Good-bye 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008
Three days left of the the old year and I'm exhausted. I think my thyroid is beginning to act up again. Well, actually, it can't technically be my thyroid since I had that radioactively killed off. But my body is starting to realize, "wait a second, where the heck is my thyroid," and it's wigging out, making me all tired and drained, constantly cold and extremely old. I swear every muscle and bone in my body has aged about twenty years in the past month and nothing wants to work or move. The fact that its winter does not help my symptoms in the least. Can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm anxious to see my endocrinologist in January to give blood... for tests to see about changing my prescription. I'm pretty sure I need some adjustments in the drug department.

And, YAY, I finished my first string of edits on The Stillburrow Crush. Now, I'm waiting on holiday shut down to be over before I turn everything in. That's exciting for me. It also gives me a week of rest. Much needed, in my opinion. Maybe I'll be able to catch up with my critique group... except, I think I need a lot longer than a week to do that. Those woman have been spitting out the stories lately, let me tell you. I think I'd have to quit my day job and stop creating my own work to even think about trying to keep up with reading all their entries.

But, anyway, as you can tell, I pretty much have nothing to report and no fancy topic to discuss, so I'll just, yeah... go now. Have a great New Year. Stay safe, and warm, and dry, and all that good stuff.

Happy Holidays

Monday, December 22, 2008
Season Greetings to all and to all... uh, more Seasons Greetings!

I'm giving The Stillburrow Crush a spit and polish shine while The Wild Rose Press is on holiday shutdown mode. In January, I'll turn in my edits and we'll see where I go from there. Meanwhile, I'm also creating a video for Stillburrow to post. Look for that in January as well, unless I get antsy and show it off before then (if you can't tell, I'm excited about my video).

Contest entries are coming in for the Amazon Gift Card I'm giving away in less than ten days. There's still time if you haven't put in your bid yet and still want a chance for some goodies. Just jet on over to my Contest Page for a minute to slip your name in the drawing.

And once again, have a great holiday. Be safe and try to stay warm. For all you people in climates where the temperature is warmer than 7 degrees Fahrenheit (like it is here right now), well, now I guess I'll still wish you a cheerful seasons greetings, but you better appreciate your good fortune. Brr.

Merry Christmas!

Introducing Claire!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I'm jazzed to bring you news about... CLAIRE ASHGROVE, future bestselling romance novelist. Her story (title still pending) will be coming to us through The Wild Rose Press, hopefully some time in 2009. And let me tell you, Claire puts the "Ho, Mama, that's good" in HOT. This book will give you the tingles. So, keep an eye on her for me, will you. Don't want my good critique buddy to burst into flames from all those steamy scenes before she gets around to writing the sequel.

Check out her website:
and blog:

and give her a big congratulations on her accomplishment.

Book Cover

Monday, December 15, 2008
The Wild Rose Press has created a cover for my book. Oh, wow. It feels bizarre to say that. But here it is, in full color. I'm so esctatic, I could pop. And what's even more wonderful... one of my critique partners was just offered a contract through The Wild Rose Press too. So, be on the lookout for author Claire Ashgrove (I'll pass along more information about her once she's online). She's gonna knock your socks off. Yes, I believe we aptly named ourselves The Wonderful Critiquing Women. It won't be long before I have more announcements about my fellow writing acquaintances. There'll be more sales soon. I feel it in my bones.

I've received my first round of edits and I must say, I think I'm in love with my editor. She's too nice by far... and so complimentary. It's surreal. She's made me believe I actually wrote a good book. I keep waiting for that, "Sike! I was just kidding. Honestly, you need to cut out this third, and add another half, and revise this three quarters." But so far, she's taken it very easy on me, and I can't be thankful enough.

Or maybe the real trial comes once the finalized copy is shipped off to reviewers. I'm sure that'll knock some of the wind out of me because not everyone can love my story. Yeah, I bet reviewers will bring me back to earth. But until then, I'm still floating on cloud nine and enjoying it.

Book Sale Celebration

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Hi all, Help me celebrate the sale of my first book—a young adult romance called THE STILLBURROW CRUSH, which was contracted by The Wild Rose Press Climbing Roses Line—by entering my prize giveaway contest. Go to to enter and win a $20 gift card to

New Years List

Monday, December 8, 2008
My sister loves to make New Year's Resolution lists... okay, the woman has a thing for lists, period (Yes, Sandra, I'm talking about you). But I'm not so much into setting resolutions for myself... Too much pressure. So, I think I'm going to copy the books in my can't-wait- until-they're-released list for you to glance through. This can take the place of my December Monthly Nightstand Reviews since I only got through two books this past month. Here are some new releases in 2009 that I just can't wait to get my hands on.

  • Fire and Ice by Julie Garwood (December 30, 2008)
    • Contemporary Romantic Suspense.
    • #7 in her Contemporary Romantic Suspense Series.
    • Okay, not technically a 2009 release, but only by two days. Besides, I can't think of a better way to kick off the New Year than a little bit of Julie Garwood.

  • For the Love of Pete by Julia Harper (January 5, 2009)
    • Contemporary Romantic Suspense.
    • #2 in her FBI Contemporary Series.
    • Might also know this author as the historical romance writer, Elizabeth Hoyt. She's totally amazing in both genres.

  • Star Bright by Catherine Anderson (January 6, 2009)
    • Contemporary Romance.
    • #9 in the Coulter/Kendrick/Harrigan Family Series.
    • And would actually be #11 if you wanted to throw in the Keegan/Paxton historical romance families that eventually tie in with the Coulter group. It's all just one big, happy, Oregon family if you ask me though.

  • Dark of Night by Suzanne Brockmann (January 27, 2009)
    • Contemporary Romantic Suspense.
    • #14 in the Troubleshooters Series.
    • Okay, this is probably the most I've ever anticipated a book, and that's only because the main hero and heroine are still a mystery. I've heard rumors, some rumors that seem to have very reliable sources, so I'm already bracing myself for let down. There's been so much hype for Dark of Night, Brockmann's going to have to be one mighty fine writer to appease the masses, and I'm not so sure anyone is that good. So, my hats off to her for this gigantic attempt.

  • True Colors by Kristin Hannah (February 3, 2009)
    • Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction.
    • No Series.
    • I'm officially dubbing Hannah the tear-jerker queen. This author has a way of reaching into your guts and pulling out the most intense feelings. I've only read a few of her stories that have not made me bawl my eyes out. Oh, yeah, she's that good.

  • Pursuit by Karen Robards (March 24, 2009)
    • Contemporary Romantic Suspense.
    • No Series.
    • I can always count on Robards for an exciting, in your face, beginning. She excels in those action-packed adventure romances.

  • Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas (March 31, 2009)
    • Contemporary Romance
    • #3 in the Travis Family Series.
    • The most unique thing about Kleypas's Travis family series is that they're all written in first person from the heroine's point of view. It's rare to find a romance not written in third person. But she can pull it off just fine, let me tell you. Kleypas is a master at whatever writing venture she puts her mind to.

  • Packing Heat by Penny McCall (April 7, 2009)
    • Contemporary Romantic Suspense.
    • #4 in FBI Series.
    • Comedy, action, Witty wordplay. Those are just a few reasons I keep coming back to read more of McCall. She's provides so much fun in her stories.

