Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What I've Read in 2010

Since 2010 is coming to a close, and I don’t suspect I’ll be finished with the current book I’m reading by Friday, I’ve decided to list all the books I read (completed) in 2010. (This is taken from the list I keep updated on the right-hand column, but that will go away on January 1st to start a new list). Let me know if you’ve read any of these or if you have any favorites.

I’m always looking out for the next Lynsay Sands’ Argeneau Vampire Series and Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series. I may get that way for Kerrelyn Sparks' Love at Stake Series, too (but so far, I’m reading the books my daughter owns, so I don’t have to wait for the next book for awhile). Another anticipated book next year is Brett Battles' "The Silenced", since my name is mentioned (I get killed!!).

I don’t know if I’ve ever read this many in a year before, since this is the first time I’ve ever tracked my reading habits. So for now, it’s a record. Maybe next year I’ll break the 50 mark.

2010 READING LIST:

1. Stephen King "Under the Dome"
2. Gerry Bartlett "Vampires Have Curves"
3. Laurell K. Hamilton "Danse Macabre"
4. Lynsay Sands "Love is Blind"
5. Lynsay Sands/Pamela Palmer/Jaime Rush "Bitten by Cupid"
6. Julie Kenner "Tainted"
7. Renee Vincent "Raeliksen"
8. Lynsay Sands "The Perfect Wife"
9. James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet "Sunday at Tiffany's"
10. Sharon Page "Blood Red"
11. Judi McCoy "Making Over Mr. Right"
12. Michelle Hauf "My Vampire Husband"
13. Charlaine Harris "A Touch of Dead"
14. Laurell K. Hamilton "The Harlequin"
15. Lynsay Sands "Born to Bite"
16. Charlaine Harris "Dead in the Family"
17. Barry Eisler "Fault Line"
18. Stephenie Meyer "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner"
19. Emily Bryan "Stroke of Genius"
20. Laurell K. Hamilton "Blood Noir"
21. Toni Blake "Reckless Summer"
22. Meg Gardiner "Liar's Lullaby"
23. Kerrelyn Sparks "How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire"
24. Brett Battles "The Deceived"
25. Kerrelyn Sparks "Vamps and the City"
26. Allison Brennan "The Hunt"
27. Kathleen Dante "Entangled"
28. Stephanie Tyler "Hard to Hold"
29. Kerrelyn Sparks "Be Still My Vampire Heart"
30. Laurell K. Hamilton "Skin Trade"
31. Suzanne Collins “Mockingjay”
32. Paty Jager "Doctor in Petticoats”
33. Allison Brennan "The Kill"
34. Kerrelyn Sparks "The Undead Next Door"
35. Robert Gregory Browne "Down Among the Dead Men"
36. Gia Dawn "Dunmore Rising"
37. Barbara Monajem "Sunrise in the Garden of Love and Evil"
38. Brett Battles "Shadow of Betrayal"
39. Stephen Jay Schwartz "Beat"
40. Leanna Renee Hieber "The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker"
41. Susan Lyons "Sex Drive"
42. Seth Grahame-Smith "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter"
43. Kate Douglas, Noelle Mack, & Vivi Anna "Sexy Beast"
44. Judi McCoy "Hounding the Pavement"
45. Dean Koontz "Breathless"
46. Julie Kenner "Torn"
47. Julie Kenner "Turned"
48. Kerrelyn Sparks "All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire"

Monday, December 27, 2010

Goals Accomplished

Since September, I belonged to a Yahoo! Group called “100 Day Challenge.” It was to help me accomplish goals I set to have completed by the end of the year. One of those goals was to finish crocheting a tablecloth I promised my friend for Christmas LAST YEAR!

Well, thanks to that group, I was able to accomplish that goal (and most of the others I set). Sometimes it helps to tell other people your goals – it certainly motivated me to get them accomplished. Anyway, I wanted to post some pictures of that tablecloth, because I am pretty proud of how it turned out.

I would have posted these sooner, but it was a Christmas present for my dear friend, so I didn’t want to spoil the surprise (and I believe she was surprised when she opened it on Christmas day!).

The top photo is a full shot. I tried to get some of the detail on the bottom photo.

Eighty some rows, and many hours later (those last ten rows alone took about three hours each!) I finally finished it. Maybe if I had set this goal last year, she would have gotten the gift when promised. But better late than never, I guess. I'm glad to have finished this project and will probably NEVER crochet another tablecloth (and to think I wanted to make a larger one for myself - not anymore).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yummy Yummy

Do you have a favorite recipe? Do you love trying new ones?

I used to bake during the holidays. Until eating the results put on too much weight. Having a small family with different tastes usually backfired (or maybe it was my plan?) and I would end up eating most of the baked items.

Until I wrote my short story GLORIFIED BROWNIES, which you can read by clicking here, I hadn’t really baked anything in a long, long time. When I went in search of the recipe for this short story (I had to share a recipe with the group I read the story to), I couldn’t find it anywhere in my house. It was my grandmother’s recipe, so I contacted my sister and got lucky. She found the recipe and sent it my way.

I’d forgotten how addicting these brownies were. It was a good thing I took them to a party (although I had to sample them to make sure I wasn’t bringing crap, you know?) or else I might have eaten the whole batch!

So, if you like messy brownies, with lots of chocolate and marshmallows, you’ll love this recipe. My grandmother called it Glorified Brownies. I think it was her favorite recipe, too. But beware. This is a messy brownie. The frosting never really hardens (but it tastes great) and it’s a pain to cut (the marshmallows make it difficult). I can’t imagine what it would be like with nuts (I don’t like nuts in my brownies, so I’ve never made it that way), but I’m sure it will resemble rocky road.

If you decide to brave it out and make these, please let me know how it turns out for you!

Glorified Brownies

¾ cup flour
3 Tbsp cocoa
Pinch salt
1 cup sugar
1 stick margarine less 1 inch (softened)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup nuts (optional)
½ pkg mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, cocoa & salt – set aside. Cream sugar, margarine, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour mixture. Fold in nuts (optional).

Spread batter in greased 13 x 9.5” pan. Bake 18 minutes at 350 degrees. While hot, pour marshmallows on top and let melt. Cool completely.

Frosting

1 stick margarine less 1 inch (softened)
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp cocoa
4 Tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients until spreading consistency. Frost cooled brownies.

Enjoy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas is Coming and I'm not Ready

Oh. My. God. I think this is the same post from last year!

I'm starting to see a pattern here and I can’t believe how bad I’ve become. I didn’t have a vacation as an excuse this year. Nope, just plain ol’ procrastination.

The tree went up two weeks ago, but wasn’t decorated until this past weekend. The Christmas cards went out on Tuesday and the package for California went out yesterday. I did get most of my shopping finished on Black Friday (via internet – I was smart enough to stay away from the stores), but I still have to shop for my husband. And then there’s the stockings. They are always the last minute purchase for me!

So with snow on the ground, and air that belongs in a freezer, I’ll be braving the stores tomorrow and hopefully won’t come home until I’m finished.

I certainly hope you’re better off than I am. Maybe next year I'll plan better. Maybe next year I'll start sooner. Maybe. But I ain't holdin' my breath!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Short Christmas Story

Recently, I attended two writers group meetings/parties, where there was an assignment to write a short story. I took the two requirements and cheated - I wrote one. One that met both requirements.

Requirement #1: A short romance with a tasty recipe.
Requirement #2: A short story that can be read in 10 minutes or less, preferrably with a holiday theme.

The first reading took place on Dec 1 at Books and Company. I hate reading out loud and I was nervous, but I got it done.

The second reading took place on Dec 11 at a Christmas Party. Again, I read it out loud, but it was in a more intimate setting (not in a book store where just ANYONE could listen).

I didn't get any BAD comments (maybe they were being nice?). Anyway, I thought I would share the short story with you all. It's not meant to be anything but entertaining. I hope I do that.

GLORIFIED BROWNIES

The morning before Christmas, Lynn looked out the French doors and watched the snow fall softly to the ground. She loved the snow. How it made the world all quiet when it fell. If she weren’t holed up inside the house with a broken leg, she’d be out in it, reveling in the sereneness of it all.

She hobbled into the kitchen. Damn cast. If she couldn’t have her solitude outside, she might as well have it in the kitchen. The house was quiet – her parents at work and her brother off on some last minute shopping. No better time than to fix her grandmother’s favorite dessert, Glorified Brownies. She couldn’t find the recipe anywhere, but knew the basics: brownies, marshmallows, and frosting. She held the boxed mix and canned frosting and looked up toward heaven. “Hope you don’t mind I’m cheating, Grandma.” Inside her heart, Lynn was sure she didn’t.

She opened the bag containing the brownie mix and poured the contents into a bowl, causing chocolate dust to float in the air.

The front door opened and slammed shut. “Hey, Linnie. Whatcha makin’?”

No. Her quiet solitude just flew out the door. Of all the people who could come visit, why him? He strutted inside the room as if he owned the place. When he removed his coat, snow from the shoulders fell to the floor, but all she saw was his chest. Then he removed his knit cap, uncovering a blond shaggy mess that he quickly ran his fingers through. He was still handsome as ever and she had to snap herself out of the spell he always managed to put her under.

