Monday, December 27, 2010

Writer Wrestlutions

That's right. I'm calling for a fight. Romance writers unite!

Forget resolutions about keeping our butts in chairs, submitting, or getting published. Face it. Those things WILL happen because we're writers. Those things are a given. They're hand carved into every one of our hearts, so no need to scribble them on a sticky note or whiteboard. I'm a believer in success for those who really want it...even if it takes time.

Our resolution this year should be to team up against romance novel ignorance. We need to wrestle all those stupid, eye roll comments about what we write to the ground. Join me in the ring for a word fight. Hey, we're supposed to be word experts, aren't we? We're supposed to be creative...quick with our fingertips on a keyboard. But sometimes we're not so quick with our feet and tongues (yes, there are exceptions and you know who you are). As writers, we're used to mulling over our thoughts, rolling words on our tongue until they feel right...we're used to editing. Low blows against romance novels can take us off guard and land us on our backs.

There's no time to edit when someone makes a sny remark to your face or asks an irritating question about writing romance. So I say we need some strategy here. We need to share examples of stupid comments and the best come backs we can think of. We need to be smart, sassy, and strike hard. No more cheap shots at romance novels. No more getting bumped by ignorant remarks. Let's take 'em down and be romance champions!

"Oh, Harlequin huh?" (wink, wink) "I don't read that kind of stuff."

My favorite attack on that one is to throw the exact opposite of what they're thinking of at them. It freezes them up. Takes them off guard.

"Really? Have you tried their inspirational line? You know, their more religious, closed door stuff?"

Heh, it always works. I get a very confused "Really? They have that?" response.

Oh, and I get the eye roll, wink wink, "So what does your husband think of what you're writing?" (chortle)

I give them back the 'wink, wink' and say "Why don't you ask him?"

What comments have you endured? What responses did you give? I'd love it if everyone shared what they would say to the comments others have faced. Come on. Let's put our minds together, share strategy, and give romance ignoramuses a match they'll never forget in 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Slipping into a heroine's heels

I'm sure there are heroines out there who prefer combat or cowboy boots over three inch heels, and there are readers out there who opt for Keds and bunny slippers, but when a heroine is well written, readers will find themselves slipping into her shoes within the first few pages of a book. It doesn't matter if she's a vampire slayer, a high society princess, or the pre-school teacher next door, a well-written heroine is universally sympathetic. She may be a unique individual, her shoe styles may differ, but they come in one-size-fits-all. And they all have an Achilles heel.

Writers know that sympathetic heroines need to be proactive, vulnerable but strong, guarded but giving. The list goes on. But what specifically are we connecting with? What weaknesses or strengths? What insecurities? What flaws? Do different readers connect with the same heroine for different reasons? Is it her struggle with ten pounds for one reader, and the loss of her parents for another? Or is it simply the fact that she has a soft spot? As a reader, do you connect because of a shared experience, or a shared personality trait? Is it a matter of 'Oh, I did that too' or 'Yeh, I get her' or both?

I'm asking a lot of questions here, many that I've seen asked of heroes, but it's the heroine we become. We fall in love with the hero through her eyes and heart. So what do you think? What's the common thread across genres that has you connecting with a heroine? Is it a moment, a trait, or a growth arc? What makes her shoes fit?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My first blog award!

Hey everyone! I just got my very first blog award, and my Therapeutic Thursday posts were sited as one of the reasons. You have to admit that getting a blog award is wonderful, feel-good therapy for a writer :).

Huge thanks to Joanna St. James for passing the award on to me. If you haven't already, check out her blog. She does fantastic interviews and has insightful writing posts that I know you'll enjoy. Also, thanks to L'Aussie for creating the Fair Dinkum award. The award has a beautiful meaning, 'true blue', but I think L'Aussie says it best and gives a much more thorough explaination. Check out her post on Fair Dinkum here.

And that leaves me to the writers I'd like to pass the award on to...

Kaily Hart: For being a true blue friend, for being the one who urged me to start a blog, and for having a wonderful, honest, and informative blog of her own.

Jennifer Shirk: For her kind support of so many writers, and for her informative, fun, sweet, and sassy writer's blog.

Christine Bell: For her frank and funny honesty about her writing and publication experiences.

Maria Zannini: For her warm, fun, and honest must-read writer's blog, and for reaching out to other writers.

Anne Gallagher: For her informative, warm, and down-to-earth Piedmont Writer's blog.

Thanks everyone and have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, December 13, 2010

AquaNotes and more...

Remember my recent post, Carpe articulum, where I mention the dilemma of getting ideas in the shower? Guess what? I was reading my latest Writer's Digest (you really should subscribe to it if you haven't already), and their review of 'literary goodies' mentioned the perfect solution. AquaNotes. Check it out at It's a waterproof notepad and pen that suction to your shower wall. The pages can actually be torn off like a regular notepad so that your writing ideas can be taken back to your computer. Talk about a great writer gift idea! Check out the youtube video of how it works.

Also, I came across a must read blog post called The Biggest Mistakes Writers Make When Querying Literary Agents. It includes direct quotes from a multitude of agents polled on common query mistakes.

And finally, let me leave you with a Youtube video that's going viral in the writing world. You have to be a serious writer to see the humor in So You Want To Write A Novel...

Happy Writing!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

And the winner is...


Congratulations Karen! You've won the book of your choice by Jennifer Shirk. Send your contact/mailing information, and which book you'd like, to jennifer (at) jennifershirk (dot) com. Let me know in the comments if you have any trouble.

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Interview with Author Jennifer Shirk

Happy First Monday in December! What better way to ring in the holidays than to have the wonderful and talented author Jennifer Shirk here to dish on her writerly life. To make things merrier, she'll be giving away one of her books to a very lucky commenter. Trust me, her storytelling will draw a smile on your face. If you haven't already, check out her fun and informative blog Me, My Muse, and I. Rumor has it, she bakes wicked good cookies. Getting in the spirit? Let's get started!

1. When it comes to careers, backgrounds, and experience, romance writers are definitely an eclectic bunch. I think the variety adds richness to all the romance novels out there. You earned a degree in pharmacy before you became a published romance writer. Was there always a writer in you itching to come out? What was the catalyst, and was it difficult to embrace a new 'identity'?

Was there a writer itching for me to come out? Um...NO. In fact, when I told my mom I was going to write a book she looked at me strangely and said, “But you don’t like to write.” LOL

I guess like any writer, I first started out as a reader. I found myself mentally rewriting stories to the way I wanted as I was reading them. So I decided to put my pen where my head was and sit down and try my hand at writing my own. Luckily, there is an enormous amount of helpful information through the Internet.