  • Always a Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch (April 28, 2009)
    • Historical Romance.
    • #3 in the Notorious Gentlemen Series.
    • I've been half in love with the seemingly laid-back rake, Bramwell Johns, since first meeting him in After the Kiss (#1 in the series). And like so many of my fellow Enoch fans, I suspected his heroine might be Phineas's little sister, Elizabeth. But Enoch has already assured us Elizabeth will not receive that honor. So, I'm glad I have till April to get that thought out of my head.

  • Lover Avenged by J. R. Ward (April 28, 2009)
    • Paranormal Romance.
    • #7 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
    • Here's a group of vampire's I certainly wouldn't mind meeting up with in a dark alley. Oh, help, please save me, Mr. hunky Vampire. Yep, that's what I'm talking about. Since they don't dig human blood, I'd be totally safe... and maybe a little romanced by them. I know other human women have been.

  • To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt (April 28, 2009)
    • Historical Romance.
    • #3 in the Legend of the Four Soldiers Series.
    • I was able to read the set up for this story in To Seduce a Sinner (book 2 in the series), so I'm all excited for Helen and Alistair's book. I also know how sensual Hoyt makes her bedroom scenes, so I gotta say, I'm totally looking forward to that as well.

  • Vision in White by Nora Roberts (April 28, 2009)
    • Romance. Contemporary? Paranormal? Romantic Suspense? Don't know yet.
    • # 1 in the The Wedding Quartet.
    • I haven't heard anything about this series yet. But... well, it's a Nora Roberts book, so who really cares? I'll be reading it whatever it's about.

  • This Duchess of Mine by Eloisa James (May 26, 2009)
    • Historical Romance.
    • #5 in the Desperate Duchesses Series.
    • I think there's only six--or maybe it's nine--books in this series, but they've all been great so far. I haven't discovered who the main characters will be for this book, but I'm the most antsy for Gemma's story.

  • What Happens in London by Julia Quinn (June 30, 2009)
    • Historical Romance.
    • Part of a series? Don't know.
    • I haven't heard anything about the story line of What Happens in London etiher. But you tell me it's written by Julia Quinn, and I'm so reading it.

  • A Duke of her Own by Eloisa James (June 30, 2009)
    • Historical Romance.
    • #6 in the Desperate Duchesses Series.
    • Wow, two books for the same series two months in a row. That's freaking awesome. Maybe this one will star my much anticipated Gemma.

  • Burn by Linda Howard (July 14, 2009)
    • Romantic Suspense? That's my guess anyway.
    • Series? I doubt it, but it's possible.
    • Plot? Just like Quinn and Roberts answers here. Who cares, it's written but a master. I'm all over it.

I'm Moved

Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I've discovered the worst part about about building a new house. It's packing and moving and unpacking. Bluck. Maybe we sub-contracted it out enough we got off easy on the actual "constructing" portion, but good-golly-Miss-Molly... that certainly didn't happen in the moving segment of Operation Build-House. After one great, wonderful, can't-thank-him-enough friend helped my husband carry all the big stuff--like my fifty million and one bookshelves--the rest of the moving was up to me and the hubby alone. I'm still sore and bruised and bone-tired and... did I mention sore?

What's worse, there was a misunderstanding between us and the family wanting to move into the house we were leaving. We thought we told them it'd take us two weeks to clear out. Well... they heard one and called their water and electric company to turn off their utilities a week earlier than my husband and I were ready. So, we ended up having five days to pack and leave instead of two weeks. That sucked. Being rushed, experiencing freezing winds, and working through utter exhaustion do not mix well, let me tell you.

But now we're settled, er, rather settling, and I never realized I had so much junk. We still have a garage full of boxes to unpack and the inside already feels cluttered. What I'd like to know is where did all this crap come from? It certainly can't ALL be ours. I'm sad to say it probably is, but yikes... I don't want it anymore. How dost I rid myself of all this garbage that can't rightly be called garbage?

Good news is... I have a new house!!! And it--along with all that clutter--is mine! It's a little breathtaking. That's the best part of building a new house. Afterward, it's all yours.

Anyway, I have good news in the "book" department as well. Okay, it's great news. My contract for The Stillburrow Crush is signed and complete. It WILL be published someday by The Wild Rose Press. I'm still in that "I'll believe it when I see it" phase, so I'm waiting till there's actual proof to show you all before it's true celebration time.

I finally saw Twilight. Two of my nieces and my sister took pity on me and helped me escape from moving to steal away for a few hours of Robert Pattinson. Loved it. The book was better, but geesh, who could've expected any movie made to top that novel? It depicted the book accurately enough for my peace of mind, so I can't complain. This "Twilight" lover is satisfied... until movie two is made.

Thanks a bundle Katie, Kayla, and Sandra for taking me to see the movie I'd been so anxious to experience. I owe you guys big time.

Short Check In

Friday, November 21, 2008
I'm swamped with packing. My computer will be boxed up today, so you probably won't hear from me for a week or two. I haven't learned anything about my contract for selling a book, ergo no new updates there.

Have a great Thanksgiving and don't forget Twilight: The Movie comes out tonight!!

Take Care.

An Author's Biggest News

Friday, November 14, 2008
When you're talking with someone about your spouse or significant other, the most common question to come up, I think, is, "So, how did you meet?"

In the writing world, when you're talking about your book, the big question is, "So, tell us about THE CALL." The Call is when a publisher calls you up and says those magical words, "I want to buy your book," or "I'd like to contract your story."

Well, I can now answer the most-commonly asked author question. I received The Call. There's still so much dazed euphoria, it just feels... unreal. But I'll tell the short, yet fabulous (for me) story anyway.

My call came in e-mail format from The Wild Rose Press ePublisher with an attached contract, ready for my signature, for the selling rights of my story, The Stillburrow Crush, to be put into the Climbing Roses (Young Adult) Line of their publication. The End. Euphoria complete (see previous blog).

So, I say, whenever I settle details and things begin to feel real, we're all going to celebrate by finally having a contest on my website. Be on the look out for prize drawings.

More updates later.

Partial Euphoria

Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Hey, hey, hey, everyone. Not sure about your neighborhood, but it’s drizzly and cloudy and chilly here. Perfectly miserable weather, and yet I feel pretty content. My up-and-coming house has been painted with carpet scheduled for installation this week, my health has improved dramatically, and two—count them, TWO—publishers have requested to read two different partial manuscripts of mine in the past seven days. So, you could say it’s a “partial” kind of euphoria I’m feeling (hence the title line. Ha, ha!). And now that I’ve come up with such a corny play on words, I think I’ll sign out for today before I turn any more lame (or would the correct terminology be lamer? Hmm.).

November Nightstand Reviews

Friday, November 7, 2008

I have a bad feeling I won't get the chance to read again until 2009, so I'm glad I was able to get through so many books this month before I have to pack and move into the new house. But, anyway, as you can see, I stuck with my faithfuls again and read mostly romantic suspense and historical romances... but I threw one contemporary romantic comedy into the mix.

Broken Pieces by Carla Cassidy (Romantic Suspense)
Since I've actually met this author and think she's one of the neatest people ever, I would've read this book anyway. But I'm glad I did. If you like those hair-raising, whodunit mysteries, then this story is for you. It's one of those tales where you know the bad guy HAS to be one of the characters you've met. You just have to figure out who it is. Cassidy puts the H in hot on her veterinarian too.