Coming to her senses, she used anger as a shield. He didn’t deserve to call her that endearment when she wasn’t any more than his friend’s sister. Well, two could play that game. “Michael isn’t here, Raphael.”

Michael and Rafe, as he preferred to be called, had been friends since grade school and she had secretly had a crush on him until he graduated high school and left her behind. It hurt that he never seemed to look her way and the only time she’d see him was during school break, but she eventually got over it. Going off to college could do that to a person.

He narrowed his baby blues at her and then smiled. “Ouch. I still wonder what my parents were smoking when they came up with that. But I get it. Lynn. You didn’t seem to mind me calling you Linnie when you were ten.”

“Well, in case you didn’t notice, I’m not ten anymore.”

***
She was right, she wasn’t ten anymore. And it wasn’t like he didn’t notice her, he did. He noticed her curves and the way her short brunette hair curled around her ears. And she had the warmest brown eyes he’d ever seen. But she was Mike’s baby sister, so he had treated her like one, too. It had been safer that way. He wasn’t so sure he wanted to be safe any longer.

Rafe ran a hand over his unshaven face. All of a sudden he felt like a slob, coming in here, flinging snow and apparently getting on her wrong side. She almost acted like she hated him. He hoped to God she didn’t.

He went into the kitchen to grab a paper towel when he saw her leg. Mike said something about her falling, but Rafe thought he was joking. “You broke your leg?”

She looked down at the subject of interest. “No, I just like to wear this because it keeps my leg warm.”

“Damn, girl. How come you’re not sitting down? You should have that thing propped up.”

Lynn raised one eyebrow and placed a hand on her hip, getting some of the chocolaty flour mixture on her jeans. “I’m not an invalid. Besides, I have things to do.”

Tempted to brush the mess away, he was afraid she’d take it the wrong way. “At least you can sit on a stool while you do that.”

He went around the counter to get one when he stepped on the melted snow. The next thing he knew, his feet went flying and his butt landed on the floor with a thud. Curses that would make his mother question his upbringing came forth with a vengeance.

“Oh my God, Rafe! Are you okay?” She peered over the counter, eyes wide, with a real look of concern on her face.

Well, maybe she didn’t hate him after all. He held on to the hope.

“I’m fine.” Nothing felt broken, except maybe his pride. Slowly he stood, avoiding the puddles and another fall. His butt was wet and throbbing just a bit, but he certainly wouldn’t admit that to her. Lynn held out some paper towels.

After he cleaned up the mess, he retrieved the stool as he intended and placed it in the kitchen, by the counter. “You can sit while you work, at least.”

“That’s stupid. I’ll only have to get up and down.”

“No you won’t. Consider me your helper.”

***
Her helper, huh? It reminded Lynn of when she helped her grandmother make the brownies. Maybe she didn’t have to be alone to remember.

Rafe was great. He never once complained fetching all the ingredients, even when it appeared he was in pain. Her heart had stopped a moment when she saw him go down; his head had nearly hit the countertop.

She spread the batter into the pan and handed it to him to put into the oven. After he set the timer, he came over and looked at the spatula. “Can I lick that?” he asked.

“Sure. All helpers get to.” She smiled, remembering Grandma told her the same thing.

After he scraped every last bit of batter from the bowl, he actually washed the dishes, not letting her move from the stool. When he was done, he brought another stool around and sat down next to her. They still had ten minutes until the timer went off.

He propped his elbows on the counter as he leaned back against it. “I’m surprised I didn’t find you outside in the snow when I got here. You usually can’t resist a good snow falling.”

“Well, the cast makes it a little hard. Don’t want to get my toes frostbitten,” she said, wiggling them for effect. “But how did you know?”

“What, you don’t think I see you? Is that it?”

That’s exactly what she thought, but before she could say anything, her brother barged in. The connection she was feeling with Rafe vanished when Michael offered to stay and help finish the brownies and maybe even sample some. So after she added the marshmallows and frosting, they sat around the counter and each had a piece, toasting Grandma in the process.

When Rafe announced he had an errand to run, Lynn’s heart sank a little. She thought maybe he was interested in her after all, but when her brother showed up, he resorted back to his old ways of avoiding her. Who was she kidding anyway? Their relationship would always be one way and she had to face the fact.

***
Later in the afternoon, while she was sitting in the family room watching a movie, Rafe returned carrying a large Christmas present. Her leg was propped up on the coffee table and she had a shawl over her exposed toes.

“Hey Linnie… I mean, Lynn.” He sat beside her on the couch and she noticed he had shaved. “Merry Christmas.”

He held out the package. It wasn’t wrapped very well, the paper bunched on the sides and the ribbon was loose, but she didn’t care. He seemed to have gone to a lot of trouble. She just couldn’t figure out why. “For me?”

He smiled and nodded. “Go ahead, open it.”

Like she used to do as a little girl, she broke the ribbon and ripped off the paper. Inside the box was a very large Santa Stocking. What was she supposed to do with this? “Umm, thanks?”

He chuckled as he removed the shawl and slid the stocking over her cast.

“You’re decorating me? Couldn’t you just sign the cast like a normal person?”

“Hold on, I’m not done,” he said, then pulled out a roll of saran wrap from the box and proceeded to wrap the sock. Standing up straight and proud, just like a peacock, he said, “Now you can go outside and enjoy the snow.”

Rafe did this for her? Tears formed in her eyes and her heart swelled. She didn’t know what to say.

He sat beside her and took her hand. “I had such fun with you today and realized I’ve been stupid not telling you how I feel. I like you. I want to be in your life. I want you to be my Linnie.”

She was sure she was dreaming until he leaned in close and kissed her. His lips were warm and tender and better than any dream she ever had. When he pulled away, she couldn’t resist. “You sure you don’t just want me for my brownies?”

A sly smile spread across his face and his eyes twinkled. “Well, they were good brownies.”


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Road Trip

Last Saturday we piled into the car and drove to Canton, Ohio. And it was snowing.

We were headed to see our Wayne Warriors play in the Division I State Football Championship Game.

“Don’t worry,” our friend said. “It’s not snowing in Canton. Once we get past Columbus, we’ll be in the clear.”

And he was correct. No snow from Columbus to Canton. But it was bitterly cold. When we arrived at the hotel, I noticed little flakes floating in the air.

“It’s snowing,” I said.

Everyone ignored me.

At 5:30, we climbed back into the car and headed for the stadium. Little white flakes were still floating around, but no one said anything. Our friend didn’t even show us the weather on his phone. I think I know why, too.

By the middle of the 1st quarter, it started snowing and didn’t let up. Sure, it was light, but it was steady. The ground started to get covered. We were getting covered.

It was bad enough to watch our Warriors lose with about two minutes left in the game. It was worse watching it through the snow.

Found out later (like the next morning) we were hit with “lake effect” snow. It was steady and light, but enough to coat the car in snow and ice. And it continued on through the night into the next morning. At least by the time we got home, it wasn’t falling from the sky, but the “storm” we left behind on Saturday dropped about an inch on the ground.

And it’s been soooo cold, it’s still there!

Did Mother Nature not notice it’s still Autumn? I’m afraid of what Winter will bring.

Very afraid.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pitching (But Not a Baseball)

Today, on the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Blog, there was an article about pitches by CJ Lyons. It was very informative and she offered to give some feedback if we wished to post our pitch. I was going to pitch THE UNCOMMON ONE, but I’ve been pitching that, and decided, instead, to pitch my 3rd book (since my 2nd book is a sequel and I don’t plan on pitching it).

Can’t tell you how surprised I was to realize I had a high-concept thing going that was unique – and I didn’t even realize it! Here’s the original pitch I entered for my paranormal romance tentatively titled MEMORIES:

After waking from a night he doesn’t remember, a high-ranking vampire is implicated in an unauthorized turning of a woman who resembles his late wife.

CJ liked the premise and made some suggestions (like the word amnesia – how that could have slipped my mind… oh well). Anyway, after a little tweaking, here’s what I came up with:

A 259 year-old vampire with amnesia is implicated in the unauthorized turning of a woman who resembles his late wife.

So, which do you like? Does it sound intriguing? Does it sound original? Wasn’t sure if I should leave high-ranking in there (some people were intrigued with a concept of rank and hierarchy in vampires, when really my vampire is a Committee Member – wasn’t sure how to phrase that so I went with high-ranking, since he is, in a way).

As you can see from the side panel, I’m not very far in the story, but I think I like having the pitch first. It’s making me focus on what the story really is about, which is important when you haven’t plotted out the whole book (I seem to be a mix between a plotter and a pantser).

Have to say, though, that her comments really inspired me. Now it’s back to editing SARAH’S TURN. Hope to have that finished by the weekend so I can get back to MEMORIES.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Come One, Come All (Or Maybe Not)

If you are in the Dayton area and want to see me make a complete fool of myself, come to Books & Company in the Town & Country Shopping Center (Kettering, I believe) at 7:00pm on Wednesday, December 1st. My writers group, Western Ohio Writers Association (WOWA) is holding a Beatnik Café and several of us writers are actually going to stand up in front of whatever crowd appears and read our short stories & poems.

