Monday, April 30, 2007

New Contract, New Group, and Just News

"Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results." - Willie Nelson

I just heard back from an editor at The Wild Rose Press , Champagne Rose line -- they've accepted another of my stories! I was beginning to get worried about this one... they've had it for quite a long time, had requested a rewrite (from first person POV to third) and I was afraid I'd done an awful job with the change.

But the editor loves the changes and offered me a contract for my story, "Pregnancy Cravings". It's more lighthearted than any of my others. Honestly, I'm surprised this is my first funnier one that's being published, because that's my favorite kind of writing to create and to read.

It was a good way to end my weekend. Yesterday was a l-o-n-g day. Aside from the fact I was sleep deprived, my DD was very needy. She is apparently coming down with a cold (her first one all season -- and immediately after her vaccination for chicken pox at the Doctor's office... coincidence? I think not) and was clingy. I got no writing done at all, because DH got up at the same time as me in the morning as well...

In other news, I'm signing up with a few other Wild Rose Press authors for MayNoWriMo (it will probably actually start a few days into May and end a few days into June). I think I may be crazy. It's a slightly altered version of NaNo, but should give me my fix until November (I really like doing NaNo). The rules are 30,000 words in thirty days -- and you can work on an existing project if you want. The idea is to finish something - a novella, the rest of a novel that's been languishing, or whatever. Anyone else want to join? I'll send you the Yahoo group address if you're that crazy :-)

Oh... I nominated this post of Allie's for "best blog post" over at Write From Karen. If you like the post as much as I did, go vote for it!

I've been thinking a lot about promotion lately... it was a comment from my DH that made me realize I should do a little bit more, even if it's "only" short stories that I'm promoting. I mentioned that I was making us millionaires one dollar at a time, and he said, "Just sell a hundred thousand of your stories, and we'll be on our way."

The Wild Rose author who started the WriMo group, above, has fifteen reviews on Fictionwise for her story. I have a total of seven between both... based on what I sold over there, and the percentage of people who left reviews, she sold A LOT more than I did. Not a few, a lot. So, I know it can be done. Of course, she's writing paranormal, and it may be that there is a larger audience for vampires than for "sweet" romance, but still... Any thoughts?

I was going to end this with a meme, but the Monday's a Bitch meme is all about video-gaming. The first question is about your favorite system... Um... I don't have one? We have, in fact, been told that we are abusing our DD because we don't have a gaming system. In all seriousness.

So instead, I'll give you this:

You Are a Plain Ole Cup of Joe

But don't think plain - instead think, uncomplicated
You're a low maintenance kind of girl... who can hang with the guys
Down to earth, easy going, and fun! Yup, that's you: the friend everyone invites.
And your dependable too. Both for a laugh and a sympathetic ear.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Situation Sunday

When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice. ~ William James

Lo-o-o-o-n-g Night. Almost no sleep. Tired. Must meme.


SITUATION SUNDAY - What would you do?

1) You are standing on the edge of a cliff, you have 2 ropes you are hanging on to. On the other end of one rope is one child, and on the other rope is another. You know you can't pull both of them up, only one. What do you do?

You know... I'm usually a pretty decisive person, but in this instance it would be tough. Also, I'd need more info - how old are the kids? Is one of them mine (yeah, yeah, they're both kids ... but it would matter)? Mostly I can picture myself standing there, holding on and yelling for help until someone came or all three of us went over the side.

2) You are invited to dinner at a co-workers house. You get there and all is going good. The meal comes out and it is something you would never eat- Possum stew, with a side of frog legs. How do you handle it?

"I'm sorry, but I'm a vegetarian." And then I'd sip my soda and have a bit of the salad or potatoes.

3) It is late at night and you are driving a hundred miles to get home. Your cell phone has no service. The road you are on is not one with lots of traffic. You break down 10 miles from home. Do you stay in your car, hoping some one will come by or walk, run the rest of the way home?

After sitting there for a minute, I'd grab my pepper spray and head out.

4) A friend asks you something that is totally against your principles. You do not want to hurt their feelings. How do you handle it?

"Totally" against my principles? No question. I'd slap them upside the head, tell them that they know me better than that, and walk away.
These (and the previous two weeks questions) would be interesting to have your characters answer. I think many of the character questionnaires are boring and not insightful enough. I like these kind much better.

I have several entries in my contest to win a book, but there's always room for more. Have YOU entered yet?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Feeling a Bit Long-Winded

We probably wouldn't worry about what people think of us if we could know how seldom they do. ~ Olin Miller

This is a post that rambles along and doesn't much go anywhere. You've been warned.

Hey... I won a contest at the Debutante Ball! If you haven't gone over there, you should. They make me laugh almost every day. Judy has two of their books, and I'm waiting for a report. Judy?

Allie wrote this blog post yesterday about a friend who gave an odd response to the news that Allie was having two novels published this year. I find that I get a similar response from many folks about having my stuff accepted at The Wild Rose Press. I suspect it's because, to a non-writer, it's just not that exciting. They aren't going to realize the years (and years, and years) you've spent writing, honing your craft, submitting stories and novels and collecting hundreds of rejections ... Of course, not everyone goes that route. If Brenda Coulter wasn't so nice, I'd hate her. Check out her comment to this blog post.

I got my quarterly royalty statement from Wild Rose and it looks like I can keep myself in printer paper for another month or two. DH will be distraught that we can't buy that lake front property yet, but I'll keep forging ahead :-)

I also got the galley's from my Vintage Rose story, "Miles From You". I'm excited! I really like this story. I can't wait until you all can read it. But first, I need to go look for typos.

I had a wonderful writing day yesterday, and it's those kind of days that keep me going. I wrote almost 2000 words on my novella, and even better -- I liked the direction they took the story. Oh sure, they'll need editing. And I'll need to add a bit more emotion (it was an emotional scene, and I kept a little distance from it which isn't a good thing), but it worked. I'd been stuck for a few days, so it was quite refreshing to sit down and have the words come.

I checked out my stories on Fictionwise the other day, and found my first not-so-good review. Up until now, all the reviews were either Great or Good. I now have an "OK" on my record. At least they don't allow worded reviews, or I would be very sad to know why they didn't particularly like the story.

Gay wrote in a post the other day about how negative critiques, particularly those from people you respect, can make you think about quitting.

I've walked in those shoes, and talked about that here a little... writers talk about their work as "babies" and I've made the comparison myself. No one likes to hear that their baby is ugly or stupid or bad. The difference is this: if someone told me that my DD was ugly (or stupid or bad), I wouldn't believe them. She's beautiful, smart and wonderful.

Yet, when someone criticizes our writing, we think, "Are they right? Is this garbage? Am I fooling myself?" Though I've gotten better at keeping the really negative stuff at a distance, it still affects me. I don't question my writing ability, and I know I can't stop writing, but it can be demoralizing and keep my production down while I mull it all over.

Clearly, I should wait to write these posts until I've finished at least one full cup of coffee. I hope my rambling didn't drive you crazy... Rain here today. Again. Ugh.

Have a lovely day.

Oh... and enter my contest. C'mon, you know you want to!

Friday, April 27, 2007

By The Numbers and More Miscellanea

"For ever and ever, we say when we are young, or in our prayers. Twice we say it, do we not? For ever and ever... so that a thing may be for ever, a life or a love or a quest, and yet begin again, and be for ever just as before. And any ending that may seem to come is not truly an ending, but an illusion. For time does not die, time has neither beginning nor end, and so nothing can end or die that has once had a place in time." Spoken by Gwion in "Silver On The Tree" by Susan Cooper

Today's quote is dedicated to Toby von Rockyfellow... you know who you are.

Just some randomness today.