Loose and Easy by Tara Janzen (Romantic Suspense)
#9 in the Steele Street Series, #3 in the Steel Street - Loose - Line. Sexy Johnny Ramos runs with Easy Alex through the streets of Denver during one wild night of Latino gangs, irate bookies, and eccentric rare-painting collectors. This story definitely follows Janzen's fun and fast-paced style.

Now You Die by Roxanne St. Claire (Romantic Suspense)
#6 in the Bullet Catcher Series, #3 in the Bullet Catcher - You - Line. I've seen Lucy in every Bullet Catcher book in St. Claire's series. And now that she gets her turn, I must say, wow... it was well worth the wait. Jack is definitely the man for her. There is some awesome chemistry between these two main characters.

By Love Undone by Suzanne Enoch (Historical Romance)
#1 in the Bancroft Brothers Duology. I'd already read Taming Rafe, which is the second book in this duology, so I was familiar with the hero and heroine, but I'm still glad I was able to see Quin and Maddie get together. Enoch is a master at setting up the most problemed situations. I think they'll never be able to work everything out. And then, bingo, it all slips happily together. Her skill at doing that just blows my mind.

Catch a Mate by Gena Showalter (Contemporary Romance)
I'd only read Showalter's "Darkest" series and seen her from a paranormal aspect. But, holy moley, this woman can do it all. This simple contemporary romance was so funny and so good, I'm still a quiver with delight. I thought the pages of my book were going to burst into flames there was so much steam (sexy and angry steam alike). I love how the two main characters came together from hate to love. It made the story so wonderful.

Show No Mercy by Cindy Gerard (Romantic Suspense)
#1 in the Black Ops, Inc. Series (Spin off from the EDEN Bodyguards Series). I met Jenna and Gabe in Gerard's Into the Dark book and knew they were destined to be together. They had some of that love/hate thing going on too. But I really liked getting a glimpse at each of their inner demons and watching them overcome their problems even as they fell for each other.

Secret Desires of a Gentleman by Laura Lee Guhrke (Historical Romance)
#3 in the Girl Bachelor Series. Great book. I thought it was going to be yet another love/hate relationship, and it is... kind of. But it's more like Philip was just keeping all his love a secret. Guhrke did a great job of unraveling his years of deep feelings for Maria. It had one of those gooey, happy endings that just make you sigh with satisfaction.

A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas (Historical Romance)
#5 in the Wallflower Series. This story is about Rafe Bowman, who's the big brother of Daisy and Lillian from earlier Wallflower books. His father wants him to meet some prestigious woman to marry, but he ends up falling for her companion, Hannah, instead. This is probably the shortest book that's not in an anthology Kleypas has ever published, but she certainly didn't sacrifice any talent in the word cut. She still put out an amazing story.

TwittErotica Writing Contest

Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Ravenous Romance is trying to get the word out... They're having a TwittErotica Contest and giving away a $15.00 gift certificate to the winner. If you're an author who's into writing about the naughty and risque side of romance, this might be a winner for you. Here is Ravenous's official quote about their contest:

"Are u the Twitter Master? Can u get ur message out in 140 characters or less? If so, then prove it. We challenge u to put ur fingers to ur twit & send us ur hot, erotic short, but remember, short is the key... it has 2 fit in2 140 chrctrs...or less! Check back on Dec 1 to read all entries + the winning Tweet!

Winner receives a $15 gift certificate to Ravenous Romance = 3 novels or 15 shorts!


Ready, set...tweet!"

You can also go to for more information about the contest. Or check out to read a little more about WHO Ravenous Romance is.

Pregnant, Smoking Nuns

Monday, November 3, 2008
True story. Well.... okay, I heard it second--maybe third--hand, so I'm not sure how accurate the details are, but it still bears repeating. There was an automobile accident in my county this last Friday evening. A deputy for the sheriff's department was one of the first to reach the scene. When the officer arrived, he found that one party in the accident was a pregnant nun who stood anxiously sucking down a cigarette.

Now, I'm not sure what did not click in his brain... the fact that she was a pregnant nun, that she was pregnant and smoking, or that she was a nun and smoking (I'm not up with my catholic rules, but I'd think not a lot of nuns light up), but obviously nothing there seemed to remind him it was October 31st because he hurried to her and blurted out, "Sister, are you okay?" She must've been fairly okay because with his next question, he asked, "How far along are you?"

Hmm... It took her lifting her shirt far enough to show him she had stuffing on under there to convince him she was merely on her way to a Halloween party.

All I gotta say is, wow, what a great, convincing costume. I so have to put that scene in a book someday.

A Full Moon

Saturday, November 1, 2008
I hope everyone had a great Halloween or has at least recovered from it.

Last Saturday while I was buying paint and bathroom vanities for my house, one of the writing groups I belong to, Mid-American Romance Authors (MARA), had a meeting, inviting special guest Raelene Gorlinsky (Editor for Ellora's Cave Romantica Publishing) to attend. Check out the October 28th Redlines and Deadlines Blog to read all about her experience. I wish I could've been able to make the meeting, but as you know Project If-this-house-doesn't-get-done-soon-I'll-go-insane kept me busy.

That evening, I was able to attend a fish fry though, and I experienced my first mooning. It wasn't some blurry view of bare buttocks pressed against the back window of a van full of giggling teens either. No, I was initiated into the mooning world by a forty-one-year old, very hairy, very drunk man that exposed ALL. Actually, he was aiming his, er, goods at my husband since they'd been bandying about insults and jokes all evening. But, since I happened to be sitting next to my husband at that point, I looked up at exactly the wrong time. Just goes to show you... beware of fish fries in my neck of the woods. They tend to get a little, um, hairy.

Oh, hey. Don't forget to reset your clocks tonight. It's daylight savings time.

Jeff Rivera Interview

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Released today from Grand Central Publishing, Forever My Lady by Jeff Rivera has received reviews such as "captures those fleeting but powerful moments in young love," and "Moving and meaningful... Its suspenseful ending leaves us all waiting with baited breath for the romantic sequel... This is more than just an urban story, it is a human story." ( Personally, I can't wait to read Forever My Lady for myself. But what's even more exciting is that we have Jeff's own words on the blog today to give us some information about his book and provide advice on the ups and downs of writing:

Q: What is it about Forever My Lady do you think that made it stand out in the minds of agents and editors?
A: I think it was good timing for one. I mean there was a real call for Latino-themed stories and remember I had also built an audience from online that were poised and ready to buy. I also really worked on the craft of the storytelling. Writing an emotional roller coaster isn't easy and I applaud anyone who's able to do it well. It's fun but a lot of work.

Q: What was more important to you in writing Forever My Lady, the characters or the plot?
A: To me they were equally important. I knew as a reader, that I hate books that bore me so my mission was to write something that would keep people turning the pages. And the characters came from real life, from my family, from my friends, from my enemies. Haha! That's where most of my characters came from and from aspects of me, even the bad guy characters.

Q: How did you overcome rejection?
A: Instead of getting frustrated at the rejection (and I had at least 20 editors who rejected the book) I got motivated. I thought to myself "I'll show them!" And I just knew in my heart of hearts I had a book that I believed in. That's what kept me going. You have to be determined but you also have to have a life too. You cannot put all your eggs in one basket and become obsessed with getting published. People can smell desperation and it turns them off.