2. We're definitely lucky to be writing with today's technology at our disposal. You have two books out, The Role of a Lifetime and Georgie On His Mind, each with a different publisher. What were you doing when you got the first Call? Was the second Call just as exciting?

My first call was actually an email. Not typical but still VERY exciting. When I got my second call from Avalon Books I had just come home from an exhausting day of teaching Vacation Bible School. There was a message on the answering machine from the editor asking me to call her back. I still haven’t erased the message. :) So yeah, the second call is JUST as exciting.

3. I had a grin on my face the entire time I read Georgie On His Mind. You have a gift for drawing out the humor from the psychology of human relationships, and yet you balance it well with all that wonderful conflict and character torture (insert evil romance writer grin). Your characters are very real and easy to relate to, and I think they make us laugh at ourselves (and at our friends and family...shhhh). If I started describing your voice as funny and sassy...what would you add to that?

Oh, thank you! My writing has been called funny but never “sassy” before. I love it! I’d definitely add quirky and dare I say…heartwarming.

4. If you had to do one of the following, what would it be? Karaoke, stand-up comedy, poetry recital, or kidlet story time at the library?

Easy peasy. Kidlet storytime at the library. I love anything to do with kids! Adding books to that mix is a bonus!

5. On a more serious note, do you tackle a synopsis before or after you've written your story? Any synopsis survival secrets, or a favorite synopsis writing resource?

Well, honestly it depends on the story. I wrote the synopsis of Georgie on His Mind when I was about halfway through writing it. With my most recent wip, I only have four chapters written and I cranked out a synopsis the other day. I sometimes need to see how a story will all play out on paper and if the flow makes sense or not before I proceed. Plus, I think it’s good practice for me to write a synopsis first in case I ever want to sell on proposal alone.

I don’t use any synopsis resources since I kind of have the hang of them by now. When you’re writing romance, the main thing is to clearly identify your heroine’s and hero’s GOAL, MOTIVATION and CONFLICT. So make sure what you have in the synopsis centers around those three things and how they change or are affected throughout the story. Anything else in the story doesn’t need to be mentioned unless it affects the G, M, or C. For example, I mentioned the subplot of Kendall and Brad in ONE sentence of my synopsis because it explained why Brad didn’t want his sister missing out on a special relationship like he had done and why he asked Walt to watch over her in the first place.

6. Great advice! You have an amazing blog, and you've amassed a loyal following. How do you manage your social networking with writing time and family life (we can all use tips :))?

Gee, I could use some tips myself! I used to blog 5 days a week. Then I joined Facebook and I went down to 3 days. Then I joined Twitter and went down to 2 days a week blogging. That seems to be the perfect number to balance being social and having a good amount of time to write and get things done around the house. I tend to blog or be on the social networks early in the morning and then whenever I’m taking a writing break or have a few spare minutes here and there. So far, that seems to work.

7. What's your quirkiest writing habit and favorite deadline-crunch-time snack?

I clean a lot for my writing breaks. I think it’s because I’m sitting for so long I need to get moving somehow—even if it’s lugging a vacuum around. LOL My favorite all time writing snack food is Tootsie Pops. They last a long time, have chocolate in the center and won’t leave a mess on my keyboard. :)

8. What's the one thing you did as a writer that you feel played a critical role in helping you achieve your goal of publication?

Joined a critique group. Without them and their knowledge I would still be clueless. They taught me what G, M and C was and why I needed to purchase extra large rubber bands. LOL

9. And finally, if you had the perfect Rx (prescription, for anyone raising a brow) for unpublished writers struggling towards their goal, what would it be (other than ones the DEA might object to, LOL)?

Read Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon. Join a critique group, and the RWA and your local RWA chapter. Those four things will put you miles ahead of the pack.

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Rula!

GIVEAWAY: As a bonus for your readers and since Christmas is around the corner, I’ll be giving away one of my books--either The Role of a Lifetime or Georgie on His Mind-- (winner’s choice) to some lucky commenter!
Contest Note: Leave a comment on here to be entered to win. Contest will end Wednesday, December 8th at 11:59 PM (EST). Winner will be announced Thursday, December 9th.

Good luck and happy reading!
Thanks for hanging out here today, Jennifer!
Check out Jennifer at:
Find Jennifer's books at:
Georgie On His Mind: ISBN 978-0803477827
The Role Of A Lifetime: ISBN 978-1605041599 (also available in e-book format)

Blurb: Georgie On His Mind
Georgie Mayer has no boyfriend and rarely goes out. In short, she needs a life. Since she's graduated college and returned back home, her brother's protectiveness has been in overdrive, and she hasn't been able to have any fun, never mind get a date.

So what's a poor particularly attractive girl to do in a situation like this? The only thing she can do: find him a woman!
He'll thank her for it in the end. That is, if his best friend Walt Somers would stop interfering with her plans. The handsome pharmacist has made no secret that he doesn't approve of what she's up to. Unfortunately, having Walt hanging around does strange things to her mind, and suddenly she can't help but take a healthy interest in him. But how can Georgie entertain thoughts of the two of them together when Walt still treats her like his best friend's little sister?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Revision Elbow and other writing induced Repetitive Strain Injuries

It's time for another Therapeutic Thursday post, and this one was inspired by the arm pain I suffered from while trying to wrap up my last manuscript in time for the GH deadline. Who knew writing could be dangerous?

I bet that you've all heard of Tennis Elbow or even Golfer's Elbow. Well, apparently writers have their own elbow ailment called Revision Elbow (or Student's Elbow). I'm not making this up, but I did laugh when I saw the name. Go figure. Revision Elbow is a repetitive strain injury suffered by anyone who works at a keyboard for lengthy periods of time. Fellow writers know that completing a manuscript draft requires hours at the computer on a daily basis (or most days), only to be followed by hours and hours of revisions. I've been suffering from elbow pain that radiates down my arm. That pain motivated a little research.

Check out this excellent article at Writers Services. According to the article, writers, and all keyboard/mouse users, can suffer from Tennis Elbow, Golfer's Elbow, and Revision Elbow. It describes the pain involved, the cause, and most importantly, what we can do to reduce our risk or alleviate the pain.

Another article by Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz  over at Writing World, describes how yoga techniques can be used to reduce hand-wrist tension.