I just finished reading "The Dark is Rising" series by Susan Cooper. They're making a movie of the book by the same name -- it will be released next fall, and I have high hopes for it. But I wanted to refresh my memory for the story -- I've read this series several dozen times, and love it. It ranks up there with The Prydain Chronicles and the Wrinkle in Time series as my favorite childhood books.

*

From this post at the Debutante Ball, I discovered how to find out if my name = success via numerology.

Using "Marianne Arkins" - the name that impacts my writing life, here's what I got from this site:

Expression: 66 / 12 / 3
Self-expression is the gift you bring to the world. Whether through the arts, writing, drama, music or through some other field, you bring joy and inspiration to all by your sunny outlook and creative talents. You can assume a new role at any time, all mediums are open to you as methods of self-expression.
Looks like it works for my chosen occupation, hmmm? I was deeply involved in drama for most of my life, played the flute for many years, and now writing. I tried art for a while, and though I was able to get pretty technically good, I didn't have that spark, so have since given it up.

Soul Urge: 26 / 8
Achievement is your motivating force and you will take on the biggest challenge in order to make the longest strides. You will often be chosen as the leader in groups and in functions where organization, strength and determination is needed. Psychology interests you because it enables you to understand the people that you are leading, as well as the competition. Inside, you have the need to excel.
Um... Yeah. What they said.

Personality: 40 / 4
You appear to be conservative, practical and hard working to those who spend time around you. People think of you as disciplined and focused, and thus they seem to automatically trust that you are reliable and honest too. Some may think you do such a good job at your own responsibilities that they try to give you a few of theirs!
I find it just a little eerie that this has me pretty much pegged -- especially when you consider that Marianne Arkins is not my birth name. Weird?

*

I'm really enjoying the novel I'm editing. It's quite unconventional, though, and I wonder about finding it a home. Certainly no category press will pick it up (IMHO), but I don't care. It was fun to write, it's entertaining me again, and I'll finish it up and send it out and see what happens.

*

My DD has an appointment with her doctor today. I have a really bad feeling she might be due for some shots. Ugh. I also mentioned that he would probably look at her girl parts. She clasped her hands in front of her crotch and exclaimed in horror, "MY PRIVATES?" Wait until she learns about pap smears...

*

A friend's dog crossed the rainbow bridge recently. He was old, but it's never easy. My poor dog probably doesn't know what hit her. I can't seem to stop touching her and hugging her as if to make certain she's still there. My neighbor (who is NOT an animal lover, and so surprised me by her insight) said yesterday that the loss of a pet must be doubly difficult because they don't ever intentionally hurt us. She's right. It's that whole unconditional love thing. Every time I lose a pet, I think that I can't go through that again... but I do, over and over. I wonder if my heart will ever break beyond repairing?

*

It's going to pour down rain today. This isn't good... I don't think all of the streams, lakes and rivers have receded enough to take it. Fingers crossed for no floods.

*

It looks like I'm not going to meet my monthly submission goal in April. Bummer. Guess I'll tack on my shortage (one submission) to May. I hate that, though. I've been doing so well and I never like to miss a goal.

*

Happy weekend!

Win A Book!!! Part 5...

Attention bookworms!

Time to give another book away! Leave a comment if you would like a chance to win a FREE book -- you have until next Thursday (May 3,2007) at 7 p.m. EST to enter. The number of comments will then be shuffled through random.org and the winner will get to pick from my library!

Winner announced next Friday morning. Spread the word -- tell a friend -- post it on your blog. The more the merrier!

Good luck!

NOTE: I'd originally limited this contest to residents of the US due to postage constraints, however, Alice made a great suggestion: If you live outside the United States, I'll happily substitute one of my stories (your choice) from The Wild Rose Press as your prize instead of a print book from my library. If you live outside the US, and are okay with that option, then feel free to enter each week!

Congratulations to our past winners:

Judy
Shauna
Anno

And the Winner Is....

The Winner of my fourth weekly book giveaway is....

ANNO!


Random.org chose Anno as this weeks winner. Congrats! Email me your snail mail address and your choice of book from my library, and I'll send it off as soon as possible.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Booking it Seasonally?

The time to read is any time: no apparatus, no appointment of time and place, is necessary. It is the only art which can be practised at any hour of the day or night, whenever the time and inclination comes, that is your time for reading; in joy or sorrow, health or illness. ~ Holbrook Jackson

Sorry this is late... I had trouble with internet access this morning. If it's Thursday, it must be time to Book It!



Seasonal reading


Does what you read vary by the season? For instance, Do you read different kinds of books in the summer than the winter? If so, do you break it down by genre, length of book, holiday, or...?

Nope.

I bought "Santa Baby" by Jenny Crusie (et al) as soon as it was released, but then tossed it on my TBR shelf and didn't get to it until well after Christmas. I don't look for lighter fare in the summer, or heavier reads in the winter -- I read whatever tickles my fancy whenever it does the tickling.

Apparently my DD gets this from me, considering she watched "A Muppet Christmas Carol" only a few weeks ago.


Don't forget to enter to win a free book -- The drawing is tonight at 7 p.m. eastern time, so you still have a few hours.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Win a GC and Learn Stuff, to Boot!

Allie has her Writers Wednesday post up -- and it's a doozy. Plus, just by leaving a comment, you're entered to win an Amazon.com gift certificate. How can you lose?

When Do You Know?

“A talented writer can write women, men, dogs, pigs. They can write old people, young people. Does a writer have to be insane to write the part of someone insane? I know he has to be insane to want to be a writer, but that isn't the point.” - Dirk Benedict

I think I've used that quote before, but I absolutely adore it. Besides, with the return of the original (and *ahem* best) "Battlestar Galactica" on TV, I have Dirk Benedict on the brain.

Now...

First off, apparently Samhain Publishing was having a bit of trouble with their site or bookstore yesterday, and Ceri's (pronounced "carrie") book, "Sweet Forever", wasn't released until late last night. So, if you tried - and failed - to get yourself a copy, please try again today.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled post.

Yesterday, along with working on a short story that I found in my "incomplete" file and remembered how much I loved, I worked on revisions to my novel. As I tidied it up and posted an excerpt at my writing group for feedback, I got to thinking: When do you know it's done?

See... this book went through an initial edit with me, then I sent it to a writing friend with great instincts and talent (Hi, D!! *waves*). She went through the entire thing and gave lots of great input, which is what I'm working through now. So, technically, I'm on a third edit.

And yet, I'm still missing stuff (like duplicate words and phrases -- especially those I messed up due to cutting and pasting) and getting lots and lots and lots of input on how things could be done a bit better or made clearer. I'm working with this feedback as I get it, so the book it going through a fourth edit now as well.

How do you know when it's done?

Another friend is taking a short story writing course where the class lecture indicates it takes twenty drafts to get the story right, and up to three years! WHAT?!? And that's the time for a short story.

I imagine I could polish this novel until the cows come home, and someone out there would still have an opinion on how it could be better. At what point do you just bite the bullet and send it out?

My plan is to have this in the query stage by mid-to-late summer. After its third/fourth edit (actually, I won't have the time to post it all in my crit group, so will probably wing it at the end by myself). Guess time will tell if I think its done, won't it?

Have you entered my contest yet? Why not? You don't want a FREE BOOK?

And... just for fun:

What Your Hands Say About You

You are logical, analytical, and rational. You have good verbal skills.

Idealistic and dreamy, you tend toward the impractical. You have a knack for getting yourself in sticky situations.

Brainy and intelligent, you are intellectual to the point of being incomprehensible.

Your emotions tend to be nervous and potent. Your energy - both positive and negative - deeply impacts your life.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Friend's New Release!

There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray

Today's blog is all about a new release from a friend of mine -- I'm excited to announce that "Sweet Forever" by fellow New Hampshire-ite Ceri Hebert is being released by Samhain publishing today!



Torn between the home she loves and the man she’s falling in love with, Hayden must decide which one she will leave behind.