I will be reading my short story “Glorified Brownies.” I hate reading in front of crowds (I hate doing ANYTHING in front of crowds – you should have seen me at a baseball game when I got picked to sing “Wild Thing” – something I still haven’t forgiven my husband for), so I’m sure I won’t be loud and I’ll probably talk fast!

Actually, there will be a short reception in Joe Muggs (inside the store) at 6:00pm, and you’re welcome to join us there. The actually reading will take place from 7:00 to 8:30pm.

If you come because of this blog, please let me know!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

We're Going to Canton!

We sat outside and froze our butts off (temperature dipped below 30), but it was worth it watching our  Wayne Warriors beat Hilliard-Davidson to go on to the State Championship Game! That means we'll be driving to Canton next Saturday.

We are stoked!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Movie Day

Since the late 80's, while we were stationed at Ft. Rucker, Alabama, the day after Thanksgiving became Movie Day for our family. I hate shopping and I especially hate doing it with crowds. In fact, most of my shopping this year has been done on line (so must less stress that way).

But I digress.

I almost thought our tradition was over. I mean, the kids are older now. They both live on their own. When our daughter said she had to work, we moved the time of the movie to later. That meant our son might not be able to attend. As it turned out, he was able to attend, but it got me to thinking. Will this be the last Movie Day for our family?

I sure hope not. I'd like to think if they were involved with someone, they would invite them along. Family traditions include all family (even friends have been known to join us). I hope as long as they live in the area, Movie Day will continue on.

Oh, and the movie we saw this year? Love and Other Drugs. Yes, our tastes have morphed into the R rated movies. We've come a long way from Ghost Dad!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

One Year!

A year ago today, on Thanksgiving evening, I decided to finally take the plunge and start my own blog.

I can’t believe I actually stuck with it!

Sure, I don’t blog every day. I didn’t plan on it. I basically set it up to help me track the blogs I do follow. Then I found other interesting uses for it, so it’s kind of grown from there. Having followers is a big BONUS (and I get excited every time I see the number go up) – so THANK YOU for following!

I’ve experienced a lot as a writer in the past year. Querying. Rejects. Requests! It’s been a roller coaster ride and I’ve enjoyed sharing it with you. And if I learned anything in the past year, it was that writing a short interesting blog is not easy. Heck, for all I know, I haven’t done one yet!

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for reading. I hope I’m able to entertain you in the next year.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Disconnected

My husband had a good laugh this weekend – and at my expense, too.

On Saturday our internet connection was iffy. Sometimes you could get connected and if you were stupid enough to log out, might not be able to get back in two seconds later. It was frustrating.

On Sunday morning I couldn’t get to the internet at all. So of course I ranted to my husband about it. That’s when he laughed.

Sure, he was laughing at the person who used to not care about the internet. Who was lucky to respond to your e-mail within a month of it being sent. When I didn’t own a laptop, I rarely used the computer.

Somewhere between writing and querying and reading blogs, I became obsessed with the internet. Or to be more accurate – my e-mail. I probably can blame that on querying – since it’s responses I’m looking for anyway. And not having access to my e-mail kind of makes me crazy. Crazy enough for my husband to laugh.

Oh well, it’s not like he doesn’t make me laugh on a daily basis. I guess it’s only fair he gets his turn. Still, if the internet isn’t fixed soon, he’ll start hearing me growl!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Region 4 Champs!

Hot Dog! They did it. Wayne High School Warriors are the Region 4 Champions! And like all their other games, it was a nail biter.

Next week they meet the defending champions in the semi-finals. Should be fun!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Keeping My Fingers Crossed

Tonight our Wayne Warriors (high school football team) play in the Regional Final. I was hoping the day would be a little warmer than it is, but that's November weather for you. We'll still be at the game, rooting for them, hoping to make it to the next level. At least it's not raining - we do have that going for us!

And in case you were wondering - we do not have any children in high school. The youngest graduated in 2003. But with both kids in the band, we went to all the games and got hooked.

This team reminds me of the 1999/2000 team. Winning when we thought they were done. Making each game exciting (or is that nerve wracking?). That team made it to the State Champion game. We can only hope this one does the same. I don't think I would mind driving to Canton on Dec 4th.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Computers – An Evil Necessity?

It seems like everything wants to go digital. Books. Banks. Businesses. But how trustworthy is the digital age?

What got me thinking was hearing how some businesses will charge now for sending a paper bill. What if I don’t have a computer? What if I don’t want to give out my e-mail? What if my e-mail (or computer) EATS the bill? (Our main computer went down and I lost all my saved e-mails, yes, that’s me you hear snarling.) It doesn’t seem fair that I would have to pay extra for a paper bill.

I don’t trust paying electronically, either. I only have one company take money out of my checking account – my local paper (and I only did it because it was CHEAPER). Now I can’t even trust them. When my newspaper wasn’t delivered, I called to complain and was told I hadn’t paid my bill. What?

The thing is, payment is made almost a month in advance. So why didn’t anyone call me to find out why it wasn’t paid or why the bank rejected it? I have been a customer of theirs for almost 20 years. Don’t you think they would have noticed something was WRONG? A week after I finally got the whole thing fixed, I THEN get a call asking me to re-subscribe. If I didn’t want the paper (I love my comics, what can I say), I would have told them what they could do with their subscription!

As if things couldn’t get worse, I get a letter in the mail explaining that they had an accounting glitch causing my October payment to be returned (Ha! No kidding!). So on November 5 they were going to post two payments, one for Oct and one for Nov. I received this letter on November 6. Talk about a warning!

I called them and sure enough two payments posted and now I’m paid up until January. I just better not see any payments show up in December (or they will hear from me again).

So how do you feel about the digital age? Do any of you pay your bills on line? Do you have payments taken out automatically? Do you think it’s fair that companies may start charging a fee for a paper bill? Or am I the only one fighting the digital age?

Computers – You can’t live with them and eventually won’t be able to survive without them. I’m not looking forward to that day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Good Weekend!

So far this weekend has been EXCELLENT.

The football team of our local high school, the one my children attended several years ago, has reached the Regional Finals last night in a thriller of a game. In double overtime against their rivals, no less. This season is feeling reminiscent of 1999 (my son's senior year, daughter's freshman year - they played in the band), when they reached the State Finals. They lost, but it was the first time they ever made it that far - and at a #8 seed (the lowest seed). They squeaked in at #8 this year, too. We're keeping our fingers crossed!

And while that was all good (and exciting), I got BETTER news when I came home and checked my e-mails. On Tuesday I pitched THE UNCOMMON ONE to a publisher via my RWA Chapter Blog and had been waiting for the results all week. Well, it was posted on Saturday - my book was one of the few selected to send off the full. So now it's off to another publisher (that makes TWO that I'm waiting to hear back from) and I don't need to tell you that I just can't relax now. I hate getting my hopes up, but it's hard not to.

Now, if I can only win the lottery so I can quit my day job!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNoWriMo

Anyone out there doing NaNo this year? How’s it going for you?

(That would be National Novel Writing Month for those non-writers out there – where you write a book in one month.)

This is the second year I’ve heard of it. Last year I was deep into editing my first book and didn’t even want to think about writing 50,000+ words in one month (or in my case closer to 100,000 since that’s how long my books tend to be). This year I’m editing my second book and in the middle of writing my third, so I don’t want to put them aside to do NaNo.

But I wonder – whose great idea was it to have NaNo in November? That’s got to be the WORST month ever! January would have made so much more sense. Is anyone else in agreement with me on this?

It’s nice that it’s out there for those writers who need the encouragement or the competition. I feel fortunate that I do not need either. Maybe it’s because I’m still new to it all. Maybe someday I’ll need the help. But right now I’ll stick with what’s working.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ahh, Fall

Yesterday I mowed the lawn, probably for the last time until Spring. No, not probably, for certain. And while I mowed, I felt a bit sad as I shivered (the high yesterday was 42). Summer is really over. Dag blast it!

Today, I took care of the rest of the yard work. I hate edging, but it was needed. Shovelling snow (Argh!) is easier when the edge of the grass is even. Man, I hate even having to think of snow.

The only good thing about this weekend's yard work was that I wasn't pestered with bugs. The first freeze pretty much did away with everything - no mosquitoes, no bees, no wasps. Saw a stray fly, but that was about it. It's the ONLY thing I like about the cold months.

It's times like this that I wish we could have afforded to live in Calfornia when my husband retired from the Army. I miss the temperate weather. I miss Santa Barbara. But at the time, our family came first, and that meant living somewhere we could afford. And while we had family in the Dayton area at the time, and we were close to a military facility, it was the best choice for us. It was the affordable choice.

Maybe someday we'll move back to California. Who knows, maybe we'll win the lottery! It's something I hope for everyday, just so I can quit my job and write full time. Until then, I need to prepare for the winter. There was a time when I liked the snow. Can't remember when that was, though!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How's Your Memory?

For all you writers out there – do you remember everything you’ve written?

As I was going over THE UNCOMMON ONE for the umpteenth time, I came across sections and thought “When did I write that? This is great!”