Q: What would you say is the number one way for an unpublished writer to get noticed?
A: I would say it's the obvious, be the very best. So many writers are in such a rush to get published they don't stop and make sure their book is the very best. Don't be afraid to hire a credible book doctor or a freelance editor with credits behind them. It'll save you time and money in the long run. I was fortunate with Forever My Lady I didn't use a book doctor, in fact the book that is published by Grand Central is the first draft. But I am totally open to working with one on my next few projects and in a sense my book doctors were the hundreds of first fans who read the book when it was just online. They gave me good feedback and motivation to keep going and to tweak it where necessary.

Q: How can my readers pick up a copy of Forever My Lady?
A: You can find it at bookstores everywhere,, and my website:

Thank you so much, Jeff, for taking the time to give us a few encouraging words. I hope Forever My Lady starts off a wonderful writing career for you.

Predictable Life

Monday, October 27, 2008
Life can be so very predictable. It’s almost always about the counterbalance. As soon as one thing goes right, something else has to go wrong.

Take my house-building project for example. Our poor mudding and taping guy experienced all sorts of problems from mechanical to medical, he was delayed nearly a month. Finally, when that picked up and he even offered to primer our walls because he’d taken so long, we thought we’d hopped on the right track again. Someone came out to look at our water-leaking problem and we bought vanities, paint, and doors without killing anyone or totally breaking anything.

So, last night we made it home late from messing with all that and were ready to relax in front of the tube for an hour before bedtime. I threw a load of jeans in the washing machine and walked into the kitchen to see about what to make for food… when from the laundry room, the washing machine made the most gawd-awful noise and threatened to blow. It died, of course, and the motor toasted to a crisp.

It just goes to show you, you can’t have it all… ever.

Overall Update

Friday, October 24, 2008
I've experienced house-building problem after house-building problem lately. The mud and taping progress on my walls is lagging. The contractor said he'd be done by the fourth and now he swears he'll have it finished by the twenty-fifth (That's tomorrow, if you haven't noticed). Then it rained--actually, it poured--and we found about a million leaks, which will require I-don't-know-how-much dirt work to re-direct the flow of water. Plus, we had to close the construction loan and I've no idea how we're going to budget in these new expenses. The whole project has been one, ginormous disaster. I'm so ready for it to be over.

On the up side, I'm feeling healthier these days. I don't have to snack every thirty minutes and my head is clear... not muddled up constantly with racing thoughts. I've even come up with a new idea for a book. I'm still debating the title, but I've settled on Killer Vacation for the time being. It's about Maddy, a thirty-something recent divorcee who goes to Cancun for a vacation to re-discover herself. There, she meets Dane, a twenty-something hunk with a mysterious aura and irresistible smile. They hook up, of course, and just about as soon as they realize they've fallen for each other, his highly-secret government agency past comes back to tug him back into their clutches... and they're not afraid to use Maddy to get what they want.

So, I'm excited about working on it. I have a few ideas where I might want it to go, but nothing concrete yet. The writing is definitely helping me escape reality and house horrors though.

I hope everyone is doing good and is ready for Halloween. I know I'm not. I don't even have trick-or-treating candy bought. Yikes.

Secret Life of Bees

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd a few years ago. I even liked it so much, I went out and bought her next book, The Mermaid Chair,when it came out in bookstores. It's one of those "literary" novels, so the fact that I read it in the first place was unusual for me--I usually only stick with genres that contain some sort of romance. But to then go off and purchase more from that author... that should tell you right there how much I appreciated this story. So, I'm particularly excited to see that it has come out in movie format. I love it when books I've read come out with a movie. Comparing their artistic differences and similarities is one of my favorite hobbies.

A few other "literary" pieces I've read and compared to its movie counterpart are:

What are some of your favorite movie/book combos?

The Bad Good Guy

Saturday, October 18, 2008
Author Sophia Garrett, one of my wonderful critique partners, started to blog recently. Tuesday, she wrote a blog and posed the question,
“What do you all think of people who push the line of... redemption... having a romance written in a darker fashion?”
Well, I just loved this question, ‘cause it made me think. And here was my response to her, pretty much verbatim as I said it.

“I think a hero or heroine in a book CAN stay somewhat unrepentant from their bad ways at the end. Anne Stuart is one of my favorite authors and her heroes tend to be assassins and mercenaries. Just read her ice series:

1. Black Ice
2. Cold as Ice
3. Ice Blue
4. Fire and Ice
5. Ice Storm

Her stories are very dark and there's this sense that even after the two mains get together and start their happily ever after, they're still going to be shrouded in the darker side of life. That's actually what I love so much about her books, her ability to be that sinister and still make me cheer for her characters.

I think that's why I liked the movie The Crow too. Coming back from the dead to kill a bunch of people isn't such a happy-sweet plot, but his reasons for his actions--he did it because of a great love, for his soul mate--it's just so... thought-provoking and intriguing and heart-rendering. It stays with you longer after you experience the story exactly for that reason.

I also love Katherine Sutcliffe for her dark writing, both her historical and contemporary stuff. And then there's Meagan McKinney's more contemporary work. They have some very conflicted heroes and heroines, which makes me like them more. Neither of them have published anything for a few years, but if you get your hands on one of their books, read them and see for yourself that dark writing I'm talking about... it's addictive.”

There are so many other “Good Guys” out there that have a bad angle to them, I can’t even begin to start naming names. You can even find them on television shows. In That 70’s Show, for example, my favorite character is Hyde because he’s just so naughty and I don’t really want him to change. In fact, that’s what I like about him.

Now… a curious Linda wants to know, who are a few of your favorite bad “Good Guys”?

The Fiction Wars

Monday, October 13, 2008
It doesn't seem to matter what you write sometimes, someone will always look down their nose on your work. After listening to many writers talk, I've discovered there is a hierarchy of arguments over which is consider quality writing. So, today, I think I'll explore these arguments and discussions to simplify what each school of thought believes.

Literary vs. Mass Market
To begin, we have our academic scholars dueling with the sensation writers. There is actually fiction in the world that considers itself so above par, it cannot possibly be classified into something as lowly as a genre. This fiction is called literary. When I was in college, I was taught genre stories were not as fulfilling or meaningful as true literary classics. Though, to be honest, the definition of a literary work is simply to make a point about the human condition and to have the protagonist change or realize something new about him or herself.

Genre A vs. Genre B
Since the literary world sees all genres beneath them, they don't really pick on one category more than another. But once you step into the genre community, the differences begin to stand out. Science fiction and Mystery, for example, like to point at romance fiction--and at Harlequin/Silhouette stories more significantly--calling it fluff and saying it's only formula writing. There's no real substance in romance, they claim.

E-Press vs. Print Press
Romance writers, however, don't think Harlequin/Silhouettes stories lack such substance. In fact, if you sell to Harlequin, you're pretty well respected in romance writing circles. With romance authors, the big debate is between how you're published... by an e-press or print press. Mostly, people consider e-press publishers somewhat lower than print-press publishers.

So, those are the three main debates I've noticed in my writing endeavors... and guess what, I've actually been aspiring to make it to the lowest on that totem pole of importance.

Now, ask me if I care.