When Hayden Merrick travels to meet her grandmother for the first time, she doesn’t expect to find the father who abandoned her or a man who could prove to be the love of her life.

There hadn’t been much time for romance in Ben’s Winslow’s life and no woman has interested him enough until Hayden arrived at his neighbor’s home. As soon as he meets her, Ben believes she could be the woman he’s always hoped for, but he has to convince her life could be just as sweet on the prairie as on the coast.

Hayden’s plans to return to her home are put on hold as she struggles with a difficult decision—pursue a life in South Dakota or return to the one she’s loved at the edge of the ocean? Ben hopes he can give her the best of both worlds.


Read An Excerpt Online

Congratulations to Ceri!

=============================

Today is also my daughter's eighth birthday -- time is flying by. It seems like I just had her yesterday (or, at the very least, last week). At this rate she'll be in college by May.

I'm just thrilled that the weather is nice enough she can wear a dress or skirt -- she's a girly-girl (except when she's playing in the dirt, though she'd prefer to be wearing a dress to do that, too) and it'll be a nice treat for her to dress up for her birthday.

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Have you entered to win a free book yet?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Bike Rides and Baby Bunnies

Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them. ~ Brendan Francis

First off -- a public service announcement: Groovy needs help meeting her pledge for the Trek Across Maine bike ride benefiting the American Lung Assn. I figure that she's doing all the hard work - 180 mile bike ride (yikes!), so the least I can do is donate a few dollars. If you feel the spirit move you, I invite you to do the same. Here's her page, and here's her husband's page.

Even if you don't, you should check out her blog. She's always good for a laugh :-)

(But, Groovy, the frame is mine... sorry).

Now, a funny story.

I've discovered that there are just some things I can't imagine somebody doing -- when I'm working through character interviews for my H/H and secondary characters, I try to crawl outside my own feelings about things and mix it up a little. But yesterday, my neighbor and I were exchanging wildlife stories, and she told me one that made me realize that I just can't dream up some stuff.

She mentioned that a little, baby bunny found its way into her backyard. Let's all give a collective "Awwww..." c'mon, you know you want to. Baby bunnies are right up there with fuzzy baby ducks for the "aw" factor, aren't they?



I admit, I went "awww...", but she looked at me very seriously and said, "But the thing wouldn't leave. And the girls wouldn't go outside to play -- they kept screaming, 'It probably has rabies!'".

Her girls are nine and eleven -- just at the "awww..." age, one would think. Apparently, one would think wrong.

I can picture kids afraid of dogs, or snakes, or bats, or spiders... but bunnies? Amazing.

Bet if I wrote that little scene in a book, no one would believe it could happen. Actually, I've done that before -- written actual stuff that's happened (usually to me, which makes me wonder how strange a life I must lead) and my writing group will tell me that it's completely unbelievable that it could happen.

What thing has happened to you or someone you know that most folks would find difficult to believe?

EIGHTY DEGREES today... Woo! (We won't talk about the 50 degree weather coming up in a few days).

Have you entered to win a book yet?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Oohh...Cool contests!

5 Minutes for Mom is giving away a Digital Photo Frame! It's quick and easy to enter, so if you're like me and have hundreds of digital photos languishing on your computer, go forth and enter.

Even better, they posted links to some more great contests. Woo!

If you know of any other contests, let me know and I'll spread the word. Free stuff is good!

The Good Earth

Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration. ~ Lou Erickson

Yesterday, after shopping for my DD's birthday (she turns EIGHT on Tuesday -- how did this happen when she was only born last year?), I worked outside in my garden. I've found that gardening this year is the perfect example of living for the day but planning for the future. We may end up moving cross country at some point this summer, but it's not certain. Planting a vegetable garden that I may not be around to harvest seems a little silly - especially when you consider how labor intensive it is - BUT... what if I'm still here in August?

Anyway...

I tilled the garden by hand because, along with lots of rocks, I also cultivate earthworms. Two years ago, I bought a ton of them (the ones that were there just were multiplying enough to make me happy) and they seem to love the place. I swear, some of them are as big as snakes (which can make gardening quite the adventure).

Anyway...(and, yes, this is how I talk -- tired yet?)

I use a pitchfork to turn the garden so I don't chop up all my little friends. I emptied my composter, and was thrilled to see that, despite my lack of care, most of what I'd dumped in there had indeed become nice black dirt!

DD took complete advantage of the mess and sat in the newly loosened dirt, rubbing it all over any exposed skin. By the time she was done, her legs and arms had quite a "tan". Clearly, I'm not the kind of mom who worries about her little ones getting a bit dirty, LOL... Though I do wish I'd had my camera.

I was flat out exhausted by the time I finished. And yet, I had to carry the DD (all 85 pounds of her) upstairs to the shower so she wouldn't track her "tan" all over the house. I threatened to spray her off outside, but the water is barely above freezing and I'm not (quite) that cruel.

After all that exercise, I should have dropped a few pounds... However, I don't think I'm quite in this league (though I do like her sentiment):

You Are Most Like Liv Tyler

“I don't want to spend so much time obsessing about myself.”


And now, I need to go. Strangely, after stating publicly yesterday that I had no ideas for a short story, one popped into my head. I need to get it down before I forget it... So, I'm off to write.

Happy spring! And... have you entered my book giveaway yet? No? Why not??

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Writing Woes and Wonderful Weather

Books want to be born: I never make them. They come to me and insist on being written, and on being such and such. ~ Samuel Butler

I hit 20,000 words on my novella yesterday, and I'm nowhere near finished. When I originally came up with this idea, I'd planned for it to be a 55,000 word novel. As I began writing it, I decided it didn't have enough going on to make it that far. Now? I'm beginning to wonder if it just might make it. Probably not, but I'm amazed at how much this story has changed and grown as it dribbles from my fingertips (I wish I could say that it flies, but some days it's absolute torture to write).

I've been utterly blank on the short story front, though. This is an odd occurrence for me -- I typically have half a dozen story ideas rattling around in my brain. Currently, I have nothing. I do have about ten short stories that I've started and haven't a clue how they end... I may pull one of those out and play with it to see what happens.

The good news is that my Vintage Rose story, "Miles From You" has gone to production. I'm not certain how long it will take to be released, but it should be available soon -- and as always, you will be the first to know.

I've also been working on editing one of my novels. As I go through the story, I've discovered how very visual I am. Even though I truly concentrate on using all the senses when I write, for the most part I flop. In real life, I'm also quite visual and I suppose that could be why it's so difficult for me. I wonder... maybe if I spend some time blindfolded and try to write something based only on what I hear, smell, taste, etc., I'll open up my other senses a bit.

A few days ago, Brenda Coulter blogged about a real life experience that helped her with one of her heroines. This is the kind of thing I want to use to deepen the writing even more.

Today, getting anything accomplished will be tough -- aside from the fact that DH is home, the weather is supposed to be gorgeous! Sunny and 70 degrees!! Woo! Staying inside is probably not an option, but I'll do my best. In fact, if I finish up here I can do my writing now, before that amazing yellow ball rises in the sky.

Yesterday, I took the DD to The Butterfly Place in Westford, MA. She had a ball.



Remember: A new book giveaway started yesterday. Have you entered yet?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fifteen Things...

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!" ~ Robin Williams

Thought I'd try the Friday Fifteen today, just for grins!

Fifteen Things I Discovered Outside Yesterday

Yesterday was our first sunny day in a long time... and spring is beginning to do it's thing (finally), so I thought I'd take a stroll around the estate grounds. Here's what I found:

1. I have giant crocus plants blooming in my "purple" garden and I don't remember planting them there.

2. The deer ate all my tulips. Again. You think I'd learn.

3. We have a chipmunk living inside an old gas tank my DH threw out back last summer. The intention was to let whatever fumes evaporate, and then take it to the dump. I'm guessing all the fumes have evaporated, but I feel a little guilty about taking someone's house. I'll have to give it some thought. Perhaps we could relocate it somewhere a little less obvious?

