Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Focus or Multi-task?

"A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." - Thomas Mann

I'm working hard on planning out my next novel (as I've mentioned previously, so I won't go into it again). And while I'm excited about planning it, and I like getting to know the characters and it's fun to brainstorm scenes (does anyone else "see" the scenes in their heads like a movie??), I MISS WRITING.

I need to write something. I'm probably going to work on some short stories again, just to get writing and submitting. My fingers itch to really compose.

But, I wonder... will brainstorming a short story (which are more difficult than novels, I think - cramming a beginning, middle and end into just a couple thousand words and having it makes sense is hard!) cause my enthusiasm for my novel project to dilute? Will spending brain power on something else take away from the novel? I can't remember to send out emails thanking people for doing wonderfully special things for me (thanks again, Pam!!) and I think I can work on several projects at once?

What think you? Do you work on several things at the same time, or do you try to stay focused on one?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My Stories

Mary, over at the Bandwagon, wrote a blog about the stories she's written and it got me to thinking. What do I tend to write about?

Romance, certainly.

The first book I ever wrote was when I was ten-years-old. It was about a girl and her horse - a romance of sorts, I suppose, because when I was ten, all I really loved was horses.

Next book wasn't written until I was in high school -- then I wrote three (two were collaborations):

* A sci-fi novel about an assassin and a night club owner
* A mystery about two twin girls separated at birth (I submitted this one to a teen novel writing contest and was a finalist!)
* A mystery about several murders that are seemingly unrelated

I wrote nothing but short stories and poetry for many years after this, but about five years ago, I got serious again. What have I written?

* A romantic comedy about a hockey player / housekeeper and a business owner ala Sleepless In Seattle
* A romantic comedy about two people who become roommates under duress
* A romantic comedy about a woman who goes to great lengths to stalk her cheating fiancée

What's in the hopper?

* A straight romance about a young widow and the man who had always held her heart
* A historical romance (*gulp*) about two brothers and the woman they both come to love
* A romantic suspense about a woman who finds her mother murdered and the cop investigating the crime

Oddly, the stuff in the "hopper" is all stuff I normally wouldn't write. The historical may never get written, but I jotted down the general idea. My heart is really with comedy, and those "serious" ones may end up funny... who knows?

What have you written, what's in the hopper and why do you like writing that kind of stuff?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Happy Memorial Day

At some point, during your barbeque or fireworks, your parade or your picnic, please take the time to remember those who have served and who still serve. Because, after all, freedom really isn't free.

Have a Happy Memorial Day.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Stick a Fork in Me...

... I'm done. With the sprinkler system, that is. Our installation party was a huge success, and we got stuff done much faster than we thought we'd be able to (we have a HUGE yard and normally this is a good thing, but not when you're intalling a sprinkler system).

The one sucky thing is that, even with all the exercise I've had the past two days, I didn't lose an ounce. That is simply not fair. It's like the time I had tonsilitis and sucked on sugar-free popsicles to the exclusion of all else for almost a week, and gained two pounds. My body is obviously confused.

Anyhoo, life should be back to normal now, and I can actually get on the computer and write.

"Great ability develops and reveals itself increasingly with every new assignment." - Baltasar Gracian

I have an idea for a romance / murder mystery that originally started as a sort of joke... "I know, I'll write a secret baby, cowboy romance", and has somehow mutated. I'm excited to get down to planning it more extensively, and I'm trying something new for this novel: I'm going to do A LOT of work on both characters and plot before I start writing (well, sort of... I've already started writing random scenes in order to get to know the protagonist a little, but that doesn't count, does it?). I'm hoping to cut back on the editing process. I HATE EDITING. I feel like I've been editing more than I've been writing in the last year or two. Aside from my NaNoWriMo novel and a few short stories, I've not done anything original and that bugs me.

So... what do you do when you start working on a new story idea? Do you do a lot of prep work first or just start writing? Do you think that your way of writing helps or hurts during the editing process? What do you think are the strengths and/or weaknesses in being a "plotter" vs. a "pantser"?

Have a great day!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Tomorrows News Today!

I'm telling you right now: If we still made our prison inmates dig ditches instead of work in the woodshop or the kitchen, crime rates would plummet.

We're putting in a sprinkler system. Yup -- not paying some guys a gazillion bucks to put one in, no-siree. We are doing it ourselves (with a little help from assorted family members). Today, the chain gang consisted of the foreman (husband) and two chief ditch diggers / fillers (my SIL and me). QC was headed by my DD. She did a marvelous job, with a bit of help from the dog, who was, I think, a bit perturbed that we yell at her for digging one little hole in the lawn, yet we get to make really cool skinny ditches all over the place.

I'm exhausted. We worked from about 9:00 a.m. until it started pouring down rain - about 5:45 (I think... I didn't look at the clock). We did have a brief break to scarf down some tuna sandwiches.

And, oh yay! We get to do it all again tomorrow. We're only about one third done.

Now I understand why people pay to have this stuff done. That said, there is a certain amount of satisfaction in doing it ourselves. I just hope I still have time -- and energy -- to get my vegetable garden in at some point before the weekend is over.

Anyone want to come help? There will be barbeque, homemade potato salad and corn on the cob for lunch tomorrow.

Incidentally, I'm writing this entry tonight because the warden - erhm - my husband has decreed that tomorrow's installment of ditch digging will begin at 0-600, and I don't know when I'll be rolling out of bed. So here's tomorrow's post today.

