Monday, August 31, 2009

Commercial Time

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

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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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Contests!

Well, I got the scores back from the last contest I entered this year.

So far this year, six entries and five of them with one manuscript. Most of the scores were as high as you can get, but one judge would always keep me out. Just like in this latest contest.

This last contest confused me. They said they dropped the lowest. So that means my total was 19 out of 20 overall. But I didn't final. I guess the others were all 20's. Plus one of the judges gave me two 10's and one 9, and giving it an overall 9. Huh?

This is so why I hate contests. Well, that and how it depresses me.

Now it's time for me to concentrate on sending out my manuscripts to the people whose opinion really matters.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Flying Through The Air With the Greatest of Ease

Well, it appears I had some problems recently. I missed posting Wednesday and Sunday. Both times I remember clicking on the link to sign in and post, but something waylaid me before I got there.

I've been working on updating the writing groups website with contest info and our romance readers' luncheon. Then I've been working with our group's president on getting her opinion on how the new website will look like for 2010. It's easy to work up a website, but it's hard to make it look good and professional. Considering I've never had a lesson, it's trial and error. Thankfully I'm hardheaded enough to get it done. :-)

Speaking of 2010...what happened to flying cars. All the tv shows set in the future I watched as a kid, especially the cartoon The Jetsons, we were to have flying cars. LOL! I love to fly. I get all giddy when I'm in a plane and taking off.

But I really I wish we had wings and could fly like birds. It would be wonderful, wouldn't it? To soar and be free to dip and sway in the wind. Floating along with the clouds. I even have a partial I've written about a girl who could fly. Not with wings like James Patterson's Maximum Overdrive books. But like Superman. No wings, just tilting her body, diving into the air like it's water. Ahhh.

Another book to finish another day.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Third Place

If you've ever gone to my website and clicked on What Books? you'll see a list of the contests I've finaled in. Nothing consistent, but I have to say at least I got a few finals. One thread you'll see is that I usually place third.

In fact, at work last year, I placed third in most shipments (fifth in the most sales dollars) out of twenty-three customer service representatives.

Now, I wasn't telling you this to impress anyone. Really. But to point out I hit third place in a lot of stuff. I think of it like this: if I were number three on the New York Times best seller list, I would be celebrating big time.

So third place isn't always bad.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Come On Over

I can't believe it's been two weeks already. I made a list of Ten Things I Hate About Writing. Click here to check it out.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Time Flies

As of August 7, I've been posting on my personal blog for a year. A few times I would forget to post, like yesterday, but I've done better than I had expected. I went back to read what I had said that day and the next. Click Here if you want to read it. Funny, it appears I haven't really improved in a year. No agent, no first sale, not even a final in a contest.

I almost kept my promise not to enter more than five. I entered six. Better than the year before when I entered fourteen. Sure I finaled in two in 2008, but that's so few. Of course, I was happy one editor requested a partial. Though she later rejected it. But seven of those from last year announced finalists this year. That's a lot of heart break. And a lot of wasted money.

You're probably thinking, "Wow, that's a lot of advice." Problem is, just a few of the comments were consistent. If you read my blog regularly, you've probably seen some of my rants.

Anyway, time's running out and I had promised to have an agent or first sale by the end of the year. Time to get back to work.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Good vs Evil

I was driving home this afternoon and the driver in a pick-up truck in front of me decided to slow down. The problem was, he slowed down in an area on the interstate that you need to speed up so you can smoothly merge into other traffic coming from another direction.

Well, I was jabbering a-mile-a-minute when I realized what I was saying. It was so funny that I had to share. It went like this.

"Everybody thinks they own the road."
"Then again, I must think I own the road."
"He's driving like a maniac."
"Of course, I'm the one speeding like a demon."
"Oh, now I understand. The old man probably can't see."
"Not that I'm some spring chicken myself..."

LOL! Some days I feel like I have the proverbial angel on one shoulder and devil on the other. They constantly bicker. As long as the angel kicks butt, I should be okay.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stupid Computer

My laptop messed up again yesterday. Took me about two hours to fix and still don't know what I did to make it work. Oh, well.

Maybe it was jealous. I worked on my desktop computer for most of the day, updating the website for my writers group. It's amazing how long it takes to do stuff. My internet connection is fast and the software is easy to work with, but when you have lots to add (contest info and many other items), it takes time. Click Here to find out a part of what I was doing.