4. My neighbor's dogs poop in my yard more than my own dogs do.

5. I lost my two boxwood bushes and my scotch broom (again -- this is the fourth year I've tried to grow scotch broom, and the fourth year that it's died. You think I'd learn).

6. The birds made an unholy mess of sunflower shells under their feeders over the winter.

7. The birds don't like the unshelled (aka "Mess Free") bird food I just bought for them -- they land on the feeder, check it out, then fly to the feeder that has the last of the shelled sunflower seeds and eat. Little buggers.

8. My daffodils have buds on them. I can't wait to have some color outside. Finally. Spring comes late to the northeast.

9. My neighbors at the end of the cul-de-sac are already riding their *&^% dirtbikes around down there and kicking up mud and rocks all over the place. I don't understand how people can be utterly inconsiderate of others who have to live in the same space.

10. The squirrels love to sit in my froggy feeder and eat their pumpkin seeds (my plan this year is to feed the squirrels and chipmunks and hope this will keep them out of my garden where they go take ONE bite out of each tomato).

11. Even at 3 a.m. this morning, it was still warm enough to stand in the doorway while my dog did her business.

12. I am utterly out of shape. I walked about half a mile yesterday and my hips ached. Maybe that's just being forty...

13. Despite the beautiful weather yesterday, no one was outside in it! People are so weird out here...

14. Fresh air smells amazing. Today, all the windows will be opened in the house -- it's going to be 60 degrees!

15. I really, really, really love the spring. It's the best possible way to follow up a miserable season like winter.
Don't forget to enter this week's new contest!

Win A Book!!! Part 4...

Attention bookworms!

Time to give another book away! Leave a comment if you would like a chance to win a FREE book -- you have until next Thursday (April 26,2007) at 7 p.m. EST to enter. The number of comments will then be shuffled through random.org and the winner will get to pick from my library!

Winner announced next Friday morning. Spread the word -- tell a friend -- post it on your blog. The more the merrier!

Good luck!

NOTE: I'd originally limited this contest to residents of the US due to postage constraints, however, Alice made a great suggestion: If you live outside the United States, I'll happily substitute one of my stories (your choice) from The Wild Rose Press as your prize instead of a print book from my library. If you live outside the US, and are okay with that option, then feel free to enter each week!

And the Winner Is....

The winner of my third weekly book giveaway is:

SHAUNA!

Woo!

Shauna, email me with your book choice from my library and your snail mail address, and I'll get it out to you shortly.

Congratulations!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Booking it Shamefully?

“... the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering - these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love - these are what we stay alive for.” - Robin Williams

First off, can I just say (re: American Idol) -- It's about freakin' time.

Yesterday in the comments, Alwyn asked me what I was reading now. This ties in to my booking it answer, so let me proudly state that I am currently in the middle of:



Of course, I never read only one book... so I'm also reading:

Over Sea, Under Stone

How & When to Tell Your Kids About Sex

101 Ways to Help Birds

Okay...moving on.



Booking Through Thursday

Okay, there must be something you read that's a guilty pleasure . . . a Harlequin romance stashed under the mattress. A cheesy sci-fi book tucked in the back of the freezer. A celebrity biography, a phoned-in Western . . . something that you'd really rather not be spotted reading. Even just a novel if you're a die-hard non-fiction fan. Come on, confess. We won't hold it against you!

I'm trying not to leap upon my soapbox at this question, but it's a struggle. Why does anyone think they have to hide their romance novel under a mattress? Maybe only if it's a Harlequin? Why is genre fiction looked upon as some kind of nefarious plot by authors and editors to somehow lower a person's IQ?

Sometimes, I read for edification or education, as you can see from the above non-fiction books -- but mostly I read for entertainment. I proudly write romance, and would love a contract with Harlequin. I face persecution for this decision constantly -- even in a writing group I was involved in (but am no longer).

I do draw the line at books with sexy covers -- but ONLY because I'm just not up to talking to my seven y.o. daughter about them. The only book I've had to hide lately is How & When to Tell Your Kids About Sex, because "when" isn't quite "now" and my DD is VERY curious about everything.

Okay, stepping down. But I can't promise I won't leap back up.
Have you entered my contest yet? Today's the last day (for this week -- remember, tomorrow morning, I start a new one!).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hurry... Win an Amazon GC

Allie is having her weekly "Writers Wednesday" and is offering not one, but TWO chances to win an Amazon gift certificate... all you have to do is go to her blog and comment and then go to The Wild Rose Press blog and comment again! Woo!

You can bet I got my rear end over there and had my say.

The Little Things

“Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing.” - Werner von Braun

I got tons of feedback on the first part of my novel I'm editing. It's frightening at what I missed (like a duplicate phrasing of something ... UGH). Yesterday, as I went through "Miles From You" on paper, I found duplicate words and some commas out of place. This from a document that I'd gone over a dozen times before submitting, and that my editor had gone over as well. Why is it that everything looks different on paper than it does on screen?

How do you edit -- do you print off your work or do you use the computer exclusively?

I admit to having a blast learning about the 40's when I wrote this story. Even yesterday I found a spot that didn't ring true -- my heroine starting her car. I vaguely remembered an old vehicle (called "The Beast") growing up that had a choke. So, I called my mom and asked, "Did cars in the forties have a choke?" And she answered, "Yes. And a start button."

A what?

Crikey.

It's the little things that'll trip you up, and one of the reasons I haven't written my 1953 story yet.

What about you? Do you like to write stories set in the past? Do you worry you'll miss something tiny in your research?

Do you like to read older stories? I like historicals set in the 1700-1800's on occasion. But, I discovered that I don't like stuff set much before then. I tried reading a book set sometime around 1000 AD (can I still call it "AD"?) and hated it. Tried several times to read books from around then, didn't like it at all.

So... have you entered my contest yet?

Edited to add:

I have to admit to feeling like I should have said something about the shootings at Virginia Tech in my blog yesterday, but didn't want to talk about it. Rest assured, I know it happened and I'm sick. It got me to thinking about the fact that my DD was born only a couple days after Columbine, and the newspaper front page I saved for her is all about that -- not the way I'd like to commemorate her birth, but there it is. What happened at Virgina Tech was a terrible tragedy, it's awful, and that's all I'll say about it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Little Bit of That, a Pinch of That

“The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles” - unknown

Storm update:

My family is truly blessed by the location of our home. There is flooding all around us -- the local K-Mart (about 1.5 miles down the road) and all the nearby roads and shops are underwater. My DH went up north to Lake Wentworth (where I set one of my upcoming short stories) to check out his uncle's lake house and his brother's lake house... both homes are okay, but the roads around his uncle's place are washed out.

My SIL (about half mile away) had her basement flood.

The news reports in excess of 65,000 homes without power.

Us? Aside from a sloppy wet lawn, we're fine and dandy. Amazing.

Writing update:

Seems as though a first round of edits is all the editor wants from me for my Vintage Rose story (set in 1948), "Miles From You". I'm taking one last look at it today and off it goes to be set up for release. Wow, that was fast!

I'm nearly done with the novella I'm writing, tentatively called "A Family Melody" - you'll see a word count tracking bar on my sidebar, if you're interested.

I'm also editing a completed novel, with the intent to submit it by late summer. I've included a tracking bar for that editing as well.

I got quite a bit done on both yesterday, which surprised me a little since I wasn't able to settle down well. Still, I'm not complaining!

Miscellaneous Rambling:

I've been all but house bound for three days, however... I'm getting the heck out of here today. I can't go north easily since the roads are closed all over the place, and I can't go to Bedford, since highway 101 washed out. That leaves Manchester. Maybe I'll hit the mall -- it's still raining, so it's not like I can get outside, darn it.