What are you doing this weekend?


Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught. ~J.C. Watts

In light of the recent and ongoing Barbara Bauer scandal (see yesterday's post) I got to thinking about scams.

A scam artist er, literary agent like Barbara Bauer must be an utterly unique individual. I would love to do backstory on a person who takes money from other people and doesn't follow through on the dream they promised.

Per Miss Snark, I checked out the Barbara Bauer Literary Agency webpage (and no, that link doesn't take you there) to see her list of clients and published books -- lists that any and all reputable agents will include on their site. Selling a book is something to be proud of, and it also proves your authenticity.

On the Barbara Bauer Literary Agency website, I found pictures of six books that she claimes are her clients work. One was published by a vanity press, two were published in the early 90's, one I can't read the author's name so can't locate the book and two are in foreign languages.

When I look for an agent in the coming months, I want to find someone who actually gets their clients books published. Call me crazy.

From the dawn of time there have been people who promise the world and bilk people out of their hard earned money (Barbara Bauer, please note that I'm not saying you're one of them... please don't send me your one billion dollar invoice).

I'm just saying... it's a shame that some folks think nothing of robbing people of their money and their dreams. You know?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Don't Get Mad, Get Even

From Miss Snark: She has two posts today about one of the twenty worst agents, Barbara Bauer. One is here and the other is here. Read them first for the entire scoop. Or, if you want, I'll provide the Cliffs Notes.

Apparently, Barbara Bauer, one of the twenty worst literary agents, was upset about being listed as one of the twenty worst literary agents on the Absolute Write webpage, complained and the webhost pulled the plug on the website.

Miss Snark has asked everyone to post a listing of the twenty worst agents - of which Barbara Bauer is one. Okay. I'm game and though my daily hits are limited, maybe I can help at least one person not make the mistake of choosing a scam artist for an agent (but if I'm not here tomorrow, you'll know why):

* The Abacus Group Literary Agency
* Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
* Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
* Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
* Benedict & Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
* Sherwood Broome, Inc.
* Desert Rose Literary Agency
* Arthur Fleming Associates
* Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
* Brock Gannon Literary Agency
* Harris Literary Agency
* The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following:
Children's Literary Agency
Christian Literary Agency
New York Literary Agency
Poets Literary Agency
The Screenplay Agency
Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency)
Writers Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)
* Martin-McLean Literary Associates
* Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
* B.K. Nelson, Inc.
* The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
* Michele Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency and Simply Nonfiction)
* Southeast Literary Agency
* Mark Sullivan Associates
* West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)

Anyone else up for the cause?


Winning is not everything, but the effort to win is. - Zig Ziglar

Hubby decided last night that I must accompany him to Home Depot to get the last of the parts for our sprinkler system. And it had to be last night.

No, hubby is not an American Idol fan. In the least.

I agreed, just so long as I could be back my 9:30. The rest of the show I can watch later, but I wanted to see who won the thing live.

We made it home by 9:20.

It was great to see the top twelve again (well, the top eleven -- I can't stand Melissa -- never could) and the awards show part was very cute. The good thing, for me, going in to this is that I didn't really care who won. I mean, I voted for Taylor (only got through once -- I wonder how much difference that made in the 64 million votes?), and I've loved him from the start (my votes always went to either Taylor or Elliot), but I like Katherine, too. It wasn't like the year that Fantasia won -- I hated her. UGH. I loved, Loved, LOVED Jennifer (who beat Fantasia out for that part in, na, na) and LaToya. Hated Fantasia. Clearly, I was in the minority.

But I'm over that (not), and we're talking current events right?

So, Yay Taylor!!

And that is all I have the energy for because I'm usually in bed by 9:00 and I didn't hit the hay last night until almost 11:00. I am so tired. I hope this made sense, cuz I'm really not with it. Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

When is it Time?

Hard writing makes easy reading. ~ Wallace Stegner

When is it time to set a manuscript aside and leave it? Maybe not forever, but for a really, really long time?

What I have crossed out I didn't like. What I haven't crossed out I'm dissatisfied with. - Cecil B. DeMille

Working through Camilla has me stymied. Nothing works the way I hope it will. I add something, work it in, and it's addition seems to subtract something else equally important.

Spending a lifetime writing novels is hard enough to justify in any case, but spending a lifetime writing novels nobody wants is much harder. - John Gardner

I had a neighbor ask me if I was still writing because I hadn't shared anything with her in a really long time. I told her that my novel (actually I think my exact words were: "My bad, bad, stupid, bad novel...") was giving me fits and I had nothing to share.

She asked if I still enjoyed it. And I said I did. That I loved it.

I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions. ~James Michener

I don't, however, love Camilla anymore. At all. In any way.

So, it must be time to put her away until I can fall in love with her again. Otherwise, I imagine, she will turn out cardboard and stiff.

So, Camilla goes into the drawer for a bit until I can stand facing her again. I can't hang around with someone I hate.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Meet The Family

Charity very thoughtfully provided this link which has face recognition and matches your photo to the famous person who most resembles you. I ran it on my family...

Meet the family:

My husband (AKA Victor Mehta):

My Mother (AKA Rosa Parks):

ME (No, I didn't rig the thing so I looked better than everyone else, but -- boy! -- did I ever get the best end of this deal)!

And lastly, My daughter's first try (otherwise known as Chester Bennington):

And, because I wanted to at least get her matched with someone with double X chromosomes, I tried again using a picture of her without glasses.