Or I would think I needed to change a scene to find out I had already done it (and amaze myself at how well I changed it).

Should I worry?

Granted, my memory hasn’t always been the best. The 80’s are a complete blur, but I attribute that to being a mother of two youngin’s (born in 1982 & 1985), working full-time, and going to college. I’m surprised I even remember what my degree was in (photography – yeah, really).

And when I read a book, I don’t always remember all the details (I know, no one does). I just thought it would be different with a book I’ve written. It kind of scares me that I don’t remember everything.

So I’ll ask again – Should I worry?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Whoo Hoo!

I just came off a nice roller-coaster ride. Or maybe I’m still on it, but the ride has leveled out, getting ready for the next part. I just hope it goes up!

On Thursday, I pitched THE UNCOMMON ONE to an editor of a publishing company via the RWA Chapter I belong to. It’s the same chapter that offered a pitch session to another publishing company (one in which I participated and they requested the full ms and THEN rejected me – boo hoo).

On Friday, there was still no word and I went off to a high school football game (our team won – yea!). By the time we got home, it was after midnight and I went to bed.

When I got up the next morning, low & behold, I saw my name listed as one of the lucky participants to send in a full. Wow! The pitch worked? I was AMAZED! I was THRILLED!

There was only one problem: I was in the middle of editing the book. YIKES!

Talk about a frantic weekend. I had started making minor changes (which, of course, rippled throughout the book) and I wanted to incorporate them in the ms I was to send in. No problem, I told myself. I could do this and have it ready to send in on Monday.

Ha! I encountered conflict – just like my characters do in my books.

On Sunday we went to BW3’s to watch the Steelers play (since they weren’t on TV at home). I have no problem writing there for some strange reason, so I packed up the computer and took it with me. By the end of the first half, my battery was getting low, so I swapped it out for a fresh one. Or so I thought. Stupid me forgot to charge the extra battery! There went a couple of non-productive hours (at least the Steelers won – yea).

When we got home, I went back to work editing. Around 6:00, my head was pounding and my stomach was queasy. My husband wanted to know what was for dinner. Food did not appeal to me. By 6:30 I had to go lie down, resigning myself that I wouldn’t finish.

At 8:30 I awoke to no headache and no queasy stomach. So I headed downstairs. By 11:30 I still had twenty or so pages to go and I was at a part that needed a major re-haul.

So much for getting it ready for Monday. Instead, I got it ready for this morning. Hitting that send button was HARD! But the relief I felt after sending it off was major. It’s over. It’s out there. There’s nothing else I can do to it.

Now I get to wait and wonder. Will the ride go up or down?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Christmas Letters

Do you like receiving Christmas letters (or Christmas form letters)?

Yeah, I know – Halloween isn’t even here yet. What’s this about Christmas letters! Well, I’ll tell you.

Every year I’ve sent out a letter with our Christmas cards (yes, one of those form letters). Of course, I usually wait until the last minute to compose one. This year I’m wondering if I want to send one out at all.

You see, one family member requested I no longer send the letter to her. She fell on bad times and didn’t appreciate hearing about how good our life was (well, I wasn’t about to share the bad/sad parts of our life – it is a Christmas letter – good cheer and all that).

I know I shouldn’t let one person spoil it for everyone else, but since I never received any feedback before that one, I’m now wondering if everyone feels the same.

Do you send out Christmas letters? What information do you share? And is there a way to share without sounding like you’re bragging? This inquiring mind wants to know!

Thanks!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Normalcy

I think things may be getting back to normal.

The last two weeks have been rough on my weekly goals.

Last weekend we went to Louisville and it disrupted my schedule (writing and otherwise). Don’t get me wrong. I loved watching the games and rooting for my daughter, but since I work full-time during the week, I use the weekend to get stuff done (i.e. writing) and it didn’t happen.

This past weekend was pretty much the same.

On Friday we went to West Virginia (Beech Bottom, actually, just north of Wheeling along the Ohio River) to visit my husband’s uncle, who came in from Rhode Island to visit his sister (my husband’s aunt). This trip wasn’t really planned, but we wanted to see them, so we went.

Granted, we came back Saturday night (had to watch OSU get beat by Wisconsin – dang!), and I was able to get my laundry done on Sunday, but it still seemed to disrupt things. My schedule was all off. My days were all wrong. The writing stalled.

But tonight I finally got some quiet time to sit down and write and it came back! Words flowed once again. The story moved forward. I’m a happy camper!

Yes, I think things may be getting back to normal. I might actually get some of my goals accomplished after all! Especially my writing goal.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Our Louisville Trip

My husband and I attended the 15th United States Australian Football League National Tournaments in Louisville over the weekend.

I never realized how many Footy teams there actually are. And they came from all over, too. Next year the tournament is in Houston. We’ll go if our daughter is still playing. We’ll apparently use any excuse to travel!

I believe there were six women’s teams competing, where there were 4 Divisions for the men. Women’s Footy is still relatively new and not everyone could make it to the tournament, so cities/teams were combined. The team my daughter was on was a combination of her Columbus team (the Jillaroos) and the Arizona team (the Hawks). They called themselves the Hawkaroos. Unfortunately, they didn’t win any games (and they played in three).

If you’re wondering what Footy is like, I think it’s a mix of football, soccer, and basketball. The ball resembles a football and they are allowed to tackle, but there is no clear offense or defense (except in their position). The set-up resembles soccer (and so do their uniforms). The basketball part? If the player runs with the ball, it must touch the ground after so many steps, either by bouncing it or touching it to the ground. Otherwise, they punt the ball to a teammate (hopefully) down the field. If it’s caught, that player gets a free punt down the field. If it’s not caught, then it looks like a bunch of people going after a greased pig!

By the end of the third game, I was starting to understand some of the penalties and rules. Because we weren’t familiar with the sport (and unprepared as to what to expect), we didn’t watch any of the men play. That was bad on our part and we’ll have to rectify that next year (provided the Columbus team goes, that is).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Footy

We are going to Louisville on Saturday to see our daughter play Footy (Australian Rules Football http://www.usafl.com/). It’s the end of the season for her and all the teams are playing in a tournament.

The first game is on Saturday at 9:00 am. It takes three hours to drive there. And since we have a football game to go to tonight (it’s high school and the youngest graduated in 2003, but we still go), that means we will be leaving home around 5:00 am (must leave room for getting lost – we’re good at that – and eating breakfast).

Oh – and have I mentioned my husband HATES mornings? So, I guess I’m driving (sigh!).

The second game is at noon. If her team loses both games, that’s it. If they win at least one, they play again on Sunday. I’m hoping they win at least one. She loves playing and I love seeing her have fun.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Back Down to Earth

My euphoria was short-lived.

I should be glad she read my book so fast.  I just wish she liked it enough to publish.

I'm not giving up, though.  There are still plenty of other agents & publishers out there for me to query.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm Excited!

I pitched THE UNCOMMON ONE to an editor and she asked to read the full!  And yes, I've already sent it to her.

This is the FIRST TIME for me.  And I found out while my daughter was here (it was "Bufffy" night).  She's been texting all her friends.  I like how she's happy for me!  I like how I'm happy for me!

Hope I can sleep tonight!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Disorganized? Me?

I’m normally a very organized person. I file my DVDs and CDs in alphabetical order. I file my bills (the file may be over full because I’m too lazy to transfer, but that’s another issue). I make sure my keys and glasses are kept in the same place every time; otherwise, I’ll lose them. My son calls that OCD. I call it organized.

I hate feeling disorganized. It throws off my whole system. But that’s what happened to me since my laptop died.

After I backed up my laptop on Monday (which, by the way, took all night because I was doing it stupidly WRONG), I was all set to write last night. I was thrilled to get my laptop back and was excited about the prospect of writing. Then I realized I didn’t have my new notes or the scenes I wrote since my computer went kaput on me.

Some of my writing was on AOL. Some was on the main computer. Some was on my flash drive. Argh! What was I thinking? Why didn’t I put it all in the same place?

Now I’m in the process of getting all my documents together (e-mailed them to myself, just in case – makes it easier to transfer anyway and it’s all in one place). I did start last night by adding the notes I’ve been e-mailing myself to the notes I had on my computer. But the notes aren’t in any order and it’s driving me nuts.

At least the story isn’t going away. In fact it’s getting louder in my head. In a way, the break away from the story has been a good thing. I’ve been getting the characters firm in my mind (and notated). Finding their goals, motivation, and conflict. Now I just have to get organized so I can write the darn thing. I’ll get there, though. You can bet on it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Goals

First off, I want to say:  I GOT MY LAPTOP BACK!  YEA!

And while I thought I would be posting this from my laptop, the first thing I did when I got home was copy my C:Drive to another computer (to be backed up on a 3rd harddrive).  Now I see why I haven't backed up before.  It's SLOW.  2-1/2 hours later it's still backing up.  But I will have a copy - that's all that matters.

Now on to my blog:

I’ve joined a group whose sole purpose is for me to post my goals for the next 100 days to help me meet them (we’re to also post our weekly goals needed to obtain the overall goal).