BTW, if you haven't entered my contest yet, what are you waiting for?

Melissa, I started "Marriage for Baby" last night. Finished chapter one... so far, so good!! Really, that's saying something because I haven't found a category romance that I've enjoyed enough to keep reading past chapter one in a long time. Thanks! I can't wait to get back to it.

Oh... something that excited me: Tori posted in her blog yesterday that there's a movie of Susan Cooper's "The Dark is Rising" coming out this fall! That was one of my absolute favorite series -- in fact, I purposely bought it in hardback a few years ago, so I could have it forever. I'm thrilled. If you haven't read these books, you should. The first one, "Over Sea, Under Stone" is technically the first, and not very strong IMHO. Probably, you should read it, but don't judge the series by it -- because once you hit book two... you'll be hooked.

I only hope that the movie does it justice.

What movies are you looking forward to?

Monday, April 16, 2007

April Showers Bring New Ideas

A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault. ~ John Henry Newman

I am doing a little dance of joy because, though the worst of the storm seems to be overhead (and from a glance out the window, it appears that the one birdfeeder I left out has blown down - there will be some happy critters when they find piles of seed on the ground), and there are lots of gusty winds but NOT snow (yay!) -- it's rain, rain, rain! I imagine there are flooding problems, but I'm thrilled that we don't have two feet of snow and that the power, at least currently, is still on. Phew.

I didn't get much writing done over the weekend, but eked out a few hundred words. I did get the first round of edits on my story, "Miles From You". The editor thinks it's remarkably clean, which makes me oddly nervous. I have a few things she'd like me to look at, but every other time I've gotten a story back for edits, there have been many places marked up in track changes.

Not that I don't try to write well, mind you. I do. I just know that I'm far from perfect. So, I'm going to go through the story myself and apply several of the suggestions I've gotten from my other two editors and see what I can find. I certainly don't want to offer a substandard story to any of you!

You know what the best part of writing is? Even when you can't get to the computer (or Alphasmart, or notepad), your brain doesn't stop. No one can take that away from you. Though I didn't get many words down this weekend (my DD was unusually needy and seldom left my side for more than five minutes -- I imagine I'll miss that when she's grown, but it was exhausting the past couple of days), I couldn't stop thinking about my WIP... about the parts I think are weak, and what I want to happen. It helped me consider some changes and additions that I may not have thought of otherwise.

I wonder, is it possible that we need time away from actually writing, now and then?

Edited to add:

Don't forget to ENTER MY CONTEST.

Edited to add more:

I'm so thrilled to discover that PAX TV (which is apparently now "ION" TV -- who knew?) is showing the original (and best, IMHO) "Battlestar Galactica" on Sunday nights!! Woo! Starbuck as a hot, sexy, arrogant MAN. Yes, I know, but I just can't get over it...

I'm telling you, finding this out absolutely made my week.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Success vs. Stalling

"Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for." — Ray Bradbury

No bad weather here yet, but I checked the radar loop at Intellicast, and it's right on the edge of town... I dreamed last night that we had a flash flood that wiped out our front step, tree and birdfeeders (I was most upset about the feeders...LOL).

I was reading in O Magazine yesterday (once I got past all the advertisements and perfume samples that gave me a wicked headache -- UGH) and stumbled across this little blurb on the bottom of one page called "Simmons Says..."

It's a brief set of quotes from Russell Simmons about his book "Do You! 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success". A couple of things really smacked me upside the head. I'll share, so you can be smacked, too (the emphasisisisisis -- emphasi? -- are mine):

"The reason most people fail to reach the finish line is that they confuse a SETBACK with a FAILURE... A setback isn't a dead end: it's just a learning curve on your journey to success."

"Stalling is much easier than starting. But...it actually makes your life harder. You have to START before you can succeed at anything."
There were more, of course, but these were the two that spoke to me.

Writers are probably quite aware of the difference between a setback and a failure -- think of the gazillion rejections we have to go through to get one yes. Still, it can be demoralizing, and it's always good to consider the setback as a lesson.

And the stalling thing... sheesh. How many people say, "I'll write when I have time." and then never "have time"? You think I have time? Nope. I have NO time to spare in my life. But when something is important to me I make time. If you were swamped with work, and then someone gave you two tickets to a show that you were dying, DYING, to see... would you find the time to go? Would you get up earlier, stay up later, give up lunch to go?

If you want to write, you have the time.

And that's my lecture du jour.

Don't forget to ENTER MY CONTEST. Anno, those Jenny Crusie books are still available... want to try again?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Stormy Weather

Weather is a great metaphor for life - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and there's nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella. ~ Pepper Giardino

I have little to say... I'm still feeling shocked that we're expecting the latest "storm of the century" up here. I am hoping it'll come in the form of rain -- selfishly, I suppose, since our home is on high ground and wouldn't flood. It's just that, if we get it as snow, it's going to be a mess everywhere. They're anticipating 60 mph winds along with it, so power outages are almost a certainty. Thankfully, we have a wood stove for heat BUT we rely on power to get water from our well (no potty flushing without it), and don't have a generator. OTOH, we do have a creek out back AND if it's raining (or snowing), we have access to water from heaven :-)

I picked up a few gallons of drinking water, just in case. And we always have extra food on hand, so that's not an issue. I'm just seriously bummed, and hope all the hoop-la is for nothing, that the storm will just drift off to see down in Virginia somewhere.

It's expected to hit beginning on Sunday, so if I drop offline Sunday or Monday, you'll understand what happened.

The worst thing is, it's supposed to be just gorgeous today, and I'm having a difficult time enjoying that because of what's following behind! (Memo to myself: Enjoy the moment you're in!).

Gay, if I could come visit, I would... California's looking pretty good right now (Of course, to me, California always looks good -- I miss my home state).

Anno, I don't think we're getting the same storm that hit you guys -- that one came through yesterday. This storm is coming from the southwest (thus becoming a nor'easter -- the worst kind of storms for us) and looks like it'll miss your neck of the wood entirely.

In the meantime, if you haven't entered this weeks contest to win a book, what are you waiting for??

Friday, April 13, 2007

This Isn't Even Funny...

Devastating Storm Heads East
Friday, April 13, 2007

The entire eastern half of the U.S. is bracing for a monster storm, the likes of which one forecaster says occur "once every 20 years."

A storm system heading east from the Rockies is expected to strengthen over the Atlantic and form a huge nor'easter that will barrel up the East Coast, bringing gale-force winds, driving rain and heavy snow to much of the eastern half of the country.

Forecaster Brian Korty says the entire eastern part of the U.S. will feel the effects in the coming days. He calls it the kind of storm that happens "once every 20 years."

Accuweather.com predicts the storm will flood low-lying areas and cause coastal erosion. Inland areas could see a record-breaking snowstorm.
I'm seriously not laughing, folks...

Have I mentioned recently how much I hate living in the Northeast??

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream...

Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives. ~ William Dement

I've had the most awful dreams lately. What do you suppose they mean?

Last night I dreamed I was being haunted -- my window blinds wouldn't close for me, but when I turned away, SLAM! Down they came. I'd hang up my jacket, it would fall off the hanger, over and over until finally the entire rod in the closet came down. I went out to lunch at Wendy's and mysterious muddy footprints followed me.

I'd never been so happy to wake up.

The two nights before, I had dreams of being chased. I don't recall all the details, but I was hiding and running, hiding and running. Always just barely a step ahead of whoever was after me.

Okay... anyone into dream analysis?

I just want to rest when I close my eyes, darn it.

I finished my first round of edits on Magic. I adore my editor, even when I want to cuss at her. We'll see what she thinks of the changes.