I've heard that squeezing massage balls or stress balls in your hands 15-20 times, several times a day, helps to strengthen fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms. That may help reduce the chance of injury, and it would be an easy, mindless thing to do while brainstorming characters, plots, or other manuscript ideas. Consider it physical therapy for writers. There are several hand excercises for writers described over at include the finger bend, finger walk, and shoulder-to-finger roll. I know these sound simple, but they really do help. In fact, I remembered Nora Roberts describing several of her arm/finger stretches at the chat she gave during RWA Nationals in DC in 2009. She stressed how important it was to do them (I can only imagine how important for such a prolific writer). Well, my writing schedule wasn't as rigid at the time so I filed the info somewhere in my brain. Now I understand what she meant.

Writing injuries can escalate to Hand Dystonia (writer's cramp) and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Why let it go that far when you can do preventative excercises, or ones that'll nip the pain when it starts. Seriously, check out those links. Even if you  pick one or two stretches to stick with, it's better than nothing. Don't wait for the pain to hit right before deadline crunch time.

Edited to add a few more helpful sites: and

*Stop by Monday for a visit with author Jennifer Shirk. She's doing a fabulous holiday giveaway. You won't want to miss it!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Is chivalry comatose?

Chivalry is not dead. I know, because I witnessed several kind and chivalrous acts today, and that made all the difference. Let me explain...I was having one of those rushed days that included everything from a very long wait at the FedEx place, to fishing a tiny, gold, Lego coin out of my six year old's ear. Thank God for tweezers! However, all it takes is one act of kindness from a total stranger to make a person's day.

When I was at FedEx, there was a lady waiting in line with a very cute but restless child in her arms. There was also a man who'd prepared a large package for sending. He was ahead of everyone, and I had watched him fixing his box. I remember thinking that he looked rushed, serious, and a little more restless than the toddler. I was wrong. When the FedEx person went to serve him, he asked her to help the lady with the child first. He made me smile inside, and he earned an everyday hero medal in my mind. The lady with the child thanked him profusely, and he told her he had two little ones at home and knew what she was going through.

After that, I had to run to Target to pick up a prescription. I approached the store's automatic doors at the same time as an elderly fellow. I stopped and invited him to go ahead of me. He stopped and insisted that I go first. As he followed me in he said, "Chivalry is not dead. It might be comatose, but it's not dead." I thanked him and told him that it only takes one man to revive it. He laughed, and it made my day.

So I ask you, what chivalrous acts have you noticed lately? Do you think chivalry died with women's lib? Have you come across a hero in a contemporary romance who has done something sigh-worthy that you'd label as chivalrous?

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Dangers of Search and Replace

This Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks to Word's wonderful Search and Replace tool (amongst other things of course). Better yet, Replace All. Gotta love'em.

BUT you'd better read every, single word of your manuscript after you use said tool.

WARNING: After using Search and Replace, perform a SEARCH AND RESCUE!

While doing final edits on my manuscript yesterday, I decided to change one of the character's names from Josh to Dixon. He's a not-so-likeable guy and the name seemed to work better, plus I had another character with a 'J' name and it was confusing. Easy enough. Replace All.

Ha! I continued reading through and came across a passage where the hero is getting teased and slapped on the back by some friends. I'd used the word 'joshing'. Don't laugh. It's a small town and it fit the secondary character (I hope). Catching on yet? Imagine my double take when I read that the hero's friend was 'Dixoning' him.

Now, that just sounds wrong.

It even took me a minute to figure out how the hell the word got there. It's not even in Webster's (I checked out of curiosity because I'm weird). Can you imagine the look on an editor or agent's face? Be warned, my friends. Check. Every. Single. Word.

Does anyone else have Search and Replace rescue stories?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Carpe articulum!

Carpe diem won't cut it.

I need to seize the moment. The moment that perfect idea, scene, or solution to a plotting problem finds its way into an accessible part of my brain. If I don't seize it right then and there, it's gone. At a minimum, it becomes muddled or incoherent, and I have to strain to get it back. I'm telling you, the saying 'this too shall pass' refers to ideas and my short term memory. Yes, my real name is Dory.

Seizing that moment, no matter where I am, involves carrying a small notebook in my purse, but there are times when I don't have my purse, or I've forgotten the notebook by my computer. I've taken to catching thoughts on napkins, receipts, backs of envelopes, notecards, printer paper, grocery list pads, and Post-its (or sticky notes of any kind - love 'em to death). But what about the darn shower?

What is it about showers? They're relaxing. They make you sing better (come on, don't deny it). They make you think better too. A dilemma if you're a writer who needs to get their thoughts down quickly. Paper and water. Now there's a relationship with conflict for you. I need some sort of water proof writing pad that can hang in the shower. Don't deep sea divers have gadgets like that?

And what about driving? I get great ideas while trying to tune out the kids in the back seat, but I can't jot them down unless I'm at a red light. As for tape recorders, the sound of my voice messes with my train of thought.

So what do you do to seize the moment? What's the strangest thing you've jotted a thought down on?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And the winner is...


You've won a book of your choice by Christine Bell. Email Christine through her website at and she'll get you squared away. If you have any trouble with the link, just let me know in the comments.

Congratulations and enjoy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Interview with Christine Bell

Please welcome multipublished and multitalented author Christine Bell (also writing as Chloe Cole). Christine's first novellas, Pray and Awakening of the Wolves of Pray series, have already drawn readers in packs. She has a gift for creating intensly hot stories streaked with danger, but in real life, her creative wit is just as entertaining. Check out her blog at and I guarantee you'll leave with a grin on your face. I'm so glad that she found a break in her busy life as writer, maid, chef, chauffer, therapist, wife, mother of four teen boys and two dogs (whew!) to join us today. Christine is holding a prize drawing for one of her books. Just leave a comment and you'll be entered into the drawing. The winner will be announced this Thursday.

1. We all know what expert multitaskers mothers are. Top that with contracts from three different publishers! What advice do you have for new or aspiring authors on how to avoid contract conflicts, manage deadlines, and juggle writing time with family life?

It’s actually four now, which is so exciting and overwhelming at the same time! Family comes first, always, but right now, until I’m where I want to be, everything else is on the back burner. I used to sing in a band, bowl on Monday nights, and considered myself a student of poker. There are only so many hours in the day, and since writing is my absolute dream, I put the rest aside. I can do those things once I’ve earned some vacation time. Making deadlines is top priority for me, same with making sure I know what my contractual obligations are etc. I want every publisher and editor that I work with to WANT to work with me again. To actively say, “She was on the ball, and we want to do business with her.” Needless to say, because I have a full time job, a husband, kids, a house to take care of, etc. I don’t get a lot of sleep! And you know what? That’s okay, because I am having the time of my life right now.

2. Wow! You're definitely prolific. Who needs sleep when you're having fun ;). Do you tackle a synopsis before or after you've written your story? Any synopsis survival secrets?