No, not really. I know each of my stories have a theme and makes a point about the human condition. I know my hero and heroine learn something about themselves and sometimes change by the end of my books. And I always have that satisfying romance ending, where my two mains get together. Other than that, I just want to tell a story and bring my characters to life on each and every page. If that makes other writers look down at me, oh well... I know what readers like because I know what I would rather sit down and read myself and also... I see what sells the most on the bookstore shelves. And that right there is what's important to me. The reader.

Stephen King illustrated it best in his self help writing book, On Writing. After getting in trouble when he was young for--what do you know--writing, one of his teachers lectured him for his choice of subject, telling him had so much potential and he was just throwing it away on writing garbage. He went on to say, that for years after that, he was actually ashamed of what he wrote and the stories he told. Now, I don't consider King an unsuccessful author. He is one of the most talented storytellers of our time, and I must further comment, I'm glad he didn't let anyone get him down. I'm glad he was able to share all the stories inside him because some of his stories have been made into my favorite movies.

Now, here's my challenge for you today. Don't let anyone belittling your dreams get you down, be those dreams writing or teaching or politics or sky diving. Be proud of what you want to do with your life and don't be afraid to reach for your goals. You never know what you might find in your grasp. And whatever you do, you can always find a group of like-minded individuals who share the same passions. Surrounding yourself by them will help you realize you have purpose and importance.

And I think I'm off my soap box for now. Have a great day.

My Inspirations

Saturday, October 11, 2008
I was scanning the web page of unpublished author Marie-Claude Bourque and felt captivated by the inspiration section on her bio page. Using different movies titles, musician names, author pseudonyms, and television shows to give us an insight into her world, she explained her culture and background very artistically. It's similar to what we do when we create our MySpace page, but I liked how she headed it "Inspirations" and mixed everything up like she did. So I had to do my own and here it is:

To Kill a Mockingbird Sandra Brown Harry Potter Gail Giles Catherine Anderson Moulin Rouge Garth Brook’s The Dance Anne Stuart Kurt Grotheer Romancing the Stone Adam Sandler Shawshank Redemption Dirty Dancing Akon Cheers Marlon Brando Twilight Walt Dinsey’s Cinderella Julia Quinn Doris Crumpacker Black Eyed Peas Beach Boys The Fugitive Nora Roberts Kristin Hannah Funkytown A Walk to Remember The Little Mermaid James Dean Eminem RWA Richard Marx Lisa Kleypas Blue Oyster Cult Jim Carey Scream Linda Howard Willow Blue Collar Comedy Tour Christina’s World South Park Eurythmics Shrek J. R. Ward Friends Journey Sarah Palin Gone with the Wind Suzanne BrockmannTwo and a Half Men Nirvana Meg Ryan

An Inspired Linda

Friday, October 10, 2008
Though we didn't make it home from my writing meeting until a quarter till midnight last night, I feel wide awake this morning and am eager to start the day. There's just something about coming together with a group of people that are as passionate and excited about the same subject you are. When you're surrounded all the time by friends and family who love to affectionately tease you about your dream--Yeah, Linda here writes soft porn (They like to call romance soft porn)--it's as if you step from night into day once you're suddenly embraced by all these other individuals going through the same exact situation. It's enlightening and soothing, encouraging and energizing all wrapped into one fun ball.

Suzanne Arruda gave a spectacular speech, challenging everyone in the meeting to mix in other genres while creating our stories. She contained the very presence of enlightenment and encouraging energy that comforted me into once again feeling satisfied about writing the stories I do so love to write. And there's no denying Suzanne's entertainment value. I spent a good portion of the evening holding my stomach and wiping tears of laughter from my eyes. She is truly a magnificent storyteller. If ever you get the opportunity, watch one of her speeches in person to get the full effect of movement and voice inflection. She's wonderful.

But not only did she bring an amazing presentation to our group, she also brought a guest. I had never met Harlequin Everlasting Love author, Tessa McDermid, before and I had no idea there was another romance author living under a hundred miles from me. It was relieving to discover I had a like-minded writer closer than Kansas City away. And she's such a pleasant person. I enjoyed both her and Suzanne's company all evening and learned so much from them. It was an aspiring writer's dream.

And now that I'm full to bursting with romance enthusiasm this morning, I'm extra-excited about the third and final trailer for the movie, Twilight, that just came out. I would say this is my favorite preview of the movie so far because it really shows the sweet, romantic part of the story. We're able to watch the hero and heroine actually converse... at least Edward's character has more dialogue to match Bella's. And we're showed more of their kiss scene. Wow, that looks... amazing. And when he says, "You are my life now," every romantic bone in my body just melted. Uber sweet. I'm not sure I can wait a little over a month more to watch the whole show. But I guess we'll all have to.

Until then, I hope everyone has a great weekend.

MRW Meeting

Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tomorrow at 6:30pm in the Red Robin on 95th and Metcalf, I'm responsible for providing the program at my writing group's monthly MRW meeting. Author Suzanne Arruda has graciously agreed to give a presentation about how different genres interact with each other. So, if you're in Overland Park, stop by and enjoy the lecture. I think it cost five bucks for a visitor to sit in on a meeting. Not sure. Could be free.

Anyway, I was watching television last night and saw something that scared the bejesus out of me. Don't you hate it when you're home alone at night and, boom, there's this creepy, weird scene on your television that makes all the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Then you gotta walk through your house, turning on all the lights and checking every door lock.

So, after watching the 2008 presidential debate (Sorry, couldn't resist)... actually, it was the trailer for The Happening that totally freaked me out (and, yeah, I realize I'm a couple of months out of date here). I guess this is M. Night Shyamalan's first R rated movie. The commercial I saw last night was ten times more disturbing than the link I've sent you to, but it definitely looks like something I won't watch. If you're one of those die-hard horror movie buffs that loves a good adrenaline rush, however, this is probably the movie of the year for you. You decide.

October Nightstand Reviews

Monday, October 6, 2008
I had my birthday, attended my friend's wedding and now... now none of my pants fit anymore. Yikes. I must've gained five pounds from all that cake and punch. Hmm.

Anyway, I think I promised last month I'd have more books to review this month. And I do, but not much more. The historical romance and romantic suspense books reigned on my nightstand.

Seduction of a Proper Gentleman by Victoria Alexander (Historical Romance).
Oliver Leighton, The Earl of Norcroft, is the last man standing in Alexander's Last Man Standing Series. He won the bet with this friends over who'd be the last of them to marry. Sad thing is, he didn't really care to win. He's the type that wants to fall in love and wants to settle down with a good woman. Well, thank God for Lady Kathleen MacDavid. Because she seems to be that woman. It's too bad their families' curse get in their way, though that does leave for some good reading.

Then You Hide by Roxanne St. Claire (Romantic Suspense).
This is the fifth book in the Bullet Catcher Series, but the second in the trilogy to find triplet daughters. The next book, Now You Die, will tie up that trilogy and is much anticipated because it's Lucy's Story. I can't find it in any of my local bookstores, so I'm going to have to order it online somewhere. But anyway, I'd always thought Lucy would end up with Dan, though that isn't so. She actually gets Jack. Even the author thought she'd put Lucy with Dan, but HERE she tells the real story. It was a fascinating read that shows how sometimes our characters really do take over our writing.

Ace is Wild by Penny McCall (Romantic Suspense).
This is the third book in McCall's FBI series and it follows the first with witty dialogue, crazy chases and the good guys overcoming and hooking up at the end. It was an enjoyable read. I'm glad McCall has more in the series to come.

Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas (Historical Romance).
Second in Kleypas's Hathaway series, Seduce Me at Sunrise, finally gives us Win and Merripen's happily ever after. All you have to do is read the excerpt Kleypas posted on her website to see how totally wonderful the story is. And then to further intrigue me, this amazing author set up a nice beginning for the Hathaway brother and the governess to get together. Can't wait for their adventure... hopefully.

Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn (Historical Romance).
After reading The Lost Duke of Wyndham, I'd been anxious to get my hands on Mr. Cavendish, the book not the man. And once I did, I was not disappointed. The two books happen at the same time and share some of the same scenes, but are all from different characters' points of view. I enjoyed it because I knew what what going to happen and kept anticipating certain scenes, wondering how each character saw it through their eyes. Great idea for a duo of stories, I say. I'm just depressed they're over now.

Full Manuscript News!

Thursday, October 2, 2008
I might've been onto something yesterday. After commenting (And, yes, let's definitely call it "commenting" because otherwise we'd have to say I was outright whining) about the fact that I hadn't heard from a publisher in a while, I suggested maybe they'd all passed out because they thought my work was so absolutely stupendous (Oh, yeah. That's still a ridiculously funny thought).

So, anyway, one of those editors must've revived herself because she contacted me this morning. What a coincidence, huh? If only I'd waited one more day to whine--I mean, comment--then I wouldn't have needed to say anything at all.

Yes, I know what you're thinking. Get on with the news already. What'd the woman say? Well, hold your horses. Let the suspense build a moment. I need to give background information first so you can feel the full effect as I felt it.

Alright, then. If you've kept up with my blog, then you might've read that about two months ago a publisher finally asked to read one of my full manuscripts, and then a few days later another publisher wanted to read another completed story. I'm not sure if I shared, but a third publisher asked for a third story a few weeks after that. It was that third publisher who emailed me today.

Since sending out full manuscripts is new to me, I have no idea what the protocol is once an editor has finished reading my story. I figured I'd get "The Call" if they liked it and wanted to publish it and I'd received a Dear John Letter if it was rejected.

When I saw an email from the third publisher with "The Stillburrow Crush" in the title line, I was sure I'd just received a rejection. Bluck. But I opened the letter anyway and, Holy Cow. She said she enjoyed--let me repeat, SHE ENJOYED--my story and she's sending it on to another review panel.

Therefore, no, I didn't sell a story today, but I didn't get a rejection either (always a plus). I moved one step closer to my goal (which is to get published, by the way, if you weren't aware). I'm absolutely on cloud nine. I don't recall visiting clouds one through eight, but nine feels very fine. I think I'll stay a while.

October Greetings

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Things are mellow here in my world. Almost a month has passed since I've heard from one of the six publishers reading different manuscript proposals of mine. But then, I haven't waited for anything longer than four months, and four months in the writer's waiting world isn't so awfully long. I'd like to think all those wonderful editors who haven't contacted me yet are simply caught in a swoon after reading my amazing stories (LoL! Even I can't keep a straight face while saying that).

I'm not getting any younger though as I twiddle my thumbs. In fact, I'll be a year older this Saturday. I'm going to attend a wedding to celebrate. Yes, it's a sneaky way to get some cake on my birthday but, hey, whatever works.

On house and health issues, I'm feeling pretty good lately. Of course, I'm swallowing ten pills a day, so who wouldn't feel good at this point? I have an appointment with my endocrinologist at the end of the month and might narrow my medicine down to two pills day if I'm lucky.

My house's wall should have some mud and tape on the sheet rock sometime this week. Painting is the next step I get to pursue and man do I have some wild colors picked out. I'm thinking purple and gold walls for my grape kitchen, blinding yellow for the rubber ducky bathroom, forest green for my husband's den, two tones of blue with wallpaper border separating them for the master bedroom and grey with purple flicked on the walls for my library. I can't remember what color the living room will be. I think it's a light greenish brown. This whole picking-out-my-own-house-details is starting to turn exciting.

You should've seen me in the appliance store. I had to have one of those French-door refrigerators with the freezer on the bottom and a flat top stove... and a dishwasher. Praise the Lord, I'm going to have a dishwasher now. My husband will no longer be able to tease, "Yeah, I have a dishwasher. Her name's Linda." Life is beginning to look up. Except... now I have to actually pay for this stuff. Yikes.

Banned Book Week

Saturday, September 27, 2008
September 27–October 4, 2008

Since I work in a library for my day job, I’m a big supporter of Banned Book Week. Held by the American Library Association every year in the last week of September, Banned Book Week “celebrates the freedom to read” and I think, in a writer’s case, the freedom to write as well.

I was scanning through the self-help writing book Techniques of a Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain recently and found a spot where he warned against traps a writer falls into. Here’s what Swain claims they do:

1. They take an unrealistic view.
2. They hunt for magic secrets.
3. They try to learn the hard way.
4. They refuse to follow feelings.
5. They attempt to write by rules

From his “trouble with rules” section, I quote him: “No writer in his right mind writes by a set of rules. At least, not by somebody else’s rules. Why not? Because rules start from the wrong end: with restriction; with form; with mechanics; with exhortation about things you shouldn’t do. Where SHOULD they start, then? With feeling. YOUR OWN feelings.”

My critique group set up a rule for me a month or so ago. I’d finished a certain story that covered a certain topic and they told me in no uncertain terms it was a bad topic, that no one would want to read about it because it was too depressing.

Well, now I’m determined to shatter their rule and break free from their restrictions. The tricky part will be executing it with a certain amount of style and voice.

Yeah, just call me a rebel with a cause.

If you think about it, it’s rule breakers in history that carry on the classics. If D. H. Lawerence hadn’t written Lady Chatterly’s Lover that talked about—gasp—sex, then would so many stories we romance lovers read today be out in print? If it’s only a controversial subject making someone cringe, then exploring the issue further and learning about it should be allowed.

I encourage you now… be your own rebel. Go the library or bookstore and find one of the following stories this week. Read a challenged book and celebrate the fact that these authors broke the rules of their time so they could enrich and entertain us.

Or go HERE to find more challenged titles.

On the Road to Recovery

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
It's been nearly twenty-four hours since I swallowed a radioactive iodine pill to kill off my thyroid but I haven't noticed any changes. Then again, they said it'd take one to three months to tell. I'm supposed to be "contaminated" until Saturday. I never realized how much stuff I touched until I wasn't supposed to touch anything. Every light switch, door handle and car lock is in danger from my lethal fingers. I'm not sure I like being unable to open the refrigerator to pull out a snack. I do so love my snacking. But it'll be worth it to stop feeling so worn out all the time. And I must say, I can't complain about having my husband cook for a few days. Except... his dinner last night was to bring home a bag from Sonic.

Since there wasn't much to do except sit in front of a computer, I finished a few critiques I was supposed to read. So, I was able to accomplish something during my short quarantine.

Another good thing happening is my house-building project. All the sheet rock should be hung today and side walks should be poured. Very exciting there.

I hope I'll have some good news to impart soon about selling a story. But it'll probably be a few months. I still have three different full manuscripts out to three different publishers. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for at least one positive response. But more about that later.