I managed to work a bit on my latest WIP as well, though the hero is beginning to annoy me -- the man will not do what he is told. I keep trying him to go an get things cleared up with his old girlfriend, and en route he'll make detours to see the heroine. Yesterday, I sent him to the old girlfriend's home, but instead of going straight to her ranch, he turned left into town and went to the business the heroine owns. Bad boy. I need to get things cleared up between him and the old GF before things can be resolved with the new.

Guess this story's going to be longer than I anticipated.

Happy Weekend! And don't forget to enter to win a book!

Win A Book!!! Part 3...

Attention bookworms!

Time to give another book away! Leave a comment if you would like a chance to win a FREE book -- you have until next Thursday at 7 p.m. EST to enter. The number of comments will then be shuffled through random.org and the winner will get to pick from my library!

Winner announced next Friday morning. Spread the word -- tell a friend -- post it on your blog. The more the merrier!

Good luck!

NOTE: I'd originally limited this contest to residents of the US due to postage constraints, however, Alice made a great suggestion: If you live outside the United States, I'll happily substitute one of my stories (your choice) from The Wild Rose Press as your prize instead of a print book from my library. If you live outside the US, and are okay with that option, then feel free to enter each week!

The Winner (part 2) is....

The Winner of my first weekly giveaway is: JUDY!! Woo!

Judy, just head over to my special Library Thing listing and choose a book. Send me an email with your choice and your address to marianne @ mariannearkins.com and I'll get it on its merry way.

Congratulations!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Booking it Late

Last Thursday, I was so brain dead that I didn't realize I could have booked it for the blog... I did some other meme or quiz. Gah.

This morning I am not quite so brain dead (an amazing fact when you consider that my edits are killing me), and thus give you:



Where Does the Time Go?

Booking Through Thursday

Have you ever missed an important appointment because you have become so engrossed in a book you forgot the time or were up so late reading that you didn't wake up in time? Been late to work because you couldn't resist the temptation and left the house too late?

No. No,no,no,no,no.

Gah!

I am utterly anal about punctuality and usually end up wherever I'm supposed to be several minutes early. I always HAVE a book. I read in the waiting room or wherever. I do stay up later than I should occasionally, and sometimes let something at home slip in order to read, but I never, never, never leave late for something.

Now... forgetting an appointment because my brain cells are getting too old to retain information? Absolutely. But that's another meme entirely :-)
My DD cracked me up yesterday and it made me realize how much what I tell her sticks in her brain (a frightening thought). Some time ago, I explained to her Anne Lamott's theory about taking one thing at a time so as not to get overwhelmed.

Yesterday, she was doing math problems on the board, and this particular type really has her frustrated:

2 qt. + 1 gal. - 12 oz. = ___ oz.

I reminded her that she needs to only focus on one conversion at a time. She grinned, looked over her shoulder and said, "Take it bird by bird, right?"

That's right.

:-)

Don't forget to go here to enter to win a book! I'll draw the name tonight, and start a new contest tomorrow, so check back!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Got My Latest Cover!

I just received my cover for the my latest Wild Rose Press story, "Miles From You". I like it!



And, I updated my website "bookshelf" to include it as well... let me know what you think!

Editing "It"

"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile." - Robert Cormier

Those of you in my writing group will realize that this morning's post looks a bit familiar. It is. :-)

Yesterday, I received my first round edits on my Wild Rose Press story, "Magic". I love my editor, but some days she makes me want to beat my aching head against a wall. She challenges me.

I think the frustrating part of the editing process is how many times I do something that I know isn't right. Like writing "squat down", when I'm pretty certain it's impossible to "squat up".

I think part of the problem is focus. I focus on things I know I do and so let many other things slip under my radar. I have begun to make a list of things to look for and do a read through for each one -- of course, the way my list is growing, reading through my work will take the better part of my life!

Here are a few I added from this round of edits:

"IT" -- My Sweetheart Rose editor dislikes the use of "it". And, after she explained why to me, her reasons make perfect sense (for instance, I wanted to use "it" twice in that last sentence, but figured out a way to make my meaning clearer without using the pronoun).

Some examples (taken from my story):

It really was beautiful up here. - Her comment: As much as possible avoid this vague pronoun. Go for the specific—the scenery or the view or nature

It was a tradition, even after all this time. Her comment: Reword to delete the ‘it’ and add what the tradition is—the vacation, the trip, the reunion—and make tradition the last word—for sentence strength.

It was good to see everyone again. Her comment: Reword and personalize to what she’s feeling—POV character only knows her own thoughts and feelings.
That's not to say she suggests changing every "it", but she's made me aware of the times I can strengthen my writing by being more specific.

Here's one I knew, but didn't always catch - avoid using "telly" phrases like: she felt, she heard, she saw, she tasted, etc. (for more practice on this, go to Allie's last Writer's Weds and see her post on showing, not telling).

AND, she's pushing me to use more sensory detail -- again something I realize, but forget to include when I get writing. In fact, I posted a writing prompt to my group a couple weeks ago with this challenge! My editor has asked me to describe things in more detail and use all the senses. Though I know this, intellectually, I tend to forget to do it. My suggestion for myself? Go back through EVERY paragraph and see what I can make stronger. Did my heroine sip her coffee? Was it hot, cold, tasty, strong? Did it smell rancid or bland? Did she warm her hands on the cup?

I don't know how other editors work, but I have to tell you: The Wild Rose Press editors teach me so much, challenge me so much, and help me to make each story as strong as it can be. I really love these guys.

Hey -- don't forget to enter to win a book! I added a couple more yesterday... Right now there are only a few people in there (you have to comment on THAT particular post), so the odds are high that you'll will!

Have a wonderful day :-)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thinking Blog?

Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. ~ Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun

Coversgirl nominated me for the Thinking Blogger award. Huh. Though I realize that I think all the time, I'm never really sure I cause anyone else to do so. Regardless, I accept because it's a pretty cool little doohickey for the blog, don't you think?



The rules:
1. If, and only if you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display your "Thinking Blogger Award" with a link to the post that you wrote


So... which blogs make me think? There are many -- I do a lot of bloghopping, but I'll narrow it down to these:

1. Allie

2. Charity

3. Anno

4. Gay

5. Terry

Thanks to the Academy, and to my mom... thanks to all the little people and my fans... (music plays and beautifully coiffed, elegantly dressed women drag a protesting Marianne off the stage)

Win A Book, Pt. 2!

Nothing is so often irretrievably missed as a daily opportunity. ~ Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Okay... Here we go!

Every week (apparently on a Tuesday, LOL), I will give away a book from my library that I am choosing not to keep (I have a very small bookshelf, so even many good books can't stay... sad, but true).

All you have to do is leave a comment here, ON THIS POST (I only want folks entered who actually want to win). On Friday morning, I'll announce a winner and you can go to this specially set up Library Thing listing (where I also indicate the condition each book is in) and choose whatever book you'd like - then email me at marianne @ mariannearkins.com with your snail mail address and choice. This list may change with time as I may have more additions, so feel free to enter every week.

Please promote this giveaway, too. The more the merrier!

Please note: This contest is only open to folks in the United States, due to postage costs...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Monday!

“If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?” - Vince Lombardi

Well, we had a fairly quiet Easter... dinner here at home with DH, DD, my mom and I (and the dog, who always gets a small -- very small -- plate of her own during special holidays). After dinner, we headed over to my BIL/SIL's house for an Easter Egg Hunt -- they hid a ton of plastic eggs with goodies inside (we were told they hid 115 - we found 108... good thing they weren't real eggs). The only downside was having to dress the kids in their SNOWSUITS. Ugh. The snow is never going to melt!



I came home to a good news announcement from Allie. She hasn't posted it on her blog as of this moment, but I imagine she will soon -- so head over there at some point and tell her congrats!

This morning, my email box was packed full. Amongst the others was one from an editor of the Vintage Rose line at The Wild Rose Press offering my a contract on my short story (set in 1948 - a first for me) "Miles From You". I'm thrilled. I really loved this story when I wrote it.

