in the modeling world. Crazy.

Click here to read about it and see the picture.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thankful Friday

After reading a certain news article today, I'm determined to think of something totally positive to be thankful for as I want to lighten my mood.

I'm thankful for movies. I love watching romantic comedies, sci-fi's, adventures, period pieces and westerns. Ocassionally, I'll watch a thriller or suspense. I avoid horror and "making a statement" films. Movies are a way to escape from life for a couple hours.

I especially love watching old movies from the 40's. The clothes, men in fedoras, hmmm. Would I like living back then? Goodness, no. Just like visiting for a while.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Backstory

In most of the books (if not all) I read about writing, they say not to dump the backstory in the beginning. In fact, anywhere in your manuscript. To give the reader small bits in the natural flow of the story.

If you want to read an author who handles backstory rather well, then I suggest Linda Howard.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Getting Closer

I'm so close to the end of editing. YEAH! One scene to add and one to change and then voila! I will be finished.

Then it will be query time!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Personality Test

Saturday during the workshop, we took a personality test. We checked off a word in each row that best described ourselves. When we finished, the speaker said for everyone to count up their scores and look at the next page. There was a large square divided in four colored squares. In each square was a short description of each personality. She said for us to take our top two scores. The highest score is your dominant personality and next to highest is your secondary personality. Those two personalities will be beside or on top of each other but not diagonally.

Guess what?

Mine was diagonally. Too funny.

Then the instructions said to go over it again and try again, this time choosing answers that I might have second thoughts about. So I did. I received the same result with higher scores in the same personalities.

Let’s just say I have some issues with parents or my spouse. I believe they’re right on both counts.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Meeting New People

Probably everyone is the same way, but every time I have a lengthy conversation with a new acquaintance, that night or/and the next day, I dwell on every word and wonder if I sounded boastful, stupid, rude, crude or a know-it-all. During the whole time, I say to myself to be myself and not care. If they like you, they'll like you. Otherwise, nothing you can do will make a difference. Like every human in the world (who's normal) wants to be liked. But I promised myself years ago to always be natural, not degrade myself just to make another feel better about themselves and then I'll know who my real friends are.

At the same time, I love meeting people and though they may not agree with my point of view of everything, I don't have a problem with it. That's why the world is such a great place. Everyone has different experiences that shape their thought patterns. Every time they disagree with me, I learn something new. It's a shame others don't view it that way.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thankful Friday

Today, I'm thankful I had the opportunity to meet Mary Buckham. Delightful, smart and generous.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thunderstorms In The South

All day the weather reports talked about storms. As I left work, it was dark and sprinkling. On the interstate driving home, there's a section where you can see a good bit of the horizon. As I reached that section, I could see the edge of the storm outlined with the lighter clouds in the distance. The rain was coming down so thick it looked like streaks of gray paint against the sky. It was beautiful.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dwelling On The Positive

The other day I was clicking on Followers like I often do when I'm visiting people's blogs. I like to see who's out there reading blogs. By doing that I've had the pleasure in "meeting" two kind and interesting ladies. Hi, Suzanne and gaelikaa!

I came across someone's blog where they posted the positive comments from their contest entries. Note...contest entries, not finals. That was such a good idea. So here are some of mine. Keep in mind this is over a total of 10 years (Yes, that's correct. First contest was 1994, but I waited five years to try again.) and 81 entries.

OUT OF THE SHADOWS (Romantic suspense)

Great writing. Great...everything. Kept me reading to find out what happens next. Very intriguing.
2009 Heart of the West

Excellent job! I was really pulled into this story and really want to read more. You have wonderful descriptions and intriguing plot.
2009 Fire and Ice

Your story is riveting, your voice is strong and your talent as a writer is incredible.
2009 Four Seasons

THE SHADOW HEALER (Paranormal)

This is amazing. The emotion and passion are here in spades. This writer really knows how to hook a reader and make them care about the characters. I was totally lost in this selection!
2009 The Linda Howard Award of Excellence

You've got a great grasp of POV and pacing. I was riveted. The story is fresh and new!
2008 Golden Gateway

I think you have created a dynamic hero and heroine in Thorn and Cassidy. They both have incredible depth, and you've done a wonderful job of taking the reader into their heads and hearts. And the sexual tension is palpable.
2008 Indiana's Golden Opportunity

A SHERIFF TO CALL HER OWN (Contemporary)

All the characters seemed like real people. I loved the flow of their speech and their connections to each other.
2008 From the Heart Romance Writers

A really fabulous entry! You're obviously an awesome writer with a strong, strong voice. There are so many stellar moments in your entry. I fully expect you'll see your stories in print one day.
2008 Book of Your Heart

I fell in love with [the hero] right from the start. You did really good with the dialogue and used it to show motivation and character development.
2008 Gotcha!

THE PREACHER'S SON (Contemporary)

It's a nice twist to have the town see the heroine as a "lady" when she actually was a chorus girl made good. There's an intriguing tension between the perceptions of the two characters and their actual pasts.
2007 Golden Gateway (Harlequin/SR's Wanda Ottewell's words and she placed me first)

Terrific writing. You're a top notch writer.
2007 Launching A Star

I love your voice, and the opening scene proves you have a good understanding of small-town community closeness.
2007 Maggies

DEADLY TEMPTATION: THE ONES (Vampire - 1st person)

Love the dialogue. Good, strong voice.
2006 Laurie

I absolutely love the plot.
2006 The Daphne du Maurier Award

As soon as you sell this (and you will) email me 'cuz I wanna read it!!
2005 Launching A Star

DARK DESIRE (Historical)

You write about sex with unflinching courage. I enjoyed references to Medieval items.
2006 Between the Sheets

THE FEMALE CHAUVINIST (Contemporary)

Love the plot. Unique, fun, with just the right hint of suspense.
2005 Melody of Love

Overall good, tight writing. Multiple scene purposes.
2004 Great Expectations

THE CAGED HEART (Historical)

I think your story idea is really great...intrigued in the beginning by the pile of rags that turned out to be the heroine.
2004 Heart to Heart

This is challenging to have such a tragic beginning for your heroine. I like how you work it.
2004 Touch of Magic

THE CHAMPION (Vampire)

The opening grabs you by the throat and pulls you in. The author has an engaging voice and a good, easy way with suspense.
2003 Melody of Love

TREASURE (Vampire)

This is a very well-written and interesting story!
2002 On The Far Side

PRECIOUS (Vampire)

You write with a true sensual prose style that is unusually vivid.
2002 Indiana's Golden Opportunity

The voice/tone is perky, lively and upbeat.
2002 First Impressions

YEARNINGS (Historical)

Strong plot. Dialogue is good...
1999 Emily

CRYSTAL SHADOWS (Romantic Suspense)

I really like your story line. Pacing is good.
1994 Golden Heart

In the 1994 Golden Heart, two judges included comments. One sent three pages of typed notes and the other eleven handwritten pages. Yes. Way back then they did comment on entries. LOL!

As you can tell, this is not all of the entries, but I tried to pull a variety.

Funny thing. I noticed I received more positive comments about my writing as a craft versus my plots or vivid storytelling as I improved. I'm glad I did this. I feel better.