They don’t have to be writing goals. They can be anything. So I posted the following goals I wish to obtain by January 1st:

1) Continue to query THE UNCOMMON ONE until I’ve exhausted all avenues of submission (unless I require an agent or get published before then).
2) Edit SARAH’S TURN and provide to beta readers (this goal won’t start until mid-October, since I want to give myself six weeks away from the story).
3) Complete one-forth to one-third of MEMORIES (my third book - tentatively titled).
4) Watch last season’s episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” that is recorded on our DVR.
5) Finish crocheting the tablecloth I promised my friend I would have done by last Christmas.

They aren’t elaborate goals and I’d like #3 to actually state finishing said novel, but I am trying to be realistic. I don’t want to make the goal too hard to reach (and #2 may take up more of my time than I realize).

I don’t think I’ll have any problem reaching goals 1-3. I love writing and I want to get published. #4 is time away from writing, and also requires coordinating time with my husband, but I do like the show and I want to watch it. #5 is the toughest. My friend would LOVE it if I finished the darn thing, so I will try, working on it during football games. It may very well be my last crochet project. At least it will be while I’m employed full-time. When I retire, I may rethink the whole craft project thing.

So…Do you find writing your goals down, and telling other people, help you get them done? We’ll see how it works for me come January 1st.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Laptop Update

Seems my system board (or my mother board as my husband calls it) is bad.  It's costing me almost as much as the computer did new, but a newer laptop would cost twice as much as the repair (since there are other options I would prefer to have - of course!).  We decided to go the cheaper route.  I just hope this board lasts longer than 17 months!

So, that means my data isn't lost.  Just unavailable until I get my laptop back.  And this is really teaching me a lesson, too.  Everything associated with writing is on that laptop.  My query, my list of agents I want to query to, my notes to all my books - past and future, my book (I do have book 1 and book 2 saved elsewhere - it's only book 3 I wasn't smart enough to save the day before and I don't have a copy of book 4 anywhere).

The FIRST thing I do when I get my laptop back (besides, maybe, kiss it?), is to copy everything from it to the computer that gets backed up.  And I mean EVERYTHING!  I raised an Eagle Scout for goodness sake.  I know "Be Prepared" by heart.  Now I should practice it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Favorite Authors

Do you have favorite authors? You notice I didn’t ask who your favorite author is, like it would be possible to name only one. At least, I couldn’t.

In high school my favorites were Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwess. I read everything I could find by them. Once I was done, my reading slacked off.

Post high school: Stephen King. After reading “The Stand”, I had to read everything by him. I’ve just about done it, too.  He brought the joy of reading back in my life.

Then came Dean Koontz. I read “The Vision” waaaay back in the 70’s. I loved the book, but wasn’t hooked on reading at the time (in other words, it hadn’t consumed me yet). After I started reading more often (see Stephen King, above), I started looking for more of his work. My favorite of his is “Lightning”.

For many years, they were it. Life became busy (young mother, working full-time) and reading seemed out of the question. So it was okay that Stephen and Dean only came out with one or two books a year. I wasn’t in any hurry to get to the next one.

Then my daughter introduced me to Stephenie Meyer. I couldn’t read the Twilight books fast enough. I had borrowed the books from her and when I told her I wanted to re-read them, she promptly told me to get my own copies. I did.

I became a reading fiend. But where could I find more authors? Well, the internet is a good place to look, but by pure chance, I read an article by Stephen King (on his website) mentioning Meg Gardiner (a high school classmate of mine). Her books looked interesting and after reading the first one, I was hooked. Her books then led me to Tess Gerritsen (if Tess Gerritsen liked Meg's books, maybe I would like Tess’s and sure enough, I did), which led me to murderati.com and even more authors (and I’ve read most of their books – check them out, they’re good).

But Twilight still stuck with me. I wanted to read more love stories like that. So instead of looking, I decided to try and write my own. Now I’m a writing fiend and my reading has gone on the back-burner. Not too much, though. I still read every day during lunch and anytime I have free time. I am on my 35th book of the year (see sidebar on right), so I’m not slacking too much. But my pile of books to read has definitely grown. I can’t seem to stop buying them!

So who do you like?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Was it Karma?

Is this what happens when I blog about having nothing to write about?  I now have something to write about?

It doesn't matter that this is something I don't want to write about.  Because it's depressing and I could kick myself.

I'm usually very good at backing up my data.  I usually send myself my WIP via e-mail every night I've worked on it.  But did I do that Saturday? Sunday?  Nope and nope.

I realize now that e-mailing my WIP isn't enough.  I need to back up my whole stupid computer every night.  And the thing is, it's not hard to do.  My husband has all the computers sharing.  All I had to do was copy and paste.

Last night, in the middle of a good flow of writing, my computer screen when BLACK.  I thought I forgot to plug it in and the battery died.  Nope.  Not that lucky.  Computer won't come on - at all.  The thing is, it's only 17 months old.  I might have done all that back-up stuff if I thought I was working on an older computer.  But 17 months?  Really?

Did I bring it on myself?  Complain about not having anything to write about?  Not backing up my data?  Was Karma listening? 

My computer goes in for repairs tomorrow.  If they can't fix it, my husband believes he can pull the harddrive and retrieve all my data.  I'm glad, but I have to wait.  That's not easy for me, especially when I want to write my book.  But I'll be patient.  I don't want to have to re-write what I had (granted, I only had 14 pages or so - I know I passed the 4000 word mark), but if I have to, I will.  The story will be told.  It will just take me a little longer to get back to it.

So in the meantime, maybe I'll get some more blogging done.  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!  We'll see about that.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I'm Dry!

My mind is dry of anything interesting to write about. It seems to be that way during this time of year. This time of year when football seems to dominate my time.

Friday night – high school football. Son graduated in 2000, daughter in 2003 (both were in the band) and we still go to the games. When you’re hooked, you’re hooked.

Oh – and the Wayne Warriors won. A 0-2 start made us nervous. They are now 2-2.

Saturday – Ohio State football. Neither kid went there, but we’re fans. How can you not be fans when you live in Ohio? Well, one person we know is, gasp(!), a Michigan fan (and he’s not even from Michigan). You can imagine he gets a lot of grief, but that’s what it’s all about for him. He loves the controversy. Me, not so much. Husband is from Florida, I’m from California, but we’ve both adopted OSU. And they are currently undefeated this season. Go Bucks!

Sunday – Steelers football. Since the game wasn’t televised locally, we went to Buffalo Wild Wings (or what we call B-dubs) to watch the game. A lot of Steelers fans in the area do the same, so we have to arrive early if we want a good seat. You’d be surprised how many Steelers fans there are in Bengals country. And we’re happy fans, too. Still undefeated.

Even with all the football, I was able to write more of my book. But blogging, not so much. I need to start thinking of interesting topics and writing them down. Time can get away from me quicker than anything (I just realized today it has been a week since I blogged). I’ll do my best to think of something to write about before NEXT Sunday!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Break Over

Woke up with ideas of how to start my third book. That made me happy, because these characters have been quiet for a while (like since May). Other characters have been chatting in my head. But I wasn’t ready to write their story yet. I needed a story to stand on its own (even though it is part of my series).

So when I woke up with a solution to a problem I was having with the female character, and she started talking, I rejoiced. She hadn’t talked to me before. Only the male character had. I can now start writing Jack and Sunny’s story. Ben and Victoria (those characters who were previously chatting) are on the back burner. And what about Sam and Janie you ask (since I’ve written some of that)? They are too close to John and Sarah (their story is mentioned in SARAH’S TURN) and I need to break away from them. Like I said, I need distance from the first two books and Jack and Sunny are that.

Yes, I have strange names to books, but I got tired of calling them by numbers. So I’m naming them by the characters until a firmer title forms in my head. Some people seem to have an easy time naming their books. Not me. I was almost finished with THE UNCOMMON ONE before that name firmed up in my head. SARAH’S TURN came a little easier, though (although it’s technically THE UNCOMMON ONE PART II).

I am trying to plot some of this book out. I thought I had back in April (when I used these characters for an assignment during the Aspiring Authors class I took during the RT Convention). But now that Sunny is talking, I realized what I had plotted out before won’t work. That’s okay. I think I’m basically a pantser at heart.

I really didn’t think I would start on the next project so soon. But the urge to write never goes away. I’m looking forward to seeing where Jack & Sunny take me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's Done!

I can't believe I actually FINISHED my second novel.  It is such a wonderful experience (and a little sad, too - didn't expect that!).

Now, what to do next?  Should I take a break or start on the next one right away?  For those of you who have done this before, what did you do? 

When I finished my first book, I tried to stay away before editing it, but I couldn't.  I ended up reading the story too many times (although to be fair, I'm still not tired of reading it, so that's a good thing, isn't it?).  I don't want to do that with this one.  I'm FIRMLY putting it away for at least a month.

I think I might want a small break.  Probably until the weekend comes (my favorite time to write).  Then I'll start on book #3.

But today is such a wonderful day.  I finished SARAH'S TURN.  Life is good!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dragon*Con

I’m currently in Atlanta, awaiting my first Dragon*Con. Having been to only one convention in my life, I’m not totally sure what to expect.