AND, I won one of the BAFABW contests that I entered! Over at Verbatim, she let her cats choose the winner (and posted pictures of the ordeal)... Mr. Jones must have known that I adore kitties. I'm so excited!

This week, I am going to give away one book (of the winners choice) out of my library. First, I need to set up the books so you can see what's there, then I'll post the contest officially. I may do this every week until the books are all gone! Check back later this week (hopefully by Wednesday) for your chance to enter.

And, Anno... I have the GC purchased. I just need to figure out how to get it to you -- I have an email in to customer service and you should have it in your inbox soon!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter



Angels, roll the rock away;
Death, yield up thy mighty prey:
See, He rises from the tomb,
Glowing with immortal bloom.

~Thomas Scott, "Easter Angels"

Saturday, April 07, 2007

And the Winner is....



Straight from my DD's hand...

ANNO!!

I'll send you a Wild Rose Press gift certificate shortly.

Congratulations!!

Tune back in next week to see another contest, because this was just too much fun!

Whodunnit?

Somebody bought me a book for no reason! Today, in the mail, I received a copy of Melissa McClone's book "Marriage for Baby"... who sent it? C'mon you can tell me.

I'm dying here.

I'm also excited, because as I mentioned previously (to Melissa in this post), I haven't read any of her books. And, would you believe my library system doesn't have any (this is going to have to change... I have a big mouth, and I'm not afraid to use it).

So, thanks to whomever sent the book... I'm dying to know your identity.

Easter Prep and Pictures

“The best books for a man are not always those which the wise recommend, but often those which meet the peculiar wants, the natural thirst of his mind, and therefore awaken interest and rivet thought” - William Ellery Channing

No, the quote has nothing to do with my post today. I just liked it :-)

DD had craft day at her Gram's a couple days ago, and one of the things she did was decorate eggs. I don't buy white eggs (we're a cage free egg-eating family, and those only come in brown), so we had to get creative.

Here are her eggs:



She ate Prince John before I got this taken, so the royal family is down by one.

We're attending an Easter egg hunt on Sunday at my BIL/SIL's home. There should be eight kids there (though two are fresh out of the womb, and probably won't be involved, LOL) and a good time should be had by all, provided it doesn't snow.

Speaking of snow, I forgot to post pictures from the other day, so here is my lovely back deck after the storm (it does look a little better now, though still snow-covered):



Thousands of homes were without power after the snow -- a scary thing since so few people are prepared for that anymore. For instance, we're the only folks on our street with a fireplace. I can't imagine living out here (or anywhere it gets this cold in winter) without an alternate heat source.

What else? Oh, writing. It's going slow. I can't seem to settle down comfortably with just one project. So I hop from this to that to that one over there. Stuff is getting done, certainly, but I'm probably not working as efficiently as I could be. Still, I suppose something is better than playing Dice Wars continuously on the computer.

Today, DH will be home. DD has no school. I'm not certain what this will mean to my productivity. Since I have about 40 minutes left before DD gets up, I'll sign off here and see what I can get done before the house awakens.

Only one more day to comment and get your name in for the giveaway! Check in tomorrow to see the winner (or, if I can't stand it, I may post tonight after DD draws the name before she goes to bed).

Have a great day :-)

Win a Book!

THIS IS A STICKY POST... SCROLL DOWN FOR NEW ENTRIES.

con·test [n. kon-test; v. kuhn-test]
1. a race, conflict, or other competition between rivals, as for a prize.


It's that time again -- time for BUY A FRIEND A BOOK WEEK! What a great excuse to go out and get a book for someone, maybe introduce them to a new genre or share a book that you love. It's awesome to send a gift to someone, out of the blue, don't you think?

In honor of the week, I'm giving away a $5 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press (enough to buy a full sized eBook -- though you can certainly use it to buy several short stories instead!) -- and all you have to do is post a comment sometime this week. Every comment you leave gives you an entry -- so come back every day and say hello! I'll hold this contest all week (April 1 - April 7, 2007) and let my DD choose a name randomly at the end of her day (usually around 8:00 p.m.) on 4/7 and will announce the winner the morning of April 8th.

Sound exciting? Let me know what you think. You know what? I just this moment decided to start a bit early and will put all of today's comments in the pot as well. Enter early, enter often and tell a friend!

EDITED TO ADD: I'll put links to other BAFABW contests here (if you, or someone you know, is having a contest leave me a comment and let me know).

Karen is giving away a book of your choice from Amazon, up to a $15 value!

Judy is giving away a book of your choice from Amazon, up to a $20 value!

Amanda is giving away a book of your choice, up to a $15 value!

Susan Helene Gottfried is giving away several books, (but you'll have to check her site for the details)!

The Egret's Nest is giving away a book, up to a $25 value!

Two books are up for grabs at Verbatim!!

Booklogged is giving away three books from her own collection!

Framed and Booked is giving away your choice of a book from Amazon, up to $15 value.

Literary Feline is giving away the book of your choice, up to $15!

I'll keep updating as more contests pour in.

Friday, April 06, 2007

WikiHow, WikiHuh?

“"But I don't want to go among mad people," said Alice. "Oh, you can't help that," said the cat. "We're all mad here."” - Lewis Carroll

I'm pooped. Yesterday was a long day. How is it that spending the day doing nothing (well, except shoveling the driveway in the morning) is more exhausting that staying busy?

The dog and DD played in the snow while I scooped. Unfortunately, the dog played a little too hard and hurt her leg (the one she had surgery on last fall). Poor puppy. As a result, she put herself to bed at about 6 p.m. I knew this would result in her having to get up and go potty at some ungodly hour, but I didn't want to make her go up and down the stairs again on (or off, as the case may be, since she wasn't putting weight on it) her leg.

So, I was awakened at midnight because DD had nightmares. Again. Must come from a vivid imagination.

And then I was awakened at 3:20 a.m. by the dog to go out. I curled up on the couch and promptly became a cushion for the cat, until the coffee pot went off at 4:30 a.m.

*YAWN*

So if you're expecting anything coherent from me, you'd be mistaken.

I do have to share some funny things I've seen on WikiHow. The titles pop up on my home page, and sometimes I just have to look.

Most recently?

How to Open a Champagne Bottle with a Sword - Wouldn't want to simply tug the top off like a normal human being.

How to Rip a Phonebook in Half - Amaze and impress your friends!

How to Report a UFO Sighting - There's an instruction book for this? Really?

How to Regain Control of a Spooked Camel - I hate it when my camel gets spooked. Thankfully, it doesn't happen very often.

How to Stop Being Apathetic - I'm not sure what this says, I just couldn't summon the desire to open it.

How to Stop the Cycle of Reincarnation - Wait... what? Why wouldn't I want to keep coming back if I could?

There are so many more, it's amazing. But I'll stop for now.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The White Stuff

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water. ~ Carl Reiner

I'm speechless. I got up and looked outside my window (with the porch light on, cuz I get up early) and there was well over a foot of snow outside.

Spring has sprung with a vengeance.

Last weekend, I raked leaves out of my gardens, and oooohed and aaahhhed over all the sweet little baby plants poking their heads above ground. I figured this week or weekend I would turn my garden (carefully with a pitchfork, to avoid cutting up my earthworms who are rising to the surface as the ground thaws) and plant a few cold weather crops: swiss chard, peas, etc.

Now? Now I can't even find the garden.

Excuse me for a moment.

*&^%$#@!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have I mentioned, lately, how much I dislike living in the Northeast?

Worst part? DH will work from home in our shared office with music blasting. He can't work without it, and I can't work with it. So... zero productivity on the calendar today.

When the sun comes up, I'll take a couple pictures and post them here, just so you can thank your lucky stars you don't live here (my apologies and sincere condolences to those of you who do).