And got Tom Welling.

Then -- AHA! -- I found the button to specify female and got this (Yes, Victoria Beckham - wasn't she a Spice Girl?):

I have to admit that, as a mom, I think I prefer that she looks like Chester Bennington.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Learning to Write

The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live. ~Mortimer Adler

I got to thinking, yesterday, about recent posts at Romancing the Blog. One, called True Confessions discussed the fact that the writer had never read two of the icons of romance: Nora Roberts and Jennifer Crusie. And she was pretty proud of it. So were most of the 37 people who commented.

The other was called Proud to be a Non-Conformist and discussed that "how-to" writing books and "the rules" were ruining her voice, so she decided that she would never read a "how-to" book again and to heck with the rules. Again, the commenters widely supported her opinion.

Now I get to to talk about my opinion of these posts because it's my blog.

As to the first, I will admit that I was one of the commenters. I confessed, and will now confess to you: I thought that Outlander by Diana Gabaldon was boring. So boring, in fact, that despite trying to read it three different times, I couldn't get through it. I kept trying because this book is held up as an icon of romantic fiction.

BUT, I have read Nora and Jenny. In fact, I really enjoy both of them (though I don't love Nora's early category stuff). Some things bug me about both (mostly Nora's head-hopping), but I think that they write fantastically, they have good characters and interesting plots for the most part, and clearly they appeal to the masses.

I can learn from them.

In my opinion, not reading the leaders in your genre (whether you actually like their stuff of not) is irresponsible. Additionally, I've found some great new authors by reading stuff that I wasn't sure I'd like.

Stephen King said in On Writing: If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write.

My comments on the second blog are similar. I understand that rules can be stifling. And that many "how-to" books contradict each other. Still, I read them and select those things that work for me, and toss the rest. Because that's my right.

And what about those "rules"? Until you're Nora (even if you hate her), following some of the basic rules simply makes sense if you want to be published.

Ahhh... that's the kicker, isn't it? If you want to be published.

I want to be published. So I don't head hop and I do my utmost best to eliminate most passive voice from my story. I try to start and end every chapter with a hook of some sort.

Do these kind of rules hurt my individual voice. NO. It's like saying using correct grammar and spelling will hurt my voice. They are basic parameters within which most writers should be able to work.

I think head hopping is lazy. It's the easy way out. I think learning how to stay in one POV within a scene and still get your point across is a challenge. I like a challenge.

Passive voice is also lazy. It's just harder to see because we so commonly use it in our every day speech. So LEARN about it.

What's wrong with the "show don't tell" rule? Nothing!! It makes your writing more vivid and clear. It sucks the reader into your story. Why not follow it??

Writing for publication without at least learning the rules is like attempting brain surgery without going to medical school.

In my opinion.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms. ~George Eliot

When I was little I was passionate about horses and horseracing. Though I haven't been able to follow it like I used to, I watched the Kentucky Derby this year.

And, unfortunately, The Preakness.

Sad, so, so sad what happened to a great horse like Barbaro.


After galloping only a few hundred yards in the Preakness, Barbaro's right rear leg flared out and he veered sideways while eight rivals passed him...

Barbaro, thought by many to be a serious contender for the Triple Crown, was diagnosed with a fracture above and below his ankle. Dr. Larry Bramlage, of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, called it a "life-threatening" injury.

I don't have much else to say except that I sneaked TVP (textured vegetable protein) that I'd boiled in boullion into my lasagna last night and hubby thought it was ground beef. Tee. Hee.

Poor Barbaro. But at least I saved a cow.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Evil Editor and Saturday Spam-A-Lot

The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us. ~Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

If you haven't read Evil Editor, stop reading this right now and go. Immediately. But don't drink coffee or anything else whilst you're reading because you will spew the contents across your keyboard. Guaranteed.

If you've already read EE, feel free to examine the more interesting contents of my bulk email box, below (thanks go to Tori and Eve for my inspiration:

Re: test CtALLhlS (test ctALLhis? And why would I even consider getting this test ctALLhis from a person who can't spell?)

Any med for your girl to be happy - (my girl is seven years-old and perpetually happy -- except yesterday when she watched "Lassie Come Home" and cried for hours. I admit, I did, too. Maybe I do need those happy pills.)

Re: test AcMBBtEN - (see ctALLhis, above)

Good Day to you! - (and to you! Now go away.)

Hello Sir, - (Um… n-o-o-o-o-o-o-o. Guess again.)

fwd: I dont think you know about this - (and, considering I just deleted you without opening it, I still don't. Oddly, it isn't keeping me awake at night.)

Re: test CtALLloS - (So, what is it? ctALLhis or ctALLIos?)

your crreddit - (Seriously now -- are other folks so stupid that they would buy something from an unsolicited and misspelled email? Really??)

And in writing news....
I tried to jump ahead in my Maass workbook, to just do his list for an outline that's at the very end and discovered to my dismay that in order to complete that, I need to do his exercises.


There are no shortcuts in this writing thing, are there?

Hangs head and goes back to exercise fifteen.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Little Help Here?

Find a need and fill it. ~ Ruth Stafford Peale

I"ve made a decision regarding one of my WIPs. My characters, previously unknown to one another prior to their "cute meet" in chapter one, will now have an earlier history together.

One of the things that now happens (behind the scenes backstory) is that my heroine's brother and the hero are in the service. And when they come home from boot camp for a short visit, she gives them both something. This "something" becomes a permanent memento for my hero, who doesn't see the heroine again for more than 15 years after that. But he always carries that thing.