Bleh, after. And no. If you hear any though, send them my way, k?

3. Ditto on the bleh, LOL. Has your writing method changed out of necessity since becoming published?

Because I have a goal in mind (I’m trying to make sure I have either a Chloe Cole or Christine Bell release every month) and because I have more than one editor that I want to keep happy, I’ve had to buckle down and really try to make sure I’m writing all the time. Before I was published, I could kind of write something, take a few weeks off and just read craft books, take workshops, putter around with ideas. Now, as soon as I hit send, I am compelled to crack open another document so I don’t get behind schedule. The method is the same though: An idea, usually a situation comes to mind, then the characters, and then a quick and dirty outline (which always changes as I go). I edit constantly, and start at the beginning every time I open the document, so by the time I’m done I have a pretty clean manuscript. Lather, rinse, repeat :op

4. What's your quirkiest writing habit? What's your favorite deadline-crunch-time (pun intended) snack?

I write in bed almost exclusively. I can’t write with a lot of background noise and with four boys, neighbors kids over half the time, two dogs etc. there is no other quiet place in the house. I have this big, sit-uppy pillow that I use and set the laptop on my lap and go! As for snacks when I write, chocolate and coffee, simultaneously. I also love those little peanut butter pretzels.

5. Which promotional method (blog, tweets, forum networking etc...) do you credit with bringing you the most readers?

This is a tough one because if authors want to succeed, they have to be out there promoting their work. It’s absolutely necessary in today’s market, so I think it’s ALL important, and the sooner you start, the better off you are. Before you even get a contract, you should get involved with forums, network with other writers, tweet, and I would even recommend getting a website. I’m going to say right now, as a relatively new author, I probably get most of my readers through blogging, guest blogging etc. I think a website is key though, especially as your backlist grows. If I like an author’s book, I’m going to go to their website and actively seek out more of their work. As the months go by and I look at my blog stats more and more of my page views are coming from my website link. And I love Twitter though because it gives you “facetime” with readers. So yes, do it all!!!

6. Well, as I said above, you have a wonderful blog. So far you've written two books in your Wolves of Pray series, Pray and Awakening. What 'personality' traits do real wolves have that make for great human heroes? Is it their strength, loyalty, or something else?

Hmm, that’s a new and interesting question! Well, everyone knows how strong the bond between a wolf and their mate is, so that’s one trait that definitely lends itself to romance. Also, there is that feral dangerous quality that so many women like in an alpha hero. They are really beautiful creatures. I went to a wolf sanctuary in Lititz Pennsylvania and was amazed at how intelligent and gorgeous they were. Fascinating.

7. I agree. Wolves are amazing creatures. There seems to be a spirituality about them. But on a lighter note, in Awakening there's a brief reference to Little Red Riding Hood. Let's say you're up for an on stage role in the production of Little Red. Which character would you try out for - Little Red Riding Hood, Granny, or the Big Bad Wolf?

Probably Little Red Riding Hood because the red cape is sort of mysterious and sexy, and would look FABULOUS with my new boots!

8. LOL! I can just picture you on stage in those boots! And now to your audience of readers and fellow writers...apart from not giving up, what's the one thing you did as a writer that you feel played a critical role in helping you get that first Call?

I put in the time. I know by a lot of people’s standards, it happened really fast. About 7 months from the time I wrote my first manuscript to my first contract. But that time was very intense. I would stay up all night reading about writing, thinking about writing, taking seminars and working with my crit group. And then, and this is key, I wasn’t afraid to put my work out there. I submitted and submitted and kept on submitting. You have to be a little fearless, really honest with yourself about your work and make sure you kinds of grow a little shell around you, because if not, it’s going to be a long, painful haul! Every R should motivate you to do better. Every R with feedback should be cherished.
Fantastic advice and inspiration, Christine. Thanks so much for being here today.
Don't forget! Christine is holding a prize drawing for one of her books. Just leave a comment and you'll be entered into the drawing. The winner will be announced this Thursday.
Blurb: The Wolves of Pray Book 2 - The Awakening
Sean Mulaney has had a hell of a year. His beloved mate Sara is dead and the trail to her killer has grown cold. Eaten up by grief and guilt, it is an effort for him just to get through the day. Now, after almost a year in mourning, his animal instincts have reawakened. As Sean struggles to control the need clawing at him, along comes sexy and outspoken Chandra, and his instincts kick into over-drive.

Disillusioned but resolute, Chandra has finally summoned the courage to leave her morally corrupt wolf-pack and join the Wolves of Pray, Montana. Her new pack is a perfect fit, and life would be grand if only Sean Mulaney wasn’t such a distraction. When the tension between them really heats up, Sean proposes a unique solution to the problem. Chandra is torn. She wants to be more than just a “friend with benefits”, but if she refuses Sean’s offer, she might blow her one chance to convince him that she can rock his world and fill the empty space in his heart.

As the sexual tension between them crackles, they each need to make a choice. Is Chandra willing to risk, not only her heart, but her newfound comfort and security within the pack on a long shot like Sean? And will Sean let love in, only to risk having it taken away again? Especially when he knows there is still a killer on the loose.

You can find Christine and read excerpts at:

The following links are intended for mature audiences only.

Find Christine's/Chloe's books and upcoming releases at:
The Wolves of Pray Book 1 - Pray
The Wolves of Pray Book 2 - Awakening
Captive Audience
The Guardian - November 19, 2010
The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale - Spring 2011
Unwrapping Lily Ellora's Cave - December 9, 2010
Naughty Godmother - Coming Soon
Three to Tango  - (with L.C.Chase) Coming Soon

Monday, November 1, 2010

I got the best treat ever

Let me start off November with a couple of important announcements.

1. Today is day one of Harlequin's Editorial Week. Don't forget to pop on over to So You Think You Can Write.

2. Only two weeks left until the forms and fees registration deadline for the Golden Heart contest.

Ready to find out what my favorite trick-or-treat was?

Now, this is no ordinary pen. My son made this in a woodshop class at school and gave it to me this weekend. He said that he wanted me to have it since I'm a writer. Need I point out that I'm very sentimental? I think I'll sign all my query letters with it for good luck. Hey, maybe one of these days I'll get to sign a contract with it.

Isn't it amazing how one minute your child can have you tugging at your hair, and the next minute they're tugging at your heart? Here's to the next generation of heroes and heroines.

What's the best writer gift that you ever received?