Graves' Update

Friday, September 19, 2008
Okay, so I went to a thyroid specialist yesterday. After looking at my test results, the endocrinologist immediately doubled all my medication and set me up with an appointment to get my thyroid destroyed next Tuesday. I'll have to sleep in a different bed than my husband, use a different bathroom, and not snuggle for five days after the radiation treatment. But the good news is... six months after that's done, I'm allowed to get pregnant. Yay! Yes, there will be increased risks, but at least there's good possibilities I'll be able to add to the family. I feel lots better after talking to this doctor. She addressed all my concerns directly.

On the house-building front, we have insulation on our walls and sheet rock is being hung today. Double Yay! There should be sidewalks in another two to three weeks and my new kitchen cabinets have been ordered and are being built.

So, good news there and there. Lets hope all these publishers and contests judges I've sent material will know to follow the pattern. I'm positive I'll hear from someone by at least November 11th, except... I'll be a year older by then. But hmm. Let's not go there.

Graves' Disease

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I went to my doctor yesterday to get the results of my tests and found out I have Graves' Disease, which is simply an overactive thyroid, making my heart rate skyrocket and my metabolism go through the roof. It's easily treated, so it's not really that big a deal, but I kinda like saying, "I have Graves' Disease." Sounds ominous, doesn't it? Graves' Disease. Yes, very dooming. The biggest problem might be trying to have children... okay, child. I really only want one. But I want that one. If this is going to prevent me from having my one, I'm going to be super upset.

Insane Writer

Monday, September 15, 2008
Do you want to know what insane is? Insane is building a new house when there's a housing crisis in full swing. Insane is starting a mortgage when companies like Merrill Lynch are being sold for billions of dollars. Insane is when the government has to step in to help Fanny May and Freddie Mack while you're apply for a first time buyers loan. So, sign me up for the loony bin. I've gone insane.

But I've also shifted closer to becoming published. This wacky writer has been asked to submit another full manuscript. Wow! That's three publishers interested in reading my completed stories in one month. I've broken my own record.

Or maybe I'm not crazy, maybe I'm just really ill. I have an appointment with the doctor this afternoon to go over my thyroid test results. So, we'll have to see there.

I hope Ike didn't get to you very bad. We had about five inches of rain dump on us. It filled all our local creeks, but we're basically unaffected.

Anniversary Pictures

Tuesday, September 9, 2008
In the writing world, I'm waiting, always waiting, to hear back from six different editors about six different manuscripts. I'm also waiting to hear back from one writing contest. And I'm deciding if I have the funds to enter the biggie, RWA's Golden Heart Contest for unpublished romance writers. I have another two months to figure that out, though.

In other news, have you heard that the next Harry Potter movie has been set back until July of NEXT YEAR? I can't believe it. My husband decided to boycott. He's says he's not watching it. I think he's full of it. But I do feel cheated. The only reason I'm not outright irate is because they're slotting the Twilight movie into its place, to be played on November 21st. But who knows if that will stay the same. Can't really trust anything now.

And now for everyone's entertainment, pictures of people you've probably never met before. It's what you've been waiting for, I'm sure. But this is my family (my parents, brothers and sisters and their children & spouses) taken at my parent's anniversary this last Saturday. Mom and Dad are the ones sitting down in the middle. I can't even describe to you were I am but feel free to play Where's Waldo to find me.

September Nightstand Reviews

Monday, September 8, 2008
I didn't get much reading done this month. I was busy, finishing writing a book, planning and attending my parents' anniversary party and dealing with doctors. I but got through a few stories. There should be more next month. Also, I should have pictures of the anniversary posted soon. And on top of that, I finally ordered my coupon for a TV converter . Have you ordered yours yet? There's only 162 days left until all the stations switch over to Dtv.

Anyway, here are my reviews:

Before the Scandal by Suzanne Enoch (Historical Romance)
This is the second book in Enoch's The Notorious Gentlemen Series. Lieutenant Colonel Phineas Bromley and his childhood best friend, Alyse Donnelly, heat up the pages with masked highwaymen, secret romances, and evil cousins. It hyped me up to read Bram's book, which is next in the series and should be out in April of 2009.

Winter's Edge by Anne Stuart (Romantic Suspense)
Here's a reprint by Stuart. It's a whodunit kind of mystery where Molly Winters wakes up from a car accident with amnesia. Now, someone's out to get her and the main suspect is Patrick, the husband she doesn't remember. Stuart is so talented with adding a dark element to her story, I can't get enough of her writing.

The Wedding Runaway by Karen L. King (Historical Romance)
Third book in the Wedding Series. After reading The Wedding Dual, I'd been anxious for Victor's story. So, I skipped ahead a book to read this first and it didn't disappoint. I love those tales where a woman goes incognito as a man.

50th Anniversary

Tuesday, September 2, 2008
My website had been updated with my latest completed story, Disaster at 410 S. Elm. I'm excited about sharing. So, check it out and let me know what you think.

My mother and father will celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary this Saturday. I've only been in their lives a little over half of that time, but I still feel pretty involved in all this. After spending weeks creating the video we'll show at the party of their marriage and our family, it's easy to look back and see how much has happened in fifty years.

So, it's been pretty nostalgic in my neck of the woods lately, remembering old pets, past holidays, and crazy family stories like the time Mark fell out of the truck while mom was driving down the highway... and then when our house dog, Spot, licked a space heater and was electrocuted. I'm sure there is going to be lots of tall tales and laughter this weekend.

In other news, I took my thyroid test and it was very simple. After swallowing an iodine pill, I had to sit very still for two to ten minutes at a time, while radioactive pictures were taken. Nothing hurt at all. There were no needles (well except for a little blood work for a lab report), no prodding or poking or anything inserted into any orifice. I consider myself lucky there. My doctor should be getting the results sometime this week.

I hope everyone had a happy labor day weekend and celebrated with due enthusiasm.

Busy Little Bee

Monday, August 25, 2008
I'm full of cliches lately. Last post, I was doing three steps in my two-steps-forward-one-step-back writing career. And now I've been such a busy little bee this past week because when it rains it pours.

Not only have I been working like a bat out of hell on our new house to get it finished, but I've nearly been at death's door with my thyroid problems and have finally gotten an appointment for tests this week. On top of that, my writing has really taken off and publishers keep asking for more to read. Plus we're at the height of our busy season at work and I've been swamped there. Not to mention, my parents fiftieth wedding anniversary is less that two weeks away and final touches are being made on that. And now, NOW of all times, the publisher who read my finalist entry in the Ignite the Flame Contest, wants to see a partial and synopsis. So, I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off to polish that off and send it in. I've barely had time to think, much less keep up with my critique group. I keep telling myself it'll all be over soon, but man. Soon keeps getting stretched out another couple of months.

Okay... I think I have all the cliches out of my system now (Oops. Guess not!). Hopefully, I'll have good news to report soon.

Two-Step to the Top

Monday, August 18, 2008
I think I read somewhere that struggling to become published is like a country line dance… It’s two steps forward and one step back. Well, I’ve taken three steps forward this week.

First of all, I turned eligible for the PRO membership in Romance Writers of America. Or, in other words, a publisher finally asked to read one of my full manuscripts, not just a couple of sample chapters. But not only did one publisher ask to see one of my entire manuscripts, but four days after the first one contacted me, a second publisher wrote, wanting to see another full manuscript.

That would've been enough enthusiasm to last me the rest of the week. But then, I received an email from a contest coordinator. And, bam, I finished second in COFW’s Ignite the Flame Contest. I’m still in a state of shock. For me, these accomplishments are major.

