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?