Here's my quandry. What is it? I've been mulling it over since yesterday morning and I can't decide. It needs to be small, so he can carry it with him, but sturdy so it won't get wrecked over time and with abuse. I'd like it to be significant in some way, but when it was given to him, it was as though he was another brother, not a love interest.

Any suggestions? I'd love a little help.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Mid-Week Miscellanea

Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you? ~Fanny Brice

Welcome to my babbling. Let the brave and bored continue...

Elliot's gone from American Idol. *sniff* I didn't think he was exactly "Idol" material, but I sure liked him.

Night before last, I lost most of my birdfeeders to the bear in my backyard. Thankfully, the dog woke us up this time and scared the critter away before he wrecked my nicer, metal feeders. He did take or destroy my suet feeders and my finch feeder, so I ran around yesterday replacing them. It was sad in the morning, though... I only had one semi-usuable suet feeder, and I had a backup of woodpeckers in the tree waiting their turn. I almost got to see the bear this time -- hubby did, but I ran for the camera (yes, I scrapbook) and the dog scared the bear away before I got to the window.

Speaking of feeders, I need to stop typing and go put them out before there's a bird riot outside (the sun is coming up -- it's 5:30 a.m. and the birdies are very vocal). Be right back.

I'm back. Miss me?

The only one waiting outside was the resident squirrel, and he was apparently content to be eating from the seeds that the bear spilled the night before.

Don't kids get skipped grades in school anymore? I've requested to skip my daughter, and the SAU doesn't seem to have a clue how to do it. Of course, I homeschool, and that may be what confuses them. Regardless of their decision, my DD started third grade curriculum this week since we already finished second grade. She's so excited! She loves learning and "doing" school. I wonder how many other folks can say the same about their seven-year-olds?

The sun came out yesterday for the first time in a week -- though it did pour down rain last night. We went for walks, and bikerides and worked outside a little. It was wonderful. Today is nice, too, but there is more rain due for Friday and the weekend. That's not good.

I've been trying to work on a new WIP and still edit Camilla. When I was simply editing, I lost the desire to write anything. Facing the computer or a pile of paper was more than I had any desire to do. I accomplished nothing. So, I've given myself permission to do both, and it's working. I've found that I can think about two things at the same time. Shocking, but true.

The Maass Workbook is both helping and hurting, I think. He makes you really, really think about what you're writing, but at what point do you overthink stuff?

I had a friend go to a writing conference in Maryland last weekend. I'd sent her my Crusie/Mayer book (Don't Look Down) for autographs, because she got to meet my hero, Jenny Crusie, whose warped and wacky sense of humor is so satisfying for me to read.

I discovered that my dog is only 55 in people years. I thought she was older.

Hubby says that relocation plans are on hold for a bit. He discovered that the county he was considering moving to is the county that receives the largest number of tornados in Missouri. That's not a good thing. So, we keep looking.

Today, we have gymnastics at the Y and then home to be outside again. Yay! My niece will go to work at 1 p.m. and DD will have her quiet time (to use to finish her seatwork from school) and I will write. Something.

I could go on forever with this rambling, but never fear. I won't.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

No Matter What

I willingly trust myself to chance. I let my thoughts wander, I digress, not only sitting at my work, but all day long, all night even. It often happens that a sentence suddenly runs through my head before I go to bed, or when I am unale to sleep, and I get up again and write it down. ~ Simone de Beauvoir

Last night I sat at our breakfast bar reading (and it was wonderful). My daughter was in the tub, and hubby was watching "screaming man" -- aka Cramer the stocks guy on MSNBC (I think... he annoys me, so I'm guessing).

From w-a-a-a-y upstairs I hear a call. "Mom!" Not urgent as if she was in trouble, just an "I need you." I put my book down and climbed the stairs to the bathroom, and as I did I thought about something interesting.

She never called again. It took me a little while to get to her, but she called out once with the absolute assurance that I would be there for her. What an amazing feeling. As adults, I don't know that we carry that kind of complete certainty that we are loved and cared for. That those who love us would drop what they were doing and be there for us. No matter what.

It made me think more about that kind of love and I realized that that is what I want my H/H to feel in my books. I know, I know, mostly that's what all authors are trying to portray -- complete, lifelong, unconditional love. After all, "happily ever after" is what romance novels are all about. But I seldom think that about the characters I read about. I imagine that's because so many authors rely on circumstances and misunderstandings to keep their characters apart (I saw him in the same room as Slutwoman, so he must not love me) and I can't help but think, if a person is so easily mislead into being angry to the point of dumping someone, then how can that other person fall in love to the point of having that absolute assurance the person of their heart would be there -- no matter what?

It may be why I enjoy romantic suspense. Because we get to see characters willing to throw themselves in front of a bullet for the object of their affection, proving their loyalty to that person -- no matter what.

So even though I don't write suspense (yet ... it could happen), I want to illustrate that willingness, that devotion to another in my books. To make sure my reader knows that my characters are completely committed to one another.

No matter what.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

How We Are and What I'm Doing

The second storm that was supposed to hammer us last night mostly missed us and went out to sea! Yay!

All the dams are holding thus far, and only two homes have been lost to flooding (though many, many, have been damaged). Yay, again!

The far side of KMart in our town is clear and open, so we can actually get into town again (we had no mail yesterday because our post office was down that way, and couldn't be accessed). Yay, again, again!