Monday, October 25, 2010

'Tis the season for paranormal romance

Halloween is in the air! I spent Saturday evening at a haunted house with one of my boys. I'm talking a real haunted house. Sure, decorations were added to ramp up the spooky mood, but this house is truly haunted...if you believe. It's an old, stone farm house built in 1800 and nestled in the middle of nowhere. It served as a hide-out for those headed north to escape slavery. This place was amazing and filled with presence no one could deny. Being the writer and reader that I am, it got me thinking about paranormal romance. Hey, can you blame me?

One of my favorite paranormal romances involved a haunted house much like the one I was in on Saturday. It's one of Nora Roberts' McKade series, The Return of Rafe McKade. Speaking of paranormal and Nora, I absolutely love all of her Donovan clan books, Charmed, Enchanted, Captivated, and Entranced. Those are a must read for anyone who likes witches and magic. She makes it all so skillfully woven into everyday life that you have to believe her characters could be your neighbors. Love it!

I have also enjoyed reading Terry Spear's Heart of the Wolf and Destiny of the Wolf for the same reason. Terry not only incorporates real wolf and wolf pack behavior into her stories, her werewolves are also so well blended into human society (in their human form) that you're left thinking that they really could exist. There are many more books in this series that I have yet to read, but I definitely will.

I like paranormal romances that have a strong plausibility factor. I think it gives them a longer lasting impact. They leave you wondering...looking over your shoulder. What are some of your favorite paranormal romances? Do you like to curl up with them during the haunting season?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

You can't tell it's a Gluten Free/Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. When I went gluten and dairy free a few years ago, I refused to give up my favorite, traditional Thanksgiving dishes, so I spent a lot of time coming up with GF/DF versions that tasted the same (or better) than the recipes I grew up with. Let me tell you, this pumpkin pie does the trick.

Rula's GF/DF Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Mix: 3/4 c granulated sugar
        1/4 tsp salt
        1 tsp cinnamom
        1/2 tsp nutmeg
        1/4 tsp ginger

Add and mix:
        1 can pumpkin
        2 large eggs
        1/4 c rice milk
        1 c MimicCreme  (a superb creme substitute made from almonds and cashews)

        1 box Kinnikinnick S'moreables graham style crackers
        1/4 c mild cooking oil (I use safflower because it's supposed to be good for your metabolism)

Put the graham crackers into a gallon Ziploc bag, seal, and crush/roll with a rolling pin. Think of your synopsis while doing this and you'll get nice, fine crumbs. Add the oil and massage the bag until the crumbs are coated (they'll still be kind of dry). Pat down the crumbs into a 10 inch pie dish and gently pour in the pie mixture. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 55 minutes, or until a knife in the center comes out clean. Cool thoroughly before serving (longer cooling results in better flavor and a firmer consistency).

I've included a picture of the MimicCreme and S'moreables for those who haven't tried them before. The creme is great in main course dishes as well, and it takes on the flavor of whatever your cooking. As for smores...need I say more?

My kids beg for this pie on a daily basis...and Thanksgiving isn't even here yet! Mmmm...nothing like pie therapy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chop for the best deal

I just chopped three inches off my hair.

Just. Like. That.

No hairdresser, mind you. Nope. I stood in front of the mirror with sharp sissors and thought about how much I love having long hair. Then I looked more closely and saw the thinning, the split ends, and the lifelessness. What's the point in loving long hair if it's in crappy shape? I cut it without a second thought.

Now, you know you're a writer when you're chopping your hair off and all you can think of is manuscript editing. I kid you not. I stood there comparing cutting my hair to manuscript editing. No matter how much  you love your words (or hair), if they're unhealthy for the manuscript, if they're not doing anything to give it life or to propel the scene, they need to be chopped.

Just. Like. That.

I know it'll feel like you're getting rid of a part of yourself, but it's for the better. My hair will grow back...just like new, healthier, more powerful passages can be added back into the story. It's a great deal - a little chop with huge returns. What makes it a tad easier is that your words don't have to go into the trash can. I cut and paste them into a 'scraps' file where I can use ideas, sentences, or words at a later time. I know many writers who use programs like Scrivener or OneNote, where all those cuts can be kept just a click away (I have yet to try a writing program).

What's harder for you...chopping off your hair or chopping out sections of your manuscript?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In the news...

First up, great news for all aspiring category authors. Check out Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write ? They have an awesome schedule planned (including editor podcasts, chats, and more) the week of November 1st. You can't miss it!

For those who love curling up with a sweltering hot read on a cold, fall night, author Kaily Hart's second novella, Pay Up, releases tomorrow at Ellora's Cave. Hot fireman. Need I say more? Kaily just returned from the RomantiCon conference where she got an Ellora's Cave 2010 Rising Star Award. Way to go my friend, and well deserved!

And movie lover that I am, I couldn't resist checking out the soon-to-be-released list. A few that caught my eye are:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 releasing 11/19/10. Romance? Hey, there's plenty of romance in there. Go Ron and Hermione!

The Tourist releasing 12/10/10. Sounds like a thriller/romance. Who can resist Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie paired up?

Little Fockers releasing 12/22/10. I was so excited when I saw this! I could watch Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers over and over and still laugh.

Well, that's all folks! Have a great weekend.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Golden Heart and RITA

Anyone entering? The 2011 GH and RITA are two of the most prestigious contests in the romance world, and their deadlines are fast approaching. Mark your calendars...

GH deadlines: November 15 - entry forms and fees are due
                       December 2 - entered manuscripts are due

RITA deadlines: December 1 - entry forms and fees are due
                          January 4 - entered books are due

For details, go to

I'm planning on entering (GH) the completed manuscript that I pitched at RWA Nationals in Orlando. What about you?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Eco-friendly Reasons To Avoid Head-hopping

Ah, yes. That good 'ol point-of-view ping pong. Most of us are guilty of having played the game at some point in our writing careers, and even experienced writers can still slip-up in those fast, first drafts. Like my kids, I'm more likely to follow a rule if I understand why it exists (my kids love that word), and the reasons have to be ones that I can identify with. I think most of us can identify with environmentally friendly reasons for doing things. And that brings us to three, eco-friendly reasons not to head-hop.

1. Energy conservation: Imagine a reader curled up on the sofa or lying in bed after an exhausting day. They plan on using whatever energy they have left to relax and enjoy a good book. Suddenly, their eyeballs start flicking left and right. That's right. Just like ping-pong balls. Pretty soon the book slams shut and they're rubbing their temples. Okay. I'm exaggerating a little, but mentally, head-hopping can exhaust a reader. It takes extra energy for them to keep up with POV changes mid-scene. That little bit of wasted mental energy can make the difference between them putting the book down or reading to the end. Don't drain your reader's fuel!