My daughter counted down the days to this Dragon*Con since last year’s ended. She loves it. She’s the one who talked me into going this year.

Now, I’m not completely unfamiliar with Dragon*Con. My husband and I came down here several years ago to pick our daughter up (she flew down, but since we were sight-seeing in the area during Labor Day weekend, we drove her home). We were amazed with the amount of time and money that went into some of the costumes the attendees wore. And they apparently wore them all day (not just for contests or parties).

I’m not a costume kind of person. And I’m glad my daughter isn’t either!

I’ll try and keep you posted on how it’s going, but with the limited access I have to the internet, don’t be surprised if the next time I blog, I’m back home!

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Bought One

On Friday night, as I was writing Book 2, I realized I needed to know how far an Xterra can drive on a tank of gas (so I knew which city my characters were stopping in). So, I hopped on over to Nissan’s website to find out how much gas an Xterra held.

What caught my attention as the website came into view, was the 0% financing that was being offered by Nissan. Another click, and wha-la, Xterras were included!

Well, well, well. My husband told me about a week or so ago that if I found 0% financing, that I could buy one. And that’s what we did on Saturday.

I am now a proud owner of a Night Armor Xterra Off Road. It’s not yellow (darn!). It’s not even white (double-darn!), but it’s mine. I love it!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Writing Fiction

For you fiction writers out there – what part of writing is the hardest? Is it the research? Description? Dialogue? Is there anything “easy” about writing for you?

I don’t write historicals because of the research involved. Some history is interesting, but I’m not writing a history book and I don’t want to write a history book. However, sometimes I have to research a part of history, because when you write about vampires that were born in the 1600’s, you might want to make sure you got their “lingo” correct. I don’t seem to have any problem with this kind of research (Google is my friend).

I also might have to do research on a city I’ve never been to. With fiction, it doesn’t have to be completely accurate, but I am trying to write about vampires in a real world, so I try my best to make most of it factual. I don’t mind this research, either.

Descriptions are a pain. They take me out of the story. I know I need to give some description so the reader isn’t totally lost – and I have to rely on my first readers to tell me if I haven’t given enough description. But when I’m in the midst of writing my first draft, I’ll put “[ADD DESCRIPTION]” in the area that I know needs some. Adding description (and doing research) is a whole lot easier to do during the edit stage. I’ll have to give J.D. Rhoades credit (from murderati.com) for that idea.

I like dialogue. My first drafts are mostly dialogue. Which is funny, since I’m not a talkative person. I thought that this would be my stumbling block, but it’s not. I always have better conversations in my head than I do for real (and lucky for me, I can write them down).

So how about you? Even if you’re not a writer, what parts of a book do you like the best? The least? Yes, this is a trick to get you to comment on my blog. So sue me!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Meme Time

Got the following from a blog I follow, Tales from the Writing Front, which she got from another blog. Go ahead and copy the questions and post your answers on your own blog (or in the comments of this blog if you don't have your own). It’s allowed!

Writers Meme

What’s your favorite genre of writing? Paranormal Romance

How often do you get writer’s block? I don’t believe I’ve had it, yet. Hope I never do, either.

How do you fix it? I guess if I had it, I’d read to inspire me. That’s how I got to writing in the first place.

Do you type or write by hand? Type. I tried by hand, which is great if you don’t have a computer. But then I have to decipher what I wrote, and that’s not always easy!

Do you save everything you write? Yes.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it? I write all my ideas down. I’ll never know when I’ll want them.

Do you have a constructive critic? Yes, I think I finally found one and she’s great!

Did you ever write a novel? Yes. My first attempt, too.

What genre would you love to write but haven’t? Suspense and Horror/Thriller (not the gross kind, but scary). Maybe with practice I can get there.

What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will? Epic Fantasy. Can’t stand to read it, either.

How many writing projects are you working on right now? One. I do have the beginnings of a third, and the fourth plotted (sort of) – and I may switch them depending on whether or not my first book sells.

Do you write for a living? No.

Do you want to? Sure! But I’ll settle for supplemental income.

Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper? Nope.

Have you ever won an award for your writing? Nope (or should I say – NOT YET?).

Do you ever write based on your dreams? Not really, but I do play the scenes in my head when I’m in bed – does that count? I have to get up and write them down, though, or I’ll forget them.

Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers? Definitely happy endings. I don’t care for cliff-hangers, even though I’ve read books with them. I felt it was a cheap way for the author to get me to buy the next book. And I like to be happy when I read – not sad.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Frazzled

I’m a bit frazzled.

I used to have a lot of free time on my hands. And I spent most of it watching TV. It was easy – and I could eat at the same time (and get fat doing it) – but it could be boring, too. I read, but I was in such a hole I only delegated reading to a couple of authors.

Then my daughter introduced me to “Twilight”. After devouring all those books (numerous times), I went searching for more authors to read (while I still love Stephen King and Dean Koontz, they just don’t write fast enough for me). I found Meg Gardiner, who led me to Tess Gerritsen, who led me to murderati.com, which led me to a slew of other authors I’ve come to enjoy. My daughter has even introduced me to several more.

Then a funny thought entered my brain. Could I write? I really loved the love story in “Twilight”. I wanted to read more stories like that. Why couldn’t I write one?

Enter the world of writing (timestamp: April 2009).

Since then, I don’t want to watch so much TV. Why? Because it keeps me from writing.

I have more books to read, but now less time to read. Why? Because it keeps me from writing.

I used to enjoy being BUSY at work. A boring day was a long day. But once I started to fill up my idle-time with writing, I hated being busy at work. You know why!

Now, life is getting in the way and it shouldn’t. I wish I knew how to balance my time better. When I get behind the “wheel” of my laptop, time flies by. At least I am aware of this and know when NOT to write (like before I leave for work – if I did that, I’d be late everyday). I’m also learning to keep an eye on the clock better (especially when I have to, like I am as I write this blog).

All I want to do is write or read or take classes for writing. Unfortunately, I have to take time to work, eat and sleep, too. I do set aside some time for my family. But I keep hearing the laptop call my name when I’m not on it writing (or doing writing activities). How can I get it to shut up? And should I bother?

Maybe frazzled is a good thing. It sure beats boring.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Query - Posted Here

First off, let me say - my job is not in jeopardy.  Apparently I expected the worst and only got bad (but I can live with bad - I might not be happy, but that's another thing).

Now on with the title of my post.  I've decided to post my query here.  For you few people who follow, I would really appreciate your opinion (and for those of you who read and don't follow - you can e-mail me separately if you want.  I won't mind).  I was told I finally "nailed it".  This, from a person who has read (and loves) my book.  I'd like to think I really did nail it, but I won't know until I start to use it.  I'm just not sure WHEN I want to use it.  Should I wait until I hear back from the contest in October or just GO FOR IT?  Decisions, decisions.  Anyway, here is the query for my book, THE UNCOMMON ONE, a paranormal romance.

When a newly undead vampire cautiously re-enters society, he falls in love with the one human who can expose him for what he is.

John Pennington is focused on becoming the perfect ordinary mortal. He moves into the city, buys a sports bar, and works as the bartender. Dating is out of the question – he is a vampire after all. Then he meets Sarah Daugherty.

He’s uncommonly drawn to her and touching her generates a warmth he never thought he would experience again. But keeping his identity a secret from her is tougher than he expected. Unlike other mortals, he can’t read her thoughts or enter her mind. If she should discover his identity he’d have no way to wipe her memory – standard practice for repairing vampire slip-ups.

Even with his fears, life is amazing with her in it. He feels more human around her and is unwilling to give that up. In love for the first time, he knows she’s a risk worth taking.

After surviving an abusive ex-husband, Sarah is wary of any man’s interest. But John is different. He seems to care what she thinks and values her opinion. Then she finds out what he is and runs. Unable to forget the loving and kind way he treated her, she realizes she cares for him and goes back to face the challenges of dating a vampire.

While they begin their relationship, someone else is determined to end it. Sarah’s life is in danger and John must find the person responsible before she’s lost to him forever.

Okay - so give me your best shot.  Does this intrigue you to want to read more (even if you're not into romance)?  I appreciate all comments.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Decisions

Two years ago I was working as a cost accountant. While I wasn’t thrilled with my duties (I absolutely hated doing inventory), I enjoyed the people I worked with. When my first boss quit a few years prior and I didn’t get the open position, I almost quit. But the person they hired in her place was competent and I realized she was the better choice. I came to like working for her.

Two years ago my boss was promoted. I waited for the job announcement so I could apply for the position again (since it was inferred before that the job could be mine).  Now, I didn't really want to be a manager, but in order to make more money, it was the next step for me.  I was willing to change (and I psyched myself up for it, too). Instead, it was announced the position would not be filled.

Not long after that, during a department meeting, it was announced that someone from another part of the company was going to fill that position. Someone who had no background in cost accounting. Someone who didn’t even know what cost accounting was. She was my new boss.

That was when I made the decision to leave. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I was tired of being taken advantage. I had been at that job for over 14 years. I felt I deserved better. I felt they should at least have talked to me first.