Now if only I knew the two-step, I’d celebrate by dancing out a country western favorite. Sigh. I guess it’s back to the ice cream instead. It's a good thing I have an overactive thyroid or all this ice cream celebrating would stick a lot longer. I could be like, this love handle is for the time I won second in the COFW contest and that love handle is for the two letters I received, asking for full manuscripts...

But, I digress. I'll let you go for now. See you in a few.

Brockmann's Dark of Night Mystery

Monday, August 11, 2008
Today’s topic is Suzanne Brockmann’s series of Troubleshooters books. The most recent installment, Into the Fire (book no. 13 in the series), was released on July 22, 2008. On her website, Brockmann announced that book no. 14 will be out in early 2009. Dark of Night has caused such a stir because no one has been officially informed who’s going to star in this story. What we do know is that the book begins on the same day ITF ends and Brockmann advises us we should be able to figure out who the main hero and heroine are going to be. But to be perfectly honest with you, I haven’t got a clue… okay, so I have plenty of clues, but they’re all so very debatable.

And debate is exactly what Brockmann fans are doing. After googling the story, I found numerous heated discussions. A few that caught my attention are the following sites:
Suzanne Brockmann’s Message Board
Adwoff’s Message Board
DON : Who Do You Think?
An Amazon Discussion
Another Amazon Discussion

Before I continue, I warn you this blog is crammed full of spoilers, so if you haven’t read any of Brockmann’s books or you’re not caught up with the series, BEWARE, I talk openly about what’s already happened. Don’t read any further if you don’t want to know about books one through thirteen… er, well, actually I’ll probably only mention books seven (Flashpoint), eight (Hot Target), ten (Into the Storm), and thirteen (Into the Fire). I’ve learned that HEA stands for Happily Ever After, so I’m going to condense the term to that acronym as well.

Okay, then. Most of the discussions I’ve read are certain Sophia stars in DON (Dark of Night), but the real question they debate is who’s going to co-star with her, Decker or Dave? I think it’d be funny if Brockmann tricked us all and published a story about, say, Jay Lopez. But she told us on her website, we’d be able to figure this out. So, let’s start figuring. Two, or maybe three, romances develop in book 13. There's Izzy, Sophia, and Decker. Izzy’s two possible choices are Eden and Tracy, though I have to say, neither affair seemed to end very well. So, I’m going to join the rest of the crowd and say, no, it’s not about him. I’m not even sure Iz has met his fair lady yet.

So that leaves us Sophia and Decker. But the big question is, will they end up together… or with other people. Since Flashpoint, I myself have supported a Sophia/Decker match. Their meet scene will go down in history as one of the most amazing romance scenes of all time. But, wow, I don’t think anyone would disagree with me that they shared an intense moment in Kazbekistan. I think it’s important that it was given from Decker’s point of view too. Since we were in his head, we saw all the heat and passion Sophia sparked in him. She also filled a loneliness he’d been feeling. If we had read this from her point of view, however, there would’ve been fear and desperation and the overall tone would’ve felt more like a perversion than a hot temptation. I don’t think we can ever forget this moment because neither Sophia nor Decker has forgotten it. In the stories Hot Target and Into the Storm, they’re very awkward around each other because of their first encounter and therefore have more sexual tension between them.

But many people are right... the after affects from that scene have dragged on. I sincerely hope Decker's talk with the psychiatrist helped him deal with all the issues he has about Sophia. Since Decker and Sophia have been so uncomfortable around each other, there are some very convincing opinions on the message boards swearing Dave will end up with Sophia. We can’t forget good ol’ Dave by any means. He’s been in every book right along with Sophia and Decker. And he’s gotten close to Sophia, becoming her best friend. They’ve opened up to each other and he’s really stepped it up in the hero department in Into the Storm and especially Into the Fire. I love Dave to pieces. He’s been there for Sophia and he’s the ultimate good guy.

I don’t want him with Sophia, however. This might sound awful because I love Sophia’s character too, but I don’t think she deserves him. Yikes, I do sound bad. As terrible as I sound though, Sophia has confided her feelings for Decker way too many times to Dave and he’ll always wonder if he’s playing second fiddle. I think his heroine should fall for him right away. He’s been so good and patient, he should get a HEA with a woman whose affections he has no doubts about, though that would be a good complication to overcome in DON if he was Sophia's leading man. Does she truly love him or not?

I still have a big thing for Decker though. Dave may be wonderful, but Decker has the alpha hero part down. Even when we’re in his point of view, he seems to hide a part of himself. He’s mysterious and masculine and he really does want to do the right thing, so I feel obligated to cheer for him. When he’s in the same room with Sophia, all the attention seems to suck into around them and focus on their interaction, suggesting they're fated to end up together.

Also, when he talked with the doctor lady, he kept waiting for the moment she’d mention Sophia. He may have dreaded it, but he was also anxious for it. He became tense, thinking she'd want to know how his heart stopped when he thought maybe Sophia had been shot way back in Hot Target. I think that was a very revealing moment. It shows he does have feelings for Sophia. It shows he's working through his messy emotions too and he'll soon be able to star in his own book.

But then he goes and kisses the doctor later and that throws things off because suddenly there’s that attraction to wonder about. And Sophia kissing Dave tosses another wrench in the situation. I mean, what's a reader supposed to think? I have a feeling Brockmann has purposely give us these distractions though, to make us wonder… which she’s successfully done. Oh, yeah. The woman knows what she's doing. If only I could accomplish 5% of her talent. Yes, insert dreamy sigh here.

That’s why I’d like to see Sophia, Dave, and Decker get all their HEAs in one book because whoever Sophia ends up with, someone’s going to get hurt and a small part of me will be disappointed. But if they paired off with their respective loves in one, tidy story, then I could deal. It’d be nice if that all happened in DON, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

So, okay. Let's get back on track. DON will most likely star Sophia or Decker. Sophia's possible matches are Decker, Dave, or Danny Gillman. But I think we'll all agree Danny doesn't have a shot. Then there's Decker. His possible loves are Sophia, the doctor lady (Yeah, I can't remember her name. Sorry), or Tracy.

I know, I know. Tracy? Yeah, that's probably not likely. But they shared a phone conversation where she invited him to open up to her if he needed someone to talk to. They also shared a moment in Into the Storm when he stopped by her room to get warm clothes for Sophia after she fell into the water. But those were just moments. Probably no big deal. Then, there was that attraction Decker felt for Hannah when she stared at his mouth to read his lips. Since she's so much like Tess, maybe he'll wait around for another Tess-like character. But I don't really believe that myself.

There's also the possibility that Tracy could end up with Dave. She was talking about him looking good in jeans. And she cuts his hair. That could get some serious sensual action going on. So, we can't forget about that... though it's also unlikely.

Ergo, the story could, maybe, possibly but unlikely star Tracy with Decker, Dave, or--yep--Izzy. I'm feeling some very odd triangles going on here. Or the story could be about Dave with... Sophia, Tracy, or some unnamed heroine to be. I'm kinda rooting for a newbie to catch Dave. I'd like his woman to feel an instant attraction to him.

So... Those are all my strange ideas. Why don't you leave a comment and let me know who YOU think will star in the upcoming Troubleshooters book, Dark of Night.