When a reader is kept  in a single POV for a scene, they're getting the time and chance to really explore that character's mind, emotions, and motivations. They begin to sympathize with that character and possibly even 'become' that character in their own minds. The reader is investing their time and energy in bonding. If you yank them out of that POV prematurely and start head-hopping, they won't form as tight a bond with the main characters. If the reader doesn't care, what reason is left for them to read on or to buy your future books?

2. Drought prevention: If the watering hole dries up, there's no reason to stick around or return. No insults intended. I'm not calling readers animals (although technically we are part of the animal kingdom). It's just an analogy, one in which the watering hole hold's part of the book's micro-suspense...the suspense created by the reader wondering what the hero or heroine is thinking and how they'll act on it.

By sticking with one POV (either the hero or heroine), you force the reader to read on to the next scene in order to find out what the other character is thinking, or how they will react to what happened in the current scene. Think of how TV soap operas rotate scenes. They keep viewers hanging on by ending each scene with a hook, and then make viewers watch several other scenes before returning to the one they're itching for. It's the same concept. Stick to one POV in a scene, end it on a hook, then switch POV for the entire next scene. The reader stays in suspense, turning those pages until they can get into that particular character's head again. With head-hopping, too much is divulged too soon, leading to micro-suspense drought.

3. Clean air: Things look a lot clearer through clean air. Avoiding head-hopping helps to clear the air. It prevents confusion. By sticking to one POV per scene, we're in essence sorting the hero and heroine's thoughts for the reader. This makes for more streamlined, efficient reading. Why should we expect the reader to flip back and forth or read a paragraph twice because their eyes collided mid-ping pong match? Respect the reader's time and effort. They want to relax, not work. When selling a house, agents recommend that the seller do all the grunt work (fresh paint, wood rot repairs, kitchen and bath updates...) because buyers are more likely to stick around with interest if the house is move-in ready. Keep things clean and clear.

In conclusion, I do have to say that I've read stories by well known authors where the POV is smoothly and skillfully switched mid-scene and it worked. But in their defense, they didn't head-hop through the entire scene. They switched POV altogether. The times that I've seen this, where it didn't bother me, were during sex scenes. There's something about the heat of the moment that helps distract from the switch. Perhaps, symbolicallly, the hero and heroine are 'joined as one' so there's not as far to hop. Okay, that was cheesy, but I couldn't resist (grinning). You get the idea. There are always exceptions, but as a rule of thumb:

Go green. One POV per scene.

Monday, September 27, 2010

How big is yours?

I'm addicted to reading, but lately my to-be-read pile has been...well...piling up. It has me wondering if the size of a writer's TBR pile is directly related to where they are in their writing career, or if it's merely a product of life in general. Do deadlines and multi-book contracts suck up reading time any more than kids, illness, and daytime careers? It's probably a draw. Everything is relative. Right?

It's poll time! How big is your TBR pile?

A) 0-5 books
B) 6-11 books
C) 12-20 books
D) Greater than 20

What robs you of reading time more than anything else?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Coffee or Tea?

I personally love both. Which one I indulge in depends entirely on the time of day, my mood, what I've eaten, and the type of caffeine I need. But enough about me. I'm more interested in what the heroes and heroines in the latest books I've read drink.

Most of the time, I have no problem with their choice of coffee or tea. It seems to flow with the story. In historicals, I almost expect them to drink tea or hot chocolate. In westerns, it's coffee for the cowboys and tea for the ladies. In contemporaries, you get more variation, but there was a time where the hero in the book I was reading drank tea and it just bugged me for some reason. I felt that the big, alpha dude needed to be drinking coffee. He wasn't into health, organics, herbs or Zen. He had no cultural background that would lean him toward tea drinking.

For some reason, I think coffee fits universally with heroes and heroines, whereas tea you have to be careful with...down to the type. Tea can come off as feminine if not done right. Am I being unfair?

Coffee, tea, and the sexes. What do you think? What do you and your characters drink?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Book store family outings

I'll admit that I do much of my book buying online. I love book stores. I used to spend time browsing them, but having kids changed that. I blame the fact that book stores now carry a tempting selection of toys. Why in the world would a book store carry toys? Geesh! I understand why they're doing it from a marketing perspective, but if mothers have to drag wailing kids out the doors because they want toys instead of books, isn't the store losing a potential customer? For me, it made taking the kids to the library a much better (and cheaper) alternative when they were younger. It was kind of like choosing the 'No Candies' check-out aisle in the grocery store.

Well, this weekend I dared to give the book store family outing another chance. After all, my kids are a tiny bit older now. The results? Two out of three resisted the toys (on command) and picked out books. Not bad I guess. What did we leave with?

The Shifter by Janice Hardy. I've been dying to share this book with my kids ever since I learned about it at Pubrants, but getting to chat with Janice at the RWA Keynote luncheon in Orlando cinched the deal. She is such a sweet, gracious, and down-to-earth person.

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. One of my kids is a fan of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. He had to stifle a scream of joy when he came across this book.

We also walked out with several books on dragons...after paying of course.

And books that were added to my TBR pile this weekend include:

Not Quite A Husband by Sherry Thomas. I had the honor of meeting Sherry at the Literacy Autographing in Orlando while on volunteer duty in her aisle. She was incredibly friendly, warm, and full of energy. I can't wait to read her RITA win.

...and I can't resist buying the latest Harlequin Supers.

Once A Ranger by Carrie Weaver.
Fully Involved by Amy Knupp.
Tyler O'Neill's Redemption by Molly O'Keefe.

Note that these are only the latest 'Supers' added to my library. I have books from about 29 different 'Supers' authors. These ladies, along with the other authors over at the Harlequin Simply-Series Supers forum, are the best. If you haven't already, pop on over there and 'meet' them.

All in all, I survived my non-internet book shopping. I didn't realize how much I'd missed the smells, visuals, and atmosphere of a book store. I felt like a kid in a toy store.

My question for you is are you more likely to buy a book if you've met the author in person or you've gotten to know them online?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Time shock

My kids started school this week. Finally.

I love my kids, but there's something to be said about the therapeutic benefits of a quiet house. I'm seriously considering having custom t-shirts made that say 'Okay, but Mom...', 'What should I do now?', and 'That's not fair!'. Nope. Life's not fair. I spent my first day alone with a relentless migraine, but apparently my first grader's day was worse.

He got off the bus shaking his head in what appeared to be utter disbelief.
"That had to be longer than an hour," he said.
"The bus ride?" I asked, a little confused since his ride is no more than fifteen minutes.
"No! The school day."
"Oh, sweetie. You've been gone for almost seven hours."