I'm venturing out today -- didn't yesterday because town was still closed until the afternoon, but I'm sick of these walls, so I'm going somewhere.

Hubby stayed home yesterday and worked from here. Unfortunately, that meant that I couldn't do any work on the computer (I have my own, but he BLASTS music when he works and I can't concentrate) and upstairs my daughter was in desperate need of entertainment. So yesterday was written off as a writing day. I'm hoping to get some time in this morning. After I write this terribly important blog.

I'm excited, for the first time in a long time, to do some work on Camilla - maybe because it feels like new writing. I'm changing the beginning a little bit and I can't wait. I have it figured out in my head, I just need to see if it works on paper.

So, I'm gonna go now. And write.

Public Service Announcement

We interrupt this blog to post the following public service announcement. Hie thee to a bookstore or library immediately and pick up the following (if you haven't already):

I read these books because two other folks recommended them to me. I started to read The Givenchy Code on Saturday and thought, oh bother another chick lit book with a lady who likes to shop. Whoop-de-do. I'm not a lover of chick lit because I'm not a typical chick (Yes, I admit, I even buy my shoes at Payless or WalMart -- there, now you know my deepest, darkest secret).

That all changes after the first chapter and then you're on a rollercoaster ride - WHOO HOO! Couldn't put the blasted books down. Chick lit meets Thriller. And oh so well written. I haven't said that in a while.

So if you're looking for something to distract you from writing, this is just the ticket.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.


Monday, May 15, 2006


Hubby called last night on his way home and I asked him to go get our niece from work. It was a good thing I did. The National Guard is out and blocking all the roads in and out of my town and you can only get in if you can prove you live here -- my niece's license has the address of her parents home, not ours. In any case, after being stopped TWICE on the way home, they arrived safely.

We're grateful that our house isn't in the danger zone. We're pretty high up and only have a creek out back (that's swollen, but not going to flood our house unless it rains for many more days). Hubby says that the Merrimack River is only inches from overflowing two of the bridges he passed and that would be really bad if that happened.

The state is all but shut down. Guess we'll have a houseful today -- so much for my peaceful Monday! Poor daughter... she's homeschooled, so no "rain day" today for her. I just hope the rain stops soon. I checked out the radar loop on Intellicast and the storm is just sitting there and NOT MOVING. Go. Away.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Trapped and Wet

The town in which I live is CLOSED to all outside traffic. And one by one, they are closing all of the roads that lead to where I live. Currently the two major routes in and out of here are closed -- with those big orange things that they use on the highways. Flooding like crazy. Un-freaking-believable.

My husband is out there in it somewhere -- he drove up to check on his uncles place on Lake Wentworth. My niece just called from her job at Target and said she didn't know how she was going to get back home because they're closing all the roads.

A few pictures from around the state that I swiped from WMUR - our local news station.

Ahhh.... Spring in New England.

Wet... and No Sign of Stopping

Check it out -- the K-Mart near my house:

All of the nicer restaurants in this part of town are across that flood, and they've closed most of the roads in my town, so no Mothers Day brunch for me today!

Now, if I could just occupy my daughter, who has extreme cabin fever, I could get some writing done.

Pray for New Hampshire because there's another storm right behind this one (and this one is just sitting on us and not going anywhere). You know it's serious when we make the National News. Good thing I know how to swim!

Happy Mothers Day

Mothers are the place where love
Emerges from the earth,
And happiness rings out like bells
In honor of our birth.

Mothers are the sun that lights
For life our inner sky,
So we may know that we are loved
And need not question why.

Mothers are the moon that shines
Upon our black despair,
So even when we weep, we know
That someone's always there.

Whatever fear, or stress, or pain
Might them to anger move,
We know that underneath the storm
We have, always, their love.

-- Nicholas Gordon

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Brain Is Dead...

... so you get a quiz today.

How You Life Your Life

You tend to deprive yourself of things you crave, for your own good.

You tend to avoid confrontation and stay away from sticky situations.

You tend to have one best friend you hang with, as opposed to many acquaintances.

You tend to dream big, but you worry that your dreams aren't attainable.

Aside from the "avoiding confrontation" thing (that is NOT my strong suit), this is pretty close to right on. Most of the deprivation of things that aren't good for me relate to food -- doesn't everybody do that?

But the rest? Well... yeah. Especially that old "dream big" thing. I've always had big dreams, as long as I can remember. But I'm still here, typing my blog in the basement and not on a book tour. How can that be?

No worries. Still dreaming.

Friday, May 12, 2006


No two men ever judged alike of the same thing, and it is impossible to find two opinions exactly similar, not only in different men but in the same men at different times. ~ Michel Montaigne

I got my contest results in the mail today, with lots and lots and lots of feedback. That was great! Even better, they ALL THREE liked Maynard! Woo Hoo! (And they all three commented on how odd it was that they did, stuff like, "You even made the rat likeable.").

Still, after reading the comments I'm not sure if I should submit Camilla immediately or quit writing altogether.

I know I've said this before, but the difference of opinions on my entry is astounding. Check this out:

My characters are wonderful!

Your H/H are both strong, likeable characters...the characters are well-defined, real and your ability to weave in the animals as characters, too, especially Maynard.

Or maybe not so much.

I don't feel any sympathy, caring for any of (the characters)...