Plus I started working on what the writers group's new website will look like. Everyone should always update their website every two years or so. If you have the time or money, then you can change every year. Anyway, the group has had the same website design for about three years now. So time for a new one. I told them I'm going for one less busy and less work. LOL!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thankful Friday

Each week, when I remember to do this, I try to be thankful for other things besides the norm. But I felt it was time to mention the norm...

I'm thankful for my two daughters. They light up my life in ways they can never imagine.
I'm thankful for my two critique partners as their friendship is priceless.
I'm thankful for my dad and sis. They believe in my dream to become a published writer.
I'm thankful for my buddy at work who makes me laugh even when I don't feel like it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

How To Let Go

I'm having problems letting go of my manuscript. First, I still need more pages so the manuscript can be regarded as 90,000 words. Second, I keep thinking of something to add. Nothing big, just little things. And third, maybe in the back of my mind, I worry this one will be rejected over and over again.

Sigh.

Don't worry. I'll get over it and start sending out soon.

A Long, Long Time Ago...

LOL! When my eldest reads the title of this post, she'll roll her eyes. Why? Today's her birthday. Happy birthday, sweetie!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dance When You Can

Today, I said goodbye to a sweet lady and friend. I had the pleasure of working with her for about six years before she left the company to take care of her mother. She was amazing.

She loved to dance. In fact, if I remember correctly, she won a few ballroom dance competitions. In her home, I remember seeing pictures of her in full dance regalia, sequins and feathers and all. She was beautiful.

When I heard she'd died, all I could think of was that she finally was dancing with her beloved husband and sweet son.

Here's to Sylvia Holt! I know your dancing toes are as light as the clouds you're twirling on. Keep dancing, girlfriend!

Monday, August 3, 2009

On The Road Again

Each day it takes around thirty minutes from home to work and vice versa. I use to listen to the radio, but the stations in Birmingham are horrible. They have country, classic rock, really old classic rock or hip hop. I'm an alternative rock girl. Yep. You heard it right. I want to hear new unique stuff if I listen to the radio.

So what do I do? Well, most of the time I listen to the traffic (with sunroof open) or silence (sunroof closed). On occasions, I'll listen to my iPod. Then I listen to an eclectic list of music. Alternative to Opera to all the stuff I mentioned you can listen to on the radio in Birmingham. Ironic, isn't it? LOL!

Oh, Happy Birthday to Linda Howard!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Say What?!

Yesterday I mentioned working in a man's field. What I mean by that is, I work with mostly men and most of my customers are men. The type of product the company I work for makes is certainly a "man" type product. Ductile iron pipe. It's used in sewer and water treatment plants.

What I really want to mention is that as I work with so many men, I become more and more blunt and short in my dialogue with people. Not short as angry in my answer but more to do with my speech pattern. Men rarely beef up their language. Sure they may add curse words, but they don't say a lot of please, would you, could you or any of the lanuage we women use every day.

I figure that's why I have problems staying friends with women. Thankfully there are a few who understand me and overlook most of my short comings.

Hey, Diane, JoAnn and Sande.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chin Up, Shoulders Back

I was thinking earlier today how much self-confidence can help you accomplish so much. Every time I allowed self doubt to take over, I've usually screwed up and missed out on something great. Now when I say self-confidence, I'm not talking about being stuck on myself and think I'm all that and a bag of chips. No. I'm referring to talking with moderate intelligence about what you're doing or want to do.

Whenever I had a reason to talk with a group of 20 to 100 people, I've usually been prepared. By being prepared, with a little speech or outline of what I plan to talk about, I rarely get nervous. I'm more apt to go into autopilot and when it's over with can't remember what I said. Later I'll ask someone how I did and they would say fine, that I didn't look nervous at all and my voice was clear and at the perfect level. That's always a relief. Too many times I've felt sorry for some of our presenters. We've had a few who would mumble, keep their eyes down and read off their notes (for the whole speech), use filler sounds (er, ah, uh, etc.) or include the filler phrase like "you know."

At work, I've had the occasion of talking to a group on the spur of the moment. Thankfully I know my job well enough that I don't have a problem with it. Besides, most of my friends know I enjoy positive attention and I do work in a man's field.

So I guess being aware of what you're doing and being informed are the keys to being self-confident.