I’ve been at my new job (in sales, not accounting) for 15 months. It wasn’t my dream job, but it paid more than my previous job (and at the time, we thought my husband was going to be fired, so I was looking for more money) and I was told I wouldn’t have to work in sales. I was support. I was to work on the databases and help with processes. Heck, I don’t really have a “dream job” anymore. Writing would fill that position. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay right now!

Anyway, the job is becoming less and less what I was told it would be. A lot of changes have come about because the person who hired me is no longer there. I’ve come to another point in my life where I need to make a decision. Luckily for me, my husband was not fired (now his job is more secure than ever – go figure), and he’s supporting my decision. I’m glad. I think I would be really miserable if he hadn’t.

I’ve decided to fight back. I don’t know which way it will go (they’ll either bend to keep me or let me go). But I realize that in order to be happy, I must stick to my guns. I am what I am and they can’t make me be someone else. I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Multi-Tasking

When you think of the term “multi-tasking”, you probably think it means doing more than one thing at a time. Like reading a book and watching the Olympics (done that – couldn’t put “Twilight” down!). But I also think it can apply to things, too. Unfortunately, my son did not.

He mentioned making enchiladas (yes, the boy cooks – and more than I do. It’s amazing what moving out can do), but the pan he had was too large and they didn’t turn out right. He then went on to say he would buy a smaller pan.

“Why don’t you use the lasagna pan?” I asked. That’s the pan his “Aunt” gave him as a house warming present because she loves to make his favorite dish; thus the name.

His response? “That pan is for lasagna.”

“So?” I said. “You don’t think a pan can multi-task?”

Seems he never even thought about it. He figured a pan had one use and one use only. The next week when he came over, he sheepishly admitted the lasagna pan had worked out nicely for his enchiladas.

It’s nice that he is learning to multi-task his cookware. It’ll be cheaper for him in the long run. It’s not like he has a large apartment.

It’s even nicer that he cooks. I really never thought I’d see the day (since his idea of cooking before was heating frozen pizza or pizza rolls). So, if there are any women out there looking for a man who can cook, I can introduce you to my son. Just kidding! Maybe.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Church Signs and My Crazy Mind

On my commute to and from work, I pass several churches on the way. They all have a sign out front, inviting people to come and visit. I always read the signs (I think I read everything!) because sometimes they are funny (intentionally or unintentionally).

However, the sign out front of one particular church today made me wonder what exactly they were inferring. It said “We Welcome Sinners. Especially Pilots”.

What do you suppose they meant by that remark? That if the pilot was a sinner, the plane would crash? Forget about all the non-sinning persons on board!

What about the passengers? If a sinful pilot could cause the plane to crash, couldn’t a sinful passenger? Then what difference would it make whether the pilot was a sinner or not?

Or were they saying a sinful pilot would WANT the plane to crash? I find that hard to believe. What sinner WANTS to die?

That’s the kind of stupid stuff that goes through my head when I read signs like that.  How about you?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New England - Beautiful

Yesterday we managed to make it back to the States without any incident. It even stayed dry.

I think the best part of our trip was driving through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Very beautiful. Lots of mountains and trees. Lots of greenery. We actually made it to Bangor and took a picture of the Paul Bunyan statue. Whenever I get around to downloading my camera, I’ll have to see about posting some pictures (or at least put them on Facebook). I’m terrible when it comes to taking pictures and worse when it comes to downloading them.

After Bangor, we drove to Belfast (on the coast) and had ourselves lobster for dinner. We sat outside and had a nice view of the ocean. Very pretty. Weather was perfect. Couldn’t ask for anything better!

Today, we drove down the coast of Maine (starting point Augusta). We took US-1 (instead of the interstate), hoping to see the ocean. Didn’t happen. Guess I was spoiled living in California. When you drive the coast of California, you actually see the ocean!

We drove through lots of little towns packed full of people. Don’t know what the draw is, since we never really saw much water. I guess people just like to shop (of which I am not one). The day was overcast and by the time we decided to head on up to the Interstate, the sky decided to open up and saw fit to drop gallons of water all at once (thankfully, we had put the top up on the car by then!). And of course it happened on the part of the road that was newly paved and not painted. Very tough driving when you can’t see the lanes.

Guess we should consider ourselves lucky that it's only rained on two of our vacation days (and toward the end of them, at that).  Most of the time the weather has been perfect for our convertible.

While I’m enjoying my vacation, I’m not getting much writing done.  No writing yesterday or today, although I am getting ideas for future scenes jotted down, so there’s that (meaning: writing will come easier once I have time to actually sit and write). Vacation only reinforces why I don’t want to work anymore! But it pays for the bills and the vacations. Must keep telling myself that.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Canada -or- What Were We Thinking?

On our first day of our “car cruise”, we drove from Dayton, OH to Buffalo, NY. That was so we could spend the second day in Niagara Falls. We took a tour there, just so we could see everything in one day without the hassle of driving or parking. It cost a bit, but was well worth the money.

Our third day was between Buffalo, NY and Albany, NY, with a stop at Cooperstown. I’ve always wanted to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. Now I can say I’ve been there. Quaint little town, too.

Today’s leg of our vacation was between Albany, NY and Montreal, QC. We traveled through the Adirondack Mountains by way of Lake Placid (just so we can say we’ve been there!). It rained a little during our scenic drive, but not steady, so we were able to put the top down on the car through most of that side trip.

So, a trip that should have only taken a few hours, became several because of our side trip. But we didn’t care. We weren’t sure what to find in Montreal. We only picked it because we’d never been. After being in Niagara Falls and going over to the Canada side, we were kind of prepared when it came to traveling to Montreal.

What we weren’t prepared for, besides the pouring down rain, was the fact our Garmin did not work in Canada. We couldn’t plug in the address to our hotel.

Thank GOD we had maps. I’ll never wonder if I’ve gone overboard again. Still, driving into the city, with the rain pouring down, not sure WHERE we were supposed to go and then finding everything written in FRENCH, it’s no wonder we got lost – and boy did we ever.

Did I mention it was pouring down rain? And that I was the lucky one driving at the time?

We managed to find a tourist information place (how my husband managed to KNOW the blue “?” signs were for information is a miracle unto itself) and they helped us get on our way. Then the trick was to find our hotel. It’s not like it was tiny, and it’s right near the airport (but then I did get lost trying to find the stupid airport, now didn’t I?). But the first two times I followed the sign pointing to our hotel, I got on the wrong road. Turns out you can’t get to the road the way you THINK. On the third try we ended up going through the parking lot of the hotel across the street!

We did not site-see in Montreal. Once we got to the hotel, that was it for me. Besides, it’s still raining. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were under a flash flood advisory (Dayton would be with this amount of rain).

Needless to say, I’m worried about getting out of the country. We can program our next stop (Bangor, ME) on the Garmin, but we’re not sure if it will list the roads we have to drive on in Canada. At least we have our maps. I’ll never go on another trip without them!

Oh, and I didn't get my 500 words written, but I was close.  Better than I thought I'd do after the day we had.

Comfort and Writing

I’m finding something out about me during our vacation. If I’m not comfortable, writing is difficult.

I hate sitting on the bed to work or read. I can’t do it. When I’m on a bed, I want to lie down, not sit up.

I’ve tried using the chair, but there’s no place for my mouse (and I’m apparently a mouse oriented person – I can’t use that stupid square box on my computer properly, it’s just too sensitive). And I, being the nice person that I am, give the desk to my husband. But then, he’s usually checking in on work, hoping there isn’t an emergency he has to fix.

The last vacation we took, we were in a timeshare and there was a kitchen & table. I had no problems in there. We could both sit at the table and use our laptops (yes, we had a kitchen, but who cooks during vacation? – oh wait – that would be our friend!).

Maybe I’m looking for excuses. It’s highly possible.

Regardless of my comfort, I am TRYING to get my 500 words done a day. If I weren’t stuck on my story, it probably wouldn’t matter. The words would flow. But I’m at a point where I have to think. And sitting uncomfortably and thinking don’t go along.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and the dam will break today. Then tonight I will write like a demon. I can only hope!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hodgepodge

I have recently (like, yesterday), revised my query - the letter I plan on sending out to more agents. I’m thinking about posting it on my blog and getting your opinion (and maybe spreading the news to the RWA chapters I belong to, to also check it out). Good idea? Bad? I’d like to know what you think about that.

Not that I blog everyday (I’m lucky to hit twice a week!), but next week I’ll be on vacation. We’re taking what I call a “car cruise”. Hitting cities we’ve never visited before. If I have access to the internet at night (and the odds are pretty much in our favor), I may post more often. That’s if I have any decent pictures or funny stories to share. Heck, I’m with my husband. I’m sure I’ll have at least one funny story to share. I’ll just have to remember to write it down when it happens or else I’ll forget.

Do you own an e-book reader? Do you want to? I’m still in the NO category on those things. Why mess with something that works? I just foresee problems with electronic gadgets in the future. AND the changes in formats (you know it’ll happen). I’ll stick with bound books.