How are you?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Spring in New Hampshire

Earlier today (about 2:00 p.m.), we had a visitor in our backyard - a wild turkey! Here's a photo (taken from the upstairs window):



Yes, I know it's blurry... but I didn't post it for you to see the turkey. I posted it so that you'd notice that you can actually see the grass the leaves, the gardens, etc.

Here is a photo taken a few minutes ago from the back sliding glass door:



Ah... the joy of spring. They're calling for 6 - 10 inches of "spring" overnight. What's worse? I've lost my TV reception... I hope it's back in time for American Idol.

Warning: Put Down Your Coffee

This is unbelievably funny, in a good warped way. Be warned, if you have delicate sensibilities, it may not be for you.

Parents 1, Smart-Ass, Teenage Son, 0

Put Your Best Blog Forward

No man who is occupied in doing a very difficult thing, and doing it very well, ever loses his self-respect. ~ George Bernard Shaw

I spent a bit of time bloghopping yesterday (that's a shocker, I know) and started getting frustrated. Mostly, I read other writer's blogs and some reading/review blogs.

I'm not an English major, in fact I never even graduated college, but I do make every effort to write well, both in my stories and here at my blog. After all, it's what I do. And, I assume, when people who've never read any of my stories read this blog, they're going to judge my ability to write.

I know I do.

And therein, I run into the issue that perplexes me: writers who write poorly on their blog.

I know I make errors, and I've certainly had typos (though I try to catch them). Thankfully Blogger has spell check. But, it won't check for wrong word usage -- just like Word doesn't.

As a writer (and a teacher, considering I'm homeschooling my daughter), I make every effort to follow proper grammar guidelines and use correct words.

Passed vs. past
Led vs. lead
Whose vs. who's
Its vs. it's

I'm the first one to admit that I can NOT seem to remember, when using parentheses, where to put the blasted punctuation. I have Strunk & White, so I use it. The dictionary is online, as is the Chicago Manual of Style and there are dozens of sites that offer help for grammar problems.

IMHO, my blog is more than an online journal. It's proof of my ability to string words together and have them make sense.

Am I the only one who is put off by an author who continually uses poor grammar or spelling in their blog?

===================================

BTW, regarding yesterday's blog post: Melissa, thanks for your book recommendations. I have read many of the traditional Harlequins and am usually underwhelmed. I can't find any Avalon books -- my library system doesn't carry them and they're too expensive to buy sight unseen. I haven't however, read any of your books (I admit to blushing a bit when I write that) -- which is your favorite?

Keep in mind, it isn't the sex in books that I mind. It just needs to be appropriate. I also prefer something that Nora Roberts does better than anyone -- the sex scenes to be wrapped up in deep emotion. You don't have to tell me where his hand is every minute, or bother with insert tab A into slot B. I know how it works.

Gah... I'm ranting again. I'll stop.

Don't forget to leave a comment and earn an entry in my BAFABW contest!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Category Romance

There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection is the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted. ~ Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour

I've been reading some catagory romance over the past few days. I copied down all the Rita finalists and found the ones my library system had, interested in what other RWA authors considered the best romanctic category fiction. I also picked up several others that sounded interesting (or that my DD handed to me -- she always likes to "help" at the library, and I typically pop whatever she gets into my bag. It's as good a system as any!) or authors whose blog I read and enjoy.

Mostly, aside from the inspirational stuff, the focus is on sex. I'm sure they consider it showing romantic attraction, but really -- let's call a spade a spade. It's sex.

One book that I read (well, mostly... I just couldn't finish it and tossed it aside about 2/3 through) had the hero rescuing the heroine at the very beginning (it's how they meet), and as he's dragging her to safety, electrical sexual attraction zings through his body.

In another, that has a decent enough plot and H/H for me to finish (I think... I'm only halfway through), the H/H are being hunted by the bad guys, and still have time to exchange sexual innuendos constantly.

It's not that I have an objection to sex or sexual attraction -- I LOVE Jennifer Crusie and Nora Roberts and they have sex (uh... in their books, not with each other as far as I know), but it's tied to emotions and that's where these category romances failed IMHO.

I think it's even possible to feel a "zing" when you're being pursued by the bad guys, but not every freakin' second.

I keep returning to category romances to see what they are publishing because in my brain, it seems that's where I've always wanted to see my name in print. To be honest, sometimes I find some category stuff that I really like. But it's tough sifting through the dross.

Still, I have a pile of books. I'm going to try to make it through them and see what I find.

Anyone know of some good category stuff they can recommend?

Don't forget to leave a comment and be entered in my contest! Every time you comment this week, you earn another entry. Good luck

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Law of Attraction?

Love isn't blind, it's retarded. ~ Don Foster and Susan Beavers, Two and a Half Men

Twice this weekend -- once in a movie and once in a book -- I've had the (dis)pleasure of partaking in a romance story with a snarky heroine and a kind and gentle hero.

I know, I know, the brow-beating, arrogant, obnoxious alpha-males of the seventies and eighties have gone by the wayside (thank heavens... I like me an alpha male, but not the brow-beating, obnoxious kind), but have we replaced them with the female version?

In the movie, I was doubly horrified, because the man was played by one of my favorite male actors: Pierce Brosnan -- completely NOT a beta hero IMHO. But in this movie, he was. The heroine was insecure and took it out on him at every turn. He ripped open his chest and handed her his heart at one point (don't ask me why), and she chopped it up and served it to the dogs.

In the book, which shall remain nameless, it's the same way. The hero is thoughtful and kind, does nice things for the heroine and she slaps him down EVERY TIME. And yet, he spends the book thinking about how wonderful she is. HUH?

I'm all for a strong, self-sufficient woman as heroine. I don't have a problem with snarky heroines (I've got a couple myself). BUT. But don't they also have to have redeeming values that are evident to the hero? Should the reader/viewer want to reach out and slap both the H/H silly? Should I wonder WHAT ON EARTH the guy sees in her (other than the fact that both women were beautiful). Do men really think with other parts of their anatomy to that extent -- so that they fancy themselves in love with these women who abuse them?

Ack.

Okay, stepping down from my soap box.

To lighten things up a bit, I offer you this:

You Are Cyclops

Dedicated and responsible, you will always remain loyal to your cause.

You are a commanding leader - after all, you can kill someone just by looking at them.

Power: force beams from your eyes


Don't forget to leave a comment and be entered in my contest! Every time you comment this week, you earn another entry. Good luck!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Computer...

It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not. ~ Author Unknown

Yesterday, I had an itch to take a look at my NaNoWriMo book from last year. Though I completed it, I wasn't happy with the heroine I'd chosen for my hero. I loved my hero and have plans to use him again.

So, I pulled up the file in my NaNoWriMo 2006 folder called "complete first draft".

Guess what? At some point in time, it was overwritten by a short story and only the first 79 pages of my novel.

At first I thought, ahh... I just mislabeld it. So I pulled up all the files in that folder. No luck. The ironic thing is that I have an email account that I use only to email my writing. A sort of back up. I'd been in there last week and deleted the copy of this novel, because I needed space and figured I had it on my hard drive and didn't love it any way.

Guess it's a good thing I didn't love it. I'm still surprised I'm not panicking, though. I keep everything I write, crap or not. But it's almost a relief because there were some scenes I probably would have tried to salvage or twist to fit a new book, and I don't think it would have worked. Now I can't.

Can't think of a good segue this morning, so I'll just move on. I read this phrase in a Suze Orman book last night: When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.

Wow.

Again, this is something I've always sort of realized, but it's nice to have it shoved to the forefront again. It's along the lines of "don't dress for the position you're in, but for the position you want" (an adage given me by my mentor at the company I used to work at... she was right. I started as a receptionist, and ended up managing the sales department in less than four years).

For me, now, it means: walk the walk. Say, I Am A Writer. Not I want to be a writer, or someday I'll be a writer... I AM.

Have a great day.