And it goes on like this throughout. All three judges gave lots of feedback, which was great, but one wasn't terribly kind about the things that she said, and that was a little tough (good preparation for the "real world" if I decide not to chuck it all and run off to the Carribean to take up underwater basket weaving from my beachside hut).

I'm going to go and let this all soak in a little.


Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them.
~ Dion Boucicault

I'm exhausted.

It's raining here for the third day, and shows no sign of stopping (this is partly my fault -- there was an outdoor gathering scheduled for this weekend that I dreaded, so I prayed for rain... but I didn't mean two weeks worth!), my niece -- a sweet girl, yes, but -- doesn't know the meaning of being alone and is glued to my side, my daughter is bouncing off the walls, my husband is terminally grouchy because he hates his job and my cat keeps waking me up too early (I tried locking her out of the bedroom, but then she just knocks on the door all night). I still love my dog and my mom, but that's about it.

Guess what I haven't done lately.

Yup. Writing.

I started work on that great short story idea I blogged about a couple of days ago, but it's flat. I tried to work on editing Camilla, but I just stare and think, "Ah, it's okay the way it is."

My husband asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day.

I want a hotel room with a laptop computer for 24 hours of solitude. I can't even imagine.

And... hey... what' up with Criminal Minds???? Huh??? Stupid, stupid season finales....patience is not my strong suit.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Fickle Fans

"If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good." — Thomas J. Watson, Jr.

So I, like a bazillion other people, watched American Idol last night. If you TiVo'd the results and haven't watched it yet -- stop reading NOW.

Because I can't ever wait for the results, I always check Dial Idol on Wednesday morning to see what they have to say, cuz they're always pretty close and it gives me a general idea of what's going to happen on results night. Yesterday, when I checked it, I thought -- uh-oh, Katherine is going home because there's no way Chris "He Is The Next American Idol" Daughtry will leave.

In every poll, on every message board, since the very beginning Chris has been the overwhelming favorite. Not by a little bit, but HUGE. I've watched as his popularity has dropped off a little each week by I would never have guessed he would leave.

The public is fickle and demanding.

And this neatly segues into my post from yesterday and many times before: You just don't know what people want.

Check out M: I3 -- the studio is panicked because it's NOT MAKING ANY MONEY.

The "blockbuster movie" of the year is a bust. They predicted it would be a huge hit, and by all rights it should have been. I wanted to see it way back when. And then Tornado Tom hit.

Who could have predicted that Tom Cruise would turn into such a slimy, yecchy, weird-o that I (and apparently most of the rest of the county) can't even stand to look at him? How can it be that he's gone from Maverick to ... this?

You just don't know what people want.

So... as I'm writing, and wondering if something I've written will sell (this is always in the back of my head) I have to remember the basic truth that the public is a fickle fan and can change its mind on a whim. Today, what I write may be marketable, but when it comes out a year later may bomb.

There is no right story or wrong story. Just good timing that's impossible to predict.

So R.I.P. Chris Daughtry -- even though I didn't enjoy your music, you were fantastic in your niche, and I'm sure we'll be seeing your CD out in the next year or so.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Love Me or Hate Me?

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone." -- Bill Cosby

I received my contest scores yesterday (no feedback yet, and I gotta tell you, I'm on the edge of my seat). These were the strangest scores I've ever gotten (which is why I can't wait to see the judges comments). Check it out:

Out of a possible score of 100 -

Judge 1: 100
Judge 2: 67
Judge 3: 65

I had a third judge because of the discrepancy of more than 20 points in the first two judges score. And that judge hated me even more than the second!

What's mind-boggling to me about this is that one judge thought my entry was perfect. If I had received say a 91 and a 72, it would have made more sense to me.

Still, what this has done is prove how completely different readers (and writers) personal tastes are. As a writer, I do the best I can with the stuff set in stone (like "no head-hopping"), but the rest is really all about my uniqueness. My voice.

I write kind of humorous stuff. Not rolicking, roll-on-the-floor humor, but I can't ever seem to keep a completely serious face. I suspect that this is part of my appeal -- or lack thereof. Not everybody gets the joke. And for those who don't, my writing slips on a banana peel and falls flat on its face.

I was really bugged at first, but by the end of the day I just shrugged and thought, "That's the business of writing."

Truer words were never spoken than the saying, "You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time."

Still, I'm dying to know what was so utterly offensive in my entry to judges two and three. Hope it wasn't Maynard, cuz I love that fuzzy little rat.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


If you want a laugh, check out this post from the Wet Noodle Posse blog:

How I Got Jennifer Crusie’s New Book .

Ideas, Ideas Everywhere!

There are stories in everything. I 've got some of my best yarns from park benches, lampposts, and newspaper stands. ~ O. Henry

Yesterday I realized that I hadn't submitted anything anywhere in the month of April. I was horrified. And determined to not let that happen again this month (which is already 30% over).

I had very little time to myself yesterday -- we had errands to run that required a long drive and most of the day and it's going to rain much of the rest of the week, so all the outside stuff I wanted to do needed to get done upon my return.

But even amongst the business, ideas popped into my head without even trying. I got a doozy of a short story idea while I rested for about fifteen minutes. I thought my brain was tired and shutting down, so imagine my surprise when the bones of a short story outline flashed before my (closed) eyes!

Where do you get your ideas?

What a crazy question. I've decided that this can only come from someone who doesn't write, or isn't meant to be a writer. Everything I see or think has potential.