In case I've never thanked you - I thank you for following my blog (or reading, if you’re here and don’t follow). It’s almost like writing a letter to a friend. That’s what I try to do here, anyway.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Movies

Went and saw “Inception” this past weekend. I enjoyed the movie. My kids enjoyed the movie. My husband said “It was okay.” He thought it was strange.

While the kids wanting to see the movie kind of pushed him into going, he also told me he figured I’d go see “Salt” with him now since he saw “Inception” with me. If the kids wanted to see “Salt”, I’d tell him to go without me. The problem is, they don’t want to see it and he won’t go by himself.

And do I need to mention the reason why I don’t want to see "Salt"?  Yes, I’m petty, but I don’t like Angelina Jolie and I hate filling her pockets. I feel the same toward Sarah Jessica Parker.

I will normally dismiss a film if I see they are in it (and I rejoice when I see they got bad reviews). I don’t know what it is about them, but they just rub me the wrong way. Are there actors out there that you refuse to watch on film (or stage)? Or am I just strange that way?

I mean, I wouldn’t buy a book from an author I disliked. Why would I pay to see a movie that stars someone I disliked?  I guess I'm just picky as to who I give my money to.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Goals

I’ve been thinking about goals lately and I realized if I want to be published, I better get used to setting them. Someday I might have deadlines!

So, first I set a goal to have my current WIP finished by October. That’s doable, right? I thought that would be a good goal. But how do I go about making sure I'm on my way to making that goal?

Robert Gregory Browne asked on Facebook how you judge your writing goals. By time, pages, or words. I thought I judged my goal by time, but realized that wouldn’t get my book done by then. Some days I write a lot in the time I have, other days not so much.

Pages are nice, but some pages are full, others only contain two lines. Very deceiving. Since I’m judging my WIP in words, then I need to have a word goal.

So how MUCH would I have to write PER DAY to reach my October goal? And do I want the first draft done by then, or the first draft with one edit? That makes a difference in the number of words I need done by October.

I chose first draft. It’s been recommended to let your book “simmer” for a few weeks before you even think about editing (and I’ve found it does help – I’ll just use those weeks to start on the next book).

My finished word count goal is 100,000 words (or thereabouts). Knowing ME, the first draft should only be about 80,000 words (since I tend to leave out a lot of description and stuff like that – I add that during the edit). I’m currently at 50,000 words. That leaves 30,000 words until October.

To meet that October goal, that means I have to average roughly 500 words per day. Okay – I finally have a goal I can wrap my mind around. A daily goal that is reachable.

There was a time I thought 1000 words a day was doable. Yeah – if I didn’t work full time, that is. But 500 words a day is more realistic (and sometimes the weekends will make up that average on those week days I just can’t write). I’m currently averaging 666 words per day. Not bad. Maybe I'll get done sooner.  That would be even better.

Do you have writing goals? What kind? Do they help you? I find my goal has helped tremendously. If I’ve written at least 500 words in the day, I find I can relax a little more (and maybe even watch TV with my hubby).

Now the question - how do you make an EDITING goal?  I really want to know!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Promise

I hate it when I come up with a good idea for a blog, don’t write it down, and then STRUGGLE to find the topic in my brain!

And it was a good topic, at least a good topic to rant about. That much I know.

James Taylor said in an interview (I think on CBS Sunday Morning – not sure, I don’t normally watch the show, but I was looking for the weather and stopped to see what James Taylor had to say), that his ideas come floating down from the sky. If he doesn’t catch them, they will drop to the ground and be forgotten.

How true is that? It’s apparently true for me!

And it’s not like I don’t have a pad of paper with a pen in every room of the house. There’s no excuse. I should know better by now. I’ve let too many ideas fall to the ground.

So, today, on my birthday (yep, another year older, that’s me), I’m making a promise to myself to WRITE down all my ideas as they occur. Regardless of what time it is (even if it’s 3:00 a.m.). I don’t want to lose another one to the ground.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why Is it?

Why is it I yearn to write my story every minute of every day, but when I’m asked (told) to prepare a business letter I cringe?

And it’s not that I can’t do it. I can. Sort of. But my first reaction is “UGH!”

I’ve written personal letters since I was 11. That’s when we moved from Wilmington (in Los Angeles County) to Santa Barbara (more than two hours north). That’s when I started writing to the friend I left behind.

I liked writing so much, I started responding to requests for pen pals (my parents belonged to the Independent Order of Foresters – an insurance agency that sent out a quarterly magazine, including a section to request pen pals). I didn’t have much luck there, so I put in my own ad (and then I found out why I didn’t have much luck – I got more responses than I knew what to do with!).

But I loved writing personal letters (loved receiving them more), even though I didn’t really have all that much to write about.

When I joined the Army, my pen pals dwindled. When I married, they practically disappeared. Then I found another form of writing I enjoyed – Procedures.

I document EVERYTHING. I write out how do to each job step by step so someone else can follow. And once the procedure is written, I fix it every time I find a mistake (or the procedure changes).

So, why is it I can’t write a simple business letter? What is it about them that make my skin crawl? Just what is the difference? I really want to know!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Waiting

I’m thinking about my first book too much again. The form rejections I received from the few agents I’ve queried haven’t helped any, either.

Should I change the beginning? Should I change the end? Should I change this scene or that? The questions never stop.

I keep telling myself to WAIT. Wait until I hear back from the last contest I entered. Wait until I have a chance to talk to my beta reader. Waiting is hard, though. I won’t get the results from the contest until October. Dang – can I really wait THAT long? At least I’m talking to my beta reader on Saturday (I hope, anyway!).

I’m afraid to send out more queries. If my book isn’t ready as it is, I don’t want to blow anymore chances. I want a good agent.

I’m hoping it’s all in my head, that I’m over-analyzing the whole thing. It’s what I do (and I’ve gotten very good at it).

So I will wait until I hear back from the contest. I owe my book that much. If I don’t final (and that is what my goal is, although winning would be SWEET), then it’s back to the drawing board (or the critique group). Because I will NOT give up on my book. It deserves its chance to be read.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

I’ve been awarded THE VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD. It’s my first award.


The rules:
1. Thank those who loved me enough to bestow this gift.
2. Share seven things about myself.
3. Bestow this honor onto 15 newly discovered or followed bloggers–in no particular order–who are fantastic in some way.
4. Drop by and let my fifteen new friends know I love them.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to follow all the rules, though. I don’t think I follow 15 blogs who don’t already have this award.

So, thank you Danica Avet! If you don’t follow her blog, you should. Especially on Fridays! I’ll let you figure that out for yourself.
 
Seven things about myself:

1. I was in the Army for nearly six years. Held the rank of Specialist5 – SP5 (E5). Since I was a clerk-typist, I couldn’t be a Sergeant. Bummer!

2. I went to high school with Meg Gardiner. We weren't exactly acquaintences since she was sort of popular and I wasn't, but I remember her (and her sister & my sister were friends).  Does that make me a name dropper? Probably. She won’t mind if I tell everyone to go read her books. They’re AWESOME!

3. I am a direct descendant of Susannah Martin (actually from two of her daughters – cousins married later down the line). Who’s she? She was executed during the Salem Witch Trials as a WITCH.

4. I collected stamps when I was in high school. I thought they were cool. Still have the collection somewhere in the house.

5. When I was 13, I placed my name in an ad to get pen pals. It stated my age. Of course, the ad didn’t run until I was three months shy of 15. Mostly everyone who responded (and I had LOTS of responses) was a year or two younger than me. I gave some of the rejects to my sister (who is a year younger than me), since there was no way I could afford to write to them all. I still correspond with some of them (even if it is only during Christmas!).

6. I played the clarinet in my high school band. I don’t think I could play one now if my life depended on it. But I can still sort of play the piano.

7. I was never much of a reader until I read “Gone With the Wind”. And the only reason I read that book was that it counted for three books in my ninth-grade English class. I read it in ten days (a record for me at the time). Since then, I’ve been hooked on reading.

I bestow this honor to only one blogger, since most of the blogs I have followed the longest either already have this award or of the type I’m not comfortable sending (agents, publishers, or multi-authored). Stacie Carver’s blog “One Writer’s Journey” hasn’t been around long. I met her at the RT Convention and we became friends. I’m hoping this award will get her to blog more often!

I really haven’t been following blogs all that long. Heck, I’ve only been writing this one since November. And the reason I started this blog was to make it easier on ME to find the blogs I follow. Crazy, huh?

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me.  I kind of had fun trying to think of seven interesting things.  Hopefully I succeeded.

Monday, July 5, 2010

40,000 and Counting

I reached 40,000 words on my WIP today and it feels GREAT!

I woke up with a conversation in my head and just had to come down and write.  I love when that happens.  I love it even more when it happens and I can take action.  Since today was a holiday for me, I was able to take action.

I got the scene written (first draft quality, of course - I can fill in the details later) and now I need to think about the next one.  If I wake up with a conversation tomorrow, I'm in trouble.  Gotta be back at work in the morning (groan).

I was awared a blog award today (that sounds funny when I say it out loud).  I'm not really sure how to go about doing everything I need to do, so it will take me a while to get that blog ready.  I still struggle with links! 

Until then - ta ta!