The poor thing only had to survive a half day for kindergarten last year. I proceeded to ask about his day, and he kept saying that it was terrible. I asked if he'd gotten in trouble. Nope. He loved his teacher. Nothing bad had happened.

"So, other than the day being long, which is normal from first grade on -"
"Whoa, Mom. There's no way being at school that long is normal for anyone!"

Oh, man. He looked so dead serious that I had to laugh. If only he had a sense of how long twelve years to college will be...or how long it takes to publish a book.

My migraine is gone. My house is quiet. And I miss the little buggers.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day! This holiday always reminds me that fall, my favorite season, is just around the bend. I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful, long weekend.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Heroes be warned...

I was sitting in my office contemplating heroes and heroines, when a praying mantis landed on my window screen. Having an imagination that goes off on wild tangents (no pun intended), I started thinking about how the female praying mantis embodies most of the attributes of a sexy heroine. She has that long, slender body, limber legs, and big, round, come-hither eyes. Oh, and she eats kicks ass.
Wait a minute! She does what?
Actually, she typically starts with his head. I did say she embodied most characteristics...not all. Uh, alpha? Yes. Ideal heroine? Guess not. Cannabalism after sex doesn't equate with a happily ever after. Not exactly romantic. So to all you heroes out there, looks aren't everything. Don't say I didn't warn you.

By the way, the above praying mantis lingered on my window all day before taking off to find a mate. I haven't seen him since. Some guys never learn (and, in all fairness, the reverse holds true for women).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Writer Wisdom

To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself.
                                                                                   Anne Rice

The way I see it, perseverance is the heartbeat of writing. If you quit, it's over. Sounds a lot simpler than it is in reality, but writers are lucky in that they are part of a society of kindred spirits. There are many types of motivational fuel. I love reading wise quotes from veteran authors.

Author Bethany Roberts has a wonderful collection of writer quotes at her website. What I love most is that she has them listed in categories such as, instructional, on revision, on perseverance, on rejection letters, to amuse, on characters etc... I recommend taking the time to pop over to her site, but here are a few of my favorites.

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

Ursula K. LeGuin - Sure, it's simple, writing for kids...Just as simple as bringing them up.

Ernest Hemingway - I rewrote the ending of 'Farewell to Arms' 39 times before I was satisfied.

Will Shetterly - The great thing about revision is that it's your opportunity to fake being brilliant.

Robert Southy - It is with words as with sunbeams - the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.

Katherine Paterson - As I look back on what I have written, I can see that the very persons who have taken away my time are those who have given me something to say.

Lloyd Alexander - Fantasy's hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.

Burton Rascoe - What no wife (husband) of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working even when he's (she's) staring out the window.

Richard Bach - A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.

Ralph Waldo Emerson - In art the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can inspire.

E. L. Doctorow - Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

Elmore Leonard - My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.

Do any of you have famous writer words of wisdom to share?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pseudonyms: To pen or not to pen?

There are plenty of internet articles and industry blogs on the pros and cons of using a pen name, and they all make similar points. There's nothing wrong with the information provided, but the advice given neglects the current boom in social media use. In my opinion, unpublished writers contemplating pseudonym use are getting a lot of contradictory advice.

Ask an industry professional about pseudonyms and most will tell the unpublished writer that they're jumping ahead of themselves. Are they? Now, I completely understand that writing comes first and foremost. That's a given. But unpublished writers are told that, in order to improve their writing skills, they need to be entering contests, attending meetings, joining loops etc... Some people even advise blogging, tweeting or using some other method of platform building. I agree that the aspiring writer needs to join their local writing organization and interact with other writers. Writers who don't are missing out on tons of information and opportunities to improve their skills and industry knowledge. However, in this day and age, they can't join a group or final in a contest without getting their name posted somewhere on the internet. In a blink, networking is established, achievements are posted, and platforms are built...all in the writer's real name.

What about that unpublished writer who doesn't want their real name out there for all the standard reasons? I was that writer not too long ago. Let me tell you, things move fast in cyber world. For those who don't really care if their real name is used and are content to wait until an agent or editor advises them on name changes, no prob. But if a writer seriously wants to use a pen name for some level of privacy, I believe it should be used right from the start. Will it change if the publisher doesn't like it? Possibly, but chances are that if it's not cheesy and a strong following/potential readership has been established, it'll remain the same. As with all things in life, be flexible.

Some additional points on pen name use:
  • Don't confuse potential agents/editors. Official correspondence should be in your real name since that's how contracts and royalty checks will be drawn up. You can include w/a (writing as) on the title page of your submission.
  • Prior to attending meetings, let your organization know that you want your pen name on your badge. For legal and payment reasons, official memberships are done under a writer's real name and often your real name gets on the badge.
  • Prior to having a 'contest final' or 'first contract' published online or otherwise, be sure to let the person in charge know that you don't want your real name listed (unless of course, you don't care).
  • Open a gmail account in your pen name and use it when signing up for writing related loops or forums.
  • Cliches don't work here either. Don't pick a cheesy pen name. A name can be a really great or a really bad factor in marketability.
  • Don't expect unbreachable privacy unless you plan on having legal expenses. If someone wants to find out who you are, they will. When you're published, the copyright inside your book will list your real name. The only way around that is to not have your real name listed at the copyright office. This can raise legal issues regarding who wrote the work. The issues actually get grittier than that, so I don't advise that you go this route without a lawyer on hand. For most, the expense isn't worth it. The same goes for trying to keep your real name from your publisher. For tax and legal reasons, don't do it. Look at a pseudonym as giving you superficial privacy, such as at your kids' school, the grocery store, neighbors, and not having cyber freaks stalk you or your family once you start blogging or you get published.
  • Pseudonyms are great if you plan on writing in different genres, are published and need to reinvent yourself, have a cruel name like 'Marlin Grouper' or one that doesn't fit the genre you write for, want to avoid gender bias, need to keep multiple careers separate, or want to protect your children and family privacy.
  • Multiple pseudonyms can be a pain if you have to keep up with different social media accounts/identities, different blogs or websites, forget what name to answer to when someone calls out to you at a meeting.
  • Consider keeping your real first name (...responding to someone calling out to you at a meeting).
  • Remember that if you use your pseudonym strictly, you may lose out on marketing your book and building a readership based on past ties, such as alumni organizations, relatives etc... You have control. You can decide on who to keep out and who to let in. Just be aware that the line can be gray. Again, the privacy isn't perfect.
  • Don't ever, ever, ever use a pseudonym to hide behind wrong-doing. It won't work. Don't slander anyone or portray your evil Ex as the antagonist and think they won't find out about it. They will.
Don't waste your time thinking about pen names if you haven't completed a manuscript or you don't plan on doing anything beyond forum lurking. Getting that manuscript written comes first, but if you've been shying away from meetings, forums, and other critical sources of support and information just because you're not sure that you want your real name out there then by all means get a pen name! It's not the end of the world. You can always nix it for the real thing if and when you're ready. Don't let a name keep you from immersing yourself in the writing world. Just pen it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

What childhood series had you hooked on reading?