A building was recently built on a road near my house. It's a huge warehouse-like building with a satellite dish and a bunch of other official looking stuff on the roof. There is no sign out front to designate what type of business it is, so my mother (from whom I inherited my writing gene) and I have decided that it's the CIA. There's a story in there.

Once I was at the park watching my daughter play and a large, colorfully dressed woman with a ball cap sat on the bench one over from me. I looked away, looked back and she was gone -- replaced by a slim man in a ball cap. I never saw her at the park again that day. Did she morph into that man? There's a story in that.

Normal people would think, "Huh." and go on with their lives. I think, "Cool." And write a story in my head.

Where do you get your ideas?

Look around you. They're everywhere.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Short Stories

"The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense." -- Tom Clancy

I try to write and submit (somewhere) at least two or three short stories every month. Sometimes they're really short -- so I send them to somewhere like Flashshot (100 words or less). I have two stories being published with them this month.

Sometimes they're a little longer, but still flash fiction so off they go to somewhere like A Flashers Dozen or Flash Me.

I still throw stuff at Womans World now and then, ever hopeful. I have one story with them right now and should hear back from them by the end of this month (or so). Fingers (and various other body parts) are crossed.

The thing I find, though, is that writing a short story -- a good short story -- is harder than writing a novel. To flesh out your characters and have a beginning, middle and end in so few words is tough. And, to be honest, I don't read very many short stories that I enjoy because the author hasn't done this.

Still, writing the shorts and sending them out gives me a sense of doing something constructive. Of taking baby steps to reach my goal of being "A WRITER". Of actually starting, editing, finishing and submitting something on a regular basis. My focus is the longer stuff, but I still enjoy the shorts.

What about you? Do you write short stories for submission now and then? Or is it all about the novel for you?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Mind of Her Own

"Writing is not a profession, occupation or job; it is not a way of life: it is a comprehensive response to life." -Gregory McDonald

I worked on my latest WIP yesterday. Used it for a prompt in my writing group. Named the main characters (this was HARD -- at first all of my names began with the same letter, and I was so sold on them that changing any of them was hard). I also discovered that this is a mystery. I had no idea until the lady living in my heroine's parents home told her.

Does this happen to you? Do your characters spring stuff on you unexpectedly?

Originally, this was simply going to be a secret baby mystery. Yup. One of those. Since half the latest releases (and most of the last thirty years releases) from Harlequin were something like "The Prince's Virgin Bride and her Secret Baby", I thought -- what the heck. Just for fun. I was going to save this book for NaNoWriMo this year. Still might.

Anyway, when my heroine came home yesterday, she found out her mom was murdered and everyone thinks her dad did it -- but he's disappeared, so they don't know for certain.

I've never written a mystery before. Wonder if I'm up for this...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Written In the Stars

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no help at all." - Dale Carnegie

From Astrology for Writers, Editors and Filmmakers:

Capricorn: If your work life isn't busy, something is really wrong. Mercury in your House of Daily Work brings lots and lots of offers for new projects, re-writes, new collaborators. Take names and numbers and promise an answer as soon as you can clear your desk of previous committments. $$$ isn't a problem for you now.

Hmmm... could be an interesting month for me then, huh?

"...lots and lots of offers for new projects, re-writes, new collaborators."

So, who wants to come over and play? Let me know, and we'll do lunch. Gotta admit to not being thrilled about that "re-writes" thing.

"$$$ isn't a problem for you now."

*laughs* Clearly the stars haven't looked in my back account lately.

I think I prefer my Humorscope:

Capricorn: A creature from the 7th dimension will become attached to your leg, and will be impossible to remove. Eventually, you'll simply get used to it.

This has already happened. I call her "my daughter".

Friday, May 05, 2006

Pity Party Is Over

Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm. -- Winston Churchill

Okay, now that I've had the night to get over not finalling in the contest I entered, I'm feeling better. I also read that article in the latest RWR about persistence and that helped.

That article also pointed out something: that every book you write may not be publishable. That they may just be for learning and practicing your craft. I think that may be true of Playing House and maybe even for Camilla. We'll have to see how it goes.

In the last contest I finalled in, the first round judges loved my entry, but the Harlequin editor hated it. That got me to thinking about whether editors are really in touch with what people want to read. I'm not saying what I wrote was perfect, but I found it interesting that I got unbelievably high marks from three readers and then flopped with the editor.

I'm just hoping that the feedback on my entry is good and constructive. And I'll be interested in seeing what my scores were -- whether I was at least close, or flopped badly.

By the way, has anyone else realized that this year is almost half over? We're in the fifth month! Wasn't it just Christmas? Where the heck does the time go?

Okay, I'm going to go work on the character profiles for the next book for now and putter through some more of the Maass book for Camilla. Onward and upward. Right?

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Got the contest results.

Didn't final.

Must go eat chocolate.


I Am Omnipotent

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." -- Calvin Coolidge

Well, Cal Coolidge said I am ... sort of.

I have persistance. I am determined.

I am woman, hear me roar (in numbers to big to, da, da...).

I have a plan. I'm stopping my actual editing in Camilla (which really takes a load off) while I finish trying to wrap my brain around Donald Maass's workbook. THEN I'll go back and make my changes. Because, it seems every time I've figured out where I want to go with "stuff", he asks a question that sends me off in a different direction.

And, I am going to do much of his workbook for my new idea before I start it. Some of what he has you do in his book can only be used for existing drafts, but honestly, I'd like to keep editing angst to a minimum because if I ever have to totally tear apart a book and try to put it back together again I may never write another novel. I mean, for crying out loud, I have three sitting around right now that need serious reassembling and I really, really, really hate editing.


I also decided to give myself permission to start working on the bones of the new novel: characterizations, scene cards, a basic outline. I may have to write some scenes, though, because that's one of the ways I get a handle on my characters and see how they act and think.

Now, to find the time. Yesterday, I couldn't go pee without someone sitting outside the door waiting for me. I. Never. Had. Time. Alone.

My husband got home at the same time my niece left to hang out with her boyfriend and my daughter was in her shower. He walked in and smiled at me where I sat, curled up on the couch with a book -- that I hadn't read one lousy word out of all day -- and I said, "This is the first time I've been alone all day." I think I must have growled it, because he did an about face and went into the kitchen to eat dinner.

Yes, I felt a little bad. No, not that bad. I'm telling you, I had the shakes from being around people all day. People that talked to me and expected me to talk back. UGH.

Oh, and my niece made me feel unbelievably old yesterday. She saw me right after I washed and dried my hair and hadn't pulled it back yet. I have BIG hair - thick, curly, frizzy hair that I usally pull into a braid or pony tail ... and she went "Whoa!" and I said, "Yeah, kinda like Diana Ross on a bad hair day." and she said, "Who?"

Whaddya mean, "Who?" c'mon... Diana Ross... hangs head.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Woozy Wednesday

"Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life." - Lawrence Kasdan

My niece, whom I adore but who is a typical teen (okay, 19, but still), is staying with us for a few months.

I don't recall if I've mentioned before that I'm very much a loner. As in "leave me ALONE for a couple of hours every day -- if not more -- or I will absolutely lose my mind and not be responsible for my actions."

I got no writing done yesterday. My daughter was so excited about my niece being here, that she was up early (kinda like Christmas morning). And, between the two of them, I had someone on my tail all day.

Go down to the mushroom pit to check email? Five minutes, people. Didn't matter. Niece followed me down to chat. ACK! I know, I know... she's lonely. I get that. And she's sort of drifting right now -- This year of college over, finding an apartment and starting at a new school... and there's so much more that I could write a soap about it (for instance, why is she living here when her mother and step-father live only a few miles away? Well... remember the evil step-mother in Cinderella?)

Additionally, she and hubby are both night owls. Before that wasn't a problem. Hubby would stay up watching TV quietly. Now he stays up watching TV and talking to her. Loudly. And, oddly, she talks back. Just as loud. Did I mention that the TV room is directly below my bedroom? And that I'm a light sleeper?

Lack of sleep + oversleeping = no writing

So there you have it, folks. Life as I know it is over. For three months.

But, I should be able to gather info for a killer YA book. I just don't know when I'll have the time to write it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." -- Goethe

I'm struggling with my writing currently... it's not really "writers block", but I don't have a better name for it.

Have you ever looked at something so long that it no longer makes sense? You know, like when you write some word over and over and eventually it seems like it's spelled wrong?

That's where I am with Camilla. But I don't want to stop working on her story. So I stare at it a lot and wonder where the places are for me to edit in the changes I need to make. Thankfully, I have some great writing friends who are helping -- and catching weird things that I miss, but they can't download my brain, my ideas and thoughts, into my novel.

It doesn't help that I have an idea for another book that's nagging me either. I don't want to start on it until I'm done editing Camilla, but I'm wondering if it might help to bleed off a little of the pressure. You know, work up character profiles or something.

Then there's the fact that I'm still trying to submit short stories on a monthly basis, just to keep something in submission to be hopeful about until I can start querying with Camilla -- if I ever get her done.


I've got the butt in chair part down, hands on keyboard... yup. It's the actual working part that stymies me.

How are you?

Monday, May 01, 2006


I just found out that the contest that I'm in -- that was supposed to announce their finalists by April 30th -- has been delayed. They say it should only be for a few days, but I'm pulling out my hair, here!


I need to stop submitting stuff, I swear, I'm a jinx. Submit a short story, the eZine goes out of business. Submit a flash piece, the editor gets leukemia. Now this.

I swear. Stay away from me. I'm cursed (LOL... the first time I typed that it said "I'm cursing"... Freudian slip? I think not).

Real Life You Can't Put in Your Novel

I've been thinking, over the past few weeks, of things that happen to us that would never make it through editing in your romance novel. And, I'm trying to figure out how I could write them in one of mine.

  • Your heroine finds her first gray pubic hair.

  • Your heroine starts her period while in bed with the hero. (Okay, this rates on the squick meter, so maybe I won't use this one, but I often wonder why women never have periods in romance novels unless it's required in order to show that they aren't pregnant.)

  • Your H/H (either one) sneezes, and a booger comes out for a visit.

  • In a moment of spontaneous sex, you heroine realizes that she hasn't shaved her legs in a week.

  • The hero wakes the heroine up for some nookie in the morning and she rolls away saying, "Ugh. Morning breath."

Most of the stuff that bugs me about real life vs. novels is that missing icky stuff that always happens, yet never gets mentioned. I suppose that we read to escape, but sometimes I wonder what's really going through the hero's mind when, after a week on the lam in the jungles of Brazil when he and the dark-haired heroine can't fight their feelings anymore, and begin foreplay on the leaf-covered ground. He whips off her clothes and looks at her trim, curvaceous body ... and she's covered in stubble from head to toe.

Am I the only one who wonders?