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."
                                         Stephen King, On Writing

Have you noticed that, in their bios, most writers mention being avid readers as children? I recall going through an autobiography/biography phase in the second grade. Strange, I know, but it was soon replaced with an addiction to series. I still love reading series. I love getting to know the community, the family members, and friends. In fact, I just finished a book in one series and I'm about to start another.

Being a mother, I started comparing the series my kids are hooked on to the ones that kept me up at night. At the risk of dating myself, a few of the ones I loved were:

The Little House On The Prairie
Nancy Drew Mysteries
Ramona the Great

What book series had you hooked as a child? I know that we all have single title favorites, but I'm sticking to series for now. The Magic School Bus anyone? Harry Potter? (Umm...throat clearing...I was a little older when that came out...side glance).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back-to-school: The storm before the calm

Impact! Ten zillion things that MUST get done, before the first day of school, ricochet off the inside of your skull at the speed of 120 mph break-neck winds. Blood pressure rises. Hives errupt. Breathing gets...hey, wait...stop holding your breath. None of it will get done if you pass out. Who will finish that manuscript if you keel over?

How are we supposed to stay unfrazzled during the back-to-school frenzy? My heart goes out to writers who have Aug/Sept deadlines (I'm eating chocolate on their behalf as I type this).

Seriously. I rely on lists for stress reduction. Plain, old, hand-written lists. I think there's something therapeutic in the glide of the pen-on-paper as I transfer the umpteen to-do's from my thoughts to solid surface. Writing things down eliminates the fear of forgetting. But the key to keeping your sanity while preserving writing time during the storm is in how you check off the list. Depending on the size of the project, try picking one to three 'musts' to accomplish in a day. Little by little the list you will whittle. That should leave you with several hours a day to write. Doing too much at once may leave you burned out by evening. Not much writing can get done if you're lying flat-faced on your bed with school supplies circling over your head like tweeting birds.

So let's get that list started. Mine includes:
  • Print and shop for school supplies. Do this before the only backpacks left for your teenage son to choose from are various shades of pink with Barbie on the front.
  • Dig out hand-me-down clothes and the winter clothes stashes. Have every child try things on for size and make a list (by child's name) of needed items, from socks to sweaters. Take advantage of sales.
  • Collect all outgrown clothes that are still in good shape and set aside for donation. As for all those blue jeans with worn out knees, consider donating them to Habitat for Humanity for use as home insulation. Interested? Find out more, including collection sites, at
  • Hover over kids like a drill sergeant as they clean their rooms and their desks. Move over Lego, here come the books! No distractions allowed once the studying begins.
  • Schedule eye exams, doctor appointments, and haircuts (I cut their hair at home, so one less car trip). Remember that doctors often need time to fill out school paperwork, and some opticals can take several weeks to get glasses in, so plan ahead.
  • Set aside an hour or two a day for kids to brush up on brain work. It's amazing how much they can forget in a few months. My kids read all summer, but I'm talking about basics like multiplication review. It doesn't take much to get their brains fired up.
  • Oh and, all those school papers that I never sorted through at the beginning of summer? Yeh, now would be a good time.
  • Make sure my at home project stashes are well supplied (ie. tape, sissors, pencils, colored paper etc...) so that I can avoid last minute homework assignment shopping trips. sure you post that list where everyone can see the big red lines through all your accomplishments. You worked hard, flaunt it! Be appreciated (maybe). Besides, that book you're working on could take months and months before it's ever recognized, so you might as well get some credit for pulling the family through the back-to-school storm. Hang in there. Pretty soon the house will be silent, except for the tapping of your computer keys.

What's your strategy? Anything critical I'm missing from my list?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Need a kick in the pantser?

Any pantsers, plotters, or style hybrids out there in need of a jump start? Check out this recent article by JC Hutchins at Writer Unboxed. I loved it. It's bold, straight up, and it gives writers a wake-up-slap-in-the-face. The bottom line: if you're a writer, then just do it!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pictures from RWA Nationals 2010

Happy Monday everyone! I'm still running on RWA Nationals adrenaline. The conference was absolutely fabulous (that damn -ly ending crept in there on its own, I swear). I can't say enough about the workshops, events, PRO retreat, and speakers. Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz were inspiring. Awards ceremony emcee Sabrina Jeffries was hilarious. I'm completely blown away by how well RWA pulled off the relocation. What an amazing group of women.

That brings me to another amazing group of women - the Harlequin Superromance authors and their editors. I knew from their books and from the Harlequin forums that they were friendly and talented, but meeting them in person made me understand why their writing grabs the heart. These women are truly generous, genuine, and down-to-earth...not to mention beautiful inside and out.

Picture drum roll...

Jeannie Watt's gorgeous daughter and fellow writer, Jamie, Jeannie, Amy Knupp, Me, Kay Stockham, and Helen Brenna

Kay Stockham, editor Wanda Ottewell, Jeannie Watt, editor Victoria Curran, and Amy Knupp

Me, Jeannie Watt, editor Victoria Curran, and Amy Kupp

Editor Wanda Ottewell, Me, and Amy Knupp

Kay Stockham and Wanda Ottewell
Victoria Curran and Beth Andrews after their Rita win. Congratulations!

Jeannie Watt and Margaret Watson at the autographing

Amy at the autographing

Rita winner Beth Andrews

Me and Kay Stockham at the autographing

Rita Finalist Helen Brenna

Liz Talley with one of many fans

Wait...there's more! Nora Roberts' keynote speech centered on lifelong friendships born at RWA. I'm sure I'm not the only one her words touched. At my first meeting, last year, I met another first timer, Kaily Hart. We clicked, as Nora put it, and stayed in touch ever since. It was wonderful to get to spend time with her again, and to get to celebrate the publication of her first novella.

Me and Kaily

And a few more pics from the Readers for Life Autographing that raised $55,000 for literacy...

Rita winner Sherry Thomas

Victoria Alexander

Stephanie Laurens

...and the one and only Nora Roberts

Whew! I promised pictures and when I promise, I deliver. Don't forget to check out the complete list of Rita and Golden Heart winners at the RWA website.

I hope every one of you gets a chance to attend at least one RWA Nationals conference. The experience and friendships are unbeatable.